MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, December 31, 2010

Nothing is what it seems…

Is this what we deserve? When did you first realize that nine times out of ten the possibility of life throwing you a curve ball happens? Nothing is real everything is an illusion. To those of you that read my recent write “The truth, nothing but the truth?”
and question my motives for writing so, I suggest you not overlook the question marked I placed at the end of that title. To those of you that know what it is that I normally do write about, that piece must have perplexed you to the extreme. There actually is a complimentary mention of Najib! “With each day he has grown in stature as a national leader and as an individual” Why?

What I do is to look at situations as I see it and try to tell it as I see it. I am not right all the time and I am not wrong all the time but I will still write. Najib’s responsibility is to ensure that Barisan Nasional is victorious come the 13th General Election and he will do what he has to do to ensue that or he will be out of a job.

He has taken Perak from Pakatan Rakyat and now he will attempt to take Selangor. The probability of Najib succeeding is greatly enhanced by Tan Sri Khalid having to fight a rear guard battle with his own party whilst Najib is already outflanking him from all directions. That is the reality of politics.

When you enter politics be prepared to say goodbye to what you have. Power, position, support….all erodes over time. And too soon all will be taken from you and you are then consigned to the “has been” heap. Selangor is the “trophy wife’….and “trophy wives” are always susceptible to the pull of many variables. In the best of times Selangor would have required constant vigilance to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy. This is not the best of times for Khalid or PKR.

King Solomon terrible verdict to have a baby cut in half so that each mother claming the child to be hers could receive half of the child reflects what PKR must decide in Selangor. Will PKR fall in behind Khalid and do what they have to do to retain Selangor or will they rather have Selangor be Barisan Nasional’s again just so that Khalid will no longer be MB? If only there was a King Solomon from within the ranks of BN or PR…is only.

courtesy of steadyaku47

To Dewan Rakyat Speaker: Be Always Scrupulously Fair and Unbiased

January 1, 2011

Tunku Aziz to Dewan Rakyat Speaker: “Be Always Scrupulously Fair and Unbiased”

A Dewan Rakyat Speaker I happened to know many years ago before Mahathir imposed his will on every facet of the institutional life of the country, with predictable consequences, remarked that the position he occupied was more than a job. It was a sacred, conscious personal commitment to be always scrupulously fair and unbiased. The sole object of ensuring the dignity and sanctity of the House had always to be kept firmly etched in mind. He said he looked upon his country’s parliament as the Temple of Democracy, and that he was its High Priest. He was a person of a scholarly bent, and steeped in the parliamentary tradition and practice of the Mother of Parliament.

I am of an age to remember the succession of men who presided over the Dewan Rakyat, as well as the Dewan Negara. They were men of integrity and refinement, gentlemen all, and no one could have accused any of them of being biased in favour of the ruling party that had appointed them. They, when presiding over the House, were guided solely by the need to uphold the honour and dignity of the House as well as their own. They possessed exemplary personal qualities to begin with, and comparing even the worst among them with the incumbent holder of that high and prestigious office would be invidious. It is totally repugnant and enormously offensive to my sense of what is fair.

His record as Mr Speaker is a total disgrace and has turned the Parliament of Malaysia into an object of fun and ridicule. He has completely lost the respect of all fair-minded people, and for sheer incompetence and arrogance he typifies the proverbial square peg in a round hole. His is a case of the administration giving in to political expediency when more honest and mature political judgments should have guided the decision on the appointment of the Speaker of the House.

My advice to the Speaker, who is now reduced to the category of the “walking wounded” due to self-inflicted injury caused by shooting in the foot, and mouth, on every conceivable occasion, is that he should consider seriously stepping down so that the dignity of the House may be restored. He has failed in his duty by all accounts, and should accept that he is a total misfit for a position requiring qualities that he will never acquire in a million years.

The Dewan is as good as the Speaker

To the politically biased, it is all too tempting to blame members of the opposition for reacting robustly to the Speaker’s diabolically provocative and heavy-handed “interventions” bordering on intimidation. But that is to ignore the fact that the House is as good as the Speaker. After all, he sets the tone of the House and the standards of parliamentary behaviour. He obviously believes that he is there to please his political masters; another consequence of Mahathir’s onslaught on the all-important doctrine of the separation of powers.

