Archive for March, 2009

PKR candidate hits back at detractors

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

SUNGAI PETANI (March 31, 2009) : PKR’s candidate in the Bukit Selambau state by-election, S. Manikumar, has hit back at his detractors for criticising his selection, accusing them of harbouring a personal agenda against him.

The 35-year old entrepreneur, who speaks fluent Kedah-style Malay and has been a member of the party’s Merbok division for the last two years, said he was merely answering the call to serve the reformation movement under PKR to the best of his abilities.

“I cannot please everyone. They (his critics) have their own styles. We have our own principles and dignity,” he said at the PKR centre in Sungai Lalang here.

Manikumar said the PKR leadership may have opted for him because of his education, international business exposure and the fact that he was close to the local Malays, Indians, Chinese and even Siamese.

An MBA holder from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), the Spanish-speaking entrepreneur has served as a consultant to a Thai multi-national concern and has been an active member of the Kedah Indian Chamber of Commerce.

“There were 18 candidates who were shortlisted (by PKR). They selected me,” he said.

“If I had not been chosen, I would be supporting the candidate who was.”

Manikumar, who had been seemingly reserved in giving comments before this, grew visibly impassioned yesterday as the tide of campaigning intensified just two days after nominations.

He said his vision was to help the people cast aside their ethnic differences. “If we Malaysians were to take away our racial differences, no one can compete against us,” he said.

He said there were also numerous infrastucture issues that needed to be addressed in Bukit Selambau.

PKR supreme council member Dr Xavier Jayakumar questioned the party’s former Jerai division head, B. Kalainavar, for choosing the occasion of the by-election to announce his resignation and criticise the party leadership.

“We had no problems with him before. But if he uses the occasion of this by-election to come out of the party and express dissatisfaction with the candidate, thenhe must indeed have an agenda,” Jayakumar said.

He said other PKR members were not disappointed with the party’s choice of Manikumar and would give him their full support.

Jeyakumar said that contrary to Kalainavar’s reported assertion that some 500 party members from the Jerai division and state had resigned, he found only 20 had done so.

“We won’t be short of supporters in Bukit Selambau. Our spirit s are high,” he said. The Sun

Selangor gears for water battle

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

SHAH ALAM (March 31, 2009) : Selangor is gearing up for a battle against water tariff hikes if the federal government returns water operations in the state back to concessionnaire Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas).

For now, the state is asking for arbitration of the matter with all parties concerned and if all else fails, it is prepared to take the matter to court.

On a report that the Cabinet will discuss today (Wed) whether a scheduled tariff hike should be allowed, Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said there should not be any unilateral increase of tariffs.

“If the Energy, Water and Telecommunications Ministry wants to allow the tariff increase, they should meet the state through arbitration as provided for in the concession agreement,” he said, adding that discussions should include the state and Federal governments and the water concessionnaire.

“From this, we can decide if a water tariff hike is justified.”

The scheduled tariff hike of 31% (brought down from the original 37%) was supposed to kick in on Jan 1 but was postponed to April 1 to allow the state to initiate a takeover of the water concessionnaire’s equities. However, the negotiations seem to have stalemated.

Abdul Khalid hoped the Federal government will take on the state government’s suggestion to restructure the industry so that water tariffs can be brought down instead of the scheduled hikes, if the concession companies take over.

Earlier, the state had found that the concession companies failed to adhere to the terms in the contract and that it had failed to follow guidelines stipulated in the concession agreement, like conducting direct negotiations instead of via open tender.

“Syabas has also failed to keep to its end of its deal to reduce non-revenue water (NRW) in the state,” he added.

He said the state had already requested that the Federal government terminate the contract but there has been no response so far. “We are ready to initiate legal action as a last resort.”

Selangor had made an offer of RM5.71 billion to the four water concession companies Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd, Syabas, Konsortium Abbas Sdn Bhd (Abbas) and Syarikat Pengeluar Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) to take over the water concession on Feb 13.

However, on Feb 18, two days before the deadline for the concession companies to respond to the state’s offer, the Energy Water and Communications Ministry via Span CEO Datuk Teo Yen Hua announced that the Federal Government would negotiate directly with Selangor water concessionaires via the Finance Ministry-owned Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd (PAAB).

PAAB offered RM6 billion to take over just the assets of the company. Under the asset light model, companies which migrate to the water licensing regime under the restructuring, need not worry about loans for assets as these will be undertaken by PAAB.  The Sun

Tilting under the bulk of Balkis

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

TODAY, this newspaper stands vindicated. The events of the past week at the Selangor State Secretariat have yet again showed that theSun lives up to its motto – Telling It As It Is. When Terence Fernandez and I exposed the excesses of the Association of Wives of Elected Representatives in Selangor (Balkis) last year, everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Certain sections of the media were used to discredit us and even threats of legal action were made. Two police officers turned up in the office to find out our sources of information. Our independence and integrity were questioned. Since our reports were accompanied with documents, there were also suggestions that we had breached the law but these documents were not classified. Demands that these documents be made available were made but we soldiered on.

The Balkis story started on April 25 last year when we reported: Three days after their husbands lost power to rule Selangor, the wives got into the act – plotting to dissolve a welfare body and remove almost RM10 million from its bank accounts. According to documents sighted by theSun, Datin Seri Zaharah Kechik, the wife of former mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo had on March 11 convened an extraordinary general meeting of the committee to dissolve Balkis and close its bank accounts. The following day, the accounts were closed, with the money transferred to another account and then to Bakti – the federal Organisation of Wives of Ministers which Balkis is affiliated to.

Three days later, we exposed yet other wrongdoings: While their husbands went on “lawatan sambil belajar”, the wives were not to be outdone. Shopping trips, overseas junkets and lavish functions have been the hallmark of activities of Balkis. Nothing wrong with the junkets, except that their excesses were paid for by the state government and private donors, who contributed money thinking that it was going to good causes. In the eight years that Khir Toyo has been mentri besar, Zaharah, who headed Balkis has led delegations on trips to Europe, Hongkong and Australia.

On the same day Zaharah called for a press conference where she read from a prepared text to “negate baseless accusations hurled against Balkis. Zaharah went as far as saying: “If further allegations are made, we the former office bearers will not hesitate to initiate legal action.” The Star quoted Dr Khir as saying that Balkis operated in a transparent manner with members allowed to bring forth ideas to help underprivileged groups in the state, and it served as a sanctuary for wayward young women.

However last week, the proceedings of the Selangor State Assembly’s Special Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) put in public domain the bitter truth – exactly what we reported almost a year earlier. The excesses of Balkis and some of its members were laid bare for all to see. The whole country knew what members of Balkis were up to – they used money from state-owned companies to travel overseas on business class for sightseeing. Even their shopping bills were taken care of. Instead of money going to welfare and charity, the bulk went for personal gains and these companies as rightly put by Selcat chairman, Tang Chang Khim acted as tukang bayar (paymasters). In short, some Balkis members used these companies as their personal and private bank. How else could Zaharah get Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd (PNSB) to pay for her trip to visit her son in Australia?

But there were some gems in the proceedings. Take the “repentance” programme carried out by Balkis in Cambodia. PNSB chief Datin Khairiyah Abu Hassan said the programme was to make people “repent”. Spending people’s money on such outrageous activities borders on absurdity and yet, without raising an eye brow, PNSB parted with the money.

Coming to the dissolution of Balkis, something does not compute. Was a meeting called in accordance with its constitution to dissolve the organisation? I don’t think so. Zaharah, in her capacity as the former president (emphasis is the writer’s), has no power of dissolution.

According to the Balkis constitution, it can only be dissolved by two-thirds of the members at a special meeting convened at the request of at least one-fifth of “ordinary members”.

The constitution is clear on such special meetings and it states it must be held within 30 days of receiving notice of such a requisition. It goes on to say that the notice and agenda of the meeting must be sent out by the secretary to members giving them 14 days’ notice. Let’s work backwards. If the meeting was held on March 11, the notice must have been given on Feb 25 – at the latest. But her husband, then the mentri besar, was going around campaigning on the lines of “Zero Opposition” in Selangor”! Did Zaharah get a written requisition from one fifth of the members on Feb 11 – when Parliament was not even dissolved? Unless of course, some wives knew that their husbands won’t be occupying the seats of power!

So, where do we go from here? Teng has categorically stated there is no offender or accused in Selcat’s inquiry and those who are being called up are only witnesses requested to come forward and help identify weaknesses in order to strengthen the state’s administration.

The police or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), he said, cannot use information gathered at the inquiry against any of the witnesses because the witnesses were protected by the immunity of the House guaranteed by the state’s legislation.

But such a stand should not prevent law enforcement authorities from initiating their own investigations with a view to bring wrongdoers to book.

The evidence presented at the hearings suggests that criminal offences were committed and that there was abuse of power. While everyone is talking about good governance, wouldn’t it be a right time to start in Selangor? After all, isn’t it the country’s first fully developed state?

The Sun

R. Nadeswaran has every reason to feel elated. After bearing the brunt of criticism for having a personal agenda, what he exposed was the truth and nothing but the truth. He is editor (special and investigative reporting) at theSun. He can be reached at: citizen-nades@thesundaily.com

Come Home To Vote – One Vote for Pakatan is One for our Future: 7 April 09 – Bkt Selambau, Bkt Gantang & Batang Ai

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

Mediarakyat

Ban “Altantuya” name – najib Altantuya crackdown bordering on najib Altantuya madness

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , , , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

With Datuk Seri Najib Razak all set to be sworn in as the sixth Prime Minister on Friday, all stops are off for a Najib crackdown – the latest being the ban on a Mongolian name, Altantuya Shariibuu, from public discourse.

When I said yesterday that Najib’s ascension as the next Prime Minister marks an enveloping darkness descending in all fronts of human rights, as hardly a day passes in the past fortnight without a new encroachment and erosion of the fundamental liberties whether freedom of speech, expression, assembly, association or the right to information, I had not expected to be vindicated again within 24 hours.

Sad. Very sad. It would appear as if Malaysia has not become enough of an international laughing stock in recent times chalking up a lengthening list of most shameful episodes, like

• the unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak orchestrated by Najib;

• wheelchair-bound DAP National Chairman and Bukit Gelugor Member of Parliament, Karpal Singh mobbed by Selangor Umno Youth goons in the parliamentary precincts interfering and menacing him from carrying out his parliamentary duties and subsequently charged in court with sedition for stating what all law lecturers teach in the law schools in the country that Rulers are subject to the law and can be brought to court in their official and personal capacities;

• the one-year suspension of DAP MP for Puchong, Gobind Singh Deo without parliamentary pay and privileges without giving him the right to be heard;

• my suspension from Parliament for saying that Umno is “gila kuasa” –which Umno President Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said as much in his farewell Umno presidential address the next day and which one Umno delegate adopted in the Umno Assembly general debate to pinpoint the causes of Umno’s downfall;

• the three-month suspension of Harakah and Suara Keadilan;

• Police and MACC violation of the doctrine of the separation of powers in harassing the Perak State Assembly Speaker and Perak State Assembly members for performing their State Assembly functions; and only two nights ago,

• the arrest of DAP Perak State Assemblyman for Tebing Tinggi Ong Boon Piaw for producing the “Democracy Tree” DVD.

What makes Najib think that getting the police to ban the mention of “Altantunya Shariibuu” in the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections will end and release him from being haunted and hounded by serious swirling allegations about his suitability, integrity and legitimacy as the nation’s Prime Minister, particularly over the Altantuya Shariibuu murder case?

Will “Altantuya Shariibuu” become an unparliamentary term, justifying an MP to be suspended for a prolonged period or even expulsion for uttering the unspeakable Mongolian name?

Instead of quelling and quashing the swirling questions and allegations as to his role in the Altantuya Shariibuu murder case, the ridiculous ban on any mention of the Mongolian name will only have the effect of giving the questions and allegations a high-octane boost – giving even greater life, force and potency to them.

The Najib crackdown is bordering on a Najib madness – and all this even before Najib is sworn in as Prime Minister on Friday!

Lim Kit Siang

The Global Economic Crisis and the Future of Asean

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS AND THE FUTURE OF ASEAN
(Keynote Address by Anwar Ibrahim at Chulalongkorn University, March 30th 2009)

When I first uttered the unutterable in Hong Kong sometime late last year that Hayek is history I was then bombarded with accusations of having turned my back on Adam Smith. Not too long later however, we heard reluctant acquiescence from liberal institutions that the free-market principles that guided American financial development would no longer count as biblical injunctions.

In the presence of such an erudite audience today, let me take the liberty to indulge further in the discourse. Just to be clear, I make no claim to pioneering new ideas but suffice to say that I am a mere commentator having had some experience in managing an economy which was also going through one of the worst financial turmoil in Asia. We need to remember only the boom-and-bust cycles articulated by the 19th century economists such as John Stuart Mill or Alfred Marshall, before we get carried away with the modern orthodoxy, which depicts financial markets as effective, stable, and self-correcting mechanisms.

The advocates of spontaneous order which had hitherto attained the level of religious orthodoxy having rammed free market strictures about self correction and deregulation are now conspicuously silent. What went wrong?

True, the reaction against command economies of the Orwellian kind as exemplified by the Soviet Union and other Communist countries in the past was well founded. But was there really a need to subscribe to a theory where absolute reliance is placed on the law of chaos? The issue here is not whether the free market system and the pricing mechanism based on competition is viable; but in stubbornly holding on to the view that markets are benign, championed by the likes of Hayek and a distinguished pedigree of Nobel laureates such as Milton Friedman and his Chicago protégés, with Alan Greenspan as the turn of the century poster boy, Wall Street enjoyed more than two decades of financial deregulation. During this time, we witnessed the unfolding of Enron, Worldcom, and so on and the Sarbanes-Oxley laws dealt only piecemeal. But what was left unchecked was the proliferation of the weapons of financial mass destruction —such as mortgage-backed securities and collateral debt obligations. In place of the earlier institutional giants, we now have on parade the largest financial institutions in the world, brought down to their knees.

The unprecedented government bail outs nailed the lie to the dictum that the State should not interfere in the free market processes. Hayek’s devotional mantra that the invisible hand will eventually work to rectify things has vaporized into mere Harry Potter hocus pocus.

The stimulus packages in America, the UK and some other EU countries are so massive that even die hard Keynesians are spoofed. It is true that the Keynesians believe that pump priming itself with the necessary checks and balances is indeed the most effective way of powering economies out of their recessionary corners but the concern we have is the unfettered adoption of polices of reducing the cost of funds to near zero, while government goes on a spending spree on even more borrowed money. The Federal Reserve and other central banks buy up Treasury bonds and other government papers in order to give that much needed shot in the arm for the economy still waiting for the invisible hand to appear. They call this “quantitative easing” but everyone knows this is just a euphemism for borrowing one’s way out of debt.

It remains to be seen whether this phase of irrational exuberance in borrowing is different from the Keynesian prescriptions to counter the 1930s Great Depression. To be sure, the once unassailable doctrine of spontaneous order has been dealt a body blow that is destined to consign it to the dustbin of economic history. That America is opting to bail out its banks and insurance companies at arbitrary values rather than allowing the law of free market supply and demand to take its course is therefore a damning indictment of its fundamental economic principles.

What then is the real lesson to be learned from this crisis?

Is this a systemic failure arising from the unbridled practice of free-market principles or is it a case of the prophetic truth coming home to roost, that is, he who sows the wind must reap the whirlwind?

One of the strongest arguments today is that deregulation has led to the current fiasco. To go further some have made the case that regulations were always there but the regulators slept on the job. Some finger pointing here is inevitable. Alan Greenspan has already been whipped. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they say, is a classic case of regulators failing to detect the cheating by accountants, something that would have been easily uncovered by a bit of fraud specific forensic accounting. It would have required just a bit more diligence perhaps but certainly it was no rocket science.

The underlying causes however must go back to the question of easy money which remained the substratum of the American political economy for the last three decades. This came on the back of a new religion of financial alchemy spawned from the fertile womb of Wall Street, a religion using sophisticated financial reengineering calculated to transform debt into wealth. This was the philosopher’s stone by which the largest economy in the world by sheer consumption alone was able to not just eke out an existence but to thrive and prosper.

To my mind, this financial maelstrom undermines not only the economic foundation but the political and moral substructure of Western capitalism. We still believe that market economies which stand solely on the feet of homo economicus are doomed to fail because the dictates of a humane economy impel us to consider ideas about right and wrong, social justice and the dignity of man. Shakespeare’s dictum against making “the orphan pine while the oppressor feeds” is a timely reminder. It must jolt us back to the issues involving the great divide between general welfare and distributive justice.

We don’t say this perched on any kind of moral high ground. It was a similar kind of profligate spending that had got us into the 1997 Asian financial crisis. And we lectured and hectored. But unlike the scenario in the U.S. there was certainly greater oversight in Asia and more regulatory control. Corruption and abuse of power featured more prominently in the case of Asia. In fact, there was a case that rogue institutions were working hand in glove with lawyers and accountants to maneuver their way through the regulatory process.

In Asia it was a case of over legislation providing a labyrinthine cover for shady and questionable transactions. And the rich were bailed out at the expense of the poor. This is where the question of accountability and transparency reigns high.

To be sure the lessons of moral hazard were relentlessly knocked on our heads in the wake of the Asian crisis and at the risk of sounding repetitive, let me say again that the massive bail outs that we are seeing today in America are nothing if not classic instances of moral hazard going bezerk, made all the more ironic considering that we are looking at the bastion of free market capitalism.

Perhaps it’s time we took another look at the factor-price equalization (FPE) theorem. We know that it was through exuberantly inflated prices of goods and services that made it possible for Americans to carry on indulging in overconsumption while the rest of the world particularly Asia had to settle for much less. As those trained in economics and international trade will tell you, this mirage will be shattered eventually as the FPE theorem sets in to bring into equilibrium the relative prices of these goods and services across the world. This may have been a tad too theoretical in the distant past but with the pace of globalization and international finance and free trade flowing the way it is now, the impact can be real.

And it is one of the great ironies that this poster nation of liberal democracy and free market capitalism is so heavily indebted to the poster nation of autocracy and command economy. Indeed it is well known that China is the biggest funder of the US federal deficit. Other Asian nations as well as Middle Eastern countries not renowned for open and liberal governments are also substantial investors.

There is the dynamics of economic self-interest and geopolitical imperatives. The question is still how long will Asian and Arab investors continue to prop up these prices?

Yes, the world has had a good five years or so of robust economic growth spearheaded no doubt by the emerging economies, but the policy shift in Asia is already under way from monetary tightening to monetary loosening. The East Asian juggernauts are moving fast with the billions in spending package proposed by Taiwan, Japan and China together with de rigueur tax cuts and interest rates lowering.

While at the start of the financial implosion, there were still brave echoes of decoupling immunity shielding Asian countries, any suggestions today would have been dismissed by the bloodbath that went on in the Asian equity markets. While it is true that generally banks in Asia are still holding up, the fact is that our economies are too closely intertwined with those in the locus of the financial meltdown. The upside of globalization that allowed export-oriented countries to thrive has a very sharp downside as well so a recession on one side of the world spreads quickly to the other. The 9% reduction in global trade predicted for this year is rendering a crushing blow to once vibrant and thriving economies.

The myth that if your exports dry up for the U.S. market there is always the emerging economies as a buyer of last resort is all but shattered. All domestic demand indices until only several weeks ago were falling. Property prices are heading south in India and construction figures in China show the steepest ever decline particularly for Shenzhen.

Growth through productivity and competitiveness remains our pathway to prosperity. It has liberated millions from the scourge of poverty and destitution and enabled our people to enjoy freedom and decent living conditions.

