Sunday, May 04, 2008

The missing pillar in Thai-Gulf ties

This is a good article on the relationship between Thai and Gulf countries. Several notes for Malaysia officials to ponder and work on better relationship with Gulf countries;
  • Emirati tourists heading to Thailand are increasing at an average of 60,000 every year
  • In 2006, there were some 3,500 Thai workers in Dubai alone.
  • This figure jumped to 6,500 in 2007.
  • On November 1, 2007, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at protecting the rights of Thai workers living and working in UAE.
  • Oman Air, Oman's national carrier, in January 2006 to run a non-stop flight to Bangkok, in a bid to use Thailand as its Southeast Asian regional hub.

By Abdullah Al Madani

Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia, the first independent entity in the Gulf region, was the first among the GCC member-states to establish full diplomatic relations with Thailand, an event which took place in 1957, bilateral relations between the two kingdoms have become tense and strained.
This can be seen in Riyadh's decisions to ban the recruitment of Thai workers, to stop its citizens from travelling to Thailand, to end all its national carrier's flights heading to Bangkok, and to force its businessmen to replace their Thai employees with others, something that caused a sharp drop in the number of Thais in the Kingdom from 200,000 in 1989 to only 10,000 at the present.
Such unfriendly decisions, which followed years of warm and amicable relations, particularly in the 1970s, when Saudi Arabia opened its doors wide to hundreds of thousands of Thai workers and hundreds of Thai engineering and consulting companies, reflect - according to one source - Riyadh's uneasiness about the way Bangkok had handled the assassination case of five of its diplomats in 1989 and 1990 and the mysterious disappearance of one of its businessmen in 1989.
In other words, Riyadh accused Thai police of cooperation with or at least providing protection to the assassins - believed to be members of the Iranian intelligence or Lebanese Hezbollah.
Other sources believe the setback in Riyadh-Bangkok ties is a result of what is widely known in Thai press as "the Blue Diamond" case.
The Saudis are said to be very angry, not only because of Thailand's failure to adequately investigate and explain the murder of five Saudi citizens in Bangkok - or because of its failure to take action against high-ranking generals, believed to have connections with Kriangkrai Techamong, a Thai national accused of stealing a huge amount of jewellery from the palace of his employer, a prominent Saudi Prince, in the 1980s - but also because Thai police had tried to cheat them by returning to Saudi Arabia jewellery that turned out to be fake, including the so-called Blue Diamond.

Sign of protest
The Saudis who downgraded their diplomatic presence in Bangkok to the charge d'affaires level as a sign of protest, seemed to be determined to go ahead with the case until the perpetrators were put behind bars or at least until their names and their lives were ruined.
They also seemed to be in a hurry as, according to Thai law, these cases will expire in less than two years. Nothing proves this better than Bangkok-based Saudi diplomats' requests to have meetings to discuss the case with Thai officials every time a new government is formed in Bangkok.
While this is the scene as far as Riyadh-Bangkok ties were concerned, ties between Bangkok and other GCC member-states have not only continued growing, but have also been characterised by warmth, intimacy and mutual confidence.
The best example, in this context, is the relationship between Manama and Bangkok, whose officials exchange visits regularly at the highest level.
The two countries' bilateral cooperation has, in fact, expanded to fields other the traditional ones, such as human resources, high education, health, oil and gas.
Recently, the two sides signed a framework agreement aimed at creating favourable conditions for greater economic cooperation, eliminating barriers to trade to zero per cent by 2010. The Thais correctly view Bahrain as the best place in the region to be the gateway for their products to other Gulf states.
Kuwait was the second Gulf state, after Saudi Arabia, to establish formal diplomatic relations with Thailand. This took place on June 14, 1963. Since then, the two countries have enjoyed a very good relationship in such aspects as trade, finance, industry, education, tourism and transportation.
Kuwait was the first Gulf country to sign an open skies agreement with Thailand, something that allowed national carriers of the two sides to operate flights with no restrictions on plane models, number of seats, number of flights, or airports of landing.

