Saturday, November 30, 2013

The 3D-printed CAR




The 3D-printed CAR: Makers claims Urbee is 'the greenest practical car ever made'

  • The U.S. engineering firm said it took three months to print the three-wheeled car, which is several years away from going into production
  • Urbee 2 weighs just 1,200 pounds and the prototype model is expected to consume just 10 gallons of ethanol fuel on an epic journey across the U.S
  • The shell and interior of the vehicle are 3D printed and it has a hybrid engine using ethanol and an electric motor
3D printing has been used to make household objects and even guns, but now a team of engineers has created a futuristic car using the additive manufacturing technique.
Urbee 2 is designed to be highly efficient and lightweight as well as reasonably cheap and simple to reproduce, although it will be a few years until it goes on sale.
The teardrop shaped car’s shell and interior is made from 3D printed plastic parts, which is ideal for creating lightweight structures, while its engine and chassis are metal.
Urbee 2
Urbee 2 has a 3D printed shell and is designed to be highly efficient and lightweight as well as reasonably cheap and simple to reproduce


The teardrop shaped car’s shell and interior is made from 3D printed plastic parts and hybrid engine and chassis is made of metal.
The vehicle generates a maximum of 10 brake horsepower.
Engineers anticipate most driving will be done under 40mph using the car’s electric motor but the engine can use the ethanol to reach higher speeds on motorways.
There is no top speed for the car, which is built for endurance.
The company aims to show it can do 290 miles per gallon on a two day trip across the U.S. in two years time.
There is no price for the car as yet and the company believes it will take a few years more of research before it goes into production.
The engineers, led by Jim Kor who heads up the company behind the vehicle, Kor Ecologic, told Wired that it takes three months to print the three-wheeled car, which holds two people.
The car weighs just 1,200 pounds and the prototype model is expected to consume just 10 gallons of ethanol fuel on an epic journey across the U.S from New York to San Francisco.
The team designed the car as an eco-friendly, highly-efficient alternative to today’s gas-guzzling models.
‘Today, there are one billion cars in the world. With population and affluence rising, this is rocketing towards two-and-a-half billion cars by 2050. If these are similar to today’s cars, this spells disaster,’ they said.
Urbee 2
The engineers, led by Jim Kor (pictured) said it takes around three months to print the three-wheeled car, which holds two people. Here he holds a model of the vehicle and is sitting amid the 3D printed parts
‘We believe that powering cars on renewable energy is vital to our civilisation’s survival.’
The engineers claim their vehicle is the ‘greenest practical car ever made’.
They are currently raising money on Kickstarter so that in 2015 they could demonstrate the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, by taking just two days to drive from new York to San Francisco using 10 gallons of biofuel to set a new world record - and they even plan on squeezing a dog into the car with them.
Urbee 2
While the company is mulling which hybrid metal engine to use, it is thought the vehicle will have a maximum of 10 brake horsepower. Most of the driving would be between zero to 40mph using the car's electric motor, but the engine can use the ethanol to reach higher speeds on motorways
Urbee 2
The car weighs just 1,200 pounds and the prototype model is expected to consume just 10 gallons of ethanol fuel on an epic journey across the U.S from New York to San Francisco. Here it is pictured with its engineering creators
While the company is mulling which hybrid metal engine to use, it is thought the vehicle will have a maximum of 10 brake horsepower.
Most of the driving would be between zero to 40mph using the car’s electric motor, but the engine can use the ethanol to reach higher speeds on motorways.
3D printing
3D printing means parts for the car can be easily reproduced and can be modified as the printer can add extra rigidity in certain areas, which might be helpful in creating better bumpers that are still lighter than conventional parts, for example
The team envisions that the electrical energy stored in on-board batteries to the power electric motors could be produced using renewable energy such as solar power and is contemplating offering customers a kit comprising the car and solar panels to put on their garage so they can charge their vehicle sustainably.
The engineers built the prototype car at an on-demand 3D printing facility with plenty of Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) machines.
These printers spray heated polymer to build up thin layers until the desired shape, described in an uploaded file of a design, is achieved.
Urbee 2
The company spent 15 years creating its first prototype and has only just started its second prototype stage. The car's shape is inspired by a water droplet and it is extremely aerodynamic
This technique means parts for the car can be easily reproduced – even if they do take a while to print – and parts can be modified as the printer can add extra rigidity in certain areas, which might be helpful in creating better bumpers that are still lighter than conventional parts, for example.
'The use of 3D printing to fabricate the body panels, interior trim and possibly structural components holds promise because material is only placed where one needs it,' the company said.
Urbee 2
The engineers claim their vehicle is the 'greenest practical car ever made'. An illustration of the 3D printed interior of the second prototype is pictured
'It is an additive process, building the part essentially one "molecule" of material at a time, ultimately with no waste. This process can use many materials, and our goal would be to use fully-recycled or biodegradable materials.'
The firm spent 15 years creating its first Urbee prototype and has only just started its second prototype stage.
‘After the second prototype, we would need a pilot run of 10 or so units and then an initial production run could be considered. As of today, the project still requires millions of dollars of investment before we are in such a position to sell cars to the public,’ it said.
There is currently no price for the vehicle.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How to Fix Malaysia In Five Easy Steps

