MALAYSIA APEC/ASEAN LEAD CONSUMERIST ASKS ARE WE PLAY ACTING ON TRUMP STAGE AT FIGHTING TERRORISM?

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PLAY ACTING ON TRUMP STAGE AT FIGHTING TERRORISM?

Last Sunday, President Donald Trump offered a message when he called on the Arab and Muslim world, to confront extremism, during a highly anticipated speech in the birthplace of Islam!

In his much anticipated address, to all those who gathered there, some there play acting and photo shoots, others, allegedly, masterminds and strategic planners of international terrorism, others who pay just lip service to all forms, types and acts of terror and abductions, on the civil society, soft targets, minorities in their own countries!

I take offense of individuals who want that limelight on the trump stage, but privately offer awards, safe havens, citizenship, permanent residence and finances to terrorists, supremacist race and religion propagators, hate mongers and inciters!

Those who are funding directly, indirectly, through proxies to “charity organizations and setting up of religious schools, kindergartens and hostels in urban and rural heartlands, which are actual fronts for the propagation of terrorism in its most vulgar form!

As an international consumerist and human rights advocate, I am glad that US President Trump, stated quite clearly, that better ties and future is only possible, if those in that fora drive out the terrorists and extremists!

He stated specifically, to his audience of dozens of Muslim leaders to ‘drive the terrorists out of their places of worship, out of one’s communities, out of their holy land, drive them out of the earth and I will include, out of our political parties, non-governmental organizations, our civil and administrative services, the institutions of education and higher education, our media organizations, both electronic and print, to start with!

The said speech during the initial stop of the president’s first foreign trip, Trump also emphasized quite rightly that “this is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations.

This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.”

His warning came clearly when he stated that, if we do not stand in uniform condemnation of these killing, we not only will be judged by our people, history, but by God himself!

Well put, President sir!

But sadly, the message came while, this part of the world saw 24 people been injured in a bomb explosion at Phramongkutklao Hospital, which is popular with retired military officers!

The authorities, I am advised, are now busy analyzing the pieces, fragments, and ordinances that was used to make the bomb, hoping it will give vital clues to who these perpetrators of evil are!

For the record, that attack came just weeks after a double explosion at a shopping center in Pattani, southern Thailand, which injured at least 50 people.

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Sadly, just when you thought all is returning to normalcy in the UK, at least more than 22  people were killed in a blast at a concert in the English city of Manchester, yesterday where US singer Ariana Grande had been performing!

How did UK law enforcement agencies, Scotland Yard, MI5 or MI6, miss this on their radar?

Now we learn at the time of this writing. at least 50 people were injured, and this incident is being treated as a terrorist incident, though no one has claimed responsibility yet!

I am also advised that Police carried out a controlled explosion on a suspect’s device several hours after the blast.

Which implies it is still an active zone where threats exists!

If the authorities there confirms this as a terrorism incident, it would be the deadliest attack, in Britain by militants since, four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005.

But like I stated, terrorism has many forms and faces!

Let us not be deceived!

It is not always suicide bombers, bombs, explosions, body parts, blood tears, and physical carnage and property damage!

In some countries, like Malaysia, because of the superb and professional work of law enforcement agencies, the above is avoided, but, there are other forms of “terror” like political threats, incitement, race and religious baiting, verbal and abuse attacks on minorities, mob justice, through a race, religion supremacy propagation, the weaponisation of religion, and lately, the ultimate terror let loose, the abduction of individuals and religious leaders of minority faiths!

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For example, it is over 100 days, since Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted, and there has been no updates into his and certain others, disappearance.

In its place, a cold, ugly, eerie silence instead, permeates!

Then, we have two incidents, where political operatives, adventurers and shenanigans, are hard at work, to create race and religious unrest in a multi-racial, religious country flaunting its moderate credentials before the global world.

The situation made worst by fabrication and lies, aided and abetted by some malicious, irresponsible print and electronic media!

