Archive for December, 2008

Syed Husin: Jenapala dropped after declared bankrupt & they want to quit because they felt they were not being rewarded with post in S’gor state administration

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on December 31, 2008 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

PKR deputy president Syed Husin Ali today said that P Jenapala, the party’s former deputy secretary-general, did not quit the party but was dropped from his post because of his financial problems which resulted in him being declared bankrupt.

“Presumably, he was declared bankrupt two weeks ago. He was dropped soon after,” Syed Husin told Malaysiakini.

“We informed him after our supreme council meeting that it was not possible for him to remain an office bearer after being declared bankrupt,” he added.

According to the Registrar of Societies, anyone who is declared bankrupt is prohibited from holding a post in any political party.

Jenapala was informed of the decision by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim in the presence of Syed Husin and party secretary-general, Salehuddin Hashim.
Syed Husin however declined to reveal details of Jenapala’s bankruptcy.

When asked about Jenapala’s relationship with top PKR leaders, Syed Husin denied there were “major problems”.

However, he said Jenapala was ticked off after he released a press statement regarding the creation of an Indian club within PKR.

“We told him it wasn’t appropriate. We don’t want a party within a party.”

When asked to respond on the matter, Jenapala said he quit as PKR deputy secretary-general for “personal reasons”.

“I informed Anwar that I will leave … I have no grudge against the party and the president. (I quit) on personal grounds (as) I have certain things to be solved,” he added.

When prodded further, he confirmed that the “personal issues” is related to his bankrupcy.

“Personal reason lah. What (other) reason do you want? When Anwar comes (back), he can explain what had transpired between us. Until then, anyone can say whatever they want,” he said.

Jenapala not quitting party

Jenapala, who held a press conference this afternoon together with 50 PKR Indian leaders, announced that they are not leaving PKR.
“Whatever differences in opinion will be resolved within the party and they will be addressed with the PKR leadership, especially Anwar,” said Jenapala (photo, middle).

He also claimed that there were efforts to sabotage the press conference today by other Indian leaders in PKR.

Jenapala was flanked by party member Ravi Dharan, Kapar MP S Manikavasagam and Malacca PKR deputy chief S Jayathas at the press conference.

Ravi Dharan added later that the quarrel within PKR reflects the “democratic process” which exists in the party.

“We should be able to resolve our problems in the party,” he said, adding that he is confident a solution can be found.

Some Indian leaders in PKR have complained that they have not been given plumb posts in the party as well as positions in the various state governments led by the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

Pakatan leaders call for unity and change to fight economic gloom

Posted in PKR with tags , , on December 31, 2008 by ckchew

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim called on Malaysians to rally behind the Pakatan Rakyat and push for reform and structural change to overcome the looming economic crisis.

In his New Year statement issued jointly with KeADILan president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the 61-year old Anwar said the opposition coalition has stood firm despite an onslaught of propaganda from the ruling Barisan Nasional that it was on the brink of a split.

“BN’s hope of seeing the Pakatan Rakyat destroyed has come to a dead end. They forget the strength of our alliance comes from the aspirations of the people who want reform and fundamental changes. It is this wish for change that has united the communities and made them rise above partisan party politics,” Anwar said.

The former deputy prime minister, who was voted among the brightest finance ministers in the region during the 1990s, urged Malaysians not to be taken in by the scare tactics of BN leaders – who have been using political instability as a bogeyman to stop the Pakatan from advancing.

“Our country is now facing a very uncertain economic future. The effects and implications are only starting to play out. The high inflation rate has caused the price of goods to rush up. There is a crisis of confidence in the security of the country, in its judiciary system. All these do not bode well for us and make it even more difficult to attract investments to stimulate our economy.

“We cannot remain in a state of denial. A leadership that shifts the burden can only lose the confidence of the people. Our economy need a leadership that is far-sighted, clear-headed and honest.

“Let me say it again, our country of various different races and communities have gone through all sorts of obstacles and difficulties together. We are certain that with reform and change –  that with our country back on the right track – we can overcome this economic challenge together,” Anwar said.

Putting the people first

Meanwhile, KeADILan information chief Tian Chua reaffirmed the party’s promise to always put the people first.

“KeADILan will not waver from its promise to care for the people and its fight to ensure that all Malaysians can live a healthy and comfortable life. We will continue to contribute our ideas and resources towards the development of the country in every way and in every aspect.

“Let us show our resolve and steadfastness in overcoming the challenges in our journey towards true democracy to ensure that the wealth of the nation flows back to its people, let us regain our dignity and pride, foster and nurture justice for all.

“Together, let us make 2009 the year where we rebuild Malaysia and regain the respect of the world,” Tian urged.

Kapar MP Mike to stay with KeADILan, meeting Anwar soon

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on December 31, 2008 by ckchew

SK

KeADILan leader S Manikavasagam, popularly known as Mike to his colleague, has decided to stay with party.

However, the Kapar parliamentarian will resign as Selangor KeADILan deputy liaison chairman after having recently expressed his unhappiness with other state leaders through the Barisan Nasional controlled media.

Mike is due to meet Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim some time in mid-January after paying a visit to India.

Chewed into pieces, mca wanita chief resigned from scandal-ridden Pempena

Posted in corruption with tags , , on December 31, 2008 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

MCA Wanita chief Chew Mei Fun has resigned from the Tourism Ministry’s controversy-ridden subsidiary Pempena Sdn Bhd eight months after she was picked to head the agency.

“Since I have completed the first phase of organisation restructuring, (and) before moving into a longer period of second phase of organisation revamping, I felt it is time for me to resign from Pempena as executive chairman in order to make way for the management of Tourism Malaysia, the holding company of Pempena, to move the company forward.”

Pempena – a national tourism development company set up in 1976 by Tourism Malaysia – could chalked up as much as RM50 million in losses due to a litany of bad investments, criminal breach of trust and financial improprieties.
Chew who was appointed to helm Pempena soon after she lost her Petaling Jaya Utara parliamentary seat in the March 8 general elections, said her resignation would take effect today.

Allegations against Pempena first surfaced in a July 2 Malaysiakini report regarding a memorandum by Pempena staff to Tourism Minister Azalina Othman, alleging graft and breach of trust by two key figures in the company.

Among others, the allegations stated that the duo had pocketed commissions when refinancing luxury vehicles for a high-end tourist taxi service, approved several lucrative contracts to RM2 companies, overstating the cost of creating an e-tourism portal by about RM5 million, and by passing the Pempena board of directors in ‘investing’ in a restaurant project in Melbourne.

The alleged wrongdoings happened before Chew took over Pempena. Then Pempena was under another MCA politician, Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung.

“During my stewardship in Pempena for the last eight months, despite facing unfair allegations and various negative publicity … I had patiently strive to resolve problems and find solutions for the company,” said Chew in press statement today.

She said that among the actions taken was the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to undertake a business review of Pempena.

Need to devote time to rebuilt MCA

In a scathing report, PWC revealed that Pempena had invested a total of RM54.5 million in 24 companies, but only four generated profits.

The report also said that Pempena invested in five non-functional companies and recommended divesting the companies which would result in a loss of approximately RM20 million.

PWC also found that the RM18.3 million of Pempena’s Executive Taxi Services (Pets) luxury taxi project has so far recorded a loss of up to RM7.8 million.

The PWC report however did not deal with a number of other allegations highlighted by Malaysiakini, such as the RM10 million e-tourism portal.

Chew said that following the PWC report, Pempena has “retain and enhance its investment in 14 investee companies and to exit from the rest of 10″.

She added that with her election as MCA Wanita chief two months ago, she is now required to devote more time to transforming and rebuilding the party.

KT By Election: Not Enough with their own Money Politic, bn shower the Voters with Electoral Bribes ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on December 31, 2008 by ckchew

New Year’s Day is D-day for PAS president Hadi Awang – he is due to name the Pakatan Rakyat candidate for the Kuala Terengganu by-election

By Wong Choon Mei

Even before nomination day on Jan 6, the mudslinging and back-stabbing has begun – heralding what can only be another intense dog-fight between arch enemies Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional as they prepare to battle tooth-and-nail for the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat.

Residents of this peaceful coastal town can expect to be bombarded by hordes of politicos, who can in turn be depended on to claim sudden empathy with the 80,000-odd constituents there.

A machine-gun barrage of reasons why they – and only they – can deliver the goods will surely wrack the solitude and upset the tranquillity of this serene and religious royal state capital.

Already, largesse from the material world is being flung at their feet.

The Umno-led Barisan has been busy flashing its hefty ATM card. First off – a hazy RM10 billion sovereign wealth fund to protect the economic well-being of Terengganu, which not too long ago was among Malaysia’s poorest states despite a wealth of natural resources, like oil.

The bulk of the 10b is supposed to be raised from borrowings in both local and international markets and the interest on the debt is to be serviced from the oil royalty owed to the state by the federal government.

In a high-profile ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak recently handed over a cheque for RM400 million – leaving cynics to wonder when and if the rest of Terengganu’s oil wealth can ever trickle back to its people.

The next – laptops! Shiny, new and definitely what Malaysian youth need the most. According to a BN state official, 25,000 Year Five pupils in Terengganu will be given laptops worth about RM30 million – but this will again be in phases!

And in case Year Four, Three, Two and One pupils feel neglected, don’t worry. Plans are already afoot to set up a laptop factory in Gong Badak that can produce 10,000 units of similar notebooks for them, the official added.

A shower of gifts for the Chinese

Never one to let slip a political opportunity, the BN-led state government has been quick to cast its radar on the erstwhile and oft-forgotten Chinese community, which make up about 11 percent or some 9,000 of the voters in KT.

This is because many pundits now say it is the Chinese there who will swing the winner. With the Malays split down the line between a corruption-hit Umno and a re-energised Islamic-based PAS, the Chinese may well hold the deciding vote, they opined.

So to make sure that all fronts are covered, Najib who is also election director has agreed to loosen the purse-strings even more.

The Chinese community will get a RM3.3 million hall to be built in Bukit Kecil and RM2.8 million for upgrading the school hall of  Sekolah Menengah Chung Hwa Wei Sin.

In case that is still not enough, Terengganu menteri besar Ahmad Said says RM250,000 will be allocated to help 8,500 needy people during Chinese New Year next month.

Chinese single mothers, the destitute, disabled and elderly can expect to receive ‘ang-pows’ of between RM200 and RM400 each, he elaborates.

Have faith, money is not everything

Can KT folk hold out against such financial onslaught?

It depends, said some experts. According to them, the choice of candidate is paramount.

“Election promises come and go. Goodies have a short shelf life,” said a political watcher. “I think KT voters are much more sophisticated than the BN gives them credit for. They may be humble and god-fearing folk but they are a smart, shrewd lot. Substance – political, ideological and clean governance over the long term – is what they will go for not short term gifts.”

“PAS is not merely fighting another party but the federal government,” said Pakatan leader and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.

Representing the Barisan is deputy home minister Wan Ahmad Farid – who has also been KT Umno division chief for the past two terms. The 46-year old father of six has been eager to portray a clean-living image of domestic bliss, crediting his wife as being instrumental in his career.

Wan Ahmad has also been quick to announce plans to set up a website and to hire a special officer to specially liaise with the Chinese community in KT.

“If I win, I will expand the BN’s parliamentary services centre and appoint a special officer who can speak Mandarin and Cantonese to serve the Chinese community,” he said.

Treading carefully

In the face of so much bombast, it is no wonder that PAS has chosen to tread with great caution.

Not only has Hadi insisted on naming the Pakatan candidate only on Jan 1, speculation has been rife that party elders have commissioned on-the-ground surveys to determine which of their men had the best chance of upsetting the Umno-gravy train.

Most party insiders believe either Batu Burok assemblyman Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi or state deputy commissioner Wan Mutalib Embong will be named on Thursday.

The US-educated Syed Azman, who previously attended the same college as Wan Ahmad, is regarded as having greater popular appeal because of his outgoing and more liberal demeanour.

However, Wan Mutalib is equally well-respected and holds great sway in the party, although he is more frequently associated with the conservative party hardliners.

In the previous election held in March 2008, PAS vice president Mohamad Sabu had lost to the late deputy education minister Razali Ismail by just 628 votes.

However, this time around, whoever represents PAS and the Pakatan – be it Syed Azman or Wan Mutalib or even a rank dark horse –  Hadi is confident PAS can wrest back the seat.

“The PAS candidate is more qualified,” Hadi said.

MIC meeting erupts in fight, Kluang leader kicked in jaw

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on December 31, 2008 by ckchew

An MIC division leader has been hospitalised after being kicked in the jaw by his colleague during a party meeting that suddenly erupted into a fight.

S Thenarasoo, the Kluang division leader, was chairing a meeting to discuss party matters. There were 34 branch leaders present and one of them purportedly brought up a personal matter

According to media reports, Thenarasoo had wanted to discuss only matters on the agenda, which involved the allocation of land to certain people in the district.

Violence

But he could not control his colleagues.

Suddenly, another branch leader threw a mineral water bottle at him, while the leader who raised the matter disallowed by Thenarasoo rushed to the front, jumped onto the table and kicked him in the jaw.

The 50-year old Thenarasoo, a municipal councillor, will be hospitalised for three days. He lodged a police report before admitting himself into hospital.

“We cannot condone hooliganism. During the meeting, there were others who uttered verbal abuses at me,” said Thenarasoo, who has filed a complaint with the state MIC headquarters, urging disciplinary action.

He also said he was now living in fear especially for his family, who have also lodged a police report.

UBS predicts economic growth will drop drastically from 5.4% in 2008 to 0% in 2009 ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in economy with tags on December 31, 2008 by ckchew

Asia Times Online

By Shawn W Crispin

BANGKOK – With falling exports, declining confidence and tight liquidity squeezed by fleeing foreign capital, Southeast Asia has wholly failed to decouple from the mounting downturns in the United States and Europe. Looking ahead to 2009, the question is not if, but rather how far, the trade-geared economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members will fall in line with the global economy.

As global trade collapses, some of ASEAN’s 10 members will be hit harder than others, economists predict. The region’s most open economies, namely Singapore and Malaysia, where merchandise exports respectively represent around 200% and 100% of gross domestic product (GDP), will be particularly hard hit. Others including Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, where exports represent a smaller, but still substantial, percentage of GDP will also see declining growth.

Hopes that China – with which ASEAN has a trade surplus driven by exports of raw materials and component electronics and computer parts for re-export to third countries – might buoy the region’s economies have faltered with recent softening in China’s export figures. Meanwhile, economists say that the stimulus package announced last month by China has been tailored mainly to tide over the domestic economy and Beijing has indicated no plans or extraordinary measures to lift the region’s sinking economies.

Swiss investment bank UBS said in a recent note to clients that for the first half of next year it expects China’s “appetite for FDI in the region will remain quite low” and that China “would be only a marginal positive factor for Asia and ASEAN commodity exporters in 2009”.

That analysis underscores now prescient Credit Suisse quantitative research from November 2007, which demonstrated that recent strong growth in ASEAN exports to China were largely intermediate goods intended for final export to now-slumping US, Europe and Japan. The same research questioned how much ASEAN had really decoupled from US demand, noting that 70% of intra-Asia trade was in intermediate goods and that more than half of China’s total imports were destined for re-export to mainly Western markets.

As such, slackening commodity demand, including from China, will impact adversely on several economies in the region. Earlier this year, certain Asian countries reaped huge profits from fast-rising global commodity prices but are now doubly exposed to deteriorating global demand and declining terms of trade. Malaysia and Indonesia, ASEAN’s top commodity exporters, are expected to take the biggest hits on this front.

Thailand, despite its position as the world’s leading exporter of rice, tapioca and raw rubber, is because of even higher oil and gas imports a net commodity importer and so less exposed to global price swings. Net fuel and food importing Philippines, which earlier this year experienced the highest local inflation rates in 17 years at 12.2%, will also net-net benefit economically from softening global commodity prices.

Policy matters
While all economies in the region are expected to fall, how hard they actually land will depend on individual governments’ policy responses. Some are better placed than others to ramp fiscal spending and slash interest rates to spark more domestic demand and locally oriented investment. How well governments devise and implement those policies will go a long way in determining the extent of individual countries’ slowdowns in 2009.

Indonesia, which faces severe budget deficit financing issues and has in recent months been hounded by rumors it may seek an International Monetary Fund rescue package, is seen as the most wobbly of the regional lot. Faced with stubbornly high inflation, current account deficits and a depreciating currency, the government’s fiscal options and Bank Indonesia’s monetary maneuverability will both be limited in their scope to stimulate economic growth.

UBS notes that around 50% of Indonesian government bonds are now owned by local banks and few wish to increase that share, as seen earlier this year when foreigners wishing to dump their local positions sold mainly to the central bank and local pension funds. Should its terms of trade decline further in 2009, some analysts fear Indonesia could be pushed into a 1997-style crisis, driven by both foreign and domestic capital flight. Barring that worst-case scenario, UBS predicts growth will fall to 3% next year, or nearly half this year’s 5.8%.

Thailand is in better shape financially but faces uncertain political risks, which took a sharp toll on the economy in 2008. Those risks were underscored when anti-government protesters besieged Bangkok’s main international airport for eight days beginning in late November. The closure caused exports – which currently represent around 65% of GDP – to fall 18.6% year-on-year in November, resulting in a US$1.3 billion loss in overseas sales, according to Commerce Ministry figures.

A new Thai government installed in December has raised hopes for stability and has already indicated plans to double the outgoing administration’s extra-budgetary spending to 200 billion baht (US$5.8 billion), including funds to prop up falling agricultural prices. Fiscal stimulus will be paired with monetary loosening, signaled by the Bank of Thailand’s drastic 100 basis point benchmark interest rate cut on December 3. While many economists predict Thai growth of around 2%, others believe the stimulus won’t prevent the economy from tilting negative in 2009.

As perhaps Asia’s most trade-dependent economy, Singapore had already slipped into recession by the third quarter of 2008, with – 0.6% year-on-year GDP growth. With global trade forecast to contract further in the quarters ahead, economists expect Singapore’s growth to remain in negative territory through 2009. Given the government’s perceived penchant for sometimes overstating growth on the upside, the actual economic situation next year could be worse than official statistics indicate.

Declining export volumes are expected to ripple adversely through the local economy, leading to significant lay-offs in the manufacturing sector and dampened consumer sentiment, including towards the crucial property sector. The government is expected to provide substantial fiscal support, including through the use of off-budget measures such as tax rebates, micro-loans and rental rebates, according to UBS.

