Saturday, June 13, 2009


Chairman of the Port Klang Authority Datuk Lee Hwa Beng won't be able to make it for the episode on PKFZ. I was informed that he had been advised by his doctors that he shouldn't attend the recording. A real shame. So instead, the Special Advisor to the Ministry of Transport will be in the studio. Dr Loi Kheng Min, the Secretary-General of Transparency International (Malaysia) will also be on the programme.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Extraordinary - is how I would describe the Deputy Minister of Intl Trade and Industry, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir’s comments when asked about the further decrease in exports for April.

“The drop in export is still something of a concern to us. We will try to get information from the industries from where demand has fallen.”

One would have thought he’d be one of the first to have the information. One would have hoped that by the time the information is released to the public, the people in charge would already be hard at work on a plan. Specifically, what other information would he need? I’m not an economist but I know our E&E exports have fallen because our largest trade partner, the US is in a recession.

How about making economics a compulsory pass subject for politicians? Alternatively, bring in the technocrats.

On a happier but mundane note: Point of View has new furniture for the set - a two-seater sofa and a couple of armchairs thanks to Khazanah (the furniture shop not the country’s investment arm).

Monday, June 8, 2009


Next episode on Point of View – Lee Hwa Beng, Chairman of the Port Klang Authority will be in the studio to answer questions on the PKFZ. A representative from PWC and the Secretary-General of Transparency International (Malaysia), Loi Kheng Min will also be here.

Post your questions here or email

Tune in to ntv7 (Channel 107 on Astro) to watch Point of View at 6.00pm on Sunday, 14 June. Repeat Monday, midnight.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Is sports in Malaysia on the decline?

Shebby Singh, Football pundit
Datuk Dr. Ramlan Aziz, Director-General, National Sports Institute

It's all well and good to be proud of Nicol David but can we really lay claim to her? Did she become a world champion because of the system or despite it?

So, Shahidan Kassim withdrew from contesting for the presidency of the Olympic Council of Malaysia. Should politicians be involved in heading sports associations anyway?

National cyclists preferring to train with their own teams rather than with national coaches. Apparently, the methods used are "ketinggalan zaman".

Ah, if only the Minister could have made it to the programme.

Thank you to Randhir Singh and Rizal Hashim for very patiently answering my questions. But thanks most of all to Sleme for his insights into the world of cycling. M Insider may not publish your comments but I will. Just remember, if you want me to run in the Malakoff event, you'd better not be too nasty to me.

Next week: It's the economy, stupid.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Upcoming topics

I've been trying to do an episode on bloggers since the start of the season but keep being given the run-around by the "relevant" persons/agencies/gate-keepers.

Am also planning to do a topic on police powers but I feel that this would only work if the IGP himself agrees to come onto the show. So, we shall wait and see.

Anyway, upcoming topic is on the state of sports in Malaysia. What do you think? Going the wrong way down a one-way track? Suggestions for improvement?

To cane or not to cane?

Guests: Dr. Goh Chee Leong, Vice President and Dean of Faculty of Behavioural Science, HELP University College
Hashim Adnan, President of the National Union of the Teaching Profession

I hope Shakespeare is not too upset about my cavalier use of his oft-quoted phrase. I'm in the ntv7 studio, updating this blog, as the tape of this episode is being rolled.

We spoke to school principals and disciplinary teachers in preparation for this episode. Most of them support caning.

A science teacher and disclipinary teacher told us that pain sensors is proof that human beings are meant to be able to learn from physical punishment. What a fantastic soundbite that would have made! Sadly, he didn't want to be on tape. You may not agree with his stand, but he's been able to show results. He's managed to turn his school around from being a school with a reputation for ill-disciplined students to one where the number of applications far exceeds the number of places. There's been an improvement in exam results and less discipline problems among students. And he's been voted "Most Popular Teacher" several times.

One headmaster said he's never caned a student because he never saw the need for it but also said he was 100 percent behind corporal punishment.

Most of the students we spoke to said being caned didn't bother them. I don't know if it's boys wanting to be macho and not telling the whole truth. But male colleages who remember being caned, also said more or less te same thing. They treat the whole thing as a bit of a lark.

