Bunga Yang Cantik Jarang Harum

Ustaz Pahrol Mohd Juoi | 01 Mei 2011 16:40

Wanita sinonim dengan kecantikan. Istilah “cermin” dalam bahasa Arab dekat sangat dengan wanita – kerana cermin itu dekat pula dengan kecantikan. Bercermin untuk kelihatan cantik. Ke mana-mana wanita pergi, cermin ada di sisi. Bagi yang tidak cantik bagaimana? Mereka bukan wanita?

Tunggu dulu, setiap yang Allah cipta pasti indah kerana Allah itu Maha Indah dan suka pada keindahan. Tuhan tidak mencipta manusia hodoh, Tuhan hanya mencipta manusia dengan kecantikan berbeza. Jadi, ingat itu… setiap wanita berhak untuk cantik!

Soalnya, di manakah letaknya kecantikan sebenar pada seorang wanita? 

Kalau kita tanyakan kepada para lelaki maka sudah pasti kita akan temui pelbagai jawapan.  Ada yang merasakan kecantikan wanita itu pada wajah, pada bentuk tubuh, pada kebijaksanaan atau pada tingkah lakunya.  Dan pada yang menyatakan kecantikan pada wajah pula terbahagi kepada pelbagai pandangan, ada yang mengatakan kecantikannya terletak pada hidung, pada mata dan sebagainya. 

Pendekata kecantikan itu bagi anggapan sesetengah orang sangat relatif sifatnya.  Lain orang, lain penilaiannya.

Namun sebagai seorang Islam, kita tentulah ada kayu ukur tersendiri untuk menilai kecantikan. Kita tentunya mengukur kecantikan wanita mengikut kayu ukur Islam. Dan tentu sahaja kecantikan yang menjadi penilaian Islam adalah lebih hakiki dan abadi lagi.

Misalnya, kalaulah kecantikan itu hanya terletak pada wajah, wajah itu lambat-laun akan dimakan usia. Itu hanya bersifat sementara. Apabila usia meningkat, kulit akan berkedut tentulah wajah tidak cantik lagi. Jadi tentulah ini bukan ukuran kecantikan yang sejati dan abadi.

Sebagai hamba Allah, kita hendaklah melihat kecantikan selaras dengan penilaian Allah atas keyakinan apa yang dinilai oleh-Nya lebih tepat dan betul.

Apakah kecantikan yang dimaksudkan itu? Kecantikan yang dimaksudkan ialah kecantikan budi pekerti ataupun akhlak. Itulah misi utama kedatangan Rasulullah SAW – untuk menyempurnakan akhlak manusia.

Kecantikan akhlak jika ada pada seseorang, lebih kekal. Inilah kecantikan yang hakiki mengikut penilaian Allah. Hancur badan dikandung tanah, budi baik di kenang juga. Kecantikan akhlak ini juga adalah satu yang lebih abadi. Kata pepatah lagi, hutang budi dibawa mati. Malah akhlak yang baik juga sangat disukai oleh hati manusia. Contohnya, kalaulah ada orang yang wajahnya sahaja cantik tetapi akhlaknya buruk, pasti dia akan dibenci.

Ya, mata menilai kecantikan pada rupa. Akal menilai pada fikiran. Nafsu menilai pada bentuk tubuh. Tetapi hati tentulah pada akhlak dan budi. Kecantikan akhlak ini diterima oleh semua orang. Katalah orang jujur, siapa pun suka. Semua orang sepakat menyayangi orang yang jujur itu disukai. Sedangkan jika menurut ukuran rupa, penilaian manusia tetap tidak sama. Sebab itu ada pepatah yang mengatakan, ‘beauty in the eye of beholder’.

Rasulullah SAW juga telah pernah menegaskan, sebaik-baik perhiasan adalah wanita yang solehah. Wanita solehah ialah perhiasan rumah-tangga, perhiasan masyarakat dan perhiasan negara. Jika ada ibu yang solehah, anak-anaknya tentu mendapat manfaat. Mereka akan terdidik dengan baik.

Jika ada isteri yang solehah, suami pun akan mendapat manfaat. Para isteri ini akan memudahkan urusan rumah-tangga, menjalinkan hubungan keluargha dengan penuh kasih-sayang dan lain-lain. Tutur katanya baik, tingkah lakunya baik, senyumannya menawan dan segala-galanya indah. Mereka bayangan bidadari syurga di dunia ini.

Kenapa banyak wanita yang memiliki kecantikan tetapi musnah hidupnya?

Ada ungkapan yang berbunyi, kemusnahan akan menimpa bilawanita mula merasai dirinya cantik dan mempamirkan kecantikan. Sejauhmana benarnya, wallahua’lam. Tetapi apa yang pasti, menurut Islam jika kecantikan tidak disertai iman yang kuat, maka pemiliknya akan hilang kawalan diri. Akibatnya ramai wanita cantik diperdayakan oleh syaitan untuk menggoda manusia melakukan kemungkaran. Lihatlah di sekeliling kita.

Kata orang, bunga yang cantik jarang yang harum! Ini sudah menjadi sesuatu yang lumrah.

