Monday, September 29, 2008

Bush was DUMPED by the House

Similar situation could have happened in our Parliament if the no-confidence vote was allowed to be tabled. Our lame duck PM who is standing not-so-tall since last election as well as recent onslaught within his own party, seems oblivious that he has been shown to the door.

He is still extending his already extended 'vacation' while sleepin on the job since became PM. He might have some personal reasons like his own pride and he is reported planning to change some rules to ensure he will get enough nominations to defend his presidency.

In the USA as we are celebrating Eid in the UAE, stocks plummeted on Wall Street even before the 228-205 vote to reject the bill was officially announced on the House floor. Bush and his economic advisers, as well as congressional leaders in both parties had argued the plan was vital to insulating ordinary Americans from the effects of Wall Street's bad bets. The version that was up for vote Monday was the product of marathon closed-door negotiations on Capitol Hill over the weekend.

But the congress thought otherwise as one lady said on CNN something like this, "The working class voted againts of bailing out the corrupt corporate players! Enough of using our money to bail these criminals out for nothing!"

It sounds familiar. US is the brink of an economic disaster....which will affect the world and Malaysia may hit hard by the standard of leadership's management and actions.

We are into another period of uncertainty as the world is reeling for another shock and bumpy ride to the global recession, hang on there and.....Selamat Hari Raya Malaysia!

Weight of expectation

Commentary by Abd Ghani Hamat
The general election last March 8 could yet be remembered as marking a downward spiral of the country’s economy.
There’s no denying that a prolonged political uncertainty stemming from Barisan Nasional’s (BN) inability to secure a two-thirds majority in parliament has spooked the stock investors and added to the misery of businesses that are barely surviving record energy prices and a spike in raw material costs.
Suddenly the country finds itself deflated and despondent, sunk by the weight of its expectation of an impending economic rejuvenation amid a new political landscape. Contrary to its hopes, the wake-up call on Umno-led BN in the election has resulted in a political morass instead. The country finds itself in what promises to be its longest “election year”.
Until the dust of general election settled, we would not be able to have a clear view of where the government wanted to take the country economically, said a GLC chief executive, over lunch. In his estimation, the dust of March 8 would clear up by the turn of the year (2009), when the main political parties would have had their polls.
In an election year, he argued, conditions on the ground tended to get distorted as politicians engage in posturing while jockeying for party positions and pay less attention to national issues. That was five months ago, at a time talk of politicians crossing the floor was only beginning to gather momentum.
Now that Umno has postponed its polls till March next year, the wait for a new, party-endorsed prime minister has been extended by at least three months.
We can thus surmise that decisions made in the meantime are provisional at best, as the new prime minister may have his own ideas, assuming also that there’s no change of government, of course.
From the perspective of the national economy, this state of affairs is extremely unfair, particularly in light of the harsh external factors, which have already pushed Ireland into recession (two quarters of negative growth).
There is clearly an urgent need at this time for the government to focus on keeping the economy ticking — help industries and businesses tackle their problems, or even facilitate their expansion.
Who knows, the financial meltdown in the US and Europe could have opened a window of opportunity for Islamic financing and sukuk issuance, the country’s pride, to make a quantum leap into the international capital market.
Then there is the need to relook at the country’s subsidy structure by adopting a holistic approach that emphasises its sustainability as much as the competitiveness of industries over the long term.
Also pertinent are regional trade and investment issues, such as the resolution of Maybank’s proposed purchase of Bank Internasional Indonesia. The flip-flops in decisions pertaining to this deal are not characteristic of Bank Negara Malaysia and suggest more than meets the eye.
Indeed, Umno’s internal strife is not only distressing the economy but also its BN partners. How could the coalition function fully if its main partner is engrossed in its own affairs?
What puzzles most political observers, however, is how mighty Umno has let itself drift into the sticky mess. Perhaps there’s truth in the observation that it has become a party of reaction, not action. And it only reacts when it hits the wall.
How else do you explain that, after successfully scaring away voters at the last elections, its leaders are now threatening to alienate party members by squabbling over leadership succession?
That Umno is unable to come to terms with diminished power is not news. But the inability of its leaders to think and act in a coherent manner should be a cause for worry.
Their inability to comprehend public mood and expectations at the 2004 elections and their reluctance to accept accountability for poor showing four years later, could easily translate into a denial of the present economic realities, which does not bode well for the country.
But surely an old party like Umno would have enough clever people in its ranks to see its own folly. Surely they can see that the blame is not on the voters but their own leaders. But will they see beyond the veneer of democracy that masks what truly ails the party? Not unless it rids itself of the penchant for passing every trivial practice as “adat”.
We have heard claims by other BN component parties that they had been powerless in their discussions with Umno. Could it be that similarly “democratic” practice characterises decision making within the party? After all, Umno is a bunch of happy families.
To assure the masses, however, Umno has to be more transparent about its decisions, particularly those involving public funds, which rightly should not be even a subject for discussion at party meets.
Being transparent would not solve the economic issues of the entire society, but at least it points to a truer level of expectation of what’s possible and what’s not.