The establishment of a US$30 billion “swap line” between the US Federal Reserve and the Monetary Authority of Singapore has alleviated earlier dollar liquidity concerns and set the stage for monetary loosening at the MAS’s next policy meeting in April. But with global trade faltering, local demand for US dollars should decline, depending, of course, on how deeply MAS cuts interest rates and whether monetary easing can spark a new investment cycle, which seems doubtful for 2009.

Malaysia will face similar if not tougher economic challenges. UBS predicts economic growth will drop drastically from 5.4% in 2008 to 0% in 2009, driven down by the double whammy of declining exports and terms of trade in line with falling global commodity prices. Commodity exports represented 26% of GDP in 2007, driving a balance of payment surplus of $13.2 billion. This year’s balance of payments is on course to just break even, and economists expect that statistic will likely turn negative in 2009.

Credit Suisse noted in the aforementioned 2007 research that for every percentage point drop in US GDP growth, Malaysia’s will fall 1.6%. That’s led some economists to contend the government has moved too timidly in using fiscal and monetary policy to offset the negative impact of collapsing exports. The perceived inaction is reflective of the government’s still bullish forecast for 3.5% economic growth next year, optimism aimed at deflecting growing criticism from a more assertive political opposition.

For all the bad news, there is some upside – at least for the brave of heart. ASEAN stock markets collapsed across the board in 2008, with many losing around half their market capitalization year-on-year due to foreign investor flight. That’s driven average share prices down to near 20-25 year lows on price-to-book valuations and exceptionally low price-to-equity ratios of around 8.6 times earnings, according to UBS. For those with the liquidity and patience beyond 2009, the region’s battered, yet comparatively deleveraged equities are trading at bargain basement prices.

Shawn W Crispin is Asia Times Online’s Southeast Asia Editor. He may be reached at swcrispin@atimes.com.

And the Newsmaker of 2008 is…

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on December 31, 2008 by ckchew

The signs first surfaced late last year, but the intelligence reports, the alarming graphs and the ground readings were ignored.
MCPX

Was it complacency or sheer arrogance that led the authorities to embark on a mission of vilification, arrests and charges in court?

The ‘shock and awe’ tactics did not work. Out of this, instead, grew the courage of convictions that was expressed in the outpouring of disgust which swept away decades of fear, differences and indifference.

For thinking the unthinkable and daring to achieve it, Malaysiakini proudly declares that its Newsmaker of the Year is…

…the rakyat!

newsmaker 2008 cartoonWe salute the silent majority which was sufficiently rankled to find its voice especially in cyberspace, a frontier which dissenters exploited to maximum benefit.

Blogs mushroomed – including that of the never-been-silent former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He kept up a constant bombardment of successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, his ambitious son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin and members of the Fourth Floor.

Ordinary people – as never before – huddled in desperate contemplation of a nation falling apart on the political, economic and social fronts.

They found unity in the diversity – everyone was pissed off but for different reasons, and there was no dearth of deep-seated, festering complaints:

* the spike in fuel prices and knock-on effects on the cost of living, while ministers continued to enjoy all-expenses paid holidays;

* the perceived unfairness to non-Muslims caught up in cases of conversion to Islam;

* the recurring episodes of crass, even crude, remarks in Parliament by those elected to represent the people;

* the perceived persecution of the Catholic community over the use of ‘Allah’ to mean ‘God’ in the Bahasa Malaysia version of their newsletter, which almost lost its publishing licence, and the confiscation of Bibles;

* the continuing fallout from rhetoric over ‘Malay supremacy’, bumiputera rights, racist remarks and racially-divisive politics;

* the litany of grievances in Sabah, where locals alleged they were in danger of becoming strangers in their own land because of ‘favoured’ immigrants; and

* the constant leakages from the national coffer, from the disappearance of savings in reduced fuel subsidies to the unholy haste to invest in indelible ink that could not be used.

The hammer-blows fell with telling accuracy on a ‘selfish, heartless, arrogant, ineffective, greedy and inconsiderate’ BN government led by the sleep-deprived Abdullah.

bersih 1st year anniversary pj vigil arrest 111108 amcorpIn January, a group of disgruntled young Malaysians even handed him a pillow and bolster, in recognition of his all-too-frequent ability to catch 40 winks in the middle of official business.

And still Abdullah was oblivious to the shift in sentiments – perhaps he believed a little too much in his pantang dicabar brand of governance and politics.

The final nail was supplied by Barisan Nasional component parties themselves, which imploded over a squabble for plum seats ahead of the general election on March 8.

All this while, the opposition front avoided pitfalls of the past and presented the public with a plausible alternative. Their veterans and newbies drew mammoth crowds to their ceramah nationwide, coaxing voters to shed inhibitions and embrace a ‘new dawn’.

The Year of the Rakyat

As with the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) in 2007, the general election of March 8, 2008 stamped the arrival of a new force in Malaysia.

In this, the Year of the Rakyat, Malaysians were shaken awake from deep slumber and kicked out of their comfort zone to make a conscious choice that, in turn, has shaken up the status quo.

YOU, the defiant, threw out the rotten, the corrupt and the inept in an election that was nothing short of inspiring.

YOU, the fearless, continued to press for reform and speak up against discrimination and injustice.

YOU, the marginalised, showed up with a six-year-old’s handwritten letters, teddy bears and roses to appeal to the better nature of those who have locked up husbands and fathers. When outlawed, you have refused to disappear.

YOU, the outraged, have turned up – some with young children – at weekly protests and candlelight vigils against the Internal Security Act, risking arrest in the process.

YOU, the supportive, wore T-shirts declaring ‘I’m with RPK’, paraded these before watchful eyes, and stood with blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin in his darkest moments of captivity.

YOU, the imaginative, gate-crashed the biggest party of the year – the Umno ministers’ Hari Raya ‘open house’ – to take your message to the highest leaders of the land.

YOU, the fed-up, protested the hike in fuel prices in your thousands and later, the fatwa against tomboys, albeit in a smaller number.

YOU, the brave, stood against bulldozers and barricades for days on end, resisting the demand to pay toll charges.

YOU, the indefatigable, cycled for 16 days from north and south to Kuala Lumpur, campaigning for attention to unresolved issues and impending concerns, in the face of police harassment to the last.

YOU have all sent out the unequivocal message that you are no longer spectators, but movers and shakers of the nation.

Yes, YOU are indeed worthy recipients of the Newsmaker of the Year award.
Report by Malaysiakini team.

Massive anti-ISA rally shaping up

Posted in Anti ISA with tags , on December 30, 2008 by ckchew

(The Straits Times) – Opposition and rights groups are planning a massive rally in March to push for the abolishment of the harsh Internal Security Act.

The rally, which organisers are hoping will be as big as the one held in November last year to push for electoral reform, could embarrass the government if thousands turn up on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

The so-called Bersih rally last year saw up to 50,000 people marching on the streets of Kuala Lumpur to the King’s palace to demand changes to the country’s electoral system.

It was the biggest anti-government rally since the reformasi street protests in 1998 to support Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was sacked from government.

Another anti-government rally, this time by Hindu rights supporters, took place in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25, just two weeks after the Bersih protest. Five leaders of the organisers, the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), were detained under the ISA following the protest.

The planned street demonstration on March 21 next year will be organised after several non-governmental organisations and opposition political parties formed a coalition two months ago called Sekretariat Mansuhkan ISA (Abolish ISA Secretariat), or Mansuh for short.

Mansuh held a mini-rally last night to kick off several anti-ISA events ahead of the big protest in March, the location of which has yet to be decided.

Mansuh’s organising committee includes Abolish ISA Movement (AIM) chief Syed Ibrahim Noh and other members of NGOs and opposition parties. AIM itself is a coalition that wants the ISA laws repealed.

While critics say that street protests, such as the ones by Bersih and Hindraf, would serve only to disrupt businesses and soil Kuala Lumpur’s reputation, Mansuh disagrees.

Kamaruzaman Mohamad, vice-chairman of Mansuh and a youth leader of the opposition Pas, said attempts by rights groups and the opposition to persuade the government to abolish the ISA had failed.

“We have done so many things — sent memorandums, signature campaigns,” he said. “But the impact is so slow that we decided to try and gather tens of thousands of people on the street to show the government how we really feel about the ISA.”

He brushed aside concerns that such a rally could potentially cause dangerous situations. “The impact of the ISA is worse than the rally itself. Our intention is not to create havoc,” he said.

Critics of the ISA, which allows for detention without trial, say that it is used to control political dissent.

But Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the ISA is not used for the political interest of the ruling party but to ensure peace and public order, and that it would not be amended or abolished despite threats and criticisms from various quarters, Bernama reported yesterday.

There are still 46 ISA detainees in Malaysia, according to Malaysiakini online news. Most of them are being detained at the Kamunting detention centre.

In recent months, AIM has been holding regular candlelight vigils nationwide to protest against the use of the ISA, prompted by several arrests in September this year.

Said opposition lawmaker Tian Chua: “It is perfectly all right to have a peaceful gathering to state our stand… No public demonstrator wants to intentionally create chaos as it would divert attention from the issue.”

The government this month released six ISA detainees who were accused of being Muslim terrorists, saying they have been reformed.

But Kamaruzaman maintained that this was not enough. “The strategy (to appease the critics) is to release some detainees. But we hope that the government will abolish the law,” he said.

In response, Internal Security and Public Order director Hussin Ismail warned that police would not hesitate to take action if the March street protest goes ahead illegally. “For any assembly without police permit, we will take action,” he told The Straits Times.

Under Malaysian law, a public gathering of three or more people requires a police permit.

The government had, in the past, often reacted harshly against street demonstrations, saying it wanted to keep public order.

Protesters at both the Bersih and Hindraf rallies were sprayed with water cannon and some were arrested.

The protests also caused shops in some parts of downtown Kuala Lumpur to be closed.

SAYA AKAN DEDAHKAN SKANDAL TERBARU KAPAL SELAM – Zahar Hashim ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on December 30, 2008 by ckchew

Bekas Ketua Umno Bahagian Petaling Jaya Selatan, Kapt (B) Zahar Hashim, akan mendedahkan satu salinan dokumen yang ditandatangani oleh salah seorang bekas pegawai tertinggi TLDM (Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia) berkenaan pembelian sebuah lagi kapal selam.

Menurut beliau dalam satu wawancara bersama Suara Keadilan, keputusan beliau untuk tidak lagi bersama Umno dijadikan akses untuk beliau mendedahkan kepada umum mengenai skandal-skandal Umno.

“Dah keluar Umno ini lagi senanglah. Saya baru sahaja terima salinan dokumen yang ditandatangani oleh salah seorang bekas pegawai tertinggi TLDM (Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia) berkenaan pembelian sebuah lagi kapal selam. Saya rasa keputusan pembeliannya sudahpun dibuat atau diperingkat akhir perbincangan. Saya akan dedahkan semua ini tidak lama lagi,” katanya apabila ditanya Adakah lagi skandal berkaitan Najib dan Kementerian Pertahanan yang akan beliau dedahkan.

Menurutnya lagi, beliau akan terus mendedahkan penyelewengan yang berlaku dalam kerajaan meskipun beliau tidak memegang apa-apa jawatan dalam politik dan sekadar menjadi pembantu khas kepada Yang DiPertua Pas kawasan Petaling Jaya Selatan.

Pada masa yang sama, Zahar juga berkata antara sebab beliau keluar Umno ialah kerana berlaku penyewengan di peringkat Pemuda Bahagian ketika mencalonkan Muhammad Taib yang juga Pengerusi perhubungan Umno Negeri sebagai Timbalan Presiden Umno.

“Kita telah hantar bukti yang cukup untuk menunjukkan pencalonan itu tidak sah disebabkan cawangan yang buat persidangan tahunan secara betul tidak diiktiraf oleh Pemuda bahagian, sebaliknya yang membuat mesyuarat yang tidak mengikut peraturan diiktiraf oleh Pemuda bahagian,”katanya.

Dalam pada itu, keputusan untuk meninggalkan Umno diambil setelah beliau sedar terdapat banyak penipuan dan penyelewengan yang berlaku dalam Umno dan kerajaan.

Menurutnya selama 27 tahun beliau berada dalam Umno dan 20 tahun memegang jawatan Ketua Bahagian, mendedahkan beliau kepada pelbagai keburukan yang berlaku dalam parti itu.

“Tujuan saya masuk ke dalam Pas adalah untuk beri kesedaran kepada ahli-ahli Umno bahawa terdapat banyak tipu helah dari pihak Umno ini,”katanya.

KeADILan on freehold titles and the poor ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in PKR with tags on December 30, 2008 by ckchew

The versatile Pantai Jerejak assemblyman, who was Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s political secretary for 2 years, talks about empowering the poor, the economy, effective government and of course his home-base Penang

By Wong Choon Mei

In Kuala Lumpur for a meeting, KeADILan leader Sim Tze Tsin was far away from his constituency in Pantai Jerejak, but still holding sway in his mind was an issue that has been dominating national attention and is of particular concern to lower-income Penangites.

The 32-year old first-time state assemblyman is passionate about the Pakatan Rakyat plan to issue or convert leasehold property into freehold titles as a way to help lower income groups climb out from poverty.

“This is where we differ from the Barisan Nasional. Our goal is to create as big a middle class as possible. We believe in empowering the people so that they can in turn empower the economy.

“This is completely the opposite from the Barisan, in particular Umno, which wants to create an elite class of rich and then hope for the wealth to trickle down to the masses. But their way always ends up with the rich getting richer, while the poor gets poorer,” said Sim.

Pakatan states Perak, Penang and Kedah are leading the thrust to push for the issuance or conversion of freehold land to low-income groups, but their plan has hit a snag. Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has put a freeze order on their proposal, saying the green-light must first be obtained from the National Land Council.

“With all due respect, I think the DPM is the one who has got it all wrong. Najib is Barisan and the Barisan way is to favour the rich. By insisting it is the prerogative of the NLC is also to protect the turf of the rich developers,” said Sim, a trained civil engineer who worked in the US for five years before returning home. .

“Our way gives freehold titles to the eligible poor with only nominal fees. They will directly benefit from any premium or appreciation in value, not the fat rich developers. What’s the point of owning a RM25,000 low-cost flat for 20 or 30 years and the price goes up just RM5,000? How can they keep abreast with society? Our way is faster to inject and spread wealth into the economy. The sooner it is done, the better.”

Do you want to be forever poor?

Already Perak Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin has announced his state will go ahead with its plan to issue freehold titles to the 149,000 house owners in 349 planned and 134 new villages.

In overriding the federal government’s objections, Nizar says Perak does not need to wait for the National Land Council’s approval, but would submit a report to it. The state government has instructed land offices to begin processing the applications from house owners in planned and new villages.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is also in the final stages of deciding whether or not to proceed with a plan to allow owners of low and medium-cost flats to convert their leasehold titles to freehold without paying a land premium.

Whilst in Kedah, Mentri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak says the state will take a different tack by extending the leases for land in new and planned villages by between 60 and 99 years.

According to Sim, despite the slightly different approaches, the motivation behind the move by the three Pakatan states to liberalise land ownership was the same.

“These are the poor folk, who missed out on the earlier wealth cycles. If you don’t own property, you tend to be trapped in a vicious cycle. Do you want them and their children to be forever poor? Help them, so they can help themselves and the rest of the society. This is one of the best ways to fast-track them, so they won’t keep getting left behind and left out,” Sim said.

Bracing for bad times

Sim also pointed to the global financial crisis, expected to hit local shores by the middle of next year. Already the Human Resources Ministry has announced that more than 4,700 Malaysians will be retrenched nationwide over the next three months.

Penang, the heart of the country’s electronics and manufacturing industry, can expect to feel the economic tremors even more.

“It is unfortunate and it is going to hit us just when the Pakatan state government is starting to fire on all cylinders. It will definitely make our job tougher, but this is where leadership can make the difference.

“We are going to rally the people – they will not be alone, we are there with them. We are aiming for a package of micro-measures that can directly lessen their pain. We are looking into the setting up of a retrenchment fund, re-training the laid-off and thirdly – credit and micro-credits schemes to finance those who want to shift from employment to self-employment,” said Sim.

His colleague Abdullah Sani, the KeADILan MP for Kuala Langat, is also leading the set up of a bi-partisan parliamentary caucus on workers and foreign labour. The caucus is pushing the federal government to set a RM1 billion retrenchment fund.

Next growth cycle

Penangites must also not allow the economic pain to depress them too much, Sim said.

He reckons the state government will run at full throttle next year after spending the past nine months getting the hang of the bureaucratic machinery and giving time to the people and the state civil service to adjust to their policies.

“This state government is clean. Once the top leadership is clean, it trickles down to the civil service. Initially, there was a queue created because you no longer had a practise of bribing to speed up a project or a request. That has been cleared now, so next year on, you will see an even more effective government.

“No doubt, the economic crisis cannot be deflected. But we must not give up. We must put in place strategies for Penang to be up and ready for the next growth cycle. If we don’t work hard and invest during the next two to three years, we may be left behind permanently.

“Take for example, high-speed broadband. Why is Pakatan insistent on wifi to be made available? If we don’t, Penang loses its technology edge. When Korea, Japan and Singapore are moving to 10 megabytes, our broadband speed is still only 1 meg – don’t you find this limiting?”

Masing ticked off over Iban traditional adoption

Posted in PKR with tags , , on December 30, 2008 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

Barisan Nasional Iban politician Dr James Masing should not just dismiss the adoption of any person by way of Iban tradition and custom because this practice has been entrenched in the

MCPX

adat (general customs) of the Iban community.

The traditional adoption of a person was, in fact, included in the ‘Adat Iban 1993′, said PKR Hulu Rajang division chief Frankie Manja Bedindang.

He was rebutting state Land Development Minister Dr James Masing’s claim that the recent adoption of PKR Padang Serai member of Parliament N. Gobalakrishnan as an adopted son by an Iban chief in Ulu Sut in Balleh, Kapit was a mockery of Iban customs.

(‘Adat Iban 1993′ is a collection of Iban customary practices, customs and penalties which are legally enforceable.)

Masing, who is also PRS president and state assembly person for Balleh, was also today quoted by The Borneo Post as saying that it was rather unusual for a grown-up man to be legally adopted by an Iban family.

‘I hope this MP isn’t trying to pull a fast one on my community,’ said Masing, an anthropologist turned politician told the English daily.

