Part II: why the CPB is still a bad idea

I got a comment from an ex-intern of mine about the CPB and why it does not apply to all tech workers but only to those wanting to work on CNII (critical national information infrastructure) projects.

The thing is, Malaysia being as small as it is, IT companies may eventually find themselves working for or with a government-linked agency. There is no specific definition of what agency or department that is or is not deemed CNI.

Does this make things better? Not really. The bill is still poorly worded, very misleading and the worst case scenario still applies: if a fresh grad, non-tech certified and not registered, emails an idea to a friend about upgrading a government service, it is still TECHNICALLY against the law.

Also:

1. To bid for a contract, instead of going through one layer of bureaucracy, you add even more layers. You have to pay annual fee, get tested and adhere to some vague standard to be judged qualifed to work on government or CNNI-related projects. In other words, it’s a rather fancy way to legalise paying duit kopi.

2. The CPB board is minister-appointed. What’s to stop the MOSTI minister from appointing a crony?

3. Registered professionals not being able to practise outside their declared proficiency. Hello, IT people pick up skills as and when they go along. So everytime a professional learns a new skill, he/she needs to take another exam or show another certification to prove their competence? It doesn’t work that way, bub.

4. An agency to define what IT professionals are should be independent of the government. Self-regulation! The government has no right to declare that, say, a Microsoft-certified fresh grad is a professional while a self-taught Linux hack with no formal degree or certs isn’t. IT professionals should be judged by their peers and not have the government try to MAKE MONEY out of “certifying” IT professionals.

So my verdict? The bill is still an act of bodohness. But I’ll let my former intern Will have his say. You may or may not agree with either of our point of views but freedom of expression is important.

Hey former boss (referring to Erna :P )

TLDR: The only thing that really changes with this Act is that critical government services will now only be serviced by an exclusive club which restricts membership according to formal qualifications (and/or extensive proof of experience). Rest of IT not affected.

After speaking with one of the proponents of the bill, and re-reading the Bill – it turns out that this has been a huge misunderstanding. If you read it carefully, you will find that only “CNII” (Critical National Information Infrastructure) services requires one to be registered. I.e., if you’re in the IT industry, and you don’t provide IT services for the government in critical areas, you don’t need to even be aware of the existence of this act.

There are only two places in the document which talks about restrictions to non-registered persons. One says that non-registered persons shall not render the services of a registered person. The other says that only registered persons can render services for CNII related stuff.

The only remaining issue is less major – i.e. that the academics require that the word ‘professional’ to be reserved for those with formal qualifications / training or extensive proof of experience. Considering that this doesn’t affect freedoms in any major way, I’m fine with it.

 

What you can do about the CPB

There’s been quite a lot of buzz about the CPB, thanks to irate techs.

Another blogpost to read on the issue:

http://uppercaise.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/new-law-puts-noose-around-computer-techies/ 

If what you read about the bill made you mad enough to, oh, do something, here’s what you can do:

1. Show up to the Open Day being held by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) this Tuesday. Details are below:

Date : 13 Disember 2011 (Tuesday)
Time : 9.30 pagi – 5.00 petang
Place : Dewan Perhimpunan
Aras 1, Blok C4, Kompleks C
Kementerian Sains, Teknologi dan Inovasi

Official FB page for event: http://www.facebook.com/events/205572512858664/

 

2. Write to your MP and voice your opposition to the Bill. Urge your friends to write/call/Tweet their respective MPs.

In the meantime, enjoy Ikhwan Nazri (@tekong)’s take on the whole thing, YouTube style:

 

 

 

 

Killing techies the Malaysian way

After the draconian Peaceful Assembly Bill, Malaysia is now trotting out the next Really Bad Idea: the Computing Professionals Bill 2011. You can read the draft bill here.

The gist of it is this: the plan is to create a Board of Computing Professionals and make it mandatory by law for all computing professionals to be registered with and certified by said board.

This board will decide whether you are a ‘properly’ qualified professional. There will of course be registration fees involved, payable yearly. And a proposed ‘fund’ created. Why does all this smell rather like a poorly disguised moneymaking scheme?

If you are NOT a registered member, you are prohibited from submitting “proposals,plans,designs,drawings,schemes,reports,studies or others to be determined by the Board to any person or authority in Malaysia”.