Tanpa iman, kecantikan akan dipergunakan ke arah kejahatan dan kemaksiatan, yang akhirnya akan memusnahkan diri pemiliknya dan orang lain. Cuba kita lihat apa yang terjadi kepada bintang filem barat (di sinipun apa kurangnya), ada yang memporak-perandakan negara, rumah-tangga dan berakhir dengan sakit jiwa dan bunuh diri.

Cantik tidak salah, tetapi salah menggunakan kecantikkan itulah yang salah. Kata orang, wanita yang cantik jarang berakhlak. Umpama bunga yang cantik, jarang yang wangi. Tetapi kalau cantik dan berakhlak pula, inilah yang hebat. Umpama cantiknya wanita solehah pada zaman nabi seperti Siti Aishah RA, Atikah binti Zaid dan lain-lain.

Bagaimana mendapat kecantikan sejati?

Perlu kita faham kecantikan itu bermula dari dalam ke luar. Bukan sebaliknya. Oleh itu pertama, tanamkan di dalam hati kita iman yang benar-benar kuat berdasarkan ilmu yang tepat dan penghayatan yang tinggi. Iman itu keyakinan, kasih sayang, kemaafan, sangka baik dan reda. Rasa-rasa ini buktikanlah dengan perbuatan yang baik. Bila hati baik, wajah akan sentiasa cantik.

Jadi perkara kedua ialah susulilah iman itu dengan perbuatan yang baik. Ertinya, kita atur kehidupan mengikut syariat atau peraturan Tuhan. Dan apabila iman ditanam, syariat ditegakkan, akan berbuahlah akhlak yang mulia. Wajah, perilaku dan peribadi kita akan nampak cantik sekali. Inilah yang dikatakan kecantikan yang hakiki.

Biar buruk rupa, jangan buruk perangai. Apa gunanya mulut yang cantik kalau kita gunakan untuk mengumpat?

Ya, kecantikan akhlak boleh dimiliki oleh sesiapa sahaja, oleh yang rupawan mahupun yang hodoh. Itu bukti keadilan Allah yang mencipta wanita dengan berbagai wajah dan rupa tapi peluangnya untuk “cantik” tetap serupa!

(Artikel iluvislam.com)

Biodata Kolumnis:

Ustaz Pahrol Mohd Juoi merupakan seorang penulis buku, artikel, lirik nasyid dan juga skrip. Salah satu buku karangan beliau adalah ‘Tentang Cinta.’  Penulis kelahiran Ipoh, Perak ini merupakan seorang master trainer untuk syarikat Fitrah Perkasa Sdn. Bhd. dan juga ketua editor majalah Solusi terbitan syarikat Telaga Biru Sdn Bhd. Blog beliau adalah http://www.genta-rasa.com.

May 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment

Your 5-minute guide to budgeting

‘Budget’ is not a four-letter word, but many people avoid it like one. These 20 tips can help you face up to your finances and achieve your monetary goals.

By MSN Money staff

 

Budgeting isn’t a punishment for not being born wealthy.

 

It’s an avenue to know where your money goes and help you reach your financial goals, whether it’s a new home, a comfortable retirement or just making it to your next paycheck. (See the video “Budget your way to smarter spending.”)

 

When all is said and done, you simply can’t spend more than you make, at least not for long. (See “Money trouble? It’s your own fault.”)

 

What’s going out?

 

The first step is figuring out where your money goes right now. Use an online worksheet or a plain old notebook to keep track of your spending for a few weeks. Go through your checkbook and credit card statements. Add up the amounts, and you’ll have a good idea about your spending habits. (Take our “Savvy Spending Quiz.”)

 

A few things to consider:

  • Common budget categories include housing (rent or mortgage, homeowner dues), recurring bills (cable, utilities, insurance and credit card minimums), food and entertainment.
  • Let your categories fit your life. You might have expenses for school-related items (tuition and books), pet care or travel. If your hobby is your passion, make it a category.
  • Account for big expenses that occur once or twice a year, such as car insurance.

 

What’s coming in?

 

When your expenses are tallied, go through your pay stubs and calculate your average monthly income. Don’t forget to include interest income, dividends, bonuses and alimony.

Once you know how much you earn and how much you actually spend, decide where and how much you want to spend. Divide by 12, and voilà — you’ve got a monthly budget. Adjust as necessary until your monthly budget equals your monthly income.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Figure out which of your expenses are wants and which are needs. Actual needs are fairly limited: food, shelter, clothing. Nearly everything else is a want, but even the way we fulfill our needs involves choice. (See “9 money rules to live by.”)
  • Prioritize. Fund your retirement first, no matter what. Put enough in your 401(k) to grab the employer match. Then start tackling your debts.
  • Don’t forget an emergency fund. This will go a long way to keeping you out of debt should the unexpected happen — and it will. If you don’t have funds now, use your income-tax refund or set up a regular electronic transfer from checking to savings. (See “Why you need $500 in the bank” and the video “Everyone needs an emergency fund.”)

 

Take a little off the edges

 

Once you’re on your way, keep track — at first weekly, then monthly — of where you’re going off budget and adjust your allocations.

