Riong Kali did not state his apology to Dr Mahathir

Kalimullah

This morning, Datuk Ahirudin “Rocky’s Bru” Attan case brought by the suit by then Deputy Chairman of NSTP Bhd Kalimullah “Riong Kali” Masheerul Hassan and three others exactly five years ago came to an amicable end. Rocky apologised “For the considerable distress, embarrassment and inconvenience caused to the plaintiffs” as a result of some of the things I’d written about them on my blog”.

Former NST journo who was ostracised during Riong Kali’s tenure had his analysis on the out of court settlement this morning, which actually resulted from the latter’s apology to former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the lies on his News Sunday Times article “And, really, who is demonizing whom?” on 11 June 2006. That lie brought the articles by posted Rocky and another blogger Jeff Ooi, who is now DAP MP for Jelutong calling Riong Kali a ‘Liar’.

This is Riong Kali’s statement on today’s end of game:Statement:

Apology by Blogger Ahirudin Attan to Datuk Syed Albar, Datuk Hishamuddin Aun, Brenden Perera and Dato Seri Kalimullah Hassan

dated: January 31, 2012

On behalf of my friends and former colleagues — Datuk Syed Faisal Albar, Datuk Hishamuddin Aun and Brenden Perera — all of us are glad that this unpleasant episode in our lives has come to an end. It is something that should not have happened and it is something that caused undue stress, damage and anguish to our families, friends and us personally and professionally.

We accept the apology by Ahirudin Attan and his expression of regrets at the damage, distress and embarrassment he has caused not only to us but also our families and friends. The repeated lies over a long period of time and the unfairness of it all led us to the painful step of filing the legal suit against Ahirudin to clear our names and reputation. Having come from the same Press fraternity, it was not a decision we took lightly when we went to the courts to seek justice.

We would like to put this incident behind us and move on.

As for me personally, this is the sixth apology I have received in less than 12 months — from DAP MP for Jelutong and blogger Jeff Ooi, the New Straits Times, Berita Harian, Utusan Malaysia, Matthias Chang, the former political secretary to Tun Mahathir Mohamad, and now Ahirudin Attan — for publishing defamatory and libellous statements against me. It re-establishes my faith that eventually the truth will prevail and that justice will be done.

Kalimullah Hassan.

*****************

Riong Kali conveniently did not mention that part of the settlement reached recently in the suit and counter suit with Matthias Chang, that he had to apologise to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. His apology to Tun Dr Mahathir was the pertinent point that the last two suit cases managed to be ‘resolved amicably’. The fact is that, Tun Dr Mahathir was never part in any of these legal cases between Riong Kali and Rocky, Ooi and Chang but he had to apologise.

Why did Riong Kali conveniently miss that apology to Tun Dr Mahathir out?

This is the sort of a man Riong Kali is. Even at this point, he was not willing to tell the whole truth. That is not withstanding the person that he really is.

Published in: on January 31, 2012 at 16:00  Comments (4)  

Tebrau Teguh gone stealth

Yesterday, KPRJ controlled Plc Tebrau Teguh Bhd asked Bursa Malaysia to suspend the trading of its shares for two days. This is pending a mayor announcement, expected this evening.

This morning, the announcement was made. Tebrau Teguh is to be taken private and an MGO would be issued.

Tuesday January 31, 2012

KPRJ said to launch mandatory general offer for Tebrau Teguh

By WONG WEI-SHEN
weishen.wong@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: Tebrau Teguh Bhd, which has suspended its shares from trading, may be the next company to undergo privatisation by its major shareholder.

Sources said its major shareholder Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ) would be carrying out a mandatory general offer for the company.

KPRJ owns 41.15% of Tebrau Teguh.

Tebrau Teguh is a diversified property developer and construction group linked with KPRJ.

KPRJ itself is the Johor state’s investment arm.

Tebrau Teguh’s shares closed last Friday at 75 sen.

The volume traded last Friday was 12.8 million shares compared with 1.8 million shares the previous Friday.

The 596.39% increase in volume of shares traded could have been due to sentiments on the material announcement.

A business weekly had reported over the weekend that Danga Bay Sdn Bhd (DBSB) might be acquired by Tebrau Teguh.

DBSB was the custodian of a privatisation contract awarded by the Johor state government in 2000 to develop 1,800 acres of waterfront land along Johor Bahru’s Lido Beach. It is therefore the master developer of the Danga Bay waterfront project in Johor.

Should Danga Bay be acquired, Tebrau Teguh would be the biggest owner and developer of sea-fronting projects.

Both KPRJ and Credence Resources Bhd currently own DBSB with 30% and 70% stakes respectively.

Once the acquisition is complete, KPRJ will still remain the majority shareholder of Tebrau Teguh.

The second majority shareholder will be Lim Kang Hoo as he owns 70% of DBSB via Credence Resources.

It is also worth noting that Lim is also Ekovest Bhd‘s co-founder and chairman.

Tebrau Teguh has completed projects through one of its subsidiaries,Bayou Bay Development Sdn Bhd.

It has completed projects involving mainly medium cost apartment and townhouses which are the Oasis Apartment, and the three phases of Bayu Puteri Residences.

Its future developments are Desa Idaman Bungalow and The Oxcy service apartment.

Through its other subsidiary Tebrau Bay Constructions Sdn Bhd, Tebrau Teguh has completed several projects, namely an RM80mil project with the National Housing Department to build 1,500 unit s of government housing apartments in Johor.

The project was completed in early 2007.

Tebrau Bay Constructions is currently in the process of developing 2,700 units of low-cost apartments in the Johor Baru township.

*******************

This move has been anticipated. Tebrau Teguh is steaming ahead with their original plan, which was crafted a year ago.

Iskandar Malaysia: East to West, encompassing the JB CBD has been targeted for a massive corporate exercise going towards flipping of land parcels

It is a structured part in a direction of series of corporate exercises which involved a lot of ‘injection of land parcels and collaboration’, which is thought to be more of an SPV to flip all the high value land parcels with Iskandar. It is part of the ‘East-West’ project detailed by Another Brick in the Wall, where strategic parcels all over Iskandar Malaysia with specific state owned and GLC parcels be amassed into one big basket.

Taking a Plc private for a series of major corporate exercise is about doing all these deals ‘below radar’. Previously, what ever deals transpired from the list of parcels of land already injected into Tebrau Teguh is mandated to be announced in Bursa Malaysia. The last was the parcel in Senai:

The whole scheme of deals are not stealth. The ‘flipping’ could now be exercised at ‘willing seller-willing buyer’ terms. There is already a precedence to this (The flipping of TNB land in Stulang Laut to Singaporean property developer Peter Lim).

This sounds like the feared exercise is unstoppable. Especially, when certain parties have the ‘control’ over the state Land and Mines Commissioner. In fact there are already precedence in these, now being allowed to openly be devoured by Khazanah within the prized Iskandar Investment Bhd parcels in South West South Johor.

More to come. God help us, all.

Published in: on January 31, 2012 at 10:29  Comments (4)  

Jangan babitkan Wanita UMNO

Kemelut yang melanda dari skandal National Feedlot Corporation yang mendapat perhatian umum Malaysia semenjak tiga bulan ini makin kompleks dan rumit. Ini kerana pihak yang tidak kena mengena diheret secara tidak langsung dalam mempertahankan skandal yang aktif sedang dalam siasatan ini.

