Thursday, June 28, 2007

Is Low wage = competitive?

I have written about Minimum Wage in Malaysiakini a couple of times. Here is a report in Malaysiakini.
Here is an interesting theory put forth by no less than our Human Resources Minister, one Datuk Seri Fong Chan On.
'He said that if the Government were to comply with the demand, the country would lose its competitive edge.'
His theory said that if Govt set minimum wage at RM900 a month, Malaysia would lose its competitive edge.

More or less he is implying that "let the workers eat grass, so that the ruling class can eat cake, drive Mercs and live happily ever after".
That sounds like Marie Antoinette isnt it? When she was informed that the poor working class dont have bread to eat, she retorted, "let them eat cakes instead".

Let us inform our beloved Minister that our workers are practically eating grass already.
We are more or less an open economy.
We import our needs, food, clothing and lately (for the past 20 years) labour force, and to earn our way, we export electronics, services, palm oil and sand (to Singapore) and lately land titles (IDR).
Our ringgit has been fixed until lately, when it was floated because China gave up fixing the Yuan to the dollar (after so much pressure from USA).
Competitiveness is the SUM of all things that we do better than others.
Competitiveness has nothing to do with paying RM300 per month for our factory workers. Yes its true that our factory workers get paid that low, wages that not enough to buy food for one person more than a week.

Let me digress a bit.
During the economic crisis of 97, what did Govt do to regain competitiveness?
Answer: Devalue the ringgit.
The ringgit was free floated then, so when everyone including our own corporations sold ringgit, we let the value fall.
Other countries did the same thing, South Korea let their Won fall, so did Indonesia.
One China's territory (Hong Kong) maintained their dollar value, as a result prices falls. Real estate prices fall, people lose jobs and some companies close shop.
What does recent rises in the value of ringgit vis a vis USD tell us?
Answer: The flow of funds into USA is slowing down.

Let me tell our Human Resources Minister, that to maintain and improve competitiveness we must continue to invest in our human resources capital, as well as our financial and infrastructure capital.
By keeping our workers wages low, our companies would choose to employ more workers to increase production instead of improving efficiency and get better return per capita. Workers would have to work longer hours to keep up with the rising cost of living. ie workers would have to work longer and harder instead of smarter.
As such we dont move up economic ladder.

Let me make it clear, this issue (minimum wage) is not about competitiveness. Minimum wage is about fair distribution of income between owner of capital, managers and workers. Its about social justice.
Workers are only demanding fair wages, wages that pay for a decent living.

This report from The Star
Drop demand for RM900 minimum wage, MTUC told


SEREMBAN: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress should be practical and drop its demand for a RM900 minimum wage for all private sector employees, said Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Fong Chan Onn.

He said that if the Government were to comply with the demand, the country would lose its competitive edge.

“Let’s be reasonable, we cannot allow our economy to be too rigid,” he said, adding that a blanket ruling could not be applied to workers in all sectors.

Dr Fong said the Government was prepared to discuss the matter with the MTUC but adopting a confrontational approach would not benefit anyone.

Yesterday, the MTUC organised one-hour pickets at several locations in the country. The biggest was held outside the EPF headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut in Kuala Lumpur in which some 1,000 workers participated.

Apart from the minimum wage, the MTUC is also demanding a RM300 cost of living allowance (Cola) for private sector workers.

“If we have a minimum wage of RM900, we would have to pay foreign maids as well as part-time workers the same amount. We can’t do that for everyone,” said Dr Fong.

The minister, however, admitted that a minimum wage could be introduced for workers in certain sectors such as dock workers and cargo handlers.

The minimum wage for most other sectors should be left to market forces, he said.

On a separate matter, Dr Fong said Socso paid out close to RM1bil in compensation, pension and survivors’ benefits to workers or their dependents last year compared with RM890mil in 2005.

However, it managed to collect RM1.5bil last year compared to RM1.3bil in 2005.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I can see and smell RAT as big as Maxis Tower

This story hasnt broke in Malaysiakini yet, but its on Reuters.
Is that $5.7 billion in USD?
What has Commerce Commission/Suruhanjaya Sekuriti is doing?
Its plain to see that Ananda Krishnan has inside information that the Saudi Telekom group would want to buy Maxis. He is probably in cahoot with them, 'take Maxis private first, then sell to the Saudi Telekom group.
what the malaysian regulators are doing?

this amount to robbing small shareholders to benefit majority shareholders!
ananda and co profits 1billion just like that in less than a month.
ananda must compensate small shareholders the one billion plus fine!
this is not right. this is injustice.
this will give bad image to foreign investor and small investor. that our regulation is lax and benefit big and powerful!

Saudi Telecom to buy Malaysia mobile firm
by Reuters on Tuesday, 26 June 2007
Saudi Telecom Co, the largest Arab telecom firm by market value, has agreed to buy a majority stake in Maxis Communications, Malaysia's biggest mobile operator, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Saudi Telecom, which is bracing for the end of its fixed line monopoly this year, will announce the deal on Tuesday, the sources told Reuters in Riyadh. Neither could say how much the government-controll ed company had agreed to pay.

A 51 % stake in Maxis would be worth about $5.7 billion at the stock's last traded price.
Story continues below «

"They have reached a deal with the largest shareholder in the Malaysian company," one source said.

Saudi Telecom's spokesman Qusai al-Fawaz declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Malaysian firm Binariang, controlled by tycoon Ananda Krishnan, is the largest shareholder of Maxis. Krishnan has teamed up with other Maxis shareholders to buy the 41 % of the company they do not own in a $4.7 billion bid that will be Southeast Asia's biggest ever buyout.

Analysts said the buyout was prompted by the huge capital demands of Maxis' overseas expansion plan, which could run into resistance from other shareholders.

Maxis is banking on its Indian and Indonesian units for subscriber growth as its Malaysian operations ramp up data services like high-speed broadband to counter intensifying competition and a mature mobile market.

The cost of building businesses in the big emerging markets of India and Indonesia, with combined populations of about 1.4 billion people, has unnerved some minority investors. Krishnan wanted to accelerate the firm's expansion.

State-controlled Saudi Telecom is the only one of the five-largest Gulf Arab telecom operators that has not made foreign acquisitions, even after losing its mobile-phone monopoly in the world's biggest oil exporter in 2005.

The company said in May it aimed to get 10 % of its revenues from operations outside Saudi Arabia by 2010.

Saudi Telecom made its smallest quarterly profit in more than two years in the first quarter as competition eroded margins.
Rival Etihad Etisalat was able to capture 30 % of the market within 18 months of starting operations in May 2005.

Competition for mobiles in the largest Arab economy is set to intensify now that a consortium led by Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Co. has won a third mobile licence.

The government has said it will sell a second fixed-line licence this year.

here is what MAxis says:

Maxis parent denies details of reported Saudi deal
Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:23AM EDT

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 (Reuters) - The parent of Malaysian mobile phone firm Maxis Communications (MXSC.KL: Quote, Profile, Research) denied on Tuesday a Reuters report that Saudi Telecom Co. (7010.SE: Quote, Profile, Research) was buying a 51 percent stake in Maxis.

A representative of the parent firm, Usaha Tegas, declined to say which details of the report were wrong and said a statement would be issued by both Saudi Telecom and Maxis later on Tuesday.

"It's wrong and the facts will be released later today," said the representative, who declined to give her name because she worked in an area of Usaha Tegas that was not authorised to speak to the media.

On Monday, sources familiar with the matter said Saudi Telecom, the largest Arab telecom firm by market value, had agreed to buy 51 percent of Maxis, which would be worth about $5.7 billion at Maxis's last traded price.

Saudi Telecom's officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday.

Workers picketing about Minimum Wage

Saw this report on Malaysiakini.
the link is here.

Here is the MTUC memorandum as given to PM.
Congratulation to Syed Shahir and G. Rajasekaran on your leadership!

10 days ago, while attending a makan hosted by Tan Sri Muhammad, in his speech, he said that 'Govt servant are happy getting salary rise, and soon private sector would also get wage rise'.

I got the gist that on the Govt side, they support MTUC asking for wage rise, and setting minimum wage of RM900. Well , maybe the quantum is subject to argument and debate, but wage rise is inevitable and just.
MTUC just have to make a case for it. Picket, memo, gathering and demo. Then Govt will 'reluctantly' yeild to MTUC's demand.
Thats politics. Govt dont want to be seen as a walkover.
Fong is also reported as 'willing to review'.

My view is;
MTUC will get what they want, Minimum Wage set at a rate a bit below what they asked. maybe RM800 a month. Maybe less, RM750. They just have to make a case, hold gatherings and show Govt that in this PRU year, Govt cannot afford to alienate the workers.
With the Opposition especially PKR is in such a mess (I mean what a mess!) and cannot seize this issue for whatever reason, PM Abdullah and BN team would be silly to let this fall out of their grasp!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Winter Blast claims life of a Malaysian Student

key word: Malaysiakini

Polar blast expected to last all weekend
NZPA | Friday, 22 June 2007

Another polar blast is set to hit the country today and the bad weather will last for most of the weekend.

Severe weather forecaster Bob Lake said the worst affected regions would be in the south and gale force winds would be the issue across the rest of the country.

"We are in for a cold weekend," said Mr Lake.

Central Otago was in chaos yesterday with abandoned cars littering roads and many areas reported to be impassable across the South Island. The snow eased overnight but is expected to return today to low levels.

The storm yesterday left one person dead. Wanaka police said Veronica Lee May Tan, an international student from Malaysia studying at Otago University, died when the car she was a passenger slid off the Makarora-Lake Hawea Road on State Highway 6 and crashed into the lake.

Three other women survived and were taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia.

Transit New Zealand reported today that State Highway 80 to Mt Cook, State Highway 83 between Kurow and Omarama and State Highway 6 between Makarora and Haast were closed. Caution was advised on State Highway 73 between Arthurs pass and Otira, and generally in the central South Island, Nelson and Otago.

Police advised motorists to watch following distances.

Mr Lake said the snow storms that affected Otago and parts of Canterbury largely cleared overnight.

"We have another front coming through approaching the far south this morning. That will bring a resurgence of cold south westerlies and some more snow down to fairly low levels, particularly in Fiordland, Southland and Otago," he said.

By midday the front should be over southern Otago.

Behind the front there are strong south westerlies, which will cause temperatures to plunge and bring as much as 20cm of snow at the 300m level with some falls below that.

Mr Lake expects road travel to be disrupted again today in the affected areas, particularly later today.

