Friday, August 28, 2009

My Reply to Dr Mahathir

Tun Dr Mahathir, the 4th PM of Malaysia posted this article below, titled 'Sound Bites (Water for Singapore) on his blog, and this was in reply to current Malaysia Dy PM, Tan Sri Muhyiddin, who recently publicly mentioned to the press that MM Lee did threaten to go to war with Malaysia if water supply could not be resolved then when he was the MB of Johor.

The following text was quoted by Dr M himself:

1. Tan Sri Muhyiddin spoke the truth about my persuading him to supply water to Singapore (read here). But Lee Kuan Yew did not threaten to go to war if we did not supply water. If he had done that, I think I would have stopped any further supply.

2. We were at that time trying to be friendly with Singapore in order to solve several problems. Although raw water would be supplied at 3 cent per 1000 gallons, the understanding was that in future only treated water would be supplied when our treatment plants would be ready. We would also not buy any more treated water from Singapore at 50 cent per thousand gallons when our new treatment plant in Johore is ready.

3. When we no longer needed to buy treated water from Singapore we could raise the price of raw water to Singapore without Singapore being able to raise the price of treated water to us.

4. However when we concluded the water supply agreement Singapore raised a lot of issues regarding our railway land, the CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) at Tanjong Pagar, training flights by Singapore warplanes over Malaysia and the Central Provident Funds.

5. At that stage I realised that being friendly with Singapore did not pay.

6. I don't know about the sale of land to Singapore but as it was agreed that a treatment plant be built by Singapore in Johore, land would have to be made available.

I posted my personal comment to Dr M on his blog but for some reasons, it is not posted though some 72 comments have been posted by him.

The following is my reply to Dr M and I hope he is reading it:

Dear Tun
It is heartening to note that you made clarification MM Lee did not threaten to go war with Malaysia if water issue could not be resolved then. If I can recall clearly, it was Malaysia Foreign Minister Syed Hamid who stupidly uttered the word, "go to war with Singapore" to the media which was widely covered in Singapore then. He later did try to do some damage control, kind of comical though.

On the non water issues, were not all these outstanding issues already agreed by both sides and carefully penned down in the P.O.A signed by Tun Daim for Malaysia and LKY for Singapore but regrettably it was later scuppered by you as PM citing nonsensical reasons/excuses. Which side was the unfriendly party then? If Malaysia can totally ignore the P.O.A, what do you think how the world will look at Malaysia especially you, when you were the PM then? If you can blatantly ignore legally drafted agreement, changing position every now & then, don't put the blame on Singapore. In case you are still not aware or not wanting to accept the fact, we are now exporting our expertise/know-how on recyled-water to other countries. Rightly so, we should thank you for making SIN shining like a sparkling diamond in the world map with our water management skills.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Safra Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon 2009

My preparation for this year's Stanchart 42km full marathon in Dec is going according to schedule so far - it's a first in my lifetime to attempt the full marathon which is a pledge made last year.

In April this year, I did the 10km Singapore PAssion run with Winnie in Sengkang which was her first 10km of her life and boy, she surprised even herself to clock creditable time. She is now making preparation for Stanchart 21km half marathon and with sheer determination, she can complete the race at own pace - 加油, Winnie!

On 24 May, I did the 15km Saucony 100Plus PAssion Run with Chua while Winnie participated in the 10km event. It was a hot morning at East Coast and flagged-off was slightly delayed @ 0800 hrs. I huffed and puffed, finally hit the tape @ 1 hr 28 mins plus and Chua, always a stronger & fitter runner than me finished well ahead of me. It was a good run for me but I did hope the weather would have been more forgiving.

The Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon is a litmus test for me running up to my preparation for the full marathon in December this year. All the training mainly with my two running buddies, Chua and Eddie in the past months had geared me mentally for this 21 km event, my longest run thus far. It was a pity Winnie who had enrolled for the 10 km event could not participate due to foot injury. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Winnie and not to worry, this run was for you too.

Chua picked me up at 4.30am hrs and by 5 am, we arrived at the Esplanade, the starting point. Looking around for toilet but frantic search around, found none and like many guys (wonder how the ladies did it though), we relieved near the bushes. At that hour, it was still dark...phew.

Warmed up enough, we took a casual walk to the start point and at 5.30 hrs, we were flagged off. For about 1 to 2 km, Chua and I stayed together but we will be running on our own pace to gauge how readiness we had prepared for ourselves. We will meet at the car park after the race.

