Archive for September, 2009

‘najibby-no-economics’ – It’s laughable, says Zaid

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

Former federal minister Zaid Ibrahim has questioned the need for a tag line to give recognition to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s policies.

“To give a tag name of ‘Najibnomics’ to those minimal policy changes is laughable. He has done little by way of articulating serious economic policies to warrant a tag line,” said the former Umno stalwart who is now in opposition party PKR.

“I do not consider Najib as having enunciated any cohesive economic policy framework at all since he became PM, save for some announcement on bumiputera policy in the services sub-sector and the so-called liberalisation package which was rendered necessary to reverse the dwindling foreign direct investment and to placate the demands on us by our trading partners.”

Zaid  said Najib  has not been open in the way he implements his policies especially in the RM60 billion stimulus economic package, as well as how the government-linked private equity fund, Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas) functions.

“Najib did not dare give the details of where the money went, nor does he care to explain if the stimulus are adequate. How has Ekuinas Capital utilised the government funds? So much for his transparency and reforms,” said the former de facto law minister.

The setting up of Ekuinas was among Najib’s initiatives to acquire a controlling stake in unlisted local companies to raise the level of bumiputera participation in commercial activities.

Zaid also pointed out that Najib has yet to address the country’s drop in ranking in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report for 2009-2010. Malaysia dropped from 17th to 43rd position within two years, according to the report released early this month.

“He has not set out to tell us on how we can be more competitive as a nation. Is he not concerned we have dropped to 43rd position and are rated poorly in this regard?” asked Zaid.

“What happens when the demand of our traditional trading partners are no longer sustainable? How does he plan to replace our dependency on exports of manufactured goods?”

He added that, to him, these are more fundamental questions rather than the ones that Najib is addressing.

Vested interests?

Putting the issue into context, Centre for Policy Initiatives director Lim Teck Ghee agreed with Zaid that the praise for ‘Najibnomics’ is premature.

“It has been coined by various business and consultancy oriented organisations such as the CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets for their clients and, in the case of the Harvard Business School, for its members and students,” Lim said when contacted.

“The Harvard case-study work will focus on the pros and cons of the so-called new policy regime of the BN government and what its impact is.

“I presume the study has not been completed yet. Let us await the results of the study and have its findings out in the open so we can have a proper analysis on whether the study is worth looking at.

“To me the jury is still out on how much of a breakthrough there has been in recent policy reforms and the extent to which it has benefitted the people.”

Lim also added that the objectivity of the study would be open to question if the foreign group has vested interests.

“It will be important to know whether the group or various individuals attached to the group have been advising the government on the stimulus package, and the kinds of business or consultancy deals that they have on an individual or organisational basis in the country or with the government. If they are interested parties, then the objectivity of the study is open to question.”

He downplayed the introduction of stimulus packages in Malaysia, saying that most if not all countries in the region have introduced similar measures in response to the financial and economic crisis.

“It is not only Malaysia that has been responsive. In fact, recent UN studies of these packages show that several countries in the region have had deeper, more people-oriented and reform- oriented packages than Malaysia,” he said.

In terms of the recent liberalisation policies announced by Najib, Lim said there is much concern that these may be “too little too late” and, in fact, that they “barely scratch at the surface of our deeply rooted social and economic problems”.

“As a result of 50 years of BN rule, we have income inequalities at some of their highest levels ever; the public health system eroded by privatisation, endemic and apparently uncontrollable high level as well as lower level corruption; an educational system that is not competitive and producing too many unemployable graduates; rising inflation and government deficits; a bloated civil service and government-linked companies that have been bleeding the treasury.”

He stressed that it will be important for the analysts of ‘Najibnomics’ to look at these negative indicators and ask whether the new policies are directly addressing them or whether “it is still very much the same business as usual despite the new marketing spin”.

Different take

However, RAM economist Yeah Leng Kim lauded it as a good move to enable the public to know the country’s economic direction and the new term signifies “regime change”.

“Najib’s reforms, policies and changes put in place political sensitive policies in order to overcome the fiscal challenges. The shift from quota-based to market-based income approaches are clearly bold reforms undertaken,” he explained.

“Because 2009-2010 are critical years that could raise deficit and government debt, Najib’s stimulus package is timely, targeted and specific in a sense that the plans are within a specific time period.”

Yeng claimed that, under ‘Najibnomics’, the liberalisation policies can provide a greater multiplier effect for higher economic activities in future.

When contacted, CLSA, the independent brokerage house that issued the report on Najib’s economic policies said this is a private special report prepared by its four-member research team in Malaysia and commissioned by a client.

“The report, which was done in July, is not for public circulation. We do not know how the national news agency got it,” said its spokesperson who declined to be named.

CLSA is a foreign brokerage house that does equity research. It has its headquarters in Hong Kong, with a branch in Malaysia and other major Asia-Pacific countries. CLSA is an aggregate firm formed by the merger of France’s Credit Agricole with Credit Lyonnais in 2003.

Yip Ai Tsin & Hazlan Zakaria/Mkini

The reason Temasek sold BII to Maybank: because it was a bad investment

Posted in RPK with tags on September 29, 2009 by ckchew

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Maybank should come clean and admit that the dilution in the RM 10.77 billion investments in PT Bank International Indonesia(BII) and Pakistan’s MCB Bank is RM 2.75 billion and not limited to the impairment losses of RM 1.97 billion. Maybank had reported that its 30 June 2009 fiscal year net profit plunged 76% to RM 692 million as a result of impairment losses of RM 1.62 billion for acquiring BII(in March 2008) and RM 353 million for acquiring MCB Bank.

This is not exactly true. If we consider other losses as revealed above due to exchange rate fluctuation and amortisation, Maybank lost not just RM 1.97 billion but RM 2.75 billion. This RM 780 million difference between RM 1.97 billion and RM 2.75 billion losses may not be big by banking standards but huge for Malaysian public interests.

Looking at the graph above (see at http://dapmalaysia.org/english/2009/sep09/lge/lge1014.htm), Maybank bought BII for RM 7.9 billion which is worth only RM 5.77 billion now and paid RM 2.87 billion for MCB Bank which is worth only RM 2.25 billion now. In other words Maybank incurred RM 2.13 billion loss for BII and RM 620 million loss for MCB Bank for a total loss of RM 2.75 billion.

Even though Maybank was advised not to proceed with the acquisition, Maybank had stubbornly and irresponsibly pressed on to spend an incredible RM 10.8 billion to acquire banks in Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam, months before the global financial crisis erupted last year. Now Maybank conceded that it has lost RM 2.75 billion in these investments in over a year.

Lim Kit Siang

READ MORE HERE: http://dapmalaysia.org/english/2009/sep09/lge/lge1014.htm

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

Temasek gains $30bn from market rally

By Kevin Brown in Singapore, The Financial Times

Published: September 17 2009

The global market rally had added S$42bn (US$29.7bn) to the market value of Temasek’s investment portfolio since the end of March, Singapore’s state investment company said on Thursday.

The mark-to-market value of the portfolio fell to S$130bn at the end of the financial year in March, but recovered to S$172bn by the end of July — just 7 per cent below its peak of S$185bn in March last year.

Temasek said the recovery reflected its efforts to “continue to reshape our portfolio mix actively”. However, it also said the recovery since March was “broadly in line with the markets”.

In its annual review, the group said net profit fell to S$6bn for the financial year, compared with S$18bn in the previous year. Its total shareholder returns for the year fell by 30 per cent, measured by market value, but remained at 16 per cent over the 35 years since the group was founded.

The sharp fall in profits means that some Temasek executives will suffer cuts in remuneration as bonuses are clawed back for the first time in the company’s history.

However, S. Dhanabalan, chairman, said the worst of the global crisis was over, thanks to extraordinary fiscal and monetary measures set in place by the US and other governments. “These moves have averted extreme meltdown risks, but added the risks of inflation and asset misallocations in the medium term,” he said.

Temasek said the lower returns reflected the generally weaker operating performances of its portfolio companies as a result of the global slowdown, as well as gains and losses from S$16bn of divestments.

These included the sale of stakes in Bank of America and Barclays, the UK bank, as well as positions in Bank Internasional Indonesia and China Minsheng Bank, but not the proposed sale of a 62 per cent stake in Singapore’s loss making Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, which has yet to be completed.

Temasek defended its sale of the 3.8 per cent holding in BofA, which is estimated by analysts to have incurred a loss of between US$2.3bn and US$4.6bn and attracted unusual public criticism in Singapore.

The group said it decided to sell in spite of incurring a loss because the risk-return profile of its initial US$5.9bn holding in Merrill Lynch “shifted substantially” after the investment bank was acquired by BofA in January.

It made no comment on the sale of a stake of almost 2 per cent in Barclays, which is also thought by analysts to have incurred a loss. Other divestments included two power generating companies in Singapore, completing a divestment programme involving three generators that raised more than S$11bn.

The improvement in the value of the portfolio includes the impact of investments of nearly S$5bn in the nine months to the end of July as the group took up its share of rights issues in companies including Standard Chartered, the UK bank, Singapore’s DBS banking group and CapitaLand, the Singapore property group.

Temasek said it had invested a total of S$9bn during the financial year, including about S$700m for a stake of less than 5 per cent in Hong Kong-based Li & Fung, one of the world’s biggest supply chain managers.

The group did not directly address claims by critics that its portfolio losses last year reflected over-investment in western assets, including holdings in financial groups acquired as the global financial crisis was beginning.

However, it said its underlying exposure to Singapore and the 30 developed economies of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development had been reduced from more than 80 per cent to just over 50 per cent. OECD exposure now accounts for about 20 per cent of investments, mostly in Australia.

The group also said that returns from investments made since March 2002, when it began to invest widely in Asia following the appointment of Ho Ching as chief executive, had been significantly greater than returns on earlier investments, which were mostly in Singapore.

It said the annualised return on investments for the past seven years was 19 per cent, compared to 9 per cent for those made before the change in strategy. “We have increased our exposure to Asia since 2002, riding with its deep and long wave of growth and transformation,” it said.

The group said it was “optimistic” about Asia’s long term potential and would target exposure to the region at about 40 per cent of investments, including 20 per cent in China, with Singapore remaining steady at about 30 per cent, OECD countries at 20 per cent and other regions at 10 per cent.

It made no comment on possible listings for major holdings such as Singapore Power and PSA, the Singapore ports operator, which were last month identified by Ms Ho as possible candidates for public offerings.

Officials have said that decisions on when and whether to list will be left to the operating companies’ boards. Bankers in Singapore say any listing of PSA is unlikely for two to three years.

Berapakah Kg Buah Pala di Selangor?

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

Kampung Buah Pala yang mempunyai sejarah 200 tahun tidak dapat diselamatkan daripada nasib dirobohkan.  Sebelum perbalahan ini ditenteramkan, pembangunan dan pengusiran di Tanjong Tokong, Pulau Pinang sekali lagi menjadi tumpuan seluruh negara.

Sebenarnya, perkara mengenai setinggan dan perjuangan peneroka Bandar terjadi di seluruh Negara.  Kawasan perumahan setinggan di Chan Sow Lian, Kuala Lumpur akan dirobohkan; perbalahan pembangunan di Kampong Baru Plentong tidak dapat diselesaikan selama 20 tahun; Kampung Meru Tin di Perak menghadapi masalah harga tanah terlalu tinggi selepas tanah tersebut diambil balik oleh kerajaan negeri; Kampung Berembang, Jalan Papan dan Jalan Bukit Kerayong di Selangor menghadapi ancaman pengusiran paksa di bawah dasar setinggan sifar yang ditetapkan oleh bekas kerajaan negeri Selangor.

Apa yang telah berlaku di Kampung Buah Pala, ada kemungkinan berlaku lagi di negeri Selangor, ia akan mengakibatkan pertembungan dan merugikan semua pihak.  Bagaimanakah menangani masalah ini memang bergantung kepada kebijaksanaan pihak berkuasa, penduduk dan masyarakat madani.  Ia bukan sahaja menilai adakah kerajaan baru akan melaksanakan konsep demokrasi dan hak asasi manusia, tetapi juga mencabar kerajaan negeri mengubal dasar-dasar perumahan seragam yang “berorientasikan rakyat” dan bukan berorientasikan kumpulan-kumpulan kepentingan (interest group).

