Monday, January 24, 2011

KTM is still mired in the Past century

In Jan 2011, I decided to take a trip down memory lane.

I bought a ticket at the Seremban Railway station for a trip to Tumpat, Kelantan.

The last time I took a train was some 40 years ago, in the 1970s. At that time road transportation to Kelantan was poor. Some stretches had to use a ferry because there was no bridge.

If one wished to travel to Kelantan via the Bentong-Raub route, the road service ended in Kuala Lipis.

From there, the car was loaded into a railway carriage and then one had to travel as a passenger on the train and disembark at Kuala Krai.

At the Seremban Railway station, what I saw was totally unexpected.

After 40 years you would have thought things would be different.

For me it was as if time had stood still. Things around the station and the ticketing office had not changed.

Long queues stretched for a few metres waiting to buy their tickets while two other counters remain vacant.

A sign said the person in charge of selling inter-city tickets had gone for lunch at 12.30pm and would resume work at 2.00pm.

I was there at 1.00pm, which meant I and several others had to wait for an hour for the ticketing clerk to finish his lunch and resume his duties.

If there were inter-city trains coming in, we could only stare in dismay.

Meanwhile, there was still a long queue waiting to buy the Komuter tickets.

A Komuter train came ,stopped and left while passengers could only watched in frustration, stuck in the long slow queue.

Being unable to buy their ticket when the train came, they could only hope to get their tickets before the next train arrived.

On boarding the train for my journey to Kelantan I was in for another shock. Nothing in the cabin train which I had booked had changed from decades ago.

The inside of the cabin had seen better times and probably should have been sent to a museum.

The journey was anything but smooth. It was jerky and bumpy. It was something you least expected when travelling in the 21st century.

And if you were to compare the experience of travelling in a modern train service of Japan or even China, you wouldn't want to travel in a Malaysian train.

A journey that normally takes eight hours of leisurely driving by car took me more than 12 hours by train.

KTM needs to totally revamp its management from top to bottom if it really wants to improve its bottom line.

It cannot hope to plod along and hope to improve on its performance if the mentality and culture of running a railway corporation is still mired in the 20th century.

That Which is not Azan should not be broadcast

I wish to comment on some of the

bacaan (readings, recitations of Quranic passages), in addition to the azan, that is being broadcast through loudspeakers today, resulting in disturbance to the public. Such bacaan has confused non-Muslims who mistake them for being part of the azan (call to prayer).

Some are defending the practice of broadcasting the bacaan on the grounds that since it is the reciting of the Quran or zikir (devotional songs), such a practice ought to be held in high regard. They believe their uncompromising attitude in this matter represents 'the struggle to defend Islam'. I would like to comment on this as follows:

1. That which Islam instructs to amplify, is only the azan. Apart from this, there is no instruction to amplify anything else, to the point of causing disturbance to others.

In fact, such acts are forbidden by the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Furthermore, in Islam, care is taken regarding the tranquillity of others, with exceptions, if any that are permitted by Islamic law.

2. Although the readings of the Quran and zikir are excellent practices, we cannot force others to listen to our prayer recitations. Perhaps there are others who prefer to read their prayers themselves, or would like to recite during other times of the day. Or one may be ill, or may not be observing prayers at the time, for example a woman during her period, or non Muslims and so on.

3. Many non-Muslims are confused between the azan and readings of the Quran that do not constitute azan, that are being broadcast through loudspeakers.

They are under the belief that such recitations are instructed by Islam, and therefore get the wrong impression of Islam as a harmonious religion. Furthermore, the recitations are prolonged, while the actual call to prayer lasts no more than five minutes.

4. In truth, the Prophet himself forbade people from amplifying their readings of the Quran in mosques such that it would disturb others.

In the hadith of the Prophet, Abu Sa'id al-Khudri said : "When the Prophet once prayed at the mosque, he heard someone reciting the Quran loudly while the Prophet was at the place of worship.

“The Prophet then lifted the curtains (between them) and said, “Listen ye who supplicate to his God, let not these of you cause disturbance to others. Do not raise your voice in reciting prayers, above that of the others.” (Recorded by Abu Daud).

