Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Kepimpinan "baru" di Bernama

Sebagai seorang mantan warga Bernama, saya selalu mengikuti perkembangan dan kemajuan yang berlaku dalam agensi berita nasional itu. Perkembangan terkini berkaitan perlantikan Azman Ujang dan Yong Soo Heong sebagai Pengurus Besar dan Ketua Pengarang.

Sama ada kita suka atau tidak, setuju atau sebaliknya, ia telah berlaku. Kita hanya boleh berdoa dan menaruh harapan tinggi agar kedua-dua perlantikan itu dibuat dengan betul dan tepat demi masa depan Bernama. Itu saja.

Saya tidak tahu apakah kriteria yang digunapakai oleh Lembaga Pengelola dalam membuat keputusan itu. Yang pasti, perlantikan kali ini dibuat begitu cepat dan dalam keadaan segera. Apa yang hendak dikejar atau hendak lari dari apa? Hanya Pengerusi Bernama yang tahu.

Dalam membuat sesuatu perlantikan, lazimnya pihak yang membuat atau memutuskan perlantikan itu akan mengeluarkan notis tawaran atau pelawaan untuk mereka yang layak dan memiliki kelulusan tertentu memohon jawatan berkenaan. Dalam hubungan ini, saya tidak nampak atau terbaca iklan pelawaan dalam mana-mana akhbar atau media elektronik. Oleh itu, Lembaga Pengelola Bernama, atau lebih tepat lagi pengerusi Bernama, telah berlaku tidak adil kepada sesiapa sahaja yang berminat untuk mengisi kekosongan yang ada.

Saya juga tidak nampak sebarang kelebihan pada Azman Ujang, seperti mantan Pengurus Besar Syed Jamil Shahabuddin, dalam bidang pengurusan dan pentadbiran selain pengalaman dalam bidang kewartawanan. Bagi saya, perlantikan Syed Jamil adalah satu kesilapan dan kesilapan yang sama telah diulangi. Nampaknya Lembaga Pengelola Bernama terutama Pengerusinya tidak mempelajari daripada kesilapan.

Mengenai Yong atau "Buyong", saya akur dengan alasan yang diberi oleh Pengerusi Bernama, jika itulah alasan sebenar. Cuma, pada pendapat saya, ia mungkin membangkitkan rasa tidak puas hati atau kecewa di kalangan dua tiga orang wartawan kanan yang pernah disebut-sebut sebagai bakal KP.

Bak kata orang, semuanya telah berlaku, dah berlalu dan dah terngadah. Terima sajalah.

Kepada Azman dan Buyong, pendayung ditangan anda, dayunglah perahu itu, sama ada menongkah arus atau sebaliknya, dengan cermat dan berhati-hati semoga ia tidak karam dipertengahan laluan.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

If you are married, say so Pak Lah!

It is the responsibility of every Muslim to inform the public of his marriage. I am not saying that he or she must tell the whole world, suffice to inform your relatives and friends. Why? Simply to avoid being accused of illicit sex or zina.

If the person is the leader of the community, state or nation, then he must not hide his marriage, be it for the second, third of even fourth time.

So, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi must come forward, either to deny or confirm, his marriage to Jean Danker. Marriage is the sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. and the Malays even describe it as "mendirikan masjid".

Let the truth prevails.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tok Mat - the longest serving Information Minister

Pix 1: Group photo (1980s) after Tok Mat's visit to the news agency. Seated on the left Rejal Arbee (Datuk and ex-KP), seated second from right Ahmad Mustapha (ex-GM), standing fourth from left Maria Samad while third from right is yours truly. Others in the pix (if u can recognise them) - Hashim Makaruddin (Tan Sri and ex-KP), Azman Ujang (Datuk now KP), Syed Jamil (Datuk ex-GM), Nizamuddin Mohamad, Jaafar Husein (ex-KP), Rahman Sulaiman (ex-KP) Affendi Ariffin, Mahrus Ibrahim, Hoo Ban Khee, Ratna Melan, Zulkifli Salleh, Syed Yahya and the list goes on ....

Pix 2: I was honoured to receive Bernama's long service certificate from Tok Mat, then Information Minister.

Pix 3: Tok Mat, now (February 2007), at 69.