In other words, if I don’t register, it is technically illegal for me to even email ANY MALAYSIAN with even an IDEA for a tech-related project. It would be against the law for me to even sketch, on a napkin, my idea for a new app while having coffee with someone.

Want to know the hilarious part? The country with a bill nearly identical to ours is…Nigeria. So we’re taking a leaf out of their book? Brilliant, Malaysia, totally brilliant.

In countries like Australia, there are professional bodies like the Australian Computer Society. But enrollment is voluntary – in Malaysia, the powers that be are figuratively putting a gun to the head of every computing professional. “Register or you’ll be deemed doing business illegally.”

Why is this a big deal? The bill goes against the grain of everything tech stands for. It’s about innovation and the freedom to create; things this bill intends to snuff out. What’s to stop the country from deciding what kind of tech we’re allowed to create?

The bill even states that IT professionals are not allowed to participate in fields not within their expertise. So if I’m a registered systems analyst but taught myself to program in Rails in my spare time, it would be ILLEGAL for me to do some coding for a client unless I re-declare my skills.

As an IT grad and ex-tech worker, I learned first-hand that it isn’t paper qualifications that count as much as proven skills. I know programmers without degrees or any form of certification who are skilled, competent  and in most cases, entirely self-taught. After all, the biggest names in the global IT industry —Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and Larry Ellison—dropped out of college.

Dear tech industry workers, I urge you to oppose the bill.

Oppose it because it seeks to force you to limit and narrowly define the scope of your talents.

Oppose it because the government is effectively trying to decide what you can or cannot work on and who you can work with.

Oppose it because unnecessary regulation like this will cripple, not enhance the already challenged industry.

Oppose it because this is a poorly thought out, badly put-together piece of bullcrap.

I’ll be damned if I’ll let the government insist I register with them and pay them money for the freedom to program, build websites and apps or propose tech-related ideas to my fellow Malaysians.

(Featured image courtesy of Funny Junk)

The LOLBudget that made me cry

There was something rather different, for me, about this year’s national budget.

I had never felt as disappointed as I was and am right now, when I “covered” the budget on Twitter the last two times.

LOLBudget came about because I thought some brevity was needed. The national budget tabling in Malaysia is taken so seriously and is often so predictable, that it was laughable. And I wanted some laughter because, by God, we need humour more than ever. Else we’d likely go mad in this current climate.

Budgets are serious things. But politicians take themselves far too seriously and so do most political and economical pundits. Yes, I mocked and jibed my way through LOLBudget but if it got people talking, conversing and thinking about the damn budget, I’d consider my playing the jester worth it.

See, before I started LOLBudgeting proper, someone Tweeted me, asking me what to expect. I answered “How much goodies (the government) will offer without bankrupting the nation.”

And the budget was full of so many sweeteners I swore my teeth would fall from rot.

Look, no one addressed the biggest elephant in the room: where was the money to fund all those handouts coming from? Emergency funds for small business, abolishing of school fees, bonuses and lots of incentives for civil servants…someone has to pay for that.

What was even more alarming was the income tax cut across the board…for big business. Malaysia in comparison to most other countries really doesn’t tax much. So even more discounts in the perhaps vain hope that we push domestic consumption and draw in more investments? You have got to be kidding me.

Am I an armchair economist now? No. I’m just a journalist. A journalist who wonders how the government is going to make good on its promises especially when they involve spending a lot of money I’m not sure we have.

What bothers me is the lack of transparency in spending, allocations, tendering etc. The closest we come to openness is the annual accountant-general’s report. The man must cry himself to sleep at night.

I wanted answers to the problem that is our economy. But all we Malaysians got were promises of more sweeties.

But it’s not about me, is it? It’s about gaining the popular votes so instead of doing the right but unpopular thing, we get the popular measures that in the big picture scheme of things are really not what we need.

And that is nothing to laugh about.

 

Budget 2012 or the LOLBudget

Once upon a time, I was a very bored Malaysiakini sub watching the Budget presentation in 2009. So I started Tweeting about the budget, partly for my own amusement and partly to explain it in layman’s terms.

Because, really, Budget sittings are very, very boring. This is my third year Tweeting about the budget: come on and join in the fun!

