Archive for February, 2009

Anwar: Kepimpinan KeADILan dan amanat harapan rakyat

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags , on February 28, 2009 by ckchew

Ucapan Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim kepada kepimpinan PKR “Amanat Harapan” 28 Februari 2009 di Hotel Quality Shah Alam

Hadirin Sekalian,

Himpunan hari ini menjadi bukti kepada bulatnya tekad serta matlamat kita semua untuk berbakti kepada negara dan rakyat negara ini. Bersama rakan-rakan dalam Pakatan Rakyat, kita akan pastikan Perubahan mengambil tempat dan menyempurnakan janji untuk membawa Harapan Baru kepada negara ini.

Tidak lama dahulu ramai yang percaya parti ini tidak ada masa hadapan. Mereka mentertawakan hasrat serta cita-cita kita. Muncullah nujum-nujum politik yang meramalkan kepupusan PKR kerana tidak percaya politik baru yang kita bawa; sebuah negara yang benar-benar bersatu dan tidak terperangkap dengan politik sentimen perkauman yang sempit.

Kepada rakan-rakan sekalian percayalah bahtera perjuangan ini tidak akan karam. Jangan sesekali keutuhan tekad perjuangan kita melonggar lemah.

Kepada mereka yang masih tersemat keraguan, percayalah kepada keluhuran akal budi rakyat, bukannya nujum-nujum yang sebenarnya masih terus mendokong regim korup. Parti ini sudahpun memasuki tahun yang ke 10 dan perjuangan kita mulai menunjukkan hasil. Yakinilah haluan tepat negara ini berada di tangan-tangan kita.

MASA YANG SUKAR
Ini adalah saat-saat sukar buat Malaysia. Ekonomi negara berada di ambang kemelesetan. Kita lihat kilang-kilang ditutup, perniagaan mulai terkesan akibat merudumnya ekonomi dan pengangguran pastinya mencecah ratusan ribu di akhir tahun ini. Rakyat Malaysia akan menempuh saat-saat sukar.

Malangnya menteri kewangan sekonyong-konyong terpinga-pinga dan hanya semalam terkejut menyatakan bahawa tidak ada yang menjangka kedudukan ekonomi sebegini parah. Walhal kita bersama mengungkap permasalahan ini enam bulan sebelumnya ketika membahas belanjawan tahun lalu.

Namun ketegangan kaum yang direkayasa demi meraih keuntungan politik masih berlaku. Nilai-nilai yang menjadi teras masyarakat Malaysia; kepercayaan kepada Tuhan dan menghormati Sistem Raja Berperlembagaan dimanipulasi oleh politik sempit untuk melaga-lagakan di antara satu kaum dengan yang lainnya serta digunakan untuk mempertikaikan kesetian terutamanya pendokong Pakatan Rakyat terhadap Negara.

Sedangkan mereka pada masa yang sama menginjak-injak Semangat Keperlembagaan negara ini, yang menjanjikan kepada seluruh rakyat negara ini hak untuk bebas bersuara dan berhimpun.

Perkembangan politik tanah air mutakhir ini meletakkan Pakatan Rakyat di persimpangan jalan. Kita berdepan dengan propaganda yang menggembling emosi tiga R – Race, Religion and Royalty – bangsa, agama dan raja. Tiga isu emotif ini bertapak dan memunyai akar yang meresap dalam dalam psikologi orang Melayu.

Sekiranya rakyat tidak mendapat penjelasan yang kukuh dan persuasif tentang isu hakiki ini mereka akan diperdayakan dengan pujukan simbol-simbol tentang bangsa, agama dan raja dan akan mengakibatkan pemikiran mereka kembali sempit, mundur dan kembali ke zaman feudal, bertentangan dengan semangat perjuangan pahlawan dan pendita bangsa- Dr Burhanuddin al Helmy, Dato’ Onn Jaafar, Ahmad Boestamam dan Pendita Bangsa.

Kita menyakini kita mempunyai hujah-hujah yang cerah, jitu dan persuasif untuk menangani propaganda Umno yang memperolok simbol-simbol bangsa, agama dan raja yang semata-mata digunakan untuk mengekalkan kekuasaan dan menutup pekong rasuah, jenayah dan penyalahgunaan kuasa.

Sebaliknya kita mempunyai iltizam yang ikhlas dan sahih terhadap kepentingan dan kedudukan istimewa bangsa Melayu dan bumiputera, serta agama Islam yang dihuraikan dari perspektif sejagat dan berteraskan prinsip keadilan, tradisi ilmu, Bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa rasmi dan prinsip raja beperlembagaan.

Rakyat benci dengan sikap sombong pemerintah, rasuah dan pembohongan yang dilakukan dengan berterusan. Tindakan ini perlu dimulai dengan membina muafakat yang berlandaskan ilmu di kalangan pimpinan dan penggerak parti.

Justeru itu kita perlu menggembleng semua idealisme,cita-cita dan hasrat rakyat untuk berdepan dengan momokan dan putar belit sentimen perkauman sempit Umno.

Keadilan telah mula mengambil langkah-langkah untuk mengungkap persoalan Islam dari perspektif sejagat dan inklusif yang berlandaskan tradisi ilmu. Sekarang propaganda Umno telah memutarbelit isu raja-raja Melayu untuk menimbulkan kekeliruan dan kekeruhan di dalam pemikiran rakyat. Kekeruhan ini perlu dijernihkan kembali.

Isu raja-raja Melayu perlu ditangani dengan sikap serhana, berhikmah tetapi tegas. Ia juga harus mencermin pemikiran arus perdana, dan bukannya retorika yang terpinggir. Selain dari hujah-hujah Islam dan keadilan sejagat, perspektif progresif dalam sejarah dan kebudayaan Melayu perlu dinukilkan.

Dalam konteks ini tiga sikap terhadap raja perlu dibentangkan: pertama sikap Hang Tuah yang setia membuta tuli, kedua sikap Hang Jebat yang menderhaka dan menumpahkan darah rakyat yang tidak berdosa, di antara keduanya adalah Bendahara Paduka Raja, yang setia lagi bijaksana.

Sikap Bendahara Paduka Raja boleh dibandingkan dengan pendirian Edmund Burke yang berdepan dengan revolusi Perancis, dan Hang Jebat seorang Jacobin. Kaitannya pemikiran Edmund Burke kepada kita adalah kerana beliau seorang reformis, mendukung Glorious Revolution( Revolusi Gemilang), revolusi parlimen yang membataskan kuasa raja, dan ahli parlimen yang menentang penyalahgunaan kuasa yang dibuktikan dalam sikap beliau menuntut Warran Hastings meletakkan jawatan.

Perlu disebutkan juga tafsiran Bernard Mandeville dalam The Grumbling Hive terhadap ungkapan rex non potest peccarre – the king can do no wrong – dengan bait: But Kings, that could not wrong, because Their Power was circumscribed by Laws.

Kerajaan Umno-Bn menjadikan negara ini lumpuh. Mereka tidak mampu untuk membuat keputusan demi kesejahteraan rakyat kerana apa yang diperjuangkan adalah keuntungan politik semata-mata.

Apa tidaknya harga barang terus melonjak tinggi; tol dinaikkan dan hanya ditangguhkan sejenak menjelang pilihanraya kecil. Keutamaan bagi memastikan negara terus makmur serta kebajikan rakyat dipelihara ternyata diabaikan sedangkan kemelesetan mula memberi dampak.

Penubuhan Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia dan Suruhanjaya Perlantikan Kehakiman gagal memenuhi harapan rakyat untuk melihat sebuah badan yang bertindak bebas dari pengaruh Umno-Bn. Rasuah masih berleluasa dan kedaulatan undang-undang seperti dicabut taringnya.

Umno-BN lebih mementingkan politik kabilah ketimbang menyelesaikan masalah sebenar yang dihadapi oleh rakyat Malaysia. Manakala itu suratkhabar arus perdana masih tidak mahu memaparkan maklumat tepat berhubung salah guna kuasa mahupun keadaan ekonomi negara, sedangkan pemuka-pemuka negara gagal melaksanakan tanggungjawab mereka.

Ini menjadikan tanggungjawab yang digalas kita semakin berat; untuk menyahkan segala bentuk rasuah dan kemunduran, untuk bangkit agar tidak terperangkap dengan permasalahan titik bengit serta kebencian yang disebabkan kekeliruan ciptaan politik jijik.

SUDAH TIBA MASANYA UNTUK SEDAR DARI LAMUNAN
Menjelang ulangtahun 8 Mac 2009, marilah kita semua merenung kembali samada kita sudahpun berusaha sedaya mungkin untuk memenuhi cita-cita Perubahan yang kita jana. Adakah kepimpinan parti melakukan yang terbaik bagi menyampaikan mesej Ketuanan Rakyat kepada rakyat.

Janganlah kerana kejayaan yang sedikit itu membuatkan kita berpuas hati. Jangan lah pula sesekali kita menyerah kepada serangan demi serangan yang datang segenap penjuru, direkayasa demi mencemar imej parti.

Kekecewaan jangan dibiarkan hinggap, penat lelah berjuang pasti disusuli kemanisan kemenangan.
Kita tidak boleh lagi bersikap sambil lewa dalam menunaikan amanah yang dipertanggungjawabkan. Ini bukanlah masanya untuk mendabik dada siapa kah yang paling banyak berkorban.

Masih segar dalam ingatan apabila dipasung dalam penjara, betapa saya terkesan dengan keberanian saudara, tersentuh akan kesetian para pendokong serta didorong dengan pengorbanan rakan-rakan seperjuangan menentang kezaliman.

Kita mesti kembali menggilap semangat perjuangan bagi memastikan Perubahan terlaksana dan parti yang dicintai ini diperkasa.

Masa untuk berbulan madu sudah tamat. Banyak lagi peperangan yang kita mesti menangi. Raikanlah kemenangan kita dengan penuh sikap tawaduk dan bersedia menghadapi cabaran yang lebih getir. Bulan-bulan mendatang menjanjikan halangan-halangan baru yang memperlihatkan wajah sebenar regim Umno-Bn yang sanggup menggunakan undang-undang kuku besi demi menghalang kemaraan kita.

MEMBAHARUI TEKAD

Rakyat Malaysia dahagakan Perubahan. Mereka mahukan ianya direalisasikan. Mereka mahukan pemimpin yang menjadikan rakyat sebagai agenda utama serta sebuah negara yang bersih dari rasuah serta salah guna kuasa.

Apabila rakyat memilih kita, mereka mahukan iklim politik yang berlainan; memimpin dengan penuh sikap tawaduk serta berbicara dengan penuh hemah. Oleh itu kita mesti berusaha bukan sahaja sekadar memenuhi harapan mereka bahkan mesti lebih baik. Kita mesti belajar untuk mengakui kesilapan dan memastikan ianya tidak lagi berulang.

Kita percaya politik adalah wadah buat kita berbakti kepada rakyat. Makanya kita bertanggungjawab baik terhadap sesama kita dan juga terhadap rakyat. Perjuangan kita berasaskan keyakinan untuk memastikan negara ini kembali berada di landasan yang tepat.

Izinkan saya menukil sepotong ayat dari esei tulisan Vaclav Havel yang berjudul “Paradise Lost”:
“Those who find themselves in politics therefore bear a heightened responsibility for the moral state of society, and it is their responsibility to seek out the best in that society, to develop and strengthen it.”

(“Mereka yang berada dalam politik sesungguhnya memikul tanggungjawab besar terhadap apa jua keadaan masyarakat dan adalah kewajipan mereka membangunkan masyarakat itu dengan segala kekuatan dan yang terbaik darinya”)

Saya menyeru kepimpinan Keadilan untuk membaharui komitmen mereka kepada rakyat. Tidak kira mereka yang berkhidmat dalam Biro Politik, MPT, Ahli Parlimen mahupun ADUN, juga kepimpinan parti di seluruh negara, kita mesti memastikan rakyat adalah agenda kita. Tunaikanlah amanah dengan berkesan dan penuh tanggungjawab.

Ingatlah perjuangan Parti Keadilan Rakyat tidak berasaskan ideologi kabilah, teras kita adalah perjuangan menegakkan keadilan dan merangkul semua tanpa mengira batasan kaum mahupun kepercayaan. Ini juga tentulah tidak asing dari seruan li-ta’arafu yang berasaskan ayat Al Quran Wahai umat manusia!

Sesungguhnya Kami telah menciptakan kamu dari lelaki dan perempuan, dan Kami telah menjadikan kamu berbagai bangsa dan bersuku puak, supaya kamu berkenal-kenalan( Al Hujurat: 13)

Manakala Confucius di dalam Analect, Buku 12, dan dirumuskan oleh pengarang terkenal Han Su Yin, ada mengatakan Si hai zhi nie jie xiong di, yang bermaksud “Empat lautan terbentang luas, Semua manusia bersaudara.”

Oleh yang demikian, kita punya ruang yang luas bagi semua suku kaum di negara ini untuk bersama merealisasikan impian ketuanan rakyat yang merupakan harapan baru untuk Malaysia.

Dari Perlis ke Johor merentasi lautan hingga kesabah dan Sarawak, Keadilan harus bergerak dengan kesungguhan memperjelas serta meraih keyakinan rakyat agar tiada lagi keraguan untuk melakukan perubahan bersama kita kearah masa depan yang lebih gemilang.

STRATEGI
Justeru itu, kita perlu memperkukuhkan jentera serta memperkuat semangat, kita juga harus memikirkan secara bersama bagi mendapatkan dana untuk parti.

Untuk itu, saya telah meminta setiausaha agung parti agar membawa parti ke hadapan untuk menyahut cabaran tersebut. Mulai saat ini juga, pihak sekretariat akan lebih memberi tumpuan kearah pengukuhan akar umbi diseluruh negara.

Bagi mencapai tujuan itu, kita akan memastikan sekurang-kurangnya satu mesyuarat dan ceramah diadakan pada setiap bulan oleh setiap negeri dan bahagian. Manakala ketua penerangan di setiap negeri akan diminta untuk melaporkan kepada ibu pejabat parti setiap bulan bagi membincangkan perkembangan terkini serta arahan dan langkah selanjutnya.

Pengambilan ahli-ahli baru harus ditingkatkan kerana ia adalah salah satu strategi kita bagi menghadapi pilihanraya di masa depan.

Tahun-tahun kebelakangan ini, anda telah mempamerkan semangat kesungguhan dalam perjuangan. Namun demikian kita seharusnya akur bahawa masih terdapat kekurangan dan kelemahan, masih ada ruang untuk kita memperbaiki serta melakukan peningkatan.

Kita juga mahukan penyertaan yang lebih berkesan daripada rakan-rakan yang baru menyertai parti. Kita mesti terus melangkah ke hadapan, manakala mereka yang ada bersama kita pada hari ini adalah mereka yang komited dan sanggup berkerja keras untuk membawa parti ini ketahap yang lebih tinggi.

Perjuangan ini akan mencapai matlamatnya jika setiap daripada kita mengerti akan pentingnya semangat kerja berpasukan.Bahtera telahpun menarik sauh tanda pelayaran sudah bermula, ayuh bersama kita melakar sejarah yang penuh gemilang.

Kepada anda yang telah meraih undi daripada rakyat, adalah teramat penting mendapatkan sokongan berterusan dari rakyat untuk terus bersama melayari bahtera perjuangan.

Buat anda yang telah diberi tanggungjawab dengan memegang jawatan-jawatan dalam parti, diharap dapat menjalankan amanah tersebut dengan berusaha lebih gigih demi memartabatkan perjuangan keadilan.

Masa semakin berlalu , ia telah membawa kita hampir kepada Pilihanraya Umum sekali lagi, oleh itu amatlah penting buat kita merebut setiap detik bagi membina kekuatan perjuangan menegakkan keadilan.

Dengan situasi ketidaktentuan ekonomi serta kerapuhan dalaman pihak lawan, ia seharusnya memberi kita kelebihan untuk terus mara kehadapan. Tambahan pula, keyakinan yang ditunjukkan rakyat terhadap kepimpinan Pakatan Rakyat masih tetap utuh. Ini semua hasil dari kesungguhan kita yang selama ini senantiasa menumpukan untuk terus berkhidmat demi masyarakat.

ISU KEWANGAN
Menyedari bahawa kita tidak mempunyai kekuatan kewangan seperti BN, namun kita tidak akan sesekali tunduk kepada politik wang apatah lagi menyalahgunakan kuasa yang diamanahkan bagi mencapai matlamat perjuangan.

PENUTUP
Kita akan tetap bergantung kepada dukungan rakyat yang menyokong agenda membawa perubahan untuk terus memberikan bantuan kewangan bagi membolehkan kita menjana kemenangan.

Adalah menjadi prinsip kita selama ini bahawa kualiti kepimpinan serta komited melakukan perubahan dan pembaharuan dalam memperjuangkan kehendak rakyat adalah merupakan asset terpenting demi merealisasikan impian membina Malaysia Baru.