Jawatankuasa Hak Sivil berpendapat, semua pihak berkepentingan dalam isu setinggan di Selangor harus memulakan dialog dan perbincangan awam sebelum pengusiran paksa menjadi satu hakikat.  Perbincangan ini membenarkan semua rakyat yang prihatin memberi cadangan dan mencari jalan penyelesaian, melaksanakan kebudayaan rundingan demokrasi dan sebagai satu proses bagi menggubalkan dasar-dasar awam yang memanfaatkan rakyat.

Dengan ini, kami akan menganjurkan satu forum awam bertajuk “Berapakah Kampung Buah Pala di Selangor? – Dari Perbalahan Buah Pala Meninjau Dilema Setinggan di Selangor”.  Penceramah-penceramah ialah Iskandar Abdul Samad, Exco Kerajaan Negeri Selangor, Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Tetap Perumahan, Pengurusan Bangunan dan Setinggan; Tan Jo Hann, Pengerusi Permas merangkap Ahli Majlis MPSJ, Ang Mah Chye, wakil jawatankuasa penduduk Jalan Papan, Pandamaran Klang serta Noralizan bin Ali, wakil Kampung Berembang, Ampang.  Moderator ialah Ong Jing Cheng dari Persatuan EMPOWER.  Butir-butir forum adalah seperti berikut :

Tarikh: 30 Sept 2009(Rabu)
Masa:7:30 pm
Tempat: Auditorium, KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (Dekat stesen Monorail Maharajalela)
Penceramah:

1. Iskandar Abdul Samad(Exco Kerajaan Negeri Selangor, Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Tetap Perumahan, Pengurusan Bangunan dan Setinggan)

2. Tan Jo Hann(Pengerusi Permas merangkap Ahli Majlis MPSJ)

3. Ang Mah Chye(Wakil jawatankuasa penduduk Jalan Papan, Pandamaran Klang)

4. Noralizan bin Ali(Wakil Kampung Berembang, Ampang)

Moderator :Encik Ong Jing Cheng(Persatuan EMPOWER)
Bahasa:Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Inggeris

Forum awam ini adalah percuma, kedatangan orang awam dialu-alukan.  Jika ada sebarang pertanyaan, sila hubungi Encik Chia(03-2272 3519).  Sekian, terima kasih!

Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Hak Sivil KLSCAH
Liau Kok Fah

Another case under the OSA for the IGP to NFA: Who are the 2 army officers went to jibby Altantuya’s house the night Altantuya’s murdered?

Posted in RPK with tags on September 28, 2009 by ckchew

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

The Malaysian government says Altantuya Shaariibuu was murdered between 10.00pm on October 19th and 1.00am on October 20th, 2006. That was the charge against Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar and that was what they were pronounced guilty of.

At 10.01pm on 19th October 2006, two unnamed army officers went to Najib Tun Razak’s house, according to log entry 6494 in the police guard book. (See log 1a and log 2a below). These same two unnamed army officers left Najib’s house at 6.05am on 20th October 2006, according to log entry 6498. (See log 1b and log 2b below).

The purpose of the visit was never clarified.

This means these two army officers were in the home of the then Deputy Prime Minister for about eight hours during the time Altantuya was supposed to have been murdered. Why they were there during those eight hours and who these two army officers are has not been revealed.

From 10.01pm the night Altantuya was murdered until 6.05am the following morning, two army officers visited the Deputy Prime Minister and/or his wife. This is certainly a most odd time to visit a Deputy Prime Minister and/or his wife in their home. And what does one do for eight hours in someone’s home during the time most people would be fast sleep?

According to Fauzi, a driver, Rosmah Mansor left the official residence of the Deputy Prime Minister in Putrajaya at 6.48am on 19th October 2006 using car registration number WLQ 11 to return to her private home in Taman Duta. The car odometer reading was 86,197. That same evening, Rosmah attended a function near the Tabung Haji building in Jalan Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur

She did not return home until 11.20pm later that night, according to Fauzi.

The next day, 20th October 2006, Rosmah left her official residence in Putrajaya at 6.32am using the same car bearing registration number WLQ 11 to, again, return to Taman Duta. She also ran a few errands and did not return to Putrajaya until 1.01am the following morning.

The odometer reading was 86,315.

On the third day, Rosmah repeated the itinerary. She left Putrajaya at 6.40am to return to her Taman Duta home and to run some errands and did not go back to Putrajaya until 9.34pm that night. The odometer reading was 86,550.

Over three days, Rosmah travelled more than 350 kilometres to shuttle from Putrajajaya to Taman Duta, plus to some other places in between, according to the records.

I suggest the IGP investigate how these ‘officials secrets’ managed to leak out and whether the Official Secrets Act (OSA) has been breached. Or maybe the IGP would rather bury the whole issue and file it under No Further Action (NFA) to save the Prime Minister and his wife from having to answer some very embarrassing questions.

Hmm…I wonder who these two unnamed army officers are and whether they were really at the Deputy Prime Minister’s house those entire eight hours or whether they sneaked out and in again without any ‘official record’.

Ooh, I just love the OSA that protects the wrongdoer and instead sends the whistleblower to jail.

Log 1a

log1a

Log 2a

log2a

Log 1b

log1k

Log 2b

log2d

Police Log 19th-20th October 2006

img154

Bagan Pinang by election – umno in lose-lose situation: Uncertainty over candidate spells trouble for umno

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

Umno seems to be in a dilemma in selecting an appropriate candidate for the Bagan Pinang by-election, due to be held on Oct 11.

While the Teluk Kemang Umno division is insisting in naming only its chief and disgraced ex-Umno vice-president Isa Samad  for the state seat, the party’s deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin clearly expressed his stand on the matter by urging the division to come out with more choices.

Umno will have to sort out this mess over naming their candidate before nomination on Oct 4, just a week from today.

The party, which for long held the hegemony over all others, certainly needs to perform well in this by-election, the ninth in the series after the March 2008 general election, and ironically held in a state called Negeri Sembilan. In the previous eight by-elections, Umno and the Barisan Nasional by extension had only won one.

A victory in its home turf is a must for Umno, BN and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak but at the moment the indecisiveness of the party in picking a candidate may just put an end to its hopes of retaining the seat.

This is also a situation which the opposition is watching with much interest.

Umno in lose-lose situation

PKR’s election machinery chief Saifuddin Nasution, at a ceramah held at Kampung Pokok Buluh in Pasir Mas, Kelantan on Friday night, was quick in noting Umno’s dilemma in choosing the right candidate.

“If they (Umno) do not choose Isa, the party machinery may face a boycott in the Teluk Kemang Umno machinery. This will result in a possible loss.

“If they choose Isa, then it would show that Umno does not have any credible candidates to lead the challenge, not a single credible person from the ranks of the present leadership in Teluk Kemang Umno, even in its Puteri, Umno Youth or putera divisions,” he told the crowd.

The PKR election director, who is also Machang MP, said even former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had given the thumbs down to his former “blue-eyed boy” Isa as a candidate.

Mahathir had repeatedly expressed his views that Isa is not a suitable candidate as he had been found guilty of money politics in winning his vice-president’s post in the 2003 party polls and suspended from the party for three years.

PAS not spoilt for choice

Saifuddin was also quick to point out that BN’s problem ran deeper as other major component parties too faced leadership crisis, especially in both MCA and MIC which can result on the shift of the Chinese and Indian votes away from the BN to the Pakatan Rakyat.

On the other hand, Saifuddin said PAS’ choice of candidates for the by-election showed a list of capable candidates at its stable.

“One is an engineer, another one an economist and the third is a former candidate.”Certainly PAS does not have any problems of selecting the right candidate to represent the party and Pakatan,” he said without disclosing the identity of the potential candidate.

“The Chinese and Indians have also been receptive of PAS and credit should go to Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat in leading the state for 19 years. Under his stewardship the people’s acceptance of PAS has increased and this had broken down the racial barrier,” added the PKR strongman.

He also emphasised on the co-operation between PKR, PAS and DAP which had improved tremendously despite claims to the contrary by the Umn-linked mainstream media.

“We have managed to work together in strategising our move. In fact, in December each party will send 500 leaders to the Pakatan Rakyat’s national convention in Selangor to further strengthen the coalition and improve co-ordination.

Hard to get the postal voters

He also said that the election directors of PAS, PKR and DAP will be meeting on Tuesday to strategise a Pakatan victory on Oct 11.

While he said that it would be difficult in taking away the 4,000 over postal votes from the army camps located in the constituency, the strategy would be to tackle the normal voters.

“Our strategy is to try and overturn the 2,000 plus majority during the 2008 general election, by attracting more than 1,000 votes to Pakatan. We will be concentrating our efforts outside the army camps while you can be rest assured that BN will concentrate on the army camp,” he said.

Both PAS and Umno are expected to announce their candidates on Tuesday.

Hafiz Yatim/Mkini

The ‘conspiracy’ against MIC: ‘umno spreading hate messages’

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

A political wedlock that has spanned for more than five decades is now at the brink of a divorce. More than a year ago, the very mention of this would have been dismissed to the bins of preposterousness.

But the March 8 general election last year had tipped the scales for Barisan Nasional and the nightmare of losing power grows more dreadful with each sunset.

The ruling coalition, especially Umno, appears to be desperate.

According to observers, the denial syndrome is waning and the reality on the ground has left its leaders terrified of what the future might hold.

As the clock ticks down for the next general election, Umno is said to be looking for a ‘quick-fix’ solution even if this means burning bridges with its partners.

And MIC insiders believe that Umno has hatched a conspiracy against their party and its president S Samy Vellu, one that has been in the making even before the last general election.

According to them, Umno employed the antiquated strategy – the enemy of my enemy is my friend – to ensure that the MIC president was defeated in the polls.

“This was proven when a local Indian businessmen aligned to a former top MIC leader admitted that he and a former Umno minister conspired to ensure the defeat,” they said, without naming those involved.Back then, it was said that Umno wanted to seize control of the powerful Works Ministry and to do so, Samy Vellu had to be ousted.

True enough, in the post-March 8 cabinet, MIC was given the more junior human resources portfolio much to the chagrin of the president.

Severe repercussions

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the insiders alleged that the ‘conspiracy’ has now moved into high gear.

However, they warned that it could lead to severe repercussions, including the possibility of MIC leaving BN to operate independently or even joining forces with Pakatan Rakyat.

They also claimed that Umno was attempting to “split and confuse” the Indian community by approving and associating itself with many Indian-based parties.

This was in reference to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s open support for the Makkal Sakthi Party, which he is scheduled to launch on Oct 10.

“This is the divide and rule policy of the British that Umno has used since independence,” said the insiders.

Another strategy was to use the mainstream media, especially the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia and Tamil papers aligned to Umno, to tarnish MIC’s image.

These media outfits are given the task of continuously publishing or airing negative stories regarding MIC and its president, said the insiders.

Stage three of the conspiracy was to paint Samy Vellu as the chief culprit for all the shortcomings related to the Indian community.

“They shift the blame to the MIC leadership for the government’s failure to look after the Indian community by constantly saying that Samy Vellu did nothing for the Indians and he is to be blamed solely,” alleged the insiders.

‘Spreading hate messages’

The party insiders claimed that Umno was also “spreading hate messages through the media and public speeches” in order to achieve its aim.

As an example, they cited Najib’s opening speech at the recently concluded MIC general assembly where the premier openly called on party delegates to back change.

“However, this approach backfired similar to the one by (former premier and Umno president) Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the eve of the MIC elections on Sept 12,” they said.

The insiders also accused Umno of “colluding with a certain former MIC top leader to popularise him through the media in an attempt to take control of MIC.”

This was an obvious referrence to defeated deputy presidential candidate and Samy Vellu’s political nemesis S Subramaniam.

The insiders stated that Umno leaders found it hard to digest Samy Vellu’s “outspokenness and direct confrontation against Umno” and therefore were attempting to weaken his grip on MIC.

“This move was intensified after they realised that Samy Vellu still had a strong command in MIC when the majority of his team won in the party elections,” they said.

