Archive for May, 2010

18
May
10

 

CHINESE VOTES

That the Chinese votes are gravitating slowly but surely away from the Barisan National is obvious –  from the Sibu by election on Sunday backwards to the 2008 general elections and even before!

The trend is gaining ground as the Chinese furtively show their discontent with the government policies as well as the modus operandi  of the biggest Malay political party UMNO. As the UMNO leaders exerted their influence in BN, the Chinese component parties in the coalition lost their voice and their bite to be an effective platform for airing Chinese grievances, needs and demands.

The gutter-fighters in the DAP have used this to their advantage as they prove again and again that their bark is indeed as strong as their bite! That the Chinese voters trust them more than the MCA and Gerakan is a foregone conclusion! As the gutter-fighters among the Malays gather their strength under the banner of Perkasa, the Malaysian political scenario looks set to maintain its racial and growing racist undertones. All foreboding the real danger of a fully-blown racial conflict!  A repeat of May 13 1969 GOD FORBID!

I was in Johore Bharu during that tumultous period and was therefore spared its gruesome realities. But listening to first-hand accounts of  the emergency and looking at the horrific build-up of street warfare in Bangkok send shivers down my spine. I pray to God that Kuala Lumpur, indeed the other  Malaysian political “hot spots” like George Town and Ipoh will be spared the wrath of the Almighty as He shows His displeasure at the utter stupidity of Malaysian TIT 4 TAT politics.

Are the Chinese grievances real or imagined? Is it true that they have been discriminated against by successive ALLIANCE/ BN governments focussed on providing  props to build up the Bumiputera/ Malay community? Was the affirmative action programmes of the NEP which were racially biased towards the disadvantaged Malays so damaging to the prosperity of the Chinese as they claimed their share of the economic cake? Were the greed and arrogance of the Malay cronies favoured by the BN government and UMNO so exceptional that the Chinese were left high and dry? Were the BN political leaders the only ones contributing to the nation’s rampant corruption?

I’m sure by now each of these questions have been/ are being answered and rebutted by the Opposition and its predominantly Chinese supporters. It’s almost futile to address the background to the sorry state of Malaysian politics as the Opposition parties, especially, will not admit that they were happy to partake of the spoils when times were good. Chinese businessmen and corporate giants were delighted to kowtow to the BN leadership, please them and bribe them when the going was profitable. In retrospect they have become HOLIER THAN THOU!  How disgusting!

The only way out of this racial/ racist mess is for political leaders to emerge with non-confrontational stances and rhetoric as the PM is trying hard to do. The only way is to lift Malaysian politics to the next level where the discourse is freed from the blame game and filled with the substance of ideologies and ideals.

BUILD, BUILD, BUILD to counter the DESTROY, DESTROY, DESTROY!

Street-fighting and grassroots hair-pulling must stop as must the YOU ARE MORE CORRUPT THAN ME game which is accelerating between BN and PR. Let’s face it – Malaysians are a corrupted and corruptible lot PERIOD.

The Chinese want good governance and a clean government! PLEASE clean up the bribery and corruption in your own community first! PLEASE modernise the culture of your people and educate your grassroots supporters instead of hoodwinking them into believing the Malays are to blame for all the country’s ills and evils!

Likewise, the Malays must wake up from their cultural stupor and stop believing they are Allah’s chosen people! We are only as outstanding or as downtrodden as the values we uphold.  Reflect them in your conduct and behaviour. There’s no point shouting you are the TUAN when you are still behaving like the arrogant PEON!

Malaysians must be forthright and honest about their own strengths and weaknesses . They must strive to consolidate the positives and eradicate the negatives. Only then can we uphold our integrity and credibility and become a great nation!

14
May
10

 

GOING GA GA

IF YOU ARE PROMISED BIG MONEY TO WIN …

AND BIGGER MONEY TO LOSE …

WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE? 