How to Fix Malaysia In Five Easy Steps

Tuesday, 26 November 2013 
The question then is why isn't it being done if it is in fact that easy? Politics. It does not matter if it is in fact Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, neither gives two hoots for the public. 
Vivegavalen Vadi Valu 
You often read about the never-ending issues ailing our country and sometimes we get tired and frustrated by the politicians *cough* [idiots] who run the country. The thing is, have you stopped to think that all our problems are actually a repeated cycle and can be solved easily? Today, the Prime Minister is quoted to say "it's either GST or face bankruptcy". Now, while the statement may seem exaggerated it is not in fact that far off the actual reality facing Malaysia's looming economic disaster.

In 1993, the World Bank produced a 400 page report on the Asian Economics, and Malaysia was dubbed the “Tiger of Asia” with an annual growth of 9% in comparison with South Korea’s 6% and Singapore’s 7%. Our GDP per capita stood at US$350 in contrast to South Korea’s US$130. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was also at its highest of US$7.3 Billion, whereas our market capitalisation was ranked 1st in Asia at 14.6% (excluding Japan).

Fast forward to the present, Malaysia has never recovered from the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, and since then we have fallen behind Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong, and now sit at par with Indonesia and Philippines.

While both Singapore and Hong Kong built up their portfolios by providing lucrative incentives and a favourable environment for investors to do business, Malaysia’s stock exchange recorded a drop in listings from 1,025 companies to 976 in 2009. The final blow came from the World Investment Report 2010, which stated that Malaysia suffered a staggering 81.1% drop in FDI compared to Thailand’s 30.4% and Indonesia’s 44.7%.

This shocking indictment of the current economic state of our country should come as no surprise, for it was revealed that as of 30 June 2011, the country’s debt stands at 54% wherein if it touches 55%, the Constitution will have to be altered to increase borrowings, and we may face the similar disposition of Greece and opt for a bailout.

As Malaysia continues to be ploughed under debts, the Government continues to spend lavishly, ignoring the economic climate to ensure that the ruling power remains in their hands. Most notably, petrol and sugar prices both respectively being subsidised have been kept in check although being distorted by market value. The question that begs to be answered is why as petroleum producers, do we currently face this deplorable disposition?

The New Economic Model (NEM) proposed by the Prime Minister in the first year of his regime failed to curb our decline as he released Part 1 which was effectively rendered useless as we continued the implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) which advocates racial-policies instead of merit-based policies albeit using the backdoor. The 30% quota for tenders and projects reserved exclusively for Bumiputeras continued and this further added to wounds of the economy.

Furthermore, the country's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) stands at #54 below countries like Rwanda while Singapore sits at #5. The perceived illicit outflow per annum stands at RM 30 Billion and it should therefore come as no surprise that the implementation of GST is a must as we can ill afford to depend on Petronas.

The crux of the matter here is mismanagement and corruption, nothing more and nothing less and the generation that will pay the ultimate price will be mine and yours. Then, how do we fix Malaysia?

