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Friday, March 27, 2015

"Malaysia's and America's economic decline" By Michael Sekora

Michael Sekora is an American physicist who led Project Socrates, a classified U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency program established in 1983 under the Reagan administration. Project Socrates was tasked with determining why the United States was unable to maintain economic competitiveness—and to rectify the situation.

Michael Sekora

Mr Sekora reads my blog and we have been communicating for some time. I believe we have some common interests and ideas about the technological advancement of societies.  

In this article, as per title by Mike, he argues that we must move away from a finance based premise for economic development to a more technology based premise. 

I agree with this.  We must move towards greater application of technology for the production of more real goods and services.  We need more engineers to make products and we need more businessmen to take those products to market etc. 

First a quick read :

I want to comment on this statement by Mike : 'technology based planning eg by China'.

Under Deng Hsiao Ping the Chinese made a huge leap forward by introducing technology in larger quantities in their economy. Deng will go down in history as the leader who moved hundreds of millions of Chinese out of the poverty line in under one decade. And I believe the application of relatively high technology in everyday life in China is accelerating. That is why they are well on their way to become the number one nation in the world. 

This is the real world folks. We have to organise ourselves to produce and use more technology products and technology services.  Malaysia may not be a producer of new technologies in all fields but we certainly need to apply more and more high technology in the everyday  lives of our people. 

I just had a conversation with someone about the BestariNet project. Over RM650 million has been spent with not much to show. This is the project to equip our schoolkids with those tablet computers to replace school textbooks.  

Money has been spent but where is BestariNet? The Chinese have done it, so have the Singaporeans and even the Indians. Imagine the school kids do not need school bags anymore.

And I can assure you the six year olds are much quicker than you and me when it comes to computers and smart phones. They learn at light speed. 

So lets give them the new  technologies cheaply and in quantity. In no time they will be producing the new technologies.  

Michael Sekora can be contacted at 

Iranians Pull Out Of Tikrit Battle, Leaving US Army In The Lurch

The politics are really convoluted in the Middle East. The ongoing Battle for Tikrit in Iraq involving Iranian led Shia militia assisted by US airstrikes has ground to a halt because the Shia militia do not want American air cover. They say they can win the fight without US air support. 

First here is the New York Times :

U.S. Airstrikes on ISIS in Tikrit Prompt Boycott by Shiite Fighters

Thousands of Shiites said they would boycott the fight there against the Islamic State. 

AL RASHID AIR BASE, Iraq — By Day 2 ..mission appeared beleaguered on several fronts 

Thousands of Shiite militiamen boycotted the fight, others threatened to attack any Americans they found, and Iraqi officials said nine of their fighters had been accidentally killed in an airstrike.

Senate hearing on Thursday that no Shiite militias remained in Tikrit.

sudden departure risked leaving the Iraqi ground forces short-handed

three militia groups, had Iranian advisers, pulled out of the Tikrit fight 

insisting that the Americans were not needed to defeat the extremists in Tikrit.

abrupt withdrawal by militia forces could complicate the entire Iraqi counteroffensive. 

Even with the militias involved, officials said the current pro-government force would not be large enough to eventually help take Mosul back from ISIS 

Top officials at the Pentagon think not easy to retake even Tikrit without Iranian help. 

Another official, asked if United States now owned the Tikrit operation, said, “Yes. 

four Shiite groups that objected to the American air role represent more than a third of the 30,000 fighters in the offensive against the Islamic State

“We don’t trust the American-led coalition in combating ISIS,” 

three groups said would withdraw from the front line around Tikrit. 

“In the past, US has targeted our security forces and dropped aid to ISIS by mistake,” 

Badr Organization, also criticized the American role and said might pull out.

“We don’t need Americans. Tikrit is an easy battle, we can win it ourselves,” 

Badr Organization fields largest cohesive ground force and its withdrawal catastrophic

rushed decision to liberate Tikrit with Americans without compromise among all groups most of whom have a lot of disputes with the Americans,” 

participation of international alliance is to protect ISIS 

Since March 2, Islamic State in Tikrit have been under attack by the Iraqi militias

smaller force of Islamic State fighters has been able to hold them off ..for almost four weeks.

My comments : Told you so. The Iranians call the shots in Iraq and Syria, and also in Lebanon and now Yemen. Without the shia militia, the US cannot get back Iraq from the ISIS. 

I think if the Saudis continue bombing Yemen, the Iranians will not cooperate with the US in Iraq anymore.  

Its tit for tat. Saudis lay off Yemen, Shia militias help US in Iraq. 

Without Tikrit, the road to Mosul is a little bit more challenging for the US and the Iraqi government.  Without the shia militias, it becomes that much more difficult. 

After Mosul, it will be Raqqa in Syria.  

A deal will be struck. A US - Iran reconciliation is in the works. One more player has to come on board.

Dr Rosenani Haque (USM) Wins Awards

This is a friend of mine Dr Rosenani A Haque (PhD) who teaches Chemistry at the University Sains Malaysia.  She completed her PhD in Western Australia some years ago. She does research and writes in foreign journals as well. 

She has won some awards for her research.  The latest is this "inaugural" award from the Journal of Coordination Chemistry.  

Here is some "chemical" explanation about what she does.

Here is another 'Best Publication Award' that Dr Rosenani has won from the Applied Organometallic Chemistry journal.

My wish for Rose is to continue her work and research and one day win that Nobel Prize for us.

