Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Nut Graph:民联招揽蔡细历


(八打灵再也30日讯)马华署理总会长拿督斯里蔡细历首度公开承认,民联正极力招揽他过档。 

他说,自他在2008年1月辞官以来,就有人多番献议他过档,惟他心里一再拒绝跳槽的想法。

由于网上不断传出蔡细历或离开马华和国阵的消息,令蔡氏跳槽的传言盛嚣尘上。不过,这位前卫长迄今还未有任何决定。然而,他也毫不忌讳公开畅谈。

蔡细历接受一家网络媒体The Nut Graph访问时直言不讳:“确实有人献议我跳槽。我无需否认,因为事情迟早会曝光。”

他说,对方也同时献议他的儿子蔡智勇(拉美士国会议员)退出马华,一同过档。

“没错,现有有许多选择,而离开马华是其中一项。许多人曾私下与我会面,也有许多人要求我说服我儿子辞去国会议员一职以制造补选,尤其是柔佛州,这个长久以来都被公认为国阵堡垒的地区,那或许会是一个很好的试金石。”

他也拒绝透露哪个政党曾接触他,只表示选择非常有限。

转捩点?

尽管受光碟事件影响,蔡细历要比与他谈判的对手更顽强。他不选择淡出政治,而且始终没有被遗忘。相反的,他去年7月在马华巴株峇辖区会改选中不战而胜,并重新回到政治舞台。

接着,在10月的马华中央党选,蔡细历击败当时的马华总秘书拿督斯里黄家泉当选署理总会长,再次印证蔡氏过人的魅力和才华获得肯定。虽然蔡细历已重返马华政治核心,但却与党内老大互不咬弦,两人不和日渐白热化,因此其他政盟至今仍不懈地向他招手,极力游说过档。

为光碟事件负荆请罪后欲重新出发的蔡细历,却被马华老大翁诗杰批评有道德污点。导致两人在党选期间互相口诛笔伐。

当新任总会长翁诗杰把蔡细历拒于柔佛州联委门外,而只委任后者为政府政策监督局主任,更加深了蔡氏遭彻底边缘化的说法。

翁诗杰虽然一再否认排挤蔡细历,现任署理总会长认为他在马华的角色已被削夺。身为政府政策监督局主任他必须直言批判,可惜却不被接纳。

“我愿意辞职。我的个性是,如果我无法将被授予的角色扮演好,我情愿,我也非常认真的考虑辞职求去。”

询及他什么时候讳会作出决定,蔡细历说,近来连串的补选使他继续与党同在,这也因为他对国阵的忠诚。

“这是我在过去20多年来奉献心力的政党。身为党的一员,当党需要我们贡献时,我就必须去做。在补选期间,我也扮演我的角色。如果我这样离开跳槽去,人家会认为我只是一个机会主义者。”

但明显的,而他也承认,自己已走到十字路口

“我不会因为不满或不高兴而跳槽,我也不认为我会这么做。”

记:请告诉我们你身为贵党政府政策监督局主任所扮演的角色。
蔡:你可以说我所扮演的角色是非常有限。有限指的是,尽管身为第二大成员党的第二号人物,但我不担任任何政府职务。

身为政府政策监督局主任,我在首三个月非常投入的工作,之后我却发现,这对其他人造成困扰,甚至有人因此对我不表和善,他们认为我这么做是为了自己的议程,所以我想,如果社会喜欢这样,不要别人有批判精神,那么我就须接受我应该淡出的现实。

那么,现在该局的运作如何?
我必须承认该局在过去的四个月来并没有运作。

你愿意公开告诉这件事?
噢,当然可以,我甚至愿意辞职。我的个性是,如果我无法将被授予的角色扮演好,我情愿,我也非常认真的考虑辞职求去。

在您看来,该局是否有实在的功用?
如果人们能以开明的思维去接受,该局确实有它的角色和发挥空间。但问题是,当我一开口,人们都说你有个人议程。

所以问题在于你在被党内人士观察。
是的,我不想用尽一生去对抗这种理解,那太无谓了。

除此之外,自中选为署理总会长之后,您觉得如何?
非常闲空。我只需要出席会长理事会及中委会会议。迄今,没有人向我咨询任何事情。

这让您有何感受?
我不感到沮丧何困扰。我觉得当人家委任你一个“没有角色的角色”时,你就做好“没有角色可演”的角色啦。

是否有限制加诸在你身上?
没有限制,但所有事都非常微妙。我举个例子:当政府决定在指定的经济领域征收双倍外劳人头税时,您不觉得这件事应该由政府政策监督局处理吗?结果会长理事会议决将它交给公共投诉局处理。我不会为了争取的任务而与他们争执。

另一个案例是, 我和我的儿子(智勇)在收购大道的建议书上竭力协作,会长理事会也邀请智勇与会为理事会成员讲解。过后我在想,身为政策监督局主任,我应该会被委予此任研拟建议书。结果不是,党最终指派其他人接手。所以在原则上,我并无法执行为民请愿的工作,如果人家以非常狡黠及聪明的方法多方阻拦,以便我无法正常的执行任务,那就让它去吧。

由于所发生的种种事故,网上传言您将离开马华。
现有许多选项,而离开马华是其中一个,这的确是事实,许多人在私下与我会面,也有许多人要我说服我的儿子辞去国会议员以制造一场补选,尤其是柔佛州,这个长久以来都被公认为国阵堡垒的地区,那或许会是一个很好的试金石。

您对这些建议有何反应?
我加入马华接近25年,我必须深思熟虑才能作最终的决定。至于我的儿子,我永远让他自行做主,因为有人告诉他,无论他如何勤政爱民,在来届补选都可能不获点名。

如果您选择离开,您会选择加入哪个政党?
我还没有认真的考虑过这个问题,但选择其实并不多。哪一个政党最吸引您?我想都大同小异。当今,除了公正党,就是行动党。

如果你退党,会有多少人会跟随您的脚步?
不同人有不同想法。有人认为你不该带着一大票人离去。人们相信有些人会想要离去,而有些人会继续留下来以破坏党的机关。你明白政党政治的游戏规律吗?你一旦离开党,你在党内的影响将消失贻尽,所以你必须让一些人继续留守后方,那么当你到那里时才能有一息相连。