Masing was apparently irked by the gesture of Tuai Rumah Jugah at a 30-door longhouse in his constituency in adopting Gobalakrishnan as his adopted son in a on June 16 long before he (Gobalakrishnan) was denied entry into Sarawak by the state authorities on Christmas Eve.

Gobalakrishnan was barred from entering Sarawak on Christmas eve by the immigration authorities at the Kuching International Airport.

‘Not unusual in Iban tradition’

He was to celebrate Christmas with his adoptive parents at their longhouse, about 500km from Kuching. According to the state immigration, Gobalakrishnan had to apply for a permit to enter Sarawak under section 66(1) of the Immigration Act.

As a rule, Peninsular Malaysians need not apply for an entry permit so long as they carry their identity card or passport with them.

The opposition party parliamentarian claimed that the entry ban was politically motivated as the state government has become increasingly worried by the groundswell of support for PKR, especially in the rural areas.

Bedindang said that after going through the traditional adoption ceremony and being given an Iban name – Jugan ak Jugah – Golabalakrishnan was considered by the longhouse community as a local and he could enter and leave the longhouse at anytime.

‘I do not dispute Masing’s contention it is not a legal adoption in the sense there is no legal documentation. But to us, it is a practice that has been going on for generations among the Iban community,’ he said.

‘It is not unusual in Iban tradition and customs to adopt adults too. Look at Councillor Tan who has been adopted by an Iban family and has been given the Iban name Mabong ak Datuk Kenneth Kanyan.

“In fact this practice goes back a long time to even during the Rajah times when Malcolm McDonald, the then British governor-general of Southeast Asia, was adopted by the Temenggong Koh family as their son,’ Bedindang said.

He added that even though ownership of native customary rights (NCR) land does not have any legal title or paper to it, NCR is recognised to a certain extent by Sarawak laws.

‘Would Masing say that the Sarawak government, in this instance, does not recognise NCR land?’ he asked.

Bedindang said it would be dangerous for the community if an Iban leader were to take the stand that traditional practices were always illegal because of the obvious implications.

Opposition plans acid test for MACC

Posted in anti corruption, PKR with tags , on December 30, 2008 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

PKR is considering lodging a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) when it is gazetted next year on alleged corruption by one of the nation’s top police officers.

MCPX

PKR Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin (below) told an anti-ISA rally last night that he had received incriminating documents on alleged corruption by this senior police officer.”PKR Youth is presently studying the documents with us. At the same time, we would like to test the effectiveness of the newly-legislated Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

“If we find a strong case against the senior police officer and also to test the effectiveness of the new MACC, we may decide to lodge a report with the commission after it is gazetted next year.

“This (report against the senior police officer) would be the first ever report to the new commission,” he told the rally.

Shamsul, however, did not name this top police official.

The PKR Youth chief also questioned the government’s motive in forming various commissions including the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) and the MACC.

‘No independence’ claim

He said although the government had formed the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) some years aback, until today it was seen as a ‘toothless tiger’ despite its condemnation of the use of the ISA by the government.

“Hence, we in PKR would also question the effectiveness of both the JAC and MACC as the commissions’ members would be appointed only on the recommendation of the prime minister.

“There is no independence per se in the functionality of the two commissions. It is just a cosmetic exercise,” he said.

Both the JAC and MACC were tabled by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Parliament two weeks ago.

The MACC bill was passed by Parliament on Dec 16 while the JAC bill was passed the next day on Dec 17.

The passage of both bills went through despite strong concerns from lawmakers over the constitutionality and independence of the two commissions.

‘Petrol price cuts won’t help BN ‘

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat, Petrol with tags , on December 29, 2008 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

Malaysians can expect another drop in petrol prices next month before the Kuala Terengganu by-election on Jan 17 but according to PAS information chief Mahfuz Omar, this would not stop the voters in Kuala Terenggau from voting for the opposition.

MCPX

Mahfuz, who is also Pokok Sena member of parliament, said during the Permatang Pauh by-election on Aug 26, petrol prices were reduced by 15 sen but the people still voted for PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim.

“I expect the Barisan Nasional government would announce another price cut in pump prices next month just before the Kuala Terengganu by-election.

‘But this will not affect PAS’ chances of winning the seat. I feel the people in Kuala Terengganu are mature and will continue to support the opposition to be in parliament.

“The trend since the general election has been for the people to continue supporting the opposition. This tendency will continue,” the PAS information chief told Malaysiakini today.

Presently, crude oil prices are US$38.68 per barrel a slight hike from last week’s low at US$34 per barrel following the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Previously, oil recorded a declining trend for the past three months following an upward trend earlier this year which led to oil prices to soar to more than US$130 per barrel.

As a result of this, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced a steep overnight hike in petrol prices up by 78 sen to RM2.70 in June.

Mahfuz, 53, said although the petrol prices have been reduced by more than 80 sen since June, the prices of other products have not seen a similar downward trend.

“The reductions so far have not been translated into a reduction of prices for food and other essential items. It has been slow,” he said.

‘Non-Malays will support us’

Mafuz said another point of confidence PAS had for winning Kuala Terengganu was that it had won three state seats within the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary constituency.

The four state seats in Kuala Terengganu are Ladang, Bandar, Wakaf Mempelam and Batu Burok. BN only won the Bandar state seat through its MCA candidate.

“This shows that that our chances of winning Kuala Terengganu are very good.”

Mahfuz said Umno and BN were on the downturn following internal crises over money politics.

“On the other hand, the Pakatan Rakyat parties have been working well ever since they were entrusted with running the five states. Despite the differences in the three parties, we have been able to work well under Pakatan Rakyat,” he said.

“For PAS, winning Kuala Terengganu would be seen as a further step forward for the opposition parties to govern Malaysia.”

Mahfuz also expressed confidence that the non-Malay voters would support the PAS candidate.

He said with the efforts of the PAS Supporters Club and DAP and PKR, they hoped to win over the non-Malay voters.

“We have asked the Chinese and Indian members in our PAS Supporters Club to mobilise to win the hearts of the non-Malay voters in Kuala Terengganu.

‘The scenario now is similar to the March 2008 general election when the non-Malays supported the opposition. This trend will likely continue for the by-election in Kuala Terengganu,” he said.

Who will PAS pick?

On the hudud controversy, Mahfuz said it was an attempt to disrupt the unity among the opposition parties.

“It is just a small problem and it will not disrupt PAS’ campaign to win the Kuala Terengganu by-election,” he said.

PAS vice-president Husam Musa had recently reiterated PAS’ aspiration to implement hudud law (Islamic penal code) if and when Pakatan forms the next federal government.

A controversy then erupted with several quarters labelling PAS as ‘irresponsible’ and for ‘not being sensitive to the position of the non-Muslims in the country’.

PAS president Hadi Awang will announce the party’s candidate for the Kuala Terengganu by-election on Jan 1.

Four personalities said to be on the shortlist are Terengganu PAS commissioner Mustafa Ali, his deputy Wan Mutalib Embong, Batu Burok state assembly person Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi and businessperson Dr Mohd Khazani Abdullah.

Syed Azman is tipped to win the nomination.

The Kuala Terengganu seat has 80, 305 voters. The seat fell vacant following the death of Deputy Education Minister Razali Ismail as a result of a heart attack. BN has announced Deputy Home Minister Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh as its candidate for the by-election.

Selangor MB takes the star to task for articles ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , on December 29, 2008 by ckchew

(NST) Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has taken an English daily to task today for articles entitled ‘Rift in Pakatan’ and ‘Kapar MP free to go, says Khalid’.

In a press statement from his office, he said nothing was mentioned on ‘Kapar MP is free to go’ as suggested in the article.

“During the press conference, I said the Kapar MP was free to make his own decision and that he was mature enough to make a good decision as a representative to more than 100,000 voters in his constituency and a member of PKR.

“I also repeatedly stated that the best forum to thrash out issues would be the party’s political bureau,” he said.

He stated that at no time during a short press conference at The Curve on Dec 27, after opening the state’s Christmas celebration, did he said that ‘he was not interested to meet Kapar member of Parliament S. Manikavasagam’.

He had instead said that as a parliamentarian, ‘it would be a better avenue for the MP to meet the party’s leaders’ when asked if he was willing to meet the Kapar MP.

Abdul Khalid, in the statement said that he took the distortion of facts seriously.

Entry ban: ‘Adopted son Gobala a local’

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , , on December 29, 2008 by ckchew

Parliamentarian N Gobalakrishnan, who is the adopted son of an Iban headman in Kapit in central Sarawak, is by virtue of Iban tradition a local, said a state PKR leader.

MCPX

hindraf batu caves selayang court 281107 gobalakrishnanGobalakrishnan, who is MP for Padang Serai in Kedah, was barred from entering Sarawak on Christmas eve by the immigration authorities at the Kuching International Airport.

He was to celebrate Christmas with his adoptive parents at their longhouse, about 500km from Kuching.

PKR Hulu Rajang division chief Frankie Manjah Bedindang, a former ‘wali kota’ or mayor of the Upper Rajang town of Kapit, told Malaysiakini that Gobalakrishnan went through the rituals, also called the miring ceremony, as part of the traditional Iban adoption process.

Gobalakrishnan was subsequently was given the name, Jugan Jugah, at the June 16 ceremony which was conducted in Tuai Rumah Jugah longhouse, Ulu Sut, witnessed by residents of the 30-door community.

Apparently, a number of names were proposed during the rituals and the final decision was made after the chicken pecked on a small container of rice written with the name Jugan, meaning bear.

According to Frankie, Gobalakrishnan was the first Indian to visit the longhouse and he was well-liked by the villagers there.

As an opposition politician, Gobalakrishnan has raised the issue of native customary rights (NCR) land on behalf of the affected native community.

Directive came from state government

Frankie said that despite Gobalakrishnan being an Indian, the locals took him as one of their own, which was the reason why the village chief decided to adopt him as his son.

The PKR parliamentarian had been to Sarawak numerous times but he was prevented from entering the state last Wednesday by state immigration officials believed to be on a directive from the State Secretary’s Office.

sarawak diverse population percentage breakdown of race 160106According to the state immigration, Gobalakrishnan had to apply for a permit to enter Sarawak under section 66(1) of the Immigration Act.

As a rule, Peninsular Malaysians need not apply for an entry permit so long as they carry their identity card or passport with them.

The opposition party claimed that the entry ban was politically motivated as the state government has become increasingly worried by the groundswell of support for PKR, especially in the rural areas.

However, Assistant State Minister Daud Abdul Rahman, a leader of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s Parti Pesaka Bumipiutera (PBB) which forms the backbone of the state ruling coalition, has denied that BN was perturbed by the frequent visits of Peninsular-based opposition politicians.

He stressed that the refusal to allow the MP into Sarawak was an isolated incident and that the state government was not involved in the entry ban.

Big PKR gathering in Kuching next month

Frankie told Malaysiakini that the state government should have respected the Iban traditions and allow Gobalakrishnan to visit his adoptive parents as well as to carry out legitimate political activities.

“It is for the people to decide whether they want Pakatan Rakyat or BN at the end of the day,” he said.

Gobalakrishnan has vowed to go to court to challenge the entry ban.

sarawak state seat 2006 breakdown 011208Meanwhile, state PKR leaders are busy preparing a huge dinner gathering early next month in Kuching for party de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim to brief supporters on the on-going electoral campaign ahead of the state election that must be called by 2011.

A PBB leader who spoke to Malaysiakini on condition of anonymity said that “many Sarawak Malays see Anwar as a leader trying to split the small Malay community here”.

PKR is aiming to capture at least 10 out of the 26 predominantly-Malay/Melanau seats in the 71-member Sarawak legislative assembly, and a sizeable number of Dayak seats as well as a few Chinese seats in the next state polls.

Meanwhile DAP, a partner in the opposition Pakatan coalition, plans to grab the rest of the predominantly-Chinese state seats, in addition to a few Dayak seats.

The two parties, together with a few others, hope that they would win enough seats to oust long-time state leader Abdul Taib.

Anti-ISA activists plan mammoth protest in March

Posted in Anti ISA with tags on December 29, 2008 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

Anti-ISA activists seek to step up the pressure on the government to repeal the draconian Internal Security Act with a planned mammoth protest in March.

MCPX

The mass rally, jointly organised by the Anti-ISA Movement (GMI) – a coalition of non-governmental organisations – and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat, is part of an anti-ISA campaign against the tough security law and to free the remaining 46 still under detention.

As a prelude to the March mammoth rally, organisers will tonight hold a gathering at the Bandar Baru Bangi stadium.

“Tonight’s event is to create more public awareness and to work towards abolishing the Act,” said one of the organisers, PAS Youth deputy chief Nasrudin Hasan.

He expects up to 100,000 people to attend the March event, which he said would be similar to the massive Bersih rally last year in calling for free and fair elections.

Organisers consider tonight’s rally as a minor victory given that a similar gathering last month was thwarted by the authorities resulting in nine being arrested.

On Nov 23, the police dispersed an anti-ISA crowd at the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council field in Pandan Indah and among those arrested was PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu and Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub.

Anwar, Hadi to speak

Federal Territory PAS Youth chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad said the organisers have managed to secure a police permit for tonight’s event.

“Police gave a permit for the gathering with the condition that the gathering be held in the stadium,” said Kamaruzaman.

The two-hour event is scheduled to kick off at 9pm.

Kamaruzaman, who is also the location coordinator for the event, said the application for the event was initially rejected by the authorities.

However following an appeal, the police gave the green light to the rally last week.

isa detainees released and detained 101208Pakatan Rakyat leaders including PKR advisor Anwar Ibrahim and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang are expected to address the crowd.

An estimated 46 people are still being incarcerated under the ISA, which allows detention without trial, at the Kamunting camp in Taiping. Four of them had been held for six years.

Among those detained are five Hindu Action Front leaders (Hindraf) and 29 alleged terrorists as well as 10 alleged document forgers.

Earlier this month, 17 ISA detainees were released including seven former Jemaah Islamiah members and three Darul Islam members [See chart].

A representative from an ISA detainee’s family, Norlaila Othman, as well as student leaders are also expected to speak at tonight’s gathering.

Top 10 News of 2008

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on December 29, 2008 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

Groundbreaking change does not happen overnight, at least not in Malaysia where it takes a special blend of circumstances to rouse people to fury.
MCPX

That process started late last year and spilled over into this year. From then, it was only a matter of time until pent-up frustration burst. And it did.

History was made, but it did not stop there. It has been an exhilarating and inspiring year – it will be a long time before anyone climbs down from the emotional high.

Counting down, we take you through the best and the worst of 2008.

10 cheras bandar mahkota grand saga road debacleBreaking down barriers

It started off as a lonely crusade by residents against a highway concessionaire, but ended up in a power tussle at the very top that has ended relatively happily-ever-after.

Flashback to 2005 when determined residents of Bandar Mahkota Cheras began their stand-off against an unwavering Grand Saga Sdn Bhd.

The company built a concrete barrier across an access road to a new highway. Residents were forced to take a longer route out of their housing estate and through traffic jams – incidentally via the toll booths – to get to the highway.

Forming an action committee, they filed a suit against the company. To get their point across, no fewer than 18 protests were held at the site of the barricade, drawing the police to ‘dispersal duty’ including arrests.

The ding-dong situation came to a head after the March 8 general election. The change of government in Selangor to one under Pakatan Rakyat was the ray of light the residents needed.

Documents showed that the barricade was on state land, so officials ordered that it be dismantled. Residents tore it down with alacrity on April 21, only for Grand Saga to rebuild it two weeks later, under the supervision of some 200 police personnel.

Clashes ensued, the worst of which occurred on May 27 when more than 10 people were seriously injured. Technician Chang Jiun Haur alleged he was repeatedly beaten by police personnel.

Police countered that Chang had run over an officer while leaving the scene in his car, and investigated him for attempted murder. However, he was then charged with reckless driving.

The Selangor government’s intervention produced a U-turn in the federal government’s position, which had been widely seen as supportive of the highway concessionaire up to then.

Visiting the scene after the fracas, Works Minister Mohd Zin Mohamed announced that the access road would stay open until the court disposes of the residents’ legal suit.

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has held an inquiry into the allegation of “excessive force” used against Chang. Its report is still pending.

WHAT’S NEXT: It will be an anxious wait for residents in general and Chang in particular, as the saga winds down.

09 altantuya murder caseAltantuya still haunts us all

Who was involved in the killing of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu? Not political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, according to the Shah Alam High Court which acquitted him of abetment on Oct 31 without calling for his defence.

The prosecution decided not to appeal, a first in such cases. But lawyer Karpal Singh, who is holding a watching brief for Altantuya’s family, has filed for review of the judgment.

In the meantime, two ‘elite squad’ police personnel – Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar – will have to make their defence against the primary charge of murder.

Two years after Altantuya’s death in 2006, the case still threw up surprises. Opposition MPs even took the matter to Parliament, seeking unsuccessfully to file a special motion to debate it in view of the allegations that have surfaced.

Private investigator P Balasubramaniam caused a sensation with details of his statutory declaration (SD), which alleged that deputy premier Najib Abdul Razak had links with Altantuya and that she had demanded RM500,000 in commission for closing a deal on the purchase of submarines.

The next day, though, Balasubramaniam retracted the document in a second SD. Najib duly denied any relationship with Altantuya or that pressure had been exerted on Balasubramaniam to withdraw his allegations.

As police began a probe into the conflicting SDs, Balasubramaniam and his family went ‘missing’ but were later confirmed to be living in a neighbouring country.

Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin added to the mix with a purported expose claiming that Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor had been at the scene of the crime with two army personnel. Rosmah denied this and the army officers are suing Raja Petra for defamation.

The irrepressible blogger then revealed that senior lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had exchanged text-messages with Najib, in seeking Razak’s release while under remand.

Following his acquittal, Razak rose to the defence of Najib and Rosmah, saying they were not involved in the case – and that the issue had nothing to do with the Scorpene submarine purchase.

WHAT’S NEXT: Hope is ebbing that the ‘real’ story behind the gruesome incident will ever come out. But there is still the rest of the murder trial to go, alongside the police probe and defamation suit.

08 chua soi lekChua rises from the ashes

In January, then MCA vice-president Dr Chua Soi Lek saw his political career end abruptly as he owned up to his part in a sex scandal that had been secretly video-taped and circulated earlier.