This is a human interest story with a big interest. I met Rose circa 1999 - 2000. We used to 'duel' on the Internet. She was pro Anwar (at first). We argued a lot. Guess who won the argument? 

Then of course we "discussed" Islam and the Quran. Some arguments there too. Guess who won that argument as well?   :) 

I am happy to say that Dr Rosenani has been a student of the Quran since about 2000 as well. For Muslims the Quran is a liberating document.  

I think she should find no contradiction between her science and the Quran. 

Her family name 'Haque' is also quite well known, especially among cartoonists. Try Yahoo-ing or Googling it.

Dr Mahathir On Lee Kuan Yew

Kuan Yew and I — Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Friday March 27, 2015

No matter how friendly or unfriendly we are, the passing away of a man you know well saddens you.

I cannot say I was a close friend of Kuan Yew. But still I feel sad at his demise.

Kuan Yew became well known at a young age. I was a student in Singapore when I read about his defence of labour unions.

I first met Kuan Yew when I was a member of Parliament in 1964 after Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963. We crossed swords many time during the debates. But there was no enmity, only differences in our views of what was good for the newborn nation. He included me among the ultra Malays who was responsible for the racial riots in Singapore. Actually I never went to Singapore to stir up trouble. Somebody else whom I would not name did.
The Tunku attended the inaugural meeting of the PAP and was quite friendly with Kuan Yew. He believed Kuan Yew was a bastion against Communism. But when the PAP contested in the Malaysian elections in 1964 with Malaysian Malaysia as its slogan, Tunku felt that the PAP’s presence in Malaysia was going to be disruptive for the country.

When I became PM in 1981, I paid a courtesy call on Kuan Yew. It was a friendly call and he immediately agreed to my proposal that the Malaysia and Singapore times which had always been the same should be advanced by half an hour. I explained that it would be easier adjusting our time when travelling as we would fall within the time zones fixed for the whole world at one hour intervals.

I am afraid on most other issues we could not agree.

When I had a heart attack in 1989 and required open heart surgery, he cared enough to ring up my wife to ask her to delay the operation as he had arranged for the best heart surgeon, a Singaporean living in Australia, to do the operation. But by then, I had been given pre-med and was asleep prior to the operation the next day.

My wife thanked him but apologised. She promised to ring him up after the operation. She did the next evening.

When he was ill, I requested to see him. He agreed but the night before the visit, the Singapore High Commissioner received a message that he was very sick and could not see me.

Still when he attended the Nihon Keizai Shimbun annual conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo, which I never failed to attend, I went up to him at dinner to ask how he was. We sat down together to chat and the Japanese photographers took our pictures promising not to put it in the press. I wouldn’t mind even if they did. But I suppose people will make all kinds of stories about it.

Now Kuan Yew is no more. His passage marks the end of the period when those who fought for independence lead their countries and knew the value of independence.

Asean lost a strong leadership after President Suharto and Lee Kuan Yew.

* Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is former prime minister of Malaysia. This article was originally posted on his personal blog at

An Invitation From Singapore

On Tuesday 24th March 2015 I was invited by Singapore's ISEAS or Institute for South East Asian Studies to deliver a talk over there.  ISEAS is located within the campus of the National University of Singapore.  

I was given a free hand to choose any topic so I spoke on "Malaysian Politics & Society - A Developing Trajectory".  If you read my Blog, well basically that is what I said. Minus any caustic comments because this was speaking about our country in another country.

The talk was attended by government people, academics, researchers (both government and private) and others. There was a good Q&A session after my almost hour long presentation. Followed by lunch with the folks from ISEAS during which they asked me even more questions.




In true Singaporean style they are diligent  and want to know everything about their neighbours. One of their researchers is studying Indians in the Klang Valley. It is not that they are not already well informed but they want to hear different views as well.  I came away feeling that  they are pretty concerned about what is going on in Malaysia at this point in time. 

I hope that after my presentation, they could see a greater optimism for Malaysia - a point I gathered from someone at the seminar.  (Yes folks, there is still a great future for this country, despite what is happening now. Dont lose hope. Lets regain the upper hand.)  

I picked up a few other things. There are about 25000 students at the NUS, of which 15% are foreign students. I did not see any Nigerians on campus. Foreign students are from ASEAN, India, China and other Asian countries. It is more difficult to earn a seat at the NUS than in any Australian university. It is an academically "elite"  university. So every year the NUS churns out about 25,000 top grade graduates, most of whom enter the Singapore workforce.

About one third of the teaching staff at the NUS used to be Malaysians. That number has now dropped. Largely because the private universities in Malaysia are headhunting many lecturers and teachers. So there is a reverse brain drain from Singapore back to Malaysia in terms of university teaching staff. Their medium of instruction is English - they have never wavered from English. 

My wife and I arrived in Singapore the night before ie on the 23rd March when Mr Lee Kuan Yew had passed away.  There was Police everywhere because they were moving the body to the Istana. 

The monitors at Changi Airport and Singapore TV were playing Mr Lee's speeches, notable quotes and old news reels of his life as Premier. 

It was not just the passing of one man but the end of an era and an institution by himself. Mr Lee has built a robust nation with solid institutions.  Singapore continues to be Singapore without a pause.  

Mr Lee's legacy is obvious from the time you touch down. The city state has so much green that at some spots I thought I was in Taman Negara.  

Yet another MRT line is being built, which will make it even more efficient to move around Singapore.  

They want to put an MRT line across the straits to Johor Bharu. I think we should not waste time thinking about it too much.