Thursday, April 29, 2010

Class of '64 - Pulau Ketam Reunion

The pictures above showed our Class of '64 Reunion in Pulau Ketam which took place at one seafood restaurant on the island on the evening of Saturday 24 April, 2010. The picture at the bottom is the bus tour of Westport in Pulau Indah, followed by the trip to Pulau Ketam in the Marine Department launch and then the dinner.

My colleague, Hank had a detailed report on this same subject in his blog " Birdhouse", and I am just fitting in where he left. This class reunion was following the last one held in 2006, when our esteemed colleague Tan Sri Gnanalingam suggested a cruise. So as usual Hank got things organised late last year and we all agreed on the date. I recalled TSG said that he wanted to see how many of us would still be around, and though only 10 of us could make it this time, 6 others had to be absent for many reasons known to themselves.

This time around we were shown the living example of how a port is managed and the person who started it all is none other than Tan Sri Gnanalingam. It is not entirely a single person's achievement, but by his own admission, the success of running a port depended a lot on all his workers from the security to the crane operators. But without his leadership and entrepreuneurship, the port would not have been born. It is a manifestation of how perseverance and risk-taking could be the vital ingredients to such a colossal undertaking.

We ended the day with a dinner of seafood which we all relished. The memorable reunion reflected our lasting bonds of comradeship true to the College's motto, " Serve to Lead ". Thank you TSG and to Hank, for making it happened.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lekas, Lokeh or Lekeh

I had written earlier about Lekas Highway as shown above and found it quite a pleasant experience driving along it. Although the journey from my house is longer, about 91 kilometres to reach my sister's house in Taman Sri Telawi in Paroi, but the time taken is the same if I take the PLUS highway on a normal weekday.

The term "lokeh" is the Negri dialect for "Lekas" and from my observation, it is not faster to take this highway as compared to the PLUS highway. So probably the way I see it being underutilised would one day make it "Lekeh" meaning insignificant or being looked down upon, since I found very few vehicles using it. One of the reasons for this is perhaps the entry points to join the highway is not convenient or confusing to many drivers, especially those who are from the north going south. I suppose the concession holders found it hard to make ends meet and thus had insufficient funds for promotion.

If the traffic on Lekas is not going to pick up within a reasonable time, it could suffer the same fate as Seremban-PD highway where the government had to take over the operations from the previous concession holder.If that were to happen, then my coining of the term "Lekeh Highway" would be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Twin Pillars of Rukunegara

On tuesday 13 April 2010 I came across in a leading Malay daily about two of the principal ingredients of Rukunegara, namely the "Supremacy of the Constitution" and "Rule of Law". In Malay it is " Keluhuran Perlembagaan" and " Kedaulatan Undang Undang". The first was related to the speech of the Sultan of Selangor during the opening of the new term of the Selangor StateAssembly and the second was an article written by Prof. Emeritus Khoo Kay Kim.

By coincidence I touched on both in my earlier postings with regard to the Federal Constitution and "due process". But what is of interest to me is the call made by the Sultan in his speech is that all citizens in the State should understand the provisions in the Constitution so that no parties make excessive demands beyond what is provided for by the Constitution. And he urged the politicians to explain to their constituents the meaning of the salient provisions relating to their rights and obligations as citizens . More importantly he called for more focus in delivering service to the people and lessen the emphasis on politicking.

The problem with most of the State Assemblymen is that they themselves are probably in need of being tutored on what is in the Federal Constitution before they can convey the same to their constituents. And even the MB once called for a revival of local elections when there was a repeal of the Local Council Election laws to boot, which could mean he did not consult the State Legal Adviser before making the proposal. Being an MP at federal level also, he should know where to forward such a proposal if ever he wanted to revive it. So probably in the not too distant future the first criteria before any person could be nominated for election is that he or she must pass a test on the Federal Constitution. This is not wishful thinking but out of sheer necessity, judging from many of the statements coming out from politicians at State and Federal level which reflects their ignorance.

The article by Prof. Khoo is more dissecting, where he suggested that the citizens especially the younger generation should be educated on the meaning and implications of the Constitution so that not only they know of the limitations and their rights as citizens but also for those who enforce the laws do not exceed their powers. No matter how well the laws are framed, but there must be a human touch to it where discretion should be exercised and not merely apply the law to the letter. This is where integrity is a vital requirement for all law enforcers so that citizens can have confidence that their rights are not being trampled upon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Impregnable Fortress, Bukit Aman.

If one were to visit Bukit Aman for some reason, it is tightly guarded in terms of security like an impregnable fortress where one is not allowed to drive into the compound and the walk is quite far and steep. But that is only for the visitors who need to appeal on say the traffic summonses like I did more than seven years back.