 

Food, for instance, often goes unchallenged. You might wince at the checkout counter, but you do have to eat. Still, there are ways to cut the food budget without sacrificing quality or quantity. (See “Take a big bite out of grocery bills.”)

 

  • Many stores reduce their products based on a 12-week cycle, so notice when something goes on sale, but don’t buy until it hits the rock-bottom price.
  • Keep a notebook for a while so you get to know the rock-bottom prices on items that you frequently purchase. Keep track of which products are cheaper store by store.

 

Food isn’t the only place for savings. Here are some other ideas for keeping your budget on track:

 

  • Review your habits. Do you need the full-on cable package or caller ID? Do you pay full price at a convenience store for items you could buy for less on your weekly grocery shopping trips? (See “When cheap is a way of life.”)
  • Some people fritter away cash; others use a debit card as if it had unlimited credit. Whichever you might be, consider converting. A debit card devotee is more likely to think twice about spending cash, especially if you leave your ATM card at home.
  • If things still aren’t adding up, look at whether you need to adjust your allocations or change your spending habits. (See “5 steps to fix a broken budget.”)

 

Building the budget habit

 

Successful budgeting takes time and persistence so don’t be discouraged if you don’t hit your monthly goals at first. Here are some ideas to make it easier:

 

  • Write it down. If you don’t, you probably won’t stick to it.
  • When good fortune comes your way in the form of an “extra” paycheck or a bonus, pay an annual premium, make an additional mortgage payment or use it for seasonal extras, such as summer vacation costs or Christmas presents. (See “What to do with ‘extra’ paychecks.”)
  • Get into the habit of thinking ahead. If you know your situation is going to change — a new baby, new winter clothes, a new job — plan for it and try to pay cash.
  • Remember, budgeting is the means, not the end. Keep spending “mistakes” in perspective.
  • As your income climbs, don’t splurge until you’re sure you’re staying ahead of inflation. A good budget grows with you, so it’s worth re-evaluating your budget every year.

 

Published Jan. 4, 2008

 

March 29, 2009 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

Crisis in Trengganu? What crisis?

 An excerpt from “Disquiet”

Crisis in Trengganu? What crisis?

It may be that in all the posturing that is happening within UMNO, within the Federal Government and the Attorney General’s chamber concerning the events in Trengganu, some of the actors in the unfolding saga have lost sight of the obvious. In the absence of the Sultan, His Royal Highness the Regent of Trengganu has the absolute power and discretion to appoint the Menteri Besar of the state. Put another way, the choice is that of the Regent, and no one else. It is as simple as that. The Constitution of Trengganu is a document in 3 parts: Laws of the Constitution of 1911, Laws of the Constitution of Trengganu (First Part) and Laws of the Constitution of Trengganu (Second Part). In determining the constitutional position on any matter pertaining to the state, all 3 parts must be read harmoniously. Put another way, all three parts must be reconciled.

It follows therefore that in determining the ambit of powers of the Sultan (referred to as Raja in the constitutional documents), or the Regent as the case may be (and for ease of reference, only the Sultan shall be referred to in this comment), reference must be made to all 3 documents.

Chapter Six of the 1911 Laws emphatically provides that His Royal Highness is empowered as the sole authority for appointing ministers and officials. The chapter does not qualify the power of His Royal Highness to do so nor does it set out any criteria by which His Royal Highness is required to exercise his power. As I see it, Chapter Six vests an absolute discretion in the Sultan to appoint ministers and officials. This would necessarily include the Chief Minister or Mentri Besar.

Article 63 of the First Part expressly preserves the prerogatives, powers and jurisdiction of the Sultan except where expressed otherwise in the First Part. This is significant as the absolute power of the Raja to appoint a Mentri Besar is preserved except where otherwise expressly provided.

Article 14 of the First Part provides for the appointment of the State Executive Council including the Mentri Besar. The appointment is made by His Royal Highness. The language of the provision does not detract from His Royal Highness’ power to appoint. Criteria are however provided as follows: the candidate selected must be a member of the Legislative Assembly AND must be a member who in His Royal Highness’ judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly.

The Second Part is silent on this aspect of the powers of the Sultan.

Reconciling Chapter Six of the 1911 Laws with Article 14 of the First Part, two points are manifest. The power to appoint the Mentri Besar is that of the Sultan and only that of the Sultan. In exercising this power, His Royal Highness must choose a member of the Legislative Assembly who in His judgment commands the confidence of the majority of the Legislative Assembly. Put another way, it is the subjective view of the Sultan that matters and not of anyone else. Though expressions of support are factors that should be taken into consideration, the Constitution does not bind the Sultan to act only in accordance with such expressions of support.

Furthermore, it is unreasonable to suggest that all that matters are the numbers. The Sultan cannot be expected, nor does the Constitution require His Royal Highness, to act as a rubber-stamp

In this context, I am of the view that the Sultan may take into consideration all matters that His Royal Highness may reasonably view as having a bearing on the question of confidence. What if the Sultan formed the view that he was not confident that a particular member who seemingly had popular support would not make a suitable Chief Minister. Statements issued by the Palace indicate the concerns of the Palace over the handling of the Pantai Batu Burok episode as well as events that occurred during the recent General Election by Idris Jusoh. These are matter that are evidently bearing on the minds of those who advise the Regent.

