Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Our Impressive Flyboys

Recently the Royal Malaysian Air Force (TUDM) invited a selected group of new media practitioners for a tour of their facilities in TUDM Kuantan. We got to meet the Minister of Defense Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi while Panglima Tentera Udara Jen Tam Sri Rodzali “Rod” Daud was our gracious host.

A big thank you shout out to the Corporate Communications Unit of MINDEF, TUDM and Big Dog for organizing this and for inviting the Spanker.

We were issued media kits and specially commissioned shirts before being flown onboard a stripped down C130H Hercules military transport from Pengakalan Udara Subang to Pengkalan Udara Kuantan.

While en-route, we noticed two MiG 29Ns from Squadron No 17 that suddenly appeared and started “escorting” our C130H and were informed that we were in for a ‘Forced Down’ interception demonstration.

We were ill prepared for what would follow after we landed.  In a scene straight from a Hollywood movie, PASKAU commandos surrounded our plane and ordered everyone out in double quick time, quickly identifying five ‘terrorists’ in our midst and expertly disabling, arresting and quarantining them all within 3 minutes! The Spanker found out that it is possible to be shocked and impressed at the same time.

After being welcomed by Minister of Defense Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, we were advised that although we were free to shoot and write about anything that we saw and observed in Pengkalan Udara Kuantan without any restriction, we were still encouraged to practice self censorship in certain sensitive matters of national defense. The Spanker thought that this was a very mature approach indeed, and found Dato Seri to be quite a cool guy.

TUDM proceeded to showcase their MiG 29N ‘Smoking Bandits’ launch alert and Hawk 206 attack aerial display together with fast roping, SPIE rig (Special Patrol/Purpose Insertion/Extraction) and several static displays but the highlight of the day would definitely have to be two of our own media fellers being specially selected and flown to a height of 10,000ft from where they participated in a tandem-free-fall jump from the military transport! Lucky buggers.

At Squadron 320 Sector Operations Centre 02 (SOC02), we witnessed a live demonstration of the SENTRY Command and Control system where 150 aircraft movements all over the Peninsular were being tracked. For our benefit, a real time air defense operation involving two MiG 29Ns from Squadron No. 17 with the callsigns of ‘Taufan Ganas 1′ and ‘Taufan Ganas 2′ were deployed to identify and intercept an approaching aircraft codenamed ‘Bravo Bravo 100’.

The visit to Pengkalan Udara Kuantan also demonstrated the TUDM's alertness, readiness and PASKAU deployment and extraction from the combat area of operations.

Useful backgrounder:

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) was formed on 2 June 1958 as the Royal Federation of Malaya Air Force. However, its roots can be traced back to the Malayan Auxiliary Air Force formations of the British Royal Air Force in then colonial British Malaya. Today, the Royal Malaysian Air Force operates a unique mix of modern US, European and Russian-made aircraft.

The Malaysian air forces trace their lineage to the Malayan Auxiliary Air Force formations of the Royal Air Force raised in 1934. They later transformed into the Straits Settlements Volunteer Air Force and the Malaya Volunteer Air Force formed in 1940 and dissolved in 1942 during the height of the Japanese advance over Malaya. The latter was reestablished in 1950 in time for the Malayan Emergency and contributed very much to the war effort. On 2 June 1958, the MVAF finally became the Royal Federation of Malaya Air Force, this date is celebrated as RMAF Day yearly.

On 25 October 1960, after the end of the Malayan Emergency, the British Royal Air Force handed over their first base in Malaya to the RFMAF, at Simpang Airport; it was established on 1 June 1941, in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur which was formerly part of Selangor and the national capital city. With the formation of the Malaysian Federation on 16 September 1963, the name of the force was changed to "Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia" or Royal Malaysian Air Force".

