Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Malaysia turns a page, and over a new leaf?

AS many had anticipated, the leadership transition in Umno, and by extension Barisan Nasional and the country, will come earlier than previously announced. The process will wend its way forward in a way the party knows best.

Whatever else one may feel about its consequences and implications, this latest development should come as a relief to party insiders. For some time already, tension bordering on factionalism had been building up as to compromise governance.

The latest situation sees no winners or losers. There is no need for some to be disheartened, or for others to feel vindicated. What remains of utmost importance is that governance of service to the people will prevail.

In the larger span of things, this particular transition will be seen as not too unlike many others.

When the time comes for a change of leadership, that event must be embraced in the larger interests of the nation.

However, this does not mean that the Umno General Assem­bly, now rescheduled again to March next year, will not see its share of theatrics.

The party presidency is likely to be contested, as Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has said it would, with all its ramifications for the national leadership.

The debate over the degree of internal party democracy will also continue.

However one looks at the issues, such debates are invariably healthy in opening up legitimate if differing points of view.

In this connection, the opposition Pakatan Rakyat will have to reassess the situation and recalibrate its strategies. It is to be hoped that whatever it chooses to pursue, it will be in the interests of the people and seen to be so.

There is no denying that Malay­sia enjoys a vibrant political culture, and there can be no doubt that Malaysians thrive on a daily diet of political discourse. We do need more and better avenues for political discussion free from the encumbrances of outdated restrictions.

Let us hope that a new leadership also opens up the prospect of a more enlightened and progressive approach to political discussion.

So long as the rights of the various groups are respected, there is no reason for continuing with old-fashioned inhibitions.

source: Malaysia turns a page, and over a new leaf?
Malaysia Star, Malaysia

Monday, September 29, 2008

Malaysia's Leadership A Trinket

The latest UMNO shenanigans effectively reduced the party's (and thus the country's) leadership to a Sunday market trinket, to be haggled between a desperate discredited seller trying to get the best possible deal, and a bankrupt buyer who has only his incumbency to offer as currency.


M. Bakri Musa

Tengku Razaleigh, in referring to the tussle between Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak, said, "… [W]e are embarrassed at the sight of two grown men playing this endless children's game of 'yours and mine' with the most important responsibility in the land, oblivious of the law, oblivious to the damage they are doing to the nation." The Prince's observation on the damage wrecked on Malaysia is spot on, declaring that Malaysia had been reduced to a banana republic and a laughing stock

What Abdullah and Najib do not realize is that the value of the trinket they are frantically bargaining over keeps dropping. While the two are consumed with striking a deal between them, they fail to notice that Anwar Ibrahim is on the sideline, ready and willing to take over, thus effectively reducing the two protagonists and their trinket to irrelevance.

Meanwhile the important business of running the country is neglected. They have been consumed with lobbying their followers, as well as engaging in hours of "four eyes only" meetings, haggling over when, how, and at what price the trinket would be handed over. They are oblivious to the nation's compounding problems, from the massive public health hazard of contaminated milk products imported from China to the American credit crunch that will soon spread around the world.

It is time to make these two characters irrelevant. It is time to let this desperate drowning duo strangle each other and sink to the bottom of the cesspool they have created for themselves.

Our priority is to make sure that they do not drag the nation down with them. This responsibility falls heavily on those leaders of the opposition, in particular Anwar Ibrahim. He has to be ready to take over and make the necessary preparations now, especially with regards to policies and personnel.

The Price Keeps Dropping

Right after the March 8, 2008 electoral debacle, Abdullah declared that he still had the people's trust. Then with confidence borne out of ignorance a la the village idiot, he asserted that he would serve his full second term. He even intimated that he might lead his coalition to its third electoral victory in 2013!

Such detachment from reality! It was merely out of courtesy (that is the trademark of our culture), and respect for the highest office of the land that Abdullah was not laughed off the stage. Unfortunately he mistook that as acceptance, if not rousing endorsement, aided by his cronies, advisers, and family members feeding his fantasy. The world knew better.

On the surface Abdullah did seem to have a mandate. After all, his coalition secured a comfortable though not the usual two-third majority in Parliament. On closer scrutiny however, his Barisan coalition barely scrapped through the popular vote, while many of the seats won were only with the slimmest of majority. That election also saw five states, including some of the most developed, repudiating Abdullah's leadership.

When the rumblings of discontent over his leadership became louder, especially after his coalition's thumping at the Permatang Pauh by-election, Abdullah was forced to lower his bid, but just a tad. He now thought he could satisfy his detractors by agreeing to hand over power by June 2010. He set it far enough ahead such that should circumstances shift, he could conveniently change his mind. Abdullah was counting that people would not see through his not-so-sly scheming.

Again, he misjudged the public, and his party's mood.Following a ruckus September 2008 UMNO Supreme Council meeting in which a few finally caught on to the reality and spoke up, albeit tentatively and a little belatedly, Abdullah lowered further his asking price. Now he did not rule out on an earlier transfer, clarifying that the June 2010 date was meant to be the latest when he would quit.

That pacified the dissidents, including the outspoken Muhyiddin Yassin and the hitherto "Iron Lady" Rafidah Aziz. They were an easily-mollified bunch.

Then following the gathering of his clan, and undoubtedly convinced once again by them, Abdullah backtracked. They prevailed upon him that his leadership was worth more and that he should hold out for a better price. That triggered yet another volley of dissatisfaction.

At a special meeting of the Supreme Council last week, presumably to discuss specifically the leadership transition, Abdullah was given an ultimatum. He must decide by October 9, 2008 on whether to defend his leadership. The alternative presumably would be to quit.

To an average observer with a modicum of commonsense, that was just another nice way for the council to say, in the grand Asian tradition of "saving face," that it no longer had confidence in Abdullah. Abdullah however is thick-skulled and a tad slow on the uptake. Besides, another round of meetings with his clan and they would convince him that indeed was not the intent of the council. "Flip-flop" Abdullah listens to whoever has his ear last.

More to the point, that council's decision was meaningless. If Abdullah were to decide not to defend his position at the now-postponed UMNO convention, the country would still be faced with a leadership crisis and uncertainty for the next six months. Everyone would be consumed with positioning themselves. No effective government work would be done as every UMNO politician would be busy politicking.

On the other hand, if he decided to cling on, it would still create a leadership uncertainty, and there would still be heavy intrigue and campaigning. Nothing would have changed. Our nation's business would still be unattended.

Abdullah has again abused our traditional Malay culture of halus, the subtle way. The gullible Muhyiddin went so far as to describe Abdullah's latest "decision" as "magnanimous!" No word from the "Iron Lady." As I said, they are easily satisfied. I wonder how long before UMNO Supreme Council members realize that they had once again been had by him.

As for Najib, he is burdened with his own considerable baggage. He would like that trinket be handed over to him as if it were his due, and without contest, all in the name of party unity of course. Contest means having to scrutinize his record, which is not pretty. In fact it is sordid.

If only there were some jantans in UMNO Supreme Council, they would have long ago given Abdullah an ultimatum. Resign or we push for a "no confidence" vote! That is the only language Abdullah understands: direct and brutal. There cannot be any subtlety or he will pretend to miss it.

It does not take a jantan to do that, only some responsible adults concerned about the lack of leadership and the country being left adrift. Absent that, rest assured that come October 9, Abdullah will again waffle, and UMNO Supreme Council will have to find yet another face-saving device to spare some modicum of respect to someone who clearly no longer deserves any.

I could not care less about those UMNO Supreme Council members except that they are also the leaders of our country. That is the scary part. If they cannot stand up to a limp Abdullah Badawi, how can we expect them to face up to a President Bush, China's Hu, or even Singapore's Lee. That is what terrifies the heck out of me, as it should all Malaysians.

