Thursday, November 29, 2007

Apa Membazir Pula?

Menteri Besar ketika diminta memberi komen berkenaan tindakan Pejabat Menteri Besar Pahang membida RM48,000 untuk nombor plat CCC 9:

Soal membazir tidak timbul, pasal duit itu kerajaan bayar kepada Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ). JPJ pula akan gunakan duit itu untuk membayar gaji.

Apa membazir pula? Duit itu pusing daripada kerajaan ke kerajaan. Bukan untuk Adnan Yaakob (tetapi) untuk kerajaan,

Saya tidak berhajat nak komen panjang. Antara justifikasi:
1. Nombor plat tersebut boleh dijual dengan harga yang mahal
2. Kereta yang akan menggunakan plat tersebut ialah milik kerajaan untuk membawa tetamu kerajaan, jadi mudah dikenal pasti.

Marilah kita renung bersama.

Idiotic Remarks (1)

"The decision to maintain toll charges at the four routes was made because these are used daily by people from all walks of life. The government does not want to burden them. That's why we agreed to pay RM242m as compensation to the concessionaires"

Samy Vellu on why toll charges on 4 major highways are not increased.

On why tolls on 7 other "minor" highways were increased, Samy reasoned that "the routes would have higher toll rates as traffic on them were less as they were not widely used compared with the other highways"

Both excerpts from New Straits Times, Thursday, 29 November 2007.

I would just like to comment as follows:

Statement No. 1 - No toll increase but government pay RM242 million.
Where does the government get the RM240m? Is it not from the rakyat? so we ended up paying also. At least if the toll is collected only those who use the roads got to pay, now everyone have got to pay. Moreover, the toll concessionaires do not have to do any extra work, just collect RM242m.

Statement No. 2 - Toll increased because traffic is low.
How come when traffic is low toll is increased but when traffic is high there is no provision for the tolls not to be increased? I'm sure traffic at the major highways have exceeded initial projections judging by the daily jams on these roads.

Does the government seriously think that those using the N-S Highway will not increase the prices of their products because the tolls were subsidized by the rakyat?

Every few years we will be talking about the toll increase and people get riled up for a while. In the end the debate will always be whether the rakyat should pay (through increase in toll charges) or the rakyat should pay (through subsidy by the government). So, the rakyat will always be in a lose-lose situation. There is absolutely no effort made to take another look at the privatisation agreement. Just because there is a provision for a rate increase we MUST do it. Why not look at the traffic volume, or their maintenance costs. Just because some idiots decided to take the rakyat for a ride when the agreements were drawn up we have to continue to be idiots for the next 30 years.

Idiots ... sometimes I'm convinced we are the bigger idiots because we continuously choose them to take us for a long ride and we are paying for it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Conversation with a Friend

A friend visited me today. We had the following conversation, among others:

Friend: Times are tough. Its hard to earn a decent living

Me: Times are not supposed to be tough. Our country is rich. We should have lots of money. All those who work hard should be able to earn a decent living.

Friend: I'm working hard but I'm struggling still.

Me: Maybe belum sampai masa Tuhan memberi kemewahan pada kamu. Maybe juga there are people who do not want to work hard but want to earn a more than a decent living. So he has to take your share.

Friend: Maybe so. That's the problem when wealth is not distributed to those who hard but to those who are chosen.

Me: You are right. So lets make noise so that the situation improves.

Friend: I do not want to get involve. Malas nak fikir pasal politik.

Me: Kawan, you tak boleh malas fikir. Tuhan dah beri kamu keupayaan berfikir, dah masuk universiti. Berapa peratus orang Malaysia masuk universiti? Kalau kamu malas berfikir, orang yang tak masuk universiti lagi malas nanti? Kamu kufur nikmat kalau tak guna apa yang telah diberi oleh Allah.

Friend: Kita terlalu kecil. Cannot make a difference.

Me: Kalau semua orang cakap macam tu, sapa nak kedepan? Anak cucu kita saper nak jaga? You have to get involve and also get other people involve, at least orang yang boleh berfikir. Sekarang nie kita dianggap bodoh sebab tu perkara yang dilakukan tak masuk akal.