From what has been raised in Parliament by the leader of the opposition recently, it seemed the proverbial impregnable fortress has been breached by some erstwhile 'enemy' of the State which is rather embarrassing for the Home Minister and the IGP and their responses appears rather unconvincing. I would have thought when it was uncovered in 2008, such a serious lapse of our most strategic spot in the country would have been dealt with utmost urgency and those responsible should have been penalised accordingly.

During the period of Emergency, our security personnel were trained to ensure that there should never be any compromise on the safety of our people and property against sabotage by the enemy, and even our government officers were required to attend courses conducted by the Government Security Office on how to detect breaches of security and the steps to be taken to prevent confidential material from falling into the hands of the enemy.

However with the advent of the new millennium we have descended into a period of laxity and the idea of being infiltrated by the 'enemy' had been absent. This is rather dangerous because 'threat to our security' comes in many form and worst of all the lure of money to our own people can compromise our internal security. The people should be vigilant at all times and our intelligence services must be always proactive and prevent our secrets from being leaked out because it will spell disaster for our future. Heads must roll if negligence is proven, otherwise our PM's talk in Washington about how we defeated the Communists would be laughed at by the Americans when they come to know how easy it is to penetrate our Police records by foreign sub-contractors doing what seemed to be a job that could be done by our own local boys.

Pulau Redang, Terengganu's Jewel in the Crown

The picture above is only one of the many hotels and resorts which dotted the Redang Island white sandy beaches, notwithstanding some budget chalets for the less privileged or adventurous visitors to the Jewel in Terengganu's crown.

The recent announcement by the Mentri Besar that only 5 - star ratings accommodation would be allowed to be developed on the island in future, had invited unhappy comments from certain quarters who perhaps had never been on the island. I only stayed at the only 5-star resort available more than a decade ago in conjunction with Federal Heads of Department Meeting, and to be frank I found the place rather dull, maybe of much interest for those who love snorkeling and diving off the waters around the island, but I did not fall into that category.

In fact I learned that although it was declared as one of the protected marine parks off the coast of Terengganu, a lot of undersea marine life had been destroyed probably by uncontrollable development which took place on the island and also lack of enforcement of the marine park by-laws and mostly by those irresponsible divers in search of marine life to be sold for profit.

The announcement by the MB does not contribute much to ensure the preservation of marine life surrounding the island because pollution is one of the major factor which have killed the corals and reefs which at one time form the basic infrastructure to support the rich diversity of marine life surrounding the island.

Once I heard a scathing remark from one of the owners of the resort there how the politicians of Terengganu are oblivious to the damage that was caused by their lack of concern in preserving the island for future generations and just thinking of dollars and cents.

Similarly at one function which I attended where the former Sultan was the host, he spoke of how he told the Premier that the bounty which ALLAH S.W.T. had bestowed on Terengganu with the discovery of oil and gas was to benefit its people who had lived in poverty all along and as such it was befitting that the new found wealth should be enjoyed by all.

However, if one were to visit places like Kuala Kemaman and other fishing villages straddling its coastline, the wisdom which came out of the Ruler's mouth is still waiting to be realised. So now with another Jewel in Terengganu's crown, the words of the former Sultan would still be ringing in many people's ears when ordinary mortals would be prevented from going to Redang island due to its declared intention of the State's MB to turn it as an exclusive playground for the rich and the famous.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Whither our MSC on the PM's US Visit.

It is interesting to note that PM's visit to the USA includes a session organised by a think thank where he is going to speak on the Malayan Emergency as how we defeated the communists who fought against the British after the Second World War and then against the Federation of Malaya on the attainment of Merdeka in 1957.

I recalled reading somewhere when our Finance Minister who went to the US on a mission trying to convince a group of Congressman for their support to provide us a much needed inflow of their capital during the difficult years of stagflation, also used the same method of " selling our success in defeating the Communists " to attract their attention when they seemed to be disinterested in the session perhaps due to his inability to give an impressive public lecture on the state of our Nation.

So this time not only the PM will speak, but also the former IGP, Tun Haniff Omar and the former Chief of the Armed Forces, Gen. Hashim Mohamad Ali . I am not sure who would form the audience, but if our past performances in trying to woo investors to our country, this approach is already outmoded. We are no more in the Cold War mode and the past experiences of our success fighting against the communists is probably not getting us anywhere. I do not know who are the people who advised the PM on this score, because we should not be glorifying about the past but what would be our strengths that would be attractive for their investors especially in the age of the digital economy. I would have thought the PM should bring along people who are knowledgeable about our strengths in the provision of infrastructure for the promotion of cyberworld industry and not some have beens who should be sitting at home and enjoy the company of their grandchildren.