RM120mil taxpayer’s money approved by bn federal gov’t for cronies in mic

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on February 28, 2009 by ckchew
By Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — A former confidant of Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has alleged that MIC misappropriated a government allocation meant to help the hardcore poor in the Indian community.

The charge was made by P. Chitrakala Vasu, former CEO of MIED, the MIC’s education arm, at a dramatic “tell-all” press conference in Petaling Jaya today.

Chitrakala, who lodged two police reports in Subang Jaya today, turned up at the press conference with guns blazing, blaming Samy Vellu for a variety of ills faced by the MIC and the Indian community.

She told of how the party misused government funds to shore up support for party leaders, including Samy Vellu, in the runup to the MIC elections.

According to her, the party had asked the federal government for an allocation of RM120 million to be paid out over four years to help poor Indians, as voters from the community had stopped backing the Barisan Nasional government.

After the elections Chitrakala said Samy Vellu had instructed her to put up a paper and ask for government funds for hardcore projects to win over the Indians who had gone to the opposition.

“I prepared a paper outlining eight categories of hardcore poor needing urgent assistance,” Chitrakala said and “we asked for RM30 million a year over four years for the projects to be undertaken by the Yayasan Pemulihan Sosial or YPS”.

‘The Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) was very happy with the paper and agreed to approve the funds. He open the MIC AGM and announced his approval of the funds,” she said.

However the Finance ministry wanted the YPS management team strengthened before payment was made. They wanted new people on the board, meaning fewer people beholden to Samy Vellu.

By the time the first instalment was to be paid out to YPS, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had become Finance Minister and wanted further “strengthening” of YPS.

He also decided not to give RM30 million at one go.

Instead instalment payments of RM10 million each was to have been paid out while a report was to be prepared before the next tranche could be released.

The first instalment of RM10 million was disbursed in December 2008.

But Chitrakala claims that the money is intended for the pockets of MIC branch chairmen and supporters of the incumbent leadership team instead. MI

Who is najib Altantuya to say Perak Asembly sitting cannot be held?

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

By SK English Team

Less than 24 hours after Perak Speaker V Sivakumar called an emergency sitting of the legislative assembly, Deputy Premier Najib Abdul Razak has begun giving the runaround in a bid to cling to power in a state where his name is no longer a welcomed word.

“It cannot be held because there has been a court action,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama. “Whatever it is, we have to wait for the decision of the court first. We have to first establish the status of the Perak government in terms of the constitution.”

The scandal-plagued Najib, who is also incoming Umno president, was referring to a court case filed against BN Menteri Besar Zambry Kadir by Pakatan Rakyat MB Nizar Jamaluddin.

Shot back Tian Chua, KeADILan information chief: “The ongoing legal suit doesn’t in any way affect the status or the powers of the Speaker. That suit disputes the legality of the MB.

“The purpose of the emergency sitting on Tuesday is to table a motion of confidence in Nizar as Menteri Besar and another to dissolve the state assembly. How can you mix up the suit with the sitting? The logic needs to be checked.”

More cheating had been expected

Najib’s reaction has been expected. Being the one who hatched the plot to replace the Pakatan government in Perak with his own Umno-BN line-up, a reversal of fortunes now would be embarrassing and untimely.

Already, the unpopular 55-year old is trying hard to consolidate power ahead of succeeding Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on April 1.

Civil society groups too have warned of dire consequences for the nation at both international level and at home if Najib and his coalition disregarded the rule of law and continued to abuse the federal apparatus in their bid to cling to office.

“This episode has washed up a lot of dirt and the debris that we are seeing is the result of democratic processes not being allowed to find expression at the ballot box and elsewhere,” said Ramon Navaratnam, president of Transparency International Malaysia.

“Increasingly, it has become apparent that the federal apparatus is being abused to further the position of the politicians of the day. But this is a very dangerous precedent and bears a very heavy cost – not least to the image of country at the international level but also at home.”

Get out & Get lost, PKR opportunists told

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags , on February 28, 2009 by ckchew

With three by-elections around the corner, PKR is in serious mood. And the party has to be.

MCPX

Today, PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim sets the tone for the tough battles ahead by calling on all party leaders and members to strengthen the  party from the core.

Speaking at a special meeting for PKR legislators and other key party leaders in Shah Alam, Anwar said one of the major steps needed to strengthen PKR is to rid the party of opportunists.

Without naming names, he told his party chiefs that there were members who emailed him specifically to request for titles and posts in the party.

“Some of them even threatened me by saying that they will leave the party if they don’t get any posts. If they want to leave the party just because of this, let them leave,” Anwar told his audience of some 300 people gathered in a Shah Alam hotel this afternoon.

He stressed it was better for such selfish people to leave as they would be liabilities to the party.

Anwar, both casual in mood and dress, seemed to give Sarawak voters something to look forward to in the upcoming by-election in Batang Ai by focusing on native customary rights (NCR) land issue in the state.

“But this is not only Sarawak’s issue, but a national issue,” he said, promising that land problems will feature prominently in the coming Batang Ai campaign.

PKR is expected to vie for the Batang Ai seat and among those present at the event today were key PKR leaders from Sarawak, including its potential candidate Nicholas Bawin.

Bawin, the Sarawak PKR deputy chair, is a known advocate of the rights of indigenous groups in Sarawak to own NCR lands and have them titled.

On the proposed on-off toll hike, Anwar lashed at the government for their incompetency, saying that it was nothing short of lip service by the government.

“Trust me, after the by-election in Batang Ai (Sarawak), the toll increase will be put back on track as it was postponed for only a short period of time…this is definitely Umno-BN culture,” he said.

However, he conceded that the current political scenario has put Pakatan Rakyat at a crossroad as they are now faced with an “emotional propaganda – three R’s – race, religion, and royalty.”

“These three emotive issues have developed into the Malay’s psychology.

“If the people are not shown the real picture on these issues, they will be fooled by persuasion on the symbols of race, religion and royalty, which will bring their way of thinking back into the feudal era,” said Anwar.

‘Police acting like Umno tools’

At a press conference later, the PKR supremo slammed the police for arresting the PKR parliamentarian for Kapar, S Manikavasagam, earlier today for lodging a police report against the authorities for denying medical treatment for detained Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar.

“He and the supporters were just defending their friends in detention but it looks like the police have become the tools for Umno,” said Anwar.

Earlier in the afternoon, about 300 Hindraf supporters had gathered in front of the Brickfields police station in Kuala Lumpur to demand proper medical attention for Uthayakumar, only to be sprayed by chemical-laced water by the police.

This also resulted in the arrest of 17 people including Manikavasagam and Police Watch and Human Rights Committee co-ordinator S Jayathas.

“What is wrong in lodging police reports? They’re not even disrupting the traffic. It is not healthy for the police to obstruct anybody from doing so,” said Anwar. Mkini

Another BIG TIME Flip-Flop by bn: Home Ministry rescinds gazette on word ‘Allah’ after gazetted it!!

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

KOTA KINABALU, Feb 28 — The Home Ministry has rescinded a government gazette that allowed conditional use of the word ‘Allah’ in Christian publications with immediate effect.

Admitting that there was a mistake in enacting the gazette that resulted in confusion over the word in question, Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the government’s decision to ban the use of the word “Allah” in Herald-The Catholic Weekly remained in force until the court decided otherwise.

The government had recently ordered a ban on the Herald‘s Malay edition until the court makes its decision, as part of conditions for it to be allowed to continue publishing in English, Chinese and Tamil.

‘There is a judicial review on the matter and we leave it to the court to decide. I think there was a mistake in enacting the gazette. When we made a mistake I must admit that there is a need look at it thoroughly.

‘As there was a mistake… so it is better we make a correction,’ he told reporters today.

Syed Hamid was commenting on the call by the Malaysian Islamic Da’wah Foundation (Yadim) earlier today, urging the government to withdraw permission for the conditional use of the word ‘Allah’ in Christian publications.

Its chairman Datuk Mohd Nakhaie Ahmad said the government had not acted wisely in allowing the use of the word in Christian publications which he said could anger Muslims not only in the country but also throughout the world.

A government gazette dated Feb 16 has stated that documents and publications relating to Christianity containing the world ‘Allah’ are prohibited unless the words ‘FOR CHRISTIANITY’ was written on their front cover.

The condition was contained in an order entitled “Internal Security (Prohibition on Use of Specific Words on Document and Publication) Order 2009”.

Paragraph 2(1) of the order reads: The printing, publication, sale, issue, circulation and possession of any document and publication relating to Christianity containing the words Allah, Kaabah, Baitullah and solat are prohibited unless on the front cover of the document and publication are written with the words ‘FOR CHRISTIANITY’. — Bernama

MIED – CEO lodges police reports: The plot thickens in MIC

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

The plot thickens in MIC education arm’s financial fiasco as the chief executive officer of Maju Institute for Education Development (MIED), P Chithirakala Vasu, 38, today lodged two police reports disputing all claims of misdeeds involving some missing contract documents.

MCPX

Breaking her silence for the first time since the allegations erupted in December, 38-year-old Chithirakala told reporters today that she can no longer stay mum over claims of wrongdoings in awarding contracts as MIC party president S Samy Vellu had gone out all out to damage her image.

Chithirakala, who has served at the MIED for the past 14 years, was told to go on leave pending an internal investigation into the alleged irregularities in giving out maintenance contracts for the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) University.

However, she lodged a report this morning at the Shah Alam police station that RM2 million of donations which were collected to help the tsunami victims in 2004 under the Ministry of Works, when Samy was its minister, was transferred to the account of MIC’s social welfare arm Yayasan Pemulihan Sosial (YPS).

According to her, Samy had said that the cash was extras from the funds that were collected and intended for future use for the people of Sri Lanka (where an ongoing civil war has caused the loss of hundreds of lives).

“Sometime in late February 2008 (just before the March 8 election), Samy called me on my mobile phone and informed me that the Ministry of Works treasury would be transferring a sum of RM2 million into YPS and asked me to place the sum in fixed deposit,” she stated.

In a move to clear her name, Chithirakala noted that she was now making the report “to avoid the possibility of Samy using the RM2 million for any other unauthorised purpose and putting the blame on me”.

Heated argument with Samy

Chithirakala also revealed that YPS had received a grant of RM120 million for three years to execute assistance for those who are financially and socially-challenged.

The grant, according to Chithirakala, who was the CEO of YPS until recently, was given four times a year in RM10 million instalments beginning this year.

However, although the money was supposed to be used for those who were identified to be financially-challenged, Samy had tried to use it for those he preferred.

Chithirakala, in another report, claimed that her personal files which were kept in her office in the MIC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur were missing and engaged the assistance of the police to retrieve her files as she was told to stay out of the premises until further notice.

She had also described the sequence of events since their fallout on Dec 31, where Chithirakala had noted that she had an “heated argument” with Samy when he made baseless allegations linking her to another senior MIED board member.

“At one point I raised my voice and challenged him to sack me and that I will meet him in court. My reaction angered him and he uttered (that) the court is not the place we will meet. I (Samy) will make sure that the police arrest and embarrasses you,” stated Chithirakala.

Ever since, more than six show-cause letters have been issued to Chithirakala as well as police reports by MIC vice-president S Sothinathan of missing files pertaining to the contracts awarded to AIMST.

On Jan 2, Chithirakala said she had went to her office only to discover that there were “individuals waiting to conduct an audit on the accounts of MIED”.

Asked to make unauthorised payments

“I cooperated and handed to them the company documents that they had requested…in the meantime, I gave my replies to the show-cause letters given on Dec 31 with all the original supporting documents.

“At around 2pm on the same day, the MIED board meeting commenced and I was not called to attend…(but) just before the meeting I was slapped with yet another show-cause letter and gave my reply immediately. (However later) Samy created a scene in the MIED office and I was told to leave pending the completion of the investigation,” she said in the report.

“I left without even taking my personal documents and files…later that day I learnt that a lot of my files were removed from the MIED office using lorries on Samy’s instructions to an undisclosed location,” she said.

Chithirakala, who was once amongst Samy notable favourites, also revealed the party head’s unorthodox ways in managing government awarded funds and donations.

“There came a point after he (Samy) had lost the election when he wanted me to make a payment of RM2 million to a particular contractor without any documentation.

“It was for the landscape contractor whose contract which initially was at RM27 million rose to RM30 million but there were authorised receipts for the exceeded amount and yet in addition to that Samy wanted to pay RM2 million in compensation,” she said.

However, Chithirakala said she had refused to submit the payments and that angered Samy.

“He wanted me to pay the contractor without proper documents. I am a chartered accountant, it is not my job to question who he (Samy) is giving contracts to but when it comes to payments I have to make sure that it is legitimate.

“We have projects managers and we have quantity surveyors who certify all the work that have been done and we pay according to the certificate of completion signed by the consultants and professionals,” said Chithirakala.

Asked if she had ever done anything wrong when requested by Samy, Chithirakala said: “There have been occasions, but I have always avoided such things.”

‘Hijacking of MIED & AIMST’

She said the incident over the payment to the contractor was what led to what she described as the “hijacking of MIED and AIMST”.

“I took over as the accountant in 1995 when MIED was still very small and I helped in developing the education arm and I am proud to say that we are now worth RM1 billion,” said Chithirakala.

Chithirakala claimed that as Samy’s days as the MIC president “were numbered” following the lost of his stronghold in Sungai Siput, he wanted to hold onto his position in MIED and release it from the hold of MIC.

“The bulk of the RM1 billion is in AMIST and now that he is the chancellor of the university, he wants to remain as the chancellor and the chairman of MIED…(and) the only way to maintain this is to remove MIED from MIC,” she said, adding that Samy was even pushing to replace the arm’s 35 board members.

She added that although it was legally possible, it was not the “morally right” thing to do as MIED was developed under MIC.

“It is very wrong because I cannot let what happen to Maika Holdings (MIC’s investment arm) happen to MIED,” said Chithirakala, also revealing suspicions that Samy was plotting to replace her with his son, Vel Paari, who is also the CEO of Maika Holdings.

The mother of four said that she had bravely come out today despite warning from her lawyers, instead of hiding.

“There are people taking photos of me and observing my house constantly…he (Samy) can do anything but I can’t as I am just an ordinary person,” expressed Chithirakala, who soon after broke down into tears.

Malay Mail web editor resigns over nude photo row

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

Malay Mail website editor U-En Ng has resigned over the newspaper’s coverage of the controversy surrounding the revealing photos of Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong.

MCPX

Ng made public his decision to resign during a forum titled ‘Privacy: Does it exist in Malaysia? Is it time to legislate?’ organised by the Bar Council last night.

According to Sin Chew Daily today, Ng who was a speaker at the forum, said the reports on Wong’s private photos failed to establish the truth and instead created more problems.

Matter of principle

He stressed that the media must practice self-regulation and avoid reporting news that invades personal privacy.

Thus, Ng said that his decision to resign was a matter of principle.

However, Ng agreed that an invasion of privacy in the name of public interest may sometimes be warranted, such as in the case of a government official being bribed in their own home.

Malay Mail was among two newspapers which broke the news that Wong’s revealing photos were making rounds in public on Feb 16.  Mkini

Anwar rallies the troops amidst setbacks

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

Having secured victory at the polls, a political mandate must be sustained by good leadership. And once obtained, political momentum can nevertheless dissipate quickly from the lack of direction.

MCPX

These two slivers of cautionary wisdom were driven home by PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim in a clarion call to arms made to about 200 of the party’s parliamentarians, state assemblypersons and division leaders from throughout the country at a special meeting in Shah Alam today.

The occasion was originally supposed to have been an extraordinary party congress in Alor Star to approve amendments to PKR constitution aimed at converting a once fledgling entity to the more rationalised structures of a national party that enjoys the largest number of seats in the parliamentary opposition.

The party has also achieved dominance in one state government (Selangor) and partnerships in two others (Penang and Kedah). A partnership in a third state government (Perak) however is the subject of a wrangle that has since shifted to the courts.

In fact, tawdry details of this episode prompted the need to call the party’s leadership corps into session today. These details were seen to reflect poorly on PKR’s ideological and structural coherence, especially after a spot of internecine feuding among second echelon leaders in Selangor state.

Then the defections of two legislators in Perak, the revolving door entry-and-exit into PKR of an Umno legislator, the resignation of one state assemblyperson in Kedah and an offer to quit by another in Selangor – both caught in morally dubious personal situations – compounded the impression of a party in crisis.

Thus the latest session of its leadership corps called for a stately speech by its iconic leader to lift the party above the questions that have revolved troublingly around it in recent weeks.

The central one was: Does PKR have the leadership calibre to usher in political change in Malaysian politics?

Persist with the message of Ketuanan Rakyat

Anwar, admittedly not the most objective of respondents, was unequivocal: “No Malaysian, from Perlis to Johor and across the shores to Sabah and Sarawak should have any doubt about what Keadilan stands for nor the quality and capability of its leaders.”

