Thursday, May 17, 2007
Anwar's return to politics worries government as it looks ahead to general elections
by Abdar Rahman Koya
(Wednesday, May 16, 2007)
"Opposition leaders welcome Anwar’s return, although many are unimpressed by his handling of non-domestic issues, as well as his ties to some Western leaders (the comparison between Anwar’s and Mahathir’s foreign policies is the subject of frequent debate among observers). But Anwar, able political animal that he is, has talked his way successfully through both ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘secular’ crowds."
Barely a month after he announced his intention of returning to the political stage, Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister, is back in limelight. Since being released from jail in late 2004, he had been travelling around the world delivering speeches to academic institutions and thinktanks. Now he has promised to give the Malaysian opposition a shot in the arm.
Anwar’s ability to re-energize the opposition parties, representing different agendas and ideologies, is not to be dismissed altogether. When he was removed from office by Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, he had only three weeks as a free man to travel around the country and do the impossible: unite the various opposition parties, including the Islamic Party (PAS), as well as mobilize huge crowds to oppose Mahathir’s government. Mahathir knew this, always admitting that his former deputy was “efficient”, and so ordered his infamous arrest and orchestrated a long trial by media and judiciary, thus putting Anwar away for the next four years.
How things have changed since. “I have gone through the cycle. I have dined with Kings and I have eaten horrible meals in prison. I am not seeking revenge,” said Anwar in a recent speech. In interviews broadcast by international news channels, Anwar reiterated that he would participate actively in elections and party politics. He has accepted nominations to become the president of the National Justice Party (Keadilan), which was formed after his arrest and is now headed by his wife. Most observers agree that Keadilan, like many parties born out of conflicts in the ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), waxes in strength as UMNO wanes, but Anwar the person is a different matter.
When he was released from jail, barely three months after Mahathir’s retirement, many perceived this as the result of a behind-the-scenes deal with Abdullah Badawi and his government. However, Anwar is now openly attacking government leaders in almost daily public speeches. His most talked-about allegation involves Najib Razak, the current deputy prime minister, also a prime ministerial hopeful, whom Anwar has challenged the police to investigate for his alleged ties to the gruesome murder of a Mongolian woman (an aide of Najib’s is currently being charged with this murder). Asked by reporters whether he intends to sue Anwar for defamation of character, Najib has said that he will not do so, fuelling further rumours that Anwar, who was in office in various positions for 16 years (including time as a deputy and acting prime minister, to whom reports of misbehaviour of cabinet members were sent) could know things that others do not. With so much knowledge of skeletons in cupboards, the government’s response to counter the opposition even in a small by-election is understandable.
There being a notable shortage of charismatic leaders in Malaysia, Anwar appears to be the obvious choice to lead a waning opposition movement that could have swept to power eight years ago, had it not been for irregularities in the electoral process and the overuse of racial prejudices by the ruling party.
When Abdullah Badawi started his term, Malaysians hoped for a fresh start, wiping out everything that had happened during the Mahathir era. Now, however, issues for the opposition are slowly being handed to them on a silver plate. Despite almost three years in power, Abdullah has so far failed to make any impact. The opposition, however, has not been able to exploit his failures and mistakes, because of what is seen as their over-reliance on Mahathir for political opportunities. With Mahathir gone from the scene, PAS is seen as ‘disarmed’, and its struggles look as if they are intended only to make sure that its government in Kelantan state is defended in every election. In this situation, news of Anwar’s return to the domestic political scene is welcome to the opposition parties. He is expected to put all his political skills and personal charisma– which once placed him at the helm of power – to use against the government.
In two recent by-elections he has campaigned actively for opposition candidates. While government leaders have been quick to dismiss Anwar’s chances of becoming prime minister – an ambition he has pursued consistently since his student-leader days in the 1970s – the fact that so many millions of dollars have been spent on two very small bye-elections shows how much the government fears the “Anwar factor”.
