About Me

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I was born in 1947 in Kedah. I came from a rice farming family. I have been a journalist since 1969. I am the Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. I was Group Editor NST Sdn Bhd and Group Editor-in-Chief of NSTP Bhd between 1988 and 2000. I write fortnightly column “Other Thots” in the Malaysian Business magazine, Kunta Kinte Original in Berita Harian and A Kadir Jasin Bercerita in Dewan Masyarakat. Books: Biar Putih Tulang (1998), Other Thots – Opinions & Observations 1992-2001 (2001), The Wings of an Eagle (2003), Mencari Dugalia Huso (2006), Damned That Thots (2006), Blogger (2006), PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran (2008), Komedi & Tragedi-Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics (2009) and Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena (2009).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kesan Perjanjian Tanah KTM Di Singapura

A Kadir Jasin


[Komen menggunakan pengenalan anonymous TIDAK AKAN DILAYAN. Sila gunakan nama sebenar atau nama samaran. Jikalau menggunakan anonymous, sila nyatakan nama di penghujung komen. Ulasan yang mengandungi unsur fitnah, hasutan, perkauman dan bahasa kesat tidak akan disiarkan. Ulasan yang terkeluar daripada tajuk tidak akan diberi keutamaan.]

PADA 20 September lalu, Malaysia dan Singapura menandatangani perjanjian pertukaran tanah membabitkan tanah Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd’s di republik itu.

Ia dimeterai oleh Perdana Menteri Malaysia, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak dan Perdana Menteri Singapura, Lee Hsien Loong, di kota singa.

Kedua-dua pemuka menguar-uarkan (bukan war-war) perjanjian itu sebagai kejayaan besar dan pembaikan ke atas “Point of Agreement (POA)” yang menjadi asas rundingan antara dua negara.

Saya tidak mahu berselisih faham, menyangkal atau menyangkal laporan dan ulasan media massa yang menghebahkan perjanjian itu sebagai “win-win” (menang-menang).

Saya sekadar ingin berkongsi maklumat dan interpretasi peribadi saya untuk kita dalami, fahami dan bahaskan. Berikut adalah antara inti pati, ciri dan implikasi perjanjian berkenaan:-

1. Dulu tanah KTM di Singapura adalah milik penuh dan mutlak Malaysia, walaupun kegunaannya terhad kepada operasi kereta api dan kekal hak Malaysia selagi operasi kereta api berjalan;

2. Sekarang tiga keping tanah KTM telah ditukarkan dengan sembilan keping tanah lain dan operasi kereta api akhirnya akan ditamatkan;

3. Menurut kenyataan bersama Mohd Najib-Lee Hsien Loong yang saya baca dari laman web kerajaan Singapura, bidang-bidang tanah gantian serta deskripsinya adalah seperti berikut:-

(A) Empat bidang tanah di Marina South dikenali sebagai TS30-361T, TS30-362A, TS30-363K dan TS30-364N serta dua bidang di Ophir-Rochor dicamkan sebagai TS13-1115N dan TS13- 1116X sebagai ganti kepada tiga keping tanah KTM di bawah Point of Agreement (POA) di Tanjong Pagar, Kranji dan Woodlands serta tiga keping tanah di Bukit Timah yang dikenali sebagai Lot 76-2 Mk 16, Lot 249pt Mk 4 dan Lot 32-10 Mk 16);

(B) Empat keping tanah di Marina South itu terletak di tengah-tengah gugusan (cluster) kewangan dan perniagaan bagi Marina Bay manakala dua di Ophir-Rochor terletak di kawasan bersejarah Kampong Glam (Kampong Glam Historic District) yang berupa koridor baru pembangunan yang sedang dimajukan sebagai sambungan kepada Daerah Perdagangan Pusat (Central Business District); dan

(C) (Sembilan) Keping tanah di Marina South dan Ophir-Rochor (itu) akan diamanahkan kepada M-S Pte Ltd untuk dibangunkan secara usaha sama apabila Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) mengosongkan Stesen Tanjong Pagar. Stesen KTMB akan dipindahkan dari Tanjong Pagar ke tempat pemeriksaan kereta api Woodlands (“WTCP”) menjelang 1 Julai 2011 bilamana Malaysia akan memindahkan kemudahan kastam, imigresen dan kuarantinnya (“CIQ”) di WTCP.

4. Tanah gantian itu akan dimajukan oleh syarikat usaha sama Malaysia-Singapura M-S Private Limited yang dimiliki 60 peratus oleh syarikat pelaburan milik kerajaan Malaysia, Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah) dan firma pelaburan kerajaan Singapura, Temasek Holdings.

5. Kalau dulu tanah KTMB dimiliki penuh dan mutlak Malaysia, kini tanah gantian kepada tanah KTMB itu dikongsi dengan Singapura melalui M-L Pte Ltd di mana Temasek memegang 40 peratus saham. Dalam bahasa yang mudah, Singapura dapat “percuma” 40 peratus daripada aset gantian itu.

6. Walaupun isu tanah KTMB ini dikatakan selesai, tetapi isu-isu tertangguh yang lain seperti pembekuan simpanan rakyat Malaysia dalam CPF, Perjanjian Bekalan Air serta penentangan Singapura terhadap projek Jabatan Bengkok masih berterusan.

7. Malaysia dan Singapura gagal bersetuju mengenai cukai pembangunan (development charges) yang dikenakan oleh kerajaan Singapura ke atas tanah gantian itu sehingga memaksa perbalahan itu dirujukkan kepada Mahkamah Timbang Tara Tetap (Permanent Court of Arbitration – PCA) di The Hague, Balanda.

8. Kenyataan bersama Mohd Najib-Hsien Loong mengenai hal itu berbunyi: “Both countries have different views relating to the development charges payable on the three parcels of POA land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands. Both Leaders have agreed to settle this issue amicably through arbitration under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. They have further agreed to accept the arbitration award as final and binding.”

[Kedua-dua negara mempunyai pandangan yang berbeza mengenai cukai pembangunan ke atas tiga keping tanah POA di Tanjong Pagar, Kranji dan Woodlands. Kedua-dua pemimpin bersetuju menyelesaikan isu ini secara aman melalui timbang tara di bawah naungan Mahkamah Timbang Tara Tetap. Mereka seterusnya bersetuju menerima keputusan timbang tara itu sebagai muktamad dan terikat.]