He raised the mantle of Ketuanan Rakyat (people’s sovereignty), a rallying cry that his party had coined to contrast its egalitarian agenda with the Ketuanan Melayu (Malay dominance) slogan of its main adversary, Umno.

Anwar urged PKR leaders to persist with the message of Ketuanan Rakyat which he has turned into a catch cry whose analogue in Tamil is ‘Makkal Sakhti’ (people’s power), made popular by Hindraf, and which he now blends with the Confusion saying, ‘Si hai zhi nie jie xiong di’ (Within the four seas, all men are brothers), dovetailing it with the Quranic ‘li-ta’arafu’, which holds that humankind’s racial diversity reflects the divine wish for the unity of homosapiens.
In short, Ketuanan Melayu will tie Malaysia’s tapestry of cultures, languages and religions into a single garment of common destiny, eliding all weaknesses behind one transcending virtue: national unity.

“The message of Ketuanan Rakyat is our message to the people. It should inspire them and strengthen their belief in a brighter future,” said Anwar.

“By our example they should be compelled to be active in their communities, to register to vote, to become members of our party and to motivate their family and friends to join Keadilan as well.”

Renew PKR’s commitment to the rakyat

For the second time in a fortnight (the first in Parliament early last week), Anwar took the opportunity to explain and endorse the concept of constitutional monarchy, borrowing from Edmund Burke and Bernard Mandeville, 18th century exponents of statecraft that sought to balance grants of authority with chastening mechanisms.
Anwar held up the theory of circumscribed powers as the basis of constitutional monarchy and government and mocked Umno’s new concoction of race, religion and royalty as an emotive return to the narrow and feudal thinking of a benighted past.

He urged PKR leaders to renew their commitment to the people on the eve of the first anniversary of the opposition’s success in denying the BN a two-thirds majority in Parliament and the capture of four state legislatures in addition to retaining control in an existing one.

“We believe that politics is about service. In serving we are accountable to each other and our supporters,” he said.

He firmly placed this service within a moral framework on which he would emblazon the words of former Czech president Vaclav Havel, a leader who agonised over how to reconcile the imperatives of morality with the devices of politics.

“Those who find themselves in politics therefore bear a heightened responsibility for the moral state of society, and it is their responsibility to seek out the best in that society, to develop and strengthen it,” Anwar quoted from Havel’s essay ‘Paradise Lost’.

In making the speech today, the PKR leader hoped to rally his party’s leaders to face testing times against an Umno leadership that believes in attack as the best form of defense, which posed new threats to the future of PKR and, by extension, Pakatan Rakyat. Mkini

Bankrupt of ideas: Perak BN copied Pakatan formula for councillors

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

The Perak Barisan Nasional government has decided to maintain the 70:30 formula for the appointment of local councillors, first introduced by the Pakatan Rakyat last year.

MCPX

Under the formula, 70 per cent of local councillors would be political appointees while the balance would be made up of individuals from NGOs and professional bodies.

According to The Star today, Perak exco member Dr Mah Han Soon revealed that the selection of new state local councillors would be done next month.

“Application forms will be available from March 3 and interested applicants have until March 9 to submit their forms,” said Mah, whose portfolio oversees local government.

If Perak BN follows through, this would make them the first BN state government to implement such a policy.

The report also quotes Mah calling on Taiping local councillors to resign “gracefully”.

‘BN is politically bankrupt’

“When Pakatan Rakyat took over as the state government last year, all Barisan Nasional local councillors resigned voluntarily,” said Mah.

The Taiping Municipal Council is the sole local government which has a councillor line-up that was sworn-in, on Feb 3, before the political turmoil in Peak erupted.

In an immediate response, Mah’s predecessor, Nga Kor Ming has accused the BN state government of being a “mere copycat” for emulating the 70:30 formula.

“They rob the people of their elected government and then copy the policies practised by Pakatan. It shows BN is politically bankrupt,” he told Malaysiakini.

Nga also brushed off Mah’s calls for Taiping councillors to resign, adding that they were legally sworn-in.

“To give way to BN’s unlawful government would be an insult to democracy and the spirit of the Federal Constitution,” he said.

A check with several councillors in Taiping revealed that they are continuing their duties as usual but are complaining that a full council meeting had yet to be called. Mkini

Anwar selar penangkapan penyokong Uthaya

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

Ketua Umum PKR, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim menyelar tindakan polis menahan beberapa orang, termasuk, ahli Parlimen Kapar, S Manikavasagam yang berkumpul bagi membuat laporan polis beramai-ramai berhubung layanan perubatan terhadap tahanan ISA, P Uthayakumar.

“Manikavasagam tampil membuat laporan kepada polis berhubung kekecewaannya terhadap apa yang berlaku terhadap pemimpin Hindraf itu.

“Tidak perlu tangkap beliau. Kalau kata beliau mengganggu lalulintas, saya lihat demonstrasi Umno di Pulau Pinang, trafik dikawal di seluruh kawasan,” kata Anwar selepas menyampaikan ucapan khas “Amanat Harapan Rakyat” kepada wakil rakyat dan pemimpin PKR di Shah Alam petang ini.

“Hendak buat laporan untuk mempertahankan rakan mereka di Kemunting ditangkap. Jadi, nampak polis ini macam alat atau ketua cawangan Umno,” kata ketua pembangkang itu.

Pagi tadi, polis menggunakan meriam air untuk menyuraikan kira-kira 300 orang yang berhimpun di luar ibu pejabat polis Brickfields untuk membuat laporan polis beramai-ramai berhubung layanan perubatan Uthayakumar.

Ahli Parlimen Puchong, Gobind Singh Deo dilaporkan berkata, selain Manikavasagam, polis menahan 17 orang lagi.

Sementara itu, berucap di hadapan kira-kira 300 hadirin, beliau berkata,  “PKR akan menyerang habis-habisan” dalam tiga pilihanraya kecil yang akan datang – Bukit Gantang, Perak; Bukit Selambau, Kedah dan Batang Ai di Sarawak.

Pilihanraya kecil

Anwar juga dilihat cuba mengambil hati pengundi Sarawak dengan berkata akan mengambil berat isu tanah adat yang disifatkannya sebagai “bukan isu Sarawak, tetapi isu nasional”.

Beliau juga yakin, penangguhan kenaikan harga tol yang diumumkan kerajaan semalam dan kaitan dengan pilihanrya kecil yang bakal berlangsung April ini.

“Lepas pilihanraya kecil Batang Ai, percayalah tol akan naik semula macam (harga) minyak naik mendadak selepas (pilihanraya umum) 8 Mac dahulu,” katanya.

Menyentuh soal memantapkan jentera parti bagi menghadapi pilihanraya, Anwar menegur sikap ahli partinya yang mengambil kesempatan terhadap kemenangan besar Pakatan dalam pilihanraya umum lalu dengan meminta jawatan pangkat dan jawatan.

Selain itu, menyentuh krisis perlembagaan di Perak, Anwar mengakui Pakatan “berada di persimpangan jalan”.

Katanya, isu raja-raja Melayu “perlu ditangani dengan sikap serhana, berhikmah tetapi tegas”.

“Dalam konteks ini, tiga sikap terhadap raja perlu dibentangkan: Pertama, sikap Hang Tuah yang setia membuta tuli; Kedua, sikap Hang Jebat yang menderhaka dan menumpahkan darah rakyat yang tidak berdosa. Di antara keduanya adalah Bendahara Paduka Raja, yang setia lagi bijaksana.”

When Umno forgot to ‘kidnap’ the speaker

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

What is interesting about this Perak fiasco is that despite the collapse of the PR government the office of Pakatan’s speaker remains intact. And the most fascinating fact is that even the Sultan has no power to remove the speaker.

By Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, The Malaysian Insider

One tends to make a mistake when doing something in a hurry. That was what happened to Umno. The unholy haste to topple the PR government in Perak has now landed the party in uncharted waters. The side effect is a constitutional impasse.

It all started when Umno forgot about the speaker. Greedy with power, Umno overlooked the importance of the speaker. Their focus was mainly directed to the three former Pakatan state assemblymen. What they failed to realise is that without the speaker on their side they would be facing the greatest obstacle to convene the assembly.

In a non-military coup, the role of speaker is extremely significant. Failure to take into account the role of the speaker is seriously fatal. Now Umno has felt the pinch due to its own ignorance on the role of the speaker.

Umno might have thought that the speaker had nothing to do with the process of ousting Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, thus toppling the legitimate PR government. Thus they concentrated their effort elsewhere. They mainly focused on how to convince the Sultan of Perak to force Nizar’s resignation.

What Umno failed to realise is that the speaker is not akin to Umno’s permanent chairman (pengerusi tetap). If Umno holds that view the party definitely has committed a very serious and grave error. Any government which follows a Westminster model should know very well how important the role of a speaker is particularly when there is an attempt to overthrow a government via a vote of no confidence. In a political coup like what happened in Perak the speaker is a kingpin.

When the speaker started to exert his power and flex his muscles i.e by suspending Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six exco members, Umno began to concede its foolhardiness. Zambry had to turn to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for assistance. The latter however prescribed a wrong medicine by advising Zambry to lodge a police report. One wonders what business the police have when the matter involves the speaker’s prerogative and constitutional interpretation. Never in history has the police been brought in to investigate the speaker’s power. The constitutional turmoil is beyond the purview of the police domain.

Zambry, I believe, knew very well it was a sheer stupidity to bring the police in. However he and other Umno members have grown up with an embedded culture of blind loyalty to their leaders. It was immaterial, as far as Zambry is concerned, whether Pak Lah gave correct or wrong advice with regard to lodging a police report. Umno’s motto: whenever the higher up says we have to follow blindly. Thus the emergence of 19 reports against V. Sivakumar, the speaker.

If Abdullah had taken pains to get proper legal advice, he surely would have known about the existence of the following laws dealing with the immunity of the speaker, namely the Legislative Assembly (Privileges) Enactment 1959 and Article 72 of the Federal Constitution respectively. These two laws protect the speaker from any civil suit and criminal prosecution whenever he discharges his official duty.

It is submitted that the issue whether the decision of the speaker was legally correct or not does not arise in this matter. The laws,enacted by the BN government, conferred him immunity. The speaker’s decision, unless set aside or quashed by a court of law, was legally valid and binding on Zambry and his six exco members. Non-compliance with the decision of the legitimate speaker is at Zambry’s own peril.

It is axiomatic that almost all countries in the world including Third World countries confer immunity to the speakers of Parliament or the state assembly. There are a plethora of decided cases which show that the speaker’s powers cannot be challenged in any court of law. As far as the court is concerned, the power of the speaker is non-justiciable. It is better to share the following authority with Umno.

In James Eki Mopio vs Speaker of Parliament [1977] PNGLR 420, the case concerned the appointment of Michael Somare as the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea following the general election. James Eki Mopio, the plaintiff, who was a member of the National Parliament, contended that the requirements of s142(4) of the Constitution were not complied with, and on that ground sought a declaration that the appointment of the prime minister was null and void and that a new election of prime minister should have been ordered..

Section 142(4) of the Constitution provides as follows: “(4) If the Parliament is not in session when a Prime Minister is to be appointed, the Speaker shall immediately call a meeting of the Parliament, and the question of the appointment shall be the first matter for consideration, after any formal business and any nomination of a Governor-General or appointment of a Speaker, on the next sitting day.”

Mopio contended that that section went further than to prescribe the order of business for the next sitting day after the meeting of Parliament had been called, and required that the election of the prime minister was to be conducted on the day following the appointment of the speaker. Mopio also submitted that the section was mandatory and not merely directory so that non-compliance would have the effect in law of invalidating the appointment.

After Mopio outlined his case , a preliminary objection was taken by Pokwari Kale on behalf of the speaker that what Mopio was seeking to do was to litigate before the court the question whether a procedure prescribed for the Parliament had been complied with, and that such a question, there being no special provision in a constitutional law to the contrary, was non-justiciable — Constitution, s. 134. So far as Mopio’s reliance on a breach of the Standing Orders was concerned, Kale submitted that as such orders concerned the order and conduct of Parliament’s business and proceedings that matter also was non-justiciable. (Constitution, ss. 133, 134)

The Supreme Court, in dismissing the suit filed by Mopio, held that the matters concerned with the conduct of the business of Parliament and its procedure. Accordingly as the issues before the court involved the question whether that procedure had been complied with, and also the exercise of the freedom of proceedings of Parliament and the functions and duties of the speaker, the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the case .

Zambry now realises that lodging a police report was not a wise move. Such a move made him a laughing stock. He has to switch to another viable option. Thus came the idea of consulting the QC. Money is not a problem to him. For Pakatan leaders engaging a QC is a reflection of a colonial mentality plus a waste of money. However since when Umno really cares about spending a huge sum of money for its political survival?

What is interesting about this Perak fiasco is that despite the collapse of the PR government the office of Pakatan’s speaker remains intact. And the most fascinating fact is that even the Sultan has no power to remove the speaker. He was appointed by the state assembly, thus the removal must also come from the latter unless he resigns or no longer holds office as an assemblyman.

Since the speaker has not lost his office it follows that he still possesses very vast powers in so far as the business of state assembly is concerned. He has inter alia very wide powers to suspend any state assemblymen as he did to Zambry and the six BN exco members. As far as the “three stooges” (don’t tell me you don’t know who they are) are concerned they are no longer assemblymen. The speaker has already made a ruling that their resignations were valid and constitutional under Article 35 of Perak’s Constitution. Even if they consider themselves assemblymen they only represent the Elections Commission and not the rakyat of their respective constituency.

Umno may be proud that the Sultan has backed it in ousting the Pakatan government of Perak. But what transpires now seems to suggest that the life of the BN government is hinging now on the speaker of the PR government which it unjustifiably ousted via undemocratic means. MI

Mohamed Hanipa Maidin is the Pas legal adviser. He is also a lawyer.

Showdown Perak – follow the rule of law !

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

By Wong Choon Mei

Civil society groups have called for transparency and rule of law to prevail in Perak, as lawmakers there gear up for what could be a key turning point in the political deadlock that has crippled the state for nearly a month now.

In particular, Transparency International has warned of the hardening and harmful perception amongst Malaysians that the Umno-Barisan Nasional was using the federal apparatus unfairly to hang onto power both in the state and in rest of the nation.

“This episode has washed up a lot of dirt and the debris that we are seeing is the result of democratic processes not being allowed to find expression at the ballot box and elsewhere,” said Ramon Navaratnam, president of Transparency International Malaysia.

“Increasingly, it has become apparent that the federal apparatus is being abused to further the position of the politicians of the day. But this is a very dangerous precedent and bears a very heavy cost – not least to the image of country at the international level but also at home.

“To the extent that the rakyat perceive that their rights to freedom of expression and democratic practices have been dented, that will be the extent to which they will find recourse in the law courts – and if even that institution fails – to the streets in the form of protests and demonstrations.”

More cheating to follow

Perak legislative Speaker V Sivakumar has called for an emergency sitting of the state assembly on Tuesday to file a motion of confidence in Pakatan Rakyat leader Nizar Jamaluddin as Menteri Besar and also to dissolve the state assembly.

The move is aimed at paving the way for fresh state-wide polls, which would return the mandate to the Perak people to vote in the government and leadership of their choice.

But given the intense rivalry from Umno-BN, the plan may be sabotaged by the far-reaching arm of Deputy Premier Najib Abdul Razak – who is also incoming Umno president.

Dogged by a string losses at recent by-elections, Najib will fight hard to escape the embarrassment of a probable large-scale defeat as he ascends to power next month. Already, the Perak legal adviser has tried to block Sivakumar from sending out notices of the Mar 3 sitting to all eligible assemblymen.

“It behoves all parties to follow the advice of Raja Nazrin Shah to follow the rule of law,” said Ramon. “The situation in Perak has reached a stage where all parties – even the Palace – must display the utmost transparency and neutrality in their actions.

“Just pronouncing precepts is not enough, there must be follow-through and one must practice what one preaches. Only then can one regain the respect and confidence of the rakyat.

Crunch time – are we a democracy or what?

Raja Nazrin, the regent of Perak, a day ago called for regard for the law and respect for lawful institutions.

“A lawless system breeds a lawless culture, which in turn suggests lawless governance and lawless government,” he said at a conference for youths.

Perak is in a state of crisis – both politically and constitutionally. The stalemate will start to seriously harm its economy if steps are not taken to resolve the situation brought about by the Sultan’s decision to transfer power from the Pakatan to an unpopular line-up backed by Najib.

The Feb 5 decision was lambasted by the Pakatan, which has taken their battle to the courts and launched a barrage of legal action against Najib’s line-up. It was also condemned by nearly all civil society groups in the country including the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), Transparency International, the Bar Council and scores of others.

But most importantly, Sultan Azlan Shah’s decision was against the wishes of his own subjects – the Perak people. And till today, they have not accepted BN Menteri Besar Zambry Kadir as their new leader.

74 percent of Perakians said in a recent Merdeka Centre survey that they wanted fresh polls rather than the Sultan’s choice – no matter how wise – forced upon them. 62 percent of them felt that their democratic rights had been trampled on by their Ruler.