NFC merupakan milik keluarga terdekat Menteri Pembangunan Keluarga dan Wanita Dato’ Seri Sharizat A Jalil dan diberikan konsessi untuk membangunkan projek penternakan lembu dan fidlot bagi ternakan tersebut, semenjak 2008. Ianya dilaporkan tidak mencapai tahap yang dikehendaki, terutama sejumlah wang telah disalurkan dari pinjaman oleh Kerajaan Persekutuan dengan kadar kos yang amat rendah. Apabila skandal yang dibongkarkan oleh PKR berasaskan sebahagian laporan Ketua Audit Negara, ianya begitu pantas mendapat perhatian.

Kegagalan Pengerusi Eksekutif NFC Dato’ Dr Mohd Salleh “Salleh Budu” Ismail menangani persoalan dan persepsi negatif ditimbulkan dalam kadar yang segara mengakibatkan ianya menjadi makin berpanjangan dan rumit. Namun begitu, ianya menjadi parah apabila Sharizat sebagai Ketua Wanita UMNO Malaysia menggunakan platform Wanita UMNO sebagai ‘Bala Tentera’ untuk mempertahankan maruah beliau sebagai Menteri, walaupun isu ini ialah masalah peribadi.

Keadaan makin kronik apabila Polis melengkapan siasatan dan pihak SPRM juga terlibat dalam siasatan berasingan. Dikatakan siasatan siasatan ini telah sampai ke pihak Peguam Negara untuk tindakan seterusnya.

Kes ini tidak menjadi isu yang menjadi minat untuk dibela walaupun oleh anggota Kabinet sendiri. Malah Perdana Menteri sendiri tidak begitu serious untuk mempertahankannya secara terbuka dan menyerahkan kepada pihak berkuasa untuk melengkapkan kerja. Dalam pada itu, skandal ini sudahpun menunjukan kesan. Kredibiliti Kerajaan Pusat dikatakan telah amat terjejas kerana skandal ini, sehingganya ianya menjadi liabiliti No. 1 BN seluruh negara.

Namun begitu, Wanita UMNO masih dikerah untuk ‘mempertahankan’ Sharizat dengan memberikan sokongan moral sekembali beliau dari ‘percutian tiga minggu’. Pada 15 Jan Sharizat mengumumkan beliau akan ‘bercuti’ agar membolehkan ruang untuk siasatan diperlengkapkan, walaupun asset NFC dibekukan sementara manakala operasi biasa NFC diteruskan untuk menentukan aktiviti penternakan sebagaimana dirancang terus lancar.

Terbaru ialah sebaran SMS ini:

“Aslm YB/YBhg Ketua Wanita Neg2, jmptn ke Mjls Smbtn Kepulangan DS Shahrizat Abd Jalil pd 2/2 (Khamis) jam 6 ptg di KLIA dan diikuti dgn solat Maghrib dan Hajat di Masjid KLIA, Sepang, Sngor. Sila pnjgkn jmptn kpd Ketua & Naib Ketua Wanita Bhgn2 & mohon k’jasama utk m’bawa telekung sdr. Kehdrn dihargai. Tq – SUK PWUM”

Sekiranya Wanita UMNO terus diheret dalam permasalahan peribadi Sharizat ini, maka lambat laun pergerakan paling penting UMNO itu juga akan menghadapi masalah kredibiliti juga. UMNO tidak mampu untuk ‘kehilangan’ Pergerakan Wanita UMNO.

Sharizat wajar berundur dari Kabinet segera, walaupun setakat ini tiada dakwaan dibuat keatas mana warga NFC. Beliau perlu mengambil masa dan ruang secara peribadi untuk ‘membersihkan nama’, walaupun proses ini mengjangkaui PRU 13 yang disebut sebut akan menjelang tidak lama lagi. Sekiranya Sharizat dan keluarga benar benar dianiaya, maka pihak yang benar akan akhirnya menyerlah.

*Dikemas kini pada 1800hrs

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 15:30  Comments (7)  

Economic recolonialisation: The iPhone story

THE NEW YORK TIMES

THE iECONOMY

How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work

Donald Chan/Reuters
People flooded Foxconn Technology with résumés at a 2010 job fair in Henan Province, China.
By CHARLES DUHIGG and KEITH
Published: January 21, 2012

When Barack Obama joined Silicon Valley’s top luminaries for dinner in California last February, each guest was asked to come with a question for the president.

But as Steven P. Jobs of Apple spoke,President Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.
Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.

Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.
The president’s question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.
Apple has become one of the best-known, most admired and most imitated companies on earth, in part through an unrelenting mastery of global operations. Last year, it earned over $400,000 in profit per employee, more than Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil or Google.

However, what has vexed Mr. Obama as well as economists and policy makers is that Apple — and many of its high-technology peers — are not nearly as avid in creating American jobs as other famous companies were in their heydays.

Apple employs 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas, a small fraction of the over 400,000 American workers at General Motors in the 1950s, or the hundreds of thousands at General Electric in the 1980s. Many more people work for Apple’s contractors: an additional 700,000 people engineer, build and assemble iPads, iPhones and Apple’s other products. But almost none of them work in the United States. Instead, they work for foreign companies in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, at factories that almost all electronics designers rely upon to build their wares.

“Apple’s an example of why it’s so hard to create middle-class jobs in the U.S. now,” said Jared Bernstein, who until last year was an economic adviser to the White House.

“If it’s the pinnacle of capitalism, we should be worried.”

Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhonemanufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”
Similar stories could be told about almost any electronics company — and outsourcing has also become common in hundreds of industries, including accounting, legal services, banking, auto manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.

But while Apple is far from alone, it offers a window into why the success of some prominent companies has not translated into large numbers of domestic jobs. What’s more, the company’s decisions pose broader questions about what corporate America owes Americans as the global and national economies are increasingly intertwined.

“Companies once felt an obligation to support American workers, even when it wasn’t the best financial choice,” said Betsey Stevenson, the chief economist at the Labor Department until last September. “That’s disappeared. Profits and efficiency have trumped generosity.”

Companies and other economists say that notion is naïve. Though Americans are among the most educated workers in the world, the nation has stopped training enough people in the mid-level skills that factories need, executives say.

To thrive, companies argue they need to move work where it can generate enough profits to keep paying for innovation. Doing otherwise risks losing even more American jobs over time, as evidenced by the legions of once-proud domestic manufacturers — including G.M. and others — that have shrunk as nimble competitors have emerged.
Apple was provided with extensive summaries of The New York Times’s reporting for this article, but the company, which has a reputation for secrecy, declined to comment.
This article is based on interviews with more than three dozen current and former Apple employees and contractors — many of whom requested anonymity to protect their jobs — as well as economists, manufacturing experts, international trade specialists, technology analysts, academic researchers, employees at Apple’s suppliers, competitors and corporate partners, and government officials.

Privately, Apple executives say the world is now such a changed place that it is a mistake to measure a company’s contribution simply by tallying its employees — though they note that Apple employs more workers in the United States than ever before.
They say Apple’s success has benefited the economy by empowering entrepreneurs and creating jobs at companies like cellular providers and businesses shipping Apple products. And, ultimately, they say curing unemployment is not their job.
“We sell iPhones in over a hundred countries,” a current Apple executive said. “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.”

‘I Want a Glass Screen’

In 2007, a little over a month before the iPhone was scheduled to appear in stores, Mr. Jobs beckoned a handful of lieutenants into an office. For weeks, he had been carrying a prototype of the device in his pocket.

Mr. Jobs angrily held up his iPhone, angling it so everyone could see the dozens of tiny scratches marring its plastic screen, according to someone who attended the meeting. He then pulled his keys from his jeans.
People will carry this phone in their pocket, he said. People also carry their keys in their pocket. “I won’t sell a product that gets scratched,” he said tensely. The only solution was using unscratchable glass instead. “I want a glass screen, and I want it perfect in six weeks.”