Whether this can be translated into votes Anwar himself is not sure. “You come, hear me and clap for me, and then you go home and vote for UMNO the next day,” he quipped to thousands of people at Ijok, a town in Selangor state which is holding a by-election on April 28 (as Crescent goes to press). The town was transformed overnight into a hive of activity, with the government pouring about RM50 million (US$15m) into roadworks, broken pipes, irrigation, building upgrades, agricultural subsidies and cash handouts. At almost every corner, senior government leaders could be seen campaigning to the mere 11,000 or so voters in the district.
Opposition leaders welcome Anwar’s return, although many are unimpressed by his handling of non-domestic issues, as well as his ties to some Western leaders (the comparison between Anwar’s and Mahathir’s foreign policies is the subject of frequent debate among observers). But Anwar, able political animal that he is, has talked his way successfully through both ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘secular’ crowds. In many of his recent speeches, he has been at pains to scoff at speculations that he is a “western agent”. If rarity in speaking out against western attacks on Islam and Muslims is anything to judge by, such speculations cannot be dismissed altogether. Yet he has managed to soothe some ruffled feathers recently, such as last month, when he criticised Australia’s John Howard for being a “lackey” of George Bush in Iraq. It is not everyday that Anwar uses such terms about the US.
At least in domestic politics, the opposition parties need Anwar more than he needs them. The general elections, although not due until 2009, are almost certain to be called before April 2008. Anything held later than that means Anwar – a former convict – will be legally entitled to stand as a candidate, and will almost certainly win a parliamentary seat because of his charisma, despite the procedural irregularities that riddle Malaysia’s electoral process. That is a nightmare that his former colleagues want to avoid at any cost.
So whether the “Anwar factor” is real remains to be seen, depending largely on Abdullah Badawi’s choice of date for Malaysia’s next general elections.
Monday, May 14, 2007
True. I agree wholeheartedly with the comment.
The entire astronaut fiasco raises the fact that when it comes to accomplishments, our government is more into extravagance than actual substance. Quantity over quality. Who cares what the astronauts get out of it? Malaysians get to say 'hey, we sent astronauts to outer space, and well now isn't that impressive?' So the country gets another claim to fame and admittedly, we all share a tinge of pride knowing that we've managed to join other advanced countries in terms of major triumphs. The aftermath, what comes after? Who even thinks that far, right. Hmmph. Doctors are overglorified in Malaysia! Qualifications aside, maybe someone with extensive credentials that are actually related to astronomy would prove to be a more solid investment for the future of space travel in Malaysia. The extent of how much this could benefit the citizens has been compromised, in attempt to provide a little grandeur, by coming up with astronouts that are also (wow!) doctors. Lucky us, our professionals are really diverse when it comes to expertise. How ironic.
And as for 'jalan sana sini'? I prefer thinking of it as an experience. Travelling might be a more leisurely form of activity compared to studying our asses off in the country/place they sent us, but the learning doesn't have to stop, right?
I guess I'm just as guilty as the rest of us when it comes to spending scholarship allowance for trips to visit friends here and there. It's likely I have ended up splurging every once in a while too. Have I actually gained something from it all? That's left to personal opinion. I'm inclined to believe that we all do.
We owe it to ourselves to be the insightful, discerning individuals that they picked to send abroad.
We owe it to those tax payers (my dad included too) to be something more, not yet another of the governments many failings.
So as long as you know in your heart that it's not all in jest, whatever people say and all their criticism really can't be taken to heart. We are aware of how screwed up things have become back in our beloved homeland and we want to make an active effort to change it.
Thats surely a start, right.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
i cant deny the truth behind her words especially given the situation our nation is facing today...after 50 years of independence shouldnt we look back and see how our country is really doing?
Glid,I do agree the government is spending massively on unnecessary stuff.I'm sorry to say but even sending the astronauts is such a waste.Why?Because they should have sent someone with more background in outer space.Not doctors for God's sake.I'm sorry it's rude but what doctors can do about it?Maybe yes they learn something but they won't benefit that much.And what will they do then?Just touring around?I know the programme has benefited Malaysia in some ways with some deals but still.
Heard about the new Istana Negara RM400 million?Hah,that's another waste.Do you know why they wanted to build a new one?