“It has come to boil – and the question that must be answered now is – are we a democracy?,” said Ramon.

“If we are, then the rights and wishes of the people must be respected above all else. This is what a democracy is about – if they are not, then we are not a democracy. Full stop, it is as basic as that.” SK

Perak PAC to determine which MB and exco team to get paid

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

By SK English Team

The Public Accounts Committee of the Perak legislative assembly will question the state’s two Menteri Besars and their respective teams of executive councillors on Thursday to determine who should be the rightful recipients of salaries and allowances.

The committee will also investigate the validity of the status of three advisers and an information chief appointed by BN Menteri Besar Zambry Kadir, who gave all four full exco status.

Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin and his exco team will also be grilled.

The PAC meeting will come hot on the heels of Tuesday’s emergency sitting of the state assembly, where two motions are due to be tabled, which if passed will pave the way for fresh state-wide polls.

The two motions are a vote of confidence in Nizar as the state’s Menteri Besar and the dissolution of the legislative assembly.

As the Pakatan has 28 seats versus the BN’s 21, chances are high that both motions will be passed.

“If just the vote of confidence is passed, then Nizar is legally reinstated as Menteri Besar and Pakatan can rule once again,” said a senior Perak Pakatan leader. .

“But I don’t think it will stop at that because there will be a lot of complications and repercussions, the most important of which is that the people of Perak want fresh election. So Pakatan will honour that. It is what they have been fighting for the people anyway.”

Samy Vellu in the case of the missing files and government funds

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

By Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — The murky financial dealings of MIC were laid bare today after a one-time loyalist implicated Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu in mismanagement of party funds and misappropriation of government money.

P. Chitrakala Vasu, who is at the centre of a raging row with Samy Vellu over the MIED financial fiasco, alleged today that up to RM2 million raised for tsunami victims in 2004 was transferred from government accounts to a party foundation controlled by the MIC president.

She also alleged that lorry-loads of files were removed from the office of MIED, MIC’s education arm of which she was once the chief executive.

MIED had raised millions of ringgit from the Indian community, in addition to receiving about RM300 million from government sources and a loan of RM220 million from Bank Pembangunan Malaysia, which is outstanding, for the construction of the AIMST university in Kedah.

Today, Chitrakala made public two reports she made earlier in the morning in Shah Alam urging police to probe the whereabouts of the MIED files and also RM2 million in donations collected in 2004 for tsunami victims in Sri Lanka.

In her report, she claimed the RM2 million was deposited from the Works Ministry into the account of the Yayasan Pemulihan Social (YPS) of which Samy Vellu is chairman and Chitrakala the CEO. Samy Vellu was then the works minister.

“Some time in February 2008 (just before the March 8 election) Samy Vellu telephoned me and informed me that the Works Ministry Treasury would transfer RM2 million into the YPS account and asked me to place the money in fixed deposit,” she said in the report.

“He told me this money was for the people of Sri Lanka but since it was not used he was transferring to YSS for later use,” she said.

‘The money was put in a CIMB fixed deposit account and was still there when I left on Jan 2, 2009,” she said in the report, adding that she was making the report to prevent Samy Vellu from using the money for any other “unauthorised purpose”.

She also fears she might be blamed if the money when “missing”.

In the second report, she urged police to investigate “missing” MIED files and gave details of a heated confrontation she had with Samy Vellu in his office on Dec 31, 2008 in the presence of MIC vice-presidents Datuk S. Veerasingham and Datuk S. Sothinathan.

“A heated argument broke out after Samy Vellu made baseless accusations and I told him I will see him in court but he replied court is not the place,” she said in the second report.

In the report, she said Samy Vellu allegedly told her that he would ‘make sure the police arrest and embarrass you”.

“Soon thereafter I was slammed with five show-cause letters and more followed after this,” she said.

“After I left on Jan 1 without even taking my personal belongings I learned lorries were used to remove files from the MIED office and taken to an undisclosed location on orders of Samy Vellu,” she said in the report.

At the press conference, Chitrakala said the police must investigate how so many files had gone missing and why she is being blamed for it.

“What secrets these files hide?” she asked.

“This is only the first part… there is more coming,” a defiant Chitrakala told a press conference at a restaurant here today.

“I was followed, photographed, harassed and threatened in the days leading to this press conference,” said a visibly angry Chitrakala, 38, who is married with four children.

Even major newspapers considered close to Samy Vellu were not invited to the event for fear the news would be leaked and she could be waylaid or the press conference somehow scuttled.

“He pushed me to the wall, he asked for this (revelations). I worked hard for him and protected him for 14 years but in the end he came after me and pushed me to the wall,” Chitrakala told The Malaysian Insider before the press conference.

“I am not afraid of him… I know the truth behind him,” she said, adding all the accusations Samy Vellu had made against her over the missing MIED files and for involvement in corrupt deals were false and designed to shatter her.

“He has to answer not me,” Chitrakala said, breaking down in tears at how she and her family now feared for their lives.

“He is powerful, he is big… we are nothing. But we have the truth, the people behind us. That’s why I am going public. The people have a right to know,” she said.

Chemical-laced water sprayed on Uthaya’s supporters

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

Chaos broke out at the Brickfields police station in Kuala Lumpur this morning as the police sprayed chemical-laced water at about 300 supporters of detained Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar.

MCPX

The supporters were accompanying nine people representing nine states and a relative of Uthayakumar, who intended to lodge police reports alleging that Uthayakumar was denied proper medical attention for his ailment.

brickfields uthayakumar hindraf 280209 water cannonUpon reaching the police station, several of the group’s representatives were let into the police station to negotiate on the number of people allowed to lodge the police report.

However, as the group’s representatives were about to enter the police station, Brickfields police chief Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid gave the group 10 seconds to disperse.

“Disperse now. Only those lodging the report can remain. That was the agreement,” said Abdul Bari over the loudhailer, but the group failed to disperse.

Three hospitalised

Following this, Abdul Bari issued another warning for the group to disperse in three minutes. When the group failed to comply, chemical-laced water was fired into the crowd.

brickfields uthayakumar hindraf 280209 outside police stationMost of the crowd had dispersed save for a few, including Kapar MP S Manikavasagam and Police Watch and Human Rights Committee coordinator S Jayathas.

The duo were among 17 individuals who were eventually arrested, according to Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, who arrived at the scene later to act as the group’s lawyer.

Two ambulances arrived after the melee and entered the police station. According to Gobind, three individuals, including a woman, were taken to hospital.

As the chaos ensued, there was a bizarre moment when several individuals walked into the police station demanding that they be arrested.

Among others, they include Manikavasagam, Jayathas, Uthyakumar’s sister Waytha Nayagi and Uthayakumar’s sister-in-law K Shanti.

Cops have ‘different standards’

brickfields uthayakumar hindraf 280209 outside police stationSpeaking to reporters later, Gobind alleged that there appears to be “different standards” applied by the police during crowd control exercises.

“In Parliament, two MPs were roughed up but there was no action by the police. But when the Indians want to lodge a police report, we are arrested… what is their problem?” he exclaimed.

Gobind said the Inspector-General of Police owes the public an explanation for the police’s actions, adding that he hoped the police would not press charges against those detained as they were merely attempting to lodge a police report.

brickfields uthayakumar hindraf 280209 marching to stationUthayakumar’s supporters nationwide are lodging police reports against the authorities for allegedly failing to provide him proper medical treatment.

Uthayakumar suffers from diabetes and earlier this month, he broke several toes resulting in a massive swelling on his foot.

His supporters now fear that without proper medical treatment, his foot may have to be amputated.

Last week, Manikavasagam issued an ultimatum to the government to provide Uthayakumar proper medical treatment or face “hundreds” of police reports on this day.

Chitrakala says she is scared of Samy Vellu

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

By Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — P. Chitrakala Vasu, the woman at the centre
of a row with Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu over missing MIED files and
funds, has given the public a rare inside look into the dealings of the
MIC president.

At a press conference today, she offered up a glimpse into how her
former boss thinks, works and manages the millions that the government
has allocated over the years to the MIC to alleviate Indian poverty.

But before opening the window into the world of Samy Vellu and his inner circle, Chitrakala said: “I am very scared of this man.

‘He has got money, people. I am an ordinary person, I am very
scared. He has got everybody with him; I don’t have anybody with me.
But I thought going public is my best protection.”

She was once so close to Samy Vellu that she became the subject of gossip, suggesting she was having an affair with him.

“It is all lies but I was that close to him,” Chitrakala told the
press conference at the crowded Lotus restaurant in Jalan Gasing,
Petaling Jaya.

She said Samy Vellu was now going after her and trying to pin on her
all sorts of allegations of financial improprieties connected with
MIED, the MIC arm that operates the AIMST University and other colleges.

“MIED is worth RM1 billion compared to Maika Holdings which is worth
zero,” Chitrakala said, adding that her relationship with Samy Vellu
started to sour after the March 8 general election as he became
suspicious of everybody around him.

“He felt very insecure after losing in Sungei Siput and losing as
minister. Not being a minister anymore and without it he was a nobody.
He knew his days were numbered and he would be challenged for the
president’s post. So he got very insecure and saw enemies everywhere,”
she said.

One of the issues that arose was the future of MIED which, being worth RM1 billion, was the jewel in the crown of the MIC.

But Samy Vellu saw MIED as a different entity and having nothing to do with MIC or the Indian community.

According to her, he knew he could lose as MIC president but he wanted control of MIED.

“He did not want to let go of MIED. He wanted to remain as MIED chairman and chancellor of AIMST University,” said Chitrakala.

“The way to do it was simple, he wanted MIED removed from MIC,” she
said. “MIED is for Indians. He wanted to divorce it from MIC. Legally
it can be done but morally it is very wrong.”

“I cannot let what happened to Maika Holdings happen to MIED. I told
myself that I have no strength to challenge Samy Vellu on this but my
husband supported me,” he said.

One of the first acts Samy Vellu ordered, and over which Chitrakala
baulked at, was an instruction to remove former MIC deputy president
Datuk S. Subramaniam as a director of MIED.

“After that Samy Vellu wanted to get rid of nearly everybody, all
the 35 members of MIED. He even wanted to get rid of Palani (MIC deputy
president Datuk G. Palanivel). He marked a whole list of people for
removal and asked me to do it.”

Chitrakala told Samy Vellu he could not do it. “I said MIED is not
MIC where he can sack and put in anybody he likes at his whims and
fancy. MIED is governed by company law and he can’t do as he likes.

“He got very angry with me,” she said.

Then Samy Vellu asked her to move the MIED office out of the MIC building in Jalan Rahmat here to somewhere else.

“I also disagreed but I did not say no directly. I just delayed the
matter. People visit the MIC office for MIED help. We are tied
together, we cannot be separated physically,” she said.

“So this is the background of why we had a falling out and finally
the crunch was he tried to force me to make payments to AMIST
University contracts without proper documentations,” she said.

‘Samy Vellu also asked me to make advance payment to contractors.’

The fight between the two even got down to little things like the
wording on the plaque unveiled when AIMST was opened by the Prime
Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last year.

The plague had the words: Malaysian Indian Congress, MIED presents AMIST University to all Malaysians.

“A few days later Samy Vellu called and ordered me to remove the
words Malaysian Indian Congress. I asked why and he said MIED was not
linked to MIC.”

Young Girls Trafficked Through Sabah Forced into Prostitution

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

Malaysia is not only a destination country but a source and transit country for trafficked persons including those forced into prostitution, sex slavery, sex vacations, labour, domestic servitude and adoption, among others.

MCPX

This is the picture that re-emerges from preliminary estimates in an on-going church study which indicate that there are somewhere between 30,000 and 32,000 trafficked persons in Sabah alone based on the official figures of 600,000 to 800,000 migrant workers in the state.

“Women and girls are brought in from the Philippines, for instance, to Labuan and then to Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Kuala Lumpur,” said Tenaganita’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Programme Officer, Lee Soo Choo.

“Young girls are trafficked for prostitution not only in brothels but also in karaokes, KTVs, golf clubs, resorts, condominiums, 5-star hotels, restaurants and massage parlours.”

“Due to raids, traffickers are using catalogues for their customers while girls are sent by taxis to hidden locations.”

Tenaganita is collaborating with the church group in Kota Kinabalu, the Archdiocesan Human Development Committee (AHDC), on the human trafficking study. Tenaganita has also been conducting field assessments since December last year of Indonesian migrant workers working as domestics and in plantations and factories in Kota Kinabalu and Tawau.

AHDC is also working closely with the Jakarta office of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) on the study.

Five urban centres are being covered in the study viz Kota Kinabalu, Keningau, Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu and a clearer picture is expected to emerge when it is completed.

“The study is part of the Cross-Border Counter-Trafficking Project 2008-2009,” said Dominic Lim who heads the AHDC. “Tenaganita’s field surveyors have gone down to the ground to interview migrants from neighbouring countries.”

‘Held in slave-like conditions’

Included in the AHDC study is data from an ICMC assessment from August last year in Nunukan, an Indonesian island off Tawau.

The assessment found that 5.1 per cent of a random sampling of 360 persons interviewed, 80 per cent women, were held in “slave-like” conditions at least until their debts were settled, salary deductions as a punitive measure was common and violence was employed when workers tried to leave.

The assessment did not cover women forced into brothel-based prostitution or those working in the peripheries of the commercial sex sector such as beer promotion girls, bar hostesses, karaoke singers and masseurs.

“Trafficking must be distinguished from smuggling of migrants,” said ICMC senior manager, Abhijit Dasgupta, who oversaw the Nunukan assessment. “While trafficking may include a complex organisation of contracts, smuggling of people refers solely to unlawful border-crossing services.”

“Domestic workers, women in prostitution, plantation workers and bar hostesses in Malaysia carry higher risks of being trafficked.”

This is a view endorsed by the mother-founder of the Bukit Harapan home in Kota Kinabalu, Mama Anne Keyworth.

“I know a Filipina married to an African and they recruit Filipinas as young as 14 with the promise of good job opportunities with lucrative earnings in Sabah,” said Keyworth. “Instead, these girls were cheated and forced to work as prostitutes in Labuan.”

“Another couple with links to an international syndicate would choose the best-looking Filipinas for clients abroad.”

Keyworth has also come across a Filipina, the second wife of an aide to a local politician, who helps to get the passes of Filipinas extended in Labuan before facilitating their travel to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for vice.

“It is so disappointing that the authorities allow this Filipina’s recruitment agency to extend the permits of these women so that she can recruit them for business in the Middle East,” said Keyworth.

She has apparently since passed all the information she has to the Immigration Department in Kota Kinabalu and the Sabah Commissioner of Police, Noor Rashid Ibrahim, who “has been very co-operative”.

Forced into prostitution

Flesh trading and drugs go hand-in-hand, points out Keyworth, whose home provides temporary shelter for victims of human trafficking.

Keyworth adds that there is also a local dimension to the human trafficking problem.

“Recruitment agents or their runners would look for potential victims in Keningau, Tambunan and Tenom,” she said. “These agents would even see the parents to convince them of good job opportunities for their children in Singapore.”

“There are also agents who convince the parents to pay for the airfare, passport and work permits. Once their children reach Singapore, another group will take over and force them into prostitution. They are well-guarded and their earnings seized from them.”

While there are numerous estimates on the number of documented and undocumented migrant workers in Sabah and Malaysia, there are no estimates on TIP (Trafficking in Persons).

The placement of migrant workers are merely categorised under the formal sector viz construction, agriculture and plantation and informal sector i.e. domestic work, restaurants, cafes and karaoke bars.

The best estimate the AHDC has is a 2003 report by the Indonesian Ministry of Women’s Empowerment which claimed that nearly 5,000 Indonesian women have been trafficked for prostitution to Sabah alone.

Last year, Tenaganita rescued 119 foreign girls from forced prostitution, of whom 62 were found in Sabah and another 19 in Sarawak.

The girls were rescued from Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Sandakan and Keningau in Sabah and Limbang in Sarawak,

Overall Indonesian estimates, from the Ministry of Manpower and Kopbumi (Consortium for the Defence of Indonesian Migrant Workers), put documented and undocumented Indonesian workers alone in Malaysia at between 1.5 million and 3.5 million.

Malaysia passed the Anti-Human Trafficking Bill in 2007. The Act was gazetted in July 2007 and enforced at the end of February last year. Under the law, those convicted are liable to a minimum three years jail, not exceeding 20 years in jail and may be fined anything between RM50,000 and RM 500,000.

So far, only two persons have been charged. This includes one whose case has not been heard yet and another who has been jailed for eight years.

Malaysia is also a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. The convention has two important protocols on human trafficking

‘Allah’ issue erupts again

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

While the Roman Catholic’s Archbishop’s suit against the home minister and the government seemed to be at its end following the gazetting of an order under the Internal Security Act in allowing the use of the word “

MCPX

Allah” in Christian texts with restrictions, it has met with opposition from the Syariah Lawyers Association.

