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The outsourcing of Malaysia

Posted: 03 Oct 2013 05:26 PM PDT

Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar of Khazanah Nasional: Winner of Frost & Sullivan's 'Global Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership'.


Slowly but surely a groundswell of anger is building up among Umno politicians, bloggers and civil servants against the latest crutch of the Najib administration: the reliance on consultants, from crafting public policy to the mundane job of preparing power point presentations to managing the back office of government agencies.

In fact in some circles, there is a genuine fear that the government and state asset manager Khazanah Nasional Bhd have basically outsourced thinking and operations to the likes of McKinsey and Co, Boston Consulting Group, Frost and Sullivan, Ernst and Young and others, setting into motion a bunch of troubling questions.

Will this slavish reliance on consultants lead to even further dumbing down and mediocrity of the civil service?

Why are Khazanah Nasional and government-linked companies hiring consultants for even back office functions when they have thousands of employees on their books at top-dollar salaries?

There are consultants linked to every top job in Malaysia. Iskandar, education blueprint, economic corridors, the five-yearly economic plans, high-speed rail to Singapore, election strategy, branding, etc.

And the push back from the ruling party and civil service to the outsourcing of Malaysia has started.

A survey of Umno supporters and civil servants by respected pollster Merdeka Center showed that there is growing antipathy towards the use of consultants by the government.

It showed 42% of those polled felt that the Najib administration consultants often contribute less than what is expected of them.

Another 30% were ambivalent about the contribution of consultants.

In small group discussions with members of the academia, the independent pollster found anger against government efficiency unit Pemandu palpable, with university lecturers dismayed at having to take orders from greenhorn consultants with no clear insight as to how the real world operates.

The Malaysian Insider has learnt that the recent revelation about McKinsey charging RM20 million for the National Education Blueprint has led to questions about the number of consultants and their bills being filed in the Dewan Rakyat.

It is also understood that the several MPs have asked the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to scrutinise the charges against the impact of the studies or analysis done by the consultants.



Same old stories

Posted: 03 Oct 2013 05:19 PM PDT

The MACC must not just give us annual reports like the AG's Office does. Please, tell us frankly how many people involved in the misappropriation of funds highlighted in last year's AG's Report has been probed? And how many of them have been prosecuted and convicted?

Lim Mun Fah, Sin Chew Daily

Every year, the Auditor General's Office will have to come out with its regular reports, and absurd stories will be repeated year after year.

Initially we might feel shocked, and later it might be anger and helplessness. Today, perhaps we might just get so used to this crap that we no longer feel anything about it.

RTM, PDRM, Customs Dept, JPN, schools, airports, health ministry, housing and local government ministry, and the list goes on and on. Enough! Such problems have persisted stubbornly in our government agencies and statutory institutions, squandering astronomical amounts of tax payers' money.

Those found guilty of mismanagement remain so, while those found abusing their powers would continue to do the same, possibly even at aggravated proportions.

A RM100 clock can be bought at very much inflated price of RM3,810. Not just one, but 20! A RM200 scanner could be priced 73 times higher. And these are the exact repetitions of past absurdities whereby RM5,700 was spent on a car jack worth no more than RM50, and RM84,640 on only two notebook computers.

Undeniably, the Auditor General has done his job well, but what next? Will anyone follow up and will any action be taken against any offender at all?

The AG's Report shouldn't lie idle just as another report. Now that the evil doers have been exposed, it is time to round them up.

Malaysians are no longer contented with the annual reports per se. They want to see actions taken.

After the report has been released, and in the midst of gross frustration and sighs of disbelief, the MACC would always tell us they are going to open the files and investigate. But, has any action actually been taken against the offenders?

The MACC must not just give us annual reports like the AG's Office does. Please, tell us frankly how many people involved in the misappropriation of funds highlighted in last year's AG's Report has been probed? And how many of them have been prosecuted and convicted?

Please, stop telling us you will open how many files and investigate without doing anything more substantial than this.

The Customs Dept must stop buying over 7,000 pairs of unfitting shoes worth in excess of RM600,000 with tax payers' money and then discard them. This amount of money is sufficient to help many impoverished families through their perennial hardships.

The education ministry must stop hiring large numbers of septuagenarians to guard our schools. The RM2 billion saved is enough to build many schools for our children.

With government debts running high, there is a limit as to how far we can tolerate such blatant acts of corruption and power abuse. Every single cent misused or squandered must be returned to the national coffers, and anyone found guilty of fund mishandling must be charged in a court.

Those who sleep on their jobs must be properly dealt with and those mismanaged their departments must be removed from office.

There is no way we can condone those who are corrupt, otherwise irreparable damages will be wrought on the morality and value system in these government agencies. Like the wild fire that has gone out of control, the integrity of the entire society will be jeopardised and confidence crisis will ensue, hauling with it the fate of the entire nation and its people.


Malaysia would be misguided to ban Arabic word for God

Posted: 03 Oct 2013 01:48 PM PDT


Turning a linguistic term political 

The controversy is partly fuelled by confusion. Most Malaysians do not speak Arabic and so some of the Muslims among them may be under the false impression that "Allah" is an exclusively Islamic word. But they are mistaken. "Allah" is simply the Arabic word for "God".

Khaled Diab, The National, UAE

Malaysia is embroiled in a holy war of words. The government wants to ban Christians from using what it regards as a word that should be used only by Muslims.