这项献议提出多久了?
噢,很久了,在光碟事件及我获选为署理总会长之后,都有人接触我,近来更甚。

为何近来更甚?
或许他们认为我会因为不满而跳槽。然而,我绝不会因为不满或不高兴而跳槽,我也不认为我会这么做,除非我发觉已无具有意义的角色供我扮演,我才会跳槽。

那已经发生了吗?
我可以看到已经逐渐成型。

所以您会继续等它到达一定的顶限?
那是一个任何人所能忍耐的极限。

现在已到什么程度?
我不知道,它不像世卫组织的传染病扩散指标,有第一级到第六级。

您说有反对党接触您?
是的,的确。

您能告诉我们是谁吗?
不,我不会指名道姓,那是在彼此互信的原则下进行的。人们都知道我是守诺及绝不出卖人。

您对此事非常公开,您是否想传达某些信息
我一向都这么坦荡,处理个人生活也如此。

连总会长也知道您可能会离开马华?
我不知道。

您和他关系如何?
我们有“开会”的关系,工作上的关系,仅此而已。我们的讨论建立在“需要”的基础上,在会议上我也只在需要时才作声,我不是善于阿谀奉承的人,主动讨好及涂脂抹粉不是我的个性。不,我不在行。

您何时会对是否退党作出决定?
当时机合适。

有什么必须的因素?
噢,太多了。其中一个是,如果我感觉到自己已无法为党作出有意义的贡献时,为何我还要枯坐暖席?

但是就目前看来,您已是在枯坐暖席了。
那是因为在补选期间我必些扮演某些角色。身为党的一员,当党需要我们贡献时,我就必须去做。过去有那么多场补选,如果我跳槽,人家会认为我只是一个机会主义者。

那么,您会在本南地补选协助国阵.....
应该这么说,如果有补选,我至少不该做任何滋扰国阵的事。

听起来,您仍然忠于国阵,却有意过户另一边。
确实有人献议我跳槽,我不会否认,因为在不久的将来,事情将会浮上台面。

所以您在考量....
这是我在过去20多年来奉献心力的政党,就像是一个婚姻,有些婚姻无法维持25年。自1985开始,我已是峇株吧辖的区会主席。您会为了没有可扮演的角色而离开马华及国阵?当你来到一个十字路口,你必须决定向左走、向右走,或者趋直向前。

你若有退党的决定,是纯粹因你个人或与国阵有关?
那不是我一个人的事,我能有多少斤两?也许在党和国阵里面,有人会说“终于打发这个眼中钉”。他们可能认为我是一个包袱,正如某些马华中人所想的。去年党选后,一个名为马华廉正监督小组的组织就曾在我中选后,力促我下台了。

如果您选择离开,是否表示您认为自己在别处能以更有效身份职位继续服务社会呢?
我从1980年起一路走来都是一名政治工作者,至今我依然热衷于服务。如果我无法找到有意义的角色,我便得另行寻找不同的平台,就这么简单。

不是因为你被边缘化?
不。当我胜选重回党的政治舞台,我从未说过我要当部长,那只是中文报章的炒作。我只说无论我在名单内与否,我要总会长坦诚相告,因为我向来坦诚待人。



The Nut Graph: Pakatan Rakyat courts Chua Soi Lek


By Deborah Loh

PETALING JAYA, 30 April 2009: MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has publicly admitted for the first time that he is being courted by Pakatan Rakyat parties.

He has been turning the idea of defecting over and over in his mind ever since it was proposed following the sex video scandal that resulted in his resignation from all party and government posts in January 2008.

Blogs have been speculating about the possibility of Chua leaving the MCA and Barisan Nasional (BN), but the former health minister has yet to make up his mind. He has, however, no qualms speaking openly about it.

"There are approaches made to me to jump ship. I should not deny it, because sooner or later this thing will come out in the open," he told The Nut Graph in an exclusive interview yesterday.
He said he has also received suggestions that his son, Labis Member of Parliament (MP) Chua Tee Yong, should quit the party as well.

"[Leaving the party was one of the] many options being tossed around. That's true. A lot of people have seen me quietly. A lot of people also want me to persuade my son to resign as an MP, thereby forcing a by-election.

"And since Johor has always been regarded as the fortress of the BN, that would be a good testing ground," he said.

Chua said he has not yet considered which party he would join if he left the MCA. He declined to reveal which parties had approached him.

"The options are very limited," he noted.

Breaking point?

Despite the sex video scandal, Chua is more tenacious than his opponents may have bargained for. He has definitely not faded into political oblivion. Indeed, he was returned uncontested as the MCA Batu Pahat Division Chief in the divisional polls last July.

In the October party polls, his popularity was again proven when he beat then secretary-general Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan in the deputy president's contest. Despite his political comeback within the MCA, the offers for him to join another party have continued as the rift between him and president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat remains open.

Even after coming clean about his sex scandal, Chua has been criticised by Ong for being morally tainted. The war of words between the two leaders went on right up to the party elections.

Chua was considered effectively sidelined when Ong, as the new president, gave him the newly formed Government Policy Monitoring bureau, while excluding him from the Johor MCA line-up.

Despite Ong's denials that he was isolating Chua, the deputy president now feels his role in the MCA is diminished. Chua said his position as head of the bureau required him to be critical, but his comments were not accepted.

"I'm willing to resign [from the bureau]. My character is such that if I cannot function in a role that I'm given, I'm willing, and I'm seriously considering resigning," he said.

Torn

Noncommittal about when he would decide to leave the MCA, Chua said the recent spate of by-elections has kept him with the party because of his loyalties to the BN.

"This is the party where I've spent over 20 years. As a party man, when it's time to contribute to the party, I should do it. During the recent by-elections, I played a role. It's not good for me to jump ship just like that; people will say you are just an opportunist."

But the writing appears to be on the wall, and Chua admitted that he is at a crossroads.

"I don't jump ship because I'm disgruntled and unhappy. I don't think I will do that. I will jump ship only when I find I have no meaningful role to play," he said.


TNG: Tell us about your role as head of your party's government policy-monitoring bureau.
Chua: You can say my role is very limited despite being the second man in the second largest component party. Limited in the sense that I do not hold any government post.

As for being chairman of the monitoring bureau, I used to be very active the first three months. After that I found that by being critical of other people, somehow or other people don't take kindly to me. They think I have a very personal agenda. So I thought, if society is like that, they don't want others to be critical, then I come to accept the fact that I should be more toned down.

