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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

HARESH SAYS: I want the million, here's my money

As published in Malay Mail today
Haresh Says
By Haresh Deol

RAISING my hand furiously to ask questions — from the back of the media room — during a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters, I had to speak up. The first question was related to the case. The second got some stern-looking officers smiling.
“Aren’t you tired of repeating the advice to the public as they continue to fall prey to scams?” I asked.
City deputy police chief Datuk Law Hong Soon responded diplomaticaly.
“We advise people not to be easily trapped by fraud, especially the Macau scam. Refer to us if you receive a dubious phone call or believe you are being tricked,” he said after KL police nabbed 52 China nationals from six high-end homes.
I bet Law has repeated the same message over and over. Given a choice, he would rather record his voice and play it each time police bust scammers who lure the vulnerable into losing money.

To the ignorant, Macau scam is when:
• You are informed you have won US$1 million (RM3.63 million) for doing nothing. If only life was that easy.
• You receive a phone call your loved one has been arrested and money is sought for their release. Your son could have been wolfing a burger while playing Grand Theft Auto V in his room or your wife could have been shopping for shoes when the call came in.
• You get a text message or phone call from a person claiming to be from a bank and says you have outstanding loans or credit card bills.
Instead of running to the authorities, many turn to their wallets. Parting with money seems easier than making a call to verify the situation.

Why do people continue to be taken in by the Macau scam or other tricks despite these being widely reported?
I had, in this column on Nov 5 last year, written about a similar subject. It was penned after Malay Mail had, in its front page a day earlier, reported 18 women from Selangor received calls with the caller ID of their sons or husbands, except that a so-called “narcotics police officer” was on the other end of the line.
A certain “Inspector Wong” or “Inspector Faizal” would tell the women that their son or husband was arrested for drug-related offences and ask for money for their release. These women, who some may call gullible while others may say are victimised, would drop off the money at various locations — from garbage bins and phone booths to a Chinese temple. While all this was going on, their husbands and sons were busy at work.
On Nov 8 last year, police uncovered a local syndicate based in China which preyed on Malaysian victims. On July 8 last year, Selangor police reminded the public to be wary of a syndicate that  tricked people into divulging details of their bank accounts before fleecing them of money. These are just some of the highlights made available through a simple Google search. There are hundreds, if not thousands, more.
The number of victims, that could easily be in the thousands, is numbing. Even VIPs are not spared as evidenced in the latest case involving 1Malaysia People’s Housing (PR1MA) homes where a Datin was among those duped.
Why do people believe that random tweet or forwarded Whatsapp message which could have been making its rounds for months if not years? Will we ever take the trouble to verify claims of instant riches?
Is it because greed overwhelms good sense? Don’t we analyse what we read and see? If so, disclosures of wastage of taxpayers’ money and corruption will bear zilch.
Seeking answers is not being “anti-establishment”. We seek to understand. So, we should press for answers when unsure. 
If you receive a call claiming your loved one has been arrested, go to the cops. If someone calls you about a loan you have never applied for, alert the bank. And if you get a text message that says you’ve just won US$1 million, wake up and smell the teh tarik.
As Grammy-winning American stand-up comedian, actor and philosopher George Carlin said: “Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.” 

HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. He can be reached or on Twitter @HareshDeol

Monday, April 20, 2015

Must we stop laughing – even excessively?

As published in Malay Mail today

Comment by Frankie D’Cruz

SAY that again: Jokes should not cause excessive laughter?

Comedy Court pair Allan Perera and Indi Nadarajah, whose trademark searing social and political satire gets us laughing out loud, might soon be out of work. As would other comedians.

Wait: There’s to be gender segregation at concerts. If one took his daughter to a concert, she would have to sit in another row. No father will accompany his child to a performance again.

Brand Malaysia is being systematically destroyed. The new guidelines by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) do not raise national happiness. The updated rules are a dent to closeness.

We are supposed to create awareness of love and affection for Malaysia to remind the people the importance of uniting, but siege mindset seems to rule.

Let’s just zero in on laughter and who better to comment on it than Perera: “Must Malaysia stop laughing? What is excessive laughter? How do you judge excessive laughter? How does laughter do harm? What decibel of laughter is excessive?”

Perera was stumped over the Jakim’s guidelines: “One of the greatest weapons in society is laughter. Even in times of uncertainty, we must laugh together as family.

“The last thing anyone should do is to take away laughter. People in the audience have said we helped them with their pain, even if it was only during our show. That should speak volumes for laughter.”