The temptation to explode the government bureaucracy during recessionary times must be avoided. The weight of a bloated and inefficient bureaucracy can do more harm in the long term. Money invested in entrepreneurship and stimulating the private sector will generate more value for the economy in the short and long term.

Adequate measures for ensuring good governance are essential. Government spending guided by a policy that shows little transparency in the award of contracts is a clear warning sign of mismanagement of the economy.

More importantly the spending packages that have been announced should focus on projects that are good for business and good for people. A social agenda during recessionary times would ensure that critical institutions such as public health and education are not neglected. Infrastructure development should seek growth areas in industry, public housing and strengthening transportation and communication between urban and rural areas. Fiscal intervention could then find areas to increase demand through tax cuts and incentives to hire workers and enhance their human capital through training and development.

For us in Asia, history has proven that growth through increased productivity and competitiveness is the only path to achieve prosperity. It has liberated millions from the scourge of poverty and destitution and it has enabled our people to enjoy freedom and decent living conditions. In region dominated by the economic powers of China and India the 600 million people living within Asean represent a formidable foundation upon which to regain prosperity.

It is true that our interests have never been more closely intertwined. As Asean nations buy and sell more from and to each other, as our economies become even more intimately linked by investment flows and multinational operations, and as our national borders become more porous, our fortunes will become even more inseparable and indivisible. A determined effort will be necessary to crystallize these bilateral ties into a firm and coherent pact.

A cohesive Asean regional cooperation remains an elusive goal and history has taught us that when push comes to shove Asean nations will tend towards unilateralism. This should be avoided at all costs. We would agree with Prime Minister Abhiset’s view that “As the financial crisis deepens, the world will look towards our region for action and for confidence.”

There is a greater calling that we face during these uncertain times. A looming recession and the risk of social upheaval make for a volatile political situation. Growth oriented policies that ignore the social dimension will spurn greater disenchantment. The overall societal objectives of distributive justice and fairness must not be ignored as we identify a way forward. With millions at risk of sinking into poverty as jobs become scarce the steps taken to revive ailing economies must not overlook the needs of the poor and marginalized.

We are likely to witness some leaders revive the mantra of Asian Values – that in the pursuit of economic growth the rights of the individual are peripheral. Unpopular governments would certainly need a pretext upon which they can silence dissent against policies that fail to address the problem of unemployment, poor public infrastructure and lack of quality social services.

On the contrary a prosperous Asia is merely an illusion if material wealth is subsumed in a sea of repression and denial of basic human rights. True prosperity must be accompanied by with political empowerment of the ordinary citizen. Fundamental freedoms such as the freedom from hunger, freedom from fear and exploitation, and the freedom to peacefully practice one’s religious beliefs are so basic for the growth of a truly humane society.

The growth of civil society and renewed economic prosperity will not be possible without regional stability. The political resolve to formulate an Asean pact with a mechanism to institutionalize agreements on trade, finance and human rights is necessary. This has proven no easy task but is still attainable. We must establish strong interdependibility, economic and political. The nurturing of democracy and civil society, in tandem with economic growth — for democracy and growth are not mutually exclusive — is our best guarantee of regional peace and security for future generations.

I am no one’s puppet, says Manikumar

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

By Shannon Teoh

SUNGAI PETANI, March 31 – In the absence of larger issues, the battle in Bukit Selambau has turned into a fight over seemingly minor points: is the PKR candidate a puppet?

“I am not a puppet to anyone. I have my own dignity and will serve according to the party’s struggle,” S. Manikumar said in answer to claims by various parties, including disgruntled former PKR division leaders, as talk of an internal revolt by PKR Kedah’s Indian members continue to swirl.

The talk is that he is either being controlled by Pas, the current PKR Kedah leadership, or an important business tycoon close to de facto PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

He also rubbished claims that he was earmarked for the seat even before an interview process, with rumours circulating that it is because he is related to previous incumbent V. Arumugam.

“I am not related to him whatsoever. My only contact with him was in the general elections when I helped in his campaign,” he explained.

The 35-year-old businessman also insisted that it was a fair interview process and he was probably chosen due to his academic and business qualifications, as well as his fluency in spoken Malay.

“It is all in self-interest and they have definite personal agendas. If not, why did they quit the party?” he reasoned.

This was echoed by PKR supreme council member Xavier Jeyakumar who has been camped out here and appears to be acting as Manikumar’s political advisor.

“Why now? Why choose the by-election period?” he questioned and added that “maybe they are disappointed with the candidate but I am not.”

He also wished Umno “good luck with Kalaivanar,” referring to B. Kalaivanar, the Jerai division chief who claimed to have led 356 members of his division out of the party yesterday.

Acknowledging that he has been a “passive member” in his two years as a member so far, Manikumar however insisted that now that he has been given the mandate by the party, members should back him to ensure PKR retains the seat.

“I have been receiving comments and criticism such as that I am not creative in my campaigning and I am willing to rectify my weaknesses,” said Manikumar who is regarded as a political novice.

In his campaign, Manikumar has been pushing the agenda of human development, pointing out that no matter how much infrastructure development Barisan Nasional promised, it meant nothing without the fundamental capacity-building for citizens.

“What point is an RM50 billion development if people are not developed?” he said.

He has however been distancing himself from being looked upon as merely a candidate to woo the 30 per cent Indian electorate here.

His message to voters has been to consider him a candidate for all races. Election chief for Pakatan Rakyat, Datuk Johari Abdul, has been making tongue-in-cheek comments during on-ground visits to the effect that Manikumar “sounds like a Malay, brought up as an Indian and has a business mind of a Chinese.” MI

From Suara Keadilan to Suara Keamanan

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

A new party publication is set to hit the streets today to replace the banned Suara Keadilan, announced PKR today.

The popular Suara Keadilan and PAS’ Harakah were handed a three-month suspension by the Home Ministry last week for apparently inciting hatred against the government.

The party today said that it has decided to adhere to the ban and not publish Suara Keadilan until the suspension expires.

However as a replacement, the party said that it would be coming out with a new weekly publication called Suara Keamanan.

“It will be available for our readers from today,” said Suara Keamanan‘s editorial team in a statement.

Suara Keamanan
will be published without a printing permission from the Home Ministry
as “it does not require such a permission as it is not a periodical”.

suara keamanan 310309The
newspaper’s editorial team also said that readers will be able to
purchase the new publication from the same dealers and distributors as Suara Keadilan.

The first edition of Suara Keamanan played up the three upcoming by-elections on April 7.

PKR is contesting in two of the by-elections.

The main headline of the edition says ‘Kubur BN
(BN’s grave) and carries photographs of PKR’s candidate in Bukit
Selambau S Manikumar and its Batang Ai candidate Jawah Gerang.

The front page also contained a photo of PAS’ Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin who is contesting in Bukit Selambau.

Harakah is now Hujah

On March 23, the Home Ministry suspended both Suara Keadilan and PAS’ Harakah for three months with immediate effect.

Home
Minister Syed Hamid Albar was reported as saying that the two
newspapers were suspended because they had violated the conditions of
their permits and for inciting “hatred” against the government.

According
to him, the two party organs often published articles which questioned
royalty and sensationalised news that were defamatory and aimed at
causing confusion and disharmony in society.

In a similar fashion, Harakah is also expected to launch an alternate publication named Hujah. The first issue will be out on Friday. Mkini

Claims of phantom voters surface again

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

As many as 60 voters are sharing the same address in a housing estate in Bukit Selambau and this gravely worries PKR.

The party’s deputy youth chief Fariz Musa said this was a clear sign of the existence of phantom voters in the constituency.

He further claimed that PKR found 2,215 doubtful or phantom voters in the same housing estate in Taman Bandar Baru Bangi.

He
said that the housing estate has a total of 3,544 registered voters and
the doubtful voters make up of about 63 percent of the total number of
voters in this particular locality.

“We use the Sistem Menang
Pilihan Raya (Sismep) software which found that up to 60 voters are
living in one house in the housing scheme,” he told reporters in Sungai
Petani today.

He also said that checks using the software discovered that people (voters) of various races were living under one roof.

Fariz
added that they found Malay voters and Siamese voters staying together
in the same address, just like Indians and Chinese voters too in the
same address.

He said that his team has detected 76 houses so far in the one housing estate.

Their checks were based on the addresses of voters as per the voting list released by the Election Commission.

He urged the Election Commission (EC) to take immediate action to clean the electoral roll.

Fariz
added that PKR Youth was only checking on one housing estate and would
merge the results of all the studies on phantom and doubtful voters
before handing it over to the EC.

“Later today we will go to the
house that we detected to contain the phantom and doubtful voters for
verification before sending the protest memorandum to the EC,” he said.

PKR’s S Manikumar (photo) will be facing BN/MIC’s S Ganesan and 13 other independents for the state seat on April 7.

And in Bukit Gantang…

Meanwhile,
in Bukit Gantang, Wanita Umno has discovered that more than 5,000
voters have gone missing and want the party to trace them before the
by-election.

Former Wanita Umno chief Rafidah Aziz was reported
to have said that the movement’s machinery was unable to get in touch
with these voters.

“We
have done everything possible to find out where they are, but to no
avail. We hope the party headquarters will be able to help us by
tracing them through the party registration.

“These voters are crucial for us to ensure the Barisan Nasional candidate wins,” she said yesterday.

She
added the movement’s machinery has also identified more than 4,000
voters who were working outside Perak, adding that efforts were under
way to ensure they would come back to cast their votes on polling day.

In
Bukit Gantang, Umno’s Ismail Saffian will be facing PAS’ Mohd Nizar
Jamaluddin and independent candidate Kamarul Ramizu Idris on April 7. Mkini

PKR changes battle strategy for Batang Ai

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

Opposition PKR has re-strategised its election campaign and strengthen its machinery on the ground in Batang Ai in the face of an all-out effort by the Barisan Nasional to defend the seat.

MCPX

Yesterday, visiting Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, after a two-day visit, announced the PKR candidate, four-time elected representative Jawah Gerang and Nicholas Bawin, the director of operations, will be campaigning separately in order to cover every corner of the voting districts in the sparsely-populated Batang Ai state constituency near the border with Indonesian West Kalimantan.

They are accompanied alternately by the PKR state assemblyperson for Ngemah, Gabriel Adit, who sometimes moves on his own with other party campaigners to cover other areas as well.

The other PKR state assemblyperson for Padungan, Dominique Ng, has been appointed as party adviser to Jawah and election co-ordinator for activities related to the Batang Ai by-election to ensure the party work as a team, according to Khalid.

Khalid, who left for Kuala Lumpur last night, is also PKR national vice-president and PKR Selangor chief.

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, who has been away overseas in the past few days, will be flying to Kuching tomorrow and then by road to Lubok Antu to join in the campaigning.

Jawah to cover Engkari area tomorrow

Bawin told Malaysiakini by phone from Lubok Antu today that he will be leading his group to continue their campaign in the lower Lamanak river area today.

He said Jawah will be going to the longhouses in the upper reaches, and tomorrow he will cover the Engkari area and finally the 21 Batang Ai resettlement area, seen largely as his stronghold in the last election when he stood in the state and parliamentary elections.

He said the BN campaigning team comprising Jasa, Kemas and the Agriculture Department had been active in many longhouses along the various rivers.

“It’s tough but we are confident,” was all Bawin would say when pressed to assess their chances.

The BN’s “main weapon” is seen as money for there has almost been non-stop announcements every day even before nomination day of disbursements of funds for one project after another.

And the BN campaign is also seen as largely conducted by Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu, the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) deputy president, and his PBB team with the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) team, led by state Land Development Minister, Dr James Masing.

The BN candidate Malcolm Mussen Lamoh is from PRS.

Strong backing from DAP

PKR, with the strong backing from DAP (which is working hard to get the 350 Chinese voters to swing to the opposition) and Sarawak National Party (which still enjoys some support from the Ibans) and other independent groups, are spreading out across the 150 longhouses to counter the BN propaganda.

They are also raising popular issues such as land and lack of compensation for the resettlement of people affected by the Batang Ai hydro-dam project in the 1980s.

Among personalities singled out for attack by the BN is Jawah himself whom the BN leaders said had done little in terms of development for the constituents when he was in the ruling coalition.

And the most popular figure targeted by the opposition during longhouse ceramahs is Chief Minister Taib Mahmud who they accused of not only doing little or nothing for the Dayaks, especially Ibans, but also responsible for the loss of much of their NCR land as well as accusing him and his family of amassing wealth.

Meanwhile, a former PRS leader Sng Chee Hua today issued a three-paragraph signed statement denying he was working against the interests of the BN in Batang Ai.

PRS leader Dr James Masing had accused him indirectly in local newspapers as being the towkay behind PKR in Sarawak.

The press statement by Sng said: “With reference to the recent articles in the local Chinese dailies, I would like to make it known that I have already retired from politics. As such, I no longer involve myself in party matters and I support the government of the day.”

“I am aware that certain PRS leaders who have ill-will against me from the fall-out in the party, are trying to accuse me of working against the interests of the BN in Batang Ai. This is a lie,” Sng said.

He added: “I am a BN man and I believe that the BN will deliver the seat.”

Sng said he was compelled to issue the clarification in the light of the recent allegations in the media which he described as having no basis against him.

Tony Thien, Mkini

Dayak NGO activists out in full force

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

Prior to nomination day, the Batang Ai by-election was touted as going down in history as a litmus test of PKR’s acceptance among the people of Sarawak, especially the Dayaks.

MCPX

Pundits said a victory for PKR, after its March 8, 2008 surge on the Peninsula, would trigger a chain reaction that would unhinge the existing political configuration in Sarawak, now heavily tilted in favour of Parti Bumiputera Bersatu (PPB), the dominant force in the ruling BN coalition.

Two days after nominations, another factor began staking its claim to making this by-election unique in the political annals of Sarawak.

It is said the campaign that kicked off last Sunday has seen the biggest-ever presence of non-governmental activists in an election.

Some 200 members, belonging to NGOs like the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia), Orang Ulu National Association (ONA) and various environmental groups, have descended on Lubok Antu and towns nearby like Sri Aman to lend support to the PKR campaign.

Both Sadia and ONA are NGOs devoted to community welfare of the Dayak.

According to Sadia president Sidi Munan, what is remarkable about the NGO presence is that the vast majority of the volunteers, decamping from as far as Miri and Bintulu in the north, have come on their own steam to help out.

“Never has there been such a large presence of NGO volunteers and activists in an election campaign,” remarked the 70-something Sidi, a veteran of electoral campaigns going back more than 40 years.

“There were NGO activists helping out in past campaigns but not in these numbers and that, too, self-financed to the extent as the case is in the current campaign,” he said.

“Campaigning in Sarawak is not an inexpensive affair. The logistics alone can take a big chunk out of the wallet,” he added.

Just a few days’ involvement in the Batang Ai campaign can wise up anybody unacquainted with the distances that have to be covered and the costs involved.

What accounts for the large NGO presence?

“They must feel that this is a critical election, otherwise they won’t be here in such numbers,” offered Sidi.

Last three days to be decisive

Like Sidi, many of the Sadia members present in this campaign have personal links to several longhouses in the Batang Ai constituency where they have been involved in work for the community.

These links were forged in connection with work defending the Dayaks’ claim to Native Customary Rights land – disputes over which have roiled the politics of the state in recent years – or work to streamline and codify ‘adat’ – the customs and cultural codes by which the Dayak have lived for centuries.

Sidi would not go into the specifics of how the NGO people have fitted in with the PKR campaign.

“We have to be discreet about certain details because this is a campaign in which venting too much about strategy gives away the fight,” he said.

Discretion being the better part of electoral valour, Sidi observed that the last three days of any campaign in Sarawak are understood to be decisive.

This is when the BN unleashes the full range of their control of administrative machinery and electioneering hardware – the helicopters, the boats and the ‘tuai rumah’ (Iban for longhouse chiefs) – to impact on the results of the vote.

Terence Netto, Mkini

Q&A with Ir Nazir: Nizar answers ‘DAP stooge’ allegation

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

Ousted Perak menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin reveals that he was unfairly targeted over his relationship with DAP leaders. Edited excerpts follow from the second and final part of his interview with

MCPX

Malaysiakini.

Malaysiakini: How would you describe your relationship with Ngeh Khoo Ham and Nga Kor Ming? They have been following you to quite a number of ceramah in Malay areas.

Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin: Yes, YB Ngeh wanted to make use of a golden opportunity which he did not have over his many years being an assemblyman in a Chinese-dominated area. When he was selected as a member of parliament for Beruas, which means now he also has to (be attuned to) Malay voters in Beruas, particularly in Pengkalan Baru. So, I was the only person he would cling to, to achieve that.

So, again, the thinking of the public and the Malays would have been, ‘Look, YB Ngeh is in control of even Nizar. Even in a temple, even in a mosque, even at a Malay upacara…he is there’. You know what I mean?

But, he being a new member of parliament for a Malay area like Beruas, he never had got that exposure before while he the assembly(person) for Sitiawan. It is a highly Chinese area. The fact that he wanted to be with me was because I was the only (channel) for him to (be able to enter a) mosque, for him to come into a (Muslim) religious function.

He sat for a function with me until the end, which no Chinese leaders have done, not even from MCA. I have not seen any MCA leader saying prayers with me in the house of a Malay family, (whose member had died in a blast in a factory).

If Umno leaders want to use this (to attack the PAS-DAP relationship), then people will say that your thinking is still traditional, you are not being contemporary, and you are not up-to-date. I think it is an advantage for us.

YB Ngeh  is a senior exco member. So rightly, if the menteri besar is not (around), then he assumes the position of the acting menteri besar. And in a way, I think what YB Ngeh did is also to changed the mindset of DAP members who, probably due to Umno and Barisan Nasional, fail to understand the Malay culture deep enough.

So what Ngeh has done is actually a sacrifice. To open up the minds of DAP members and supporters. So I think that was a great challenge for him. I think he has gained respect in DAP now, not only in Perak but also in the whole country.

Since he can assume the post of acting menteri besar when needed, does this mean he is your trusted deputy?

Trusted deputy? Definitely, because he – being a member of the House for the last three sessions – is an opposition leader and a very senior lawyer. The trust just builds. And I don’t see that as wrong.

In fact I should be doubling that trust, not only in him but also in a few others who have that same qualification and experience in the House. YB Nga, YB Seah (Leong Peng), YB Thomas (Su)…they have been in the House longer than I have, or more than any PAS assembly(person) for that matter.

Do you blame Ngeh and Nga for having a part in the fall of the Pakatan Rakyat?

No, no. If I do that at all, then it would be very wrong of me.

But there are some quarters who say that they could have prevented (Jelapang state representative) Hee Yit Fong (of DAP) from defecting.

That is very much (an) internal (issue). I do not want to comment. But I have tried to play a role in harmonising all 31 members of the House as a single entity. I have never differentiated them as assembly(persons) or exco members, or (that they are) from PAS or DAP. I treated them (all) the same.

How did you ‘harmonise’ the state representatives during that crucial period in early February when the collapse of the government was imminent? How did you convince them not to defect?

Well, Hee did not actually exhibit any possibility of defecting. During the several short dealings I had with her, there was no indication that she would go to that extent.

And knowing Jelapang (folk) and her traditional Chinese family, that would have been a cardinal sin. So, I did not want to think that way (that she would defect) – unlike (my feelings about) Osman and Jamaluddin, who I had suspected would defect.

I did not think that way due to my association with my Chinese friends in Kampar when I was small. A fight is a fight, and you do not compromise on your principles. That was what I learned from my friends in Kampar. Even in the Chinese business communities that I was involved in, they never say die.

There could be some other factors which changed her mind, I do not know. So when I had that information (that she was defecting), I tried to cool down the (others). One or two of them were saying, ‘Forget her, let’s rule her out’. But I said, ‘No, let us try our best. Can we have a team comprising of persons who are close to YB Hee?’