1) Absolute judicial independence, practicing proper separation of powers between the Executives, Judiciary and Legislature + a shadow cabinet with funding allocated to provide for proper check and balance.

2) Revamp the MACC and PDRM with an independent commission reviewing abuse of powers to ensure those who are put in place to serve the people actually do just that instead of serving those who sign their monthly pay slips.

3) De-regularize government purchases, practice transparency with ethics and ensure total open tenders with documents of sale and purchase being made public.

4) Improving the education system with globalization and pro-employment reforms with special emphasis given to children from rural areas, especially those from Sabah and Sarawak.

5) The absolute banning of all racial politics and policies with maximum punishment meted out for repeat offenders. Enough of the bullshit that racism begins at home, it is time we implement a non-partisan and merit-based system for all.
The question then is why isn't it being done if it is in fact that easy? Politics. It does not matter if it is in fact Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, neither gives two hoots for the public save maybe a few but the overriding do not and that is all that matters. What can you do about it? Simple, citizen activism - reclaim your rights and powers, for demanding for change will not suffice, it is nigh time to act upon it.

PM has failed to look into our welfare

PM has failed to look into our welfare

Selena Tay | November 27, 2013
The price of everything has gone up since the general election but the prime minister is not listening to the people or looking into their welfare.
Since the conclusion of the 13th general election, prices of goods have been periodically going up and so far nothing has been done to counter this. Instead the situation has only gotten worse with the impending hike in electricity tariff early next year.
Before GE13, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has promised that he will listen to the voice of the people and look into their welfare. Thus, the sky-rocketting cost of living is certainly not in line with his promise.
He has always accused the opposition of not keeping their promises but here it is the case of the pot calling the kettle black.
And it is much worse for him because he is the Prime Minister whereas the opposition does not have recourse to federal funding.
Definitely many people can now see clearly that he is a promise-breaker although there are just as many gullible citizens who is simply enamoured with his Government Transformation Plan (GTP), including one of this columnist’s relatives who praised the GTP as being very ambitious and pro-active in helping the rakyat.
If Najib is really listening to the rakyat, he would have immediately instructed KL City Hall to lower the assessment hike to not more than 20%. Instead, he acts deaf and dumb to the rakyat’s rumblings on the ground.
A local English daily on Nov 22 has reported Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Mansor as saying: “I will be fair and come up with a win-win situation for the people. I will decide on an appropriate rate that we will charge and I promise you it will not burden the rakyat.”
Let us hold him to his promise. We do not want leaders who simply give empty promises as the BN government has always announced with pride that they are a caring government.
However, in the recently concluded PAS Muktamar, a resolution was passed that PAS will organise a big protest against the GST (Goods & Services Tax), TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) and the general rise in the cost of living. This is good and perhaps then the government will wake up to the fact that the rakyat are angry.
So far, after the general election there is nothing much to rejoice about. The corrupted sharks are still swimming about, crime is still on the rise, the national debt has increased, higher taxes will be imposed and the ordinary citizens have to cope with the higher cost of living.
Yes, the rakyat are indeed unhappy
Not in sync
Pakatan Rakyat MPs raising the issue of the Prime Minister’s RM2.2 million electricity bill for his official residence have certainly annoyed the latter but the issue is important.
Why is the Prime Minister telling the rakyat to tighten our belts when he himself is spending lavishly? He has certainly lost credibility due to his shocking electricity bill.
He has also said that those who evade taxes are traitors to the nation. If he is hinting at the KL folks who are against the assessment hike, then he has totally lost the point.
KL folks are only protesting the ridiculously massive hike, nobody ever said that they do not want to pay. This shows that Najib is not listening to the rakyat at all.
In the meantime, in a recent press conference earlier this month, PKR’s Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar has revealed that there are 30 Special Branch (SB) officers in London.
What are they doing in London? Do they intend to stem the flow of real, true and accurate information from Malaysians in UK to Malaysians back home?
Now we know that although the government is not listening to the rakyat, they are listening in on the rakyat.
“I don’t want to listen to the economy being robust and resilient when I am struggling to make ends meet,” said Peter Chong, who works in the retail sector.
Chong said Najib was a failure especially in not listening to the Chinese and thus he should not be angry if the community rejected BN.
He listed three major points for Najib to take note:
  • According to the population ratio, more Chinese voted for PAS compared with the Malays;
  • The Chinese say that the BN government is hopeless and is mired deep in mismanagement; and
  • More Chinese will be migrating soon which means that Malaysia will experience a greater brain-drain.
At the end of the day, it is clearly obvious that despite all the hype, Najib is not in touch with the pulse of the rakyat despite constantly saying that he is.
Those who think that he is doing a good job as a Prime Minister fail to see that his proclamation of BN as a caring government is in direct contrast with his actions.
Najib and the rakyat are not really in sync. He is only in sync with the Umno members and his elite cronies.
Selena Tay is a DAP member and a FMT columnist.