[liveblog]

 

Malaysia remembers its birthday

Malaysia Day for me  is a reflection of how much things have changed.

Two years ago, I wrote an angsty rant about how little people in West Malaysia thought about Sept 16 and how its significance seemed to be lost outside East Malaysia.

Dates are funny things. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with reverence and as the 16th of September is Malaysia’s ‘real’ birthday, you would think some celebration would be in order.

How do you celebrate what you don’t recall? While every year Sabahans are reminded of the choice and sacrifices we made to be a part of this country, many West Malaysians are woefully ignorant of 16th September’s significance.”

 

Things have changed. Sept 16 is now a gazetted national holiday with Aug 31, Malaya’s Independence day sidelined. The latter for me is sad. Though I have no personal attachment to the date, I am sure many other people do. Must Merdeka lose its meaning just because we want to make the country more inclusive for the East Malaysians among us?

I muse this just as the Prime Minister has given a Malaysia Day address, announcing the much hoped-for repeal of the ISA. It is testament to the long years of struggle by activists brave enough to protest its existence, when many Malaysians were complacent or too afraid to speak up.

But the Prime Minister’s promises are still just promises. Anything could happen between now and the elections. Still, I think as a country we have made some strides despite economic challenges. There is much less apathy among Malaysians, the “tidak-apa” attitude does not have as much of a grip as it used to. For better or for worse, Malaysians are learning to express themselves and participate more as members of society.

So with some hope and tempered joy, I wish Malaysia a very happy birthday with even better ones to come.

Journos shouldn’t be tragic “heroes”

There is a lot of pointless political posturing around the death of BernamaTV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor. Opposition politicos going on about how charity begins at home, that Instead of helping Somalia we should be looking after our own.

By their reasoning, we should ignore all pleas from outside. No helping Japan, Palestine, Indonesia, no. Let us be honest here. It is not that Malaysians do not need aid but that Somalia is desperate in a way our countrymen aren’t. We can spare some aid. My only issue is with the means it was given.

Of all the people we could have sent, why send Putra 1Malaysia? Why couldn’t we instead channel funds directly to organisations already in Somalia instead of spending money to send our people there? We didn’t need to send our journos there – we have newswires to give us the updates on the state of the ground.

There are allegations the team was ill-equipped and ill-prepared for the mission. I wonder if the people going there realised just how dangerous and unstable Somalia is. Did the Bernama crew know just how much danger the trip posed? Did they understand there was a possibility they might not return?

If Putra 1Malaysia wanted to run a humanitarian mission, why couldn’t it get a member to document the proceedings instead of bringing a journalist along? Was it worth it, risking journalist lives to cover what they were doing?

I say they never should have gone. Or at least, not force media to come along. Did media even have a choice? If you want a means of documentation that does not bleed, then bring a camera. You can’t as easily replace a human being.

Many of the journalists who knew Noramfaizul are angry. They grieve a friend and compatriot. They know he deserved better. All journalists deserve better than to be collateral damage in a mission as flawed as this was.

Letter from reader on Bersih

The following letter from a reader gave me a headache. And am not happy that someone would basically say that if I don’t agree with him I am a “political hack”. Err, sorry, he totally does not understand what political but non-partisan means.

The letter, for your reading: (I DID NOT WRITE THIS)

I was all for what bersih stood for. But, then i read the fine print. See the point by point analysis below. If you don’t go through this and have some doubt as to their intentions, then I know you are just a political hack.

1. Clean the electoral roll

The electoral roll is marred with irregularities such as deceased persons and multiple persons registered under a single address or non-existent addresses. The electoral roll must be revised and updated to wipe out these ‘phantom voters’. The rakyat have a right to an electoral roll that is an accurate reflection of the voting population.

In the longer term, BERSIH 2.0 also calls for the EC to implement an automated voter registration system upon eligibility to reduce irregularities.

RESPONSE:

Based on the CIA World Fact book, death in Malaysia is 4.93 per 1,000 population (based on July 2011). Through extrapolation, for 28 million population, the estimated number of deaths in a year is 138,040 persons. Assuming the information is not updated in JPN over a period of 5 years, on a worst case scenario, the total “un-updated record of deceased persons” is 690,020 people.