That was a crucial moment, in early February. I said, ‘Can we have YB Zainuddin, who could talk in a very diplomatic manner, and Dr Lee Boon Chye, assigned to talk to YB Hee?’ I went to that extent, because I thought that maybe she could not get along with the DAP leadership.

Later, I got messages from Pakatan Rakyat leaders, saying that we should not take any more risks because, if after 24 hours, DAP leaders still could not contact her, then something was greatly wrong.

So I took their advice and made a decision, although a few others disagreed. I did not regret that, to seek audience with the Sultan (to seek dissolution of the state assembly).

What was it like when the Osman and Jamaluddin went missing?

(Osman and Jamaluddin was reported ‘missing’ days after Bota state representative Nasarudin Hashim briefly left Umno to PKR on Jan 27. But on Feb 3, Nasarudin rejoined Umno)

It was difficult when the two of them went missing. But at the time, it was not critical because we were being assisted by Nasarudin. When Nasa (left Umno to join us), that gave us a few more days to play. But if Nasa had not moved into Pakatan Rakyat, then I would have been in utter difficulty at that time, because we would have a majority of (just) one at the time.

Would you say that Nasarudin was a Trojan Horse?

I don’t think so, because Nasa left Umno with the sincere interest of leaving a party which is heavily dominated by racists as well as corrupt leaders. And he expounded that, he said that during his press conference.

He was not given any promise by (PKR de facto leader) Anwar (Ibrahim) or me. And I asked him personally, ‘What made you come in?’ Nasa said it was just his pure feeling of maximising his effort, his strength and his service for the people.

Also, of the 28 assembly(persons), he was the only one whom I could single out as someone who showed personal integrity. He did not shout madly and yell abuse like the others. So I could tell from the assembly (proceedings) that he was a respectable man.

Nizar: DAP’s Ngeh a trusted deputy

exclusive

MCPX

Much controversy surrounded Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin during his 11-month tenure as Perak menteri besar over his relationship with the DAP.

During that period, Umno had repeatedly questioned Mohd Nizar’s authority given that Chinese-based DAP had 18 seats in the state assembly and held six of the 10 executive council (exco) posts.

This left only three Malay exco members in – PAS’ Mohd Zainuddin Yusof and PKR’s Jamaluddin Radzi and Osman Jailu. In early February, however, the PKR duo quit their party to become Independents, which contributed to the collapse of the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government.

Under the circumstances, Umno leaders had repeatedly labelled Mohd Nizar a “DAP puppet”, and as being under the control of exco members Ngeh Khoo Ham and Nga Kor Ming.

“Right or wrong, that is a perception which I cannot run away from,” Mohd Nizar told Malaysiakini in an interview at his Ipoh home last Wednesday.

He said this perception stemmed from his numerous public appearances with DAP leaders, for example at the press conference following the weekly exco meeting.

Mohd Nizar claimed that Jamaluddin and Osman were chain-smokers and would disappear after the meetings, leaving him and Zainuddin as the sole Malay representatives.

“By right, Jamaluddin  and Osman should be there because there is a press conference. So (that left Zainuddin and me) with non-Malay exco members.

“So, what can I do? It is a perception I know. But if I do not want my DAP exco members to be there, then I am left alone, which is even more absurd!

“I cannot erase that, can I? I cannot tell Ngeh and Nga, ‘Look you can just sit aside and I will force these three guys (Malay exco members) to be there’. That is not reflective of the real situation”.

Ngeh-Nga factor

Cousins Ngeh and Nga are Perak DAP’s most powerful figures. This led to allegations by Umno leaders, particularly former menteri besar Tajol Rosli, that they were the de facto Perak menteri besar.

Mohd Nizar, however, attributed his close relationship with the duo as due to their years of experience as state legislators. He said he even regards Ngeh, the elder of the two, as his “trusted deputy”.

“Ngeh has been in the House for the last three sessions. He has a lot of experience and is a very senior lawyer. It would be absurd of me and would look stupid of me as a professional not to tap into his resources and experience… Why should I be stupid enough to leave them aside just because they are non-Malays?” he asked.

However, Mohd Nizar said he expects Umno to use the ‘Ngeh-Nga factor’ to the hilt, adding that this is an irrational move for a party that is leading the federal government toward a multiracial Malaysia.

“(Ngeh and Nga’s) only sin is that they are brothers [sic]. Why should we penalise them for that? If Nga’s name is ‘Teoh’ and Ngeh’s name is ‘Chong’, I don’t think they (detractors) would have this perception, would they?”

Andrew Ong & Gabrielle Chong, Mkini

Penang freezes three quarries pending probe

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

The Penang government had suspended the daily operations of three quarries pending a state probe on allegations that these quarries have knowingly underpaid royalty to the state.

The charge levelled at the three quarries – all located in Seberang Prai in mainland – is that they had under-declared their royalty and this have deprived the state of revenue.

The three effected quarries are Kuad Sdn Bhd, Batu Tiga Quarry Sdn Bhd and Saw Chong Teok Quarry Sdn Bhd.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said that the decision to freeze these three quarries was made at the state land committee meeting yesterday.

The suspension takes affect from today.

He added that the state heavily relied on the income from various sectors, including from the quarry industries.

He said the income for the state from the quarries was RM3 for every cubic meter of laterite or stones that they dug out.
“However there has been a dispute on the real amount of royalty paid by the quarries as the money received from these quarry operators was lower than that estimated by the state,” he added.

Lim also said that the state land committee has also appointed state exco member and Bukit Tambun assemblyperson Law Choo Kiang to conduct the investigation.

He hoped the three quarries would give their full co- co-operation to Law’s committee, adding that the suspension would be lifted as soon as the investigation was over.

He did not expect the probe to going on for a long time.

Other quarries warned

Lim also said that Law has been given the full mandate to obtain all relevant documents in regards to the probe.

The chief minister also said that Law will also be looking into a case where the royalty for extracted soil and stones was reduced from RM3 per cubic metre to RM 1.

And he warned that the state government will be pursuing the matter in regards to all the other quarries in the state after the completion of the probe against these three.

The state probe into the three quarries followed claims made by a PKR youth leader Amizudin Ahmat that two party leaders in the state were working with several quarries to cover up illegal activities.

Amizudin claimed that these quarries were cheating on their royalty payments to the state.

Fingers were then pointed at Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, who is also a PKR leader.

He subsequently resigned from his post, effective April 8, and is being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. He denied all corruption allegations. Mkini

Ghost of PBDS hangs over Batang Ai

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

Sabah PKR deputy chief Ansari Abdullah’s worst nightmare is that ‘the old and uneducated voters’ of Batang Ai will impose their will again on the younger generation and give Barisan Nasional another victory in the Batang Ai state seat by-election on April 7.

MCPX

Iban illiteracy, pegged at 70 percent or the highest in Malaysia, has generally worked to the advantage of BN in elections except when they faced the Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in opposition.

“The young have seen their elders bullied and treated no better than slaves in the past half century and have bitter memories about the so-called status quo,” said Ansari, a close confidante of party advisor and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim since the latter’s days in government.

“The question is who will prevail on whom? Will the young bring along their elders for a change at last? Or will their old folks convince the young not to abandon traditional political loyalties.”

“My observation is that it won’t be easy for the Tuai Rumah (longhouse chiefs) this time to bring in the votes for BN. These Tuai Rumah have for so long been a discredited lot especially among the young who see them as government-appointment lackeys.”

Secret meetings with Anwar

Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) supreme council member Tedewin Ngumbang Datu, who has often been accused of being a pro-PKR fence sitter despite open professions of loyalty to party chief James Masing, thinks that the role of the older generation of traditionally pro-government voters in Batang Ai cannot be discounted or taken lightly.

“I am not at all involved in the campaign for Batang Ai,” disclosed Ngumbang in the first signs of a rift within the party. “The party suddenly doesn’t trust me anymore, it seems. It’s okay.”

PRS insiders swear that the finger of suspicion was pointed at Ngumbang after reports ‘leaked out’ that Masing had two secret meetings with Anwar in the wake of the March 8 political tsunami last year.

Relations between Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and Masing reportedly cooled for a while after his purported meeting with Anwar.

Taib even openly urged that PRS merge with Sarawak People’s Democratic Party (SPDP) which Masing saw as a euphemism for ending his political career without washing dirty linen in public.

Masing himself has indignantly denied widely circulating reports that he had been offered RM5 million to join Anwar’s Sept 16 revolution to seize the reins of power in Putrajaya.

In recent days, another storm in a teacup broke out when reports started circulating in Kuching that Masing and Gua Musang MP and former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah had two secret meetings recently. Again, nervous eyes were cast by party leaders in Ngumbang’s direction.

It is not known what Masing and Razaleigh discussed, if at all, but the speculation among the party faithful is the post-Abdullah Ahmad Badawi era figured prominently in the talks, according to a text message received from a credible source by ex-Baram MP, lawyer and green activist Harrison Ngau Laing.

Nevertheless, Ansari’s party comrade in arms, Jeffrey Kitingan, opines that victory in Batang Ai will go to the party that can ultimately ride on “Dayak sentiments and perceptions.”

“This campaign won’t be about Sng Chee Hwa vs James Masing,” said Jeffrey. “Both Bawin and Jawah are working together and it is PKR vs PRS and nothing else. Sng is not in the picture at all and this can only be of advantage to PKR.”

‘PBDS’ demise – Masing is responsible’

PKR’s Jawah Gerang, five times winner in Lubuk Antu, faces PRS Malcolm Mussen Lamoh in a straight fight. Mussen is yet to stand out so far although campaigning has begun in earnest and he stands accused of hiding from the press as well.

“Why is Mussen not talking much? Is it in his nature to be quiet? Government officers in Batang Ai are complaining that he lacks a political character,” said PKR northern Sarawak leader Laing, a conservative, who predicts the outcome is still 50 50.

“The question remains. Whose man is he really? Alfred Jabu’s or Masing’s. Even the late Unting was in reality PBB, never PBDS or PRS. That’s why he got along well with Taib and his deputy Jabu. Unting even collected a coveted Sarawak datukship long before any of his party seniors.”

Independent polls observer Seling Lah disclosed that in Saratok, it was discovered that those below 30 are solidly behind PKR.

“They are coming out with a booklet of all the broken promises and issues concerning government contracts. PKR election operations director Nicholas Bawin is working very hard.”

“Despite what the newspapers have written about Masing being in charge as BN election operations director, the campaign is actually being led by PBB. Masing’s people have no say.”

Both Masing and his secretary-general Wilfred Nissom Rata have gamely tried to depict Batang Ai as a proxy fight between the former and his estranged former deputy Sng after initially raising the prospect of a Sarawak for Sarawakians campaign theme.

“PRS will lose Batang Ai,” fumes PKR activist in Northern Sarawak Paul Raja who was once with PBDS. “Masing is responsible for the demise of PBDS. If we go to the polls today, and there’s no manipulation, PKR will get 70 per cent of the votes cast.” Joe Fernandez, Mkini

Ghost of Altantuya & Perak Crisis are no no said the cop in the battle of the Bukits: Cops ban PKR from raising Altantuya issue – No by-elections but police-election

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

The opposition has been dealt with a severe blow in the run-up to the April 7 by-elections after it was barred from bringing up a number of controversial issues including the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu in their electoral campaign.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said that the ban covers all three by-elections – Bukit Gantang (Perak), Bukit Selambau (Kedah) and Batang Ai (Sarawak)

bukit gantang nomination day najib altantuya and cartoons 290309 03

The impact of the home ministry ban was first felt in Bukit Gantang earlier today.

A state PKR leader, who had no prior knowledge of the home ministry ban, said that the police have imposed several new conditions when issuing permits for the party’s ceramah in that Parliament constituency.

Among the main restrictions were:

  • No instigating the crowd by questioning the Perak sultan’s decision
  • No mention of the Altantuya issue must be made

In addition, PKR must ensure that the crowd at its ceramah is confined to a specific area where the event is being held. [see below]

The police have warned that action will be taken if the crowd spills beyond the permitted area, said the state leader, Lau Teck Hai, who had applied for the permits on behalf of his party.

Lau, who is political secretary to PKR’s Kuala Sepetang state representative Tai Sing Ng, was told to go to the Taiping district police headquarters yesterday where he was informed of the conditions.

Other restrictions included raising racial and religious issues.

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim is expected to be in Bukit Gantang tomorrow as part of his campaign trail.

Ready to defy

Addressing a press conference on the matter this afternoon in Taiping, Perak PKR deputy chief Chan Lih Kang said the party was ready to defy the police on these restrictions.

bukit selambau by election pkr pc on slur campaign 310309 03He also said that it would not appeal against the police decision to impose such restrictions.

“These restrictions are new. They have never been imposed before,” said Chan, who is also the Teja state assemblyperson.

“We are not be appealing against these restrictions and will be not be adhering to them as well.”

He said PKR is ready to face whatever action the police take against the party for breaching the conditions.

“They cannot stop us from exercising our freedom of expression,” he said.

The controversial issues

However, PAS, whose candidate Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin is contesting the by-election, has not be officially told about these new restrictions.

It is learnt that PAS was nevertheless told to stop its ceramah by 11pm so that this does not cause any disturbance in village areas.

However with the announcement by Syed Hamid about the ban, it is evident that PAS too would be affected.

The Altantuya issue has been used by the opposition, especially the PKR, to implicate incoming premier Najib Abdul Razak in the death of the Mongolian woman, a charge which the Umno politician has repeatedly denied.

bukit gantang by election nomination day crowd shots 290309 07As in previous election campaigns, several posters of Altantuya and Najib have already found their way to Bukit Gantang.

Altantuya’s remains were found scattered in a jungle reserve in Shah Alam, Selangor on Oct 19, 2006.

Two special elite policemen, who were bodyguards to VIPs including Najib, are facing murder charge. The verdict is expected early next month.

The opposition has also been highlighting the manner in which Perak Umno, led by Najib, ‘stole’ the state government from Pakatan.

Mohd Nizar has subsequently refused to step down as menteri besar although the Perak sultan had ordered him to do so. This led to him being accused of committing derhaka (treason) against the sultan.

The by-election will see a three-cornered fight involving BN’s Ismail Saffian, Mohd Nizar (photo) and independent candidate Kamarul Ramizu Idris.

It is being held following the death of PAS member of parliament Roslan Shaharum on Feb 9 from a heart attack.

In the last general election on March 8, 2008, Roslan defeated Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi of BN and independent candidate M Mohganan by 1,566 votes.

Meanwhile in Bukit Selambau, it is learnt that one additional restriction imposed on political parties is that all ceramah must be held indoors.

Watch what you say, warns IGP

Meanwhile in a related development, the police chief issued a warning to all political parties not to incite, provoke or utter words that are deemed to be seditious.

Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan also said that they must avoid making unfounded and baseless allegations on their opponents or the party they represented.

“Police will be monitoring all political ceramah and will record them. We urge everyone including supporters not to provoke or taunt anyone during their campaigns,” he said in a statement today.

Musa also added that the police would beef up security in all three by-election spots to prevent untoward incidents.

bukit gantang by election police permit altantuya matter 310309

Mkini

Shifting Blame – Afraid Jabu’s Fear

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

By John Riwang <johnriwang@hotmail.com>

There was a time late last year when The Borneo Post Online decided to be on hiatus. The message “Our website is currently being upgraded. We apologize for the inconvenience” became its standard headline for over a month.

Because of their downgraded professionalism that desperately needed to be upgraded, a penniless boy like me had to spend my precious RM1 to buy the ‘hard copy’ version of the Borneo Post. What a pity. ‘A pity’ not because I was not able to gain valuable information from the local paper – that’s because it doesn’t have any. Rather I was deprived of my daily doses of laughter from reading the foolish statements made by our politicians.

But worry no longer, my friends! The Borneo Post Online has made its return to the cyberworld although, really, I can’t see their website being “upgraded” after the hiatus. Instead, they continue to publish our politicians’ habit of uttering remarkably witless statements in the paper. Oh, no, no. I am not ranting on the Batang Ai election drama. Everyone talk, write and blog about it these days. It’s too easy.

Today, I want to take you for a walk down the memory lane with The Borneo Post Online. Why? Well, people tend to easily forget these days, especially when stupid political statements are not repeated often enough in the media. Let’s consider this a gentle reminder of what kind of people we have governing our beloved state.

About Alfred Jabu to-day

Today’s article revolves around, yes, you guessed it: Afraid Jabu! This guy is really special, I tell you. Last December, The Borneo Post Online published an article December 11th, 2008 entitled ‘Jabu blames Bruno for Penan’s backwardness’, where Afraid Jabu sent a blistering attack on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for instigating the Penan to erect blockades.

de0385iHe claimed these blockades have severed all kinds of “development” that the peritah planned to bring to the hapless Penan in the interior. Of course, this isn’t the first time he denounced such NGOs. At times, he blames the Penan too! Also, he’s fond of using that word “instigate” to get his point through to people. Try Google “Jabu instigates” and you’ll see what I mean.

Afraid Jabu’s wrath with NGOs and Penans

So, in this article, Afraid Jabu claimed that “the action of such NGOs…had tarnished the image of the country, and Sarawak in particular.” He was specifically referring to Bruno Manser Fund’s (BMF) allegations of sexual abuse of young Penan girls by timber company workers. Afraid Jabu conveniently dismissed this report and considered it “a waste of time to investigate.”

Now, after reading Afraid Jabu’s countless statements I can’t help but wonder if he’s really afraid of the NGOs or anything that is beyond his (shallow) worldview? What is he and his peritah hiding from the people? Is he blaming the NGOs – in this case, Bruno Manser and BMF – because the peritah has failed?

Is Afraid Jabu too afraid to admit that it’s the peritah’s fault that the Penan is now so-called “backward”? Has Bruno Manser become the peritah’s bogeyman that spooks the balls out of our politicians?

Instead of blaming Bruno Manser, Afraid Jabu should convince the Penan that he is better than Bruno Manser? How is it possible that the peritah is still being bullied by the specter of a dead Swiss guy, dressed up in loincloth and doesn’t have a gun? If the peritah is not able to win the hearts of the Penan, then why can’t they do a check up and see if there’s anything wrong with its approaches in dealing with the Penan?

Wanton logging destroys the Penans

de0379iLet’s start with the logging activities in the 1980s. If the peritah had thought that is the way how to develop the Penan then think again. What has logging brought to the Penan in the 1980s apart from bringing destruction of their livelihood, diseases, social alienation etc.?

In the 1990s, you have allowed these timber activities to thrive but this time under the disguise of international collaboration for sustainable forestry. Was the Penan receptive to it? No? Why? Oh, oh, was it because Bruno Manser was there to instigate the Penan?

Can one man, dressed in cawat (and probably dead) instigate the Penans in Limbang, Baram and Belaga to fight against these powerful, politically-backed up logging companies? If Bruno Manser is capable of doing all that then the peritah should be ashamed of themselves because they can’t even convince the shy Penans not to be instigated. Oh, why stop with the Penan.

Did Bruno Manser instigate the Iban in Bintulu to erect blockades against the logging companies or the oil palm companies in Suai too?

Blockades a native tool of resistence

All these blaming by Afraid Jabu seem to assume the Penan – and all the other orang asal of Sarawak – are naïve and does not have a real understanding of their political situation. It is as if only the peritah knows what is best for her people. It is as if the people’s blockades and protests are so strange of a concept to them that it must have come from outside. Little did Afraid Jabu know that blockades are just one of those tools of resistance, and don’t tell me that there have been no resistance in this state’s centuries of histories.

I’m not a political scientist but if there is a John Riwang school of thought, I would say the idea of shifting the blame to other parties when you – and your institution – have failed is a conventional political strategy applied by imbeciles. Like Afraid Jabu lah.