Monday, November 25, 2013

GST will only make BN richer

GST will only make BN richer

Ali Cordoba | November 26, 2013
Analysts have been spewing their take on the GST. But, is this tax a necessity in keeping the country afloat?
The much maligned goods and services tax (GST) is seen as a necessary evil by many experts who do not have to worry about the little dent it will make in their pockets, while they overlook the real implications of such a taxing method on the ordinary folks’ wallet.
One analyst attempting to coax the people into believing that the GST would be the downfall of the ruling party said: “Putrajaya’s contentious plan to roll out a consumption tax system in 2015 could give the opposition the perfect campaign fodder.”
The analysts added that it could potentially unseat the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in the next national polls. However, I beg to differ with this expert.
Among the most prominent comments of how the GST would benefit the people were those from government officials who defended the GST, which they denied was a new form of taxation, by claiming that it would bring progress and development to the country.
Then, we had the usual suspects such as the think-tanks and the thinly-veiled pro-regime buddies helming the corporations and other vehicles of propaganda who said it was time to introduce the GST or the country would be doomed in a few years.
Amid all the soothsayers, there were only a few doomsday prophets who came from the ranks of the opposition but we will get to that later after explaining why the GST was just another form of money-raking vehicle for cash-strapped BN.
In this perspective, it is wiser to state that the GST would be indeed a money making machine and could probably rake in RM25 to RM30 billion but we are not told of the diminishing returns with the shelving of the other taxes.
In this respect, another soothsayer from the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) whose chief executive officer/Director General Mohd Shukor Mahfar, who seemed comfortable in his post and with his views, said if “we analysed it,” individual and corporate taxes would be lowered to reduce the impact on the people.
Despite Mohd Shukor saying that personal taxes would not “necessarily mean that the government’s revenue would be reduced,” one could not help but wonder how much the government would lose in revenue following the introduction of the GST.
What’s government’s loss?
The fundamental question would be how much revenue would the government lose with the phasing out of the other taxes?
Also, how much of the existing service taxes charged by serviced restaurants and other serviced outlets would be reduced when GSTtakes off?
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak who is also the Finance Minister said the GST rate would be among the lowest in the Asean region.
However, the government did admit that it was good to compare Malaysia to its peers since our taxes were “lower”, with Najib proudly stating that Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and impoverished Laos capped their GST at 10 percent with affluent Singapore at seven percent. The PM could be taken to have said it to spite the opposition benches indeed.
Nevertheless, Malaysia’s GST is steep if we were to compare to the United States’ tax. In the US, excluding additional local sales and use tax, state-level sales and use tax rates range from 2.9 percent in Colorado to 7.25 percent in California.
In general, tax in the US is lower when compared to the Malaysian GST – this was omitted in the budget speech.
In the midst of the confusion created when comparing with the taxes in various countries, let us get back to the original idea of this posting – that is, I beg to differ with analysts who are saying that BN is in danger of losing votes in the next GE due to the GST.
As a matter of fact, the GST would be a mean to an end in the replenishment of the BN’s image and coffers even when the PM were to announce larger and even juicier BR1M’s and what nots.
If it is true that during the last GE the BN did pillage the budget with special allocations for the BR1M under the 1Malaysia concept, then nothing would stop BN from using the same excuse to grab twice the amount it spent in GE13, turn GE14 into a razzia or mania for victory.
With such unlimited spending power, the strong opposition that the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) represents today will be a tiny force on the billboards and will be drowned by the massive handouts – perhaps the biggest ever in Malaysian history – that we are about to witness in about four years time.
Hence, the need for Pakatan to stop the GST from being rolled out now in order to prevent BN from laying its hands on a pot of gold that may turn the tables on them for good perhaps for another 50 years?
But what can the opposition do to stop the GST from coming into force? Not much, one would say, though it would be useful for the Pakatan to keep up the fight in parliament and outside the August entity. But, to spill it into street demo’s may instead backfire this time around.
Seriously, there are not many people out there who believed that the masses would join any demonstrations against the GST in a bid to curtail Najib’s regime march forward with the new tax.
Pakatan would have to devise other plans to bring maturity to the debate and make the people and the government understand that the budgetary wastage and other leakage in the running of the nation’s affairs, if properly managed, could bring down the deficit situation.
Running amok in the streets and burning signboards that says, ‘NO TO GST’ would look silly and would not bring the expected results and altogether cause the opposition to lose the respect of some.
What is the way to go about besides the “intellectual” debates? For that, we must wait for another op-ed.
Ali Cordoba writes extensively on local politics.