Its president, Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar, wants minister Syed Hamid Albar to withdraw the order and the gazettement be withdrawn quickly.

Zainur Rijal said the order made by Syed Hamid goes against the Cabinet ministers’ directive at its meeting on May 19, 1986 which allowed the use of 12 words in other religious texts outside Islam.

“The four words which were gazetted including ‘Allah’ were not among the 12 words that was agreed upon. Hence, the move taken by Syed Hamid goes against the spirit of the Cabinet directive and is considered illegal,” he said.

Besides the word “Allah“, the other words allowed to be used based on the order were “Kaabah”, “Baitullah” and “Solat”. These terms have been in wide use among the local Christians in Sabah and Sarawak.

Zainur Rijal pointed out that as the directive had also been adopted by several state governments under the purview of Malay rulers, the order signed by the minister can be considered defective.

“This is because Islamic matters comes under the jurisdiction of the Malay rulers. Hence, with the order, it could be considered Syed Hamid had committed ‘derhaka’ (treason) against the Malay rulers,” he said.

Order became effective on Feb 16

Syed Hamid signed the order which carried the title “Internal Security (Prohibition On Use of Specific Words on Document and Publication) Order 2009″. The order allows Christians to use the term “Allah” but only in print.

‘The printing, publishing, sale, issue, circulation and possession of any document and publication relating to Christianity containing the words ‘Allah‘, ‘Kaabah‘, ‘Baitullah‘ and ‘Solat‘ are prohibited unless on the front cover of the document and publication are written the words ‘For Christianity’,” read the order.

Yesterday, senior Federal Counsel Nizam Zakaria informed the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers Division) the order had become effective on Feb 16 after it was gazetted.

“I believe that the applicants’ application in the matter would be academic,” she said.

The archbishop named the minister and government as respondents in the March 19, 2008 judicial review application, where it sought the following declarations:

(1) The decision by the respondents dated Feb 12, 2008, that the permit gained by the applicant’s publication permit from Jan 1, 2008 till Dec 31, 2008, was subject to the “guides of publication” dated March 1, 2007, which prohibits the applicant from using the word ‘Allah‘ in the weekly publication, Herald – The Catholic Weekly is illegal, null and void.

(2) The applicant is entitled to use the word ‘Allah‘ in the Herald; and

(3) That the word ‘Allah‘ is not exclusive to the religion of Islam.

The application, supported by an affidavit by Archbishop Murphy Nicholas Xavier Pakiam, also seeks costs of the action.

Meanwhile, the Mufti of Perak, Harussani Zakaria was quoted by Utusan Malaysia to be surprised with the decision by the minister to allow the use of the word “Allah”.

Harussani who is the “Tokoh Maal Hijrah” recipient questioned why this should be allowed.

“According to the Perak Islamic Council enactment, such matters should not be allowed,” the mufti said, affirming what Zainur Rijal had claimed.

In the case, seven state Islamic councils namely Terengganu, Federal Territory, Penang, Selangor, Kedah, Johor and Malacca and the Malaysian Chinese Muslims Association had applied to be interveners on the side of the home minister and government.

The case was fixed for hearing on May 28. Mkini

Toll hike: ‘Postponing won’t save BN’

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

‘If BN thinks that deferring the proposed toll hike will guarantee them victory in the three by-elections, then just wait and see.’

On Gov’t U-turn: Toll hike put off

Netty E Komattu: The works minister’ concern that public anger over the latest toll hike could affect BN’s popularity especially ahead of three crucial by-elections is something that till today the BN government has yet to learn from the last GE in 2008.

This clearly indicates that BN is only interested in the superficial truth and does not really see the actual needs of the rakyat.

If BN thinks that deferring the proposed toll hike will guarantee them victory in the three by-elections, then just wait and see.

I am appalled by the real concern of BN and their component parties and how easy they think it is to play with the sentiments of the rakyat.

Are they trying to say that they are only concerned of materialistic things rather then the heart of the people? If this is their concern, then I don’t think they will have a second chance in the next GE let alone the next by-election.

Don’t insult the rakyat’s intelligence.

I am also appalled that the phrase ‘corruption’ has been twisted and sweetened to be renamed ‘money politics’?

Corruption is still corruption no matter how you add or subtract to the phrase. All this sweet talk will lead to greater destruction if BN is not sensitive to the rakyat’s needs.

Please don’t use toll hikes and raciest sentiments to stir the hornets nest. You will never know what bit you in the end!

Jr Lee: It is truly unthinkable that our so-called caring government had committed to so many highway concessions which burden the general public and benefit the holders of these concessions.

The Malaysian privatisation policy has gone awfully wrong and created overnight billionaires just granting them concession rights.

This is legalised corruption and only practised in countries whose citizens have no legal avenue to challenge the authorities.

Highway concessions have to be first approved by the works ministry and assessed by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), a body under the supervision of the PM.

The rakyat yearns to know why didn’t the works ministers, past and present, object to such onerous terms!

And why did the PMs, past and present, agree to them even with the clear knowledge that they will be a great burden to the Malaysian public?

Is there corruption involved? It is pointless to request the MACC to investigate as the AG will, as a matter of practice, just stamp ‘No Further Action’. And, our MACC is only a Malaysian Agency for Cows and Cars!

To ask the EPF to buy over all the highway concessions may not be a wise decision as these highways had been built at a highly inflated costs ti benefit the construction companies which in most cases, are related to or work hand-in-glove with the concession holders.

EPF will only be burdened with highly-inflated highway assets and will be forced to continue to increase the toll rates in order to generate a reasonable return for EPF members.

The plausible solution is to impose ‘excess profit tax’ on these highways, say, an additional 30% to 40% tax which will increase with every toll increase.

The tax collected should be channeled back as cash rebates to motorists and also to improve the LRT, rail networks, the bus system and other alternative transport means.

‘Excess profit tax’ was first started in the UK many years ago and has benefitted the British people greatly after they were burdened by excessive prices charged by monopolistic corporations.

The fighting cocks in Batang Ai

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

Even before the date of the by-election for Batang Ai is fixed on Wednesday next week, the towns in Sarawak are already abuzz with the question of who will be the fighting cocks in the much anticipated contest.

MCPX

Thanks to a bunch of dedicated Sarawak bloggers, I am kept pretty well informed of what is going the round in the real and virtual cafes in the Land of the Hornbill, even though I now reside in Cheras, Selangor.

On the Barisan Nasional side, the leading candidates seem to be the two Nelsons, Nelson Mujah and Nelson Naga Alam. (Some Iban names may take getting used to for Malaysians outside Sarawak.)

The two Nelsons

This is what Joseph Tawie, the host of the blog site The Broken Shield has to say about the first Nelson from BN:

“As for BN, two candidates have become the talks of the town; one is the district officer, Lubok Antu, Nelson Mujah, who is the brother of the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Douglas Uggah Embas.

“For the past few months he has been going around the constituency accompanied by the MP for Lubok Antu, William Nyallau Badak and state assemblyman for Engkilili, Johnichol Rayong. Both Nyallau and Rayong have been discreetly telling the voters of the possibility of the by-election and that Mujah could be the candidate representing the Barisan Nasional.”

For the information of my readers outside Sarawak, genealogical lineage – where you are born and to whom you are related – is very important to the Iban people.

I have met many Ibans in various rural parts of Sarawak who could trace their genealogical roots for many generations backward kept on record simply by their amazing oral traditions. At that time, I was married to an Iban woman, and discovered to my surprise that I had Iban relatives by marriage in many unlikely corners of my vast home state.

In this vein, I am informed by Dr John Brian Anthony, host of the blog site Dayak Baru web blog of the relationship between Nelson Mujah and Douglas Unggah. They are “blood brothers whose parents lived in Balingian.

sarawak state seat 2006 breakdown 011208But Douglas Unggah was adopted by Embas of Betong, where he still resides and builds his political base. But the blood tie between the two men must still remain strong, as is the case with Iban culture and tradition. Blood brothers are daging darah diri empu (own flesh and blood).

John Brian Anthony has this observation to offer on the importance of blood ties in Sarawak politics:

“There are many combinations of “family ties” in Sarawak politics. In this way, Sarawak is building “political elitist” slowly but surely. Taib and his son, Jabu and his nephew, now they are trying Unggah and Nelson brothers’ team. All these come from BN camp.”

“It is their way of controlling politics and the business in Sarawak. Their supporters are putting all effort to make this happen so that they can get more business favour from this arrangement should Nelson win this candidacy and election.”

The lobby for Nelson Mujah has another political dimension in the internal rivalry between the component parties of the Sarawak Barisan Nasional.

The late Dublin Unting was a vice-president of the Dayak-based party PRS of which Dr James Masing is the president. Therefore, the seat of Batang Ai vacated upon his death ought to be contested by a PRS man, in this case, Nelson Naga Alam, Dublin’s nephew and his personal assistant until his death. This second Nelson is also a local resident of Batang Ai. He would be the logical candidate.

Douglas Uggah is a senior vice-president of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s PBB, the dominant party within the ruling coalition. He is one of the most senior leaders within the Dayak “Persaka” arm of the Malay/Melanau/Dayak alliance that constitutes the mixed-bag PBB.

The Dayak Persaka arm of the PBB under the supreme leadership of Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu has had spates of tension with James Masing’s PRS because of intense competition to claim exclusive right to represent the Dayak community. So far, PRS seems to have the shorter end of the stick in this on-going saga of backroom intrigue.

Follow the smell of money

The final choice of the BN candidate for the Batang Ai by-election would therefore be telling in more ways than one.

If Nelson Mujah is finally selected as the candidate, it would have meant that the arm twisting applied on James Masing by his coalition partners had been successful.

Already, Masing is very much under siege with another rival faction within his own PRS headed by Larry Sng, son of businessman Sng Chee Hua, and son-in-law of tycoon Ting Pek Kiing. Losing out on the question of candidature in Batang Ai will not enhance his prestige as a political leader.

Even if Nelson Mujah ends up as the BN candidate, he would probably contest under the PRS banner. But his blood tie with Douglas Unggah would mean that his final personal loyalty would always be aligned to the PBB, rather than to the PRS.

(If you find this analysis difficult to follow, I understand. I too had some trouble trying to unravel the plots. But this is politics Sarawak style, convoluted, personal, and complex. My advice is: just follow the smell of money.)

This BN internal rivalry should be good news for the opposition PKR.  It would mean that when the BN cockerel jumped into the pit to face the fierce bird from PKR for a fight to the finish, he would probably have been back-stabbed by his own friends.

So far, the PKR leading candidate has been Nicholas Bawin, the PKR Sarawak deputy chief. He is also a local from Batang Ai, and had fought Dublin Unting in the last round, losing by a mere 806 votes.

But the newly emergent PKR in Sarawak is a rag-tag rainbow coalition of sometimes very unlikely allies, and Dayak politics in Sarawak has been nothing less than divisive traditionally. There must be some friends of PKR who are unhappy with Nicholas Bawin’s candidature.

I have read Internet postings complaining that Bawin comes across as too much like a Man of God, rather than a Man of the People.  Many Ibans are Christians, but many still practice their animist beliefs. His detractors say that politics should never mix with religion.

I have no way of ascertaining whether this allegation is indeed true. But some political reformers in the past have been motivated by their religious conviction; Martin Luther King comes to mind immediately.

Here, the Batang Ai by-election offers a chance for a new kind of Dayak politics, using the PKR as a new platform. They must learn from PAS in the case of Kuala Terengganu by-election. Before nomination day, they can argue and lobby for candidature until the cow come home, but once the final decision is made through due process, they should present a united front against the mighty and well-oiled BN machinery.

Naturally, the Batang Ai by-election also provides PKR with a perfect opportunity to roll out their grand vision of a better Sarawak, if and when they can succeed in wrestling state power away from the BN.  It will be their first Battle Royale in this crucial state, and a humiliating loss here in the Iban rural heartland would be an unacceptable option.

bm version batang air state seat 240209Meanwhile, I hope the Sarawak bloggers calling for change can form a Barisan Rakyat Sarawak, after the fashion of the Barisan Rakyat in West Malaysia led by Raja Petra Kamarudin.

Perhaps, even at this early stage, they may want to send in a team to Batang Ai just to size up the constituency and gauge public sentiments.

If funding is a problem, perhaps they should try to raise funds on the Internet. Their reports on site accompanied by pictures would not only help the opposition cause, but would also tell their Sarawak stories to the rest of Malaysia and the world.

For once, they would give the humble Iban villagers a powerful voice, which has been silenced for too long. That would indeed be citizen journalism at its best.

Bloggers are the latest new-comers to the politics of civil society.  They can amass tremendous social capital on the Internet that is so important for the development of a democratic culture in Malaysia. They can also give a new meaning to public participation in the political process. Mkini


SIM KWANG YANG was MP for Bandar Kuching from 1982 to 1995.  He can be reached at kenyalang578@hotmail.com.

Malaysia’s economy takes a dive: Where is that strong fundamental, najib Altantuya?

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

gdp

Uh-oh, the bottom’s fallen out Source: Statistics Department

myr-3q07-4q08

Ringgit weakens against the US dollar and Yen

Buckle up, folks! We are in for some tough times.

Malaysia’s economy took a dive in the fourth quarter as GDP stood on the brink of negative territory, growing by just by 0.1 per cent, compared to 4.7 per cent in the third quarter.

This was largely due to a drop in manufacturing from 1.8 per cent growth in the third quarter to a shrinkage of 8.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, largely because of a contraction of 12.3 per cent in export-oriented industries.

Meanwhile, portfolio investments continued to flee the country. In the fourth quarter, RM25 billion flowed out of the country though that was lower than the RM38 billion that left the country in the previous quarter.

But the Bank Negara governor said we have nothing to worry and insists we will not slide into a recession. She was reported as saying that growth for 2009 would be 5.0 – 5.5% (oh, puh-leeease!).

Say no more.  Anil Netto

Penang among top 10 dynamic industrial clusters in the world

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

PENANG, Feb 28 — A United Nations agency has identified Penang as one of the 10 dynamic industrial cluster locations in the world to have demonstrated a successful manufacturing experience among developing economies.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation’s (Unido) Industrial Development Report 2009, rated Penang, along with Buenos Aries, Southeastern Brazil, Phnom Penh, Los Lagos (Chile), Qiaotou (China), Chennai (India), Jakarta, Vientiane and Otigba (Nigeria), as the leading locations, according to Bernama News Agency.

Unido’s survey, conducted from 2000 to 2006, disclosed the 10 dynamic industrial locations in developing economies, which created conducive investment environment, generated employment and were able to compete in the international market.

Some of the indicators that placed Penang as a robust location were its excellent basic infrastructure, strong cluster networks between firms and intermediary agencies such as the Penang Development Corportation and the Free Trade Association of Penang.

In addition, compliance with environmental standards, upgrading of production from low level to high value-added activities and the island’s open system framework that has enabled movement of human capital were other salient factors, revealed the report. — VNA

Federal government to cut Selangor out of water deal

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on February 28, 2009 by ckchew
By Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — Plans are afoot to hand over control of water services in Selangor to Puncak Niaga.

The move comes on the back of all four concessionaires rejecting the combined RM5.7 billion takeover offer by the state government in the ongoing tussle for control of water services in the Klang Valley.

The federal government looks set to close out a deal with the concessionaires before a 30 per cent tariff hike takes effect on April 1 under the concession agreement with Syabas, which is 70 per cent owned by Puncak Niaga.

However, Puncak Niaga is set to take over two fellow players, Splash and Abass, to make it the sole option to be appointed as the licensee for water services for over 1.5 million customers in Selangor, Kuala Kumpur and Putrajaya once the statutory transfer of all water assets in the Klang Valley has been completed.

Selangor had cried foul over the move by the National Water Services Commission (Span), the regulatory body under the Ministry of Water, Energy and Communications, to declare that the federal government would commence negotiations with the concessionaires two days before the Feb 20 deadline for the companies to accept the state’s offer.

It claims that the move had effectively made Pengurusan Aset Air Berhad (PAAB), the wholly-owned subsidiary of the Finance Ministry created under the Water Services Industry Act to consolidate all water assets in the peninsula, a competitor in the acquisition of the privately held water assets.

After acquiring the assets, the federal government is given the power under the law to appoint a licensee in each state to whom it will lease back the assets so it can operate water services.

A member of the Selangor water review panel, which has been overseeing the deal for the state, told The Malaysian Insider that its move to take over all four concessionaires was a strategy to leave the federal government with no option but to appoint a state-controlled company as the licensee.

Sources say that with the scuppering of Selangor’s RM5.7 billion offer, Puncak Niaga will now meet Splash and Abass within a week to agree a takeover deal in principle while PAAB will make an offer for all the privately held water assets.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the PAAB offer may be up to RM500 million less than Selangor’s, giving it the appearance of being a better deal but it will not include taking over equity, which instead will be bought up by Puncak Niaga.