9. Sengaja diingatkan yang kali terakhir Malaysia dan Singapura membawa perbezaan mereka ke muka pengadilan antarabangsa, ia berakhir dengan Malaysia kehilangan pemilikan ke atas Pulau Batu Putih (Pedra Branca) kepada Singapura.

10. Melalui kolum “Other Thots” dalam majalah Malaysian Business keluaran 16-31 Julai lalu, saya telah memberi amaran kepada perunding Malaysia agar berhati-hati mengenai kemungkinan pemerintah Singapure mengenakan cukai pembangunan atau premium tanah yang melangit.

Saya memetik sumber-sumber yang arif mengenai POA sebagai berkata kerajaan Singapura mungkin mengenakan cukai pembangunan sekitar S$1.5 bilion (kira-kira RM3.05 bilion) selain premium tanah. Saya tidak tahu sama ada premium dikenakan atau tidak.

Tetapi sumber-sumber yang sama kini mengatakan cukai pembangunan mungkin mencecah S$2 bilion (RM4.6 bilion).

11. Andainya anggaran ini tepat dan keputusan PCA memihak kepada Singapura, maka Khazanah terpaksa menyeluk poket untuk mengeluarkan S$1.2 bilion (RM2.76 bilion) dan jumlah ini akan mengalir dari Malaysia ke Singapura.

12. Temasek perlu membayar S$800 juta tetapi tidak ada pengaliran keluar modal. Ia sekadar pemindahan dana dari poket Temasek ka poket perbendaharaan Singapura.

13. Seperkara lagi yang perlu penjelasan ialah taraf pemilikan tanah gantian itu -- adakah ia pegangan kekal atau pajakan 99 tahun? Tanah KTMB di Singapura adalah pegangan tetap selagi operasi kereta api berjalan.

14. Kalau saya faham kenyataan Mohd Najib dan Pengarah Urusan Khazanah, Azman Mokhtar, projek itu tetap dilaksanakan tidak kira kita kalah atau menanang dalam timbang tara oleh PCA. Malah kata mereka, projek ini akan dimulakan tanpa menunggu keputusan PCA. Jadi timbang tara oleh PCA adalah “akademik” atau sekadar melepas batuk di tangga.

15. Dalam konteks ini kita wajib meletakkan sepenuh tanggungjawab kepada Mohd Najib dan Azman. Azman memberi jaminan bahawa projek ini “masih berdaya maju dan menguntungkan” walaupun cukai pembangunannya tinggi.

16. Kita tidak mahu Mohd Najib mengisytiharkan perjanjian ini sebagai menang-menang dan dia berjaya di mana Perdana Menteri-Perdana Menteri yang lalu gagal, tetapi akhirnya yang dikejar tak dapat yang dikendong berciciran.

17. Akhir sekali kita tidak mahu pelaburan Khazanah di Singapura menjadi seperti pelaburan Sime Darby di Qatar yang menghasilkan kerugian hampir RM1 bilion.

18. Berhati-hatilah, Singapura bukan sebarang jiran. Fahamilah istilah “kiasu” dan impaknya kepada “psyche” (cara berfikir) negara Singapura.

Friday, September 24, 2010

High And Low Looking For Jho Low

 A Kadir Jasin

[Please take note, ANONYMOUS comments with not be entertained. When commenting, your real identity is preferred. But a suitable pseudonym is accepted. If you have to use anonymous, please print your name or pen name at the bottom of your message. Please avoid seditious, defamatory and libelous statements. Unrelated comments will not be given priority.]

FROM Abdullah Ang of the Malaysia Overseas Investment Corp “fame”, who made waves and finally ended in jail during the opening days of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Premiership, to today’s Jho Low, every Malaysian Prime Minister seems to have such a character in his orbit.
Taek Jho Low
These are dealmakers or people who believe that the best and the quickest way up the corporate ladder and stardom was to engage in high-profiled activities or to be in sync with the top men, their spouses, children and clans, their favourite projects and charities.

These are people who entered through the back door or can call on the boss anytime they like without prior appointment. Not even the civil servants and the security staff can stop them from marching in a out of the big man’s office and residence.

But for some of them, their grand entrance did not always secure them a permanent place on the pedestal. Many fell when their mentors and protectors left office. Some were disgraced while others have to endure years of ridicule.

Now is the turn of Taek Jho Low aka Jho Low. When I asked Yahoo “Who is Jho Low?”, I found 299,000 results that relate to that name compared to Mohd Najib Abdul Razak (163,000), Mahathir Mohamad (586,000), Siti Nurhaliza (171,000) and yours truly (172,000).

One was a New York Post report of 8 Nov., 2009, which, among other things, has the following to say about this new Malaysian dealmaker.

"Diddy lived right below me, and that's where his [Low's] security staff is now," Hirtenstein said. "I know because I tried getting a friend in there. My friend offered $17,000; Jho Low came in with $20,000."

But Low's flashy ways during a time of economic hardship have appalled Park Imperial residents, who complain that the building's entire staff acts like his personal servants. Every day, shopping bags get delivered from the city's biggest stores, such as Bergdorf Goodman.

And Low's caravan of Escalades constantly crowds the area outside the building, several sources said.”

The Singapore Straits Times, has the following to say about Joe Low (sic): “Another low-profile businessman (in Mohd Najib’s list of advisers), he was a key architect of a multibillion-ringgit sovereign wealth fund established by the state of Terengganu.

The fund, called the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), has sparked controversy because it will be created using borrowed money and not existing capital held by the state. It will raise capital from a RM5 billion (S$2 billion) bond issue, which will be guaranteed by the Malaysian government.

Little is known of Penang-born Mr Low, who a TIA official said is an adviser to Malaysia's King, Sultan Mizan, and has close ties with several Middle East investment funds.”

Malaysia Today news portal: “Mystery” man Jho Taek Low, who reportedly secured the RM500 million contract to redevelop the Sungai Besi airbase (Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia), is back in the spotlight, this time in France.

The millionaire businessman, who is closely linked to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s family, was detained together with famed Hollywood star Paris Hilton by French police.

Having good time with Paris Hilton
According to the French newspaper, Corse Matin, Hilton was detained at the Corsica airport after police dogs sniffed out her marijuana loot.

The paper reported that Hilton travelling with a personality who was “closely linked to the top Malaysian authorities” when she was detained.