According to the EC, we have 11.4 million registered voters. Assuming EC did not update their database due deceased people, this represent 6% inaccuracy of the true / actual registered voters.

Malaysians should ask: can a 6% “inaccuracy / irregularity” (on a worst case scenario) be a strong point to bash the EC or the Government for being unfair? I think this is absurd and politically motivated.

The fact that the opposition won more states in the next GE showed that fair election / democracy is in place.

Therefore, my question for those who are politically inclined: does the 6% translate into a sure win for the the political parties (including opposition) in the next GE?

For automatic voter registration as proposed by Bersih v2.0, many people have expressed disagreement on this subject.

There is a writer who posted something in Malaysian Insider that I would like to share…

“Not that I have anything against people registering to vote.

I am a registered voter myself. However, to force something on someone — be it religion, racism and even voter registration — is something I just can’t agree with.

It’s against a person’s free will. I see it as similar to parents determining their kids’ religions at birth; performing circumcision on a kid who doesn’t know any better; or even how parents of a male child with no penis would show off their kid in a photo opportunity for the Malaysian media, as we saw in 2009.

There are many fears in having an automatic-registration system, primarily on the basis of privacy.”

As for voters registered with a non-existent addresses, everyone knows that we move from one place to another as we grow. Let’s assume that Ali was born in Kuala Lipis. He has an IC which has the address of his family in Kuala Lipis. 20 years later he migrated to Kuala Lumpur, then 5 years later he was posted to Terengganu for offshore assignment with Murphy Oil. 6 years later he was posted to lead a project in Sarawak. Does it mean he has to update his IC address and inform EC every time he moves to another address?

If let’s say 10 million of our population is affected by this, do you think it is practical to enforce it in reality my dear fellow Malaysians?

In short, Bersih’s demand of the automatic voters registration basically forces people to be registered. And that cannot be seen as democracy!

It definite contradicts Bersih’s principles of having a fair democracy.

2. Reform postal ballot

The current postal ballot system must be reformed to ensure that all citizens of Malaysia are able to exercise their right to vote. Postal ballot should not only be open for all Malaysian citizens living abroad, but also for those within the country who cannot be physically present in their voting constituency on polling day. Police, military and civil servants too must vote normally like other voters if not on duty on polling day.

The postal ballot system must be transparent. Party agents should be allowed to monitor the entire process of postal voting.

RESPONSE:

According to the Government website, Malaysia has approximately 1.2 million civil servants. The police & military are consistently on duty and geographically dispersed throughout the country. In fact, they are on duty too during elections, etc.

If the police, military are forced to vote normally, then they are forced to leave their duty in various locations. Imagine leaving the jungle, strategic border locations just to vote. I think this is not practical at all.

On this note, Bersih 2.0 also made a proposal to EC for party agents to monitor the entire process of postal voting. Well, this has not happened in any other countries. Please name me one country which allows parties on both divide to “intervene” in the EC processes or postal voting.

Also, postal voting happens not only for police and military personnel who are on duty, but also Malaysians who vote overseas. If Bersih 2.0 wants party agents to be allowed to monitor the entire process of postal voting, does that mean that party agents need to be posted whenever and wherever there are Malaysians voting overseas? (I’m sure some of them don’t mind having the excuse to have a nice holiday overseas, “in the name of democracy”!)

I think this proposal suggests deep paranoia and mistrust of key institutions in the country, including the Elections Commission (SPR), which I think is simply pathetic.

In conclusion, there has not been any real issues in terms of postal voting, whether in Malaysia or in other countries. After all, from a bigger picture perspective, the impact of postal votes is small compared to the actual votes in the various constituencies.

As a citizen who support fair elections in this country, I suggest that we should be focusing on the actual voting mechanism at the various constituencies rather than debating day and night on postal voting, which, in reality, produces a minimal impact to the election results.

For those who are politically inclined to dwell on the numbers and think that this is still not fair because the postal votes can ensure a better win, imagine this: Assuming 100% of the 1.2 million servants are forced to do postal voting, that represent 10% of the 11.4 million registered voters in this country. Assuming ceteris paribus, if you divide 11.4 million registered voters by 222 constituencies, that is 51,351 votes for each constituency. Therefore the postal votes (i.e 10% of 11.4m) constitute 5,400 votes vs. 51,351 votes.