Bak kata Menteri Tol tuh,balairong kecik sgt.
It amused me so much u know.
But then again,I think I'm wasting the government's money as well.Jalan sana sini gune duit government.Thanks to somebody who actually pointed to me that it's not right to use the tax payers' money for our own leisure.Do you think so?
Bukan apa,I've been attacked by someone yg ckp,budak2 overseas nih duk blaja jauh,pehtu gi jalan2 gune duit rakyat.Yg rakyat kat mesia nih,susah payah carik duit nak bayar tol naik (it affects my dad by the way),minyak naik,minyak masak pun br naik,sumer pun naik die x ingat.Aku terus terdiam.Huhuhuhu.Maybe we should we play our parts too?
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
i know this does not relate to any mac oriented articles but this article is made on a mac!huhu
what furiates me the most is the fact that the public funds are not being used properly. take example of todays newspaper reporting about samy vellu made a statement saying that an additional 22milion RM has to be forked out to check all remaining buildings in putrajaya. whose gonna pay for this? the public of course!
we all know that these recent building defects are from NEW buildings! common, does this make any sence to you? first of all these building costs hudreds of millions of RM,doesnt the contractor who built the buildings paid enough to build a structure thats actually 'structured'? the fact remains the opposite as floods detected inside the buildings, roofs and walls collapsed...
they're a few explanation for this, weve somewhat mentioned one so far (contractors paid lucratively), but is this true? if the sum paid was lucrative enough why does the shameful defects detected? defects that resulted from poor quality construction materials?-weve paid handsomely so that they can buy quality construction materials....architects made somewhat faulty construction plan?- weve paid enough to even hire architects who can figure out how to make a pyramid ...so whats the problem...if the money is REALLY adequate these problems would have not occured..my point is that the problem stems from either inadequate funds were given to the contactor or the contractor took advantage by buying cheap materials to increase revenue..but why increase revenue if revenue is in the milions already?again the question of inadequacy..
government wont be stupid enough to just pick an amateur contactor to do the job especially without any previous good track records, so we've eliminated one factor.
the other one,about inadequate funds is what we are interested in...huhu..dont have to elaborate who took the money because the minister should explain this though
again, not only malaysians have to pay to get a defected building but pay again to get this building being checked which is not necessary if the building is built properly in the first place...pitty my father who paid the tax and pitty me who will be paying the tax....but ill cut some slack as my scholarship are from the government itself...but nevertheless the truth prevails and fear no evil!
so my friends who are intellectects..do we still wana let our future tax being used unwisely..u all decide (less tax paid the more money u have to buy a mac!)
oh ya....and yet theres that much hassle into increasing government servants pay (which has not increased for about 15 years) when ministers can boastfully say the economy is blooming. i quote the MTUC presidents speech 'somebody say that our move demanding the government to increase our pay is absurd as where does the government gonna get the money? Well everytime we're told that our economy is strong that means the government has money!
not a political view but the truth about Malaysia,my home...
steve jobs who is the current apple CEO and founder was once kicked from apple itself being accused of being too obsessed with work...
Sunday, April 15, 2007
March 28, 2007 (Computerworld) -- Should Microsoft fear Apple's Macintosh? Maybe not quaking-in-your-boots scared, mind you, but Redmond should certainly be concerned.
I'll tell you why. Apple has gotten smarter about how it competes with Microsoft. Clearly the underdog, Apple has to make moves that can be seen as both supportive of the Windows marketplace and good for its Mac customers at the same time.
The switch to Intel was just such a chess move. Intel hardware makes it easier for Microsoft to create apps for the Mac. It solves a performance problem Apple had. It creates a better experience for Intel-Mac owners because it better supports Windows applications. The CPU architecture also puts Mac and Windows hardware on an easy-to-understand, level playing field. Perhaps most significantly, though, all these advantages appeal to potentially millions of Mac-curious Windows users because it makes the Mac more familiar.
For the first time in its 23-year history, the Mac is finally able to move fluidly into and out of the world of Microsoft Windows and its applications -- both in the workplace and at home. Microsoft's own Office suite plays a big role in that. Microsoft's commitment to Office 2008 for the Mac lends additional support.