"The thing to note about this is these conditions will last through tomorrow. There will be another front coming through tonight and early tomorrow, which will keep these conditions going," Mr Lake said.

He said the bad weather may continue through to early Sunday.

The Central Otago skifields should pick up a reasonable amount of snow, he said.

Dunedin is likely to get snow on its hill suburbs.

The cold air will travel north but the Canterbury region should be protected by the direction of the windflow.

Most of the activity will be offshore from Canterbury but there could be some snow falls in South Canterbury.

Strong winds were in prospect in the Wairarapa region during the weekend, particularly tonight and tomorrow night.

"That could produce severe gales around the Hawke's Bay to Wairarapa area," he said.

This polar blast was the sort of thing experienced from time to time in winter. The amounts of snow would not be huge but they would be significant.

"This is the third we have had in a series of cold southerly outbreaks," he said.

Our Condolence to the family of VERONICA TAN MAY LEE

This may interest online readers, especially from Malaysiakini, my condolence to her family.
That is the actual picture on the shore of the lake.

Police name victim of Wanaka Lake car accident
Fri, Jun 2007 6:46a.m.

Police have named the woman who died when her car plunged into Lake Wanaka during yesterday's storm as Veronica Lee May Tan, a 20-year-old from Malaysia.

She had been studying at Otago University.

Police say she died as a result of injuries sustained when the vehicle she was a passenger in left the road and plunged 70 metres down a steep bank and into the lake.

Three of the other occupants, who were also international students, survived and were rescued by two members of the public.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Property investors' tax breaks may go

This may well be the trigger to cooling off the hot property market.

Jun 20, 2007

Finance Minister Michael Cullen is considering scrapping tax breaks available to property investors in a controversial bid to cool the runaway housing market.

Peter Trapp is one of the 200,000 Kiwis with a rental property and always has his eye out for a good property deal.

It can be lucrative. Even if you lose money on the rental property you're eligible for tax breaks. Trapp says that's fair enough.

"All businesses should be able to claim on expenses and pay taxes on the profits," he says.

Here is how the current system works. Supposing you earn $100,000 a year and buy a rental property. If the rent you're getting doesn't cover your mortgage and other bills and you say make a loss of $20,000, you can offset that against your income. So you wouldn't be taxed at $100,000 but at $80,000.

Those incentives mean rental properties are popular. Back in the early 1990s when those tax breaks were not available, just 70,000 people owned rental properties. Now about 200,000 New Zealanders do.

"It is a massive increase in investment into rental property which has placed further pressure on the property market," says Cullen.

Now the government is considering pulling the plug on landlords' tax breaks to stomp on the rampant housing market, although National says that will force rents up and hurt mortgage holders already facing high interest rates.

"Why isn't he satisfied with that impact on their pockets and their house values without adding another measure which may have the effect of pushing their house values down," says Bill English, National finance spokesman.

Others believe the government is picking the wrong target.

"The housing market is over heated because as I have been telling you for the last 13 years, we have inflated the demand by sending half the immigrants to this country to Auckland," says Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader.

Cullen stresses it's just an idea at this stage and will need majority support in parliament.

"Not much point doing lots of work if you haven't got 61 votes. That's the nature of MMP politics," he says.

That is 61 votes property investors will hope Cullen doesn't get. They say renting will become even more expensive if the government goes ahead with the change.

Property Investors Federation vice-president Andrew King says the move is not necessary as the property market is already nearing the top end of the cycle. He says the government doesn't need to do anything to reduce property price growth as affordability is doing that on its own, as is the fact fewer immigrants are coming into the country.

King says putting investors off will cause rents to rise as there will be fewer properties available.

The issue involves Loss Attributing Qualifying Companies (LAQC) which are used to reduce tax when rental properties make a loss. Click here for an explanation of an LAQC.

Information on current rental prices and how they have changed over four years can be found at Crockers Property Group.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

my brother's puisi in

the page is here.
just like to share.

Kadangkala musim yang berganti
dan angin semilir yang pergi
memungkinkan kita memasuki daerah jeda
bukankah ini peralihan yang dinanti sekian lama
setelah usai lelah mengerjakan sesuatu
yang disukai atau mungkin yang melukai
yang rela dan yang reda
yang menuntut pengorbanan
dan yang memungkinkan segala.

Berbicara denganmu, bagai mencermin lantunan diri
mungkin aku seteliti usiamu nanti – akan pasrahkah?
ketika dunia zuhud mendekat
dan dunia yang dikejar sudah terlalu jauh – tak terdaya.

Teman, kita mungkin semakin jauh
sedang indahnya semalam sentiasa terpapar di ruang
dari kami sekadar titipan doa
agar perjalanan tanpa ragu, tanpa menoleh lagi
sedang menikmati lelah sepanjang usia semakin pasti.

Tanah Rata, Cameron Highland

Monday, June 18, 2007

That 'the Chinese are not relevant anymore.'

Maka ditanya oleh seseorang, apa pendapat Mat Taib tentang buku May 13 oleh Dr Kua Kia Siong. Yang heboh di besar besarkan di website seperti Malaysiakini.

Panjang lebarlah Tan Sri kita menerangkan bahawa ...di pendekkan..
dahulu Melayu tinggal dikampung, di tepi pantai. tidak berpelajaran.
kita dulu memerlukan orang cina yang lebih pandai. melayu dulu sekolah pondok, belajar setakat belajar sembahyang, puasa etc. manakala cina sekolah tinggi, belajar ke singapura and berkelulusan ber skil.
masa dulu kita memerlukan cina.
sejak 60an dan 70an, kerajaan hantar melayu belajar, sekarang melayu ramai dah pandai.
dah pandai buat macam macam dan bina macam macam.
kita sekarang tak perlu mengharap kepada cina.
kita boleh buat sendiri.
cina sudah tidak relevan.
civil service kita baik dan berprestasi.
maka mereka cuba memperlekehkan itu juga.

Maka mereka cuba memutarbelitkan sejarah. dan kata 13 mei coup de etat.
menyeduk dari kata pegawai british high commission, yang hanya melihat peristiwa pada hari tersebut, bukan mengambil kira perkara perkara dan peristiwa peristiwa yang menuju kepada 13 mei.

Ramah Mesra Makan Show Melayu

Acaranya macam ni:
6pm you are supposed to be there.
Mat Taib datang pukul 6.30
Ucapan Mat Taib
Ucapan Pak Ishak Mahyudin
kamate kamate..kora kora.
kids fashion show..this was good. and funny too.
Makan - around 7.30
FOOD was good.
Kak Kiah the Master Chef.

acara soal jawab..
aku pi lari balik sebab boring.

Mat Taib in Christchurch

this was in Friday, 15 June.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

RBNZ 'swimming against current' and prescribed the wrong remedy

New Zealand subscribe to the open economy dogma. Its free market, not much control whatsoever. RBNZ can only use interest rate as a tool to influence the firection of the economy.
Problem numero uno: Housing market bubble.
Which result in hot consumer good market because home owner feel rich and buy things. Add to these, the world commodity market is booming, and New Zealand has been getting good returns on its milk products.
So RBNZ has been trying to dampen the economy by increasing interest rate.
By raising interest rate, more money flow into New Zealand. Exchange rate gone up to stratosphere.
Swept on global currents
Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 17 June 2007

Despite his extraordinary intervention, forces driving the kiwi are beyond Bollard's control. Tim Hunter reports.

The dollars keep flowing in - $100 million here, $48m there. Each deal ratchets up demand for New Zealand's currency, demand that pushed the kiwi to a record high of US76c a week ago and triggered unprecedented action by the Reserve Bank on Monday.

The bank's interventionist cattle prod jerked the kiwi back to about US75c, but it's still in the stratosphere compared to its long run average around US60c.

The question is, has the prodding made buyers of kiwi more cautious?

And who are these people anyway?

On the same day bank governor Alan Bollard was selling kiwi dollars by the million, Bloomberg carried a story about Michiko Takeda, a 46-year-old housewife from Sapporo. Last year she deposited 2 million yen (about $20,000) with ANZ in Australia for one year, attracted by interest of 7% compared to the 0.35% she could get with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.

"Even with exchange-rate risks, I'd like to invest more," she told Bloomberg.

There are lots of people like Takeda in Japan, and in other countries where interest rates are low, such as Switzerland. For them the deal is simple - they want to invest in the higher interest rates available in other countries.

New Zealand has the highest interest rate of industrialised countries at 8%, but there are attractions elsewhere - Turkey, for example, can offer deposit rates of more than 18%; Brazil's benchmark rate is 12%, down from 19% 18 months ago.

The risk of investing in currencies is considerable. In the last two years $1 has varied in value between 68 yen and 91 yen -get your timing wrong and any interest rate gains are obliterated by adverse currency movements. Get lucky, though, and gains are multiplied many times.

But Takeda is unusual in opening a deposit account overseas. Most retail investors buy their kiwi investments from domestic institutions - an arrangement that conveniently funds mortgage lending here in New Zealand.

The funding trail is revealed in bland bond issue reports - on May 25, for example, the AAA-rated World Bank raised $633m with an issue of uridashi bonds, marketed to Japanese institutions and the public by Daiwa Securities. The bonds were paying 6.76% on face value.

These issues - by institutions like German state-owned KfW, Swedish Export Credit Corp, Toyota Motor Credit Corp - happen several times a month. Since January they have raised $4.313 billion, according to figures from the Reserve Bank.

The same thing goes on in Europe, where instutions like Rabobank and Inter American Development Bank raise NZ dollars by issuing eurokiwi bonds - $5.015b worth since January.

How much of this activity contributes to buying pressure on the kiwi is hard to calculate because some of it will be rolled over from previous issues, but cumulatively there has been huge growth in the trade.

Netting out issues and redemptions, the amount outstanding on uridashis has risen from zero in January 2003 to $21.87b two weeks ago.

Eurokiwi issuance is bigger still. Over the same period eurokiwi debt outstanding has risen from $12.07b to $34.2b.

That's a total of $56b. To put that figure into perspective, total NZ dollar funding in New Zealand banks is $200.9b.

Unfortunately the precise destination of the $56b is unknown, but the bulk of it appears to be funding bank loans in New Zealand through swap deals arranged overseas.

These deals work because overseas investors want to tap into high kiwi interest rates, but prefer to do it through familiar AAA-rated institutions rather than unknown NZ banks. So the World Bank can raise NZ dollars from European and Japanese investors at a fixed rate -with uridashis and eurokiwis - much more cheaply than ANZ, say.

But the World Bank doesn't want kiwi, it wants greenbacks or euros.