Admitting “I am the man in the tape”, he initially said he would allow the prime minister and MCA president Ong Ka Ting to decide his fate, hinting that he was a victim of a political conspiracy within the party.

But in less than 24 hours, he announced his immediate resignation from all party and government posts.

There was no writing him off. In the party election 10 months later, he made an incredible comeback as he was elected deputy president.

He faced off main rivals secretary-general Ong Ka Chuan and vice-president Donald Lim on Oct 18, winning with a mere 114 votes.

Chua had the general election results to thank for this, with the rank-and-file screaming for accountability over MCA’s abject performance as well as for reforms.

WHAT’S NEXT: The immediate question is how MCA will handle this hot potato, for he seeks to return to the cabinet. However, his ‘tainted’ past and rivalry with new party president Ong Tee Keat stand in the way.

07 judiciary ex gratiaHits and misses for judiciary

Try as they might, politicians were unable to get it right about the judiciary. For every apparent step forward, there has been a hidden step backwards – from the appointment of a new chief justice to the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill.

Zaki Azmi replaced Abdul Hamid Mohamad as chief justice in October, but has been dogged by senior lawyer and Bukit Gelugor parliamentarian Karpal Singh who is most unhappy over the appointment.

This follows Zaki’s alleged admission of ‘bribery’ as a practising lawyer, although he has clarified that he was misquoted in a news report.

Also drawing criticism was the government’s ex-gratia payment of more than RM10 million to six senior judges – including former Lord President Salleh Abas – who were sacked in 1998. It appeared that offering them an apology would have been better appreciated.

In December, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tabled the JAC Bill, dubbed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz as the “first step to judicial reform”.

Others were less certain, but their reservations did not stop the Dewan Rakyat from rushing it through.

During the year, too, Sarawak High Court judge Ian Chin made the astounding revelation that then premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had subjected some judges to “boot camp treatment” and had intimidated judges into making pro-government decisions.

This led to a public exchange between the two, ending with the former opting for early retirement in view of the stress suffered.

WHAT’S NEXT: Now that the JAC enactment has killed off the dream of independence, will the judiciary have sufficient pride to redeem itself without ‘external’ help?

06 isa arrestPolice ‘protection’ for the vocal

THE ISSUE: To say that the police took enforcement of the Internal Security Act (ISA) to ridiculous extremes this year would be an under-statement.

Even by its standards, the force did not cover itself in glory when it hastily detained Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng after her report on an incendiary speech by Bukit Bendera Umno division head Ahmad Said in Penang.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, at one point, said this was for “her own protection” as death threats had been received. But, giving in to instant pressure from many quarters – including Barisan Nasional component parties – the police released Tan within 18 hours.

DAP’s Seputeh parliamentarian Teresa Kok and Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin, were held for longer periods after their arrest on Sept 12. Raja Petra won freedom through a rare victory in court.

The arrests triggered a series of protests and candlelight vigils by civil society groups, while BN component party PPP threatened to leave the ruling coalition if there are no substantive amendments to the ISA by the next general election.

Worse for the BN, de facto law minister and prominent Umno member Zaid Ibrahim resigned to protest the arrests. His subsequent presence at opposition-led events resulted in him being sacked from the party.

WHAT NEXT: The BN has ‘no intention’ of amending the ISA, let alone repealing it. The ball is back in the court of those who want to see the last of it.

05 petrol fuel price hikeFuel price highs and lows

The government raised the petrol price to RM2.70 in June – a jump of 40.6 percent that left consumers severely traumatised as the direct and indirect impacts were felt.

The decision was made in order to cut spiraling expenditure on subsidies, said to amount to RM56 billion this year, and was the latest in a series of price hikes that began last year.

Bewildered analysts and economists wondered why Malaysia, a net producer of crude oil, was withdrawing subsidies at a time when national oil and gas company Petronas was making record profits.

Opposition parties got into stride, organising protests, even as Pakatan Rakyat claimed that it would do better as the new federal government on Sept 16.

Just two months later, the government began reducing fuel prices through a monitoring scheme based on drop in the world price. Since August, there have been seven reductions.

WHAT’S NEXT: Absolutely no cheer, as prices of essential goods are not coming down and job losses as well as falling incomes take away any relief felt by motorists.

04 anwar sodomy 2 caseDeja vu in sodomy charge

The ‘Sodomy 2.0′ version unfolded on June 28 when PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim’s 23-year-old former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan lodged a police report. He claimed to have been sodomised by Anwar in a condominium in Damansara.

To many, it was unreal. Ten years ago, Anwar had faced a similar charge which saw him being jailed until the conviction and sentence were overturned on appeal in 2004.

In the latest episode, he was arrested on July 16 by balaclava-clad police – a scene reminiscent of that in 1998 – but freed a day later after being questioned and made to undergo a medical examination.

His supporters claimed that the government would detain him pending trial, ostensibly to prevent his campaigning for the Permatang Pauh by-election. But when Anwar claimed trial on Aug 7, he was freed on a RM20,000 personal bond.

Much else has happened outside the courtroom, including the allegation that Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had a ‘hidden hand’ in the matter since he had met with Saiful prior to the complaint. Najib has denied this.

Saiful’s complaint was challenged when a medical examination – done on the same day he lodged the police report – allegedly found no signs of sodomy.

He then swore on a Quran in a mosque to back his claim, but the shadow of political interference fell over this as well. The imam who witnessed the oath-taking said he was instructed to do so.

WHAT’S NEXT: The sodomy trial has not made much headway since August, as technical arguments have prevailed. The court is expected to hear the substantial arguments in the coming year.

03 pak lah najib transitionClash of the titans

Wouldn’t something be amiss in Malaysian politics if the nation’s top two leaders aren’t pitted against one another? The year did not disappoint in this respect.

BN’s disastrous showing in the March general election brought out a metaphorical keris in Umno – this time the business end of it was pointed at party president and premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Initially, it was unclear who was holding the dagger, given the groundswell of discontent over the coalition’s ‘gift’ to the opposition – four state governments, failure to re-take Kelantan and voters’ rejection of many veteran leaders.

Although ‘undur Pak Lah’ messages appeared on banners in public, Abdullah’s decimated team backed his leadership. Former party head Dr Mahathir Mohamad merely intensified the noisy bombardment from the sidelines.

Abdullah came undone when the economy came under pressure due mainly to the spike in global crude oil price and the US credit crunch. There was no hiding the resentment now.

Adding to the panic, PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim drummed up his claim of being able to take over the federal government by Sept 16. With Umno due to hold elections in December, the tussle at the top fed into the bickering at the bottom.

Abdullah finally reacted, swapping his finance portfolio for Najib’s defence portfolio and holding out the lure of direct transition to his deputy. It might have worked except that Umno vice-president and senior minister Muhyiddin Yassin took exception to the cosy arrangement.

On Sept 21, at the Umno supreme council meeting, Abdullah was confronted by the very leaders who had supported him. They pushed him to state by Oct 9 if he planned to contest the polls, before the nomination process began.

In what appears to be a face-saving move, although Abdullah claimed that it was done to prevent the rift from widening, a compromise was struck with Najib.

Polls were moved to March and Abdullah agreed to relinquish the presidency – by convention, also the premiership – to Najib if the latter had enough support in the party. Najib took the post uncontested, with 98 percent of the nominations.

WHAT’S NEXT: There is trepidation about a return to the dark days of ‘Mahathirism’ under Najib’s tenure, alongside talk that the out-manoeuvred Anwar is only biding his time to let the latter’s skeletons out of the closet. Muhyiddin’s moves merit a close watch as well.

02 permatang pauh by electionAnwar completes his comeback

The Aug 26 Permatang Pauh by-election was called after incumbent Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail of PKR vacated the parliamentary seat, so that her husband Anwar Ibrahim could return to active politics.

Dubbed as the ‘mother of all by-elections’, it was held at a time of intense speculation about a takeover of the federal government by Pakatan Rakyat through defections from ruling lawmakers.

The contest was hyped by PKR as Anwar’s ‘road to Putrajaya’, possibly as a morale booster for more BN parliamentarians to cross over to the opposition alliance.

Anwar had held the seat from 1982 but was unable to contest the 1999, 2004 and 2008 general elections due to his conviction for corrupt practice and subsequent five-year ban on participation in active politics. The prohibition was lifted in April this year.

During the 10-day campaign, BN played up the sodomy allegation against Anwar but PKR pulled out its trump card at the eleventh hour when an imam admitted that he was instructed to witness an oath-taking ceremony by accuser Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

The campaign saw money pouring into the constituency from both BN and PKR.

Anwar made a triumphant return with a bigger majority of 15,671 over his rivals – BN’s Arif Shah Omar Shah and Akim president Hanafi Hamat – and was sworn in as Opposition Leader in Parliament.

WHAT’S NEXT: Watch the Jan 17 Kuala Terengganu by-election, the second since the general election in March. Will the BN make an impact or will it see the loss of another seat?

01 general electionPublic whipping for BN

When Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced the dissolution of the Parliament on Feb 13, many BN politicians thought that the 12th general election would see the ruling coalition retaining its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

However, Malaysians decided otherwise on March 8 after a 13-day campaign, and deprived BN of its majority in the House. The opposition won 82 out of 222 parliamentary seats, with an all-time high of 31 seats for PKR, 28 for DAP and 22 for PAS.

Equally devastating for them was that opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat won four states and retained Kelantan – all of it contributing to BN’s worst results in electoral history.

BN partners MCA, Gerakan, MIC and PPP all suffered heavy defeats, with casualties including their national leaders. Umno, which had claimed that it could win enough seats to form the federal government on its own, only won 79 seats, falling way below its projection.

Voters dealt the telling blow because of issues such as inflation, shortage of goods, fuel subsidies, rising crime, mismanagement, corruption, tainted elections and racial inequality.

Simmering anger among Indian Malaysians – long regarded as BN loyalists – resulted in a swing towards the opposition.

WHAT’S NEXT: PM-to-be Najib Abdul Razak can expect a torrid time when he takes over in March, as he faces not just political turmoil but economic uncertainty – not to mention a waiting Anwar Ibrahim.

KT byelection: Issues versus personalities

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat, Raja Petra with tags , , on December 28, 2008 by ckchew

Umno has already announced their candidate, so it is too late to backtrack on that. So it is now left to PAS to choose their candidate. If PAS chooses the right man then Wan Farid is dead meat. But Wan Farid’s chances can improve if PAS makes the mistake of fielding the wrong candidate.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Is the Kuala Terengganu by-election on 17 January 2009 going to be about issues or about personalities? It’s actually going to be a bit of both, with internal bickering and sabotage thrown in, on both sides of the political divide.

To understand Kuala Terengganu one must first understand the history of this town. Over 200 years, Kuala Terengganu used to be the meeting point for foreigners and traders. Most of the settlers of the town came from afar to make Kuala Terengganu their home. Even some so-called Malays are actually Chinese from the Yunan province of China. But they are not regarded as Chinese at all. Malays accept them as fellow Malays and treat them as such. And the Yunanis are no longer ‘practicing’ Chinese, being more Malay than Malays themselves; even surpassing the Babas and Nyonyas of Melaka — who may be ‘Malay’ by customs and language but are not Muslims like the Yunanis of Terengganu.

In the 1970s, when oil was first discovered off the coast of Terengganu, Kuala Terengganu, again, saw an influx of foreigners, mostly oil industry workers and employees of Bristow Helicopters, the British helicopter company contracted by Exxon to ferry the oil rig workers to and from the oil rigs.

At that time, Kertih was still being built so Kuala Terengganu was used as the temporary centre for the oil activities. There was even one CIA man who masqueraded as an oil company man but was actually there to spy for America. Everyone knew he was CIA but no one shied away from clicking his beer glass with the overweight man with the oversized beer belly who did not at all look like the charismatic James Bond.

These ‘foreigners’, Malaysians as well as Caucasians, would frequent the Pertama Coffee House for their ‘happy hours’ and Muslim plus non-Muslim alike would get drunk and engage in the occasional bar room brawl in the Pertama, which was run by a police officer and his wife.

But the locals were not perturbed. These were, after all, ‘foreigners’. Even the Muslim-Malays were considered ‘foreigners’ since they were not local born. And as long as the ‘Anak Terengganu’ of the Muslim faith did not also get drunk in the Pertama, the locals were quite prepared to leave these outsiders to their own devices and to enjoy their ‘decadent’ lifestyles.

Such was the attitude of the Kuala Terengganu population who were prepared to live and let live, even back in the 1970s, just as long as you did not encroach into their territory and ‘import’ your ‘evil ways’ into the homes of the locals. You can do your thing very much unhindered and with not so much as raised eyebrows from the ‘Anak Terengganu’. And this can be considered unique in a state that takes Islam with much seriousness and even calls the state Terengganu Darul Iman (Terengganu the Land of the Faith).

Things have not really changed that much over 30 years. Outsiders are very much welcome in the town, although in the rest of the state the people can be very regionalistic in their ways. A Besut man (Besut is at the Kelantan-Terengganu border in the North) would find it very difficult to gain acceptance in Kemaman (at the Pahang-Terengganu border in the South), and vice versa — in particular if it is to contest a seat in an election. But a Johor man would face no problems contesting a seat in Kuala Terengganu, and winning that seat as well.

Onn Jaafar proved this when he resigned from Umno out of protest — when the party refused to open its doors to the non-Malays — and he formed his own party called Parti Negara. Onn Jaafar contested the Ladang state seat in Kuala Terengganu and won. Bakar Daud too, an ex-police officer, was another outsider who held the Ladang state seat for many terms until the state fell to the opposition in 1999. If there were one seat an outsider would have no problems of winning that would be Kuala Terengganu.

There are four state seats under the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary constituency — Bandar, Batu Burok, Ladang and Wakaf Mempelam. The Kuala Terengganu parliament seat used to be under Umno until its Member of Parliament, Razali Ismail, died on 29 November 2008. Razali was the Deputy Education Minister. But the funny thing is, while the Kuala Terengganu parliament seat was under Umno, three of the four state seats — Batu Burok, Ladang and Wakaf Mempelam — are under PAS. Only the Bandar state seat belongs to Barisan Nasional and even then it is under MCA and not Umno. How could Razali win the Kuala Terengganu parliament seat when three of its four state seats are under PAS?

This can be attributed to Azmi Lope, the PAS state assemblyman for Bandar who won that seat in the 1999 general election. Azmi’s and the late Razali’s wives are sisters. So many PAS supporters, in particular those aligned to Azmi, voted for Razali — although he was Umno — while they did not vote for Umno for the state seat. This shows that family ties and personalities still play a role in how the voters choose their candidate and sometimes the party comes second, especially in a town like Kuala Terengganu, which is considered more ‘liberal’ than the rest of the state.

Umno has already announced its candidate, Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, the one-time political secretary to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and now a Senator and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs. Wan Farid is also the Umno Kuala Terengganu division chief. But Wan Farid is not the choice of either Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak or Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Said. Ahmad Said wanted either Roslan Awang Chik or Zubir Embong to contest the seat but was overruled by Abdullah Badawi.

Wan Farid carries a lot of baggage. Wan Hisham, his brother, contested against Razali for the Umno Kuala Terengganu vice-head post, and won. Of course, with his brother as the division head it was easy for Wan Hisham to defeat Razali. Many blame the two brothers and say that they drove Razali to his death. Razali’s supporters will certainly want to make the 17 January 2009 by-election ‘payback time’. So expect an element of internal sabotage.

Roslan and Zubir are no pushovers. These two, Umno warlords from the Bakar Daud days, still have a lot of support and they will certainly want to make sure that Wan Farid does not sail through with an impressive victory. Ahmad Said, too, will want to prove that Abdullah should have listened to him and that Wan Farid is the wrong choice of candidate. We must remember that Ahmad Said is not Abdullah’s choice of Menteri Besar. Idris Jusoh was. Ahmad Said is the Agong’s choice. So we can expect Idris Jusoh to play a role in ensuring that the Menteri Besar loses the Kuala Terengganu by-election.

The opposition will have to ensure that they field the right candidate — which will be announced on 1 January 2009. Mat Sabu is currently the hot favourite. But then he is an outsider. Umno will therefore go all out to discredit him if he is fielded in Kuala Terengganu. But will the issue of calun luar pose a serious problem to PAS? At the moment it does not appear so but it all depends on how the issue is played up, and it will certainly be played up for sure.

The second alternative will be Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi. But Syed Azman is already the state assemblyman for Batu Burok and this can be used as an issue. Umno can appeal to the voters that since Syed Azman is already a wakil rakyat, while Wan Farid is not, then it is better that the seat be given to Wan Farid instead of Syed Azman. Would the Terengganu voters be prepared to make Syed Azman both a parliamentarian as well as a state assemblyman? There is no way of telling just yet.

Ahmad Said is himself not above controversy. Petronas has just built a shopping complex in Kertih that cost more than RM100 million and one of the tenants is Giant. Giant has already stocked up their hypermarket full of goods plus has hired more than 200 workers. But Ahmad Said will not allow them to open their doors for business.

Petronas tried to meet Ahmad Said to discuss the matter but the Menteri Besar wants to meet Giant and not Petronas. Giant, in turn, refuses to meet Ahmad Said and instead wants Petronas to sue the state government. According to the talk in town, Ahmad Said wants Giant to ‘donate’ a few million ringgit to Umno Terengganu’s ‘war chest’ before he gives them permission to start business. But none of the other Malay-owned establishments have to do the same thing so why is Giant, which is Chinese owned, subjected to this ‘donation’ rule?

PAS can play up this issue to win over the 8,000 or so Chinese voters in Kuala Terengganu. If Umno Terengganu, or Ahmad Said, is seen as racist or anti-Chinese, then this may swing the Chinese votes. And with the other racist from Penang, Ahmad Ismail, still very much in the minds of the Chinese, this stunt by Ahmad Said may yet anger the Chinese enough to vote PAS.

Bandar, which as I said is the only Barisan Nasional seat out of four state seats under the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary constituency, is under MCA because that happens to be the only seat given to the Chinese. The rest of the 31 state seats and 8 parliament seats in the state are all Umno. Therefore, if the Chinese do not give at least that one seat to MCA, then the Chinese will have absolutely no seats in Terengganu.

But that is the Bandar state seat, the solitary seat that MCA contested. The Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat is not MCA but Umno. So there is no reason for the Chinese to be emotional about the Kuala Terengganu parliament seat, which will be Malay versus Malay and not Malay versus Chinese. Sure, the Chinese voted along racial lines when it came to the Bandar seat. That is why the Bandar seat is the only state seat that Barisan Nasional won in Kuala Terengganu. But there is no reason for the Chinese to vote Barisan Nasional when it comes to the parliament seat because whoever wins it will still not be a Chinese anyway.