So, how is the bureau functioning now?

I must admit that it's not been functioning in the last four months.

You're saying this in public?
Oh, it's okay, I'm even willing to resign. My character is such that if I cannot function in a role that I'm given, I'm willing, and I'm seriously considering resigning.

You aside, the bureau has an important function?
It has a role to play if people can take it in an open-minded manner. But the problem is when I open my mouth, people say I have a personal agenda.

So the problem is how you're still perceived in the party.
Ya, and I don't want to fight against this perception all my life lah. Why should I want to?

Other than that, what has it been like since you were elected deputy president?
Very free. I only attend presidential council and central committee meetings. Nobody refers anything to me nowadays.

Ultimately how does that make you feel?
I don't feel upset. I feel that the time has come when people assign you that role which is a no-role, then I play the no-role business lah.

Are there restrictions placed on you?
There are no restrictions, but everything is very subtle. I give you an example: when the government imposed double the levy on foreign workers in certain sectors of the economy, don't you think this matter comes under the party's government policy-monitoring bureau? And yet the presidential council makes a decision to leave it to the Public Complaints Bureau. So I'm not going to fight with people to work.

Another example is how my son (Tee Yong) and [I] worked together on a proposal for the government to
take over PLUS. My son was also invited to make a presentation to the presidential council. After that I thought the party would say, that as the head of the bureau, I should be heading the task force. But I'm not; the party appointed a different person. So the gist of it [is], I'm not going to fight with people to work. If people want to put up obstacles in a very subtle and clever way so that I cannot function properly, then let it be.

In the light of all this, there were internet rumours that you might leave the party.
There are many options being tossed around, and one of the options is to leave the party. That's true. A lot of people have seen me quietly. A lot of people also want me to persuade my son to resign as an MP, thereby forcing a by-election. And since Johor has always been regarded as the fortress of the BN, that would be a good testing ground.

And your reaction to these suggestions?
I've been a party man for nearly 25 years. I have to give deep thoughts to these suggestions before making any final decision. As for my son, I always leave it to him to decide. Because there are people telling my son that however hard you work, chances are you might not even be the candidate the next round.

If you leave, which party would you join?
I've not given serious consideration to it. But the options are very limited also.

Which is the most attractive party?
I think they're all almost the same, nowadays. It's either PKR or the DAP.

If you leave, how many would go along with you?
There are also different schools of thought. That you should not go with a big hoo-ha. There are people who believe that some will want to leave, and some will want to stay back so as to sabotage the party machinery.

You understand how party politics is played out? Once you leave you got no more influence in the party already. So you should leave some people behind, so that when you go there is still a link in between.

How long ago were these suggestions made?
Oh, a long time. People have been approaching me. After the video scandal, and after I won the deputy presidency also, and then it became more of late.

Why is it heating up again of late?
Well, they feel that maybe I'm one of those disgruntled candidates who can jump ship. But I don't jump ship because I'm disgruntled and not happy. I don't think I will do that. I will jump ship only when I find I have no meaningful role to play.

That's already happening?
I can see that it is slowly happening.


So you will wait till it reaches a certain point?
There's a limit to everyone's tolerance.

Where is your level now?
I don't know, there is no level like the World Health Organisation pandemic type of level, level one to level six.
You're saying you've been approached by the opposition?
Oh yes, it's true.

Can you be specific?
No, I will not mention names. It was all done in the confidence of trust. And people know that I'm trustworthy and I don't reveal people.

You're being very open about this, are you trying to send a message?
I've always been open, even about my personal life.

Even the president knows you might want to leave?
I don't know that.

How is your relationship with him?
We have a meeting relationship. A working relationship. That's all. There's discussion on a needs basis, whenever there is a meeting. I will only speak when I need to. I'm not good at apple-polishing people. It's not my character to initiate and talk and curry favour. No, I'm not good at that.

When will you come to a decision about leaving?
When the time is right.

What factors must happen?
Oh, so many factors. One is if I feel I cannot contribute meaningfully to the party anymore, then why should I warm the seat?

But it's already like that, you're just warming the seat.
It's because during the by-election I played some role. As a party man, when it's time to contribute to the party, I should do it. There are so many by-elections, if I jump ship, people think I'm just being an opportunist.

So you'll help the BN in Penanti....
It's like this, if there is a by-election, I should not do anything to destabilise the BN, at least.

You sound caught, still loyal to the BN, but torn about going over to the other side.

There are approaches made to me to jump ship. I should not deny it, because sooner or later this thing will come out in the open.

So you're weighing...
This is the party where I spent 20 over years. It's just like a marriage. Some marriages don't last 25 years. I've been ketua bahagian of Batu Pahat since 1985 till now.

You would leave the MCA and the BN just because you don't have a role in the party?
When you reach a junction, you have to decide whether you want to turn left, turn right or go straight.

Your decision to leave, would it be about you yourself or the BN?
It's not about me alone, how much weight do I have? Maybe within the party and the BN there are some who will say "good riddance to bad rubbish". They may think that I'm a liability, as what some MCA people think I am. After the election, the

MCA integrity watch group said I should step down, after I had won.

If you leave, would it be because you feel you could serve society in a better capacity elsewhere?
I've always been a politician from the 1980s to now, and I'm still keen to serve. If I cannot find a meaningful role to play, then I may have to seek a different platform. Simple as that.

It's not that you are being sidelined?
No. When I came back and I won, I never said I want to be a minister. It's only the Chinese press who played it up. I only said whether I'm in or not, I want my president to be very frank with me. Because I'm frank with others

(pics & text courtesy from the nut graph.com)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu Alert at level 4/ 猪流感警戒升级

The swine flu spread rapidly. It has struck more than 2000 people involving 16 nations with more than 150 deaths.

The WHO raises the swine flu alert to level 4, two notches before level 6, the full blown pandemic. When there is human to human transmission and with the convenience of travel, a full blown pandemic cannot be ruled out.

We need to be alarmed, but we should not panic and overreact. People talk about banning travel to the affected countries. It is too drastic. We should travel to the affected countries if it is essential, otherwise just avoid it.

