Friday, January 19, 2007

An interesting week indeed

Well it has been an interesting week. It has been reported that, while Johor was submerged in the first round of floods, the Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was on an extended holiday in Australia to open his brother’s nasi kandar restaurant.

On Wednesday, 17th January 2007, the Prime Minister hosted a durian eating pesta at Sri Perdana. The NST has a picture of him cracking open a durian. They did not carry any picture of him with durian splashed over his face.

During his short four hour visit to the flooded areas in Johor, Badawi said that the Government would provide ‘free’ inoculations against diseases. Someone should tell Badawi that the Government medical services even in the General Hospitals have always been free of charge or almost free of charge. And no Government in the world charges citizens money for inoculations during floods and epidemics. They are always free.

After the recent Monsoon Cup in Terengganu, Badawi justified blowing off another RM300 million by saying that 1.3 billion people around the world saw the yacht race live on television. This sounds like the trivia we often hear from the Mufti of Perak. The fact is even live telecasts of World Cup football matches do not attract that kind of viewers.

The dictionary defines a ‘stupid’ person as someone who is lacking in intelligence. And a moron is simply defined as ‘a very stupid person’. It will be impolite to say that Abdullah Badawi the Prime Minister is a stupid moron. But it will be more apt to say that he is very greatly lacking in intelligence. To use politically correct language, we can say that the Prime Minister is a ‘mentally challenged’ person.

The question that is weeping and wailing for an answer is how much longer Malaysians are going to be hobbled by his incompetence?

On 17 January 2007, the NST reported that Abdullah has dared his own Ministers ‘to deliver on promises’. The NST has proudly and loudly declared Abdullah’s dare to Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein: “Deliver on your promise to improve the quality of the education system” and his dare to the Higher Education Minister, Datuk Mustapa Mohamed: “Hisham has promised to deliver the best students to your universities. Can your universities produce the best graduates?”

But, Mr Prime Minister, these are your Ministers. This is your Cabinet. You are the one who appointed these Ministers. You are the one who broke up the Education Ministry into two. What is there to ‘dare’ them or ‘challenge’ them? Just tell them to do their job. If they don’t, then just fire them. Better still why don’t you just resign and go away?

In a recent article in the Net titled “Ailing nation with a flip flop Prime Minister”, eminent historian Datuk Professor Khoo Kay Kim said there is now a ‘lack of a national vision or direction’ and that ‘a lot of Malaysians are at a loss as to where the nation is heading’.

Professor Khoo’s article confirms that Badawi is ‘greatly lacking in intelligence’. This was again reconfirmed by a recent NST headline which concluded the findings of a recent seminar on Badawi’s first three years in office with the word ‘bloopers’. That is what the NST had to say about Badawi's first three years in office.

Anwar Ibrahim has also been on the warpath this week. He has revealed that the Turkish Prime Minister told him that Badawi was indeed in Bodrum in Turkey to receive a boat as a gift from Ananda Krishnan. And the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet refuses to retract their story that Badawi went to Bodrum to see this boat. If this is true it means that Badawi lied about the boat.

Anwar also made another Press statement that our DPM, Najib Tun Razak, is involved in the murder case surrounding the Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaaribuu. Some of his allegations were also reiterated by the Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang in his own Press statement.

Dato Najib is rapidly becoming a non-issue. From being the eloquent, fully awake, ‘all my lights are on’ alter-ego to the mentally-challenged Badawi, Najib is now finding himself like a man stuck without a paddle on a canoe drifting down some Mongolian river towards a killer waterfall with his wife Rosmah strung like a heavy stone around his neck. There is no ‘Maid of the Mist’ to rescue Najib.

Besides Anwar’s and Kit Siang’s filibuster and an astute analysis of the Altantuya murder by the writer Kim Quek, Najib’s ‘elegant silence’ is becoming increasingly deafening. The allegations over the Altantuya murder appear the most serious. There are glaring gaps in the conduct of the case where the Attorney General is also compliantly keeping mum.

Why did the AG’s office go out of its way to declare so quickly that ‘no one else is involved’? This is an impossible proposition in a court of law. What could possibly be the mens ria or motive for the two UTK personnel to kill Altantuya? What did the UTK personnel have against Mongolian women whom they have never met before in their lives?

And everyone knows that highly trained and very capable UTK officers do not act - even to do something in breach of the law - unless they are given strict orders by someone higher up. The public still recalls the case of Anwar Ibrahim giving orders to the Special Branch to falsely and illegally arrest and torture Ummi Hafilda Ali and Azizan Abu Bakar - a crime which got Anwar six years in jail.

So who gave those deadly orders to the UTK to kill Altantuya Shaaribuu? If the AG says that there was no one else who gave such orders and that the two UTK officers were acting on their own, it simply confirms that there is a massive cover up going on over this murder.

It would mean that the AG, the Police and just about everyone else in Government is party to this cover up - whether intentionally or unwittingly.