 

 

Corruption in sport

 

Pot (kettle) black

A scandal in snooker points to wider worries about match-fixing

May 6th 2010 | From The Economist print edition 

WISE punters bet on simple outcomes of big matches. That is the lesson of the latest corruption scandal to hit international sport. On May 2nd the News of the World, a British Sunday tabloid, published an account of a sting operation in which John Higgins, the world’s top-ranked snooker player, and his agent Patrick Mooney, appeared to agree to accept bribes in return for losing specific frames in future contests. Mr Mooney has resigned from snooker’s governing body. It has suspended Mr Higgins, who denies wrongdoing and has vowed to clear his name. 

Corruption in sport, like betting on it, dates back to ancient Greece. But technology and globalisation make it easier for the two to combine. Wealthy punters can place big bets on events involving ill-paid sportsmen in faraway places. Gangsters then find rich pickings in nobbling the participants. In November the European football authority, UEFA, launched a big inquiry involving 200 matches and teams from 11 countries. In February it banned a Bosnian referee for life and suspended two other officials.  

Many blame the betting industry, which offers wagers on not just the outcomes of contests, but also on virtually random events within them, such as the number of yellow cards issued in a football match, or the number of no-balls bowled during an innings in cricket. Such side-bets can allow a crooked player or referee to cash in by pleasing a match-rigger in a way that is all but invisible even to a suspicious outsider. Equally vulnerable are games with no wider significance, such as those played by likely losers in qualifying rounds, or end-of-season league matches. 

Reputable bookmakers in places such as Europe insist that they are the victims of such abuse, not its abetters. Their profits depend on fair play, they point out: dirty work means more profit for the match-riggers and less for them. They blame complacency among the sports authorities for the problem. Investigating corruption properly and publicly implies that it exists, which disillusions fans and deters sponsors. Too often sports administrators prefer to see, hear and think no evil. 

What works best is a combination of tough disciplinary codes and easy ways for sportsmen to notify the authorities if they are approached by match-fixers. That would make cheating a riskier bet.

11
May
10

AMERICAN LAW

What Are The Rewards

Examples of Recoveries By Whistleblowers

by The Law Office of John F. Murphy
fifty

Phone 860.233-9946 John.Murphy18@comcast.net
Fax 860.523.5065

Your Reward

If the Justice Department enters the case begun by you, the whistleblower, and if the Government prosecutes the case and wins, the whistle blower is entitled to a maximum of 25% and a minimum of 15% of any funds recovered by the Government as a result of a verdict or settlement.

If the Justice Department elects not to participate and the whistle blower proceeds alone, the maximum award increases to 30 percent. Under certain circumstances the award can be as low as 10 percent, but in most cases, the whistleblower receives between 15 and 25 percent of the total recovery that the Government recovers from the cheater.

Fifteen to 25 percent of what? Damages can be set at as high as three times the amount of each instance of the proven fraud. Further, the statutory penalty for submitting a false claim is $10,000 for each false claim. The number of assertable False Claims is not measured by the number of contracts your employer has with the Government, but by the number of fraudulent acts committed under the contract. In other words, if the sale of ball bearings involves a thirty cent overcharge on one lot, that thirty cent overcharge is what is found in that one claim. The Government is entitled to treble damages for each false claim in each lot. (30 times 3 = ninety cents times the number of lots of ball bearings) plus a $10,000 fine for each false claim. As you can imagine, these figures begin to multiply exponentially. And your 15% to 25% of the recovery is based on the final figure the Government comes up with in its settlement or verdict, not the amounts you have listed in your original complaint.

Did You Know…

Because someone blew the whistle on defense contractors and medical facilities and pharmaceutical companies and a long list of other cheaters, the Justice Department has collected, between 1986 and September, 2004, more than $ 8.5 billion dollars.

In one case, the Trial Court awarded three relators (whistleblowers) $52,049,126 for their efforts in bringing a successful False Claims Case.