But the untapped source for the Mac is software designed for Windows. VMware is offering a public beta of its Fusion virtualization product for the Mac; the final release is due this summer. In the meantime, it's the Parallels Desktop software that has been truly transformational for the Mac.
Parallels isn't just an easy-to-use virtualization utility for running Windows on the Mac. The company's Coherence feature lets Windows apps run in an all but invisible Windows instance on your Mac. They look for all the world like they're running on your Mac, not in Windows. Parallels also makes it easy to switch back and forth between a full-screen version of Windows and your full-screen Mac. And Windows XP runs flawlessly on the Mac in Parallels. (Parallels also supports Vista, but not the Aero interface, yet.)
For people who haven't tried it recently, the most surprising thing about the Mac in 2007 is that software is simply not a problem. Most average Windows users have no idea how rich a software base the Mac has grown in recent years. With convenient access to Windows applications, as well as access to an intriguing, growing market of Mac-specific software, finding great software that runs on the Mac is easier than ever before.
That Insidious Macintosh
OK, so full disclosure: I am a recent Mac convert. But before you chalk me up as an apple-eyed Mac fanboy, I'm not your average Windows-to-Mac switcher. No one knows better than me (well, maybe Microsoft's accountants) how firm a grip on the computer industry Microsoft has. As a Windows reviewer since almost the beginning of Windows (my first tests were of Windows 2.11), I have no illusions about Microsoft's market lock.
If the Mac or any other desktop OS were to truly put a dent in Microsoft's desktop market share, it would take 15 years for Windows to "die." And that's assuming Microsoft stood still and did nothing. In other words, it ain't gonna happen.
I also don't hate Microsoft. I'm not a fanatic. I'm just someone who recognizes a good thing when he sees it. I undertook a simple three-month trial of the Mac last autumn, with no intention of sticking around, and realized four months later that I wasn't going back.
But here's the kicker: I am very definitely not alone. A lot of people who were previously confirmed Windows users have given the Mac a try over the last year. Windows Vista is the most ambitious version of Windows since Windows 95, but it's far less compelling than Windows 95 was. Vista isn't a bad product; it's just not a great one. After six years of waiting, it was time for something significantly better. We didn't get it.
Because I made the switch recently, and did so publicly, I've gotten hundreds of messages from Computerworld readers (as well as readers of my personal newsletter, Scot's Newsletter) informing me that they, too, switched to the Mac recently. Many are IT people. Some confess that they manage Windows users by day, and run Macs at home. Others tell me that they've switched in the office, and it's no big deal. The all-but-universal experience is that the transition was much easier than expected, and that using the Mac has made switchers more productive.
What's especially intriguing to me is that many IT managers have reported that execs of all stripes are switching to the Mac at their companies. I've seen the same phenomenon. At my company, three very highly placed execs have used Macs for many years. The vast majority of people have used Windows. Over the course of the last year, however, several new Mac users have appeared, including three in my area of the company. Mac users are beginning to come out of the woodwork. And the word is spreading that it's OK to do that.
So, while I don't think Microsoft has anything to fear in the market share department, when it comes to mind share, it has a lot to lose. The Mac is experiencing a renaissance. It's about Intel inside. It's about Unix at the core. It's about virtualization technology. It's about the surprising availability of software. It's about a superior operating system, and attractive hardware. It's about serious buzz.
People are talking about the Mac throughout the industry. Admit it: Whether you love it or hate it, you're talking about the Mac at the water cooler. Many IT pros tend to laugh up their sleeves about how expensive and eccentric Macs are. But they're still talking. It's one of the top 10 technology stories of the year.
There are three essential truths that I have come to believe about Macs:
1. The mythology surrounding the Mac isn't true. It's not impervious to problems. Like any computer, a Mac can really come apart on you in a bad way. I've seen it happen.
2. When Macs go bad, the conventional wisdom is that they're harder to fix than Windows machines. I used to believe that myself. It may have been true under pre-OS X versions of the Mac OS, but I no longer find that to be the case. As a relative Mac newbie, I've had no trouble figuring out Mac problems -- and that includes a couple of doozies.