In the same way, we should not ban travellers from the affected nations.
Screening air travellers is the most we can do. Even then it is not effective since the infected travellers may not have symptoms at the airport. It is crucial that we treat and isolate the “suspected” cases of swine flu, and trace his contact. This is often the most basic and most effective in containing an outbreak. Healthcare workers should be alert and sensitive. Any travellers with flu liked symptoms from the infected nation should be isolated and monitored while waiting his illness to be diagnosed and confirmed.

There is a tendency to allude to pass pandemic flu like the Spanish flu in 1919 that kills thousands of people. Today the healthcare systems of most nations are better compared to the 19th century. We have better disease control protocol and surveillance system in place. There are better medical technologies with well trained healthcare provider. There have been great advancement in the medication and treatment of viral diseases including rapid diagnosis and preventive vaccines. However we must still be on the alert.

Information is important and there should be daily update about the swine flu epidemic. The rakyat becomes more prepared instead of unfounded rumours running wild. The Director of General of Ministry of Health should be able to do a good job. He has vast experience gained from the Nipah, SARS and Avian flu epidemic.

For many nations the swine flu comes at the worst time. Many have to face the economic slowdown and the limited financial resources are now diverted to combat an impending pandemic. In short, many nations have to face the economic tsunami and probably a health tsunami.

Nations have to monitor the health of the economy and the health of its people. SARS epidemic cost the Asia Pacific region an estimated USD40 billion. It lasted 6 months and killed 775 of the 8000 people infected in 25 countries. Let’s hope the swine fever will not come to our shore.

In any crisis, there are those who stand to benefit. In this context many Malaysian companies involved in glove and masks production will be busy fulfilling new orders. Theirs share prices shot up in the last 2 days. Tourism related counters like airlines and hotels facing a drop in prices.

The MOH should revive its stockpile of tamiflu. I understand that it has about 2 million dosages which is less than 10% of our total population of 28 million.
It should have the minimal for the treatment of the frontlinners who are involved in the prevention and treatment of swine fever should it come to our nation. It should have stockpile to treat personnel who are maintaining the essential services of our nations, eg: police, banking staff, water work, TNB etc.


猪流感在墨西哥爆发以来快速蔓延,截至本月29日,疫区已多达16个,染病人数超过2000人,死亡人数高达159人。

疫情迅速在全球扩散,世界卫生组织不得将猪流感警戒升级,从目前第3级提高到第4级。在这个空运便利的时代,一旦爆发人际间传染病例,将无可避免引发全球“群体性”传染。

在疫情恶化前,我们有必要提高警惕但不该恐慌和过度反应。有人说应禁止国人前往受影响的国家,我认为不该断然实行旅游禁令。人民能自行衡量,有必要才前往疫区国家。同样的,我们也不该禁止疫区人民来马。

目前,在入境处进行体检是防范入境乘客引入疫症的唯一方法。不过,这不是最有效应付和防范疫情的方法。
一些受感染的乘客很可能在抵境时还未出现任何症状,面对疑似个案,当局应该隔离“疑似”病人进行检验,紧接追踪所有和他有接触的人。追踪并迅速切断接触人的联系,是遏制疫情最基本也最有效的方法。所以,医务人员必须时刻提高警觉,凡来自疫区且患有感冒症状的入境者都应该被隔离,以作进一步确诊。

1919年西班牙爆发的流感夺走逾千条性命。相较于19世纪,今天的医疗卫生体制更进步完善,我们有顶尖的疾病监控系统、先进的医疗设备、训练有素的医务人员,在病毒性疾病领域也取得巨大进步,包括快速诊断和研制疫苗。尽管如此,我们也不能掉以轻心,时时得提高警觉。

由于猪流感有全球扩散得趋势,国内难免人心惶惶,
因此有关当局应该每日更新猪流感的最新疫情,让人民有足够准备应付任何突况,避免大家听信毫无根据的流言
在这方面,现任卫生总监凭他过去处理立百病毒、非典型肺炎以及禽流感的经验,我相信他必将胜任有余。

在全球经济低迷之际遭受猪流感侵袭,让许多疫区国家连受打击。换言之,这些国家正面临经济和健康海啸的双重冲击。各国政府在拼经济之余,也不能忽略人民的健康。2002年杪在亚太地区爆发的夺命非典,该疫症持续6个月,有8千人受感染,775人丧命,损失多达400亿美元。

我们常言危机蕴藏商机,突破危机则处处逢生。猪流感让手套和口罩需求大量增加,因而使我国的胶制产品领域受惠。该领域的股价在过去两天内持续攀升,反观旅游业者如航空和酒店估则持续下滑。

另一方面,卫生部应确保抗流感药物储存充足。据我了解,当局目前存有约200万剂量此药物,还不及我国总人口2千800万人的10%。
一旦我国出现确诊病例,当局须确保为防范和治疗猪流感的前线人员,提供一定剂量的抗流感药物。除此以外,也必须确保其他基本服务领域的工作人员,包括警员、银行职员等获得药物供应


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Fever: A Pandemic Flu?

A pandemic flu remains a constant threat to the health status of the world. Few years ago, the WHO predicted that there will be emergence of one new disease every year. Since then, we have heard about the Ebola virus, and back home, the Nipah virus, the SARS, the avian flu and now the swine fever.

When avian flu came on stage, many nations, including Malaysia have to put in place preparedness plan to combat the avian flu. It was speculated then that it could become a pandemic flu. I always felt that it was a panic reaction of overreacting by the health authorities. In the case of avian flu, the virus can only spread from poultry to human being. Human to human spread have not been well documented. Hence, I felt that a pandemic would be very unlikely until there is human-to-human spread. Events have proven that I am right.

In the present case of the swine fever, a pandemic will be a very likely scenario if nations are not careful. In this case, it is well documented that the spread can occur from human to human. Since the spread is by airborne, then we can imagine it can be rapid with disastrous consequences. Since the virus is a mutated form, in other words a new virus, the human beings have no immunity.

Couple with ease of travelling, one can imagine how rapidly an airborne disease from one nation can become a pandemic affecting many nations. 50 years ago, one would not be unduly worried about an infectious flu since it would take months for the virus to travel from one nation to another. Now, with the convenience of air travel, every exposed individual is a potential carrier and also a killer.