Important agreement
Such cooperation and cordial ties were reinforced by the official visit to Bangkok in June 2003 by the Emir of Kuwait Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, during which the two sides signed an important agreement on joint investment and joint venture.
The two most important fields of cooperation between Thailand and the UAE, which established formal diplomatic relations on December 12, 1975 are commerce and tourism.
Emirati citizens are said to view Thailand as a favourite destination for tourism, recreation and medical treatment. As a result, the number of Emirati tourists heading to Thailand are increasing at an average of 60,000 every year, according to one source.
One of the early fields of cooperation between the two parties has been labour. In 2006, there were some 3,500 Thai workers in Dubai alone. This figure jumped to 6,500 in 2007. On November 1, 2007, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at protecting the rights of Thai workers living and working in UAE.
Qatar and Thailand established formal diplomatic relations on August 7, 1980. And since then the Thais eagerly worked to expand and cement their export-import ties with the Qataris, something that can be supported by Bangkok's recent decision to establish a commercial office and permanent exhibition in Doha.
In 2001, Thailand imported from Qatar oil, chemicals and fertilisers worth $253 million, while it exported to Qatar commodities and services worth only $19.6 million.
It is important to mention here that the years 2002 and 2008 can be considered as special years in Doha-Bangkok relations, In 2002, the Qataris showed unprecedented interest in investing in Thailand's sectors of finance, minerals and oil.
And in 2008, Qatar opened a new market for its liquefied natural gas industry by sealing a long-term supply deal with Thailand.
Finally come Muscat-Bangkok ties which are characterised by mutual cooperation to explore and produce oil and gas in third countries that could be in Asia or the Middle East.
This is regarded as one of the fruits of an agreement signed in December 2007 between the Omani Ministry of Oil and Gas and PTT, the first Thai oil company to get involved in the Middle East.
Muscat-Bangkok bilateral ties have been additionally reinforced by a decision by Oman Air, Oman's national carrier, in January 2006 to run a non-stop flight to Bangkok, in a bid to use Thailand as its Southeast Asian regional hub.

Dr Abdullah Al Madani is an academic and lecturer on Asian affairs.

Apa Yang Terkininya Mengenai Resolusi Kongres Permuafakatan Melayu

Gambar dari sebuah blog


Begitulah nasib bangsa Melayu (mengikut takrifan perlembagaan yang juga Muslim) di Malaysia, selepas 50 tahun merdeka dan bernaung di bawah UMNO (yang tidak sudi menggunakan bahasa Melayu sebagai nama parti).



Kira-kira 1,000 wakil daripada lebih 300 pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) Melayu dikatakan telah mengambil bahagian dalam Kongres Permuafakatan Melayu (KPM) yang diadakan di JB pada 2 hingga 4 Mei ini.



Kongres anjuran Majlis Muafakat Melayu yang diterajui Gapena dan 300 NGO Melayu itu merupakan reaksi terhadap perkembangan politik pasca Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-12 pada 8 Mac lalu.

Perhimpunan tersebut diadakan berikutan dakwaan keputusan pilihan raya umum menunjukkan masyarakat Melayu kini berpecah belah dan sedang berhadapan dengan kaum lain yang lebih dominan daripada segi ekonomi dan politik.


Dilapurkan juga ada lebih 15 kertas kerja mengenai kedaulatan dan politik Melayu dibentangkan pada persidangan dua hari itu. Tajuk-tajuk pembentangan itu berteraskan kepada empat permasalahan iaitu kedaulatan politik Melayu, kedaulatan perlembagaan Malaysia, kedaulatan Ekonomi Melayu serta kedaulatan agama, budaya dan pendidikan Melayu.