ANZ, meanwhile, can borrow euros at a variable rate, so it swaps the euro funds and variable interest rate for the World Bank's fixed rate kiwi at a "swap" rate that allows both to gain advantage from the deal.

These swaps have been hugely beneficial to New Zealand borrowers, much to Bollard's frustration. At times, notably in mid-2005 and the first half of 2006, swap rates have been below the official cash rate, so NZ banks able to access this market could offer highly competitive fixed rate deals.

The effect on house prices is another story, but what of the effect on the dollar?

Some commentators have focused on the unwinding of uridashi and eurokiwi bonds as likely to trigger a dollar drop. In October, for example, $1.6b of eurokiwi and $2.2b of uridashi are due for repayment.

The redemptions may have an effect, but they haven't in the past. As long as overseas investors continue to want to hold kiwi they will simply roll over the money into another kiwi bond.

Economist Anthony bYETT of FX Matters picks investor psychology as the deciding factor. A change in sentiment, some negative press coverage, and enthusiasm for uridashis and eurokiwis could evaporate.

"There's a fairly naive investor on the end of all this," he said. "They're offered a handsome return compared to the local post office, but I don't think they really understand the currency risk."

Byett sees a potential turnaround towards the end of this year, particularly if Japan's central bank raises interest rates.

If that happens, the effect on the kiwi will be amplified by hedge funds, whose currency deals are much larger than those in the swaps trade. Rumour has it that over the two weeks before Bollard's intervention, hedge funds bought between $5b and $10b.

This is the infamous "carry trade", where big funds borrow at low rates to invest in high interest rate currencies. These funds differ from the swap trade investors in that they invest for the short term, perhaps only a few weeks.

If retail investors like Takeda don't care about currency risk, the hedge funds certainly do, and on that score the Reserve Bank's currency intervention made global markets sit up and concentrate.

Byett described the bank's approach as "guerilla action", taking an opportunistic position in the market rather than drawing up battle lines.

"If you see the dollar spike up a cent or two it's a good time to sell," he said. "But if you get a data event next week that pushes up the likelihood of a rate rise, the dollar will be back up to 76c.

"Will the bank intervene again? I'm not so sure."

Childcare Centres, do your own housework and less hours at work.

I agree and support Teresa Kok's opinion in Malaysiakini today. I do not know what is wrong with us, that we have such a love affair with foreign maids. Malaysians like to show off that they have maids. The lowliest are the one without one, classified as 'not well off'. the next rung are those with Indonesian maid, because they are relatively cheap. Then there are Filipino maids, because they speak English well, and highly educated, some with degrees.
Well I suppose Sri Lankan, Indian and Thai maids falls in between somewhere?
In Australia and New Zealand, very rarely families have maids. If hte children are young, most likely one of the parents would stay home and take care of the kids. When I say one of the parents, doesnt mean wife only, could be the husband. Some of my friends are stay at home husbands. Why, because the wife earns more, so make sense.

Child care centres in NZ generally opens from 8am to 5pm, no more. and they charge on average NZD8 per hour per child. So unless you earn big money, there is no point sending your kids to childcare centres so that you could work. You would be better off give quality care to your own children, and enjoy the little precious time with them while you can, otherwise you would miss out altogether.
Research shows that children who get early childhood education do well in later life. So its may well be a good solution if Govt subsidize the cost of early childhood education, by giving grants, say 20 hours per week subsidised cost at childcare centres and kindergartens. Its kind of investment in education.

Another solution is to reduce the average work hours, say 35 hours a week, and work days stretched to 6-7 days on rotation. Businesses could open longer hours, so people work on shift. Parents could share household duties taking care of kids. One parent could work 4 days a week and the other work 3 days a week.

Build childcare centres

by Su Hui Hsing in MALAYSIAKINI 16, June

It is true that Malaysians in general have become very dependent on maids. Why is this so?

“Because we do not have proper childcare centres where parents can drop their kids to be well taken care of when they go to work,” opined Seputeh MP Teresa Kok.

“This is one solution which should be seriously considered by the government as well as those in the private sector if we wish to lessen our over-dependence on domestic helpers,” she told malaysiakini in an interview.

Queried for her comments on Wanita MCA chief Dr Ng Yen Yen’s remarks against allowing maids from China to work in Malaysia because “Chinese maids have a tendency to snatch our husbands”, Kok said that the root cause why we are so dependent on maids should be tackled first.

The MP said to put our woes of Chinese maids (whom Ng refers to as ‘dragon ladies’) snatching our husbands to rest, we might as well not employ maids at all but consider other solutions to our need for help with housework and childcare.

“To say that Chinese maids will snatch our husbands is superficial. Maids from other countries can snatch our husbands too,” said Kok, ading that “what we need are quality childcare centres.”

Low wages

“We have to ask ourselves the question: Will China girls come in to work for us for RM500? The low pay will open up channels for employment visas to be abused by employment agencies, the maids themselves, or human trafficking offenders,” said Kok.

Low pay has been given to be one of the reasons why Indonesian and Filipina maids no longer want to work in Malaysia.

Often, reasons given by Malaysians for their dependence on domestic help are the lack of time or their refusal to do menial jobs. Foreign maids come in handy because they would help us do the tasks that we do not have time to do or do not want to do ourselves. And the amount we have to pay them, which is relatively low, makes it all the more attractive to hire a maid.

Kok also expressed concern on cases of employers violating the dignity of their maids which are not rare in the country.

“Under the system, maids are sometimes forced into a corner when they receive inhuman treatment by their employers but are unable to return to their home countries due the debts they owe to middlemen in getting a job,” she said.

“It should be good news that Indonesians and Filipinas no longer need us as their source of income. Perhaps they have experienced a sense of awakening that they no longer want to be exploited to work for so little pay while having to subject their lives to the whim and fancy of their employers.

“At the same time, employers should examine their treatment towards their maids - whether they have treated them like human beings and rewarded their maids’ time, effort and commitment with the fairest possible remuneration and benefits,” Kok said.

Increase employment

The DAP parliamentarian said that not only does setting up more childcare centres alleviate the problem of dependence on maids, it also alleviates the problem of unemployment and low participation of women in the labour force.

“At the moment, only 47% of women are in the workforce but in the universities, there are more women than men. Where are these women? They are staying at home because of their children. If we can set up childcare centres, we can train women for the job and allow other women to go out to work. It is a win-win situation,” she explained.

Instead of paying foreign workers, Kok said, we can help our own economy by providing more employment to local women.

“Setting up more quality childcare centres and training local women for the jobs in these centres is certainly a viable solution - until, of course, employers think that they can make more profits by hiring cheap foreign labour from sluggish economies to work in their childcare centres,” she added.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Trans Peninsular Oil Pipeline - a white elephant in the making

It turns out I am not the only only one questioning the viability of this project to build oil pipeline from Yan, Kedah to Jeli Kelantan.
I read this blogroll ProMahathir on Malaysiakini sidebar.
People in the West are moving away from oil as a source of energy. As much as possible everyone in the West want to be environmentalist, recycle, reuse and avoid using car. Even their everyday consumption, they calculate how much carbon manufacturer and producer use to produce the stuff that they are buying. This is called carbon footprint, they dont want to contribute to global warming.
So here we are in Malaysia proposing to build pipeline across peninsula.
Malaysian environmentalists should be up in arms over this project.
I know, this could be attributed to Malaysian attitute towards oil. As if never ending supply. Cheap subsidized petrol and diesel in Malaysia doesnt help either.
One day we all will wake up and suddenly all the oil in the world is gone.
We would have to explain to our grandchildren how we finished off all the oil, leaving nothing for future generations.
I wrote about it and was in Malaysiakini letters.
13/06: Experts cautious on Malaysian oil pipeline
Category: General Posted by: Raja Petra
(AFP) - Oil industry players have given only cautious approval to Malaysia's multi-billion-dollar northern pipeline project, citing slowing oil demand in the Asian region and cost concerns.

The owner of the project has said it will cost seven billion dollars over seven years to build, with the aim of transporting Middle East oil to East Asia by diverting it from the congested Malacca Strait.

"It saves you some money but it also costs a lot to build the pipeline," the chairman of the Asia Oil and Gas Conference, Fereidun Fesharaki, told AFP on the sidelines of the meeting, which has just been completed.

"Studies should be done to see if it is really economical," he said.

The project's owner, Malaysian firm Trans-Peninsula Petroleum, last month said the 300-kilometre (188-mile) pipeline will cut across the north of Malaysia's peninsula with facilities for storage and transit of crude oil on both coasts.

The oil will come mainly from the Middle East and also Africa for the East Asian oil market, especially oil-hungry China, the company said.

However, Fesharaki, an expert on Asia-Pacific energy markets and a former energy adviser to Iran's prime minister, downplayed rising energy demand in Asia.

With the exception of China, demand for oil in the rest of the region is slowing because of higher prices, he said.

"The pipeline assumes that demand will explode, but demand will not explode. That's the real story," he added.

The pipeline development will be complemented by the construction of two refineries in northern Kedah state on Malaysia's west coast, according to the state's chief minister.

Officials from Iran's state oil company said during the oil and gas conference that the firm will invest in the construction of one of the refineries.

They will also put money into a separate pipeline to transport Iranian-supplied crude from ships berthed in deeper waters off Malaysia's west coast to the refinery.

Ghanimi Fard, the executive director for international affairs with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), said the success of the trans-peninsular pipeline would depend on the amount of oil demand from East Asia.

"When we had a growing market for energy, it made sense but based on today's information ... we may not be as sure of the viability of this pipeline," he said.

Koh Ban Heng, the chief executive of Singapore Petroleum Company Limited, said the pipeline was a good alternative to the Malacca Strait, but expressed concerns over the cost of the project.

"We would welcome the pipeline for the sake of energy security because of the limited capacity of the Malacca Strait (but) a big company has to get involved in this, as the capital expenditure is huge," Koh told AFP.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi first announced the development last month as part of the government's efforts to develop the country's northern region.

Trans-Peninsula has said the pipeline project will be operational by 2011, with a maximum capacity of 180 million barrels of storage and six million barrels per day throughput.

Malaysia's Ranhill Engineers and Constructors Sdn Bhd and Indonesia's PT Tripatra are to build the pipeline, while Al-Banader International Group of Saudi Arabia will provide the oil, Trans-Peninsula said.

On completion in 2014, the pipeline will divert about 20 percent of oil transiting through the Strait of Malacca, it said.