Taib’s family involved in quarrying valuable granite?

Taib’s family involved in quarrying valuable granite?

Winston Way | November 25, 2013
Angry Bidayuhs in Bau have written five letters to the Land and Survey Department and most recently to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud but have yet to receive a response from either.
KUCHING: Amidst rare calls by Sarawak Barisan Nasional’s Bidayuh assemblymen for the state Land and Survey Department to steer clear of sacred mountains in Bau following revelations of quarrying and logging within communal and ancestral forests, comes the latest disclosure that one of the companies involved allegedly belongs to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s kin.
Taib’s billionaire sister Raziah and her husband Robert Genied apparently own Serambu Quarry Sdn Bhd, the company that is surreptitiously hacking away valuable granite for profit on historical Mount Serumbu in Bau.
The latest disclosure adds to mounting anger against the Land and Survey Department for allegedly issuing logging permits in another sacred hill – Mount Sadong.
Logging on native customary rights (NCR) land is an ongoing battle between majority Iban landowners, the Sarawak government and its Land and Survey Department.
Despite a court ruling recognising native NCR rights, the state has stubbornly refused to acknowledge this.
Yesterday some 50 people from the local Chinese, Malay and Bidayuh communities participated in a protest urging the government to protect the mountain and revoke the quarrying licence issued to Serambu Quarry.
The protesters, representing communities from the 17 Bidayuh villages around the mountain, said the Serumbu Mountain aside from being their ancestral land was of historic significance as the first White Rajah James Brooke had built his cottage there.
The mountain also was the location of Alfred Wallace’s Trail, named after the famed British naturalist.
Until online newsportal Sarawak Report’s disclosure today of the owners behind Serambu Quarry, locals were puzzled how a company could have been awarded a license to quarry at the mountain.
According to locals they have lodged police reports and written complain letters to the Land and Survey Department as well as to the company but have received no response.
It was also reported that the community had sent a letter to Taib on Oct 30 and this too had received no response todate.
Protect the hills
Last Sunday, the Bibukar Bidayuh community in Serian, amidst fears of losing their ancestral land as faced by their Iban comrades in Melikin, acted swiftly to protect their 1,800 metre high Mount Sadong.
About 1,000 Bibukar from 26 villagers scattered around the mountain to stage a peaceful protest to object to the encroachment on Mount Sadong, which is their ancestral village.
In the process the 13,000 strong community managed to stop a logging company’s further encroachment.
The protest was widely reported, forcing state Infrastructure Development and Communication Minister Micheal Manyin to issue a statement that the authorities had agreed to rescind the licence.
Manyin’s assurance however was taken with a pinch of salt by the community’s leader Temenggong Robert Sulis Ridu, preferring to see decisions in writing.
Meanwhile other Bidayuh BN leaders have also called for the state to preserve the state’s much revered hills and mountains which have historical significance.
Over the weekend Mas Gading MP Anthony Nogeh added his support to the community when he said the hills and its biodiversity must be preserved and guarded for the future generations.
Nogeh also called for Mount Jagoi to be gazetted as a communal forest alongside Mount Serambu.
Last week federal level Natural Resources and Environment deputy minister James Dawos called for Mount Sadong and environment to be protected.