The question being asked by many Malaysians is whether Najib and his wife Rosmah have met Altantuya Shaaribuu before, anywhere on the surface of this earth like on the Himalayas, in the Amazon, in France or anywhere else at all?

Did Najib not know that Altantuya provided consultancy services like translating and interpreting for Razak Baginda’s company or companies or for Razak Baginda himself over the French submarine deal?

Najib’s silence over the fact that the two UTK personnel charged with the murder were his bodyguards and the policewoman who was NOT charged with anything was Rosmah’s escort only adds much fuel to the many mysteries around this murder.

Anwar has also continued his relentless broadside against Najib by questioning Najib’s involvement in the RM3.2 Billion Sukhoi jetfighters deal where 'commissions' of USD100 million are involved. Other people named by Anwar for being involved in this deal are Dato Seri Mohd Adib Adam and his sister Askiah Adam who was at one time a member of the Sisters in Islam.

Like hyenas going after a wounded animal for a quick meal, Anwar’s is zeroing in on the now vulnerable DPM Dato Najib. Anwar is bending over backwards (as opposed to bending over forwards – no pun intended) to get back into UMNO. This Altantuya case appears like a free gift to him. Anwar will not let go of this opportunity. Najib and his people are already being seen as ‘yesterday's news’.
If Najib is ousted will we see the appearance of a new DPM or possibly two new DPMs, i.e. Khairy Jamaludin and Anwar Ibrahim? Is this an impossible scenario? But if Najib goes down, won’t he take down the whole UMNO system with him?

Anwar has even taken a pot shot at his former admirer Nor Mohamed Yakcop. Anwar has again repeated his accusation that Nor Mohamed Yakcop committed illegal acts and criminally withheld information from the BNM Governor when he engaged in reckless Forex trading which ultimately caused RM30 billion losses for Bank Negara Malaysia. But Anwar correctly points out that after Nor Mohamed was fired from his job he was not supposed to hold any position in the finance industry. Yet Nor Mohamed is now the Second Finance Minister who reports directly to Khairy Jamaluddin.

The Prime Minister is shuttling between boat-viewing in Turkey, opening nasi kandar restaurants, viewing real estate in Australia, and hosting durian pestas. The running of the country is being left to the fourth floor boys who are simply falling down.

The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research has been required to parrot the Government’s own downgrading of the economy for 2007. The earlier projected 6% growth for this year has been reduced to 5.2 %. Last year the hyped up 6.2% projection was ultimately cut down to 5.8 %.

Tun Dr Mahathir does not believe Government statistics anymore. The Ninth Malaysia Plan is predicated on a 6% growth rate. But for two years in a row, the growth rate has slipped to the 5 % level. The Ninth Plan is also projected on oil revenues based on USD64 per barrel. Oil is now trading at USD50 per barrel. Analysts predict oil to settle at USD45 to USD48 per barrel.

In stark contrast the KLSE has reached 1139 points and is still going north. Obviously the run up in the KLSE has nothing to do with our economic fundamentals anymore. Huge amounts of dollar based hot money are now flowing into the region, hoping to make gains from the weakening dollar and pushing up stock prices at the same time. When this hot money exits the scene, the KLSE bull will collapse. The question is how soon?

Thailand has taken aggressive proactive steps and slammed foreign speculators with a 12 month retention of 30% of all funds invested in stocks, real estate, bonds and foreign currency borrowings. But in Malaysia we have been flabbergasted to read that the Ministry of Finance and Bank Negara Malaysia have corresponded and conducted meetings with hot money scam operators who have proposed borrowing USD50 billion to fund the Government's Ninth Plan projects. What is happening to our country?

As Prof Khoo Khay Kim said, the nation is now without any direction. One observer suggested giving the leadership to Khairy Jamaluddin. Is this a reckless idea? One of Britain’s most capable Prime Minister’s of all time - Benjamin Disraeli - became Prime Minister at the age of 32 at the peak of Queen Victoria’s reign. A 32 year old Premier may be good for the country.

If Najib disappears from the scene, Badawi can step aside and engineer his son-in-law into power. This way we can all save time. The nation will be spared a painful power struggle. There will be less need for corruption and building up war chests - the staple prerequisite to ascend the throne in UMNO. Khairy can just get on with running the country.

But certainly Khairy will need much better advisors. The country needs a serious and urgent reengineering of its economic affairs. The Ministry of Finance is just going haywire while important units like the Economic Planning Unit have been sidelined. The MITI is listless while the Ministry of Domestic Trade has been reduced to becoming a pirated DVD outfit (read that any way you want).

What we need is a Ministry of Economic Development which encompasses the MITI, Ministry of Domestic Trade, the EPU, financial institutions, the KLSE and the Securities Commission.

The Ministry of Finance will perform the role of paymaster.

Urgent attention is needed to kick start the economy. The Prime Minister is not capable of performing this task. 6.4 % growth in 2005, 5.8 % growth in 2006, 5.2 % growth in 2007 in clearly reflective of a PM who is snoozing on the job.

Source : Ibnu Hakeem of Malaysia Today

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