These are considerations of weight that go to the question of confidence more so for the fact that it is glaringly obvious that twenty UMNO assembly-men who have endorsed the appointment of Idris Jusoh may not necessarily be acting in accordance with their own conscience but rather the dictates of the party. There is, in a manner of speaking, a dimension of duress in the saga, made obvious by the threats of disciplinary action that have been leveled against Ahmad Said by UMNO. To this end, it is questionable whether it can be said that Idris Jusoh truly commands the confidence of the majority of the Legislative Assembly.

These factors go to show that there is basis for doubt in the mind of the Regent and the advisory council as to the appropriateness of appointing Idris Jusoh. If so, this doubt may reasonably undermine the belief of the Regent and the advisory council that Idris Jusoh truly commands the confidence of the majority.

Regrettably the rhetoric of the Prime Minister and the Attorney General lend to a conclusion that the Regent and the advisory council are expected to rubber stamp the wishes of the majority. Though this may have been how appointments were made in the past, this does not bind the Sultan or the Regent in the present, more so where the past practice may not have been Constitutionally thought through.

In the same vein, I would say that there is no basis for the assertion that the Regent is acting unconstitutionally. In the circumstances, such statements verge on being disrespectful.

For purposes of argument, I would go further. Even if the Regent had decided for no apparent reason to appoint Ahmad Said as Mentri Besar instead Idris Jusoh, there would be no basis for challenging the decision to appoint the said person. The decision is solely that of the Sultan and as such, is in my view not justiciable in a court of law. The only recourse for those members of the Legislative Assembly who disagree is to move a vote of no confidence in the Legislative the Assembly. This is clearly envisaged under the Trengganu Constitution (Article 14(6)).

Significantly, if that were to happen, a new State Executive Council would be appointed unless the Sultan is requested by the Mentri Besar to dissolve the Legislative Assembly in which event elections would have to be held. This may not be politically expedient for those who complain.

And perhaps that is what this is all about in the final reckoning.

MIS

March 24, 2008 at 10:46 am Leave a comment

Why Sultan of Terengganu does not like Idris Jusoh

An excerpt from Malaysia Today…

Why Sultan of Terengganu does not like Idris Jusoh

One thing that Malaysia Today would like to raise is the matter of Terengganu’s oil royalty which we hope Mahathir will address on 28 July. Since the mid-1970s, Terengganu had been enjoying a 5% royalty on all the oil and gas extracted in the state. That is what is provided for under the Petroleum Development Act. In fact, not only Terengganu, but any state in Malaysia where oil and gas is extracted they would enjoy the same. However, in 2000, this royalty was withdrawn and converted to Wang Ehsan (goodwill money).  Suddenly, the RM800 million or so a year that Terengganu was supposed to get as its 5% share of the oil and gas revenue was transferred out of the state and into the hands of one man, Idris Jusoh.

Malaysia was then already suffering from an outbreak of JE. But in Terengganu it was JE of another kind, Jusoh Enterprise, Idris Jusoh’s family business. Jusoh Enterprise or JE was suddenly flush with funds, RM800 million a year to be exact. Then, in 2004, Umno, under the
stewardship of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, won back the state from the opposition. But the state did not win back its 5% oil royalty. The Wang Ehsan continued and Idris Jusoh, who now became the Chief Minister, continued to single-handedly manage the fund. Even the State Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and the Terengganu State Economic Planning Unit (UPENT) were left totally in the dark. One man, Idris Jusoh, decided how the money was spent, and it is a lot of money.

But the new Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, would not tolerate one man managing the state’s coffers. He wanted Idris Jusoh’s hands out of the RM800 million a year cash box. However, to revert to the 5% royalty only meant that the money would come directly under state control. That would not serve their purpose. They wanted direct control of the RM800 million. Now it was under the control of the Prime Minister’s Department but passed down to Idris Jusoh’s hands. What they needed to do was to get Idris Jusoh’s hands out of the equation.

Then Khairy Jamaluddin, Abdullah’s son-in-law cum adviser, came out with a fantastic new ‘umbrella concept’, better than even Mahathir’s. They wanted control of the RM800 million a year. But they did not want to get it out of Idris Jusoh’s hands by putting it into the hands of the state. That would merely be a case of out of the frying pan, into the fire. They wanted direct control of the money without Idris Jusoh deciding on how the money is spent.

And this is how they did it.

First they appointed Wan Farid, Khairy’s ‘running dog’, as Abdullah’s Political Secretary. Then they appointed Wan Hisham, Wan Farid’s brother, as the State Exco Member in-charge of tourism. Then they gave Patrick Lim, Khairy’s business partner, the sole monopoly of all state tourism projects. Now the network is intact and Idris Jusoh has been
cut off.

Patrick Lim’s job is to create all sorts of state tourism projects at hugely inflated prices. He would then propose these projects to Wan Hisham, the man in-charge of tourism. Wan Hisham would then pass them on to his brother, Wan Farid. Wan Farid would then pass them on to Khairy. Idris Jusoh would of course be left out of the loop and he would only know about them when it was a fait accompli — as the Malays would say, “Nasi sudah jadi bubur.”