Meanwhile Malaysians are reduced to watching the bizarre haggling over an increasingly worthless trinket between their two top but desperate leaders. We all should be embarrassed by that, not just Tengku Razaleigh.

source: Malaysia's Leadership A Trinket
Malaysia Today, Malaysia

Mengulas ruhanie ahmad: Jika Abdullah nekad pertahan jawatan.

Berita dari gunung said...

Telahan itu agak jauh dan rumit. Kalau begitu jadinya, Abdullah dapat extra months untuk kempen. Boleh rasmi majlis sana sini sambil-sambil memujuk.

Oh, harapnya tidak. Skop pemilihan Umno kecil, yang besar dan luas adalah persepsi rakyat terhadap kepimpinan Abdullah.

Tetapi realiti pemimpin dari Umno memang begitu. Naik ikut tangga parti dan duduk diam-diam. Harapan rakyat tidak penting. Yang penting adalah beberapa ribu perwakilan.

Abdullah memang nampak lurus, tetapi permainannya licik. Tetapi telahan yang Dato utarakan bukan licik lagi, nampaknya menghampiri sempadan JAHAT.

Harap-harapnya Abdullah tidak jadi bertanding dan tiba Mac boleh senyum dengan retorik pujian melimpah-limpah.

posting alas ruhanie ahmad kudakepang: ABDULLAH DIJANGKA PERTAHANKAN KERUSI PRESIDEN UMNO...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mengulas Malaysiakini: King and politics, ball is in the royal court

King and politics, ball is in the royal court
Abdul Aziz Bari | Sep 26, 08 12:58pm
It appears that the public now seems to think that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong should intervene to put certainty and order back in the country. Some quarters however felt that such is not desirable, arguing that it is not appropriate to get the king involved in it.
  • Flexing their muscle
  • Grave matter


Bila demokrasi melanda dunia, Raja cuma wujud dalam perlembagaan dan berkembang dalam sejarah. Malaysia ada raja di beberapa negeri, salah seorang terpilih sebagai Yang di-Pertuan Agong untuk lima tahun secara bergilir. Kuasa raja adalah terhad. Walaubagaimanapun Raja ada pengaruh penyatuan.

Siam adalah contoh sistem Raja yang sangat unik. Pengaruh Raja Siam bercampur dengan keagamaan. Pengaruh raja meresapi hingga ke akar umbi rakyat jelata. Waktu perit dan kemelut, Raja sering dirujuk. Titah raja ada kesan kepada tindakan selanjutnya.

Raja Jepun pula lain. Rajanya menjalani hidup yang terasing. Raja muncul pada waktu tertentu sahaja. Perang Dunia terdahulu ada tercatat pengaruh raja dalam kerangka kuasa dan penguasaan dunia. Askar Jepun berjuang kerana negara dan Raja. Kini Raja Jepun bersemayam belakang tabir.

Raja England juga kekal dalam sistem mereka. Istana Buckingham sudah jadi destinasi pelancungan untuk tontonan ramai. Kamera Sony, Nikon dan Olympus merakam kenangan pelancung. Memang, Raja kini kekal dalam kenangan sahaja.

Lama dulu, pada tahun 1970, Rukun Negara dicipta untuk rakyat bersatu dan berpendoman. Rukun yang ketiga ialah Kesetiaan Kepada Raja dan Negara. Namun krisis perlembagaan 80'an menghadkan kuasa Raja.

Walaupun begitu, adalah menjadi kelaziman bagi Pemimpin negara mohon perkenan Raja untuk melantik Menteri Besar. Maka Ghani terus kekal Menteri Besar Johor kerana diperkenan Raja. Nama-nama lain belum pernah melepasi tahap cadangan. Maka kekal Khaled di pusat.

Kalau keputusan PRU12 memeranjatkan, kemelut perlantikkan Menteri Besar di dua negeri, iaitu Perlis dan Terengganu lebih memeranjatkan. Pengerusi Perhubungan Umno negeri bukan tiket untuk jadi Menteri Besar. Shahidan walau gagah mengekang kemaraan Pas, tidak dapat perkenan. Adik Raja juga ada peranan dalam politik negeri. Akhirnya Md Isa Sabu dapat perkenan dan jadi Menteri Besar.

Lain pulak jadinya dengan Terengganu. Negeri yang kaya dengan hasil minyak cuba berubah. Islam Hadhari dan Monsoon Cup adalah percaturan. Idris terbiasa dengan politik pusat terlupa dengan politik setempat. Ada yang menuduh Idris tidak peduli dengan orang setempat dalam pengagihan kek ekonomi. Ada yang turut menuduh semua angkara Abdullah, Khairy dan Patrick Lim. Orang Terengganu dapat kulit kacang manakala isi kacangnya dikunyah dek orang lain.

Nah, Ahmad Said dapat perkenan Raja untuk mengurus hal ehwal negeri. Waktu itulah ada pemimpin yang dituduh penderhaka! Sticker kuning "Taat kepada Raja" diedar percuma untuk menyatupadukan rakyat yang berbelah bagi. Kemelut pun reda.

Selepas itu, negara Malaysia mendengar titah demi titah dari Raja Nazrin. Ruang kenegaraan dan kepimpinan dibuka dan dikupas oleh Raja Nazrin. Titah Raja Nazrin bak mutiara. Tuanku Jaafar juga turut berpesan supaya hentikan kemelut politik. Yang diPertuan menyebut seorang bercita-cita merampas jawatan dan seorang lagi yang beria-ria tidak mahu melepaskannya. Rakyat akan jadi keliru dan negara akan rugi. Kedua-duanya harus berundur.

Disaat-saat genting, peranan Raja adalah penting. Namun gesaan dari Anwar tidak berpijak dibumi nyata. Kerajaan sudah terbentuk dengan keputusan PRU12. Walau tidak dengan 2/3 majoriti, kerajaan sudah boleh memerintah. Mengganggu keputusan PRU12 dengan mengajak atau mengumpan orang supaya lompat keseberang hampir-hampir menjadikan Anwar sebagai pengkhianat negara.

Kita yakin Raja telah memainkan peranan. Dalam senyap negara Malaysia makin sedar, kita masih ada Raja, dalam perlembagaan dan dalam hati rakyat jelata, bukan sekadar dalam kenangan. - beritadarigunung

Mengulas Malaysiakini: Saya kena sabotaj, kata Khairy.

From Malaysiakini: I'm being sabotaged, says Khairy
Sep 26, 08 1:01pm

Khairy Jamaluddin said his campaign for Umno Youth chief is being sabotaged by certain quarters who are preventing party members from meeting him.MORE


1. Sering berita bukan peristiwa yang terasing, malah berada dalam rantaian peristiwa-peristiwa lain. Sesuatu berita atau kejadian boleh jadi catalyst kepada deretan peristiwa yang lain begitu juga sebaliknya, iaitu sesuatu kejadian adalah kesan daripada peristiwa, tindakan atau pilihan terdahulu.

2. Peperangan adalah peristiwa penting dalam dunia. Sejarah dunia terbahagi kepada kepada beberapa era mengikut punctuation dari peperangan utama seperti Perang Dunia Pertama dan Kedua.

3. Pengkaji sejarah cuba meneliti dan menghuraikan punca-punca sesuatu peperangan. Namun yang jauh lebih penting adalah pencetus peperangan itu sendiri; catalyst or immediate cause.
Ada masanya, immediate cause direka, disusun dan dilaksanakan dengan sengaja, bagi mengesahkan arahan sesuatu peperangan. Sering peperangan bukanlah event yang tidak sengaja, malah ia dirancang dengan teliti bertahun-tahun lamanya dengan niat yang munasabah. Dalam banyak hal, peperangan adalah political pursuit dengan niat mengukuhkan pengaruh serta menikmati habuan perang. Perang jarang yang suci dan bersih, ia dicemar dengan muslihat dan tipuhelah.

Dicelah-celah muslihat dan tipuhelah itulah ada SABOTAJ.