And what is one more parliament seat for PAS? This will give PAS only 24 seats in total against DAP’s 28 and PKR’s 31. PAS will still be the minority and can’t form the government or even implement Hudud laws with just 24 seats. Plus, if the candidate is Mat Sabu, then one more ‘loose cannon’ can be sent to parliament to give Barisan Nasional a massive headache. So the Chinese will not see any problems with voting for PAS if the candidate is a ‘friend of the Chinese’ like Mat Sabu is known to be.

In 1999, Harun Jusoh of PAS won the Bandar seat and it was because of the Chinese votes. In 1990, the Chinese, again, voted PAS and the MCA candidate was defeated. So, many times in the past the Chinese in Kampong Cina voted PAS rather than for the Chinese candidate from MCA. The Chinese have done this before, many times, and they can do it again. They can vote PAS, especially when voting PAS does not entail ‘sacrificing’ their ‘own’ candidate from MCA.

Bandar is not just Kampong Cina, which is predominantly Chinese. It is also Losong, which is predominantly Malay, and Pulau Kambing, which is a mix of Malay and Chinese. So we need to look at Bandar beyond just the Chinese. The Malays too have a significant vote in the Bandar state seat. But, in the past, when the Malays from Losong and Pulau Kambing were split 50:50, it was the Chinese from Kampong Cina who played the role of ‘kingmaker’.

The bottom line is, the candidate matters. Field the right candidate in Kuala Terengganu and you will win. Field the wrong candidate and not only the voters will reject him or her but your own party will play a role in ensuing that he or she loses. The internal sabotage is going to be brutal, for both Umno and PAS, although more so for Umno than PAS.

PKR has a strong following in Kuala Terengganu and should not be ignored. Even DAP has a presence in Kuala Terengganu and can sway the Chinese voters. PKR and DAP are very comfortable with Mat Sabu and if he is going to be the candidate then expect very strong solidarity from Pakatan Rakyat. But if Mustafa Ali is instead going to be the candidate, then some of the PKR and DAP workers might stage a ‘go slow’ and not be too serious in their campaign.

The problem is not just PKR and DAP though. Even the ‘Young Turks’ in PAS would rather the candidate not be Mustafa Ali. They feel that Mustafa is a hindrance to Pakatan Rakyat solidarity and is from the older generation that should be reduced to an advisory role and not be too prominent on the front line.

Mustafa was also the ‘wet blanket’ who spoke out against Anwar Ibrahim’s plan to form the federal government on 16 September 2008. Many blame Mustafa for throwing a spanner in the works by announcing that the 16 September plan is Anwar’s plan and not Pakatan Rakyat’s plan. Instead of supporting the plan, Mustafa said that he did not think it can happen and has in fact not agreed to it. This sent Pakatan Rakyat into panic mode and there was even talk that PAS might team up with Umno to help prop up the Barisan Nasional government if 30 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament cross over to Pakatan Rakyat.

Some even went so far as to accuse Mustafa of being an Umno mole whose job is to ensure that Pakatan Rakyat does not succeed in its effort to form a federal government. A lot of damage control needs to be done if Mustafa is chosen to contest the Kuala Terengganu by-election.

The matter of the missing RM7 billion oil royalty or ‘Wang Ehsan’ will also be an election issue, as will the RM300 million a year Terengganu Monsoon Cup. Wan Farid and his brother, Wan Hisham, together with Patrick Lim, have their hands dirty in this and I will be very surprised if this issue is not played up to the hilt. The Agong rejected Idris Jusoh and instead asked that Ahmad Said replace the former as Menteri Besar because of this missing RM7 billion. Even the Agong is upset. So would the Terengganu folks vote for Wan Farid, one of the four men who robbed Terengganu to the tune of RM7 billion?

Then there is the shooting of two people during the Bersih rally along the Batu Burok beach in Kuala Terengganu. It is said that Wan Farid was the man who instructed the police to clamp down on the rally and which resulted in the shooting. Wan Farid, of course, has denied this allegation but witnesses have spotted him in conference with the police just hours before the shooting. Wan Farid will be hard-pressed in washing his hands of this bloody episode along Batu Burok beach.

Kuala Terengganu is a ‘must visit’ come 6 January 2009 once the nominations close. Whether it is going to be a straight fight between PAS and Umno is yet to be seen. But it will be no surprise to everyone if it is a three- or four-corner fight with an ‘independent’ candidate or two entering the fray.

The Kuala Terengganu parliament seat is nobody’s seat. Neither PAS nor Umno can claim it is their seat. And Kuala Terengganu is not one seat. It is a make-up of Kampong Cina, Losong, Pulau Kambing, Ladang, Tanjong, Batu Burok, Kuala Ibai, Cabang Tiga, Wakaf Mempelam, and so on. It is actually many seats in one and a most unpredictable seat to forecast at that. I, for one, would not want to take any bets just yet. There are too many permutations with the candidate being one of the greatest factors to consider.

Umno has already announced their candidate, so it is too late to backtrack on that. So it is now left to PAS to choose their candidate. If PAS chooses the right man then Wan Farid is dead meat. But Wan Farid’s chances can improve if PAS makes the mistake of fielding the wrong candidate.

The more worrying point is, after knowing all these issues, will PAS make the right decision? If they still ignore all these factors and choose the wrong man, then many are going to come away thinking that this was done on purpose. As it is, many are suspicious of the top PAS Terengganu leadership. Talk amongst some people is that PAS many ‘throw’ this election to help Ahmad Said consolidate his position, which is under serious attack from the other factions in Umno Terengganu. In politics this is not unusual — in that we help the weaker enemy against the stronger enemy with a view that, in the end, both enemies will be neutralised when they are equally strong.

PAS is, after all, a political party and in politics an enemy of an enemy can be your friend when it best suits you. And friends can revert to being enemies later once the situation changes. So will the Kuala Terengganu by-election be that platform for PAS to pit one Umno faction against the other? This, the people are speculating, and one wrong move from PAS will set tongues wagging and the “I told you so” will reverberate across the Kuala Terengganu river to the other side of the lavish RM60 million Crystal Mosque built by Patrick Lim, Wan Hisham, Wan Farid and Idris Jusoh at great cost to the taxpayers.

A dramatised plot make for Bollywood: Moves underway to oust Samy Vellu

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on December 28, 2008 by ckchew

K Kabilan | Dec 28, 08 3:51pm Malaysiakini

Two unrelated political developments on the ground are primed to pile the pressure on long-time MIC chief S Samy Vellu to relinquish his iron grip on the party which claims to represent the Indian community.

MCPX

Seemingly unrelated, the recent announcement by Kapar parliamentarian S Manikavasagam to quit the opposition PKR as well as the plan by a MIC grassroots leader to form a political movement look set to profoundly affect the Indian-based party.

First, the Manikavasagam situation.

While it has been reported that Manikavasagam will be quitting PKR by next week following growing frustrations with the party leadership, he however told Malaysiakini that he would be stepping down from his two party posts on Dec 31, but would however remain as party member.

Manikavasagam, who has been with Keadilan since its inception in 1999, is presently the Selangor PKR deputy chief as well as the party’s supreme council member.

Speaking from Singapore, Manikavasagam said that he would only decide in January whether to leave the party altogether.

“On Dec 31, I will give up my party posts. After that, I will be heading to India. There I will meet Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy and seek his advice on what I should do.

“Once I am back, I will reveal my decision whether to remain in the party,” he said, expressing his bitter disappointment with PKR for failing to keep the party’s pledges to uplift the Indian community.

Manikavasagam said he was in discussions with Hindraf leaders, including Waythamoorthy, as they are “the real community leaders”.

MIC leader hold talks with Hindraf

However, sources from within and outside MIC told Malaysiakini that plans are afoot to bring Manikavasagam into the Indian-based party.

This move is however not sanctioned by party president Samy Vellu but undertaken by another top leader.

The plan, which is backed by a top business tycoon, is to offer a viable party leadership that can regain the trust and support of the Indian community

“One top party leader who is aiming for the president’s seat has been in contact with Manikavasagam as well as with P Uthayakumar,” said a source.

Uthayakumar (right) is the face behind Hindraf. He has been detained without trial under the Internal Security Act with four others since Dec 13 for provoking the Indian community to rise against the government over their plights.

His younger brother, Waythamoorthy, left the country and now living in self-imposed exile in United Kingdom following the crackdown on Hindraf leaders.

Najib aware of secret plan

According to sources, incoming prime minister Najib Abdul Razak is aware of this plan.

“If this goes according to plan, Samy Vellu will be removed as party president, Hindraf 5 will be released, Waythamoorthy will return to Malaysia and Manikavasagam absorbed into MIC along with Uthayakumar,” added the sources.

MIC leaders however rejected such a scenario.

“Manikavasagam has not been offered a place in MIC,” said party information chief M Saravanan.

And Manikavasagam too has rejected outright of any plan to join MIC.

But the sources were adamant that the plan is quickly falling into place.

“Why would Manikavasagam say that he wants to meet Hindraf leaders to discuss his future? They are in this together,” said one source.

MIC is to hold its presidential election sometime next year but sources said changes within the party would be executed around the time when Najib assumes the nation’s leadership in March.

An alternative MIC in the making

While this plan involving Manikavasagam is taking shape, another MIC grassroots leader is taking it on his own to oust Samy Vellu.

Businessman KP Samy, a long-time ally of former deputy president S Subramaniam, is expected to form a movement that would incorporate all sacked or suspended MIC leaders.

He is also expected to meet Najib in the first week of January to express support for Barisan Nasional, promising to help in the upcoming Kuala Terengganu by-election campaign.

“The whole point of this movement is to show to Najib that Samy Vellu had marginalised many hardworking MIC members and leaders who have been very effective on the ground,” said an insider.

“This movement can be stronger than MIC in working for the community. Once Samy Vellu has been removed, these members will then rejoin the party to make it stronger again,” he added.

Samy too has been frustrated by Samy Vellu’s stubbornness in not allowing suspended grassroots leaders to rejoin the party.

“I have been told to be patient by my own branch but so far I have not heard anything from him (Samy Vellu),” Samy told Malaysiakini.

However, he refused to comment on his plan to form a movement involving anti-Samy Vellu members.

“Please wait for my press conference next week,” he said.

Not that easy to remove Samy Vellu

It is not clear if both these developments could actually remove Samy Vellu as party boss, a post he has been holding for almost three decades.

amy Vellu himself had conceded that MIC has lost the support from the Indian community and has attempted to put in place some measures to reverse the trend.

Part of his plan is to hand over the presidency to his deputy by the end of next year.

The problem is it is still unclear who would be his chosen successor.

While there appears to be a fallout between Samy Vellu and his present deputy, G Palanivel, a handful of other party leaders are vying to get the president’s attention to be anointed the next party leader.

And with Samy Vellu’s strong grip on the party, it looks very likely that it would be him who would determine the timing of his own departure and the naming of his successor.

Ceramah perhimpunan MANSUH pada 29 Dec 2009 di Bangi

Posted in Anti ISA with tags , on December 28, 2008 by ckchew

Pakatan Rakyat bersama GMI akan menganjurkan satu lagi perhimpunan besar-besaran mansuhkan isA yang dipanggil MANSUH pada bulan March 2009. Sebagai usaha promosi perhimpunan tersebut, satu ceramah akan diadakan di:

Tempat : Stadium Bandar Baru Bangi

Tarikh : 29th December, 2008

Masa : 9-11pm

Semua dijemput hadir.

—————————————-

Pakatan Rakyat and Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA is planning a massive ‘BERSIH’ – type rally in March, 2009, called MANSUH.

It’s to call for the repeal of the ISA and the freeing of all ISA detainees.

As a prelude to that massive rally, and with a view to disseminating information, a mini rally is scheduled for tomorrow.

Details appear below.

Venue : Stadium Bandar Baru Bangi

Date : 29th December, 2008

Time : 9-11pm

Hentikan berbalah di media ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , , on December 28, 2008 by ckchew

Timb Presiden ingatkan pemimpin KeADILan, SK

TIMBALAN Presiden KeADILan Dr Syed Husin Ali mengingatkan pemimpin-pemimpin KeADILan dan Pakatan Rakyat supaya tidak membuat kenyataan terbuka mengenai perbezaan pendapat dan perbalahan melalui media terutama yang dikuasai parti pemerintah.

“Saya menggesa dan merayu kepada semua pemimpin Pakatan agar berhenti mengemukakan perbezaan serta pertentangan mereka melalui media terutama yang dikuasai parti pemerintah BN,” kata Syed Husin dalam satu kenyataan kepada Suara Keadilan.

Kenyataan itu dikeluarkan disaat media-media BN memperbesarkan laporan mengenai kenyataan Ahli Parlimen Kapar S. Manikavasagam yang menyatakan akan keluar parti serta kenyataan balas oleh Menteri Besar Selangor Khalid Ibrahim.

Begitu juga dengan laporan mengenai perbezaan pendapat antara Ahli Parlimen Kelang Charles Santiago dengan Speaker Selangor Teng Chang Khim.

Menurut Syed Husin, masalah ancaman MP Kapar hendak keluar dari KeADILan sudah terlalu dibesar-besarkan oleh sesetengah media yang dikuasai oleh parti pemerintah.

“Mereka menyelewengkan sesetengah
kenyataan pemimpin Pakatan untuk menunjukkan gabungan itu berpecah.

“Memang jelas, tujuan mereka (media-media ini) ialah untuk menarik perhatian awam dari kemelut dalam BN dan juga parti-parti komponen utamanya, terutama menjelang pilihanraya kecil Kuala Terengganu,” tambah beliau.

Menurut Syed Husin lagi, pemimpin-pemimpin berkenaan sebaliknya harus duduk berbincang dan mencari jalan penyelesaian secara dalaman.

“Ada beberapa saluran dan prosedur bagi berbuat demikian,” katanya.

Sehubungan itu, tambah beliau mesyuarat Biro Politik-badan tertinggi penentu dasar politik KeADILan akan diadakan pada 31 Disember ini untuk membincang semua perkara berkatan dan mencari penyelesaian.

Ia akan dipengerusikan oleh Syed Husin sendiri memandangkan Presiden Dr Wan Azizah Ismail dan Ketua Umum Anwar Ibrahim berada di luar negara sehingga 6 Januari depan.

———————————-

Media Statement

I wish to urge and plead to various leaders in Pakatan to stop taking their differences and conflicts through the media, especially the BN government controlled ones. This includes not only the Selangor MB and the Kapar MP, but also the Selangor Speaker and the Klang MP.

They should sit down to discuss and settle these differences and conflicts internally. There are various channels and procedures existing to do so.

In the absence of the President, Dr Wan Azizah Ismail and the Ketua Umum, Sdr Anwar Ibrahim, who are away until January 6, I shall be calling a meeting of the Political Bureau this Wednesday, to discuss the main and related issues in order to find suitable solution.

The issue on the Kapar MP threat to leave PKR has been blown out of proportion by certain BN government party controlled media. They have distorted statements by some Pakatan leaders in order to portray as if the opposition alliance is in disarray.

Obviously, their intention is to draw public attention away from the series of crises in the BN and also within major components of the government coalition, leading to the upcoming Kuala Terengganu by-election.

Kenyataan Media
ISU MP KAPAR

Saya ingin menggesa dan merayu kepada semua pemimpin Pakatan agar berhenti mengemukkan perbezaan serta pertentangan mereka melalui media, terutama yang dikuasai parti pemerintah BN. Ini termasuk MB Selangor serta MP Kapar dan juga Speaker Selangor serta MP Kelang.

Merka harus duduk berbincang dan mencari jalan penyelesaian secara dalaman. Ada beberapa saluran dan prosedur bagi berbuat demikian.

Oleh kerana Presiden, Dr Wan Azizah Ismail dan Ketua Umum, Sdr Anwar Ibrahim berada di laur negara sehingga 6hb Januari, saya akan memanggil mesyuarat Biro Politik hari Rabu ini, untuk membincang semua perkara berkatan dan mencari penyelesaian.

Masalah ancaman MP Kapar hendak keluar dari PKR sudah terlalu dibesar-besarkan oleh sesetengah media yang dikuasai oleh part pemerintah. Mereka menyelewengkan sesetengah kenyataan pemimpin Pakatan untuk menunjukkan gabungan itu berpecah.

Memang jelas, tujuan mereka ialah untuk menarik perhatian awam dari kemelut dalam BN dan juga parti-parti komponen utmanya, terutama sekali menjelang pilihanraya kechil Kuala Terengganu.

Dr Syed Husin Ali
Timbalan Presiden PKR (husinsa23@yahoo.com)
28 Disember 2008

The Dayak dilemma, Part 2

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , , on December 28, 2008 by ckchew

Sim Kwang Yang, Malaysiakini

Although the demographic composition of the various ethnic communities is vastly different from that in West Malaysia, there have been tremendous pressure from Kuala Lumpur for Sarawak politics to conform to the racial equation that exists in the Umno-led alliance on the Malayan Peninsula even before Merdeka.

MCPX

The idea that then prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman and Sarawak chief ministers Rahman Yakub and his nephew, Taib Mahmud (both from the partisan Rakyat Jati Sarawak, or Berjasa) shared was the creation of a Sarawak alliance dominated by Muslim/Malay/Melanau leaders with subservient Dayak and Chinese partners.

From the very beginning prior to and after Merdeka, there was this heavy tendency for federal intervention into Sarawak politics to ensure the creation of a Malay nationalist polity through Malaysia. Even then, Umno was determined to create Sarawak in its own image. This tendency at the Malayanisation of Sarawak politics was resisted by the first Iban chief minister, Stephen Kalong Ningkan of the Sarawak National Party (Snap).

sarawak natives dayakFor this and many other reasons, Stephen Kalong Ningkan was forcibly removed from office by a federally initiated declaration of emergency and a constitutional amendment in Parliament. A stop-gap Iban chief minister Tawi Sli was elected, and after the general election of 1970, Rahman Yakub – a Muslim Melanau – stepped in to take over the helm of Sarawak government. Muslim Melanau dominance has continued to this day.