The special arm of the RMAF is known as PASKAU (Pasukan Khas Udara - 'Special Air Service'), and is part of the RMAF Regiment. PASKAU was formed in response to a mortar attack by the then Communist Party of Malaya on a DHC-4 Caribou in the 1970s at the Kuala Lumpur Air Base. During peacetime, the unit is tasked with responding to aircraft hijacking incidents as well as protecting the country's numerous RMAF airbases and civilian airports. Its wartime roles include ground designation, sabotaging of enemy air assets and equipment and the defence of RMAF aircraft and bases. This unit is also deployed for counter-terrorism duties as well as Urban warfare/Close quarters

For more info surf to:


Resources and citations for this article – Royal Malaysian Armed Forces official website, Malaysian Armed Forces official website, Ministry of defense official website, Wikipedia

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Perception of Crime Affects Our Competitiveness As A Nation

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, released worldwide on 5th Sept 2012, Malaysia's overall score dropped slightly to 5.06 points and its world competitive score dropped to 25th place. Last year, Malaysia was the 21st most competitive with a score of 5.08.
Among the factors that brought our score down are two items related to perception on crime: 

1. Perception on business costs for crime and violence and
2. Perception on organized crime

It’s true that public perception of the crime rates in Malaysia aren’t as good as they could be, as most perceive that the crime rate exceeds the figure reported by PEMANDU.

PEMANDU had recently announced that the crime index in Malaysia had dropped 10.1 percent between January and May this year compared to the corresponding period last year.

Based on the figures released by Reducing Crime NKRA director Eugene Teh of PEMANDU, there were 63,221 cases between January and May 2012 compared to 70,343 cases recorded in the corresponding period last year.

When MARAH asked how PEMANDU came up with the statistics, Eugene said that the number comes from the reports keyed in at the various police departments.

“There is a flow beginning from when a complainant makes a report until it is inserted into the system. Called the Police Reporting System or PRS, the cases keyed into it will provide us with the crime index statistics. It is entirely possible that there are cases which go unreported thus making it tougher for us to compile the exact number,” said Eugene.

When asked if it was possible for PEMANDU to detect unreported cases, he said, “The media can play a big role in spreading the message in informing the public to report crimes which have occurred. Should the police refuse to take your report, then the complainant has the right to lodge a complaint at the Police Bureau.”

MARAH’s very existence is testimony that there is much public anxiety over the recent crime spree. Yes, we are told that the overall crime index has dropped and there is really no reason not to believe that the police are not doing their best to fight crime.

The last thing our police force would want is to have headlines of high-profile crime cases splashed across the newspapers. However, perception is everything and Malaysians, especially urbanites, do feel insecure with women and the elderly seeming to be the preferred targets.

As a journalist I can vouch that the police often update the media on a daily basis with the more serious crime cases - murder, abduction, drug seizures and armed robberies. However, incidences of so called “lesser” crime also take place daily and the police have often regarded such cases as petty crime given that they deal with thousands of cases.

As such “petty” crimes such as break-ins and snatch thefts are often relegated to the bottom but now with the proliferation of social media the public are better connected to reaching out to each other, and younger Malaysians are wont to share their experiences with the world.

Such incidents are now prominently posted on all the various social media platforms by the victims, complete with gory photographs which go viral in an instant. These incidents are then picked up by online news portals and lastly by the mainstream newspapers.

Our government officials and senior police officers have been quite vocal in not wanting to see such cases sensationalized in social media but subscribing to the Ostrich mentality is not the answer as we definitely should not be in denial mode and these cases must be published factually and accurately and discussed in order to find a quick and proper solution.

Politicians on both sides of the divide are of no help as many only want to pursue their own dubious agendas by hijacking the current red hot issue of crime as a free ride to popularity, given the looming general elections.

Bashing the Government and the cops is easy peasy but public apathy has also been identified as one of the reasons why criminals have become more brazen in committing crimes. Fighting crime isn’t the prerogative of the police alone.

There is a deep set reluctance among the public to step forward and give evidence. Many fear testifying in the courts as the lengthy court process is actually a hindrance to the police and prosecution to dispatch these thugs to jail. Furthermore there are also those who fear repercussion to their personal safety and those of their loved ones.

The government has indeed spent a large amount of money aimed at reducing the number of crimes in Malaysia, including 71% of the budget in the NKRA to reduce street crimes, increase prosecution of violent offenders and increasing public satisfaction of the police.