They built 30 houses at RM1 million each on an island in the Terengganu River. They launched a RM300 million a year yacht race called the Monsoon Cup. Hundreds of millions a year is being spent to ‘attract tourists to Terengganu’. It seems this year the amount of Wang Ehsan has shot up from RM800 million to RM1 billion — so there is even more money to play around with.

To ensure that Idris Jusoh keeps his hands out of the cash box, Abdullah himself chairs the state meetings though he is the Prime Minister and not the Terengganu Chief Minister. Of course, Idris Jusoh, being the Chief Minister, is allowed to sit in on these meetings though he has no say on what they propose. Patrick Lim, though he is not in the government, is also allowed to attend these meetings.

Abdullah would then propose all sorts of tourism projects conjured by Wan Hisham, Wan Farid and Khairy. Details are of course not discussed; only the gist of things and the amounts involved. Whenever Idris Jusoh raises any questions, he would be told to ‘leave it all to Patrick Lim who knows what to do’. Idris Jusoh is not to involve himself in the details.

After awhile Idris Jusoh got quite pissed and tried to resist. One project that he knew nothing about was placed before him and he was told by Patrick Lim to sign the papers. But how could he sign the papers when he knew nothing about it and would eventually have to bear responsibility for it?

Patrick Lim walked out of Idris Jusoh’s office and phoned Wan Farid who complained to Khairy. Within an hour Idris Jusoh received a phone call from Abdullah who ordered him to sign the papers, which he of course did straight away.

Patrick Lim’s hold on Abdullah was apparent to all but somehow not to Idris Jusoh. One day Abdullah visited Terengganu to chair the regular meetings on how to spend Terengganu’s RM800 million (which is now RM1 billion because of the increase in oil prices). Idris Jusoh fetched Abdullah from the airport but before his car could move Patrick Lim’s car cut in front of Idris Jusoh’s car and Abdullah got out of Idris Jusoh’s car and got into Patrick Lim’s car. Idris Jusoh should have realised then who really runs Terengganu.

Yes, RM1 billion a year is a lot of money. This money, which should belong to Terengganu, is not going to the state. It is going to Wan Hisham, Wan Farid, Patrick Lim and Khairy. And Abdullah chairs the state meetings to decide how the money is spent. And Wan Hisham, Wan Farid, Patrick Lim and Khairy help spend the money. And they spend it all. And Idris Jusoh has no say in how it is spent. And if he refuses to sign the papers he will get a phone call from Abdullah.

Now do you know who runs this country? Abdullah says he and not his son-in-law runs this country. Idris Jusoh however will tell you that Khairy runs this country. And Khairy also runs Terengganu and manages its RM1 billion a year through Wan Hisham, Wan Farid and Patrick Lim. And Abdullah chairs the Terengganu State meetings on behalf of Khairy
and according to the plan on how Patrick Lim wishes to spend the RM1 billion a year.

And now do you know why Mahathir is so pissed? And he has every reason to be pissed. In fact, I too am pissed. And that is why I agree that Mahathir stays pissed with Abdullah and his son-in-law. The Terengganu issue alone is enough for me to get pissed. And rest assured that Terengganu is but the tip of the iceberg.

Yes, it is nice being able to walk in the corridors of power. And much can you do when you walk in the corridors of power. And RM1 billion a year is nice to manage if you have that power to do so. And when you walk in the corridors of power you would of course have that power.

March 23, 2008 at 9:50 am 3 comments

Malaysia: Election Woes

Oxford Business Group

11 March 2008

Malaysia‘s political landscape was dramatically transformed last weekend as the ruling coalition government, Barisan Nasional (BN), suffered its lowest margin of victory in 50 years. BN secured just under two-thirds of the federal parliament, a significant departure from the previous elections held in 2004, when the party won 90%. Islamist and leftist opposition parties also won control of five of the country’s 13 states, up from one in the previous term.While BN won the election as expected, few observers had anticipated that the crucial two-thirds majority, which allows the government to change the constitution at will, would not be attained.
 

The governing regime has done well to improve the economy, and Malaysia experienced GDP growth of 6.3% in 2007, as well as a 69% jump in foreign direct investment (FDI) to $13.7bn. In this respect, many feel the surprising results stem not from economic, but from political issues, pointing to the unprecedented swing as an indication of growing voter frustrations over inflation, racial tensions and a government that did not perform as much as promised to curb corruption and increase transparency. Since its independence in 1957, Malaysia has had one ruling party with little in the way of opposition representation in parliament, and observers now expect a short period of fragmented government.

The governing party is currently engaged in massive spending programmes, which over the past 12 months have included the introduction of five designated economic development zones. Some fear that many of these projects could be stalled or scaled back should the new state governments decide to review them.

