MOF, cut the number of 4D draws

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | No, the subject of this piece is not the controversial study trip of inspector-general of police Mohamad Fuzi Harun and his delegation to Turkey.

We have read enough to form our own conclusion whether the trip, to study online gambling in Istanbul by a surprisingly huge number of top police brass, was above board.

I believe this issue will be discussed and debated in the days and weeks to come, even though Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has cleared them, saying that the trip was approved by him.

What is more interesting arising out of this episode is the statement by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng that the Turkey trip was paid for by Da Ma Cai, a gaming company.

Lim said that although the trip had been approved by the Totalisator Board – an agency under the Finance Ministry – the money did not come from the government.

“The source of funding is not the Finance Ministry. Da Ma Cai, a numbers forecast operator (NFO) funded the trip, so they didn’t get a penny from us,” he told reporters.

Wow! So Da Ma Cai is well-connected with the government and its key enforcement agency, the police. What does that tell us?

I will not digress, but stick to voicing my concerns on gambling, whether legal or otherwise, and the damage it has inflicted on many, the average families in particular. My focus is on the increasing number of weekly draws conducted by the NFOs.

I have lost count of the number of NFOs in the country. Save for the three main operators – Magnum, Toto and Da Ma Cai – I’m not sure of the others operating in Sabah and Sarawak. I believe there must be a handful of them. Continue reading

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If I were Dr Mahathir today at 94 …

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | At least, two English dailies have carried editorials on the ills plaguing Pakatan Harapan in recent days. This is not surprising at all. It is a given that all is not well in the nine-month-old Harapan government.

Some of my fellow Malaysiakini columnists have also waded into the issue and with good reasons too. I can agree with some of their pointers.

The parties at the centre of the storm are none other than Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his fledging Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

I am also guilty of criticising Mahathir over the past month. There were two issues I took exception to. The first was his decision to bar Israeli athletes from entering the country which ended their participation in the World Para-Swimming Championships originally scheduled to be held in Kuching this coming July.

The second was Bersatu’s intention to set up a chapter in Sabah, reneging on its pact before GE14 with Parti Warisan to not do so.

Yes, I am really disappointed with Mahathir on these two fronts and I stand in total disagreement with him on these issues.

If public feedback on the social media can be taken as a yardstick, there is one which I would feed to our prime minister, to inform him sincerely that his decision to bar the Israeli swimmers has triggered an international outcry. That decision has given Mahathir and Malaysia a bad name.

My posting entitled ‘Sorry, Dr M, you don’t speak for Sarawak this time’ in the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) blog attracted a total of 31,755 unique visitors in a single day last Jan 28.

That was the highest number of visitors to our little NGO blog over the past eight months. Visitors were not only Malaysians but came from the US, Australia, Asian nations, the UK and other European countries.

This is honest feedback to our prime minister. Many do not understand his strong anti-Semitic stand nor his inability to separate race/religion/ politics from sports. Continue reading

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Bersatu should honour its pact with Warisan

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | One thing is as clear as daylight. There was a tacit understanding. All of us heard the declaration before GE14 that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) would not be entering Sabah because of the presence of Parti Warisan.

Though not cast in stone, there was a deal, a pact or an understanding (or whatever you may wish to call it) struck between the two parties. And that, like a gentleman’s agreement though not legally binding, must be honoured.

Unfortunately, politics sways with the times and politicians are not particularly known to be honourable people. An unwritten pact between two vagrants on the street probably carries more weight and is more likely to be honoured.

Before GE14, Bersatu and Warisan were new, struggling parties venturing into the unknown. At that time, allies were needed, never mind whether the players trusted one another or not.

There was a common objective – to defeat Najib Abdul Razak and the BN government. Bersatu and Warisan needed each other to fight a common enemy. So they were able to explain why they decided to work together. The people, gullible as always, accepted it and stood by them.

Bersatu chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad stated then that there was no need for his party to go to Sabah because Warisan was representative of the Malays and bumiputeras there. Well, that makes sense.

Warisan president Shafie Apdal (photo) had no desire to join Bersatu then, and he went on to form his own party with one main objective in mind – to become Sabah’s next chief minister. He succeeded.

In recent days, talk of Bersatu’s intention to form a chapter in Sabah has become a contentious issue. It is threatening to tear Warisan and its Harapan allies asunder.
Continue reading

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Sarawakians looking for work in Cambodia? Shocking!

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | Several months ago, an old pal from Sarawak contacted me asking whether I was keen to take up an editorial position in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia.

He told me that he has been looking for me for some time as the newspaper he was attached to needed editors. We had lost contact for quite a while.

“No, not at my age. I’m not that adventurous now,” I replied in a WhatsApp message to him, respectfully declining his offer.

Seriously, Cambodia? The land of Pol Pot and the “killing fields”. Even if I were younger, I doubt I would make the move to Indochina. For a holiday, yes, but to live and work there doesn’t sound very inviting nor look promising to me. Unless, of course, I’m so desperate with no more food on the table.

“Desperate” is the word that comes to mind when I read the story of the 44 Sarawakians who are now imprisoned in Cambodia for what was officially alleged to be “involvement in illegal online gambling”.

