brought to you by Sandra Rajoo
REFSA Rojak is our weekly take on the goings-on in Malaysia. We trawl the newsflow, cut to the core and focus on the really pertinent. Full of flavour, lots of crunch, this is the concise snapshot to help Malaysians keep abreast of the issues of the day.
The evidence is clear; the Amendment has to be amended
The recent amendment to the Evidence Act received the indisputable thumbs down from netizens who ‘voted’ online on 14 Aug. Section 114 (a) of the Act which was passed rather hastily and gazetted on 31 July presupposes an internet user’s guilt for any controversial content published on their registered networks, web portals or blogs, even if the publication comes from an external source.
The federal government had earlier turned a deaf ear to the many objections raised. That was until the Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia (CIJ) initiated the ‘Internet Blackout Day’. Netizens blacked out their profiles or uploaded pop-up messages, and websites went offline in protest. The event received overwhelming support all round, enough to attract global media attention. The message struck home, so to speak, and PM Najib has now asked his Cabinet to review the Amendment.
This is the latest in a series of lawmaking debacles by the federal government. The Computing Professionals Act 2011 (CPA) and the Peaceful Assembly Bill also come to mind. We wonder at the depth of thought and quality of debate and discussion that go into lawmaking processes. Why pass laws so flawed that they require an immediate review? If this is symptomatic of the so-called transformation the government is promising, then we are better off without the changes. Change should make sense, and be progressive, not regressive.
A deluge of money for a Puncak Niaga director …
Tell the man who lives from hand to mouth that company directors and CEOs are paid in the millions, and he’ll tell you life doesn’t make sense. Some people earn millions at the stroke of a pen while others slog years to make a pittance.
What is most unacceptable and offensive is when companies which suffer huge losses are somehow able to find millions to pay their directors. One such company is Puncak Niaga Holdings which owns the debt-ridden Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas). While Selangor residents are threatened with water rationing, and the company made a RM75 million loss last year, it still paid one if its directors more than RM8 million.
Overall, 2011 was a very good year for directors, according to a Malaysian Business survey of Malaysia’s top 20 companies. Their total pay shot up 17% to RM535 million despite the challenging economic conditions. Topping the list was Genting’s chairman and CEO Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay who took home RM113 million.
Not all companies were up front about what their directors were paid, but what is clear is the gap between the rich and poor has widened further. And the group at the bottom is likely to remain at the bottom.
Attempting to ‘rebrand’ NFC
Before the dust has settled on the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal, the government is putting the project out to tender again. This is another move by the federal government that makes little sense. The clean-up process for this shameful mess has barely begun - the RM250 million debt owing to the federal government has yet to be repaid and an independent audit on the company has yet to made public.
Given all this, the new tender seems premature. The bottom line is someone has to be held accountable and PKR’s Rafizi Ramli is not letting up in his quest to make the culprits pay for their disgraceful transgression – financially and legally.
Government panel defies logic
It is also difficult to see the logic behind the federal government setting up a panel to probe human rights violations during the Bersih 3.0 demonstration when jurisdiction lies with the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) which is investigating the same. That the Bar Council and the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) are not participating in the federal government panel makes good sense, seeing that they are appearing before Suhakam.
The Suhakam inquiry is progressing smoothly and the Commission is interested to hear what media editors have to say about the police violence inflicted on their journalists and photographers, and if there was any “follow-up” action.
Goodbye to a badminton great
The death of Datuk Punch Gunalan on August 15 came as a great shock to many who did not know he had been battling liver cancer. A world-ranked badminton player in his time, he was in a class of his own. Many of us remember cheering him on every time he played. As a singles player he won gold in the 1974 Commonwealth Games. As part of a formidable doubles team, he and Ng Boon Bee “dominated the world stage”, winning the All England, Canadian, Danish and US Open titles in the 70s. His name was almost synonymous with badminton then.
Besides these personal successes, he also led the Thomas Cup team to victory in 1992. In 2004 he was inducted into the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame. He was appointed vice-president of the International Badminton Federation in 1999 and held that post until his death at the age of 68. May you rest in peace, Punch Gunalan.
Why ‘Rojak’? Disparate flavours and textures come together in a harmonious mix to make this delicious but underrated concoction. Our Rojak weekly is much like this mix, making sense of the noise of daily newsflow and politicking.
It is also our ultimate dream that our multi-ethnic melange of communities can be made richer within the unique ‘sauce’ that is Malaysia. Let’s take pride in the ‘rojakness’ of our nation!