It was more of a challenge finding someone who still felt mad about being caned.

UNICEF was very helpful in the making of this episode by giving us a lot of useful leads. I'm not sure I agree with their stand entirely that corporal punisment is a form of violence.

Anyway, here's a question for you. Do you think they'll ever come a day where it'd be illegal for you to smack your child? And would you welcome that?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mat Rempits - a menace to society or misunderstood youth

Khairy Jamaluddin, Umno Youth chief and MP for Rembau
I wanted to start this episode with a short clip on Mat Rempits. Previous episodes have all been studio recordings but I wanted to try something different. Give the show a little bit of flavour. How difficult could producing a 2-minute clip be, I thought? I turned first to Haniza, a reporter who had previously worked on Edisi Siasat. She said wouldn't recommend it. "Too ganas now" she said. Her personal experience with Rempits wasn't a good one. Even though the cameraman was filming from a distance,the Rempits caught on and came for them. She and the cameraman jumped into their car and hightailed it, with the Rempits giving chase. Good thing the company cars aren't little 1.3cc hatchbacks. 

I tried another colleague, a studio director, who knows some Rempits personally. But no go. Too risky, he said. He wouldn't introduce us to them because he wouldn't be able to guarantee our safety.  

I asked the Siasat Mandarin reporters. They said they had also been planning to come up with an episode on Mat Rempits but have put it on hold for the time being, as it's too dangerous to film them. Guess I'll just stick to the studio for this episode. 

As for guests - who better to talk about Mat Rempits than Khairy Jamaluddin? And on the other side, the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation. I also wanted to get the police on board but sadly, the IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan was busy. He said to try the head of traffic police chief, who unfortunately, also declined on account of his busy schedule. 

Anyway, what do you think of Mat Rempits? I personally think they're a menace. But in our street interviews, we found some people who thought of them as just youths wanting to do a bit of racing and lacking a proper avenue for that. One lady even described them as "stylo"! Maybe that's how rempit-ing started out but things have taken a turn for the worse and more and more people are associating them with crime. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

We're back! First topic - the NS Training Prog


We're back with more hard-hitting topics, 12th April 2009. I will be tackling the delicate subject matter of National Service: has it achieved its objectives?

The NS Training Programme has consistently blown its budget, costing the government more than half a billion ringgit each year. Is it money well spent or money down the drain? In its 5 years, there have been over a dozen deaths of NS trainees. Still, neither guest would advocate that this programme be scrapped. Reviewed, yes. But not removed completely. Both said that it’s essentially a noble idea that’s simply flawed in its implementation. That may be true. But would you risk your child’s life in a programme in which its success has not even been truly measured

We've taped the show already due to requirements imposed by SKMM so unfortunately, I won't be able to pose any questions that you send.

Our next episode will be on the hot-button topic of the NEP. We were hoping to secure Umno Youth Chief and Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin to appear on the show but he was unable to do so due to prior commitments. We will however have Tony Pua, MP for PJ Utara and Dr Marzuki Mohd, from the International Islamic University.

I'd would love to hear questions and feedback that I can pose to our guests so send your comments this way.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lompat Si Katak, Lompat!


Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, President, Parti Bersatu Sabah and Deputy Chief Minister Sabah

Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee, President, Sabah Progressive Party

Dr Azmi Sharom, Associate Professor, Law Faculty, University Malaya

What else could this week have been about but frogs?

I don’t like frogs except on my dinner plate. Is that an attitude our politicians share? Frogs but only on our terms, frogs are all right as long as they hop over to our side. Food for thought. 

I wanted someone who had had a personal experience in frog-handling. Current players being too caught up in the drama of the day, I had to settle for past actors. The most recent frog-hopping incident that brought down a government, barring the current crisis in Perak was in Sabah in 1994 so to Sabah we went. I set up an appointment with a Sabah politician and sent a crew there to set-up a video link recording, while I remained in the studio. On the day the crew arrived in Sabah, a day before recording, we were told that the politician was too busy to keep the appointment. What followed were frantic phone calls to Sabah and a bit of pleading on our part and our TV3 colleague in Kota Kinabalu on our behalf. In the meantime, I called another Sabah political leader as a back-up plan. As it turned out, both accepted and that’s the story of how we ended up with 3 guests for this episode.