Half of the world's oil shipments currently pass through the 960-kilometre strait, the busiest seaway in the world, which links the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

The Strait was notorious for pirate attacks but security officials, who fear the economic and strategic ramifications of any disruption to the vital maritime traffic, say security has vastly improved, though threats remain.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A futile exercise - RBNZ selling down kiwidollar

Why do I say its futile effort?
When a reserve bank set an interest rate OCR at a level, say 8%, it is effectively mop up any excess money above the equilibrium amount. Any investment proposals that has IRR less than 8% would not be viable, thus the money is better of invested in Reserve Bank. The money is mopped up from the market.
Less money liquidity will effectively stifle economic activity. Only investment projects that is returning higher that 8% will go ahead. Hence economic growth will slow or contract.
So is the textbook economic theory.
So when the Reserve Bank selling down the Kiwidollar, it is effectively increasing liquidity in the market, a move contrary to the first effort of setting higher OCR. In an open economy, where money flows like water to the country that offer higher interest rate, billions of dollars would find home in NZ because its attracted to the higher return than anywhere else.
To sell down the dollar is basically futile effort, because overseas money is attracted to NZ because of higher return, not suposedly cheap currency. RBNZ may succedded temporarily to bring down the Kiwidollar by a cent, but as long as the interest rate remain high, money would still flow in.
What is worse, is that some of these money would find its way into the hot housing market. The thing that RBNZ dont want.

If I were given the chance, I would aggressively lower OCR, making Kiwidollar unattractive, and NZ investment unattractive. Hence this would stifle growth and tip the economy into recession.

Bank likely hoping intervention a one-off
By ALAN WOOD and JAMES WEIR - The Press | Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Despite Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) hopes that it will not have to intervene again in the kiwi dollar market, it may be required to do so at peak points in the dollar cycle, economists say.

On Monday, RBNZ Governor Alan Bollard shocked the markets with an unprecedented move to sell the kiwi and drive its value lower, with market experts not ruling out further acts. But such action would not occur willy-nilly – rather at opportune moments when the RBNZ felt it again had the upper hand of surprising currency traders.

The kiwi peaked at a record post-March 1985 float high of US76.40c on Saturday morning, but after the RBNZ selling at on Monday it fell more than US1c The kiwi closed yesterday at U75.30c (from Monday's 75.35).

Canterbury manufacturers – more exposed to export markets than such firms in the larger domestic market of Auckland – have welcomed the move to lower the dollar.

But exporters warned that such intervention would be less effective the more often used, and instead asked that better monetary tools be put in place to quell inflation driven by Government and consumer spending and house price gains.

However, Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr said intervening in the currency was a "bad decision" and made monetary policy incoherent. The RBNZ tightened monetary conditions last Thursday by lifting official interest rates to 8 per cent, but driving down the kiwi was effectively trying to make monetary conditions easier, moving in the opposite direction, he said.

Trying to drive the dollar down by selling the kiwi also opened the central bank to the risks of losing taxpayer's money if the currency moved even higher, Kerr said.

Economists said while the RBNZ had an intervention capacity of between $5b and $7b, those levels were not nearly enough to take on the giant reserves held by investors around the world.

Christchurch economist Robin Clements, of UBS New Zealand, said US76c had been rumoured to be the "line in the sand" that had been crossed before Monday's RBNZ action. The RBNZ could intervene again, but it would need to act at an opportune time.

"If they think the currency markets will be basically trying them on, then it's not worth it," he said. It will be used sparingly because clearly it costs a lot of money, and the more often it's used probably the less effective it's going to be."

ASB treasury economist Daniel Wills agreed the RBNZ could move again if it felt it could again take the top off significant gains in the kiwi. The bank had taken advantage of circumstances – like a holiday in the key Australian financial markets that meant intervention was likely to be more effective.

Other favourable conditions, including the kiwi being at "extreme highs" and continued appreciation despite the US dollar being relatively strong versus other currencies.

Creating uncertainty by acting in the market would act in the RBNZ's favour, he added.

But BNZ head of research Stephen Toplis said the RBNZ would certainly be hoping it did not have to act in the markets. "If the investor community decides that the central bank is wrong in its assumptions, then the sheer weight of money (held by other traders) would completely dwarf anything the central bank could do."

Investors would be studying tomorrow's retail trade figures, amongst other data, to judge strength in the economy.

Ironically the Reserve Bank of Australia, which had a reputation of being an "extremely interventionist" central bank, had not even attempted to "jawbone down" the similarly high aussie dollar, Toplis said.

Both the kiwi and aussie were supported by strong commodity prices, which in New Zealand were giving good returns to dairy farmers, feeding into domestic demand and inflation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Eat your heart out PKR!

Last week I wrote about Pak Lah got married where I point out that Pak Lah is not slow after all. By getting married, he would increase his popularity by a huge amount. After all who is going to say anything about his getting married except congratulation and 'semoga berbahagia'?
Today I read in this report in Malaysiakini that his popularity is soaring!
How brilliant! He doesnt have to lambast opposition, or come up with new manifesto for Barisan or anything like that. By getting married, inadvertently he spread goodwill and get goodwill from all Malaysians in return. I mean all Malaysian, regardless of whether we are in opposition or not.
Now, the rest of bachelor or bachelorette BN MP shall get married, and make a big 'kenduri' while you are at it, unlike Pak Lah. That way the whole lot of you would increased your popularity by huge margin.
Who are the bachelor/ette MP here?

Hey what if the Opposition steal the show? Would someone in the opposition get married please, and make a big kenduri while you are at it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

RBNZ confirms intervention in NZ dollar

Remember back in 98 when Anwar Ibrahim as Finance Minister intervenes in the currency market to prop up the ringgit?
Well, this story reminds me of that time. Only the opposite is being done, Allan Bollard intervenes in the currency market to sell down the kiwi dollar.
Technically, selling down your own currency doesnt cost a thing (well, perhaps pride), you just have to print your money, ie increase money in circulation, and exchange it with foreign currency.
But if you buy up your own currency to prop up your money's worth, then it cost every cent.
Do you think RBNZ measure will be successful? Depends on how much money he is prepared to print, if he is successful, this will undermine overseas investor confidence in NZ method of doing things.
So we cannot classify Kiwidollar as free floated any more. It will be dirty float, or managed float.
RBNZ confirms intervention in NZ dollar
By GARETH VAUGHAN - Fairfax Media | Monday, 11 June 2007

INTERVENTION: Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard has intervened to bring down the value of the kiwi dollar.

The Reserve Bank has intervened in the international currency markets for what is thought to be the first time in more than 20 years in an attempt to force down the value of the Kiwi dollar.

The NZ dollar tumbled more than 1 per cent against the US dollar today as currency traders in Asia cited rumours that the RBNZ was intervening.

The kiwi slid to US75.25c from near US76.20c before the rumours circulated.

The RBNZ confirmed this afternoon it had intervened, selling New Zealand dollars, with a brief statement attributed to the central bank's governor Alan Bollard saying: "As stated in our June Monetary Policy Statement, we regard current levels of the exchange rate as exceptional and unjustified in terms of the economic fundamentals. This action does not prejudge the future direction of monetary policy, which as always will remain dependent on emerging economic trends."

Reserve Bank spokesman Mike Hannah declined to comment further on the bank's action, or any potential further action. The bank has $7 billion in reserves it can use as a stabilisation fund.

The Kiwi reached a peak of US76.40c on Friday, its highest level since the being floated in March 1985.

The Kiwi extended recent gains after Dr Bollard raised the official cash rate to 8 per cent on June 7 in an attempt to stem inflation.

New Zealand's interest rates are among the highest in the 30 nation Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and therefore enticing to overseas investors.

Dr Bollard's mandate is to keep inflation between 1 per cent and 3 per cent and his sole tool to do so is by raising interest rates.

This has fuelled strong overseas investor demand, especially from Japan, where interest rates are below 1 per cent.

Billions of dollars worth of Uridashi bonds - issued to Japanese investors who borrow cheaply in yen, receive the bonds denominated in Kiwi dollars and earn New Zealand interest rates - have helped prop up the Kiwi dollar.

The RBNZ was quoted as saying it regarded current levels of the exchange rate as exceptional and unjustified.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen said the intervention was a reminder that investors in the NZ dollar could suffer losses.

Most economists polled by Reuters do not expect interest rates to fall until mid- to late 2008.

"Dr Bollard has been saying for some time that he sees the exchange rate as exceptionally high and unjustified on the basis of New Zealand's medium term fundamentals," Dr Cullen said.

David Tripe, director of the Centre for Banking Studies at Massey University, said this was the first time the RBNZ had intervened in the currency market for more than 20 years.

"It is the first time (the bank intervened) since we have had a fully floating exchange rate.

"The interesting question is whether it will have any long term effect past today. We may well see the dollar going back up again tomorrow."

Tripe said this was one of the challenges the RBNZ faced in intervening. However, it has the potential to do so again if today's move did not have the desired effect.

Tripe said that if there ever was a right time for the RBNZ to intervene, this would seem it with the dollar at exceptionally high levels.

"It will be very nice from the Reserve Bank's perspective if it did have longterm effect but I wouldn't be confident that it will. It will depend on how much they spent today to see if this is a one-off move or there is potential to do it again.

"The impact of it is really quite uncertain."

ANZ Investment Bank head of foreign exchange John Body said it appeared to have been effective.

"There was a price spike on Friday night which was unjustified, so it's really smoothed that price spike out.

"It's quite a thin trading day being an Australian holiday, so the RB seems to have been very successful initially, but it will be interesting to see what the London market does.

"You'd have to suspect that London and US markets will try to take the kiwi lower, and I think we could see the kiwi trade down to US73.50c on the back of this," Mr Body said.

Intervention was initially an effective deterrent, but became less effective the more times it was used.

"Given it's their first time and it's clearly thought out, I think it's going to be highly effective."

National's finance spokesman Bill English said that intervention was risky because the weight of money in the market was much greater than the resources of the Reserve Bank.

"But we hope for the sake of exporters that it will work.

"We can only presume that he's decided to intervene because he thinks he's at a turning point, and that a combination of lifting interest rates and intervening in the dollar might precipitate a fall in the dollar," Mr English said. with NZPA and

Putrajaya in Malaysiakini letter

Masjidil Haram, Mecca

Masjid Nabawi, Madinah

Masjid Al-Aqsa, Jerusalem

The Masjid at Putrajaya
I do not know what inspire Z Ibrahim to write this piece in Malaysiakini, probably the 'bocor' roof and the return to wilderness of Putrajaya. What is Putrajaya being used now? The palace of the PM? And the PM office?
The Parliament is still in KL, so are everything else.
During the construction of Putrajaya in mid 90's, a lot of resources were sucked up, resulting in higher inflation and shortage of thing, construction materials included. Remember the shortage of water back in 97 and 98? That was to fill the Putrajaya Lake. Imagine some people had to go without water so that the lake be filled.
Not only that, the construction suck up a lot of money such that the nation's coffers were drained, leaving us vulnerable to the subsequent event - the financial crisis of 97, and the recession thereafter.
On the hindsight, we didnt have to go through that difficult time, if only we were more prudent in our spending, instead of spending big on white elephant projects.

