Sunday, April 06, 2008

Will Pak Lah be like Mugabe soon?

The recent post-election dramas and after-shock effects in UMNO/BN camp are not unfamiliar. Pak Lah may be in final days to cling to his weakened power as a leader. The organised attempts from within UMNO to unseat Pak Lah are growing louder and visible.
Mugabe was Mahathir's contemporary circle of leaders/friends who ruled with iron fists and after 28 years as a dictator, he could be trying to fight the inevitable until his last breath.
Closer to home, will Pak Lah become another hero to zero after only 4 years? He may not think so but Mugabe can advise him one or two on political survival through Mahathir's lips.

Mugabe - from hero to zero in 28 years
By Nicholas Coates, Associate Editor

You can't fight an election on a one-point agenda. Yet that is exactly what is happening in Zimbabwe.
The election campaign of incumbent President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, in power for the past 28 years, does not address the issue of escalating inflation currently running at some 500,000 per cent.
There is no mention of any attempt to get people back to work, probably because there are no jobs available. Nor is there even a passing reference to the shambles the once-prosperous agricultural sector has descended into and how it can be restored to its former glories.
None of these have been mentioned, merely the claim that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Mugabe's main opposition party rivals "would never come to power in my lifetime".
It is a curious statement, but it has not provoked any assassination attempt, although there are more than enough reasons to try, considering the depths to which he has dragged the country. But Mugabe is least interested in his fellow citizens; all he wants is to cling on to power.
Independent observers believe it is because he is afraid that once he relinquishes his presidency, he will be charged for civil and economic crimes - and even the ethnic cleansing of some 20,000 members of the Ndebele tribe - perpetrated during his long years of ruling the country.
It may be true; certainly he and his cohorts have bled the country dry for their own benefit, building luxury mansions and sending friends and relatives abroad to foreign universities, holidays and luxury buying sprees

No knight in shining armour

Yet Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, is no knight in shining armour. He carries with him baggage that does not augur well for a future president to carry.
His accusations against Mugabe's thugs (alleged veterans from the war against white rule that led to independence) can be matched with the MDC thugs who intimidate voters into supporting Tsvangirai. His one-point agenda is simplicity in itself, for it is spelt out in the very title of his political party.
In a similar vein to US Democratic challenger Barack Hussain Obama Junior, he calls for change for change's sake - a different person at the top of the table.
No explanation is given on what the changes are in store or how they are going to be achieved or what sacrifices (if any) people will have to make. None of this is stated, merely an "I want the job" approach to canvassing, not rare, but certainly worrying.
For the electorate, it may turn out to be replacing the devil you know with the devil you don't know.
Of course Zimbabwe must have change as it cannot go on as it is. The mortality rate is around 35 years old, there is virtually no food available in the shops (in a country that used to be the breadbasket of Africa) or even other basic necessities.
It is only Mugabe's elite cronies, whether close aides or the police and military, who prosper. However, ousting him is an entirely different, and difficult, matter.
Mugabe has stolen elections before and it looks very much as if he will do the same again either through stuffing ballot boxes in the run-off for president, or through intimidation, courtesy of the police, the military and his "veterans army".
When Mugabe first started his crusade to confiscate white-owned land and hand it to black Zimbabweans, it was alleged the war veterans were mainly the beneficiaries, together with government ministers who suddenly became very prosperous indeed.
At the time doubts were raised by observers that the so-called veterans were indeed what they claimed to be, as most appeared far too young to have ever participated in the independence fight.
It was the handing over of rich agricultural land, and the eviction of the white owners by the veterans, that started the slippery slope into the nation's poverty.
It quickly became obvious that the Zimbabwean owners of the confiscated land were only interested in tending their individual smallholdings for themselves, whereas before vast territories were geared to food production for domestic consumption and export, bringing essential foreign currency into the country.
Now, it is an insurmountable task to return the country to what it was, without aid from outside sources. Yet those nations that can afford to invest sufficiently to restore agricultural and other industry are not prepared to do so while Mugabe remains in power. Even South Africa has shown a marked reluctance to get involved.
In all likelihood, with Mugabe contesting 16 parliamentary elections and a run-off for presidency, it would seem he is prepared to steal office again, right from under the noses of Zimbabweans and the world community, who remain powerless to do anything.

Malaysian Education Promotion Centre, Are You Serious?

Last Friday, together with my son, I went to visit the four-day Gulf Education and Training Exhibition (GETEX) in Dubai, a leading education forum, which ended on Saturday. It was reported that over 29,000 visitors attended GETEX this year.

The forum, which was held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, hosted over 500 higher education providers, the majority from the UK and England.

Malaysia's Ministry of Higher Education or Malaysian Education Promotion Centre had a booth. But the way you can check the both web sites and can judge how serious the ministry or MEPC in promoting Malaysia universities.

I have my own experience in dealing with our universities. Several friends in Dubai were interested to send their children to Malaysia for tertiary education in certain courses.

Being a good 'ambassador' of Malaysia to UAE, I contacted the relevant universities through their web sites. I had sent numerous emails for inquiries. There were either bounced (the email addresses not valid or full boxes were full) or no replies. Even, I sent to the VC offices but it turned out to be the same.

I have never received any official replies from all the inquiries submitted so far. A clean record till now.

Recently, I forwarded some inquiries to local MEPC office in Dubai and one of these friends gave up, frustrated and intimidated as he complained that the service was POOR.
Another one asked me, "Are you guys serious?" He had been following up but there was no end of waiting.
All of them, not only those referred by me but by others as well, complained about the service. So far I have not received good feedbacks, it could be my friends were expecting higher level of services or my friends were not good enough to be our 'client'.

One particular incident, the official there referred the inquiries to another company in Dubai which demanded some money as charges. And through a friend in the particular university, one of them managed to enrol without going through hassles.

It seems that we are wasting our money by having overseas offices. The official may have his or her own agendas. He or she may be not good enough to be our representative. For the sake of the nation's pride, we demand better services or close these offices.

This year GETEX, our booth was insignificant in the sea of other countries participants. The brochures and goodies were also outdated. I am not sure on the responses from the other visitors as I had only spent few minutes.
I had a chat with one young guy from MPEC who has just recently been transferred to Dubai and he was approachable. I conversed in Bahasa Melayu but he replied in English. While others there seemed indifferent, it could be I was wearing BERSIH t-shirt.

Our education system is in the mess. No university listed in top 100 and thousands of local graduates are still unemployed. What is our selling point? Cheap and affordable?

Irrespective of the attendance, please upgrade your web site, MEPC.
A lot of excellent sites like
and various for UK, Canada and USA. An arabic version could be a good strategy but then again, even the English one needs to be revamped with better outlook and comprehensive information.

Interestingly, North Cyprus has an informative site for promoting its universities.

By the way, I was there to inquire for universities in UK, USA and Canada for my sons future paths. Decision has been made according to my sons' career interests. Eldest in aviation and second is following his mum's step to become another medical doctor in the family, while the youngest is still toying with ideas on becoming a Manchester United player.
It is by accidental not by choice that Malaysia universities are not in our list since long time ago.