After one executive left that meeting, he booked a flight to Shenzhen, China. If Mr. Jobs wanted perfect, there was nowhere else to go.
For over two years, the company had been working on a project — code-named Purple 2 — that presented the same questions at every turn: how do you completely reimagine the cellphone? And how do you design it at the highest quality — with an unscratchable screen, for instance — while also ensuring that millions can be manufactured quickly and inexpensively enough to earn a significant profit?
The answers, almost every time, were found outside the United States. Though components differ between versions, all iPhones contain hundreds of parts, an estimated 90 percent of which are manufactured abroad. Advanced semiconductors have come from Germany and Taiwan, memory from Korea and Japan, display panels and circuitry from Korea and Taiwan, chipsets from Europe and rare metals from Africa and Asia. And all of it is put together in China.
In its early days, Apple usually didn’t look beyond its own backyard for manufacturing solutions. A few years after Apple began building the Macintosh in 1983, for instance, Mr. Jobs bragged that it was “a machine that is made in America.” In 1990, while Mr. Jobs was running NeXT, which was eventually bought by Apple, the executive told a reporter that“I’m as proud of the factory as I am of the computer.” As late as 2002, top Apple executives occasionally drove two hours northeast of their headquarters to visit the company’s iMac plant in Elk Grove, Calif.
But by 2004, Apple had largely turned to foreign manufacturing. Guiding that decision was Apple’s operations expert, Timothy D. Cook, who replaced Mr. Jobs as chief executive last August, six weeks before Mr. Jobs’s death. Most other American electronics companies had already gone abroad, and Apple, which at the time was struggling, felt it had to grasp every advantage.

In part, Asia was attractive because the semiskilled workers there were cheaper. But that wasn’t driving Apple. For technology companies, the cost of labor is minimal compared with the expense of buying parts and managing supply chains that bring together components and services from hundreds of companies.

For Mr. Cook, the focus on Asia “came down to two things,” said one former high-ranking Apple executive. Factories in Asia “can scale up and down faster” and “Asian supply chains have surpassed what’s in the U.S.” The result is that “we can’t compete at this point,” the executive said.
The impact of such advantages became obvious as soon as Mr. Jobs demanded glass screens in 2007.
For years, cellphone makers had avoided using glass because it required precision in cutting and grinding that was extremely difficult to achieve. Apple had already selected an American company, Corning Inc., to manufacture large panes of strengthened glass. But figuring out how to cut those panes into millions of iPhone screens required finding an empty cutting plant, hundreds of pieces of glass to use in experiments and an army of midlevel engineers. It would cost a fortune simply to prepare.
Then a bid for the work arrived from a Chinese factory.
When an Apple team visited, the Chinese plant’s owners were already constructing a new wing. “This is in case you give us the contract,” the manager said, according to a former Apple executive. The Chinese government had agreed to underwrite costs for numerous industries, and those subsidies had trickled down to the glass-cutting factory. It had a warehouse filled with glass samples available to Apple, free of charge. The owners made engineers available at almost no cost. They had built on-site dormitories so employees would be available 24 hours a day.
The Chinese plant got the job.
“The entire supply chain is in China now,” said another former high-ranking Apple executive. “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.”
In Foxconn City
An eight-hour drive from that glass factory is a complex, known informally as Foxconn City, where the iPhone is assembled. To Apple executives, Foxconn City was further evidence that China could deliver workers — and diligence — that outpaced their American counterparts.
That’s because nothing like Foxconn City exists in the United States.
The facility has 230,000 employees, many working six days a week, often spending up to 12 hours a day at the plant. Over a quarter of Foxconn’s work force lives in company barracks and many workers earn less than $17 a day. When one Apple executive arrived during a shift change, his car was stuck in a river of employees streaming past. “The scale is unimaginable,” he said.
Foxconn employs nearly 300 guards to direct foot traffic so workers are not crushed in doorway bottlenecks. The facility’s central kitchen cooks an average of three tons of pork and 13 tons of rice a day. While factories are spotless, the air inside nearby teahouses is hazy with the smoke and stench of cigarettes.
Foxconn Technology has dozens of facilities in Asia and Eastern Europe, and in Mexico and Brazil, and it assembles an estimated 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronics for customers like Amazon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Nintendo, Nokia, Samsung and Sony.
“They could hire 3,000 people overnight,” said Jennifer Rigoni, who was Apple’s worldwide supply demand manager until 2010, but declined to discuss specifics of her work. “What U.S. plant can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms?”
In mid-2007, after a month of experimentation, Apple’s engineers finally perfected a method for cutting strengthened glass so it could be used in the iPhone’s screen. The first truckloads of cut glass arrived at Foxconn City in the dead of night, according to the former Apple executive. That’s when managers woke thousands of workers, who crawled into their uniforms — white and black shirts for men, red for women — and quickly lined up to assemble, by hand, the phones. Within three months, Apple had sold one million iPhones. Since then, Foxconn has assembled over 200 million more.
Foxconn, in statements, declined to speak about specific clients.

“Any worker recruited by our firm is covered by a clear contract outlining terms and conditions and by Chinese government law that protects their rights,” the company wrote. Foxconn “takes our responsibility to our employees very seriously and we work hard to give our more than one million employees a safe and positive environment.”

The company disputed some details of the former Apple executive’s account, and wrote that a midnight shift, such as the one described, was impossible “because we have strict regulations regarding the working hours of our employees based on their designated shifts, and every employee has computerized timecards that would bar them from working at any facility at a time outside of their approved shift.” The company said that all shifts began at either 7 a.m. or 7 p.m., and that employees receive at least 12 hours’ notice of any schedule changes.
Foxconn employees, in interviews, have challenged those assertions.
Another critical advantage for Apple was that China provided engineers at a scale the United States could not match. Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.’
In China, it took 15 days.
Companies like Apple “say the challenge in setting up U.S. plants is finding a technical work force,” said Martin Schmidt, associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In particular, companies say they need engineers with more than high school, but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree. Americans at that skill level are hard to find, executives contend. “They’re good jobs, but the country doesn’t have enough to feed the demand,” Mr. Schmidt said.
Some aspects of the iPhone are uniquely American. The device’s software, for instance, and its innovative marketing campaigns were largely created in the United States. Apple recently built a $500 million data center in North Carolina. Crucial semiconductors inside the iPhone 4 and 4S are manufactured in an Austin, Tex., factory by Samsung, of South Korea.
But even those facilities are not enormous sources of jobs. Apple’s North Carolina center, for instance, has only 100 full-time employees. The Samsung plant has an estimated 2,400 workers.
“If you scale up from selling one million phones to 30 million phones, you don’t really need more programmers,” said Jean-Louis Gassée, who oversaw product development and marketing for Apple until he left in 1990. “All these new companies — Facebook, Google, Twitter — benefit from this. They grow, but they don’t really need to hire much.”
It is hard to estimate how much more it would cost to build iPhones in the United States. However, various academics and manufacturing analysts estimate that because labor is such a small part of technology manufacturing, paying American wages would add up to $65 to each iPhone’s expense. Since Apple’s profits are often hundreds of dollars per phone, building domestically, in theory, would still give the company a healthy reward.
But such calculations are, in many respects, meaningless because building the iPhone in the United States would demand much more than hiring Americans — it would require transforming the national and global economies. Apple executives believe there simply aren’t enough American workers with the skills the company needs or factories with sufficient speed and flexibility. Other companies that work with Apple, like Corning, also say they must go abroad.
Manufacturing glass for the iPhone revived a Corning factory in Kentucky, and today, much of the glass in iPhones is still made there. After the iPhone became a success, Corning received a flood of orders from other companies hoping to imitate Apple’s designs. Its strengthened glass sales have grown to more than $700 million a year, and it has hired or continued employing about 1,000 Americans to support the emerging market.
But as that market has expanded, the bulk of Corning’s strengthened glass manufacturing has occurred at plants in Japan and Taiwan.