These few days I have been asked why personal hygiene and cleaning our hands would reduce infections. Since the disease is airborne, any person who is coughing, sneezing or even talking, the infected airborne particles will land on surfaces and if we happen to touch it, we may be infected. Hence, personal hygiene and cleaning our hands will be one of the most effective ways of combating this disease. Of course everybody will start wearing masks. To be effective, the mask should have size N95 and above. Then only it will serve to filter out the particles. Hence, not any mask will do.

However, when the panic button is pressed, everybody will be wearing mask. Vaccination against the common flu will be of no help. So don’t waste your money on it.

It is best in an epidemic like this to avoid crowded place, shaking hands and greeting people with a kiss. So, Mexicans are doing the right thing by staying at home.

I am surprised that at our international airport, screening is done manually by taking body temperature of the incoming travelers. This by itself can be potential source of infection. It is best that the thermal scanner should be installed.

Let’s hope that the health authorities will be strict with any incoming travelers with high body temperature from the affected countries. They should be quarantined in designated hospitals.

多年来,流感一直威胁全球人类的健康。数年前,世界卫生组织大胆预测,全球在未来每年将出现一种新病毒或疾病。至此以后,在非洲就发现了伊波拉病疫,在大马也有出现了立百病毒、非典、禽流感,以及最近在墨西哥爆发的猪流感。

吸取了非典的教训,在禽流感爆发初始时,许多国家包括马来西亚就即刻启动防疫措施,严防疫情蔓延,甚至有人预测禽流病毒会演变成袭人的夺命流感。我一直认为,这是有关当局恐慌失措的过度反应。以禽流感为例,禽流感病毒只会通过家禽传染给人类,而且迄今还没出现确认的人类互传的病例。我认为,只要没有人传人病例,流感不至于会爆发成瘟疫,而事实也证明我的想法是对的。

至于最新爆发的猪流感,如果应对有误,它可能会引发全国性的流感疫潮。一旦发生,人类互传的病例就有案可稽。由于病毒可通过空气传播,可以预见病疫一旦爆发将迅速扩散,一发不可收拾。

由于引发猪流感的病菌是新变种病毒,所以人体没有抑抗此病毒的抗体,医药界也未有给人类的预防疫苗,注射普通感冒的疫苗亦无补于事。航空的便利加速病毒通过空气传播,从发源国迅速蔓延至其他国家。50年前,一个病毒可能需要几个月时间向外传染。如今,航空的方便,任何人都有成为带菌者甚至是杀手的风险。

很多人不明白保持个人卫生清洁如何能减少感染风险。鉴于病毒通过空气传染,当我们咳嗽、打喷嚏甚至说话时,病菌会随着飞沫在空气中、地面或物体上面停留,如果我们碰触,就可能会被感染。因此,保持个人卫生和勤洗手时预防猪流感最有效的方法。然而,疫情发展已让人们惊惶,很多人将开始带上口罩,但我要提醒大家必须选择N95或以上的口罩,才能过滤空气微粒。

此外,流行病爆发疫潮期间,尽量避免与人握手、亲吻问候或到人潮拥挤的地方。疫情最严重的墨西哥促人民留待家中,减少出门是正确制止疫情的方法。我很惊讶吉隆坡国际机场的医疗站迄今只以医务人员动手为入境乘客执行体检探温,要知道这也可成为感染的源头。当局应该尽快在入境闸设立热感体温扫描器。

希望卫生当局在入境处能时刻提高警惕,严谨把关,一旦发现患有流感症状的乘客,务必隔离检验严防疫潮。


National School versus National Type School

Over the years, the government has called on the rakyat that the school of choice for our children should be the national school. This has not been very successful. We have more and more Chinese parents sending their children to national type schools or Chinese primary schools. Various figures have been quoted ranging from 90 – 95 percent of Chinese parents sending their children to Chinese schools. The Indians continue to send their children to the Tamil schools.

Why do Chinese parents send their children to Chinese schools and not to national schools? To begin with, most non-Malay parents feel that their children should have at least 6 years of grounding in their people’s own language or mother tongue education. Of course studies have shown that young children learn better in their own mother tongue. Generally, it is accepted that Chinese schools enforces better discipline and are more conscious of their student’s academic achievement. Hence, they have more homework, more monthly assessment and there is more peer pressure to do well. They normally excel also in Maths. Of course, the standards of English and BM leave much to be desired. Children from these Chinese schools have very limited exposure with other races until they reach secondary schools when they enroll into the national schools.

It cannot be denied that with the implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP), most national schools become very Malay with great emphasis on Islam. A lot of non-Malay parents do not take kindly to the obvert or subtle emphasis on Islamic religion and value. Some schools even have daily assemblies that start off with prayer and some even begins the lesson with the citation of the prayer. To aggravate matter, the teachers and the administrative staffs are also Malay. Of course there have always been allegation of racial discrimination within the school setting.

I have attended a lot of functions hosted by national schools and national-type schools. The distinct difference between them is:

1)   Invariably all Chinese schools have a hall.

2)   The PIBG and the board of directors of the Chinese schools are usually more active and more dedicated. They are more proud of their achievement and display a greater sense of independence rather than depending on handouts from the government. Some PIBG and board of the schools tend to over-emphasize on improving the school’s basic infrastructure – hall, canteen and library rather than the software of education.

3)   In Chinese schools, the function usually runs according to the schedule and there are often cultural presentations.

4)   The school teachers appear to be more dedicated and disciplined.

If the government wants to attract more non-Malays into national schools, it has to be make our national schools more appealing to the different community. To begin with, the schools teachers and administrative staffs should be more racially balanced. School teachers and the administrators should be more sensitive and pragmatic that they are dealing with a racially mixed group of school children. The Muslims can continue with their prayers, their Muslim celebration and their practice of the Malay culture and Islamic value. However, they should not alienate or make the non-Muslims feel unwanted. They should be allowed to pursue some meaningful activities while their Muslim friends have their celebrations and prayers so as to keep the non-Muslim students occupied.

People’s own language (POL) should be introduced in every class. When the standards of Mandarin and Tamil are good or even comparable to that of the national-type schools, it will be a plus point and surely attract non-Malay parents. After all, all parents want their children to be educated in the best schools and in an environment which they are comfortable with. Make the national schools as appealing and competitive as the national-type schools in term of standards, discipline and having facilities to study mother tongue education. Make the national schools less in its Islamic influence, then I am sure we will attract a lot of non-Malay parents. All these points have been discussed extensively in the previous cabinet. However, there don’t seems to be any follow-through action and it remains only good on paper.