Rewards to whistleblowers

For Mislabeling; Medicare Fraud

Whistleblowers are rewarded for uncovering Medicare FraudBayer and GSK (GalaxoSmithKline) sold relabeled drugs to an HMO at deeply discounted prices, and then concealed this information in order to avoid their obligation to pay millions of dollars in additional rebates to the Medicaid program. The total payment by both Bayer and GalaxoSmithKline was $344 million. The Whistleblower George Courto, a former marketing executive at Bayer who is now deceased, filed the qui tam action against Bayer in 1999. The Relator’s share of the Bayer portion of the settlement was $34 million, which went to Courto’s estate.

For Laboratory Billing Practices; Medicare/Medicaid Fraud

In another Medicare/Medicaid case involving Smith Galaxo Kline and a whistleblower – in which a man named Merena blew the whistle on fraudulent laboratory billing practices – the Department of Justice received $333 million. After a seven day evidentiary hearing to determine the relator’s share, Mr. Merena was awarded $52,049,126.00.

For Work Not Done

United Technologies Corp. billed the Government for work on helicopters at the Sikorsky division which it hadn’t done yet. Mr. Keeth, the executive vice president, blew the whistle on this activity by beginning a lawsuit in the United States District Court. The Federal Government settled for $150 million. Mr. Keeth, the whistleblower, received $22,500,000.

Reporting fraud toward the government can be rewardingTeledyne, Inc., settled two false claims with the Government involving relays and systems for a total of $112,500,000. The Government accused Teledyne of faking the testing of components and of fraud in its accounting for costs. In the first case, a man named Stache from quality control and a man named Muelhasen, a test lab manager, received a total of $18,500,000.

In the second case, Teledyne inflated cost data and then certified that the data were accurate and current and complete. The data weren’t accurate and complete. A man named Kirchoff, the pricing specialist, and a man named Killingsworth, received a total of $4,600,000 for blowing the whistle.

For Unnecessary Tests, False Billings; Medicare Fraud

Damon Clinical Laboratories, Inc. fraudulently billed Medicare, Medicaid and CHAMPUS by bundling medically unnecessary tests not knowingly ordered by doctors. The Government recovered $83,700,000 and Jeanne Byrne, one of three whistleblowers, received $9,000,000.Whistleblowers can report activity like submitting false documentation and fraudulent billing to the government.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts paid $2.75 million after putting in false Medicare reports, inflating the number of claims it processed and exaggerating the speed with which claims were processed. Because of this fraudulent activity, it received larger Government reimbursements than it was entitled to. The relator was a former employee of BCBS Massachusetts and recovered $550,000.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan paid $27,600,000 in a Qui Tam action for submitting false documentation and fraudulent billing. The fraud occurred when the Government tried to review a specific set of audits and BCBS backdated their audits to hide what it had done. Mr. Flynn, a man who had performed audits for Blue Cross Blue Shield, blew the whistle and was rewarded $5,500,000.

For Misuse of Funds

The New York State Department of Social Services and New York State colleges paid $26.97 million for overbilling and misuse of funds it charged the federal Government for training of social workers. A former New York State employee received $4.05 million for blowing the whistle. (Note: This case was concluded before the separation of powers case that prohibited recovery from states or municipalities.)

For Failing to Bond

Whistleblowers protect against safety risks while getting rewarded.General Electric Company agreed to pay the Government $7.18 million to settle a Qui Tam suit filed by Ian Johnson, an electrical engineer at the company’s Evendale, Ohio aircraft engine plant. General Electric was accused of failing to satisfy electrical bonding requirements in its contracts, thereby creating a safety risk in the engines of commercial planes and military aircraft such as the F-16 fighter and B-1B bombers of not having undergone proper testing for resistance to electrical interference. Although the Air Force and FAA found no safety problems, the company would still have been liable under the False Claims Act. Mr. Johnson, the relator (whistleblower who began the lawsuit) was rewarded with $1,700,000.

For Destroying Records

Teledyne allegedly missed jet engine parts under an Air Force repair contract and altered and destroyed records. Teledyne paid $4,750,000 and the relator Gerald Woodward got $831,250.