And now at the age of internet, centralization of administration is a thing of the past, leaving the government distant from the populace. That is to say when government is unreachable by the common people, that will plant the seeds of discontent among the populace.
In the West, the governments are trying hard to be close to their people. Government departments are decentralised, main office no longer located in the capital, but in the provincial towns where rent and housing is cheaper and quality of living for govt workers are much better than big cities. Communication between offices is not a major problem with internet and good courier service.
Indeed, Putrajaya could be a 'white elephant' city. So what are we going to do about it? Shall we let it reclaimed by the forest and the wildlife bit by bit? I reckon Putrajaya must earns its own existence, it must be more that the city of PM residence.
I have never been to Putrajaya, ever. But I remember talking to a villager some years back who enthused about the beautiful buildings, nice architecture and the mosque that look like Masjid Nabi in Madinah,worth visiting, he said. (Please dont say that the Govt has built the next holy mosque, number 4 after Masjid Aqsa and we shall make pilgrimage to Masjid Putrajaya)
All I am saying is that Putrajaya must earn its existence, even as a tourist destination. Indeed we can make it a tourist destination, if we built more infrastructure like transportation system, tourist facilities etc.

Putrajaya – Mahathir’s Fatehpur Sikri
Z Ibrahim
Jun 8, 07 3:22pm

I refer to the various reports regarding the various construction defects of buildings in Malaysia’s new administrative capital of Putrajaya. Putrajaya remains an architectural wonder in the forest with its gleaming, sometimes partially-completed buildings and bridges. A mega-project during Malaysia’s days of excesses, it is reminiscent of the great Mogul emperor’s Akbar’s deserted capital of Fatehpur Sikri.

Fatehpur Sikri, located 40km west of Agra, was the political capital of India's Mogul Empire under Akbar's reign from 1571 until 1585 AD. It shared its imperial duties as a capital city with Agra and is regarded as Emperor Akbar's crowning architectural legacy. Construction of the new ceremonial capital, with its elaborate palaces, formal courtyards, reflecting pools, harems, tombs and a great mosque commenced in 1571.

A large number of masons and stone carvers worked hard for15 years on the construction of the city the size of which was larger than contemporary London. It served as the capital of his mighty empire for twelve years (1571-1585) and was abruptly abandoned shortly after the work was completed ostensibly because of the lack of adequate water supply.

Akbar did not stay in this magnificent city for long and reasons for deserting Fatehpur Sikri are as much a mystery as was its construction. There is much speculation as to the reason Akbar built the city at the chosen site by the Sikri Ridge. Some historians cite he built it to honor the Sufi saint Sheikh Salim Chishti who used to dwell there and blessed the childless Akbar with three children including his heir Jahangir.

But its site could have been chosen more for its strategic location which lies on the highway between North and South India, and was of tactical value to control the huge Mogul Empire. The opulence of the city is greatly enhanced by the mosque which was the first structure to be built in the whole complex. The spacious courtyard added charm and could accommodate ten thousand men at prayer. Akbar is reputed to have been so inspired by the atmosphere that he wept and gave a call for prayer or the ‘azan’ himself.

Putrajaya, first envisioned in the 1980’s and founded officially on Oct 19, 1995 was built to accommodate and centralise all of the Malaysian government’s administrative duties and is located 30km south of Kuala Lumpur. The federal government paid a substantial amount of money to Selangor for the more than 11,000 acres of land to build this planned city possibly financed by Malaysia’s oil revenue which in retrospect could have been better utilised for education and health.

However after the 1997 economic crisis and following Mahathir’s resignation as prime minister of Malaysia, Putrajaya appears to many visitors as a forlornly desolate city. One of the key reasons for its apparent barrenness is the absence of public transport from Kuala Lumpur’s cosmopolitan population of over three million.

The city’s planners built highways but possibly due to economic reasons failed to put in place an efficient LRT connecting it to the masses in KL before or while the city was being built. Unlike Singapore which plans and builds MRT lines and stations decades ahead of actual development, Putrajaya’s planners blundered by building the city first and worrying about public transport later.

This error could prove fatal as Putrajaya stands eerily silent as the world passes by. Planners didn’t envision the fact that the usage of cars, the prices of which were already beyond the per capita income of the average Malaysian, were further handicapped by rising costs of petrol, maintenance and tolls ensuring the reduction of private transport utilisation.

Putrajaya, as in Fatehpur Sikri, lies in danger of being entrapped in the words of Lane Poole (a historian): ‘Nothing sadder or more beautiful exists in India than this deserted city, the silent witness of a vanished dream’.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Here is your chance to ride a Rising Currency

Do a Yen carry trade.
ie; borrow from a low interest, uninspiring stable currency like Yen and invest in a country with high interest rate and rising currency.
definition of stable and/or devaluing currency - economic growth of the country is low, say less than 2% pa. and the country is awash with savings such that interest rate is perpetually low.
definition of appreciating currency - economic growth is high, say above 3%, and the savings rate is low, such that the country need foreign funds to finance their growth.
Let take example of Japan's interest rate, its virtually zero. The country is awash with funds because of its traditionally high savings rate. If you could borrow money in Japan, and invest it in New Zealand at 8% pa, you have got it made.
Not just you will be pocketing the difference in interest rate (say you borrow money at 3% pa and invest it in NZ at 8% pa), but you would also make money when NZ currency appreciate vis s vis Japanese Yen.

Who will lend me money?

Bollard accused of 'kick in guts'
By TRACY WATKINS - The Dominion Post | Friday, 8 June 2007

UP UP UP: Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard has raised interest rates again and pointed the finger squarely at debt-laden households.

Interest rates are looming as a crunch election issue after the Reserve Bank pushed its rates to a record high.

Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard pointed the finger squarely at debt-laden households.

As the bank moves to curb inflationary pressures, some economists are picking that rates will rise again as early as next month.

"It's not the Reserve Bank doing this," Dr Bollard said.

"It's the buildup of debt by New Zealanders who overwhelmingly want mortgage finance and who are unable to finance it from other New Zealanders because the household sector isn't saving here."

Dr Bollard lifted the official cash rate for the third time this year to a record 8 per cent from 7.75 per cent.

That is expected to push fixed mortgage rates above 9 per cent.

Floating mortgage rates are already above 10 per cent.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce said it was a "kick in the guts" for exporters struggling to remain competitive as the Kiwi dollar soared.

Companies have announced job losses because of the pressure on export prices from the high dollar.

It hit a record US75.6 cents yesterday, and has been one of the strongest currencies against the US dollar in recent months, driven by our high interest rates.

Dr Bollard acted despite "tentative" signs of a slowdown in the housing market, saying his hand was forced by a third wind in the housing market in the first few months of the year, labour shortages, an increase in government spending and a "shock" windfall in dairy prices that is expected to burn a $2 billion hole in farmers' pockets during the next two years.

He immediately won support for his move from one economist, who said years of good economic news had given rise to a "bullet-proof generation", who had ignored the Reserve Bank's previous warnings because they had only ever seen house prices rise.

"They've never seen tough times," ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said. Every time the economy looked like slowing, it bounced back.

"You've got an economy here that's literally bursting at the seams ... You've got an economy that, on the face of it, appears bullet-proof, but behind the scenes everyone knows it's very vulnerable.

"The housing market could turn very aggressively, things could turn sour very aggressively."

The Reserve Bank has been frustrated in its attempts to cool the housing market, with home owners signing up for fixed-rate terms of an average of 20 months.

It has also seen consumer spending rebound sharply, driven partly by the Government's Working for Families package.

Interest rates were a weapon at the last election, with Labour raising fears that tax cuts by National would push rates higher.

But with the rates now the highest in the industrialised world, National is pointing the finger at Labour for loose government spending that it says will drive interest rates up higher for longer.

National leader John Key said yesterday's interest hike was not needed.

Mr Key said Dr Bollard had not given previously rises enough time to impact on the housing market or spending.

"My view is that he didn't need to raise interest rates yesterday," he told Radio New Zealand. "He could have given it some time to flow through because. . .certain parts of the business community and the housing and private sector consumption areas are increasingly becoming much weaker."

Mr Key said the increase in the payout to farmers was a factor but mortgagees would be feeling the pain.

"Yes, dairy is likely to put some significant stimulus into the domestic market but you shouldn't also discount the fact that there are an awful lot of people now who are renegotiating their mortgage," he said.

"They are paying a considerable increase in their outgoings. The average mortgage in New Zealand is $135,000. On the renegotiaton, roughly, you will be spending about $35 to $40 a week more just to service your mortgage and in some parts of New Zealand like Auckland that could be two or three times that number – that's a huge amount for the average New Zealand worker."

Mr Key said Dr Bollard was trying to regain credibility after previously threatening hikes but taking a long time to act.

"He's now decided that he's going to win this contest and it's in a sense a game of chicken with the New Zealand housing market and one that he intends to win.

"My view is that he will continue to raise interest rates until the housing market stops in its tracks."

After Dr Bollard's announcement the New Zealand dollar rose to a fresh record of US75.6c and Mr Key expected it to go as high as US80c. Factors included high interests rates attracting Asian investors and the United states economy slowing down.

"We can track up as high as 80 cents and frankly we could do it reasonably rapidly within the next few months is possible."

National blame Government spending for fuelling inflation and Mr Key said as that was something Dr Bollard could not control the private sector was feeling the brunt.

"He's decided that because he can't control the Government and because the Government won't reign in its expenditure. . . he's now going to go into direct collision course with the private sector."

Yesterday Finance Minister Michael Cullen questioned what National would do differently after National finance spokesman Bill English made the same argument.

"Mr English's sweeping attacks on government spending are misleading voters. When is he going to explain to voters what National would cut?" Dr Cullen said.

"Cheaper doctor visits? New roads and rail. New schools and hospitals?"
- With NZPA

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Selamat Pengantin Baru

gambar sekadar hiasan.