It is always good to start off early in the morning for later than that I could not have imagined the hot sun glaring over us. We ran up the Benjamin Sheares bridge heading to Fort Road, I was maintaining a steady pace. It was still dark at that hour, the only spectators watching us were the construction workers along the Marina IR site.

At Fort Road, we turned to East Coast Park. There was a narrow path, everyone had to squeeze past and true enough, I did witness someone tripped and fell. The organiser could have arranged for that stretch to be broadened; imagine hundreds of runners squeezing through that narrow path.

Did a u-turn along the East Coast Park, we headed to Guillemard Road. At Nicoll Highway, we had covered more than half the distance by then. I was maintaining well, no cramp and no real pain yet. At about 15 km mark, I heard someone calling me from the opposite side and it was Chua. By my 'guesstimate', he was at least more than 1 km ahead of me at that juncture.

Near F1 corporate stands and Singapore Flyer @ 18 km mark, I started to feel cramp on both thighs. As if it was not bad enough, I felt pain on my right sore too. "Shit, my new sleeking-looking Nike running shoes have not been seasoned enough", I thought to myself then. Not wanting to injure myself, I decided to walk to loosen the muscle around my thighs. About 50 m walking, I decided to 'bite the pain' and pressed on. Admittedly, it was a tough tough 3 km to the tape.

At the final stretch near Esplanade, group of run runners making their way to the start point were crossing the road blocking the direction of the energy-sapped 21 km runners. Damn, no usherers to control the charging crowd, the organisers could have pre-empted it but alas, it was overlooked.

When I saw the finishing line at City Hall, I drew out my last quickening my pace at the last 50 m to clock home at 2 hours 14 mins plus. Collected my hard earned medal, gulped down two cans of 100 plus while spreading eagle on the ground. After a short rest, I took a stroll back to the carpark near Fort Canning knowing Chua will be waiting for me. He clocked a creditable time of 2 hours 4 mins plus.

Now, for the full marathon, I know that I must clock longer distance in training and if 21 km is not punishing enough, whatabout 42 km? Practise, practise...there is no short cut to success. My target for 42 km is 6 hours and anything lower than that, it's a bonus. This will cap my final goal for this year and come 2010, what other goal for me to achieve? Well, we shall see.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Semakau Run 2009

Thanks to Eddie, Chua and I had the privilege to join some 300 corporate leaders and government officials in this Semakau Run 2009 which is into its 3rd year running. The uniqueness of Semakau Landfill is that it is an island, just 8 kms south of Singapore is created entirely from the sea space filled with trash. It is an initiative of National Environment Agency started way back in 1995 , a first in the world too.

Semakau Run 2009 is only a short 5 km route, along the stretch of road in the landfill and its breezy surrounding simply blew you away.

We took the ferry at Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal, just a short 20 mins ride away. At about 5.30 pm, the guest-of-honour, Minister Yaacob Ibrahim flagged us off. We did not intend to compete for fast times, instead chose to do a leisure jog around.

After the run, there was a sumptous dinner waiting for us before heading back to Singapore.

We enjoyed the trip and the run and we certainly look forward to another one next year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lee Kuan Yew: At 85, The Fire Still Burns

A frank discourse by a bumiputra of Malaysia.

*The writer is a nephew of Dr Mahathir.

Singapore's Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew, who was Singapore's founding father, has always been very direct in his comments. This was the man who outsmarted the communists in Singapore (with the innocent help of Malaya then and the willing help of the British) and who later outwitted the British and outpaced Malaysia in all spheres.

Singapore practices corrupt-free meritocracy and Malaysia affirmative action. The former attracted all the best brains and the latter chased out all the brains. The Singapore cabinet consists of dedicated and intelligent technocrats whereas Malaysia has one of the most unwieldy cabinets. Not only that, brain wise it was below par not even good for the kampong.

With that kind of composition, one that is very brainy, naturally Singapore, with no natural resources could outstrip Malaysia in every aspect of development. Malaysia, on the other hand, was too much preoccupied with its Malayness and the illusory 'Ketuanan Melayu' and was also more interested in useless mega iconic development rather than real social and economic development.

Whenever Kuan Yew utters anything that deemed to be a slight on Malaysia, voices were raised admonishing him. Malaysia would never dare to face reality. That Singapore had shown that it could survive was a slap on those who believed that Singapore would fold up once it left Malaysia. Therefore it was natural that these doomsayers would try to rationalise their utterances to be in their favour to combat on whatever Kuan Yew commented. Its political jealousy.