A kiss is A kiss in St. Tropez
The AFP on July 17 reported: “AJACCIO, France — American socialite Paris Hilton was briefly held by police on the French island of Corsica after being caught with cannabis in her handbag, according to police sources.

Let the good times roll
Hilton was detained after arriving at the airport in Figari on a private jet from Paris on Friday.

Police found less than a gram of cannabis in her handbag, and released her soon afterwards without charge.

According to Corse-Matin newspaper, Hilton was travelling on the private jet with "people close to power in Malaysia", and was due to travel by yacht to the luxury resort of Porto Cervo in Sardinia, Italy.

The incident is the American's second brush with the law this month.

The 29-year-old was arrested during the World Cup in South Africa after a friend she was with took a joint to the Brazil-Netherlands quarter-final match in Port Elizabeth.”

A website called taek-jho-low.com has the following to say about this mystery man: “Taek Jho Low has been Group Advisor and Non Independent & Non Executive Director of UBG Berhad since September 19, 2008. Mr. Low serves as group advisor of several international firms, involved in global private equity, mergers & acquisitions, buyout, government-to-government offset structured investments and financing, networking and financial aid. Mr. Low graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Economics majoring in Finance from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.”

Whoever he is, if indeed he is linked to the Prime Minister or members of his family, Mohd Najib has to come clean for the sake of the credibility of his administration.

The Prime Minister should be transparent about the relationship with Jho Low. There’s a strong lesson to be learnt from his predecessor’s entanglement with similar dealmakers.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pertahan Bangsa Bukan Perkauman Atau Ekstrem

A Kadir Jasin

[Komen menggunakan pengenalan anonymous TIDAK AKAN DILAYAN. Sila gunakan nama sebenar atau nama samaran. Jikalau menggunakan anonymous, sila nyatakan nama di penghujung komen. Ulasan yang mengandungi unsur fitnah, hasutan, perkauman dan bahasa kesat tidak akan disiarkan. Ulasan yang terkeluar daripada tajuk tidak akan diberi keutamaan.]

[MUTAKHIR, 22 Sept.] -- Berikut kenyataan Menteri Di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Dr Koh Tsu Koon yang disiarkan oleh The Star Online: "The people should regard themselves as Malaysian first in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia spirit that puts inclusiveness and social justice above race and religion.:

Dalam bahasa Melayu: "Rakyat jelata perlus menganggap diri mereka sebagai Malaysian dulu selaras dengan 1Malaysia Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak yang meletakkan keterangkuman dan keadilan sosial di atas bangsa dan agama."

Kalau betul cakap Koh itu dan dia faham mengenai Islam, nampaknya Perdana Menteri kita yang beragama Islam lebih mengutamakan keterangkuman dan keadilan sosial daripada agama, termasuklah agama Islam. Saya sangat terkejut dan keliru.

Ini Mohd Najib wajib jawab demi akidah dan kesucian Islam serta menghormati agama-agama dan kepercayaan-kepercayaan di negara kita ini.

Posting Asal

APAKAH benar ada pelampau kaum di negara kita Malaysia ini yang menolak kepelbagaian bangsa?

Saya rasa tidak ada pelampau seperti itu. Tetapi jika saya faham amaran Perdana Menteri, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, baru-baru ini, beliau seolah-olah berkata ada ekstremis seperti itu.

Boleh jadi betul kerana sebagai Perdana Menteri, tentu beliau mempunyai maklumat perisikan yang kita, sebagai rakyat biasa, tidak tahu.

Saya katakan begitu kerana laporan media memetik Mohd Najib sebagai menyatakan bangkangan keras terhadap “tindakan kumpulan dan individu ekstremis” yang didakwanya “masih tidak toleransi, apatah lagi mengakui faedah masyarakat majmuk.”

Sejak saya tahu membezakan antara Melayu, Cina, India dan Siam di kampung pinggiran sungai bernama Tanah Merah dalam mukim Guar Kepayang dalam daerah Pendang di negeri Kedah, sampailah sekarang, saya belum berjumpa seorang Melayu, Cina, India, Iban, Kadazan atau mana-mana bangsa, kaum dan suku kaum yang menolak kepelbagaian.

Baru-baru ini saya melawat anak saudara sakit di Pontian. Dia dan keluarganya tinggal dalam kebun kelapa sawit. Di sebelah pagarnya sebuah bengkel kereta milik seorang Cina.

Di tengah-tengah kampung Melayu ada sebuah dua rumah orang Cina. Di merata tempat, termasuk dalam perkampungan Melayu, ada tokong Cina.

Kalau dibuat bancian, saya rasa paling banyak tokong Cina per kapita mungkin di negeri Johor.

Kalau bangsa-bangsa dan kaum-kaum di Malaysia tidak mengamalkan toleransi, apatah lagi bersikap ekstrem, saya rasa kita bukan sahaja ada satu 13 Mei (1969), tetapi banyak 13 Mei sebelum dan selepas itu.

Hatta kempen Pas pada pilihan raya umum 1969 yang mahu “menghambat” orang Cina dan India ke dalam laut itu pun bukan berpunca daripada perasaan perkauman yang mendalam, tetapi sekadar sedap cakap dan political posturing.

Bukan apa, pada masa yang sama orang Pas berniaga dan berhutang dengan orang Cina. Orang Cina jadi Along dan Ceti melalui sistem padi kunca.

Sebaliknya, di kampung saya yang terletak dalam kawasan parlimen Kota Setar Selatan (sekarang Pendang), orang Cina undi Pas dan tolak Perikatan sehingga menyebabkan kekalahan (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad pada pilihan raya umum itu.

Mungkin saya kurang cerdik dan kefahaman bahasa saya lemah. Bagi saya, orang Melayu tuntut hak dan pertahan hak bukan perkauman atau ekstrem.

Kalau orang Melayu tuntut hak dan pertahan hak dituduh perkauman dan ekstrem, maka orang Iban, Kadazan, Orang Asli, Cina dan India yang tuntut hak dan pertahan hak juga perkauman dan ekstrem.

Tetapi itulah ciri kita di Malaysia. Semua bangsa tuntut hak, semua bangsa ada hak dan semua bangsa tidak puas hati dengan hak yang mereka ada.