For Failing to Test

Hughes Aircraft Co. Inc. failed to perform tests on components used in military electronic equipment and paid $4,050,000. Margaret Goodearl, Ruth Aldred & Taxpayers Against Fraud received a total of $891,000.

Whistle-Blower gets reward
(Read the full New York Times article)

For Improper Tests

Air Industries Group improperly tested aircraft parts. The Government got $6,800,000 and the whistleblowers received $1,530,000.

For Overcharging

CSX Transportation, Inc. paid $5.9 million to the U.S. Government and 11 state Governments to settle a Qui Tam suit filed by A. David Nelson, a former CSX employee, in conjunction with Taxpayers Against Fraud, The False Claims Act Legal Center. Mr. Nelson accused CSX of defrauding federal and state governments by overcharging for materials used to maintain and repair railroad crossings. While working on an audit of certain certain transactions, Nelson discovered that CSX failed to obtain the lowest prices available for construction materials, as required by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rail Highway Crossing Program. CSX did not obtain materials through competitive bidding, established “shell” companies through which materials could be marked up and resold at higher prices, and inflated the number of person-hours required to wire equipment. Mr. Nelson was rewarded $1.18 million for blowing the whistle.

Overcharging the DOT is fraudulent activity that comes under the false claims act.General Dynamics Corp. paid $1,800,000 to settle a suit for overbilling the Government for testing F-16 fighters. Four former company employees who tested the jets at Edwards Air Force Base knew that General Dynamics billed the defense department for thousands of hours that were never worked by using falsified time cards from about 50 employees who regularly left the plant early. The four whistleblowers received $405,000.

Lockheed Martin, Inc. and the Martin Marietta Corp. overcharged the Department of Defense when it underbid on a contract then boosted research and development costs. Lockheed and Martin Marietta paid $5,300,000, and the relator, Jerry Mayman, received $795,000.

For Not Offering Discounts

Rubbermaid Commercial Products paid $887,000 because they didn’t offer the same regular discounts they were offering to other customers for food service, for waste baskets and other cleaning products. As a result, the Federal Agencies ended up paying higher prices on 16 Federal contracts. The whistle blower was awarded $185,000.

For False Certifications of Gearboxes

Falsifying landing gear charts is a dangerous kind of fraud that deserves to be reported.Lucas Industries, a British corporation and two U.S. subsidiaries (LWI) paid the Government $88,000,000 to settle a Qui Tam suit brought by Frederick Copeland, a machinist who formerly worked for the company. Copeland accused LWI of falsifying gear charts for a key component of the Navy’s F/A18 Hornet and major defects in gearboxes for the Army’s Multiple Launch rocket system. One of the subsidiaries, Lucas Western, pleaded guilty to 37 counts of making false certifications to the Department of Defense that gearboxes for Navy fighter jets and Army rocket launchers had been fully inspected in accordance with contractual requirements when they had not. The investigators had suggested that the gearboxes supplied by Lucas were responsible for aborted missions, system failures and engine fires. A criminal fine of $18.5 million was paid by Lucas Western, and Lucas Industries was barred from receiving new Government contracts. Mr. Copeland, the machinist who blew the whistle, received $18,480,000.

For False Diagnoses

Allied Clinical Laboratories, Inc. paid the Government $4.9 million to settle a Qui Tam suit which charged that it put in false claims for reimbursement for laboratory tests to Medicare. Medicare does not pay for “limited coverage” blood tests unless a physician certifies that they are medically necessary, and Allied Clinical had inserted false diagnoses into the diagnosis codes of many of the Medicare billings. Whether inflating research projects or communication fraud, blowing the whistle can be rewardingRamona Wagner and Jeanine Dehner, former billing clerks for the company, noticed this fraudulent activity. They blew the whistle and were rewarded with a 17 percent share of the proceeds – $833,458.