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In the first, a slapping incident at a TN50 dialogue, in the presence of Malaysia’s premier, which was live and televised nationally.

The attacker, in full view of TV cameras, committed criminal offenses, for which he can be charged under Sections 351 and 321 of the Malaysian Penal Code.

These offenses are respectively, assault and voluntarily causing hurt.

But inexplicably, while this ‘circus unfolds’, we have a situation where third parties and mobs, claiming to be NGOs make seditious statement, threats, and create an atmosphere of fear and terror, among common folks and peace loving law abiding Malaysians, and calling on the victim of that incident to apologize failing which, they will initiate certain actions?

Who are they?

Who elected them?

By whose political umbilical cord do they operate?

By what legal authority, statutes do they continue their illegal activities, of incitement, sedition, threats of bodily harm and criminal damage?

And finally, when one thought there is no new strains of evil, forthcoming, we have a member of an educational institution, stalking an elected representative and speaker accusing her of proselytization, a claim which is totally flawed, malicious and seditious!

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And the elected representative alleged sin, she a devout Christian wrote her autobiography, where she shared how her faith as a Christian, helped her in her political journey!

The pertinent question is, in any civilized and educated society, what is wrong with drawing strength from one’s faith in life and in politics?

As far as I am concerned, if, as leaders and statesmen, we cannot address these issues holistically, in truth, tenets of justice and fair play, we have no business participating in any fora on terrorism or extremism!

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MALAYSIA ASEAN APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE ASKS – SPEED CAMERAS – ROAD SAFETY DEVICE OR AS A CASH COW?

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SPEED CAMERAS – ROAD SAFETY DEVICE OR AS A CASH COW?

The last time we made negative news internationally, away from corruption, act of terror kidnappings or of alleged terrorist sympathizers in our midst, was when a study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found Malaysian roads are the 17th deadliest in the world!

But my contention then was, that study was flawed big time as it used outdated data of 2008 from the World Health Organization, where the said authors of the study found that road accidents caused 30 deaths for every 100,000 people in Malaysia’s population.

Basically it means, that 6.0 per cent of all deaths in the country were caused by road accident fatalities.

If one decides to make a comparison of road accidents and fatalities across some regions, we may find that road accidents in Thailand caused 44 deaths per 100,000 of people, making it the second most deadly country for road accidents.

Namibia topped the list with 45 deaths per 100,000 of the population.

In comparison, coronary heart disease made up 17 per cent of total deaths in Malaysia, making it the number one killer in the country.

The other two main killers in Malaysia were cancer, which made up 15 per cent of total deaths and stroke at 9 per cent.

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Despite that, the study showed that Malaysia has among the lowest overall fatality rates with 494 deaths per 100,000 people, and was placed 170th among the 193 countries surveyed.

This beckons a very serious question in a land where according to public and international perception among the many lawlessness are the lawlessness we see on the roads of Malaysia!

Are Malaysian road users taking responsibility for their own safety, while, driving as more than 80% of traffic accidents are caused by human error according to investigations and surveys done by the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam, Selangor (CASSA).

Furthermore, the death of 65,850 people in road accidents between 2004 and 2013 had resulted in as much as RM78 billion being lost in economic contributions with an average of RM1.2 million each.

Now this begs a pertinent question!

Who do we hold accountable for the road carnage we see and witness in Malaysia?

And what needs to be done to address this loss?

Among the places where fingers can be pointed are, at the alleged lack of proper law enforcement and this despite hundreds of thousands of traffic summonses issued each year?

I am certain that the stakeholders and among them, the police and other relevant authorities are doing their part, but, that is certainly not enough!

Every road user and vehicle owner needs to abide by the law and ensure safety of himself and that of other road users!

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Instead of blaming others, road users should take it upon themselves to drive safely and be more considerate of other road users and attentive of their surroundings.

Stakeholders who run and manage highways needs must play their part as they have a contractual duty of care to ensure that the ‘pay and use highways’ are free of all kinds and forms of dangers!