In this hadith the Prophet forbade the raising of voices in reciting prayers in the mosques that may interfere with other’s prayers, or aggravate others. If this is so, what more amplifying through loudspeakers that may disturb those outside the mosque? There may be others with infants or who are ill, who may be disturbed.

A highly esteemed present-day scholar, Al-Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-Hadith Uthaimin commenting on this hadith once said: "We are witnessing today that which was described in the hadith (cited above). We are seeing those who are doing (what the Prophet describes) by conducting prayers using loudspeakers outside the mosque.

"If their actions cause grief to those around them, then they have sinned...they without doubt should avoid such actions that furthermore do not bring any benefit whatsoever, because one does not pray with those who are outside the mosque, but only with those who are within the mosque.

"So we remind our brothers, especially the imams in the mosque, not to practice this (using amplification). There may be those who have already prayed and have to sleep and rest, perhaps there are those who are ill who will be disturbed, or the mosque may be close to people’s homes....

"In conclusion, this problem (may have aggravated neighbourhoods or homes) but brings no benefit whatsoever (to the devotee)." (Ibn Uthaimin, Riyadh al-Salihin Syarh)

Imagine, this statement was issued by a distinguished and senior ulama in Saudi Arabia, a country whose population is completely Muslim. What more for a (multiracial) country like ours.

5. Ulama of the past have also spoken on this matter, that recitations (other than the azan) are forbidden because they can disturb the general public.

Al-Imam al-Hafizd Ibn Jauzi (died 597H) said: "Amongst the tricks of Satan are those who mix up the azan with reminders, praise and advice. They have turned the azan into something jumbled.

"The ulama disapproves of all that is added on top of the azan. Very often we learn of people who get up in the middle of the night and serve up reminders and advice on top of the minarets.

“There are those amongst them who read the Quran so loudly that they disrupt the sleep of others and disturbs those who are conducting night prayers. All these acts bring dishonour.” ( Ibn Jauzi, Talbis Iblis, 159, Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah).

These prohibitions were made by ulama before loudspeakers were in existence; what more if they learn of the kind of loudspeakers we have today?

Therefore with this, Muslims ought to stop reciting through loudspeakers that may disturb those outside the mosque.

Adhering to this advice (not to use loudspeakers) is not a political issue at all, but merely following the instructions of the Prophet and at the same time preserving the image of Islam as harmonious.

Raising one’s voice in prayer does not add to one’s love towards Islam, but in fact creates misunderstanding amongst many quarters.

Mohd Asri zainul Abidin
The writer is former Perlis mufti. This letter was originally submitted in Malay.

Bank Negara's Failure To Detect Illicit Outflows.

Malaysia is on the precipice of a great fall. Looking at it one could surmise that it is almost beyond redemption. I say almost because there is still a flicker of hope. It will be a long journey but it must inevitably begin with a first step.

The shattering report by financial watchdog Global financial Integrity ( GFI) had shown that money flowing out of the country had triple from 2000 to 2008.In 2000, the report stated that rm$67.7 billion had exited the country and eight years later the figure had escalated to a massive rm $208 billion.
According to the report ,' significant governance issues affecting both the public and and private sectors have been playing a key role in the cross-border transfer of illicit capital from the country'
The above comments by GFI clearly depicts a very sombre situation face by the country's financial system. But what is even odd and surprising is the dormant and incompetent state of our central bank manned by a supposedly illustrous Governor in the guise of Zeti.Surely over a period of eight years the magnitude of such money outflow from the country would not have escape the attention of Bank Negara. One can only conclude that such massive outflow was done with Bank Negara's knowledge and that at some point in time they were complicit in the transfer of the funds. Otherwise it would be impossible for the central bank not to notice the movement of such substantial cross-border transfer of funds.
You dont have to be an economist to conclude that any massive transfer of funds out of the country would weaken the host country's currency because the funds exiting the country would have to be converted to another currency where it is destined. A cursory study of currency fluctuation would immediately indicate that substantial outflows would be to U.K, Australia and Singapore. That perhaps explain the perpetual strength of the Sing , the pounds and Australian dollars.

The continuation of such illicit outflows will have a severe impact on Malaysian's economy. In the long run, precious capital needed for investment will be suffocated by the illicit transfer of capital to develop countries. The net result is that the country's currency will be weakened and it's economy will remain perpetually trapped in a cycle of gradual decline.