4. Apa itu sabotaj?. Asalnya dari bahasa inggeris; sabotage, pronunciation: \ˈsa-bə-ˌtäzh, Function: noun, Etymology: French, from saboter to clatter with sabots, botch, sabotage, from sabot
a: an act or process tending to hamper or hurt b: deliberate subversion.

5. Ragam yang telah ditunjukkan Khairy adalah lumrah dikalangan ahli politik. Beliau oputunis, bijak mencuri peluang. Itulah yang dipamirkan waktu dilonjak dalam UMNO sebagai naib ketua pemuda tanpa bertanding. Umum mengetahui apa telah dilalui oleh Mukhriz waktu itu. Ada sedikit kesamaan dengan peristiwa Arwah Ghafar dimalukan Anwar dulu. Kejadian mencuri peluang seperti ini sering disebut sebagai perlaksanaan sabotaj.

6. Tidak banyak dipapar dalam berita untuk menghurai peristiwa Tengku Abdullah tidak bertanding jawatan orang nombor dua dalam FAM. Selepas itu adalah pengetahuan umum dengan Khairy mengisi kerusi kosong itu. Sama ada itu hasil rundingan licik atau sabotaj, tidak ramai sudi mengkaji.

7. Ada kecenderungan Khairy muncul tanpa bertanding hasil dari tindakan terdahulu. Pertama kali Khairy bertanding ialah di Parlimen Rembau. Beliau turun dengan gah sebagai menantu Perdana Menteri. Bukan calang-calang credential. Beliau bertanding dicelah ketiak Menteri Besar Negeri Sembilan, Mohamad Hasan bekas ahli koperat juga orang penting dalam Khazanah. Majoriti undi BN jatuh merudum. Khairy nyaris kalah ditangan Bad.

8. Anwar Ibrahim berbangga ketika menambah majoriti dalam pilihanraya kecil Permatang Pauh baru-baru ini, tetapi Khairy tentu malu disebalik kejayaan Bad menurunkan majoriti BN sepuluh ribu. Sesiapa yang menonton TV waktu pengumuman kemenangan Khairy tentu masih ingat betapa Mohamad Hasan diam mencuka dan Khairy hanya mampu mengulum senyum tawar yang nipis. Itulah hakikat bertanding dan berjuang.

9. Waktu Abdullah beramah mesra dengan Rice di dalam, di luar Khairy mengasak diri dengan perjuangan pemuda bikinannya. Orang masih was-was keluhuran apa yang dijuangkan. Lama dulu, Anwar juga begitu, dalam stadium beliau menjerit-jerit "Hidup Palestin!!". Umum masih ingat betapa Anwar masih sempat mencuri glamour disebalik Seri Carcosa. Anwar menyambar makanan yang sedia terhidang umpama gagak dan helang. Kita tahu Allahyarham Tunku Abdul Rahman bermuram durja dengan tidakan oputunis itu.

10. Bertanding jawatan penting dalam UMNO adalah serius, seperti perang juga, ia tidak akan bersih dan jujur. Ada yang mengangkat kening bila terbaca Khairy menuduh ada sabotaj keatasnya. Kerana sabotaj dan oputunistik adalah sinonim dengan stail Khairy. Rakyat malas meneka apa yang dimaksudkan oleh Mukhriz, waktu mengulas rungutan rakyat Jerlun tentang beberapa kenderaan mewah berplet ibukota turun menabur wang supaya jangan mengundi Mukhriz. Tetapi majoriti BN kekal di Jerlun manakala majoriti BN merudum di Rembau.

Itu dia fakta berjuang dan bertanding!

11. Malang, pertandingan Khairy kali ini diselit dengan ura-ura Presiden UMNO tidak akan bertanding lagi Mac ini. Dulu Khairy ada menyebut banyak yang boleh beliau laku dan sumbangkan dengan protection yang dinikmati sebagai menantu Perdana Menteri. Kini keadaan sudah berubah. Realiti ini adalah pahit dan wajar diikuti dengan rapi. Benarkah Mukhriz dan Khairy ada credentials yang bersih, tidak tercemar. Untuk UMNO kekal relevan dan bertambah kukuh, manakah yang ahli mahu, Khairy atau Mukhriz.

Selamat Berhari raya, Maaf dipinta.

- beritadarigunung

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Commenting Malaysiakini: 1000 in anti-ISA march tonight

1000 in anti-ISA march tonight Malaysiakini
Sep 27, 08 8:08pm
breaking news About 1000 people are now marching from Dataran Merdeka to the Hindu temple opposite Puduraya bus terminal in solidarity against the Internal Security Act.MORE
  • Candlelight vigil on
  • AIM holds similar event

Old photo:anti isa dataran merdeka 270908 raja petra fans from Mariasamad...Anti-ISA vigil dispersed with water cannon...

anti isa dataran merdeka 270908 thanenthiran

please do not make any judgement on racial composition of street protesters. Yes, we claim to be united, but we are separated on racial lines. Ok, thats natural. (photos from Skuad Batu Tiga)


A perpetual street protest will not do any good to anyone. What is it for by the way? Assuming everything is done in the interest of Malaysians, then by all means use the domain of political arena, where ladies and lords sit side by side, on the left and right, front and back benches. The place has different rule where claps are replaced by bangings on the bench. It is a place where Members of Parliment can sit in or sit out, can discuss or keep quiet and can drink and talk in between sessions.

Of course, speeches are always interrupted by jeers. Some are met rudely, and sometimes the jokes and jeers are very much gamely. They are there to take part in the way things are destined, DEMOCRACY.

Street talks are not necessary. I have always stress the crucial point that politicians are different from ordinary folks. Where politicians find it easy to switch from points to another and argue today and renew friendships tomorrow, ordinary folks will find it very difficult.

The rigour of parlimentary debates thickens the skins of most politicians. Karpal is a veteran in the like of Tan Aik Huang, Rudi Hartono or the younger Rashid Sidek for Badminton. It's all about smashes and returns and deceptions. Yes they are alert most of the time, even while in wheelchair. They quarrel today and they laugh the next day.

Folks of the street are not all with thick skins. Emotions may sweep them off the reality. Ordinary folks may not be able to handle heightened pressure. If not handled carefully, there may be tensions that will lead to explosive demonstration of anger. God knows what that will lead to.

Why are we doing this? Why are taking things to the streets. Are we streetwise or streetmaniacs. Do we expect laws to be ammended by taking issues to the alleys. Who are we to know that cul-de-sac leads to nowhere. If demonstrations are organised or participated by politicians then we are crazy fools. Then politicians fail to make full use the sanctuary of Dewan Rakyat or people's hall.

Therefore politicians are greedy lots by taking both the hall and the streets. Let us pressure them to discuss and debate seriously in Parliment. Streets are for meant for us, folks to go about our normal life, for little kids to cross, for hawkers to get a few dollars more, for taxi drivers to get a few passengers more and the police to exercise their authority for the safety of us, the road users.

I thought when we put a big cross on ballot paper, whoever is elected will take our worries to parlimentary sessions. The dusty streets are not made for exhibition of anger!

On the final analysis, lets be fair. Lets us understand why ISA was drafted many years ago. ISA safeguard ordinary folks. ISA will keep away some for the benefit of ordinary folks. Thats all.

So, cant we toe the line and be civilised?

- beritadarigunung

Political Orienteering

Laura Drake and Andrew Potter, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Saturday, September 27, 2008

Way back in 1789, when France was fruitlessly trying to avoid an American-style revolution, the powers-that-were decided to convene the French Estates-General for the first time in more than a century to try to sort their problems out.

For ease of seating the near-600 representatives of the Estates-General, those who generally favoured state intervention sat on the right, while those who thought the state should keep their noses out of people's business sat on the left. And thus, the labels left-wing and right-wing were born.

Though the definitions of the two wings have essentially flipped since their invention, the popularity of the labels has endured, possibly since the word 'nut' attaches so neatly to the end of both.

