Archive for January, 2009

Unity in Diversity & Agreeing to disagree paying off for Pakatan ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat with tags , on January 31, 2009 by ckchew
By Shannon Teoh MI

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — In the weeks following Pas’s win in the Kuala Terengganu by-elections, there has hardly been a whisper about hudud or the supposed split among Indians within Pakatan Rakyat.

It appears that the gamble taken by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to bite his tongue and sidestep those issues during the campaign has paid off.

The PKR de facto leader did not have to isolate any group of supporters by making a definite stand despite calls for him to do so.

In the end, the euphoria of victory has allowed the last embers of dissent on these matters to die out.

This has perplexed Barisan Nasional leaders, who believed that the ‘infighting’ would have caused votes to leak from the opposition.

The governing coalition ended up losing the seat by a majority four times that which it had itself won by in the March 2008 general election.

Analysts believe that PR made gains by allowing each party the freedom to speak on issues.

‘By allowing DAP and Pas to continue to beat their drums on hudud, they are given a cause to champion to their political constituents,’ says political consultant Khoo Kay Peng.

By conventional wisdom, such issues, when left to fester, can result in deep cracks in a coalition.

But the only conventional wisdom that Malaysian politics has had has been from BN.

PR appears to have a different idea about dealing with consensus building within a coalition.

When BN’s Ketuanan Melayu or Malay supremacy achilles’ heel starts to blight it, its supreme council, the highest decision-making body in the coalition, stops the rot by virtually issuing an edict on such matters.

When then Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail referred to Chinese Malaysians as ‘immigrants,’ the fierce spat between component leaders and Umno ultras saw grassroots members from both Umno and Gerakan asking for Gerakan to leave BN.

The supreme council had to step in with the final word on the matter and allowed Umno to suspend Ahmad for three years.

But while PR has an informal leadership council made up of Anwar, Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang, the body has existed in most part only to sign off on agreements designed to pledge allegiance to the coalition or on principles such as Malay rights.

Under the proposed PR charter, a presidential council made up of the top leadership of each party will be established as its highest decision-making body.

But leaders from the tripartite coalition told The Malaysian Insider that it will not operate in the same way as BN’s supreme council as PR prefers to recognise different ideological stands and allow an open debate on issues to reach a consensus before implementing any policy.

‘The idea to establish it is there but only to deal with major issues and not on ideals and political differences,’ said DAP Socialist Youth chief Anthony Loke, who is a member of the coalition’s joint secretariat.

Anwar, when pressed on hudud during the Kuala Terengganu campaign trail, had maintained this line by saying: ‘We abide by our Constitution, but we should allow Muslims to articulate their views. I have no objections discussing it within PR.’

Meanwhile, several Pas and DAP leaders such as the former’s spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat and the latter’s chairman Karpal Singh had voiced their opinions on the matter loudly, leading to dissent within PR supporters.

But the opposition does not see it necessary to muzzle such public disagreements.

‘It takes time to reach a consensus, so we should be prepared to engage in discussion,’ said Khalid Samad, Pas’s Shah Alam MP.

Yusmadi Yusoff, MP for Balik Pulau, added that for PKR, it was interested in real harmony not an artificial one imposed by BN.

‘BN is about homogenising any dialogue and creating taboos. But in the PR setup, when Karpal or Hadi make a stand, it is based on principles and democratic convictions,’ he said.

In short, while both Khalid and Yusmadi agree that a BN supreme council-based mechanism would be politically expedient, it would not achieve ‘real reform.’

Zaid: Umno so corrupt that even disciplinary board has to practise selective investigation ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in corruption with tags , , on January 31, 2009 by ckchew

Members who did “not belong to the right camp” risked investigation, while those who moved in the right circles could breathe easy, knowing that they could “escape with impunity” …

By Wong Choon Mei

Former de-facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim, sacked from Umno for attending Pakatan Rakyat functions, said today that corruption in his former party was so bad that even its disciplinary board had to bow to certain top leaders and investigate on a selective basis.

“What makes it so difficult for the tribunal to effectively carry out its functions is the selective prosecution it must practice in the discharge of its duties. Actions can only be taken if required or useful to certain top leaders,” Zaid said.

The well-respected lawyer said members who did “not belong to the right camp” risked investigation, while those who moved in the right circles could breathe easy, knowing that they could “escape with impunity”.

Zaid also said that fair and equal treatment was “wishful thinking, as there are rules in Umno that apply to some but not to others”.

Setting the cat among the pigeons

The Umno disciplinary board has come under the spotlight this week, announcing the suspension of several junior leaders and issuing warning letters to several others.

It also revealed it had received 976 complaints from 2007 to Jan 28 this year.

In particular, disciplinary chairman Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen has drawn fire for advising the dissolution of main wings – Youth, Wanita, Putera and Puteri – and consolidation into a flat, singular party.

The suggestion has since been rejected by both Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Najib Abdul Razak as being impractical and unworkable.

But according to Zaid, it only showed how frustrated Rithauddeen was with the deep-seated corruption in Umno and that he did not believe reform would be possible under the current structure and “under the present crop of leaders”.

“He is exasperated with the extent of the corruption permeating the party at all levels,” said Zaid.

No mandate given

Zaid also dropped another bombshell.

He said the Umno disciplinary board does not have any clear mandate from the party leadership to deal with money politics.

“When I was suspended for allegedly being involved in money politics, I knew that Tengku Rithauddeen, although chairman, was not involved in making the decision.

“Someone else in the management wanted me out,” said Zaid, referring to his suspension when he was Kota Baru chief.

Entry ban: MP files for review

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat, PKR with tags , on January 30, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

PKR Member of Parliament for Padang Serai N Gobalakrishnan has applied for leave for a judicial review on his entry ban into Sarawak last Christmas Eve.

MCPX

The leave application or notice for the judicial review will be heard in the Kuching High Court on Friday, Feb 6, according to lawyer Dominique Ng, who is also the party’s sole state assemblyperson and a member of the panel of lawyers handling the case.

hindraf batu caves selayang court 281107 gobalakrishnanThe leave application was filed today.

Ng told Malaysiakini today that the application for judicial review in the Gobalakrishnan v state director of immigration and two others to challenge the MP’s entry ban from Sarawak was filed this morning.

Sealed copies were obtained in the afternoon.

“The leave application is scheduled to be heard in High Court I in Kuching at 9 am on Feb 6 2009,” he said, adding that the attorney-general, state attorney-general and the state secretary are being served with the sealed copies of the application for notice for judicial review of the matter.Politically motivated

Ng added that ‘a multi-racial dream team’ of PKR lawyers, including Orang Ulu lawyers Baru Bian and Harrison Ngau, Shankar Ram and himself will handle the case. “More  lawyers  are being sought to join the panel,” he said.

Gobalakrishnan was denied entry on Dec 24 at 5.30 pm when he flew into Kuching from Kuala Lumpur on a social visit. He told Malaysiakini that it was politically motivated and intended to take legal action against the authorities concerned.

He related then that the moment he reached the airport, immigration officers told him that he was not allowed to enter due to instructions from the state government.

“The immigration officer gave me a notice which reads ‘Tuan bukan rakyat Sarawak, tidak berhak untuk masuk ke Sarawak tanpa permit atau pas Akta Imigresen 1959-1963′ (You are not a citizen of Sarawak and are not eligible to enter Sarawak without a permit or immigration pass),’ he was quoted as saying.

He finally agreed to take a late night flight back to Kuala Lumpur in the same evening.

Pakatan leaders concerned over ‘abuse’ of Umno man

Posted in corruption with tags , on January 30, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

An Umno leader who was allegedly abused by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers have found an unusual ally in the form of two Pakatan Rakyat figures.

Klang MP Charles Santiago (DAP) described the alleged physical and psychological abuse of Umno Maran division committee member Halimi Kamaruzzaman by MACC personel as an abuse of power.

“The commission officials cannot use a high-profile investigation of money politics involving an Umno politician aspiring to be elected to the party’s supreme council in March to justify inflicting torture on Halimi,” he said in a statement today.

Santiago suggests that the establishment of the long-delayed Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to curb abuse of power during investigation process.

Following this, Santiago said the government should also ensure that the rights of a detainee must be clearly stipulated and incorporated into the Criminal Procedure Code.

Such provisions should include the duration of interrogation, methods of interrogation, the right to food, water and other necessities.

“Failure to do so will only provide the opportunity for more cases of custodial violence and death to keep occurring in the country,” he said, adding that Parliament statistics shows that there were 1,535 cases of custodial death from 2003 to 2007.

‘MACC should be heroes’

Meanwhile, Federal Territories PAS Youth condemned the alleged abuse by MACC officers and urged the government to establish a special body to review investigation methods by enforcement authorities.

“We respect the duties of the enforcers but in many situations, they have to think before acting and not resort to shortcuts by torturing their detainees for information.

“Enforcement officials are not criminals. They are supposed to be the heroes of the rakyat and protect the country. But if they behave like criminals, where can the rakyat pin their hopes on?” asked FT PAS Youth information chief Herman Samsudeen in a statement.

Herman stressed that though Halimi was from Umno, FT PAS Youth is taking a position on his plight on humanitarian and religious grounds.

On Wednesday, Halimi, 46, reported the alleged abuse to the Damansara police station, whe he claimed to be assaulted during his four-day remand in Kuantan.

According to him, three MACC officers had punched him in the head, stomach and shoulder. He also claimed that he was kicked in the ribs and knee.

“I was also forced to strip naked, lie and roll on the floor. An officer choked me against the wall. They threatened me that my wife would also be arrested and be asked to strip if I did not agree to make a confession that I handed money to Umno members,” said Halimi in the report.

Worse-than-expected economic slowdown: Expecting 660,000 unemployed ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in economy with tags on January 30, 2009 by ckchew

The global crisis has magnified and shown up how vulnerable the country is for not pursuing greater financial prudence in the past.

It makes transparency and anti-graft measures all the more imperative in current times, as the government prepares to spend record sums in the name of economic recovery …

By Wong Choon Mei

More gloomy news on the economic front for Malaysia as a member of the government’s National Economic Council predicts that unemployement could hit as high as 6.0 percent this year, the highest in two decades.

Citing worse-than-expected economic slowdown, Zainal Aznam Yusof expects GDP growth to be around 2.0 percent, lower than the official forecast of 3.5 percent.

“It is a shock to the system and the brunt is on employment,” Zainal was quoted as saying. “Malaysia has a working population of 11 million. A six per cent rate translates into 660,000 unemployed people.

“We should brace for a large overhang of unemployed, especially when the graduates enter the job market.”

Zainal expects retrenchment to take place across all sectors of the economy, with export industries likely to be worst-hit..

In the construction and plantation sectors, most of those laid off will be foreigner workers. However, locals will suffer more in the services and manufacturing sectors.

“So far, the monthly retrenchment is not huge yet, but it is going up,” he said.

Najib concedes budget deficit will rise again

Meanwhile, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Najib Abdul Razak said the country’s budget deficit will be pushed up higher than the 4.8 percent of GDP level that he forecast in November.

His reason being that the government plans to launch a second economic stimulus package soon.

Najib admitted the RM7 billion package introduced in November, in addition to the RM207.9 billion 2009 budget package unveiled in August, would not be sufficient to arrest the economic decline.

“We are mindful of the fiscal deficit and do not want to see it too high,” he said.

But he declined to say if the budget deficit could hit 6.0 percent as speculated.

“It all depends on the fiscal pump-priming that we are going to do,” he said. “I am working on it. I will let you know when we present the second stimulus package.”

The Finance Minister also said more than 70 per cent of the RM7 billion plan has been implemented up to now.

However, just less than two weeks ago, he had drawn flak for admitting that none of the initiatives outlined in the package had been carried out yet.

“Procedures are being streamlined for speedy implementation of the projects, which have high impact and high multiplier effect to stimulate the economic growth and resilience,” said Najib.

Borrowing rose even in good economic times

Malaysia has drawn sharp rebuke for its financial indiscipline. While economists recognise that the government will have little choice but to spend its way out of trouble, they point out that the current pace of taking on debt posed great risks for the future.

Money market analysts expect the government’s net issuance of debt securities to shoot past the RM60 billion mark and hit a fresh record high in 2009.

For comparison, in 1997 net debt issuance was just RM 3.8 billion, pushed up to RM17.7 billion in 1998 by the Asian financial crisis.

But despite the government’s promise to balance the budget, it has steadily ballooned from then on, crossing the RM50 billion ringgit mark for the first time to end 2007 at RM53.7 billion. In 2006, the figure was RM38.33 billion, RM34.7 billion in 2005.

“If you look at the trend, you will see Malaysia borrowing whether in good times or bad times. There has been little discipline, and when you look at the economic structures in place, you wonder where the money went,” said an economist at a large bank.

“Other governments, like Singapore, can afford to really bring out their reserves now because they were prudent in the past. We are already in record negative territory and this is despite the past few years, which were wonderful economically.

“What happened then, why didn’t we balance the budget then? More importantly, will this time be any different or will the same happen to all the proposed, new spending. Will we be able to see it or feel its effects better this time around?”

Syabas breaches contract: Pakatan state want concession agreement terminated ~ Malaysiakini.

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat with tags on January 30, 2009 by ckchew

The Sun

PETALING JAYA (Jan 30, 2009): An audit of Selangor’s water concessionaire operations has revealed that the company had breached several important terms of the 30-year concession agreement, and the state government is using this to press for the lucrative contract to be terminated.

It is learnt Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) – owned by Puncak Niaga (70% share) and state investment arm Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd (30%) – had failed to comply fully with the requirement for contracts to be awarded on an open tender basis.

Sources said the audit showed that more than 72% of contracts worth a total of RM600 million were awarded to selected companies via direct negotiations and only 25% via competitive open tender, which clearly violates the agreement.

In addition, the audit also found more than RM325 million in discrepancy between the summary of contracts awarded in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and Syabas’s review document (referring to general accounts).

The audit was a requirement before the company could be allowed to implement a tariff hike scheduled for Jan 1 this year. That has since been deferred as the Pakatan Rakyat state government is still in negotiations with the federal government on management of water assets and related issues.

Syabas’s concession agreement was signed between the federal and state governments and Puncak Niaga.

theSun learnt the state has written a letter to the ministry asking for the concession agreement to be terminated.

This is not the first time the question of breaches in the contract was brought up.

In June 2005, then energy, water and communications minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik announced that Syabas had breached the water privatisation concession by using imported pipes from Indonesia for its RM375 million pipe replacement project in the Klang Valley instead of sourcing them locally.

He had produced several photographs as proof that Syabas had used pipes manufactured by an Indonesian company, PT Growth.

Lim himself had then demanded for transparency.

“This breach of contract is grounds for termination,” a state official pointed out.

Lim had at that time questioned Syabas’s move in appointing a local company to procure the pipes when a special committee comprising officials from his ministry and the Finance Ministry had yet to approve the tender. It is not known what came out of Lim’s public statement.

Aside from the breach of contract issue, questions are also being raised over the RM51.2 million spent to renovate the Syabas office when the Selangor Water Regulatory Department (JKAS) only approved RM23.2 million for this in 2005. The audit review found that Syabas had failed to comply with the requirement as approved by JKAS.

At the heart of this tussle over the water contract is the state government’s desire to see water tariff kept low to benefit the people of Selangor. When it came to power, among the first things the new administration did was to give free water up to 20 cubic metres a month.

In December last year, Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor had said that according to the concession agreement, water tariff in Putrajaya, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur was to be increased by 31% by January this year but the hike has been deferred to March 31 to allow the state government to restructure the water industry in Selangor.

Shaziman said the 30-year concession agreement (from Jan 1, 2005 to Dec 31, 2034) could be revoked and the water tariff could be restructured after the assets had been handed over to Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd (PAAB) which is under the Finance Ministry.

Selangor, however, wants PAAB to allow the state to manage its own resources to ensure consumers pay a fair price without having to put up with scheduled hikes as per the agreement.

Under the agreement, consumers face more water tariff hikes until 2034. The next hike of 25% is scheduled for 2012, followed by a 20% hike in 2015, a 10% hike in 2019 and a 5% hike on 2021, 2024, 2027 and 2030.

Negotiations between Puncak Niaga and the Selangor government are still under way with the state looking for a deal which will benefit the public in the long run whereas Puncak Niaga as a public-listed company is looking for the best value for its shareholders.

Speculation is that the concessionaire is looking at beyond RM6 billion, based on capital expenditure and exit value. The matter will also be discussed at the Selangor state economic council (MTES) meeting today.

Sarawak the Key to a Mood for Change

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , , on January 30, 2009 by ckchew

From Australian Financial Review
by Angus Grigg

Abdul Taib Mahmud drives a cream Rolls-Royce, wears a gem the size of a walnut on his ring finger and is said to have once paid $US2 million for a piano owned by Liberace.

The Chief Minister of Sarawak, like the late American entertainer, is certainly flamboyant and he’s been well rewarded for his 28-year rule of the resource-rich province. But his time at the top is coming to an end.

Having celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary last week, the man known as the “White Haired Raja” has begun talking about succession. The likely departure of the 72-year-old is sure to shake up local politics on the island of Borneo, but it could also have a profound impact at the national level.

The theory is that if Abdul Taib were to step down, fresh elections could be required in the East Malaysian state, as any successor would lack the influence to hold the local legislature together. This is an opportunity for national Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and his three-party coalition, which has been working hard for some time to woo voters outside peninsula Malaysia.

If Anwar’s People’s Justice Party and its allies were to control the Sarawak parliament, analysts believe it would be only a matter of time before members of the national parliament from Sarawak tapped the public mood and crossed the floor in Kuala Lumpur. This would hand the government to Anwar and bring about the biggest political change in Malaysia since independence in 1957.

Such a scenario is some way off, but it’s the one confronting prime minister-in-waiting Najib Razak.

That’s why his government pulled out all stops to win a byelection in the state of Terengganu on January 17. It failed, handing another seat to the opposition, but the contest in the country’s north-east is a case study of what to expect when the battle for Sarawak begins.

Even by Malaysia’s lofty standards of political patronage, the Kuala Terengganu byelection was expensive. Najib and his ruling National Front coalition, desperate to arrest its electoral
fortunes, tried to spend its way to victory. The numbers are both appalling and beguiling.

All told, Najib, who is expected to take over from Abdullah Badawi in March, handed out $4.4 billion to voters. That works out at nearly $55,000 for each voter in the seaside electorate. The big-ticket items were the establishment of a $4.2 billion trust to manage the state’s oil revenue and the well-timed
handover of $169 million in petroleum royalties.

But this was not the headline act. In a ceremony the local press described as “controversial”, Najib Razak handed out $25 million in government contracts to 600 local firms at a party rally. Even more cynically, the government gave $21 million to Chinese schools in the district, just as it looked like the parents of these students would determine the election.