In a nut shell, our country is facing a defining moment where its present course could be disatrous. Outflows in 2008 of $208 billion is a huge sum in any monetary terms when you compare Penang merely attracted only $12.2 billion to top the destination with the most foreign direct investment in 2009.What is there to celeberate when our top state merely attracted $12.2 billion in foreign investment but lost $208 billion in illicit outflows in 2008.

Whatever reason proffered by Bank Negara's reason for the illicit outflow, one thing remain certain. It has failed dismally in its job of monitoring the illicit outflow. Otherwise why was such massive outflows not mentioned and strategy deviced to tackle the outflow? And why was revelation of such outflows published and widely mentioned by a foreign financial watch dog (GFI)when it should have been our own central Bank making the disclosures?.

Bank Negara has always being a very poorly managed Instituition. Not only has it failed its duty to be the local watchdog for our local banks but in its survellance of monetary mangement in our econmy it has failed dismally.

It would therefore not be a surprise if illicit transfer are allowed to continue unabated, Malaysia's financial structure would collapse in the not too distant future.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

1Malaysia 'NGO' re-emerges with goodies in hand

It doesnt matter whether the NGOs did it on their own accord or whether unseen hands are orchestrating the giving of free goodies, Malaysians must regard this stupifying act with revulsion.Simply translated the act of giving goodies in order to secure votes is nothing short of blatant corruption.Malaysians of every political divide should view such practice as nothing short of vote buying.

If they are really NGOs as claimed, then they should not be seen as canvassing for the people to vote for the govt. This act alone nullifies their status as NGOs and in reality are supporters of the B.N govt under the guise of NGOs to deceive the voters.

In any case whether they are NGOs or B.N supporters such acts of corruption to influence the by-election should be viewed by the Election commission with utmost concern

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Widow filed court application to have 2nd Post-mortem

Why is it necesary for the widow of M Krishknan to apply to the court to have another post-mortem to be conducted? The death in custody case of Krishnan certainly raised suspicions that he did not die of natural causes. And if he did die of natural causes then why is the police so hesitant in allowing for the autopsy to take place by another pathologists?

In view of the numerous cases of death in custody, there is always a strong suspicion that prisoners in remand are tortured and assaulted in order to extract information and confession. Therefore it is the inherent right of next of kin or relatives to seek a second opinion as to the properble cause of death. There has been precedent cases where the initial post-mortem did not reveal the actual cause of death. In Kugan case it was the second autopsy report which led to the policeman being charged with the homicide.

It is rather sad and inconceivable why bereaved family members have to resort to make court application in order to satisfy themselves that the deceased in police custody case did not die as a result of police brutality.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

B.N will Turn Malaysia into another Greece.

It is ironic that Najib should accused Pakatan of turning Malaysia into another Greece should they implement the 100 day reform plan.It is common knowledge that B.N's current management of the country's fiscal and monetary policies will only expedite it to be another Greece.

Billions were spent on wasteful acquisiton of defence equipment which were not compatible with our needs.Najib as Defence Minister acquired two submarines costing a few billion and another $500 million to his friend Razak Baginda for providing what was termed as coordinating services.It would be more accurate to call those payments as corrupt commission paid without rendering any service at all.

Then what about the countless negotiated tenders for toll concessinaires and the countless infrastructure projects whose price were deliberately inflated to give the UMNO cronies a guranteed profit. In each and every of those projects layers and layers of extra profits were added to ensure that every one connected to the minister had a profitable cut on the project. With such prevalent practice endemic in every govt department and ministries, it would only be a matter of time that the nation's financial structure would collapse.

Najib is wrong. B.N would bankrupt our nation if they are allowed to continue for another term. Pakatan on the other hand has provided proof through the Penang Govt that with good governance devoid of corruption and with full transparency in its tender of projects, alot of wastage and corruption can be eliminated . This would result in savings for the govt and in turn would increase the nation's coffers. Malaysians must excercise great caution in electing our next govt. The future of our children in the next generation will depend on the wise choice we make and failure is no longer an option because it could invite dire consequences for our nation.