He is still popularly referred to as Tok Mat, Malaysia's longest serving Information Minister until he retired in 1999.

It was a pleasure to meet Tan Sri Mohamad Rahmat at my brother's house in Bukit Damansara. Unfortunately, I could not seek his views on current political development since so many people wanted to say hello and have a short chat with him.

Tok Mat, 69, started his political career in 1965 when he was appointed Political Secretary to the then Transport Minister, the late Tun Sardon Zubir, the guru or sifu of Tun Musa Hitam. In 1969 Tok Mat was elected MP for Johor Bahru Barat and appointed Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Health where Tun Sardon served as Minister. In Sept 1970, he served in the same capacity at the Education Ministry and on Jan 1, 1972 he was promoted as Deputy Finance Minister. In Sept 1974 Tok Mat served as Deputy Minister of Coordination of Public Corporations.

In 1974, he was elected MP for Pulai and appointed as Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry and in July 1978 he was promoted to head the Information Ministry.

Tok Mat served as Information Minister until April 1982 when he was posted to Jakarta as Malaysia's Ambassador with ministerial rank, by the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. However, in May 1987 he was recalled to once again head the Information Ministry until May 1999 when he retired.

Tok Mat is the most successful and most colourful Information Minister. He was so popular and "down to earth" that he was given various "nick names" such as Mat Bulat, Mat Besar, Mat Setia, Mat Jawa and Mat Re-cond. Sorry Tok Mat, facts are facts but rest assured, your name cannot be separated from many things and the most obvious is the KL Tower or Menara Kuala Lumpur, your brainchild, and as Information Minister, you implemented highly successful campaigns namely Gerakan Setia and Gerakan Semarak. I wonder why such successful campaigns were stopped by his successors?

If only the Malaysia Book of Records existed during your ministerial days, a dozen of things could be easily recorded such as the biggest Malaysian flag, the biggest ketupat and many other "big" things you introduced thus the nick name Mat Besar.

Many of the younger generation are familiar with the "Jom Heboh" programme of TV3 but how many of them are aware that Tok Mat had much earlier organised a similar programme under the K3P project. Of course it was not so "heboh" and lack the glamorous appearance of Akademi Fantasia finalists.

After Tok Mat retired, the Information Ministry is not the same. Now, under journalist-turned-politician, Zainuddin Maidin, what is there to be proud of?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Cruise boats - two of a kin d

Two types of cruise ships spotted off Esplanade (Padang Kota Lama) Penang. Another kind of "ship" missing from the Penang port is the Chinese tongkang or junk. The tongkangs were very common in the days before the free port status was taken away by the federal Government, sadly by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to be given to Langkawi, although the Mahsuri Island was not ready for it.

The tongkangs carried cargo (mostly for barter-trading) from Burma (Myanmar), North Sumatra, Singapore and south China including Hong Kong. The trading agents in Penang were mostly Indian Muslims and thus the term "Mamak Tongkang".

Those were the wonderful days ...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"No elections anytime soon," says the great son-in-law

Malaysians can be rest assured, there will be no elections anytime soon. It is confirmed by none other than the great son-in-law of the great leader himself. I wonder whether the son-in-law was advised to say so by the country's editor-in-chief, the ex-mullah from Kroh (now Pengkalan Hulu) .

So those who are dreaming to be the Yang Berhormat, you can keep on dreaming and the present YBs, there are plenty of time to do "something" to secure your future, to maintain your life-style and to enjoy the good life!

The son-in-law was quoted by the media as saying that the government, yes the government, is unlikely to call for a general election anytime soon. He said various factors had to be taken into account, not just the current strong economic situation.

On what capacity is the son-in-law speaking on behalf of the government? Is he a member of the administration? Umno Youth is not the government, so can the deputy Umno Youth chief issued statements, verbally or in print, to the media on behalf of the government?

Who is in charge of the government? What is the status of the Cabinet so much so that a non-member can freely speak on behalf of the government on such an important issue like the general elections?

The prime minister cannot blame those who criticises his leadership if he allows the son-in-law and his cronies to dictate things on behalf of the government. It is a mockery of democracy.

Is the Sri Tanjung Pinang massive project safe?