Friend: Betul, tapi kalau kita sibuk2 pun tak jadi apa2. We will just be ignored. Dia orang dah control semua.

Me: Jangan putus asa. They assumed that we are supid. Semalam saya dengar laporan saham. "Harga saham turun berikutan penjualan oleh pelabur kerana mengambil untung". What an idiot? The market has been falling for the past few days, so what pengambilan untung are they talking about? But for those wo do not trade in the stock market thinks that the economy is well as the players can sell shares and "mengambil untung".

Friend: So, what should we do?

Me: THINK and do not let them take us for idiots.

Lets think. Then educate those who are not thinking. It is easier to convince educated people with facts than uneducated ones.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Hindraff Agenda

The past few days we have been reading so much about the Hindraff demo. Coming just a few weeks after the successful Bersih demo, I thought the organizers had also pulled off a major coup. After all, the police were better prepared. They even managed to obtain a restraining order to stop any gathering. Now that sure make it an illegal gathering because the court has determined it to be so.

To put the records straight, I fully sympathized with the Indians for being continuously neglected. But I wouldn't want a policy to help just the Indians just as I did not want a policy to favour just the Malays. The government should help the poor regardless of whether they are Indians, Malays or Chinese. Yes, there are poor Chinese too. If we have a policy just to help the Indians then we will be helping the Ananda Krishnans, Nallakaruppans, VK Lingams and their likes. These people should be doing their part in helping the poor Indians but they would rather give scholarships to the children of a Malay politician instead of an Indian rubber tapper's son.

Actually the purpose of this post is to comment on the contents of the Hindraff memo. I was sympathetic towards Hindraff until I read their memo in Rocky's blog
I cannot help but feel disappointed when I read that. If what is posted by Rocky is true then, Uthayakumar has lost my support. It seems to me, in trying to rally support among the Indians, he has alienated the majority of the Malays. He will be a hero of the Indians but sorry to say he will not achieve his objective of helping them. I'm sure he knows that Britain will not do anything about his badly written memo. Initially, I thought it was brilliant to sue the British when his actual target is the Malaysian government because it would attract global attention. But after reading it I now think otherwise.

My worry is that his memo will be used to garner support among the Malays for other causes which the Malays themselves are fighting for such as a clean and fair elections. Some of the Malays may now be willing to "sacrifice" a fair election to protect their interests and Uthayakumar has given them a common cause. And as we know, the propaganda machinery can do wonders.

Lets see how things turn out in the next few days but I think the Hindraff memo was a mistake. And it could be a costly mistake.

A website for PIBGs

A visitor to my blog (mind you I do not have many visitors as I did not promote this blog) by the name of Dr Mohamed Rafick has some things in common with me. He is a YDP of a PIBG. Though I'm just an AJK now, I used to be a YDP before and therefore can appreciate his predicament in trying to manage this important but often misunderstood NGO. I also have a good friend who has been a YDP of a school in Taman Melawati for several years and often share our thoughts on the subject.

Dr Rafick has introduced me to a site which is trying to consolidate the efforts of PIBG activities nation wide. I think this is a very good idea and would like to do my small part by promoting this site. I know it will not be much as my blog is not popular but I will also try to promote it through my other mailing lists.

If any of you are a member of any PIBG it may be worth your while to visit the site. It is still under development but do visit it from time to time to see its progress. I wish you well Dr. Rafick.

Off to Summer Camp

With Dr Hassan

Sunday, 25th November 2007, we sent off 3 off our children to Dato' Dr Hassan Ali's Summer Camp in Sungai Lui, Hulu Langat Selangor. Two of our other children, Nurlina and Ahmad Arif had the benefit of the same summer camp many years ago.

We have been wanting to send Ahmad Afiq, Ahmad Aizat and Nurhani to this camp for sometime and finally we managed to do it.

Afiq and Hani were nonchalant about the whole thing but Aizat, as usual, was trying to find excuses not to attend. He was even complaining of stomach upset the night before. I was not sure whether it was for real or just an excuse but we managed to get some medication for him.