“Our customers are in Taiwan, Korea, Japan and China,” said James B. Flaws, Corning’s vice chairman and chief financial officer. “We could make the glass here, and then ship it by boat, but that takes 35 days. Or, we could ship it by air, but that’s 10 times as expensive. So we build our glass factories next door to assembly factories, and those are overseas.”

Corning was founded in America 161 years ago and its headquarters are still in upstate New York. Theoretically, the company could manufacture all its glass domestically. But it would “require a total overhaul in how the industry is structured,” Mr. Flaws said. “The consumer electronics business has become an Asian business. As an American, I worry about that, but there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Asia has become what the U.S. was for the last 40 years.”
Middle-Class Jobs Fade
The first time Eric Saragoza stepped into Apple’s manufacturing plant in Elk Grove, Calif., he felt as if he were entering an engineering wonderland.
It was 1995, and the facility near Sacramento employed more than 1,500 workers. It was a kaleidoscope of robotic arms, conveyor belts ferrying circuit boards and, eventually, candy-colored iMacs in various stages of assembly. Mr. Saragoza, an engineer, quickly moved up the plant’s ranks and joined an elite diagnostic team. His salary climbed to $50,000. He and his wife had three children. They bought a home with a pool.
“It felt like, finally, school was paying off,” he said. “I knew the world needed people who can build things.”
At the same time, however, the electronics industry was changing, and Apple — with products that were declining in popularity — was struggling to remake itself. One focus was improving manufacturing. A few years after Mr. Saragoza started his job, his bosses explained how the California plant stacked up against overseas factories: the cost, excluding the materials, of building a $1,500 computer in Elk Grove was $22 a machine. In Singapore, it was $6. In Taiwan, $4.85. Wages weren’t the major reason for the disparities. Rather it was costs like inventory and how long it took workers to finish a task.
“We were told we would have to do 12-hour days, and come in on Saturdays,” Mr. Saragoza said. “I had a family. I wanted to see my kids play soccer.”
Modernization has always caused some kinds of jobs to change or disappear. As the American economy transitioned from agriculture to manufacturing and then to other industries, farmers became steelworkers, and then salesmen and middle managers. These shifts have carried many economic benefits, and in general, with each progression, even unskilled workers received better wages and greater chances at upward mobility.
But in the last two decades, something more fundamental has changed, economists say. Midwage jobs started disappearing. Particularly among Americans without college degrees, today’s new jobs are disproportionately in service occupations — at restaurants or call centers, or as hospital attendants or temporary workers — that offer fewer opportunities for reaching the middle class.
Even Mr. Saragoza, with his college degree, was vulnerable to these trends. First, some of Elk Grove’s routine tasks were sent overseas. Mr. Saragoza didn’t mind. Then the robotics that made Apple a futuristic playground allowed executives to replace workers with machines. Some diagnostic engineering went to Singapore. Middle managers who oversaw the plant’s inventory were laid off because, suddenly, a few people with Internet connections were all that were needed.
Mr. Saragoza was too expensive for an unskilled position. He was also insufficiently credentialed for upper management. He was called into a small office in 2002 after a night shift, laid off and then escorted from the plant. He taught high school for a while, and then tried a return to technology. But Apple, which had helped anoint the region as “Silicon Valley North,” had by then converted much of the Elk Grove plant into an AppleCare call center, where new employees often earn $12 an hour.

There were employment prospects in Silicon Valley, but none of them panned out. “What they really want are 30-year-olds without children,” said Mr. Saragoza, who today is 48, and whose family now includes five of his own.

After a few months of looking for work, he started feeling desperate. Even teaching jobs had dried up. So he took a position with an electronics temp agency that had been hired by Apple to check returned iPhones and iPads before they were sent back to customers. Every day, Mr. Saragoza would drive to the building where he had once worked as an engineer, and for $10 an hour with no benefits, wipe thousands of glass screens and test audio ports by plugging in headphones.
Paydays for Apple
As Apple’s overseas operations and sales have expanded, its top employees have thrived. Last fiscal year, Apple’s revenue topped $108 billion, a sum larger than the combined state budgets of Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Since 2005, when the company’s stock split, share prices have risen from about $45 to more than $427.
Some of that wealth has gone to shareholders. Apple is among the most widely held stocks, and the rising share price has benefited millions of individual investors, 401(k)’sand pension plans. The bounty has also enriched Apple workers. Last fiscal year, in addition to their salaries, Apple’s employees and directors received stock worth $2 billion and exercised or vested stock and options worth an added $1.4 billion.
The biggest rewards, however, have often gone to Apple’s top employees. Mr. Cook, Apple’s chief, last year receivedstock grants — which vest over a 10-year period — that, at today’s share price, would be worth $427 million, and his salary was raised to $1.4 million. In 2010, Mr. Cook’s compensation package was valued at $59 million, according to Apple’s security filings.
A person close to Apple argued that the compensation received by Apple’s employees was fair, in part because the company had brought so much value to the nation and world. As the company has grown, it has expanded its domestic work force, including manufacturing jobs. Last year, Apple’s American work force grew by 8,000 people.
While other companies have sent call centers abroad, Apple has kept its centers in the United States. One source estimated that sales of Apple’s products have caused other companies to hire tens of thousands of Americans. FedEx and United Parcel Service, for instance, both say they have created American jobs because of the volume of Apple’s shipments, though neither would provide specific figures without permission from Apple, which the company declined to provide.
“We shouldn’t be criticized for using Chinese workers,” a current Apple executive said. “The U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need.”
What’s more, Apple sources say the company has created plenty of good American jobs inside its retail stores and among entrepreneurs selling iPhone and iPad applications.
After two months of testing iPads, Mr. Saragoza quit. The pay was so low that he was better off, he figured, spending those hours applying for other jobs. On a recent October evening, while Mr. Saragoza sat at his MacBook and submitted another round of résumés online, halfway around the world a woman arrived at her office. The worker, Lina Lin, is a project manager in Shenzhen, China, at PCH International, which contracts with Apple and other electronics companies to coordinate production of accessories, like the cases that protect the iPad’s glass screens. She is not an Apple employee. But Mrs. Lin is integral to Apple’s ability to deliver its products.
Mrs. Lin earns a bit less than what Mr. Saragoza was paid by Apple. She speaks fluent English, learned from watching television and in a Chinese university. She and her husband put a quarter of their salaries in the bank every month. They live in a 1,080-square-foot apartment, which they share with their in-laws and son.

“There are lots of jobs,” Mrs. Lin said. “Especially in Shenzhen.”
Innovation’s Losers
Toward the end of Mr. Obama’s dinner last year with Mr. Jobs and other Silicon Valley executives, as everyone stood to leave, a crowd of photo seekers formed around the president. A slightly smaller scrum gathered around Mr. Jobs. Rumors had spread that his illness had worsened, and some hoped for a photograph with him, perhaps for the last time.

Eventually, the orbits of the men overlapped. “I’m not worried about the country’s long-term future,” Mr. Jobs told Mr. Obama, according to one observer. “This country is insanely great. What I’m worried about is that we don’t talk enough about solutions.”