Perera says everybody has a funny side. Not true. Jakim doesn’t. And it should elaborate what it means by jokes should be “sparing”, “toe the line”, and not make light of serious and mournful matters that lead to “extreme laughter”.

Only those who don’t have humour in their lives don’t indulge in laughter. Their loss. Bottom line: Who is Jakim to tell us how we should laugh?

Why is it those who murder must die while those who kill the spirit of Malaysia go free? Consider — gender separation at concerts is a major knock on the diverse cultures of Malaysia and a threat to communal interaction and democracy.

We wonder what the Tourism Ministry thinks about a family outing for a concert. Especially when the wife and daughter sit in another section.

Let’s not delve into Muslims and non-Muslims. It’s about secular Malaysia never becoming a developed country.

If Putrajaya allows this, Jakim might next extend it to malls, public transport, supermarkets and cinemas. Wouldn’t these impact non-Muslims?

We don’t need anyone to police our ordinary daily lives and prey on our consciousness. We want to enjoy the beauty of literature, dance and music. We want to embrace knowledge.

It’s about respect, tolerance and trust. It’s about imparting wisdom and developing the future of Malaysia.

Song lyrics that do not contain “goodness and pure values”, in addition to “bringing awareness” and “leading to repentance”, are not it. It’s about the sheer joy of entertainment and not being that unfortunate stereotype certain quarters are trying to create.

The joke is we are losing a sense of humour and failing to accept there’s nothing wrong with laughing at ourselves. In an ego-littered minefield, one misstep can forever alter the interpersonal landscape. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

HARESH SAYS: Accountability seems to be the hardest word

As published in Malay Mail today.

By Haresh Deol

THIS is an extension of my column last week. In ‘What are we paying for?’ published on April 8, I questioned why taxpayers are not informed about dealings which involve their hard-earned money. The revelations in the annual Auditor-General’s Report add salt to an already deep wound.

At the end of the column, I mentioned all we demand is some form of transparency.

Sadly, transparency and accountability are strange words to many, especially government agencies. Civil servants tend to behave as though taxpayers’ money belongs to them and that they are entitled to use (or in most cases abuse) as they please.

Little do they realise that even those within are tired and frustrated with such malpractices. One of them is Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

The Pulai MP, who has been training his guns on several ministries, including the Finance Ministry, was quoted by Malay Mail on Monday as saying the committee should cease to exist if it is not taken seriously by the government.

He highlighted that while Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa revealed action had been taken against 132 civil servants for misconduct based on the 2013 Auditor-General’s Report, he was clueless about who they were and the action taken.

Spot on Nur Jazlan, for we — members of the press and the public — are also in the dark over the status of those guilty of malpractices. We are unsure if the ‘penalties’ were setimpal (Bahasa Melayu for in accordance) with the issues raised.

PAC must know if its recommendations are being followed through. It needs to know, and must make public, action that has been taken to ensure closure. The naming and shaming process will be a deterrent to ensure civil servants are not made to believe that malpractice (and getting away easily) is not a privilege of working in the government.

The PAC, not forgetting its vocal DAP deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw, receives the backing from many. Set up in 2004 and comprising politicians from both divides, the committee is tasked to scrutinise government agencies, even the Finance Ministry, and should continue to do so without fear or favour.

And government agencies must understand PAC is only asking for transparency and accountability. This is to ensure resources and assets are well managed to help develop the nation.
Civil servants should treat PAC as a friend and not take it for granted, or worse, to treat it as a threat from within.

Lee Chong Wei doping fiasco — will there be accountability?

Ahead of Datuk Lee Chong Wei’s doping hearing last Saturday, I received two phone calls from the international media — the BBC on April 9 and Al Jazeera last Saturday. The hosts, BBC’s Ed Harry and Al Jazeera’s Robin Adams, had prior to the shows, asked if anyone had been held responsible for the fiasco.

No, was my answer.

Right after the first test results, obtained from Lee’s urine sample during the World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, last August, the authorities kept mum over the debacle. The parties involved raised more questions than provided answers. No one dared to speak publicly, although on condition of anonymity, they have plenty to say.

Sadly, most play the blame game. Some have found this the perfect opportunity to find a scapegoat. 

The issue remains that the world No 1 shuttler had traces of the banned substance dexamethasone in his body. 