A lot of Malay politicians from both political divide have the wrong perception that the non-Malay parents do not want their children to be educated in national schools because they are against racial integration. This is often cited as one of the main reason for polarization within our country. I cannot deny that children of different races should have more opportunities to study, to learn and play in their formative years and hence, promote racial integration. However, to think that only through the Malay medium of education that is national schools, then only can we achieve integration is to over simplify a complex issue of racial integration. One system of education obviously is not the only cause of racial polarization in a multiracial country. There are more issues at play. Government policies and its implementation that ensure fairness and equality so that no one race is felt left out is important if we want to achieve racial integration. Hence, closing Chinese schools and Tamil schools will not ensure racial integration. If fact, it will become a more divisive issue that we should avoid at all cost. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Response to Estate Life posting

When I wrote about Estate Life in my blog, it’s because I feel that I understand the issue and I feel strongly about it. In one of the Cabinet’s meeting, I said most of the things that were contained in the blog. To say that I only talk about it when I am no more in power is not true. I brought up the estate issue when Hindraf appeared on the political scene. By then, emotion was running high among the Indian community.

One must not think that if you’re not in power, you cannot say anything that is constructive or champion any cause. This seems to be a disease afflicting some people. They are not receptive to any views that are not in convergence with their views.

One wise man once said that ‘the problem with the world is that only fools and fanatics are always sure of themselves but wise people are so full of doubts’

Friday, April 24, 2009

Civil Court to Handle Conversions

I welcome the decision made by the Cabinet that civil courts will be involved in disputes regarding marriage in the event where one of spouse convert to Islam.

I have said it in my MCA Party Election manifesto that MCA’s stand is that the law must be reformed to ensure that when an individual embraces Islam, the convert’s spouse (or ex-spouse), children and other family members’ rights and entitlements under civil laws remain unchanged. Regardless of such conversion, all issues arising out of the marriage must be settled according to civil law and not state Islamic law enactments, since the marriage was solemnized or registered under civil law. Furthermore, legislation must be enacted to specify that only the civil courts have jurisdiction to hear any matter regarding the divorce.

The Cabinet also made another important milestone decision recently that in the event of one spouse converting to Islam, the children will follow the religion of the parents during the time of their marriage. The children can then decide on their own religion at the age of 18. Before this recent Cabinet decision, the children are invariably converted to Islam if one of the spouse embraces Islam.

Often in the past, when one of the spouse convert to Islam, the other spouse’s children will be in a dilemma as most of the time, they will be dragged into converting into Islam without their consent and knowledge. Therefore, the decision by the Cabinet should be welcomed by all Malaysians. I am sure it will also prevent more court cases and issues involving one of the spouse seeking legal redress about their children’s religious status.

While it is any person’s right to profess the religion of his/her choice, it is not right to use religion as a tool to escape from responsibilities. Here, I would like to quote what Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Syed Nazri has said, “Religion should not be used as a tool to escape responsibilities and conversion is not grounds for automatic dissolution of a marriage”.

Hence, it is hoped that with the decision of the Cabinet, there will be less dispute regarding the children’s religion when one of the spouses convert to Islam and divorce should follow the civil law. It is indeed a laudable act by the government.

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文告

马华署理总会长拿督斯里蔡细历医生欢迎内阁针对改教课题的最新指令,但他认为修改法令赋予这项决定法定地位,才能一劳永逸解决有关争议。

 

他说,议决配偶婚后皈依回教不能为孩子改教的决定很正确,但政府应该将它纳入现有的法令,规定欲改教人士遵从,以保障改教人士家庭成员的其他民事权益。 

 

他指出,马华坚持政府必须适度修正现有的法律,以确保人皈依回教后,其配偶(或前配偶)、子女及其他家庭成享有的原有权益及民事法律保障的持不

 

“所有因改信宗教引起的议都依据民事法律來处理而非回教法,因其婚姻是在民事法律下注的。此外,法律也要明确指定只有民事法庭才有些事。”

 

他今日在文告中表达他对内阁新决定的看法。蔡细历去年角逐马华署理总会长职时,也曾在他的竞选宣言中这么声明。

 

此外,他指出,由于各州回教理事会执行回教法的程度各异,中央政府必须与州回教理事会沟通和协调,以确保增修后的相关法令,没有互相抵触。

 

他认为,内阁的决定标志我国对改信回教所衍生的争议和矛盾处理手法中一个重要的里程碑。

 

“内阁议决将由民事法庭来聆审涉及改信回教的婚姻案件,这是一项值得称道的决定。因为在此之前,当其中一配偶皈依回教,他们的孩子即进退维谷,而且通常在不知情或未得其同意下被带往皈依回教。因此,内阁的新决定应该受到全国人民欢迎。”

 

“如今,根据内阁新决定,就算父母改教子女将遵照父母结婚时的宗教信仰直到年满18岁后,再自行决定宗教信仰。”

他深信,这项决定能防止发生更多配偶改教所衍生的诉讼案和争论,尤其是涉及孩子们的宗教和身份危机问题。

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Liberalization of the Service Sector/ 开放服务行业

During this economic slowdown, the government must take steps to ensure that our Malaysia’s economy is more competitive. It cannot be denied that there are structural problem in our economic system. For example, there are over dependence on the oil revenue, foreign workers and on trade and the export of manufacturing goods. In the manufacturing sector, we have been unable to move up the value chain; so, the value added component in the manufacturing sector is small. Today, Malaysia is no more a low cost manufacturing country. We have been unable to upgrade the skills of our workers while most of the foreign workers are totally unskilled. The service sector has been identified as an engine of growth. However, the bumiputra quota has always been regarded as a hindrance in our effort to attract FDI.

The liberalization of the service sector as announced by Najib where there is no 30% bumiputra equity in 27 services sub-sectors, ranging from tourism, transportation to health and computer industry and even the legal profession. I am sure this will attract more investment and also attract more professionals and technology into the country and hopefully it will be a boost to the service sector. Earlier, Najib as Finance Minister has announced the relaxation of the 30% equity for listing in the KLSE board. I am given to understand that major announcement will be made also on the financial sector liberalization sometime next week.