However, given that the concept of left- and right-wing stretch back to the French Revolution, it's not surprising that they came to be viewed as anachronistic. Eventually, political scientists started musing that a simple left-right divide based solely on economic preferences unfairly ignored the entire social dimension of politics. After all, Joseph Stalin and Gandhi were both collectivists, but they probably wouldn't have gotten along had they run into one another at a pool party.

Thus, the political compass was born. The traditional left-right economic line was bisected with a north-south social line. Early versions of the political compass test presented in textbooks and political papers had five or 10 questions that quiz-takers self-scored then placed themselves on the grid appropriately. Presumably, this was an exercise undertaken mostly by political science undergrads putting off doing a paper.

But then the Internet took off, and around 2001, a political journalist hooked up with a social history professor, made a version with around 60 questions, and bought the domain name politicalcompass.org.

The online version of the test divides questions into six subsets: views on your country and the world, the economy, personal social values, wider society, religion and sex. In each, respondents are asked to consider propositions to which they can strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. The end result places the respondent on a grid with the economic left and right along the x-axis, and social authoritarianism and libertarianism on the y-axis.

With the Canadian election in full swing, The Citizen Intelligence Unit invited the major party leaders to take five minutes and fill out the online quiz. All declined, though the Bloc Québécois did fill out the survey from the party's point of view.

Undeterred, we combed through the Liberal, Conservative and NDP platforms, policies and texts of speeches to answer the test for them. This, undoubtedly, was an inexact art. Whenever possible, the questions were answered based on the party's professed ideology -- even where recent actions would seem to betray party doctrine.

Ultimately, our assessments landed all parties but the Conservatives in the left wing/libertarian quadrant, though to varying degrees. The Conservatives ended up on the right wing side of the economic scale, with a slightly authoritarian bent.

source: Political Orienteering
Ottawa Citizen, Canada

The Business of Politics

Talk about mixing business and politics; they’re practically married now. As the debate surrounding the federal government’s proposed $700 billion bailout rages, it is interesting to note who’s in the loop.

Each of the two presidential candidates have taken time during campaign stops and interviews to discuss their views and perspectives on the crisis in the financial services industry. We’re not here to debate who’s right and who’s wrong.

What’s fascinating is that both candidates were at the White House yesterday in the room with Congressional leaders and others, debating and negotiating their way to what -- as of this morning -- is a stalemate.

Neither candidate is a member of a banking- or financial services-related committee in the Senate. Neither has a background in the financial services industry. Their participation in the meeting was solely due to their candidacies for president.

That leads to this question: To what extent should they be involved in crafting a bailout program for the banking industry, outside of incorporating their solutions into their platforms?

source: The Business of Politics
BankInnovation.net, NY

Despite Warnings, China’s Regulators Failed to Stop Milk

  • Published: Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
  • Last Modified: Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 5:24 a.m.


— Barely a month ago, China’s staging of the Beijing Olympics demonstrated how the Communist Party could mobilize its authoritarian political system. But the international scandal now unfolding over China’s contaminated dairy products is demonstrating, again, the weaknesses of that system.

In recent days, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has apologized for a scandal that has sickened 53,000 children, killed at least three and devastated China’s dairy industry, which he has promised to reform.

But a year ago, Mr. Wen made a similar pledge to overhaul safety regulations for food, drugs and other products in response to other safety scandals. His government authorized $1.1 billion and sent 300,000 inspectors to examine food and drug producers, but regulators could not prevent China’s biggest dairy producers from selling baby formula laced with an industrial additive called melamine.

The dairy scandal raises the core question of whether the ruling Communist Party is capable of creating a transparent, accountable regulatory structure within a one-party system. Party leaders realize that effective regulation is essential to convince the world that China’s products are safe and so maintain the rapid economic growth that has helped to sustain the party’s power. But many analysts say the party’s need to maintain control — of the economy and of information — undermines the independence of any regulatory system.

Beijing’s political priority of holding a “harmonious” Olympics was also a factor. Parents who tried to act as whistle-blowers were thwarted by an unresponsive bureaucracy, while Chinese journalists were blocked by censorship edicts banning coverage of politically touchy subjects during the prelude to the Olympics.

Officials now acknowledge that China’s leading dairy companies — including the Sanlu Group, the worst offender in the scandal — were exempted from mandatory government inspections. In hindsight, inspections might not have mattered: in May, the government’s top food quality agency rated dairy companies among the safest producers in China’s food industry, reporting that 99 percent of them passed safety inspections for their infant milk formula. Now, the government says that 22 dairy companies, including export brands like Mengniu and Yili, have produced powdered baby formula that contains traces of melamine.

“The system needs to be re-examined, top to bottom,” said Eliot R. Cutler, an expert on regulation and energy policy at the Beijing office of Akin Gump, an international law firm.

Much of the public outrage in China over the dairy scandal is focused on how the problem remained hidden for months as parents bought bad formula without realizing they were poisoning their babies. Beijing authorities say they learned about the problem only this month. They have blamed greedy corporations and local officials for wrongly hiding the crisis. But there were early warnings that were muffled by censorship or lapses in Beijing.

Fu Jianfeng, an editor at one of China’s leading independent publications, Southern Weekend, recently used a personal blog to describe how his newsweekly discovered cases of sickened children in July — two months before the scandal became public — but could not publish articles so close to the Games.

“As a news editor, I was deeply concerned,” Mr. Fu wrote on Sept. 14. “I had realized that this was a large public health disaster, but I was not able to send reporters to do reporting.”

Even earlier, on June 30, a mother in Hunan Province had written a detailed letter pleading for help from the food quality agency, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. The letter, posted on the agency’s Web site, described rising numbers of infants at a local children’s hospital who were suffering from kidney stones after drinking powdered formula made by Sanlu.

The mother said she had already complained in vain to Sanlu and local officials.

“Urgent! Urgent! Urgent!” she wrote. She called on Beijing authorities to order a product recall, release the news to the Chinese media and provide medical exams for babies who had consumed Sanlu formula. “Please investigate whether the formula does have problems,” she wrote, “or more babies will get sick.”

Hundreds of miles north, the health bureau in Gansu Province was also facing an unusual outbreak of sick infants. The Gansu Health Bureau spokesman, Yang Jingke, said his agency sent an urgent report in July to the Ministry of Health in Beijing describing how local hospitals were reporting high numbers of babies with kidney stones. Mr. Yang, speaking at a news conference this month, said all the babies had taken the same brand of formula. He said the Ministry of Health responded that it had attached “great importance” to the problem and would investigate. But nothing happened.

Beijing typically tries to address scandals with high-profile firings and arrests. After last year’s food and drug safety crisis, the head of China’s Food and Drug Administration was put to death for corruption. His execution was interpreted as the party’s way of sending a stern message warning lower officials to toe the line.

The government also oversaw a four-month crackdown that resembled a nationwide vice sweep: 1,187 criminal investigations opened, 300 drugmakers shuttered, 192,400 unlicensed food shops closed and 1,400 substandard slaughterhouses shut down.

The crackdown in response to the dairy scandal already echoes last year’s campaign. The country’s top food quality official, Li Changjiang, resigned while lower officials were fired or arrested.

But the essential relationship between regulators and industry seems unchanged. Some dairy farmers interviewed this week in Hebei Province said it was an open secret that milk was adulterated, although many claimed they did not know that melamine was being used. Some dairies routinely watered down milk to increase profits, then added other cheap ingredients so the milk could pass a protein test.

“Before melamine, the dealers added rice porridge or starch into the milk to artificially boost the protein count, but that method was easily tested as fake, so they switched to melamine,” said Zhao Huibin, a dairy farmer near Shijiazhuang.

Mr. Zhao said quality testers at Sanlu took bribes from farmers and milk dealers in exchange for looking the other way on milk adulterated with melamine. “In this business, bribery keeps everyone silent,” he said.

