I was chatting with a friend, former colleague and veteran business and macro-economic journalist last night about the current Pakatan Harapan government and the sorry state of the economy over dinner and single malt whisky (Tomatin 12 years) last night.
The restaurant which was normally packed at 8.00pm two years back, last night had only about a third of the tables occupied and the supervisor told my friend that business had dropped dramatically and that it was tough to survive.
My friend, who is inquisitive, as good journalists should be, had spoken to various promoters and counter staff in a shopping mall cum office complex along Jalan Semangat, Petaling Jaya and a promoter whom he described as an attractive, middle-aged woman told him excellent English that she did not like the job but had to do the job to earn money for her family.
Other staff he spoke to told him that they have technical diplomas but had to accept such work, standing all day to make a living.
Well, so much for "upskilling themselves to be able to be employed up the skills and value chain", which I have heard no end of from government ministers, officials and management CON-sultants at the many press conferences I had attended, and of Malaysia becoming a "knowledge-based, information-rich, high-income nation nation" by the year 2020, under former prime minister Najib and postponed to 2024 under current prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir.
He also spoke to some financially-savvy gentlemen in a bank nearby, one of whom said that prices on Malaysia's stock market had dropped and he had lost lots of money, whilst another said that the stock market is not expected to recover until the end of the year or early next year.
Staunchly anti-Barisan Nasional and having rejoiced at the Pakatan Harapan victory on 9th May 2018, my friend now disbelieves statements by Pakatan Harapan government ministers that the economy is doing well and that Malaysia will "become an economic tiger soon".
He concurs with me that having achieved its objective to oust former prime minister Najib, his UMNO party and the Barisan Nasional government from power in the 9th May 2018 general elections, they now have no idea of how to move on and govern the country, except that they may be a relatively clean government but otherwise incompetent.
The Pakatan Rakyat and later the Pakatan Harapan pact of political parties had been talking about Ubah (Malay for change) and Reformasi (Malay for reform) since 1998 when they were in opposition but what radical changes and reforms have they implemented in Malaysia's governance, apart from a few minor tweaks here and there. Moreover, they started out in 1998 to oust then prime minister Dr. Mahathir from power, along with the UMNO and Barisan Nasional which he lead and 20 years later on 9th May 2018, they ended up ousting from power prime minister Najib, along with the UMNO and Barisan Nasional which he lead and brought back Tun Dr. Mahathir as prime minister to lead the Pakatan Harapan government.
Ubah and Reformasi, my foot!. This convoluted political feat should be included in the Guinness Book of Records.
I have also concluded that the Pakatan Harapan government has no clear vision of what a "New Malaysia" should be, especially at the local level which impact upon us us directly. Instead, they just carry on with policies implemented by the previous Barisan Nasional state and federal governments, whilst claiming that their governance is more "competent, accountable and transparent" (CAT) than the Barisan Nasional's but that means nothing much to us on the ground, when roads are still bumpy with potholes, street lights especially at dangerous parts of roads are not working, drains are still clogged and there are flash floods, when Selangor state has the highest incidence of dengue in the country and so forth.
Instead, they are very good at putting up fancy decorations, bicycle lanes and bicycle stands which nobody uses in the Petaling Jaya New Town Centre, like is done in some arty farty cities in the advanced countries in the west, so as to make Petaling Jaya appear "world class", whilst they turn the rest of Petaling Jaya into a concrete jungle and a heat island.
Issues such as 1MDB, whether or not Malaysia should sign the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), remain signatory with or withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court means bugger all to ordinary citizens like me, when prices on the shelves and the cost of living remain high, whilst the ringgit has steadily weakened to RM4.19 to the U.S. dollar today and is heading towards RM4.20 or even more to the U.S. dollar in the future.
A weaker ringgit contributes to further increases in the price of goods on the shelves and a higher cost of living, since the cost of imported goods or domestically produced goods with imported content will inevitably rise.