The Speaker has become a willing partner and complicit in the not too subtle plan of demolishing the last vestiges of the independence of the legislature. In the process he has fritted away the moral and ethical underpinnings of an ancient institution, first established all those centuries ago in England to protect citizens’ rights. To do his work effectively, he must earn the respect of the members on both sides of the floor by carrying out his duty in strict accordance with the dictates of fairness and equity. That he has blatantly ignored and buried this important principle for good, thus making utter mockery of what is the most important democratic institution of the nation, puts his moral fitness for high office in serious doubt.

I notice the propensity of the Speaker to confuse and equate legitimate procedural questions and interventions by opposition members with insubordination. This is unfortunate, to say the least. What is worse, he is too quick to take umbrage and to imagine a slight where there is none. It is all, I am told, a sign of a deep sense of insecurity occasioned by his trying to do a job for which he is ill-qualified. The powers vested in the Speaker should be used sparingly, and tempered with compassion. A blustering, threatening bully does not impress; he is treated as an uncouth figure to be pitied at best; at worst, he loses his moral authority to preside. That is not the stuff a Speaker is made of.

22 Years of Mahathirism

Twenty-two years of Mahathirism with its unbridled excesses have destroyed every institution in our country, and here we are on a par with the parliamentary practice in Singapore where no opposition has ever been tolerated. Najib’s basket of reforms will come to naught if he does not reform our parliamentary system to reflect Commonwealth best practices.

The opposition has a role to play. It is part of our constitutional arrangements and must be treated as such. The opposition MPs have been elected by the people and their duty to the country should not be curtailed as to do so would be in breach of a cardinal principle of democracy. Your Speaker, Prime Minister, should be directed to show a modicum of respect to the House by treating the people’s representatives with the dignity they have a right to expect in a civilised world.

Mr Speaker, Sir, “sekian ucapan saya. Terima Kasih.”–mysinchew.com

Is Nik Aziz going Loco?

KOTA BHARU, Dec 31 – Islam does not prohibit any exercise activities including aerobics in the vicinity of a mosque, as long as it is not against the syariah, PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat said today.

The Kelantan Mentri Besar (picture) said it was also not a problem to have activities outside or in the mosque with Muslims or non-Muslims.

“It is not wrong in Islam if certain quarters want to host activities in an Islamic worship place, because during Prophet Muhammad’s time, there are non-believers who entered the mosque (area) because it became a centre for activities including political ones,” he told reporters after his Friday lecture on Dataran Ilmu, here today.

According to Nik Aziz, there are two things that should be rectified on whether the parliamentarian was not properly dressed, or if she did not cover her aurat.

For sure we need to tell them about things forbidden by the religion when you are in a mosque... have to tell ways and the taboos from the Islam perspective before you enter a mosque,” he said.Gohere

To begin let us look at this verse Al Quran 9:16-17

It is not for such as join gods with Allah, to visit or maintain the mosques of Allah while they witness against their own souls to infidelity. The works of such bear no fruit: In Fire shall they dwell.
The mosques of Allah shall be visited and maintained by such as believe in Allah and the Last Day, establish regular prayers, and practise regular charity, and fear none (at all) except Allah. It is they who are expected to be on true guidance.

In the same surah verse 28 the specific provision regarding Masjidil Haram and Masjid Nabawi were laid down

O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs,approach the Sacred Mosque. And if ye fear poverty, soon will Allah enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.

Here some extracts from a question posed on Non Muslim entering a mosque: go here

In this regard, Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, points out the opinions of Muslim jurists on the issue as follows:

Allah Almighty says, (O ye who believe! The idolaters only are unclean. So let them not come near Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah) after this their year. If ye fear poverty (from the loss of their merchandise) Allah shall preserve you of His bounty if He will. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise.) (At-Tawbah 9: 28)
And He says, (O ye who believe! Draw not near unto prayer when ye are drunken, till ye know that which ye utter, nor when ye are polluted, save when journeying upon the road, till ye have bathed.) (An-Nisaa’ 4: 43)

Relying on these verses, the majority of Muslim Jurists, including those from the Maliki, Shafi`i and other schools of fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), maintain that the polytheists are not allowed to enter the Sacred Mosque in Makkah. However, they state that there is nothing wrong if Christians and Jews enter it. They state that this ruling applies to the Holy Mosque in Makkah as well as its precincts. Abu Hanifah, however, views that even a polytheist can enter the Holy Mosque in Makkah as long as he will not stay or reside there. He interpreted impurity to mean spiritual impurity (shirk).