A company spokesman at Sanlu, after receiving a faxed list of questions, said the company would have no comment on this or any other aspect of the scandal.

Analysts say the lack of a truly independent regulatory system means that high-profile gestures, like executing or firing officials, have limited impact, especially because local industries are so often intertwined with local officials.

“These after-the-fact administrative measures miss the point,” wrote Arthur Kroeber, managing director of the Beijing-based consultancy, Dragonomics, in a recent note to clients. He said the problem was rooted in the Communist Party’s continued involvement in pricing control, company management and the flow of information.

“The party views control of all three as necessary to its rule,” he added. “Further major scandals are thus inevitable.”

The structure of the Sanlu Group, which keeps its headquarters in this gritty industrial city, is a case in point. The Hebei Province Communist Party appointed the company’s chairwoman, who was also a party official. Meanwhile, city officials in Shijiazhuang are now accused of helping cover up the problem rather than trying to warn the public.

For Sanlu, a pivotal moment came on Aug. 2 when company officials informed the board about the melamine problem. Sanlu is a joint venture with the New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra. Fonterra owns a 43 percent share and has three members on the board. Fonterra’s executives say their representatives immediately pushed for a public recall at the board meeting, only to be overruled by the rest of the board.

Sanlu had first received complaints about its powdered baby formula last December, according to state media. By March, the company had hired private companies to test its milk powder for contaminants. Yet Sanlu never issued any public warnings and never stopped promoting its products. On May 18, days after the devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province, the company made a much-publicized donation of $1.25 million worth of baby formula for infants orphaned or displaced by the catastrophe.

But problems were surfacing. On May 21, a father named Wang Yuanping posted a notice on a popular Internet message board, Tianya, in which he detailed months of frustrating interaction with the company. His infant daughter had been sickened after drinking the powdered formula. “Her urine was viscous and yellow, with granule,” Mr. Wang wrote. “This stopped when she stopped drinking and resumed when she started drinking.”

He had first alerted Sanlu in February because he feared someone might be counterfeiting the company’s products. Sanlu asked him to send a sample for testing and later company officials confirmed that the sample was their product. But they told Mr. Wang that the results were a “business secret” and refused to divulge them. By late March, Mr. Wang also complained to local officials in his hometown in Zhejiang Province but they said he needed to pay for expensive testing to prove the formula was bad.

By midsummer, some Chinese journalists were learning that sick babies were arriving at hospitals.

Mr. Fu, the editor at Southern Weekend, wrote in his blog that Sanlu applied pressure to block reporting and used its political connections to prevent some other newspapers from publishing articles about the problem. But with only weeks before the Olympics’ opening ceremony, the timing made media coverage nearly impossible. “We couldn’t do any investigation on an issue like this, at that time, in order to be harmonious,” Mr. Fu wrote.

For two years, the Central Propaganda Department had been issuing broad reporting guidelines that were distributed in Internal Digest, a classified bimonthly Communist Party bulletin. The emphasis was on promoting good news about the Olympics. But the scandals in 2007 over the safety of Chinese food and drug exports complicated this agenda. A huge pet-food recall in the United States was traced to Chinese animal feed adulterated with melamine. At home, Chinese consumers were alarmed over a bad-pork scare.

Propaganda officials responded by issuing rules that required domestic publications to obtain permission before publishing any articles about food safety and other politically delicate subjects.

On July 24, a television station in Hunan Province reported that infants who had consumed the same powdered formula were suffering kidney problems. The station showed packages of Sanlu formula, but was careful not to name the company.

Yet the problem remained largely concealed. “I felt very guilty and frustrated then,” Mr. Fu wrote. “The only thing I could do was to call every friend I knew to tell them not to feed their children with Sanlu milk powder.”

The problem was finally exposed in September when the New Zealand government, after discussions with Fonterra executives, contacted authorities in Beijing. Beijing officials say they knew nothing about the scandal until September, though a Fonterra company spokesman said the company believed the central government knew in August.

Chinese leaders have since responded forcefully, even as they have distanced themselves from responsibility for the scandal. The aggressive initial tone of media coverage shifted this week, as state media outlets like Xinhua, the country’s official news agency, emphasized how much the public appreciated the government’s response. And censors were filtering the Internet and removing certain postings, including the blog item by Mr. Fu.

Reached by telephone on Friday, Mr. Fu said he could not answer any questions about his blog.

This week, China Central Television, the government network, has been offering reassurances that the dairy products still on the shelves are safe.

source: Despite Warnings, China’s Regulators Failed to Stop Milk
Gainesville Sun, FL

Mengulas BigDog:Bahagian UMNO sedia calonkan Najib dan Muhyiddin

On September 22, 2008 at 5:40 am beritadarigunung Said:

Itu yang sering dikatakan sebagai suara akar umbi.

Rakyat telah menyatakan hasrat mereka melalui PRU12 April 2008. Kemorosotan undi BN berlaku di hampir kesemua kawasan Parlimen, hinggakan majoriti Abdullah sendiri turut merosot. Kawasan paling selamat di Negeri Sembilan, Rembau kehilangan berpuluh ribu majoriti.

Kini giliran akar umbi UMNO pula untuk menyatakan pendirian mereka. Barisan pemimpin sudah berani berterus terang dalam mesyuarat Umno supreme council khamis lalu. Akar umbi sudah lama menanti signal berani seperti itu.

Mahaguru yang menganjurkan “Melayu perlu bersikap kurang ajar”, Musa Hitam entah dimana. Namun beliau terlalu licik untuk berpihak dimana-mana.

merujuk posting asal Bigdog: Bahagian UMNO sedia calonkan Najib dan Muhyiddin..

Mengulas Ruhanie Ahmad: Perhimpunan Agung ditunda Mac

Berita dari gunung said...

Yang masih tidak diumum secara jelas ialah Abdullah tidak akan bertanding jawatan Presiden Mac ini.

Melihat kepada kepuasan Najib, Muhyiddin dan Rafidah di TV semalam, barangkali itulah yang diputuskan. Barangkali juga Majlis telah menyerahkan kepada Abdullah sendiri untuk membuat pengumuman bila-bila masa sebelum Umno bahagian mula bersidang.

Enam bulan untuk Abdullah berkemas dan Najib menyiap diri adalah mencukupi.

Namun Bernama semalam menyebut Khairy sebagai berkata penangguhan hingga Mac menyulitkan kempen beliau. Katanya kalau bertanding untuk jawatan ketua pemuda bahagian tidak mengapa tetapi kempen beliau ialah untuk Ketua Pemuda Umno Pusat.

Tetapi malang sekali Khairy perlu menyebut sabotaj sebagai penghalang kempen. Naib ketua pemuda tidak wajar dengan alasan sedemikian. Alasan sebegitu adalah untuk tokoh yang kecil-kecil sahaja.

Hal Khairy bukan sekadar tempuh kempen yang lebih panjang tetapi dengan senario mertuanya akan berundur dalam tempuh terdekat. Beliau akan kehilangan protection yang penting.

Tiba waktunya, kita perlu berenang tanpa pelampung. Ombak tetap ganas.

Merujuk posting asal Ruhanie Ahmad kudakepang: UPDATE: PERHIMPUNAN AGUNG UMNO DITUNDA KE BULAN MA...

Mengulas Malaysiakini: Teresa, dont play with fire.

Kok's family home attacked
Rahmah Ghazali | Sep 27, 08 10:10am
breaking news updated 12.40pm Two Molotov cocktails were thrown into the family home of Seputeh MP Teresa Kok in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur early today. No one was hurt in the incident.MORE
  • Vulgar message thrown in too
  • Family members very shaken

Molotov cocktail


1. Ambiga, The Lina Joy case as well as the two public fora on the social contract and conversion to Islam this year, which appear to have rent further the gap between the civil and syariah courts. Datuk S. Ambiga, she'd say they were a little "too eventful”. Ambiga herself has received several threatening messages and phone calls from anonymous parties, most particularly after last month's forum on "Conversion to Islam: Revisiting Article 121(A) of the Federal Constitution". A Molotov cocktail was lobbed into the compound of her old family home, now occupied by Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Women's Affairs, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, and her family.