Singapore achieved its development status without any fanfare. But here in Malaysia, a development that was deceptive was proclaimed as having achieved development status. It was trumpeted as an achievement that befits first world status. This was self delusion. Malaysians are led to believe into a make believe world, a dream world. The leaders who themselves tend to believe in their own fabricated world did not realise the people were not taken in by this kind of illusion.

Lee Kuan Yew believed in calling a spade a spade. I was there in Singapore when the People's Action Party won the elections in 1959. He was forthright in his briefing to party members as to what was expected of them and what Singapore would face in the future. Ideologically, I did not agree with him. We in the University of Malaya Socialist Club had a different interpretation of socialist reconstruction. But he was a pragmatist and wanted to bring development and welfare to the Singaporeans. Well! He succeeded.

Malaysia was so much embroiled in racial politics and due to the fear of losing political power, all actions taken by the main party in power was never targeted towards bringing wealth to all. Wealth was distributed to the chosen few only. They were the cronies and the backers of the party leadership to perpetuate their own selfish ends.

Seeing the efficiency and the progress achieved by Singapore caused the Malaysian leadership to suffer from an inferiority complex. That Malaysia should suffer from this complex was of its own making.

In a recent interview, Kuan Yew said that Malaysia could have done better if only it treated its minority Chinese and Indian population fairly. Instead they were completely marginalized and many of the best brains left the country in drove. He added that Singapore was a standing indictment to what Malaysia could have done differently. He just hit the nail right there on the head.

Malaysia recently celebrated its 50th year of independence with a bagful of uncertainties. The racial divide has become more acute. The number of Malay graduates unemployed is on the increase. And this aspect can be very explosive. But sad to see that no positive actions have been taken to address these social ills.

Various excuses were given by Malaysian leaders why Singapore had far outstripped Malaysia in all aspects of social and economic advancement. Singapore was small, they rationalized and therefore easy to manage. Singapore was not a state but merely an island.

There was one other aspect that Malaysia ealized and that is to ealizeda all aspects of life. All government organs and machinery were ‘UMNO-ised’. This was to ensure that the party will remain in power. Thus there was this misconception by the instruments of government as to what national interest is and what UMNO vested interest is.

UMNO vested interest only benefited a few and not the whole nation. But due to the UMNO-isation of the various instruments of government, the country under the present administration had equated UMNO vested interest as being that of national interest. Thus development became an avenue of making money and not for the benefit of the people. The fight against corruption took a back seat. Transparency was put on hold. And the instruments of government took it to be of national interest to cater to the vested interest of UMNO. Enforcement of various enactments and laws was selective. Thus a ‘palace’ in Kelang, Aps cronies and close-one-eye umno MPs could exist without proper procedure. Corruption infested all govt departments, the worse is the police and lately even in the judiciary.

Singapore did not ealizeda its instruments of government. If ever ealizedation took place, it is guided by national interest. To be efficient and to be the best in the region was of paramount importance. Thus all the elements like corruption, lackadaisical attitude towards work and other black elements, which would retard such an aim, were eliminated. Singapore naturally had placed the right priority in it’s pursuit to achieve what is best for its people. This is the major difference between these two independent countries.

Malaysia in its various attempts to cover up its failures embarked on several diversions. It wanted its citizens to be proud that the country had the tallest twin-tower in the world, although the structure was designed and built by foreigners. Its now a white-elephant wasting away. It achieved in sending a man into space at an exorbitant price. For what purpose? These are what the Malays of old would say “menang sorak” (hollow victories).

It should be ealized that administering a country can be likened to managing a corporate entity. If the management is efficient and dedicated and know what they are doing, the company will prosper.. The reverse will be if the management is poor and bad. The company will go bust.

There are five countries around this region. There is Malaysia, and then Indonesia. To the east there is the Philippines and then there is that small enclave called the Sultanate of Brunei . All these four countries have abundance of natural resources but none can lay claim to have used all these resources to benefit the people. Poverty was rampant and independence had not brought in any significant benefits to the people.

But tiny Singapore without any resources at all managed to bring development to its citizens. It had one of the best public MRT transport systems and airlines in the world and it is a very clean city state. Their universities, health care, ports are among the best in the world.

It is impossible to compare what Singapore has achieved to what all these four countries had so far achieved. It was actually poor management and corruption, and nothing more. Everything is done for the vested interest of the few.

Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines and the Sultanate of Brunei need good management teams. They would not be able to do this on their own steam. I would advise that they call on Kuan Yew to show them what good governance is. Why look East to Japan when it is just next door across the causeway.