Their plight was first highlighted on Feb 7 by Julau MP Larry Sng who said these victims aged between 18 and 20, were promised high-paying jobs before they were brought to Cambodia last year.

“These 47 young Malaysians (44 of whom are Sarawakians) are from poor families who are victims of a human-trafficking scam and are being held in a Cambodian provincial jail without trial and without the Malaysian Embassy (in Cambodia) being informed,” he said.

According to Sng, they were held for a week in a lock-up and then transferred to a provincial jail 446km from the capital on Dec 16 last year.

Sarawakians leaving for greener pastures in foreign countries for study or work is not something surprising. Neither is migrating overseas. But I’m actually shocked that young Sarawakians have to go to Cambodia to look for jobs. Continue reading

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A Sarawak airline? Why not?

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | A few days ago, Sarawak chief minister Abang Johari Openg disclosed that Sarawak is keen to set up its own airline very soon.

He said the state government was trying to revisit the old proposal, where it expressed an interest in taking over MASWings but its owner, Malaysia Airlines then, was reluctant to sell it.

“Sarawak is currently working out the details on a proposal to set up its own airline company. We have a few options to have our own small airline connecting Kuching with other strategic destinations in the region,” Abang Johari said at a Kuching event on Feb 1.

I support Abang Jo’s proposal for Sarawak to have its own airline. I think this is the first major plan of the chief minister since he became Sarawak’s chief executive two years ago which earns my support.

I recall shooting down the chief minister’s interest in building an LRT for the greater Kuching and Samarahan divisions about a year ago.

I stated then that we do not have the volume to make an LRT viable. While it must be recognised that Kuching is in need of better public transportation, the multi-billion ringgit project is not a priority at this time and is not worth the huge investment we couldn’t really afford.

I do not believe in spending RM5 billion from the state coffers on a project which will only see profitable returns probably 20 years later. An LRT should not be a priority of the Abang Jo administration.

Improving the road network with more lanes and flyovers and setting up a better traffic system is the answer today for the greater Kuching city.

Why do I support a Sarawak airline? This is something totally different. I will repeat here what I had stated seven years ago when I proposed that a Borneo Airways be established by Sabah and Sarawak.

This is not a matter of Sarawakian pride but one of necessity to attract more tourism dollars to the Land of the Hornbills, serve the needs of the people better and accelerate economic growth in the region. Continue reading

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Filial piety still shines among the Chinese

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | What actually inspired me to pen this on this first day of Chinese New Year is the jottings by Tunku Mufuza, a former TNB lawyer, of his encounter with a young Chinese man at a food kiosk he operates in Putrajaya with his wife.

It was a heart-warming tale of a Malay couple’s simple gesture of offering some kuih to the young man who could not balik kampung to Ipoh to celebrate the Lunar New Year because his boss has not paid him his salary. And this is on the morning of Chinese New Year’s Eve.

The man, named as Tan by the writer, was teary as he thanked Mufuza’s wife for her generosity.

“My wife asked him to take the three packets of kuih, too, when he came to buy two bungkus nasi lemak. They are not worthy of mention but they are from the bottom of our hearts. Keep the glow in your heart, young man, though you may not be able to spend Chinese New Year with your parents and siblings”, Tunku Mufuza jotted.

From that episode, three topics came to my mind, which are worth putting into words. One, the empathy of the Malay couple towards the young Chinese guy, who was probably at his wit’s end this Chinese New Year.

Ordinary Malaysians of all races are still supportive of one another and living in harmony despite the ugly issues of race and religion being harped upon by the few bigots and extremists in our midst.

Two, the prevailing bleak economic climate, which has caused untold suffering to many, Tan’s boss, probably, and surely all salaried employees like Tan. But let’s not discuss a negative subject on this festive occasion.

And the third is Tan’s sadness at not being able to make it home to be with his family as he couldn’t afford to because his salary has not been paid. Continue reading

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MoCS supports CM Abang Jo’s proposal for Sarawak Airline

Image result for francis siahSeven years ago, on 22 June, 2012, I issued a statement proposing a new Borneo Airways for Sarawak and Sabah.

I’m glad that CM Abang Jo is now talking about a Sarawak Airline.That is a move that should be supported by Sarawakians. The important thing is to see to it that competent people are brought in to do the job.

And make sure that the BN ‘normal’ practice of having to fork out millions in so-called consultancy fees before the project even takes off, does not happen this time. – fs

https://mocsarawak.wordpress.com/…/mocs-proposes-new-borne…/ MoCS proposes new Borneo Airways for Sarawak, Sapp Sabah

Posted on June 22, 2012 by mocsarawak

A MoCS statement

KUALA LUMPUR – The Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) has supported the proposal by an Umno MP to the government to award another low-cost carrier licence.

It also suggested that the new licence be given to the Sarawak and Sabah governments to jointly establish an airline to serve the interests of East Malaysians.

“Since Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is beyond salvation and AirAsia has become a ‘bully airline’, East Malaysia should start thinking seriously of the increasing demands of their travelling citizens,” MoCS leader Francis Paul Siah said today.

Continue reading

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