As for other mosques than the Holy Mosque in Makkah, the Madinan jurists forbade non-Muslims from entering them because non-Muslims are regarded by the Qur’an as impure. Imam Ahmad is reported to have said that they can only enter these mosques with the permission of Muslims. This is supported by the report that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) permitted the people of At-Ta’if to stay in the mosque prior to their embracing Islam. He also received the Christians of Najran in his mosque in Madinah. When the time of their prayer was due, they prayed in the mosque towards the eastern direction. Thereupon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said (to his Companions), “Leave them (to perform prayer).”
Under the title ‘A Polytheist Entering the Mosque’, Al-Bukhari, in his Sahih mentioned that Thamamah ibn Athal (despite that he was a polytheist) was tied up in the mosque.

In Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar mentioned that there are different opinions concerning this issue. The Hanafi jurists gave unconditional permission while the Maliki scholars and al-Mazni are reported to have forbidden it absolutely. The Shafi`i scholars differentiated between the Holy Mosque and other mosques. There is an opinion that the permission is restricted to the People of the Book but this is refuted by the case of Thamamah mentioned above.

Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Islamic lecturer and author, states:

It is forbidden for Muslims to allow any non-Muslim to enter Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah and its sacred precincts, because Allah says: (O ye who believe! The idolaters only are unclean. So let them not come near Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah) after this their year. If ye fear poverty (from the loss of their merchandise) Allah shall preserve you of His bounty if He will. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise.) (At-Tawbah 9: 28)
Concerning other mosques, some Muslim jurists maintain that it is permissible for non-Muslims to enter them because there is nothing to indicate the unlawfulness of such act; others say that it is not permissible, by analogy to the case of Al-Masjid Al-Haram.

The correct view is that it is permissible if it serves the interests of Shari`ah or meets a valid need, such as if a non-Muslim needs to enter a mosque to hear something that may encourage him to embrace Islam, or because he needs to drink water, or the like. This is pursuant to the way of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on this issue; he tied up (his prisoner) Thamaamah ibn Athal Al-Hanafi in the mosque before he became a Muslim, and the delegations of Thaqif and the Christians of Najran stayed in the mosque before they embraced Islam. Actually, many benefits were accrued from this: they were able to hear the speeches and sermons of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to see people praying and reciting the Qur’an, etc. (Fatawa Al-Lajnah Al-Da'imah - The Standing Committee for Islamic Research and Ifta’)

Therefore, if non-Muslims seek permission to enter the mosque in order to see how Muslims perform prayer, there is nothing wrong in that, as long as they have nothing with them that could defile the mosque, and their women are notdressed in a provocative fashion, or any other reason that bars them from entering the mosque. So they can enter and sit behind the Muslims to see how they pray.

Based on the above Fatwas, we can say that non-Muslims, including Christians and Jews, are allowed to enter mosques, but they should abide by the following conditions:
1- Non-Muslims are allowed to enter mosques – other than the Sacred Mosque in Makkah – with a prior permission of Muslims.
2- They must have a sound reason for entering the mosque.
3- They should respect the decorum of the mosque and keep in mind that it is a sacred place of worship.
4- Both men and women are not allowed to uncover their `Awarah (parts of the body which should not be exposed in front of others) when entering the mosque.

Aiyoo ini minah gigi posang betui tak faham adap sopan......

Tok Guru weh ambo nok tanyo sikit.....

Hok demo duk Jual namo Nabi ambo tu bakpo?

Zaman Nabi ambo takdok menate tokpek pake seluar denga baju ketak ketak..buak kungfu panda dale masjid weh.....

Gini la weh.....ambo nok kelih Tok Guru buat AEROBIC dengan Tokpek nih dalam Masjid Besar Kota Bharu.........brani?

