Commentary Politics

You don’t need years of experience to have wisdom

Forest City -- a target of many repeated attacks after Pakatan Harapan came to power last year.

Written by Aziz Hassan

October 31, 2019.

Recollections & Reflections

THERE are days when you wish for some peace and quiet, with the news being so dull that all you want to do is sleep, sleep and sleep. But that’s hoping hope against hope, because somehow our politicians are always there to provide us with some ticklish moments, worse when these come from the ministers – members of the country’s executive branch, politicians who are there to lead the people in the best possible way.

Some of their own kind especially may be quick to defend them to say that being new, they lack the experience. Acceptable to an extent but almost all the funny moments have nothing to do with experience but simple, plain wisdom – the ability to use your brains to think.

Funny-bone 1: Bernama last Tuesday had this item: “The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is planning to exhibit Egyptian pharaoh’s tomb and artefacts of Ramses II and Tutankhamun, or popularly known as King Tut, in October next year in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2020.  

Deputy Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said the government was still working to finalise the exhibition with the Egyptian government and would organise a fundraising event to make it happen.

Only for his boss to say this the next day: Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi is in the dark about plans to exhibit Egyptian pharaoh artefacts in Malaysia next year.

“I don’t know where (the deputy minister) got approval and I don’t know where the funds will come from for such an exhibition,”

Funny-bone 2: The government will learn from Holland on the best method of handling the floods in this country, says Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

Wan Azizah, who is chairman of the central disaster committee, said the country famous for its tulips was chosen as a role model because it is situated below sea level (which Malaysia isn’t).

Wan Azizah also wanted state governments and relevant authorities at the district level to have long-term mitigation plans to overcome flood problems.

She said the government must fully exploit places or buildings that are not utilised to be turned into temporary evacuation centres.

“We don’t want to disturb students (when schools are used as these centres). There are many avenues that can be explored.

Huhh….. While there are similarities in the causes of flooding in Holland, there are also significant differences, which means you must study all the factors and make a comparison. This can be done at home.

A main man-made factor is urbanisation and this is something unavoidable because Holland is one of the most densely populated countries. Another reason is the use of tar and cement for pavements and to build roads, which is a common situation in many countries including Malaysia. Drainage is another factor not too dissimilar to the Malaysian situation. Having solid surfaces reduces the amount of water that can be absorbed into the ground and the speed at which this happens. Urbanisation also leads to deforestation, thus reducing the number of water catchment areas. To know about the above one only needs to go to a library or do an online search.

Of course much of Holland is below sea level. The other threat to flooding comes from rising sea water.

Some of Holland’s dykes and sluices were built a few centuries ago, at a time when the country was totally different from what it is now. In modern times they have built massive barriers with movable gates but you would dread to think of the cost involved, more so due to the heavy rainfall and many fast-flowing rivers in Malaysia. Because of the vastly different terrain and topography, perhaps it would make more sense to look at Thailand’s system.

Funny-bone 3: Only private companies that can guarantee tolls will be abolished will be considered to take over PLUS Malaysia, says Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, adding a new twist to this episode.

For good measure he also said this: “It would contradict Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto if PLUS was sold to a private entity that would still charge tolls or hike the rates.”

He is asking the private sector to do what the government recently said it cannot do!

Someone should also tell Azmin that one of the main points in all the bids is that toll rates will be reduced. Assuming that the government agrees to sell PLUS, surely there will be a clause to ensure the rates are reduced as stated. And surely Azmin must know that the government has the last say in approving any toll hike, regardless who owns a tolled road.

Funny-bone 4: “The price of luxury homes for foreigners is still a state matter with the respective states having differing thresholds,” Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said in a reply in the Dewan Rakyat.

Pressed further if her ministry had proposed lowering the threshold for foreigners to own luxury homes, Zuraida said it wasn’t.

“The proposal was from the Finance Ministry in view that sales of such homes to foreigners was only 0.4% or represented only 386 individuals who had bought homes above RM1mil.”

A matter under her ministry from which Finance didn’t bother to ask for inputs from. That’s interesting but my, my, my….. so what was the fuss about relating to properties at Johor’s Forest City sold to mainly buyers from China?

We certainly were given the impression last year that thousands of units had been sold. There was also the issue about the possibility of mainland Chinese flooding Johor. And now? We are going all-out to entice them and those from Hong Kong to buy properties here.



About the author


Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.