At dinner, for instance, the executives had suggested that the government should reform visa programs to help companies hire foreign engineers. Some had urged the president to give companies a “tax holiday” so they could bring back overseas profits which, they argued, would be used to create work. Mr. Jobs even suggested it might be possible, someday, to locate some of Apple’s skilled manufacturing in the United States if the government helped train more American engineers.
Economists debate the usefulness of those and other efforts, and note that a struggling economy is sometimes transformed by unexpected developments. The last time analysts wrung their hands about prolonged American unemployment, for instance, in the early 1980s, the Internet hardly existed. Few at the time would have guessed that a degree in graphic design was rapidly becoming a smart bet, while studying telephone repair a dead end.
What remains unknown, however, is whether the United States will be able to leverage tomorrow’s innovations into millions of jobs.
In the last decade, technological leaps in solar and wind energy, semiconductor fabrication and display technologies have created thousands of jobs. But while many of those industries started in America, much of the employment has occurred abroad. Companies have closed major facilities in the United States to reopen in China. By way of explanation, executives say they are competing with Apple for shareholders. If they cannot rival Apple’s growth and profit margins, they won’t survive.
“New middle-class jobs will eventually emerge,” said Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist. “But will someone in his 40s have the skills for them? Or will he be bypassed for a new graduate and never find his way back into the middle class?”
The pace of innovation, say executives from a variety of industries, has been quickened by businessmen like Mr. Jobs. G.M. went as long as half a decade between major automobile redesigns. Apple, by comparison, has released five iPhones in four years, doubling the devices’ speed and memory while dropping the price that some consumers pay.
Before Mr. Obama and Mr. Jobs said goodbye, the Apple executive pulled an iPhone from his pocket to show off a new application — a driving game — with incredibly detailed graphics. The device reflected the soft glow of the room’s lights. The other executives, whose combined worth exceeded $69 billion, jostled for position to glance over his shoulder. The game, everyone agreed, was wonderful.
There wasn’t even a tiny scratch on the screen.

Published in: on January 28, 2012 at 10:15  Comments (5)  

Mat King Leather’s commitment to the Neo Con Jewish agenda

In his most recent interview with Wall Street Journal, Opposition Leader Anwar “Mat King Leather” Ibrahim demonstrated his position as an ‘agent’ and continued commitment to carry on the Neo Con Jewish agenda.

  • ASIA NEWS
  • JANUARY 26, 2012, 11:17 A.M. ET

Malaysia’s Anwar Presses On Despite Appeal

By SHIBANI MAHTANI

KUALA LUMPUR—Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he isn’t worried about state prosecutors’ move to appeal a court decision acquitting him of sodomy earlier this month, and said he remains confident it won’t derail his campaign to lead a new government to power in elections expected later this year.

ReutersAnwar Ibrahim spoke with supporters as his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, gave two thumbs-up after the verdict of his sodomy trial was announced in Kuala Lumpur Jan. 9.

“The judgment [in the sodomy case] was very strong” and “difficult to appeal,” Mr. Anwar said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal at his political party’s headquarters here Thursday. He said the appeal process, which began Jan. 20, would likely take at least six months, meaning it could loom over and outlast the election campaign.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has to call an election by March 2013, but under Malaysia’s parliamentary system of government, many analysts predict it will be called much sooner, triggering one of the most fiercely fought electoral contests this resource-rich nation has ever seen. Mr. Anwar said he believes the election is unlikely to take place later than June.

Since the Jan. 9 verdict by a High Court judge—who acquitted Mr. Anwar of violating Malaysia’s strict sodomy laws citing a lack of witnesses and flawed DNA evidence—the 64-year-old opposition leader has begun mobilizing support in this multiracial country, promising reforms to dismantle a decades-old affirmative-action program designed to give a leg up to the majority ethnic-Malay population while also targeting what he describes as widespread cronyism in Mr. Najib’s government. If elected, Mr. Anwar said he will accelerate privatizations and do more to enable free markets to operate more efficiently, such as improving transparency in the bidding for government contracts.

Mr. Najib, 58 years old, is also keen to brand himself a reformer in part to win back ethnic-Chinese and Indian voters who in recent years largely have thrown their support behind Mr. Anwar’s opposition alliance. Mr. Najib has also embarked on a series of sales of government assets to spur growth. Earlier this month, a government state investment fund sold its stake in car marker Proton Holdings Bhd. to conglomerateDRB-Hicom Bhd., and last year government-linked funds swapped shares in state-run Malaysian Airline System Bhd. with budget airline AirAsia Bhd.

“The overall principle is that we want the government-linked companies to sell off their noncore and noncompetitive assets,” Mr. Najib said in an interview two weeks ago. “We are always looking out for how to add value to the country.”

Mr. Anwar, though, criticized the way Mr. Najib’s government pursued these privatizations, saying that without open, public tenders, key companies remain controlled by a well-connected few.

Privatization “looks good, but look again at the procedures,” said Mr. Anwar. “The issue is not about privatization, it is blatant corruption.”

Following the Proton deal, state investment fund Khazanah Nasional said in a statement that it chose the best suitor for the job and the country.

A Malaysian government spokesperson said Thursday the government is “fully committed to openness and transparency in all privatizations and divestments of state-owned assets and to tackling corruption wherever and whenever it is found.” The spokesperson noted that Malaysia has introduced a new online database of government contracts so that anybody can alert authorities to any potentially improper actions.

“We are determined to ensure that all government contracts are awarded through a process that is fair and open to scrutiny,” the spokesperson said.

After being embroiled in the sodomy trial—which he claims was politically motivated—Mr. Anwar is now shifting gears from defending his reputation to fighting to win an election.

Once a high-ranking member of the United Malays National Organization that has run Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957, he was sacked from the party and lost his post as deputy prime minister after challenging former leader Mahathir Mohamad in the 1990s. He was subsequently charged for sodomizing his driver and his speechwriter, and spent six years in prison before his conviction was overturned.

After leading the opposition to one of its strongest-ever showings in 2008’s national elections, Mr. Anwar was accused by former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan of sodomizing him, setting in train another marathon, headline-stealing trial which Mr. Anwar again said was designed to end his political career. Mr. Najib and his government have repeatedly denied having anything to do with the case.

Now, after Judge Zabidin Diah acquitted Mr. Anwar, ruling that the forensic evidence presented against the opposition leader was flawed, Mr. Anwar argues that he isn’t just “anti-UMNO” but has his own set of policies geared toward restoring Malaysia’s competitiveness in a global economy where countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia are emerging as alternative magnets for investment.

“We must always compare Malaysia to Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan,” said Mr. Anwar. “That’s what we were.”

If elected, Mr. Anwar said he would speed up the removal of racial quotas for university places and focus on helping lower-income groups regardless of race instead of solely aiding ethnic Malays.

In the interview, Mr. Anwar also clarified his position on homosexual rights and Malaysia’s sodomy laws, and also the Muslim-majority nation’s relationship with Israel.

“I support all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel,” said Mr. Anwar, although he stopped short of saying he would open diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, a step which he said remains contingent on Israel respecting the aspirations of Palestinians. Malaysia has consistently refrained from establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, although limited commercial ties exist between private companies in the two countries.

In response to recent local reports that he supported gay marriage, Mr. Anwar said they were wrong and that he “believes in and supports the sanctity of marriage between men and women.” The opposition leader is suing government-linked newspaper Utusan Malaysia for defamation, alleging that it implied he supports and wants to legalize homosexuality.

Still, Mr. Anwar said that Malaysia’s sodomy laws are “archaic” and could be amended.

“It is not my business to attack people or arrest people based on their sexual orientation,” he said.

************

It is shocking for him to proclaim his willingness to defend Israeli’s ill-gotten and brutally seized border and security, when he is given power as the Prime Minister. Malaysia has had very strong stance against the Zionist state of Israel and had been a consistently strong critic, even in international bodies such as United Nations.