In view of this, the insiders said the powers-that-be want to ensure that the president exits the party as soon as possible and be replaced with a leader who would “kow-tow” to Umno.

RK Anand/Mkini

DAP’s U-turn on PORR

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

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) are disappointed that the government is proceeding with the construction of the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project.

It has been reported in the media that the project would be undertaken by a private company Daya Aliran Inovasi Sdn Bhd, whose appointment has been approved by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU).

The RM1.03 billion PORR project entails the construction of a 18-km toll highway cutting across the island from Tanjong Tokong to the Penang Bridge in Gelugor.

It is reported that the federal government funding for the project is RM150 million while the concessionaire is to come up with the rest. In return, the concessionaire is seeking rights to reclaim 150 acres in Gurney Drive and another 350 acres in Middle Bank, near Jelutong.

When asked if the state government was in favour of the project, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng reportedly said that the state government welcomed any project which would help reduce traffic congestion and generate economic growth and revenue for the state.

He also said that the Penang government is still waiting for feedback from the federal government on the project. On whether the state government would consult the public on the PORR, Lim had said public consultation had already been held, and there were differing views.

We are concerned of these new developments. Since the PORR was first announced in 2002, civil society groups and affected communities who had formed the No-PORR committee had been calling on the government to scrap the project because the environmental repercussions of this project are potentially disastrous, involving hill-cutting and coastal reclamation.

Many citizens and groups have expressed concern not for the sake of simply opposing the PORR, but out of a genuine concern that the social, environmental and economic costs of this project are way too high for an option that does not have long-term benefits. Besides this, the PORR project had been lacking in transparency right from the start. No public consultation was done before the government decided to implement the project.

Now we are exasperated that the Penang chief minister feels that there is no need to consult the public. Earlier when the public’s concerns were raised during several consultations with the previous government, it had not been seriously considered. Now, with the new government, civil society is not even being given an opportunity to raise their concerns.

We have been contending that the PORR is a futile attempt in reducing congestion on existing roads, as stressed by the Penang Urban Transport Study which was commissioned by the state and published in 1998.Based on the findings of the study pertaining to the effectiveness, usefulness and efficiency of the PORR, the report stated that PORR will not be of much use to alleviate traffic congestion in the long run.

We have been demanding for an integrated public transport system for more sustainable and cost-effective solution in the long-term. We suggest that the government put its energy and resources into upgrading public transportation in the State. With better public transport, there would be no necessity for the PORR as there would be less private vehicles on the road.

Thus, we urge the federal and Penang government to scrap the construction of the PORR and instead focus on implementing an efficient and integrated public transport system in the state.

SM Mohammad Idris, president of the Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia

Tg Bunga folk: Please save our homes – Lim had only confused the public over the whole issue.

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

Alarmed by errors and discrepancies in the Penang Structure Plan 2007, a group of Tanjung Bunga residents want the current government to rectify them and gazette the area as a low density secondary corridor of development.

The Tanjong Bunga Residents’ Association (TBRA) chairperson George Aeria said the residents feared that the inconsistencies in the structure plan could expose their area to unrestricted and unlimited projects and become more congested with traffic and high rise structures.

He claims that the previous Barisan Nasional administration had re-zoned and gazetted the area in the structure plan as a high density primary development corridor.

However, Aeria said the public copy for examination earlier on display, showed that the location was part of a lower density secondary corridor.

He said under the original text, the primary development corridor encompassed areas between the city and Tanjong Tokong, while the secondary corridor covered areas between Tanjung Bunga, beginning at Tanjung Bunga Hotel, and Teluk Bahang.

However, now, he said, the diagram shown within the structure plan illustrated that the primary corridor encompassed areas between Georgetown and the end of Tanjung Bunga stopping at the Mar Vista.

‘Correct past mistakes’

“We now call on the current DAP government to rectify the wrongs committed by the past state government in the structure plan.

“The state government should acknowledge this error and follow through with the original texts in the drafting of the local plan,” said Aeria in a press statement today.

He said this was necessary to ensure all decisions made by the planning officers were guided according to the amendments.

“The plan must show that Tanjong Bunga is in the secondary development corridor, which means all future projects in the area must comply with guidelines limiting the number of houses to maximum 15 units per acre.

“Failure to undertake this revision of an earlier error would mean that the current state government is intent on confirming the error and aims to mislead the public by following the past state administration’s use of an irregular diagram that does not comply with the text and the plan,” said Aeria.

Early this month Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said that Tanjung Bunga would not suffer the pain of the new housing policy, which had increased the density of housing projects.

Referring to the statement, Aeria said Lim had only confused the public over the whole issue.

Confusion over which plan

“Since Tanjong Bunga is in a secondary corridor in the original text of the structure plan, the new housing policy of higher density can’t be implemented.

“If implemented, it will violate the structure plan’s original aim to limit 15 units per acre,” he said.

Lim’s government has already approved the previous government’s altered structure plan on Dec 19 last year.

Referring to this and to a press statement by state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow, Aeria said “it clearly showed that the DAP state administration was now giving precedence to the modified diagram over the original displayed text.”

He said if the current state government failed to rectify the error, Tanjung Bunga would be face high volume of traffic, population and high rise structures.

He argued since the existing the land space cannot accommodate new roads, heavy infrastructure work had to be carried out by cutting down hills, which fill the sea with earth and degrade the environment.

As it is, he said the residents were already facing environmental degradation after hills were cut down.

Extensive cutting of hills, he said would worsen the existing soil erosion and cause heavy loads of mud and silt being washed into the sea.

He said high density development in Tanjung Bunga would adversely affect infrastructure networks such as water supply, electricity and telecommunications, and basic amenities and facilities such as hospitals, post offices, government offices, schools and fire stations.

Aeria appealed to the state government to reconsider its plans and return Tanjung Bunga back to the original plan.

Athi Shankar/Mkini

Lessons from Japan for Pakatan Rakyat

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 25, 2009 by ckchew

While the recent Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) defeat in the lower house elections in Japan was indeed historic, this was not the first time post-World War Two (WWII) in which a government without the LDP had been formed.

It was 16 years ago, after the 1993 elections, that a government comprising a coalition of seven opposition parties was formed after the LDP failed to a obtain a majority of seats. However, this anti-LDP coalition government would collapse after only nine months in power.

The manner in which this opposition coalition was formed and later collapsed and the subsequent consolidation of anti-LDP forces under the ‘new’ Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) present interesting comparisons and lessons for the opposition parties in Malaysia in today’s context.

The inability of the LDP to maintain its post-WWII record of winning a majority of seats in the more important lower house, or House of Representatives, was partly due to three breakaway parties that were formed by influential LDP factions leaders, most notable of whom was Ichiro Ozawa.

The presence of factions within the LDP was nothing new given the rather unique electoral system used in Japan before 1994. Voters were given only one vote to cast for one candidate in multi-member districts that would elect between three to five candidates.

This electoral system, called the single non-transferable vote (SNTV), which was also used in Taiwan and Korea, would not only encourage inter-party competition but also intra-party competition as well.

However, up to 1993, the LDP had been very successful in preventing factional leaders from leaving its fold to form their own parties. These factional leaders took the decision to leave the LDP in the early 1990s because of intense disagreement with the existing party leadership over the contentious issue of electoral and campaign finance reform.

It was partly over this issue that Ichiro Ozawa, the leader of one of the LDP breakaway factions, used to unite the different anti-LDP opposition parties after the 1993 election.

This anti-opposition coalition would comprise parties of different ideological stripes including the Japanese Socialist Party (JSP), a pro-pacifist party, the Clean Government Party (CGP), supported by the Buddhist sect, Soka Gakkkai, the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), which had broken away from the Japanese Socialist Party (JSP), as well as the three LDP breakaway parties.

However, this coalition government, led by Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, a former LDP leader, would collapse a mere nine months after it was formed. Legislation to reform the electoral system and campaign financing had been passed and Ozawa was seen as trying to rebuild an anti-LDP coalition that would co-opt more LDP defectors but would exclude the socialist JSP.

Without a common binding force, the fragmented nature of the different opposition parties and Ozawa’s behind the scenes machinations, it was not surprising that the LDP would be successful without co-opting the JSP and one of the LDP breakaway parties to switch over to its side after Hosokawa tendered his resignation over a minor financial scandal.

For the JSP, the LDP offer to nominate its leader, Tomiichi Murayama, as the new prime minister was too tempting to resist.

Unfortunately for the socialists, Murayama’s position as prime minister was not sustainable and when his party experienced defections and a significant electoral setback in the 1996 election, partly caused by it entering into a coalition government with the LDP, he was forced to resign and the LDP would once again regain control of the prime minister’s position.

The period of time from 1993 to 2003 saw a number of new parties forming as well as old parties disbanding with the LDP ever ready to ‘recruit’ independent candidates, to open its arms to defectors and to ‘pick off’ opposition parties that were willing to lend it legislative as well as electoral support in exchange for positions in the government.

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which won the recent elections, was the result of an amalgamation of different parties, factions and defectors that finally coalesced into a credible alternative to the LDP.

BN’s ‘divide and conquer’ strategy

What lessons can the opposition parties in Malaysia glean from the experience of their counterparts in Japan?

Firstly, a divided opposition always presents itself as an easy target for a dominant incumbent regime to use the classic ‘divide and conquer’ strategy.The ongoing rumours that the BN is still seeking for defections to take over the state governments in Selangor and Kedah as well as the attempts to create divisions between PAS on the one hand and DAP and PKR on the other is testament of this strategy.

This is not the first nor will it be the last time such a tactic has been and will be used. The precursor to the BN, the Alliance, took advantage of the regionalised strength of the PPP (Perak), Gerakan (Penang) and SUPP (Sarawak) to entice these then opposition parties to join a reconstituted governing coalition after the 1969 general election.

The division of the Iban and Kadazan vote behind different parties in Sarawak and Sabah no doubt helps the PBB and Umno respectively maintain their control over both these states.

Hence, it is imperative that Pakatan introduce structures and mechanisms which ensure that its candidates who run for office are men and women of integrity who are not likely to switch their allegiance because of certain ‘inducements’. Pakatan also needs to institutionalize procedures to strengthen inter-party bonds and to formalize mechanisms to resolve inter-party disagreements including possibly setting up an inter-party disciplinary mechanism.

Secondly, the temptation for short-term gain for positions can and will usually result in a long-term decline in the electoral fortunes of an opposition party that decides to throw it its lot with the ruling incumbent. There was no way that the LDP would continue to allow a leader from the JSP to remain prime minister beyond the short term. The JSP would suffer the electoral consequences as a result of its ‘dalliance’ with the LDP.

Similarly, any tempting offers by the BN to anoint an opposition leader as the chief minister or menteri besar of one of the opposition-controlled states would probably end in tears for that nominee and his party. If PAS has thrown in its lot with the BN in Selangor so that one of its state leaders could be nominated as MB after the 2008 general election, I have no doubts that his tenure would have been a short one and that PAS, nationally, would suffer a backlash in future elections.

Indeed, such a fate did befall PAS after its three year ‘dalliance’ with the BN from 1974 to 1977. It lost control of the state of Kelantan in 1978 and would not recover this state until the 1990 elections, with the help of Tengku Razaleigh’s Semangat 46 (S46).

Thirdly, the process of building a credible opposition coalition or party to defeat the dominant incumbent party is often a painful one that takes place over many years rather than over a short period of time. During this time, there are often many periods of uncertainty as leaders of different parties and factions negotiate and renegotiate their respective policy positions.

One could say that Pakatan is the culmination of a process that began with S46 forming the APU and Gagasan Rakyat in the 1990 general election. S46 rejoining Umno, the formation of Keadilan and later the Barisan Alternatif in the 1999 general election, the departure of DAP from this coalition in 2001 and the formation of Pakatan after the 2008 general election is all part and parcel of that difficult process.

This task is far from complete. Pakatan in Peninsular Malaysia still has many internal problems to iron out and the process of building a united opposition coalition in East Malaysia is still very much in flux.

Fourthly, winning power is but the first step for any opposition coalition seeking to replace a dominant incumbent regime. The DPJ has to show that it is capable of governing with a coherent set of policies despite the differing interests of the diverse factions which is represented under its umbrella.