2. IPOH, May 15 (Bernama) — The Perak DAP headquarters in Bandar Ipoh Raya here was damaged when two unidentified men hurled a petrol bomb at it early this morning. The incident, which happened at 2.20am, was witnessed by a security guard, Ammeri Ahmad, 45, who was on duty at a nearby school and who then called the police.

3. November 7, 2001 Churches torched in Malaysia in reaction against war in Afghanistan. Christian churches in Malaysia have been under attack as extremist Islamic groups reacted to the U.S.-led military attacks on Afghanistan. The latest of a series of arson attempts on Christian churches took place on October 27, when extremists set ablaze the Christ Community Center Church in Subang Jaya.

A fortnight before this, extremists attempted to torch the Catholic Church of Christ the King in Sungai Petani, a city about 190 miles northwest of Kuala Lumpur in the northern state of Kedah, the home state of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

In a separate attack, Molotov cocktails were thrown at St Philip’s Catholic Centre on October 14 in Segamat in the southern state of Johore. Fortunately, most of the Molotov cocktails failed to explode and only the door was damaged.

The Marthoma Christian Community Centre, also in Sungai Petani, was set ablaze by suspected Muslim extremists in July. Damage to the Center was estimated at £55,000 and police believe members of the Malaysian Mujahideen Group (Kumpulan Militan Malaysia), were responsible for the fire

4. Myanmar who threw a Molotov cocktail at KL Myanmar embassy will be charged

KUALA LUMPUR: A Myanmar citizen who allegedly threw a molotov cocktail at his country’s embassy in Ampang will be charged for mischief on Aug 14.

A Sessions Court here set the date to hear two charges against arts graduate Saw Naung, 25, a Myanmar national, who is said to have thrown a molotov cocktail at the embassy in Jalan Ampang Hilir in Cheras at noon on July 22.

5. Malaysia 'teapot cult' attacked. A lawyer for the sect, Haris Mohamad Ibrahim, said that about 30 armed men dressed in Arab robes had attacked the commune with Molotov cocktails. No-one was injured in the attack, which caused a small fire Its leader, Ayah Pin, says he is the saviour of the world.

6. The house of an Australian computer consultant here was attacked by four Molotov cocktails, but no one was killed or injured, local reports said on Tuesday.

The Australian was at home with a female Malaysian friend when four Molotov cocktails were hurled at the house, but only two of them exploded, Malaysia's national news services Bernama said.

Bernama said that last Saturday and Monday, Molotov cocktails were hurled at the houses of the executive director and a senior manager of KFC holdings in Malaysia.UPDATED: 21:10, March 21, 2006

7. Molotov cocktail attack in Tawau: Man held 18 January, 2005 Tawau: Police have detained a Bugis in his 40s in connection with the molotov cocktail (petrol bomb) attack on the house of a businessman at Taman Leitz, here, on Friday. District Police Chief, ACP Sulaiman Junaidi, said police spotted the vehicle matching the complainant's description at Km 6, Jalan Kuhara, on Sunday afternoon. The vehicle was stopped and the driver detained to facilitate investigations, he said.

8. Molotov cocktails are used against
the Police when 2 men are injured after live bullets were fired in the crowd at the Batu Burok violence in Terengganu, Malaysia on Saturday night (September 8). The clash was sparked when police ordered the crowd of 500 people (some reported 750) gathering at Jalan Sultan Mahmud, close to Batu Burok, to disperse peacefully at 10pm. The crowd was there to attend a talk organized by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections

9. DISPUTE OVER A SHRINE. HOW TO EXPLAIN THE ugly religious incident in downtown Penang? The economy? Politics? It began when Muslims attending prayers complained about noise from a Hindu shrine nearby and asked them to move. State authorities allocated a new site less than a kilometer away, and in late March Hindu devotees gathered to move the shrine. That's when Muslims began hurling rocks and taunts, according to bystanders. "It was intimidating," says a state assemblyman who spoke to witnesses.

The next evening a group of Muslims prepared to march to the new Hindu site. Police managed to head off a clash and arrested 94 "troublemakers" armed with Molotov cocktails and parangs (knives). Deputy Premier Anwar Ibrahim, who hails from Penang state, persuaded leaders of both sides to shake hands.

According to a senior official, politics may have played a part. A few months ago the owner of the land asked the city to remove the shrine because it was an illegal structure. The authorities prevaricated. During campaigning for internal division elections for the United Malays National Organization (dominant party in the federal coalition) one of the challengers in a three-way fight reportedly backed the Muslims' complaint. Concluded the state assemblyman: "Some say local leaders took advantage of the situation."

According to a senior official, politics may have played a part.
According to a senior official, politics may have played a part.
According to a senior official, politics may have played a part.
According to a senior official, politics may have played a part.
According to a senior official, politics may have played a part.
According to a senior official, politics may have played a part.

beritadarigunung: Thanks to the original write-ups by friends. Of course, to continue living in Malaysia, we have to get to know the distant cousins where ever they are, black, brown, yellow and whites.

Recklessness in a dangerous time


In the wake of the turbulent events of the last few days, a moment of unhappy reflection is necessary.

A large amount of uncertainty gripped the markets, lawmakers and the American people this week. It was and still is an unsettling time.

And during times of national crisis — make no mistake we are in one — Americans look for strong leadership that can compel the public and decision-makers to be reasonable and pragmatic.

Normally, we look to the president, but unfortunately George W. Bush does not have the power or the credibility to lead us through any event, especially a challenge as monumental as this one. So the torch had to pass to members of Congress, to party leaders and to congressional committee chairs.

It is hard to fully celebrate any of them, but Democratic leaders seemed to do what they could, within the constraints they were dealing with. There was, from an early stage, a consensus to pass a bill with a number of key provisions with an emphasis on helping homeowners, strong oversight and limits on executive pay. But there was also, from the beginning, a clear understanding articulated by Democrats that they would not go this alone.

They insisted on cover, if you will, from Republicans. The Democrats were right to say that they were not going to absorb all the blame that was primarily the making of the peddlers of laissez-faire economics within the GOP and the White House.

Give credit to members of the president's staff for working with the Democrats and many Senate Republicans.

The failure and the recklessness, then, came from a specific corner of the other side.

We speak here not just of Sen. John McCain's political maneuver to "suspend" his campaign to return to Washington only to throw a monkey wrench in the cogs of a developing deal, but a widespread revolt in the House among some 100 conservative Republicans against a compromise measure developed by leaders of both parties and members of President Bush's team.

This group of GOP representatives pulled stunt after stunt as the markets continued to gyrate, as the credit markets continued to dry up, as the very fabric of the American economic system — right down to the hometown independent bank — was beginning to look imperiled.

The GOP House leader showed up at one key White House meeting on Thursday with the presidential candidates, only to drop the bombshell that he didn't have the support of the majority of his members. This seemed a surprise to everyone, except John McCain, who decided to keep that bit of information to himself.

Ranking Republicans in the Senate and the House darted in and out of committee meetings announcing they were there as observers, or only there to represent themselves or only as a representative of some faction or another.

It was all fun and games at the circus when the town was on fire. It was unacceptable, ridiculous, embarrassing and dangerous.

But most of all it was political.

At the end of the week, it be-came clear that the princes of free-market economics represented by this group of House members were intending to use this national emergency as an opportunity to define their faction of the party.

This, they were shouting as the sirens were screaming, is what the GOP will stand for in the future: no government intervention in the economy and no regulation. We are the party of Reagan, they bellowed.

Nevermind that they are the party that has long advocated the disastrous policies that led to this in the first place.