This is against what Malaysia stood for, ever since Independence. When Malaysia hosted the Organisation of Islamic Countries summit in October 2003, then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad proclaimed that the “Jews rule the world by proxy”.

This latest statement is not withstanding the fact that Anwar is openly willing to defy Al Quran on issues such as sodomy, which provisions made through the Penal Code he classified as “Archaic”.

This is the most revealing statement as an agent of the Neo Con Jewish agenda by the someone who has been dubbed as “Darling of the Zionism”.

Published in: on January 27, 2012 at 17:15  Comments (8)  

Serving the neo-economic master

Land is one and the most traditional factor of production. Wars have been fought for land. Civilisations have been subjected to slavery, when their land is captured and overrun by invading forces.

A major corporate play is said to be brewing in and around Iskandar Malaysia, involving a certain public listed company on an land-bank acquisition roll. Parcels of land have or in the process to be lined up for acquisition or injected into this Plc.

Iskandar Malaysia: East to West, encompassing the JB CBD has been targeted for a massive corporate exercise going towards flipping of land parcels

A property development corporation core business is too look for parcels of land for immediate or short term development projects. If it is long term, then the acquisitions or collaborations, in the form of joint ventures shall be ‘stored’ as land-banks.

Otherwise, they would opt for doing a series of ‘property flipping’. The common definition for this exercise is:

Flipping is a term used primarily in the United States to describe purchasing a revenue-generating asset and quickly reselling (or “flipping”) it for profit. Though flipping can apply to any asset, the term is most often applied to real estate and initial public offerings.

The term “flipping” is frequently used both as a descriptive term for schemes involving market manipulation and other illegal conduct and as a derogatory term for legal real estate investing strategies that are perceived by some to be unethical or socially destructive. The latter usage is typically contested by those who believe the strategies in question are ethical and socially beneficial or neutral.

Superficially, this general definition of any bonafide property development group doing the property flipping exercise looks rather normal for any other plc. However if specific parcels of land which are state owned and deemed to be strategic are being targeted for acquisition either by outright sale or injected for some corporate deals, then there should be alarm raised on what the strategic intent is. This is because these parcels of land could be ‘flipped’ for targeted ‘external benefactors’, who have had their eyes set within the 6,000 sq kilometres from east to west of Johor Bahru.

This is actually a realisation of a dream of the land-strapped ‘jews of the east’, for the longest time. Recently, there was this talk about a parcel of land deemed highly valuable, which was acquired from a GLC and ‘conveniently flipped’ to a Singaporean property developer. Of course, that rumour did not come without ‘an interference’.

It is expected there are more such deals to come with this Plc, as it has been said the process of the land acquisitions and injections for some corporate play, are already in motion. It is also said that the prowl is also on some of the highly valuable parcels belong to the state government or any of its agencies.

When they promoters of this scheme is done, they would have consolidated RM billions of assets acquired and injected into the Plc, without much cash transacted out. Even if there were ‘acquisitions’. it is strongly believed that the financial backers across the straits would have covered the necessary minimal ‘seed capital’ required.

Many, even those outside Johor firmly believed that the Iskandar Development Region incepted by the notorious ‘Level Four Boys’ during the bleak years under PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s weak and scandalous administration, was designed to provide secondary and supporting role to the high value Singapore economy. These series of corporate exercises which involve these parcels of land with strategic value and importance are almost definite about the fulfillment to the needs and demands of the Singapore economy, which include speculative market for property development projects.

The arguments are also almost straight forward. Malaysian corporations would neither put everything into one basket and gamble on a speculative property market nor have the necessary capital to do this exercise, in the narrow window of opportunity. Especially when one do not have the luxury of financial support from financial backers. No other international investors or property market speculators understand more about how Iskandar Malaysia would bring the much appreciated supporting effect to the Singaporean growing and financially-muscled property market and economy.

This is not withstanding the fact that recently, one of the significant players within the ‘Level Four Boys’ and strongest advocate of the South Johor Economic Region proposal and principal policy adviser to PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah was brought into JCorp Group and now the executive director of Kulim Bhd. One of the planned activity of JCorp Group to reduce and ‘manage’ its RM 3.6 billion debts is to hive off assets, which probably include some of their strategic properties all over Johor Bahru city limits.

Then, there is this bit about energy and oil and gas industry, being planned in the eastern corridor of the state of Johor.

Wednesday May 11, 2011

Petronas to announce RM50bil complex in Johor

By RISEN JAYASEELAN and JEEVA ARULAMPALAM
starbiz@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) will announce on Friday plans to invest around RM50bil in an integrated downstream oil and gas complex in Pengerang, Johor, reliable sources said.

Dubbed Rapid or Refinery And Petrochemical Integrated Development, the project is aimed at building something “larger than Kertih” and will eventually include multinational oil and gas companies as joint-venture partners.

The integrated development will not only include oil refining and petrochemical activities, but include a gas power plant and other “supportive industries” said sources.

Rapid is a project identified in the Economic Transformation Programme(ETP), which is led by the Performance Management & Delivery Unit (Pemandu).

One of the reasons why Pengerang was chosen is because its waters can reach depths of more than 20m, which is what is needed for very large crude carriers (VLCC) and ultra large crude carriers.

The Johor government will be a joint-venture partner of the project and will provide the land.

Sources indicate that Petronas’ Rapid project complements plans for the RM5bil independent deepwater petroleum terminal in Pengerang, which is to be the first deepwater terminal in South-East Asia.

The terminal is a tankage facility for handling, storing, blending and distribution of crude oils and petroleum products with marine facilities capable of handling VLCCs.

Part of the thinking behind Rapid was to replicate what Singapore has already done successfully, sources said. Singapore’s oil refining businesses only started around 10 years ago.

Singapore has an export refining capacity of 1.3 million barrels per day, compared with Malaysia’s 560,000 barrels per day, according to theETP roadmap.

Singapore Refining Company Pte Ltd, which operates a refinery on Jurong Island, is capable of processing 290,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Other major refineries in Singapore include ExxonMobil’s refinery in Jurong that process about 605,000 barrels of crude per day and Shell’s Pulau Bukom Refinery with some 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Plans for Petronas to develop Johor’s Pengerang into a sizeable force in the oil and gas (O&G) space are not new.

Last November, the Government said Petronas would play a major role in the development of Johor’s south-east areas of Teluk Ramunia and Pengerang into a O&G hub in the region.

It was then said that the investments in the hub would come from Petronas and its international partners and the investments would bring major development into Johor’s south-east areas and could turn Teluk Ramunia and Pengerang into a new Kertih.

Petronas chief executive officer Datuk Shamsul Azhar Abbas confirmed then that Petronas was talking with several international investors to invest in Teluk Ramunia and Pengerang.

Once a sleepy fishing village in Terengganu, Kertih is now a thriving township due to O&G related activities with Petronas as the main driver in the O&G sector there.

The Petronas Kertih Refinery is the national oil company’s first oil refinery in Malaysia, and processes 49,000 barrels of Malaysian light, sweet crude oil per day.

In total, Petronas owns and operates four refineries (three in Malaysia and one in South Africa) with a total refining capacity of more than 448,000 barrels per day.

The Government had also said then that while the investments would come from Petronas and its partners, the Government was looking into allocating money for infrastructure developments in the areas.

Another aspect of the oil and gas thrust in the ETP (and which is linked to the Rapid project) is for Malaysia to venture into the lucrative area of oil trading. Singapore accounts for hundreds of billions of oil trading every year, an area of business that is virtually absent in Malaysia.