Another concern is related to the potential for a slower decision making process for the passing of crucial economic legislation. For example, BN had indicated prior to the elections that it would review lowering the current subsidy on oil prices in 2008, a policy to which the opposition has already expressed disapproval.With stocks markets across Asia already reeling over investor concerns abuot a possible US recession, the unexpected election results could not have come at a worse time for Malaysia’s stock exchange. On the first Monday of trading after the elections, the benchmark Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) fell by 10%. This was the biggest one-day drop since the Asian financial crisis in 1998, and led to the suspension of trading for a brief period towards the end of the day.Share prices in 99 of the top 100 KLCI member companies fell, with major companies linked to the federal government or behind large government projects accounting for the largest declines.

Of the four new states in which the opposition was victorious, foreign investors are looking most closely at the island of Penang, a key manufacturing base and home to major US electronics firms such as Dell, Intel and Motorola. Lim Guan Eng, Penang’s new chief minister elect, has assured foreign investors that the state’s pro-business policies will remain unchanged, telling press, “We will not undertake any policies that will frighten investors away.” Vincent Leusner, president of the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce, said, “The opposition victories will not hurt American investment.

Nonetheless, analysts believe that foreign investors will act with caution for the time being, in order assess the impact of the opposition influence on economic policies.While, as demonstrated in the stock market, reactions to such dramatic results will often be knee jerk, political and economic observers point out that there may be substantial longer-term positives. As volatility in a country’s election results is generally seen as indicative of the degree of democracy, some have suggested the recent events could be a catalyst for greater transparency and corporate governance. The private sector may be able to look forward to an era of more transparent public tendering and awarding of government projects.Gerald Ambrose, managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management Malaysia, told OBG, “A powerful opposition is a positive development for the long term, providing checks and balances for trillion ringgit government spending.

The absence of violence following such hotly contested elections, as well as the success of opposition parties, are also encouraging signs negating any possible suspicions of elections fraud or deceit.The last time the ruling coalition failed to attain the two-thirds margin was in 1969, when polls were followed by a period of race riots and a declaration of a state of emergency. While the past few days have seen some small-scale demonstrations, they have remained peaceful and orderly, a testament to what many believe is a maturing democracy. 

March 12, 2008 at 2:07 am Leave a comment

Mahathir interview: The Straits Times

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad was interviewed by Malaysia’s fortnightly political tabloid Siasah on Aug 9. This is an extract from the interview published in the current issue of the tabloid.

THE SHAME OF IT: Today, it looks like Malaysia Tidak Boleh because we try to
seek the advice of outsiders. We ought to be ashamed at having to seek the advice of outsiders after 50 years of independence.

YES MEN: It’s the right of Umno members to topple anyone…(but) today, actually there is no Umno but Umyes. Everyone says ‘yes’. You can’t say ‘no’. At Umno meetings, no one dares speak. – TUN DR MAHATHIR

SIASAH: The Iskandar Development Region (IDR) is a massive and expensive project that is said to be very beneficial especially to Johor in the long run. But various quarters – including you, Tengku Razaleigh, PAS members and international financial analysts based in Singapore – are sceptical about whether the project will run as smoothly as planned.

Tun Dr Mahathir: We can develop our territory anywhere we like. But the problem is Singapore ‘s involvement in this project. Why must there be a special joint ministerial committee to decide on the development in Malaysia?

Why must we depend so much on Singapore’s participation to develop the IDR?
As we know, Singapore is not a good neighbour, and even if it agrees to be involved in the IDR, Singaporeans will eventually buy houses or factories and reside here.

Singapore reportedly has plans to increase its population to eight million to 10 million (sic), a large part of which will be imported from mainland China. As Singapore can only accommodate up to five million to six million, the rest of its population will probably be placed in the IDR.

So if we’re not careful, the IDR will eventually be filled with Singaporeans. Past experience has taught us that we lost Singapore because the Chinese population exceeded that of the Malays.

And tomorrow, if the government allows Singapore Chinese to occupy the IDR
(through business, employment and property purchase) to a larger extent than
the Malays, the IDR would be dominated by Singapore Chinese because the
Malays cannot afford to buy homes there.

Malacca and Penang remain in Malaysia because the Chinese population can
be offset by the large Malay population. But in Singapore, the Chinese make up
more than 75 per cent of the population while the Malays make up a mere 15 per cent. The Chinese there are rich and control the economy. For this reason, we had to release Singapore because the Chinese were too numerous and controlled the island.

And at that time, Lee Kuan Yew, who had initially agreed not to interfere in the political affairs of the peninsula, broke his promise by contesting in the 1964 general election in Bangsar, which led to the late Tunku (Abdul Rahman) becoming incensed and expelling Singapore ..

Today, we are trying to invite Singapore to enter Malaysia by participating actively in the IDR through various incentives and investment promotions. Eventually, the Johor Malays – who would initially refuse to sell their land – would be blinded by the highly lucrative offers for their properties and sell them to the Singapore Chinese for instant wealth.

After that, where will the Malays reside? They will be driven away from the rapidly developing IDR. They won’t be able to afford the costly property there and will be forced to live outside the IDR.

The IDR will then be filled with Singapore Chinese and Malaysian Chinese who can afford it. What if their numbers exceed the Malay population? We will once again lose Malay territory to the Chinese, as had happened with Singapore previously.

What about the Singapore Government’s active involvement leading to the formation of the joint ministerial committee? Is this necessary?