Another hotly discussed topic is the abolishment of the Emergency Ordinance and the repeal of the ISA and the Sedition Act. There is fear that former detainees are now freely rampaging back to their bad boy ways. These ex-EO detainees are being blamed for the recent spike in crime although there is no real data to back this claim.

Last year, more than 700 people were detained under the EO and although the police have justified the use of the EO to bring in criminals that they cannot charge in court due to insufficient evidence, they themselves have also been accused of abusing the EO.

What we need is solid preventive act to deter these thugs and restore public confidence. At the same time the public also need to play their role as responsible citizens in ensuring that crime is prevented. The prevention of crime is vital towards the building of a peaceful and safe Malaysia. While crime fighting is undoubtedly the responsibility of the authorities, the public can also play an important role by looking out for themselves and their local community.

It is every individual’s duty to report a crime to the police. The information provided could be used to prevent other crimes and help keep other people safe. The police cannot be omnipresent everywhere all the time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Go-KL City Bus

The latest initiative by the government to resolve Kuala Lumpur’s transport woes is a most welcome venture undertaken by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD). For the first two loops which began on the morning of Merdeka 2012, 15 buses seating 60 passengers each will cover an area of 13.9km with 25 stops.
This new free intracity bus service is called Go-KL City Bus, and its salient features are that it’s free, disabled friendly, wifi enabled, has security cameras installed both onboard and facing outwards, has GPS, and will have undercover enforcement officers riding along with normal passengers to ensure no untoward incidents.   

The bus service is also eco-friendly as a sapling will be planted for every cumulative 1000km, to offset the estimated carbon emission of 0.11 metric tons. Furthermore, the old bus tires will go towards creating artificial reefs to help restore damaged coral reefs and enhance fisheries.
Currently it covers two loops over the central business district (CBD); with one starting from KLCC and the other from Pasar Seni. By year-end, SPAD plans to add another two loops.

SPAD projects a daily ridership of more than 20,000 for the two loops, which are supposed to reduce the need for more buses from entering the CBD as they are one of the main causes of congestion. The initiative also encourages private vehicle owners to use the free public transport.

This service operates daily from 6am to 11pm and promises a five minute frequency during peak hours, and 15-minutes at off peak hours. SPAD is fully aware of the fact that it will need the cooperation of the other government agencies like PDRM, DBKL and JPJ. It requires the assistance of DBKL and the other authorities to ensure buses are able to move unhindered.

DBKL is supposed to assist in providing designated bus lanes, permission for bus stops and the enforcement on private vehicles in the city to give way and not abuse the bus lanes.

SPAD said the annual operating cost for the services would be at RM4 million. The buses are bought by Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, a wholly-owned government company set up to facilitate, undertake and expedite public infrastructure projects. SPAD pays for the services rendered. The whole deal will be governed by a service level agreement.

“So, there are no contracts to buy buses or anything like that here,” quipped Syed Hamid at the briefing, when the media began probing on the ringgit and sen of the whole venture. If this works, it would be money well spent. Let’s all cooperate and give Go-KL a try. It’s kinda hard to miss the buses as they’re painted a bright pink!

List of bus stops

    Green Line (KLCC - Bukit Bintang - KLCC) has 13 stops:

    Concorde Hotel
    Wisma Hup Seng
    The Weld
    Wisma Lim Foo Yong
    Ain Arabia
    Monorail Raja Chulan
    Wisma Rohas Perkasa
    Wisma Athlan

  Purple Line (Jalan Sultan Muhamad - Bukit Bintang - Jalan Sultan Muhamad)  
  has 14 stops:

    Pasar seni
    Bangkok Bank
    Muzium Telekom
    Menara Olympia
    KL Tower
    The Weld
    Wisma Lim Foo Yong
    Ain Arabia
    Wisma Boustead
    Wisma HLA
    Simpang Bkt Ceylon
    Muzium Telekom
    Kota Raya

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Politics Of Hate Mongering, Part 2