Consumerist: Looking Back Series – 2003 – Local Authorities Fail In Fighting Dengue?

Dato Jacob George

Consumer Advocate Dr Jacob George
wrote Friday, January 03, 2003 11:29 AM

Local authorities fail in fighting dengue?

I am saddened that several people in my neighborhood have contracted dengue.

It does not end there. For the record, we have also had fatalities and noted among them is a Subang Jaya resident, also a former Universiti Hospital Eye Specialist and Associate Professor, who has served with dedication and distinction. She is a shining beacon and friend to both her colleagues, and post and undergraduate medical students!

And for this reason alone, I cannot but be angry and upset that the information that dengue fever has claimed 54 lives in 2002, with 10,753 confirmed cases reported nationwide was kept from the public.

And to add salt to wound, neither was there a concentrated effort in mobilizing a nationwide effort to combat this outbreak nor take punitive sanctions against those who aid and abet this situation to exist, be they individuals, developers or the local councils!

Despite all the “hype, propaganda and publicity on how e-savvy Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) is, the township has the distinction of been singled out as the “dengue capital of the nation”!

And noted among them are the “high demand residential areas in USJ!”

Perhaps, those who have received their “political appointment” as MPSJ councilors with the various perks should tender their resignation for failing miserably to monitor, act and protect the rights and interests of residents here!

And the heads of the MPSJ health enforcement units should be immediately replaced!

It is a pity that a township which was planned as an “environmental haven” four decades ago has turned into a “nightmare concrete jungle”, thanks to incompetent enforcement, questionable and arbitrarily construction approvals and with construction and developers running amok.

INSENSITIVE

Today, Subang Jaya can be best remembered for the symbiotic relationships between certain developers enjoying a monopoly in construction approvals and “people in the corridors of power” despite failing to surrender titles meant for parks, public areas and usage and for an obsession for “Manhattan styled skyline”, excessive signboards, abandoned projects, traffic jams, flash flood, contaminated water and a quality of life that is suspect!

And these very authorities instead of mobilizing a massive campaign to contain the outbreak are rather insensitive by telling us to be calm and that we are “currently experiencing an increase in the number of cases compared to 2001, but it has not reached the epidemic stage!

As a consumer advocate, may I ask both the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and Ministry of Health, how many “body bags” must we fill before it is to be classified “an epidemic” and worthy of a national alert and effort?

For the record, in 2001 alone, Malaysia posted 50 deaths and reported 8,669 dengue cases.

I am also aware that the World Health Organization (WHO) had issued an alert about five months ago warning all countries in the tropical region, including Malaysia, to be prepared for an increase in the number of dengue cases in view of present weather conditions. It is a pity that our local authorities have not adequately responded to the alert!

Ironically, the problem is not in some rural unreachable corner of Malaysia but in several areas who boost of their “bandaraya status” !

Time here is of the essence and it is of utmost importance that both the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Ministry of Health put away their “petty squabbles and ministerial tussles” and address the outbreak.

It is also important that the Ministry of Information instead of spending too much time on “political propaganda” go on an offensive media blitz, utilizing the private television stations too, to conscientize the masses on the dengue problem.

CASSA CAMPAIGN: PROTECTING OUR WOMEN FOLK FROM ROBBERS!

Consumerist: Time Right for Affirmative Action for Malaysian Indians!

Dato Jacob George

‘I have yet to see any tangible transformation exercises here despite multi millions spent on spins here and abroad in the name of talent scouting?’ Dato Dr Jacob George

Consumerist: Time Right for Affirmative Action for Malaysian Indians!

Soon to be caretaker Premier, Najib Tun Razak is expected to meet certain Indian representatives soon.

Will they be just ‘talk sessions’ like before with no road map to an affirmative action program for Malaysian Indians.

Or as some claim, is this another facet to fish for Indian votes in what is seen as a major political battle expected to be the dirtiest in Malaysia’s history?

While others say that the fear of losing is apparent in the manner we are dishing out goodies as never before in any pre election drive?

Newspapers can spin it any which way but touch your heart you know the situation where many state assemblies are facing automatic dissolution is also a new political embarrassment in our political history!

But as a consumer advocate I am glad that the Najib government has finally acknowledged that the Indian community has been completely marginalized.

I have been saying so in chorus with many others despite certain members of the political parties saying otherwise. Will there now be light at the end of the tunnel for Indian Malaysians with the government administrators and the politicians seriously doing something to alleviate the problems that saddle the community?