In the end, they didn’t and the government lost because Malay voters deserted it, while the ever-cautious Chinese either sat out the election or voted for the opposition. And while a 2.5
per cent swing against the government is hardly a landslide, the byelection loss would be very worrying for Najib given the amount of money thrown at the problem.

“The government’s traditional strategy of just buying votes failed,” said political analyst Wong Chin Huat, who lecturers at Monash University’s campus in Kuala Lumpur. “The win by the opposition showed the mood for change still exists in Malaysia.”

This mood for change is also breaking down traditional rivalries in a country long divided by race and religion. The opposition coalition won in Terengganu despite fielding a candidate from the deeply conservative Pan Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS). Not only did PAS gain more secular Malay voters, thanks to a moderating of its language, but it also did not scare off the Chinese.

This was despite Najib and the government doing their best to stoke racial and religious tension.

The victory is also a direct result of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim being able to hold together a coalition containing PAS, the Chinese moderates of the Democratic Action Party and his own
multiracial People’s Justice Party. It is, to say the least, a diverse coalition, united in many ways only by its hatred of a government that has ruled Malaysia since independence.

Finding common ground will be the challenge if the opposition ever comes to power, but for now it’s still focused on how to get there. Sarawak holds the key, and while patronage failed the government in Terengganu, it has long held sway in Borneo.

Nik Aziz: Don’t cover up Kugan’s death, Islam respects all races ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 29, 2009 by ckchew

Nik Aziz is the latest Malay leader in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition to join Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim in condemning police intimidation and brutality, which has been particularly targeted at minority non-Malay groups.

All eyes are now on the stance the Barisan Nasional government will take. Although the country’s human rights record is on the line, political watchers say the task of shaking up the police force might be beyond incoming premier Najib Razak …

By Wong Choon Mei

PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat has called on the Barisan Nasional government to ensure transparent and thorough investigation into the death of police detainee, Kugan Ananthan.

The revered leader said life was sacred and racial background was unimportant in the eyes of Islam.

“Although he is from a different race, the issue is not important in Islam,” said the Kelantan Chief Minister.

“Life is very precious and nobody can give it back once it has been taken away. The important thing is humanity.”

Nik Aziz, himself in frail health, also plans to send a representative to meet Kugan’s family to convey his condolences and to present some financial aid.

Nik Aziz is the latest Malay leader in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition to join Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim in condemning police intimidation and brutality, especially against the minority non-Malay groups.

“I don’t agree with covering up anything. There is no point in hiding as the truth will come out some day. Let those who were guilty apologise and then face action,” Nik Aziz said.

“We cry for democracy and justice, yet such incidents happen. The federal government should be ashamed.”

Not enough political firepower

The 22-year old Kugan died in mysterious circumstances, while under a two-week remand to help in police investigations over the theft of luxury cars.

Police had initially blamed his death on “water in his lungs”, but his family stormed the mortuary where his body was kept and took photos and video footage, which revealed extensive bruises.

The Attorney-General has odered that the case be re-classified as murder and allowed a second post-mortem on his body. The results are expected later this week.

The AG has also rejected police investigation papers submitted to him yesterday, asking for a more thorough job to be done.

Kugan was finally laid to rest yesterday after a high-profile funeral protest.

All eyes are now on the tack the Barisan Nasional federal government will take.

While the country’s human rights record is on the line, political veterans say both outgoing premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and incoming premier Najib Abdul Razak lacked the political support and reach to take on the predominantly-Malay police force.

They said it would be an uphill task to shake the police force free from entrenched and deep-seated corruption.

Tajol resigns as the fallout from KT and Bota spreads ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 29, 2009 by ckchew

Party watchers say his move is also aimed at deflecting blame from incoming Umno president, Najib Abdul Razak, as the fallout from the Kuala Terengganu by-election loss and the shift in allegiance by the Bota assemblyman spreads – amid complaints of corruption, oppressive and elitist internal policies …

By Wong Choon Mei

Former Perak chief minister Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali has quit as Perak Umno chief to take responsibility for losing the Bota assemblyman, Nasarudin Hashim,  to rival coalition Pakatan Rakyat.

“Nasarudin’s actions have brought great shame to Perak Umno, especially after Barisan Nasional’s defeats in the last elections. And I take full responsibility for what has happened,” Tajol was reported as saying after a division meeting in Parit last night.

He also appealed to Nasarudin to return to Umno.

However, it is not clear if Tajol’s resignation has been accepted by Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. Tajol also did not mention if he would also quit as head of Perak Barisan Nasional.

Histrionics and passing the buck

The decision by Nasarudin to switch allegiance, citing Umno’s oppressive and elitist policies as a main reason, has panicked the once-mighty party.

As expected, many Umno leaders have begun the blame game – partly in a bid to protect Deputy Premier Najib Abdul Razak, who is also incoming party president, from being hit by the fallout.

But their histrionics may boomerang back on Umno, and expose the huge, underlying resistance to change at the party’s top leadership itself.

Said Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah: “I do not think it is right for our leaders to play down the significance of our losing Nasarudin, or to belittle his intentions.”

“The results of the 12th general election were a blow, but what appears to have moved  Nasarudin is what has happened, or rather has failed to happen, since then.

“The party continues to come apart and the government to lose support. Not a single effort at party reform has seen the light of day while tired leaders recycle tired formulas. Indeed the leadership is part of the problem.

“It is little wonder that our members at all levels are losing confidence in the future of the party.”

Growing loss of confidence within the Malay community

Speculation has been rife that Najib will take over from Tajol as Perak Umno and Barisan Nasional chief effective from Feb 1, in a bid to shore up confidence and stem a possible exodus.

“This is what’s going through the Umno grapevine now. But I am not that sure if Najib will want to take on the challenge. He would be putting his neck on the line,” said a party veteran.

At a more macro level, political watchers have blamed Nasarudin’s defection on Umno’s weakening hold over the Malay community, a fact that could no longer be rebutted after it lost the Kuala Terengganu by-election earlier this month.

Najib, the campaign director for Umno-BN at KT and also the country’s finance minister, had rained down on the constituency election goodies and lures worth hundreds of millions of ringgit.

Yet, Umno still lost the seat – regarded as a core Malay heartland – to Pakatan partner PAS.

“Can Najib’s warning that Umno and BN must change or perish in the next general election be taken seriously, when he had just spearheaded the KT “buy-election” campaign where money politics and electoral corruption had reigned supreme?,” asked DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang.

“Umno was defeated even in its own long-held bastion. The loss of Kuala Terengganu shows that the people are now starting to reject the leadership of Najib,” said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

How independent is the MACC from the political masters of the day?

Yet, the sycophancy has grown even louder as the dateline for Najib to take over from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi gets closer. The 55-year old will succeed Abdullah in March.

According to the BN-controlled media, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is looking into Nasarudin’s defection.

“Don’t tell me when people join another party, there is no offer made whatsoever. It is just ridiculous. The MACC is checking on this. We have investigated cross-over cases before, not just this one,” an MACC source purportedly told the English daily.

Meanwhile, Pakatan people have shot back that the MACC source should be investigated immediately, and taken to task by his bosses for clearly pre-judging the case.

They said the matter again underscores the doubts the public already has about the extent of the MACC’s independence, and is also a sharp slap in the face for the commission’s professionalism.

In a recent press interview MACC chief commissioner Ahmad Said Hamdan had said: “When you pay people to vote for you, that is corruption. People call it money politics but not us. Under the law, anybody who sells or buys votes is guilty of corruption, so we go on that basis.”

“What is the MACC waiting for, then?,” asked Kit Siang, referring to news reports that Lintang assemblyman Ahamad Pakeh Adam and Pengkalan Baharu assemblymen Hamdi Abdu Bakar had complained about money politics in Umno.

“Ahamad and Hamdi’s complaints about the use of money to defeat them as Sungai Siput and Beruas Umno division chiefs are not just internal Umno matters, but constitute corruption as clearly stated by the Chief Commissioner of MACC,” the Pakatan leader said.

Corruption and no way out of it

The extent of the corruption in Umno is so widespread and entrenched that it can no longer be contained or covered up.

Just a day ago, Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen, chairman of the Umno disciplinary board, said he had received 976 complaints from 2007 to Jan 28 this year.

“Sixty-five members were given show-cause letters, of which 30 were found guilty, and 33 were innocent. Two other cases were handed over to the Umno supreme council for further action,” said Tengku Ahmad.

Former Seremban Umno vice chief Mohd Nor Awang was also charged at the Sessions Court yesterday for allegedly giving out bribes to induce other members to nominate him for the post of division chief during the Taman Zaiton Indah Umno branch meeting held on Aug 3.

Meanwhile, Tengku Ahmad called for the dissolution of Umno’s four wings – Youth, Wanita, Puteri and Putera – as a way to check the cancer fast overtaking the party.

“Do we really need Puteri Umno and Putera Umno? The party also needs to consider Umno Youth and Wanita wings too,” he said.

“My feeling is that if you want to reduce the problem of money politics and contests for posts, it will be better if these wings were to be abolished.”

However, Najib has brushed aside the advice, in a bid to quell yet another tremor from making its way across the beleagured party – that many observers have predicted would remain painfully stuck because of the inability of its own leaders to introduce change.

“The suggestion is too drastic a measure and would create a huge impact on future leadership. If the problem is with money politics, then it would be better for us to strengthen enforcement and our values system,” Najib said.

Something wrong about Syed Hamid

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 29, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, who has been drawing much flak in the wake of the Kugan Ananthan case, came under fire again today for his ‘

MCPX

heroes and demons‘ remark.

Seeing red over this, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang today concluded that Syed Hamid lacked the requisite mindset to initiate reforms in the police force.

Yesterday, the minister called on the people not to regard criminals as heroes, and the police who enforce the law, as demons.

“Malaysians, like people all over the world, do not regard criminals as heroes and the police as demons,” said Lim in a statement.

“But when a minister responsible for the police makes a shocking statement of this nature, it reflects that something has gone very wrong both with the police force and the home minister with regard to the most basic of government duties – to keep the people safe and to uphold law and order,” he added.

The veteran politician also reminded Syed Hamid that as a lawyer and home minister, the latter cannot presume that Kugan is a criminal as it must be left to the courts to decide if the 22-year-old youth was guilty of the crimes alleged against him.

“Even if Kugan was guilty of the crimes alleged, the police cannot take the law into its own hands and continue to pile up the shocking statistics of deaths in police custody,” he said.

Kugan, who was arrested on Jan 15 in connection with several luxury car theft cases, died five days later at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya.

A video footage later revealed severe lacerations on the deceased’s body, prompting the attorney-general to re-classify the case as murder from the original sudden death.

Form royal commission, IPCMC

Meanwhile, Lim also called for the forming of a royal commission of inquiry regarding this case and for the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct (IPCMC) Bill to be presented to Parliament next month.

Failing which, he said, the entire cabinet should resign.

According to the Ipoh Timor MP, Kugan would not have died in police custody if the IPCMC had been operational since May 2006.

“If the IPCMC had been set up in accordance with the timeline as proposed, a new mindset and culture of responsibility, accountability and professionalism would have been disseminated and developed  in the police force in the past 30 months and saved the life of Kugan.

“As it is, even the home minister does not have this requisite mindset that he could come out with his latest howler, when he said that ‘the people should not regard criminals as heroes and the police who enforce the law as demons’,” he added.

Lim said although the attorney-general reclassified Kugan’s death as murder, sent back police investigations and ordered a more thorough probe, as well as demanding to see the second post-mortem report, the police conduct and the home minister’s attitude had gravely undermined public confidence in the independence and professionalism of police investigations.

“There can be no alternative to a royal commission of inquiry into Kugan’s death, as well as the police and the home minister’s responses to the events after Kugan’s death,” he added.

Lim said this case also marked the “abysmal and final failure” of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s reform programme, “standing out as a tragic symbol of the pathetic end of his pledge for police reforms in particular and his reform agenda for the larger picture.”

“Let Kugan not die in vain. It is time that the entire cabinet take a stand on a matter of principle and to resign en bloc if it cannot agree to set up a royal commission of inquiry to present an IPCMC Bill to Parliament for passage next month,” he added.

Gobind: Minister incompetent

Meanwhile Lim’s party colleague Gobind Singh Deo also criticised Syed Hamid, accusing the minister of not understanding the issue surrounding Kugan’s death.

“All persons whether criminal or not cannot be subject to police brutality and torture whilst in police custody.

“There is no justification for killing a suspect during investigations. That is murder,” said the Puchong member of parliament in a statement today.

He added that there was no demonising of the police in the Kugan matter, adding that the police had acted beyond the law by subjecting the deceased to torture.

“It is also disheartening to hear the minister saying the public does not care when a policeman dies. This is certainly not true. There is no discrimination in cases like this,” he added.

He said that the issue was not on who was the victim but more on the aggressors who were the police who had abused a person under detention, and subsequently causing the death of that person.

“The fact that Syed Hamid has failed to understand this mounts the question as to whether or not he is competent enough to lead the (home) ministry.”

Convention demands minister’s botak head

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 29, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

Convention demands that Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar should immediately resign for the actions of those under his direct authority, said senior lawyer Gopal RajKumar.

MCPX

Gopal, who is currently based in Australia, was responding to the case of 22-year-old car theft suspect Kugan Ananthan who died in police custody last week.

“It’s becoming more and more apparent that there exists within the Malaysian society, a culture of abject and unmitigated fear and ignorance of what is esoterically termed the law,” he said in an email to Malaysiakini.

“The many varied responses, excuses and attempts at justifying Kugan’s death, while in police custody, are a manifestation of the breakdown of law and order at the very highest level of the state.

“The injuries resulted in his death. Even if it did not, it points to something more sinister than merely attempting to elicit information under interrogation,” he added.

According to Gopal, the minister’s culpability in the ‘sordid affair’ is implied by his and the police department’s own ‘misconduct’ and where it cannot be immediately proven, he ust accept inference as punishment based on ‘his own standards and that of his charges’.

The police, he said, had applied their own collective ideas of what constitutes guilt and punishment outside of the Federal Constitution and legislative directions.

“Further, he (Syed Hamid) should quit because of the enormity of the crime perpetrated against Kugan, the ultimate sanction against a life without lawful authority. Kugan is not merely an individual but each and everyone of us who identifies with being human,” he added.

Not an isolated case

Gopal also pointed out that the youth’s death, which has been classified as murder, was not an isolated case.

The lawyer cited estimates from undisclosed sources to show that the authority of the home minister has been tainted with the deaths of more than 1,000 people in custody over a period of time ‘with no plausible excuse or reason available’.

He asked if ministers are “competent, capable or civilised enough to hold office when they demonstrably lack any quality for human values, respect or dignity by their deafening silence in the face of murder.”

“There has to be also a changing of the guard from the incumbent prime minister – who suffers from the arrogance of ignorance in the highest office, to one who is more pragmatic and deft in dealing with such issues with less equanimity.

“What could otherwise have been an administrative wrong-doing has, by default, now taken on racial, international and illegal dimensions of such a magnitude for which all Malaysians will eventually pay heavily for failing to act on time,” he added.

Gopal expressed hope that Malaysians would stand together for the preservation of a principle and the maintenance of their laws.

“If even one precedent is allowed to depart from the Federal Constitution and the laws, then no one is safe,” he said.

Landmines in Sarawak, Part 2

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim, Pakatan Rakyat with tags , , on January 29, 2009 by ckchew

Sim Kwang Yang, Malaysiakini

A reader sent me an email to enquire why Sarawak cannot secede itself from Malaysia and become an independent nation like Singapore. The same query has also been making the round on Internet postings in Sarawak, behind the safe veil of anonymity.

MCPX

It is a tabooed subject in the nation’s public sphere. But I feel that our nation’s citizens are mature enough to discuss this issue openly, without resorting to panic mongering and witch-hunting.

Because of the lack of public discussion, we do not know how rampant this sentiment is. I have heard of talk pointing to Brunei as an illustration. The Sultan of Brunei decided not to join Malaysia in 1963, preferring to become an independent nation on its own. Today, because of the wealth from oil and gas, the Sultan of Brunei is the richest man in the world, and the wealth of the Brunei people is the envy of Asia.

The rhetorical question is: if Brunei can do it, why not Sarawak and Sabah?

As a sentiment, it is the right of every Sarawakian to feel whatever he or she might feel. But as the ideology of a political movement, then the merits and demerits of such a volatile objective must be examined from every angle in great detail.

Whatever my own view on the matter is, I would like to examine the practicability of such a proposition.

In the case of Canada, there was a national referendum on whether French-speaking Quebec should be allowed to secede from the Canadian Federation. The proponents of secession were defeated by a few percentage points in the national poll.

But Canada is one of the very few highly developed liberal democracies of the world. In contrast, Malaysia belongs more to the group of developing nations with fledgling opaque democratic practices tinged heavily with patriarchal violence of the state.

The lived geo-political experiences of Sarawakians for the past 45 years have been those of federalism, with power slowly but surely tilting to the federal centre in Kuala Lumpur. The most important function of such a federal government is to ensure the territorial integrity of the nation state, not only in military defence against external aggressors, but also in the repression of internal impulse for secession.

In short, anyone who wants to start a secession movement in Sarawak must be prepared for the ultimate option of a protracted armed struggle with no certainty for success, in view of the heavy concentration of federal troops in Sarawak and Sabah. The blood of many innocent people will be spilled, as in Sri Lanka, Aceh, Nigeria and numerous other regions of the world. Is the doubtful trophy worth the price to be paid?

Once you banish the impractical option, then you have to seek recourse through the peaceful democratic process within the context of the Malaysian federation. Such recourse is available through the vote. But Sarawak voters and opinion makers must explore a more open and enlightening mode of public discussion not shaped by mere prejudices.

Sarawak parties not necessarily good

Take the argument that PKR is a party of Orang Malaya, and therefore not worthy of support from Anak Sarawak. Sarawak, they say, is for Sarawakians. Some say that only Sarawak-based parties can serve Sarawak.

This point of view ignores the fact that the component parties of the Sarawak Barisan Nasional, which are all home grown blue-blooded Sarawakian political parties, have done tremendous injustices to the poor people of Sarawak. We all know how corrupt and rich the top leaders of these parties are, while the people – especially rural native Sarawakians – are teetering on the brink of abject poverty.

Sarawak political parties are not necessarily good for Sarawakians.

Furthermore, we must unveil the disguise of the “Sarawakness” of these Sarawak BN component parties.