Plagiarism: Not just storm in Tee cup

Plagiarism: Not just storm in Tee cup

Lim Teck Ghee | November 25, 2013
A serious charge of academic dishonesty has been allowed to remain unanswered since 2010 when the authorities were first notified about it.
The case of prominent Utusan Malaysia columnist, Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, who has been accused of plagiarism should be of public concern for several reasons.
Firstly, within academia, there are few worst sins than plagiarism. The term “sin” may appear to be too strong but Ridhuan Tee who, regularly from his Utusan Malaysia pulpit, dishes out his pseudo-intellectual views on developments in the country from a supposedly Islamic perspective probably will understand better the use of this term in the context of the wrongdoing he is alleged to have committed. Or then again, perhaps he does not.
Generally, university students enrolled in any university in the world – whether reputable or not – are taught right from the start that they cannot simply lift or copy the work of others without acknowledging and citing the source. This is cardinal rule number 1 – the need to differentiate between one’s own work and that of others.
The rule is rigorously enforced not only to encourage the student to engage in fresh and original work that stems from his own thought processes but also to protect the intellectual property rights of others whose works, ideas or words have been borrowed.
In the case of the allegation made against Ridhuan, apparently he has copied not only entire paragraphs but also the grammatical errors which appeared in the original blog article.
According to the initial report on the allegation, UTM lecturer Dr Airil Yasreen Mohd Yassin claimed that Ridhuan’s individual assignment for the Grade DS51 Efficiency Level Assessment (PTK4) coursework conducted from May to June 2010, contained paragraphs he had written in his blog in 2009.
Punishment for plagiarism
The penalty for plagiarism is always severe so as to punish the offender and to discourage others from engaging in it. If the work is an essay or a project paper and the plagiarism is proven, this below is an example – according to a handbook for its freshman composition course that all undergraduates are required to take – of the penalty imposed by Harvard University.
Harvard policy requires instructors to report all suspected cases to the dean of the college, and most such cases are ultimately adjudicated by the administrative board. If the majority of board members believe, after considering the evidence and your own account of the events, that you misused sources, they will likely vote that you be required to withdraw from the college for at least two semesters.
Since a vote of requirement to withdraw is effective immediately, you lose all coursework you have done that semester (unless it’s virtually over), along with the money you have paid for it. You must leave Harvard; any return to campus will violate the terms of your withdrawal. You must find a full-time job, stay in it for at least six months, and have your supervisor send a satisfactory report of your performance in order to be readmitted.
Finally, any letter of recommendation written for you on behalf of Harvard College – including letters to graduate schools, law schools, and medical school – will report that you were required to withdraw for academic dishonesty. If you are required to withdraw for a second time, you will not, ordinarily, be readmitted.
No action by the authorities
In response to the renewed disclosure of his alleged wrongdoing, Ridhuan Tee has accused his critics of “character assassination” and challenged them “come and face me upfront”.
This matter is not whether one side or the other has the “telur” (cojones) to confront the other and slug it out. It is one in which stakeholders, who should be concerned about the integrity of our academic system, will need to take a position so that the charge is resolved once and for all, and repetition of such instances is deterred.
There is a second cause of concern. A serious charge of academic dishonesty has been allowed to remain unanswered since 2010 when the authorities were first notified about it.
Apparently nothing has been done by the university authorities or the ministry in charge of higher education. Worse still, the alleged guilty party has been promoted rapidly in the university system.
Now what do these developments say about our university system? That plagiarism is perfectly acceptable among academics, in particular those writing in the national language in the university system?
That the National Defence University does not view plagiarism as a serious issue? Or that plagiarism is so pervasive in the university system that it is of little use in trying to fight it?
Or that if plagiarism stems from an academic who is waving the Islamic or racist battle flag that favours the present ruling party, it is somehow deemed to be acceptable?
Perhaps the authorities have conducted their investigations and have arrived at findings which have found Ridhuan not guilty of the allegation. Or perhaps Ridhuan has admitted to making an honest mistake in reproducing the excerpts and passing them off as his own words.
If so, the authorities need to come out with a statement and full explanation in the interest of transparency and accountability, as well as in ensuring justice to Ridhuan Tee.
No action from Utusan
And lastly what does it say of Utusan Malaysia, the national newspaper recently lauded by the Prime Minister for being “in the forefront of reporting in this country and shaping the mindsets of the people” as well as “being a symbol of the Malay struggle and a representation of the achievement of the Malay community”?
Any other respectable newspaper would have suspended its staff or columnist who has been accused of plagiarism and would not have permitted the errant person to continue writing until the charge has been proven to be without substance.
In the case of Ridhuan Tee who has set himself up as the champion of true Islamic values and ethical behaviour, one would have expected the paper to be concerned about abiding by journalistic ethical norms and of avoiding being seen as guilty by association.
But then perhaps the word “plagiarism” is not found in Utusan’s dictionary or there is no one else that the paper can turn to who can produce the erudite commentaries that flow from Ridhuan’s pen?
Stakeholders taking an interest in this case should not only be political parties such as MIC and the DAP.
They should also be members of the committee that screened Ridhuan Tee’s paper and promotion, and the Vice Chancellor all of whom have remained mum in the three years since this issue was first raised as well as the larger community of academics.
The public whose taxation monies are used to finance our universities need to remind the authorities that this is not just any storm in a teacup but one that reflects on how serious we are about upholding international standards.