Menurut sebuah blog, hampir semua perwakilan berasa kecewa dengan pemimpin dan parti politik Melayu yang dikatakan tidak mahu mendengar rintihan dan buah fikiran para cendiakawan, penjaja, ahli perniagaan berbeza dengan pemimpin dan parti politik kaum lain. Satu daripada sifat kepimpinan yang terpuji adalah bersedia untuk mendengar.




Lantas, setelah tiga hari berkongres, apakah yang terkini dan terbarunya dalam piagam, tuntutan dan ikrar sebagai resolusi KPM?



Jawabannnya, MELAYU MUDAH LUPA!

Selama ini kebanyakan NGO seperti GAPENA lebih mengampu dari menegakkan yang hak. Mereka dibiayai oleh UMNO yang serakah berkuasa. Pernahkah mereka menegur dengan lantang kerakusan dan penyelewengan pemimpin UMNO?

Selepas pilhanraya apabila UMNO kehilangan banyak kerusi (tetapi masih memerintah) walau pilihanraya tidak telus, bersih dan terbuka, barulah konon-konon mahu mempertahankan KETUANAN Melayu.

Gapena yang diketuai seorang manusia sejak penubuhannya, telah ke serata dunia dengan menghabiskan masa, wang dan tenaga mencari Melayu diaspora......dalam keadaan sekarang, sebaiknya ialah merangka strategi baru untuk lebih meramaikan Melayu diaspora yang boleh menguatkan rangkaian bisnes, sosial mahupun sastera Melayu global.


Apapun, kita baca berita mengenai KPM ini dengan minda terbuka kerana 50 tahun lagi mungkin ada kongres yang sama.


Resolusi rangkumi tiga aspek utama Kongres Permuafakatan Melayu
04/05/2008 4:52pm
JOHOR BAHRU 4 Mei - Kongres Permuafakatan Melayu yang berakhir di sini hari ini, membuat resolusi yang merangkumi tiga perkara utama iaitu piagam, tuntutan dan ikrar.
Resolusi berkaitan piagam merangkumi sembilan rukun perjuangan utama, antaranya menjunjung kedaulatan dan keluhuran Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri sebagai muktamad dan sahih tentang kewujudan bangsa dan Persekutuan Malaysia.
Selain itu, ia juga meliputi prinsip perjuangan mempertahankan kemuliaan dan kesucian Islam sebagai agama Persekutuan; menjaga, memelihara dan mempertahankan institusi raja-raja Melayu dan kedaulatannya sebagai tonggak kewujudan Persekutuan Malaysia dan menegaskan kedudukan Bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa kebangsaan dan bahasa rasmi yang berfungsi sebagai saluran komunikasi untuk menyatupadukan rakyat.
Tuntutan pula merangkumi aspek Perlembagaan, politik, ekonomi, Islam, Bahasa Melayu, pendidikan, sosial dan budaya.
Intipati tuntutan itu antara lain mempertahankan hak, keistimewaan dan kedudukan bangsa Melayu seperti yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan, memohon Majlis Raja-raja Melayu menyempurnakan tugas, tanggungjawab dan obligasi untuk memelihara dan mempertahankan seluruh kedaulatan Melayu dan menuntut pelaksanaan keadilan sosial dan kesaksamaan pengagihan kekayaan negara bagi semua warganegara seperti yang diperuntukan dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan.
Resolusi terakhir adalah seluruh bangsa Melayu berikrar akan menguatkan iman, meneguhkan tekad dan menggunakan pendekatan strategik untuk mencapai matlamat 'Kedaulatan Melayu Paksi Kewujudan Bangsa'.
Dalam pada itu, kongres juga sebulat suara bersetuju menubuhkan Majlis Muafakat Melayu Malaysia (MMMM) dan sekretariatnya bagi tujuan pelaksanaan semua tuntutan, pertahanan dan pengisian kedaulatan Melayu di negara ini.