Similarly, Pakatan has to make use of the opportunity to govern the states currently under its control to give a sense of how it will govern as a coalition, should it ever replace the BN at the federal level. Thus far, the record of the different Pakatan state governments has been mixed at best but their efforts to govern the respective states have been hampered by a relatively uncooperative federal government.

The DPJ’s recent overwhelming victory in Japan shows that dominant regimes can be defeated at the polls replicating the defeat of the PRI in Mexico, the defeat of the KMT in Taiwan and the defeat of the Socialist Party in Senegal, all in 2000 and more recently, the defeat of the Colorado Party in Paraguay in 2008.

But such outcomes are far from guaranteed as dominant regimes are still very much in power in countries such as Botswana and Singapore. Whether Pakatan can replicate the opposition’s performance in Japan, Mexico, Paraguay, Senegal and Taiwan remains to be seen.

ONG KIAN MING is a PhD candidate in political science at Duke University. He can be reached at im.ok.man@gmail.com./Mkini

Malaysiakini (http://www.malaysiakini.com/) under attack too?

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

Seems like after they attacked Malaysia Today, these same people are targeting Malaysiakini.

The attack end about 9.55pm.

RPK Speaks His Mind – ISA and Solitary Confinement

Posted in RPK with tags on September 24, 2009 by ckchew

Doubts over Formula for unity: Do we need to burn at least RM200 mil yearly on F1 when teams like Honda, Toyota & BMW are pulling due to no ROI?

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

I AM not going to be a wet blanket, in prematurely criticising the government’s plan to enter Formula One.

The timing – in the midst of the global financial crisis – is probably questionable as this will cost us at least RM1 billion. The bulk of this money comes from national carmaker Proton, which in effect means the people are funding it.

There is a theory that the Finance Ministry will approve more special draws to help fund this venture.

However, in the long run, this may be one of our best investments; one of the best things Malaysia could have done in putting itself on the map. In terms of branding we are exposed 18 times a year – the number of races – to a global television audience of around 600 million.

Let’s not forget the potential tie-ups, endorsements and sponsorship deals which are a usual spin-off of a massive agreement such as this.

It also creates jobs and other opportunities through massive R&D investments, offering limitless prospects to local students for internships, training and attachments.

Ferrari, for instance, has a team of close to 800 people, including 200 frontline crew involved in pit and technical aspects of the race.

Now, with the Lotus name we cannot go wrong. The name itself evokes memories of the 79 grand prix wins that the team had before it folded and was bought by Proton.

But as the Malay saying goes, let this not be a case of “kera dapat bunga”. In the hands of Datuk Tony Fernandes, one is more confident that our second foray into F1, albeit ambitious, will not go the way of our first venture with Team Minardi in 2001, with Alex Yoong being the country’s first ever F1 driver.

Minardi languished at the bottom and Yoong could boast of a position no higher than seventh place in Melbourne, when the other teams crashed out. Malaysia spent what is estimated at RM120 million in the tie-up and Yoong returned to the less competitive A1 race.

The worry is while we can impress with high-tech facilities and state-of-the-art headquarters complete with wind tunnel at the SIC (Sepang International Circuit), whether we can produce world-class performances from our drivers and technology is another story.

We can spend big bucks and pay millions for top notch drivers, but then, he will only be as good as the car he is driving.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, who is at the bottom of the drivers standings, cost Force India RM5 million a season, while Force’s chief engineer Mike Gascoyne is F1’s most expensive engineer at RM28.8 million a year.

Can we afford these kinds of salaries for average showings?

In our quest to put a Malaysian face in the cockpit, do we sacrifice quality and experience for Malaysia Boleh?

Probably, and we could end up a laughing stock languishing at the bottom of the 13-team race.

Hence, we need to be practical and ask ourselves what is the main motivation for the conception of the 1Malaysia F1 Team. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s explanation: “It will be a national team under the 1 Malaysia banner which stands as a unifying foundation for all Malaysians to come together in celebrating the cooperation between our multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious society through sports.”

If one needed to use sports as a unifying factor, one only needs to go back in time to the era of the Malaysia Cup, the Thomas Cup and the Razak Cup to witness how for the sheer love of sports, Malaysians irrespective of ethnicity came together to cheer the multiethnic national teams.

The last time we witnessed a dramatic surge in national pride in the sporting arena was the 1998 KL Commonwealth Games.

Nicol David had succeeded to a certain measure in becoming a unifying factor through sports. The only set-back is that not many people follow squash.

If enhancing national unity is the main agenda, perhaps instead of spending RM200 million a year on an F1 team, we could explore strengthening the sports we already have.

Football has a tremendous following from Malaysians of all walks of life. It was only 30 years ago that we wore Pahang, Selangor and Kedah shirts with the same pride that we have today in adorning jerseys of Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid.

Perhaps tweaking the organisation of sports associations and getting the deadwood out of the Football Association of Malaysia would be a cheaper and sure-fire way of getting football stadiums full again and reviving some of that national pride.

There is nothing to say Fernandes and the executives at Naza are not going to do a good job. Probably if anyone can get our F1 dreams on track it is the team unveiled by the prime minister on Tuesday. But at the end of the day, they are businessmen whose main focus is flying low-cost carriers and selling cars.

Malaysians would want to know what was the fine print when they signed on the dotted line and when do we pull the plug if this ends up draining our coffers yet again.

Terence Fernandez/SUNdaily

Both are the thieves – one from Melaka & the other from Penang: A thief calling for another thief

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 23, 2009 by ckchew

The High Chaparral fiasco continues as an upset Penang Gerakan chief Teng Hock Nan hit back at Lim Guan Eng that it was improper and uncultured of the Chief Minister to call one a thief.

“It’s against the Malaysian culture for a person of his position to call the previous government as land thief or robber.

“It’s improper and unwarranted for a chief executive of the state government to resort to name calling,” said Teng, who was a senior executive councillor in the previous Barisan Nasional state government.

He was responding to an earlier hard hitting statement from the Chief Minister pertaining to the controversial alienation and sales of Indian traditional enclave in Gelugor, the Kampung Buah Pala, which was once fondly called as Tamil High Chaparral by locals.

Instead of picking up petty political fights with others, Teng said Lim shall focus his resources in resolving basic prevailing problems such as flood, cleanliness, rubbish collections, traffic congestion, Penang Hill railway breakdowns and public transport.

Unlike the current DAP government, Teng said the previous state government had never shirk its responsibility to the people by “washing off its hands when goings get tough”.

“The BN administrations had never washed their hands off over any issues. BN has always been hands on in resolving the people’s problems even under hostile climate provoked by the opposition parties,” he said.

Teng was criticising Lim’s statement last month that his government was “washing its hand off” the Kampung Buah Pala issue when the villagers sought help from the federal government to end their predicament.

Last week Teng alleged that technically it was the DAP government, not the previous Gerakan administration, that finalised the village land deal and sold Kampung Buah Pala to the cooperative society – Koperasi Pegawai Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan

Earlier today Lim promptly returned fire by likening Teng’s accusation as a classic case of ‘the thief shouting thief.’

Lim also described the previous BN government under Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon as land robbers.

BN was more responsible

Teng responded by saying that if at all it was a BN robbery, then given that Lim signed the documents, finalised the deal and transferred the land to the cooperative, “the chief minister had actually abetted the theft.”

Although he admitted it was the previous government that alienated the village land, he said the Koh’s administration had never denied it or passed the buck over to the current government.

“We also never had resorted to name calling like him,” said Teng when he called Malaysiakini to give his response.

He said Lim could never deny that he had actually affected the transfer of the land title by overlooking the contractual clause that insisted that the cooperative and Oasis project developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd to settle the villagers’ compensation, relocation and resettlement issues beforehand.

He said the previous government inserted the clause as a contractual pre-condition to ensure that the interests, rights and benefits of the weaker party, the villagers, were safeguarded.

“The clause was inserted to ensure that no one was marginalised by the development programme,” he said, adding that alienation exercise was done to bring about development to improve the living environment and quality of life in the area.

He said the previous BN government would never transfer the land title if the land owner and developer had not fulfilled the condition.

However, he said Lim’s government had hastily and hurriedly transferred the land title before the land owner and developer had fulfilled the demands of the condition.

He also pointed that Lim had either conveniently forgot or swept under the carpet the election pledges made the Pakatan Rakyat leaders during last year’s general election to save and preserve the Kampung Buah Pala as an Indian culture village.

“Lim owes a public explanation on all these,” insisted Teng.

A distant chief minister

He also said Lim should not brag that he had brokered a better ‘double-storey terrace house’ compensation for the villagers.

He said the chief minister was forced to do so due to the pressure by the civil society movements and political parties.

He recalled before the intervention of the outside groups to help the villagers, Lim was least bothered about the issue and did not even want to talk about it.

“He transferred the land title and wanted to conveniently wash his hands off from the problem, something that a BN government will never do,” he said.

Virtually all houses in Kampung Buah Pala have already been demolished and the developer is set to kick start its lucrative condominium project soon.

Athi Shankar/Mkini

Kg Buah Pala: Penang CM urged not to mislead the public on issue of compensation

The tragedy of Kampung Buah Pala.

Internal gloom may doom Bagan Pinang for BN

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 23, 2009 by ckchew

Political rivalry within Umno, MIC and MCA seems to be putting a serious damper in BN’s attempt to break its by-election jinx of eight straight defeats suffered at the hands of Pakatan Rakyat in Peninsular Malaysia.

Political grudges, enmity and jealousy from the past and the present in Umno circles appear to be hounding former party vice-president Mohd Isa Abdul Samad in his bid to be selected as the BN candidate for the Bagan Pinang state by-election.

During the rise and fall of his political carrier in the party, Mohd Isa had crossed swords with many party political leaders and is now paying the price for his battles and duels with other party leaders as well.

Many senior party leaders are now using the past party corruption charge against Isa to denying him the opportunity to contest the by-election.

Mohd Isa was suspended for three years from June 24, 2005 for alleged money politics in the 2004 party elections.

The former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar was originally suspended for six years or two terms but this was reduced after he appealed.

Among political leaders who oppose Mohd Isa’s candidacy are Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh and former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Mohd Isa was once considered to be a blue-eyed boy of Mahathir.

But Mohd Isa, who heads the Umno Teluk Kemang division, seems to be the favourite candidate and was selected by his division to contest.

However, in his attempt to make a come-back, Isa faces stiff resistance from Umno leaders who want a greater variety in the number of candidates before a selection is made for the by-election.

Enemies in high places, past and present

The Bagan Pinang seat fell vacant following the death of Umno’s Azman Mohd Noor, 55, on Sept 4.

A close friend of Mohd Isa told Malaysiakini today that the aspiring candidate has made many enemies in the party.

“Political grudges, enmity and jealousy seem to be the order of the day in Umno to prevent Isa from climbing up the party’s political ladder through this state seat. These leaders should think objectively and not subjectively if they want BN to win the state seat,” he said.

When told that Bagan Pinang is a safe seat for Umno, he disagreed.

“Nothing is considered a safe seat due to the prevailing political situation in the country.”

“Party leaders must put party’s interests before their own self interest, otherwise the seat may go to the opposition,” he said.

He claimed that Razaleigh was against Mohd Isa because the latter had supported Mahathir during the former’s bid for the party president’s post.

The source also claimed that there is a split in the state party as many of the members want Mohd Isa, upon winning the state seat, to replace the present Menteri Besar Mohamad Hasan as the state leader.

Mahathir had stated that if Umno is serious in eliminating money politics and corruption, it should choose a party candidate who is clean and not Mohd Isa to regain the support of the voters.

According to the source, now it seems that Mahathir is allegedly supporting Hasan to ouster Mohd Isa from the candidates list.

‘MIC not confident of Indian vote’

According to the Election Commission records as of Sept 4, the Bagan Pinang constituency has 13,664 registered voters, including 4,604 postal voters, comprising 8,577 Malays (62.77 percent), 2,834 Indians (20.74 percent), 1,498 Chinese (10.96 percent) and 755 others (5.53 percent).

Nominations for the by-election has been set for Oct 3 and if there is a contest polling has been set for Oct 11.