You know what? I think Pak Lah is smart after all.
The time frame until the PRU is close. As an incumbent PM, he cannot afford waning popularity. He has been the target of bad press for sometime, the 'tidor' jokes, saying nothing constructive about issues, bocor included, and the list goes on.
He need positive spin. Badly.
The pay rise for Govt servant is just one attempt. he need to do more. Sure the country cannot aford anymore promises that cost money. So when Raja Nazrin got married, he saw first hand how such marriage ceremony can be a huge political spin.
So why not. After all the imam of Islamic Hadhari state must be a good example. Getting married is one of Sunnah Rasullullah.
Good on you Pak Lah. Event like marriage can bring positive feel good to the country. Look at the day when Siti get married. Everyone (well, almost) stopped what they were doing and watched the event on TV.
A few more event like this, at one month interval could do a lot of good to the popularity of the Govt.
So who else is still bachelor?

Abdullah: I am happier now
Jun 6, 07 8:08pm Adjust font size:

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will remarry this weekend, in a move he said should be good for the nation.

"I hope the public will bless us. A happy prime minister can do a lot of good work," Abdullah told reporters.

"I am not saying I am not happy so far but I am happier now with a companion."

Abdullah, 67, will on Saturday wed Jeanne Abdullah, the former manager of his residential complex, according to a statement posted on the prime minister's website.

The ceremony will take place at his official residence, attended only by close family, the statement said.

The bride-to-be is a native of the capital Kuala Lumpur and has two children, it added.

Jeanne Abdullah, 53, is also the former sister-in-law of his late wife Endon Mahmood, who died of breast cancer in October 2005, the prime minister told reporters.

Endon's death triggered an outpouring of support and sympathy for Abdullah, whose love for his wife inspired many Malaysians. Their 40-year marriage was widely considered a model relationship.

"My love for Endon remains as strong as ever but I have fallen in love with this one," Abdullah said.

"I believe that God has created in your heart many spaces for many people that you can love as much as you want."
Eternal memories
He said his pictures of Endon, whom Jeanne also loved, will remain in the house.

"Nothing has changed because those are eternal memories," the prime minister said.

Jeanne Abdullah was married to Endon's younger brother but they have been divorced for more than 15 years, he explained.

"Thanks be to God. I feel happy and grateful to God because the woman of my choice has got the blessing from my children and my siblings," he said.

Although he and Jeanne had known each other for more than 20 years, their courtship began less than a year ago, he added.

"She's a simple person and friendly. I believe she can take care of me, be my companion."

They had not discussed a honeymoon but she will follow him on his official overseas trips, he said.

In March Abdullah laughed off "rumours" that he planned to wed again.

Some responses to my writing in Malaysiakini

I have seen 2 in Malaysiakini today. Here is one;
Have you seen Lina Joy?
Voice of Peace
Jun 6, 07 3:40pm Adjust font size:

I refer to the letter Muslims are responsibility of Muslim community by Noor Yahaya Hamzah. In his letter, he argues that Lina should proceed to Syariah court first before approaching the National Registration Department for the change in her religion to be recorded on her MyKad.

I would like him ponder first of all on why none of us has seen the face of Lina Joy. All of us are forming opinions, either supporting or against a woman that has no face in the media. Let's ask why.

As I learnt, there was a search for her when news broke out that she has converted to Christianity. There were threats against her as well as against her lawyers. For her safety, she cannot show her face to the public.

If we recall not too long ago, a church in Perak was surrounded by Muslims with threats of attacks based on a rumour. Apostates all around the world face a real danger to their life, if not their livelihood.

This is the reality. That's why the dissenting judge in Lina Joy’s case said that any admission on her part would be self-incriminating.

Many former Muslims left the faith under threats. Many would prefer to just convert or leave the faith quietly. For this, I admire Lina's faith and determination.

and two;
A greater religion
Prophet Brand X
Jun 6, 07 3:37pm Adjust font size:

I refer to the letter Muslims are responsibility of Muslim community.

Lina Joy's case is simple. She wants to leave religion A for B. That's all. Religion A says Heaven is there for believers and Hell for the non-believer. Only the followers of this religion go to Heaven and this is the true religion that can deliver us from misery and so on.

Religion B says heaven is there for believers and Hell for non-believers. Only the followers of this religion go to Heaven and this is the true religion that can deliver us from misery and so on.

Now whether Lina Joy choose to believe religion A or B, that's her business. Whether she gets punished or rewarded in believing religion A or B, that, too, is her business. Whether she calls her god Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah, Rama, Christ, Buddha, that's her business.

And please don't quote scriptures here as I believe some of these scriptures have adulterated and hijacked by priestly gangs. Logical, isn't it? The priest has sell his brand of religion for his own survival. They will, like politicians, say anything to secure their power base, not to save their religion or God (since when did God need saving?)

We don't have die to discover what or who is the true god. If we can just love and let all follow whatever belief system they want, that is a greater religion. What is the guarantee any religion can give that by choosing brand A or B, I am assured of Heaven?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Naik Gaji or Else!

I support MTUC fighting for the welfare of workers, asking the Govt to make Minimum Wage of RM900 legally enforceable by law. I have written a few times in Malaysiakini highlighting the importance of legislating this law.
Picket and 'mogok' is the way to to if MTUC cant get fair response from the Govt.
Next, I will write about steps to get workers more efficient in their work.
We should change the system of monthly wages, ie getting paid only once a month. Change the wage rate to hourly, and wages get paid weekly, and we will soon see the benefit shows in the economy.

MTUC anjur piket tuntut kenaikan gaji sektor swasta
Roy Rasul
Tue | Jun 05, 07 | 04:15:26 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, 5 Jun (Hrkh) – Sebelum tindakan mogok diambil, Kongres Kesatuan Sekerja Malaysia (MTUC) akan mengadakan satu piket besar-besaran di seluruh negara pada 25 Jun ini.

[Sila layari untuk laporan semasa muktamar]

Setiausahanya, G Rajasekaran berkata, piket atau tunjuk perasaan tersebut bertujuan untuk meningkatkan kempen gaji minima RM900 dan tuntutan elaun sara hidup (Cola) RM300 kepada pekerja-pekerja sektor swasta ekoran kerajaan mengumumkan kenaikan gaji kakitangan awam baru-baru ini.

Bagaimanapun katanya, yang dihubungi Harakahdaily hari ini, piket akan diadakan selepas waktu kerja iaitu bermula 5.30 petang bagi mengelakkan gangguan waktu bertugas.

“Perkara ini sudah kita maklumkan kepada semua kesatuan yang berjumlah 220 kesatuan dan lebih daripada 50,000 pekerja akan menyertainya,” katanya.

Menurutnya, piket itu terpaksa diambil kerana para pekerja menghadapi masalah yang serius berhubung dasar gaji mereka yang terlalu rendah.

Sebelum itu katanya, seramai seribu ahli MTUC akan menemui Perdana Menteri, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi di Putrajaya pada 18 Jun bagi menyerahkan satu memorandum berhubung tuntutan gaji minimum dan pembayaran cola.

“Kita pergi menemui perdana menteri supaya kerajaan campur tangan dalam isu ini,” katanya.

Katanya lagi, jika usaha mereka tidak mendapat apa-apa hasil sama ada dari kerajaan mahupun majikan barulah mereka akan mengadakan mogok sehari.

Namun katanya, tarikh mogok akan ditentukan selepas satu mesyuarat diadakan. - mns

compare to this letter in Malaysiakini written by someone who oppose to workers getting fair minimum wage:

PKR’s promises look good on paper but ...
Rajan Rishyakaran
Jun 5, 07 3:24pm Adjust font size:
In a recent policy speech, PKR pPesident Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, promised a high minimum wage, low-cost housing as well as free healthcare, showing clearly why PKR should never be given a chance to govern. While proposing both under the guise of being the champion of the workers, it is precisely this group that will suffer the most under those policies.

The idea behind the minimum wage is flawed; it is arbitrary by nature, it increases unemployment in the low-skilled labour market and it increases business costs and through it, the cost of living. Under a minimum wage regime, employers simply hire less and spend more on labour-replacing machinery (capital) to reduce cost. For example, if a company previously was willing to hire 20 people for RM500 each, logically, they would not be willing to hire the same 20 people for RM1,000 each.

Being low-skilled workers means that businesses would largely hire them instead of using machinery (capital) not because they prefer the ‘human touch’ or they're afraid of machines, but rather because they're cheaper. And whether they stomach the increased labour costs or increase the use of capital goods, business costs would surely rise.

Considering that businesses that depend most on low-skilled labour are involved in providing essential items from cooking oil to clothes, this would cause an increase in the cost of living that would hit the poor most dearly.

Not forgetting the inequitable nature of minimum wage - a married man with a disabled wife and ten children would be guaranteed the same minimum wage as a teenager fresh out of school (and for good reason; if the teenager is guaranteed a lower minimum wage, employers would prefer hiring him over the more needy married man).

PKR's policy takes a further step by taking an arbitrary number - RM1,000/month - as the base for their policy. This specific number is ludicrous; if the government can’t even guarantee that for its workers, what more the private sector. After all, they don't have the power of taxation.

Furthermore, Wan Azizah's policy would apply uniformly across the country - disregarding the very different costs and standard of living between regions like the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Bahru and less developed regions like East Malaysia. It pours scorn on the very aim of the minimum wage - to guarantee a living wage. How is a living wage equal in Kuala Lumpur as it is in Lojing, Kelantan?

Wan Azizah also promises low-cost housing, ignoring its flaws in status quo as well as similar policies in other countries. By providing low-cost housing, what the PKR as government would do is essentially the same as the status quo - creating high-rise slums. And this isn't unique to Malaysia itself; even in cities within developed countries like the United States and the United Kingdom face the same problem.

And as if the minimum wage and low-cost housing weren't populist enough, also promised was free, universal healthcare - ignoring the serious, undermining problems similar systems around the world face. Universal to universal free healthcare systems are long waiting lines, declining healthcare standards and medical productivity.

All these can be easily explained by economics. Without the price system, a problem of distribution of this limited resource occurs, only to be solved by increased waiting and lowered standards. Free things being free, an increase in demand would stretch this limited resource further. And even on a principle level, it cannot be justified. While helping the poor is admirable, Wan Azizah promises free healthcare for everyone, even those who can afford it. Why should taxpayers foot the bill for the latter?

Not only that, the problem of tragedy of the commons occurs. When a morbidly obese person, who drinks and smokes, for example, has the same access to free healthcare as one who eats right and exercises regularly, there is less incentive for that morbidly obese person to change.