Tell me how does Aerobics in a Mosque = a Valid Need?

No other place on the planet to do it?

courtesy of Pure Shite

Is the Sultan of Selangor INTENTIONALLY Precipitating a Constitutional Crisis in SELANGOR?

Read here for more in Malaysian Insider


The controversial appointment of Datuk Mohd Khusrin Munawi as the Selangor state secretary may lead to a
constitutional crisis IF the Selangor Sultan carries out a planned swearing-in ceremony for the post on January 6.

Constitutional experts argued today that the ceremony, scheduled for next Thursday, was“unlawful” as the state constitution dictates that the oath of office has to be done in front of the Selangor mentri besar, and NOT the Selangor Sultan.

The Selangor government has insisted it has the final say in deciding the state secretary, after the Selangor Sultan agreed with Putrajaya to appoint Mohd Khusrin as state secretary despite Khalid having his own list of names for the top civil service post in the country’s wealthiest state.

It is understood however that outgoing state secretary Datuk Ramli Mahmud’s official oath of office was done in the presence of Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah back in March 2006, during the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) Selangor government.

Karpal Singh told The Malaysian Insider:
“The Sultan has to seek legal advice from the state legal adviser before proceeding with this ceremony. On a matter like this, the Sultan acts on executive advice, His Highness cannot do it on his own.

The concern is that if the ceremony is carried out, it can be declared null and void by a court of law. This is unconstitutional, as it is not within the provisions of the state constitution.

The state constitution does NOT allow for this.

It could lead into a constitutional crisis because it is not in line with the state constitution... but I hope this does not happen, that is why the Sultan must be extra careful before going through with this,”

I am actually looking at the laws right now... I have been asked to help on behalf of the MB.

The act of the Sultan can be taken up in a court of law.”
The veteran lawyer revealed that he had been asked by Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim to look into the legal aspects of the matter personally.

Article 52 (4) of the Selangor state constitution stipulates that the state secretary“shall take and subscribe in the presence of the Mentri Besar the following oath of secrecy.”

There is no mention that the state secretary’s oath of office has to be done in the presence of the Sultan.

Constitutional expert Prof A. Aziz Bari claimed that the swearing-in ceremony of the state secretary in front of the Selangor Sultan was a “new practice,” saying that he was not aware that such a ceremony existed.

Aziz said,
“As far as I know this is the first time such a ceremony is being held, even though I feel that it is only an official function and such a ceremony is not needed.

There is NOTHING in the state constitution which supported the basis for the planned ceremony.

I don’t think this logic can be used, it is like a state assembly Speaker not having the power to take action against state lawmakers, but the Parliament Speaker being able to do otherwise.”
The political secretary to the Selangor MB, Faekah Husin, confirmed today that the MB’s office received invitation letters for the January 6 ceremony three days ago.

Khalid has himself indicated that he will not accept Mohd Khusrin as Selangor’s new state secretary.

During a solat hajat function last night at his residence in Shah Alam, the Selangor MB had stressed that he still had the option to not accept Mohd Khusrin by not agreeing to him taking the oath of secrecy.

PAS MP Khalid Samad told The Malaysian Insider:
“If Mohd Khusrin does not take the oath of secrecy in front of the MB, then he cannot perform his duties as state secretary fully.

He cannot attend state exco meetings or be privy to state secrets.

Sure he will be state secretary in name but not by duty. MB is implying that this is the option Selangor has, to not allow the state secretary to angkat sumpah (take the oath)."

The Shah Alam MP was among those present during Khalid’s function last night, where the Selangor MB made his first public statement on the matter.

The Chief Secretary to the Government announced on Monday Mohd Khusrin’s promotion to replace Ramli, who leaves on December 31.

courtesy of Malaysian Unplug

Sunday Market in Satok

Sim Kwang Yang

One of the most famous and popular landmarks in Kuching city has to be the Sunday Market, the open air marketplace located at Jalan Satok. Rare is the odd resident of Kuching city who has not made a trip to this congested, lively and fascinating market place on a weekend.