Nnn-Malays non-support of BN

Clear message but BN washing its hands off non-Malays

Monday, 25 November 2013
Sonia Ramachandran, The Ant Daily
Most of the non-Malays turned away from the ruling Barisan Nasional in the 13th general election, with both MIC and MCA getting a drubbing.
This swing towards the opposition Pakatan Rakyat carried a clear, unmistakable message: the government of the day has not been doing enough for the Indian and Chinese communities.
It should have prompted the BN government to rectify the situation; instead the government appeared to have washed its hands off the Indian community.
This seemed to be the attitude taken by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim who said the “Indians at the top should help their own kind who are ‘at the bottom’ instead of blaming the government over problems faced by the community”.
It was a puzzling remark to political analyst Prof James Chin who asked: “Why doesn’t he [Shahidan] say that the top Malays should help the poor Malays? Why does the government help the Malays only?
“This is typical of Umno ministers who think that the entire government and entire country belong to the Malays only. Is it any wonder that the non-Malays in the country voted against Umno in the last general election?”
Shahidan made the remarks on Nov 22 in Parliament in response to a question by M Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat).
He reportedly said that Indians were successful with a high ratio for academic excellence and that Indian lawyers outnumbered both Chinese and Malay lawyers.
Shahidan added that 30 per cent of the country’s doctors came from the Indian community, but that there was “a big gap between those who are top achievers and the dropouts”.
He also reportedly said that the two MIC cabinet ministers and two deputy ministers in the federal government proved that the administration gave utmost consideration to the community.
Kulasegaran, however, disagreed, saying that the government had failed the Indians with ineffective policies and that in the absence of government support, the community had to work very hard to achieve any form of success.
Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng (picture) feels Shahidan’s statement is a reflection of the dichotomy within Umno.
“On the one side, the liberals and progressives would like to represent the interests of all Malaysians and I think Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak falls within this category. That’s why when he took over from [Tun Abdullah Ahmad] Badawi, a lot of liberal programmes under the 1Malaysia umbrella were implemented.
“On the other hand, people like Shahidan are conservative right-wing leaders who believe that Umno has already given a lot to the other communities by allowing them to stay here,” he said.
The way forward for the country, said Khoo, would lie with Najib.
“At the end of the day, Najib would have to decide whether to rule using the conservative platform or continue to serve on BN platform where Umno serves all communities, including the Indians.
“At the moment, the BN platform needs a lot of tweaking and rejuvenation to ensure it continues working as it has over the last 50 over years,” he said.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sustaining Proton is wrong