And last, the question of feasibility occurs. Universal healthcare is a costly policy and more so for a middle-income developing nation such as Malaysia. The only way PKR can afford universal healthcare (at least at decent levels) is higher taxation. Already Malaysia is uncompetitive with other Asian economies like Singapore that have lower taxes.

To what end, I must ask? Free healthcare is not the only solution to helping the poor gain more access to medical care. Means-tested aid, for example, could do the trick. And back to minimum wage. There are many other solutions to guaranteeing the poor a living wage. Singapore, for example, recently came up with a well-thought out Workfare. There is also a policy that is popular amongst economists - the Negative Income Tax. And vouchers for the poor are a lot more efficient than building low-cost housing.

Wan Azizah did proclaim, ‘Justice is the principle and the foundational plank of PKR’. But what justice is served when the poor have less jobs and a higher cost of living, have high-rise slums as their only housing option and face a less efficient healthcare system? What justice is there for the taxpayer who has to shell out more taxes to finance these flawed policies?

What justice is there for the nation as a whole which would have declining economic growth and competitiveness, especially when Wan Azizah looks upon declining growth rates with concern in the very same speech?

Free healthcare, low-cost housing and minimum wage all are good gestures indicating good intentions by PKR. But, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Kedutaan Besar Malaysia in Malaysiakini

I saw this letter in Malaysiakini. This fella complain that there is no Bahasa Malaysia on this pic.
Well its Jawi Script, it read 'Kedutaan Besar Malaysia'
and 'Embassy of Malaysia'
Its not Arabic, if you ask an Arab to read it, he/she wouldnt understand it, because its not Arabic word.
M’sian embassy signage: Why not Bahasa Malaysia too?
Tzuo Hann Law
Jun 5, 07 3:13pm Adjust font size:

This letter is pertaining to the signage in front of the Malaysian Embassy in Washington DC, US.

In school, I learned Bahasa Malaysia was the national language and was told it would unify the country as a communication medium.

Therefore, I was very, very disappointed to see that even the national language is not used by the Malaysian Embassy and instead that another language that I was not taught back in school is being used. I wasn't aware that this language superceded our national language in importance.

Arabic is a great language but its not the national language. Why is it on the sign? What is going on? Dear Ambassador, please do something about it.

Monday, June 04, 2007

my writing on my blog in Malaysiakini letter

I wrote this on my blog, and now it appear on Malaysiakini. Heck am I getting influential or what? Nah. I am entitled to my opinion.
I believe as a Muslim its my duty to state the truth. And if I am wrong, please correct me.

Muslims are responsibility of Muslim community
Noor Yahaya Hamzah
Jun 4, 07 3:22pm Adjust font size:

Reading the letter regarding the Lina Joy issue, I shall try to explain further my views. Absolutely, comments are getting hot and sometimes missing the point. Let me write a disclaimer first:

‘Anything I write here, if it is wrong according to Islamic tenets, principles, would be my own fault for I am an ignorant idiot. As in idiomatic expression - I am just a blind man trying to explain what an elephant looks like, feeling it with my hands and telling everyone what I think it looks like, when I could not see it. Anything good is from Allah the Most Knowledgeable and anything bad, is from me.’

Does the National Registration Department have the power to erase the definition for religion on your MyKad? Well, the NRD is just a government department. It only does its job; it doesn’t have the authority to do that. So the NRD was right in advising Lina Joy to go to the Shariah Court to get the certificate that certifies she has renounced Islam.

You see, all Muslims in this world are like a community. If one Muslim dies, it would be the responsibility of the Muslim community to accord him or her Muslim rites of burial - the washing and the last prayers. If Lina Joy has renounced Islam, (this has to be done and witnessed by the ruler of the Muslims) then the Muslim community washes their hands of her, her actions, her last rites and her burial is of no concern to the Muslim community.

The Muslim community 'tidak berdosa' (is without sin) if Lina Joy dies tomorrow and she be cremated or buried without being accorded the last rites. It would be none of our responsibility.

And who represent the ‘ruler’ in the Malay states? The Shariah courts, of course. So all Lina Joy has to do is go to the Shariah court and renounce Islam. So we Muslims can wash our hands and our responsibilities of her.

By the same argument, if someone in Malaysia finds a dead body and if there is a MyKad which says that he or she professes Islam, then it would be our responsibility to accord that dead person the Muslim last rites.

Zul on the front page Malaysiakini and other papers

Years ago, back in 83, I used to tumpang Zul's place at Newtown, in Wellington in summer. A couple of months or more. He was studying at Victoria University back then. Those were the days. There were not many of us then, the old Islamic Centre in Newtown was just a converted house, and we couldnt even fill the 4x6m room during the Friday prayer. That summer I had fun discovering Wellington using Taufik's 10speed bike. At the start of summer, early Nov, I borrowed Taufik's bike from Levin and cycle back to Wellington. Then a few days later I started the week long cycling tour to Gisborne, on my own. Amazing how relatively safe it was back then.
Its interesting to see him in the news now and again.

Lawyer charges interference in murder case
Jun 4, 07 1:10pm Adjust font size:
The lawyer for a senior policeman on trial for murdering a Mongolian woman withdrew on Monday and alleged interference in the case.

Zulkifli Noordin said he could no longer act in defence of Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri.

Zulkifli told reporters he believes fully in his client's innocence but "certain facts have come to my attention during my preparation of the trial" that would compromise his ability to act further.

"There were serious attempts by third parties to interfere with the defence that I proposed," he said, declining to elaborate.

Azilah and another police officer, Sirul Azhar Umar, 35, are charged with the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28.

Altantuya was the lover of Abdul Razak Baginda, a political analyst with close ties to Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who has vehemently denied any involvement in the case.

All three accused face the death penalty if convicted.

The trial began today but was immediately postponed for two weeks until June 18 after prosecutors said they had only been assigned to the case on Sunday.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has pledged there will be no cover-up.
Jet-setting romance
Abdul Razak, a British-educated political and defence analyst who heads the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre, a think tank, was introduced to Altantuya in Hong Kong at the end of 2004, he said in an affidavit and statements to police.

She was a trained teacher and a translator who spoke English, Russian and Chinese, her father has said.

The couple conducted a jet-setting romance, meeting in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and France. Abdul Razak said they broke up around August 2005.

She was killed last October and her body blown up in a jungle clearing in Shah Alam district southwest of Kuala Lumpur.

Abdul Razak, wearing a blue business-style shirt and dark pants, shed tears along with his mother as they hugged after he entered the courtroom.

He also embraced his teenage daughter before proceedings began, watched also by his parents and a brother.

"Pray for his innocence," Abdul Razak's wife, Mazlinda Makhzan, told AFP after her husband arrived in a white van chased by a pack of about 20 news photographers.

He was expressionless and did not answer questions as he was led into the court building.
Integrity under scrutiny
Altantuya's father Shaariibuu Setev, 55, also declined comment when he arrived.
As court proceedings began, Najib, the deputy prime minister, opened a global tourism conference in Kuala Lumpur. He declined to comment on the trial.

Ramon Navaratnam, head of Transparency International Malaysia, a branch of the anti-corruption watchdog, said the world would be watching the trial.

"No one can afford to see the case being mishandled or interfered with," he said, "because the whole integrity of the judicial system is under scrutiny."

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Lina Joy; Anything to do with Islam, hands off please.

This is another article to counter unjust vitriolic spewed out in Malaysiakini.
On any issues that touch Islam, or have anything to do about Islam, the ultimate power in Malaysia is the Sultans of the Malay States, State Governors or The King. Even though this country is called Malaysia, and we are citizens, its has Parliament as the main promulgator of laws, still the Sultans hold the power as the Head of State. Especially if it has anything to do with Islam.
Technically, Malaysia is a confederation of Malay States, Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, still is, because the Malay Sultans has never give up their sovereignty. They are still the Rulers. They still hold the ultimate power on the administration of Islam in their states. We never had revolution like in Russia that kill the ruling monarchs.
Iraq had their revolution, so does Iran, Libya, Egypt, Indonesia to name a few. In those countries, parliament is supreme.
In Malaysia, technically The King, Agong is supreme. Dont you know that every new piece of law has to be signed by Agong? Yeah most of the time Agong signed the law except maybe once years ago during Mahatir's time when the then Agong delayed signing one piece of law for a few months. But that is another story.
The Supreme Court decision the other day was right, they have no jurisdiction on something that has to do with Islam. Since Lina Joy is from Selangor, the ultimate power in Islamic affairs in Selangor is the Sultan of Selangor.
As in other states, the Sultan delegated the affairs of the Muslims to the Shariah courts.
Was Lina Joy a Muslim? Yes she was, and until she go to the Shariah court to declare that she is apostate, (and apply for her name to be struck out from register, if there is such thing) technically her name is still listed as Muslim.

I think whoever her lawyer is, who advised her to go to Supreme Court, is one heck of a dumb lawyer. Its just like going to Singaporean court for disputes that take place in Malaysia.
'di luar bidang kuasa'
Citing other cases;
Raimah Bibi - well she still professed Muslim, but her husband is still Hindu, so does her children, so the custody of her children is given to her husband. Because the children are Hindus. Yes she was sent to 'bootcamp', to remind her what is more important, being Muslim, believing in Allah and die as Muslim and have the chance of going to Heaven or you know what.

So what do you think would happen to Lina Joy soon as she go to Shariah court? Probably sent to 'bootcamp', to ascertain that THAT is what she really want.
There is a legend going around in Malay circles that Christian churches, give out 'Holy water' and if a Malay drink it, he/she will be possessed and become Christian.
Kes Lina Joy cabar kuasa raja-raja, pihak berkuasa agama
Intan Abdullah
Sat | Jun 02, 07 | 02:59:27 PM
KOTA BHARU, 2 Jun(Hrkh) - Timbalan Mursyidul Am PAS, Dato' Dr Haron Din mempersoalkan adakah dengan keputusan mahkamah yang memberi kemenangan kepada pihak yang mempertahankan Islam itu akan menyebabkan Azlina Jailani atau Lina Joy kembali kepada Islam?

"Adakah dengan tidak membuang namanya itu, akan menjamin bahawa dia akan terus kekal sebagai muslim?"tegas beliau dalam sesi wawancara muktamar sebentar tadi.

Dr Haron Din menjelaskan bahawa persoalan mengenai isu murtad ini tidak boleh diselesaikan sekadar membuang nama Islam pada kad pengenalan semata-mata.

Beliau turut mendakwa terdapat pihak yang turut serta terlibat dengan usaha untuk membawa kes itu ke mahkamah, bahkan beliau mengesyaki seolah-olah wujud satu organisasi yang membantu Azlina Jailani atau Lina Joy untuk melawan dan mencari jalan untuk membuang nama Islam beliau di Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara.