The other guest was Azmi Sharom who said an anti-hopping law would be undemocratic. How then would he deal with politicians who hop with ignoble intentions? He proposed that other agencies in the state, such as the judiciary and the anti-corruption agency be strengthened. On a lighter note, the make-up artist found him really cute. 

ntv7’s Chinese talkshow “Editor’s Time” discussed the same topic for one episode and ended it with a song by Taiwan popstar A-Mei with a spoof music video of the 3 + 1 Perak assemblypersons. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Police Accountability - what does it mean?


Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Home Minister

S.Arutchelvan, Suaram

A. Kugan’s death in police custody was the reason for this episode. Exactly how accountable are our police for their actions? And does holding them accountable necessarily mean we are not supporting the police force as we should? That’s the “you’re either with us or against us” argument, made famous by George W. Bush. Who should be policing the police? Has it come to the stage where we may need protection from the police? And with a public that’s clamouring for less crime on the streets, is it acceptable to knock a suspect around if it helps to solve a crime, lock up one more criminal or save a life? Those were some of the questions posed in this episode.

What else did I learn from this episode?

Lesson 1 – It’s who you know that counts. Sometimes a well-crafted and persuasive letter can only get you so far, you would still need someone to put in a good word for you. That’s what got me one of my guests for this episode.

Lesson 2 – always put your guest at ease first before you put him on the defensive.  Never attempt to do it the other way round. Unless you’re looking for trouble and are partial to shouting matches. But that would only make it even harder to ask the tough questions. Suffice to say I don’t think Syed Hamid would want me interviewing him again anytime soon. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Internal Security Act - Retain, Review or Repeal?


Dato’ Nadzim Johan, Executive Secretary, Malaysia Muslim Consumer Organisation
(pro ISA) 

(against ISA) 

The ISA had always been on our list of topics for the show especially after the arrest of Teresa Kok, Tan Hoon Cheng (arrested for her own protection though, as the Home Minister himself explained later. A rather novel use for an old legislation, I must say.) Raja Petra Kamaruddin that night in September.

The obvious choice of pro-ISA guest would have to be someone from the government. But my attempts were stone-walled by press secretaries (who take instructions from their bosses?). “Topic a bit too hot now”. Oh well. So we got someone from Perwaris into the studio. After all, they had been holding demonstrations asking for the ISA to be retained.

There was a dearth of well-reasoned, informed arguments out there on why the ISA ought to be retained. I called up friends who are practicing lawyers, but who (unfortunately in this instance) also happen to be fervently against the ISA, to pick their brains. They are so accustomed to arguing against the ISA that I don’t really learn anything new. Short-cut attempt to research topic nipped in the bud. 

24 hours to recording and my original anti-ISA guest cancelled on me. Federal court hearing would trump a tv show anytime. Panic attack! Thankfully, there are very many experienced lawyers out there who know the issues like the back of their hand. Haji Sulaiman Abdullah was kind enough to appear on such short notice (although he made me answer some difficult questions on why I wanted him on the show. A question that had me stumped. I thought, isn’t it obvious? So I explained my reasons and it was a done deal).

Guest situation resolved I sat down to go through my research but couldn’t do much with a horrible cold and a splitting headache. Reams of research were left unread as I popped a bill and headed off to bed at 8pm. Yikes. The next morning, as soon as recording was over, I knew I had been too easy on Haji Sulaiman. A few minutes after the episode aired, I got a couple of text messages telling me I should have been harder on him. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Are Boycotts an Effective Tool for Change?


Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia

Rockets in Israel have prompted a retaliatory military offensive against Gaza and international outcry over Israel's heavy-handed response.  