The Sunday Market started out as a place to buy jungle produce from the farmers from the hinterland of Kuching city, mostly from Bau, Lundu, Padawan and Serian. Farmers from the surrounding area would take buses or hitch rides, and start to congregate at the market as early as Saturday morning, and begin trading at noon time.

Some farmers even arrive on Friday night, the night before the market begins. They spread out rattan mats on the five-foot-way corridors outside the shops in the market area, and wake up early the next morning to set up stall to sell their wares.

Here the city folk have been able to enjoy a wide array of jungle produce at very competitive prices. The goods are cheap, and a shopping trip to the market will not burn a hole in your pocket. For as little as RM20, you can complete your weekly vegetable shopping and that is why the market is so popular with local shoppers.

My personal favourites are the wild ferns and the exotic vegetables on sale there such as paku, midin and bamboo shoots. I especially miss the crunchy fern midin — I have rarely seen midin in West Malaysia and it seems to be a unique product of our fair land, Sarawak. I have seen midin on sale in Kuala Lumpur, but it was probably imported from Sarawak, because it was on sale for RM30 per bowl.

The original location of the market was concentrated in the streets around Jalan Gambier and Jalan India, but the market was later moved to its present site in Jalan Satok some two decades ago. Over the years, the market has gained popularity. It has grown from strength to strength and is now a ‘must-see’ place in Kuching city for most visitors.

To the original vegetable stalls at the market, new tenants have added many more types of goods and variety of fare on offer. These new stall have added colour to the general busy atmosphere of the very congested streets. Nowadays, you can get hold of almost anything that money can buy there, and the prices are still reasonable.

Apart from jungle produce, you can buy all manner of goods, available in large quantities. The fruit stalls are the most popular outlets as you can buy some exotic items from the market.

On a good day, you can buy sago worms, a local delicacy. The local population may swallow them live: they claim that the best way to taste the squirming thing is by popping it whole into the mouth. Talk about freshness! Alternatively, some housewives may prefer to fry them before eating.

Many Kuching people have become addicted to visiting the market every weekend. It is an occasion for a family outing, as strolling along the congested street market, and examining the goods on sale has become a very pleasant day out for city folk.

I have certain taboos about some of the food on sale there and one of them has to be python meat. For one reason or another, eating snake meat has not entered into my culinary repertoire. But the sellers have no lack of customers at the Sunday Market.

You can also buy a puppy, kitten, hamster or rabbit. All sorts of animals are offered on sale in small cages. I personally bought my own puppies at the Sunday Market once, paying RM30 for two young, lovely puppies.

One lady selling puppies is also a gardener. She brings her jars and bags of beautiful orchids and other flowers from her garden to the market. As I am a big fan of the joys that can be gained with green fingers, the garden section is my favourite spot in the whole Sunday Market. I have known the orchid lady personally for many years, for she is a neighbour and an old friend from Jalan Ban Hock. Her garden shop is usually located at one of the big corners of the Sunday Market.

Inevitably, you are bound to bump into the odd salesman from the countryside trying to persuade you to buy their homemade rattan furniture. I have seen some excellent rattan work and these lovely pieces can be a welcome addition in any living room in the city.

All in all, the Satok Sunday Market is still one of my favourite places in Kuching city. I have heard rumours of the authorities trying to relocate the market elsewhere, but I am sure this would be an unpopular proposition for Kuching folk. Let us face it, we are all lifelong fans of our grand Sunday Market — a regular feature of public life in Kuching city.


(The author can be reached at kenyalang578@hotmail.com. All comments are welcomed.)

Be afraid, be very afraid of Taliban Umno

Utusan Malaysia published a front-page story titled “Teo Nie Ching makes trouble again” along with a picture of her performing aerobic exercises with men and women in the Masjid Taman Cheras Jaya compound at the recent Maal Hijrah carnival. The newspaper accused her of wearing tight-fitting clothes. She is pictured wearing a white T-shirt and track pants, as were the other Muslim participants.

By Jackson Ng (former journalist)

After 53 years of Merdeka (Independence), the Barisan Nasional (BN), especially the MCA, never fails to constantly warn non-Malays of PAS’ strive for the implementation of hudud laws under an Islamic state. But what the MCA fails to condemn is BN-Umno’s declaration that Malaysia is already an Islamic state.