And today (30 May 2019), The Star reports:-
Disabled activists say Pakatan govt worse than BN at dealing with their issues
Thursday, 30 May 2019
3:41 PM MYT
by joseph kaos jr
PUTRAJAYA: The Pakatan Harapan administration is worse at dealing with issues concerning people with disabilities, compared with Barisan Nasional, says several activists.
Activist Anthony Thanasayan said since Pakatan took over the government last year, it had yet to engage with disabled groups and requests to meet the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM) have not been entertained.
"We have tried to meet with the minister (Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail) and her deputy (Hannah Yeoh) and we continue to be ignored.
"Today, we are here to protest and meet with them, but none are willing to come and see us, even though we have notified them earlier that we would be coming.
"Even under Barisan, it was not like this. I am not a Barisan supporter, but when the ministry was under Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, she would cancel her meetings to come and see us," said Anthony.
He added that both Dr Wan Azizah and Yeoh should make a public apology to the disabled community for not meeting them.
"To come all the way to Putrajaya is not an easy task for people with disabilities like us," he said.
Anthony, who is president of the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association (Petpositive), and about 20 other disabled activists, staged a protest outside the ministry here on Thursday (May 30).
The group, all wheelchair-bound, held up placards with quotes such as "We the disabled suffer from your attitude, not our disabilities!" and "PH begged for votes from the disabled, now we have to beg to see you!"
G. Francis Siva, the president of the Independent Living and Training Centre Malaysia, held up a placard with photos of Dr Wan Azizah and Yeoh and a caption that said "Report Card KPWKM - XXX".
Francis read out several demands in a memorandum, which was later handed over to officials of the ministry who came out to meet the protesters.
"The National Council for Persons with Disabilities should have grassroots members such as us. We don't need academicians in the council. We are the ones who understand the plight of the disabled and we should be listened to," said Francis.
He also proposed that the disabled be given a minimum RM500 aid to help with their welfare.
Another proposal is for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to be enforced at all levels of the government.
"The CRPD is an international convention of which Malaysia is a signatory. The country is obliged to implement it," said Anthony.
Well, it looks like the Pakatan Harapan had used us "gullible guppies" (to borrow a term used by blogger KTemoc in his blog KTemoc Konsiders) as useful idiots to get them into power and now they quite literally fart in our faces and disregard us a one disregards used toilet paper. "Wakakakaka!" as KTemoc often goes.
That's the thing with representative democracy based upon citizens voting for parties, each of which represent competing factions of the ruling class - i.e. where each party's politicians promise voters to deliver them the sun the moon and the stars but when they are elected to power, they quite often implement policies 180 degrees opposite to what they promised and those who voted for them cannot do anything about it except to vote for a different set of politicians at the next elections, only for them to also vote in their voters' faces once elected.
Elected representatives ad governments in western liberal democracies do this all the time. They let citizens protest peacefully, post blogs and criticise all they want but fart in their faces and carry on as they, not their citizens want.
My friend also spoke to various staff an even some executives in the new high-rise buildings in Section 13, Petaling Jaya and across the Federal Highway in Section 8, learned that the lights in some units were turned at night to give the impression that they are occupied.
He suggested that the media should conduct investigations and publish reports about the number of unsold or unoccupied units in these high rise monstrosities and question local authorities such as the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) as to why such developments are approved when units within them would most likely remain unoccupied or unsold for many years.
Well, can expect that the stock reply by the local authorities will be that these are private properties and their occupancy rate is beyond the local authorities' jurisdiction.
I had expected that monstrous high-rise development in Petaling Jaya and elsewhere in Selangor and Penang would have been curtailed under the Pakatan state governments which had won ruled this two states since March 2008 but my friend said that he was told that building approvals had been given by the local authority as far back as 10 years or more ago under Barisan Nasional state, and that there is nothing the local authorities can do to reverse these approvals without being sued hundreds of millions or even billions of ringgit in compensation.