This massive housing project is being put up on reclaimed land from the sea off Tanjong Tokong, Penang.

This particular stretch of the coast was badly hit by the tsunami. Several fishing boats were swept by the tidal waves onto the Tanjong Tokong Road. This area is facing the open sea (east of Aceh, North Sumatra). If another major earthquake occurs in that particular area and created another tsunami, most probably the Tanjong Tokong coast will be facing another disaster.

Therefore, is this massive housing project safe?

Friday, February 16, 2007


To all my Chinese friends, specially to Jeff Ooi, S S Goh, 'Buyong' Yong, Caroline Hong, Baba Tan, Ah Chong, Ah Keong, 'Ah Moi' Tham, Chye Khim, Chua Yew Kay, and to 'visitors" of my blog, HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lack of political will to curb corruption

If the government is really serious to curb corruption as stated by the Cabinet's self-appointed spokesman, Nazri Aziz, it must be bold to sustain political will to do so. It is no secret that "political corruption" is the root of all evils and the ruling party, Umno in particular, is equally guilty.

The government must get rid of "political corruption" or the widely spread "money politics" among the component partners of the ruling party.

The success in fighting corruption would merely remain an illusion if there is no political will to curb it. Do not blame the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA). Their hands are tied. They are free to investigate but not free to prosecute due to the lack of political will on the part of the government.

We accept the fact that corruption is impossible to eradicate completely similar to prostitution ...but it must be prevented as far as possible. To start with, the government must be serious to fight political corruption. There are too many corrupted political leaders in Malaysia.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Radzi sindir Azmi ? ... bodoh!

Menteri Dalam Negeri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad yang juga penyokong kuat PM Abdullah Ahmad (Badawi) mengumumkan penarikan balik semua cabutan bertuah termasuk hadiah utama sebuah kereta Perodua Myvi untuk permohonan MyKad.

Pengumuman yang dibuat dalam suasana agak emosional, seperti yang dipancarkan ke seluruh negara oleh stesen-stesen tv tempatan, menimbulkan banyak tanda tanya??

Walaupun ia adalah satu keputusan yang bijak, namun saya tertanya-tanya cara dan gaya Radzi membuat pengumuman seperti yang disiarkan oleh tv. Bagi saya, ada sesuatu yang tidak kena.

Radzi menyifatkan isu cabutan bertuah yang diperkenalkan oleh menteri sebelum beliau, Azmi Khalid, sebagai "satu tindakan bodoh...". Kedua-dua mereka adalah wakil rakyat dari Perlis.

Nampaknya ada sesuatu yang tidak kena antara Radzi dan Azmi, seorang dikatakan orang kuat Pak Lah dan seorang lagi dikaitkan dengan mantan PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Apa muslihat Radzi berbuat demikian? Adakah ia ada kaitan dengan desas-desus rombakan atau penggantian anggota kabinet secara besar-besaran bulan depan?

Apa maksud Radzi yang menyatakan tindakan mengadakan cabutan bertuah itu sebagai "satu tindakan bodoh..." Adakah ia bermaksud Azmi Khalid bodoh? Adakah itu tanggapan yang betul... mungkin?

Ramai mengetahui bahawa politik UMNO di Perlis tidaklah begitu padu. Perlis hanya mempunyai tiga bahagian UMNO dan ketiga-tiga ketua bahagian boleh dikatakan tidak "sehaluan." Azmi adalah mantan ketua bahagian Padang Besar manakala Radzi mengepalai bahagian Kangar dan MB Shahidan Kassim bahagian Arau. Pengunduran Azmi dikatakan bukan 100 peratus atas hasratnya sendiri tetapi melalui tekanan pihak tertentu.

Tindakan Radzi "menghentam" secara terbuka dan dalam nada yang agak kasar itu menimbulkan banyak persoalan dan ia mungkin telah membuka "pekung di dada."

Apa pula tindakan Azmi...?

Oldest Protestant cemetery in Malaysia

In the so-called Colonial Quarter of Penang, one can find an old cemetery along Farquhar Street-Northam Road junction. It is known as The Protestant Cemetery (1789-1892), the first to be opened after the "founding" of the Settlement of Prince of Wales Island by Captain Francis Light of the British East-India Company (EIC) in 1786.