Both Rahman and Taib were consummate Machiavellian politicians. Through their masterly manoeuvre, Berjasa and Parti Negara Sarawak (Panas) merged into a single party, finally uniting all the Sarawak Malay and Melanau Muslims under one umbrella. A further merger with the Dayak-based Parti Pesaka Anak Sarawak (Pesaka) to form the Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu Sarawak (PBB) in 1973.

sarawak diverse population percentage breakdown of race 160106Until today, PBB is the dominant partner of the Sarawak Barisan Nasional. PBB itself is a political vehicle for Melanau/Malay/Muslim dominance with a subservient Dayak arm in Pesaka, and a subservient Chinese BN component, the Sarawak United People’s Party (Supp), within the BN coalition. Umno indeed has succeeded in creating Sarawak politics in its own image.

As a result of federal intervention, the leaders from the minority Malay and Melanau communities have been able to enjoy political dominance in Sarawak, defying the logic of the politics of race in Malaysia.

Endless series of internal strife

This project for Melanau and Malay dominance in Sarawak politics has been much aided by the fractious divisiveness among Dayak politicians. In the years before and after Merdeka, the two Dayak-based parties, Snap and Pesaka, had been at loggerhead with each other over regional and historical rivalries between the Ibans of the Second and Third Divisions of Sarawak.

Snap left the Sarawak Alliance to fight for state control from the political wilderness. They almost succeeded in 1974 when they won 18 out of 48 seats in the Sarawak state general election that year. But unable to sustain themselves, they decided to rejoin the state BN soon after.

The subsequent history of Dayak politics until this day has been an endless series of acrimonious internal strife, leading to waves of formation of splinter Dayak parties. Unable to remember those dizzying series of Dayak political upheavals, I sought the help of Joseph Tawi, author of the book ‘The Broken Shield – A Chronicle of Modern Dayak Politics’, and the host of a blog by the same name.

This is what he has to report:

daniel tajem“PBDS was formed on July 17, 1983 when Daniel Tajem (left) was sacked from Snap for allegedly supporting an independent candidate. PBDS then joined BN-plus government. PBDS left the BN coalition on March 9, 1987, when they joined forces with Permas to form the Maju group to oust Abdul Taib Mahmud. They won 15 seats in the state election that year, but eight YBs (elected representatives) defected to Snap and PBB.

“In the 1991 state election, PBDS put up 34 Dayak and Chinese candidates. They were trounced and managed to retain only seven seats. They applied to rejoin state BN after the results were announced on Sept 29, 1991. Finally they rejoined BN on May 31, 1994.

“Power struggle in Snap in 2002 resulted in the expulsion of Tiong King Sing and the formation of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), followed by the deregistration of Snap on Nov 5, 2002. SPDP was registered on Nov 8 after three days of application.

political parties in sarawak 260508“PBDS was deregistered on Oct 21, 2004 following a power struggle. Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) was registered on the same day. One year later, power struggle occurred in PRS. Since April this year, the crisis has been solved.

“Those remaining partyless members numbering about 100,000 after the deregistration of PBDS wanted to form Malaysian Dayak Congress. But the ROS (Registrar of Societies) rejected the application submitted on May 6, 2005 on grounds of security under Article 7 of Societies Act. Now appeal is still on to the Home Ministry. Now more of the ex-PBDS members are joining PKR.”

The above account shows you how messy Dayak politics can be in Sarawak. The obvious conclusion is that Dayak political leaders are too prone to fight to the death whenever there is a power struggle within their party. Their inability to resolve their differences is the despair of their supporters and commentators. The logical rhetorical question is this: if they cannot find unity among themselves, how can they hope to unite the diverse Dayak people?

The all-powerful ROS

But there is more than meets the eyes.

The shrewd observer would immediately note how awesome the power of the Registrar of Societies (ROS) can be, in dissolving political parties, in deciding which faction should retain control of the party, and in approving within days application for the formation of a new political party by a certain faction, while similar applications by other factions can be rejected on flimsy grounds.

In reality, the ROS takes order from the home minister, who answers to the prime minister in turn, and both these powerful federal offices are held by Umno bigwigs. It is then obvious that Umno and federal interference in the internal politics of Sarawak has continued to divide and weakened Dayak political base, as has been the case since the formation of Malaysia.

taib mahmud biodata background 171108Another salient point is this. Upon the split of a Dayak party into two factions, the new party formed by the faction favoured by the Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud would almost immediately be accepted into the Sarawak BN, leaving the other faction in the cold. Whenever this happens, Taib consolidates his near absolute control over Sarawak politics once again, at the expense of Dayak bargaining power within the state BN.

The root cause of this particular aspect of the Dayak dilemma lies again beneath the demographic reality of Malaysia. Although the Dayaks collectively constitute the largest ethnic community within Sarawak, they form a mere 5% or 6% of the total population of Malaysia. Generally, Dayak political leaders feel that they must belong to the Barisan family in order to be effective to serve the Dayak people. Being in the opposition at federal or state level is not a long-term option.

Once exiled to the political wilderness, Dayak politicians will be excluded from the vast network of largesse made available to BN YBs by the state government administration, such as minor rural development projects and agricultural subsidy schemes.

Worst still, opposition Dayak candidates will have to face the monumental task of winning at the poll in the next general election. Electoral contests in the rural and semi-rural constituencies in Sarawak are notoriously expensive, and vote buying in one form or another is the norm rather than the exception. In sharp contrast, BN Dayak candidates have at their disposal seemingly inexhaustible campaign funds.

They need statemen, not politicians

In this context, the arrival of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in a big way in recent days offer many fresh and interesting opportunities for political redemption for Dayak politics in Sarawak.

sarawak state seat 2006 breakdown 011208The Pakatan Rakyat, of which Anwar Ibrahim is the leader, already controls five state governments in West Malaysia. They have shown how federal opposition parties can form government at the state level and bring in reform for the benefit of the people.

They have also announced their intention to march to Putrajaya, and so offer hope for Dayak politicians to free themselves from this fatal slavish dependence on the federal BN.

It is now a famous lesson that if aspiring reformers want to bring meaningful change to their own society, then they must first reform themselves. As Obama used to say on his campaign trail, “We are the change that we seek.”

It is now obvious that appealing to mere ethnic unity has come to a dead end for Dayak politics. If Dayak leaders want to liberate their people from the bondage of ignorance and poverty, they must seek alliance with similarly depressed and disenfranchised ethnic communities to form a pan-Sarawak people’s movement for radical change. They must rethink their agenda, and begin a new conversation based on the common good of all. They need statesmen, not mere politicians.

In this critical process, PKR offers a suitable vehicle, because their ideology speaks of Ketuanan Rakyat, or people’s dominance. To resolve the Dayak dilemma, the Dayaks will have to seek redress in more universal inclusive and non-ethnic terms.

To be continued next week…


SIM KWANG YANG was Bandar Kuching MP from 1982-1995. He can be reached at kenyalang578@hotmail.com. For those who wish to learn more about Sarawak politics around the time of independence in 1963, the two authoritative scholars are Michael Leigh and Vernon L Porritt.

Don’t be afraid of Taib, Supp told

Posted in Malaysia news on December 28, 2008 by ckchew

The Sarawak United People’s Party (Supp) should not be fearful to tell all-powerful Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud about the plight of the Dayak community, especially vast tracts of natives’ land being given to oil palm companies, said a Dayak political analyst.

MCPX

Many of the owners of these companies not only have links with the largely Chinese-based Supp, but some of them are even members of the party, said Joseph Tawie, a well-known local blogger.

Tawie’s latest posting in his ‘The Broken Shield’ blog was in response to Deputy Chief Minister and Supp president Dr George Chan’s denial that the party had neglected its Dayak members.

In an earlier posting, Tawie described Dayak leaders in Supp, Sarawak’s oldest political party, as “mere by-standers” as the party mostly caters to the needs and interest of the Chinese community.

The oil palm companies are given provisional leases to clear the land belonging to the Dayaks. In taking away the Dayaks’ ancestral lands where they and their forefathers have been farming for centuries, these companies have uprooted the natives’ traditional way of life.

Fruit trees, cash crops, longhouses and ‘pendam’ (graveyards) have been destroyed without any compensation as the ‘so-called lands’ belong to the state, decried Tawie.

Tawie, who is also the yet-to-be-registered Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC) information chief, said: “One of the ways Supp can walk the talk is to advise the companies to negotiate with the longhouse people and come up with a win-win solution rather than showing their arrogance and disrespect towards the Dayak adat by bulldozing their way to the Dayaks’ land, clearing and destroying all the things that are so dear to them.”

By showing their arrogance, the companies are also inviting trouble as the landowners have retaliated by erecting blockades or resorting to the courts to seek injunctions, justice and compensations, he said.

There are about 200 cases pending in the court against these companies for trespassing on their lands. A few of the cases that have been heard favour the landowners.

Explanation accepted, now walk the talk

The blogger also said he welcomed the explanation from Chan in defending his party’s policy on the Dayaks.

“As far as Supp is concerned, we have never neglected the interests of our Dayak members as well as the Dayak community in general,” Chan said in replying to an earlier posting in ‘The Broken Shield’ which accused Supp of failing to highlight the interests of its Dayak members.

According to a Supp Dayak leader, Andrew Shilling – who is also a political secretary to the chief minister – Dayaks form 30 percent of Supp’s membership.

He said Dayaks should be given more leadership posts in Chinese-dominated Supp, perhaps at the ratio of 30:70.

In the federal cabinet, there is no Dayak representation from Supp, lamented Shilling.

The party should have recommended Richard Riot, the Serian MP, who has been very loyal to Supp since 1993 to filled one of the two deputy ministers posts instead of Robert Lau, the MP for Bandar Sibu.

“After all, the Chinese are well-represented in the federal cabinet. At the state level, Ranum Mina should be appointed assistant minister in addition to Francis Harden to reflect the Dayak membership in the party. There are two vacancies for Supp that are yet to be filled,’ he added.

Entry ban: Gobala disputes claims by S’wak gov’t

Posted in PKR with tags , , on December 28, 2008 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

N Gobalakrishnan, the parliamentarian who was denied entry into Sarawak, has disputed the state government’s claim that it was not involved in banning him.

MCPX

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office Daud Abdul Rahman told Bernama yesterday that the decision to ban the MP was made by the Immigration Department.

“People are free to come to Sarawak but if the Immigration Department denies entry, we (state government) cannot do anything about it,” he said.

However, the Padang Serai MP said Immigration officers at the Kuching International Airport had told him that the directive to ban him came from the state secretary.

“When the Immigration Department showed me the notice that I was denied entry to the state, I informed them about the section in the Immigration Act stating that it has no jurisdiction to ban a parliamentarian from entering (the state).

“That was when they showed me a letter from the state (government) signed by the state secretary stating that I could not enter Sarawak,” he said when contacted today.

Daud had yesterday argued that the Immigration Department must have its reasons for preventing a certain individual from entering Sarawak, and this could included matters relating to security.

He added that the Sarawak government was not fearful of the frequent visits to the state by Peninsula-based opposition leaders, who had vowed to oust the BN government in Sarawak.

According to Daud, opposition leaders such as PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim and DAP’s Lim Kit Siang
were free to enter the Borneo state.

‘Why the sudden U-turn?’

Yesterday, Gobalakrishnan told Malaysiakini that there were two reasons why he was banned from entering Sarawak on Wednesday.
http://www1.malaysiakini.com/news/95473

According to the Gobalakrishnan, he was kicked out of the state because the opposition is increasingly becoming a threat to the Sarawak government and for his speech in Parliament attacking long-time Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Having visited Sarawak many times, Gobalakrishnan said he did not face any problems with the state immigration until this week.

Gobalakrishnan said his most recent visit to the state was last week when he was in Lubok Antu, south of Kuching, to help the locals in their Christmas preparation.

In addition, he said the state government had invited him to attend the Gawai Day celebrations in June.

“Why the sudden U-turn?” he asked.

Bersama Gobala selepas beliau dilarang masuk ke Sarawak

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , on December 27, 2008 by ckchew

“The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled….lest Rome become bankrupt.”

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim, economy with tags , on December 27, 2008 by ckchew

Dalam ucapan perbahasan belanjawan baru-baru ini ada saya nukilkan petikan dari Cicero, “The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled….lest Rome become bankrupt.” Cicero bukan sahaja terkenal sebagai seorang orator malah juga sebagai seorang ahli politik dan falsafah di zaman Rom, tentu menyedari kepentingan pengurusan kewangan yang baik, telus dan boleh dipertanggungjawab; ciri-ciri yang semakin terhakis dari pengurusan ekonomi negara kita.Berdepan dengan kedudukan ekonomi sejagat yang tidak menentu serta sikap kerajaan yang masih dalam penafian akan dampak krisis tersebut ke atas ekonomi negara, kita sudah tentu merasa terkejut akan desas desus adanya usaha untuk membeli kembali 40% pemilikan janakuasa berasaskan arang batu terbesar negara di Kapar oleh Tenaga Nasional Berhad sedangkan pada asalnya, ianya adalah milik TNB. Janakuasa tersebut dijual kepada Malakoff pada tahun 2004 dengan harga RM 1.68billion dan sekiranya Kementerian Kewangan meluluskan rancangan tersebut, maka TNB berkemungkinan membayar sejumlah RM 2.9billion kepada Malakoff untuk membeli kembali janakuasa tersebut.Adalah wajar buat kerajaan, TNB dan Malakoff memastikan segala urusan telus untuk penelitian awam. Di samping itu perbincangan dan nasihat dari pelbagai pihak tidak boleh diabaikan sama sekali. Pakatan Rakyat secara tuntas menegaskan bahawa ketirisan tidak lagi boleh dibiarkan berterusan. Krisis ekonomi seharusnya menyedarkan semua pihak. Nasihat Cicero bahawa the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled….lest Rome become bankrupt merupakan mutiara kata yang semakin relevan kini.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

Jawah Gerang and supporters join PKR

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , on December 27, 2008 by ckchew

(Borneo Post) Former Lubok Antu MP Jawah Gerang and about a thousand supporters have joined Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), it was announced here yesterday.

000049358.jpg
NEW MEMBER: Jawah (second left) handing over his membership application to Salehuddin. At right is Bawin.

Speaking at a press confe-rence held at a local hotel, Jawah announced his decision to join PKR as he handed over his membership application, along with the applications of more than 1,000 others, to PKR secretary general Datuk Salehuddin Hashim.

“My decision to join PKR is not a surprise; neither is it a political gimmick. I join the party on my own free will,” he said.

Others at the conference were state PKR vice chairman Nicholas Bawin Anggat, former Sri Aman MP Jimmy Donald, PKR Betong chief Abang Zulkifli Abang Engkeh and members of PKR Sri Aman and Lubok Antu.

Jawah also revealed that he had already travelled the length and breadth of his former constituency to recruit more members and claimed that the response from the people was “very encouraging”.

He claimed that their members were mostly from the now defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) which was deregistered in 2004.

Jawah who joined Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) after his PBDS’ days was not re-nominated for the Lubok Antu parliamentary seat in the election last March 8.

Jawah’s replacement by William Nyallau Badak did not go down well with the supporters of this five-term MP who had grown from strength to strength – in terms of grassroots support — since his first outing in 1986.

It was, therefore, quite expected of him to claim yesterday that, about 6,000 people from Lubok Antu parliamentary constituency would soon be joining him in PKR “shortly”.

Meanwhile, Jimmy also said about 1,000 people from Sri Aman parliamentary constituency had joined PKR, adding that he had been moving in the constituency to ask his supporters to join the party.

The media members were also told by Bawin that PKR Sri Aman branch had been set up at Jalan Sabu.

Anwar’s drive into Sabah, Sarawak sparks retaliation ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim, Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , , on December 26, 2008 by ckchew

KeADILan’s N Gobalakrishnan was barred from entering Sarawak, with no reason given. Experts say the ban reflects a lack of accountability and transparency …

By Wong Choon Mei, SK

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s appointment as KeADILan chief for both Sabah and Sarawak has raised a ruckus among political rivals in the ruling Barisan Nasional, fearful that a concerted advent by the Pakatan Rakyat might finally bring about change to the nation’s two poorest states.

The news drew immediate reaction from Sarawak authorities, as well as flak from other Barisan members who pounced on why Anwar and his supporters should not look to East Malaysia – now or ever!

Said KeADILan supreme council member N Gobalakrishnan who was barred by Sarawak immigration from entering the state two days ago: “These are just political ploys to weaken us. But we will not be stopped from continuing with our hard work and bringing our message of reform.”

“Sarawak is ours. The people there can no longer be bought by 10 or 20 ringgit. They want clean, effective government,” he added.

Malaysians from the peninsula are required to fill up a form or ‘airport visa’ under Section 66 (1) of the Immigration Act 1959/63, but as member of parliament for Padang Serai, Gobalakrishnan has the right of access to both states even without filling up the form.

But no reason was given by the Sarawak authorities. Gobalakrishnan had wanted to visit his Iban adoptive parents for Christmas and to attend a party function in Kuching.

His ban has prompted criticism that Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Mahmud Taib might also bar other opposition politicians, especially Anwar, from entering the state.

“It is bad for the government to disallow anybody from moving freely as long as it is within the law. The rule of law must prevail at all times regardless of politics. When there is arbitrary barring, it reflects a lack of accountability and transparency and this will erode the public’s confidence in the government,” said Ramon Navaratnam, president of Transparency International.

Earlier this week, KeADILan president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail announced the selection of Anwar to lead the thrust in the two East Malaysian states – which together boast nearly one-quarter of the total parliamentary seats in the country.

“Recognising that the welfare of Sabah and Sarawak has long been sidelined by the Barisan Nasional government, the selection of Anwar as the state liaison chairperson is the right move to ensure a change occurs as well as to show PKR’s commitment in championing the struggles of the people – from Perlis to Sabah and Sarawak,” Wan Azizah had said.

Ripe for change

The Pakatan’s determination to make East Malaysia their next battleground has prompted immense negative feedback and resistance from the Barisan Nasional leadership.

Among main reasons they put forward is that Anwar has not kept his promise to topple the federal government by Sept 16, secondly – the Pakatan coalition is in complete disarray and on the verge of busting up, thirdly – the Pakatan hasn’t done enough in the five states it governs to justify further diversification of focus and resources at this point in time.

But according to pundits, now is the best time for Pakatan to deepen its footprint in East Malaysia.

“This is the best time to lay the groundwork,” said a political analyst. “The coalition is now starting to fire on all cylinders. They are doing well in Selangor and Penang. Perak is fast catching up and Kedah is also getting the hang of it. For Kelantan, PAS is so entrenched there, it is business as usual.”