With all the anger and insult which I hear from the political leaders and Bersih organizers, my conclusion is simple. The impact of postal voting to the overall result is minimal.

The majority swing or “success” for each political party is based on the actual voters who attend, register and vote on the actual election day. Surely as Malaysians, we shouldn’t be so easily fuelled and vortexed into something so small until we lose our logical reasoning.

I ask again the question to my dear fellow Malaysians. Looking at the maths, is this something worth fighting for? Is this what we call unfair election or democracy by the opposition?

3. Use of indelible ink

Indelible ink must be used in all elections. It is a simple, affordable and effective solution in preventing voter fraud. In 2007, the EC decided to implement the use of indelible ink. However, in the final days leading up to the 12th General Elections, the EC decided to withdraw the use of indelible ink citing legal reasons and rumours of sabotage.

Bersih 2.0 demands for indelible ink to be used for all the upcoming elections. Failure to do so will lead to the inevitable conclusion that there is an intention to allow voter fraud.

RESPONSE:

Less than 20 countries out of 194 countries use inedible ink in their elections. Indelible ink is NOT used by developed countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Japan and many others. It is used mainly in less developed countries with large populations.

Some of the countries include Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Gambia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Mauritania, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tchad, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

It is also worth to note that indelible ink is not a fool-proof method and has its disadvantages such as:

· Indelible ink itself can be used to commit electoral fraud by marking opponent party members before they have the chance to cast their votes; and

· There have been cases in Afghanistan where “indelible” ink have washed off voters’ fingers using bleach; such ink was blamed for contributing to fraud in the first Afghan presidential election in 2005.

In short, if Malaysia decides to use indelible ink, for a country that has a comprehensive database and biometric identification of its citizens, it can be viewed as step backwards for the nation and not a step forward. Remember, less than 20 countries out of 194 countries uses indelible ink in their general elections.

For those countries who don’t use inedible ink, do you regard them as corrupt?

Bersih organizers have really managed to divert the attention of the public on this. Pure deception

4. Minimum 21 days campaign period

The EC should stipulate a campaign period of not less than 21 days. A longer campaign period would allow voters more time to gather information and deliberate on their choices. It will also allow candidates more time to disseminate information to rural areas. The first national elections in 1955 under the British Colonial Government had a campaign period of 42 days but the campaign period for 12th GE in 2008 was a mere 8 days.

RESPONSE:

There is no standard or best practice in any countries to determine the optimum campaign period. For example, Singapore has a 9-day campaign period, the United Kingdom has 17 days and Philippines has a 90-day campaign period. The misconception by the public at large is that the campaign period (whether it is 5 days, 21 days, 40 days, 60 days or even 100 days) guarantees a fair election.

Campaign activities must be viewed as an on-going activity by the ruling and opposition parties and not a one-off activity due to General Election. Both parties must work hard daily or throughout the year to ensure support from grass roots and voters at their respective constituencies. The all year round consistent campaigning throughout each constituency guarantees better results than a one-off GE campaign approach. This is particularly true in the modern world’s 24-hour news cycle, where politicians constantly jostle for media and public attention.

I feel that regardless the campaign period, both parties are not privy to the actual General Election dates (while it is true that in Malaysia, the incumbent Prime Minister has the upper hand due to his constitutional role in advising the Agong regarding the dissolution of Parliament, we know that even ruling party politicians play constant guessing games regarding the exact timing of polls). Hence, it is in the interest of both parties (ruling and opposition) to identify winnable candidates and strengthening their grassroots support through regular campaigning. I believe both sides are working equally hard at the grass root level to gain support.

In short, Bersih organizers and supporters should not view the campaign period as a key determining factor to ensure fair elections. Again, they have deceived the public and caused unnecessary anger.

5. Free and fair access to media

It is no secret that the Malaysian mainstream media fails to practice proportionate, fair and objective reporting for political parties of all divide. Bersih 2.0 calls on the EC to press for all media agencies, especially state-funded media agencies such as Radio and Television Malaysia (RTM) and Bernama to allocate proportionate and objective coverage for all political parties.