Dubai will become city of supertowers


Dubai has never stopped from making surprise announcements on new mega projects. I am amazed with the continuing saga to become city of the world. It is something about Dubai that keeps us wondering on the viability, feasibility and sustainability of all these new structures.


The amount of investments in developing new future city of Dubai is beyond imagination, mind boggling indeed. Well, we are bedazlled and speechless. Life goes on in Dubai, as the current residents, we have to deal with the ongoing inflation, other spiralling costs and traffic snarls that haunt our days.



I have involved with 'past' mega projects and today's announcement gives a fresh injection on life in Dubai for another decade. Can I survive the new supercity of Dubai? Will I be bored?



Is this the real sign of the end of the world? This is no longer a dream, most are already in their nightmare to cope with the current predicaments that hit everyone, especially those catagorized as the working-class, middle-class and below. The rich will definitely be richer....Dubai is to be city of the rich and famous to live. Forget about those who cannot afford even to rent a decent 2-bedroom apartment.


Look at those structures, it means nothing gonna go down in immediate future but keep rising to the sun! Look beyond the landscape, more supertowers will be rising from the desert into the sky.
More opportunities for those who can make the differences!
Why not us?



By Saifur Rahman, Business Editor
Published: May 04, 2008, 00:12

Dubai: The city will have the largest number of supertowers - buildings that rise more than 100 habitable floors - as five more will be added to the seven under development, Gulf News has learnt.
The new supertowers are part of a cluster of 11 projects worth Dh25 billion to be built in a major master-planned development that will be announced in October.
"All five supertowers will be about 600 metres tall - rising more than 100 floors. These are some of the most unique projects incorporating the latest building technologies and consuming up to 60 per cent less energy," Adrian Smith, who designed Burj Dubai - currently the world's tallest tower - told Gulf News in an exclusive interview.
His firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects, is designing the projects.
Thirteen supertowers are currently under development worldwide, including seven in Dubai. The five new ones will change the equation heavily in favour of the emirate.The supertowers already announced in Dubai include Al Burj, Burj Al Alam, Princess Tower, Marina 101 and Pentominum.

Is HALAL Cash-Cow Machine (HDC) HALAL?

This page is currently under construction.
Please check back another time.

I have been trying to get information from Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) but most of the links display the above prompt. I used both home and office connections to ensure I can get the right links, most links however dead. It could be the web site technical problems or my Internet explorer is not compatible (works for the rest though). Whatever, it means HDC has to improve its web site as the HALAL face to the world. And it has no HALAL cetification on its own web site...hmm.

HDC is linked to PM's son-in-law and there was no mention of the shareholders of the company except the motion was tabled by PM during the Ninth Malaysian Plan, 2006 – 2010 (Plan) for establishing HDC.

There was a report on JAKIM handed over Halal certification to HDC which worth millions annually. I have no idea why JAKIM let go a cash-cow machine. It could be due JAKIM's inefficiency in providing good services with the current demand of halal certifications.

HDC, as per its role and responsibilities, is important for the country's mission to become world's hub of halal industry. First of all, in setting up HDC, was it HALAL at the first place? Is HDC HALAL in terms of shariah?

Do the exorbitant fees imposed for HALAL certificates HALAL in true sense of HALAL?

Hopefully our new MPs will highlight this matter in parliament and scrutinize HDC for what's it worth. We have enough of daylight robberies by UMNO and cronies all these years and now even such thing as HALAL certifications become cash-cow machine for them to further screw up our nation's resources.

Bersangka baik that HDC is not another scam!

There was a good write up earlier in Malaysia-Today

New Curi Duit Stories: Halal Certificates

Posted by
Raja Petra
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
By Little Bird
Kawan-kawan, last week there was a news report showing the new Minister for Agama, Zahid Hamidi, presiding over some meeting at the Pusat Islam. The Director of the Pusat Islam Dato' Wan Mohamad Bin Dato' Sheikh Abdul Aziz, a strong PAS supporter, was also present and looked very uncomfortable.