3. That said, Macs go bad less often than Windows PCs. Mac users are more productive than Windows users because Macs experience fewer problems. There's nothing mystical about it either. There are some obvious reasons why this is the case: The Mac is a closed hardware/software system. The OS isn't forced to contend with a vast variety of hardware, and the hardware is carefully vetted so that it works perfectly with the software. Apple controls the horizontal; it controls the vertical. The hardware and software are a matched set.
Apple has also had an enduring, consistent vision about usability. It's willing to sacrifice both power and flexibility to create a user interface that is far more intuitive than other operating systems. So Macs work better and are easier to use. That's it in a nutshell.
What would you pay for a computer that doesn't currently need anti-malware software? On most Windows PCs -- especially consumer-spec'ed PCs -- the security software is robbing the PC of so much system overhead that the user experience suffers. This one difference alone delivers a small reduction of software costs and a large reduction of helpdesk calls.
When it comes to hardware, Macs have long been perceived as overpriced and underpowered -- and that may have been true in the past. But when you compare today's premium Windows-based hardware, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad T60 series, to the Apple MacBook Pro, what you find is that you don't pay a premium for the Mac hardware. You can easily pay a lot more for a high-end Lenovo notebook than for a MacBook Pro. Of course, it's also possible to pay less for Dell hardware than you would for Apple hardware.
The problem in assessing Mac total cost of ownership comes at the low end. Apple should create economy-oriented, business-class desktop and notebook hardware. The iMac is a home machine. And while the MacBook is fairly inexpensive, there are too many tradeoffs -- such as its Chiclet-like keyboard -- for it to succeed in the business world. (Not everyone agrees with me on this point. Some believe that Apple's consumer Macs are enterprise-worthy.)
Since Apple offers very few SKUs, it's almost impossible for enterprise buyers to save money by specifying this or that lesser feature in order to reduce cost. Without a model specifically designed for low-end business desktops, Apple just isn't competitive there.
Microsoft's Buzz Kill
There was a time when people jokingly described Apple as Microsoft's advanced software lab. Anyone who follows operating systems -- please, be objective if your knee-jerk reaction is to disagree -- has to realize that Microsoft has imitated literally hundreds of features and behaviors of Apple's OS X. Yes, there are some advantages that originated with Microsoft (such as file icon thumbnail previews). But OS X is clearly leading the desktop OS parade. Everyone is copying Apple -- and with good reason.
The time for joking has passed. Microsoft hasn't exactly failed with Vista. But it's more like a double than a home run. Apple is innovating not just with the software and hardware it creates, but with the value proposition it is building in the marketplace. Apple hasn't ever been particularly good about that before. Sure, it's managed to appeal to people's aesthetic sensibilities, but almost never to people's wallets. While Macs still aren't cheap, you get a lot more bang for the buck than you once did.
And that's why Microsoft should read the vibe and think twice about ignoring Apple this time. Microsoft nearly missed the boat on the Internet last decade. It backed into a giant antitrust brouhaha. It has had huge problems with security this decade. Through its own inattention to Internet Explorer, it allowed Mozilla's Firefox to gain a bridgehead on browser market share. Even dyed-in-the-wool Windows enterprises are fed up with me-too Microsoft upgrades, the never-ending blizzard of security patches, the increasing hardware requirements for Vista, volume licensing snafus, and a litany of other complaints and sore points.
Nothing lasts forever. The bloom is coming off the rose on Microsoft. I would never put it past the software giant to come up with a way to remake itself in a better light. But the current course doesn't appear to me to lead in that direction. As much as Apple is doing things right, Microsoft is doing things wrong. That's a great combination for Apple, if it can keep walking the current tightrope.
In the end, this is about perception. It isn't about Apple's market share or even its quarterly sales numbers. (Apple's notebook computer sales for the fourth quarter were 4.1% of all portable computer sales, according to DisplaySearch.) What this is about is that Apple is reaching the right people with its product, winning new converts, Windows user by Windows user -- and creating buzz.