According to a former MIC party leader, the Indian based party is having problems reaching out to the 2,834 Indian voters to win support for the BN in the coming by-election.

His advice is that MIC party president S Samy Vellu must not participate in this by- election as he is considered a liability when getting the Indian votes to swing to for the BN.

When contacted, former party vice-president M Muthupalaniappan  said that he has been side-lined by Samy in the party’s attempt to win votes for the BN in this by-election.

However, Muthu, who claimed that he has the full support of the Indian community, said this will not discourage him from going to the ground to campaign for BN.

“(Premier) Najib (Abdul Razak) is trying to uplift the social economic status of the Indian community and as such I shall try my level best to ensure that BN retains this state seat,” he reasoned.

Muthu had tried to contest against Samy Vellu for the party’s top post but failed and now claims that he has since patched up with the president.But his recent failure to secure a Central Working Committee seat in the recent party’s election on Sept 12, says otherwise as he is still considered as being sidelined by the party leadership.

Humayun Kabir/Mkini

Malaysia: Don’t Censor or Harass Independent Website – Mkini

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 23, 2009 by ckchew

(New York) – The Malaysian government should drop its order to a popular news website to remove videos of a recent protest and of a government minister’s reaction, Human Rights Watch said today.

The website Malaysiakini has refused to comply with a September 3, 2009 order by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission to remove a video showing an incident where protesters in Selangor state marched with a severed cow’s head to oppose the building of a Hindu temple and another in which the home minister stated that the actions were legal. The minister later reversed himself and police charged some of the protesters.

“The government wants to make the problem disappear by taking the videos off the internet,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “But Malaysians have a right to see for themselves what happened and hear what was said – the government shouldn’t be suppressing this information.”

According to the Communication and Multimedia Commission, the videos are in violation of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998, which prohibits “content which is indecent, obscene, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person.” Violations carry fines of up to RM50,000 (US$14,325) and up to a year in prison.

The commission’s letter ordering Malaysiakini to remove the videos from its website stated that the videos “contain offensive contents with the intent to annoy any person, especially Indians.”

One of the videos, “Temple demo: Residents march with cow’s head,” taken on August 28, 2009, shows Muslim Malay residents protesting plans to relocate Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu temple to their neighborhood. About 50 people, including several carrying a bloody cow’s head, march 300 meters from the state mosque in Selangor to the state secretariat building.

At the state building, the protesters presented their demands and threatened violence against the Hindu community and the Selangor government if the relocation went forward. Some marchers spat on and stomped on the head, an act clearly aimed at Hindus, who regard cows as sacred. The organizers had not requested a permit as required by Malaysia’s Police Act. Police monitoring the event made no move to intervene.

The second video, “Hisham: Don’t blame cow-head protesters,” recorded Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein’s news conference on September 2, exonerating the protesters of any wrongdoing. He said: “All they wanted was to voice their unhappiness and the unwillingness of the state government to consider their request. … This day and age, protests should be accepted in this world as people want their voices to be heard. If we don’t give them room to voice their opinions, they have no choice but to protest.”

Responding to a domestic outcry, Hishammuddin on September 3 reversed his position and ordered a further police investigation and “uncompromising punishment” of the protesters. On September 9, police charged 12 participants with illegal assembly. Six of the 12 were also charged with sedition and face fines of up to RM5,000 (US$1,430) and up to three years in prison.

“It’s time for the government to stop using sedition charges against protesters and to consistently uphold free expression,” said Pearson.

Malaysiakini has refused to remove the videos. The editor-in chief, Steven Gan, told the media: “Our intent … was not to ‘annoy,’ but to do our job as journalists to draw attention to the protest and to ensure action is taken so that incidents like this will not happen again in Malaysia.”

The commission has embarked on a thorough investigation of Malaysiakini. Over a three-day period, eight commission staffers, acting in teams, extensively questioned the chief executive officer, Premesh Chandran, as well as editors, reporters, the video team, and technical support staff. Gan was questioned separately. Investigators also copied parts of the hard disks from two computers that edit and upload videos, and demanded the original tapes.

This is not the first time that Malaysiakini reporting has resulted in a heavy-handed response by government officials. In 2003 the government carried out a 10-month investigation of the news site for posting a letter to the editor criticizing the government (http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2003/10/07/malaysia-end-intimidation-news-website ). In June 2009, the government temporarily banned Malaysiakini journalists and other critical media from entering parliament.

“The government’s investigation of Malaysiakini is nothing short of media harassment and it needs to stop,” said Pearson. “Malaysians are entitled to know all sides of a story. It is not up to the government to approve what news is fit to air, print, or post.”

Human Right Watch

Anwar wants all parties to meet on Tanjung Tokong

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags on September 22, 2009 by ckchew

PKR wants the authorities in Penang to hear out the residents’ views pertaining to their calls to preserve Kampung Melayu Tanjung Tokong as a heritage village before making a decision on future development in the area.

“I want all parties to enter into serious negotiations to find an amicable solution on issues of compensation, resettlement and heritage,” said PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim.

He said the Penang government, Urban Development Authority (UDA) and Tanjung Tokong residents should meet to discuss all outstanding issues.

Although the development was undertaken by UDA, a federal agency, he said the state government must take part in the dialogue with the people because it involved land matters, which come under the state purview.

“Firstly, all residents shall be compensated adequately,” the parliamentary opposition leader told journalists when hosting a Hari Raya ‘open house’ in Taman Guar Perahu, Penanti today.

Anwar pointed out that deliberations on the heritage issue should take into account the historical background of the village, which had existed way before the colonial era.

He also stressed that the role of UDA, a government agency established in 1971, was to develop Malay settlements in the country’s urban areas.

“The agency was also meant to ensure that Malay areas are not left out of mainstream development,” said the Permatang Pauh parliamentarian.

He said whatever decision taken on the issue should not be at the expense of the re-development programme to upgrade and modernise the coastal area’s infrastructure and living environment.

“All demands and decisions shall be reasonable, amicable and acceptable by all parties,” he said.

PM urged to intervene

Tanjung Tokong Villagers Association has called on Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to give the village heritage status.

Its chairperson Mohd Salleh Yahaya said the villagers have now lost all their rights after UDA declared them as ‘squatters’ in a statutory declaration late last year.

The association has started a nationwide signature campaign to drum up support and urge the prime minister to intervene.

Mohd Salleh’s call has received support from Penang Malays Association (Pemenang), which called on the authorities to preserve the village in the overall development plan in Tanjung Tokong.

Pemenang president Yussof Latiff stressed that UDA was duty-bound to preserve Kampung Melayu Tanjung Tokong because the village was the oldest living Malay cultural village in Penang.

UDA has reportedly stated that the multi-billion ringgit Tanjung Tokong development programme would not include the preservation of the village as a living human cultural site.

Transparency needed on postal votes

On Bagan Pinang by-election, Anwar called on the Election Commission (EC) to undertake pro-active steps to overcome negative public perception the constituency’s postal vote rolls.

“EC should clean up and update the postal vote list and allow representatives from all contesting parties to observe its balloting process.

“The postal votes shall also be counted at the polling station immediately after the balloting was over.

“I don’t see any difficulties in EC fulfilling these demands,” said the Pakatan Rakyat leader, stressing that EC was duty bound to uphold democratic electoral process.

He said although Pakatan was confident of giving BN and Umno a tough fight at the by-election, the postal voters remained a major obstacle to victory,” he said.

There are 13,664 voters in Bagan Pinang, of which 9,060 are ordinary voters with the remainder of 4,604 – or about one-third – being postal voters.

The large number of postal voters is due to the several army camps located in the constituency.

Nomination is on Oct 3 (Saturday) and polling is on Oct 11 (Sunday).

The seat fell vacant following the death of incumbent BN assemblyperson Azman Mohammad Noor on Sept 4 from blood infection.

In the general election in March 2008, Azman defeated PAS’ Ramli Ismail with a majority of 2,333 votes. He polled 6,430 votes against Ramli’s 4,097.

Athi Shankar/Mkini

Bakun dam to be much worse than PKFZ scandal

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 22, 2009 by ckchew

Nearly 50 years after independence for Sarawak, we see a comparison with the ‘Highland Clearances’ in Scotland during the 18th century when the highlanders were driven off their lands for capitalistic sheep farming.

The English did it with brutality and thoroughness through “butcher” Lord Cumberland and even obliterated the ‘wild’ Celtic mode of life.

What we have seen in Sarawak recently has the same capitalist logic, namely, to drive the indigenous peoples out of their native customary lands so that these lands can be exploited for their commercial value and the indigenous people can be “freed” to become wage labourers.

Thus, even though the accursed Bakun dam had been suspended in 1997 due to the financial crisis, the government still went ahead to displace 10,000 indigenous peoples to the Sungai Asap resettlement camp in 1998.

Well, there is a reason for this – the contract for the Sungai Asap camp had already been given out to a multinational company. After all, the whole Bakun area, which is the size of the island of Singapore and home to the indigenous peoples, had already been thoroughly logged…

All this happened while Dr Mahathir Mahathir was the prime minister. Wasn’t he a liability to the BN government then?

I was part of the fact-finding mission to Sungai Asap in 1999 and even then we could see the destruction of so many unique indigenous communities and their cultures, including the Ukit tribe.

There was only one word to describe what had been done to these indigenous peoples and their centuries-old cultures… wicked!

Banned from my own country

As a result of my concern for the indigenous peoples and the natural resources of Sarawak, I was told at Kuching airport in August 2007 that I could not enter Sarawak. So much for 1Malaysia! So much for national integration! So much for nearly 50 years of independence! I was not even welcome in my own country.

But the contracts for the resettlement scheme and the logging are chicken feed compared to the mega-bucks to be reaped from the mega-dams. Even before the Bakun dam ever got started, Malaysian taxpayers had to compensate dam builder Ekran Bhd and the other “stakeholders” close to RM1 billion in 1997.

How much does it cost to pay our ‘mata-mata’ (police) to investigate the alleged scandalous rape of our Penan women?

The contracts from building the Bakun dam and the undersea cable run in excess of RM20 billion. Malaysian taxpayers won’t know the final cost until they are told the cost overruns when the projects have been completed.

But if the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal is anything to go by, the leaks and non-accountability all along the line will result in Malaysian taxpayers paying billions for the same kind of daylight robbery.

In the early 90s, when the government was trying to assure us that there would be no irresponsible logging in Sarawak, I pointed out in Parliament that if the government could not monitor the Bukit Sungai Putih permanent forest and wildlife reserve just 10 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, how did they expect us to believe they could monitor the forests in Bakun?

Likewise today, if the government cannot monitor a project in Port Klang just half an hour from Kuala Lumpur, how can they assure us that they can monitor a project deep in upriver Sarawak and through 650km of the South China Sea?

How can we be assured that we will get to the bottom of politically-linked scandals when the Sarawak police tell us they don’t have the resources to investigate the rape of Penan women and girls?

How can we be assured that the Sarawak state government cares about its indigenous peoples and its natural resources when NGO activists are banned from entering Sarawak to investigate a part of their own country?

It makes no economic sense

In 1980, the Bakun dam was proposed with a power generating capacity of 2,400MW even though the projected energy needs for the whole of Sarawak was only 200MW for 1990.

The project was thus coupled with the proposal to build the world’s longest (650km) undersea cable to transmit electricity to the peninsula. An aluminum smelter at Sarawak’s coastal town of Bintulu was also proposed to take up the surplus energy.

In 1986, the project was abandoned because of the economic recession although the then PM Mahathir announced just before the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that this was “proof of Malaysia’s commitment to the environment”.

So what happened to that commitment, Mahathir?

In 1993, with the upturn in the Malaysian economy, the government once again announced the revival of the Bakun dam project. To cushion the expected protests, then Energy Minister S Samy Vellu gave Parliament a poetic description of a “series of cascading dams” and not one large dam as had been originally proposed.

Before long, it was announced that the Bakun dam would be a massive 205-metre high concrete face rockfill dam – one of the highest dams of its kind in the world – and it would flood an area the size of Singapore island.

The undersea cable was again part of the project. There was also a plan for an aluminum plant, a pulp and paper plant, the world’s biggest steel plant and a high-tension and high-voltage wire industry.