Kalau orang Melayu tidak bersikap toleransi, kenapa pula mereka tidak memberontak dan membuat kacau apabila kuota mereka dalam pemilikan kekayaan korporat hanya 30 peratus sedangkan bilangan mereka lebih 50 peratus? Sebetulnya bukan hanya 30 peratus, tetapi sekurang-kurangnya 30 peratus.

Zaman saya kanak-kanak dulu, jiran-jiran Cina kami memelihara, menyembelih dan menjual daging babi dalam kampung Melayu. Nenek saya membenarkan jiran Cinanya mengambil keladi dan batang pisang untuk makanan babi. Sebagai ganti, mereka memberikannya gula, kopi, kuih bulan, cerut cap ikan emas dan kepada tok wan saya rokok Rough Rider.

Atau apakah seseorang itu dianggap perkauman dan ekstrem kerana tidak memeluk erat segala bentuk mantera dan slogan pemerintah seperti 1Malaysia?

Dalam blognya (http://www.1malaysia.com.my/) pada 15 September, Perdana Menteri, antara lain mengulas: “Saya menentang perlakuan seperti ini sekeras-kerasnya. Saya berasa sungguh sedih apabila di sebalik tinggal dalam sebuah negara yang berbilang kaum dan merdeka lebih dari 50 tahun, masih ada di kalangan kita ini yang tidak boleh bertoleransi, apatah lagi menerima kebaikan masyarakat yang berbeza-beza ini. Kesedihan yang saya rasakan ini adalah disebabkan dengan menolak cara hidup kita yang berbeza-beza ini, mereka juga menolak 1Malaysia.”

(I am strongly opposed to these types of behaviour. It saddens me that despite living in an independent multi-cultural nation for over 50 years, there are still those among us who cannot tolerate, much less accept the benefits of a perse (?) society. It saddens me because by rejecting our perse (?) way of life, they reject 1Malaysia.)

Kalau penolakan terhadap mantera dan slogan pemerintah boleh ditakrifkan sebagai “puak-puak dan individu-individu pelampau”, maka ramailah yang tergolong dalam kategori ini.

Mohd Najib berkata lagi: “Puak-puak pelampau ini terdiri daripada kumpulan atau inpidu-inpidu (sic) yang mempercayai pada pandangan dan tindakan radikal terhadap pihak lain. Mereka menganggap pihak yang bertentangan fahaman dengan mereka sebagai musuh dan berusaha menakut-nakutkan pihak yang tidak menerima pemikiran atau ideologi mereka dan dalam keadaan tertentu pada orang-orang yang hanya kelihatan berbeza daripada mereka.”

Apa pun diagnosis dan prognosis Perdana Menteri, saya berpendapat bahawa kita yang berbeza pendapat dengan pemerintah dan tidak memeluk erat mantera dan slogannya, bukanlah pertubuhan atau individu ekstrem, apatah lagi perkauman.

Kalau kita keras, tegas, ekstrem dan perkauman, kita tentu mengutuk dan mahu tindakan dikenakan ke atas ratusan ribu rakyat negara ini yang tidak pun boleh berbahasa Melayu dengan secukupnya, termasuklah yang memegang jawatan penting dalam politik dan pentadbiran.

Kita tentulah menuduh pertubuhan dan individu yang menolak sekolah wawasan sebagai tidak bertoleransi dan ekstrem.

Tetapi bukan sahaja konsep sekolah wawasan gagal dimartabatkan, sebaliknya ramai orang Melayu menghantar anak-anak mereka ke sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina.

Apa yang sebenarnya berlaku pada akhir-akhir ini adalah bangsa-bangsa di Malaysia cuba menelah, memahami dan mencari tempat bagi anggota bangsa mereka dalam landskap politik yang cair dan dalam kerangka pemikiran serta tindakan baru yang berkisar di sekitar perisytiharan dan bahasa berkod (coded language) seperti meritokrasi, persamaan, Model Baru Ekonomi, 1Malaysia, keterangkuman, globalisasi dan keterbukaan.

Samalah dengan sebahagian umat Islam berbahas dan berpolemik mengenai Islam Hadhari dan akhirnya ramai menolak konsep itu kerana mereka tidak setuju Islam dilabelkan.

Bahas dan polemik yang mengutarakan isu-isu dan ciri-ciri kaum yang sedang berlangsung sekarang tidak bermakna masyarakat berbilang kaum kita semakin ekstrem dan perkauman.

Jika ada kenyataan dan pernyataan yang berbau perkauman atau ekstrem, ia mungkin tercetus akibat kebimbangan atau tanggapan bahawa struktur agung politik (political superstructure) negara tidak lagi mampu atau mirip kepada mempertahankan status quo dan kontrak sosial yang selama ini menjadi teras kestabilan dan keyakinan.

Justeru itu, kemunculan badan-badan bukan kerajaan dan individu yang berani bersuara serta bercanggah pendapat dengan pemerintah, khasnya dalam masyarakat Melayu, bukanlah satu tindakan perkauman atau ekstrem.

Malah menerima dan menghormati kepelbagaian suara serta pendapat, khasnya di kalangan kaum majoriti, adalah sesuatu yang sihat dan selaras dengan sikap toleransi dan kesederhanaan yang hendak ditegakkan itu.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Murders Most Foul

A Kadir Jasin

[Please take note, ANONYMOUS comments with not be entertained. When commenting, your real identity is preferred. But a suitable pseudonym is accepted. If you have to use anonymous, please print your name or pen name at the bottom of your message. Please avoid seditious, defamatory and libelous statements. Unrelated comments will not be given priority.]

THE SUSPECTED murders of cosmetic entrepreneur Sosilawati Lawiya and three others pits the police against perpetrators who knew how to erase evidence.

These are not your run-of-the-mill criminals. These are violent criminals with murderous intentions.

Burning the bodies of the victims and throwing the ashes into a flowing river or sea were almost certain to erase the “biological” evidence.

Without body tissues, it will be almost impossible for the police forensic unit and doctors to determine if indeed the four were murdered and their bodies burnt. Only traces of blood and personal items tie the gruesome murders to the suspects.

Of course, with several people now in police custody, including two lawyer brothers, the police could count on one or more of them confessing.

But here the investigators must act with utmost caution because for a confession to be admitted in court it must abide by a strict procedure, more so in this case when two “suspended” lawyers are the key suspects.