Sustaining Proton: You’re wrong Dr M

CT Ali | November 25, 2013
Malaysia, a leader in the development of AFTA, cannot continue to protect its domestic market indefinitely.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his speech to the Kuala Lumpur International Automotive Conference on Nov 13 said that he was of the opinion that the national auto industry must be sustained if we are going to have a positive balance in our trade.
What exactly does he mean by “being sustained” and for long is the industry to be sustained? And more to the point, will the national auto industry really be able to ensure that Malaysia will have a positive balance in our trade in the future?
From 1967 when tariffs on completed cars were raised drastically, the automobile industry in Malaysia has been a tool used by the BN government to achieve not national interests but the vested interest of those in Umno and their cronies!
What had characterized this industry are the hasty policies implemented from time to time designed not to advance the automobile industry in Malaysia but the socio-political agenda of Umno without regard for commercial considerations and realities.
A socio-political agenda that was ostensibly for the benefit of the Malays but in reality benefiting the interests of Umno, BN politicians, their families and cronies at a cost of billions to our economy, burdening as always, the future generations who will be left with the debt now accumulating “to sustain” the national auto industry.
In 1983 Mahathir announced a change of tact in the auto industry of Malaysia. Proton was established and Malaysia was to have it’s own National Car – and the jostling began for the spoils that was to come from this greatest of Malaysia’s rent seeking juggernaut.
By 1985 when Proton started production of the Saga series, that iconic phrase “preferential treatment” had become the reason why the national car profit to sales ration peaked at 18.6% in 1991, due to the reduction and waiving of import duties on imported parts, reduction and waiving of excise duties on the sale of completed cars and low interest financing for government servants
Let me list these affirmative actions taken by the Mahathir-led government in the name of “sustaining” the national car industry.
  • Cars are price control items. Proton cannot transfer any increase in production costs to sales price – they need government approval to do so.
  • Government demanded that employment level be maintained in Proton even through the recession. Proton cannot downsize or restructure its operations to suit prevailing economic realities.
  • The Vendor Development Program (VDP) (whose purpose was to develop a domestic capability to manufacture parts and equipments for the national car industry) failed in terms of quality, costs and delivery.
  • The transfer of technology from the Japanese partner predictably failed to eventuate.
The same can be said for the second national car project that started selling its Perodua car in 1994.
Simply untenable
The result of these preferential treatment and generous protection lavished upon the national car industry had the effect of isolating the national car manufacturers from basic market principles and gradually the national car became competitively inferior on an international level.
How can any responsible government sustain such an enterprise when the survival of the automobile industry in any country today depends on its ability to adapt to alliances and partnership formed globally?
It depends on the industry ability to develop technology to respond to environmental and safety concerns. It depends on its ability to reorganize and restructure its operations to distribute the burden of large-scale expenditure necessary for technological development through alliances and partnership formed worldwide.
On top of this, deregulation and the opening of domestic markets amongst the Asian automobile industry is being rolled out with a vengeance. Malaysia can delay but not avoid these measures.
In the face of all these realities, this BN government cannot continue to “sustain” the national car industry because the burden of the socio-political role that Proton and Perodua carries makes it critically deficient in two areas:
1) Technological skills
2) Management skills
Malaysia, a leader in the development of Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA), cannot continue to protect its domestic market indefinitely.
This BN government must ask itself in all seriousness if Proton’s and Perodua’s skewered socio- political agenda is valid when Proton and Perodua are faced with the real need to make strategic affiliations with foreign car manufacturers in order to secure the global production network critical to strengthen its international competitiveness. Without this, Proton and Perodua will not survive.
So Mahathir should not talk about the national car industry as being essential to Malaysia’s ability to have a good trade balance. You and I know that he is being economical with the truth.
From its inception the national car industry is no different from what KLIA, KLCC, MAS, Putrajaya, PKFC, NFC, North South Highway, IPP’s and every other rent seeking business opportunities given to Umno and their cronies to make them rich.
For this government to “sustain” this auto industry at the costs of billions to our people, our country and our future are simply untenable.
CT Ali is a reformist who believes in Pakatan Rakyat’s ideologies. He is a FMT columnist.

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