Here, then, is the slogan of these House members and their new enabler, John McCain: Party First.

source: Recklessness in a dangerous time
Anniston Star

A Question of Leadership

Andrew Romano

What if John McCain's "amazing gambit"--suspending his campaign, calling off Friday's debate and inviting Barack Obama to return to Washington with him to work on the economic crisis--ends not with a bang but a whimper?

That's the way it's looking right now. When McCain delivered his surprise announcement here in New York yesterday afternoon, both he and the Democratic Party were quick to say that the Treasury's $700 billion bailout bill was in grave danger of collapsing. For McCain, "it ha[d] become clear that no consensus ha[d] developed to support the Administration's proposal" and that the nation was "running out of time." For the Dems, McCain's return to Washington "risk[ed] injecting presidential politics into this process" and delaying the legislation. Of course, this was pure political posturing. McCain wanted to appear as if he were rescuing America from a dire situation. The Democrats wanted it to appear as if he were creating one.

But the truth is, the legislation itself was approaching the finish line by the time McCain dropped his bombshell. "By 2:00 p.m. yesterday," writes the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, "the House and Senate Democrats had settled their most important differences, the White House had caved on CEO pays, and the two sides were coming close to dealing with the bailout's oversight mechanism, its posture toward homeowners, and whether taxpayers would get ownership stakes in taken-over companies." Given that, it's somewhat ludicrous for McCain to claim--as he did again this morning in speech at the Clinton Global Initiative--that "no consensus has developed" and that "the plan on the table will [not] pass." That's simply not true. In fact, many of McCain's "five fundamental improvements"--oversight, CEO pay--have already been adopted. According to reports from the Hill, the most likely sequence of events for today is that Republican and Democratic congressional leaders--who are convening this morning (without McCain) to hammer the details--will present a consensus framework to be ratified at the unprecedented White House meeting between President Bush, Obama, McCain and top negotiators scheduled for 4:00 p.m.

At this point, McCain would have two choices: either sign off on the framework or, citing pet provisions left on the cutting room floor, announce that he will oppose the bill until it meets his exact specifications. The latter scenario is possible. The Senate Democratic leadership reportedly fears that McCain will vote "no"--defying Bush and "standing with" the American people, who remain skeptical of the bailout--in an attempt to burnish his "maverick" brand. But that maneuver carries such significant risks--not the least of which is being seen as deliberately destroying (for his own political posturing) a fragile bipartisan compromise that's crucial to the nation's economic security--that I suspect McCain take the safer route: acquiesce at the White House, vote "yes" on the legislation and fly to Oxford, Miss. in time for Friday night's debate.

Hence the whimper. Of course, McCain will try to argue that a) he helped seal the deal and b) improved the flawed Bush legislation to guard taxpayers. But the chronology--which shows that Congress and the White House were already nearing an agreement when McCain parachuted in--will contradict him. As House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said yesterday, "now that we’re on the verge of making a deal, John McCain drops himself in to make a deal." The only accurate argument available to McCain will be that the potentially polarizing effects of his presence "lit a fire under the behinds of Democratic negotiators," pushing them to meet today's 4:00 p.m. deadline--which, incidentally, was set by Bush. In other words, McCain's actual involvement will be entirely symbolic--a gesture rather than an accomplishment.

In all likelihood, the bill will pass. The candidates will debate. And business as usual will resume. Does this mean that voters should simply forget McCain's startling maneuver? Hardly. It may not result in any real consequences--positive or negative--but the Arizona senator's decision (and Obama's reaction) has provided us with the clearest window to date on their contrasting styles of leadership. Neither candidate did, said or proposed anything that actually helped solve the problem at hand. But their individual instincts were on display. Half-submerged in a political quagmire of economic uncertainty and dismal polling, McCain discarded the rules of the road and made a dramatic, unorthodox move that sent a unmistakable message but showed little concern for logistics on the ground. Meanwhile, Obama remained dispassionate, sticking to his talking points--here are my improvements; the debate must go on--and staying in Florida until summoned to Washington by the president.

Views on the candidates in crisis will differ. It's like a Rorschach Test of presidential leadership. Some will see McCain's response as bold, assertive, unconventional and impassioned. Indeed, the former fighter pilot's "need for speed" may be one reason he's leading among Independents--who are angrier than ever at Washington and may appreciate McCain's "mad as hell" attitude--by an astonishing 14 points (up from six earlier this month) in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Others will see McCain's response as gimmicky, reckless, impulsive and opportunistic. "An affront to American voters," carped the Washington Post's Harold Meyerson. "McCain's ploy was transparent." Likewise, Obama's reaction will strike some voters as steady, strong, rational and pragmatic. The aforementioned NBC/WSJ survey, for instance, shows that a majority of voters now agree that the Illinois senator could handle a military crisis well as president--a possible product of his confidence and certainty in the face of the Wall Street meltdown. Others, however, will see him as passive, detached, conventional and cautious.

Predictably, many of these disagreements will break along party lines. C'est la vie politique. The question going forward is what portion of the tiny segment of the populace still unsure which candidate they'll support on Nov. 4 will prefer McCain's style of leadership--as currently on display, and as reinforced over the next 40 days--to Obama's. More than anything else, the answer will determine our next president.

source: A Question of Leadership

Asian Central Banks Cut Rates to Counter Impact of U.S. Crisis

By Shamim Adam

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Asia's central banks have started to cut interest rates, judging they need to counter the effect of the U.S. financial crisis on their export-dependent economies as inflation peaks.

Taiwan cut borrowing costs on Sept. 25, joining China, Australia and New Zealand in easing the price of money this month. Inflation rates have slowed in Thailand and Sri Lanka, and policy makers in the Philippines, India and Indonesia forecast price gains will cool before the end of the year.

Lower borrowing costs may spur growth as the economies of the U.S., Europe and Japan weaken and the deepening credit crisis threatens to tip the world into a recession. Still, some analysts say the inflation fight isn't over and that loose monetary policy or a surge in oil costs may spark another bout of higher prices.

``The bias may be shifting too quickly to growth and that is not wise,'' said Jan Lambregts, head of Asia research at Rabobank International in Hong Kong. ``It's too early to declare victory over inflation.''

The credit crisis led Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. to file for bankruptcy and prompted the sale of Merrill Lynch & Co. to Bank of America Corp. this month. U.S. regulators have seized at least nine lenders since July, including Washington Mutual Inc. yesterday, the fastest pace in 15 years.

While the contagion from the turmoil isn't likely to infect Asia's banking systems, the credit crisis is hurting exports.

Fewer orders for made-in-Asia goods are cooling industrial production in China, Singapore and Taiwan among others. Bank of Korea official Kang Myung Hun, who opposed a rate increase last month, said the nation's slowing economy is more of a concern than accelerating inflation.

Growth Forecasts

Merrill Lynch & Co. this month cut its forecast for Asia's growth in 2008 and 2009. The region will expand 7.7 percent this year, and ease further to 7.3 percent in 2009. Both forecasts were reduced from previous predictions of 7.9 percent growth.

``The U.S. is deteriorating and investors are increasingly pessimistic about the European economy,'' said Tomo Kinoshita, chief economist for Asia outside Japan at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Hong Kong. ``These are major destinations for Asian exports, and the implications of slower growth cannot be ignored.''

Taiwan's central bank unexpectedly reduced interest rates 12.5 basis points to 3.5 percent on Sept. 25, saying the global financial crisis had heightened the risk of an economic slowdown.

The People's Bank of China reduced its one-year lending rate to 7.20 percent from 7.47 percent on Sept. 15 and Australia's central bank lowered borrowing costs on Sept. 2, its first reduction in seven years.

In Malaysia and Sri Lanka, central bank officials refrained from raising rates even as inflation accelerated to the highest in decades.

Philippines, Indonesia

The Philippine central bank may not need to raise interest rates further as inflation may have peaked at 12.5 percent, Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said Sept. 17.