But this is not always the case, as retreaded tyres parts and other foreign bodies which includes nails, stones and pebbles are on highways and pose a serious danger to users!

Then, we also have heavy vehicles and trans-border coaches who throw caution to the wind with their drivers speeding, or vehicle overloading, many behind the steering despite under the influence of substance abuse?

We have accidents, we have fatalities!

And every year we have a litany of such cases and reruns and verbal diarrhea from the authorities promising action and draconian changes that never comes!

Will change come in 2017?

We already had a total of 489,606 road accidents in 2015, compared to 476,196 in 2014.

In 2015 we are told that there were 6,706 deaths through accidents, translating to roughly 18 deaths daily due to road accidents.

And is the silver bullet, the recently introduced traffic changes, speed cameras, cameras at traffic lights with its fines and demerit points?

There are more than 90 countries using the AES and other safety camera devises since the late 1970s.

In France it has helped to reduce the number of deaths due to road accidents by 27 percent within three years of its implementation.

In the United Kingdom, traffic violations decreased by six percent while in Kuwait, accidents decreased by 48 percent

But Speed does not kill but recklessness and negligent driving do!

Of course to those in that industry and their peddlers, these are effective propaganda for a sale!

But, I have absolutely no objection to the proposed installation of Automated Enforcement System (AES) cameras at accident prone areas and highways nationwide!

But first, we must address a pertinent question!

Is the AES the silver bullet that reduces fatalities on our roads or is it not another crony get-rich-quick scheme?

Are the cameras there to first give us a comprehensive look and intelligence data, at that careless and reckless driver, their behavior attitudes, secondly create a disciplined and safety first consciousness among Malaysian drivers at all tiers and, finally, mound a responsible road culture generation for the future?

Or instead, are the cameras there as a cash cow for stakeholders?

When the AES pilot project was implemented in Malaysia in 2012, a lot of questions arose, among our elected members of parliament, at a special sitting and briefing by the then Minister of Transport, which also dealt with several amendments to the Road Transport Act, which looked rather draconian!

As Malaysia, ASEAN and APEC lead consumerist. I received a special invitation through the Barisan National Backbenchers Club (BNBC) and was present to participate in that briefing.

In 2014, research conducted by Miros showed that the 14 AES cameras then installed in Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya have proven to be effective in reducing road fatalities due to speeding and running a red light.

That, according to the institute’s findings, there was a 87.6 percent reduction in red light running violations after the cameras were installed at certain traffic light junctions at Jalan Ipoh-Kuala Kangsar and Jalan Pasir Puteh in Perak, and Jalan Klang Lama and Jalan Ipoh in Kuala Lumpur.

Fast forward 2017 – the road carnage is still there, and, the behavior of our road users still irresponsible and as such, our road and highway safety cannot be compromised!

But my appeal is, that there should be a balance that the cameras are there to address a concern.

And the process be carried out with a great deal of transparency, accountability, good governance, sensitiveness, dedication and commitment and the cameras there not as a cash cow, but, to help change the mindsets of Malaysian drivers and their handlers, which now is embarrassingly poor and irresponsible!

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MALAYSIA’S ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST – DR JACOB GEORGE SAYS TALENT CORPORATION MODEL NOT IDEAL FOR LONG TERM MALAYSIAN INTEREST!

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‘We need to create an ecosystem and an environment, that gives equal and fair opportunities to everyone, regardless of race and religion, by financing a world class education system void of political influence and agendas!’

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TalentCorp Scheme Will Not Serve Malaysia’s long Term Interest!’

I find nothing uplifting about receiving news, that the number of skilled Malaysians returning from abroad under Talent Corporation Malaysia’s (TalentCorp) programmes are sharply reduced, while its recruitment of foreign talents are on the rise?

Big deal!

And who are these foreigners?

As far as I am concerned, there is nothing to shout about of a report, which showed that 90 percent of the foreign talent TalentCorp processed, including Malaysia Airlines’ current CEO, Peter Bellew, is a hallmark for the long term best interest of Malaysia!