We arrived at about 8:30 and started the registration process. At about 9:30 the opening address by Dr Hassan started and he took about one and a half hours. His introduction included a family get together session which attracted tears from all of us. There were about 280 participants in total and we left our kids at around 11:15am. We know they are in good hands.

We also know that they will be changed kids when we pick them up again on Tuesday but for how long? We, as parents need to learn the "Art of Parenting". This subject we never learn in college but we need to use them for the better part of our lives.

Have fun kids. We love you all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More Depressing PIBG Stories

The YDP and I met up with the Pengetua this morning. I had suggested to the YDP that he should not sign the Application Form. This will "create a scene" as the school will not be able to collect any fees next year (That would truly be free education !!) but the Pengetua advised us against it. After some discussions, we decided not to make life difficult for our kids. It would not be fair on them though I really wanted to show the decision makers that they have blundered.

We also discussed some steps the school should take to inform the parents about the actual situation with regards to the school fees. The PIBG will be around on the first day of school to explain to the parents that in Malaysia free education means "that the word 'yuran' does not appear anywhere. But you still have to make "bayaran tambahan" which is actually more than the previous yuran. If they are not happy please write or call the Ministers or MOE. We will provide the parents with the necessary contacts.

On another note, I received a call from one of our computer teachers that next year we will not be able to collect fees for our Computer classes. For the past 7 years the PIBG has been running computer classes for Forms 1 and 2 students. This introductory computer classes were designed to provide early exposure to all students. Not all students have PCs at homes. To run these classes and also ensure that the equipment are always in tune with the times, we collect RM70 per student per year. For the real poor students the PIBG will subsidize (either partly or fully) these yuran. For the past few years, out of the total of almost 600 students less than 1% defaulted in their payments. For the last 2 years, the collection was 100%. This is partly because of the good work of the teachers and also the fact that the parents are willing to pay for the classes. And now we cannot continue to collect the fees. How are we going to run the classes? The answer given by the MOE was to use the computers that were given by them more than 5 years ago. Out of the 20 given, currently only 5 are working. The computers do not even have USB ports. The operating systems are obsolete. I can go on. We cannot repair because the MOE has a maintenance contract with a big company. Compare this with the 40 new computers that the PIBG lab has, sufficient memory, 17" LCD monitor and much more. We upgrade the hardware every 2-3 years. The used computers are given to other users in the school such the teachers' room, library etc. So we are in another dilemma.

The more I write, the more depressed I become so I better stop. Enough of this sh...

God help us.... please

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Oh Hishamuddin, What have you done?

I'm pissed off ... really pissed off

Late Sunday night I received an sms from the Pengetua of Aizat's school. The message read "We need to meet (whoever can attend) tomorrow at 7:45am to discuss school fees" After sending Hani to her school I went straight to Sri Permata. The turnout from parents was really good despite the short notice and the first working day of the week. Dato' YDP, NYDP and a few other parents were there. Some teachers were not there as they were invigilating the SPM exams which started on that day.

Mr Ong told us that he received a Pekeliling (that dreaded piece of document that government servants has to treat like the Bible) about the school fees. The gist of the circular are the following:
1. The term "Yuran" will be replaced with "Pakej Bayaran Tambahan"
2. In essence the parents will have to pay more unless you take into account the fact that all students will now receive free text books. However for parents who already received free text books, they will have to pay more. So the poor parents have to pay more now while the rich parents pay less. What the heck?

The Pengetua is also complaining that he has just spent about RM8,000 to turn one empty classroom into a store to keep free textbooks for 1,500 students. Moreover his teachers would now have to keep stock of more than 10,000 books. All these for something that was not even requested by most of the parents. Normally when you do not ask for something you will not be able to value the gift.