Have feasibility studies been done to see if there will be adequate local, regional and international demand for all these products?

Six years later, after the economy was battered by the Asian Financial Crisis, the government again announced that the project would be resumed albeit on a smaller scale of 500MW capacity.

Before long in 2001, the 2,400MW scale was once again proposed although the submarine cable had been shelved. Today we read reports about the government and companies still contemplating this hare-brained undersea scheme which is now estimated to cost a whopping RM21 billion!

More mega-dams to be built

The recent announcement that the Sarawak government intends to build two more mega-dams in Sarawak apart from the ill-fated Bakun dam is cause for grave concern.

Malaysian taxpayers, Malaysian forests and Malaysian indigenous peoples will again be the main victims of this misconceived plan. We have been told that some 1,000 more indigenous peoples will have to be displaced from their ancestral lands to make way for these two dams.

Apart from the human cost, ultimately it will be the Malaysian consumers who pay for this expensive figment of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s wild imagination. Indeed, enough taxpayers’ money has been wasted – Sarawak Hidro has already spent some RM1.5 billion on the Bakun dam project.

Right now, the country is being fed conflicting reports about energy demand. There is supposed to be a 43 percent oversupply of electricity capacity in peninsula Malaysia. Experienced Bakun dam watchers will tell you such conflicting and mutually contradictory assertions have been used by the dam proponents to justify every flip flop of this misconceived project.

Apart from the economic cost and the wastage, how are investors supposed to plan for the long-term and medium term? What is the long-term plan for Bakun? Can Bakun compete with the rest of the world or for that matter, Indonesia?

The suggestion for aluminum smelters to take up the bulk of Bakun electricity have been mentioned ever since the conception of the Bakun dam project because they are such a voracious consumer of energy. Even so, has there ever been any proper assessment of the market viability of such a project with the cheaper operating costs in China?

Does it matter that the co-owner of one of the smelters is none other than Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS) Bhd Group, a conglomerate controlled by Taib’s family business interest?

Sarawak’s tin-pot government

Clearly, Bakun energy and Sarawak’s tin-pot governance do not give confidence to investors. First it was Alcoa, and then Rio Tinto – both giant mining multinationals – had expressed second thoughts about investing in Sarawak.

Concerned NGOs have all along called for the abandonment of this monstrous Bakun dam project because it is economically ill-conceived, socially disruptive and environmentally disastrous.

The environmental destruction is evident many miles downstream since the whole Bakun area has been logged by those who have already been paid by Sarawak Hidro.

The social atrophy among the 10,000 displaced indigenous peoples at Sungai Asap resettlement scheme remains the wicked testimony of the Mahathir/Taib era. The empty promises and damned lives of the displaced peoples as forewarned by NGOs in 1999 have now been borne out.

The economic viability of the Bakun dam project has been in doubt from the beginning and the announcement to build two more dams merely reflects a cavalier disregard for the indigenous peoples, more desecration of Sarawak’s natural resources and a blatant affront to sustainable development.

When will Malaysians ever learn?

Dr KUA KIA SOONG is director of Suaram. He was member of parliament for Petaling Jaya from 1990 to 1995./Mkini

The curious case of Dr M ‘mudah lupa’

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 20, 2009 by ckchew

Imagine having led an illustrious life, leaving indelible marks on the pages of history, and then waking up one morning just to realise that you cannot remember certain important events.

Experts call it selective amnesia, and scientists are researching the possibility of using this to aid those suffering from post-traumatic stress. Laboratory tests have revealed that by administering a certain type of drug, memories of a traumatic event had been wiped out in a rat.

However, for politicians, no drug is required, as their brains appear to produce a chemical that allows the suppression of selected memories.

A prime example of this is none other than the good doctor, Mahathir Mohamad himself.

Since relinquishing the reins of leadership, the 84-year-old statesman has been exhibiting signs of a prolonged case of selective amnesia.

The symptoms became evident when the former premier started talking at length about subjects that were considered taboo during his administration.Freedom of expression, the right to criticise and the importance of politicians being untainted by scandals were just some of the issues that Mahathir suddenly began to feel passionate about.

To the layman it reeked of hypocrisy, for Mahathir has been accused of every possible transgression under the sun, apart from the likes of murder and sodomy.

The deputy who refused to play dead

However, there is no denying that he is a master of his chosen craft, a brilliant strategist, meticulous planner and visionary. His mere presence alone has an overwhelming effect on people.

With a tinge of envy, many also marvel at his ability to appear fit as a fiddle and sharp as a razor despite being 16 years shy of turning 100.

But one cannot help but wonder if this is a boon or a bane, in the case of Mahathir.

Since sacking his heir apparent turned nemesis Anwar Ibrahim in 1998, the ‘deputy destroyer’ had the displeasure of watching the phoenix rise from the ashes once again. For this was one deputy that refused to play dead and has returned to haunt him.

Exactly a decade later, the prodigal son-helmed alliance of opposition parties took five states (now reduced to four) and denied the ruling coalition its customary two-third majority in parliament for the first time in history.

Jaw agape, nostrils flaring, Mahathir pinned the blame squarely on the shoulders of his forty winks-fond handpicked successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The latter found it to be too big a burden to shoulder, crumbled under its weight, and was subsequently driven out.

Somehow his criticisms outweighed his praises for Abdullah, when just a year after Mahathir had resigned in 2003, his successor had chalked up the biggest mandate ever, leaving a big dent in the former premier’s so-called popularity myth among the masses.

But in the aftermath of the 2008 general election, Mahathir’s selective amnesia had deteriorated further.

With Umno Baru beaten black and blue, its founder and former president decided to deliver another devastating right hook by quitting the party, placing personal differences above party interests. Although he had argued otherwise.

By then, Mahathir had conveniently forgotten the irreparable damage he had inflicted on Barisan Nasional and Umno with his incessant blows on Abdullah in the run-up to the polls. His vitriolic outbursts had led many to wonder if Mahathir had in spirit, floated over to the opposition.

The former Umno president also played an instrumental role in opening the floodgates for protest votes from the party members and grassroots leaders.

Mahathir believed that the wounds would heal once his other protege Najib Abdul Razak became the president of Umno and prime minister. But the latter is constantly haunted by a Mongolian specter and since his installation, a series of by-elections have produced the opposite results.

Now Mahathir is worried.

Would he live to see Anwar unpack his bags in Sri Perdana, the opulent prime ministerial complex which Mahathir had supposedly constructed with many bedrooms with his nemesis’ large family in mind?

New mission: Destroy Samy

To distract himself from this unsettling thought, Mahathir has embarked on a new mission which would involve murder… the stabbing to death of another political career.

Many years ago, Mahathir had remarked that in politics, friends do not remain friends forever. So he has no qualms about sharpening his blade for MIC president S Samy Vellu.

Plunging the knife deep into the heart, the former premier who led his party and the nation for 22 years, was of the opinion that the MIC president had committed a cardinal sin by remaining at the helm seven years more than him.

Mahathir launched an acerbic verbal salvo against his long-time ally, conveniently forgetting that he had retained, in his own words, that ‘poor performer’ as a minister throughout his tenure and heaped praises on him in the past.

He also failed to remember that whatever alleged skeletons which Samy Vellu has in his closet were decaying right under his nose during the MIC president’s loyal service as a minister in Mahathir’s cabinet.

Mahathir – whom in the past preached the gospel of non-interference – now wants this golden rule broken because the asset has become a liability. Like a volleyball match, he sends the ball up for a spike.

But twisting Samy Vellu’s arm into leaving would not make things rosy again.

In fact, it would probably spurt more thorns for BN since the MIC chieftain still commands tremendous support in the party. This was evident in the recent party elections, where the president’s men made an almost clean sweep.

Even Najib’s groundbreaking speech on popularity failed to make any significant impact other than drawing a thunderous applause from the MIC delegates, leading some to question the prime minister’s popularity among component parties.

Samy Vellu’s forced exit would create ripples of consternation among MIC members, which would then gather momentum to become a wave of revolt and culminate in a tsunami of protest votes.

It is nothing short of a Bollywood dream sequence to believe that the president’s departure would bring the Indian community running back with open arms and tears in their eyes to embrace MIC once again.

Like it or not, the epochal Hindraf protest had altered the script.

Umno checks, the rest balance

So Mahathir, who is said to be a big fan of Shah Rukh Khan, and his retinue must realise that the BN machine is not on the brink of a breakdown because of a single loose screw.

It is the entire ruling coalition and its bastion of leaders, both past and present Mahathir included, that suffer from a credibility crisis. And as for the current buzzword ‘popularity’, one cannot ignore the fact that BN politicians, top to bottom, are more infamous than famous.

And for the non-Malay voters, as long as Umno insists on doing all the checking while the rest are forced to do all the balancing, and as long as its mouthpiece – Utusan Malaysia – continues to spew venom, it would always be a case of not One, but Two Malaysia

But the perception is different with Pakatan Rakyat.

Strange bedfellows they may seem and riddled with cracks is their fledgling alliance, but there appears to be more of an equal partnership and grudging respect among the component parties.

And in the words of one seasoned observer, ‘The opposition leader appears to be suffering from selective amnesia as well. He now seems, at least superficially, not to be a racist’.

So it appears that unless ‘roadblocks’ are mounted, there is no stopping the opposition’s first family from speeding along the road to Putrajaya.

During a recent private luncheon, a senior BN leader remarked how he had warned Mahathir many years ago about an astrologer’s ominous prediction that Malaysia would witness a change of government in the early first quarter of this century.

Selective amnesia or not, this would be something hard to forget.

RK ANAND is a member of the Malaysiakini team.

Salam Aidil Fitri Maaf Zahir & Batin

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 19, 2009 by ckchew

salam-aidilfitri

———————————————-

Perutusan Presiden Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail sempena Hari Raya Aidilfitri 2009/1430H

Ramadhan telahpun meninggalkan kita dan kini Syawal pula bertamu. Selama sebulan umat Islam berpuasa menahan diri bukan sahaja dari lapar dahaga malah yang lebih utama, menahan nafsu dari segenap aspek kehidupan. Semoga latihan selama sebulan ini telah menjadikan kita sebagai hamba Allah yang bertaqwa dan pada masa yang sama mengukuhkan iltizam kita untuk terus istiqamah di dalam perjuangan.
Semangat Syawal pada kali ini seharusnya ini menjadi pendorong bagi kita semua untuk terus menyemarakkan obor perjuangan demi mewujudkan sebuah pentadbiran yang adil di negara ini. Apatah lagi Syawal kali ini disambut dalam keadaan kemelesetan ekonomi yang belum menunjukkan tanda-tanda pemulihan. Kerajaan bukan sahaja gagal mengambil langkah-langkah berkesan menanganinya malah dengan sewenang-wenangnya menaikkan harga petrol yang barang pasti melonjakkan harga barang dan meningkatkan kos sara hidup rakyat.
Syawal juga kita sambut dengan turut menginsafi malapetaka yang melanda saudara-saudara kita di seluruh dunia; di selatan Thailand, Palestin dan di Iraq antaranya. Penindasan berterusan terhadap mereka seharusnya menjadi pengajaran kepada kita akan peri pentingnya kita menghargai kemerdekaan yang kita nikmati ini dengan membuka ruang lingkup yang seluas mungkin bagi mempraktikkan prinsip-prinsip demokrasi. Perpaduan kaum adalah inti pati utama bagi sebuah negara merdeka. Justeru parti politik berteraskan kaum serta mengamalkan adu domba berbaur perkauman harus ditolak sama sekali kerana ia bakal mengundang perpecahan dan kehancuran bangsa.
Sempena Syawal yang mulia ini, saya mengucapkan selamat menyambut Eidul Fitr kepada pimpinan parti, pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat, ahli-ahli dan para penyokong serta seluruh umat Islam. Marilah kita perkuatkan azam dan tekad untuk memperbaharui perpaduan agar dapat sama-sama kita bina sebuah negara demokrasi yang adil, maju, makmur dan sejahtera.
Salam Eidul Fitr. Maaf Zahir Batin.
DR WAN AZIZAH WAN ISMAIL
Presiden
Parti Keadilan Rakyat


“Keterbukaan” jibby Altantuya: Mulanya era penapisan internet

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 19, 2009 by ckchew

Sejak mengambil alih tampuk pimpinan pada April 2009, Najib dengan gerak-geriknya cuba menampilkan imej yang memperlihatkan “keterbukaan”.  Pembebasan tahanan ISA sebanyak tiga kali, laungan slogan “1Malaysia”, liberalisasi sektor ekonomi, pemansuhan kuota ekuiti bumiputera… menyaksikan kesediaan Najib untuk bersaing dengan PR dalam “keterbukaan”.

