This is another step in the liberalisation process.
The barriers are coming down.
The key word in the PM's speech is competitiveness. Of that, Malaysia needs to work very hard to reach anywhere near the level that is required.
Sultan Azlan Shah's appointment of Datuk Dr Zambry bin Abdul Kadir as Perak’s Menteri Besar on 17 March precipitated a constitutional crisis that culminated in the case now before the courts. The facts of the case are by now, fairly well-known and merit only a brief recount.
Following nation-wide general elections in March 2008, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) won 31 seats in the 59-member Legislative Assembly and Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar bin Jamaludin was appointed Menteri Besar of Perak. The Barisan Nasional (BN) held the remaining 28 seats. In February 2009, three PR members -- DAP’s Hee Yit Foong, and PKR’s Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu -- announced their resignations from the legislative assembly, leaving each party in control of 28 seats each.
On 4 February, Nizar approached Sultan Azlan Shah to dissolve the assembly to "resolve the deadlock". The next day, the sultan met with 31 members of the assembly, and was satisfied that they supported Zambry as MB, and then informed Nizar that his request for dissolution of the state legislative assembly had been rejected. Among the 31 members present at this meeting were the three PR members who had earlier resigned. They had apparently withdrawn their resignations and transferred their support to Zambry. The sultan then informed Nizar that he no longer commanded the confidence of the state assembly and asked him to resign as MB. Zambry did not comply, and the sultan’s office issued a press statement declaring the office of MB vacant and that Zambry had been appointed the new MB since he commanded the confidence of the majority of state assembly members.
On 11 May 2009, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that as there had been no vote of confidence on the floor of the state legislative assembly, Nizar remained the rightful MB of Perak. Zambry appealed against this decision and on 22 May, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court decision and declared that Zambry had been rightfully appointed as MB.
At the time of writing, the Court of Appeal has yet to deliver the grounds for that decision. Even so, Nizar’s lawyers filed an application for leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal decision on 19 June 2009. This application is scheduled for hearing on 9 to 10 July.
Issues raised by the High Court's decision
As the High Court’s decision is the only one available, this commentary relates to this judgment. The key issues in this case are whether Sultan Azlan Shah:
a. could dismiss the Executive Council when Nizar refused to tender the Council’s resignation after the Sultan refused to his request to dissolve the Legislative Assembly;
b. was constitutionally empowered to appoint Zambry the new MB when Nizar refused to tender the resignation of the Executive Council; and
c. had a discretion to determine if Nizar had lost the confidence of the majority of members of the Legislative Assembly in any other way than by a vote on the floor of the Assembly.
If the Menteri Besar ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly, then, unless at his request His Royal Highness dissolves the Legislative Assembly, he shall tender the resignation of the Executive Council.
… a constitutional Ruler is a Ruler with limited powers, and the essential limitations are that the Ruler should be bound to accept and act on the advice of the Menteri Besar or Executive Council, and that the Menteri Besar or Executive Council should not hold office at the pleasure of the Ruler or be ultimately responsible to him but should be responsible to a parliamentary assembly and should cease to hold office on ceasing to have the confidence of that assembly. (emphasis added)
The Rulers will become constitutional monarchs and executive government must be placed under the control, direct or indirect, of the State Councils. It is assumed that the Ruler … would appoint a Menteri Besar … who would have, or hope to obtain, a majority in the State Council. … It is assumed that the Ruler would have power, on the advice of the Menteri Besar, to dissolve the State Council, but that, like the Queen, he need not accept the advice. The Ruler would not be empowered to dissolve without advice, though, of course, he could always appoint a new Menteri Besar who was likely so to advise because he had no majority.
As the Executive Council is to be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly the appointment of its members must lie in the hands of the Mentri Besar and a new Mentri Besar must be free to appoint a new Executive Council in the same way as the Prime Minister appoints his Ministers. This result follows from our recommendation that members of the Executive Council should hold office at the pleasure of the Ruler because in appointing or terminating the appointment of a member of the Executive Council the Ruler must act on the advice of the Mentri Besar.
… under normal circumstances, it is taken for granted that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong would not withhold his consent to a request for dissolution of Parliament. His role under such a situation is purely formal.
Where Tony Fernandes is concerned, it’s a difficult balancing act. The truth is, I’m rooting for the founder of Kuala-Lumpur-based AirAsia Bhd. This region needs more entrepreneurs like him if it’s going to thrive, and I want Fernandes to succeed.
So it was with a tinge of sadness that I read his recent comments about how difficult it still is to borrow money. His words explain, perhaps better than anything, why the global recession may have a long way to go.
The worst of the financial crisis may be past, as hedge- fund manager George Soros argues, yet that’s different from the recession. Even if markets stop reeling, the fallout from the loss of wealth is still filtering through to broader economies - - and it will for some time.
Just ask Fernandes, an executive who is as much on the front lines of today’s uncertainties as anyone.
“We’ve been through SARS, bird flu, the tsunami, you name it,” the chief executive officer of Southeast Asia’s biggest discount airline said at the Paris Air Show on June. 19. “The only swine now are bankers.”
Fernandes, 45, says he made that comment in jest. Yet there’s as much truth as hyperbole to it.
For all the hysteria about swine flu -- the mask-wearing passengers, the long queues at customs, even the risks of death -- the biggest threat to global industries is stingy financiers. In AirAsia’s case, the challenge is to find banks willing to finance aircraft purchases.
Liquidity trap, anyone? That’s the imminent threat right now. If companies can’t grow during economic hardship, more jobs may be lost. That dynamic, more than any, will ensure that healthy growth remains elusive.