The graves of many important persons who were involved in the growth of Pulau Pinang or Penang are to be found in the cemetery.

Francis Light himself is buried in the cemetery as are several governors of the settlement and their families such as Governor Philip Dundas (1805-1807), Governor William Petrie (1811-1816), Governor John Alexander Bannerman (1816-1819), Rev. R.S. Hutchings - founder of the Penang Free School and Quinton Dick Thomson - brother-in-law of Stamford Raffles.

Of the approximately 500 graves, more than a quarter cannot be identified due to decay and natural weathering.

Francis Light who died on 21 October 1794 was described as the "Founder of the Settlement of Prince of Wales Island." However, he was not the first English to land in Penang.

The first recorded English visit to Penang took place in 1592 when James Lancaster, captain of the Edward Bonaventure, dropped anchor at the island. He and his sailors, many sick with scurvy, rested in Penang for several weeks, taking on water and enjoying fresh oysters, courtesy of the "native Malays".

Monday, February 12, 2007

Penang City Hall and Town Hall

The Penang City Hall built in 1903 at a cost of 100,000 Straits Dollars. The British Empire style architecture or the Victorian-style public architecture reflected the growing prestige and affluence of Penang at the turn of the century.

Today it is the seat of the Penang Island Municipal Council, the oldest local authority in Malaysia. The municipal council was established in 1857.

The City Hall was gazette on 29 July 1984 under the Antiquities Act 168/1976, as an Ancient Monument and Historic Site.

Next to the City Hall is the Town Hall.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Gerogetown City is 50 years, but ...

I am recording this post from an internet cafe in Pulau Tikus, Penang. I drove to Penang on Wednesday to attend to some personal matters.

It is sad to note that the state authorities, be it the Penang State Government or the Penang Island Municipal Council or Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang in Malay, did not find it important and just to celebrate the proclamation of Georgetown as a city by H.E. The Queen of England, Elizabeth II. Georgetown was upgraded as a city on Jan 1, 1957, that is 50 years ago. It is the only state capital east of Suez to be bestowed the royal status of a city by the Head of the Commonwealth.

Malaysia, or rightly Malaya, will be celebrating her 50th anniversary on Aug 31 this year and the government, both at federal and state levels, have lined up various activities and fiestas to celebrate the occasion.

The peculiar situation of Georgetown today is due to the state government's (Gerakan-led) decision to merge the City Council with the Rural District Council to form the Penang Island Municipal Council.

For the record Georgetown's city status was not revoked although the City Council ceased to exist. Legally the city status remains till today.

As a boy, I used to travel by the City Council's electric-powered trolley bus, the only one in the then Malaya. The trolley bus was efficient, silent and pollution free. Unfortunately, the City Councillors decommissioned the trolley bus service and replaced it with diesel-powered buses which are noisy and not pollutant-free.

According to records, in 1800 the then colonial administration formed a Committee of Assessors and from this evolved the fully elected Municipal Council. The committee was set up to fix a valuation on every particular house and that so much per cent on that valuation be levied.

Later the Chief Civil Officer (the then Civil Administrative head) was appointed and all the business of collection was placed unde his superintendence.

The Georgetown Municipal Council was set up after the Draft Municipal Act of 1846 under Section XII which empowered the City Authority of the Settlements to appoint a Municipal Committee to consist of five resident rate payers, two of them to be government officers, and charged this committee with responsibility for enforcing the Act.

Municipal Commissioners were later appointed under Act No XXVII of 1856 with the British Resident being one of them, the Governor was given the power to appoint one commissioner while three others be elected by the rate payers. The Resident also acted as President of the Commissioners.

My late grand-uncle who was also a kadhi (Muslim family court judge and registrar of marriage), Capt. (V.F.) Syed Salleh bin Hashim Alsagoff, had also served as a Municipal Commissioner.

In December 1956, the first ever fully elected City Council was held and at its first meeting on Jan 2, 1957, lawyer G.H. Goh of the Alliance Party was elected President defeating D.S. Ramanathan of the Labour Party. However, Ramanathan was elected as Georgetown's first Mayor, a post created by an amendment to the Constitution on Dec 23, by the State Legislature.