For health, legal, accountancy and banking, liberalization is essential to ensure that we can attract the best technology and also the best talent to our country. It is by exposure and competition that we can upgrade ourselves. Singapore managed to leap frog into the international arena involving health, legal, and banking when they open up much, much earlier. Today, you will find some of the top and the best brain in some of this 3 major fields practicing in Singapore. Removing the quota will create a level playing field. Most professional practices do not like the idea of allocating equity and working with total strangers. Liberalization in the service sector is a move in the right direction and is long overdue.

Over the years, there have also been calls for a total review of the NEP. There is a need to fine tune implementation so that the twin objective of the NEP - eradication of poverty irrespective of race and no race is identified by economic function become a less divisive issue. We have done well in reducing poverty but its second objective of uplifting the bumiputra have led to a lot of abuses. The time has come for the government to take the bull by the horn. I am sure a lot of bumiputra are aware that the tongkat syndrome should not be a Never Ending Policy (NEP). Najib with his wealth of experience should be able to take the lead. Affirmative action should be based on needs. The bumiputra special rights are entrenched in the constitution. Nobody can take that away. So, a review of the NEP should not be construed by some bumiputra as a challenge to their special rights as this is enshrined in the constitution.

面对全球经济放缓,政府必须采取必要步骤确保大马的经济更具竞争力。我们必须承认,我国的经济体制出现结构性问题。例如,过度依赖石油收入、外劳、外贸和出口。

由于一直无法提升产品的价值链,我国的制造行业已出现缺乏增值能力的瓶颈。今天,马来西亚不再是低成本制造国。我们既无法加强本地员工的技能,所雇用的外劳也非熟练劳工。服务业已被鉴定为经济增长的发动引擎。然而,土著股权固打一直是我国吸引外资的绊脚石。

首相拿督斯里纳吉宣布开放服务业的27个次领域项目,包括旅游、运输、保健、和电脑领域,废除有关行业的30%股权固打限制,以刺激有关服务行业的成长。我认为此政策必能为该领域吸引更多外来直接投资,同时将为大马招揽更多专才及引进科技,增强大马服务行业的竞争条件。

早前,也是财政部长的纳吉也宣布了放宽30%土著股权的上市条例。我也得知纳吉将在下周发表有关开放金融领域的新措施,而且将会是一项重大的宣布。

开放医药保健、法律、会计和金融领域是必要的措施,开放政策能为这些领域吸引最优秀的专才和引进最顶尖的科技进驻我国市场。不断的接触和竞争能使我们进步。新加坡在更早前已打开门槛,今天,其医药、法律和金融领域不仅成功跨足国际舞台,不少来自这3大领域的世界级顶尖人才 都在新加坡服务。

废除固打制能创造公平竞争的环境。绝大部分的专业领域都不能接受将股权分配给“陌生人”及和他们共事。我认为,开放服务行业是正确的方向,而且早该实行。

多年来,人民不断要求全面检讨新经济政策。政府有必要调整其执行方式,以减少落实该政策两大目标:不分种族消除贫困和平衡各种族的经济差异的过程中所产生的分歧。

目前,我国除贫的努力已立见彰效,但提高土著在经济所占配额时却出现许多弊端。因此,政府是时候全面检讨此政策的弱点。我相信,很多土著都意识到拐杖政策不能永远持续。以纳吉过人的智慧和经验,他应该能率行改变。而且,我们应该根据需求实行扶助。

土著的特权既已获宪法规定保障,不得更动。因此,检讨新经济政策不该被解读为挑战土著的特权。

Protecting Animals Facing Extinction

Malaysia is recognized as one of the 12 nations with mega biodiversity, with a wide range of flora and fauna. Unfortunately, most Malaysians do not have much interest or appreciate the diversity of flora and fauna in our country. Not many people are interested in going into the jungle. Ecotourism, which has great potential in this country, is sadly neglected. To aggravate matter, there are a lot of people who are interested to consume exotic animal meat, ranging from monitor lizard, bear paws to tiger penis for the purported aphrodisiac properties. Hence, in Malaysia, human beings eat more tigers than tigers eating man every year.

Trading in protected and threatened species is a lucrative business. A monitor lizard can cost up to RM50-100 and there seems to be ever-ready market. Even the anteater is not spared. Since forest is regarded as the state matter, the protection of the forest and the natural habitat of the animals falls within the state government. Most MBs or CMs plus the EXCOs or the EXCO in charge of the forest often have no interest or lack of knowledge or do not have the political will to protect their forest. When I was an EXCO in Johor, I was put in charge of looking after the forest. It was during this time about 10 years that I came to learn a lot about the flora and fauna and that there is lack of awareness, interest and commitment in looking after our forest with its diversity of flora and fauna. It was through the support of Tan Sri Muhyiddin, the then Johor MB and Datuk Abdul Ghani, who is still the Johor MB that I managed:

1)   To gazette Endau Rompin Johor site as the state park and that these gazettement can only be removed in the state assembly of Johor and not through the executive power of the MB. In this respect, I must thank the Danish government for funding through Danced, a sum of RM6 million to develop an Educational and Research Centre in the jungle of Endau Rompin. I also constructed a dormitory and 30 chalets with the help of the Orang Asli community. The electricity is generated by solar power. Since I have not gone into the Endau Rompin state park in Kg Peta in the last 5 years, I hope that the Educational and Research Centre is still functioning. There used to be foreign and local scientists staying deep in the jungle doing research on tropical flora and fauna. I even started an arbotariuam and also an area for the cultivation of wellknown herbal products found within the jungle, like Tongkat Ali, Kacip Fatimah and etc. A 2nd scientific expedition was launched during this time, comprising scientists from UKM, UM. I found that there was not much enthusiasm that every time I proposed to conduct a meeting deep in the jungle.

2)   In 2001, I opened up a new entry point for the Endau Rompin Park located in the Orang Asli Kg. Selai in Bekok. I also built through funding from the state government and also from the Ministry of Tourism about 20 very simple chalets. I started a natural pond where fishing is not allowed to breed threatened fish like kelah. Last weekend, I and YB Chua Tee Yong and a group of local residents made a trip to the Orang Asli community in Kg. Kemudak, Kg. Tamuk and Kg. Selai. The orang Asli community, numbered about 500 of them are voters within the constituency of Labis. Most of them are familiar with me since I have been interacting with them for the last 10 years. I am happy to note that the pond used for breeding threatened species of fish is thriving with Kelah with the size about 1.5kg. I am told that the 1kg of Kelah costs about RM400-500. I met a Scandinavian couple who have been staying there for the last 3 days. They told me that after spending 10 days in Malaysia, they found that this is the best place to visit. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Johor Endau Rompin Park management for maintaining very well the Selai entry point. Park ranger who works in the jungle needs commitment and dedication.  