For Inflating Research and Development

FMC Corp inflated military contracts, including amounts for independent research and development, and paid the Government $13,000,000 to settle a Qui Tam suit. Robert Nearegarder, the whistleblower, received $2,860,000

10
May
10

 

REWARD WHISTLEBLOWERS?

The MACC will have to think of better ways of encouraging public responsibilty in reporting cases of bribery and corruption.

The announcement by the MACC chief Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed that rewards will be given to informers to encourage more people to come forward defeats the very purpose of the anti-corruption campaign which has just been launched.

By introducing the element of reward or inducement in the line of duty, the MACC is perpetuating the money and compensation factor rampant in society, where people do things in expectation of a reward. This will further evolve into the culture of greed, opening the system to abuse and more corruption. Besides the unnecessary use of public funds, the MACC will be entangled in the question of who deserves what and by how much! Energy which should be channelled to tackling corruption will be diverted to working out deals with another lot of opportunistic Malaysians!

The public, especially those in the government departments and enforcement agencies, must want to weed out corruption for its own sake not for the sake of seeking advantages for themselves. They must see it as a disease to be eradicated and a sin to be avoided because of its insidious nature of corrupting not only the individual but his whole family, community and society.

The private sector must want to free itself of the scourge because it wants to conduct its businesses and corporate deals in an honest and fair way, not because it has the monetary might to do so. In negotiations between businessmen and the government officers in authority nothing should be more fulfilling than the mutual respect for one another’s roles and duties. Nothing should be more satisfying than doing a job well and being thanked sincerely for it.

If at all the whistleblowers need to be acknowledged, what better way than to secure them a better position in their work place or to give them the privilege of leading their colleagues in meaningful ways!

08
May
10

 

 

REMEMBERING MAK

My mother was remarkable in many ways! She was as modern as any modern woman is in having a clear head on her shoulders and a mind of her own!

Coming from the remote village of Nyalas in Melaka and educated in a Malay school, she was remarkable for qualifying for and completing a course in midwifery at the Kandang Kerbau Hospital in Singapore in the early 30s. She was modern in having the courage to leave her cocooned village life to seek an education in the far-off place that Singapore must have been in those days. She must have gathered the strength and determination to do this from a supportive family, especially a father who doted on her and was no less than the village chief or demang.

I clearly remember Tok Manan on the trips to Nyalas, where at 5′ 10″ he literally towered above the Minangkabau suku and saudara mara who looked up to him as Demang Abdul Manan, as a penghulu would have been revered in the days of old. After the death of his first wife – my mother’s mother – he married 3 other women who each bore him children. They are/ were my mother’s half-siblings – Munah, Monel, Ali, Halimah, Yam and Yah – and their children my half-cousins. I see them at family weddings and funerals and there are a few I keep in close touch with.

It was in Singapore that Khadijah met the young Mohd Said, a final year medical student at King Edward VII College of Medicine. To be connected by their common interest in health and medicine must have been a strong bond indeed for the two young Malays who must have witnessed numerous cases of disease and death among family and friends in their respective kampung in the days when the bomoh was a trusted healer who oftentimes failed them. Mohd Said was a Bugis from Linggi, Negeri Sembilan not far from Nyalas, Melaka. Together, they must have been determined to change the attitude to Western medicine and improve the standards of health and medical treatment in their areas of expertise. 

Thus the handsome Bugis lad fell in love with the Minangkabau lass with heels that were well turned out macam telur dikupas and skin that was smoothly putih melepak. Thus the doctor set up home with the midwife – in Pekan, Pahang for 11 years, in Kuala Lumpur for 2 years and in Seremban forever – raising 7 children (6 girls and 1 boy).

Mak loved her children dearly, never really doting on us but protecting us as a mother hen protected her brood. It is to her credit that each of us felt we were special and that she loved us the most, although as the youngest child I was privileged to have a little more of the caring and nurturing. Besides, I had Mak all to myself in the years when my older siblings were either away at college or married. The school holidays was the time when everyone came home and Mak was kept busy, cooking and we were kept busy, eating.