They are all components of the national BN structure, and therefore they are part and parcel of all the ills of the country, racial posturing, economic mismanagement, cancerous corruption in public life, waste of the taxpayers’ money, corruption even in the judiciary and the police, and the numerous laws that curtail the liberties of all Malaysians and Sarawakians.

sarawak state seat 2006 breakdown 011208The cause of neglect of the social-economic development in Sarawak has its roots in Kuala Lumpur. In this, the Sarawak BN component parties – especially the PBB under the absolute control of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud – are the leading accomplices and proxies of this criminal neglect.

A kind of unholy symbiosis exists between the Sarawak BN and the national BN dominated by Umno. As long as the Sarawak CM can deliver most, if not all, the 28 parliamentary seats to prop up the Umno prime minister in the Dewan Rakyat, Taib can enjoy absolute rule over Sarawak.

He and his close circle of top political confidantes can enjoy monopoly over the timber and land resources as well as all kinds of government contracts without fear of the federal agencies supposed to curb corruption.

In this scenario, it is very hard for Sarawak-based opposition parties to make headway in state politics in Sarawak. They simply do not have the resources to fight the Sarawak BN during elections.

As a result of this dim prospect of making real political gain on the ground, the opposition parties find it hard to recruit young budding political leaders from their newly emergent middle-class to stand as candidates during elections. This will continue the vicious cycle of further weakening the opposition camp.

For the sake of argument, even if a coalition of Sarawak opposition parties can defeat the Sarawak BN and form the state government, there is always the threat of the federal BN government putting the squeeze on Sarawak socio-economic development funds. This did happen to the PBS-held Sabah state government in those years when PBS was the opposition at the federal level.

In short, the unique power relation between the federal and the state governments must compel aspiring Sarawak reformers to look to federal alliances. The true cause of socio-economic backwardness is still the national BN in Kuala Lumpur, working in tandem with a self-serving BN Sarawak government. Unless the BN government is replaced by another alternative coalition, Sarawak will continue to degenerate even if an opposition government is able to take power in the state.

By now, we know that coalition politics is an undeniable imperative in multi-racial, multi-religious, and multi-cultural Malaysia.

Perhaps, leaders, members, supporters, sympathisers of opposition parties in Sarawak, and even neutral citizens who want change in Sarawak, must put on their thinking cap to explore ways of means of establishing strategic linkages with parties in West Malaysia and Sabah, rather than withdrawing further into their exclusivist cocoon of “Sarawak for Sarawakians”.

Enemy of my enemy is my friend

But how about the perception that PKR is a party from Malaya?

I understand and share many of the emotional aversions of many Sarawakians against all things Malayan on the personal and social levels. But politics is entirely a different cattle of fish altogether.

The problem of Sarawak’s socio-economic backwardness and political injustices in not a Sarawak problem alone. It is a national problem that requires a national solution. Toppling the BN federal government must be the top agenda for Sarawakians.

As many of my leftist SUPP (Sarawak United People’s Party) friends had taught me in the early years of my political activism, their tactic of a united front is based on this single dictum: the enemy of my enemy is my friend – at least for now (I think the original author of this dictum is Mao Tze Tung himself).

In politics, not all Orang Malaya are as contemptible as some Sarawakians think. The Orang Malaya of five states – Kelantan, Penang, Selangor, Perak, and Kedah – have voted out their BN state governments, often across racial, religious and party lines. This is a feat that many Sarawakians can only pine for.

I have always insisted that Orang Malaya have a thing or two to learn from Sarawakians and Sabahans, especially on harmonious race relation. The West Malaysian Pakatan Rakyat leaders have to learn about the social and cultural sensitivities of Sarawakians and Sabahans, if they are to avoid the BN landmines when campaigning in Sarawak.

But is it not true that Sarawakians also have a thing or two to learn from Orang Malaya about politics? Is it not true that blind parochial xenophobia can also be a stumbling block to greater democratisation and redemption in Sarawak politics?

anwar ibrahim and sarawakThen there other questions. Can Sarawakians trust Anwar Ibrahim, with his very chequered past records and his seemingly endless ambition to become the next prime minister? Even if the Pakatan Rakyat coalition can topple the Sarawak BN government, do they have an honest clean candidate to become the next Sarawak CM? How can we be sure that a Pakatan state government will not be even more corrupt than the previous regime.

I will try to answer those questions next week. Don’t touch that dial!

Bota SA Saga: Another round of umno blaming game ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 29, 2009 by ckchew

Panicked by the Bota assemblyman’s decision to join Pakatan, Umno is grasping at straws to stop further flights by disgruntled members – who have cited elitist and oppressive politics as further reasons to switch allegiance


By Wong Choon Mei

Speculation is rife that Deputy Premier Najib Abdul Razak will take over as Perak Umno and Barisan Nasional chief effective from Feb 1, in a bid to stem a possible exodus following Bota assemblyman Nasarudin Hashim’s decision to join Pakatan Rakyat partner, KeADILan.

“This is what’s going through the Umno grapevine now. But I am not that sure if Najib will want to take on the challenge. He would be putting his neck on the line,” said a party veteran.

Political watchers have blamed Nasarudin’s defection on Umno’s weakening hold over the Malay community, a fact that could no longer be rebutted after it lost the Kuala Terengganu by-election earlier this month.

Najib, the campaign director for Umno-BN at KT, had unleashed a never-before-seen avalanche of election goodies and lures. But Umno still lost the seat – regarded as a core Malay heartland – to Pakatan partner PAS.

“Umno was defeated even in its own long-held bastion. The loss of Kuala Terengganu shows that the people are now starting to reject the leadership of Najib,” said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Another round of shifting the blame

The two Perak positions are currently held by former menteri besar, Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali.

According to media reports, Tajol will quit this week to take the blame for the loss of the Bota seat. Nasarudin’s defection would raise the number of Pakatan seats in the state assembly to 32, while reducing Umno-led BN’s to 27.

Tajol has been a bitter critic of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, which wrested the seat from BN in the watershed 2008 general election.

He has frequently promised to topple the Pakatan state government led by present Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

Said Pakatan stalwart and Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng: “The situation in Perak is not like in Penang where the Pakatan has a big majority. Nasarudin’s move will be a big boost to the Perak Pakatan.

“Perak Umno is constantly saying that they will soon overthrow the Pakatan state government, but so far, we only see Umno falling.”

Elitist and oppressive politics

Meanwhile, Nizar has reiterated that he expects three more Umno state reps to cross over to Pakatan soon.

“They came to see us after Nasarudin announced he was joining Pakatan. We have started dicussions with them,” said Nizar, who is also Perak PAS secretary. He declined to reveal their identities at this point in time.

“They told us they were happy with the policies that have been implemented by the Pakatan state government since taking over the state, especially with regards to increasing the income of the Perak people.”

“They also said they were unhappy with the oppressive and elitist rules of the Umno, which did not allow them to contest for higher posts or to head the division.”

Nasarudin, the former Parit MP before he was asked by Umno to represent Bota, said there was no need to vacate the seat as the constituents there supported his switch.

“Many of them agree with my decision. I will go down to Bota to give them an explanation,” he told reporters.

The Pakatan state government will be hosting a function at the Bota stadium soon to meet the constituents, and to give them an opportunity to voice their views.

“Nasarudin does not need to resign because the regulations do not require it. He will just remain as the Bota assemblyman,” said Nizar. “If he resigns, he faces the risk of not being able to contest for the next five years.”

A possible exodus?

Tajol Rosli, an Umno supreme council member, has held the top Perak Umno and BN posts since 1999. While now expected to officially step down within the next few days, he was due to vacate both positions only after the Umno general assembly and election in March.

Meanwhile, there has been an outpouring of loyalty pledges from other Perak Umno members as well as from BN coalition partners.

“Everyone has personal problems,” said Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, an Umno minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

“What is unfortunate is that Nasarudin has chosen a solution that is detrimental to Umno. This is not the tipping point for Perak BN leaders to go into the opposition. It is just about one man.”

Said Kong Cho Ha, chairman of Perak MCA: “Since the time MCA formed an alliance with Umno, it has always remained with Umno. And that will continue.”

However, according to news reports, Lintang state assemblyman Ahamad Pakeh Adam and Pengkalan Baharustate assemblymen Hamdi Abdu Bakar have threatened to follow in Nasarudin’s wake if the situation at Umno did not change.

“There will be more,” Ahamad was reported to have said.

Asian Human Rights Commission: Police Brutality, Shootings and Deaths in Custody ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 29, 2009 by ckchew

23 people died in the country’s police lock-ups between 2002 and July 2003. Out of this total, 16 died in 2002. During the same period, 425 prisoners died during their incarceration, 237 of them in 2002; this is an average of 19.75 deaths per month. The monthly average for the first seven months of 2003 rose to 26.86 deaths per month, with 188 fatalities reported in prisons nationwide. Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Hueng refused to specify the cause of the deaths.

Asian Human Rights Commission – Malaysia

Malaysia abstained from voting to activate the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel and Unusual Treatment 1984. The optional protocol was adopted on 18 December 2002, with 127 countries voting in favour, 42 abstaining and 4 voting against it. The optional protocol provides a unique mechanism for international and national human rights experts to conduct regular visits to places of detention to check on the condition of detention and detainees, and to make recommendations in countries that are parties to the optional protocol. In Southeast Asia, only Indonesia, Cambodia and East Timor voted in favour of the optional protocol. Moreover, Malaysia has not ratified the Convention Against Torture.

The failure to accept yet another international human rights norm is perhaps not surprising given the long history and notoriety of the Malaysian police in using an unacceptable level of violence in apprehending and investigating alleged criminals.

According to the 2002 Police Commission Report (Disciplinary Unit), disciplinary actions were initiated against 754 police personnel, and 98 were relieved of their duties in 2002.  The statistics showed an increase of 177 cases, or 30.7 percent, compared to the previous year. In 2001, 577 police personnel were subjected to disciplinary action. According to the report, 145 police personnel were punished for “erring in their duties,” but this was not elaborated upon. It added that 48 others were involved in graft cases. The report also said one police officer was taken to task for rape, another for concealing his/her marital status and another for “creating fear.”

Other offences that saw disciplinary action were inefficiency, irresponsibility and tarnishing the police force’s image. However, the report stressed that those who were punished constituted a mere 0.89 percent of the total police personnel in the country. It attributed the increase in cases to its disciplinary committee, which had acted more effectively in the past year. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department M. Kayveas said the Home Ministry, which oversees the police force,  topped the list of 22 ministries against which complaints of corruption were received. Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung confirmed that most of the corruption cases involved police personnel.

In the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) forum held on the Malaysian Human Rights Day in September, SUHAKAM chairperson Abu Talib Othman said some improvements could be seen now in terms of how the police handle suspected criminals. “They treat detainees better now. We believe these positive changes were brought about by discussions (with SUHAKAM) and human rights training for police officers… In fact, they have recently set up a human rights desk (in Bukit Aman) and have extended their fullest cooperation to us so far,” he said. He added, “We no longer receive complaints of police brutality. This shows that things with the police have improved somewhat.”

City deputy criminal investigation chief Superintendent Ramli Mat Arshad, speaking for the police, denied the use of intimidation tactics such as physical abuse or verbal threats to extract confessions from crime suspects because the law regarding the treatment of suspects in police custody is clear. “In my 30 or 40 years in the police force, I’ve not seen that happen. We don’t do things like that. We always adhere to the law,” he replied to a question from a participant. In his speech, Ramli stated that although the Federal Constitution guarantees a suspect the right to counsel, it was, however, silent on the time and manner in which that right was to be granted. “Neither does it give (the detainee) the right to dictate the time at which he (or she) can see his lawyer.” He said the constitution also does not compel the police to allow a lawyer to visit the detainee at an “inconvenient” time, or when such a visit might interfere with the course of justice. In the absence of any specific direction to that effect, he said the police are entitled to refuse the request for a visit by the detainee’s counsel.

This position perhaps sums up the level of denial that is endemic in the police force and in SUHAKAM on the human rights record of the police. It further illustrates the unbalance concentration of discretion and power in the hands of the police in interpreting as they like the constitutional and legal provisions.

Throughout 2003, there were numerous incidents of police brutality against criminal suspects resulting in serious injuries and deaths. In many cases, the victims were poor, had little education and lacked the proper “connections” to ensure proper treatment from the police. The treatment meted out against these suspects is a stark contrast to that accorded to persons of different backgrounds—namely professionals, affluent or well-connected people.

The culture of lawlessness has seeped into the day-to-day conduct of police personnel. The police act as though they are above the law. Complaints from the public that police are rude, corrupt, violent or high-handed have become commonplace. Basic civil, political, legal and constitutional rights are easily and often transgressed, as the police accuse people of some “crime” due to “suspicion,” even though objectively, one would not think that an offence has been committed. For example, distributing leaflets and demonstrating is viewed as suspicious or even criminal behaviour. The impulse of the police in policing may well be described as “arrest first, investigate later,” as little effort is made to ensure that the right person has been arrested for a criminal offence. Mass arrest is common, especially in cases connected to drug activities. Sometimes hundreds of suspected drug addicts are arrested or raids on entertainment outlets; often all the patrons of the establishment are arrested in order to check for substance abuse. Arrest of anyone remotely connected to the crime or crime victim is equally common, especially in high-profile cases. In the rape and murder of Noritta Samsudin in December which made the front pages of newspapers, ten persons who were acquainted with the deceased, including housemates, former boyfriends or male “friends,” were arrested and remanded for the crime. In the name of “investigation,” police personnel easily arrest and apply for remand orders from magistrates who oftentimes comply. For more serious offences such as murder, rape or drug trafficking, the situation for the suspect is made even more onerous, as even less respect is given to their rights, well-being and dignity.

Human rights and civil and political rights as accorded to the people by the Federal Constitution seem to mean nothing to the police, as they routinely trample all over these basic liberties. They often target civil society groups, opposition parties and any member of the public who dares to exercise the right to free speech, peaceful assembly and association or other rights that are construed as forms of dissent. These persons are subjected to threats, harassment, arrest, detention and, in some cases, violence.

The incidents recorded below are merely representative of the long list of incidents of abuse of power and lawlessness perpetrated by the police in 2003. While many complaints were filed, the action taken was sporadic at best. Despite numerous complaints and police reports lodged by victims, family members of victims, lawyers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), there is still a severe lack of accountability and transparency on the part of the police in its investigation of allegations of police brutality. In the normal course of events, complaints go unanswered. When the police do “answer” complaints, the responses  are usually standard statements that the police followed all proper procedures. For cases of deaths in custody, the police often claim that the deceased died of “heart attack,” “stomach ulcer” or “natural causes.” In cases where there is a death by police shooting, the authorities allege that the deceased attacked and the police acted in self defence. For most complaints, the response is that the police are investigating or that the matter was investigated internally and the police are satisfied with the findings that the police personnel acted properly. These are the claims made despite credible evidence of impropriety and abuse of police powers. In many cases of death in custody or by police shooting, those associated with the victims have said that the police obstructed the complaint process by withholding or suppressing evidence of police brutality and colluded with hospitals to ensure that no cooperation is given to family members and lawyers who demanded evidence of abuse and impropriety.

Although there were some cases of criminal prosecution and disciplinary action taken, the number remains low in comparison to the number of complaints. In some cases, the charges brought against the errant police personnel are not commensurate with the severity of the crime committed. Oftentimes too charges are made only against the lowest ranking personnel involved. In the infamous case of the killing of Lee Quat Leong while in police custody in May 1995, although an inquest implicated the names of eleven police personnel up to the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in the crime, only the two lowest ranking personnel were charged.

“Trigger-happy” Police

In the October parliamentary sitting, Deputy Home Minister Zainal Abidin Zin revealed the numbers of alleged criminals shot to death by the police: 2000—33 deaths; 2001—14 deaths; 2002—54 deaths; since January 2003—27 deaths. According to Police Watch and the Human Rights Committee, there were at least 29 deaths by police shooting in 2003. In most cases, the claims by the police were similar: the suspects shot at the police, causing the police to return fire, killing the victims. The victims were then depicted as highly dangerous and wanted criminals.

Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung said in Parliament in April 2002 that a total of 579 suspected criminals had been shot dead by the police over the past 20 years, from 1981 to February 2002, for alleged involvement in a wide range of crimes such as robbery, theft, kidnapping, drug offences, firearms trafficking and possession, assault and trying to escape from police road blocks, firing at police, running amok, fighting, murder and because of their status as illegal immigrants. Among those killed were 82 non-nationals. He added that 19 policemen had been killed in the line of duty during the same period. He denied the rumour of the existence of a death squad in Malaysia.

The figure quoted was, however, questioned by Democratic Action Party (DAP) leader Lim Kit Siang, who noted that an earlier statistic released by then-Deputy Home Minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir to Parliament in April 1999 revealed that 635 people had been shot dead by the police in the past 10 years.

However, in many cases, there were suspicious circumstances leading to doubts over claims made by the police. One should be mindful of the reversal by the Kota Bharu High Court in September 2002 of an inquest finding in which the magistrate had earlier said the police had acted “reasonably” and in “self-defence” in a case in Tumpat, Kelantan in 1998 in which six men were shot dead by the police. It was now showed that the claims by the police that they were fired upon could in fact be false. High Court Judge Suriyadi found, after scrutinising the evidence, that there was no evidence for the police’s claim that they were shot at by the men, who were then killed in a hail of 47 bullets. During the inquest, a pathologist testified that multiple shot marks were found on the head, forehead and eyes of the six victims. The Star reported the judge as saying: “I was quite stunned by the Magistrate’s decision as it bordered on the preparation of the defence of the police over-zealousness” and that “the conclusion went against the grain of evidence.” It could not be established that gunshots came from the van as claimed by the police, nor was any forensic investigation ever carried out on the guns allegedly seized from the deceased persons.

Families of those shot dead have often protested that the deceased had no history or track record of any criminal activity, again raising questions about the veracity of police claims. This was certainly the case in the deaths of V. Vikines, 19, Puvaneswaran, 24, and T. Kathiravan, 25, who were shot dead in October after the police said they ignored orders to surrender and opened fire at police personnel in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan. The police claimed that the trio was responsible for a spate of armed robberies. Vikines sustained two fatal gunshots to his chest in the alleged shootout with the police. S. Simon, 19, a friend of the deceased, claimed that the shirt worn by the deceased bore no bullet holes when he saw the body at the mortuary. He said the police refused to give him the shirt when the body was taken away and that there were bruise marks on the deceased’s face, legs and back.

The account presented by police was disputed by Vikines’s family, who claimed that the youth was nothing more than an innocent schoolboy who still lives with his family. They raised suspicion of foul play. “Where are the witnesses? Where are the police cars that should be riddled with shots? Where are the wounded policemen?” asked his distraught father G. Vesvanathan at a press conference. He also accused Federal Criminal Investigation Department director Salleh Mat Som of being a “liar” for claiming that his son was a “marksman and weapons expert.” Vikines’s uncle, Silva Govindasamy, questioned the police’s claim that his nephew was involved in about 20 criminal cases. “If he was a suspect in so many cases, why didn’t the police approach the school or family? The boy has never been arrested, never harassed, he doesn’t even have a (criminal) record!” The family also alleged that the police instructed the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang not to conduct a second post-mortem on Vikines’s body nor cooperate with them.

The decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court to acquit a police constable, Tony Beliang, who  shot and killed Dr. Tai Eng Teck in a car when the latter tried to flee after being “caught” in a compromising position with a Muslim girl in September 1999, was set aside by the Court of Appeal in July. Instead, the Court of Appeals affirmed the eight-year jail sentence imposed by the Sessions Court. Augustine Paul J. in the High Court had overturned the decision of the Sessions Court, which found the constable guilty of manslaughter. Paul J. said that the police should be given every encouragement to book criminals and, if necessary, should have the right to shoot in order to enforce the administration of law and order. He said if the police are brought to court for the use of force, then the administration would be halted, thus causing the police to hesitate in carrying out their duties and instead “think of other possibilities before using their weapons.”

Earlier in December 2000, Sessions  Court Judge Ahmadi Asnawi convicted Tony and sentenced him to eight years in jail. Ahmad Asnawi said the intention to cause death was evident, as Tony had fired the shots nonstop without knowing who or how many people were in the car and what they were doing.  During the trial, staff nurse Suhana Mohamed Nor, who was with the victim during the incident, testified that they panicked when they heard a loud knock on the windscreen of the car, which was parked at the LRT station. She said they became even more petrified when they heard shouts of anger, and the victim decided to drive away fearing that the people were criminal, robbers or vice officers.

Deaths in Police Custody

According to statistics released in Parliament in October by the Home Ministry, 23 people died in the country’s police lock-ups between 2002 and  July 2003. Out of this total, 16 died in 2002. During the same period, 425 prisoners died during their incarceration, 237 of them in 2002; this is an average of 19.75 deaths per month. The monthly average for the first seven months of 2003 rose to 26.86 deaths per month, with 188 fatalities reported in prisons nationwide. Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Hueng refused to specify the cause of the deaths.

Statistics, however, are sometimes manifestly unreliable as they often contradict statistics issued by other departments or even the same department or official. Parliament was told in the October 2002 sitting that a total of 34 persons had died in police custody since 2000—6 deaths in 2000, 10 deaths in 2001 and 18 deaths from January to September 2002. The number of deaths reported for the first nine months of 2002 was higher than that reported in 2003 for the whole of 2002.

Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung denied that methods of torture were used to obtain information from suspects that led to their deaths. He claimed rather that the majority of deaths were the result of attempts to escape from police custody. However, what is evident is that there is a clear lack of supervision, medical care and concern for the general well-being and rights of suspects while under police remand.

The new-found publicity on police brutality in 2002 as highlighted by civil society, the press and the commencement of two inquests on deaths in custody did little to rein in the police in their disregard for proper police procedures and the rights of suspects, as there were more deaths of suspects while in police custody in 2003. It might be said that the situation worsened, as the two inquests thought to be “victories” by civil society to bring to book the perpetrators were plagued with serious inconsistencies and disinterest.

The inquests into the death of both Tharma Rajen, 20 and M. Ragupathy, 22 stuttered throughout the year, as magistrates and deputy public prosecutors seemed uninterested and unaware of the gravity of the situation. Time after time, the inquests were postponed due to the unavailability of medical records or hospital authorities to verify these reports as evidence. The doctors who testified oftentimes appeared to be defensive and not interested in testifying candidly and truthfully. Counsel for the family members of the deceased also had a difficult time during cross examination, as the presiding magistrates were over-zealous in defending the testifying witnesses.

In June 2002, Tharma Rajen died under mysterious circumstances while in the custody of the police. He was detained consecutively for 66 days in four different police stations and was eventually detained under the Emergency Ordinance (EO). According to the official post-mortem, this previously healthy young man apparently died of pneumonia, although a different post-mortem said that he died of tuberculosis. The latter, private post-mortem also observed that the body was “malnourished and emaciated.” There were allegations of Tharma Rajen being beaten up while in police custody. There had also been repeated pleadings made by Tharma Rajen and his family members that he be taken to the hospital, but they were ignored. He was finally taken to the hospital when he became critically ill. The deceased’s mother claimed that, two hours before he died, her son was handcuffed to the hospital bed despite being emaciated and unable to breathe properly. At the inquest, a nurse also testified that he was handcuffed by both hands to the bed even though he was so weak that he needed assistance to eat and shower.

M. Ragupathy was arrested together with nine other persons after fleeing from an illegal gaming outlet following a dispute with the proprietor. The group stumbled onto a police patrol car and were arrested on suspicion of committing a robbery. All 10 men were taken to the Sepang Police Station and were later remanded for 12 days, from 18 to 30 July 2002. Ragupathy had undergone a heart operation several years earlier during which a prosthetic valve was installed that requires a medical supplement known as waffarin, a type of anti-coagulant. Due to the operation, he had a visible 8-inch scar running below his neck across his chest.

According to a statutory declaration affirmed by the cousin brother of Ragupathy who was detained with the deceased, Ragupathy started complaining of chest pains and inability to sleep to the police beginning on 20 July. His condition worsened and he was not able to eat for three days; he also had bouts of vomiting. Ragupathy and his friends made repeated pleas for medical attention, and his special circumstances were conveyed to the police but to no avail. On 26 July, the police finally brought him to a government clinic, where an assistant treated him, as the doctor was absent. The assistant said that he was “treated” for asthma, as that was what the police told him about the victim. He was given some medication, but his condition further deteriorated. On 27 July, the police took him to Putrajaya Hospital. He was pronounced dead the next day. The Sepang police denied any negligence or foul play and said that the deceased could have “died anywhere,” since he had not taken his medication and did not inform the police of his condition. He added that the hospital only detected the condition when they did a chest X-ray.

In September 2002, Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung said in Parliament that police investigations revealed that there was no criminality in police conduct in the deaths of the three detainees, Tharma Rajen, Ragupathy and Vivashanu Pillai (whose decomposed body was found in a river), and that there was no evidence to link the deaths to the conduct of police personnel.

Many of the reported deaths in police custody were viewed with suspicion by family members of the deceased. Human rights groups called for compulsory inquests on all cases of deaths in police custody and demanded a second and independent post-mortem procedure on the deceased done upon the requests of family members. However, this has fallen on deaf ears; no inquests were held in 2003.

Among those who died in police detention were:

Name

Age

Date of death

Place of detention

Syed Fadzil Syed Ibrahim

21

9 January

Jasin Police Station, Melaka

Hasrizal Hamzah

27

9 February

Kajang Police Station, Selangor

Prakash Moses

23

18 February

Hang Tuah Police Station, Kuala Lumpur

Kannan Kanthan

45

1 March

Batu Pahat Police Station, Johor

Ahmad Salleh

42

7 June

Kuala Krai Police Station, Kelantan

Ulaganathan Muniandy 19

19

21 July

Kajang Police Station, Selangor

Ho Kwai See

28

5 August

Sungai Buloh Prison, Kota Damansara Police Station (died in prison)

Ravichandran Ramayah

38

21 October

Penang Prison, North East Police Station

Veerasamy Gopal

52

28 November

Ampang Police Station, Selangor

L. Yoges Rao

22

11 December

Sitiawan Police Station, Perak.

Source: Police Watch and Human Rights Committee and SUARAM monitoring

In January 2003, Syed Fadzil Syed Hamzah, 21, died while in the custody of the Jasin Police Station in Melaka. According to Melaka Chief Police Christopher Wan Soo Kee, the deceased died after receiving out-patient treatment for stomach pains at Jasin Hospital. According to him, the suspected drug dependent arrested on suspicion of motorcycle theft died of germ infection—as revealed in an autopsy. He added that the deceased had received medical treatment on a few occasions after complaints of stomach pain.

In February, Hasrizal Hamzah, a police detainee suspected of murder, leapt to his death from the fourth floor of the Kajang Police Station. Selangor Criminal Investigations Department Chief Senior Assistant Commissioner  Abu Bakar Mustaffa claimed that the deceased had confessed momentarily before killing himself. He said: “We are confident we detained the man responsible…the suspect chose to jump to his death.” According to him, the incident happened when the handcuffed suspect was being moved. He apparently shoved the accompanying policeman aside and hurled himself over the balcony. He also claimed that thus far no “foul play” had been detected in the case. However, Selangor Police Chief Deputy Commissioner Mohd Noor Hamat  said that he had directed that an internal inquiry be conducted

In February, Prakash Moses collapsed while being detained at the Jalan Hang Tuah Police Station Detention Centre. Three days later, he died at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital. His son, Steven Moses, claimed that there was a gash on his father’s head that was likely to have caused his death. He added that his father was well the last time he saw him, three days before his death. The deceased and his son were arrested in an anti-narcotics operation and subsequently detained at the Jalan Hang Tuah Police Station Detention Centre, formerly Pudu Prison. It is now a detention centre for suspected drug dependent-persons who  are arrested en mass in operations. In January, the first batch of 179 suspected drug dependents arrested in Kuala Lumpur were detained there.

In March, Kannan Kanthan, 45, died in Batu Pahat Police Station in Johor after being arrested three days earlier by the police. The deceased’s nephew, Sri Rajesh Kanna Viladan, said that when he saw Kannan in court a few days earlier, he was in good health. At the mortuary, Sri Rajesh identified the body and claimed that he found injuries on the deceased—a swollen neck and injuries on the left eye and right hand. Fourteen persons were arrested in relation to the death including three police personnel. Seven of them were later charged with causing the death of Kannan in Cell ‘C’ lockup. In addition, a police lance corporal Azmi Harun was charged with abetting the five by transferring the deceased from Cell ‘F’ to Cell ‘C’ and allowing him to be assaulted by the detainees. The two other police personnel were subjected disciplinary actions.

In July, Ulaganathan Muniandy, 19, died in the Kajang Police Station, Selangor after being arrested and detained under the Emergency Ordinance (EO), which allows the police to hold suspects for up to 60 days. According to the deceased’s mother, she visited her son four times, and on the last occasion, she saw that he had bruises on his eyes and suffered other injuries. She also claimed that her son deceased could not sit properly. The police claimed that Ulaganathan died from asthma, a cause disputed by the mother as she said that her son was healthy and did not suffer from asthma. Further, the burial certificate issued by the Kajang Hospital only said that the cause of death was “undetermined.”

In July, the murder trial of a detainee under police custody, Wan Deraman Wan Yusof, 44, began with testimonies saying that a police lance corporal together with two other detainees kicked, stomped on and beat up the detainee in a police lockup in Setapak Police Station in Kuala Lumpur in 2001.

28-year-old Ho Kwai See died at the Sungai Buloh Prison in August after earlier being detained for a week by the Kota Damansara police in Selangor. According to the post-mortem findings, he died from a “perforated ulcer.” Family members suspected foul play after seeing bruises on the body and sought a second post-mortem. Kwai See’s brother wanted the authorities to explain how his apparently healthy brother had died so suddenly while in custody. “He did not have any illness and he did not have any stomach pains. We want to know what happened. I also saw a lot of blue black marks on his body,” he said. He said that he was unaware of his brother’s arrest until he received an anonymous telephone call informing him that his brother had died.

After initially agreeing to conduct the post-mortem, University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) forensic pathologist K. Nadesan later declined following a dispute with the family’s lawyers. UMMC then asked the family to present a magistrate’s order or a police permit before proceeding with the second post-mortem.  The family members than attempted obtain a court order to compel the UMMC to conduct the post-mortem on Kwai See to determine the cause of death. However, the application was rejected by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on grounds that the requirements under the Special Relief Act 1950, which gives powers to the court to order officials to carry out certain acts, were not satisfied. In three such cases earlier, UMMC had performed second post-mortems at the request of the family members without requiring any official permit. However, the court decision would mean that all future requests for second post-mortem would only be performed if authorised by a magistrate or the police.

In October, Ravichandran Ramayah, 38, died a week after being arrested and detained by the Penang North East Police Station. Family members claimed that medical needs were not provided to Ravichandran even though it was clear that his condition was very poor when he appeared in the Magistrate’s Court for remand proceedings. The deceased then could only walk with the help of family members, causing the magistrate to order that he be brought to a hospital for medical attention. However, the police instead took the deceased to the Penang Prison, where he eventually died. State Police Chief Deputy Commissioner Othman Talib said that no wrongdoing had been committed on the part of the police. He said that a post-mortem showed that Ravichandran died from natural causes and there were no signs of physical abuse or assault.

In December, Veerasamy Gopal, 52, died in the Ampang Police Station in Selangor after being detained for four days. Police ruled out foul play and said that a post-mortem revealed that he had died from an infection of the pancreas. However, this was contradicted by his family members who alleged that he had been  assaulted in the lock-up, leading to his death.

In December, 22-year-old L.Yoges Rao died while in the custody of the Sitiawan Police Station in Perak. Yoges was arrested on drug-related charges and brought to his home by six police personnel. His, sister who was at home at the time, said that the policemen proceeded to assault Yoges by punching him several times his stomach and abdomen.  She said that the policemen then took Yoges into one of the rooms and locked the room from the inside. She claimed that she could hear her brother screaming in pain and pleading with the police to stop assaulting him. When he was brought out of the room about half an hour later, she saw him vomiting blood. He died in police custody the next day. Despite evidence of abuse on Yoges’ body, the burial permit stated that he had died of a stomach ulcer.

In March, A. Subramaniam died after allegedly being assaulted by prison officials at the Air Molek Prison in Johor. Lawyer Uthayakumar lodged a complaint that Subramaniam, his friend S. Sherma Naidu and two other detainees had been assaulted and tortured by prison officials after they went on a hunger strike to protest against filthy conditions in the prison. Subramaniam then allegedly fell ill and died while being rushed to the hospital. His parents lodged a police report claiming police brutality and lack of care while under incarceration. However, Johor Police Chief Mukhtar Ismail said police investigations ruled out foul play in the detainee’s death. The prisons department also cleared the Ayer Molek authorities of any wrongdoing, as the findings of a post-mortem report and investigations of an inquiry board said that the youth had died of Septicaemia meningitis.

Other Acts of Brutality

In February, police personnel were alleged to have beaten P. Lingeswaran together with another 19-year-old, P. Poobalan, while the two were being detained at the Subang Jaya Police Station in Selangor. According to a police report, the duo was arrested and blindfolded at the police station before they were beaten with rubber hoses. The complainant said: “I saw that Poobalan had red bruises of about 6-inches long on his back and his right hand. There were also swellings on his head, feet and the soles of his feet. As for Lingeswaran, there were (similar) bruises on both his shoulders.” The two youths were subsequently released by the Petaling Jaya Magistrate’s Court but were re-arrested the same day by the Subang Jaya police. Lawyer Uthayakumar said the two were re-arrested while they were seeking medical treatment for their injuries at the Universiti Hospital. The hospital staff apparently notified the police, who came and removed the two back to the Subang Jaya Police Station. The police later suddenly brought the two youth back to the hospital’s police booth and released them at about 2 a.m. Malaysiakini.com reported that when it contacted the Subang Jaya Police Station, a police officer who declined to be named said that there were no records that the two youths were held during the past two days at the station.

In March, two general operational force policemen, Mohd Fauzi Yahya and Ahmad Nazri Zainorddin, were charged in court for raping a 13-year-old girl detainee in Menggatal Immigration Detention Camp in Sabah between 27 July and 12 August 2002. The girl was arrested together with tens of thousands of suspected undocumented persons in a massive government drive against them that resulted in misery, deportation and deaths linked to the prolonged detention. The girl’s rape caused a diplomatic row with the Philippines as she was initially thought to be Filipino. However, Sessions Court Judge Nurchaya Arshad acquitted both accused persons after finding that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them.

In May, 17-year-old Lee Kam Choon claimed he was physically assaulted by several plainclothes policemen in Penang. He was riding his motorcycle when at about 11:50 p.m. he was chased by about six unidentified men on motorcycles. He thought they were robbers. The men caught up with him and proceeded to assault, handcuff and drag him to the Butterworth Police Station. A medical report stated that Lee sustained “multiple bodily injuries affecting the back, right and left upper limbs, face and both ankles.” Lee was issued two summonses, one for a “fanciful and tiny” registration number plate and another for reckless riding. A family member claimed that he was threatened by a senior police officer and was told not to pursue the case in court. He said he was warned that the boy could be charged for carrying arms and that the police would counter-sue if the matter was not settled amicably.

In May, a woman detainee claimed she was forced by a police officer to perform oral sex on another male detainee during her detention at the Gombak Police Station in Selangor. The 42-year-old woman was arrested along with her 40-year-old husband and 17-year-old daughter. According to the police report lodged by the victim, she was forced to perform oral sex on another 23-year-old male detainee who was brought into the room wearing only his underwear. The woman also claimed the police threatened to rape her daughter. The woman’s husband too lodged a police report, claiming he was assaulted and harassed by the police. In his report, the man said he was stripped naked, photographed and asked to appear nude in front of his daughter.

In July, a Chin asylum seeker, was stopped by two uniformed policemen on a motorcycle. He was questioned, searched and handcuffed. Later the policemen slapped and kicked him. The policemen also took his ballpoint pen from his pocket and wrote on his face and used it to poke his stomach. The victim was later taken into a police patrol car whereupon money was demanded from him. When he could not produce any money, the policemen beat him up further, stripped him of his clothes and left him near the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) office. The policemen also took away RM 3, the only money he had on him.

In March, the police raided apartment blocks in Brickfield, Kuala Lumpur in search of undocumented Indian nationals. Police personnel conducted mass block searches, and 191 persons—186 Indian nationals, 4 Pakistanis and a Burmese—were arrested and detained. The detainees, most of whom were IT specialists,  claimed that they had proper documentation, which most of them provided. However, this failed to satisfy the authorities, as the they were not familiar with the various types of visas and worker’s passes. Of the 191 persons detained, 155 produced documentation while 36 were not able to. Many of the documents were scratched or defaced by the police during the “verification” of these documents. The detainees complained that the authorities acted in a high-handed manner, handcuffed most of them and detained them at the police station instead of checking the documents properly at the apartments. They added that some of those arrested were roughed up by being kicked and slapped and stripped naked. Some were detained for up to 12 hours without food or water. The operation started at 7 a.m., and their ordeal only ended at 7 p.m. that day. The immigration authorities did not participate in the raid, nor was appropriate verification equipment taken along.

Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir apologized to the people of the Southern Thailand after the police detained 60 Thai nationals for alleged immigration offences while crossing the border and shopping in Malaysia. In the operation in June, police personnel randomly arrested shoppers from duty-free zone shops for “lack” of documentation. Despite protestation, they were detained for 10 days, and it was only due to intervention from the Thai authorities that they were subsequently released. The confusion arose because there is a border agreement between Thailand and Malaysia stating that Thai nationals are not required to produce travel documents to enter the duty-free zone in Rantau Panjang that the police were apparently unaware of.

The 100-year old Sri Kalikamba Kamadeswarar temple that served residents formerly living in the Ebor palm oil estate in Batu Tiga, Shah Alam, was destroyed and burnt in June by a group of unidentified individuals and allegedly witnessed by police officers. According to lawyer and activist Uthayakumar, several unidentified individuals first tried to burn down the temple earlier but failed because it started to rain. Devotees from the temple lodged a police report asking for protection, and they took turns to watch over the temple. However, he alleged that two days later, another group of people came together with uniformed policemen and proceeded to destroy the temple. According to several police reports lodged over the second  incident, three eyewitnesses claimed that some 10 uniformed police personnel had restrained them while another group of unidentified persons set the temple on fire. One of the witnesses, K. Chandrasegaran, said that he and two other men posted to watch over the temple were restrained by the police and forcibly taken out of the temple. “[The police] dragged us out by pulling our shirts with our hands held to the back. We were told that if we ran or resisted, we would be handcuffed,” he said in his police report lodged on the day of the incident. Chandrasegaran said five men in civilian clothes then pulled out the carpet from the floor of the temple, placed it on top of the temple roof and set it alight after dousing it with petrol. Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC) Abu Bakar met the temple committee and apologised for the incident, and said that he would send some policemen to help clean up the place. In return, he asked them not to make an issue out of the matter.

Meanwhile, the committee chairperson, P. Thanabalan, said that the temple had been built over a hundred years ago to serve estate workers living in the area. The workers were later relocated away from the area after the land was slated for development into a housing estate by Sime UEP 10 or 12 years ago. However, Thanabalan said the temple continued to serve the relocated residents, and no provisions had been made for them to move the temple to another location. Over the course of the year, several Hindu temples had been threatened with demolition as a result of encroaching development into former estates or residential areas. There had been some cases where temples had been demolished by local authorities either because they are not registered, were not managed by a lawfully recognised committee or because the land that they occupied had been converted for development.

In August , Constable Razali Pilen, 27, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and ordered to be given 17 strokes of the cane for raping two women in the Ampang Police Station lock-up in Selangor in February 2002. His victims, a Filipino woman and an Indonesian woman, were both alleged to be undocumented sex workers. Razali was initially acquitted and discharged without his defence being called, but the High Court reversed the decision on appeal. Sessions Court Judge Mohamed Saman Mohd Ramli had earlier held the sexual acts between the parties to be “voluntary, just like between husband and wife,” and further undermined the credibility of the victims on the grounds that they were undocumented persons and married with children. The acquittal caused outrage among NGOs and women’s groups for the court’s failure to understand the vulnerability of women, especially undocumented women in police custody.

There were also numerous incidents of police collusion with influential companies and property developers in evicting and demolishing the houses of plantation workers or urban pioneers. In many cases, these unlawful acts were done while the disputes were still pending in court and in the absence of court orders. The protesters and occupants were generally threatened with violence and arrest, and in some cases the threats materialised, resulting in further misery to these vulnerable groups.

Abuse of the Remand Procedure by the Police and Magistrates

One of the main factors that contributes to the violations of the human rights of suspects while in police custody is the readiness of magistrates in granting remand orders to allow the police to investigate alleged crimes. Although the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) allows remand orders to be granted not exceeding 15 days if investigations cannot be completed within 24 hours of the arrest, the police invariably inform the magistrate that the suspect is being investigated for an offence and the magistrate in the majority of cases as a matter of “”due course”” grants a remand order against the suspect without checking the desirability for such an order. The magistrate normally performs this task in an administrative manner and fails to scrutinise the propriety of the arrest, the investigation done in the preceding 24 hours and the connection between the suspect and the crime. In most cases, no investigation is carried out at all within the initial 24 hours, and in many cases there is no logical connection between the length of remand period and the alleged offence. As an illustration, a person suspected of being a drug dependent is sometimes remanded for a week or more when the only “investigation” that was needed was to obtain urine samples for a drug substance test.

Often remand procedures are carried out with neither the proper participation of the suspect nor the presence of a lawyer if he or she has one. The situation is made worse as there is a general lack of information regarding the fate of a suspect. A telephone call is not regarded as a right and is discretionary. The whereabouts of a suspect and details while under remand are normally not easily forthcoming from the police. Family members and lawyers are usually given the runaround concerning the place of detention. Access to the suspect and details as to when the suspect is to be brought to court for a remand order or to be charged are also often denied.

There is also the problem of the “chain smoking order” being made against a suspect. This is where the police inform the magistrate that the suspect is being investigated for a another offence as well; they thus call for a further and different remand order. The suspect is then further detained (in excess of the maximum 15 days) and sometimes taken to different jurisdictions to “solve” other crimes. In the different jurisdiction, the suspect is sometimes further remanded, and the presiding magistrate may not have been informed of the suspect’s history of being consecutively remanded. Even if the magistrate was duly informed, the cycle of automatic remand orders is frequently administered without due regard to the constitutional and legal provisions. There have been cases where suspects have been detained for more than two months in various police stations in various states, resulting in severe deterioration of health and even death while in police custody.

Some suspects in prolonged detention are detained under the EO, which allows the police to hold suspects for up to 60 days. Under the ordinance there is no need for a remand order from a magistrate. All that is required is that a police officer of or above the rank of deputy superintendent report the circumstances of the arrest. He must show the inspector general of police or his designated officer that actions were taken  with a view to “preventing any person from acting in a manner prejudicial to public order” or for “suppression of violence” or for “prevention of crimes involving violence.”.

In December, SUARAM brought to the attention of the Home Ministry and SUHAKAM the plight of five detainees who were remanded continuously for between 24 and 28 days. After the abuse of the remand procedure was highlighted, the police resorted to the EO to justify the continuous detention. The five have since been imposed with the two-year detention order under the EO and are serving their detention without trial in Simpang Renggam Detention Camp.

The bleak picture painted above concurs with the SUHAKAM report entitled “Rights of Remand Prisoners.” The report, dated December 2001 and released in October 2002, disclosed that police and magistrates have grossly abused the remand procedures. The commission made recommendations for improvements.  Among the abuses highlighted were:

  • Remand persons were barred from contacting family members

  • Medical requirements were not fully fulfilled

§         Family members and friends of arrested persons, including juveniles, were sometimes kept in the dark of details and the reasons for their arrest, whether they would be remanded, whether they would be brought to court to be remanded or charged, which court would they would be brought to and when this would happen

  • Extortion by police personnel who demanded up to RM 40.00 for a telephone call

  • No access to lawyers was provided on the ground that it would interfere with police investigation

  • Remand proceedings were conducted in private between the police and the magistrate   in chambers while the suspects were kept away

  • The readiness of magistrates to grant remand orders without considering whether it was necessary to further investigation, and without paying due consideration to the views of the suspect or his lawyers

  • The common practice of “chain smoking order” or repeated remand orders from one police station to another for suspicion of committing different alleged crimes resulting in months of incarceration

  • The deplorable condition of lockups; problems included congestion, absence of bed sheets, dirty blankets, inadequate clothing, spectacles being taken away, deprivation of privacy, stinking toilets with little of no water, etc.

Intimidation and Persecution of Lawyer P. Uthayakumar

In January, lawyer P. Uthayakumar was arrested outside the Sepang Magistrate’s Court in Selangor after attending an inquest into the death of S. Tharma Rajen, who died in police custody after being detained by the police for 66 days. The lawyer was detained for a period in excess of 24 hours by the police on charges of criminal intimidation of a police officer and of insulting a magistrate during the hearing of the judicial inquest. He was initially “released” after his statement was taken in the Sepang Police Station but re-arrested immediately and brought to the Sentul Police Station in Kuala Lumpur. Chief Police Officer Dell Akbar Khan denied any police harassment against the lawyer. He said: “If he is wanted for questioning in several places, what can we do? The case in Selangor is separate. It has nothing to do with us. We are investigating him for a total different case.”

The apparent sole reason he was arrested and kept overnight was to record his section 113 cautioned statement under the Criminal Procedure Code. SAC Abu Bakar told reporters that he would be released the following day and not charged immediately. Therefore, there was no need to detain him overnight (even though, technically, the police were within their legal rights to do so), as the statement and administrative matters pertaining to the arrest and bail could have been completed in a few hours; the prolonged detention must be viewed as punishment and an exercise of police powers in bad faith.

The arrest was condemned by the Bar Council. In a statement, it said: “The Bar Council is of the view that to arrest Uthayakumar at the doorsteps of the Sepang Magistrate’s Court by an unnecessarily large team of around 20 police officers was completely unwarranted.” It was said further that it was not necessary for the arrest to take place in the full glare of the public, his clients and journalists. The Bar Council also noted that the police themselves were the complainant in the case, and voiced concern that the arrest was a serious abuse of police powers as seen from the calculated timing and publicity involved. The Bar Council also questioned the denial of Uthayakumar of legal counsel and the fact that he was not informed of the grounds of his arrest.

Uthayakumar was later charged under section 506 of the Penal Code for criminal intimidation when he allegedly said the words: “You watch out, I will fix you. We fix you.” The charge carries a sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment and/or fine upon conviction. He was also charged under section 228 for intentionally insulting magistrate Norazmi Mohd Narawi when he ignored the magistrate’s order to be quiet and continued speaking. He was also charged with interrupting a court proceeding resulting in it being postponed. The offence carries a jail sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to RM2,000.  However, the Attorney General’s chambers later withdrew the charge on contempt of court after intervention from civil society, the Bar Council and UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Param Cumaraswamy, who argued that the lawyer was immune from prosecution as the alleged offence was committed during judicial proceedings.

In May, in a revision application by Uthayakumar at the Shah Alam High Court on the charges of criminal intimidation, Suriyadi Halim Omar J. declared that the charges as they stood were groundless and discharged the lawyer from the accusation. The order does not, however, preclude the prosecution from re-charging Uthayakumar. The judgment was scathing of the police conduct: “According to Mr. Uthayakumar, at the police station he was verbally abused by some exceptionally obnoxious police officers, stripped down to his underpants, pictured and filmed in full view of nine policemen. If these allegations were true, I see no necessity for him to be humiliated and robbed of his human dignity in such manner and fashion. They should not have behaved like lords and masters in their little fiefdom, where others are equivalent to serfs, open to abuse and directions.”

Suriyadi J. was equally scathing of Magistrate Norazmi Mohd Nawawi’s conduct in refusing to recuse himself from the proceedings when Uthayakumar was charged and applied for bail.. The judge said: “Any uninitiated person could easily have seen or pointed out that the learned Magistrate should have been the last person to hear the bail matter, for the obvious reason of him being an interested party. Even if he had considered that the bail amount was fair, the perception gathered by the public would certainly militate against it. As far as the public and I were concerned, as justice was not seen to be done, then it was never done…In similar vein, when Mr. Uthayakumar ventilated that the charge or charges were groundless, it was inconceivable that any person in their right frame of mind would have seriously expected that Magistrate to agree to that view…certainly an aberration of justice has taken place on that fateful day.”

The International Commission of Jurist and Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (ICJ/CIJL) in its report on the matter, while commending the High Court judge’s decision and intervention, concluded that “the way this case has been handled gives serious rise for concern. The Malaysian legal system has been under international scrutiny for its prosecution of lawyers, particularly through its use of contempt power…It is therefore not without coincidence that this lawyer was arrested on the steps of a court where he was representing the family of a youth who died in police custody…ICJ/CIJL finds the circumstances and timing of Mr. Uthayakumar’s arrest and detention deeply disturbing.”

In October, Uthayakumar further complained of harassment, verbal abuse and obstruction of justice by police officers while he was attending to clients at the Petaling Jaya Magistrate’s Court. He said that he went to court to represent one of the suspects in a snatch-theft case in a remand proceeding, as the police were seeking to extend their remand by another nine days. Before the proceedings began, Uthayakumar said he tried to establish such matters as whether an identification parade had been conducted, the age of his clients, if they had a past record and circumstances of their arrest. He alleged that, as he started speaking to them in the court room, about 10 plainclothes and uniformed police officers started shouting at him and acting like “licensed gangsters” as they obstructed him from speaking to his clients.  Uthayakumar then left the court room to complain about the officers’ conduct to Magistrate Yasmin Abdul Razak, who was temporarily engaged in another matter elsewhere in the building. When Uthayakumar tried to re-enter the court room, his way was allegedly blocked for a while by a plainclothes officer, who “verbally abused and threatened” him.

The lawyer has been aggressively campaigning against police brutality, fatal shootings and deaths of suspects while in police custody since 2002, and lodged numerous police reports, memoranda and complaints against the police on behalf of the aggrieved family members. During the campaign, there were a few fierce confrontations between the lawyer, his supporters and the police.


Mansuhkan OSA – Abdul Khalid ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat with tags , on January 29, 2009 by ckchew

KUALA SELANGOR, 25 Januari – Dato’ Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim menyatakan pandangannya yang menyokong Akta Rahsia Rasmi (OSA) dimansuhkan.

Katanya, akta itu hanya perlu diguna pakai dalam hal-hal mempertahankan keselamatan negara sahaja.

“Dari awal lagi saya katakan saya tidak bersetuju tentang terlalu merahsiakan, itu sebab saya menyokong OSA dimansuhkan …hanya perkara untuk keselamatan negara sahaja (maklumat) itu perlu dirahsiakan, tapi untuk jual lembu dan sebagainya ia tidak jadi masalah pada saya (untuk mendedahkan),” katanya ketika diminta mengulas mengenai dokumen kerajaan negeri berhubung isu derma lembu korban yang dikatakan diterima ketua pembangkang, Dato’ Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo.

Katanya, OSA tidak boleh digunakan hanya untuk menjaga kepentingan satu-satu pihak sahaja.

Abdul Khalid berkata beliau mungkin mendedahkan penyelewengan yang dilakukan kerajaan yang lepas di dalam persidangan dewan undangan negeri (Dun) yang akan datang.

“Saya belajar dari dia (Dr Khir), tapi saya hanya dedahkan di dalam Dun, bukan didedahkan macam ini. Saya akan buat dan saya percaya dia setuju…dalam proses keterbukaan ini,” katanya.

Beliau turut meminta pihak-pihak berkenaan agar tidak mengaitkan isu derma lembu korban berkenaan dengan Sultan Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj.

Sementara itu, Abdul Khalid berkata beliau bersetuju dengan cadangan reformis Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) yang mahu mewujudkan sebuah ‘Gerak’ baru.

Menurut kumpulan itu Gerak atau nama penuhnya Gerakan Rakyat Anti Korupsi tidak lagi bebas dan seolah-olah dimiliki Umno.

Abdul Khalid berkata reformis PKR yang turut sama dalam penubuhan awal Gerak mahu mewujudkan sebuah gerakan seperti mula-mula ia ditubuhkan.

“Saya setuju… ada 10 Gerak lagi bagus (dalam mengatasi) masalah ketelusan dan kebertanggungjawaban. Ini satu era baru dalam politik,” katanya.- NOOR ALLIA KASSIM

Funeral: 500 in 20km convoy, 6 arrested

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 28, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

The scorching afternoon heat and subsequent heavy downpour failed to deter some 500 people from joining a funeral procession behind a golden Mercedes Benz, ferrying the remains of Kugan Ananthan who died in police custody last week.

MCPX

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 07At about 2pm, the procession left the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) in Petaling Jaya en route to a Hindu cemetery in Puchong, some 20km away.

The crowd walked with the hearse for a short distance before getting into their vehicles and driving in a convoy.

In South Indian tradition, the coffin was carried in a car decorated with banana leaves as the cortege made its way to the police station where Kugan died, and then on to the cemetery for funeral rites and burial.

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 06A second post-mortem was conducted at UMMC on Sunday after the family rejected the findings of the first procedure which stated that Kugan died of fluid accumulation in his lungs.

Accompanied by scores of media representatives, including foreign journalists, the procession arrived at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya – via the LDP highway – some 80 minutes later.

It was here that the 22-year-old youth, whose body was riddled with severe lacerations, had collapsed and died.

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 09The crowd, which was joined by another large group, spent about two minutes reciting a prayer and shouting slogans condemning the police for the alleged use of excessive force, before moving on.

Some 20 Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel kept a close watch while a police helicopter circled above. However, no untoward incidents were reported at the Taipan police station.

During the funeral procession, another nine FRU vehicles were spotted parked at Dewan Sebarangan Puchong in Batu 14.

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 05The procession reached the cemetery at Kampung Batu 14 in Puchong more than two hours later, bringing traffic to a standstill in several areas along the way while passing motorists honked as a show of support.

By then, the crowd had swelled to more than 1,000.

Kugan’s remains were eventually buried at about 5.30pm after some rites and prayers.

Six arrested

Earlier this morning, the police had closed all roads leading to UMMC ahead of the funeral procession.

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 10Six people were also arrested, three for wearing a T-shirt of the banned movement Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) and the other two for trying to breach a police barricade to enter the mortuary.

Among those arrested was Hindraf coordinator RS Thanenthiran.

Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan later said that the sixth person arrested was a murder suspect.

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 13Kugan, who was detained on Jan 15 on suspicion of being involved in the theft of luxury cars died while being questioned five days later.

Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar yesterday issued a stern warning against turning Kugan’s funeral into a political rally.

According to Kapar MP S Manikavasagam, the Selangor government had paid for the funeral expenses.

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 14The other notable politicians present at the funeral included Penang Deputy Chief Minister (2) P Ramasamy, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, Subang MP R Sivarasa, Teluk Intan MP M Manogaran, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and Sri Andalas state assemblyperson Dr Xavier Jayakumar.

Following a massive public outcry, attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail last Friday reclassified the case as murder and investigations have been completed.

The guilty must be prosecuted

“The funeral today must be the last such case of abuse by police,” said Sivarasa.

kugan funeral procession“The people want justice and the government must ensure that Kugan’s death is fully investigated and that those found guilty are really prosecuted and not allowed to get away,” he told AFP.

One of those detained, Hindraf coordinator Thanenthiran, told AFP from the police station where he was being held that the arrests were unjustified.

“All we did was come to attend the funeral and pay respects to someone who was abused by police. This clearly shows that the Malaysian government has no respect for its people, especially the Indians,” he said by phone.

Peter Selvanayagam, a 38-year-old engineer who attended the funeral along with his wife and three children, was one of those who linked Kugan’s death with discrimination against the minority community.

“My family and I are here to show that we will not accept the injustice towards the Indian community. We want the guilty to be prosecuted and not to escape justice,” he said.