Sadly, many things never change in Malaysia, starting with truth matters!

I am certain that all of us, remember the “song and dance” that covered the unveiling of TalentCorp which was established in 2011, under the Prime Minister’s Department to “address the availability of talent in line with the needs of the country’s economic transformation” – whatever that means in human language?

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From the onset, I was among the constructive critics, who raised alarms on this approach, on national television during the post budget deliberations for that year, that evening!

The question raised is, why give incentives for Malaysians to return when there are Malaysians who have stayed on, with dedication, passion, sacrifice, and contributing but never appreciated?

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Even experts in fields where it is a first in Malaysia!

Do the ones who stayed on, in such tough circumstances, racist and indignity ecosystems not deserving rewards?

And still wanting to stay on because of the passion never given a contract post retirement!

What kind of logic and environment is this that is present?

As for Talent Corporation, of course, it is great fun, making tours and presentations in international hot spots, capitals, stay in impressive and expensive hotels and play up the conversation afterwards in reports.

But many of us in the real world, feel this is the typical knee jerk reaction, we usually see from opportunists, shenanigans and crooked politicians who refuse to address national grouses and impediments by addressing systemic approaches.

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These days those hemming our tertiary establishments, even those who had on Malaysian tax payers monies attained their academic credentials today are indulging in policies and schemes, that undermines academic excellence with their racism, racial bias and prejudice!

As Malaysia’s ASEAN/APEC Lead Consumerist, I would rather address the setbacks and weed out the brain drain, exodus, and national problems but not using the Talent Corporation model!

But the truth is, some want “quick fixes”, “graphs”, “statistics” usually tailored as it is politically expedient?

They do not want to address, the ‘elephant in the room’, and anyone who bells the cats, gets crucified and allocated superlatives and dumped into cold storage?

But the fact is, if holistic change needs to be implemented then, there must be a massive change in national policies, mindsets, and to the present ecosystem that now breeds many versions of racism, supremacy of race and religion!

Today sadly, racism and bigotry are two pillars seen in new levels unheard and unseen in pre and early post independent Malaya and later Malaysia.

For now, Sabah and Sarawak are insulated from this, in view their population composition and 1963 agreement, which includes, their Immigration laws!

Let us get serious, Talent Corporation!

How can you sell a country, when there are perceptions rightly or wrongly, where local talents are seriously undermined, in fact, never appreciated by the system presently inculcated and breeding without any control?

I am certain the many “Napoleons and Brutus” within the system know only too well, I am alluding to them.

All for their own self-preservation and interests?

And are we not ashamed at ourselves, and these policies, when we try to highlight the achievements of Malaysians, who have excelled at various opportunities in a level playing field, in a country where they are adopted today?

Why are we trying to share in their hard work and achievements?

Like our local peribahasa – “Lembu punya susu sapi nak nama!”
When all we did is, create and facilitate a breeding ground that resulted in our beloved nation losing talents?

Having said that – now more than ever, what we need going forward is, an uncompromising national policy that entrenches that we should stop the intelligent and talented Malaysians from leaving the country at all costs!

How?

We need to create an ecosystem and an environment, that gives equal and fair opportunities to everyone, regardless of race and religion, by financing a world class education system void of political influence and agendas!

We make certain and get rid, from the civil service, and other agencies, institutions, Napoleons both small and big, who practice race and religious bigotry and are hurdles to the establishment of a harmonious ecosystem for people of all races and creed to fulfill the rights, interests and visions of Prime Minister Najib Tun Andul Razak ‘s 1Malaysia!

It can never happen with this model!

The present concept of Talent Corporation is at best, ill conceived, wasteful and hypocritical!

And this is why, I sincerely appeal to Premier Najib Tun Razak, to set up a task force to re-look this entire program, while addressing speedily the systemic issues that stiffens the retention of Malaysian talents!

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MALAYSIA ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE SAYS – NAJIB INITIATIVE IN ERADICATING CABOTAGE POLICY TIMELY!