RESPONSE:

I feel this is a lob-sided request by Bersih 2.0. Free and fair access to media has been a hot topic of debate since Tun Mahathir’s time. At the same time, we are aware of the existence of alternative media which provide differing views which are sometimes being perceived as unfairly critical of one side or the other.

Lets look at some facts.

According to ITU (United Nation specialized agency for ICT), Malaysia has 17 million internet users in 2010. According to Nielsen research in 2010, newspaper in Malaysia has approximately 15 million readership (54% of population).

Malaysiakini recorded 1 million visitor in January 2011. For one year, it is estimated the total visitor is around 12 million people. And remember, we have other online news portal such as Malaysia Insider, Malaysia Reserve, etc.

On another data by Malaysian Digital Association (MDA) in April 2011, Malaysiakini recorded higher number of unique visitors at 2.7 million compared to the Star online at 2.4 million.

Therefore, if you compare the mainstream news vis-à-vis the alternative / online media, the equal number of visitors/ readers for both shows equal playing field if you want to view it politically. Why Bersih is making a big fuss out of this ?

Another strong point to note is that the Government does not ban or censor Malaysiakini, Malaysian Insider or any other internet portals must be viewed as a significant step compared to other countries. Despite much provocation from opposition-leaning portals, the Malaysian government has kept to its commitment of free and open Internet since the launching of the Multimedia Super Corridor, and I think the Government deserves a bit more credit for not emulating China in this regard.

In recent times, we have seen the birth of “invisible & anonymous online cybertroopers” whose job is to consistently post negative comments on any article that appear in various Internet portals.

Whilst we all know that these are either planned or posted by a small handful of individuals, we have not witnessed any censorship from the Government on the strings of unintelligent and provocative postings, including comments relating and blaming everything on the present Government.

The silent majority knows that most of the comments posted online at Malaysia Kini and Malaysia Insider are fabricated / scripted by certain quarters. Postings / ramblings such as “Hidup Pakatan”, “Wait for the next GE”, “Lets vote PR”, “Government bodoh”, etc are “recycled” and appeared in different articles.

If we want to scrutinize further, Malaysiakini and Malaysian Insider journalists have the tendency to post a negative title to capture the attention of the readers/ visitors. This makes certain quarters feel that the online-media are pro opposition.

So to sum it all, both political parties have equal playing field judging from the number of readers/visitors for both mainstream and alternative media. To allow fair reporting for all political parties, my view is that Bersih 2.0 must also call for the EC to ensure that online media such as Malaysiakini and Malaysian Insider practice proportionate, fair and balanced reporting.

6. Strengthen public institutions

Public institutions must act independently and impartially in upholding the rule of law and democracy. Public institutions such as the Judiciary, Attorney-General, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC), Police and the EC must be reformed to act independently, uphold laws and protect human rights. In particular, the EC must perform its constitutional duty to act independently and impartially so as to enjoy public confidence. The EC cannot continue to claim that they have no power to act, as the law provides for sufficient powers to institute a credible electoral system.

RESPONSE:

I fail to comprehend how Bersih 2.0 can make this call for “reform” of the institutions mentioned, when the Government has been doing precisely this for several years now, beginning with the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police, the establishment of the Judicial Appointments Commission, as well as the establishment of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission.

In other words, the transformation of various national institutions is an ongoing process. And so, rather than continuing to lambast and ridicule vital institutions of the state such as the MACC and the police, I suggest that the Opposition and their friends in Bersih 2.0 should start being more productive and suggest concrete measures to transform our institutions for the better.

This is especially true for the Elections Commission. Other than continued calls from the Opposition for the EC to “report to Parliament” (what does that mean, anyway? Who is Parliament should they report to? How would reporting to a committee made up of squabbling politicians be any improvement from the current way that the EC is established?), we have not heard any specific and concrete measures to improve the EC.

Stop hiding behind vague rhetorical statements, and try to be more specific and concrete about what changes you propose to make.

7. Stop corruption

Corruption is a disease that has infected every aspect of Malaysian life. BERSIH 2.0 and the rakyat demand for an end to all forms of corruption. Current efforts to eradicate corruption are mere tokens to appease public grouses. We demand that serious action is taken against ALL allegations of corruption, including vote buying.