Blame shifting to defenseless victims: act of cowardice

Noam Chomsky once said that in order to establish one’s power, it is common to select and attack a defenseless target. By using the media – such as The Borneo Post Online – the target must be characterized as a massive threat and accused of causing disasters. In other words, an act of a coward! This is strange from a person who said “Bruno Manser and the NGOs are nobody in their own country…”

Isn’t it strange? A powerful minister that is afraid of any ‘nobody’. The Hornbill Unleash

Batang Ai … only NCR Land matters!

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

By See Chee How

What Sarawakians commonly hear from the state authorities:-

The indigenous land use is “unproductive”;

The indigenous attitudes are “a stumbling block to development”;

The indigenous people must be brought “into the mainstream of development”;

Only the BN government can give the indigenous peoples a better future …

What Sarawakians know:

The state authorities have been consistent in backing privileged few corporations, project developers and contractors to exploit the state’s natural resources, leaving in their trails the hallmarks of devastation of native customary land and properties, displacement of indigenous communities and destruction of indigenous culture.

Batang Ai is on every Sarawakian’s lip these days because this is the name of the state constituency, spells “Batang Air”, where a by-election is impending.

Batang Ai is also the name of the first hydro-electric power dam built in Sarawak.

The mother of all dams in Sarawak (the Chief Minister has confirmed that 12 new dams are to be added to this damned Malaysian state), was planned and approved in 1975. It was completed in 1985. 3,000 Iban from 26 longhouses located in the flooded and catchment area were moved to an 8,000-acres resettlement site below the dam.

An unqualified failure in resettlement

In the World Commission on Dams Resettlement of Indigenous Peoples – final Report 1999, this was said of Batang Ai:

“… It was a project, which demonstrated a considerable failure in planning and implementation because of the arrogance of state authorities in deciding what was best for the indigenous communities affected, and a complete lack of process and sensitivity to indigenous needs.

More than 80 per cent of the resettled people from Batang Ai now say that they are worse off than before. They complained and complain that there was poor consultation, poor information, many promises which were subsequently broken, unattended grievance relating to the compensation process and a lack of proper counselling and preparation on financial management (given that compensation means suddenly these people have an amazing amount of cash which they certainly have never before been used to). They complained and complain that they were and still are a host of problems at the resettlement site which include highly inadequate provision of farming land, high expenses for basic facilities like housing, water and electricity, few employment opportunities (a major broken promise) and a number of social problems which include gambling, drinking, indebtedness, family dislocation and an undermining of peoples’ roles within the community, especially those of women.

30 years have gone by. Where are the land titles of their dwelling longhouses? Where are the land titles to the eleven acres of land promised to each resettled families?

The experience of the Batang Ai indigenous Iban community is typical of resettlement exercises in every part of Sarawak. The result is poverty, dependence on government handouts and a total breakdown of indigenous cultures.

There was more about the displaced Batang Ai “resettlers”, little known and said of them, that has always been bothering me.

Disastrous incompetent SLDB

borneo35In or about 1978, alluring the Batang Ai indigenous Iban families to leave their homes in the upper reach of Batang Ai, the Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) (see note below) tried to outwit their Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) counterparts, offered and promised each “pioneering” family 15-acres land and housing in their oil palm plantation in Bukit Peninjau, Miri.

SLDB was a complete disaster! By late 1980s, trans-national plantation companies were called in to manage SLDB plantations and to save the state government and the land agency from embarrassment.

Under the management of these corporations, the Batang Ai indigenous Iban families and the hundreds of other “pioneering native families” in Bukit Peninjau lost their claims to the land and were made squatters in the plantations.

Ajat’s story – an exiled Iban from Batang Ai

In 1994, I befriended a young Iban teenager Ajat when I frequented the “Pasar Tamu” (native market) in Miri Town to buy “bubur udang” (fresh prawn rice for “cincaluk” a local delicacy, also for frying with vegetable to make it tastier). Ajat was always helpful to get them cheaper for me, from the other hawker stalls. [Fans of “udang bubur” must be rejoicing now as March and April each year is the season for this unique product].

Ajat’s parents left Ulu Batang Ai before the construction of the dam and were one of the pioneers in Bukit Peninjau and victims of the SLDB fiasco. They were evicted and had to rent a squatter house in Canada Hill. Ajat’s father has. to work in the construction site and his mother was selling vegetables at the Pasar Tamuto earn the family’s little income. Ajat chose to help her mother at the Tamubecause he could not bear the indigent living environment of the squatter colony.

When Ajat was enrolled into the college, his aged parents had made attempts to return to Ulu Batang Ai hoping to resume their simple and traditional Iban living, but their efforts were futile. They were too old to toil the land and they missed their relatives and friends who were long separated and could not be contacted. They were forced to return to Miri to endure the hard and lonely life in the shabby Canada Hill squatter house.

Ajat has since completed his studies and is now working as an electrical technician in Kuala Lumpur. He had brought his parents to live with him in the national capital, away from the poverty-stricken life of Canada Hill, realizing his humble dream of young.

I have been in touch with Ajat. When he visited me in Kuching last October, Ajat told me that he has met and found many young Batang Ai Ibans in Kuala Lumpur.

Ajat exposed the lie behind SALCRA

“Those resettled and participated in the SALCRA schemes fare no better,” Ajat said to me. “The government promised that SALCRA was there to help, to provide the knowledge and training in plantation and land management, that when it appears that the participants have acquired the know-how to manage the schemes, the estate would be divided among the households and land titles will be given to them. It is almost 30 years now. The oil palm have all grown old and died and replanting is underway. Still, there is no land title.”

Ajat and these other Iban friends in Kuala Lumpur share these in common: they are from Batang Ai, families displaced because of the dam, people turn landless and poor, the BN promised land is an absolute fantasy.

The history of Batang Ai had repeated itself in Bakun. All Sarawakians and any visitor to Sarawak should make a trip to Sungai Asap via Bintulu town. Discover the truth about resettlement of indigenous communities in Sarawak. Understand the hue and cry of the native land rights activists and anti-dam advocates.

Ajat to be back in Batang Ai on April 7

I have telephoned Ajat two weeks ago and confirmed that he is a registered voter in the capital city. But both his parents are eligible voters in Batang Ai, maintaining their faint link to their beloved land. Ajat promised me that he will bring them back home to deliver their votes for PKR.

Indeed, all Batang Ai voters living outside the constituency, whether you are in Kuching, Sri Aman, Johore Bharu or Kuala Lumpur, please make your journey home to cast your votes.

To readers who have friends from Batang Ai, please call them and remind them to go back to deliver their support to PKR comes April 7.

A vote for PKR in Batang Ai is an additional voice against the big dam projects, against the displacement and victimization of our indigenous family members for the benefits of the privileged few, and it is certainly a vote of disapproval to the BN’s robbing of land and resources from all Sarawakians.

Note:

Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) is a state-owned body corporate established in 1972 with its primary functions to develop agricultural estates of cash crops and large-scale oil palm plantations in Sarawak with the objective of creating employment opportunities, increasing income and improving the standard of living of the rural communities. In 2000, a privatization process was carried out, as a result of which all principal assets of SLDB are now owned and managed by Sarawak Plantation Berhad (SPB), Sarawak Plantation Agriculture Development Sdn Bhd (SPAD) and Sarawak Plantation Property Holdings Sdn Bhd (SPPH), the group of companies linked and identified with Naim Cendera. The Hornbill Unleash

So Najib is top dog, now what?

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

By Sim Kwang Yang/SKY

I did not join in the national excitement over the UMNO

General Assembly.  I did not read anything on the subject.  I have given up watching Malaysian TV stations a long time ago.

So Najib is now top dog in Malaysia.  So what can we expect from him? 

First of all, he will want to reshuffle the federal cabinet.  Ministers will come and go, according to their new positions in the UMNO Supreme Council.  Naturally, Najib will make sure his own men are firmly in place in the key ministries, like Home, Defence, Finance, and so on.  The mainstream media will tout it as a dream team.  Will Khairy get into the Cabinet as a full Minister?

Najib has announced that he wants to reform UMNO, especially the nomination and voting process during party election.  He will probably get what he wants.  But will that eradicate money politics and corruption within UMNO.  I doubt it.  An old dog like me is entitled to his prejudices, or flashes of ageing wisdom.

It is unlikely Najib will want to reform the political system in Malaysia, the judiciary, the legislature, the administration, the police, the media, because the status quo will allow him to stay in power for a long time to come.

Will Najib swoop down on dissenters?

Hard to tell.  He will always keep ribald oppression as an open option. 

The worst case scenario is for an incident to be manufactured, and then the occasion can be an excuse for a declaration of emergency in Perak or throughout the country.  With extra-constitutional power in hand, he can proceed to pull in all those critics of his and his political opponents into Kamuntin.  A paper or two will be shut down.  Malaysiakini or Malaysia To-day will probably be closed sown.  Then he can lift the emergency and call for a lightening general election.

Alternatively, he can just launch Operation Lalang II and cull all his opponents and critics.  The SB officers could be very busy building large piles of case files even now. 

The Malaysia of 2009 is vastly different from the Malaysia of 1987 or that of 1969.  The world has also changed dramatically.  What used to work in the past may not work again.

A lightning general election within the year?

That is another option he must be fiddling in his mind. 

He is elected as the new prime Minister by over 1200 UMNO delegates, amidst allegations of moral misconduct on the Internet.  His moral authority to rule as PM is shaky.  A lightning general election throughout the whole country and a big victory including the wrestling back of the two-third parliamentary majority will solve all those problems.  Of course, if he loses big, then BN will be out of power.

He will have to sit down with his inner circle of trusted advisers, and pore over constant reports from the intelligence agencies, the Information Department and the SB.

There is another element for Najib to consider. The Malaysian economy is really hurting and the masses of working Malaysians are anxious and worried.  Their hardship is not likely to disappear within a year or two.  If an lightning election is held soon, they may just vent the anger on the BN government.

Sarawak general election?

If a lightning parliamentary general election is held, it is almost certain that the Sarawak state general election will be held simultaneously.  With PKR and their PR partners tied up in West Malaysia, very little help can be diverted to the Sarawak PKR, which will then be overrun by the Sarawak BN with ease.  Then, Sarawak BN can continue to pop up the UMNO dominated BN government in KL.

I am just speculating wildly and shooting from my hip. 

There are still many variables in the uncharted choppy sea ahead of our country.  The outcome of the two Bukits and one Batang will probably clear some of the fog in our vision.

This is a season for rumours about conspiracies.

The one I hear going the round in KL is that Ku Li is in secret talk with Anwar Ibrahim for some kind of unity government.  Ku Li is from the Old School, and is now marginalised by the new regime in the new old UMNO so I find the rumour hard to believe.  I will spare you the details of the rumour.  Whatever you say about the man, he writes beautiful English on his blog, and his ideas about politics and economics are still refreshing.

Do I harbour any hope in Najib rescuing Malaysia from her many ills?

Na! It is too much to expect that the son of a former prime minister ascending that throne from the old corrupt system will not be a Machiavellian.  The trouble with Malaysian politics is that we placed too much emphasis on political personalities. 

An unusual personality can change history.  Look at people like Obama, Mandela, Ghandi, and Lincoln.  But these outstanding individuals come only once in a whole generation.  Most of the time, politicians are just the instruments of history at work, influenced more often than not by events of the immediate future, like the next contract and the next election.

I still see the emergence of a two coalition system as the best resort for Malaysia’s future.  The opposition coalition must take power at the federal level first, and then we can start building healthy vibrant democratic institutions of the State.  Then, our nation’s economy can be rationalised by the elimination of crony capitalism.

Our immediate concern is for the PKR to win Batang Ai first, because I surmise the Pakatan Rakyat has a good chance of winning the two Bukits.  If the three all fell into opposition hands, then it is just another death knell for the fossilised regime of the past.

This new business of blogging is hard work for me.  It keeps me very busy.  But it is fun, and we should have started it five years ago.

SKY can be contacted directly at kenyalang578@yahoo.com. The Hornbill Unleash

An observation of BN Strategies in Batang Ai

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

Written by: Dr. John Brian Anthony

Big Issues

BN will avoid big issues at all cost. What are big issues? Land Development, Reforestation, Dams, SCORE, Adat Dayak, Education, participation in Civil Service and promotion, infra-structure development – roads, eradication of hard core poverty, NCR land and title etc.

BN will focus on small issues

BN called it bread and butter issues: compensation money, MRP project values converted into cash for distribution to long houses, cash incentive money to vote for BN ( vote buying), provide the long house with food/ drinks and entertainment.

BN Election workers fighting over MONEY

Information of BN workers fighting over cash money is emerging from BA. This is expected because so much cash is being carried around and the BN campaigners and team leaders are eyeing to keep some of the cash. This is the type of politics that drive normal person to become greedy. they can do anything to anyone – eg.lying to the people, sabotage unity etc all in the name of getting a share of the cash mone provided by BN. Continue reading

Batang Ai: I am a member of the human race!

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

By Sim Kwang Yang/SKY

One of the most virulent toxins in Malaysian politics is racial and
ethnic politics. Politicians and activists of various ethnic origins
still dream about the unity of their race.

I can understand their aspiration for unity, though I disagree with
them. They think that once their race is united, they will have greater
political representation, and their race will enjoy greater
socio-economic benefits.

But 46 years after independence, the facts speak for themselves in
Sarawak. Despite the dominance of PBB in more than four decades within
the Barisan Nasional, the ordinary Malays and the Melanaus in the
coastal regions of our vast state are still dirt poor. Although the
Dayaks are well represented in the ruling coalition by the four Dayak
components, the Dayak people are still dirt poor, by and large. In
sharp contrast, how many of these ethnic representatives in the state
assembly and the state cabinet have not grown opulently fat?

When I started out in the opposition in Sarawak, my team was
consistently defeated by the BN, because the voters believed in the
myth of Chinese unity under the SUPP in the BN government. It was only
in 2006 that the Chinese voters saw through the lie of Chinese unity
and voted out the SUPP candidates en masse. When will the Malays and
the Dayaks follow suit and change the government?

There is another problem with single race party rallying for racial or ethnic unity.

There is this old Bidayuh schoolmate who became a strong man in the
PBDS. Then I heard some horror stories about his campaign in the
Bidayuh villages. He would take a glass of Ribena water, call it
Chinese blood, and drink it in one gulp to applause all round.

Years later, I met him at a private function and asked him why he
did what he did. He smiled sheepishly and replied, “How else can you
get votes?”

To rally for racial unity, you often resort to the demonisation of
an imagined racial enemy. You alienate your potential allies. In your
attempt to be racially all inclusive, you exclude all other races. In
multiracial Sarawak, where no single race enjoys a simple majority,
exclusivist racial slogans will cut off all routes towards forming a
coalition on the opposition side. You can never form an alternative
government by being racial.

The racial power sharing seems to work for the BN; they are still in
power. There, the BN reps of various races are held together by their
common desire to receive patronage from the CM, rather than the desire
to serve their respective ethnic communities.

They must design and offer policies for governing the state based on
needs and merits, and not on race. All Sarawakians are born equal!

For one thing, if the shaky opposition coalition takes power in the
next general election, what do they intend to do with the timber wealth
in Sarawak? (I have my own answer but that is for a later posting.)

During a recent dinner in See Good Restaurant in Kuching with our
West Malaysian and Sarawak bloggers, our conversation turned to the
question of a Dayak Sarawak chief minister.

Henry Joseph, who worked as a magistrate for 9 years, suddenly had something extra-ordinary to say.

He said that a Dayak Chief Minister or a Dayak prime minister is not
the issue. A Dayak Chief Minister should look after all Sarawakians,
and a Dayak prime minister should be a PM for all.

I agree wholeheartedly.

We assume that a Dayak Chief Minister will automatically look after the Dayaks well. That is the toxin of racism at work.

A corrupt or incompetent Dayak Chief Minister will only leave the
Dayak people of Sarawak in their 19th century social-economic
backwardness. Any clean and capable Malay or Chinese Chief Minister
will look after the Dayaks and all other Sarawakians because he/she
loves them like brothers and sisters.

This is the simple truth staring in our face: the heroes of ethnic
nationalism have seized political power throughout the land. The result
is massive corruption in public life, and the victims are the ordinary
citizens working hard and trying to raise their children as best they
can.

If you want to defeat them, and return democracy, justice, and power
back to the people, you cannot beat them at the game they play best.
The antidote to racial politics is inclusive multiracialism. That is
why I support the PKR. If the PKR waver in this goal of Ketuanan
Rakyat, I will not hesitate to criticise them.

If the opposition parties in Sarawak aspire towards a two-coalition
system of democracy by working towards taking power in our state, then
they must be as inclusive as possible. They must cleanse themselves of
their last trace of racial toxin in their blood. They must form
multi-racial coalition. As the famous saying goes, the price of freedom
is eternal vigilance.

I may have a Chinese name. I look and I sound like a Chinese person.
I have no choice over my parentage. I should never be punished or
rewarded over my birth.

Is there such a thing as a universal Chinese person? I went back to
China, to visit my father’s ancestral home. I still have many relatives
there. The way they treated me reminded me that I am not really one of
them. I get the same feeling that I do not belong whenever I visited
Hong Kong, Taiwan, or any of those China towns all over Europe and
North America. The idea that there is an eternal essential universal
Chineseness is either a myth or a lie.

I cannot choose my parents. But I can choose to be an individual,
created by God to be equal to everybody else, aspiring towards ultimate
concern, and trying to pay my right of passage through life by doing
what little I can for the betterment of my fellow human beings.

Now, I choose to be an Anak Sarawak, Bangsa Malaysia, and a citizen of the global village. How about you? Will you join me?

Ps I am grateful to those who have visited our new blog and left
their messages. This is a lonely world at times, and we need to
connect. Please alert your friends about us and we shall grow like a
snowball. Hornbill Unleash

The daily update of news from Batang Ai by-election

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew
1. Rumah Beranda remains isolated

Rumah Beranda Aluk, Nanga Bengap which is about 15 km from the main road is little known longhouse as no VVIPs has ever visited it. Except for Jawah Gerang who visited the longhouse three times already and the late Dublin Unting visited the longhouse once only during his years as YB.

Only three days ago Mong Dagang, PRS youth chief, visited the longhouse. He represented the PRS president James Masing and promised a grant of RM5,000 to the longhouse.

Tuai Rumah Beranda and his “anembiaks” were happy to see a BN man visiting them especially during election times, as he wanted to tell them of their problems that have been harassing them.

Among others the problems are:-

(a) most of them are poor and the government should look after their welfare;

(b) they need plots of land for agriculture as most of the land surrounding them have been taken by Salcra;

(c) their road conditions are terrible and for the last 27 years they have been asking for the road to be tar-sealed; and

(d) they request for RM70,000 to repair their old longhouse.

Other Tuai Rumah should emulate Tuai Rumah Beranda and tell BN of their problems as this is the ONLY time that instant “noodle” projects will be promised.

Unfortunately, a junior official of BN was sent to the longhouse, the one who has no power. A minister in the likes of Joseph Entulu should have visited the longhouse.

2. RM2 million for longhouses in Batang Ai

Some RM2 million has been approved for the upgrading of longhouses in Batang Ai, said deputy rural and regional development minister, Joseph Entulu Belaun.

He said each “bilik” (door) of the identified longhouses would soon receive RM300 to RM1,000 for repairing walls and roofs and kitchen extension.

“The allocations are not carrots or for the purpose of fishing for votes because development in rural areas is ongoing,” he said, when he campaigned for Mussen at Rumah Jarop Kalang, Changkol.

Do you believe what he says?