But Selangor still holds some significant cards. It owns 80 per cent of water assets and could hold out until a compromise is reached.

However, with the tariff hike hanging over its constituents, the Pakatan Rakyat government knows that it is a stalemate that could hurt it politically.

It had tried to delay the tariff hike by demanding that the ministry revoke Syabas’ 30-year concession due to non-compliance as found in a report by the National Audit Department, which includes exceeding capital expenditure allowances and engaging in direct negotiations instead of open tenders.

However, the ministry responded by forwarding the matter to the Attorney-General and pressing Selangor to move ahead with the restructuring of assets.

Dari Drama Pembunuhan, Ugutan, Penculikan, Rasuah dan Episod Memalukan di Parlimen.

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags , on February 28, 2009 by ckchew

Semalam saya menerima undangan makan tengah hari bersama Pesuruhjaya Tinggi Australia di kediaman beliau. Saya kembali ke Parlimen dan mengadakan pertemuan dengan Menteri Besat Tan Sri Khalid di pejabat Ketua Pembangkang.

Sejurus kemudian saya diminta segera turun ke Dewan kerana Sdr. Karpal Singh mengemukakan bantahan diatas tekanan dan ugutan oleh pimpinan pemuda umno selangor. Saya terkejut dengan gelagar sebahagian ahli parlimen umno-bn yang memandang enteng serangan tersebut malah melalak menafikan ruang untuk Sdr. Karpal dan rakan lainnya berhujah.

Dalam keriuhan tersebut saya bangun dan diberikan ruang oleh Speaker. Saya tidak menuding kepada ahli parlimen umno. Namun mereka harus waras dan matang mengecam kebiadapan menodai kemurnian kawasan Parlimen. Kita berhak berbeda pendapat secara sopan tetapi tidak pantas bertindak kasar dan ganas.

Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin memberikan jaminan bertindak. Maka kami keluar untuk memberikan kenyataan bersama kepada media. Dan selanjutnya ke pejabat Speaker menggesa beliau bertindak segera secara tegas.

Maka berakhirlah satu lagi babak keji dalam sejarah Parlimen – bersambung dari drama pembunuhan, ugutan, penculikan, rasuah dan akhirnya hingga ke kawasan Parlimen.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

Pakatan seeks to dissolve Perak state assembly, emergency sitting on Tuesday

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

By Wong Choon Mei

In a move presaging state-wide polls, Perak assembly Speaker V Sivakumar has called for an emergency sitting on Mar 3 to table a vote of confidence in Nizar Jamaluddin as the Menteri Besar and also to file a motion for dissolution of the legislative assembly.

Said KeADILan information chief Tian Chua: “It is showdown time. The situation is very volatile. If the Barisan Nasional fails to act in the only proper way, which is to dissolve the state assembly, then Nizar will be reinstated as Menteri Besar.

“BN cannot refuse to recognise the decisions of the legislature. That would be illegal.”

Nevertheless, dissolution of the assembly – which would pave the way for much-awaited state-wide polls – is fraught with danger as Umno has shown it will use all ways and means to sabotage such a bid.

Unable to snap a losing streak, incoming party president and Deputy Premier Najib Abdul Razak will avoid at all costs a snap election. In fact, the state legal adviser is already trying to block Sivakumar from notifying the assemblymen of Tuesday’s sitting.

“The legal advisor has no business to intervene in the process of the House. He is not an advisor to the Speaker or the House. He cannot stop the process and the final decision on whether to send the notices out lies with the Speaker,” said Perak DAP chairman Ngeh Koo Ham.

Properly-mandated govt needed to steer the state through economic crisis

The people of Perak have been clamouring for fresh election since Feb 5, when the Sultan transferred power from the Pakatan Rakyat to an unpopular line-up backed by Najib.

The power grab has been sharply and widely condemned by not just by Perakians, but also civil society and Malaysians nation-wide.

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), Transparency International, the Bar Council are among those that have publicly appealed to Sultan Azlan Shah for fair play and to allow his subjects to exercise their democratic rights and choose the leadership they wanted.

Just two days ago, 66 of Malaysia’s top NGOs signed a joint statement appealing for a snap election to break the deadlock – allowing normalcy to return as only a properly-mandated government could steer the state through the economic crisis already overtaking the country.

Sivakumar earlier told reporters that he had invoked Standing Order 8 and 11 to call for the emergency session.

He has also instructed that notices be sent to all state representatives to attend, except for the seven assemblymen suspended for contempt of the Committee of Special Privileges.

As chair of the privileges committee, Sivakumar had on Feb 18 barred BN Mentri Besar Zambry Kadir and six executive councillors from attending sittings of the assembly for between 12 and 18 months.

Three former Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen who quit their parties to become BN- friendly Independents are also still suspended pending the outcome of a legal suit filed against them.

Excluding all the suspensions, Pakatan would have 28 seats versus the Umno-BN’s 21.

————————————————————————————————————————
Suara KeADILan has appended below an opinion from Shad Saleem Faruqi, a Professor of Law at UiTM, to shed further light on the complex legal issues involved in Perak crisis

Legal turmoil over Perak defections – Reflecting On The Law

THERE is a constitutional impasse in Perak. The descent into naked and unprincipled struggle for power was triggered by the defection of a Barisan Nasional Assemblyman to Pakatan Rakyat and an immediate four-stroke counter-punch by the BN.

What is worrying is that the fall-out of this crisis is sullying the reputation and credibility of many legal and constitutional institutions – the Sultanate, the Election Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the public prosecutor and the police. Despite this damage, the root cause – the despicable phenomenon of party hopping – remains unaddressed. Let’s examine some of these issues.

Defections: The “right” to switch parties in midstream is based on Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of association.

However Article 10(2)(c) permits Parliament to restrict this freedom in the interest of security, public order and “morality”.

In the 80s the governments of Kelantan and Sabah passed anti-hopping laws to curb this right on the ground of morality.

However, in the Nordin Salleh (1992) case, the Federal Court declared that the anti-hopping law was unconstitutional on two grounds. First it was passed by the wrong legislature. Second – and this was most unconvincing – that the term “morality” does not cover political morality.

I believe that party hopping by an Assemblyman after his election on a party ticket amounts to a fraud on the electorate.

There are three possible ways of taming this turpitude. First, a constitutional amendment to Article 10 by a bi-partisan two-thirds majority should be attempted.

A second way could be for Parliament to enact an ordinary Anti-Defection Law and to enforce it immediately.

If and when the law is challenged on the Nordin Salleh precedent, vigorous arguments could be proffered to invite the Federal Court to overrule its prior, indefensible ruling.

One possible way of expediting the overruling of this bizarre decision is for the King to refer the issue to the Federal Court under Article 130 to seek an advisory opinion on the interpretation of the word “morality” in Article 10(2)(c).

A third way of enacting an anti-defection law would be to promulgate an Emergency Ordinance under Article 150. In the case of Stephen Kalong Ningkan (1968), the Privy Council ruled that “emergency” includes “collapse of civil government”.

Without doubt, defections bring about the collapse of civil government and an Emergency Ordinance would be legally, morally and politically justifiable.

Resignation letters: The legality of the undated resignation letters from the two Pakatan Rakyat defectors is at the heart of the constitutional imbroglio in Perak.

The Speaker of the Perak Assembly accepted the validity of the letters and issued a notice to the Election Commission. In favour of the Speaker’s view, it can be stated that in the UK it is part of the privileges of parliament to determine questions relating to casual vacancies in the House.

The decision of the House is generally regarded as final. Also, Article 35 of the Perak Constitution permits a member of the Assembly to resign “by writing under his hand addressed to the Speaker”.

The problem is that the two hoppers denied that they wrote to the Speaker. There is also a relevant judicial decision. In 1982 the validity of open-dated resignation letters was rejected by the High Court in the Sarawak case of Datuk Ong Kee Hui v Sinyium Mutit.

In the light of this decision and the denial by the two defectors, the Election Commission had some basis to make up its own mind and to declare that the seats had not fallen vacant.

Perhaps the safest thing was to seek a quick Federal Court decision on the interpretation of the Perak Constitution. The Perak Constitution in Articles 63-64 admirably provides for such a course of action. Regrettably, the parties to the dispute and the Sultan did not adopt this course of action.

Dissolution: Under the Federal and state Constitutions, the Sultan has an undoubted discretion, guided by his own wisdom and the broader interest of the state, to refuse a request for premature dissolution. We have examples from Kelantan and Sabah where such requests have been refused.

Confidence of the Assembly: Having been appraised that Pakatan Rakyat had lost the confidence of the Assembly, Tuanku Sultan was faced with many difficult choices. First, he could have prorogued the Assembly pending a court decision on the validity of the hoppers’ resignation letters and the question of vacancies.

Second, he could have asked the antagonists to face the Assembly and prove their support in accordance with usual parliamentary traditions. I am of the view that if an Assembly is in session, or can be quickly brought to session, it is its right to determine the question of confidence and no one should usurp this power nor should factors outside the Assembly be taken into consideration in determining the question of confidence.

Article 16(6) of the Perak Constitution is not crystal clear as to how it is to be determined whether the Mentri Besar has ceased to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Assembly but there is a 1966 Sarawak judicial decision in Stephen Kalong Ningkan v Tun Abang Hj Openg Tawi Sli that the Governor cannot dismiss a Chief Minister unless he is voted out by the Assembly.

In Perak, however, Tuanku took it upon himself to shoulder the lonely burden of determining who commanded confidence of the assembly. He took pains to interview all four defectors and to hear out the Mentri Besar and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak more than once.

The Sultan paid heed to the EC decision that there were no vacancies. Undoubtedly he was also influenced by the Speaker’s threat that the Speaker would not allow the defectors to enter the Assembly to participate in the confidence vote.

Dismissal of Mentri Besar: The Constitution of Perak in Article 16(7) states that a member of the Executive Council other than the MB shall hold office at the Sultan’s pleasure. This implies that an MB cannot be dismissed except by a vote of no confidence in the assembly.

The problem is Article 16(6) states that if an MB loses confidence then he has two choices. First, advise dissolution and second, if that request is denied, then resign. There is a lacuna in the law. What if an MB loses the confidence of the Assembly, is denied dissolution, but refuses to step down?

Can the Sultan dismiss him? It is submitted that life is always larger than the law. There are always unchartered territories. If an MB who has lost confidence, and is refused dissolution, is shameless enough not to walk away, then the Sultan would be justified in dismissing him, Article 16(7) notwithstanding.

But in Perak this was not the case. The question of losing confidence was not constitutionally investigated. There are many triable issues and the courts must accept the gauntlet.

Treason: Opinions are being expressed that to defy the Sultan and to threaten to go to court for defence of one’s legal rights amount to treason and a ground for deprivation of citizenship. There are fundamental misunderstandings here.

From day one of Merdeka, the King and the Sultans were open to civil suit for their official actions. They were only immune personally. In 1993 even the personal immunity was taken away.

In sum it is not a violation of the Constitution to resort to the courts to seek an authoritative opinion on one’s rights and duties. Where else does one go, what else does one do, if one has a claim?

Karpal Singh took umno youth deputy chief to task: Sit idly like father-in-law

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

DAP stalwart Karpal Singh today took Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin to task over his challenge to the veteran politician.

MCPX

Yesterday, Khairy had called on Karpal to repeat his accusation outside of Parliament that Umno Youth was responsible for the death threats and live bullets the latter had received last week.

Dismissing the challenge, the opposition leader said: “He (Khairy) is just a juvenile and he is not in my league. I will not entertain his challenge.”

“He should do what his father-in-law (Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) does and just sit idly.

“His father-in-law and I were elected to Parliament at the same time. He (Khairy) is just a political juvenile. I will not be intimidated by such threats or dares,” he added.

Speaker rapped

Meanwhile, Karpal also criticised Parliament Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia for not taking action against the Umno Youth members who had mobbed him at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

He said Pandikar should have arrested the Umno Youth members responsible and make them answerable to the Parliamentary committee.

“The speaker under the committee could have issued the warrants of arrest on those responsible Such actions are irresponsible. However, I would not be intimidated. Jangan ugut saya (Do not threaten me).” he said.

As for the investigations against him concerning his alleged seditious remarks regarding the Perak ruler, Karpal said he was merely pointing out a point of law in the Federal Constitution based on Article 181 which states:

‘No proceedings whatsoever shall be brought in any court against the Ruler of a state in his personal capacity except in the Special Court’.

“Hence, legal action could be taken on the ruler in his official capacity in the civil court.

“That is what the constitution suggests and that was why I said the Pakatan Perak government should look into that avenue,” he said.

More than a hundred police reports have been filed against the veteran politician after he threatened to sue the Sultan over the political turmoil in Perak.

Perak speaker calls emergency state assembly meet

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

Perak speaker V Sivakumar today called for an emergency state assembly sitting on March 3. The assembly is expected to vote on two motions related to the constitutional crisis in the state.

MCPX

The first motion by Titi state representative Khalil Idham Lin Abdullah is for a vote of confidence for Pakatan Rakyat’s ousted menteri besar Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin.

The second motion by Chang Lih Kang (PKR-Teja) is for the state assembly to be dissolved in order to hold a fresh elections.

According to Bernama, Sivakumar said the emergency session does not require the Sultan’s consent as the 14-day notice is only issued for normal sittings and not emergency sittings.

He said the Perak state assembly secretary Abdullah Antong has been instructed to send out the notice as soon as possible to all the representatives.

Barisan Nasional Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six executive councillors will not be issued the notice.

Last week, Sivakumar had suspended Zambry and the excos for a period of 18 months and 12 months respectively for acting in contempt of the state assembly.

Just following the standing orders

Asked if calling for the emergency session without the Sultan’s consent can be regarded as not respecting the ruler, the speaker said he was merely following the House’s standing orders.

He also refused to comment when asked what would happen if all the BN representatives refuse to attend or if the suspended members chose to attend.

When contacted, Zambry declined to comment on the latest development beyond saying, “That is their (Pakatan Rakyat) real character.”

Perak has been turmoil since BN seized control of the state following the defection of four Pakatan Rakyat representatives.

Three declared themselves as ‘BN-friendly’ independents while the other had rejoined Umno.

bn gov’t FLIP-FLOP on toll rate hikes amid public outcry

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

By Wong Choon Mei

Works Minister Mohd Zin Mohamed has reversed his announcement made a day ago that toll rates on five major highways would be raised by as much as 33 percent effective from Sunday.

In an immediate reaction, the last minute change of heart – thanks to Prime Mnister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – was welcomed by commuters and consumer groups.

In Thailand for the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting, Pak Lah had last night asked the cabinet to reconsider its hike decision made several weeks ago.

“The situation has now changed, and the economy has not become better as yet,” he said. “People are having difficulties. The situation is not right for a toll increase. I feel the matter needs to be discussed again in the cabinet.”

Citing contractual obligations to the concessionaires, Mohd Zin Mohamed announced hikes of between five and 33 percent on the much-travelled North-South Expressway, Sprint Highway, Ampang Elevated Highway, Sungai Besi Highway and New Pantai Expressway.

The move was immediately panned by analysts, who worried the increased cost burden to consumers would create a wider negative knock-effect on the fragile economy, just starting to taste its first bite of what is clearly going to be its worst crisis ever.

It also shunted attention onto the concession agreements, which were signed during former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s time in power. Recently declassified, these agreement had thrown up huge question-marks as to whether Mahathir’s administration had intended to benefit the Malaysian public or the firms that owned the concession operators.

Past legacy must not be allowed to be perpetuated

As his protege, finance minister and deputy premier Najib Abdul Razak prepares to succeed Abdullah, there is growing fear that Najib too will perpetuate the legacy of mega projects and privatisation deals favoured by Mahathir and his adviser Daim Zainuddin.

“Tolls have been going up and up. The burden on the people is always looming. Given this scenario, it is best that the federal government seriously review all concession toll road agreements and re-nationalise where possible,” said Azrul Azwa, economist at Bank Islam.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders and consumer groups have been urging Najib to re-negotiate toll deals to prevent Malaysians from being held ransom to exorbitant charges, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

For example, the DAP has already unveiled a proposal that if properly implemented could make the North-South Expressway toll-free by 2016.

Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim too has challenged federal authorities over the price to be paid to buy over the state’s water assets from four major consortia, who have thumbed their noses at his RM5.7 billion offer.

That has not stopped Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd – a unit of the Finance Ministry – from offering these firms a higher price and a widely speculated yet-to-be-disclosed sweetener to one of them – which purportedly has links to Umno. If accepted, Selangor people can expect higher water costs in the future, although it may be smoothened out in the immediate term.

Good intervention but deeper revamp is needed

However, the applause for Abdullah’s latest intervention will be short-lived unless he insists that Najib undertakes serious and transparent revamping of all the toll road concessions.

Some of the BN media has already tried to deflect public opinion by attributing the negative feedback and criticism to Pakatan groups. Yet, BN lawmakers have just as vocally condemned the toll rate increases.

Some financial papers too have argued that ownership of some of these concession-holding firms have long changed hands and may not be linked to Daim or Mahathir or Najib anymore.