RESPONSE:

I agree and support Bersih 2.0’s call for war on Corruption. I am totally behind this as no one likes or condones corrupt practices in this country.

It took me several days to study this in greater depth and looking at what the present Government is doing vis-à-vis other countries. I am very passionate to share my findings with my fellow Malaysians who are there in KL raving about corruption.

My view can be simplified as follow.

Fighting corruption is an on-going battle, and I believe each country have to come up with preventive measures to curb corruption. When I looked at developed countries like Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States, it took them more than 10 years to fight corruption to a level where it is acceptable by global standards.

One of my ex-colleague is in a top 3 global investment bank and she had the opportunity to sit in to listen to the Government Transformation Programme (GTP as popularly known in Malaysia) update during an analyst roadshow in Singapore and Hong Kong. From her discussion with many other analyst, Malaysia has placed a number of significant game changer initiatives to prevent corruption and this is clearly reflect in the GTP annual report (which I’m told can be downloaded for free).

As this most hotly debated topic in Malaysia, I did some research on the web to get a better understand on what she meant by “significant game changer initiatives”.

For the first time, a Whistle Blower Act has been gazetted and now every Malaysians can submit a case and his/her identity will be protected. This is something new for all of us in Malaysia.

Next was the announcement of 18 corruption courts expedite corruption cases so that swift action can be taken. I think this is a brilliant idea! Not many countries have this.

From the MACC website, I found out more than 800 people have been arrested for corruption in 2010 alone. And 200 + confirmed cases have been published on the MACC website with names, IC number and photographs. This is indeed a significant milestones for this country if you ask me. I think we are following closely the Hong Kong model. For the record, ICAC of Hong Kong do publish the statistics of the convicted cases on their website.

I also managed to check how transparent the Government is in publishing the government award contracts, I have found this website called MyProcurement. Quite rough but it fits the purpose of listing more than 3,000 government award contracts. Not bad if you think about it.

Overall, although more can be said about Malaysia’s effort in fighting corruption, I feel Malaysia in the recent time has made leaps and bounds to build preventive measures.

At the end of the day, the corruption case may not reduce to zero overnight, but as a Malaysian, we have to give some credit on MACC’s effort.

Coming back to Bersih 2.0. Yes, I do support this demand/request by them. In fact, Bersih should work with the Government to bring the corruption cases along with the evidence forward as they have 18 corruption courts to expedite the matter. Anyone can make vague and unsubstantiated claims about corruption. Why Bersih 2.0 did not bring forward actual corrupt cases and work with MACC or EC remains unclear.

So Bersih should stop riding on this demand knowing the fact that Malaysia is doing everything they possibly can to fight corruption. In fact, stop being rhetoric about such pronouncement of intent. Rather, please work with MACC and bring solid corruption cases ! The public at large are sick of talk and debating about rhetoric stuff and all we need is to bring more corruption cases forward!

8. Stop dirty politics

Malaysians are tired of dirty politics that has been the main feature of the Malaysian political arena. We demand for all political parties and politicians to put an end to gutter politics. As citizens and voters, we are not interested in gutter politics; we are interested in policies that affect the nation.

RESPONSE

If there is one demand from Bersih 2.0 that I like, then this will be it. We must stop dirty politics on both sides.

Politics in Malaysia is still at infancy stage. Fact based argument is often twisted to inject doubt in the society. Racial sentiments are always played to spark racial divide. Personal allegation and remarks between political leaders are often chosen as the best method as opposed to fact based arguments or healthy intellectual debate.

If you look in the last 10 years, the existence of a digital community has changed the landscape on how we think and altered our perception on they how we view a particular subject. More predominantly when everyone can express themselves through a combination of facts, fiction, lies and emotions on the web (i.e blogs, online media), then things start to change. This is coupled with the existence of “invisible cyber troopers” (from both sides) starting to post comments on negative things about this country.

Slowly but surely most of us in Malaysia are now blaming the Government’s education system for our kids’ lack of achievement despite given scholarship, good residential schools, etc. We blame the Government for the high cost of living despite having the lowest interest rate for car loans, property loans, etc. We blame the Government for not giving the rakyat enough subsidy despite being one of the most highly subsidized countries in the world. We blame the Government for not having sufficient investors into the country despite our Bursa Malaysia reaching 6 times record high in 2011 alone, etc.