The public has the right to know how it happened and who is responsible. Taxpayers’ money has been used to support Lee’s cause as he came close twice (2008 Beijing and 2012 London) to wining the elusive Olympic gold medal for Malaysia.

Perhaps details have been kept behind closed doors “to not jeopardise preparations” for the hearing. But we demand to know the details. If it can happen to Lee, our prized possession, it can happen to any other athlete. 

As I said on both shows, if Lee receives the maximum ban, we can say goodbye to Malaysian sports (with the exception of Datuk Nicol David) in the international arena.

Hopefully, the powers that be will uphold transparency and accountability. If heads must roll, so be it.

Kita Lawan is no joke!

It was a crazy idea. Mooting Kita Lawan as a slogan for the Selangor contingent ahead of the 2016 Malaysia Games in Sarawak was sheer foolishness. When Sunday Mail broke the story on March 29, those concerned brushed it off as a “non-issue”.

But when Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah voiced his displeasure over the battle cry, saying it was used by “a particular political party”, the officials quickly changed their tune.

And on Sunday, the Selangor government was reported as saying plans to use Kita Lawan was “just a joke”. Judging from the looks of it, the state government is the joke.

If true the motto was a mere suggestion made “jokingly”, why wasn’t this brought to the attention of those who attended the state sports council’s briefing on March 27? An afterthought?

State executive councillor for sports development Amirudin Shari had reportedly said the “issue of whether he would apologise to the Sultan over the matter would also be discussed at a coming meeting”.

Just be accountable and own up. 

Unfortunately for some, sorry — or in this case accountability — seems to be the hardest word.

Here’s wishing all of you Happy Vaisakhi!

HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. He can be reached at or on Twitter @HareshDeol

Minister’s private secretary arrested over false claims

As published in Malay Mail today

PETALING JAYA — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested the private secretary of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun, for allegedly making false claims.

The private secretary, who was picked up in Kuching together with four contractors on Monday, has been remanded for seven days. He is believed to have made the claims amounting to RM100,000 for projects that never took place.

“As private secretary, he was able to enter into deals of not more than RM20,000. He made several deals but they were never made public,” said an insider who declined to be named.
“The contractors have been released but the private secretary has been remanded and will be flown to Kuala Lumpur for investigations.

“Each claim is believed to be between RM18,000 and RM20,000 and it is believed the total claims amounted to at least RM100,000. The matter is still being investigated and hopefully he will be able to shed some light,” the insider said.

Entulu has been informed of the case. 

Meanwhile, MACC met Sabah politicians and assemblymen in Kota Kinabalu yesterday to get them to pledge their support in busting graft. — By Haresh Deol

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Selangor ruler slams Kita Lawan sports motto; state exco to change slogan

As published in Malay Mail today.

By Vijhay Vick

SUBANG JAYA — The Sultan of Selangor has voiced his displeasure over the state’s 2016 Malaysia Games (Sukma) contingent using Kita Lawan as its slogan.

In a strongly worded speech during the Selangor Sports Awards last night, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah said: “The slogan Kita Lawan has been used by a particular political party. I do not want the general public to misconstrue or presume that the Selangor contingent is trying to politicise sports. It is best for the Selangor contingent to use a different slogan that is more spirited and will not invite controversy.”

The Selangor Sports Council’s Kita Lawan battle cry was revealed during a briefing with sports associations on March 27. Malay Mail broke the news on March 29 on its frontpage. 

Sports officials who attended the briefing expressed shock, stressing the tagline is used by jailed opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s supporters who are fighing for his release.

State executive councillor for sports Amirudin Shari had then insisted the tagline was “not an issue”.
Sukma is the national games participated by athletes aged 21 and below. The 2016 edition is in Sarawak.

The Selangor ruler also said internal problems between officials had caused the decline of Selangor sports.

“Selangor was a powerhouse between the 1960s and 1980s. The state has progressed but sports have declined.

“I want all officials, coaches, managers, athletes and those involved to double up their efforts, clean up their act, strategise and be more committed to see Selangor achieve success.”

He highlighted financial issues faced by certain associations and reminded officials to be long-sighted in their plans.

“I would like to remind sports officials to stop fighting and trying to topple each other.”

MEANWHILE, The Malaysian Insider reported:

Susulan teguran dibuat Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah malam ini, kerajaan negeri Selangor mengaku akur dengan titahnya yang melarang campur tangan politik dalam sukan dan mahu diperbaiki prestasi industri itu yang semakin merosot.