It is hard to say given that many of the restructuring deals undertaken in recent years, even by the largest government-linked companies, were transacted more with the intention to benefit their own top management and corporate bankers with fat fees and kickbacks, rather than to really make the firms leaner and meaner for the ultimate benefit of Malaysian consumers.

Perhaps the best way forward for the country is in proposals and initiatives such as those put forth by the DAP and Khalid, where the emphasis is on transparency and simplicity and the purpose is to benefit all Malaysians – not just a select few.

With so much talent among the professionals, ideas should be wooed and views welcomed from all. Even if not adopted in full, the contribution in part or in spirit would still be positive for Malaysia.

In fact, as the nation prepares to spend unprecedented billions in the name of economic recovery, it particularly behoves the Malaysians who are educated and skilled to keep a look out on what is happening and insist that the future of all in this country is protected and not siphoned out.

A BIG TIME FLIP-FLOP, An incompetent bn gov’t U-turn – Toll hike put off

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

In a dramatic reversal, the government has decided to suspend toll hikes of up to 33 percent for five major highways in Klang Valley announced yesterday.

MCPX

The decision was made by the cabinet at its weekly meeting today chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had yesterday called for the cabinet to reconsider the toll hike.

Abdullah, who is attending an Asean defence ministers meeting in Thailand, said he was concerned that public anger over the latest hike could affect BN’s popularity, especially ahead of three crucial by-elections.

The five affected highways are North-South Expressway (Plus), Sprint Highway (Sprint), Ampang Elevated Highway (Akleh), Sungai Besi Highway (Besraya) and New Pantai Expressway (NEP).

In an announcement yesterday, Works Minister Mohd Zin Mohamed said that toll rates in these five highways would go up on Sunday.

In a dramatic reversal, Mohd Zin said that the toll hike has been “deferred” in view of the public reaction and the ailing economy at a press conference at 4.30pm today.

“With that, my statement yesterday on the toll hike is cancelled,” he said.

Mohd Zin said that the toll increase will be postponed to after Dec 31 this year.

With the 10-month delay, the government will have to pay RM287 million in compensation to the five toll concessionaires.

This is the second delay in toll hike for some of the highways.

The toll rate for Plus, Sprint and Akleh highways was supposed to have been increased on Jan 1, 2008 but this was deferred.

For that, the government to pay compensation totalling RM245 million – RM177 million to Plus, RM38 million to Sprint and RM30 million to Akleh.

However, at a press conference later, Najib said that no time-frame has been set on how long the toll hike would be deferred.

According to him, the hike will be put off “indefinitely”, contradicting Mohd Zin.

Ploy by PM to boost image?

Meanwhile, there is speculation that the sudden U-turn today was a ploy by Abdullah to boost his image as an outgoing prime minister.

Najib, who is finance minister and prime minister-in-waiting, is now in a precarious position as he has to announce a rise in toll prices for the five highways and an unknown number of highways which are due for higher toll rates next year.

According to Mohd Zin, the initial decision to raise the toll prices was decided during the Feb 11 cabinet meeting where the five highways were due for a 10 percent to 66.7 percent increase in rates.

The increase was slashed to half when Mohd Zin made the announcement yesterday.

Mohd Zin’s press conference today was slated for 3.15pm at the Works Ministry’s Kuala Lumpur headquarters but he was over an hour late.

He spent about five minutes reading out a prepared text before quickly trying to leave the place but as the questions from reporters started pouring in, Mohd Zin was compelled to sit down and continue the press conference.

Below are some questions and answers from the press conference:

Question: Why don’t the government abolish the toll collection since the highways concerned are frequently full of traffic jams?

Mohd Zin: This involves the traffic flow, volume and the state of public transport. So we have to look at things in totality.

Why don’t the government improve public transport?

I am responsible for infrastructure, roads and bridges that belong to the federal government. If we look at the Klang Valley, there are all sort of roads. Some come under the authority of the state and local governments.

This makes traffic management a challenge… if we want to reduce traffic, we must make sure public transportation is very efficient…otherwise if we want to resolve traffic problems, it will be a challenge. That’s all I can say.

Will the government raise toll rates next year?

We will revisit the subject when the time comes.

Why can’t the government buy up the highways?

That is the principle of privatisation to nationalisation. We have to look at the financial capabilities of the government, what would be total liability, who are the shareholders. It is not also technical parameters but financial parameters we would have to address.

Are you looking into it?

I’m just defining the parameters we have to address…it is a question if whether we want to stick to privatisation vis-a-vis nationalisation.

What do you think of DAP’s proposal for the government to buy up Plus highway?

Anyone can come up (with such plans). What Tony Pua should do is not look at Plus as a standalone. The whole concession is operating as an integrated entity.

Are you rejecting his proposal?

I didn’t say that.

Is the cancellation of the toll hike related to the upcoming by-elections?

That is your speculation. Mkini

Menteri Pengajian Tinggi Tidak Bertangungjawab- Mahasiswa

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

KUALA LUMPUR, 27 FEBRUARI (SK) -GERAKAN Demokratik Belia dan Pelajar Malaysia (Dema) menyifatkan Menteri Pengajian Tinggi, Mohamed Khalid Nordin sebagai tidak bertanggungjawab apabila membuat kenyataan tidak campur tangan dalam satu kes yang melibatkan Mahasiswa.

Menurut Pengerusi Dema, Ng Yong Jin, sebagai seorang Menteri, kenyataan untuk tidak campur tangan adalah satu kenyataan yang tidak bertanggungjawab dan idak wajar.

Menteri terbabit dikalatakan mengeluarkan kenyataan untuktidak akan campur tangan dalam kes yang melibatkan tiga mahasiswa Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM)  yang dipanggil untuk untuk tindakan tatatertib.

Ng dipetik Malaysiakini berkata, kaedah tatatertib yang digunakan oleh UUM mendapat kuasa oleh AUKU dibana menteri memainkan peranan meminda akta tersebut.

Dalam kes yang membabitkan tiga pelajar UUM, Dema meminta agar pihak universiti menggugurkan tuduhan terhadap mereka tiga pelajar berkenaan, Choo Kok Wei, Medecci Lineil Repong dan Tengku Mohd Hasrul Tengku Malek.

Tiga akan dihadapkan ke lembaga tatatertib Isnin ini kerana didakwa bawah Akta Universiti dan Kolej Universiti (AUKU) selepas membantah kenaikan tambang bas kampus.

Seorang yang dituduh, Tengku Mohd Hasrul, yang pernah mengetuai jawatankuasa bantahan tersebut, menghadapi tuduhan berbeza iaitu mengkritik pegawai tinggi UUM melalui satu tulisan di blog peribadinya.

Selain Dema, wakil-wakil Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (Kami) dan Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit) yang hadir dalam sidang media di Kuala Lumpur turut menyokong gesaan tersebut.

Dema turut meminta agar golongan mahasiswa  kepada UUM supaya menggugurkan kes tiga pelajar berkenaan dengan menghantar surat kepada Naib Canselor UUM,Nordin Kardi dengan salinan kepada Mohamed Khalid Nordin

Menjelaskan kempen berkenaan, Lau berkata, Dema telah memulakannya sejak kelmarin dengan mengedarkan contoh surat rayuan ke seluruh universiti di Malaysia.

Surat berkenaan mendesak UUM menggugurkan pertuduhan terhadap tiga mahasiswa berkenaan serta menggesa kontrak perkhidmatan bas antara UUM dan syarikat pengendali Unic Symbol Sdn Bhd (UNIC) didedahkan kepada umum. SK

Guan Eng: Mob attack a form of Umno gangsterism

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

DAP today described the mob attack on party chairperson Karpal Singh by a group of Umno Youth members at the entrance to Parliament yesterday as “disgraceful and blatant disrespect” to the highest institution of the country’s parliamentary system.

MCPX

“It’s shameful and embarrassing act by the mobsters on Karpal. The police should have controlled the situation. I don’t understand why they didn’t,” DAP secretary general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told newsmen at his office in Penang today.

Describing the mob attack on Karpal as a form of Umno gangsterism, Lim who is also Bagan parliamentarian said the ugly episode had undermined the integrity and dignity of Parliament – the highest legislative in the country.

“One can disagree with an elected representative’s view. But mobbing the MP in the noble House of Parliament is disgraceful and an insult,” he said.

‘But not by a mob’

Asked whether Karpal had uttered an unparliamentary word by describing Umno Youth movement as celaka (damn), he said since the veteran parliamentarian had stated the remark during parliamentary proceedings, it was up to the House Speaker to take action, if any.

“But not by a mob,” Lim said, who demanded an immediate public apology from the Umno leadership over the untoward incident.

During his parliamentary debate on Wednesdat, Karpal has accused the celaka Umno Youth of being responsible for the death threat and two bullets he had received in the mail last week. Following this, the Bukit Gelugor MP was mobbed by a group of Umno Youth leaders and members in Parliament at 2.30pm yesterday.

The wheelchair-bound politician was surrounded by about 30 Umno Youth members who prevented him from entering Parliament Rakyat and demanded an apology from him.

Karpal telephoned fellow DAP legislator Fong Po Kuan, who arrived with a ‘rescue team’ comprising party MPs to save their chairperson.

In the ensuing drama, Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut) claimed that he was assaulted as he tried to help Karpal escape the pushing and shoving by the mob.

Among the mob leaders were Serdang Umno Youth chief Ungku Salleh Ungku Jamal, Gombak Youth chief Megat Zulkarnain Omar Din and Petaling Jaya Utara Youth chief Lat Sharizan Abdullah.

The opposition parliamentarians also complained that security personnel did not intervene until they made noise.

Outrageous act of gangsterism

Meanwhile, the outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) condemned the Umno Youth mob for carrying out an outrageous act of gangsterism.

Its local leader RS Thanenthiran also criticised the police for not protecting a MP when he was openly threatened by a group of political mobsters from Umno.

“The policemen should all be suspended immediately pending investigations into the ugly episode.

“The police chief should punish the security personnel for negligence of duty,” he said, recalling the police high handed tactics to quell Hindraf rose campaign during Valentine’s Day in 2008.

“Compared with the police lukewarm response against yesterday’s mobsters, the police were aggressive and abrasive against Hindraf supporters during the peaceful rose campaign where even women and children were not spared from police brutality.

“This is double standards practiced by the police,” Thanenthiran told Malaysiakini. Mkini

Pakatan not averse to unity government as long as it is under Pak Lah

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

By Wong Choon Mei

A call by the Islamic-based PAS for the formation of a unity government to put aside unnecessary negative politicking and focus national resources and attention on weathering the economic crisis has the full backing of the Pakatan Rakyat.

However, there is one all-important condition.

“Broadly speaking, Pakatan is agreeable with the idea and principle of a unity government given the uncharted economic uncertainty facing the nation,” said KeADILan information chief Tian Chua.

“But we are agreeable only, and only if the unity government is under Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. You can see for yourself, it is becoming quite clear, the people are uncomfortable with Najib, and we have to abide by their wishes.”

Put aside differences until next general election

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had told the Malaysian Insider that Barisan Nasional could not on its own pull Malaysia out from the economic crisis.

“To do it fairly it must involve all parties, in times of crisis it is important for all of to carry out our duties collectively,” said Hadi.

“I wish to suggest to the outgoing Prime Minister to make some changes, to at least complete his agenda in reforming the judiciary, eradicating corruption and I believe Barisan Nasional cannot do it alone.”

Abdullah is due to step down in favour of his deputy Najib Abdul Razak, who is also Finance Minister on March 31.

Although the Umno-led Barisan Nasional  no longer commands its long-held two-thirds majority in Parliament, it still has sufficient majority to push through many programmes.

However, the problem lies with the growing unpopularity and public distrust for Najib, who angered many Malaysians earlier this month with a questionable power grab in Perak state, which led to the outbreak of open hostilities between the Pakatan and Umno-BN coalitions.

When news surfaced early last month that not a single initiative from a RM7 billion economic stimulus plan unveiled on Nov 4 had been implemented yet, public disquiet grew. Only then were steps hurriedly taken to push out RM5 billion in projects disbursements.

Disclosures from his own cabinet colleagues that chunks of that stimulus allocation were also to be used to fund states where there were by-elections were taking place further fuelled public distaste for his methods, reminiscent of those employed by his mentor – ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad and former economic adviser Daim Zainuddin.

Guilty or not, calls have been growing from the public as well as from civil society for Abdullah to stay on and keep an eye on the economy and the national coffers, as the nation prepares to spend unprecedented billions to mitigate what will clearly be its worst economic crisis ever.

Tindakan Ganas Pemuda Umno Cemari Demokrasi Berparlimen

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

KUALA LUMPUR, 27 FEBRUARI (SK) – TINDAKAN Pemuda Umno yang menceroboh demokrasi Parlimen dikecam hebat oleh pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat yang mengambarkan tindakan itu biadap dan ganas.

Menurut Ketua Pembangkang, Anwar Ibrahim,  beliau kesal dan mengecam keras tindakan yang dilakukan oleh Pemuda Umno itu.

“Kami mengutuk keras tindakan biadap dan ganas seperti ini dan jika ia dibenarkan akan membahayakan keselamatan ahli Parlimen.

“Kita mahu tindakan segera dan jaminan daripada pihak polis dan kerajaan supaya kemuliaan dewan dan kebebasan ahli-ahli Parlimen terjamin,” katanya dalam satu laporan media.

Semalam, kira-kira pada jam 3 petang, 13 ahli dari Pemuda Umno dari Bahagian Petaling Jaya Utara dan Gombak mengepung Pengerusi Kebangsaan DAP, Karpal Singhyang baru tiba di pintu masuk utama ke bangunan Parlimen.

Menurut laporan media, Ketua Umno Bahagian Petaling Jaya Utara, Latt Sharizan Abdul dan Ketua Pemuda Umno Bahagian Gombak, Megat Zulkarnain Amiruddin mengepung ahli Parlimen Bukit Gelugor itu sambil meminta Karpal mengakui ada menyebut perkataan “Pemuda Umno celaka” dan meminta maaf kepada mereka.

Mengulas mengenai tindakan ini, Ahli Parlimen Balik Pulau yang juga Exco Angkatan Muda KeADILan, Yusmadi Yusoff berkata tindakan berkenaan adalah menunjuk sikap ketidakmatangan berpolitik oleh ahli Umno berkenaan.

Tindakan berkenaan, menurut Yusmadi, telah mencemari imej parlimen yang kini dilihatnya sebagai satu institusi yang gah setelah tsunami politik Mac tahun lalu.

“Rakyat telah memberi kepercayaan kepada Ahli-ahli Parlimen, dan saya yakin sesama ahli parlimen mampu menguruskan masalah ini, namun kebiadapan Pemuda Umno yang menyerang Karpal telah mencemarkan imej Parlimen,” katanya lagi.

Sementara itu, Ahli Parlimen Ipoh Timur, Lim Kit Siang meminta agar Perdana Menteri yang juga Presiden Umno Abdullah Ahmad Badawi serta Hishammuddin Tun Hussein meminta maaf atas apa yang terjadi kepada Karpal hari ini.

“Saya minta Abdullah dan Hishammuddin meminta maaf secara terbuka atas apa yang berlaku ke atas Karpal hari ini (semalam). Mereka patut minta Pemuda Umno berhenti daripada mengamalkan tindakan ‘gangsterism’ ke atas Ahli Parlimen pembangkang.

“Mereka (Pemuda Umno) telah melanggar undang-undang negara dan akta di Parlimen,” katanya yang dipetik media.

Cowed MACC’s image is in tatters even before its official launch

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

ON Monday, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) charged four people with various offences ranging from receiving bribes and making false reports – perhaps with a reason too. This turn of events has been seen by some as a prelude to the official launch of the MACC yesterday. But cynics have a right to call these attempts to right a wrong which was done on Friday when it announced that it had enough evidence to press charges against Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

However one looks at the events of the past five days, all the hard work, time, effort and money spent on giving the anti-graft body a new image has gone down the drain. By going into over-drive and charging someone with offences allegedly committed in one case, at least six years ago, cannot mitigate the highly-publicised press conference on Friday. Let’s put the matter in the right perspective – corrupt practices cannot be condoned irrespective of who does it – the government or the Opposition; the director- general or the office boy. It would be a folly to say that some of the charges are politically-motivated.

But by jumping the gun and announcing the evidence against Abdul Khalid, the MACC has turned its back on its own policies, if not rules.

On May 23, 2006, I shared the same platform with the then ACA’s research and planning director Sutinah Sutan at a seminar on corruption in local government. I had gone on a tirade because the agency was dragging its feet on several high-profile cases. I then posed this question: Do I as a complainant have a right to know the progress of investigations into a case I reported?

Sutinah unequivocally declared: The ACA is not obliged to update complainants on the progress of investigations unless it receives an official letter seeking such information.

