Why more information is better

July 24th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
Why more information is better

by Tricia Yeoh. First published in The Sun Online 24 July 2014

WHAT both MH370 and MH17 have shown us is that accurate and timely information being provided to the public is absolutely crucial, and this is surely a lesson that must be extended beyond moments of crisis.

The MH370 incident took the world by storm in March. And our government suffered the consequences of not having responded with immediacy as well as providing inconsistent press statements. Having learnt from the past, credit should be given to Malaysia Airlines for releasing the MH17 cargo manifest in under a week, after this second tragedy in just four months.

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Prime Ministerial Leadership

July 22nd, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
Prime Ministerial Leadership

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan. First published “The face of the Conservatives” 22 July 2014

The whole country is still in shock with what happened to MH17 last week. This is a national tragedy and I wish to express my deepest condolences to the families and relatives of those involved. This incident is particularly painful because two of our staff have loved ones on that fateful flight.

At the time of writing, the details of this incident is still sketchy. So I will not write too much about it yet. The only thing I want to say about this incident is that I find it quite distasteful for people to blame Malaysia Airlines for the downing of MH17. No airline would intentionally put a flight on a route known to be risky. To insinuate otherwise is reckless. And I really hope the international community will work together to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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Brain drain: stop the discrimination

July 8th, 2014 by admin Categories: Economy & Trade, Governance, Opinion, Other One Response
Brain drain: stop the discrimination

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan. First published as “Creating a pasture equally green” in The Star 8 July 2014

I spoke at a panel discussion organised by the Penang Institute last Saturday. Others on the panel were TalentCorp CEO Johan Merican, CEO of Agensi Inovasi Malaysia Mark Rozario, and CEO of Penang Institute Dr Lim Kim Hwa.

The topic was brain drain. Dr Lim and his colleagues recently produced a paper analysing the costs and benefits of the emigration of Malaysian professionals to greener pastures over the years. The panel speakers were invited to comment on their findings and recommendations.

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Fatwa: Dr Asri had a good idea

June 24th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion, Other No Responses
Fatwa: Dr Asri had a good idea

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan. Published as “Let fatwa bodies flourish” in The Star 24 June 2014

Our country is becoming increasingly polarised, not least due to the actions of some state and federal religious authorities. We have seen worrying incidents lately.

A wedding was interrupted because the bride was a Muslim on paper. The authorities did not visit the bride to check before the wedding, but they opted to gatecrash the wedding itself.

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A transparency tool we can use

June 19th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
A transparency tool we can use

by Tricia Yeoh. First published in the Sun 19 June 2014

During the 2015 Budget Consultation, the World Bank representative said explicitly that Malaysia would have to cut its annual budget down by 2.5% each year starting immediately, if it is serious about fiscal prudence. This is highly unlikely, given that the budget has always grown and never shrunk, not to mention the need for very large supplementary budgets too each year.

In a sense, Malaysia has never quite needed to exercise great fiscal prudence, since we have been able to rely upon revenues reaped from the expansive oil fields off Peninsular and East Malaysia. As stated in my previous column, Malaysia is highly dependent on oil and gas revenues, contributing more than a third of our government coffers.

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MH370 and its political repercussions

June 6th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
MH370 and its political repercussions

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan. First published in The Straits Times 6 June 2014

It is now three months since MH370 disappeared from both civilian and military radar. News about the flight’s disappearance is still heard, but only every now and then. The Malaysian government used to hold daily briefings for the press. That too is no longer the case. The flight is certainly still remembered, but not as prominently as before.

It is now well known that the flight diverted from its path within hours of departing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014, heading to Beijing. It was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, from 14 different countries.

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Diamond victory at (the) bay

June 6th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
Diamond victory at (the) bay

by Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz. First published in The Malay Mail 6 June 2014

The penultimate sentence of my article last week was apparently too condensed to be fully understood. What I meant, in reference to political parties’ role in the Perak Menteri Besar crisis of 2009, was that Barisan Nasional should have taken responsibility for selecting candidates who failed to win seats to enable them to form the state government in the first place, and that Pakatan Rakyat should have taken responsibility for selecting candidates who for whatever reason failed to remain loyal to their coalition. These were the real weaknesses, rather than the subsequent decisions of a former Lord President.

Thus the scrutiny placed upon both candidates in the recently concluded by-election in Teluk Intan was most welcome. Admittedly media attention of candidates in a lone parliamentary by-election will exceed coverage of budding state assemblymen amidst a general election, but voters’ desire to research candidates’ credentials will only increase, particularly if they felt betrayed in the past. (Meanwhile in the UK a bill was just announced to enable constituents to sack (“recall”) their MPs.)

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Push for a better quality of life

June 5th, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
Push for a better quality of life

by Tricia Yeoh. First published in The Sun 5 June 2014

 

As I prepared for my presentation to the Prime Minister last week on what the government can do to enhance Malaysians’ quality of life during the Ministry of Finance’s annual budget consultation, I asked myself what exactly “quality of life” means. After all, this could mean different things to different people, especially comparing against regional, gender, age, income and ethnic variations.

After reviewing international data and weighing it against personal considerations, my proposals eventually centred around three broad themes of improving public services, having better jobs and a work-life balance, and finally enhancing civic participation which a transparent and accountable government would complement.

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A democratic pledge of allegiance

May 23rd, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
A democratic pledge of allegiance

by Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz. First published in The Malay Mail 23 May 2014

Most sources on the history of Negeri Sembilan will tell you that it was founded as a sovereign entity in 1773 by Raja Melewar. He was a member of the Pagar Ruyong royal family who crossed the Straits of Malacca to become the first Yang di-Pertuan Besar (abbreviated to Yamtuan) at the invitation of the chiefs of the various luak (districts) on the peninsula. For centuries the Minangkabau people had traded, settled and intermarried with local tribes: a process that resulted in the development of a unique socio-political system that combined traditions from Pagar Ruyong with those on the peninsula.

The exact story of Raja Melewar’s arrival has been much debated (with there being theories of an imposter with a similar name and some inconsistency of dates) – but certainly a new political settlement had been agreed to by 1773. The next two Rulers, Yamtuan Hitam (1795-1808) and Yamtuan Lenggang (1808-1824) were similarly invited from Pagar Ruyong. Unfortunately at that time a war broke out in the Minangkabau homeland over religion: a new Wahhabi-inspired faction called the Padri took issue with the matrilineal, decentralised and democratic system that had developed since the formation of Pagar Ruyong in 1347, and tried to take over by force. The Adat faction in alliance with the Dutch managed to defeat the Padri, but most of the Pagar Ruyong royal family had already been killed in 1815.

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The rights of oil producing states

May 22nd, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Opinion No Responses
The rights of oil producing states

by Tricia Yeoh. First published in The Sun 22 May 2014

The Sarawak state assembly recently passed a resolution calling for an increase from 5 to 20% of its oil royalty entitlement, along with seeking more developmental grants from the federal government. Kelantan has also followed suit to call for an increase in its oil royalties.

Increasing oil royalties to the states may seem fairly straightforward, but it is in reality a far more complex issue, and not as simple as one may think. The logic is that oil-producing states should receive a higher proportion of oil revenues vis-a-vis that given to the central government. Whilst royalty paid to the state and federal government is equal (5% each), the federal government receives other large revenues in the form of taxes and duties, as well as dividends from its wholly-owned Petronas. In 2012, the federal government received RM207 billion revenues from oil and gas alone, having grown significantly as a proportion of total government revenue over the years.

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