“In the March 2008 general election, Pakatan didn’t just win five states, we won 48 percent of voters in West Malaysia versus the Barisan’s 51 percent. We could have won the federal government if we had done better in Sabah and Sarawak,” said KeADILan leader Sim Tze Tzin, who was Anwar’s political secretary before becoming the Pantai Jerejak assemblyman this year.

“The geographical area is also vast. You can’t just rush there, plant your flag and go for polling the next week. It takes time traversing the country and getting to know all the various people there – from the Kadazandusun, the Melanau, the Ibans, the Dayaks and all the groups.

We are there to be their catalyst for change, we are the enablers. But it is the East Malaysian people who must at the end of the day stand up and say enough is enough. Let’s get rid of the status quo and bring in new, clean government,” Sim added.

Land of the Hornbills first

The two richest states in terms of naturals resources that include timber, minerals and fisheries, Sarawakians and Sabahans are nevertheless among the poorest people in Malaysia.

“From the first time that I was there in 1963 till now, I have not seen a decent road,” said Gobalakrishnan.

“All that the leaders have done so far is to benefit themselves and to keep putting their children in Parliament. For example, take Sarawak chief, Taib. I believe his son Sulaiman is residing and bringing up a family in Canada, yet he can be in the state cabinet.”

Sulaiman, 39, is former RHB Bank chairman and is now non-executive director of Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd (CMSB), a sprawling conglomerate controlled by the Taib family. He is also the son-in-law of Deputy Chief Minister George Chan Hong Nam.

His father, Taib, has governed Sarawak with a first of iron for nearly three decades. The state BN chairman, Taib has been dogged by allegations of corruption and abuse of power. The flamboyant 72-year old is famous for his slicked-back crop of snow-white hair, immaculate dressing, palatial home and Rolls Royce limousine.

“(Anwar’s) credibilty is not that high when he said Sept 16 is his target date which he promised to be the date to form a new government,” Taib had shot back earlier this month in response to the opposition leader’s plan to move into his territory. He was referring to Anwar’s previously avowed but failed time-line to topple the BN government by Sept 16.

Sarawak – the land of the hornbills – is due to hold state election in 2011 but there is talk that the date might be brought forward to next year as the ageing and frail Taib fights to consolidate his family’s hold in power.

“We expect the Sarawak State Assembly to be dissolved by the second quarter of next year. So, it is just six months before the state election, that’s why we are focusing on this,” said KeADILan vice-president Azmin Ali.

More Politicians Banned from entering a besieged S’wak?

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , , on December 26, 2008 by ckchew

Malaysiakini’s report:

The state government may use its immigration powers to deny entry to more Peninsula-based politicians, including PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, in the face of what is seen as growing local support for the opposition.

MCPX

This followed the ban imposed by the state immigration authorities on N Gobalakrishnan, PKR parliamentarian for Padang Serai (Kedah), two days ago to attend a party seminar outside of Kuching and to pay a Christmas visit to his adoptive Iban parents in central Sarawak.

pas supporters club launch 160207 n gobalakrishnanThe opposition parliamentarian flew in at 5.15 pm on Wednesday and was told by immigration officers at Kuching International Airport that he had been denied entry.

According to the state immigration, Gobalakrishnan had to apply for a permit to enter Sarawak under section 66 (i) of the Immigration Act.

As a rule, Peninsular Malaysians need not apply for an entry permit so long as they carry their passport with them.

The immigration officers also informed Gobalakrishnan that they were acting on a directive from the state secretary’s office.

The MP had initially refused to be deported. However, he eventually board the 9.50pm AirAsia flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

He had instructed his party colleague, Padungan state assemblyperson Dominique Ng, who is also a lawyer, to challenge the ban in court.

Entry ban ‘politically motivated’

Given the Christmas eve’s incident, there are worries that the state authorities may now try to invoke the same law to stop national-level party leaders from coming to Sarawak.

The opposition has made Sarawak a key battleground in its bid to oust the ruling BN government in the next state elections due at the latest by 2011.

dominique ng interview 010606 gesturingNg (right) told Malaysiakini today that while he appreciates the importance of the special provision in the Immigration Act resulting from the 1963 agreement in the formation of Malaysia to protect the interests of Sarawakians from being swarmed by workers from other parts of the country, the action against Gobalakrisnan was however politically-motivated.

The latest development came on the heels of PKR supreme council’s decision to appoint the parliamentary opposition leader and MP for Permatang Pauh to be the party’s state chief in both Sarawak and Sabah.

The party has planned a series of activities, including dinner gatherings ,seminars and training courses in the coming months, and Anwar has also instructed all PKR elected representatives to visit Sarawak on a regular basis ahead of the state election.

The latest activity was a two-day seminar for election workers held in Sri Aman, about 240km from Kuching, on Dec 22 and 23, which was to be attended by Gobalakrishnan.

pkr national congress 291108 gabriel adit demongSeveral top PKR Dayak leaders however made it to the seminar. They included Ngemah Gabriel Adit (right) – an Independent turn PKR state representative – state PKR deputy chief Nicholas Bawin, former Lubok Antu MP Jawah Gerang, former Sri Aman MP Jimmy Donald and a well-known Orang Ulu lawyer Baru Bian, who is expected to be named party candidate for Ba’kelalan in northern Sarawak.

The response to the seminar was tremendous, according to Bawin, a former president of Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) who is also expected to be named PKR candidate for the predominantly Iban state constituency of Batang Ai.

“There is a groundswell of support throughout Sarawak for PKR,” Bawin told Malaysiakini.

At the seminar, former MP Jawah and over 1,000 of his supporters in Lubok Antu handed their membership forms to PKR secretary-general Sallehuddin Hashim.

Taib angered by debate in Parliament

The ban on Gobalakrishan came as a surprise as he had visited Sarawak previously.

The MP was a guest of the state government during the recent Gawai Dayak celebrations and was given VIP treatment with a chauffeur-driven car, said Ng.

Apart from his intention to attend the PKR seminar in Sri Aman, he was to go to Kapit, a town in central Sarawak, to celebrate Christmas with his adoptive Iban parents in Nanga Sut.

Gobalakrishnan said he believed the decision to bar him from entering the state was linked to a speech he made in Parliament in support of fellow parliamentarian, DAP MP for Bandar Kuching Chong Chieng Jen, regarding corruption in Sarawak.

He said he later met Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s son Sulaiman (left), who is deputy tourism minister, in the Parliament lobby.

According to Gobalakrishnan, the deputy minister had warned him that he (Sulaiman) would finish off PKR in Sarawak.

Sulaiman, who took over the parliamentary seat of Samarahan from his father at the March 2008 elections, was said to have been angered by the PKR MP’s remarks about his family-controlled business group, CMS, in Parliament. – malaysiakini.com

Another YB is joining PKR? No Wonder Gobala is barred from entering S’wak

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , on December 26, 2008 by ckchew

Malaysiakini’s report:

A Sarawak Barisan Nasional elected representative has applied to join the opposition Parti Keadilan rakyat (PKR), according to reliable sources.

MCPX

He has been identified as state assemblyperson for Meluan Wong Judat from the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), a component member of the state BN.

Malaysiakini learnt that Wong has handed a signed PKR membership form to one of Sarawak PKR’s two assemblypersons, together with a signed letter of resignation as SPDP member.

However, it is believed that Wong has since changed his mind on the matter.

It is unclear why Wong, a businessman cum politician who first won the predominantly Iban seat in central Sarawak on an independent ticket in the 2001 state elections, had wanted to leave BN.

Failed to turn up at PKR dinner

Wong joined SPDP soon after the 2001 state elections but was almost dropped at the last minute prior to the May 2006 state elections after his seat was eyed by a number of SPDP leaders.

According to sources, Wong was to have turned up at the PKR dinner gathering in Miri last week during a visit by party de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, but had balked at the idea after pressure from some quarters.

SPDP, one of the four state BN component parties, has seven state assemblypersons, including Wong, and four MPs. It is led by a senior state minister, William Mawan.

Wong had not appeared in public functions for sometime until a few days ago when he turned up twice at the Iban longhouse in Ng Matap, Julau, to give out aid to fire victims.

SPDP deputy secretary-general Paul Igai, who is also a political secretary to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, has recently met Wong to discuss rumours of his defection.

According to Igai, the state assemblyperson had told him he would remain loyal to SPDP – malaysiakini.com

Larangan masuk ke Sarawak, Gobala akan ambil tindakan ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in PKR with tags , on December 26, 2008 by ckchew

SK

AHLI Parlimen Padang Serai, N Gobalakrishnan akan mengambil tindakan terhadap kerajaan negeri Sarawak kerana menafikan hak beliau sebagai seorang rakyat Malaysia dan Ahli Dewan Negara untuk masuk ke negara berkenaan.

Menurut beliau, tindakan akan diambil bagi membantah sekeping notis larangan oleh pihak imigresen yang menghalang beliau masuk ke negeri berkenaan.

“Saya akan membawa kes ini ke Mahkamah Tinggi bagi membantah dan membatalkan notis ini,” kata Gobala ketika ditemui di pejabat Suara Keadilan pagi ini.

Beliau berkata sedemikian bagi mengulas larangan kemasukan beliau ke negeri Sarawak yang dikeluarkan kerajaan negeri serta imegresen pada 24 Disember lalu ketika melawat negeri berkenaan.

Ketika itu, hari berkenaan beliau tiba di Kuching dari Kuala Lumpur dan pada jam 5.30 petang sewaktu daftar keluar dari pesawat, beliau telah diberikan sekeping notis yang tertulis ‘Tuan bukan rakyat Sarawak, tidak berhak untuk masuk ke Sarawak tanpa permit atau pas Akta Imigresen 1959-1963′.

Mengulas mengenai hal itu lagi, katanya mengikut akta Imigresen 66(1C), seseorang ahli parlimen itu bebas untuk masuk ke negeri berkenaan.

“Saya telah membantah tahan berkenaan mengikut 66(1), saya juga telah membacakan akta 66(1C) iaitu hak saya sebagai seorang anggota dewan rakyat,” katanya yang juga Ahli Majlis Pimpinan Tertinggi KeADILan.

Unity in diversity: We respect PAS for wanting hudud as Islam is their aspiration :DAP ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat with tags , on December 26, 2008 by ckchew

SK

We respect PAS for wanting hudud as Islam is their aspiration, but you still need two-thirds parliamentary majority

By Wong Choon Mei

In a move that signals a closing of ranks among Pakatan Rakyat partners as the Kuala Terengganu by-election nears, DAP vice-chairman M Kulasegaran has reiterated that his party will go all out to help the PAS candidate wrest the seat from arch enemy Umno, regardless of their differing stance on hudud.

Egged on by their political rivals from the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, PAS and DAP have once again argued publicly over hudud – Islamic criminal law that involves punishment such as stoning to death and amputation of limbs.

The Islamic-based PAS sees nothing wrong in introducing the law – which will affect only Muslims – but the multi-racial DAP is against the idea and fears such a move could infringe on the rights of the minority non-Malay groups.

According to Kulasegaran, Chinese voters in Kuala Terengganu were matured enough not to be swayed by the hudud issue.  He said they were sharp enough to see the matter was being blown up by Barisan Nasional.

“The matter has been debated many times over. There is nothing new to it,” the DAP veteran said

Kulasegaran said he respected PAS for wanting to implement hudud law as Islam was the party’s aspiration, but he pointed out that PAS would have to make a constitutional amendment before it could do so.

“It is still subject to amendments to the federal constitution,” he said, noting that PAS did not have the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to make the amendment.

Unity in diversity

His words echoed those of Pakatan Rakyat colleague, Tian Chua, the information chief of KeADILan.

“This is democracy,” said KeADILan information chief Tian Chua. “If PAS on its own wins two-thirds parliamentary majority and if it wants to introduce hudud, who can question them? It would be their right then. But if they win the government together, and I emphasise together, with KeADILan and DAP, they won’t be able to introduce hudud without our consent

The Pakatan consists of KeADILan, DAP and Pas. Since its formation to take on the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition in the March 2008 general election, doomsayers and political rivals have been predicting their bust-up on the basis of incompatible ideology.

But the trio has defied the odds and managed to stick together – prompting many analysts to come round to the view that perhaps they had more issues in common than differences.

“It’s natural to doubt that it can be all roses especially when you look at PAS and DAP. They seem so contrasting and they are also very strident about their stance. Yet the big break-up that everyone has been predicting hasn’t come,” said a political analyst.

Wooing voters

According to many pundits, Chinese voters who make up 11 percent of the electorate in the KT constituency, were crucial if the Barisan wanted to maintain the seat. The by-election is slated for Jan 17.

Yet, others believe the Malays who form 88-percent of voters were even more critical. According to this group, there has been a shift in sentiment from Umno to PAS and KeADILan since the March 2008 general election.

In the March 2008 election, the late deputy education minister Razali Ismail had snatched the seat from PAS candidate Mohamad Sabu by just 628 votes.

Kulasegaran, who is also Ipoh Barat MP, pointed out that Pakatan was a functioning partnership of all three members and together they formed a strong opposition front that could represent a huge spectrum of views and wishes.

“It is the party’s (PAS) stand. I respect them for their stand. It is their business,” he added.

Deputy Home Minister Wan Ahmad Farid is due to represent the Umno-led Barisan while the Pakatan Rakyat candidate is due to be unveiled by PAS on Jan 1.

KeADILan gesa Segerakan Tabung Pemberhentian Pekerja

Posted in economy, Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , , on December 26, 2008 by ckchew

SK

Biro Pekerja KeADILan akan mengadakan dialog bersama kesatuan pekerja dan ahli akademik dalam tempoh terdekat bagi mencari jalan untuk mengatasi isu kehilangan kerja yang dijangka makin serius.

Menurut Ketua Penerangan KeADILan, Tian Chua, ini adalah sejajar dengan keadaan kritikal pekerja sekarang memandangkan trend pemberhentian pekerja diramal serius.

Oleh yang demikian, KeADILan menurut Tian Chua, menyeru agar kerajaan menyegerakan inisiatif bagi menubuhkan Tabung Pemberhentian Pekerja dalam masa terdekat memandangkan trend pemberhentian pekerja diramal serius.

“DI saat-saat kritikal ini, kerajaan harus memainkan peranan menjaga kebajian pekerja, dan tiba waktunya untuk mewujudkan jaringan keselamatan sosial yang menjamin kebajikan pekerja sebelum isu pengangguran terjebak ke dalam masalah sosial yang lebih besardampaknya.”katanya dalam satu kenyataan 23 Disember lalu.

Dalam laporan Persekutuan Majikan-majikan Malaysia, 4,749 pekerja akan diberhentikan dalam tempoh tiga bulan pertama tahun depan, dan sekurang-kurangnya 200,000 pekerja akan hilang kerja pada akhir tahun nanti.

Tambah Tian yang juga Ahli Parlimen Batu, Angka ini tidak termasuk lagi 300,000 pekerja daripada jumlah 500,000 pekerja Malaysia bekerja di Singapura yang akan diberhentikan kerja.

Berbanding dengan krisis ekonomi tahun 1998, di mana seramai 284,000 pekerja hilang kerja dengan kadar pengangguran 3.2%, kemelesetan ekonomi tahun ini jelas jauh lebih serius dan pasti mendatangkan kesan yang lebih teruk.

“Namun apa yang dikesali adalah sehingga ke hari ini kerajaan masih belum mewujudkan apa-apa langkah konkrit untuk menangani cabaran ini,” katanya lagi.

Tambah Tian Chua, malah usaha sekadar memantau melalui Jawatankuasa Pemantauan Pemberhentian Pekerja dan Jawatankuasa Membantu Pekerja-pekerja yang Diberhentikan adalah tidak mencukupi.

“Kementerian Sumber Manusia juga harus mempastikan majikan tidak membuang pekerja-pekerja hanya untuk mengurangkan kos pembelanjaan,” katanya lagi.

Ezam says choice of candidate crucial in KT by-election

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags , , on December 26, 2008 by ckchew

Ezam says his task in KT is to target Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s “un-statesmanship”

Former KeADILan leader Ezam Mohd Nor sees a close fight in the upcoming Kuala Terengganu by-election, where Pakatan Rakyat is pitted against Barisan Nasional following the death of deputy education minister Razali Ismail last month.

“It is a close fight and I think the outcome depends a lot on the strength of candidates. Others factors are more or less the same therefore the choice of candidate is crucial. BN has a good candidate given the circumstances but a lot also depends who Pas chooses. But with BN and Pas divided, Chinese votes are crucial,” Ezam was reported as saying by news portal Malaysian Insider.

Ezam – whose move to Umno in May was trumpeted and hailed with fanfare especially by the camps closest to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – has nevertheless failed to make any mark in his latest party.

Neither has he been missed in KeADILan. Once the initial shock dissipated, KeADILan members took in stride the departure of the former Youth chief – specifically recruited by their rival to knock down the larger-than-life persona of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

In the August Permatang Pauh by-election, which marked Anwar’s comback to Parliament, Ezam had repeatedly threatened to expose his former boss.

But the limited impact of his disclosures – along with the negative perception of betrayal that he invoked – only went against Umno and himself.

Ezam blames the whole let-down on the fact that Umno did not give him a powerful enough role.

“I did not play a big role. Without a formal position in the party whatever I can do is limited. But I explained to the people, the constituents why I left the KeADILan and why I joined Umno. I explained to them why they have to be more critical of Anwar. I think I have done that even though the results of the by-election shows Anwar got an even bigger majority,” Ezam said.

Targeting Anwar and Sept 16

Nevertheless, he is not going to give up trying to tear down his former mentor. Ezam has been tasked to help Umno campaign for their KT candidate Wan Ahmad Farid in the Jan 17 by-election.

“My main message is to tell voters that Anwar is not a statesman. His ‘un-statesmanship’ claims have alienated the people, especially after the Sept 16 fiasco. I will tell voters it is a political ploy by Anwar for his personal pursuit at the expanse of the people and country. He has to explain his failure. This is my main plan. I will highlight this during the campaign,” Ezam said.

Anwar had promised to topple the Umno-led Barisan Nasional federal government through parliamentary defections by Sept 16, but he failed to do so for several reasons. The failure to deliver has been jumped upon by the BN as an opposition ploy and white lie.

Yet, pundits point out the darkness that overcast the nation in the weeks prior to Sept 16.