That was not the first time I had locked horns with the ACA top-brass. A year earlier, I had a lively debate with its former chief, Datuk Seri Zulkipli Mat Nor, on his numerous lawatan sambil belajar (which he had admitted to) at a forum chaired by the former chief justice, Datuk Annuar Zainal Abidin.

After our public spat, Zulkipli in a conversation with colleague Terence Fernandez last remarked that “senior ACA officers are unhappy with what Nades is writing. And because the ACA reports directly to the prime minister, these criticisms are also directed at the PM.”

If dropping names was the previous chief’s forte to get us off his back, he failed miserably. No, the PM took no umbrage to the criticisms when Terence and I interviewed him last November. On the contrary, he wanted support for his reforms which included the setting up of the MACC.

Even before the MACC was set up, we had always co-operated with law enforcement agencies.

As late as three months ago, we gave the then ACA a dossier on a minister’s questionable practices. While on an official trip to Japan and Hawaii, the minister’s personal trainer was on the same flight. His expenses were paid by a supplier to one of the agencies under the ministry. The dossier contained the flight details, exchange of e-mails between the travel agency and the supplier and even copies of a cheque and payment vouchers. We did not pick these documents out of thin air and neither did they arrive in brown envelopes as they usually do. They were and still are available in the public domain – at the High Court Registry. These documents were produced in a civil suit.

As outlined in last Wednesday’s column, there are many other cases which the ACA or now, the MACC, has yet to provide progress reports. Yet, on Friday, there was an update on Abdul Khalid’s case. Don’t misunderstand me. I would be the last to stand up for a public figure who is corrupt and neither am I saying he is innocent.

Three days before its official launch, MACC’s image is in tatters. However hard it tries to justify its actions, public perception will not change. Despite all its claims to be “truly independent”, people will continue to view it as an arm of the ruling party. The debates in the “Letters to the editor” columns in the print media and in cyber space are testimony to this.

How can MACC repair the damage? Crisis management specialists will give the same advice that we, the lesser mortals, can offer: Come clean by telling the truth. There’s no other way. The flurry of prosecutions can continue but they will not nullify the wrongs of the previous week. No one can read the mind of the MACC chief who called for the press conference. No amount of self-righteous statements by those associated with the MACC is going to change public perception.

The MACC shot itself in the foot and it has to nurse the wound which may heal, but the scar will remain. The pain must be unbearable but that’s the price one pays for one’s follies. The Sun

R. Nadeswaran is editor (special and investigative) reporting at theSun. He can be reached at citizen-nades@thesundaily.com.

mca top two fight intensified: Chua to revive MCA’s Team A

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

The uneasy relationship between MCA president Ong Tee Keat and his deputy Dr Chua Soi Lek is in the public spotlight again – this time the speculation is on Chua’s purported plan to revive the so-called Team A in the party.

MCPX

The rumoured revival of Team A led by former MCA president Dr Ling Liong Sik during the MCA crisis of 2000 by Chua is seen as the first step in the move to oust Tee Keat as president.

The purported plan for the revived Team A is to wait for Tee Keat to make a serious mistake, after which they will call for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the party to remove the president.

In the previous Team A – Team B tussle, Chua Soi Lek, Donald Lim and Ong Ka Chuan were members of Team A. That ‘brotherhood’ ended last October when the trio contested against each other for the deputy president’s post – which was won by Chua.

However, reviving Team A is easier said than done. It is not that plain sailing for the ambitious trio to come back together and work as a team. According to a source from the pro-Chua camp, Lim and Ka Chuan have not agreed to stand together with Chua against Tee Keat.

In last October’s party polls, Lim suffered a humiliating defeat garnering only 10 percent of the total votes cast. This put a question mark on his grassroots support. The only way for him to regain power is to fight side-by-side with Chua.

“Lim does not have much of a choice, because it is pretty obvious that Tee Keat was just using him,” said the source from the pro-Chua group.

On the other hand, Ka Chuan has more choices compared to Lim as he is holding a ministerial post, giving him less reason to support Chua at this stage. He is also hoping to retain his cabinet post.

Another source from MCA told Malaysiakini that the possibility of Chua and Ka Chuan working together will depend on whether Chua has forgiven former president Ong Ka Ting, Ka Chuan’s brother, whom his (Chua’s) supporters had blamed for the video sex scandal.

“If Chua wants to work with the Ong brothers, he will have to let go of this issue, which is not easy at all.”

Focus is on EGM date

Many Chinese dailies have reported that the “Anti-Ong Tee Keat” team has started collecting signatures from party delegates in preparation for the vote of no-confidence against the president. The focus is on when is the best time to call for the EGM.

According to the source, the biggest challenge for the ‘Anti-Ong’ team is that they have no reason to call for EGM as Tee Keat has not made any significant mistakes. That the president did not show support to his deputy on the video sex scandal is not a valid reason, it said.

“The only thing they can do now is to wait for Tee Keat to make a ‘serious’ mistake and use it as a reason to call for EGM,” said the source.

The source further analyses that after DPM Najib Abdul Razak takes over as prime minister in April and the impending cabinet reshuffle will be the time and occasion to watch. If Tee Keat did not appoint Chua or other elected leader as ministers, the ‘Anti-Ong’ team can call for EGM on the basis that Tee Keat did not respect the  delegates’ decision.

The pro-Chua camp also confirmed that the ‘Anti-Ong’ action will be determined on the cabinet reshuffle. He also mentioned that they have already started collecting signatures .

“We will be ready before the cabinet reshuffle.”

However, there is also another school of thought. MCA insiders are saying that the threat by the pro-Chua group to call for EGM is meant to induce Tee Keat to appoint Chua as a minister.

Tee Keat is also aware that it is not easy for his opponents to request for EGM as all his men are holding key positions in the party and shooting down the idea of the EGM is not that difficult.

Cowed MACC, do us proud?

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

WHEN it comes to dispelling a doubt as to whether one is doing the right thing, always apply the reasonable man’s test. This was one of the first things you learn in the lessons on application of the law.

Hence, public perception should and ought to count for something as we would like to consider that the majority of people are reasonable folk with a clear definition of right and wrong.

The letters we receive as columnists are testament to the views and thinking of the larger population and I would like to reproduce two of them to show that people are observant and articulate about the goings on around them and do not suffer fools lightly.

First is a note from Kalai on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC):

MACC seems to be the flavour of the week, having scored a hat-trick of sorts with Nades and yourself writing about it in the last three days! After all the hype before and after the passage of the MACC Bill in Parliament, the MACC has come out to be the same powerless wimp as the former ACA. MACC will be able to deliver only when its leadership is made of people of high integrity and courage to do what needs to be done without being beholden to their political masters.

When corruption is readily assimilated as a culture by the political parties, as was seen in BN readily accepting the two assemblymen charged with corruption, to force the change of government in Perak, then corruption only breeds more corruption with everyone having a finger in the pie.

The list of corruption cases highlighted by theSun to the then ACA and now renamed as MACC is staggering, involving many in high places, yet not one big fish was netted.

So, when the chief of MACC declares that it has a strong case to indict the current Selangor MB on a petty case of cows and car, investigated in super speed record time, what does that tell you of his independence from his political masters?

Will the MACC chief come out with the same gusto to explain why a Malaysian pilot convicted in Australia for child pornography was not investigated by the local police nor was he sacked by his employers? He can punch his chest and announce to all and sundry that he is acting without fear and favour but the shallowness of his actions on the eve of the official launch of MACC is clear for all to see that he is in fact acting with fear and favour.

Until we can have brave men and women of high principle and integrity who are not beholden to any political master and stand on high moral grounds heading the MACC, corruption is here to stay.

What Kalai articulates is worth pondering. Action at the end of the day, speaks louder than words. And the MACC for all its fanfare has yet to prove itself.

One wonders if it will embark on its investigation into the dodgy property deals in Mecca purportedly linked to the previous Selangor mentri besar, as it speedily did on the cows-and-car investigation on the present mentri besar; as well as the allegations of abuse of power against the Perak state assembly speaker.<

The people are watching and waiting with bated breath. And if Citizen Nades and I seem to be harping on the MACC, it is not because we lack issues. It is just that the MACC cannot go down the same path as it did when it was the Anti-Corruption Agency.

All the hoopla surrounding this new and improved agency with five tiers of checks-and-balances will amount to nothing but a big fat expensive joke.

In the meantime, I suspect even the Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat speakers must now watch themselves as there seems to be no such thing as absolute privilege which we all assumed were accorded to speakers of the legislative assemblies.

I also received an interesting email from a reader in Subang Jaya about my last column on politics and schools. I would like to share excerpts of Retired School Teacher’s letter with you:

I would like to draw your attention to what (deputy education minister) Datuk Wee Ka Siong said that there was no letter from MOE (Ministry of Education) to stop schools from inviting (Pakatan Rakyat) PR leaders in the states run by PR.

Last year after the general election, school principals in Selangor were briefed by the Selangor Education Department director that they were not allowed to invite Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders for any school function nor hang the new MB’s photo in schools. They were told that the order came from MOE. MOE did not issue a circular to schools about this. However, it is understood that any school head going against the order will be duly punished in different ways, such as transfer to a less prestigious school, not considered for promotion, etc. Teachers will also face the same fate.

As such, in SRK(C) Sin Ming’s case, it is not surprising that the teachers and headmaster did not turn up for the event for fear of repercussion.

Of course, without evidence, one cannot accuse Wee or the ministry of playing partisan politics. But herein lies the problem. They cannot escape public perception. The fact that the entire teaching staff was absent during the ceremony indicates that an order did come from somewhere. So they still have a lot of explaining to do.

Hey, the mentri besar is coming to your school lah! As the son of a retired headmaster myself I can vouch that it will be all hands on deck when a VIP comes a-visiting.

As my dad served in Kelantan I remember the number of times he found himself in the middle of political spats between some of the Barisan Nasional-affiliated civil service and the VIPs from PAS.

To solve his problem, he stopped inviting VIPs from both camps to school functions limiting the guests of honour to the mosque imam and former students who had done well in life. At the end of the day, I think our children are better off looking up to such individuals rather than so-called grown-ups who let petty partisanship blot their responsibilities. The Sun

Terence promises NOT to touch on the MACC next week. He is deputy editor (special reports & investigations) and can be reached at terence@thesundaily.com.

umno youth’s mobs attacked OKU in Parliament

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

umno-samseng-important-photo

umno-samseng-important-photo2

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 26, 2009): Wheelchair-bound DAP chairman Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) had a scare when 22 Selangor Umno Youth members surrounded him as he arrived for parliament proceedings at 2.45pm today.

The group demanded that he apologise for alleging that Umno Youth had threatened him by sending him live cartridges.

“My assistant was wheeling me from Parliament’s block tower to the House when a group of people rushed up and started abusing me (verbally), threatening me and insisting that I apologise.

“I told them there was no question of apology and I told them to back off as I have my duty and no one should obstruct me. They became more menacing and reached  a point of nearly hitting me.

“I called for the police but nobody came,” he told reporters in parliament lobby.

Karpal, said N. Gobalakrishnan  (PKR-Padang Serai), Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut) and Fong Kui Lun (DAP-Bukit Bintang) rushed to his aid after they were told that he was surrounded by Umno Youth members.

“They were pushed around and abused. This is something that should not happen in Parliament. We have no time for gangsters to come here and threaten MPs. I regret that the police did not carry out their duty just now.

“The commotion should have attracted the police officers on duty but no one came to help.

Although I am on a wheelchair, I will not be cowed or intimidated by anyone,” he said, adding that something must be done urgently to prevent such gangsterism in Parliament.

“Where is the security? I want the Speaker (Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia) to take action as rhetoric in the House is not enough and I hope he will do the necessary after this,” added Karpal.

Pandikar Amin advised Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar  Ibrahim to be patient and have confidence in him when the matter was raised by the  Opposition in the House right after the incident.

Giving the assurance that he will ensure the safety of Parliamentarians he said it does not require the police to chase away individuals who posed threats to MPs as he, the Speaker, had the right to order anyone to leave Parliament.

Anwar told reporters in Parliament lobby: “We (Pakatan Rakyat) regret and condemn such acts of intimidation of MPs. We told the Speaker that a mere assurance was not sufficient.

“We want immediate action to be taken, including the assurance from the police and the government to ensure the safety and freedom of MPs.”

“I want to tell Barisan Nasional and Umno MPs not to make it (the commotion) a beginning with Karpal as it will spread to other people as well,” he added.

Meanwhile, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) said: what happened was shameful and outrageous.

“In the history of Malaysian parliament, it has never happened before in the past 51 years. It is a violation of the sanctity of Parliament.”

Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club chairman (BNBBC) chairman Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, who went to persuade the Umno Youth members to leave Parliament, also apologised to his colleagues who were involved in the commotion because no matter who is right or wrong, such a thing should not happen in Parliament.

“We should respect the law and should not provoke each other (during such incidents). We will investigate and talk to the Speaker on enhancing security to protect MPs,” he added.

Karpal Singh’s son, Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong), and Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Bukit Bendera) , who left the House to find out about the commotion outside, were also threatened and challenged by the Umno Youth members to a fight.

Both parties were separated by security officers.

The group only left the compound after all DAP MPs had left. The Sun

Unexpected Abdullah respite for toll hikes & bn continue with its infamous FLIP FLOP policy

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

By Wong Choon Mei

In a move aimed at pacifying commuters and consumer groups, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has stepped in, promising a cabinet review of the proposed toll rate hike on five of Malaysia’s biggest highways.

”People are having difficulties. The situation is not right for a toll hike,” Abdullah said. The cabinet will meet today.

Citing contractual obligations to the concessionaires, Works Minister Mohd Zin Mohamed had announced hikes of between five and 33 percent on the much-travelled North-South Expressway, Sprint Highway, Ampang Elevated Highway, Sungai Besi Highway and New Pantai Expressway.

The move was immediately panned by analysts, who worried the increased cost burden to consumers would create a wider negative knock-effect on the fragile economy, just starting to taste its first bite of what is clearly going to be its worst crisis ever.

It also shunted attention onto the concession agreements, which were signed during former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s time in power. Recently declassified, these agreement had thrown up huge question-marks as to whether Mahathir’s administration had intended to benefit the Malaysian public or the firms that owned the concession operators.

Past legacy must not be allowed to be perpetuated

As his protege, finance minister and deputy premier Najib Abdul Razak prepares to succeed Abdullah, there is growing fear that Najib too will perpetuate the legacy of mega projects and privatisation deals favoured by Mahathir and his adviser Daim Zainuddin.

“Tolls have been going up and up. The burden on the people is always looming. Given this scenario, it is best that the federal government seriously review all concession toll road agreements and re-nationalise where possible,” said Azrul Azwa, economist at Bank Islam.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders and consumer groups have been urging Najib to re-negotiate toll deals to prevent Malaysians from being held ransom to exorbitant charges, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

For example, the DAP has already unveiled a proposal that if properly implemented could make the North-South Expressway toll-free by 2016.

Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim too has challenged federal authorities over the price to be paid to buy over the state’s water assets from four major consortia, who have thumbed their noses at his RM5.7 billion offer.

That has not stopped Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd – a unit of the Finance Ministry – from offering these firms a higher price and a widely speculated yet-to-be-disclosed sweetener to one of them – which purportedly has links to Umno. If accepted, Selangor people can expect higher water costs in the future, although it may be smoothened out in the immediate term.

Good intervention but deeper revamp is needed

Whatever his reasons behind this U-turn, Abdullah can expect some praise for intervening. However, the applause will be short-lived unless he insists that Najib undertakes serious and transparent revamping of all the toll road concessions.

“The situation has now changed, and the economy has not become better as yet, which was why we recently decided to introduce the second stimulus package or the mini-budget. I feel that this matter needs to be discussed again in the cabinet,” said Abdullah.

“The decision may come in the form of measures that will included in the second stimulus package or through some other measures. I think that’s the best we can do – do a review and decide on whatever that is appropriate.”

The BN media has already tried to deflect public opinion by attributing the criticism to Pakatan groups, yet BN lawmakers have just as vocally condemned the increases.

Some financial papers too have argued that ownership of these concession-holding firms have long changed hands and may not be linked to Daim or Mahathir or Najib anymore.

It is hard to say given that many of the restructuring deals undertaken in recent years, even by the largest government-linked companies, were transacted more with the intention to benefit their own top management and corporate bankers with fat fees and kickbacks, rather than to really make the firms leaner and meaner for the ultimate benefit of Malaysian consumers.

Perhaps the best way forward for the country is in proposals and initiatives such as those put forth by the DAP and Khalid, where the emphasis is on transparency and simplicity and the purpose is to benefit all Malaysians – not just a select few.

With so much talent among the professionals, ideas should be wooed and views welcomed from all. Even if not adopted in full, the contribution in part or in spirit would still be positive for Malaysia.

In fact, as the nation prepares to spend unprecedented billions in the name of economic recovery, it particularly behoves the Malaysians who are educated and skilled to keep a look out on what is happening and insist that the future of all in this country is protected and not siphoned out. SK