Will those who are dominant in the Malaysian political life and the civil service make provisions to change the image of the civil service to reflect the composition of ‘Malaysian truly Asia’ or is that all part of just of a spin to attract the ‘tourist ringgit?’

Indians have lost further ground as Indian equity has reduced from 1.5 percent and yet we have Indian leaders in the government boasting of grand plans for the community.

Some have even stated that they are all are waiting how another Malaysian five year plan would be translated to increase Indian equity and I have just this to say to them.

They can wait till the cows come home as nothing is going to change because they themselves have refused to change their political mindsets.

Many serve themselves despite expired shelf life – and their relatives rather than the community; they give bold speeches and promises but the community has been left too far back to make any inroads or impact.

Unless something along the lines of an affirmative programme is introduced and monitored by third party Indian professionals (not political parties!) we will be entrenched at the bottom of the food basket!

And unaddressed, if the present drive continues, I will echo what former Deputy Minister, the late Pathmanthan, the ‘blue eyed boy of our second premier Tun Abdul Razak’ stated at an international conference held at MU in the 80’s ‘Malaysian Indians have gone into a very dark tunnel and I do not see any light at the end of the said tunnel.’

Even a simple application for a business license is met by the ‘political demand’ that unless our firms have a 70 percent bumiputera equity, we will be rejected.

How are companies with professional managers and owners, adequate finances and track record able to compete then in this form of perverse environment?

I will tell you honestly, my wife and I have told our children that we will do our best for them to receive tertiary education abroad but have called on them not to come back because as we see there is no future for them here in Malaysia if things continue in the direction it is moving today.

I have yet to see any tangible transformation exercises here despite multi millions spent on spins here and abroad in the name of talent scouting?

The irony is in 2013 despite all the multi million speeches on transformation – we have two world class Indian surgeons who have made it to the Guinness Book of Records for medical breakthroughs who after a dedicated and sacrificial tenure at government service are still without a job and asked to ‘justify why they should be reengaged by a bunch of morons and idiots, basically ‘little Napoleons – masquerading as professionals?

I am certain ‘Transformation Czar’ – Idris Jala knows both cases well?

Finally rightly or wrongly despite all the 1Malaysia screams – there is already a widespread belief and perception that Indonesians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Filipino Muslims, Arabs, Caucasians and other migrant groups some among them, married to a politically dominant race have more rights than our families who have been here for more than five generations.

CASSA CAMPAIGN: PROTECTING OUR WOMEN FOLK FROM ROBBERS!

Consumerist: Care Taker Role & Code Of Conduct For GE13 – India Good Role Model!

Dato Jacob George

Consumerist: Care Taker Role & Code Of conduct For GE13 – India Good Role Model!

The Election Commission (EC) in some countries are mere brainless stooges. They confirm it the moment they open their mouths and issue statements sounding like politicians rather than statesmen selected to uphold honour and justice.

They are worse than parasites and simply the political hatchet men specially selected by the powers that be, for their long sustained benevolent and unflinching servitude to their political masters. Some may call them ‘mere running dogs’ but I will not be that vulgar.

But in some countries the ECs do justice to their selection and appointment and to the merits and tenets of democracy. One such is the Indian Election Commission.

I had witnessed them in action not only in the last election in 2011 but also in 2004 and the manner in which they carried out their task was just superb.

Whether you know it or not there is a model code of conduct and its values are universal provided your intentions are noble, ethical and serving the free and fair election module. And the code forbids rule by acts of betrayal, treason and worst fraud. How does this code operate?

As an illustration, in 2004 Deputy Indian Prime Minister L K Advani flew in an Indian Air Force helicopter from Bangalore to Tumkur in Karnataka to address an election meeting?

By the time Advani had completed his speech, the EC had announced the dates for the general election and enforced the Model Code of Conduct for parties and candidates. Advani was thus compelled to send the helicopter back and return to Bangalore by car.

Such is the power of the Model Code of Conduct.

The Election Commission through its Code of Conduct monitors the behavior and actions of the political parties and their candidates in any elections.

1. What is the Model Code of Conduct?

It is a set of guidelines laid down by the Election Commission to govern the conduct of political parties and candidates in the run-up to an election.

2. What is the need for such a code of conduct?

It is intended to provide a level playing field for all political parties, to keep the campaign fair and healthy, avoid clashes and conflicts between parties, and ensure peace and order. Its main aim is to ensure that the ruling party, either at the federal level or at state level, does not misuse its official position to gain an unfair and vulgar advantage in an election. That there will be no institutionalized fraud and worst treason.

3. When does it come into force?

The Model Code of Conduct comes into force the moment an election is announced and remains in force till the results are declared.