There cannot be a more sensational and heinous crime to thrust the new Inspector General of Police, Ismail Omar, into the limelight. He either makes the impending court case stick or his reputation and that of the police will go down the drain.

According to a report in the Star report on Sept. 13, the remains of Sosilawati, her driver Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, 44, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Karim, 32, and bank officer Noorhisham Mohammad, 38, were burnt using a “traditional” method. The four were reported missing from Aug. 30.

The newspaper says, their bodies were believed to have been burnt using cow dung and petrol, a highly effective traditional method, which can reduce a human body to ashes in between 30 minutes and an hour.

The newspaper, quoting an unidentified source, says: “The average human body takes from two to three hours to burn completely when in a coffin and placed in the furnace, pre-heated at 1,100°C.

“However, the traditional method, which originates from India, involves placing cow dung on the body and sprinkling some petrol which is then lit.

“A gas released from the burning cow dung increases the intensity of the fire which reduces the body to ash very quickly, often leaving only the femur (thigh bone) and pelvic bone still intact.”

This reminded me of the burning of a body at Hindu cemetery in Perak some months ago when I was forced to take a detour through oil palm plantations when a landslide closed a section of the North-South Highway.

A former New Straits Times Crime Editor told me that open cremation is still carried out by the Malaysian Hindus, saying that in Kuala Lumpur alone there are two open cremation centres.

The media quoted the central CID director, Commissioner Mohd Bakri Zinin, as saying that the two lawyer brothers are the prime suspects.

The police are also probing if the brothers were also responsible for the disappearance of four Indian nationals, one of them was believed to be their business partner.

Mohd Bakri said Sosilawati was the client of the main suspect, said to carry the honorific title “Datuk.” The farm in Banting where the crime took place belongs to the lawyer.

Other than the likelihood of that the quadruple murder might involve other than the two suspects, it was a perfect crime. The perpetrators took pain to ensure that key evidence, which is the bodies of the victims, is erased. The best hope for the investigators is to make the other suspects talk to save their own skin.

In the wider context, it seems that even daily routines involving the so-called honourable people and respectable citizens are no longer safe. Criminals lurk in every corner of our growingly dire existence.

Our last hope is for the police, the prosecutors, the judges, the prison wardens and, finally, the hangmen to take out the murders and other violent criminals from the community of peace-loving people.

Also, let the government of the day, especially its law and order minister, be reminded that its 2008 general election slogan is “sejahtera, aman dan makmur'', which was translated into English as security, peace and prosperity.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Azmin Lawan Zaid, Anwar Dalam Dilema

A Kadir Jasin

[Komen menggunakan pengenalan anonymous TIDAK AKAN DILAYAN. Sila gunakan nama sebenar atau nama samaran. Jikalau menggunakan anonymous, sila nyatakan nama di penghujung komen. Ulasan yang mengandungi unsur fitnah, hasutan, perkauman dan bahasa kesat tidak akan disiarkan. Ulasan yang terkeluar daripada tajuk tidak akan diberi keutamaan.]

LAPORAN media massa mengatakan Ketua Umum Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Anwar Ibrahim (Datuk Seri) tidak mahu namanya diheret ke dalam perebutan jawatan timbalan presiden parti itu.

Perebutan jawatan parti itu dijangka sengit jika pertempuran yang diuar-uarkan antara Naib Presiden Mohamed Azmin Ali dan ahli Majlis Pimpinan Pusat Mohd Zaid Ibrahim untuk kerusi Timbalan Presiden terjadi.

Jawatan Timbalan Presiden menjadi rebutan berikutan keputusan penyandang, Dr Syed Husin Ali, tidak mempertahankannya.

Walaupun laporan media massa memetik Zaid sebagai membandingkan situasi beliau dengan cabaran terhadap Allahyarham Abdul Ghafar Baba (Tun) dalam pemilihan Umno tahun 1993, saya rasa ia lebih menyerupai pertandingan antara Musa Hitam (Tun) dengan Tengku Razaliegh Hamzah untuk jawatan Timbalan Presiden Umno pada tahun 1982.

Dalam pertandingan itu, Musa mendapat “endorsement” Allahyarham Tun Hussein Onn dan disokong oleh bakal Presiden, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Lebih sedikit satu dekad kemudian, Anwar melancarkan cabaran terhadap Abdul Ghafar Baba (Tun) untuk jawatan Timbalan Presiden Umno. Walaupun Presiden Umno waktu itu, Dr Mahathir mahu status-quo dikekalkan, namun Anwar tetap mencabar Abdul Ghafar atas alasan ia adalah kehendak perwakilan bahagian.

Abdul Ghafar akhir mengundurkan diri daripada pertandingan. Apakah Mohd Zaid juga akhirnya menarik diri atau ditolak oleh perwakilan?

Jika perebutan jawatan Azmin-Zaid berlaku seperti diramalkan, Anwar akan menghadapi dilema kerana beliau, sama ada secara tersurat atau tersirat, terpaksa membuat pilihan demi parti dan peribadi.

Jadi tidak hairanlah kalau di permukaannya Anwar tidak mahu dikaitkan dengan pertandingan itu atau mengisytiharkan sikap berkecualinya. Namun semua orang tahu betapa akrab dan intimnya perhubungan antara Anwar dengan Azmin.

Azmin adalah “backroom boy” Anwar yang cukup berpengaruh ketika Anwar menjadi Timbalan Perdana Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan, tetapi pada masa yang sama dicemburui oleh banyak pihak kerana dia dituduh terlalu mengongkong dan melindungi Anwar dalam kapasitinya sebagai pembantu khas.

Hubungan simbiotik ini, pada pandangan saya, sukar digugat. Walaupun secara tersurat Anwar tidak mahu memihak atau enggan diseret ke dalam perlawanan Azmin-Zaid, namun secara yang tersirat Azmin adalah pilihannya.

Tetapi Anwar tidak pula boleh sewenang-wenangnya mengatakan “tidak” kepada Zaid kerana bekas Menteri Kabinet Abdullah Ahmad Badawi itu adalah antara tangkapan terbesar PKR selepas pilihan raya umum 2008.

Apatah lagi pada saat PKR sedang mengalami ujian kesetiaan selepas peletakan jawatan beberapa orang Ahli Parlimen, Adun dan kepemimpinan pusatnya baru-baru ini.