All this while, we had never sought anyone’s assistance or advice to develop our country. We had developed Kuala Lumpur ourselves without anyone’s aid. We never called on any foreign minister to advise us on how we should develop KL. We have the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) to plan and advise us on our development.

The development of Putrajaya, Labuan , Langkawi and the whole country was the
result of our hands and the expertise of our people. Why must we develop the IDR by seeking advice from Singapore ministers? They are just like us.

We developed this whole country without the help of foreigners and without the
advice of any foreign minister, including Singapore ‘s.

In fact, those Singapore ministers sitting on the ministerial committee can’t even make decisions without the direction and consent of the island’s most powerful man, Lee Kuan Yew.

Does this mean Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi did not receive correct advice on the IDR?

I’m not sure whether or not he received correct advice. But for sure his decision (on the IDR) is wrong.

He often boasts that the idea of the IDR project is his. A leader should be responsible for every decision made, be it on the advice of others or on his own. He has the prerogative to reject incorrect advice if he thinks it is not good for the country. And if he agrees to the advice of others, it means he can’t later wash his hands of the matter and say that the project was made on the advice of others because, ultimately, a premier must be responsible for all the decisions made.
If the government is not careful about securing the participation of bumiputeras, particularly Johor bumiputera businessmen, in the IDR project, they will be driven out of this rapidly developing zone because of unaffordability. What is the government’s role and responsibility to ensure that they are not sidelined but are protected and, if possible, actively involved in the project?

Simple. Don’t involve the Singapore government. We do it ourselves.

If they wish to invest in the IDR, we can study and consider their participation, but there’s no need to seek their advice. We have our own capabilities. We have certain bodies to play their roles. Look at all the development around us (in KL) and throughout the country – it is our own effort, without foreign assistance and advice.

All the development from the time of Tunku and Tun Razak right down to me was never carried out based on the advice of outsiders. We have the EPU to advise us.

When we decided to make Malaysia an industrialised nation, we consulted the EPU and not outsiders. We can do it if we want to because that’s our slogan: Malaysia Boleh. But today, it looks like Malaysia Tidak Boleh because we try to seek the advice of outsiders. What others can do, we can do. We ought to be ashamed at having to seek the advice of outsiders after 50 years of independence.

Take for instance the Petronas Twin Towers – we built them with our own capability and confidence. I visited many countries – Japan , America, Europe and other developed countries. I saw that we could build skyscrapers like them if we wanted to.

At first, many Malaysians doubted our ability to build the tallest building in the world. I said we try. Previously, our roads were built by foreign workers from India, but today Malaysian companies are invited to build roads and highways in India.

Indonesia too is developing a special economic zone encompassing Bintan, Karimun and Batam. Foreign investors particularly from Singapore are said to be actively involved. Won’t this affect the development of the IDR?

That’s not a problem to us. The problem is Singapore’s active participation in the IDR. I was told Indonesia gave exclusive rights to Singapore to develop Batam. Former Indonesian president B.J. Habibie aspired to make Batam like Singapore , but apparently it did not work out. An international airport was not even built, and its port is small. Singapore places its interest above that of other countries.

It does not really intend to develop the special zone.

Recently, Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew commented that investors from Singapore could not expect privileged treatment from the Malaysian government in the IDR project. He said Johor Umno members were not pleased with Singapore ‘s active participation in the project, similar to your views and criticisms. And even more strangely, he accused Johor Umno of no longer having confidence in PM Abdullah’s leadership and of wanting to topple (menjatuhkan) him. What’s your comment?

It’s the right of Umno members to topple anyone. Umno members, led by Tengku
Razaleigh, Musa Hitam, Radzi, Shahrir Samad and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had
tried to topple me too. It’s their right in a country that practises democracy. If they disapprove of a leader, we may replace him with a more qualified leader. Datuk Onn Jaafar was replaced by Tunku Abdul Rahman. And Tunku was terminated because of opposition from the people. This is common in Umno.

And the allegation about some Umno members trying to topple Abdullah may be
true. Kuan Yew may have gleaned this information from those Umno members
themselves who have vested interest. Many Umno members are now involved
in corruption and always holidaying in Singapore. These people are smart talkers purporting to serve the religion, race and country, but doing otherwise.

You are seen as being critical and have made many criticisms against the attitude of the government and Umno members, who would rather follow the leaders without trying to censure their erroneous acts.

Today, actually there is no Umno but Umyes. Everyone says ‘yes’. You can’t say ‘no’. At Umno meetings, no one dares speak. I tried to become a delegate to speak up but I was restricted through various means. No Umno member dares to speak up and take my side. All have become ‘yes men’.

This mustn’t be allowed to continue, or the Malays will become ‘yes men’ who dare not criticise leaders who commit mistakes. If we don’t criticise leaders, they will continue to make mistakes. And if we let them be, without criticising them, it means we approve of their erroneous acts. If this happens, it spells great misfortune for Umno members and Umno itself.

You are actually angrier about PM Abdullah’s scrapping of the crooked bridge
project than about other issues. What do you think are the real reasons (other than those already given by the government) that caused PM Abdullah to scrap the project, which held such great potential?