‘His death will not be in vain’

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 28, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

The burial ceremony of Kugan Ananthan which took place at the Puchong Batu 14 Hindu cemetery this afternoon was an emotional one for his family.

The 22-year-old man had died in police custody last Tuesday. He was arrested on Jan 15 for allegedly being involved in a luxury vehicle stealing syndicate.

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 19His funeral procession from the University Malaya Medical Centre attracted about 500 people who took part in a convoy from the hospital to the cemetery, located some 20 kilometres away.

And at the cemetery, about 1,000 had gathered to pay their last respects. Among them were several politicians.

Below are some excerpts from these politicians.

P Ramasamy, Penang Deputy Chief Minister (II) and Batu Kawan MP

If he (Kugan) was a thief, he should be brought to court for the offence… we have High Courts and we have a Federal Court and yet the police act as they like.

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 17On the other hand the police tell us to not take matters into our own hands and to rely on the law… but this boy was killed.

It does not matter if it was a Malay, Chinese or Indian person… this is not a race issue. He (Kugan) was a Malaysian and a human being.

I hope this does not repeat and the Home Minister should take responsibility or else resign… as well as Inspector General of Police Musa Hassan and Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar.

This issue will be brought to Parliament… because it could happen to my son or anybody’s relative.

R Sivarasa, Subang member of parliament

We want to see prosecution of everybody who was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of Kugan and nothing short of that. This is why we feel that the police investigation is not enough and there must be a royal commission to stop the phenomenon of deaths in custody.

Kugan’s death must be the last and we hope his death will not be in vain… as we have said so many times in the past, this demonstrates a need of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconducts Commission (IPCMC).

Not just any kind of IPCMC, but a credible independent commission… so let’s see if the bill that is going to be introduced in February or March is up to that standard.

S Manikavasagam, Kapar member of parliament

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 s manikavasagamWe are lodging a police report against Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar tomorrow at Brickfields police station to prove that he has lied to the public.

We have a full video of the night when the family first came to the mortuary to see the body where we did not barge in at all.

N Surendran, human rights lawyer and Kugan family lawyer

This afternoon, the authorities did not even allow the family members and the lawyers to come into the mortuary to claim the body. The hospital guards who were in charge over there told us ‘tunggu arahan dari atas‘ (wait for the instruction).

The entire Federal Reserve Unit and Light Strike Force personnel were lining up in front of the door and the police have caused all of these problems from the beginning.

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 15I also had earlier refuted a report saying that Kugan’s death was caused by asthma. But I’m stressing that the second pathologist did not mention anything about asthma and we all should let them release the full report first.

For the second post-mortem, the pathologist was appointed by the family as it was privately done through public donations. After the full, proper, professional report is out, we will certainly give it to the authority.

Dr Xavier Jayakumar, Sri Andalas state assemblyperson

Something is wrong with the system if people are dying in policy custody. On this case, there must be a public inquiry to seek justice for Kugan.

But we have to remember that this is not only an Indian issue, but it’s an issue concerning everyone.

KK Eswaran, Malaysian Association of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) president

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 20I think the first thing to do is to think about the family of the boy who died (Kugan). Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar must make sure that the matter is properly investigated and he must take action.

The credibility of the police who are there to protect the public is at stake. Taking the statements of the deputy ministers (who entered the morgue at Serdang Hospital) should not be the priority of the Home Minister. It is uncalled for.

Instead those responsible for the death of Kugan must be brought to justice. Anyone who has a child wants to know how did it happen? Kugan’s family have the right to know as soon as possible.

Former FT imam sacked after campaigning for Anwar

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on January 28, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

The former imam who witnessed the oath-taking by alleged sodomy victim Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan – and then revealed details during the Permatang Pauh by-election – has been sacked from the Islamic Affairs Department Jakim.

MCPX

Ramlang Porigi had been transferred to Jakim from his previous position as imam in the Federal Territory Mosque last September after he spoke at several forums during PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim’s campaign.

According to his lawyer, Ahmad Nizam Hamid, Ramlang received the termination letter last week – the grounds were that he had “spoilt the name of the public service”.

Ramlang has been slapped with four charges, three of them in relation to speaking on three separate occasions on Aug 24 during the Permatang Pauh campaign, Nizam told Malaysiakini.

The fourth charge – that he had held a press conference at noon of Aug 25 – is inaccurate, according to the lawyer.

Nizam clarified that Ramlang had held a press conference with PKR vice-president Mohamad Azmin Ali and other opposition leaders after midnight (on Aug 26) at the Penanti services centre in Penang.

On Aug 15, Ramlang was among four officials of the Federal Territory Mosque who had been ordered to be present at the ceremony where Saiful (right in photo) swore he had been sodomised by Anwar last June.

Ramlang then appeared at three events organised by the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat – about 48 hours before polling day in Permatang Pauh.

He claimed that he had been directed to witness the Saiful’s oath-taking ceremony but did not state where the orders originated.

Request denied

Jakim director-general Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, in a letter which he signed as chairperson of a disciplinary board, Ramlang’s sacking was done under Regulation 38(g) of the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993.

This was after the board met on Jan 16 this year and considered the facts of the case, the allegations against Ramlang as well as the written representations made by the latter.

However, Wan Mohamad added, Ramlang’s request for a domestic inquiry – following the show-cause letter issued to him last November – was denied “because the board is of the view that whatever statements that have been made are sufficient”.

Ramlang is allowed, according to Regulation 14 and 15(1), to submit a letter of appeal within two weeks of the date of the letter, said Wan Mohamad.

Nizam said an appeal would be lodged.

On Aug 7, Anwar had pleaded not guilty at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court to the act of sodomising Saiful at a condominium on Jun 26 last year.

Malaysian & Thai Uniformed officials accused of trafficking Burmese

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on January 28, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

A scandalous trade in Burmese migrant labour involving Malaysian and Thai officials and international human traffickers is now coming to light.

MCPX

Like thousands of Burmese migrant workers That Zin Myint travelled overland from Rangoon to Bangkok and reached the Thai border where local syndicates, for a hefty bribe, helped him cross into northern Malaysia and move overland to the capital where cheap, unskilled labour is in great demand.

”Don’t take my photographs… they will come after me,” Zin Myint said, referring to Malaysian authorities who now closely monitor local and overseas publications for anti-Malaysia sentiments expressed by migrant workers.

On arrival Zin Myint ‘celebrated’ with others from his village and joined some three million – documented and undocumented – Asian migrant workers who live and work here in deplorable conditions.

An estimated 150,000 of these workers are Burmese migrant workers, many of them Kachins and Muslim Rohingyas from Burma’s northern Rakhine region.

”We Burmese migrants are sold like fish and vegetables,” Myint told IPS in an interview in Pudu market, a big wet market in the capital where Burmese migrant workers predominate.

Deported and sold to trafficked

Myint had been arrested, taken to the Thai border and officially ‘deported’ which actually means getting sold to human traffickers.

”I was robbed of all my cash by both Malaysian and Thai officials and sold to traffickers,” said Myint.

”I was held in a jungle camp near the border for three weeks until my relatives bought me from the traffickers. I bribed my way back into Malaysia,” he said, adding that while conditions are tough in Malaysia, they are better than Burma or Thailand.

”There is food, work and a roof over my head.”

Myint is one of the luckier ones to be arrested and ‘deported’ only once. He is now considered a leader in the Pudu area and much sought after by other Burmese workers for ‘assistance’ in avoiding arrest and deportation all over again.

Burmese migrant workers call the trade ”bwan” (thrown away) or one of the worst forms of human trafficking.

”Malaysia does not recognise key international agreements on the protection of refugees and foreign nationals. Nor does it apply to foreign migrants the same rights and legal protections given to Malaysian citizens,” said Irene Fernandez, executive director of Tenaganita, a rights NGO that protects migrant workers.

Burmese ‘traded’ like commodity

Human rights activists have long charged that immigration, police and other enforcement officials, including the unpopular voluntary force called Rela, have been ”trading”  Burmese migrants, especially Rohingyas, to human traffickers in Thailand who then pass them on to deep sea fishing trawler operators in the South China Sea.

The women are generally sold into the sex industry.

”They are treated as a commodity and frequently bought and sold and we have been condemning this practise for a long time,” Fernandez said.

”Our demands have always fallen on deaf ears despite the accumulating evidence of the involvement of uniformed officials in the trade,” said Fernandez.

It has become commonplace for the authorities to use the vigilante ‘Rela’ force to periodically arrest and ‘deport’ Rohingyas, but since Burma does not recognise them as citizens, the practise is to take them to the Bukit Kayu Hitam area on the Thai-Malaysia border and force them to cross over into Thailand.

irene fernandez interview 251108 05”They are arrested, jailed and deported, but since they are stateless they are taken to the Thai border and often sold to Thai traffickers,” said Fernandez.

Invariably, the ”deported”  Rohingyas bribe Thai and Malaysian officials and return to Malaysia.

The accusation against corrupt Malaysian officials is long standing and made frequently by refugees, human rights activists, opposition lawmakers and is even the subject of one official probe.

Malaysian television channels have also investigated and exposed the ‘sale’ of the Rohingya refugees on the Malaysia-Thai border, although they did not finger Malaysian officials for fear of reprisals.

US has sent teams to investigate

A US probe being conducted into the trafficking by the powerful Senate foreign relations committee has stimulated interest in the plight of Rohingyas when its findings are relayed to key US enforcement agencies and Interpol for possible action, Senate officials have said.

burmese groups protest unhcr 210109 poster 02”US Senate foreign relations committee staff are reviewing reports of extortion and human trafficking from Burmese and other migrants in Malaysia, allegedly at the hands of Malaysia government officials,” a staff official told international news agencies in early January.

”The allegations include assertions that Burmese and other migrants – whether or not they have UNHCR documentation – are taken from Malaysian government detention facilities and transported to the Thailand-Malaysia border,” the official had said.

At the border, they alleged, ”money is demanded from them, or they are turned over to human traffickers in southern Thailand”.

”If they pay, they return to Malaysia. If not, they are sold to traffickers,” the official said, adding that teams had visited Malaysia, Thailand and Burma to collect evidence on the human trade.

Some of the immigrants from Burma and other countries are refugees recognised by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

Since 1995, about 40,000 Rohingya refugees from Burma have been settled in the US, most of them after passing through Malaysia, while the emigration applications of thousands more have been rejected by third countries.

“They are left stranded, unable to return to Myanmar (official name for Burma) where they face certain persecution by the military regime and rejected from immigrating to third countries,” said opposition lawmaker Charles Santiago who has raised their plight in parliament.

“They need urgent help and understanding of their plight,” he said, urging Malaysia to sign UN refugee conventions and accord refugees due recognition. “We can no longer close our eyes to their plight.”

Rais: Allegations ‘baseless and farfetched’

”We are trapped in a foreign country without papers and without recognition,” said Habibur Rahman, general secretary of the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia, an organisation that speaks for stateless Rohingyas in Malaysia.

”We have been looking for a way to escape this dilemma but without success,” he said.

”We are denied citizenship and made stateless by the Myanmar military junta and persecuted and forced to flee to neighbouring countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh,” he said.

The involvement of the US Senate in the issue has upset Malaysian officials who have warned the U.S. to ”take their hands off” the country, saying such action violated Malaysian sovereignty.

However, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has asked the US to pass on information pertaining to the allegations, saying the government does not tolerate extortion from migrants by officials.

”The US authorities have evidence we would be very thankful for, if they can pass the information to us for investigation and appropriate action,” he told Bernama, the official news agency, on Jan 15.

An upset foreign minister Rais Yatim told local media on Jan 19 that the allegations were ”baseless, ridiculous and farfetched”.

”We are a civilised country. We are not living in barbaric times when people are sold off at the whims and fancies of people with power. It is certainly unfair of the US Senate to accuse us of doing such outrageous things,” Rais said.

– IPS

NGO: Logging operations caused deadly landslide

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 28, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

The landslide in Upper Limbang in northern Sarawak that caused the death of three people and  injured seven others is a direct consequence of destructive logging practices, according a Swiss-based NGO, Bruno Manser Fund (BMF).

MCPX

sebayang low limbang sarawakThe landslide is the third in just over a week in Sarawak. On Jan 16, a landslide killed two workers at a petrol station near the city of Miri in northern Sarawak.

Last Wednesday, a landslide severed a section of the Pan-Borneo trunk road near Bintulu, causing hundreds of vehicles to be stranded for hours.

The most recent incident involving three people killed and seven others injured occurred at a timber camp in the Upper Limbang region of Sarawak, BMF said in a statement to Malaysiakini today.

It quoted Bernama as saying the dead were identified as two Filipinos and a Malaysian who worked for a local timber company.

“Research by the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) has shown that the landslide took place near Long Sebayang on the upper reaches of the Limbang river,” BMF said.

penan limbang anti logging protest 280109Logging in the area, which is claimed by the local Penan and Kelabit communities, has been controversial since the mid-1980s when locals set up a number of blockades on logging roads to prevent the timber companies from encroaching into their rainforests, it added.

The Bruno Manser Fund said logging interests in the area used to be closely linked to  James Wong, Sarawak’s former minister of the environment.

It added: “Logging operations near Long Sebayang are currently being carried out by Lee Ling Timber, a company with its headquarters in Limbang.”

Further upriver, a second company, Samling, extracts timber on a large scale. Both companies have plans to convert large natural forest areas into tree plantations, which is likely to cause further environmental destruction.

Nasarudin: No plans to vacate seat, Bota folk support my switch to PKR ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in PKR with tags on January 28, 2009 by ckchew

The Bota assemblyman, who sprung the surprise switch on Sunday, does not plan to resign his seat, given that his move is supported by the constituents there

By SK English Team

Bota assemblyman Nasarudin Hashim, who stirred up a storm when he resigned from Umno to join KeADILan, said today that his constituents supported his decision to switch allegiance.

“Many of them agree with my decision. I will go down to Bota to give them an explanation,” he told reporters.

Nasarudin was paying a courtesy call on Perak Mentri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

Nizar confirmed the state government was planning to host a function at the Bota stadium soon to allow the constituents there to meet and seek clarification from Pakatan Rakyat leaders.

“Nasarudin does not need to resign because the regulations do not require it. He will just remain as the Bota assemblyman,” said Nizar. “If he resigns, he faces the risk of not being able to contest for the next five years.”

No inducements

There have been calls from Umno leaders for Nasarudin to surrender his state seat.

Both Nizar and Nasarudin also reiterated that the latter was not promised any positions in the Perak state government as inducement to change party.

“No, there was no such offer,” said Nasarudin.

According to Nizar, who is also Perak PAS secretary, Nasarudin’s decision was made based on his desire to work with the Paktatan state government.

“Anyway, if a person makes a decision to defect, he should not be disturbed or pressured by anyone. His decision should be respected,” Nizar said.

Najib to take over Perak Umno and BN chief posts on Feb 1? ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 28, 2009 by ckchew

Panicked by the Bota assemblyman’s decision to join Pakatan, Umno is grasping at straws to stop further flights by disgruntled members – who have cited elitist and oppressive politics as further reasons to switch allegiance

By Wong Choon Mei

Speculation is rife that Deputy Premier Najib Abdul Razak will take over as Perak Umno and Barisan Nasional chief effective from Feb 1, in a bid to stem a possible exodus following Bota assemblyman Nasarudin Hashim’s decision to join Pakatan Rakyat partner, KeADILan.

“This is what’s going through the Umno grapevine now. But I am not that sure if Najib will want to take on the challenge. He would be putting his neck on the line,” said a party veteran.

Political watchers have blamed Nasarudin’s defection on Umno’s weakening hold over the Malay community, a fact that could no longer be rebutted after it lost the Kuala Terengganu by-election earlier this month.

Najib, the campaign director for Umno-BN at KT, had unleashed a never-before-seen avalanche of election goodies and lures. But Umno still lost the seat – regarded as a core Malay heartland – to Pakatan partner PAS.

“Umno was defeated even in its own long-held bastion. The loss of Kuala Terengganu shows that the people are now starting to reject the leadership of Najib,” said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Another round of shifting the blame

The two Perak positions are currently held by former menteri besar, Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali.

According to media reports, Tajol will resign to take the blame for the loss of the Bota seat.
Nasarudin’s defection would raise the number of Pakatan seats in the state assembly to 32, while reducing Umno-led BN’s to 27.

Tajol has been a bitter critic of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, which wrested the seat from BN in the watershed 2008 general election.

He has frequently promised to topple the Pakatan state government led by present Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

Said Pakatan stalwart and Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng: “The situation in Perak is not like in Penang where the Pakatan has a big majority. Nasarudin’s move will be a big boost to the Perak Pakatan.

“Perak Umno is constantly saying that they will soon overthrow the Pakatan state government, but so far, we only see Umno falling.”

Elitist and oppressive politics

Meanwhile, Nizar has reiterated that he expects three more Umno state reps to cross over to Pakatan soon.

“They came to see us after Nasarudin announced he was joining Pakatan. We have started dicussions with them,” said Nizar, who is also Perak PAS secretary. He declined to reveal their identities at this point in time.

“They told us they were happy with the policies that have been implemented by the Pakatan state government since taking over the state, especially with regards to increasing the income of the Perak people.”

“They also said they were unhappy with the oppressive and elitist rules of the Umno, which did not allow them to contest for higher posts or to head the division.”

Nasarudin, the former Parit MP before he was asked by Umno to represent Bota, said there was no need to vacate the seat as the constituents there supported his switch.

“Many of them agree with my decision. I will go down to Bota to give them an explanation,” he told reporters.

The Pakatan state government will be hosting a function at the Bota stadium soon to meet the constituents, and to give them an opportunity to voice their views.

“Nasarudin does not need to resign because the regulations do not require it. He will just remain as the Bota assemblyman,” said Nizar. “If he resigns, he faces the risk of not being able to contest for the next five years.”

A possible exodus?

Tajol Rosli, an Umno supreme council member, is expected to officially step down this week. He was due to vacate both posts only after the Umno general assembly and election in March.

Meanwhile, there has been an outpouring of loyalty pledges from other Perak Umno members as well as from BN coalition partners.

“Everyone has personal problems,” said Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, an Umno minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

“What is unfortunate is that Nasarudin has chosen a solution that is detrimental to Umno. This is not the tipping point for Perak BN leaders to go into the opposition. It is just about one man.”

Said Kong Cho Ha, chairman of Perak MCA: “Since the time MCA formed an alliance with Umno, it has always remained with Umno. And that will continue.”

However, according to news reports, Lintang state assemblyman Ahamad Pakeh Adam and Pengkalan Baharustate assemblymen Hamdi Abdu Bakar have threatened to follow in Nasarudin’s wake if the situation at Umno did not change.