Ah! The endless meals of masak asam ikan parang, daging goreng kicap, ikan cencaru belah belakang, pucuk labu tumis air etc etc etc and the endless afternoon teas of cuk kodok and cucur bawang. Those were my days of “splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower” when mortality was so far away and never intimidating, when puppy love and crushes forever dogged me.  Those were the days when Mak was my loyal, unquestioning companion, warding off the “hits” from her husband and my father who was at times irascible!

As a wife she was extremely intelligent! She stood her ground when she had to especially when her own role and integrity were threatened. At other times she tolerated my father’s idiosyncracies and quirks with indifference rather than good humour. After all, she was secure in the knowledge that her anak menantu and cucu were devoted to her.

When she died unexpectedly of a heart attack in the wee hours of Monday 9 February 1983 we were completely shattered. She had not really been ill or if she had, she had suffered quietly without a murmur of complaint. She had left us without saying goodbye! Rather, she had waited all day on Sunday 8 February to say goodbye, but none of us had turned up. The guilt remains to this day as I picture her poised by the louvered windows waiting to catch a glimpse of the car filled with her children and grandchildren. She must have felt so sayu!

When Mak died, I grieved for months as I prayed and said my doa’ for my beloved mother. But deep inside I knew I was actually grieving for myself, for not being at her side when she took her last breath. Not one of us, not even my father witnessed her passing. She loved each of us too much!

AL FATIHAH!

 

05
May
10

 

MOTHERS DAY

In memory of my late mother Khadijah Abdul Manan (1914 -1983):

KHADIJAH

Beloved wife of a leader –
Your strength and fortitude,
Courage and observance,
Gave him his
To serve the ummah and be their guide
In life’s mortality.

Forbearing lover of a man,
Whose chartered course in life
To heal the sick and steer the state
To heights of dignity,
Chained you to mortal time
But freed your mind’s heart
To be wise, Woman –
With a wisdom not schooled
In the circuitous philosophical bent
Of learned ulamas with fancy beards,
Of smart professors in learned gowns.
Yours was the wisdom of experience,
Of tasting the sweet bitterness
Of living and dying.

Beautiful Khadijah of his heart,
Fair temperer of his dreams,
Patient healer of his soul,
Blithe liberator of his spirit,
You eased his path and made his vision clear.
In doing so,
Your gift is life’s immortality,
To nurture forth compassion and sympathy.

The love you gave to all humanity
God’s gift to you so dear –
But giving so, you lived and died alone.
Leaving him aggrieved
And children cherished to mourn
Your selfless and caring time on earth,
Without demand or terse condition.

Beloved Khadijah and Mother, for you we yearn.

KHADIJAH

Isteri pemimpin tersayang
Kekuatan dan ketabahanmu
Keberanian dan ketaatan
Memberinya segala-gala
Mengabdi dan memimpin umat
Dalam hidup sementara.

Kekasih penyabar lelaki yang
Lekak-liku hidupnya ditakdir
Membetah insan lemah dan menjunjung maruah negara
Ke tahap termulia,
Menggari masa fanamu
Namun membebas lubuk akal
Menjadi Wanita arif –
Dengan kewajaran yang tidak terdidik
Dalam putaran lengkok falsafah
Ulama bijak berhias janggut,
Profesor bistari berjubah ilmiah.
Kebijaksanaanmu bersulam asam garam
Ulam manis kepahitan
Alam hidup dan mati.

Khadijah, penawar indah hatinya
Peringan lembut mimpinya,
Pembetah sabar batinnya,
Pelepas girang jiwanya,
Kamu meredai jalan dan menerangi cahaya matanya
Kerelaanmu
Dianugerah kasih abadi
Membelai belas kasihan.

Kasihmu pada insan melata
Kurnia anugerah Ilahi
Namun dengan pemberian ini,
Hidup dan mati seorang.
Meninggalnya bersedih,
Anak manja berkabung, merenung kembali
Jasa dan cinta mulia di alam fana
Tanpa pinta, tanpa paksa.