Like on 27 May 2019, The Star reported prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir as saying that:-
"Dr M says abolishing tolls will burden govt's finances"
Most of these highway concessionaires are government-linked companies (GLCs) in which the government often a controlling stake and the government cannot cannot just direct these companies it controls to abolish tolls or hand back the highways to the government which will abolish the tolls.
How about this - Pakatan Harapan federal government - Declare a state of emergency and take back the highways without compensation under emergency rule and abolish the tolls.
During previous emergencies, the then Barisan Nasional government and earlier, its predecessor the Alliance suspended many rights and freedoms which citizens had and following the bloody 13th May 1969 race riots, the government suspended parliamentary rule and instead set up a National Operations Council (MAGERAN) which ruled by decree for over a year before rule by parliament was restored.
This time, why not revoke the rights and freedoms of the corporate sector under citizen-friendly emergency rule, including the rights and freedoms of the GLCs which the government owns and controls anyway?
Are you a "government for the people" as you claimed during campaigning for the 14th general elections or was that just a load of politischeiss (political bullshit) to get our votes?
From my experience of the Pakatan state government of Selangor since March 2008, they mostly have ignored residents' protests, such as those of residents of Damansara Perdana and Mutiara Damansara who have been objecting to the routing of the Damansara-Shah Alam Highway (DASH), an elevated highway running right past their high-rise condominiums and commercial buildings in their neighbourhood.
Below are the four parts of a video I shot of the residents' protest on 20th March 2016 against DASH running through their neighbourhood 2016 and the impassioned statements some residents and supporters made.
Say No to DASH protest Damansara Perdana 2016-03-20 Part 1
Say No to DASH protest Damansara Perdana 2016-03-20 Part 2
Say No to DASH protest Damansara Perdana 2016-03-20 Part 3
Say No to DASH protest Damansara Perdana 2016-03-20 Part 4
In September 2018, I took a drive into Damansara Perdana to view DASH under construction.
Construction of DASH begins and construction in Bandar Utama
My friend commented via WhatsApp:- "DASH began works even before approval was given. It wasn't in the Master Plan then. The have been working through the night and enforcing diversions that pose risk and inconveniences. Another example of a government that allows you to speak but knowing they will not listen."
I replied:- "I call this letting the people speak freely,demonstrate and protest but proverbially fart in our faces, much like happens in the liberal democracies of the west."
To be fair though, our Selangor state assemblyman Y.B. Rajiv Rishyakaran supported us residents in our objection to a high-rise Transit-oriented Development in partnership with a private developer on two plots of land currently owned by Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd (KDEB), a wholly Selangor state goverment-linked company, as Star Metro of 8 April 2019 reported:-
High-rise proposal raises concern among Section 14 folk
I've subsequently am led to understand that a technical unit within the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) rejected the application by the developer upon grounds that there is only one access road to the proposed development from Jalan Utara, hence a high likelihood of traffic congestion.
However, it's possible that the developer can come back with an alternative proposal which includes more than one access roads.
Star Metro's earlier report of 18 december 2018 about Section 14 residents' concerns over this this proposed development provides more background about it.
Residents fear another high-rise
If this proposed development is eventually approved by the MBPJ, it than cannot claim that it was approved over 10 years earlier under the Barisan Nasional state government.
Meanwhile, up north in Penang, which also has been under the rule of a Pakatan state government since March 2008, the state government has recently farted in Penang people's faces over their objections to the construction of three man made islands on reclaimed land off the southern coast of Penang island (the Penang South Reclamation project), which Penang's activists, including fishermen's groups fear will jeopardise the livelihoods of fisherfolk.
"Ecological nightmare haunts Penang"
On 26 May 2019, The Sun reported:-
"GEORGE TOWN: 45 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Penang plan to send a joint memorandum to request the intervention of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to cancel the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project."
So will Pakatan Harapan prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir listen to their concerns and act in their favour or will he proverbially fart in their faces?
Meanwhile, my dear readers (non-Muslim) - Cheers and to your good health!!!
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