In 2000, in India there was a tug of war between the central government and the Election Commission on the Model Code of Conduct.

The government went to the Supreme Court against the Commission’s ruling that the code of conduct comes into force the moment elections are announced. The government insisted it should be enforced only from the date of formal notification of each phase of election.

The Election Commission called an all-party meeting to settle the row. Eventually all parties, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, agreed unanimously to support its stand on the Model Code of Conduct.

That was democracy, people-power, and statesmanship in action.

4. To whom does the code apply?

It applies to all political parties, their candidates and polling agents, the government in power, and all government employees.

5. So what does the Model Code of Conduct mean for a ruling party?

In 2004 in India’s ministers, including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, were not allowed to combine their official visits with electioneering work. They also cannot use official/government machinery or personnel for electioneering work.

Public places for holding election rallies and helipads for flights in connection with elections are to be made available to all parties on the same terms and conditions on which they are used by the party in power.

Government institutions and enforcement agencies were expected to play a neutral role and not as active participants for the incumbents as in some countries.

6. Can ministries sanction grants out of the government’s discretionary funds during election time?

No. Ministers and other authorities cannot sanction grants and payments out of discretionary funds from the moment the elections are announced.

7. Can the government run an advertising campaign in the mass media?

Advertisements at the cost of the public exchequer or in some countries using the Ministry of Finance and misuse of official mass media for partisan coverage during an election have to be scrupulously avoided.

8. What are the other guidelines for ministers and other government officials?

Ministers and other government authorities should not announce or promise any financial grants to the people; they should not lay foundation stones for or inaugurate any projects; they should not promise public facilities like roads; and they should not make any ad hoc government appointments.

9. How do candidates and parties campaign when the code of conduct is in force?

Parties can issue their manifesto detailing the programmes they wish to implement if elected to government, the strengths of their leaders, and the failures of parties and leaders opposing them.

They can use slogans to popularize and identify parties and issues, and they can distribute pamphlets and posters to the electorate.

They can hold rallies and meetings where candidates can persuade, cajole and enthuse supporters, and criticise opponents. Candidates can travel the length and breadth of the constituency to try to influence as many potential supporters as possible.

10. Can parties/candidates hold meetings wherever they want?

Yes, but the party or candidate has to inform the local police authorities of the venue and time of any proposed meeting well in advance to enable them to make necessary arrangements for controlling traffic and maintaining order.

11. Can parties call for votes on communal lines?

No. The Model Code of Conduct strictly prohibits parties and candidates from making any appeals to caste or communal feelings, on race, religion, or pitting communities one against another aided by a racist vernacular media as in some countries for securing votes.

Mosques, churches, temples, and other places of worship also cannot be used for election propaganda. No party or candidate can indulge in any activity that may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension among different castes, communities, religious or linguistic groups.

12. Can parties criticize their opponents?

Yes, but the criticism of other political parties should be confined to their policies and programmes, past record and work. Parties and candidates should refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortions should be avoided. Worst they should not use third parties to orchestrate all forms of allegations and gutter politicking.

13. What happens if a candidate or party does not obey the Model Code of Conduct?

The Election Commission has warned that any breach will be dealt with sternly. The Commission has the power to disqualify a candidate if s/he refuses to follow the Model Code of Conduct.

I salute the Indian Election Commission again for their commitment to democracy, fair play, accountability, good governance, transparency and zero tolerance for corruption and corrupt practices and not succumbing to direct and indirect attempts by the powers that be to manipulate and taint them.

They are unlike others ‘hunting with the hounds and running with the hares’- milking all the business advantages and perks from the incumbents domestically, then inexplicably they trade the shades in other forums putting on the face of reformers, which is the height of hypocrisy.

One such political Czar, an inhabitant of the shadowy corners where politics and billion ringgit business meet is a case to mention as he glides in this late hour from the dark ages of Malaysian politics making predictions and perhaps hoping against hope that the ‘status quo’ will be retained and he spared culpability for the many misdeeds he is alleged to have his hand in?

Based on the above criterion, it is obvious WE have FAILED MISERABLY!

CASSA CAMPAIGN: PROTECTING OUR WOMEN FOLK FROM ROBBERS!

Consumerist: Subsidies, Goodies, Feel Good Spins And Elections!

Dato Jacob George

‘In Australia they were courageous, politically fair, accountable and transparent in announcing the dates of the next elections without any ‘hide and seek’, so that the government of the day and the opposition can do what they are called to do – govern!