Serentak itu, saya juga yakin, Anwar cukup kenal siapa Zaid dalam kerangka politik kontemporari kerana Anwar pernah menjadi ketua Zaid dalam Umno.

Jadi, dalam suasana yang penuh “tipu helah” ini, adalah tidak memeranjatkan apabila Zaid dilaporkan mendakwa bahawa wujud taktik kotor untuk menjejaskan peluang beliau bertanding dalam pemilihan PKR yang akan berlangsung Oktober dan November ini.

Portal berita Malaysian Insider pada 10 September melaporkan yang sekumpulan 20 Ahli Parlimen PKR serta majoriti Ahli Dewan Undangan PKR Selangor dan Negeri Sembilan telah menyatakan sokongan kepada Azmin untuk bertanding jawatan nombor dua parti itu dan menolak dakwaan bahawa Azmin menyerang Zaid.

Namun PKR harus diberi pengiktirafan kerana melaksanakan sistem pemilihan langsung yang dijangka memberi peluang kepada lebih kurang 400,000 ahli di 218 cabang pemilihan barisan kepemimpinan.

Jadi soal Zaid atau sesiapapun tidak mendapat pencalonan yang mencukupi untuk bertanding tidak timbul. Sekarang hak terletak di tangan ahli akar umbi yang mungkin lebih mengenali dan mengiktiraf Azmin sebagai antara pengasas utama gerakan reformasi Anwar.

(Saya minta pembahas TOLONG BERHATI-HATI apabila mengulas mengenai Zaid sebab dia sedang menyaman saya kerana tulisan saya dalam Blog ini. Kes itu sedang dalam proses pertimbangan oleh mahkamah.)

Pada pendapat saya, pemilihan kepemimpinan PKR kali ini akan mempamerkan pergelutan antara kepemimpinan asal parti itu yang diwakili oleh Azmin dengan kelompok pendatang baru yang diwakili oleh muka-muka seperti Zaid, Abdul Khalid Ibrahim dan Chua Jooi Meng.

Kemenangan kumpulan pertama akan mengekalkan semangat reformasi parti itu manakala kemenangan kumpulan kedua akan menjadikan PKR lebih longgar dan kelabu (grey) daripada aspek perjuangan dan prinsip.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Eid Mubarak, Maaf Zahir dan Batin

A Kadir Jasin

[Komen menggunakan pengenalan anonymous TIDAK AKAN DILAYAN. Sila gunakan nama sebenar atau nama samaran. Jikalau menggunakan anonymous, sila nyatakan nama di penghujung komen. Ulasan yang mengandungi unsur fitnah, hasutan, perkauman dan bahasa kesat tidak akan disiarkan. Ulasan yang terkeluar daripada tajuk tidak akan diberi keutamaan.]

SELEPAS berbuka puasa petang tadi, kita memulakan sambutan Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. Ada yang akan berzanji dan marhaban dari rumah ke rumah dan tentu ada yang akan mula menjamu selera dengan hidangan hari raya.

Apa pun, kita bersyukur kerana sekali lagi kita berjaya melalui keistimewaan dan cabaran Ramadan. Manakala majoriti kita berpuasa dalam suasana aman dan selesa, ramai lagi umat Islam Malaysia yang hidup serba kekurangan dan menderita. Untuk itu kita berharap zakat fitrah yang kita keluarkan dan sedikit sebanyak sedekah kita berikan akan menolong meringankan beban hidup mereka.

Itu belum dikira lagi umat Islam di merata pelosok dunia yang menderita peperangan, penaklukan, penindasan, perang saudara, bencana alam, kemiskinan dan kebuluran. Berbanding dengan mereka, kita adalah amat bernasib baik dan negara kita adalah ibarat syurga.

Oleh sebab itulah saya tidak putus-putus menasihati umat Islam Malaysia agar jangan dengki dan cemburu kepada saudara seagama kita yang kaya dan berada.

Pengalaman saya sebagai pengantara (antara yang berada dengan yang tiada) meyakinkan saya bahawa majoriti orang Islam Malaysia yang kaya dan berada sangat pemurah dan banyak membuat amal jariah.

Tetapi dengan kedudukan saya yang semakin tidak relevan dan ramai orang kaya Muslim jatuh miskin atau dimiskinkan ketika Krisis Mata Wang Asia 1997/98, saya tidak lagi cergas menjadi pengantara dan penyalur amal jariah ini. Ada tidak adapun duit sendiri sekadar yang mampu.

Sebelum usahawan-usahawan Muslim ini dimiskinkan oleh dasar pemerintah yang menarik balik aset-aset yang diswastakan kepada mereka, sedekah dan amal jariah mereka mencurah-curah.

Alhamdulillah, saya mendapat tahu bahawa walaupun dermawan-dermawan Muslim ini tidak lagi kaya raya macam dulu, namun sekadar yang terdaya mereka masih bersedekah dan membuat amal jariah. Ada yang membiayai orang miskin, orang tua dan orang cacat. Ada yang membina masjid dan surau. Ada yang membiayai tahfiz Al-Quran, membuat korban dan menghantar orang susah ke Makkah.

Hari ini kita hanya dengar Syed Mokhtar Albukhary melakukan sedekah jariah berpuluh juta ringgit setahun. Dulu kita ada dermawan besar macam Halim Saad (Renong), Tajudin Ramli (Mas) dan Abdul Rashid Hussein (RHB) dan Allahyarham Basir Ismail (Fima). Walaupun mereka “dimiskin” atau sudah meninggal dunia, namun saya tahu mereka masih membuat amal jariah dan peninggalan mereka memanfaatkan kita yang masih hidup.

Inilah cabaran kita umat Islam dan orang Melayu di Malaysia. Setiap kali air bah, setiap kali pasir berubah dan ramailah usahawan Muslim yang hanyut. Ini tidak pula berlaku kepada usahawan agama-agama lain. Kalau 50 tahun dulu mereka kaya, sekarang mereka super kaya. Mungkin inilah ujian Allah kepada kita umat Islam.

Namun kita tetap bersyukur kepadaNya kerana Muslim Malaysia hari ini jauh lebih senang dan berpelajaran daripada datuk nenek mereka. Dalam masa tiga generasi, status Muslim Malaysia telah berubah dengan begitu mendadak sehingga ramai yang terkejut melihat pengemis (orang asing) meminta sedekah di masjid pada hari raya. Dua generasi lalu, pengemis dan meminta sedekah adalah ciri hidup dalam masyarakat Muslim Malaysia.