How do you measure buzz? You don't. It's something that experienced people in this industry can just feel. And that's the condition Microsoft should fear. Because buzz can turn into something much harder to combat than sheer numbers.
Scot Finnie is Computerworld's online editorial director.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
By any other name
Please, Apple Inc.—don’t forget about the computer
By Andy Ihnatko
“I want you to call me Dar,” my good friend Jeff told me once again, impatiently. “Short for Darbloor. It shouldn’t be this hard for you to remember it.”
It was my sophomore year of college, and a few days earlier, Jeff had suddenly insisted that I stop referring to him by the name that his parents and I had always known him by. My reaction to all this was a precise indicator of my level of maturity and compassion at age 20. If he’d gotten to me two years sooner, he would have been praying for me to forget his request to call him Darbloor. But I’d grown up some, and my sole concern was understanding what had brought the poor lad to such a state.
“Jeff is who I used to be,” Darbloor explained, in the manner of a man who’d practiced this speech in front of a mirror. “By choosing the name that best suits the Jeff (sorry, ‘Dar’) of today, I’m taking a symbolic step that puts me in control of my future and …”
After listening to him continue for ten minutes, I asked him if Darbloor wasn’t also the name of one of the villains in the ongoing Star Wars comic that we were reading. Then he changed the subject, and I was a good enough friend to pretend not to notice.
Call me Apple
Now my good friend Apple Computer Inc. has asked me to start calling it Apple Inc. And this time the news came in the form of a press release, rather than over a shared plate of cheesy fries.
Both my friends’ motivations are exactly the same, though. Whether you’re an individual or a billion-dollar company, you should probably stop every now and then and ask yourself, “Who am I?” But if the answer you wind up with involves a corporate rebranding, you probably ought to go back inside the sweat lodge for another hour.
I still don’t know what Jeff’s deal was. (The name Dar lasted about as long as the purple hair he sported late in his freshman year.) But with Apple, it’s pretty obvious: the company is not just in the computer business anymore. Even if it were, the word computer is sounding more and more like a disposable antique of the 1970s or 1980s with each passing year. Here around my sofa, I’ve got an iPod, a Windows Mobile smart phone, and a TiVo. Each one truly fits the Apple II-era definition of a computer, yet we all know them simply as a music player, a phone, and an enchanted friend that brings us movies and TV shows.
More to the point, each one of these items is in the category of a device that Apple now builds. By the start of summer, the iPhone and the Apple TV will be in hundreds of thousands of homes, thus bringing the reliable Apple stamp of simplicity, reliability, and keen-as-a-lightsaber technology to consumer electronics.
Swell. But will Apple continue to bring that stamp to its computers?
We have MacBooks. But they’re unique only in that they run Mac OS instead of Windows. Where is that new miraculous subnotebook or tablet that only Apple can design?
Thanks to the transition to Intel, iMacs and Mac Pros are absolutely no-foolin’ among the most powerful desktops on the planet. But has desktop evolution truly dead-ended with the mouse-keyboard-screen configuration?
And what about Leopard? Apple has shown off only a handful of new features, and none of them seems revolutionary enough to inspire someone to tattoo an Apple logo on a visible body area.
Companies often fail because they forget who they are. When the company that makes fantastic soups repositions itself as “a home branding portfolio,” when a newspaper stops talking about news and refers to its stories solely as content, and especially when the bank that holds your mortgage starts advertising that “Our currency is people, not money,” it’s time to worry.
I’m certainly not worried about Apple Comp—sorry, Apple Inc. Not yet. It has built an entire business out of hiding the word computer from its products’ users. Now it has just gone a step further and removed the word from its name. So long as it remembers the word’s importance, everything’s cool.
But I’ve been a watcher of corporations for far too long not to worry about a day, twenty years from now, when the company’s name is Ako, its logo is a black square inside an orange square, and its most popular product is a line of snack sandwiches that stay fresh without refrigeration.
[Andy Ihnatko is the technology columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and the author of the forthcoming Mac OS X Leopard Book (Wiley).]