Exco Pembangunan Generasi Muda, Sukan, Kebudayaan & Pembangunan Usahawan negeri, Amirudin Shari berkata, slogan #KitaLawan yang mewakili kontinjen negeri ke Sukan Malaysia (Sukma) 2016 di Sarawak juga akan diubah.

"Teguran itu kita ambil perhatian yang sangat serius.

"Kita menerima cadangan supaya menghasilkan satu slogan yang lebih baik dan bersemangat membawa kontinjen negeri Selangor, tetapi dalam semangat yang sama, ingin memartabatkan sukan di Selangor," katanya kepada pemberita di Holiday Villa di Subang Jaya.

HD says: When this was first highlighted by Malay Mail, certain parties were in the defensive and insisted there was no need to change the slogan. But they quickly changed their tune when the Sultan spoke. Daulat Tuanku!

‘We need to treat fans professionally’

It is amazing how football in Australia has grown. A country, best known for rugby, cricket and Aussie rules football, Australia has made a name for itself in the region and produced talents for major football leagues around the world including the English Premier League.

One man who is in the thick of the A-League action is former Malay Mail sports journalist Ghaz Ramli (pic).
After his stint with Malay Mail, having covered the 2005 and 2007 Sea Games he moved to public relations. His clients include IMG, Federation Internationale de 'lAutomobile (FIA), Sepang International Circuit (SIC), PUMA, International Rugby Board (IRB) and Union Cycling Internationale (UCI), among others.

Ghaz moved to Perth, Australia several years back and is now the membership, ticketing and events manager for Australian club Perth Glory.

We met recently, during his short trip back, as we compared how the A-League and football are run in Australia and Malaysia.

“The A-League is only 10 years old but has enjoyed a positive growth thanks to how Australian clubs are run. Membership is vital in Australian clubs. If clubs are able to sell tickets before the season kicks off through its membership, this means they have obtained income in advance for the season,” Ghaz explained.
“Obviously members want their team to succeed but the art is to turn fans into be diehard members that will still flock the stadium despite a poor spell. Exclusive club and player news, members merchandise, voting rights … all these can go a long way in this business.”

Ghaz said it was important to educate the fans that if the club does not obtain money, especially from the members, they administrators will be unable to sign good players, coaches or even invest in a development plan.

“A club is a business at the end of the day and membership is a key income.”

So what is the difference between membership and ticket sales (as seen in the M-League)? 

“In Australia, season tickets brought by members, are cheaper than buying tickets for every match.

“In Malaysia, RM10 is a ticket for everywhere except the grandstand which is maybe RM30. Malaysian stadiums do not have a specific seat numbers but that can be sorted out. The grandstand seats can be reserved with the specific seat and row number. If you know some 35,000 to 40,000 fans are coming for each game, that’s data for selling other things. You can push club merchandise, you can get more sponsors as you have the direct data to your market.

Ghaz added not many Malaysian clubs think about upgrading the teams to such a level.

“Malaysian football is growing and we need to know how to treat fans professionally. They deserve it.”

He added ticketing has to go online while a small allocation can be sold at the stadium.

“By moving online you can actually get the demographics of fans.

“Such a system may work for a club like KLFA which needs to grow efficiently but it may not work for all the states, especially raising awareness to those in the rural areas. 

“But the FA of Malaysia should lead the way. They should by now have the database of those who are following Malaysian football. This can promise proper commercial planning.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

PHD - Perasaan Hasrat Dengki

Ertinya, perasaan hasrat dengki.
ianya penyakit sukar diubati.
Ada yang tidak mempedulikannya,
ada pula yang taksub dengannya.

Ertinya bila seseorang mengambil gambar rumah rakan sekerja yang kononnya cantik,
Dan mengirimkannya kepada SPRM.
Apabila teman kerja memandu kereta Jepun (model biasa jer),
Si dia melaporkan kepada pihak atasan.

Ertinya tidak sanggup melihat orang lain berjaya,
tetapi sifatnya malas, nak gaji besar, tak nak kerja.
Bukannya 'thinker',
hanya 'trouble maker'.

Jangan cepat melatah bila ditegur,
tiada 'agenda' disebalik kritikan.
Orang besar menerimanya dengan minda terbuka,
Kamu pula, bagaimana?

Itulah sifat anda.
kononnya "berpelajaran",
Usah bercita-cita nak jadi orang besar,
Dengan perasaan hasrat dengki, anda akan 'kecil' selama-lamanya.

Majulah Sukan Untuk Negara