According to the ETP roadmap, Singapore, by 2007, had built a significant trading business worth more than RM1 trillion in physical oil trade and RM2 trillion in derivative trade.

Sources said the Government may consider providing additional incentives to attract oil trading firms to be located in Johor.

*********************

Another story literally in the pipeline to this ETP project is a tri-partite power generation plant using gas is being planned to be built in the east coast of Johor, within the area of the recently launched Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) in Pengerang. The whole eastern Johor corridor has been earmarked for this project and all the activities peripheral to the oil and gas industry. State energy producer Petronas, major Malaysian power generation player Malakoff and Singaporean engineering corporation Keppel power plant is set to serve the Singaporean energy needs.

It is obvious that instead of supplying gas to the republic, it would bring about better returns if power is sold instead. Why a Singaporean partner is admitted in the project is not too clear, especially when the ball is definitely in Malaysia’s court in the requirement-for-power-and-energy-of-five-million-people game.

This came as partly emancipation of Johor’s role in supporting lives of Singaporeans with the handover of Gunung Pulai and four other rivers water treatment plants last August.

Addition to the story on the land acquisition game mentioned earlier, a separate party with vested interest is in the play of lining up all the potential oil and gas players to have their facilities along the corridor from Pengerang all the way to Ulu Tiram and Tanjung Langsat. This exercise is believed to be with ‘interference’ too.

Johor is definitely being transformed as the staging ground to serve the Singaporean economy. When the most important, traditional and quantifiable factor of production in the properties and parcels of strategic land are in the process being taken away and gone forever, then the new age of slavery had just begun. Especially when the populous is being geared into serving the more important economy and commanding society. It will come in the literal form of serving the neo-economic masters. The relationship between the two people would eventually be ‘master-servant’.

Philosophically, that is ‘economic slavery’.

Published in: on January 25, 2012 at 12:15  Comments (15)  

Raffles Class for holiday

This year’s Chinese New Year celebrations is almost a whole week long affair, especially when one takes Wednesday to Friday off. Schools are even out for the whole week.

Many take this nine-days or so break for an opportunity to go for a holiday, which include trips abroad. As of press time, North South Highway has been congested.  There is a massive influx of cars at the Johor Causeway from Singapore. PLUS has been issuing advice for motorists to stagger the use of the backbone of Semenanjung Malaysia highway system.

Singapore Airlines Business Class on B777-200s

Seen recently at Changi International Airport a man who closely resembles Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who boarded a flight to Italy. He flew in Singapore Airlines business class with a party which could easily pass of as a family unit.

It is also said this trip and the stay at a 5 star accommodation, is being paid by a Tan Sri. Rumour has it he is in the gaming business.

Of course, this has yet to be confirmed. Sources believed to be persons known to the spitting image of the DAP Secretary General leaked the information out.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng taking a flight on economy class from Penang to KL

If any of this is true, then it is ashamed for people of Penang that their elected leader goes on holiday or business trip with persons believed to be his immediate family in a carrier not the national airlines, but instead a regional competitor. Why he did not insist to support Malaysia Airlines is not too clear, even if the trip is paid by someone else. The choice of airline for this trip very much defies that all of these bollocks publicity relation exercises that “He flies economy class” were just a smoke screen, to depict his DAP led Penang State Government is cost conscious and thrifty.

Anyway, we would like to wish this Lim-look-alike happy holidays for this week long break.

Published in: on January 22, 2012 at 13:00  Comments (32)  

Happy Chinese New Year: Let’s all Malaysian Chinese unite as One Dragon

Happy Chinese New Year, 2012. Its the year of the water dragon.

Its the most important celebration for majority of  seven-and-a-quarter Malaysians of Chinese ethnic for any year. Its the time where the family gathers for the CNY eve dinner and stand united as a family unit.

The next few days are for the remaining Malaysians to stand united as a nation, visit their Chinese friends and associates, to wish them well and have a feast, usually in laughter and the most joyous ambience for a multiethnic and plural but united Malaysia. Malaysians, of different ethnic groups exchange mandarin oranges and pleasantries when they gather within these next few days.

Many corporations whose owners and management are Malaysian Chinese use this season to give away bonuses, popularly in the form of ‘ang pows’.

However, one particular minority Chinese leader who in the past 45 years tried to disrupt that harmony, understanding and unity between races, in his usual tone and brand of ‘politics of hatred’. His wish for the Malaysian Chinese in Twitterjaya:

“Let Malaysian Chinese unite as one Dragon…”?

Dragon is the mythical creature, which is the symbol of the Chinese Empire which has now long gone after the nationalists and after the communists took over, since the past 100 years. Mini Emperor Lim is trying to psyche Malaysians of Chinese ethnic, to re-enact the past of glory of the Chinese Empire here in this tanahair? Isn’t that undemocratic and against the flavour of the majority?

If that is not racism and Chinese Chauvinism, we are not sure what is. Does he and any of his cohorts and Chinese Chauvinist cohorts expect the majority not to react with direct messages like this?

Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 18:39  Comments (12)  

Will he amend the Al Quran too?

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim who recently was acquitted from the charge under Section 377B of the Penal Code and called the sodomy laws as being “archaic”, now is vowing that these laws would be amended when he gets power.

Anwar will review sodomy law if he’s PM

Leven Woon • Jan 20, 12 12:58PTG

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim has made it clear that the country’s law on sodomy, which has been used to smear certain individuals, will be reviewed once he comes into power.
He said Sections 377B and 377C of the Penal Code “are archaic and have frequently been used to attack political foes”.
“People asked me whether I will review the laws. Yes, I will (review), to make sure it does not meant to insult people,” the Permatang Pauh MP told some 200 supporters at a thanksgiving prayer ceremony at his house last night.
He said evidence could easily be fabricated under the current interpretation of the two sections of the Penal Code, and he “makes no apology about archaic law”.
“Any ustaz who safeguards these two codes is dumb,” he said in a rousing tone.
Sections 377B and 377C state that whoever commits carnal intercourse against the order of nature, with or without consent, shall be punished with imprisonment up to a maximum of 20 years.

Controversial BBC interview

Anwar is now in the centre of a fresh controversy, after telling BBC in an interview that he would review “archaic laws”, when asked by the host about his readiness to to take “the idea of anti-discrimination as far as gay rights”.

Umno-owned dailies Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia zeroed-in on the issue, implying that Anwar was now supporting gay rights.
His personal orientation, Anwar told the crowd last night, expressed in private places should be outside the law.
“But I made it clear that (homosexuality) should not be allowed in public domain,” he said.
The opposition leader’s house in the tranquil Segambut Dalam locality was yesterday packed with 200 supporters attending the thanksgiving to mark his vindication in the two-year-long Sodomy II trial.

The supporters, many of whom donned white songkok, performed a total of four prayers in the living room, with Anwar seated in the centre of the crowd.
Also present were NGO Amanah deputy president Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, PKR information chief Muhammad Nor Manuty and PKR treasurer William Leong.
Touching on the Sodomy II verdict, Anwar said the surprising judgment might from the trial judge himself.
“That’s why he finished reading (the verdict) in three minutes…. Court proceedings lasted nearly three years, but verdict took just three minutes,” he jeered.

Possibly gov’t did not expect outcome

He said the reaction of the “government’s media” on in the aftermath of the verdict also showed that the authorities might not have expected the outcome.
His 45-minute speech was fittingly titled “The importance of confidence”.
In life, Anwar said, there would always be a time when “someone feels a challenge is too huge to overcome, and giving up seems to be the easier option”.
The Prophet Muhammad, too, he said, was puzzled by the series of obstacles before his triumph.
“As a human being, the larger role you play, the more challenges you will face,” he said.
Anwar’s speech ended with a loud chant of “takbir” and the Ishak prayers .