3. Dayaks do not need PKR to resort to Dayakism

Barisan Nasional youth director of operations Mong Dagang for the by-election says that he is aware of PKR trying to fan the spirit of Dayakism to instigate people turning their backs on the BN government.

“With PKR being a peninsula-based party, it is not right for PKR to resort to Dayakism when their own leaders and the party itself practise multiracialism. The Dayaks in Sarawak do not need PKR as their platform because there are already many Dayak-elected representatives in the four BN components.

“In BN, we have a lot of Dayak-elected representatives albeit in the four components. Thus we don’t need PKR to champion the rights of the Dayaks,” he said.

What Mong says is true that we have a lot of Dayak-elected representatives. But what is the use if these Dayak-elected representatives have never raised issues such as NCR land issues that are affecting the livelihood of the Dayaks.

Why? Simply because they are scared of Abdul Taib Mahmud. This everyone knows. Even when PRS submitted a memorandum on NCR land to the PM last year, PRS was told off by Taib. So what has happened to the MoU on NCR land?

Secondly, why Dayaks want to use PKR as a platform?

(a) because it has pledged to save Dayak land from being taken away;

(b) because it was Masing who told PM and CM that he strongly opposed the registration of MDC (Malaysian Dayak Congress) (YB Gabriel Adit knows about this as he was present at the meeting); and

(c) because Masing and PRS are the ones responsible for the deregistration of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) which had stood as a symbol of Dayakism.

4. First public duty of Malcolm Mussen

The BN candidate for Batang Ai by-election Malcolm Mussen’s first public duty is to open the Lubok Antu branch of Sarawak Bumiputra entrepreneurs association on 3 April.

The branch was hurriedly formed last week to time it with the ongoing campaign. This was stated by association president Abang Zaibidin Abang Zainal. The branch headed by Penghulu Lembang Bagong has about 100 members.

It looks like that the association is playing politics. And nobody makes noise. But if Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) or Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) or even Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA) is to organise such a function during election time, the first to cry foul will be Alfred Jabu. He will surely accuse them of playing politics.

5. CM face defaced

As you enter the Lubok Antu road from the main Kuching/Sibu road, there is a big BN billboard featuring the photographs of Sarawak leaders such as Abdul Taib Mahmud, James Masing, Alfred Jabu, George Chan, William Mawan and the BN candidate Malcolm Mussen. The face of Abdul Taib Mahmud was defaced.

According to PKR, this is the work of PRS members themselves so that the blame will be on PKR. Although Abdul Taib Mahmud has been the target of PKR, we will not resort to such tactic, said a PKR leader. He believes that that was the work of the PRS members themselves.

6. Masing wanted UMNO to come to Sarawak

James Masing has been telling the people of Batang Ai to reject PKR as it is a peninsula-based party. Sarawak should mean for local-based parties and no “outsider” party should be allowed.

According to Gabriel Adit, State assemblyman for Ngemah, it was James Masing who wanted UMNO to come to Sarawak.

Adit recalled that the entire PBDS executive committee members met the top leadership of UMNO including Muhamad Muhamad Taib, Najib Razak and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad soon after the Ming Court crisis.

Masing, Adit said, asked Joseph Entulu, leader of Youth wing of PBDS to tell UMNO leaders to bring the party (UMNO) to Sarawak in order to get rid of Abdul Taib Mahmud whose policies are detrimental to the interests of the Ibans.

In each of these meetings, Entulu repeated the request.

Dr. Mahathir told them that the UMNO should not extend its wing to Sarawak because it might create problems, citing Sabah as an example. He said that it was a mistake for UMNO to come to Sabah as it created many problems. He did not want Sarawak to have such problems.

Today, Masing and Joseph Entulu, according to Adit, not only jealously defended Taib’s policies on NCR land-grabbing, policies that undermine Ibans’ interests and unity, but also went to the extent of “nilat burit Taib” (licking Taib’s ass).

They defended Taib’s family wealth, cronyism, CMS and so on. “These are the qualities of Dayak leaders we have in BN,” Adit said to the applause of the people of Rumah Abeng, Nanga Mepi.

From: The Broken Shield

Malaysian Opposition Leader Warns of More Repression

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim warns of rising repression in the country as a new prime minister takes office this week.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to take over Thursday as prime minister of Malaysia, when Abdullah Badawi steps down.

But Malaysian opposition-leader Anwar Ibrahim told reporters in Bangkok that recent developments suggest the Najib administration could usher in a further stifling of dissent and a return to the authoritarian style of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

“We can only point out to the statements he has made, measures like banning newspapers, threatening tough measures the moment he took over the presidency [of his party, UMNO],” he said. “That is why the opposition People’s Alliance views this with great consternation that Datuk Seri Najib represents the old order.”

The government recently shut down two opposition newspapers for three months, preventing them from reporting on a series of high profile events, a hotly contested by-election in Perak state on April 7 and the verdict in a sensational murder case involving a close aide of Najib Razak two days later.

Najib Razak is seen as a protégé of Mahathir Mohamad. In an interview with the French news agency AFP, Mahathir said he expects Najib to govern more firmly than Mr. Abdullah, who was seen as a moderate.

Mr. Abdullah’s exit came a year after the United Malays National Organization suffered its worst electoral defeat, losing more than a third of the seats in Parliament.

Opposition-leader Anwar was once UMNO’s rising star, until he was fired by Mahathir Mohamad in 1998 and jailed on charges of corruption and sexual misconduct. He was released in 2004.

After the United Malays National Organization poor showing last year, the three-party opposition People’s Alliance was close to taking control of parliament – which could have opened the way for Anwar Ibrahim to become prime minister.

The by-election in Perak state next week pits candidates from the Islamic party and the United Malays National Organization in what is seen as an early referendum on the Najib government.

But Anwar says with Najib Razak as prime minister, it would be a tougher battle to wrest control of Parliament.

“How do you enter elections where you do not even have one minute on television? I have been the leader of the opposition since August.  Not one interview, not one minute on the Malaysian media,” he noted.

Anwar Ibrahim is in Bangkok until Tuesday and will meet Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and other officials. Anwar and Mr. Abhisit are expected to discuss cooperation in addressing the Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand, which borders Malaysia. Anwar called for greater engagement, rather a purely military solution, to end the continued violence there.

Bukit Selambau Indian votes may shift, but not by enough

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

By Shannon Teoh

SUNGAI PETANI, March 31 – Amid escalating worries over Indian voters in Bukit Selambau, de facto PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is making it his first stop in the ongoing triple by-elections campaign.

He is also due to meet the local election team late tonight to address the level of unrest on the ground.

Indian splinters within PKR Kedah look set to cost it a number of votes for the Bukit Selambau by-election.

To listen to the talk out there, it would appear that PKR Kedah is crumbling in the midst of the Bukit Selambau by-election.

Three former PKR members are contesting the seat, an entire division has left the party, and sources say seven others are contemplating a similar move.

Even Hindraf, instrumental in denying BN 80 per cent of the Indian votes here in last March’s general election, have been reluctant to back the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) campaign.

But prevailing over this is a persistent perception that Barisan Nasional (BN) has oppressed Indians who are being told that S. Manikumar will be able to address their woes directly as he will be made a state executive councillor should he triumph on April 7.

The cause of dissension, agreed on by both party leaders and those outside, is unhappiness at the choice of Manikumar as PKR’s candidate.

But where opinions differ, is what sort of effect it will have on over 11,000 Indian voters here, who are seen as crucial given the belief that the Malay vote is split between Umno and Pas in the state seat with 35,140 voters.

B. Kalaivanar’s move to pull his 357-strong Jerai division out may have been the most stunning piece of news coming out of Bukit Selambau in the 48 hours since nominations.

Kalaivanar and a few aspiring candidates had been rejected after a selection process by PKR that finally picked the political novice from a list of 21 candidates.

They say the interview process was a sham and that Manikumar was earmarked the moment V. Arumugam had vacated the seat on Feb 8 and cite this as the latest in PKR Kedah’s political power play.

“He definitely cannot do anything for the Indians here and is just a donkey for Pas,” said Kalaivanar, echoing independent candidate and former Pokok Sena chief S. Jayagopal, who had accused PKR Kedah of choosing a puppet candidate.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu also alluded to this as he expressed his belief that Indian votes were swinging back towards even parity.

“The Pas government has given the seat to PKR, not to an Indian, and PKR does not understand the feeling of Indians,” he said.

He also noted that PKR needed the Pas machinery to win the seat and would cede to its demands.

Speaking to The Malaysian Insider, PKR strategist Saifuddin Nasution claims that these disgruntled voices were surfacing simply due to their desire to be candidates and did not reflect a deeper problem in the party’s state leadership.

The Machang MP said that after all, Jerai and Pokok Sena were not within Bukit Selambau, so the net effect was minimal.

“If you take all the reports of members leaving over the past few years seriously, then there would be no members left in the party,” he quipped.

The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) election strategist in charge of Bukit Selambau claimed that he was still being asked to provide speakers for an average of 47 ceramahs per night in Bukit Selambau, mostly from rural Indian areas.

“There is a continued willingness by our grassroots machinery to work, so there is no question of division within the ranks,” he said.

Analysts also believe that the independent candidates may be able to pool about 500 votes between them but bringing Indian voters back to BN is a different proposition altogether.

Samy Vellu still leading MIC has, in fact, sent the message that BN has not changed and the carrot of an exco place overrides the question of internal squabbling.

So what if the interview process was a front? So what if PKR Kedah’s leadership have been manipulative? MI

In the final analysis, Manikumar is still a PKR candidate who will toe the party line of racial equity.

And you said you fear PAS & believe in kalai?

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

You might not agree with Islam or PAS’ policies on Islam. But at least with PAS you know what’s coming and you can voice out if you don’t like it. With Umno, you are not allowed such luxuries.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

First read this:

News Item 1: Jerai PKR division dissolved

A PKR division chief has pulled out from PKR, taking over 400 party members with him. Jerai PKR division chief B. Kalaivanar said his decision to leave PKR was due to his disappointment and frustration, as well as many other members’, with the party’s leadership that has ignored the voices of those who had struggled for the party. (You can read the rest of the news item below).

Now read this:

News item 2: PKR man faces cheating rap

Parti Keadilan Rakyat candidate for the Gurun state seat in the last general election B. Kalaivanar was charged at the magistrate’s court yesterday with two counts of cheating involving RM3,600. Kalaivanar, who is also Jerai PKR division chairman, claimed trial to inducing R. Patchama, 59, to hand over RM2,000 in April 2004 as payment to process an application for aid with the Social Security Organisation (Sosco). (You can read the rest of the news item below).

Do I need to explain what is going on in Kedah or are you intelligent enough to grasp the situation? It is quite simple really. Contest the by-election and then win. And after you win you negotiate a deal to cross over to Barisan Nasional — such as a cash payment of RM5 million plus for the court case to be dropped.

Sounds reasonable? Okay, enough about Kedah. Now read the following news item:

News Item 3: Delegates want Islamic law to be ennobled

The Islamic legal and economic systems must be ennobled immediately to ensure that the ummah remained strong and supreme in future, a Puteri Umno delegate, Seriwani Sabtu said today. The Setiawangsa Puteri Umno head said that the role and power of the syariah courts should be widened to enable them to hear various cases pertaining to Islam instead of confining to marriage and divorce cases only. (You can read the rest of the news item below).

What is that I hear? PAS is dangerous because it is propagating the setting up of an Islamic State based on Syariah laws? For those who speak without understanding what Islamic laws are all about, Syariah laws comprise of many laws. The Hudud law, which is a bone of contention to many, is just one of these Syariah laws. Hudud, however, deals with seven specific crimes. But there are other Islamic laws that deal with inheritance, marriage, and so on.

At least PAS openly propagates Islamic laws. In that same breath, however, PAS says it shall not unilaterally implement Islamic laws if it ever comes to power in the federal government. And that, of course, is another issue to argue. How can PAS implement Islamic laws if it comes to power in the federal government when it will need a two-thirds majority in Parliament to do so but it contests only one-third of the 222 seats and wins less than half that?

Nevertheless, PAS has agreed that any policy matter requires unanimous agreement by all the partners in Pakatan Rakyat (and the implementation of Islamic laws is a policy matter). A simple majority is not enough. So, if PAS wants Islamic laws, and even if PKR agrees to this (which it will not of, course), as long as DAP opposes the idea then it just can’t be done. Simple! So the issue is a non-issue from the word go.

But what should not be ignored here is Umno’s plan for Islamic laws. Forget about PAS. They can’t do it. First, they do not control two-thirds of the seats in Parliament. Second, DAP will not support Islamic laws so it can’t be done since it will not be unanimous. But Umno can do things unilaterally. Umno does not need to ask the other 13 members of Barisan Nasional permission to do anything. Umno does what it wants to do. Umno is Barisan Nasional and Barisan Nasional is Umno.

Furthermore, PAS announces what it wants to do. It makes no secret of its plan to eventually see Islamic laws implemented in Malaysia. But it can also accept the fact that it may never see that happening. And PAS is quite prepared to leave well enough alone.

Umno, however, Islamises Malaysia in secret. They don’t make any noise about it, like PAS, which talks but never really gets to do it. With Umno, you wake up one morning and suddenly find out that this or that is a new ruling.

Take the ‘Allah’ ban for Bibles as one example. Take the arresting of non-Muslims who hold hands in public places. Take the ban on the building of Buddhist temples. Take the demolition of Hindu temples. Take the body snatching cases. All these, and more, are either federal government policies or events that happened in Umno run states.

In PAS run states, the Hindus, Buddhists and Christians face no problems. In Kelantan, the Hindus were offered permission to build a temple even though they had not asked for permission. The biggest Thai temple in Malaysia is in Kelantan. While Umno says that non-Muslims can’t use the word ‘Allah’, Nik Aziz says they can. During the Umno days, the Chinese could not slaughter pigs in Kelantan. Now, they can.

Do I really need to run through the entire list, which I have already talked about so many times in the past?

With PAS, you know what you are getting. They will announce what they want to do and you are free to oppose it if you disagree. With Umno, they just go ahead and do it without telling you first. And if you oppose it because you disagree, they will accuse you of insulting Islam and take action against you.

You might not agree with Islam or PAS’ policies on Islam. But at least with PAS you know what’s coming and you can voice out if you don’t like it. With Umno, you are not allowed such luxuries.

If you think you are more protected from Islam by voting Barisan Nasional, think again. Let the track record speak for itself. I too don’t agree with some of the policies of PAS. But I will take PAS over Umno anytime. With PAS, WYSIWYG.

***************************************

NEWS ITEM 1

Jerai PKR division dissolved
By LOOI SUE-CHERN, The Star, 30 March 2009

SUNGAI PETANI: A PKR division chief has pulled out from PKR, taking over 400 party members with him.

Jerai PKR division chief B. Kalaivanar said his decision to leave PKR was due to his disappointment and frustration, as well as many other members’, with the party’s leadership that has ignored the voices of those who had struggled for the party.

“I am dissolving the Jerai PKR division, which has about 100 members; and the Kedah Indian Community Development Committee, of which I am also chairman.

“The commitee has 357 members, who are also leaving the party,” he said during a press conference at the Cinta Sayang Golf and Country Resort here Monday.

Kalaivanar, who is a long-serving member since 1998 and had been detained by police 29 times for taking part in demonstrations, claimed the PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim did what he liked and ignored those who had long fought for him and PKR.

“I am fed up. I don’t want to waste my time anymore and deceive the people. PKR had been deceiving the Indian people just to get their support.

“They played with our sentiments when they went on stage, talked about the five detained Hindraf leaders and shouted ‘Makkal Sakti’ (people’s power).

“When I suggested all Opposition MPs stage a walk out of Parliament for the five leaders’ release (from the Internal Security Act), none of them listened,” he said.

Among those leaving PKR with Kalaivanar are his wife Sungai Petani municipal councillor K. Deivanai, who is also state PKR Wanita deputy chief and Jerai PKR Wanita division chief; and Yan District councillor S. Poobalan, who is also Kalaivanar’s deputy.

When asked if he would ask other PKR divisions to pull out as well, Kalaivanar said he could not speak for them.

On whether he was leaving the party because he was not selected as PKR’s candidate for the Bukit Selambau by-election, he said it was a secondary issue.

“It is alright with me if they do not want me as candidate. The issue is they should have discussed with all PKR members on the selection.

“It also does not matter to me if the PKR candidate (S. Manikumar) wins the by-election or not. I will still be the person the Indian community approaches to solve problems as always,” he said, adding that he would not comment on Manikumar as he did not know him well.

Kalaivanar also expressed his grouses that the state PKR’s top leadership had never seen the appointment of a non-Malay member even though the party claimed to be multiracial.

He also said he was disappointed that the Pakatan Rakyat government in Kedah had done nothing for the people after running the state for over a year.

“They have done nothing but criticise Barisan Nasional and Umno since they won the state.

Kalaivanar said he would campaign for democracy this by-election and hold ceramahs these seven days to reveal the ‘actors’ in Pakatan Rakyat and PKR so Bukit Selambau voters would not be misled.

“I will not join any party. I have not approached Barisan.

“I will campaign under my two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – the Alternative Action Team (AAT) and the Malaysia Indian Efficiency Movement,” he said, but clarified that his campaign would also not be in support of any of the 13 independent candidates.

Kalaivanar later met Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at the resort’s restaurant by coincidence and congratulated the latter on his recent win in the Umno general assembly.

Asked if he was now siding with Barisan, he maintained that he and the NGOs he led would back ‘those who can serve’ and act as pressure groups for the people.

***************************************

NEWS ITEM 2

PKR man faces cheating rap
KPMU.net, 11 June 2008

SUNGAI PETANI: Parti Keadilan Rakyat candidate for the Gurun state seat in the last general election B. Kalaivanar was charged at the magistrate’s court yesterday with two counts of cheating involving RM3,600.

Kalaivanar, who is also Jerai PKR division chairman, claimed trial to inducing R. Patchama, 59, to hand over RM2,000 in April 2004 as payment to process an application for aid with the Social Security Organisation (Sosco).

Known as Kalai among PKR members, the 44-year-old also claimed trial to issuing a cheque for RM1,600 to Patchama on Sept 15, 2005, when he knew that there was no application for the amount with Socso. The cheque bounced.

The offences were allegedly committed at No 24, Kampung Sungai Ibur in Gurun, 20km from here.

Assistant public prosecutor Nuraswan Amuniddin proposed bail of RM4,000 in one surety for each charge.

Kalaivanar, a father of six, who was not represented, pleaded for a lower bail of between RM1,000 and RM1,500, saying that his wife was a housewife and that he worked as an activist with several non-governmental organisations.

Court Registrar V. Kanesan, sitting as magistrate, set bail at RM3,000 for each charge in one surety pending mention on July 6.

Kalaivanar posted bail, but was arrested again outside the bailiff’s office about 1pm.

It is learnt that he was detained in connection with investigations into his alleged involvement in another cheating case in Bahau, Negri Sembilan, several years ago.

Kuala Muda district police chief Assistant Commissioner Hashim Ali was not available for comment.

In the March 8 election, Kalaivanar lost to Dr Leong Yong Kong of Barisan Nasional in the Gurun state seat. He polled 7,035 votes against Dr Leong’s 8,589 votes, losing by 1,554 votes.

He also contested as a PKR candidate for the same state seat in the 2004 general election. He lost to the incumbent state MCA chairman Datuk Beh Heng Seong of BN.

***************************************

NEWS ITEM 3

Delegates want Islamic law to be ennobled
Bernama, 28 March 2009

The Islamic legal and economic systems must be ennobled immediately to ensure that the ummah remained strong and supreme in future, a Puteri Umno delegate, Seriwani Sabtu said today.