The bridge is vital to Johor’s development, especially in relationship to the development of the IDR. The Johor Causeway is too congested and Johor needs a new bridge (be it straight or crooked) that is modern and sophisticated to overcome the congestion which is worsening daily.

It is purported that the crooked bridge can’t be built because Singapore is asking for the use of airspace and the sale of sand. But the crooked bridge has had the approval of then-Singapore PM Goh Chok Tong and it can be built if the government is truly determined to do it.

Why didn’t the government go through with it? I received information that, actually, the Malaysian government – through a certain person – had agreed to sell sand to Singapore, but this was strongly opposed by Johor people (Umno). The straight bridge would have been built if Johor Malays had not opposed the plan.

The issue is, if the straight bridge could not be built, we could have proceeded to build the crooked bridge on our side. But even this, the government didn’t want to do. This is what I don’t understand.

There’s talk that Khairy Jamaluddin’s interference was the key factor influencing the PM’s decision?

This I don’t know, even though there are allegations that this is so. What I know is that when people ask about Khairy, the PM merely says: ‘He’s my son-in-law.’

There’s talk among Johoreans that the crooked bridge won’t be built now, but it may be considered and built if (Deputy Prime Minister) Najib becomes PM. What do you think?

That’ll depend on the considerations of the prime minister (Najib) and Umno then. If he thinks it’s necessary and good for the country, particularly the development and progress of Johor, he may build it. It greatly depends on the will and courage of the PM then.

Lee Kuan Yew said Singapore-Malaysia ties went through a difficult time during your rule. By ‘difficult’, is he referring to your actions, for instance, in the building of the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP), which was said to have seriously affected the earnings of Singapore ‘s key port?
Besides your request to raise the selling price of raw water, which was unthinkable to Singapore , Kuala Lumpur International Airport ‘s opening too had to some extent impacted the speed of Singapore Changi Airport ‘s progress.

I had initially tried to resolve the issue amicably with Singapore, but Lee Kuan Yew refused to yield. He was very resistant and totally refused to compromise.

Sabahans and Sarawakians can withdraw their CPF money, but West Malaysians
can only do so after the age of 55. Sabah and Sarawak are part of Malaysia. How can foreigners (Singapore ) try to differentiate between them and divide our people as they like? We are one people.

The price of water we sell is indeed not fair – 3 sen (1.3 Singapore cents) per 1,000 gallons. Today, what can be done with 3 sen? We tried to raise the price slightly but they refused, saying that the first agreement had lapsed.

In fact the agreement has not lapsed. How many thousand times the selling price they earn from selling water to their people? So I decided to give a financial allocation to Johor to build its own water filtration plant. This means we don’t depend on buying water from Singapore .

And Johor too can sell water to Malacca at 30 sen (1,000 per cent higher than the price of water sold to Singapore). Johor too can make a reasonable profit from selling water to Malacca.

Besides this, our development of PTP has angered Lee Kuan Yew because it badly affects the income of Singapore ‘s key ports. Singapore carries out all sorts of schemes to beat PTP. They reduce their ship-handling charges to woo the foreign businessmen using our ports. And they give financial loans to companies intending to use their port services. But PTP continues to progress and expand, which is what Singapore does not want to see. We are more progressive than Singapore because we try to beat its expertise.

The Indonesian government faces difficulty ratifying the Defence Cooperation
Agreement and extradition treaty with Singapore. Singapore resolutely refuses to amend the contents of the agreements with Indonesia. What’s your take?
Singapore places importance only on its own interests and not mutual interests. It does things that are more beneficial to itself than to its neighbours’ interests and needs. Singapore once considered itself a Chinese island in the middle of the Malay ocean.

October 2, 2007 at 12:20 pm 4 comments

Marriage-Minded Women Focus on Men’s Faces

MONDAY, August 13 (Health Day News) — When it comes to a woman’s choice of a life-partner, a man’s face may mean a lot, a new study finds.

 

Many women regard men with masculine facial features — such as a square jaw, larger nose and smaller eyes — as unsuitable long-term partners, because they’re more likely to be domineering, unfaithful, unaffectionate and poor parents, U.K. researchers have found.

 

On the other hand, women believe that men with finer facial features — fuller lips, wide eyes and thinner, more curved eyebrows — to be more committed, less likely to cheat, and to make better parents, said the study by psychologists at Durham and St. Andrews Universities.

 

For this study, British women were asked to view pictures of men’s faces that were digitally altered to look more masculine or feminine and to predict the men’s personality traits, including sexual behavior and parenting skills.

p6.jpg

 

The findings are published in the current issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

 

“This research shows a high amount of agreement between women about what they see, personality wise, when asked to ‘judge a book by its cover.’ They may well use that impression of someone to decide whether or not to engage with that person. That decision-making process all depends on what a woman is looking for in a relationship at that time of her life,” lead author Dr. Lynda Boothroyd, a lecturer in the department of psychology at Durham University, said in a prepared statement.

She and her colleagues said their findings provide new information about what people see in others when they’re selecting potential partners and may help advance research in areas such as evolutionary biology, fertility and genetics. It may also offer new insights for use in relationship counseling and psychology.

August 15, 2007 at 8:53 am Leave a comment

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