There was something going on at that meeting. Money was changing hands – tens of millions
of Ringgit was being siphoned off. Here is the story. Jakim is a totally tiu nia mah, f**ked up Gomen organization run by muther f***ers of the lowest grade.
These are the so-called religious bastards. You will guess by now that I really, really do not like these turds. Jakim steals money from people from the sale of its tiu nia mah Halal Certificate. If you are an instant noodle manufacturer, if you are a coffee shop owner serving Muslims, if you are bakery, etc., then you will know what is this Halal Cetification is all about. It costs money. You need a Halal Certificate if you want to sell food products to Muslims. And where do you get this Halal Certificate? From these same bastards lah! It costs you money, you can bribe them, you can kau tim, etc.Just so that our Muslim brethren can eat stuff a Halal Certification is required. It is not a law or a legal requirement but this is Malaysia. The law of the jungle applies here. This Halal Certification brings big bucks to JAKIM. No one knows the exact millions that
comes into JAKIM’s (and the Gomen’s) coffers but it runs into the tens of millions. Lately the Prme Minister has been pushing to give the JAKIM bastards the sole franchise to issue these Halal Certificates. Here is an old news report:

Pemberian logo halal diselaras Semua negeri setuju arahan PM guna logo dikeluar Jakim.

PUTRAJAYA: Hanya Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim) boleh mengeluarkan logo halal di negara ini dan penggunaannya berkuat kuasa serta-merta.

PM Arah Semua Negeri Guna Logo Halal Jakim Sahaja.

MELAKA, 7 Mac
(Bernama) -- Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hari Selasa mengarahkan semua negeri supaya menyeragamkan penggunaan tanda halal dengan menggunakan hanya logo halal yang dikeluarkan oleh Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim).

So the Idiot wants everyone to pay JAKIm for the Halal Logo. So JAKIM gets all the money. Was there are other ulterior motive? Well, just last week Zahid Hamidi who is now Minister-in-charge of JAKIM announced that from now onwards the issuance of the Halal Logo or Halal Certification will be handed to an animal known as the Halal Industry Development Corporation or HDC. Who is this HDC? It was a company spearheaded by the SIL to develop the Halal Hub on Pulau Indah. However, the Hub never took off. It became another landscam. Some land was bought cheaply under the camouflage of the HDC and then sold off to others at a huge profit. A person by the name of Gnanalingam who runs the West Port on Pulau Indah may now more about this matter. Westport borders the Halal Hub. It always involves land.

It is known that the SIL, his porpoise-look-alike wife and the Idiot are involved in this HDC. (Kawan-kawan a porpoise is a close cousin of the dolphin). Folks say that the SIL, his porpoise-look-alike wife and the Idiot are frequent guests of honour at HDC events. Hmm… Here is an old news story about the HDC’s plans:

HDC to Take Lead in Halal International Certification(14/9/2007) By Nor Baizura Basri. BANGKOK, Sept 14 (Bernama) -- Several multinational companies have asked the Halal Industry Development Corporation Sdn Bhd (HDC) to take the lead in establishing an international Halal certification scheme to pave the way for worldwide acceptance of Halal products. At dialogues with HDC, they said Malaysia should take the lead in the area of certification, "to basically
provide the certification process for all the companies involved in the industry, especially in Thailand and Indonesia," HDC managing director cum chief executive officer Dato’ Jamil Bidin told Bernama.

The shareholders of HDC include the Matrade people from MITI plus interests related to SIL. So now the HDC will issue the Halal Logos and Certificates and HDC will make all the money.

But the logo will still bear the certification of the JAKIm which is a Gomen institution. So JAKIM’s name will be used but the HDC will make all the money. Lembu halal punya susu, sapi haram punya nama. Despite losing six states the monkeys just don’t learn anything. Maybe we should just kick them all out, altogether.