Back to the "Yuran" issue. Now that there is no more "Yuran" but "Bayaran tambahan", the politicians can go tell the whole world that in Malaysia education is free. But how can that be so when we still have to pay "Bayaran Tambahan"? The answer is in the next instruction in the Pekeliling. The School must get the consent of the PIBG to collect the "Bayaran Tambahan". In fact the YDP has to sign the Application Form that must be submitted to the Ministry for them to approve the request from the parents that they be allowed to collect the money. See how neat it become? Legally, there is no more school fees. What is being collected from the parents now is money REQUESTED BY THE PARENTS themselves and they have the signed Application Form to prove that. So if the parents have asked for permission to collect the fees how can it be from the government? As far as the government is concerned, all money collected have been consented by the parents since they are the ones asking for it to be approved. The government has in fact been so kind so as to put a ceiling on the amount to be collected. The irony of it all is that the PIBG will not see a single sen of the money to be collected. It will go to 1. Kokurikulum, 2. Kertas Ujian, 3. Sukan Tahunan, 4. Insurans 5. MSSM and 6. Kegiatan Agama/Moral. Even Sumabangan PIBG is not included and we have to make another application for this. If we look at the purpose of the "Bayaran" all must agree that they are for the running of the school activities which is the responsibility of the government.

It is bad enough that we have been asked to pay for it. We know our country is still developing and those who can afford it should contribute towards educating our young. I'm sure a lot of people can live with that but when the government try to hoodwink us into saying that it is giving free education and at the same "tricked" us into paying for it, I'm really pissed off. Please don't take us for fools.

These past few years I've been sacrificing my time, money and efforts to do my bit to society by playing an active role in the PIBGs. And to see all these really make me sick. A government who cheats on its own people surely is not worth supporting. But will I make a difference? Maybe not, but I will sure try.

How can you get so screwed up Hisham? Go to the ground and listen more from people who are sincere in giving opinions not yes men agreeing to whatever you fancy. be continued

Monday, November 05, 2007

Another Weekend of Open Houses

It is still Syawal and therefore the open house invitations keep coming. But this week I had to reject a few of them as I was busy with the preparations for our Masjid's Hari Raya Gathering on Sunday.

Still, I managed to squeeze 3 visits on Saturday in between showing my face at the mosque. On Sunday, one of my neighbours held his open house and I had to be there. From 1:00 pm onwards I was at the mosque.

There was a very good crowd, definitely better that we had expected. Even more meaningful,some of our Chinese and Indians neighbours also managed to join us. The Muslimats, as usual, delivered what they promised and the function went very smoothly. All the food, except rojak, were finished by 4:00pm, some even earlier.

After Asar we went to Hassan's and Fuzi's in Melewati. They had invited quite a few of our friends. In fact, all my closest friends in my first few years in Carbondale were there. How I wished we could spend more time but it was getting late.

Another fruitful weekend, I must say.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Oh! What a Heart Breaker

My team, Manchester United, was playing the current table toppers, Arsenal, tonight. A win for the Devils would have put us on top of the standings. I was looking forward to this game for the past week. I planned my day today around the kick-off time of this game.

We led twice but Arsenal was "lucky" to snatch the draw in extra time. It was an absorbing game without too many goal scoring chances as the battle was mostly fought in midfield. United played well but I feel Arsenal played better but this is not surprising as they are playing at home. Anyway, a draw is a fair result, I think, but that was a real chance missed for Alex Ferguson and his charges.

For the record, Rooney continued his excellent form by scoring the first goal for United and Christiano Ronaldo scored the second though he was very subdued throughout the game. Fabregas also continued his fine goal scoring form while Gallas scored the extra time equaliser for the Gunners.

Tough luck guys but lets get on with it. There is always the home game later.

Friday, November 02, 2007

How Can I Not Love This Man?

I chanced reading the speech given by the Chief Minister of Kelantan Nik Aziz Nik Mat during the launch of "Wilayah Ekonomi Pantai Timur" by the Prime Minister in Kota Baru recently. I thought the Chief Minister in not too many words succeeded to convey a strong though subtle message about the actions or inactions of the Federal government. However, I doubt if the audience which include the Prime Minister, several Ministers and Chief Ministers would take heed to the spoken words of Nik Aziz, not even the Quranic verses cited. You may want to read the full speech including his arguments why oil found in Kelantan and its shores should benefit the rakyat of Kelantan.