In a move that sparked both international and domestic condemnation, Abdullah had suddenly invoked the oppressive Internal Security Act to arrest Raja Petra Kamarudin, well-known blogger and close friend of Anwar, DAP parliamentarian Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng.

In those dark weeks, many Malaysians had stocked up on food provisions on fears the Umno-led BN would declare emergency rule. In an unprecedented move, the chief of armed forces appeared in the official media warning against growing unrest – adding fuel to fire that another mass-crackdown on political dissent, such as the Operation Lallang of the 80s, was in the air.

In a lighter but no less sensational vein was an attempt by the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club to corral off government MPs – especially from Sabah and Sarawak – from Pakatan influence. Their move to fly government lawmakers off to Taiwan for a week of all-expenses-paid holiday made the headlines both nationally and internationally.

According to Ezam, the Sept 16 failure will not stop Anwar from trying again.

“Oh no…he won’t give up. I hear he is still talking to some MPs and trying to persuade them to crossover,” said Ezam.

“Anwar talked about it too much… he tried to create a wave to trigger crossovers. He alerted his political rivals. He tried to destabilize to create room for him to manoeuvre. He never had the numbers but tried to create the numbers by stampeding MPs. His plan failed. He should have worked quietly, gathered the support and make the change when the time was right, not make it into a circus.”

Enter Najib Altantuya, With Baggage

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on December 25, 2008 by ckchew

From The Economist

A new leader mired in accusations

ONE could certainly say that Najib Razak was born to be Malaysian prime minister. He is the son of Abdul Razak, the second man to hold that job following independence from Britain, and the nephew of his successor, Hussein Onn. Elected to parliament aged 23, on his father’s death, he rose to become deputy to the present prime minister, Abdullah Badawi. However, Mr Najib, expected within months to become the country’s sixth post-independence leader, will enter under a cloud of allegations, including ones linking him to a murder case, all of which he categorically denies. But some Malaysians will be wondering if he is a
fit person to lead them.

Facing a revitalised opposition, in an election earlier this year the governing coalition, led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), lost the two-thirds majority it needs to change the constitution. Since then, the knives have been out for Mr Badawi. Despite his efforts to cling on he is being forced to quit next March.

The contest to succeed him as party president, and thus prime minister, at first promised to be lively. But party officials, fearful of the challenge from the opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim (a former UMNO deputy leader), chose to hang together rather than hang separately. By November 2nd Mr Najib had won enough nominations to block his only rival, Razaleigh Hamzah, a former finance minister, from getting on the
ballot-paper.

Like Mr Badawi before him, Mr Najib comes to the job promising reforms, including of the system of preference for members of the ethnic-Malay majority for state contracts and jobs. Mr Badawi achieved little,
though he allowed a bit more freedom of expression than had his predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad. Expectations for Mr Najib are lower still. It is possible, notes Edmund Gomez, a political scientist, that
he will use the worsening economic outlook as a pretext for reverting to Mahathir-style repression.

Mr Anwar has failed to carry out his threat to topple the government through a mass defection of parliamentarians. Even so, there is a palpable FIN DE ReGIME air around UMNO. Mr Badawi, Mr Mahathir and
other leaders are publicly lamenting how corruption and cronyism are rife in the party. But his opponents say Mr Najib is hardly the man to restore confidence. In the latest scandal to which they are linking him, the defence ministry (which he oversaw until recently) has deferred a big order for helicopters following questions about their high price. A parliamentary committee this week cleared the government
of wrongdoing, but admitted not investigating whether “commissions” were paid.

In an earlier case, a company the opposition claimed was linked to Razak Baginda, an adviser to Mr Najib, was paid juicy fees for services provided over a contract for the purchase of French submarines. A
Mongolian woman, said to have worked as a translator in the negotiations, was shot dead and her corpse destroyed with explosives in 2006. Mr Razak was put on trial over her killing, along with two policemen. The case has dragged on for months and seen various odd goings-on, including changes of judge, prosecutors and defence lawyers at the start of the trial. A private detective signed a statutory declaration implicating Mr Najib, retracted it the next day, saying it had been made under duress. Calls by the victim’s family for Mr Najib to testify were rejected. On October 31st the judge ruled that the prosecution had failed to make a prima facie case against Mr Razak.

The policemen’s trial will continue. A blogger who linked Mr Najib’s wife to the case is on trial for criminal libel. None of this, however, seems likely to interfere with Mr Najib’s accession to the prime minister’s job. A bigger threat may yet emerge from the resurgent opposition and Mr Anwar, who nurtures a long-thwarted ambition to take the job himself.

The hypocrisy in men

Posted in RPK with tags , on December 25, 2008 by ckchew

So, while I might support Hudud in principle, I do not support it as the law of the land. And I do not support it because I can’t support what two-thirds of Parliament does not support.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Christmas is upon us, yet again. Another Christmas, another year gone, another year nearer to our graves. Tomorrow is Boxing Day, also remembered as Tsunami Day, the day when people were drowned in their sleep and swept out to sea into their watery graves.

How quickly joy turns to sorrow. One day we are elated with festivity and drowning in food and wine.  The next we are sedated with reality and drowning in the Indian Ocean. I am now in Penang. I arrived yesterday with an entourage of six families, about 25 souls or so in all. I am now in the land where it all happened almost a memory ago.

The Boxing Day Tsunami, some say, is God’s punishment. It is God punishing mankind for the wrongs it has done. If that was really what God intended then God did not do a good job. Those who deserve punishment certainly did not get punished. Those who were punished were not deserving of that fate. Are we talking about my God, one of compassion and justice, or are we talking about your God, one with a sick sense of humour and misguided sense of justice?

To you your God and to me mine, the religionists say. But then are we not all God’s children and the creation of that same, one God? How can you, therefore, have your God and me, mine? Your God and mine are one and the same. To believe we have separate Gods means we believe there is more than one God. And the doctrine of most religions says there is but one God, in particular that of the Abrahamic faiths.

And are we so different? Did not Muhammad learn from the Christians and much of Islam ‘adopted’ from Christianity? Does not the Ka’bah also appear in the same name and form in the land of the Zoroastrians in the far reaches of Persia? Did not Jesus disappear from the ages of 12 to 30 when he sought tuition from Buddhists, as many now believe? Did not John the Baptist practice what was practiced by the Hindus in India of his time? But what can we really believe? Do we really know what was fact and fiction thousands of years ago? What we do know is what we have been told to believe. And what we are told to believe is what they want us to believe. And what they want us to believe is what suits the political agenda of those who walk in the corridors of power.

John roamed the land with just the clothes on his back to preach the word of God. And he brought no rations save those he accepted as alms along the way. Was John a Jew, Christian or Buddhist? We believe what we want to believe as long as it suits those who walk in the corridors of power. And to believe otherwise will not incur the wrath of God but the wrath of those who need us to believe what we are told to believe for purposes of political expediency.

Such is religion. And such is politics. And religion is not about God. It is about politics. And Cain killed Abel not for God but for politics. The good died that day, thousands of years ago. And we are descendants of the bad that lived, not the good that died.

So, can mankind be good when we are children of bad? How can the fruit of a poisonous tree be nothing but poisonous? If Cain had survived and society had convicted Abel and sentenced him to death for attempted murder, then we would probably be good because then we would be children of Cain, not Abel.

But would children of good also be good? And would children of bad also be bad? Can those whose mothers and fathers who are both nuclear scientists be equally brilliant? Or is there no possibility the son could be born mentally retarded? How many children of Umno diehards join the opposition, to be cursed and disowned by their fathers? And can there not be two brothers on opposite sides of the political fence? Shahrir and Khalid, the two sons of Samad, are testimony that there can. But which of Samad’s sons is Cain and which is Abel? It all depends on whether you walk in the corridors of power. Cain can be Abel and Abel, Cain, if he you judge walks with you and not against you.

Hudud is the current controversy, the latest Tsunami sweeping this land. But what is the issue? Is it about religion or it is merely politics? The hand is quicker than the eye. And what we see is what our brain tells us to see. We see what the hand waves in front of us. Magic is not magic. Magic is sleight of hand.

And the politicians are playing silap mata. It is a cheap show to indulge our fantasies. Is it not fantasy that Hudud will be implemented in Malaysia? How can the minority move the majority? The Federal Constitution does not provide for it. Hudud is not about religion. It is about the law of the land. Religion may be a state matter. But Hudud is not about religion. It is about the law of the land. And the states do not have authority over the laws of the land. Hudud can only become law when Parliament says so. And you need 66.666% of Parliament to say so. PAS owns only 23 seats.  And 23 seats in Parliament is not 66.666% of 222. So Hudud can never be the law of the land.

The non-Muslim coalition partners of Barisan Nasional oppose Hudud. This, they have said so. Umno from Kelantan supports Hudud. This, they have said so. The non-Muslim partners of the opposition coalition oppose Hudud. This, they have said so. PAS, the propagator of Hudud, is split on the issue. This may have a bearing on the Kuala Terengganu by-election on 17 January 2009.

In the meantime the people are confused. Who supports what and who opposes? It is no longer that easy to tell. But it is meant that way. This is what politics is all about. And Hudud is about politics, not about religion. Politics is about exploitation and deception. Politics, not prostitution, is the oldest profession in the world. But, while prostitutes are not politicians, politicians are certainly prostitutes. And they will prostitute themselves if need be. And most times it needs be that they prostitute themselves.

PAS wants to secure the Malay votes in Kuala Terengganu. Umno wants to swing the Chinese votes. So, with the by-election looming over the horizon, Hudud is played to the hilt. Islam is the issue of the day. Hudud is the bad boy of Islam. And there are no sacred cows in politics. All is fair in love and war. So let us play up the Hudud issue for the benefit of winning votes.

A critical analysis of Hudud could lay the matter to rest. Those opposed could become converted if the real issue is explained. But then this will end the confusion. And the objective is not to end the confusion. The game plan is exploitation and deception. That is how ‘good’ politics is played. And there is only one type of politics, the type that wins.

I do not want to explain Hudud. I am not even a Hudud apologist. I can do that if you want me to. It is so crystal clear and extremely simple that it makes me laugh. How can Hudud be an issue? Hudud can be good and can be bad depending on application.  So can the Internal Security Act if you really want to get analytical. Hudud is not about punishment. It is about looking into circumstances. Hudud explores what went wrong and how to put it right. It is not about imposing on society and causing tears to be shed.

Thieves must not be automatically punished under Hudud. The circumstances need to first be explored. Under common law thieves must not escape punishment. The circumstances do not matter. If a thief is a thief because of circumstances then the thief is not a thief and society must instead be punished, as far as Hudud is concerned. Society will be ordered to adopt the thief. The thief will become the ward of the state. And the thief can now leave his life and crime and enter into a life of adoption.

Such is the beauty of Hudud. A thief is not a thief. A thief becomes our adopted child. And if, again, he needs to steal because we have failed him, then we receive punishment instead. The thief loses no limb. But do people understand this? They do not because they are meant to not understand. This is about politics. And politicians are prostitutes. They exploit us and deceive us. And that is a mark of a good politician.

Murder is murder. Death is punished by death. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But that is common law. That is not Hudud. In Hudud the question would be: why did you kill? Circumstantial evidence is not allowed under Hudud. Under common law you hang because of the smoking gun. Never mind they can’t prove that you killed. As long as the gun is yours you will die even if you did not pull the trigger. And did not Mokhtar Hashim get sentenced to death because of the smoking gun?

Even if you confess to murder you still do not die. The family would first be asked whether they want you dead. Taking your life will not bring back the deceased. So do we want a life for a life? Two lives gone serves no purpose. The deceased’s family’s welfare for the rest of its natural days takes precedence over punishment. Dead men do not put food on the table. Would another life lost, notwithstanding it is the life of a murderer, solve the economic problems of the deceased family?

So you can ‘buy’ your life by supporting the family. It may be costly but that is the price of life. But what if you are destitute yourself? How to support your victim’s family when you can’t even support yourself? Many pay tithe or zakat. Zakat must be paid, come hell or high water. You can choose how to pay as long as it assists society. And if your millions can be spent for the benefit of mankind then you have fulfilled your duty to God and society. So a philanthropist can help ‘buy back’ your life for the good of the deceased’s family.

So there are ways. Hudud can be humane if you want it to be. But has this been explained? Are the people aware that Hudud can improve society where common law has failed? But who cares? Who cares that Hudud can be better than what we have now? Hudud is not about religion. It is about politics. And politics is about exploitation and deception.  And that is because politicians are prostitutes. And Hudud has been prostituted for the benefit of politics. That is what Hudud is all about, political prostitution.

But I too do not support the implementation of Hudud. I support Hudud in that it can be better than what we have if properly implemented. But what is properly implemented nowadays? Even the Internal Security Act has been abused. The Internal Security Act was good in 1960. One generation later and it has become a tool to stifle dissent and freedom.

So, while I might support Hudud in principle, I do not support it as the law of the land. And I do not support it because I can’t support what two-thirds of Parliament does not support. This is not about religion. It is about democracy. Even if two-thirds of Parliament supports it I still will not support it. How can 148 members of Parliament decide on behalf of 26 million Malaysians? Never mind some people gave them their two-thirds majority in Parliament. It was only four million people that did. 22 million other Malaysians did not.

Run a referendum. 10 million Malaysians are minors. 16 million Malaysians are of voting age. Get the 16 million Malaysians to decide. And let that referendum of 75% tell us what they want. And if 12 million Malaysians, representing 75% of eligible voters, vote in favour of Hudud then let this be the law of the land. If not forever hold your tongue and let the matter be given a decent burial.

I have just about had it with political prostitutes.  It has come to a point I feel like campaigning for Umno in the Kuala Terengganu by-election just to send a message to PAS that they can’t keep playing this exploitation and deception game of political prostitution. Do they think I have my brains in my ass? Just because they do does not mean I do too.

Those who both support and oppose Hudud do not know one bit what Hudud is. Many years ago I wrote a ‘thesis’ on the matter, which was published in Harakah, the official party organ of PAS. No, I am no lawyer. I am not even a religious scholar. I just have a brain; a brain God gave me. And God gave us brains so that we can use it to think. But I wonder why others do not also use their brains that God gave them to think.

No, Hudud is not evil. Hudud is better than what we have now. But it can be worse if we want to make it so. And chances are the evil in man will make it worse. That is what makes the matter dicey.

Nevertheless, the issue is not whether Hudud is better or worse. It is about whether the majority of the people want it as the law of the land. That is what matters. And we do not care what 23 PAS Members of Parliament want. We do not even care what 148 Members of Parliament want, even if they represent two-thirds of Parliament. We care what 75% of 16 million Malaysians want. If 12 million Malaysians shout, “Let’s implement Hudud”, then let that happen. If not, buzz off and get out of my face before I really lose my temper, you political prostitutes.

Oh yes, and Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you are in the same mood as I am today. I want to kick ass. Don’t know what you want to do though.

Anwar eyes East Malaysia despite pact’s troubles

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim, Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , , on December 25, 2008 by ckchew

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 25 — While his allies argue over hudud laws and fret over the wobbling economy in their five states, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has taken over as liaison chairman for both Sabah and Sarawak in Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) efforts widen its base and capture the Borneo states.

The opposition leader, who made a triumphant parliamentary comeback in August, is initially eyeing Sarawak in the next state elections due by 2011 as chief minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud faces increased opposition to his 27 years in power.

Sabah is a different proposition as the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition is dominant with 57 of the 60 seats in the state assembly.

But consumed with garnering more support from both states, Anwar has been conspicuously silent about the controversy over implementing Islamic criminal Hudud laws that flared up again this week between Pas and DAP, and Pakatan Rakyat state governments’ efforts to mitigate the fallout from a growing global recession.

“Some things are out of his hand. Anwar will quietly handle Pas and DAP behind the scenes but the economy will take some work,” a Pakatan Rakyat source told The Malaysian Insider, adding the electoral pact had made suggestions in the budget debate.

The PKR supreme council met late Monday night but party president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is Anwar’s wife, only announcement was that Anwar has taken over as liaison chairman for Sabah and Sarawak, citing the appointment as proof of the party’s focus to struggle for the people from Perlis to Sarawak.

“The agenda to bring change in Sabah and Sarawak needs the support from all levels of society. Sarawak will have its state elections soon and Datuk Seri Anwar’s appointment as state liaison chairman for both states justify our concern for problems there and is significant in Pakatan Rakyat’s power transition to Putrajaya,” she said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

The Pakatan Rakyat electoral pact, which groups PKR, Pas and DAP, has 81 out of the 222 seats in the federal parliament. BN has 137 seats while the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), which pulled out of BN in September, has two seats and one to Independent Datuk Ibrahim Ali. The Kuala Terengganu seat is vacant with the by-election on Jan 17.

PKR’s focus for the Borneo states has been apparent when Anwar predicted he could form capture Putrajaya by Malaysia Day with help from 30 federal lawmakers after Pakatan Rakyat made a historic upset in the March 8 General Elections where BN lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority and four more states to the opposition.

Since then, only SAPP has pulled out of the 14-member BN coalition but has chosen to remain independent in Parliament although its president Datuk Yong Teck Lee is close to the sacked deputy prime minister, who has yet to fulfil his prediction to unseat BN from power.

Anwar, in a posting at his weblog today, called the changes routine and said the state leadership in the party are merely coordinators in an effort to dispel notions of consolidating power for himself as “experienced leaders will be act as advisors at the national level while the new leadership will get exposure apart from introducing new approaches to attract new members”.

“Personally, I am not inclined to coordinate activities in Sabah and Sarawak. In fact, even Wilayah Persekutuan asked me to help but I feel that Tan Sri Khalid as Selangor Menteri Besar, is better there,” Anwar said, adding the appointments will be reviewed regularly.

He also said his offer to help both PKR state liaison committees has been announced before and he hoped to get support from all quarters in both states.

Apart from Anwar heading both Sabah and Sarawak, and Khalid leading Selangor and Wilayah Persekutuan, the other state leaders are Datuk Fauzi Abdul Rahman (Pahang), Datuk Zahrain Mohamed Hashim (Penang), Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas (Negri Sembilan), Ahmad Kassim (Kedah), Abdul Aziz Abdul Kadir (Kelantan), Johari Shafie (Perlis), Khalid Jaafar (Malacca), Dr Zaliha Mustaffa (Johor), Osman Abdul Rahman (Perak) and Wan Rahim Wan Hamzah (Terengganu). MI