*********

Malaysian laws prohibit any homosexual activities, even though “consensual between two adults” and punishable with a maximum 20 years prison term, provided under the Penal Code.

This is inline with views of Islam on the same subjected matter and with specific mentions in the Al Quran and interpretation of top Imams through out the years.

Published in: on January 20, 2012 at 14:12  Comments (10)  

Growth, urbanisation and national imbalance

Economic growth is coherent with progress. In a developing economy that is evolving into massive industrlisation from agriculture and primary based activities, that also contribute to urbanisation. The attraction of modern and progressive lifestyle is overbearingly too attractive for them to not forego their mundane country life for a stint in the big city.

China, which is the most promising largest economy in not too far away, saw the sharp rise in urbanisation.

WALL STREET JOURNAL
  • ASIA NEWS
  • JANUARY 18, 2012

China Turns Predominantly Urban

Transfer of Millions to Cities Is Double-Edged Sword; Property Demand a Factor in Land Grabs

By JEREMY PAGE and BOB DAVIS in Beijing and JAMES T. AREDDY in Shanghai

BEIJING—China has announced that people living in its towns and cities now outnumber those in the countryside, making it a predominantly urban nation for the first time in Chinese civilization.
CURBAN

Xinhua/Zuma Press

Migrant workers and others line up for trains ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in Chengdu on Tuesday.
The historic milestone spotlights a trend that China’s government says will be a key driver of economic growth over the next two decades as hundreds of millions more people move into urban areas in search of higher-paying jobs.
But it also points to the challenges facing Chinese leaders as mass migration places an increasing strain on urban housing, transport and welfare, while fueling pollution, social unrest and demands for political reform.
Urban dwellers account for 51.27% of China’s entire population of nearly 1.35 billion—or a total of 690.8 million people—the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced at a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday.
City dwellers represented just 10.6% of China’s population in 1949, when the Communist Party took power, and just under 19% in 1979, when it launched the market reforms, according to official Chinese statistics.
That means that in the economic boom of the past three decades, China has roughly matched what economic historians say took about 200 years in Britain, 100 years in the U.S. and 50 years in Japan.
Many experts expect the trend to continue at a similar pace in China, with McKinsey, the consulting firm, forecasting last year that the country would have one billion urban residents by 2030—its urban population growing by more than that of the entire U.S. in just two decades.
[CURBAN]
The social cost of urbanization is becoming increasingly evident, however, with 253 million rural migrants now living in Chinese cities with little or no access to public services, which they can only access in the villages where they are registered under the “hukou” or household-registration system.
The demand for urban property has also led to rampant seizures of farmland near towns and cities by local officials, who typically pay farmers a nominal fee before selling at market rates to developers who often build luxury housing and shopping malls.
Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier who is entering his last year in power this year, called for greater efforts to tackle such illegal land seizures in an essay published this week in an official Communist Party magazine called Qiushi, or Seeking Truth.
China had “lowered the costs of industrialization and urbanization by sacrificing farmers’ rights to land,” he wrote. “No one is empowered to take away such rights.”
Mr. Wen also criticized a widespread policy of moving villagers into apartment blocks so their land can be merged into larger blocs or used for property development.
Growing public anger at land grabs came into focus last month when residents of the fishing village of Wukan in the southern province of Guangdong staged an open revolt against local officials they accused of illegally selling their land to property developers.
Such land disputes account for 65% of “mass incidents”—the government’s euphemism for large protests—in rural areas according to Yu Jianrong, a professor and expert on rural issues at the state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
China’s Land Ministry has also warned that misappropriation of farmland has brought the country dangerously close to the so-called red line of 120 million hectares of arable land that the government believes it needs to feed China’s people.
Mr. Wen said in his essay that China needed to modernize its agricultural technology in order to meet the demand for food from its expanding population despite the shortage of land and water resources.
However, the central government’s efforts to curb land abuses have so far met fierce resistance from local authorities who rely on land sales to maintain growth, service debt and top up their budgets.

Reuters

Job seekers waited to enter a job fair in Yantai, Shandong province, in February 2011.
Finding a balance between GDP growth, urbanization, farmers’ rights and food security is one of the main challenges facing a new generation of party leaders who are expected to take charge later this year in a once-a-decade leadership change.
Vice Premier Li Keqiang—the favorite to replace Mr. Wen as Premier—told a high-level party meeting on the economy last month that urbanization was key to stimulating domestic demand so China can move away from its export-driven growth model.
He also called for increased efforts to build and distribute fairly the 36 million units of affordable “social housing” that the government has pledged to construct over the next five years to help meet demand from migrants and ease property prices.
“The construction of affordable homes will help curb excessive price rises and fuel urbanization, which will in turn unleash consumption and investment potentials and push development of related industries,” Mr. Li said.
Urban migration is also prompting some local governments to provide better services to newcomers, as well as extending city services into satellite towns.
In Shanghai, for instance, Mayor Han Zheng this week said that nonlocals would be permitted to rent subsidized units in certain public-housing projects in the city’s outer reaches, whereas in the past eligibility hinged on their employment.
“Coverage is extended to all migrant workers in Shanghai,” Mr. Han told a press briefing.
Speaking days earlier, Mr. Han also pledged to “encourage and guide the migrant population’s involvement in community affairs, enrich their cultural life and show our genuine care to them.”
Chinese officials and experts say the country will accelerate the urbanization process over the next two decades in order to avoid the “middle-income trap,” a term coined by the World Bank to describe stagnation in a country when per capita GDP reaches $3,000.
The per capita income of China’s urban residents was 21,810 yuan ($3,434) in 2011, while that of rural residents was 6,977 yuan, according to the NBS.
Still, many Chinese and Western economists and demographers say that urbanization can be a double-edged sword.
When rural residents move to urban areas, they tend to do more economically productive work, learn more skills, earn more money, and buy more goods. They also boost demand for urban infrastructure and housing, which can boost economic growth.
Comparing the growth of 18th century England with modern China, Standard Chartered economist Stephen Green recently concluded that “urbanization went hand in hand with economic growth.”
But urbanization, by itself, is hardly enough. Latin America is filled with megacities teeming with shanty towns housing unemployed and underemployed workers from the countryside, whose move didn’t stop those nations from stalling economically. According to Mr. Green, China would need to learn some of the lessons from a rapidly urbanizing and industrializing England, especially the creation of “power-restricting, adequate, market-friendly institutions.”
That’s not necessarily a given in China where the Party claims a monopoly on power and blocks the creations of independent institutions.
Moreover, urbanization is hardly the only demographic trend sweeping over China. At the same time as more workers are moving into the cities, the size of the Chinese work force—those aged 15 to 64—is peaking as the work force ages.
More than 30% of the population is expected to be older than 60 by 2050, producing an increasingly heavy economic burden on those in the work force.
The NBS said Tuesday that the number of people aged 15 to 64 stood at about 1 billion 2011—representing an increase of about 3% over 2010. But China’s overall population grew faster—by about 4.8%—between 2010 and 2011.
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Imagine the demands from an eco-system to support the lives of almost 700 million persons in a nation’s urban limits?
Food, clothing, dwellings, power, sanitation, healthcare, education, communications, entertainment and other modern lifestyle demands created from a modern life, for that amount of persons. The gap of imbalance between the urbanites and rural folks is widening and expected to spiral complicated and chronic social problems.
Malaysia is inevitably heading that way. If it is not properly planned, it would be no longer manageable. The trap of urban poverty would be parallel, with growth of the urbanisation.
Published in: on January 20, 2012 at 04:00  Comments (4)  
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