And not be caught shamelessly trying to buy their way to a nomination or worst bribe the electorate with all forms and kinds of goodies and the mainstream media and mercenary journalist and bloggers ‘feel good stories and spins?’’ Dr Jacob George

Consumerist: Subsidies And Asian Capitals Facing National Elections

Malaysia faces a general election when there is enough courage to call for one, while, our neighbors Philippines and Indonesia have theirs coming too.

In Australia, they were courageous, politically fair, accountable and transparent in announcing the dates of the next elections without any ‘hide and seek’, so that the government of the day and the opposition can do what they are called to do – govern!

And not be caught shamelessly allegedly trying to buy their way to a nomination or worst bribe the electorate with all forms and kinds of goodies and the mainstream media and mercenary journalist and bloggers ‘feel good stories and spins?’

Here, despite the many goodies and cash payouts – Malaysians are generally struggling with various battles revolving around ‘bread and butter issues; escalation of costs of living and services and their credit crunch!

So I predict that the continued outflow of goodies will not sway the voting patterns in GE13!

Voters in all regions have made up their minds – it is only the fence sitters and even they have recently shifted!

Far too much scandals have rocked us by, many allegations still unanswered which includes the brutal murder of a very pretty Mongolian lass while accusations are made unsubstantiated against political opponents assisted by a cowed press?

Some countries are using race and religion big time but this has received flak as communities within nations has moved from such tendencies in view a globalized reshaping of national and international borders and UN Security Council and international laws, though times slow but still addressing genocide and apartheid!

In the Philippines and Indonesia there is far greater challenges and in Indonesia the whole question of fuel subsidy threatens gravely.

It is widely reported that the Indonesia’s government is again trying to confront runaway fuel subsidy costs that now account for more than 30 per cent of state spending and are draining funds that should be going for much-needed infrastructure in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

I am advised Pak Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration have new measures in mind to restrict use of subsidized fuel.

But will he with an election next year and hurting memories of violent protests over fuel-price rises in 2005 and 2008?

Like some ASEAN countries specializing in subsidies, Indonesia is under pressure to reduce the subsidies.

But raising fuel prices is suicidal as it will hurt low income communities.

Here the last increase took place while all eyes were on Lahad Datu!

We have repeatedly spoken about the removal of subsidies but if that is not addressed in a fair and reasonable way it will create a backlash!

You cannot remove subsidies at one level and importantly revolving around grass root communities and the middle class but give out huge obese subsidies to the industry captains and cronies in other sectors!

This is vulgar!

And there are many imponderables to consider as we face the future with challengers and fed with fabrication, outright lies and news manipulation where truth becomes a major casualty of political wrestling.

CASSA CAMPAIGN: PROTECTING OUR WOMEN FOLK FROM ROBBERS!

Consumerist: Malaysia Told – Emulate India’s Election Commission Care Taker Role & Code Of Conduct For GE13!

Dato Jacob George

Consumerist: Emulate India’s Election Commission Care Taker Role & Code Of Conduct For GE13!

The Election Commission (EC) in some countries are mere brainless stooges. They confirm it the moment they open their mouths and issue statements sounding like politicians rather than statesmen selected to uphold honour and justice.

They are worse than parasites and simply the political hatchet men specially selected by the powers that be, for their long sustained benevolent and unflinching servitude to their political masters. Some may call them ‘mere running dogs’ but I will not be that vulgar.

But in some countries the ECs do justice to their selection and appointment and to the merits and tenets of democracy. One such is the Indian Election Commission.

I had witnessed them in action not only in the last election in 2011 but also in 2004 and the manner in which they carried out their task was just superb.

Whether you know it or not there is a model code of conduct and its values are universal provided your intentions are noble, ethical and serving the free and fair election module. And the code forbids rule by acts of betrayal, treason and worst fraud. How does this code operate?

As an illustration, in 2004 Deputy Indian Prime Minister L K Advani flew in an Indian Air Force helicopter from Bangalore to Tumkur in Karnataka to address an election meeting?

By the time Advani had completed his speech, the EC had announced the dates for the general election and enforced the Model Code of Conduct for parties and candidates. Advani was thus compelled to send the helicopter back and return to Bangalore by car.

Such is the power of the Model Code of Conduct.

The Election Commission through its Code of Conduct monitors the behavior and actions of the political parties and their candidates in any elections.

1. What is the Model Code of Conduct?

It is a set of guidelines laid down by the Election Commission to govern the conduct of political parties and candidates in the run-up to an election.