Perhaps this is a reflection of our foreign service people in Washington whose quality is wanting in terms of providing the appropriate advice as what should have the focus of our PM's visit. What we see is nothing but the spin doctor's usual drum beating of the pending meeting between the US President and the PM. In actual fact the real influence in dealing with foreign policy is the Congress and Senate who calls the shot and not the President. Meeting the President is only a public relations exercise and we could have been poorer by tens of millions in taxpayers money for such frills. That is why the other leaders of Asean are not interested to waste such precious money just to be on the White House lawn for a brief appearance with the US President.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Due Process

The term "due process" is usually used when the law has to take its course in bringing the accused to court and given a trial, and for those who had been a public servant involved in administration whether at local government level, district, State or Federal would have at least have been familiar with what is known as due process especially when an offence has been committed by a person directly or indirectly either as property owner or ordinary citizen when there is a breach of the law in the form of subsidiary legislations , State enactments or Acts of Parliament.

Often times we hear the phrase " Ignorance of the law is no excuse" which means all citizens are presumed to know the law related to the commission of the offence and when the authority issue a compound or when a summons to appear in court is served, one cannot plead ignorance by uttering " I am not aware of it" because it is presumed that everyone have been duly informed by publication of the government gazette.Nowadays I am not sure that people knows what a government gazette looks like, especially those who have no exposure to government administration. During my early days in government service I looked forward to see the government gazette when it was circulated by the office in order to know what was new in there, especially who were confirmed after finishing their probationary period as MCS officers because in determining one's seniority was not only the date of appointment but also more importantly the date of confirmation. Recently there was a lot of fuss about a woman from Perak who was found guilty for breaching the Shariah law enacted in the State of Pahang, was spared the whip and the sentence commuted to doing community service, after due process of the law had taken place, because an appeal was made as provided for by the State Enactment.

Thus whether the outcome of the due process of the law is accepted by everyone or not is immaterial, as long as the steps have been followed in accordance with the provisions of the law. In civil courts, the term " natural justice" do crop up whenever a person have been given the opportunity of being heard. This is also closely related to the term "due process" because if the principle is not observed by the prosecution, a flaw exists in the procedure and shall jeopardise the case before the court.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Federal Constitution

Today I came across a report about the Federal Constitution being given free to some individuals from an ethnic based political party as a reminder on what the supreme law of the land says about matters pertaining to the special position of the Malays and other provisions touching on the Malay Language and Malay Rulers. What seemed to be a document which contains a language which requires a certain legal skill to explain in depth about its ramifications is now being used as a means of expressing a group of Malay NGO's unhappiness of how others should view the historic antecedents of the Federal Constitution before it came into being.

In fact I have my doubts whether the people who are doing this could really understand the meaning of the legalese terminologies without the help of Constitutional Law lecturers like Prof. Shad Farouqi from the UiTM in Shah Alam. To make others aware of the country's history is not by giving them the Federal Constitution but suffice to give them any book on the short history of Malaysia.

When I was a student at University of Malaya more than 33 years ago, it took no less than the Solicitor-General who was then Dato' Salleh Abas ( now Tun ) to give us the lectures on the subject " Constitution of Malaysia ". From what he told us, one must not only be able to understand its literal meaning but more importantly the " spirit " behind the provisions. After having been through the mill, so to speak and having worked with many legal advisors in my career in government and administering the provisions of the law, only then I realised the wisdom of his lectures.

I think those who themselves lack the depth on the knowledge about the Federal Constitution should be the first to be taught about the meaning and spirit of the Constitution before giving it free and not for the right purpose. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones, as the saying goes.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

On the Learning Curve

I have been attending classes on every saturday mornings in Kota Damansara together with my wife and daughter trying to pick up the Arabic language. I had a very limited exposure in learning the language, apart from reciting the Al-Quran and saying my prayers in Arabic during the five times a day solat, though I know a bit of the meaning through the translation but acquiring the ability to write simple sentences in Arabic, one has to be on a learning curve.

Although I found learning the language at this stage of my life is challenging but since I have the company of wife and daughter in learning so I might as well carry on. My colleague, Dato' Ishak Ibrahim have been learning Arabic for the past one year, but the approach taken is more focussed on mastering the grammar first rather than vocabulary. I prefer the approach taken by the Academy of Arabic Language whereby one is exposed to vocabulary and pick up the grammar as we go along. Now whenever I read the Al-Quran, some of the words in the verses seemed familiar and this motivates me to keep on to be on the learning curve.

May ALLAH S.W.T. gives me the perseverance to continue as far as I could on the learning curve. InshaALLAH.