Kami raya pada hari Esok (Selasa 30 Sept 08)

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Maaf Zahir Batin
Dari kami sekeluarga di Dubai

Should Our PM and Ministers be IT Literate?

Tun Mahathir was in the right time to be IT literate and his MSC initiative had changed Malaysia into an IT literate nation. That's one living legacy even though like I said, he was in the right place and right time to make the difference then. Otherwise, we are still in dark age and believe blindly whatever rubbish being published in our mainstream media and whatever lies from our leaders.

Now after retirement, his blog is already among the top with more than 6 million hits within 6 months of existence. That's really amazing for someone of his age. He is still sharp in his writing and with his blog, he is even closer to the young generation.

Nothing much to be said about his successor's IT literacy even though he used to have a web site for rakyat to send our comments. Then again, to be fair for him, it is generally nothing much to shout about the outgoing lame duck PM of Malaysia of his premiership.
I can safely say that Pak Lah is like other normal old men who are intimidated by technology. Not because he is dumb or something like that, maybe his fear of the unknown and he is scared of gadgets and does not care less about improving his knowledge or skills. He is the PM, so what and who cares if he never switches on any computers, except of course for officiating certain IT-related event.

What about the two PMs-in-waiting?

I have no idea about Najib's IT literacy but the deputy PM had recently launched his own web site. I visited his site once and nothing much to say as no comments are published for public consumption. He could be good enough in using computer applications like typing a surat sumpah in Word.

Anwar's blog is one of the top blogs with thousands of hits per day. He looks more IT savvy and literate than Rosmah's husband. He is also a Blackberry user. But he could never be a PM with the current political situation.

What about other ministers or leaders? I do not know most of them but I met a deputy president of PAS and he was so proud to show off his new gadget. But that not really a criteria of good leaders, right?

Most politicians now have Facebook presence if not their own blogs. I guess majority of them will have somebody else to maintain and update their facebooks and blogs.

Therefore, should our PM and ministers be IT literate? Or it is not important as long as they perform their duties well and better than expectations? As long as they are not corrupt and put our nation's interests first than themselves or their families and cronies, I can still bear with their IT illiteracy.

Our ministers, MPs, ADUNs are busy with a lot of duties, especially to pacify their supporters/cronies and of course they have assistants. They can be IT literate on their own accord but please do not look dumb and stupid as the world is already into a new century.

I read an interesting article about US presidential campaign:

Of course, this Libertarian viewpoint of mine gets very interesting when it comes time to elect a President or a major government official, especially over sometimes not-so-pleasant dinner conversation with my wife Rachel and other members of my extended family. When I told my wife in the car ride home from the airport this week that I would be voting for McCain, she said to me quite flustered, “Okay, I understand your reasons, but c’mon, the man doesn’t even know how to use a computer.”
Well, I’m not sure exactly what to make of this one. Should your President know how to use a computer? I mean, a President is a busy guy who has to be in constant meetings and speak with other world leaders, how much time should he be spending mucking about in emails or on on web sites anyway? Doesn’t he have a secretary to print out his most important emails and such?
I know that Obama is a Blackberry Junkie. Palin’s use of Yahoo email is, uh, well

McCain, unfortunately, “has to rely on his wife“. Does that make him less qualified to be President of the United States?

USA vs Al Qaeda = DRAW!