While in the UAE:_

Halal becomes big business
Vivian Salama
Last Updated: May 03. 2008 11:28PM UAE / May 3. 2008 7:28PM GMT

A sign on display at the Burger King in the capital’s Al Wahda Mall answers a question more and more customers are asking. “We sell only halal products,” the sign reads.

Catering to the world’s fastest growing religion of about 1.4 billion people, the rapidly growing halal industry, worth an estimated Dh7.7 trillion (US$2.1 trillion), has broadened in scope in recent years to include everything from food to Islamic fashion and textiles, as well as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and even Islamic finance.
Research conducted by Brand Union has found that 70 per cent of Muslims worldwide follow halal standards to some degree. It is therefore no surprise that the industry could easily account for 20 per cent of world trade in food products by 2025, according to the Canadian government’s Agri-Food Trade Service.However, the implementation of halal standards have suffered a major setback rooted in the global dispute over what qualifies for the designation.
“There are 192 countries under the United Nations banner and there are that many variations of halal,” said Muhammed Munir Chaudry, the president of the Chicago-based Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA). Pamela Pike, a spokeswoman with the Halal Exchange, an international e-commerce business that assists with the online halal trade, said many governments, including the UAE, Turkey, Malaysia and the GCC, as well as halal certification bodies, had attempted to set standards for the industry.
“For the consumers this diligence and structure will be beneficial as it will boost their ability to buy halal with confidence.” While most countries in the Middle East and North Africa regard almost all Sharia-compliant products as halal, countries in South and South East Asia limit this designation to food products, following the teachings of Malaysia, a global leader in halal food production.
The UAE has never required businesses to label halal products.Thus, the push to adopt a global halal trademark is being received with mixed responses. “Some of the larger companies, feel like their business will suffer if they put a logo on because some other customers will not like it or they will think that before, your product was not halal,” said Dr Chaudry. “They are afraid of a backlash.”Industry analysts say that businesses will capitalise far more from this growing industry if retailers and manufacturers put greater effort into branding and marketing their halal products.
“It boils down to gaining the confidence of consumers,” said Duncan James, the strategy director at Brand Union. Analysts say Islamic banking, which earns between Dh734 billion and Dh1.84 trillion annually, has been the most active of the non-food sectors in promoting its Sharia compliance, launching many programmes worldwide in line with Islamic guidelines. For example, in 1998, HSBC launched its Islamic “Amanah” programme – the Arabic word for safety – making up one of the largest Islamic banking teams of any international bank.
The programme does not just cater to those in the Muslim world, but rather, was marketed as a financial option for those in Europe and the Americas looking for a reputable sharia-compliant bank. Similarly, Barclays introduced “Sharia compliant accounts” in keeping with Islamic standards.Another active sector looking to boost its portfolio with Sharia-compliant products is the cosmetics industry, worth an estimated Dh2.06bn worldwide. Brands such as ACTIValoe, Sunbreeze and Kandesn have already earned the approval of the IFANCA and various other halal certification boards.
According to Mr James, several industries in the region could do more to capitalise on the halal brand. For one, he suggested the launch of a halal airline, similar to that launched by the Vatican and Italy’s Mistral Air last year, to transport pilgrims to holy sites. “Such an airline could provide halal food, calls to prayer, copies of the Quran in seat pockets, religious programmes on the in-flight entertainment system and separate sections for male and female passengers,” he said.
A similarly ripe industry, according to Mr James, is halal hospitality, particularly women-only hotels, to permit Muslim women to book rooms without a male guarantor, as is required in Saudi Arabia. At this week’s Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, Abdulla Mohamed Almulla, the chairman of the Dubai-based Almulla Hospitality, is due to reveal the details of his $2bn scheme to develop an Islamic-compliant hotel brand portfolio.
“There may even be opportunities for malls to brand themselves as all-halal in the region,” speculated Mr James. “There are so many retail opportunities out there that no one has really taken advantage of.”