Granted, AirAsia is a contrarian outfit. As most industries hunker down, it is expanding apace, adding new planes and routes to prepare for an eventual rebound. Here, it’s possible that bankers have a point that Fernandes’s ambitions may be running ahead of demand.
When I rang Fernandes yesterday, he was as bullish as ever: “For seven years now, people have been saying we are overstretched, and we have proved them wrong. We’ve been very aggressive, but we haven’t been silly about it.”
Fernandes launched the budget carrier in December 2001. Starting the airline just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. seemed like commercial suicide. AirAsia was soon turning profits. In the first quarter of 2009, earnings climbed 26 percent as Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. reported mounting losses. It’s not unlike how McDonald’s Corp. thrives in recessions; no-frills beats the rest.
It’s also impressive that Ferdandes did it in Asia’s 10th- biggest economy. Malaysia has long picked national champions and protected its flagship airline. Getting the go-ahead to compete directly with Malaysian Airline System Bhd. was no small feat.
Risks abound. A surge in oil prices would be problematic, as would the global economy experiencing a Japan-like lost decade. That could make the 175 Airbus SAS planes that Fernandes has on order rather hard to pay for.
AirAsia also may suffer from a bit of a Steve Jobs-like problem. The company is built largely around Fernandes’s charisma, as Apple Inc. is around Jobs. Investors were reminded of that on June 1, when Fernandes fainted in Kuala Lumpur, reportedly from exhaustion.
Should the swine-flu pandemic unfold, AirAsia’s long-haul affiliate, AirAsia X, could be in for a rough ride. AirAsia owns about 15 percent of closely held AirAsia X. Other investors include Richard Branson, the Virgin Group billionaire.
It’s not surprising that Fernandes would be down on bankers. Politicians watching bailed-out banks refuse to extend credit also have reason to be annoyed. An even bigger concern may be how the global credit system is malfunctioning.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was right when he said on June 13 that “it is too early to shift toward policy restraint.” His appeal was to Group of Eight finance ministers looking to roll back budget deficits and bank bailouts as economies show signs of recovery.
The real issue is devising a new financial system that makes sense. The current one, decades in the making, was all about rich nations being at the center and financing poor ones. The emerging one features poorer nations financing the richest. Research into how that shift is affecting credit channels and monetary-policy links is in its infancy.
In the meantime, the walls of money that central banks are pouring into markets aren’t likely to have the intended effect. Inflation, for example, is less of a threat in a liquidity trap. The multiplier effects that make monetary policy so potent aren’t working as they once did.
Bankers are an obvious target. Another is how little is going on to fix the problems that grounded markets in the first place. Getting them aloft again will help innovators such as Fernandes improve Asia’s economies.
The doctor (i.e. the Surgeon of Crawthorne) was a clever man, with a vast library in his cell, and in an effort to rehabilitate himself he had volunteered, anonymously, to help make contributions to the Oxford English Dictionary, then under construction in a tin shed in the back garden of James Murray's house on Banbury Road.
But his madness, which ebbed and flowed during his 40-year incarceration, became exceptionally florid one day in 1902, and in a sudden spasm of self-loathing he sliced off his penis with a knife, and flung it into the prison fire.
My discovery of this remarkable event answered a small but singular question: just why the man's work for the OED had suddenly faded away. Delighted with the find, I went promptly up to the OED offices in Oxford to tell everyone and then I walked over to Oxford station.
At the ticket window were two elderly women lexicographers, off to London for the theatre. As we boarded the train, I warned them: have I ever got a story to tell you.
And so, in every gruesome detail, and in an open-plan Thameslink carriage, I related the saga: the sharpening of the blade, the tying of the ligature, the gritted teeth, the fatal slice – and, as I said this, so every whey-faced businessman in the carriage crossed his legs reflexively. There was a sudden corporate gasp.
But not from the two old ladies. They remained quite impassive, thinking. I could see the lexicographical gears grinding in their minds. Then suddenly, and in unison I swear, they spoke: "Autopeotomy!" they cried. Then one to the other: "Yes, Mildred – peotomy is the amputation of the penis. But doing it yourself – that must be autopeotomy. A neologism, I am sure. And Mr Winchester, if you can include this new word in an illustrative sentence in the book you are writing, then we will include it in the next edition of the OED, and you'll be a small part of history."
And so I did, and it duly was and I duly am, and there autopeotomy lies for ever, part of the glittering marvels that make up the English language and which, on Wednesday, is set to celebrate the creation of its one millionth word, according to the Global Language Monitor, a Texas-based association of academics that tracks the use of new words.I love his typically droll English humour that tells a good yarn with a deadpan tone and timbre.
* Chengguan Urban management officers, a cross between mayors, sheriffs and city managers.
* Jai Ho! From the Hindi, “It is accomplished”; achieved English-language popularity through the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.
* Mobama Relating to the fashion sense of the US First Lady, as in “that is quite mobama-ish”.
* Noob From the gamer community; a neophyte in playing a particular game; used as a disparaging term.
* Phelpsian The accomplishments of Michael Phelps at the Beijing Olympics.
* Quendy-Trendy British youth-speak for hip or up-to-date.
* Wonderstar As in Susan Boyle, an overnight sensation, exceeding all reasonable expectations.
* Zombie Banks Banks that would be dead if not for government intervention.
Source: The Global Language Monitor
Personally, I would have been more thrilled if the more inspiring and emotive Jai Ho! had entered into the English lexicographical respectability as the 1,000,000th word than the completely inorganic and emotionless Web 2.0.
Jai Ho! still has a chance to resonate and inspire just as Nike's now immortal tagline, Just Do It! The only damnable thing is that it isn't the 1,000,000th word, it had been recorded as the 999,999th word! This is one time when being "second" to Web 2.0 would have been better!