Bank Indonesia's Deputy Governor Hartadi Sarwono last month said an interest rate of 9.5 percent may be ``adequate'' to slow inflation. The central bank's key rate is at 9.25 percent now.

``They're all pretty much done with raising interest rates, and those who didn't move probably won't have to,'' says Joseph Tan, chief economist for Asia at Credit Suisse Private Banking in Singapore. ``Asia needs to cushion against further downside risks to growth and guard against the fallout in the global financial system.''

Some economists are concerned the interest-rates cuts will rekindle inflation.

`Inflation Genie'

``Put the inflation genie back in the bottle now,'' said Asian Development Bank Chief Economist Ifzal Ali. Asia needs to ``tighten monetary policy even if it requires a temporary sacrifice of growth.''

Inflation in Asia will reach 7.8 percent this year, higher than an April forecast of 5.1 percent that was already the most in a decade, the ADB said. Prices may ease to 6 percent next year, it predicts.

``Lower rates will increase domestic demand and inflation pressures will start to kick in once again, exactly what central banks were trying to avoid in the first place,'' Lambregts said. ``It's a risky move and they'll pay a price for it.''

source: Asian Central Banks Cut Rates to Counter Impact of US Crisis

Language barrier splits Malaysians into classes

A visibly angry Maimunah Hamid shook her head in desperation as Education Ministry officials struggled to explain to angry parents gathered at a parent-teachers meeting at a national school in the city last week.

"I have had enough, I am moving my daughter to an international school," said Maimunah, an accountant with Maybank, Malaysia's biggest bank. "I am sick of this flip-flop policy, why can't you all make up your mind?" Most of the 120 parents agreed with Maimunah, 46, a mother of two daughters aged nine and 12.

"Make up you mind please — English or Malay. Don't torture the children," said another parent Kanagaratnam Vellupillai, 39. "This issue has been going on for years and years." In fact the issue — English or Malay as a medium of instruction — has been hotly debated and remains unresolved since the British colonialists left in 1957.

After acrimonious debate the matter was settled in 1967 that Malay would be the medium of instruction in all national schools, but that Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools could continue teaching in a mixture of Malay and their own mother tongues.

However, in a decision in 2002, which was widely opposed by parents, officials, opposition lawmakers and even civil servants, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ordered the return of English on the grounds that national education in Malay narrowed student minds, retarded economic growth and that if continued, Malaysia's competitiveness would collapse against Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok.

more: Language barrier splits Malaysians into classes
Malaysia Today, Malaysia

Latest Home of Teresa Kok's parents hit by molotov cocktail

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok has confirmed that a molotov cocktail was thrown into her parents' house at Jalan Ipoh early this morning by unknown attackers.

No one was hurt in the 2.55am incident as the petrol bomb did not explode, said Sentul district police chief ACP Zakaria Pagan. At the time, Kok’s parents and younger sibling were at home.

Kok will be holding a press conference regarding this matter at her parents’ home later today. — BERNAMA

beritadarigunung: oh, someone want to scare someone else. It is wrong to assume that everyone can talk and articulate like lawyers or MP. .... No! never. Some will resort to ways they are familiar with. Some will use hands and legs.

Like Former IGP and Anwar. Politicians resort to mumbo jumbo..., others resort to puncho and kicko. See.., we as individuals cant really impose our ways on others especially on sensitive issues. If Teresa has not figured out the time-bomb attached to racial and religous issues, then, yeah, i dont know. Lets do what a man suppose to do...

If we believe in harmony, then we really have to respect others. Every one should. Even Teresa Kok. !

Postponement Of Umno Assembly Proves Abdullah Putting Party First - Muhyiddin

  • September 26, 2008 21:12 PM
  • (Bernama)

-- The postponement of the Umno general assembly to March next year is prove that Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi gives priority to party interest and respects the views of members.

"My respects go out to the Umno president. Pak Lah had been magnanimous and had considered everything," vice president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin told reporters after the Umno Supreme Council special meeting at Menara Dato' Onn here Friday.

Asked why he seemed satisfied although no date had been mentioned for the power transition, Muhyiddin said: "I think you have to have the trust...There must be a certain element of trust."

The Umno Supreme Council special meeting on Friday decided to postpone the general assembly to March next year while retaining the dates for divisional meet. The decision on divisional meetings would ensure that the election process could continue in accordance with the democratic process.

Muhyiddin said the postponement followed frank talks between Abdullah and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak in recent months, taking into account sentiments and views from the party grassroots.

He said it was important that the decision would not cause disunity and ensure that the power transition process would not affect the president's credibility and done in a respected and orderly manner.

"Although the party elections have been delayed to March, members must not feel there abuse of power as it was made after a collective agreement," he said.

Umno information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib said Supreme Council members accepted the postponement to cool down the heated political situation.

"March is the end of the 18 months extension period allowed. Pak Lah also mentioned about the transition of power but did not say when. I believe the postponement had something to do with the transition of power," he said.

"On whether Abdullah would be contesting at the Umno elections, he said the party president would make an announcement before the divisional meetings start.

Vice president Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the postponement decision had unanimous support from members as it would not affect the divisional meetings.

"Postponing divisional meetings will cause a host of problems as preparation like buildings and the dates had already been confirmed," he said.

Meanwhile, Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said the postponement was a wise move.

He said the postponement would give an opportunity to the leaders at the branch and division levels to resolve matters arising in their respective branches and divisions.

Speaking at a breaking of the fast with community leaders, he said: "The postponement is a positive move as it gives an opportunity to Umno to evaluate and overcome weaknesses arising after the last general election."


original source: Postponement Of Umno Assembly Proves Abdullah Putting Party First ...
Bernama, Malaysia

Postponement Can 'Complicate Campaign', Khairy Says

  • September 26, 2008 22:55 PM
  • (Bernama)

Umno Youth vice head Khairy Jamaluddin has said that the decision of the party's Supreme Council to move the General Assembly to March next year can complicate the campaigns of those standing in the election.

The campaign period which was originally only two months would be extended to six months and this would make it difficult for the candidates eyeing higher posts like himself, he said.

"We know this may be the final decision. For those contesting for the post of divisional youth head, it is okay but for me who is contesting for the youth head of the movement, it will be a decision which complicates the campaign.

"The campaign period will become longer and it will not be easy. Remember the two-week election campaign, even that was not easy what more six months.

"It is in this six months we have to campaign," he told Bernama after attending a breaking of fast at the residence of Terengganu Besar Datuk Ahmad Said in Kijal here Friday night.

Khairy who is Rembau Member of Parliament, has announced his candidacy for the post of Umno Youth head during party elections which were initially slated for December.

However, the Umno Supreme Council today decided to move the date of the General Assembly, during which the elections are to be held, to March next year.

The divisional delegates meetings, where nominations for national posts will take place, will start on Oct 9 as scheduled.

Khairy said Umno Youth would respect and abide by the decision of the Supreme Council.

Ahmad who is Terengganu Umno liaison chief also said that the Supreme Council's decision had to be respected. "It proves that the power transition in Umno as the main Malay party runs perfectly and in order," he said.

Umno president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said earlier that the postponement was to facilitate an early transition of power although the original plan was for him to hand over to his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in June 2010.

Meanwhile, Khairy who yesterday claimed that he was being sabotaged by certain quarters who prevented party grassroots from meeting him, said he would not hesitate to diclose the culprits if they continued to do so.

He said he would bring the matter up to the Supreme Council if his campaign was adversely affected by the restriction. "So far, it is not too serious but it has more or less affected the campaign," he said.

Besides Khairy, others who have offered themselves for the same post are Jerlun Member of Parliament Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, Perlis Umno liaison deputy chairman Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin and former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo.

When asked whether the restriction came from his rivals, Khairy said: "I need not comment; make your own assumptions."

source: Postponement Can 'Complicate Campaign', Khairy Says
Bernama, Malaysia