2. What is the need for such a code of conduct?

It is intended to provide a level playing field for all political parties, to keep the campaign fair and healthy, avoid clashes and conflicts between parties, and ensure peace and order. Its main aim is to ensure that the ruling party, either at the federal level or at state level, does not misuse its official position to gain an unfair and vulgar advantage in an election. That there will be no institutionalized fraud and worst treason.

3. When does it come into force?

The Model Code of Conduct comes into force the moment an election is announced and remains in force till the results are declared.

In 2000, in India there was a tug of war between the central government and the Election Commission on the Model Code of Conduct.

The government went to the Supreme Court against the Commission’s ruling that the code of conduct comes into force the moment elections are announced. The government insisted it should be enforced only from the date of formal notification of each phase of election.

The Election Commission called an all-party meeting to settle the row. Eventually all parties, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, agreed unanimously to support its stand on the Model Code of Conduct.

That was democracy, people-power, and statesmanship in action.

4. To whom does the code apply?

It applies to all political parties, their candidates and polling agents, the government in power, and all government employees.

5. So what does the Model Code of Conduct mean for a ruling party?

In 2004 in India’s ministers, including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, were not allowed to combine their official visits with electioneering work. They also cannot use official/government machinery or personnel for electioneering work.

Public places for holding election rallies and helipads for flights in connection with elections are to be made available to all parties on the same terms and conditions on which they are used by the party in power.

Government institutions and enforcement agencies were expected to play a neutral role and not as active participants for the incumbents as in some countries.

6. Can ministries sanction grants out of the government’s discretionary funds during election time?

No. Ministers and other authorities cannot sanction grants and payments out of discretionary funds from the moment the elections are announced.

7. Can the government run an advertising campaign in the mass media?

Advertisements at the cost of the public exchequer or in some countries using the Ministry of Finance and misuse of official mass media for partisan coverage during an election have to be scrupulously avoided.

8. What are the other guidelines for ministers and other government officials?

Ministers and other government authorities should not announce or promise any financial grants to the people; they should not lay foundation stones for or inaugurate any projects; they should not promise public facilities like roads; and they should not make any ad hoc government appointments.

9. How do candidates and parties campaign when the code of conduct is in force?

Parties can issue their manifesto detailing the programmes they wish to implement if elected to government, the strengths of their leaders, and the failures of parties and leaders opposing them.

They can use slogans to popularize and identify parties and issues, and they can distribute pamphlets and posters to the electorate.

They can hold rallies and meetings where candidates can persuade, cajole and enthuse supporters, and criticise opponents. Candidates can travel the length and breadth of the constituency to try to influence as many potential supporters as possible.

10. Can parties/candidates hold meetings wherever they want?

Yes, but the party or candidate has to inform the local police authorities of the venue and time of any proposed meeting well in advance to enable them to make necessary arrangements for controlling traffic and maintaining order.

11. Can parties call for votes on communal lines?

No. The Model Code of Conduct strictly prohibits parties and candidates from making any appeals to caste or communal feelings, on race, religion, or pitting communities one against another aided by a racist vernacular media as in some countries for securing votes.

Mosques, churches, temples, and other places of worship also cannot be used for election propaganda. No party or candidate can indulge in any activity that may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension among different castes, communities, religious or linguistic groups.

12. Can parties criticize their opponents?

Yes, but the criticism of other political parties should be confined to their policies and programmes, past record and work. Parties and candidates should refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortions should be avoided. Worst they should not use third parties to orchestrate all forms of allegations and gutter politicking.

13. What happens if a candidate or party does not obey the Model Code of Conduct?

The Election Commission has warned that any breach will be dealt with sternly. The Commission has the power to disqualify a candidate if s/he refuses to follow the Model Code of Conduct.

I salute the Indian Election Commission again for their commitment to democracy, fair play, accountability, good governance, transparency and zero tolerance for corruption and corrupt practices and not succumbing to direct and indirect attempts by the powers that be to manipulate and taint them.

They are unlike others ‘hunting with the hounds and running with the hares’- milking all the business advantages and perks from the incumbents domestically, then inexplicably they trade the shades in other forums putting on the face of reformers, which is the height of hypocrisy.

One such political Czar, an inhabitant of the shadowy corners where politics and billion ringgit business meet is a case to mention as he glides in this late hour from the dark ages of Malaysian politics making predictions and perhaps hoping against hope that the ‘status quo’ will be retained and he spared culpability for the many misdeeds he is alleged to have his hand in?

Based on the above criterion, it is obvious WE have FAILED MISERABLY!

CASSA CAMPAIGN: PROTECTING OUR WOMEN FOLK FROM ROBBERS!