The Setiawangsa Puteri Umno head said that the role and power of the syariah courts should be widened to enable them to hear various cases pertaining to Islam instead of confining to marriage and divorce cases only.

“Those making statements that disputed the religion should also be heard by the syariah courts and upon conviction, stiff penalties should be imposed so that the religion will not be ridiculed easily,” she said when debating the motion on the presidential policy speech, the motion on education and religion at the Umno general assembly, here today.

Seriwani also rejected the organising of any inter-faith discussions to avoid intervention by non-Muslims in Islamic affairs.

“If such discussions were allowed, it would enable certain groups to tarnish Islam. As such, measures to monitor and control such activities should be enhanced,” she said.

Selangor Umno representative Datuk Zainal Abidin Sakom said Umno leaders lately appeared to be scared to enforce the existing political power to defend Islam.

Meanwhile, Johor Umno delegate Ayub Rahmat asked the supreme council to revoke the implementation of the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Science in the English language.

Since the policy was implemented in 2003, he said the numerous studies carried out by Umno itself had shown that it was detrimental to the Malay Malaysian students.

“Why is Umno reluctant to accept the outcome of the studies conducted by the party itself?” he asked.

He said studies carried out internationally also showed that out of 45 nations that used the English language as the medium of instruction, only five had emerged as a developed nation.

Jumpa di Kubur & mungkin keluar mengundi bersama penyokong bn!!: Pengundi meninggal 30 tahun dulu masih tersenarai dalam daftar undi Bkt Gantang.

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 30, 2009 by ckchew
Kubur Kassim bin Mamat Amin yang meninggal pada 1973.

Kubur Kassim bin Mamat Amin yang meninggal pada 1973.

Mafrel held a press conference this afternoon after observing the nominations for the by-elections in Bkt gantang in the morning:

KENYATAAN AKHBAR
29 Mac 2009

30 TAHUN MENINGGAL DUNIA TAPI MASIH DALAM DAFTAR PEMILIH

(1) Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (MAFREL) ingin mengumumkan perkembangan terkini tentang gerakerja pemerhatian pilihanraya dalam Pilihanraya Kecil di P.059 Bukit Gantang, Perak; N.25 Bukit Selambau, Kedah dan N.29 Batang Ai, Sarawak yang diadakan serentak pada 29 March 2009 bagi penamaan calon, hari ini dan 7 April 2009 bagi hari mengundi.
(2) Sebagaimana yang telah dimaklumkan dalam kenyataan MAFREL pada 13 Mac 2009, MAFREL akan melaksanakan pemerhatian terhadap keseluruhan proses pilihanraya bermula daripada hari penamaan calon, kempen, hari mengundi dan pasca pilihanraya dengan tumpuan kepada perkara-perkara berikut:

1. Senarai daftar pemilih
2. Usaha-usaha memberi atau menawarkan rasuah kepada pengundi-pengundi
3. Penyalahgunaan kemudahan dan jentera kerajaan serta sumber awam
4. Perbuatan atau tindakan ganas dan merbahaya semasa proses pilihanraya
5. Tahap serta jentera keselamatan, khususnya PDRM
6. Liputan media

The house of the diceased voter

The house of the diceased voter

`my dad passed away in 1970's'

`my dad passed away in 1970’s’

(3) Buat masa ini, MAFREL telah melaksanakan kajian awal senarai daftar pemilih terhadap pemilih berdasarkan kategori umur 90 tahun ke atas di Kawasan Pilihanraya DUN P059 Bukit Gantang. MAFREL ingin memaklumkan penemuan awal berhubung perkara tersebut:

Tell the world about it!

Tell the world about it!

• Kes seorang pemilih yang tersenarai dalam Senarai Daftar Pemilih yang digazet sehingga September 2008 yang akan digunakan untuk Pilihanraya Kecil iaitu
o Encik Kassim b. Md Amin yang dilahirkan pada 8 Julai 1916.
o Beralamat di Kampung Ulu Cheh, Kampung Cheh, DUN Changkat Jering
o Wakil MAFREL telah menemubual anak perempuan beliau, Puan Rohani bt Kassim (58 tahun)
o Puan Rohani telah memaklumkan bahawa bapa beliau tersebut telah meninggal pada tahun 1973 (36 tahun lalu)
o Beliau juga telah membawa wakil MAFREL ke tanah perkuburan di mana bapa beliau dikebumikan
o Kematian Encik Kassim juga telah disahkan oleh Ketua Kampung Ulu Cheh, Encik Ismail b. Ahmad

• Sebuah lagi kes melibatkan pemilih berikut:
o Encik Che Man b. Said. Tarikh lahir 9 Nov 1912 di lokaliti Kg Jelutong, Pengkalan Aor, DUN Changkat Jering.
o Wakil MAFREL telah menemubual cucunya yang bernama Nasron b. Che Harun di Kg Pecah Batu, Jelutong
o Beliau mengesahkan Datuknya, Che Man telah meninggal dunia lebih kurang 8 tahun yang lalu.

(4) Kes ini tidak sepatutnya berlaku sekiranya semakan dengan lebihi teliti dan terperinci boleh dilakukan terhadap senarai daftar pemilih bagi tujuan pilihanraya yang bersih daripada kemungkinan unsur penipuan dalam bentuk penyamaran.

(5) Kerjasama yang erat dan berkesan perlulah diwujudkan di antara jabatan-jabatan berkenaan khususnya SPR, JPN dan PDRM untuk mengatasi kelemahan yang terdapat dalam daftar pemilih.

(6) Dalam pada itu, MAFREL juga ada menemui pemilih yang berumur 101 tahun yang masih hidup yang bernama Encik Mat Hussin b. Bandar di Kg Banggol Rendang, Kg Cheh, DUN Changkat Jering.

(7) MAFREL juga telah berusaha menjejaki beberapa pemilih yang namanya berada dalam senarai daftar pemilih tetapi tidak dijumpai. Malah sebahagian penduduk kampung juga tidak mengenali pemilih-pemilih tersebut.

(8) Perlu diingat ini merupakan pemerhatian awal kajian daftar pemilih yang akan didokumenkan untuk dilaporkan kepada pihak SPR tertakluk kepada apa-apa maklumat yang mungkin diperolehi kemudian.

(9) MAFREL ingin memaklumkan bahawa pasukan misi pemerhatiannya telah bersedia untuk melaksanakan pemerhatian semasa kempen pilihanraya yang dijangka sengit. Berikut adalah maklumat terkini.

• Bilangan pemerhati MAFREL di Bkt Gantang ialah seramai lebih daripada 50 orang. Penyelaras Misi Pemerhatian MAFREL ialah Sdr Megat Shariffudin b. Ibrahim, no tel (012-5222664)
• Bilangan pemerhati di Bkt Selambau ialah seramai 35 orang. Penyelaras Misi Pemerhatian MAFREL ialah Sdr Ir Jamaluddin Abdullah, no tel (019-4744220)
• Bilangan pemerhati di Batang Ai ialah seramai 33 orang. Penyelaras Misi Pemerhatian MAFREL ialah Sdr Peter John Jaban, no tel (019-8056107)

(10) MAFREL menggagaskan pilihanraya yang berwibawa, aman, bebas dan adil. Ia berdasarkan prinsip-prinsip hak asasi dan demokrasi sebagaimana termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan, perjanjian dan protokol antarabangsa.

(11) MAFREL ingin menggesa parti-parti lawan dan penyokong memainkan peranan melindungi hak-hak pemilih dengan membenarkan mereka merumus dan memutuskan undi mereka secara bebas tanpa melanggar mana-mana undang-undang dan peraturan pilihanraya. Kebebasan kemahuan dan pilihan pemilih mestilah dihormati.

(12) MAFREL menggesa SPR dan Polis untuk mengamalkan keadilan dan keseimbangan dalam melaksanakan tanggungjawab sepanjang proses pilihanraya dengan mengambilkira kepentingan pemilih

Sekian, terima kasih.

Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh
Pengerusi

SAYA TELAH MENGIMAMKAN SOLAT MAGHRIB

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

Terlebih dahulu beribu maaf kerana lama sangat tidak update blog saya kerana maklumlah mengirakan kerenah pindah randah dan naik turu mahkamah Tinggi KL dan Persekutuan, Putrajaya. Pohon sembah derkaha!

Hari penamaan calun PRK P059 Bkt Gantang bejalan lancar dengan sedikit huru hara sewaktu saya dan isteri bersama-sama pimpinan PAS lain memasuki pintu pagar dewan perbanadaran Taiping jam 8.45pagi.

Namun sewaktu pergi menunaikan solat maghrib di Masjid Simpang, saya diminta oleh imam Tuan Hj Hisham untuk mengimamkan solat tersebut dan saya bersetuju. Sewaktu masuk kemasjid saya diberitahu Tan Sri Muhyidin Yasin, Timb Presiden UMNO, dato Zambry Kader , calun Ismail Saffian dan ramai lagi pimpinan UMNO pusat dan negeri juga ada bersama. Pimpinan UMNO berada disaf pertama.

Pada rakaat pertama saya telah membaca ayat “wa’tasimu bihablillahi jamiian, walaa tafarraqu…. ” dan rakaat kedua surah Al-kaafirun.

Selepas solat saya membaca doa termasuk doa Qunut Nazilah yang turut diaminkan oleh semua ma’mum termasuk pimpinan tinggi UMNO.

UMNO menganjurkan solat hajat dipimpin oleh seorang imam impot, Hj Jama’iy namanya. Habis solat, imam Hj Hashim bangun dan berucap dihadapan dgn menyebut nama pimpinan UMNO Tan Sri Muhyiddin dan Dato’ Zambry. Nama saya juga disebut dan diraikan.
Imam telah mengundang saya menyampaikan tazkirah dengan memberi Tafsir ayat Quran yang saya baca pada rakaat pertama solat maghrib sebentar tadi.

Namun beberapa pimpinan UMNO setempat telah protes termasuk penasihat masjid (pakai songkok tinggi) yang menghalang dan mengarah supaya terus adakan majlis baca yaasin, berlaku sedikit komosi (commotion). Saya mengelak bagi memelihara suasana.

Habis baca yaasin saya pergi bersalam dengan Dato Zambry dan dia nampak berang dan menyatakan kepada saya , kenapa menggunakan masjid berpolitik dan tak sepatut saya jadi imam tadi. katanya lagi dengan nada kuat dan marah, “jika mahu jadi imam saya bolih jadi imam, jika nak tafsir saya bolih tafsir”. Saya tersenyum dan relaks sahaja dan terus meninggalkan majlis untuk acara lain . Hujan sungguh lebat ketika itu. Semua makmum melihat dan menyaksikan adegan kelakar dan “ajaib” tersebut dan ramai makmum mengiringi saya sewaktu meninggalkan masjid. Sekadar makluman! Doakan PR menang besar di P059 Bkt Gantang.

Jawah takes fight deep into a BN bastion

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

Kampong Ruai Panjai in Lubok Antu is at least three kilometres off the main road, accessible via a dirt track whose undulations make a journey there a seat-jarring experience even for visitors borne in a comfortable SUV.

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Although the turn in off the main road is only about a kilometre from the town of Lubok Antu, the longhouse appears located back of the beyond – such is the feeling one gets when bouncing along the track, with thick undergrowth and tall lallang on either side screening you from trees visible beyond. The unkempt belt of green on either side is impenetrable.

The 20-door longhouse at the end of the journey is indistinguishable from most other Iban habitations of its kind, except that on this night the row of four-wheel drives parked on either side of the final 50 metres of the dirt track indicates that a function is in progress in the verandah.

It was at Ruai Panjai, a supposedly BN stronghold, that PKR candidate for the Batang Ai by-election, Jawah Gerang, chose to kick off his nightly ceramah round.

For Jawah it was not that curious a place to start, given that he was the five-term MP for Lubok Antu – from 1987 to 2008 – first for Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak when it was in the opposition, and then for BN when PBDS joined the ruling coalition.

Residents of this longhouse were solidly for him and BN in the recent past. Would they switch their allegiance to PKR as Jawah and many former PBDS-cum-Parti Rakyat Sarawak (Batang Ai is a PRS-allocated seat within the ruling BN coalition) members have done.

Ruai Panjai’s residents remember Jawah from his previous campaigns but it was debatable whether they had adjusted quickly enough to his change of allegiance, for the place was festooned in BN flags and the only posters visible were that of Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, his mild-mannered BN opponent.

Neither Jawah’s fiery tone when he spoke nor the content of his speech – a denunciation of the errors of commission and omission of the government of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud – comported well with the facts of political history such as Ruai Panjai’s fealty to BN and Jawah’s only recent shedding of the BN platform.

However, the applause that punctuated Jawah’s more fervent rhetorical flights could not be said to have been merely polite and only the audible jabbering of a middle-aged man at the far end indicated that an otherwise attentive and appreciative audience was not unanimous in reception to their former parliamentarian.

Follow Selangor’s example, vote Pakatan

“He has chosen to start his campaign where it’s probably hardest for him to get votes,” whispered Maxwell Roggis, a former aide of Jawah’s who was involved in several of his past campaigns.

“That’s just like Jawah – to take the fight deep into the opposition before going to the places where he can be more confident of support,” added Roggis, who felt that Jawah’s combativeness was a plus point.

“People are in a restive mood, over Native Customary Rights land, unpaid compensation for the resettled in the Batang Ai dam project and other issues,” explained Roggis.

Jawah also brought along to the ceramah Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim who followed up Jawah’s fire with the bricks and mortar of welfare-oriented government, to wit, the PKR-led Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor where water is partly free, the elderly are entitled to medical benefits, the newly bereaved receive financial assistance, promising poor students have better access to scholarships, and women receive extended maternity leave.

“We have done all this in one year,” piped Khalid, listing the achievements of his administration in Selangor.

Glancing about the grim conditions in the longhouse, Khalid asked: “What have you all got in 45 years in Malaysia with all the land, oil and other resources Sarawak has?”

“Vote like how your fellow citizens did on the Peninsula last year. Vote for change and for the people’s right to ownership of the country’s land and its resources,” said Khalid to thumping applause.

Aspects of the evening’s ceramah programme and its reception by the audience suggested that Jawah Gerang had chosen well the political company he currently keeps.

Terence Netto, Mkini

Anwar to hit by-election campaign trail tomorrow

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags on March 30, 2009 by ckchew

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim will officially hit the election campaign trail tomorrow, picking up where he left off with abortive rallies in Bukit Selambau a week ago.

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He is currently in Bangkok, delivering a keynote lecture entitled ‘Global Economic Crisis and the Future of Asean’ at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University this afternoon.

Anwar was a notable absentee at the nominations process yesterday for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in Perak, and the state seats of Bukit Selambau (Kedah) and Batang Ai (Sarawak).

His aide, who did not want to be named, said when contacted that Anwar’s participation in the Bangkok conference had been arranged before the Election Commission announced the nomination day for the by-elections to be held on April 7.

Anwar was earlier in Manama, Bahrain, for the annual Al-Barakah banking group’s ‘Islamic Banking Conference’ and then stopped in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, for discussions on global economic problems.

“He will hit the campaign trail by going to Bukit Selambau tomorrow. He will spend at least two days (of the campaign period) in each of the three constituencies to ensure the opposition’s victory,” said the aide.

Campaign schedule

Anwar is scheduled to be in Batang Ai (on Wednesday) and Bukit Gantang (Thursday), before returning to Bukit Selambau on Friday. He will again cover Batang Ai (Saturday), Bukit Gantang (Sunday) and Bukit Selambau (next Monday).

There is a 15-way battle for Bukit Selambau, which V Arumugam won in the general election last year as an Independent. He then joined PKR but abruptly vacated the seat and his Kedah exco post.

The current candidates are S Ganesan (MIC), S Manikumar (PKR, centre in photo) and 13 Independents.

In Bukit Gantang, Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin from PAS will fight it out with BN’s Ismail Saffian and Independent Kamarul Ramizu Idris.

Batang Ai will see a straight fight between Malcolm Mussen Lamoh (PRS) and Jawah Gerang (PKR).

Hafiz Yatim, Mkini

DVD arrest: BN’s increasing intolerance ‘worrying’

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

The DAP is furious with Barisan Nasional’s continuous use of the police to trample on political freedoms in the country.

The latest act by the police in arresting the party’s Tebing Tinggi assemblyperson Ong Boon Piow for the distribution of self-made DVDs in Ipoh last night was just another example, said the party’s leaders.

They said that BN was increasingly resorting to use the police to “systematically harass and impede the free exercise of political freedoms”.

In the latest case, Ong was arrested last night at about 10.30pm at the Chin Woo Hall in Ipoh during a film screening organised by Perak DAP.

He was arrested for allegedly violating the Film Censorship Act 2002 for “manufacturing, circulating, distributing, displaying” the ‘Democracy Tree’ DVD without first getting a B certificate from the Film Censorship Board.

He was released on personal bond at 1.10 am this morning and is to report back to the police on April 13.

If he is charged and found guilty, he can be fined between RM5,000 and RM30,000 and/or face a three years’ jail .

“Such exercise and use of the police force to further the hegemonic practices of the BN is to be condemned in the strongest terms by all freedom loving citizens and members of civil polity,” said DAP Youth wing chief and Rasah MP Loke Siew Fook.

Loke also said that the police had failed to provide an answer as to who made the complaint against Ong in the first place.

Increasing intolerance

Party veteran Lim Kit Siang added in to say that this was the latest example of the increasing intolerance towards fundamental liberties in this country.

He said these were ominous signs of increasing repression in Malaysia under incoming Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Just before Ong’s run in with the police, several other DAP leaders and the opposition alliance in general had faced similar “escalation of oppressive state actions”.

They include:

  • Party chairperson Karpal Singh being charged with sedition for saying he would file a suit against the Sultan of Perak.
  • Sedition investigations against the party’s state representative in Johor Dr Boo Cheng Hau over his ‘apartheid’ remark.
  • The one-year suspension of DAP MP for Puchong, Gobind Singh Deo without parliamentary pay and privileges.
  • The three-month suspension of Harakah and Suara Keadilan.
  • The indiscriminate and high-handed police action against Pakatan Rakyat gatherings and ceramahs. Mkini

Checkmate Barisan Nasional in Perak

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

Like most ordinary people, I was initially very confused by all the articles and commentaries on the Perak constitutional crisis. Just like reading an interesting book, I was anxious to know what the ending would be. There is one important difference though.

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Unlike a book, the ending of this crisis – for better or for worse – will affect my life and the lives of the ordinary rakyat of Perak, as well as all Malaysians, given the ramifications that the outcome will have on the constitutional process of political power and governance.

In recent weeks I have become increasingly concerned with the twists and turns in this modern version of the Perak wayang kulit which – as with some of the stories found in the traditional form – contains strong moral and ethical elements.

These recent developments include the infamous act of demolition of the ‘Democracy Tree Plaque’ put up by the rain tree and the recent action taken by the federal government to charge Karpal Singh under the ISA for saying that the Perak Sultan can be sued.

All these events seem to indicate that the Barisan Nasional government has prevailed in its attempt to oust the Pakatan Rakyat state government from power. Reading the official media accounts and analysis one can certainly be forgiven for thinking this. I, too, similarly was of this view until I attended the talk given by former Appellant Judge NH Chan at the Perak Bar Council on March 19.

The title of his talk was ‘How to judge a judge’. After the talk, I asked a few questions and the answers I got, clarified all my doubts. In the English or Western chess game, the situation is now called zugzwang. It is a German word to describe a chess player’s position when he has to make a move that will only worsen his position.

The legality of the Perak assembly convened under the rain tree on March 3, is the key to resolve the impasse. The following is my analysis of the political chess game which has now taken place in Perak and the moves by the two opposing sides.