And since Malaysia is already an Islamic state, what is there for non-Malays to fear anymore? Unless you are saying PAS and Umno’s Islamic state are different. This is illogical because the Malays in PAS and Umno profess the same religion – Islam.

And Islamic laws are only applicable to Muslims, NOT non- Muslims.

What is very clear today is that Malaysians, especially non- Muslims, must be very afraid of Taliban Umno. The Umno-controlled Utusan Malaysia on Thursday (Dec 30, 2010) continued with its fanatical Taliban-like attacks on DAP’s Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching.

Utusan Malaysia published a front-page story titled “Teo Nie Ching makes trouble again” along with a picture of her performing aerobic exercises with men and women in the Masjid Taman Cheras Jaya compound at the recent Maal Hijrah carnival. The newspaper accused her of wearing tight-fitting clothes. She is pictured wearing a white T-shirt and track pants, as were the other Muslim participants.

In August, BN politicians and Muslim groups criticised Teo over her controversial surau visit, after Utusan Malaysia published a front-page picture of her, with her hair uncovered, addressing those praying at the Al-Huda Surau in Kajang Sentral.

Such fanatical religious attacks will surely further frighten away both local and foreign investors, but that is of little concern to the Umno-led BN ruling coalition.

Clearly, BN-Umno is bent on retaining ruling power at whatever cost. Its behaviour and continuous tolerance with Utusan Malaysia’s constant and consistent religious and racial attacks speaks volume of its intentions.

It is also timely to point out that the Umno-friendly Malay rights group Perkasa had also demanded that Syariah laws be enacted to ban non-Muslims from entering mosques and suraus. In its attacks, Perkasa must have forgotten or conveniently left out MCA, Gerakan and MIC leaders who have also been entering mosques to attend community functions.

However, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders, including PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, had defended Teo over her mosque visit. Teo was reported to have said that although her act may cost her party Malay votes, she would continue engaging Muslim voters through community functions whenever she is invited by a mosque in her constituency.

The fact that there are Muslims and mosques willing to invite Teo to grace community functions show that there are many
rational Muslims or Malays who refuse to ape the ways of Taliban Umno Malays.

There is then, still hope for a progressive and truly 1Malaysia to be realised.

But, do be afraid, be very afraid of Taliban Umno and Taliban Utusan Malaysia.


This is the picture of the Indonesian maid ROBENGAH who is alleged been raped by a Malaysian Minister or VVIP.

Photo details from : Sabahkini and ruangbicarapriamalaya.blogspot.com

Getting Corruption Right

December 31, 2010

Friends and Fellow Malaysians, I wish to end this year (2010) with Jagdish Bhagwati’s article on “Getting Corruption Right”. It is my New Year fervent hope that our Government deals firmly with the corrupt in our country. In 2011, we will see two senior politicians, Tun Ling Leong Sik, and Khir Toyo in our courts. More can be expected given the fact that the new year is likely to be an Election Year (both National and Sarawak state elections).

Political temperatures will rise, but I am confident that as a nation of mature and intelligent Malaysians, we will be able to stay sensible, rational, and responsible as we debate issues and discuss the future of our wonderful country, warts and all. –Din Merican

Getting Corruption Right

by Jagdish Bhagwati (December 29, 2010)

NEW YORK – I just returned from India, where I was lecturing to the Indian Parliament in the same hall where US President Barack Obama had recently spoken. The country was racked by scandal. A gigantic, ministerial-level scam in the mobile-telephone sector had siphoned off many billions of dollars to a corrupt politician.

But several of the MPs had also been taken aback on discovering that when Obama spoke to them, he read from an “invisible” teleprompter. This had misled his audience into thinking that he was speaking extemporaneously, a skill that is highly regarded in India.

Both episodes were seen as a form of corruption: one involved money, the other deception. The two transgressions are obviously not equal in moral turpitude. But the Obama episode illustrates an important cross-cultural difference in assessing how corrupt a society is.

Transparency International and occasionally the World Bank like to rank countries by their degree of corruption, with the media then ceaselessly citing where each country stands. But cultural differences between countries undermine the legitimacy of such rankings – which are, after all, based on surveys of the public. What Obama was doing was a common enough practice in the United States (though one might expect better from an orator of his ability); it was not so in India, where such a technique is, indeed, regarded as reprehensible.