Kini, kerana hidup senang dan negara aman, sudah ada umat Islam yang tidak bersyukur dan tidak mengenang budi serta jasa. Malah dengan angkuh mereka berkata, mereka berjaya kerana mereka pandai. Orang seumpama ini seolah-olah berkata, “ibu bapa dan nenek aku dulu miskin kerana mereka tidak pandai macam aku.”

Jadi sambil kita merayakan Eid Mubarak, marilah kita bersyukur kepada Allah dan berdoa agar diperkasakan semula masyarakat perusahaan dan perniagaan Muslim di negara kita ini, moga-moga satu hari nanti tidaklah perniagaan halal dan perbankan Islam dimonopoli oleh orang bukan Islam.

Saya sengaja gunakan ucapan Eid Mubarak kerana negara kita sudah menjadi negara antarabangsa. Ramai pendatang dan pengunjung dari berbagai pelosok dunia menumpang tuah di Malaysia -- bumi Melayu yang besar.

Saya mendapat tahu, dalam bahasa Arab, Eid Mubarak ertinya perayaan yang diberkati atau mengikut pengertian lengkapnya bermakna, moga-moga anda bergembira pada hari perayaan yang diberkati ini.

Berbanding dengan Selamat Hari Raya, rasa-rasanyalah Eid Mubarak lebih lengkap dan tepat dengan semangat Aidil Fitri.

Lagipun, kalau kebetulan kita bermusafir di luar negara pada hari raya dan kita ucap Selamat Hari Raya, rasa-rasanya tidak ramai Muslim yang faham melainkan mereka dari Kepulauan Melayu. Tapi kalau kita ucap Eid Mubarak, lebih ramai faham.

Ada kisah (riwayat) mengatakan para sahabat Rasullah (SAW) mengucapkan “taqabbalallâhu minnâ wa minkum” kepada Baginda yang lebih kurang bermaksud “moga-moga Allah menerima daripada kita (puasa dan kebaikan yang kita lakukan)”

Begitulah lebih kurang, tetapi kalau tak betul atau kurang tetap, saya mohon diperbetulkan. Mengenai permohonan maaf zahir dan batin itu, ia mungkin sesuatu yang unit bagi Muslim di Malaysia. Bagus kalau macam itu sebab ada slogan berbunyi “budi bahasa budaya kita.”

Kepada generasi kasut Fung Kiong dan Bata Badminton Master, kudis buta dan cacing pita, ceti dan padi kunca jangan malu menceritakan kepada anak cucu mengenai asal usul kita yang daif, dihina dan diperkosa oleh orang bangsa dan agama lain.

Eid Mubarak, taqabbalallâhu minnâ wa minkum kepada pembahas, pengikut tetap (followers) dan pembaca blog ini. Terima kasih atas ucapan dan ingatan saudari dan saudara semua.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Outgoing IGP's Allegation Is Damning

A Kadir Jasin

[Please take note, ANONYMOUS comments with not be entertained. When commenting, your real identity is preferred. But a suitable pseudonym is accepted. If you have to use anonymous, please print your name or pen name at the bottom of your message. Please avoid seditious, defamatory and libelous statements. Unrelated comments will not be given priority.]

THE ALLEGATION by the outgoing Inspector General of Police, Musa Hassan, of “outside” meddling in the affairs of the Royal Malaysian Police is an interesting one.

I am putting the term outside in inverted commas and describing it as “interesting” because outside may not be outside at all, but actually inside or internal.

That’s because Musa had named the Home Ministry as one of the “meddlers”.

The Malaysian Insider news portal had quoted him as saying: “All kinds of people interfere(d). People from the ministry itself, outsiders, people with vested interests like those who want to do things that are not right — they will try to interfere,” he said, pointing out that it was not a new problem.

“The ministry I mentioned is the Home Ministry, of course. Other ministries cannot give me orders.”

He, however, he refused to comment if Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, with whom he is rumoured to have a strained relationship, was among the meddlers.

If Home Ministry and Hishammuddin were among the meddlers, then it is not outside, but inside. The Home Ministry and the Minister have every right to be involved in the affairs of the PDRM as they are responsible for force.

But meddling is another matter altogether. It means getting actively involved in the work of the police, which can mean getting in the way of the work of the force. And Musa was being pretty specific about what he meant by meddling, when he said the meddlers included who wanted do things that were not right.

During my time, all cadet reporters started on the police beat. In addition we covered the fire brigade and the hospitals, or to be specific the mortuary. We attended two police press conferences twice a day – in the morning and evening – at the Jalan Bandar Police Station.

So you can say that I was introduced to the work of the police early in my career and over rime developed an affinity with the force. Then in 2004 I sat in the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police.

It was then that I got to know Musa at close range. He appeared before the Commission regularly. He is a decent police officer. He took his job seriously. His flaws are his demeanours. He’s not an apple polisher nor is he a sweet talker. Maybe that got him on the nerve of some politicians who love to be treated like aristocrats and country squires.

Bear in mind, we do not lack such characters who either come from aristocratic background or think they are one because apple polishers and double talkers keep whispering into their eyes how great and powerful they are.

These apple polishers who bear such titles as special officers, advisers, think tanks and aides are the modern day reincarnation of Kitul and Raja Mandaliar who sold the Malacca Empire to the Portuguese in 1511.

Describing them as third parties, Musa alluded to the fact that they gave orders to police officers without the knowledge of their supervisors and the leadership of the force. On occasions, said Musa, their interference amounted to stopping the officer from carrying out their duties.

This is a very serious allegation and the minister must clear his name. To my recollection, there has never been much a strong allegation by an outgoing IGP before. As the Malay saying goes, “kalau tidak ada-ada, masakan tempua bersarang rendah”.

What is quoted by the Malaysian Insider was the repeat of what Musa had told the Mingguan Malaysia newspaper in an interview last March. Could his outspokenness been the last nail in his coffin?

It could. As today’s New Straits Times front-page quotation suggests. It quoted Musa as saying: “No one told me earlier about the announcement. I was informed just like others at the press conference.”

He was referring to the press conference last week by Hishammuddin during which his retirement was announced. He and his successor, Deputy IGP Ismail Omar, were at the press conference.