1. According to Article 72(1) of the federal constitution, the validity of any proceeding in the legislative assembly of any state shall not be questioned in any court.

2. The assembly is the master of its own procedure and laws. Any redress must be made in and come from within the House. In other words, a member can move a resolution to rectify any perceived error or irregularity.

3.The jurisdiction of the Perak assembly over its own members and its right to impose discipline is absolute and exclusive.

4. Therefore, the suit filed by Zambry Abdul Kadir and his de facto exco to challenge the legality of their suspension by Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin is doomed to fail, if the proper law is applied.

5. Such being the case, the BN does not command a majority in the assembly.

Without Zambry and the six other suspended members, BN only has 21 members. And even assuming the three others who have ‘resigned’ are included, BN is still in the minority with 24 members against PR’s 27.

6. We have a unique situation now where the ‘new’ mentri besar would not dare call for any sitting of the assembly because that would expose his vulnerability. Furthermore, the fact that he is unable to attend the sittings is a good enough reason for him to resign from the assembly as he is legally and constitutionally unable to present the Budget and also defend his policies in the assembly.

7. Zambry’s position seems now to be untenable as it is contrary to established constitutional theory whereby the chief executive should be a member of the assembly. It is a matter of time before he is forced to resign by sheer force of circumstances.

8. Before the assembly meeting under the tree, the state assembly met on Nov 11 and 12, 2008. Assuming that all the BN elected assembly persons attended the assembly, they did not attend the assembly convened under the tree.

According to Article (xxxv) of the Perak constitution, the assembly can declare the member’s seat vacant if he or she is absent for assembly meetings for a period of six months. So by May 13, 2009, if an assembly is called, the BN members will be voted out and if they do not attend the assembly, their seats will be automatically declared vacant.

Therefore, it is a checkmate and the game is over.

To enlighten readers further, let me explain the term ‘checkmate’ in chess. It is when an opponent has no legal move to protect his king.

As we all know, currently there is no government in Perak. The delay in resolving the political crisis is affecting the state’s economy and social order – not to mention political order; and sooner or later all Perakians will suffer.

The BN leaders must consult their legal team and quickly resolve the problem. What is the opinion of the Queen’s Counsell? If what I wrote is legally correct, they should not wait till May 13, 2009 to be forced out in ignominy and disgrace.

A quick return to the ballot box to see which party the Perak electorate wants as its state government is the only morally and legally defensible option for all stakeholders. It is also the way out of this political quagmire. By Koon Yew Yin, Mkini

samy velue & MIC, Another Day Another Scandal: ‘MIED not authorised to give out study loans’

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

Questions are being raised on whether MIC’s education arm, Maju Institute of Educational Development (MIED), a limited company under the Companies Act 1965, can give loans and collect repayments.

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This follows a revelation by former MIC Youth chief S A Vigneswaran today that MIED is not authorised to give out study loans but only scholarships under its Memorandum of Association (MOA).

Following this, he has taken MIC president S Samy Vellu to task and called on the veteran politician to explain the matter.

Providing Malaysiakini with a copy of the MOA, Vigneswaran said Article 3 stated that MIED would receive and administer funds for education, scientific and charitable purposes, all for public welfare and for no other purposes, and to this end:

‘To foster, develop and improve education of all kinds and in such manner as may, from time to time be decided by the institute, including but without prejudice to the generality of this provision, the founding and maintaining of scholarships, provided that it does not contravene the provision of the education law in Malaysia’.

“There are no other provisions as regards to give any study loans. Any disbursement of money to the needy are only by way of scholarship or grants,” said Vigneswaran in a press release.

“MIED is not authorised to give any study loans but only scholarships under its own MOA,” he added.

RM100 million in study loans

Despite this, Vigneswaran, who is now the chair and legal consultant to the Malaysian Indian Youth Development Foundation (MIYDF), said MIED disbursed close to RM100 million in study loans to almost 10,000 students.

Over the years, MIED also charged six percent interest per annum six months after the student had graduated.

Vigneswaran said in 2008, an additional two percent interest was charged from the time the loan is disbursed and six percent upon completion of the course till the loan is settled.

mied memo of association 300309“To give any loan, with interest, whether study loan or otherwise requires a money lending license without which it becomes illegal,” he pointed out.

“To date, MIED does not have any money lending license. Therefore, all monies collected with interest is illegal,” he said.

Vigneswaran, who is a lawyer, said all monies collected with interests are taxable, where failure to pay tax is another breach of the law and failing to declare the interest as an income is evading tax and illegal.

“MIED has and is violating its own MOA and the Malaysian law,” he noted.

The former MIC Youth leader said the MIC president, the MIED board of trustees, its company secretary and auditors should take responsibility for these unacceptable acts and omissions where not a single members’ meeting was held except for signatures collected during the party’s Central Working Committee (CWC) since its inception in 1984.

“Prior to January 2009, MIED’s board last met in 2003,” he said.

Embroiled in a scandal

MIED is currently embroiled in a scandal with Samy Vellu describing its chief executive officer P Chithirakala Vasu as a ‘thief’ while she has accused the veteran politician of siphoning funds.

The matter is currently being probed by the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Chithirakala, who had been with MIED for 14 years, had lodged two police reports late last month disputing all claims of misdeeds involving some missing contract documents.

One was on RM2 million worth of donations which were collected to help the tsunami victims in 2004 under the Ministry of Works, when Samy was its minister. The money was subsequently transferred to the account of MIC’s social welfare arm Yayasan Pemulihan Sosial (YPS).

The second report was on missing files and documents from her office at the MIC headquarters.

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

Bahayanya bila isu perkauman dijaja di Bukit Gantang

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

MAC 30 – Siapakah di belakang penempatan penyokong parti-parti yang bertanding di Bukit Gantang Ahad semalam (29 Mac) kini menarik perhatian pelbagai pihak. Ini kerana, meletakkan penyokong Pakatan Rakyat di bukit umpama meletakkan pasukan pemanah di Bukit Uhud dalam sejarah Islam yang terkenal itu.

Ekoran kedudukan yang strategik, di mana-mana sahaja dalam blog atau laman web, gambar para penyokong Pakatan Rakyat di hari penamaan calon Bukit Gantang menarik perhatian. Ini kerana kedudukan yang baik menyebabkan ia jelas kelihatan dan nampak ramai pula.

Oleh kerana penyokong BN berada di bawah bukit, maka ia tidak kelihatan. Dan yang terlebih penting lagi memang jelas, para para penyokong Pakatan Rakyat jauh lebih ramai. Ia diakui oleh Timbalan Presiden Umno yang baru, Tan Sri Muhyidin Yasin apabila berkata, jumlah kedatangan penyokong tidak penting yang penting adalah pengundi.

Pilihan raya kecil ini bakal menyaksikan pertandingan tiga penjuru antara calon PR, Datuk Seri Muhamad Nizar Jamaludin, calon BN, Ismail Saffian dan calon bebas, Kamrul Ramizu Idris.

Sejak dari awal lagi, Umno memainkan isu calon tempatan. Ini kerana, sejak lebih 30 tahun lalu Bukit Gantang tidak pernah menerima calon tempatan yang mewakili BN. Lalu pemilihan Ismail Safian dianggap satu kelebihan kepada BN.

Isu utama yang dihadapkan kepada calon Pas pula adalah Nizar derhaka kepada Sultan Perak apabila menolak arahan baginda agar beliau meletakkan jawatan. Beliau juga dianggap calon DAP kerana pemimpin DAP Perak yang mula mencadangkan nama beliau sebagai calon.

Dalam menjalankan tugasnya sebagai MB Perak juga, Nizar didakwa hanya alat kepada DAP sahaja kerana Adun Pas hanya enam orang sahaja dalam Dun Perak. DAP 18 dan PKR lapan. Untuk itu, hasillah apa yang dinamakan pemberian geran kekal 999 tahun kepada 3,000 lot tanah kampung baru yang didiami oleh orang Cina di Perak.

Kini, Nizar telah dipilih oleh Pas sebagai calonnya. Ia dibuat dalam satu mesyuarat khas Jawatankuasa Pas Pusat di Perak menjelang hari pengumuman calon 23 Mac lalu.

Umno, dalam sebaran mereka mendakwa sebagaimana yang di atas. Nizar adalah calon DAP. Nizar adalah derhaka kepada raja. Nizar bagi tanah kepada orang Cina di Perak.

Apabila seorang rakan saya bertanya, apa pandangan saya tentang pilihan raya kecil Bukit Gantang, saya berkata, nampaknya Umno akan terus dengan politik perkaumannya. Umno belum sedar lagi, ketika semua orang berfikir kepada politik damai dan politik perpaduan, Umno terus dengan cara memecah belahkan rakyat.

“Biarlah Umno begitu, biar dia hancur,” kata kawan saya itu. “Masalahnya Umno kini sedang memerintah negara. Dia bukan hancurkan partinya sahaja, dia juga akan menjejaskan negara,” kata saya.

Apabila ditanya lagi, apa Pas akan buat, saya berkata, buat masa sekarang Pas hanya akan mencetak semula semua sebaran-sebaran perkauman Umno yang diberikan kepada orang Melayu itu. Pas akan edarkan sebaran itu kepada orang Cina dan India di Bukit Gantang.

Dalam pilihan raya Bukit Gantang 2004 lalu, calon Pas Dr Lo’ Lo’ Mohamad Ghazali mendapat 14,406 undi. Tan Lian Hoe (BN) mendapat 23,294 undi. Majoriti BN adalah 8,888. keputusan ini menunjukkan Pas mendapat kira-kira 40 peratus undi Melayu sahaja. Parti itu tidak mendapat undi bukan Melayu. Kalau adapun kurang dari 10 peratus dari jumlah undi keseluruhan mereka.

Dalam pilihan raya umum 2008, Allahyarham Roslan Shaharum mendapat 20,015 undi, Azim Zabidi (BN) mendapat 18,449 dan calon bebas M Murganan 872 undi. Majoriti Roslan adalah 1, 566.

Mengikut analisa yang dibuat, Roslan mendapat kira-kira 45 peratus undi Melayu dan 20 peratus undi bukan Melayu.

Ramai yang bersetuju, jika Umno habis-habisan berjuang untuk mendapatkan undi Melayu dengan memainkan sentimen perkauman dalam pilihan raya ini, undi untuk PAS tidak akan berkurangan dari undi yang diperolehi oleh Dr Lo’ Lo’ dalam pilihan raya 2004 lalu iaitu 14,400 undi.

Kini, dengan pendekatan Umno yang ada, BN akan kehilangan undi bukan Melayunya. Hampir 40 peratus pengundi yang berketurunan Cina dan India di Bukit Gantang ini akan pergi kepada Pas. Apatah lagi dengan kempen Umno bahawa Nizar adalah calon DAP.

Ramai yang meletakkan 80 peratus dari kira-kira 22,000 pengundi Cina dan India di Bukit Gantang ini akan mengundi PAS dalam pilihan raya kecil ini. 80 peratus bermakna 8,783 pengundi keturunan ini akan memberikan undi kepada PAS. Ini bermakna, 14,000 (undi untuk Dr Lo’ Lo’ 2004) + 8,783 undi Cina dan India akan diperolehi oleh calon PAS. Ini bermakna Pas akan memperolehi undi sebanyak 22,783 undi.

Dari pengiraan inilah, ramai yang membuat anggaran Pas akan menambahkan majoritinya dalam pilihan raya Bukit Gantang ini dari 1,566 ke sekitar 4,000 hingga 5,000 dalam pilihan raya kecil ini.

Anggaran ini akan menjadi kenyataan jika kempen BN berdasarkan perkauman ini akan berterusan dalam pilihan raya kecil ini.

Sebuah badan bebas, Ilham Centre dalam soalselidik yang mereka buat di Bukit Gantang pada 21 dan 22 Mac lalu mendapati 40 peratus penduduk Bukit Gantang yakin PAS akan menang dalam pilihan raya kecil itu nanti berbanding hanya 25 peratus yang menjangkakan BN menang, manakala 34 peratus lagi tidak pasti. Zul Sulong, MI

Balkis accounts not audited for eight years

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 30, 2009 by ckchew
By Neville Spykerman

SHAH ALAM, March 30 — Like peeling the layers of an onion, the Special Select Committee for Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) is slowly unravelling the extent of the Wives of Selangor Elected Representatives Welfare Organization’s (Balkis) maladministration.

The public inquiry into the charity, which received millions of ringgit from state subsidiaries, today learnt that Balkis had not submitted audited accounts to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) since 2001.

State ROS deputy registrar Yunos Jamil, who continued his testimony today, described the discrepancy as an “oversight.”

He told the committee no action was taken against the charity and no action would be taken now because Balkis has been dissolved.Selcat chairman Teng Chang Khim said he was shocked at the ROS’s failure
to monitor the scandal-riddled charity.

However, Yunos said the state ROS had 13,000 societies under its care and did not have the resources to monitor all of them.

He said the main purpose of the ROS is to register the societies and monitoring them was among their other responsibilities.

This raised the ire of Teng who said Yunos’s statement was like the police saying they could not fight crime because of lack of resources.

Yunos added the ROS received documents submitted by Balkis in “good faith” and any resolution passed by members were accepted without question.

He also refused to hand over a copy of the notice by Balkis notifying members of an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) on March 11, 2008 which was called to dissolve the charity.

Under Balkis’s own constitution, 14 days notice and the reasons of the EGM must be given to members before an EGM can be held and Selcat is attempting to determine if this requirement was followed.

Yunos said he had been advised by the legal advisor of the Home Ministry not to provide the document to Selcat.

However, Teng said under the Section 10 of the Societies Act, member of the public can inspect documents submitted to the ROS for lawful purposes.

Yunos has been given till Wednesday to produce the notice or summonses would be sent to the Registrar of Societies and the legal advisor of the Home Ministry to appear before Selcat.

During a press conference after the inquiry, Teng said Selcat cannot legally compel civil servants outside Selangor to appear before the public inquiry.

However, he said these officers should co-operate with the committee if they have nothing to hide.

Teng said the inquiry is being broadcast “live” over the internet and it was better for all concerned to come explain their decisions rather than face public scorn.

Earlier Balkis past president Puan Sri Rohani Asnan, the wife of former Menteri Besar Tan Sri Mohammad Mohammad Taib, also testified before the inquiry.

Rohani, who was president between 1986 and 1997, was called to explain why she had written a letter, as president of Balkis, to allowed a staff employed by the State Islamic Affairs Council (Mais) to reside at Komplek Wawasan Balkis in April, last year.

The MAIS staff, Hafizutul Akmal, had just give birth at the time and had gone to see Rohani as she wanted to continue her confinement at the Balkis hostel.

Rohani said the letter was prepared by the supervisor of Komplek Wawasan Balkis and she had signed it to help Hafizutul.

She admitted that signing the letter was an oversight as she was not the president of Balkis at the time.

Meanwhile Rohani said she had voted to dissolve the charity because that was the decision of the majority of the members .

She was evasive as to why members chose to dissolve Balkis but admitted the EGM may have been called before the March 8 last year because Barisan Nasional had a feeling their husbands may lose the general elections. MI

Q&A: If I’m a traitor, what would that make Umno?

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

Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin said that the ‘penderhaka’ accusation goes back to even before the Perak constitutional crisis emerged in this first part of his interview with

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Malaysiakini.

How do you rate your chances in Bukit Gantang?

I would rate myself of having between 60 and 65 percent (winning chance). The reason being the guy who jumped (from PKR to Umno) is from a (state) constituency in Bukit Gantang, which is Changkat Jering. Once (Mohd) Osman (Jaliu) jumped, the repercussions on him and BN turned into an advantage for us.

The other factor is that in Kuala Sepetang, (state assemblyperson) Tai Seng Ng has performed well there. Thirdly, Bukit Gantang is probably one of the most underdeveloped Malay belt.

nizar jamaluddin interview 250309 02(Also) we have already gone into the seat before the death of Roslan (Shaharum). Even before Osman jumped over, we have done preliminary work in Bukit Gantang, particularly in Changkat Jering to apologise to the voters over what their assemblyman had done.

Do you know that Bukit Gantang is where the spiritual headquarters of PAS is? I have been in that spiritual headquarters for several years now. My presence has been felt at least twice a month without fail. Every week, we have a programme there at the state level.

Bukit Gantang has always been an Umno stronghold until 2008. Umno lost because of internal rifts, which may have been mended now. How do you view the support of the Malays for you in that area?

I believe when the voters shifted (their support) from BN to Pakatan, particular in Kuala Sepetang and Changkat Jering, it showed that the Malays were ready for change. The coup d’etat has exacerbated the disgruntled feelings of frustrations, and that helped BN lose support.

bukit gantang by election nomination day crowd people shots 300309 01So I do not believe the long standing history of Malays sticking to Umno cannot be broken. We believe that through the jumping of Osman in the under-developed (and) impoverished Bukit Gantang, the Malays would say that the time for change is now.

We have the support from the Malays, but I must say that there is still a lot of painful work to be done.

What are the main issues which you will raise at this by-election?

The issue of teaching of science and mathematics in English is one. The other issue of great interest for us, to the Malays, is that there is no Malay institution of higher learning in Bukit Gantang – be it a teachers training centre or MRSM (Maktab Rendah Sains Mara). There is none.

Number two, there is no new Malay township. You find some small pockets in residential areas. But the area still symbolises the traditional Chinese business community. There is nothing like the Malay businesses in Ipoh or Manjung.

Third, the traditional kampungs in Bukit Gantang are highly dependent on the seasonal crops of durian and palm oil. I think this has to be changed. We need a new way of looking at agriculture, from a more modern perspective.

Why the need for a Malay higher learning institution?

When there is a higher learning institution – either MRSM or community college, university – the area would automatically boost up because the whole of Malaysia would be sending their kids here.

I feel that Bukit Gantang needs that kind of institution. I am not talking so much from a nationalistic standpoint – I do not have that in mind.

Umno has been portraying you as a ‘penderhaka’ (traitor to sultan). How much do you think this will affect your chances?

They did that ‘penderhakaan’ at three levels.

Firstly, when I mooted the idea in (last) May to replace the director of the religious department (Jamry Sury), the elements of treason had already been played out at that time. But I was purely exercising my right – the menteri besar has the full authority in terms of administration.

This issue was an indication to me that ‘penderhakaan’ was going to be the main platform for their attack.

Secondly, it came when government mooted the idea of issuing land titles for households. Umno attacked me and said I was a traitor to the Malay tradition. In Malay culture, ‘gadai tanah’ is a crime. But Umno has been doing this many times before. As late as May, they sold off the whole island of Pulau Batu Puteh. I can cite many more examples.

I manage to fend off their attacks because the decision to give land titles were made before the dissolution of the state assembly in 2008. DAP didn’t have a say in this (for they never mentioned it in their manifesto). For them to say I’m treasonous and a stooge of the DAP, I think that is null and void.

Third, when I was ordered by the ruler to resign, it was a sure thing for BN to hit me. But I was cautious – I refused the instruction by Tuanku (Sultan Azlan Shah) in his own language. Initially Umno attacked me, but there are NGOs and literature groups that say that what I did does not reflect ‘penderhakaan‘.

There has been one or two stories in the past where the Malay leaders used exactly the same phrase to show their outmost respect for the institution of the palace. When they started talking about past histories, they showed that what I did was based on the outmost respect.

What happened subsequently was that a can of worms had been opened. People started talking about how Umno had committed ‘derhaka’ towards the royal institution over many years. There has been files and files of recorded documents where they went against the rulers. So their accusation that I had committed ‘derhaka’ is null and void.

But it is an advantage to us – people are now more informed of what Umno did in the last 10 to 15 years, including the removal of immunity of the rulers, ridiculing and belittling them. They have done everything.