Khadijah dan Bonda tersayang ku rindu

 

(Kuala Lumpur, 1998)

02
May
10

 

CHINESE WOES

Today I listened as my Convent cronies – the girls I grew up with in good old Seremban – candidly revealed their take on the current political issues of concern viz  the growing inter-racial distrust and suspicion that has the potential of magnifying into something more sinister. The Hulu Selangor election results clearly pointed to the poor Chinese support for the BN candidate, which in turn shows the diminishing Chinese support for the BN Government. 

Why are the Chinese turning away I asked my friends, despite the professed promises and generous gestures from the Prime Minister and his BN team?

Because there was trust among the cronies we could be open and direct. We were able to ask the probing questions and get the honest answers that the well-brought up Convent girls that we were expected from an enlightened education – an education that taught us to be honest, forthright and forthcoming. Now, as middle-aged women we have  nothing to lose but our own integrity and good name as the loyal and devoted wives , mothers and grandmothers that we have become. As Malaysian citizens who love our motherland we wish to contribute our best to an enduring legacy and heritage that our children and grandchildren can be proud of.

What I haven’t been able to get from my male Chinese friends I was able to persuade from my women friends. From the animated responses I’m able to surmise the Chinese in Malaysia feel that the socio-cultural discrimination against the non- Bumiputeras over the last three decades has reduced them to second class citizens. As a result of the Bumiputera bias in the NEP and related policies and programmes, a whole  generation of  Chinese (Indians and others) have matured with deep-seated resentment against the government biases, which sometimes translated into outright discrimination in education, business and job opportunities. 

The women related their experiences of discrimination and prejudice where they were made to feel small by the Malay government officers in authority. They spoke of the large number of applications for government jobs from the Chinese and Indians that never saw the light of day. They remember their friends and colleagues who were by-passed in the department  promotions to make way for the politically suitable Bumiputera aspirants. At social functions they were the minority in a room full of  Malay invitees who by virtue of  their numbers alone were often more confident and sometimes even arrogant. Having attended Chinese and Indian weddings and other occasions where they were very few Malay guests, I know the feeling of being at the opposite end of the soci0-cultural equilibrium.

It was then my turn to be prodded and asked why the Malays have become so socio-culturally distant! Naively I offered the suggestion that the renewed Islamic fervour that gripped the Malays from the 70s made them more conscious of their religious obligations, thus making haram and halal a greater reality. I confessed that while the Malays of my generation would eat in a non-Muslim home as long as they were assured that pork was not served, the majority of the present-day Malays will only do so if a Muslim caterer and Islam-friendly ingredients and utensils are used.

I was asked why the Chinese are facing discrimination in business and economic undertakings when they are in fact paying the most/ highest taxes. To this I cleverly argued that there can’t be real discrimination when they are paying all that tax. They must be involved in huge businesses as they have always been, and having a huge share of the economic cake as they always have. That they work very hard accounts for their great successes – something which the Malays realise and are trying hard to emulate.

To my suggestion that the Chinese are also racially- biased and will discriminate as hard if they are in power, there was no clear answer. I pressed the point that the Malays feel they are “stabbed in the back” by their Chinese business/ corporate rivals but was told that all is fair in love and business.

Malays stab Malays, Chinese stab Chinese, Indians stab Indians – then they stab one another in order to further their business interests. In love , apparently Soi Lek  was just unlucky as his MCA compatriots who were guilty of the same indiscretion did not get caught. He is respected for having worked effectively when he was the Minister of Health. The general feeling in the MCA circles is that he will do the same for the party.

All in all it was a joyous Convent reunion of 10 Chinese girls, one Punjabi and one Malay. In fact it was a microcosm of our schooldays in the 50s and 60s when there was a majority of Chinese students with a sprinkling of Indians and Malays. Then the Chinese were socio-culturally dominant at least in the bigger towns. The Malay and Indian students were mainly from/ in the backwaters.

Has the situation really changed I wonder!




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