The recent bombings in several cities have reminded us of the current world security today. Forget Iraq or Afghanistan or Palestine, where the real wars are fought and any news on terror has become insignificant.
Then the suicide bombers struck with series of blasts that killed civilians in Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. One name is always linked to these acts of terror and you know who.

Then again, with Bush presidency is about to expire and the arrival of a new president of the world's most powerful nation, black or white, do we have peace sooner than later in the Middle East? It is where the mother of all problems has never been solved under so many presidents and promises as well as billions already spent, as long as US keeps Israel dearly as its sleeping partner and the Arab regimes keep their bargains to stifle any dissents under the name of war on terror.

In reality, we are still not secured after 9/11 event changed the world or Iraq war changed the landscape of Iraq with more American soldiers lost their lives for nothing, not to mention collateral damage on Iraqi civilians.

A recent report states that a worldwide poll shows people across the world think the war on terror has reached stalemate.

People across the world think the US-led “war on terror” has not weakened Al Qaeda and many believe it has actually strengthened Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network, according to a new poll.
The worldwide poll of almost 24,000 citizens found people in 22 out of 23 countries surveyed thought attempts to counter Al Qaeda since its September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States had not weakened it.
The predominant view was that neither side was winning, the BBC poll said.
“Despite its overwhelming military power, America’s war against Al Qaeda is widely seen as having achieved nothing better than a stalemate and many believe that it has even strengthened Al Qaeda,” said Steven Kull, director of the Programme on International Policy Attitudes, which helped carry out the research.
Kenya - which experienced deadly Al Qaeda attacks on the US embassy in 1998 and on an Israeli-owned hotel in 2002 - was the only country where a majority thought Al Qaeda has been weakened.
In the United States, only 34 per cent believed Al Qaeda had been made weaker with 26 per cent reckoning the “war on terror” had had no effect and 33 per cent thinking it had made the militants stronger.
The majority US perception was that neither the United States nor Al Qaeda were winning the war.More than 40 per cent of citizens in France, Mexico, Italy, Australia and Britain believed that the “war on terror” had strengthened Al Qaeda.
While the majority of people questioned had negative views of Al Qaeda, more citizens in Egypt and Pakistan had mixed or positive views of the group than negative feelings.
The poll, which was conducted by GlobeScan with the Programme on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, involved 23,937 people in 23 countries between July and September this year.

Amazing Iran

Is Iran The Bad Boy of the Gulf?

There is much more than Shiah in Iran context. This vast and beautiful country has great history and people as well as oil to offer to the world. Iran is seen as the only country left to strike on Israel without fear and Israel's recent plan to attack Iran was only thwarted by US...if the report was correct...otherwise, if it really happened, we would have a different situation now.
There is a big number of Iranians making Dubai as first home with a long historical link. Iranian community here is somehow wealthy and influential with their own business network and 'mafia'. Iranian Hospital for example has been providing affordable medical service for all nationalities and very popular.

I have Iranian friends as well as colleagues but we do not talk about politics or religion, except when Israel is the topic of the conversation, then we are Muslims kind of brotherhood come alive.