Dr M has been quoted in papers as telling people to boycott American and Israel products and businesses. So he was naturally my first choice for guest. It wasn't easy getting him to confirm attendance although getting the press secretary was easy enough. One obstacle was Dr M's reluctance to do studio recordings. "No problem. We'll go to wherever he is." Sorted. That only left the "slight" problem of him fitting us into his schedule. Lots of waiting on our end. Finally, we were informed 24 hours before recording that he had agreed to see us. A mad scramble ensued to book crew, transport. Also, it would be the show's first out-of-studio recording. Would it change the show's format too much? Did I care? Not at that point,  I didn't. I'd deal with this in the edit room, I thought. 

One guest down, another to go. The obvious choice was of course a businessperson, preferably one with American links. But that was hoping for too much as they all felt it'd be a bit dicey to appear on tv talking about boycotts when passions were still running so high following Israel's continued bombardment of Gaza. 

I must have written to more than 10 people, spoken to countless PR persons (usually I don't call more than 1 person until I've been turned down. You don't want to have to tell someone whom you've just begged to come onto your show that another person has also confirmed in the meantime and you're sorry but you don't need them anymore).   

In the end, I got an economist and a consumer activist to talk about whether boycotts have been successful in changing policies and what it would take to organise a successful boycott. 

Recording with Dr M
The first thing I noticed about the man was how frail he seemed. But his mental faculties were as sharp as ever. He advocated a less hardline stand than the one he had taken just several days ago. I asked him if he had told people to stop working in McDonald's and Starbucks, a comment he's reported as having made but he denied he saying that. Am still kicking myself for not asking him why his government never advocated a boycott of Myanmar over its human rights abuses. 

Note: A good friend of mine was part of a boycott against Pepsi when she was in university in the UK.  I asked her recently if she'd do the same thing now. She said no because she had come to realise that in certain cases it's more effective to try to effect change from within. As for Pepsi, it eventually withdrew from Myanmar. But there's been no regime change in the country and last I checked Suu Kyi was still under house arrest. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vernacular Schools - stumbling block to national unity?


Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim, University Malaya
(in favour of single education system)

(in favour of vernacular education)

This issue became a talking point again late last year when Mukhriz Mahathir called for vernacular schools to be abolished to stem racial polarisation in the country. In views echoing that, Prof Khoo suggested that the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia should consider giving up vernacular education. He suggested that vernacular schools had produced Malaysians who couldn't converse in either Bahasa Malaysia or English. His statement got some parties pretty riled up. MCA issued a strongly worded statement, saying the Prof's stand is no different from Malay extremists'. 

I wanted desperately to get Dr Mahathir into the studio for this topic, knowing his stand against vernacular schools. But to no avail. So I got the Prof into the studio to explain his stand and to ask him if he had any regrets over what he'd said in view of the furore his comments had created. Nope. And to defend vernacular schools, a representative from Dong Zong who basically argued that vernacular schools isn't just about learning a language, it's about learning a culture and values. Which, to my mind, then begs the question - where should young Malaysian children go to learn how to be Malaysian?   

Caveat: I've been labelled a "banana" most of my life, despite the fact that I speak decent Cantonese and a smattering of Hokkien. So I wouldn't be the first person to defend the existence of vernacular schools and I do wonder if this colours my views on this topic a litte. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Maths and Science in English?


Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, chairman, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE)
(in favour of Maths and Science in English)

Professor Emeritus Isahak Haron, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris
(in favour of Maths and Science in Bahasa Malaysia/mother tongue)

The maiden episode of POV attracted lots of comments from office personnel surprisingly. The producing team was surprised that in our very own back yard, were so many people with passionate opinions about this subject. Pity we don't allow NTV7 staff to appear on the Vox Pops segments. I'm sure we would have had a lot of great soundbites from the guys in the editing department, the cameramen, production crew - it seemed like everyone actually had something to say about maths and science.

Securing the guests for this show was relatively easy because there are a fair number of lobby groups formed by parents who are keen to be heard in the mainstream media on this subject. The debate did get somewhat heated with the Professor - I find out later that the producing team thought it was almost a little too heated.

We also got great feedback from the viewers although there were a fair number of viewers who also felt I was a little too hard on the guests.