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NAJIB INITIATIVE IN ERADICATING CABOTAGE POLICY TIMELY!
 
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It is timely and just the right tonic, when Premier Najib Razak announced that the federal government has decided to exempt Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan from its cabotage policy with effect from June 1.
 
This is brilliant news as it was one of the premier issues that we have been addressing with our counterparts in Sabah and Sarawak to address the escalation of cost of living and services!
 
This Najib initiative would help reduce logistics and transportation costs, and lower the cost of doing business in Sabah and Sarawak, which would in turn bring down the cost of living.
 
Could you just imagine how speedily and with reduced costs it would be for vessels from say Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and other emerging markets to go direct to Sarawak, Labuan and Sabah!
 
The Consumerist in me says that to be effective the announcement must mean that all foreign ships must be able to bring cargo directly to ports in the Borneo regions, thereby allowing people there to access goods from international markets without having them brought via peninsular Malaysia as is the practice now.
 
To me this is like it was during the occupation or as a colony of our political masters pre-independence!
 
If addressed and driven in a comprehensive and professional manner I am certain it will help reduce the costs of products imported into the region.
 
The impact of the negatively infamous cabotage policy is that only vessels registered in Malaysia are allowed to load and unload cargo in the ports of Malaysia.
 
I am certain it was politically engineered so that Port Klang could be the container hub port in Malaysia.
 
This is despite facts staring at our faces that this policy results in the pushing up the cost of freight charges because of the creation of a conduit!
 
Inexplicably, it is the same with present various procurement which pushes up the price between 30 to 50 per cent in monitored conditions and in others, it is criminally unacceptable which also acts a breeding ground for corruption!
 
A direct negotiation between the state and international parties should be the way to go forward!
 
Of course, that will be killing off the corrupt, the cronies, the ass-kisses, the gravy train which feeds political greed and obesity in many tiers and forms!
 
However, again the Consumerist and public policy analyst in me asks for the policy to take effect effective June 1st as announced by our premier several issues need to be addressed!
 
Now what are the mechanisms that need to be implemented for this wave to take root and bring holistic change to Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan?
 
First is there a high powered task force already in place to fast track this initiative?
 
I am certain that there are indeed major and minor legislation that either has to be scrapped, bypassed or introduced to again fast track this Najib initiative!
 
Off the hook, there will be others, but I can think that we may need to address the provisions of Section 65 of the Marine Ordinance Act which seriously fans out that any foreign vessels wishing to engage with local shipping or handle cargo must have a domestic license approved and issued by the transport ministry.
 
So has there been an announcement to the effect that Section 65 is now redundant or superseded by another that opens the floodgates to allow foreign vessels to come in to Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan?
 
This is not all!
 
For the vessels to come in we need to address that massive upgrading and deepening of the ports at Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan be fast tracked and allocations be sent to address this, like we have to upgrade ports in Peninsula Malaysia!
 
One final word!
 
We must also take cognizance that the removal of cabotage policy will not do much to reduce costs of goods in Sabah and Sarawak, if, this important and timely announcement is not accompanied by a series of proactive moves among them, to pump in monies to start a major industrialization programs and activities in these states!
 
We must make certain that there is two way traffic of goods coming in and coming out from these states!
 
It would be absolutely foolish, actually stupid, if vessels going in come out empty!
 
We need to seriously look at present transport and delivery infrastructure and logistic needs and not fear to pump the financial resources to upgrade them.
 
This is pertinent for the movement and delivery of consumer goods and services and to open up the states for more comprehensive economic activity!
 
Yes, certainly what is called for is just not the announcement but a comprehensive policy and development initiative tailored according to each states strengths, weaknesses, interest, and needs!
 
Failing which, I fear third parties may spin and defame a noble effort saying this is another political propaganda, in view, the coming General Elections to hoodwink the voters of this region, who are indeed in present political climate and challengers, the vote bank for the incumbent government administering Putrajaya!
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