I hope we do not come to a stage where we blame the Government for climate change too.

On the statement by Bersih 2.0 on “ we are interested in policies that affect the nation”, I managed to do a quick research about the Government Transformation Programme and the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) that the Najib administration talked about. After hours of research and reading, I almost fainted to count the number of articles and report from financial analyst/economists around the world on the national transformation agenda. Whether it has impact or not, one thing for sure the stock market in Malaysia has record high at 1580 points in 2011. That excludes that the fact the our stock Market has reach at least 5 times record high in 6 months of 2011 !

I mean, on one hand we demand “policies that affect the nation”, one one hand we forgot about the very achievements which are taking place infront of our eyes.

Dear fellow Malaysians, reading and observing how we act as a country, for a homogenous society, we need to embrace and forgive our differences.

We should be grateful. Malaysia is blessed with so many positive things surrounding us vis-à-vis our neighbouring country.

Each of us have a role to play.

Rallying and street demonstration doesn’t guarantee a better future.

Let’s stop the bickering and dirty politics.

The body awareness

I’d always taken for granted the (limited) things I’m able to do with my body.

But now I’m meeting people who find it hard to do things like isolate their core muscles or sit in a manner that will not hurt their lower back.

Little wonder so many people have back pain – they don’t understand where the pain comes from and keep aggravating it by sitting too long or improper lifting.

Making it a point now to move every 20-30 minutes at work. Stretch, stand up, breathe. Part of it is helped by the iPad actually – it sucks at multi-tasking, forcing me to do one thing at a time. None of the multiple window distractions of my laptop.

I find myself really bone-achingly tired at the end of a day, which is good really. Though my inner thigh muscles and my calves are screaming bloody murder. Have decided that weighing myself will be a weekly affair and not a daily one – it will just depress me to obsesses about scales. Fitness is a long-term goal, not a short one.

Cheated a little by having McDonalds for supper yesterday. Was just really hungry but far too tired to cook. But the weekend’s coming up fast enough, if I let it and then I can cheat all I want.

Day 3:

Breakfast: Bun

Snack: One kuih cincin

Lunch: Rolled oats with fish floss

Dinner: Risotto (shared plate with BFF) and 3 chicken wings

Exercise: 24 minutes of interval training (run/walk alternates)

To Grete Waitz, a running inspiration

Cover of "On the Run: Exercise and Fitnes...

Cover via Amazon

Found out last night the woman whose writing is guiding my running died. Grete Waitz, first winner of the NYC marathon, who ate healthy, lived healthy…

…and died of cancer. At 57. Life is cruel and unfair.

But man, she lived one heck of life in that time. Setting marathon records and even having a race named for her, one just for women. Women athletes found it hard to get ahead at the time but she forged her own path. Women are where they are because people like Waitz blazed ahead to make a way where there wasn’t one.

Learning of her death has actually made me resolve to stick to the 10-week plan she outlines in her book “On the Run: Exercise and Fitness for Busy People”. The goal of the plan is to gradually work up to running 3 miles or roughly 5km at a time.

To be honest, I hate running. Hate, hate, hate. Growing up, I was sickly and badly anemic, easily winded and found running a painful ordeal. But I did have one exception, though. Running on the grass in the early morning just before dawn – that I loved. The feel of grass under my feet, the cool air, the slow arrival of light; there’s a kind of magic for me there that I don’t feel at any other time, in any other place.

But I’d finished up to 3 weeks of Grete’s program before real life got in the way and had dropped weight fairly quickly to 57kg from 61. That was of course along with severe diet modifications.

My goal is simple: to finish Grete’s program. After that, well, we’ll see. I’m not the type who’s keen on marathons and runs as am quite claustrophobic. What I want right now is to get fit after an appallingly sedentary lifestyle for the past six months.

And the fitness update, as always.

Day 2:

Breakfast: Chicken sausage floss bun

Snack: Some kuih

Lunch: Instant noodles – too tired and not hungry enough to prepare/buy food

Snack: Chestnuts (from friend) and cup of tea

Exercise: Beginner’s Back Rx yoga/pilates combo for 20 mins

Wearing the boots from hell – tight boots that required a lot of effort to walk in the 8 mins from home and back.

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