In 2008, the government threatened to revoke a publishing licence from the Catholic Herald if the newspaper did not refrain from referring to "God" as "Allah". This would be problematic, as it would force the newspaper to misquote the centuries-old Malay version of the Bible. The local alternative, Tuhan, is used to refer specifically to "the Lord".

Fortunately, Malaysia's high court ruled in the newspaper's favour. The authorities, however, have appealed the verdict.

The dispute is a symptom of deeper troubles. Despite the fact that Malaysians, in their kaleidoscope of religious and racial diversity, tend to "talk conflict, but walk cohesion", as one academic put it, the country has been experiencing rising tensions between its various groups.

Though it is one of the world's longest-ruling parties, Barisan Nasional (the National Front) has seen its support base dwindling in recent years. In May, Barisan – whose three race-based parties operate on sectarian grounds outside of elections – gained less than half of the popular vote.

Despite statistical evidence to the contrary, prime minister Najib Razak blamed the erosion on a "Chinese tsunami". The Malaysian government has also been under growing pressure from Islamic parties, and this has led the government, as has occurred elsewhere, to play the piety card and engage in identity politics.

But is there any validity for limiting the use of "Allah" to Muslims?

Read more at: http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/malaysia-would-be-misguided-to-ban-arabic-word-for-god 

Liberty must be defended

Posted: 03 Oct 2013 12:55 PM PDT


While we look at the state as our protector, the state turns assailant.

Aerie Rahman, MMO 

This week, preventive detention powers have been resurrected by Parliament. The Preventive Crime Act (PCA) will allegedly be used to combat organised crime. The law was primarily spearheaded by Zahid Hamidi and backed by the Barisan Nasional government.

The PCA allows for detention without trial for up to two years which can be renewed. The caveat placed by the government is that a five-member board headed by a judge would be issuing the detention order.

The screws of oppression are being mercilessly tightened.

Seeing as how many dissenting politicians are no stranger to the Sedition Act, one can imagine what would happen if the PCA is applied to allegedly seditious acts.

At last, with Ops Cantas the government has recognised the crime wave that is paralysing Malaysia. The old trick in the bag was to dismiss our claims with the condescending statement that the high crime rate was merely perception – a figment of our imagination.

It took a few high profile shootings before the government acknowledged our crime concerns. As usual, no apology was registered by the government to signify that their perception argument was baseless and at best arrogant.

Nevertheless, the preventive detention measures proposed by the government would lead to more sorrows – in a country that is all too familiar with the long shadow of preventive detention.

Deterrence first, reforms never

Preventive detention powers are heavy handed, prone to abuse and mere wayang kulit (shadow play).

Paul Low claimed that preventive laws are designed to send a message of deterrence to criminals. The problem is before committing a crime, criminals like any human beings would do a cost-benefit analysis. They would evaluate the risk of getting caught, the costs and gains of committing a crime.

No matter how heavy the laws are, if the criminals have reason to believe that there is a high chance they won't be caught – they would still go ahead with the crime.

Hence, the real issue is not about preventive detention. The court of public opinion must be oriented to demand the implementation of the recommendations of the IPCMC. Only when the police force has been reformed and resource allocation is optimised to the crime investigation department can we have a safer Malaysia.

We can have various laws detaining people in the most creative of ways. But if the competency and efficacy of the executioners of the laws are in doubt, the results would still be poor.

The government cannot deny that there is a trust deficit with the police force. It is excruciating to point at cases of suspects dying in lockups.

Read more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/aerie-rahman/article/liberty-must-be-defended 

“True Teachings of Islam”: Academic Unfreedom, Muslim Conformity, and Gender Inequality? - ...

Posted: 03 Oct 2013 12:45 PM PDT


Muslims cannot be trusted to be Muslims on their own. 

Azza Basarudin, TMI 

(*This is a three-part series on academic freedom, interpretations of Islam and Muslim conformity and the Malaysian women's movement*)

Read Part I here

Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin plans to grant RM100 million in research funds to UIA to promote "true teachings of Islam." He stated, "Muslims are now facing challenges which are not of their own making. The spread of western liberalism, under the pretext of human rights activism and gender rights movement, has brought new beliefs and ideas that are totally against Islam".

He cited "gay rights, lesbianism and same-sex marriage" as examples and said they are "sinful acts abhorred by Islam". He suggested that this is made worse because "some Muslims do not just believe this, but also actively propagate these false beliefs to other Muslims".

One of the many challenges facing Muslims mainly arises from how Islam has been interpreted and practised. Islam is not set in stone; it is what is understood, practised and disseminated by its adherents.

To avoid essentialising Islam and Muslims, it is important to note that Islam is not the sole factor in Muslim lives, and for the most part is not always the solution to all problems. In Malaysia, factors such as historical legacy, racial politics, education, autocracy, nation building and so on play significant roles in Muslim lives. Scriptural interpretation and "Islamic" laws and policies have to be understood as a wider part of the Malaysian fabric.

In Malaysia, citizens who claim Islam as their faith are subjected to paternalistic state surveillance that seeks to regulate their relationship with the Divine and monopolise the meaning of Islam.

The tools of surveillance include censorship, criminalisation and admonishment of anything construed as "insulting Islam and Muslims". This, in turn, dismisses Muslim citizens as those whose faith is easily swayed.

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/opinion/azza-basarudin/article/true-teachings-of-islam-academic-unfreedom-muslim-conformity-and-gende 

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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