India certainly has corruption, like almost every other country. But India also has a culture in which people commonly assume that everyone in public life is corrupt unless they prove otherwise. Even a blind man will tell Transparency International: “I saw him take a bribe with my own eyes.” Indeed, a distinguished Indian bureaucrat, a man of unimpeachable character, once told me that his mother had told him: “I believe you are not corrupt only because you are my son!”

So, if you ask Indians whether their governance is marked by widespread corruption, they will answer with gusto: yes! But their exuberance biases India’s global ranking relative to more empirically minded countries.

A similar bias arises from the occasional tendency to view political patronage elsewhere as being more corrupt than the same practices at home. For example, when the East Asian financial crisis broke out, there followed a systematic attempt to pin the blame on the affected countries: “crony capitalism” allegedly had somehow crippled their economies! In other words, the acquaintances and benefactors of the East Asian leaders were “cronies,” whereas those of US leaders were “friends”?

In fact, it was clear that the culprits were the International Monetary Fund and the US Treasury, which had encouraged a shift to capital-account convertibility without understanding that the case for free capital flows was not symmetrical with the case for free trade.

But where substantial corruption can unambiguously be found, as it often can, one must recognize that it is not a cultural given. On the contrary, often it is the result of policies that have fed it.

India in the 1950’s had a civil service, and a political class, that were the envy of the world. If that seems shocking today, the loss of virtue must be traced to the all-pervasive “permit raj,” with its licensing requirements to import, produce, and invest, which grew to gargantuan proportions. High-level bureaucrats quickly discovered that licenses could be bartered for favors, while politicians saw in the system the means to help important financial backers.

Once the system had taken root, corruption percolated downward, from senior bureaucrats and politicians, who could be bribed do what they were not supposed to do, to lower-level bureaucrats, who would not do what there were supposed to do unless bribed. Clerks would not bring out files, or get you your birth certificate or land title, unless you greased their palms.

But if policies can create corruption, it is equally true that the cost of corruption will vary with the specific policies. The cost of corruption has been particularly high in India and Indonesia, where policies created monopolies that earned scarcity rents, which were then allocated to officials’ family members.

Such “rent-creating” corruption is quite expensive and corrosive of growth. By contrast, in China, the corruption has largely been of the “profit-sharing” variety, whereby family members are given a stake in the enterprise so that their earnings increase as profits increase – a type of corruption that promotes growth.

In the long run, of course, both types of corruption are corrosive of the respect and trust that good governance requires, which can undermine economic performance in its own right. But that does not absolve us of the responsibility to define corruption properly – and to acknowledge obvious and important cultural differences in how it is understood.

Jagdish Bhagwati, Professor of Economics and Law at Columbia University and Senior Fellow in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of Termites in the Trading System: How Preferential Trade Agreements Undermine Free Trade.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2010.

The Untouchables at TM and Khazanah- Final Part.

Picture this scenario.

It is now the second phase of providing the 3G services. Nokia and Huawei have performed well. The services were well taken up by consumers. It's time to expand. New tenders must be called. They are called.

The tender committee deliberated on the prospective vendors to expand the services of 3G. The successful vendors in the First phase, Huawei and Nokia participated too. So did other established players. Probably 10-12 were shortlisted.

Now here comes someone, admitting the name of Alcatel. Alcatel says we have the product. But it has no track record. Its product hasn't been tested for its technical integrity and robustness. It didn't get a favorable verdict at the technical stage.

Nevermind. We have been asked to help if we can. That means we have to. Just this time, we set aside the provisions in the colored books. The whispers from beyond the walls of Khazanah are more potent. So, some people insisted Alcatel be given a chance to participate. So it did. It won the contract as vendor to supply the 3G services for the rest of the country. The price was USD 85 million.

A minority objected to this late entry insisting that it must be subjected to the protocols of tender. By that I suppose, it meant, Alcatel must go through a rigorous process of selection and evaluation. Having qualified, they are admitted into the final phase of selection, being assessed by the tender board committee. Assuredly, the person carrying the cause of Alcatel was a member of the tender committee.