If you win by a narrow margin or lose, will you drop your claims as the legitimate Perak government?

Not at all! That is a separate matter… If it is a win, it encompasses everything. Even if it is a very slim majority, to me that is still an indication that people want change and the truth.

perak tree of democracy - the plaqueBut if we lose it does not affect our position as the legitimate and rightful government. The fight in the court and in the state assembly will still go on.

Are you ready to go all the way?

We are ready to go all the way. Even to the extent of meeting under the tree. As long as there is no dissolution (of the state assembly), we are the legitimate government.

Under the laws and practices of the Westminster system, the government selected by the people is the official, legitimate and legal government. We will go all out. Mkini

Nizar: This is no mere by-election

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

Ousted Perak Menteri Besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin’s candidacy for the Bukit Gantang by-election caught many political observers by surprise.

MCPX

After all, PAS has a large pool of talent that it could have fielded and Mohd Nizar already has his hands full trying to wrest the state government back from Barisan Nasional.

For Mohd Nizar, the answer was simple: “This is no mere by-election”.

In an interview with Malaysiakini at his rented bungalow in Ipoh last Wednesday, Mohd Nizar revealed that the party was looking beyond the turmoil in Perak and was taking a direct aim at BN in Putrajaya.

“PAS leadership does not see Bukit Gantang as just a by-election. It is looking at Bukit Gantang as a platform for political change in Malaysia,” he said.

Many observers and Pakatan Rakyat leaders have painted the Bukit Gantang contest as a referendum on the controversial BN takeover of the Perak government nearly two months ago.

BN has much to lose in this contest as a defeat would allow its opponents to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the state government, formed after three Pakatan state representatives defected.

A last-minute candidate

Kampar-born Mohd Nizar, 52, was nominated as the party candidate for the Bukit Gantang seat, which was declared vacant after the demise of PAS’ parliamentarian Roslan Shaharum on Feb 9.

He is facing BN’s Ismail Saffian, 49, a local born, and little-known independent candidate Kamarul Ramizu Idris, 42.

According to Mohd Nizar, his nomination came as a surprise to him as his name was not even on the list of potential candidates.

“They made a last-minute decision. (But) it is not unusual for PAS,” revealed Mohd Nizar, citing a similar case during the Kuala Terengganu where Abdul Wahid Endut was made candidate at the 11th hour.

The decision was made at a high-level party meeting to discuss the candidates on March 10 in Ayer Kuning, Changkat Jering.

Mohd Nizar, who was supposed to attend the meeting, did not make it as he was at the Federal Court in Kuala Lumpur for his suit against Perak Menteri Besar Zambry Abd Kadir.

“By the time I arrived in Ayer Kuning where the meeting was held, I was embraced by all the leaders… They said that after four hours of discussion they agreed to make me the candidate.

“I said I’d have to accept it (as) they had four hours of discussion…,” he said.

Party wanted a contemporary image

The PAS leader added that he was picked ahead a candidate with more religious credentials, because the party wanted portray a contemporary image.

“Traditionally, if the place is religious-inclined, then PAS will field a religious character. (My candidacy) shows the ability of PAS leadership to change,” said Mohd Nizar, who is a successful engineer prior to full-time politics.

However, Mohd Nizar pointed out that the Malays from the Bukit Gantang constituency – an area with a high concentration of religious schools – would desire a candidate with strong Islamic credentials.

He conceded that central working committee member Idris Ahmad, a religious scholar born in Bukit Gantang, was the front-runner for the seat but the party nevertheless took into account of the current mood of Perak people.

“After the upheaval, turmoil and coup d’etat, Perakians feel ripped off of their rights. This is a feeling shared by all Malaysians,” he said.

With Mohd Nizar as the candidate, the party is taking a calculated risk, which it hopes to offset by cashing in on the performance of the PAS-led state administration over the past 11 months.

Andrew Ong and Gabrielle Chong, Mkini

Ghost of Altantuya: najib Altantuya It Is

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

Malaysia’s leading ethnic party names a scandal-ridden party hack as its head and the country’s leader

While attention has focused on allegations of corruption in the submarine purchases, the fact is that as defense minister from 1999 to 2008, Najib presided over a cornucopia of defense deals that poured a river of money into the coffers of his close friends and UMNO cronies.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Asia Sentinel

On Friday, Malaysia is scheduled to end months of waiting to announce its new prime minister, Najib Tun Razak, after the United Malays National Organisation, the country’s biggest ethnic party named him their leader during their annual convention.

Najib told the UMNO parley, held in Kuala Lumpur last week, that it is crucial that his party reform itself or it will lose its hold on the electorate. But Najib’s history, and that of the party itself, portends instead a return to the politics and practices that got the national ruling coalition into trouble in the first place, losing its historic two-thirds majority in the national parliament in national elections last year. Najib’s ascent to power more likely represents a clear preference by UMNO stalwarts to return to cronyism, money politics and corruption after an eight-year interregnum from the authoritarian reign of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The new prime minister’s history may make it problematical whether the leaders of major countries are going to want to be seen with him. Concerns include hundreds of millions of dollars in questionable contracts steered to UMNO cronies and friends, not to mention continuing allegations of his involvement in the murder of the Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu following the controversial purchase of French submarines and, more recently, his role in sabotaging the opposition in the state of Perak and his shuttering newspapers and thwarting opposition candidates during his own party’s elections last week.

The convention itself was a good example. Opponents of the Najib team were denied places on the ballot by a panel supposedly charged with cleaning up money politics, although they let Najib’s allies slide by after having committed the same offenses. The result was that the deputy president, Muhyiddin Yassin, and all three vice presidents are from the Najib faction although the Najib forces were unable to prevent Khairy Jamaluddin, the son-in-law of ousted Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmand Badawi, from becoming head of the important UMNO Youth wing. They also were unable to stop Shahrizat Abdul Jalil from defeating longtime party hack Rafidah Aziz to take over the Wanita, the women’s wing of the party, also a Badawi ally.

The final election night erupted into name-calling, with allies of Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of the former prime minister, charging that Khairy had bought the votes to make him head of UMNO Youth. Mahathir Mohamad himself railed against the two candidates against his son, calling them corrupt. Rais Yatim, the foreign minister, who lost out in one of the vice president races, demanded that UMNO’s disciplinary board investigate the entire new supreme council over allegations that they had delivered gifts and money to delegates in the effort to win their seats. Mahathir Mohamad has repeatedly launched furious attacks on UMNO leaders, calling them corrupt although he showed up at the last night of the convention to be seen with Najib and others.

The UMNO-owned New Straits Times described the top party positions as having “given much-needed breathing space to Najib as he sets out to unite UMNO and push the party to undertake the reforms he has promised. He will have less of a task to deal with the factionalism that so often arises after a bitterly fought contest in the party.” But in fact, UMNO appears to be as much riven by factional politics as it was going into the convention.

As early as April 8, the party faces the first of three important by-elections – one for a seat in the Dewan Rakyat, or national assembly, and two more for state legislative seats. The first test is for a Perak seat in which support for the Barisan appears to be waning.

“The problem is not the opposition, but within our own ranks,” a local leader told the Kuala Lumpur-based website Malaysia Insider, referring to the perennial problem of factionalism within Umno.

Najib has sought to nullify the opposition with force. Last Monday, a rally led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim was broken up by police who fired tear gas at the audience. Other rallies have been cancelled as well. Two opposition newspapers were cancelled until after April 8, the date of the Perak national by-election, presumably because the two papers have hammered away at allegations of Najib’s connections with the two men on trial for killing Altantuya in October of 2006 and her role in the €1 billion purchase of French submarines that netted one of his closest friends €114 million in “commissions.”

To say Najib brings considerable baggage with him is an understatement. While attention has focused on allegations of corruption in the submarine purchases, the fact is that as defense minister from 1999 to 2008, Najib presided over a cornucopia of defense deals that poured a river of money into the coffers of his close friends and UMNO cronies. A September 24, 2007 story in Asia Sentinel quoted Foreign Policy in Focus, a think tank supported by the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, as saying that “many foreign arms manufacturers generally used well-connected Malaysians as their lobbyists for contracts.”

Three contracts approved under Najib have been widely cited by the opposition and fit well into Foreign in Policy in Focus’s patronage scale. They have been forced back into public attention by his ascension to the premiership and by the exoneration under questionable circumstances of Abdul Razak Baginda, one of his closest friends, for Altantuya’s murder.

Spending for defense accelerated across the board after Najib, called “the driving force” behind Malaysia’s military modernization program by Foreign Policy in Focus. The shopping list, the think tank reported, “includes battle tanks from Poland, Russian and British surface-to-air missiles and mobile military bridges, Austrian Steyr assault rifles and Pakistani anti-tank missiles. Kuala Lumpur was also negotiating to buy several F/A 18s, the three French submarines and Russian Suhkoi Su-30 fighter aircraft.

It was the Sukhois that, after the French submarines, became the second controversial purchase brokered by Najib. The deal, worth US$900 million (RM3.2 billion), was through a Russian state company, Federal State Unitary Enterprise ‘Rosoboronexport’ on May 19, 2003. A company called IMT Defence Sdn. Bhd. was appointed the local agent for the Russian company and received 12 percent of the purchase price, US$108 million (RM380 million). The principal figure and chairman of IMT Defence is Mohamad Adib Adam, the former chief minister of Malacca, the previous Land and Development Minister and a longtime UMNO stalwart.

The involvement of IMT Defence only became known because in March 2005, a former director of IMT, Mohamad Zainuri Mohamad Idrus, filed suit against several Adib-related companies, alleging that Adib and his sister, Askiah Adam, “wanted to prevent him from exposing the reality of the Sukhoi deal.” In 2006, Mohamad Zainuri lodged a police report alleging that Adib had stolen the US$108 million (RM 380 million) commission that was supposed to be channeled to the company.

According to Mohamad Zainuri’s report, Adib had secretly registered a new company in the federal island of Labuan, Malaysia’s offshore banking center, bearing a name similar to IMT Defence Sdn Bhd, allegedly in order to channel the commission illegally to the new company. The report was then sent to the Commercial Crime Investigations Department Headquarters. No report, however, has ever been released to the public.

Then, in late 2007, a third military scandal surfaced. Malaysia’s Auditor General, in a report tabled in Parliament on September 7, alleged that a contract to build naval vessels given to PSC-Naval Dockyard, a subsidiary of Penang Shipbuilding & Construction Sdn Bhd, which is owned by another UMNO crony, Amin Shah Omar Shah, was near failure.

PSC-Naval Dockyard was contracted to deliver six patrol boats for the Malaysian Navy in 2004 and complete the delivery by last April. Those were supposed to be the first of 27 offshore vessels ultimately to cost RM24 billion plus the right to maintain and repair all of the country’s naval craft. But only two of the barely operational patrol boats had been delivered by mid 2006. There were 298 recorded complaints about the two boats, which were also found to have 100 and 383 uncompleted items aboard them respectively.

The original RM5.35 billion contract ballooned to RM6.75 billion by January 2007. The auditor also reported that the ministry had paid out Rm4.26 billion to PSC up to December 2006 although only Rm2.87 billion of work had been done, an overpayment of Rm1.39 billion, or 48 percent. In addition, Malaysia’s cabinet waived late penalties of Rm214 million. Between December 1999, according to the Auditor General, 14 “progress payments” amounting to Rm943 million despite the fact that the auditor general could find no payment vouchers or relevant documents dealing with the payments.

The auditor general attributed the failure to serious financial mismanagement and technical incompetence stemming from the fact that PSC had never built anything but trawlers or police boats before being given the contract. Once called “Malaysia’s Onassis” by former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, Amin Shah was in trouble almost from the start, according to a report in Singapore’s Business Times in 2005. The financial crisis of 1997-1998 meant he was desperate to find funds to shore up ancillary businesses, Business times reported.

After a flock of lawsuits, the government ultimately cut off funding in 2004 amid losses and a net liabilities position. Boustead Holdings effectively took control from Amin Shah, reducing him to non-executive chairman.

The scandal is bringing shame to the nation and damaging our international credibility. For the honour of the nation, for the honour of the office of prime minister, for the honour of the sovereign institutions expected to endorse, confirm and lend authority to him should he become prime minister according to Umno’s plans, Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak should finally face these suspicions and implied charges, submit himself to legal scrutiny, and come clean on them.”

“Swearing on the Al-Quran is not the way out,” Razaleigh continued. “Scoundrels have been known to do that. The truth, established through the rigorous and public scrutiny of the law, is the only remedy if an untrue story has gained currency not just internationally but at home among a large section of the people. Najib should voluntarily offer to testify at the trial of the two officers charged with killing Altantuya Shaariibuu. He could also write to these newspapers and if necessary he should take legal action against them to clear his name and that of our country.”
The case has troubling aspects that have increasingly been noted in British and French newspapers after Asia Sentinel raised them in 2007. They bear repeating.

According to testimony in the trial of the two men accused of killing her, Altantuya accompanied her then-lover Abdul Razak Baginda to Paris at a time when Malaysia’s defense ministry was negotiating through a Kuala Lumpur-based company, Perimekar Sdn Bhd, to buy two Scorpene submarines and a used Agosta submarine produced by the French government under a French-Spanish joint venture, Armaris, which in turn was bought by DCNS, a French contractor, in 2007. Perimekar at the time was owned by a company called Ombak Laut, which was wholly owned by Abdul Razak.

The contract was not competitive. The Malaysian ministry of defense paid €1 billion (RM 4.5 billion) to Amaris for the three submarines, for which Perimekar received a commission of €114 million (RM510 million). Deputy Defense Minister Zainal Abdidin Zin told the Dewan Rakyat, Malaysia’s parliament, that the money was paid for “coordination and support services” although the fee amounted to a whopping 11 percent of the sales price for the submarines. Altantuya, by her own admission in the last letter she wrote before her murder, said she had been blackmailing Abdul Razak Baginda, pressuring him for US$500,000. She did not say how she was blackmailing him, leaving open lots of questions.

The French government has never shown any enthusiasm for investigating French companies alleged to be involved in corruption in gaining contracts overseas. It appears likely that it will in this case.

After Altantuya was murdered, one of her accused assassins, Sirul Umar, in a written confession, said he and his boss had been offered RM50,000 to RM100,000 to kill her. In the 22 months since the trial began, nobody in court has thought to ask who was going to pay the money. Abdul Razak Baginda was exonerated by the court and has left the country to study at Oxford.

Batang Ai: Tanah adat dirampas untuk kroni BN

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

Anna Yusof

LUBOK ANTU, 30 Mac (SK) : Isu tanah adat menjadi agenda utama dalam kempen calon KeADILan di pilihnraya kecil N29 Batang Ai, Jawah Gerang bagi menentang calon Barisan Nasional Malcolm Mussen .

Tanah adat telah menjadi isu utama apabila Kerajaan Barisan Nasional telah merampas tanah hak kepunyaan individu dan memperdayakan mereka dengan alasan Kerajaan BN mahukan tanah berkenan untuk pembangunan dan tidak perlu di beri sebarang pampasan kepada tuan tanah.

Menurut Ketua Angkatan Muda KeADILan (AMK) Sarawak Rahmat Aidil Latif, rampasan tanah yang berleluasa dengan sewenang-wenangnya oleh pegawai kerajaan BN telah memaksa orang-orang Iban di pendalaman untuk menyerahkan tanah berkenaan kepada kerajaan atas alasan pembangunan.

“Namun apa yang terjadi sebenarnya adalah tanah berkenaan telah diagihkan kepada kroni-kroni BN untuk tanaman kelapa sawit dan sebagainya,” kata Rahmat.

“Ada rumah panjang telah dirobohkan dan penghuninya di halau begitu sahaja tanpa sebarang pampasan sehingga ada yang menyatakan bahawa kehidupan pendatang haram lebih baik di Sarawak berbanding dengan kaum Iban yang asalnya dari sini,” tambah beliau.

Rahmat berkata, kemarahan kaum Iban disini amat jelas kerana penindasan yang kejam dan tidak berperikemanusiaan dengan menafikan hak tanah adat yang selama ini dipertahankan dari satu generasi ke satu generasi oleh kaum Iban ini.

“Mereka tinggal jauh di pendalaman, segala kemudahan asas seperi jalan raya, bekalan air bersih dan letrik jauh sekali untuk dinikmati walaupun tapak projek mega hidro-letrik tidak jauh dari sini,” jelas Rahmat.

“Jawah dilihat sebagai pejuang kaum Iban kerana berasal diri Lubok Antu dan pernah menjadi Adun selama lima tahun. Beliau begita popular di kalangan rakyat Lubok Antu berbanding Mossen yang jarang sekali pulang ke Lubok Antu,” kata Rahmat.

Batang Ai: Merakyatkan ekonomi Selangor jadi contoh pada pengundi Batang Ai

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

Anna Yusof

LUBOK ANTU, 30 Mac (SK) : Apa yang tidak dapat di laksanakan oleh kerajaan BN di Batang Ai selepas 50 tahun mentadbir akan dilaksanakan oleh Pakatan Rakyat dalam hanya satu tahun sahaja.

Agenda ‘Merakyatkan ekonomi’ akan menjadi pegangan pada setiap pengundi KeADILan di N29 Batang Ai dengan harapan mencontohi rakyat Selangor.

Kehadiran Menteri Besar Selangor Khalid Ibrahim untuk membantu kempen pilihanraya kecil ini telah menjadi peneraju pada peralihan kuasa Barisan Nasional ke Pakatan Rakyat di sini.

Lebih sepuluh rumah panjang yang dilawati semalam, rata-rata menyatakan sokongan dan berpihak kepada KeADILan dan mahu mencontohi rakyat Negeri Selangor yang telah menikmati pelbagai kemudahan untuk semua kaum.

Kempen di Batang Ai terus berjalan lancar seperti yang di jadualkan bagi Khalid dan Jawah untuk bertemu dengan pengundi yang tinggal di pendalam di sekitar kawasan itu dengan menaiki bot dan kenderaan pacuan empat roda untuk sampai ke kawasan berkenaan.

Ketua Angkatan Muda (AMK) Sarawak, Rahmat Aidil Latif melaporkan bahawa, Khalid dalam ucapan beliau menyatakan Kerajaan Negeri Selangor telah berjaya merakyatakan ekonomi Selangor dengan jayanya seperi contoh bekalan air dan lektrik yang jauh lebih murah dan sentiasa prihatin kepada rakyat kurang berkemampuan dan tidak mengira bangsa dan keturunan.

Dalam lawatan beliau di Rumah Abeng, untuk menghadiri ‘Nanga Mepi’ satu upacara keramaian orang Iban, Khalid dilaporkan berkata “Hanya orang Iban yang boleh menukar politik Sarawak jika mereka bersatu,”

“Terpulang kepada rakyat Batang Ai, untuk mengubah politik Sarawak, ia harus bermula di Batang Ai,” tegas Khalid dan mengesa semua rakyat Batang Ai mengundi Jawah.

Pagi semalam, Khalid bersama-sama 1,000 penyokong KeADILan mengiringi Jawah di pusat penamman calon di Stadium Batang Ai.

Rakyat Batang Ai amat menyenangi kehadiran Khalid yang disifatkan sebagai seorang yang peramah dan berhemah.

Rahmat melaporkan bahawa rata-rata rakyat Batang Ai memuji keperibadian Khalid yang sentiasa senang didekati dan bermesra dengan rakyat tempatan dan menyatakan betapa untungnya rakyat Selangor mendapat seorang pemimpin yang berjiwa rakyat seperti Khalid.

“Ini adalah contoh pemimpin yang rakyat Batang Ai mahukan, seperti juga Jawah yang banyak berpengalaman mengangani masalah rakyak setempat dan sentiasa mendampingi mereka,” kata Rahmat kepada suara Keadilan.