“There will be more,” Ahamad was reported to have said.

Syabas Dato’ Nasa!

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags , on January 27, 2009 by ckchew

Kehadiran Dato’ Nasaruddin amat membanggakan kita. Kelayakan akademik, pengalaman pentadbiran dan politik serta sosok peribadi sederhana dan berhemah tambah memantapkan pimpinan KeADILan Perak khususnya.

Beliau dipelawa dan dijanjikan dengan kedudukan terbaik asal bersedia kembali ke Umno. Pelawaan pertemuan dengan PM dan ajakan serta desakan berulangkali olih Dato’ Seri Najib ditolak dengan sopan. Syabas Dato’ Nasa dan Datin Umi!

Perihal dikumpul wakil-wakil rakyat Umno, ulangi angkat sumpah (sumpah lagi!) di depan Najib (kaedah apa pula?) biasa saja dalam tradisi mereka.
Tetapi lantaran penyesalan mereka akan kehilangan tokoh Perak, apakah muslihat terhenti di situ?

Ikutilah babak drama berikutnya, ugutan atau sogokan.

Didoa semoga Allah SWT memberikan kita hidayah dan kekuatan yang berterusan.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

3-0 & Najib Altantuya is looking for another C4 – for himself ~ Malaysiakini.

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on January 27, 2009 by ckchew

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 – The score is 0-3 and the threat of more embarrassment being piled upon him, the party and ruling coalition he will soon lead, grows by the day.

Defeat in Permatang Pauh. Defeat in Kuala Terengganu. Cross-over in Bota.

But he is still the calmest man in the room. Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has told Cabinet minister, senior politicians and government officials that he does not believe that the setbacks suffered by Umno/Barisan Nasional since March 8 2008 are signs that Malaysians want the ruling coalition out of power.

He does not believe that Umno is on a death watch.

He does not believe that the country is ready to flick away, like an annoying piece of lint, the government which has held the reins of power since independence and transformed a largely agrarian society to one of the top trading nations in the world.

Najib, who will become leader of the party and be installed as the prime minister of Malaysia by March 31, is confident that with some meaningful reforms and a steady stewardship of the economy, he will be able to staunch the bleeding of support for Umno/BN and put it on the right path to recover lost ground at the next general elections, scheduled for 2013.

But …

But first he will have to convince his party men that phase of change does not end when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi steps down from power in March. Indeed, the changing of guard at the top should signal the beginning of a period of sustained change in the party. The first step

should be the composition of the Cabinet.

Every Umno president has been forced to “respect’’ the wishes of the 2,000 Umno delegates and reward successful candidates at party elections with Cabinet positions.

So it did not matter if you were corrupt, incompetent, average or a chauvinist. If you snared a senior party position, you were a shoo-in for a Cabinet seat.

Shaken by the results of Election 2008, Abdullah flirted with the idea of loading his Cabinet with at least four or five top Malay professionals.

He finally buckled to pressure from the party and only selected Amirsham A. Aziz and Zaid Ibrahim. He loaded the Cabinet with politicians, considered heavyweights in Umno but average by the rest of the country.

Najib has drawn up a list of credible individuals who have the brainpower and stature to be ministers but is already being told that he should not be too adventurous.

In short, stick to the old formula of promoting Umno politicians who bag the most number of votes at the party elections.

There are several problems with sticking with the old tried and discredited formula.

Even Umno politicians concede that vote buying and corruption is rampant this time around. What message will Najib send Malaysians if he loads his Cabinet with politicians who purchased their positions in Umno?

But…

But first he will have to oversee an economy that will be in the doldrums for between 12 to 24 months.

In the days ahead, the government will tweak its official position and acknowledge that the growth forecast of 3.5 per cent for 2009 cannot be met.

Research houses and analysts say that Malaysia will be in recession, with the economy contracting by between 1 per cent and 2 per cent.

Government officials told The Malaysian Insider that they still believe that economy will expand this year, perhaps by 0.5 per cent. That is the best case scenario and is anchored on this important assumption: that the RM7 billion stimulus package is implemented in a timely fashion.

The Malaysian Insider has learnt that some RM5 billion has been released to individual ministeries but the money has not flowed down to projects earmarked under the stimulus package.

The biggest challenge Najib will face is to keep Malaysians in their jobs.

The second stimulus package to be announced soon will include measures to reduce the cost of doing business, including a possible corporate tax cut.

The government hopes that by cutting down cost for businesses, employers will not cut jobs. If this gambit proves unsuccessful and the rate of retrenchment increases, Najib and the BN government will have to face the prospect of between 200,000 and 300,000 Malaysians out of work.

What then? How do you inspire people when their confidence has been sucked dry, sapped by the loss of the one thing that keeps them and their loved ones going?

But…

But first he will have to make sure the more trying economic times and more fractious political scenario does not further weaken the frayed ties between Malaysia’s races.

Looking back, one of the biggest disappointments of the Abdullah era has been his paralysis in tackling racial and religious issues.

The PM hoped that if you left tricky issues alone long enough, they would sort themselves out.

They don’t. They just become festering sores.

Just after the Hindu Action Rights Force persuaded 30,000 Indians to take to the streets in November 2007 and pushed the marginalisation of Indians to become a national issue, Abdullah convened a meeting of Indian community leaders in his office.

He was given an unvarnished account of the crime situation among Indians; the economic deprivation and cautioned that the despair in the community was like a ticking time bomb.

Abdullah promised action but there was little follow-up. In a separate meeting, he was told by non-Muslim religious leaders that there was restlessness among Buddhist, Christians and Sikhs over the perceived encroaching on their freedom to worship by the government.

Today, these complaints are as loud as ever. Abdullah found himself caught in a dilemma: he wanted to be fair to the non-Muslims but he was concerned about upsetting his power base in Umno and among the Malays.

So he did nothing.

The option of doing nothing will not be available to Najib. Indeed, the option of following the old playbook will not be available to Najib.

Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali will quit as Perak Umno chief ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 27, 2009 by ckchew

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 – Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali will quit as Perak Umno chief soon while three Barisan Nasional state reps have hinted at following Datuk Nasarudin Hashim into Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) as discontent grows over Umno’s recent divisional polls, The Malaysian Insider learnt today.

The state Umno is in turmoil now after the Bota state assemblyman repudiated the party to join his Universiti Malaya campus mate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday and revelations by Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin that he is negotiating with the trio to cross over to Pakatan Rakyat.

Among the trio are state representatives within the Larut and Bruas parliamentary constituencies, sources told The Malaysian Insider.

“Tajol Rosli has indicated to the party leadership that he will relinquish his post soon,” a source said today.

Tajol Rosli, who was Perak Menteri Besar before BN lost the state to Pakatan Rakyat in the March 2008 polls, had met with Umno deputy president and deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak yesterday to discuss Nasarudin’s defection.

He alluded to problems within the Parit Umno division that led to the former Parit MP’s decision to quit.

It is learnt that the other state assemblymen mulling their future in Umno voiced out concerns about similar problems within their divisions.

They are also unhappy that the national leadership have ignored their problems and felt that several national leaders are behind moves to oust them from party politics. Politicking and jockeying for key posts have increased since Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s exit plan was brought forward to this March.

Najib has been elected unopposed as Umno’s new president and will have to face a party rife with factional interests and ambitious warlords conspiring for their own interests rather than that of the dominant Malay party that has led the nation since Merdeka.

“Its a zero-sum game. When some lose party positions, they lose everything. The only way up could be through another party,” an Umno leader said, alluding to Nasarudin’s loss in party division elections a few months ago.

The veteran Perak leader has seen his influence diminish when he was moved from the Parit parliament seat constituency to the Bota state seat in the last elections. While he won the state seat, he lost his Felcra chairmanship, a position normally given to an MP.

The Parit Umno deputy chief’s failed challenge for the divisional top post was the last straw, sources added.

Several other divisions are facing similar problems, with the most prominent being Larut Umno’s imbroglio between current chief Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar and challenger Larut MP Datuk Hamzah Zainudin.

Raja Ahmad has charged that Hamzah, who is Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister, is ineligible to contest for the division post due to procedural issues but Tajol Rosli has referred the matter to the party supreme council for a decision. No decision has been made and the division has yet to hold its elections.

Anwar, who is Parliamentary Opposition leader, yesterday also hinted of more cross-overs but Najib has denied it, calling it “rumours”.

Nasarudin’s defection is seen by many as a blow to Najib just weeks before he assumes the party presidency as it reflects a lack of faith in his leadership.

“It’s a blow to Najib as some don’t think he can handle the party well. Nobody will attribute this to Pak Lah as he is already on the way out,” a Umno veteran said.

While Perak Umno is in turmoil, Tajol Rosli maintained yesterday that the party was confident of wresting back the state from the Pakatan Rakyat electoral pact in the next elections.

“We have three years to do it and the BN has put in motion all measures especially to get the votes of the youth,” he said.

Tajol Rosli also said he has yet to meet Nasarudin, who has been avoiding his calls.

Cyber-paper at vanguard of media revolution

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on January 27, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

A Malaysian newspaper that exists only in cyberspace has inspired a torrent of online debate since its launch a decade ago, in a phenomenon that has shaken up the nation’s media and political scene.

The pioneering website Malaysiakini and the thriving political blogosphere it helped spawn have been key to the rise of the opposition which after decades of obscurity now has a real chance of gaining power.

“The Malaysian blogosphere has really exploded and pushed the boundaries of press freedom in Malaysia in unprecedented ways,” said Shawn Crispin, Southeast Asia representative for the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Without question Malaysiakini was on the vanguard of the Malaysian online news phenomenon and provided a brave, bold example that this whole generation of online bloggers and news providers has been able to draw on,” he said.

Malaysiakini – ‘Malaysia Now’ – stumbled into a void waiting to be filled in a country where the government-friendly media have close ties to political parties, and where new publishing licences are virtually unheard of.

It was the vanguard for a flowering of news and views from a wide range of commentators, who use the relative freedom of the Internet to broach once-taboo topics such as opposition politics, race and religion.

perdana foundation media talk 180407 steven ganIt’s all a long way from 1999 when founders Steven Gan (photo) and Pramesh Chandran launched Malaysiakini online, at a time when many people were only just signing up for email accounts and learning how to navigate the Internet.

“The Internet was our last resort. I knew we wouldn’t reach a lot of people but we had no choice as we didn’t get a publishing licence,” Gan said in an interview at his headquarters in Kuala Lumpur’s lively Bangsar district.

“We thought we’d run it like any other media organisation as that was where our experience was, and make it different from other political websites by being credible and professional.”

The path has not been all smooth. Malaysiakini‘s offices were raided in 2003, staff were banned from official events until recently, and the mostly young employees have made some errors and mis-steps.

But the editorial team has expanded from four to 25, daily hits have peaked at 500,000 during major events when the subscription-only site is thrown open to the public, and it has been profitable for the past four years.

The Internet-led news phenomenon helped breath life into the opposition just as its figurehead, former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim was returning to the political stage after a spell in jail.

In March 2008 general elections, his opposition alliance seized five states and a third of parliamentary seats, humbling the coalition which has dominated Malaysia for half a century since independence from Britain.

A big mistake

The political earthquake stunned the government which had vilified bloggers and threatened them with jail. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi admitted his “biggest mistake” had been to ignore cyber-campaigning.

“We thought that the newspapers, the print media and television were important, but young people were looking at SMS and blogs,” he said.

James Chin from the Kuala Lumpur campus of Australia’s Monash University, said Malaysia’s vibrant online scene was the result of a unique set of factors including a muzzled mainstream media and relatively good Internet access.

Malaysiakini could only have existed in places like Malaysia, Singapore or Burma, simply because the mainstream press have no credibility,” the political analyst said.

The phenomenon has also provided more space for the mainstream media – which largely practices self-censorship – to cover stories that in the past they would have had to ignore, he said.

“The traditional press can justify covering a story because they can argue that it’s already in the public domain,” Chin said. “They act as a safety valve for local papers.”

Jeff Ooi (photo), one of the nation’s top bloggers who has now become an opposition parliamentarian, said there were fears that deputy premier Najib Abdul Razak, who will replace Abdullah in March, could clamp down on the Internet.

Malaysia made a 1996 pledge not to censor the Internet, but websites and blogs are still subject to strict slander and security laws which critics say can be wielded as political weapons.

Another high-profile blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, an outspoken critic of the government, was jailed for two months last year under an internal security law that allows for indefinite detention without trial.

But Chin said the Malaysian blogosphere is now so large and diverse, with many pro-government sites also reaching a wide audience, that the genie can never be put back in the bottle.

“It’s unclampable right now. The Internet has gone far beyond the conventional control methodology,” he said.

“Regulators are saying that whatever is illegal offline is illegal online, but there are loopholes that mean bloggers are still having a heyday.”

AFP

Resurgence of the Notorious Botak Chin in Penang! Omp….Balder Penang Hill not Chin ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 27, 2009 by ckchew

img_02831

Going, going, gone – the only water catchment area in Penang island. The authority must not put the blame on the act of god when landslide disaster struck. We are to be blamed for destroying the water retention area.

img_02821

img_02861

img_02851

img_02841

Adun Bota dari umno Masuk PKR on Video

Posted in PKR with tags , on January 27, 2009 by ckchew

Clock starts ticking for Najib, while Anwar basks in the glow of KT and Bota ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags , on January 27, 2009 by ckchew

As the moon waxes and wanes, so too have the political fortunes of Deputy Premier Najib Razak and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

But with the latest shock defection of a prized Umno assemblyman to KeADILan, a key turning point may have been hit.

Attention is now firmly back on Anwar and what next he has to unveil, while Najib faces the music from his own party …

By Wong Choon Mei, SK

Whether he chooses to admit it or not, pundits say the political clock has begun ticking for Najib Abdul Razak, even before he takes over as the country’s sixth prime minister in March.

They point at Sunday’s decision by Bota assemblyman, Nasaruddin Hashim, to leave Najib’s Umno for KeADILan, the party led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

“This is a direct consequence of the Kuala Terengganu by-election defeat at the hands of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition,” said a veteran political watcher.

“KT is a core Malay heartland and the loss is starting to create the sort of reverberations in Umno that some members have been expecting, but were afraid to say out loud. There can be only two outcomes for Umno and Najib now. His ouster and the party’s re-birth, or his survival and the party’s demise.”

In top-level politics since he was 22, the 55-year old Najib is perceived by many to personify many of the ills that have brought down the once-mighty party. Umno has been increasingly shunned in recent years by younger-generation Malays for pushing a cocktail of corrupt and elitist politics.

Despite being the campaign director for KT, Najib was quick to distance himself from the loss, and sees Nasaruddin’s defection as a one-off incident.

“These are all rumours. I don’t think so,” he said, when asked if this could be the tip of the ice-berg. “It is not right to abandon the party because of personal problems or dissatisfaction at a time when the party needs our support.”

Nasaruddin, however, paints a different picture, pin-pointing “the situation that exists now in Umno and its leadership” as a main reason behind his move.

“This decision was taken after a long study and consideration of the public’s interest in general, especially my supporters and voters in the state assembly area of Bota,” he said.

Contrasting fortunes

As Najib’s star begins to lose some sparkle, arch rival Anwar is resurgent.

The opposition icon, who led Pakatan to a historic performance in the 2008 general election by winning five of the nation’s 13 states, had suffered a setback when he failed to follow through on a promise to topple the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government by September last year.

But with the KT win underscoring the still-growing faith Malaysians have in him, the 61-year old former deputy premier is confident of being able to attract more BN leaders to the Pakatan fold.

“Now the Ox has come in, just be patient… we are working hard just like the ox,” Anwar said at KeADILan’s Chinese New Year open house in Klang.

Indeed, KT and Nasaruddin’s defection – both occurring within the same month – are sweet victories for the Pakatan coalition comprising KeADILan, DAP and PAS.

Subjected to an intense bout of bad press from the BN-controlled media, the trio has had to fight off a string of speculation, including talk about an imminent bust-up over ideological differences and political incompatibility.

“The decision of Nasaruddin is critical, reflecting the sentiment of his voters, primarily the Malays in his constituency,” said Anwar, adding that it also reflected the “beginning of a new wave” for the Pakatan.

Najib courts non-Malays

Meanwhile, Najib is trying hard to make up for his declining popularity within his own community by winning over the other ethnic groups.

In particular, he has taken pains to court the Chinese community through the MCA-controlled newspapers by portraying himself as a dependable and moderate Malay leader

He is also trying to reach out to the Indian community, taking an interest in the latest flare-up over alleged police brutality against a 22-year old suspect – Kugan Ananthan – that resulted in his death while in custody.

Yet, barely three months ago, Najib was at the peak of his popularity, sweeping the Umno presidency uncontested during party nominations in November.

He was also perceived as being in the group that manoeuvred Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi into accepting responsibility for the 2008 general election debacle and agreeing to early retirement.

Najib’s supporters had then justified Abdullah’s ouster by claiming it was the only way to snap the Umno-BN losing streak. They also said Najib was the only viable choice for both the Malays and the rest of the nation.

According to them, Najib “is the one who has the numbers”. But the deterioration has not stopped and ironically, it may be his days as the top gun in Umno that are now numbered.

“Umno was defeated even in its own long-held bastion. The loss of Kuala Terengganu shows that the people are now starting to reject the leadership of Najib,” said Anwar.

Autopsy No. 2 on Kugan finds external injuries ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 27, 2009 by ckchew

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 – A second autopsy on suspected car thief Kugan Ananthan has found external injuries caused by blunt force trauma, sources told The Malaysian Insider.

The 22-year-old, who died while in police custody on Jan 20, was said to have died of cardiac arrest following the injuries, the sources said.

Initial findings also revealed Kugan was asthmatic, and his condition had caused phlegm to accumulate in his lungs.

The full report is expected to be issued within days after Universiti Malaya Medical Centre pathologists carried out the autopsy that lasted nearly 10 hours on Sunday following a dispute over earlier findings that he had died of ‘water in the lungs’.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers have classified the case as murder and 11 policemen from the Subang USJ Taipan police station have been reassigned to desk duty pending investigations.

It is understood that closed-circuit-television-cameras (CCTV) were not placed in the police station’s lock-up despite a directive years ago that was intended to prevent claims of police abuse.

Kugan was said to be part of a syndicate involved in stealing luxury cars but his family said he has no criminal record and worked as an insurance claims executive.

Kugan will be cremated at the Puchong Batu 14 crematorium on Wednesday.

Fearing trouble, police have warned his family and friends not to turn the funeral into a protest following unconfirmed reports that a procession with banners and placards are being planned.

The police are now questioning some 21 people, including two deputy ministers, for allegedly barging into a hospital mortuary to view Kugan’s body last week. The family and the two politicians dispute the police and hospital version of events, saying they had a right to see the body.