Well, if that was indeed the case, I am not at all surprised. To some people in power these days, common courtesy means nothing. It is raw power that counts. The government’s slogan of “budi bahasa amalan kita” is for the minions and the yokels. The aristocrats and the self-proclaimed “juara” are above these and other slogans.

Incidentally, I saw a banner on the Federal Highway which reads “Bar1san Nas1onal mengucapkan salam Aidil Fitri, maaf zahir dan batin”. Bar 1 san Nas 1 onal? What is that?

On my part, I wish fellow Muslims “Eid Mubarak”.

Back to the soon-to-be-gone IGP, if indeed there had been politicians and other individuals who issued orders directly to his subordinates (in contravention of section 4 of the Police Act 1957), he should make a police report against them. This is a very, very serious allegation.

I thank Musa for his services and wish him well in retirement. Let us hope and pray that Ismail, unassuming as he is, will turn out to be a forceful IGP that, like Musa, will not tolerate the corruptors whoever they maybe.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Of Bedbugs, Kudis Buta And Killer Microbes

A Kadir Jasin

[Please take note, ANONYMOUS comments with not be entertained. When commenting, your real identity is preferred. But a suitable pseudonym is accepted. If you have to use anonymous, please print your name or pen name at the bottom of your message. Please avoid seditious, defamatory and libelous statements. Unrelated comments will not be given priority.]

THERE’S a saying, what goes around comes around. Now it’s the turn of the United States of America to feel being on the receiving end – being the victim.

Having imposed its hegemony on the Third World, especially the Muslim nations, in the post-Cold War period, the US is now being invaded not by the Muslim terrorists, but by a more sinister enemy – the bedbugs.

In the latest bug story, the Associated Press reported from Columbus, Ohio that a resurgence of bedbugs across the U.S. is having homeowners and apartment dwellers taking desperate measures to eradicate the tenacious bloodsuckers, with some relying on dangerous outdoor pesticides and fly-by-night exterminators.

Like the US soldiers and the Pentagon warmongers using drone and cluster bombs on civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan to flush out the “enemies”, the American house owners and dwellers are resorting to dangerous chemicals and pesticides to rid themselves of the bugs.

The problem, according to the AP report, has become so bad that the Environmental Protection Agency this month warned against the indoor use of chemicals meant for the outside. The agency also warned of an increase in pest control companies and others making "unrealistic promises of effectiveness or low cost."

Well, being a product of the time gone by, I am all too familiar with bedbugs. They were the curse. They sucked your blood when you were asleep and emitted foul smell if you squashed them.

Once, they even took a ride with me – crawling on my spanking white long-sleeved shirt -- when I was riding the iconic Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang bus to work back in 1969.

I was then staying at a cheap hotel in Jalan Datuk Keramat, across the road from the police station, with a dear Bernama friend, Nik Mohammed Omar. Other long-term guests included two Punjabi men, a young Chinese couple, whose intimacy was a noisy affair, and a Malay cabaret dancer and her young son.

The attacks started almost as soon as we moved in. First it was bearable. Being young and pooped after a long day at the office, we could still sleep pretty soundly. But when the attacks became unbearable, we moved to the newly completed Kampung Melayu flat in Jalan Air Itam.

We made a big mistake. We did not rid ourselves and our clothe of the blood-sucking bugs. They followed us. Now we had not only the blood sucking bugs to contend with, but we also the nightly screaming of the womenfolk, whose hysteria was blamed on an old woman accused of dabbling in black magic with the collusion of a pelesit – an evil spirit.

According to Malay folklore, a pelesit loves to suck human blood and would manifest itself as a grasshopper. In my younger days, the standing instruction was to whack the “belalang pelesit” – a type of nocturnal grasshopper that frequently entered the house – to pulp.

Until this day, I believe that the women became hysterical because they were not used to living in high-rise cramped quarters. They were mostly local residents who were “forced” to move to the flat in the aftermath of the May 13 racial riots, when squatters and shanties were demolished to make way for council flats.

While the Malays were haunted by the pelesit and their womenfolk suffered occasional hysteria, the Chinese at the nearby Riffle Range flats were jumping off the building with frightening regularity.

One beaten twice shy. So when I was being transferred to Alor Star in 1970, I took the precaution not to bring the bugs with me. I boiled all my clothes and doused my suite case with hot water. I filled four bowls with water and placed a Coca Cola bottle in each of them, and then placed my suite case on them. Yahoo, I arrived in Alor Star sans the bug. Since then, I saw the bugs only once -- in a rural home in Perak. I had planned to spend the night there. But on seeing my mortal enemies, I beat a hasty retreat.

The bedbugs now infesting the American homes, on a scale unseen in more than a half-century, have become largely resistant to common pesticides, according to the AP. As a result, some homeowners and exterminators are turning to more hazardous chemicals that can harm the central nervous system, irritate the skin and eyes or even cause cancer.

Ohio authorities, struggling against widespread infestations in Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and other cities, are pleading with EPA to approve the indoor use of the pesticide propoxur, which the agency considers a probable carcinogen and banned for in-home use in 2007. About 25 other states are supporting Ohio's request for an emergency exemption. EPA rejected the request in June.

The bugs are no where near being exterminated, but in their desperation the Americans are self-destructing. Authorities around the country have blamed house fires on people misusing all sorts of highly flammable garden and lawn chemicals to fight the bugs.

It does not surprise me if, at some point of time, some xenophobic Americans, will blame Osama Ben Ladin, the Taliban or some sinister Muslim organisations for unleashing the cimex lectularius on them.

But here in Malaysia, as we celebrated our 53 Merdeka anniversary yesterday, the bed bugs are still lurking somewhere and more microbes, which at one time were killing people by the hundreds, are making a vengeful comeback as manifested by the deadly Melioidosis and Leptospirosis outbreak in Pahang not too long ago.

Unless our health authorities are vigilant and we maintain our hygiene, common afflictions like scabies (kudis buta) and intestinal worms, will come back to haunt us. In my days, the highly contagious kudis buta, which is caused by mite (kutu) sarcoptes scabiei, was so common that no boys and girls were without scabs (parut) the size of a five- or 10-sen coins.

And in the worst case of worm infection, you were left with skin and bones, your stomach bloated (perut boroi) and you literally vomited live worms. Those were the hard days when you were not sure when or if the next meal would come.