The City Council of Georgetown never failed to hold elections to elect a mayor and its councillors. The city's taxpayers continued to vote in the Labour Party and later the Socialist Front to head the City Council until it was replaced by the Penang Island Municipal Council (no more elections but political appointments).

The City Council of Georgetown must be restored and its area of jurisdiction be extended to cover Bayan Baru and Tanjong Bunga while the former areas under the Rural District Council be upgraded to a Municipality covering most of the South-West District and be known as Balik Pulau Municipal Council.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A poem on the suicide bombing

The suicide bombing
by Dr Khalid S.A. Abu Al Saud
(A surgeon and political philosopher)

Mother.. O' mother... I love you!
I can't see you suffering anymore,
Crying daily, for having no money,
For bread, water, and electricity.
I can't see my sister Jamilah crying silently,
For being scared, and hungry.
Therefore I decided to sacrifice myself
For you, the family, and the holy, dying country.
Good bye, good bye... mother!

Mother...O' mother... pray for me!
They trained me well for my holy duty.
They promised me, to give you money,
For 15 years, regularly.
If I do my duty, correctly.
Ah... mother! ... You don't need to bury me,
As my body will be burnt to ashes, immediately.

Mother... O' mother... remember me!
Tell the smart people from West and East,
As long as there are... millions, and millions
Of desperate families like our family,
Of desperate children like me,
The world will see suicide bombing, continuously,
Even if they have summit-meetings, weekly.

Only just peace and economic security
Can prevent the tragedy.

O' Almighty, please forgive me, forgive me!
Good bye my soul and misery!
I'll see you soon in the garden of eternity.

You... you... stop immediately!
Boom... boom... boom... !!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Small but not defenceless

The cat approaches the small lizard (not the house lizard a.k.a. the Cicakman). The lizard puts up a fight. Although the lizard is small, it is not afraid of the cat. It is a matter of life and death. The fighting spirit of the lizard saves its life. Yes, the lizard manage to run for its dear life.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Criminalising war

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad listens attentively to a question from a journalist

A three-day conference on War Crimes and Exhibition initiated by the Perdana Global Peace Organisation (PGPO), which starts in Kuala Lumpur's Putra World Trace Centre, Monday (Feb 5), would emphasise on war crimes or criminalising war. It was kicked off by an informal discussion among invited participants on the subject today.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the PGPO chairman and former Malaysian Prime Minister, said a cross-section of people from around the world are attending the conference. The conference receives support from the Malaysian Government in particular the Prime Minister's Department.

He hoped that the conference would be able to do something to criminalise war apart from setting up a commission and tribunal to try war criminals brought to its attention including trials in absentia.

Dr Mahathir said the legal process would be carried in a proper way. It would not be a kangaroo court. Participants including journalists, scientists, victims of war crimes and anti-war activivts from Canada, the United States, Japan, Africa, Palestine, Iraq, Iran are attending the conference.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Perubahan Kabinet pertengahan Mac?

Seorang teman memaklumkan kepada saya bahawa satu perubahan drastik akan berlaku dalam barisan Kabinet pimpinan Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad (Badawi) pada pertengahan Mac depan.

Menurut beliau ia satu perubahan yang bersejarah ... jika ia benar-benar berlaku.

Teringat saya akan pendedahan rakan perawi maya Datuk Ron Ahmad (Kuda Kepang) melalui tajuk "Toyol Code". Ramai menteri yang akan diganti atau digugurkan. Dalam erti kata lain, di pecat!

Saya masih sangsi sama ada Pak Lah cukup kejantanannya untuk berbuat demikian...? Antara nama yang disebut-sebut akan dipecat ....Rafidah Aziz, Rais Yatim, Nazri Aziz, Samy Velu, Azalina Othman Said, Aziz Shamsudin, Azmi Khalid dan ramai lagi .... wah nampaknya hampir seluruh anggota Kabinet. Keng Yaik sudah pasti lepas jawatan seperti yang dijanjinya ekoran perubahan pucuk pimpinan parti Gerakan.

Bagaimana pula dengan Najib Tun Razak ... dan sepupunya yang lemah-lembut bernama Hishamuddin ...?

Sama-samalah kita tunggu dan lihat kebenarannya.