His death is the latest over the years of suspects, mainly Indians, who had died suddenly in police custody.

Political parties across the divide have asked for an independent probe into his death and others in the past.

His family has also criticised the police for hiding behind a wall of silence over the death.

“The police never informed us that he was arrested and we only heard about it from an anonymous caller,” Kugan’s uncle V. Raviroy told The Malaysian Insider.

The 42-year-old businessman said no matter what Kugan was accused of doing; he did not deserve to die.

“Kugan was only 22, he had his whole life ahead of him, why did he end up dead in the lockup?” he lamented. MI

Anwar Ibrahim – Palestine Solidarity Night

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags on January 27, 2009 by ckchew

Cash, funds and development during election ~ Malaysiakini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on January 26, 2009 by ckchew

By Zedeck Siew, Nut Graph

IN the lead-up to the Kuala Terengganu by-election, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s fortnightly newspaper Suara Keadilan began taking Datuk Seri Najib Razak to task for not keeping an August 2008 promise.

The party mouthpiece reported that a RM4.18 million allocation for mosques and suraus, which the deputy prime minister pledged during the Permatang Pauh by-election, had failed to materialise. The article was simply headlined “Najib bohong”. Berita Harian later reported the funds were already on their way.

Development promises during an election can, indeed, bear special weight. The question is, are such development promises permissible, or even legal?

Not necessarily evil

For Ong Boon Keong, northern regional co-ordinator for Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel), development promises in general are not necessarily evil. In fact, he says, they may actually help voters cast their ballots wisely.

“Positive promises show the party’s priorities, as well as its fiscal responsibility,” Ong says in an e-mail interview. Outlandish promises will show up a party as wasteful. Those which are unlikely to be implemented will demonstrate a lack of credibility, he explains. Voters, he believes, can judge if pledges are realistic.

“Election promises are by themselves no infringement of any law,” Ong adds.

Indeed, democracies the world over see political candidates vowing to undertake one action or the other to demonstrate the tenor of his or her administration. The phrase “campaign promise” is proverbial: when someone is said to make one, you would be surprised if he or she actually delivers.

However, it is when development promises are made to overtly influence how voters will vote that the boundaries begin to blur.

In Kuala Terengganu

Perhaps the most emblematic promise of development during the Kuala Terengganu by-election was made by Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said, who said that a RM5.8 million development project for the constituency was in the works, and would be carried out after the by-election. The size of this figure was, Ahmad revealed, dependent on the ballot box.

And on 16 Jan, the eve of polling day, he asked the Chinese Malaysian electorate in Bandar to be “understanding” if state development funds were diverted, should the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate not win.

National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI) chairperson Yunus Ali reveals that the sum total of funds promised during the election campaign in Kuala Terengganu was much higher than just RM5.8million.

“The ruling party promised more than RM1 billion worth of funds to Terengganu,” Yunus says in a phone interview, referring to his organisation’s tally.

NIEI issued a press statement shortly after the conclusion of the by-elections, which observed that “indirect bribing, designed to fish for votes, was rampant”. The statement supplied an incomplete list. This included the RM100 million allocation for low-cost housing, the Emergency Fund for Fishermen with a launching capital of RM1 million, and the RM6.1 million gift to SJKC Chung Hwa Wei Sin.

Bribery under the law

Such obvious voter-inducement, and the appended veiled threat, in the case of the Terengganu MB, is highly questionable. But is it illegal?

Inducing voters to cast their ballot a certain way is “bribery” under Section 10 of the Election Offences Act (EOA) 1954. Similarly, a party that “threatens to inflict damage, harm, or loss” is exerting “undue influence”, as defined by Section 9.


(© Hjalmedia / Dreamstime)

More material bribes such as payments in cash and kind to voters are clearly illegal under the EOA.

“Such bribes are done to different degrees by all candidates,” Ong says, “though the BN candidate tends to be the bigger offender in most elections.”

The NIEI’s report correlates this, saying: “… the distribution of goodwill cash for Terengganu citizens, amounting to RM300 for adults and RM250 for youths, was announced. Chinese voters would receive RM300 ang pows for Chinese New Year. Kuala Terengganu’s trishaw pullers were promised RM10,000 each.”

However, it is difficult to declare the BN’s development promises an offence as the law does not cite such circumstances directly.

Still, such development promises, which may strongly and unfairly influence election results, are problematic. This is especially since it is the incumbent who has access to public funds who can make development promises, hence making it an uneven playing field for opposition candidates.

Why no action?

If there is evidence of wrongdoing, however, why hasn’t legal action been taken?

One reason is that the EOA itself is weak. “The EOA should be amended, to focus on giving teeth to the various offences enumerated,” Ong says.

“We need tougher election corruption laws,” Yunus adds. He cites neighbouring democracies that have firmer punitive and preventive measures.

In Taiwan, for example, corrupt practices or misuse of government bodies during an election are not only grounds for disqualification, but criminal prosecution and imprisonment of up to two years. Thailand has stringent laws which bar candidates from donating to charities.

Yunus points out that Taiwan has been increasing the health of its democratic politics through effective legislature. “We need these laws. [They] work!”

Partisan EC

Another obstacle to action being taken, Yunus argues, is the Election Commission (EC)’s partisan nature.

He notes that it is the prime minister who recommends to the Agong who the EC chairperson and deputy chairperson should be.

Yunus thinks that the EC needs to be structurally reformed. “The EC should not be responsible to the prime minister, but to Parliament.” It should also be inclusive of all players with a stake in an election, including all political parties, so that it is impartial and seen to be so.

Ong agrees. “This is an international norm. Malaysia should not veer away from this norm, while trying to claim its election system as being on par with international standards.”

Ong emphasises, however, all other agencies which are involved in the elections should also be reformed. These include the police, the public prosecutor’s office, and local governments. He notes that a good EC which functions in isolation from the other agencies may make little difference.

Ong also observes that election petitions to the EC are aimed at challenging election results, not to deal with violations of the EOA. “The EC cannot act on vote-buying. It is the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)’s jurisdiction. The EC cannot act on election violence. It is the police’s jurisdiction.”

A better arrangement, Ong says, would be to empower the EC to become an “apex authority” for the duration of elections, with all other agencies giving their full cooperation.

The NIEI, in the meantime, is taking measures to ensure that, when calls for reform are heard, there will be sufficient proof for the need for changes. Their report on corruption in the Kuala Terengganu by-election will be finished in two weeks, and will go to the MACC.

“We didn’t really collect the data before,” Yunus says. “This is the first time we are going into detail.”

But while civil society leads the way, government action will depend on a measure of political will Malaysian politics may not yet possess.

Lawmaker quits Umno

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags , on January 26, 2009 by ckchew

KUALA LUMPUR – A MALAYSIAN state lawmaker has quit the ruling coalition, becoming the first elected representative to cross over to the opposition nearly a year after landmark national polls.

The defection of Nasarudin Hashim is a significant morale booster for Anwar Ibrahim’s three-party opposition alliance, which failed in a bid last year to oust the National Front coalition through parliamentary defections after March general elections.

Mr Anwar hailed Mr Nasarudin’s switch late Sunday, calling it the ‘beginning of a new wave’ in his quest to topple the National Front that has governed Malaysia for nearly 52 years.

Mr Nasarudin, a state legislature member in northern Perak state, said he was switching sides because he felt that public support had been moving away from the ruling coalition after the March elections when the National Front lost control of five of Malaysia’s 13 states.

‘I believe that (the opposition) can establish a stronger coalition of component parties for the interest of the general public,’ he said in a statement.

The defection does not alter the balance of power in the federal Parliament, where the National Front has 137 of the lower house’s 222 seats – less than a two-thirds majority following the coalition’s worst electoral performance ever in last year’s national polls.

Mr Nasarudin’s defection is the second setback this month for Malaysia’s prime minister-in-waiting, Najib Razak, after the National Front recently lost a key by-election to Mr Anwar’s alliance for a parliamentary seat in Kuala Terengganu constituency, a former government stronghold.

Mr Najib is to take over from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in late March, but political analysts say he faces an uphill struggle to strengthen support for the National Front amid a faltering economy and widespread public perceptions of government corruption.

Opposition leaders said they were working to secure further defections, but Mr Najib has voiced confidence that no other elected representatives would leave the National Front anytime soon. — AP

Don’t be too sure, Perak MB tells Najib

Posted in Pakatan Rakyat with tags on January 26, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

Perak Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin today refuted a claim by Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak that no other BN state representative will be joining the Pakatan Rakyat.

Instead the PAS leader said that three more Barisan Nasional assemblymen were expected to join Pakatan.

He added that discussions with the three assemblymen were ongoing and Pakatan was working at bringing them into its fold.

“We did not invite them to join us but they came to see us. We are holding discussions.

“After Nasaruddin (Hashim) announced his joining us yesterday, the three others came to see us and said they wanted to talk,” he told reporters in Ipoh, reported Bernama.

Mohammad Nizar did not identify the three assemblypersons, only adding that the trio were disappointed with Umno.

“But it is only one of the reasons, as they were supposed to contest for the divisional chief posts (in the Umno divisional elections last October) but were ordered not to, while some lost in the elections.

“It was Umno’s internal problem. Nasaruddin said his joining (PKR) was due to disappointment, internally,” he said.

However, he said, the chances of Pakatan getting the BN assemblypersons to join the opposition pact was 50-50.

“They need time to consider as Nasaruddin took three weeks to decide,” he added.

Bota assemblyperson Nasaruddin joined PKR yesterday after considering the interests of voters and his supporters in the state constituency.

With that, the Pakatan Rakyat-led Perak government now has 32 seats while BN has 27 (26 held by Umno and one by MCA).

Earlier today Najib rubbished all talks of more BN state representatives in Perak joining the Pakatan alliance. He said that such talks were only rumours.

Have no effect on state BN

Meanwhile Perak BN chief and former MB Tajol Rosli Ghazali said Nasaruddin’s decision to leave Umno does not affect the status of BN.

Tajol, also the state’s Umno head, said Nasaruddin’s move only brought change to the number of seats in the state legislative assembly.

He expressed confidence that the Perak BN was capable of wresting back the state from Pakatan in the next general election.

“We have three years to do so and the BN has put in motion all measures especially to get the votes of the youth.

“BN was left behind in the 12th general election in the third and fourth streams…we will strive to get youth votes in those streams,” he said.

Anwar: More crossovers soon

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim, Pakatan Rakyat with tags , on January 26, 2009 by ckchew

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — More Barisan Nasional lawmakers will cross over to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) soon following Datuk Nasaruddin Hashim’s defection, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim predicted today.

The opposition leader expressed confidence that there will be a slew of defections occurring fortnightly from February onwards.

“Now the Ox has come in, just be patient… we are working hard just like the ox,” Anwar said at a Chinese New Year party in Klang.

His confidence stemmed from the move by his old campus mate Nasaruddin, who is Bota assemblyman, on Sunday.

Effectively the Pakatan Rakyat majority in the state assembly grew from three to five.

The architect of Pakatan’s strong showing had been silent on the matter of defections since the failure of the Sept 16 federal government takeover plan.

Meanwhile according to Bernama, Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin today asserted three more assemblymen, said to be from Umno, will join Pakatan.

If this comes true, then the Pakatan government in Perak which was surviving on a razor thin majority of three might increase it to 11 in a matter of weeks. MI

Adun BN Perak sertai KeADILan

Posted in PKR with tags on January 25, 2009 by ckchew

PETALING JAYA 25 JANUARI (SK)- ADUN Barisan Nasional Nasarudin Hashim hari ini mengumumkan untuk menyertai KeADILan.

Pengumuman berkenaan dibuat ketika sidang media bersama Ketua Umum, Anwar Ibrahim di Ibu Pejabat KeADILan disini.

Menurutnya keputusan ini diambil setelah meneliti dan mempertimbangkan kepentingan rakyat.

” Saya amat yakin dengan kepimpinan KeADILan yang mempunyai iltizam dan idealisme yang kuat untuk memperjuangkan hak-hak dan kepentingan rakyat yang terdiri dari pelbagai kaum di negara ini,” katanya dalam sidang media.

Nasarudin adalah Adun Bota yang juga Pengerusi Felcra Berhad hadir bersama isterinya menyakini KeADILan tetap menjunjung hak-hak yang termaktub dalam perlembagaan.

”Saya percaya KeADILan akan tetap menjujung dan menghormati hak-hak yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan khususnya dalam kedudukan Bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa rasmi kebangsaan, kedaulatan Raja-raja Melayu dan kedudukan Islam sebagai agama Persekutuan,” tambahnya lagi.

Selain itu menurutnya lagi penyertaan ini membolehkan saya menjadi Adun yang lebih berkesan dan memberi khidmat terbaik kepada penduduk setempat memandangkan Pakatan Rakyat sudahpun menubuhkan sudahpun menubuhkan kerajaan di negeri Perak

Game over for anti-Fairus blogs?

Posted in PKR with tags on January 24, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

Embattled Penang deputy chief minister Mohamad Fairus Khairuddin is probably heaving a huge sigh of relief after learning that evidence revealing the identities of the people behind a spate of ‘anti-Fairus’ blogs was submitted to top PKR leaders early this week.

MCPX

The evidence was collected by certain party grassroot leaders in Penang on their own initiative while surfing the cyber world.

The evidence, it is learnt, was mostly an accumulation of email transactions, conversations and anti-Fairus postings by ground level perpetrators, who are part of a conspiracy to allegedly topple Mohamad Fairus.

The evidence has also revealed the identities of grassroots conspirators from within the party.

Malaysiakini learnt that the evidence was handed over to PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim, president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, national disciplinary committee head Dr Syed Husin Ali, state PKR chief Zahrain Mohamad Hashim, Mohamad Fairus and PKR state secretary Mustafa Kamal Mohd Yusoff.

Anwar, who is believed to be deeply disturbed by the anti-Fairus conspiracy, and Syed Husin are now scrutinising the evidence to identify and plan disciplinary action against the culprits.

There are at least five anti-Fairus blogs in the cyber world, believed to be closely linked to a top state leader who aims to replace Mohamad Fairus in the Pakatan Rakyat Penang government.

Besides Penanti assemblyperson Fairus, Abdul Malik Abul Kassim (Batu Maung) and Law Choo Kiang (Bukit Tambun) are other two PKR executive councillors in Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s state administration.

It is learnt that a handful of grassroot leaders have formed a clique to oust Mohamad Fairus since he was appointed Lim’s number two after Pakatan stormed into power in Penang following a landslide victory in the March general election.

The blogs have attacked Fairus constantly with various allegations of under-performance.

He has also been accused of not being people-orientated, not connecting with the grassroots and not carrying out field work, accusations which Mohamad Fairus has vehemently denied.

Recently, an anti-Fairus blog even threatened to publish an upside-down picture of Anwar on its web page to pressure on the PKR supremo to sack Mohamad Fairus from the state government.

The blog even published an upside-down picture of the newly appointed Penang PKR youth chief and Balik Pulau Member of Parliament Yusmadi Yusof, because of his close ties with Mohamad Fairus.

Yusmadi had earlier declared that he would mobilise his youth movement to strengthen Mohamad Fairus’ position in the party and government.

Yusmadi’s intentions obviously did not go down well with Fairus’ detractors.

Reshuffle to strengthen PKR

“This is a work of people jealous of my political success at such a young age,” said the 33-year-old Mohamad Fairus, who was dropped as the party state deputy chief during a reshuffle on Thursday.

The reshuffle also saw Law being dropped as deputy chairperson.

Mohd Fairus has been replaced by Dr Mansor Othman while Law’s position fell to Machang Bubuk state assemblyperson Tan Hock Leong.

However, the anti-Fairus blogs were quick to capitalise on the reshuffle, saying it was a clear indication that Mohamad Fairus was on his way out of the state administration as well.

Mohamad Fairus and Law were removed and appointed ordinary committee members as part of a strategy to strengthen the party’s state political administration and operations.

Zahrain explained that the reshuffle was to separate party leadership with that of the state government to avoid conflict of interests and allow leaders to focus on their respective tasks.

Realising the internal plot to oust Mohamad Fairus, Anwar has frequently warned state leaders and members not to indulge in smear campaigns to tarnish Mohamad Fairus’ image since it would also damage the party.

He has also threatened stern action on anyone found to be involved in the anti-Fairus campaign.

With fresh evidence now in his hands, Anwar is set to wield his axe to chop off these negative elements, said a party source.

Muthupalaniappan, you’re fired!, Samy Remains Supreme

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on January 24, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysiakini

Presidential hopeful M Muthupalaniappan has been sacked from MIC, shattering his dreams to oust long-term president, S Samy Vellu.

MCPX

However, he has an opportunity to appeal within 14 days of the date of the ‘sacked letter’, which he received from the party’s disciplinary committee board on Jan 21.

According to the letter, Muthupalaniappan, 68, was sacked after he “contravened the principles of the congress and acted in a manner detrimental to the interests of the Congress”.

“The Disciplinary Committee accordingly decided to expel you from membership of the Congress with immediate effect,” said committee chairperson G Vadiveloo in the letter.

Muthupalaniappan’s sacking was not an altogether surprising turn of events as the former vice-president and MIC Negeri Sembilan chief has been a vocal critic of his arch-rival Samy Vellu.

Since announcing his intention to contest for the top post, Muthupalaniappan has fired volley after volley of criticism against his former ally who has helmed the party for three decades and has been accused of being responsible for MIC’s disastrous showing in the March 2008 general election.

Muthupalaniappan’s criticisms ticked off the party and he was accused of working against the interest of MIC and slapped with a show-cause letter.

However, observers claimed that it could have been an attempt to stop the presidential hopeful from contesting against Samy Vellu as the former could face the likelihood of a suspension, or even expulsion, if found guilty.

In the show-cause letter dated Dec 23 last year, the former MIC vice-president was accused of making baseless allegations against the leadership in an article which appeared in Tamil daily Makkal Osai in November and an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini last month, where among others, he spoke about the closing and formation of MIC branches to serve political aims.

‘The right time not to be a member’

However, in a statement issued this afternoon, Muthupalaniappan appeared unperturbed about the latest development.

He said he was “happy as it is the right time for me not to be a member of MIC. If I continue to be one, I will also be branded as a traitor to the community, Barisan Nasional and the nation as a whole”.

He again slammed Samy Vellu, accusing him of using the MIC presidency as a “shield”.

“I hope sooner or later MIC grassroots will place MIC interests before themselves,” he said.

Muthupalaniappan, who has been the party’s Negeri Sembilan chief for 16 years, however felt that he had “brought a lot of development, changes and benefit to the Indian community and the state to the satisfaction of the entire Indian community in the state”.

“(But) That was MIC before,” he said.