Excerpt 1
Saya sempat juga mengikuti senarai projek-projek raksasa yang ada terkandung di dalam pelan induk yang disebut-sebut akan menelan perbelanjaan berjumlah RM112 bilion ini. Antara lain ia akan memuatkan sebuah Universiti yang telah beberapa kali dilancarkan, Lebuh Raya Pantai Timur, Jeti di Tok Bali dan usaha untuk menaikkan taraf Lapangan Terbang Sultan Ismail Petra sebagai pusat penerbangan untuk rantau Asia Tenggara, termasuklah keinginan yang kuat untuk memunculkan satu kelas perdagangan dan perindustrian bumiputera.

Excerpt 2
Menyentuh tentang peruntukan yang mencecah RM112 bilion untuk ECER, RM177 bilion lagi untuk Koridor Utara dan RM47.6 bilion lagi di Wilayah Pembangunan Iskandar, rakyat menjadi sedikit kagum dengan jumlahnya. Semakin hairan mereka apabila duit yang diisytiharkan ini boleh menjangkau Rancangan Malaysia ke 9, 10 dan boleh pergi sejauh RMK sebelas. Apapun, jika duit ini memang ada dan tidak menjadi masalah, maka kita perlu mengucapkan sebesar-besar syukur. Alhamdulillah, syabas.

Excerpt 3
Dalam banyak buku ilmiah, saya ada juga terbaca bahawa sesuatu pelan yang berkesan ialah pelan yang dapat diterima tanpa curiga oleh kumpulan sasar. Ciri pelan yang berjaya juga ialah pelan yang dapat dilaksanakan.

Saya berandaian, semua aspek ini telah diambil kira dalam segenap segi sehingga ia tidak menjadi sebuah impian dan bukan sekadar 'satu lagi pelan'. Sememangnya indah untuk berada sekadar di alam mimpi kerana ia mengasyikkan:

Anak Cina memetik selasih
Anyam rotan dibuat timba
Tiada yang indah dalam berkasih
Mimpikan bulan jatuh ke riba

Dalam banyak hal, apa yang mustahak ialah pelan yang dapat menghasilkan kenyataan.
Siapalah yang tidak bergembira untuk mendengar janji yang akan datang dalam ratusan bilion ringgit. Ini lebih-lebih lagilah apabila janji itu dipenuhi. Sudah banyak kita saksikan betapa janji yang indah kadang-kadang boleh menjadi musuh besar apabila ia gagal dipenuhi. Kebocoran, siling runtuh, rasuah dan pecah amanah, inflasi dan hipokrasi adalah antara musuh-musuh bersama yang boleh menghambat cita-cita murni.

Excerpt 4
Sudah lebih 17 tahun kita menjalin hubungan kesetiakawanan dalam ikatan konsep persekutuan. Setakat yang saya ingat, tidak pernah satu kalipun lagi terganggu sebarang projek yang diluluskan oleh Pusat di Kelantan baik kecil mahupun besar mengalami gangguan atau dihalang oleh Kerajaan Negeri.

Melalui permuafakatan dan rundingan, ia sentiasa disambut oleh kami dengan penuh keterbukaan.Bagaimanapun beradablah ketika melangkah. Bukankah ini Wilayah Timur. Setiap rumah ada tuannya. Masuk berpintu. Keluar bertangga. Kadang-kadang, ya. Terasa juga.

Makan sirih berpinang tidak
Buah keranji atas perahu
Singgah tidak kenang pun tidak
Sampai hati buat tak tahu

Hanya inilah kali pertama saya diberi kesempatan untuk berucap di majlis yang dihadiri oleh YAB Dato' Seri Perdana Menteri. Apapun jua, syukurlah. Saya mengucapkan Alhamdulillah. Segala puji bagi Allah.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Quotable Quotes

I saw this from one of the blogs that I read and thought that it is quite relevant and would like to share it.

More than 2000 years ago, Plato the Greek said, "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."

It does seemed true, at least in some context. But it is definitely not my cup of tea. Tried it once but it still left a bad taste in the mouth.