Namun, kelantangan slogan “1Malaysia” gagal menenggelamkan kenyataan bahawa UMNO di bawah pimpinan beliau, cuma memecah-belahkan masyarakat mengikut kaum untuk mengukuhkan kuasa mereka.

Di sebalik imej Najib yang “terbuka”, Utusan Malaysia dan TV3 yang dimiliki UMNO mereka dan menyebarkan hujah-hujah berbau perkauman.  Utusan Malaysia misalnya, memainkan isu “perpaduan Malayu” sejak Najib memegang kuasa.  Untuk mereka, kaum Cina dan India yang memperjuangkan kesamarataan dilihat sebagai musuh yang “melampau” dan mencabul hak Melayu.  Justeru itu, Melayu dalam UMNO dan PAS diseru agar bersatu untuk menentang kebangkitan kaum lain.

“Perarakan kepala lembu” adalah manifestasi pandangan sedemikian.  Mereka yang mengikuti Utusan Malaysia akan memahami mengapa tindakan “menyembelih kepala binatang suci agama lain dan mengheretnya ketika berarak” boleh berlaku di masyarakat Malaysia yang harmoni ini.

Percanggahan retorik Najib dengan UMNO yang dipimpinnya, hanya menjelaskan slogan Najib yang cantik molek itu sekadar solekan untuk menyembunyikan wajah yang hodoh.  Pada detik saat Najib mengukir senyum dalam laungan 1Malaysia-nya, bayangnya terus menghantui masyarakat Malaysia yang rapuh, ditambah pula cubaannya untuk mengkucar-kacirkan negeri pemerintahan Pakatan Rakyat.

Simpton schizophrenic kerajaan Najib paling jelas ditonjolkan apabila Utusan Malaysia pada 15 April 2009 menyiarkan gambar Najib memasak capati bersama wanita Sikh sempena Hari Vaisakhi di muka depannya, sementara tajuk utama berita hari tersebut berbunyi “Bersatu hadapi tuntutan kaum lain yang semakin keterlaluan–Bangkitlah Melayu”.

Dalam detik saat semangat perkauman kian membara, kerajaan Najib pula mengetatkan ruang kebebasan bersuara.  Penganalisa politik pernah meramalkan bahawa ruang kebebasan bersuara bakal mengecut di bawah Najib kerana beliau dihantui kes pembunuhan Altantuya.  Ramalan tersebut menjadi realiti dalam masa dua minggu setelah Najib berkuasa.  Stesen televisyen swasta menerima notis agar tidak menyiarkan, malah menyebut nama tertuduh ketiga, iaitu Razak Baginda sekiranya melaporkan kes tersebut.

Pada masa yang sama, pihak pengurusan stesen televisyen awam mahupun swasta turut mengarahkan supaya tidak memberi liputan kepada kes ADUN BN memboikot sidang mesyuarat DUN Terengganu.

Zaman penapisan internet

Walaupun Menteri Penerangan, Komunikasi, Kesenian dan Kebudayaan, Rais Yatim menafikan bahawa wujudnya larangan untuk melaporkan berita boikot ADUN Terengganu, namun RTM di bawah penyeliaannya telah menampal notis di studio, menyenaraikan tujuh isu yang dilarang untuk siaran perbincangan, termasuk politik (pembangkang), institusi raja, seks dan sebagainya.

Di bawah Rais Yatim, Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (MCMC) yang jarang mempersoalkan kandungan internet, secara tiba-tiba bertukar menjadi sebuah badan yang aktif.  MCMC bukan sahaja mengunjungi Malaysiakini untuk empat kali, meminta agar dua klip video ditarik balik, malah memberi amaran kepada blogger supaya berhati-hati ketika memberi pandangan.

Dengan kata lain, pemerintahan Najib yang “terbuka” ini telah membuka tirai untuk era penapisan internet.  Walaupun Najib menafikan bahawa kerajaan berniat untuk meniru cara kerajaan China yang menapis maklumat alam siber dengan “Green Dam“, tetapi penapisan telah menjadi realiti.  Baru-baru ini, ketika ditemuramah Utusan Malaysia, secara tidak langsuang Rais Yatim mengaku bahawa kementeriannya sedang memantau kandungan dalam alam siber.

Beliau memaklumkan bahawa kementeriannya telah mengesan 500 hingga 540 rejaman atau tohmahan palsu setiap bulan menerusi blog, e-mel, Facebook dan Twitter terhadap institusi raja, nilai-nilai Islam, pencapaian orang Melayu serta dasar-dasar kerajaan termasuk gagasan 1Malaysia.

Selain menapis internet, mengetatkan ruang bersuara, Najib turut bersedia untuk meminda akta yang berkaitan internet, untuk “menangani masalah penyalahgunaan internet untuk aktiviti yang tidak bermoral dan haram”.

Najib amat menyedari bahawa lakonan “keterbukaan” itu memerlukan kerjasama media.  Menambat semula media internet yang terlepas pada zaman Abdullah Ahmad Badawi merupakan taktik Najib untuk mengukuhkan kuasa.

16 September 2008, rakyat terpesona dengan harapan untuk berubah; 16 September 2009, satu Malaysia diselubungi sentimen rasisme.  Sekumpulan warga Malaysia telah berpuasa, mendoakan kesejahteraan Malaysia, malah sekumpulan lagi dengan identiti “Anak bangsa Malaysia” mereka, cuba mencari jalan keluar daripada diselubungi semangat perkauman.

Namun demikian, memandangkan fenomena polarisasi yang sedia wujud, imaginasi Malaysia yang dilakar mereka itu mungkin masih jauh dari alam realiti.

Klik di sini untuk bacaan lanjut

Mederka Review

Malaysia Today ‘inaccessible’ after PKFZ expose

Posted in RPK with tags on September 18, 2009 by ckchew

Popular blog Malaysia Today has been having accessibility problems since this morning prompting the question if this could be related to the exposure of a ‘classified’ cabinet paper related to the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal. Over the past three days, the blog had been uploading several parts of the cabinet paper.

The published document revealed how the RM12.5 billion project had spiraled into disaster.

Malaysia Today was completely inaccessible in the morning but came back online later.

However, a check by Malaysiakini at 3.45pm revealed that the site was once again inaccessible.

Contacted later, a Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) official said they were not aware of the problem.

While the inaccessibility problem could be due to high traffic going to the site, opposition stalwart Lim Kit Siang has wondered aloud whether if the technical problems were related to the expose.

Respect right to information

In a statement, Lim said the time had come for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to honour his pledge of public accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.

He said this must include respecting the right of Malaysians to information about the entire process as to how Malaysia could be landed with a RM12.5 billion scandal through three prime ministers, three transport ministers and four Port Klang Authority chairpersons.

“To do this, it is essential that the prime minister should declassify all relevant PKFZ government documents, including cabinet papers, to public scrutiny as there can be no security justification to continue to protect these information as ‘official secrets’,” he added.

According to Lim, this would be the best Hari Raya present Najib could give the country.

“Are there ministers whether from Umno, MCA, MIC, Gerakan or the other BN component parties who are prepared to come forward publicly to support the call for the declassification?” he asked.

Najib: This is unacceptable

Meanwhile, Najib said the police would be investigating the matter as the cabinet paper comes under the Official Secrets Act.

He added that the investigation was not to deny the people’s right to information but such exposure on the internet was something that could not be accepted.

“In the PKFZ case, whatever that we must tell the people, we will do so later but it cannot be accepted that the cabinet paper is posted on the internet.

“Any cabinet paper is still under the OSA and police will investigate anyone who exposes cabinet papers.

“Let’s wait for the investigation and what action can be taken based on the OSA,” he said.

Mkini

Pakatan must do more to convince rural Malays

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 17, 2009 by ckchew

The Pakatan Rakyat coalition parties must target the urban especially the rural Malay population in the country if they want to rule the nation during the next general election.Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) committee member and Sungai Siput MP Dr D Jeyakumar said that Pakatan cannot just depend on the Chinese and Indian voters who are in the minority for their political survival.

“Pakatan has to first address the psychological fear of the Malay community that they will be marginalised and treated as second class citizens if Pakatan takes control of the nation,” Jeyakumar pointed out.

“For the past 52 years, Umno has whipped up this fear among the Malay community that they will be overrun by the other races and only Umno and BN can safeguard their interests and ensure their survival.

Change the misconception and mindset

“We have to change this misconception that has been embedded in the minds of the Malay community and change their mindset that all races can equally share the country’s economic cake without infringing on Malay rights,” he reasoned.

“We have to make the difference and talk to the rural Malay community that we are sincere and want to help them.

“The BN, especially under former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s rule, has ensured that neither the Chinese nor the Indians form the majority racial composition in any constituencies in the country, at the nation’s demarcation exercise,” He pointed out.

He said the BN has the propaganda machinery, manpower and control of all mainstream media to continuously brainwash the rural Malay population that they are doomed if the opposition takes control of the nation.

Whereas, “Pakatan is at a disadvantage in this area as it does not have access to these tools of communication nor the manpower or the machinery and has to depend on the new media, which incidentally is not accessible to the rural Malay population”, he added.

“We have to make a difference and enlighten the rural Malay community that we are sincere in helping them better their social and economic status in society.

Segregation of races has worsen

“The segregation of races is worse now under Barisan Nasional’s 52 year-rule of the country and one cannot build unity among the various races based on empty slogans alone like 1Malaysia,” he explained.

Jeyakumar said this in his speech at the Hari Malaysia forum themed “Towards a United Malaysia” organised by PKR at a hotel here last night.

“The reality is that the various races are still divided under the divide and rule policy practised by the British during their colonial rule of Malaysia and this policy is still being used by BN to maintain their political stranglehold on the nation”, he further added.

Jeyakumar was among five political figures who addressed the forum, attended by about 600 people.

The other speakers are ousted Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar and PAS Bukit Gantang MP Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, Perak DAP chief Ngeh Koo Ham, Perak PKR deputy chief Chang Lih Kang and Ampang MP and PKR women’s wing chief Zuraida Kamaruddin.

The moderator for the three-hour forum was PKR Simpang Pulai assemblyperson Chan Ming Kai.

Zuraidah who was born and raised in Singapore stated that she experienced the good quality of life and education in the island republic for which she is now contributing back to the Malaysian society.

However, she claimed the same cannot be said of the rural Malays in Malaysia who are economically disadvantaged by the BN government.

She alleged that the majority of Malays have been moved from the mainstream of Malaysian life to rural areas like Felda by the BN government to apparently give them a ‘better quality’ of life.

“What quality of life is BN talking about when they segregate the rural Malay people who are doomed to spend the rest of their lives in such schemes with no guarantees for the future of their children?” she asked.

Not given the opportunity to compete

“They are not given the equal opportunity to compete and develop like the other races and there is no long term planning for their future. Even the land they are toiling on now can be later taken back by the BN government,” she said.

She cited a recent example in the Iskandar project in the Johor economic development corridor, where about 38 families who have toiled the land for nearly 50 years, now face resettlement by the government to which they are resisting.

She also lambasted the BN government for taking away all the income earned from the natural resources of Sabah and Sarawak but giving nothing back in return.

“As a result of this lopsided policy, there are no infrastructures or development in these two states and most Sabahans and Sarawakians are living in dire poverty,” she added.

An example she pointed out is the rape of the indigenous community Penan girls by lorry drivers working on these logging sites. As there is no proper mode of transportation for them, they have to hitch rides with the lorry drivers and, in the process, get raped.

She called upon the true Malaysian spirit, the spirit of empowerment to take care of others, of improving the livelihood of suffering fellow Malaysians.