Iran fishing in troubled waters

Recent reports on the presence of cells of Iranian spies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and the skirmishes over the differences of opinion of religious scholars from Sunnis and Shiites sects respectively are distinctive factors which are shaping the strategic scene in our neighbourhood.
This will also continue to influence the outcome of the on-going policies in shaping the future of our volatile region, which continues to oscillate between peace and the ominous prospect of a cataclysmic war, in the final months of the waning Bush administration.
The US seems to be divided on how to deal with Iran. Hawkish neoconservatives are opposed to those who are in favour of a dialogue with the Islamic Republic. Against this background, there is also a bipartisan call made by four former US secretaries of state calling on the next American president to open up a dialogue with Iran. They have argued that "diplomacy is talking to your adversaries and not only to your allies".
On the other hand, four former US officials, Richard Holbrooke, James Woolsey, Dennis Ross and Mark Wallace wrote an editorial piece in the Wall Street Journal in which they highlighted the dangers of a nuclear Iran.
"Everyone should be worried about Iran," they wrote and stated that "a nuclear-armed Iran would likely destabilise an already dangerous region that includes Israel, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, and poses a direct threat to America's national security".
Further, they said that "to lay the groundwork for effective US policies in coordination with our allies, the UN and others by a strong showing of unified support from the American people to alter the Iranian regime's current course.
The American people must have a voice in this great foreign-policy challenge, and we can make a real difference through national and international, social, economic, political and diplomatic measures".
However, we cannot rule out an October surprise - an agreement between the US and Iran, such as the one that was made 29 years ago by Ronald Reagan that ended the US hostages crisis. It too was made in October.
The Emir of Qatar, Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, pointed out recently in Syria that the GCC states have no problem with Iran, except for the occupation of the UAE three islands of Abu Mousa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs. Nevertheless, the GCC-Iran schism seems to have been inching towards more confrontation and tension due to the lack of confidence building between the two sides.
Clearly, there is apprehension in the GCC states over Iran and its grandiose expansionist design in the region. They fear that Tehran is keen to fill the strategic void in the region and exploit it in its favour. If Iran achieves its goal, it will become the most influential country in the region and will hold the keys to various strategic and potentially flashpoints in the Middle East.
Moreover, it is now benefiting from the Russia-Western standoff over Georgia, which is inching towards another cold war. Thanks to US miscalculations, the toppling of Saddam Hussain's regime in Iraq and the Taliban's in Afghanistan have worked to Iran's advantage. As such, the Islamic Republic has become a regional power by default.
The concern of the GCC vis-a-vis Iran is not limited only to Tehran's policy in Iraq, they are worried about its nuclear programme, its repeated threats to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, its perceived attempt to spread Shiism, and the bullying of the region. What's more, they are alarmed at Iran's lack of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the damning report presented by the IAEA on Iran's nuclear programme.
Iran's menacing actions in the past few weeks are more alarming and created a flutter in the GCC states. Tehran has opened an administrative office in the UAE's island of Abu Mousa. All the GCC states in a joint statement lambasted Iran's illegal act. Members of Al Shura Council of Saudi Arabia equate Iran's occupation of the UAE islands with the Israeli occupation of Arab land. In retaliation, Iran ejected the bureau chief of Al Arabiya TV, the Saudi owned pan Arabist news network.
Meanwhile, a leading Sunni religious leader, Shaikh Yousuf Al Qaradwi, an Egyptian with Qatari citizenship warned about the menace of Iran with its Shiism brand of Islam threatening Sunni countries in the Middle East.
To make matters worse, Kuwaiti Members of Parliament claimed that there are about 25,000 Iranian revolutionary guards in Kuwait disguised as Iranian expats working in Kuwait! What fanned the flames even further was a report, published by a first-time Kuwaiti MP in a leading Kuwaiti newspaper, which stated that Iran could occupy Kuwait to make things difficult for the Americans in order to deter them from launching a military strike against Iran. What was frightening was, the MP's insistence that some of the spies are Kuwaiti citizens. These revelations brought to the fore the loyalty issue, once again. A couple of years ago, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak asserted that most Shiites in the Arab world are loyal to Iran and not to their own countries. King Abdullah of Jordan, too has sounded a warning of a Shiite crescent stretching from Iran to Lebanon.
However, the presence of Iranian covert operators was denied by Kuwait's Minister of Interior Shaikh Jaber Khalid Al Sabah, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Defence Minister Brigadier General Mustafa Mohammad-Najjar. The Iranian embassy in Kuwait too denied such assertions.
However, in an interview with Gulf News, Adel Alassadi, a former Iranian diplomat who is living in exile, confirmed the presence of a network of Iranian spies in the GCC states.
Such claims and counter claims stoke more tensions and fear in a region described as a powder keg with many matches stoking it from many directions. The real challenge for all the concerned players in the region and beyond is how to navigate the region away from the abyss which no one wants to fall in.

Dr Abdullah Al Shayji is Professor of International Relations and the Head of the American Studies Unit - Kuwait University.


One of the most significant news that was skipped by mainstream media during the last few months is about the Inflation. Inflation for the last two months of July (7.8%) and August (8.5%) are the highest ever recorded in our country for the past 27 years (another new record for Pak Lah, and is now Najib’s baby). The full impact of fuel price increase now has come ashore – which is expected, as the lag period from date of subsidy removal to impact is about three months.

Continue HERE