It didn't go through such a robust and transparent procurement process, but was admitted in any case. A larger number of board members didn't see anything amiss at this manner of entry. There were whispers that Alcatel's entry has been endorsed right up to the corridors of MOF2. Even though, it was clear, such highhanded admission violated the rules and guidelines ensconced in the multicolored management manuals supplied by Khazanah. The High Priest at Khazanah sayeth- do, so it must be done.

Protestations by minority were easily defeated. The chairman of the tender board put his foot down insisting that Alcatel be considered.

I suppose now TM will grill the chairman of the tender board then. The two fall guys are said to be runners for some board members or to some senior management at TM. If they are runners, they receive instructions. We must go after them.

By the way, I must salute Zamzairani for declaring that investigations into the conduct of TM will be an open book. That book will be much more respected if it leads to direct investigation by the police or MACC. I salute him further, if his statements were made independent of Khazanah's supervision. Hey Zam- did you get clearance from Amok? You mau mati kah? And lose the RM 1.5 million annual income?

Move over to Indonesia. TM has an international arm, TMI. In Indonesia for example TM through its TMI operates it cellular services through ExCelMinIndo. It wanted to offer the same vendor for the Sumatran market. Since Alcatel has already been accepted as the vendor for peninsula Malaysia, why not appoint it as vendor for the Indon market? Senang kerja bukan? If it's good for Malaysia, it must also be good for Indonesian operations.

Those people in Sumatra were asked repeatedly to accommodate the technical compatibility that comes with Alcatel. The CFO was asked to accept the appointment of Alcatel for the end user- Ex Celcom Indo by reporting that Alcatel offered the best in terms of financial acceptability. He refused unless the people here in TM Malaysia request so in writing.

The chief engineer there was asked to report that Alcatel satisfies all the technical requirements and its appointment will therefore be technically justified. . He refused too unless the request from the parent company in Malaysia was done in writing.

In the end, to decide for the end user in Indonesia, TM tender board here approved the award to Alcatel.

What is the relevance of the story above?

The relevance lies in our ability to place what is happening now in its proper context. That context is a procuring regime which is far from what TM has pompously claimed. We have seen how, the procurement regime which consists of certain protocols was often violated to allow selected and preferred and that which has received whispered endorsement to be appointed vendor.

Now now people, the Alcatel people have themselves admitted to bribing the Malaysians, we are now setting up a board-subcommittee to investigate? I am not about to allow the cheap trick in retorting that criminal charges cannot be proffered by a company. Someone commented that on my article on Sime Darby. Then, the most logical step for TM and Axiata is to jointly refer the matter to SPRM so that criminal charges can be taken.

All this setting up a committee is akin to the chisel making noises when the house is already completed. Pahat bising, rumah sudah siap. We the people are reading it more as a CYA ruse- Cover Your Ass ruse. Somebody other than the 2 guys has benefited from the deal. The surest way to get to the bottom of this affair is to get the two jokers to sing like canaries.

It is also strange; the MACC is offering to verify the allegations. Will TM and Axiata or even MACC will then come do the Singapore thing of saying, the version of the story doesn't seem to match with our own internal notes?

The facts are these. Whatever was supplied by Alcatel didn't work and was scrapped. The question is, at that time, was Alcatel evaluated rigorously or was its entry into the business system of TM in Malaysia and also Indonesia, conducted under strict terms of reference of TM's robust and transparent procurement policy.

The way Alcatel was pushed through for the Sumatran market raised serious objections by certain people. It must have been very serious indeed to have led to the resignation of Dato Nurjazlan Mohamed who at that time was a board member of TM and also member to the board audit committee.

So, let us take TM on its "believes that it has a robust and transparent procurement policy and adheres to policy, processes and current best practices". Further, TM added:-

"We take these allegations seriously and we will extend all necessary co-operation where required to the relevant authorities. Through a proposed board sub-committee, we will further conduct a thorough internal investigation to safeguard the integrity of our procurement process and Code of Business Ethics. "TM has a zero tolerance policy towards such improprieties and will take appropriate action in the event that any of our employees were indeed involved," the company said in the filing.