"Walaupun kad pengenalannya bernama Islam, tetapi pada hakikatnya, Islam dia telah gugur," ujar beliau.

Sementara itu, menurutnya lagi walaupun ada peruntukan yang jelas di mahkamah syariah tentang hak beragama ini hal untuk membuang nama sahaja telah memakan masa selama lapan tahun.

Dalam pada itu, tindakan membawa kes ini ke mahkamah sivil juga dianggap telah memperkecilkan peranan Jabatan Agama Islam yang mencerminkan seolah-olah kes murtad ini bertaraf 'second class'.

Ujarnya lagi, mahkamah majistret tidak layak untuk membicarakan kes besar yang berada dalam kategori kes hudud.

Oleh itu, mahkamah akhirnya telah memutuskan bahawa hal yang berkaitan agama ini adalah berada di bawah bidang kuasa majlis agama Islam negeri.

Beliau juga meminta agar kes yang sepatutnya dipandang serius yang melibatkan akidah seorang muslim yakni bagi yang ingin mengisytiharkan diri mereka keluar daripada agama seolah-olah memberikan satu cabaran kepada pihak berkuasa agama.

Pihak berkuasa agama katanya, harus menyelesaikan persoalan , "apa yang boleh kamu buat sekiranya aku menyatakan bahawa aku keluar daripada Islam?" apabila diajukan oleh golongan riddah ini kepada mereka.

Dr Haron juga yang merupakan mantan pensyarah syariah Islamiyah turut menjelaskan bahawa pembatalan agama ini tidak memerlukan kepada pengisytiharan.

sebaliknya, apabila Lina Joy mengemukakan permohonan yang dibuat secara terbuka kepada mahkamah untuk membuang agama pada kad pengenalan beliau maka ia mencetuskan satu cabaran kepada autoriti agama dan pada masa yang sama, mencabar kuasa agama yang ada pada raja-raja.

Tegasnya, murtad adalah satu kesalahan besar yang tergolong di dalam kategori undang-undang hudud dari segi syarak.

Beliau mahu semua pihak mengambil iktibar daripada kes ini adalah permulaan untuk melihat kepada cabaran demi cabaran kepada Islam, dan tindakan penyelesaian hendaklah dibuat bagi mengelakkan ia daripada berulang pada masa akan datang.

Mengulas kes permohonan Lina Joy membuang nama Islam pada kad pengenalannya, Dr Haron berkata walaupun kes itu telah memenangkan Islam, yang membawa maksud bahwa menghalang beliau untuk membuang nama Islam di dalam kad pengenalan beliau.

Dalam sesi yang sama, beliau tidak teragak-agak untuk menerima tawaran pencalonan dirinya sekiranya dinamakan sebagai calon dalam pilihan raya umum ke-12 yang akan datang.

Ujarnya, penyertaan beliau di kancah politik ini adalah merupakan satu amanah kepada perjuangan ini dengan mengambil kira ia adalah satu keputusan yang telah ditetapkan oleh pihak tertinggi parti. - mks.

and this one

01/06: Lina Joy ikon mencabar Perlembagaan Malaysia
Category: General Posted by: Raja Petra
Ab Jalil Backer (

Saya ingin merakamkan tahniah kepada Mahkamah Persekutuan yang secara jelas menyatakan kedudukan Mahkamah Syariah dan mempertahankan pembahagian kuasa antara persekutuan dengan negeri dan juga kedudukan Islam dalam Perlembagaan negara.

Kesan kepada keputusan Mahkamah Rayuan terhadap kes Lina Joy atau Azalina Jalaini sudah diduga. Jika Lina menang maka akan timbul kemarahan orang Islam. Jika Lina kalah maka akan timbul kemarahan orang bukan Islam.

Dengan kata lain, walau apa pun keputusan Mahkamah Rayuan semalam tidak mungkin akan meredakan ketegangan dalam isu ini. Kedua-dua pihak yang menyokong dan menentang murtadnya seorang manusia Melayu bernama Azalina Jalaini ini kepada Lina Joy hanya menjadi alat untuk memporak-perandakan Perlembagaan Malaysia dan persetujuan-persetujuan kemerdekaan negara termasuk pemberian kerakyatan kepada jutaan bukan Melayu dan Islam.

Secara peribadi saya berpegang kepada pandangan bahawa orang yang ingin keluar Islam atau murtad, tanpa memerangi Islam atau negara Islam, tidak harus dihukum atau dihalang, apatah lagi dihukum bunuh. Hal ini saya tegaskan beberapa kali dalam Forum Pembaca Utusan Malaysia sekitar 1999. Kerana itu saya menerima banyak kecaman dan ancaman yang sampai sekarang boleh dibaca sebahagiannya di Enjin Pencari Google.

Justeru secara peribadi saya tiada masalah jika Lina Joy mahu keluar Islam atau murtad. Islam tidak memerlukan mereka yang tidak percaya kepada keluhuran dan kebenaran janji-janji Allah. Islam itu lebih besar dari penganutnya mahu pun manusia.

Namun isu Lina Joy menimbulkan persoalan yang lebih besar bukan sahaja kepada saya malah sebahagian besar orang Melayu. Tanpa mengambil kira persepsi Pas, sebahagian besar Badan Bukan Kerajaan (NGO) Islam yang menyertai protes dan bantahan ini melihat sudut pandangan yang lebih besar.

Lina Joy telah mengemukakan permohonan kepada Mahkamah Sivil Malaysia agar Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara (JPN) untuk menukar status agama di dalam Mykadnya. Lina juga mempertikaikan tindakan JPN yang mahukan keputusan bertulis Mahkamah Syariah yang menyatakan beliau sudah meninggalkan agama Islam.

Justeru isu yang dibincangkan di mahkamah Sivil (dari Mahkamah Tinggi, Mahkamah Rayuan dan Mahkamah Persekutuan) dari awal sehingga keputusan muktamad ialah sama ada Mahkamah Sivil mempunyai hak untuk menentukan keislaman seseorang atau membenarkan seseorang muslim keluar dari Islam.

Justeru beberapa hari lalu, Mahkamah Persekutuan membuat keputusan muktamad bahawa hanya Mahkamah Syariah yang berhak menentukan kedudukan agama seseorang Muslim yang ingin murtad.

Tidak timbul isu orang Islam tidak dibenarkan menukar agama di negara ini. Tidak timbul isu Lina Joy tidak dibenarkan murtad. Isu adalah isu Perlembagaan.

Sejak dari awal hampir kesemua peguam yang ikhlas di Malaysia memahami bahawa isu-isu berkaitan agama Islam termasuklah murtad berada di bawah kuasa raja atau sultan, negeri dan mahkamah Syariah. Keputusan Mahkamah Persekutuan hanya mengesahkan lagi keputusan-keputusan terdahulu dan semangat Perlembagaan dan isu kedudukan agama Islam dan mahkamah syariah.

Mengapakah saluran yang betul tidak digunakan oleh Lina Joy dan kumpulan yang berada di belakangnya untuk mendapatkan pertintah mahkamah ke atas status agamanya?
Mengapa Lina Joy mengambil keputusan membawa kes ini ke mahkamah sivil tanpa melalui saluran asal iaitu mahkamah Syariah?

Alasan yang diberikan bahawa tidak mungkin Mahkamah Syariah akan membenarkannya atau sebagainya hanyalah berbentuk hipotesis yang tidak boleh dibuktikan kebenarannya. Ini kerana Lina tidak pernah membawa kesnya ke Mahkamah Syariah.

Jika beliau boleh menghabiskan masa hampir 7 tahun di Mahkamah sivil maka kita tertanya-tanya mengapa beliau tidak boleh mematuhi undang-undang negara ini dengan membuat permohonan beliau di Mahakamah Syariah.

Pada hemat saya, Jika permohonan beliau gagal, barulah beliau ada locus standi untuk membawa kesnya ke Mahakamah Tinggi.

Tindakan Lina Joy, dan kumpulan dibelakangnya, menghabiskan begitu banyak wang di Mahkamah Sivil mencabar fasal-fasal dalam Perlembagaan Malaysia berkenaan kedudukan Islam dan Mahkamah Syariah tidak lagi boleh dilihat hanya untuk memenuhi hawa nafsunya menukar agama lagi.

Sebaliknya, kumpulan ini jelas memperlihatkan usaha mereka mencabar kedudukan agama Islam sebagai Agama Rasmi Persekutuan, pembahagian kuasa antara Persekutuan dan Negeri serta kedudukan raja-raja Melayu. Ini sekaligus usaha awal untuk memansuhkan segala elemen-elemen persetujuan Kemerdekaaan Negara yang membabitkan orang Melayu secara keseluruhannya.

Jika dua daripada tiga hakim Mahkamah Persekutuan tempoh hari terpengaruh dengan lobi kumpulan ini pasti semangat Perlembagaan Malaysia ini sudah tercabul dan akan mencetuskan lebih banyak kontroversi dan pengahakisan hak-hak orang Melayu yang dipersetujui sebelum ini.

Perjuangan Lina Joy di Mahkamah sivil hanyalah ikon kepada usaha semangat Perlembagaan yang membabitkan fasal-fasal yang diminta oleh orang Melayu dalam Perlembagaan Malaysia sebagai balasan kepada pemberian kewarganegaraan kepada kaum Cina dan India ketika itu.

Ketika hak-hak yang dituntut oleh kaum-kaum bukan Melayu dipatuhi dan tidak pernah dicabar, terdapat usaha sekarang ini untuk menarik balik persetujuan antara kaum sebelum merdeka dahulu.

Lebih jelas usaha ini dilihat ingin mencabar kedudukan Mahkamah Syariah yang sebelum ini dianggap setaraf dengan Mahkamah Sivil. Mereka mahu menurunkan kedudukan Mahkamah Syariah sekaligus mengurangkan kedudukan Islam sebagai agama rasmi persekutuan.

Dan isu inilah yang menimbulkan kemarahan sebahagian orang Melayu dan NGO Islam yang terbabit tempoh hari.

Diharap kerajaan mengambil tindakan tegas ke atas sesiapa yang memutarbelitkan kenyataan bahawa keputusan Mahkamah Persekutuan tersebut menghalang kebebasan beragama.

Ini kerana hakikatnya, Mahkamah Persekutuan hanya membuat keputusan bahawa kedudukan agama Lina Joy hanya boleh tentukan oleh Mahkamah Syariah kerana beliau merupakan seorang Islam yang ingin keluar agama.