3)   I manage to have 3 sites designated as Ramsar site, Pulau Pisang, Tg. Piai and part of Sg. Pulai. When I started this journey of trying to name this 3 site as Ramsar site, I have no idea then that it involves a lot of work with NGOs, especially MNS, WWF and the scientific community from the local universities. It took us 2 years before we succeeded in having the 3 sites designated as Ramsar site. I have not been to the 3 sites in the last 5 years and I will reserve my comment. We are well known for starting something new with a bang but with poor maintenance culture, I need to visit the place again before I can comment.

4)   I also started a new Gunung Ledang park, mainly more to promote ecotourism. This site is still managed by the Johor Endau Rompin Park and it is different from the Gunung Ledang resort, which I felt, was too commercialized with very little educational value about our flora and fauna. Again, I have not visited this Gunung Ledang Park, which is situated about 10km away from the Gunung Ledang resort. I was surprised that when we mounted the 24 hours camera deep in the jungle of Gunung Ledang, it recorded tiger, and threatened species of gibbon.

To protect our threatened species, we need:

1)   to educate our rakyat to appreciate and value our flora and fauna. In Denmark, school conduct regular outing for school children to educate them about simple plants, fish and animals so that they are more appreciative of their environment. In Denmark, environmental NGOs have more membership than political parties. 

2)   Not to eat exotic animal product or to be involved in trading;

3)   Politicians at the state and federal who are involved in looking after the jungle should attend some awareness course about basic sciences of botany and zoology so that they will appreciate more about the beauty and the heritage of our flora and fauna;

4)   Review all the outdated laws, which are today inadequate in protecting our flora and fauna. A fine of RM5000 for trading in protected species is peanuts. The time has come for mandatory jail sentence. Otherwise, our children can only see a monitor lizard in the zoo. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Penanti by-election: Give it a Miss/ 弃战有理

There has been a lot of speculation whether BN should contest in the Penanti by-election in Penang. This is a very small state seat within Anwar’s Parliamentary constituency in Permatang Pauh. It only has 15453 voters. The whole episode of the resignation of the previous ADUN who happens to be the Deputy CM smells suspicious. He himself denied that he has resigned in the Chinese press. The CM of Penang has openly voiced his frustration over the whole episode and that he only knew about it from the press. So much about power sharing within PR where we are told that every partner is equal and decision made is by consensus. Hence, in view of the above development, one can safely said that the whole episode could be orchestrated by Anwar. The rest of the PR partners just have to dance according to the tune.

The Penanti by-election will be the 6th by-election since 308 election. In the previous 5 by-elections, BN has succeeded in defending the state seat in Sarawak, lost the Parliamentary seat in Kuala Terengganu, failed to regain 3 seats that were lost to PR in the 308 election. The impression that one gets from all these by-election is that BN is losing control. People don’t think that to begin with, BN lost the 3 seats which are seats belonging to PR. It is obvious that PR would like to generate more by-elections in seats held by them on the slightest excuse. BN is aware that at this point of time, it is difficult to regain those seats that belong to PR. It would then generate a momentum that PR is gaining strength everyday. People like to support a winning team. It is said that nothing succeed like success. It cannot be denied that Anwar is a master strategist and is good at political spinning to create an image that is favourable to him and PR.

Of course there are within BN who feel that it is an honour to fight and it is not a question of defeat of victory. They have forgotten that PR just wants to advance Anwar’s agenda that come the next general election, PR will be the government in power. A lot of voters have become very critical of BN but seems very forgiving of PR. They have adopted the attitude that BN can never do right and PR can never do wrong. It is good that Malaysians become critical but being critical must be based on facts and figures and not ignorance and arrogance of cynism.

Giving the by-election a miss would mean that BN is not playing to the PR’s tune. The government should concentrate on nursing the ailing economy. To the man on the street, the bread and butter issue is more important than by-election and politicking. If the government can overcome this economic tsunami brought on by the American financial meltdown, it would still generate a lot of goodwill and support. Then only BN can regain lost ground.


国阵应不应该迎战本南地州议席补选引起各造议论纷纷。本南地隶属峇东埔国会议席,有1万5453名选民,是一个小州席。原任州议员兼槟城第一副首长法鲁斯的呈辞事件一开始就显得不寻常。他本人曾向中文媒体否认辞职,而当他呈辞后,身为一州之首的林冠英却毫不知情,直至媒体追问方后知后觉,后者还公开向媒体表示不满。

民联向来自诩公平落实政权分享,政治盟友地位平等,凡事能取得一致协议。不过,法鲁斯的呈辞事件看来全由安华个人操纵,其他伙伴只能闻风起舞。

本南地补选将是308普选后的第6场补选。在过去5场补选,国阵成功保住砂州峇当艾但却输掉自家席瓜登,欲重夺民联地盘的峇东埔、武吉士南卯及武吉干当则宣告失败。看起来国阵似乎已失控制权,惟另民联 显然试图制造更多补选,乐此不疲。

国阵很清楚,目前要重夺输给民联的议席不容易,加上接二连三的挫败,会让人民产生民联与日俱强的印象。人民都倾于支持胜利的一方。无可否认安华的确是一名精明的策略家,擅于扭转劣势制造有利于他和民联的条件。

当然,国阵里有些人不计胜败,视出战为至高的荣耀。但他们忘了民联的目标是加速实现安华的议程,即在来届大选打败国阵执政中央。今天,越来越多选民对国阵苛刻非难,对民联却豁略大度;对两党的态度也两极化,总认为国阵没干好事,民联永远错不了。我乐见大马人民批判意识提高,但凡事应据理非议,不能愚昧地吹毛求疵愤世嫉俗。

国阵弃战本南地补选可避免卷入民联的政治游戏。相反的,政府应该专注搞好经济。广大市民的饭碗比补选和政治更值得关注。若政府成功克服这场经济海啸,不仅能博得人民掌声,且有望重夺城池。


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