Humayun Kabir/Mkini

RPK Speaks Part 2 – Insulting Islam? Please!

Posted in RPK with tags on September 17, 2009 by ckchew

Gaduh jangan tak gaduh: Cara mca gaduh sesama sendiri – timb presiden kutuk presiden ‘live’

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 15, 2009 by ckchew

Book on Anwar’s trials revisits judicial misconduct: Absurdity becomes plausible reality (with video inside)

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags on September 15, 2009 by ckchew

PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim’s judicial and political travails of more than a decade ago came up for introspection at the launch of a book on the trials involving him that became an international cause célèbre.

The book ‘Anwar on Trial: In the Face of Injustice’ was written by lawyer Pawancheek Marican and launched in Kuala Lumpur yesterday by Raja Aziz Addruse, former chairman of the Malaysian Bar Council.

Both Pawancheek and Raja Aziz were members of the legal team that defended Anwar in the “showtrials”, a risible term employed by Raja Aziz in the course of remarks made at the launch which was attended by a sizeable crowd of lawyers, Pakatan Rakyat legislators, opposition sympathizers and foreign embassy personnel.

In introductory speeches, both Pawancheek and Raja Aziz recalled aspects of a turbulent time in Malaysian judicial and political history in 1998 and ’99 when the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim as Deputy President of Umno and Deputy Prime Minister, his detention under the ISA, and indictment and jailing for corruption and sodomy convulsed a whole nation.

Seen in the calm retrospection of the last 10 years, the episodes expose with clarity the perversions to the criminal justice system that accompanied the detention, beating, trial and jailing of Anwar.

In the febrile atmosphere of the particular period, aspects such as then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed’s suggestion that ‘Anwar’s black eye’ (the result of a beating at the hands of the Inspector General of Police, Rahim Noor) was self-inflicted, were difficult to sieve for truth-content.

Absurdity becomes plausible reality

But in the tranquil scrutiny of less perfervid times, the suggestion’s manifest absurdity becomes apparent, enough to induce remorse that one could have thought it plausible at first instance.

Offering another instance of violation of the justice system, Raja Aziz said that the Attorney General should have cited Dr Mahathir for contempt of court when the Prime Minister publicly opined on Anwar’s allegedly defective morals that disqualified him from holding high office even as Anwar’s trial was in progress.

Raja Aziz claimed that anywhere else in the Commonwealth, such contempt would have been arraigned in a court of law.

In his speech at the launch, Anwar delivered a brief disquisition on the rule of law and what must obtain for that rule to be sustainable: a parliament promulgating laws conforming to moral precepts; an executive exercising publicly justifiable power; an independent judiciary unafraid of the executive; and an untrammelled press.

Anwar said that the judiciary went through a mangle with the extirpation of Salleh Abbas, then Lord President, in 1988.

Malaysian judicial history since then has been a series of sordid sequels to the blight of 1988, including recent court decisions handed down in cases arising from the tussle for power in the Perak legislature.

Terrance Netto/Mkini

Speech by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the launch of “Anwar on Trial – In the Face of Injustice”: The rule of law and judicial independence, or lack thereof

Posted in Anwar Ibrahim with tags on September 15, 2009 by ckchew

SEPT 15 – Today, I would like to share with you some thoughts about a subject which I believe is close to our hearts. Not just to politicians, lawyers or social workers but to every member of society.

It is so close that, without it, the very foundation of a free and democratic society crumbles. It is called the rule of law.

According to F.A. Hayek, this means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances, and to plan one’s individual affair on the basis of this knowledge.

That definition is indeed a powerful formulation of the concept but I would hasten to add a major rider to it, which is, that the coercive powers referred to must be predicated on the basis that the laws in the first place must meet the criterion of justness.

Hence the rule of law means the exercise of publicly justifiable power. I emphasise the phrase “publicly justifiable power” because not every law that comes out of Parliament is publicly justifiable.

In other words, the rule of law requires the application of moral standards to legislative output. And this is because every individual possesses rights founded on justice which are inviolable.

The positivity of law is not sufficient to establish its lawfulness. If laws are unjust then the rule of law itself is in jeopardy.

The Internal Security Act is a classic instance of this injustice. It offends against human dignity and it violates our fundamental rights but it still continues to be used arbitrarily against those seen as possible threats to the ruling elite.

We have a written constitution which guarantees our liberties, including freedom from arbitrary arrest. Yet the use of the ISA to silence political dissent makes a mockery of this guarantee.

Just two months ago, we witnessed one of the largest manifestations of the people’s opposition to this draconian law but tragically, the Umno-controlled agencies responded with even greater use of tyranny and oppression.

So among the paramount characteristics of the rule of law concerns the judiciary. In this regard, judges must exercise their powers in accordance with the rule of law and not the rule of men.

Translated into the real world, this means the judiciary must not be accountable to the Prime Minister. If the rule of law is to mean anything, one of the essential prerequisites is that the judiciary must be independent.

We saw back in 1988 how the institution was dealt a fatal blow by the powers that be then and we saw in 1998 how it was not just I who was given a black eye but the judiciary itself, thanks to the perverse decisions of two High Court judges then.

These are the same judges who now warm the seats of our Appellate courts, enjoying the fruits of their perversity, as it were. Is it then any wonder that today history is again repeating itself?

We would have thought that the lessons of March 8 2008 would have taught the political masters some fundamental truths regarding the legitimate expectations of the people. One of which is that the people don’t want to see the judicial process turned into a circus. We are tired of seeing judges as mere puppets dancing to the tune of the political masters.

The latest instance of this judicial aberration can be seen in the decision just last week in respect of the suit filed by the legitimate Pakatan speaker over the Perak debacle on May 7, 2009. The court held that in accordance with Article 72 of the Federal Constitution, “the validity of any proceeding in any state assembly cannot be questioned in any court”.

Well, that indeed sounds very impressive and laudable in the context of respecting the concept of the separation of powers. But then why is it that, in the same breath, the court also held that the legislative assembly’s decision to remove the speaker and to appoint someone else was conclusive and had been fairly determined by the state assembly?

I have heard of judges making wrong decisions based on a misinterpretation of the law but I don’t recall judges blowing hot and blowing cold in the same judgement.

In coming to this conclusion, we may say that the court has sunk into the abyss of judicial reasoning displaying in the process clear symptoms of judicial schizophrenia.

The question now is not whether we should challenge such a decision. Indeed we must, but I believe even more importantly, there is a moral duty to speak out against such a gross travesty of justice.

In practical terms, judicial independence must mean protecting citizens against illegitimate usurpation of power. Indeed, the travesty of justice that continues to plague us in the Perak debacle remains a stark reminder that the separation of powers envisaged in a democracy remains largely a mirage in the constitutional landscape.

The topic of our gathering tonight is the launch of this important book and recognition of its author, a dear friend of mine, Pawancheek Marican.  It is of course rare to find in today’s Malaysia such a comprehensive account of an event so controversial in our nation’s history.

Applying no varnish to the entire sordid affair I believe this text will be a signpost for generations of Malaysians on the dangers of absolute power.  He has also paid a great tribute to the the legal team that defended not just me but an entire nation against the onslaught of executive power run amok.  For those present and absent who had a hand in the trial and particulary the lawyers, words cannot convey the deep gratitude that I, Azizah and my family have for their work – which I might add is not yet done.

Now with reference to the trials prosecuted against me, as so well documented in Pawancheek’s book, suffice it to say that the judges were essentially under the thumb of the Executive. There is a saying that when the law is subjugated to the chicanery of politics, that is, where the judges are subservient to the political masters, the administration of justice becomes both farcical and perverse.

In a real democracy, the use of judicial high-handedness to bring down a political opponent won’t be tolerated because of the existence of a transparent court system and a process of accountability. In a sham democracy, however, judicial highhandedness is given free rein and transparency is irrelevant. Those prosecuted for political reasons are thus condemned even before the trial begins. It is not just about me or some of our friends here today.

There are now a few other high profile cases pending. For example, the persecution of Raja Petra will certainly be top on the list of the study on the breakdown of the rule of law. I emphasise the word ‘persecution’ because the manner in which he is being hounded is no longer prosecution but sheer audacious use of blatant state powers in order to bring down one one of the government’s most strident and vocal critics. These actions violate the dignity and honour of all Malaysians.

Instead of being the ultimate guardians of our liberty from executive tyranny, the judiciary is then transformed into principals in the destruction of the very process it was entrusted to protect. Indeed, the undermining of judicial independence by political interference has negative repercussions not only on society at large but on the nation as a whole.

Very often the inability to assert independence seems to be inversely proportional to the degree of integrity. Judges must display competence and expertise and they must be above suspicion. We are by now very familiar with the videotape of the “correct, correct, correct” judicial scandal but have we seen any action yet?

And where judges are not seen to be absolutely above board, the establishment of equity and fair play in commercial and economic deliberations will be largely illusory. This would also explain why Malaysia continues to occupy dismal positions in the corruption index, not to mention how much further we have sunk in competitiveness.

Another crucial criterion for the rule of law is that the discretion of law enforcement agencies must not be allowed to pervert the cause of justice.

We know that not only the judiciary but the police and the Attorney General’s office play essential roles in the preservation of the rule of law, failing which they are easily used to pervert the law. Selective prosecution, police highhandedness and arbitrary arrests, and now of course the actions of the MACC, all collectively serve to pervert the cause of justice rather than uphold the rule of law.

And in all these, the ruling Umno government is not only complicit but blatantly instrumental in perpetuating these gross transgressions. The upshot is harassment, oppression, and in most cases, the extermination of the small fry while the large predators continue to roam free. The Pakatan controlled government of Selangor will remain a classic case study of the systematic abuse by Federal law enforcement agencies under the thumb of the ruling federal clique.

The arrogance of power has rendered them completely impermeable to public opinion. The extension of the IGP’s contract just last week flies in the face of the overwhelming chorus of objections from the people. The increasing incidences of custodial deaths and the blatant bias of the MACC in carrying out its duties are but two examples of this breakdown in the rule of law.

The very root of this problem goes to the question of accountability. We have seen what it is like. Without accountability these agencies literally get away with murder.  They are certainly getting away with corruption. The instances are too many to enumerate but it would be accurate to say that the amounts involved get bigger by the year. We know about the billions earmarked for the stimulus packages but where has the money gone? How much longer can we allow public financial resources to be used in complete disregard of the rules of accountability?

The proper application of the rule of law would have meant that those who occupy the seats of power must be subject to scrutiny and held accountable for their misdeeds. They must realise that power and authority are but duty and obligation and not right and privilege. Will they ever be brought to justice?

In the final analysis, the idea of justice to man is so central to the rule of law that you can’t have one without the other. Corruption and the abuse of public office, the absence of transparency in financial dealings, the perversion of justice by the law enforcement agencies and the dereliction of judicial duty – these are indeed characteristics of the rule of men, and not the rule of law. The trappings of democracy cannot mask this perversion.

Reform is way overdue but on the eve our our Malaysia Day celebrations, let us renew our commitment to freedom and to justice.

Speech by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the launch of “Anwar on Trial – In the Face of Injustice” by Pawancheek Marican in Kuala Lumpur on September 14, 2009 at the De Palma Hotel, Ampang

Anwar Ibrahim/MI

Failure is not an option – Zaid Ibrahim

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 14, 2009 by ckchew

Malaysians must strive for a new non-racial future for all. Failure is not
an option, says Zaid Ibrahim.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your invitation for me to speak today.
When I accepted your kind offer, I was ‘party-less.’ But things have now
changed. I have drawn my line in the sand. And I have chosen sides. Today, I
am a proud member of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Today, I am persuaded by the argument that for Malaysia to have democracy
and the Rule of Law, we must have a new government; a viable inclusive
government of the people; a government for all Malaysians. Today I am
dedicated to the cause of securing the success of Parti Keadilan and Pakatan
Rakyat, and ensuring that it galvanises the best talents and ideas to form a
robust alternative Malaysian political force to lead the nation, to deliver
true integration and nationhood.

This country was established as a secular multicultural and multi-religious
democracy a’la the Westminster model. The Constitution, however, provides
for a special position for the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak. They
unfortunately omitted to include the Orang Asli in this special category,
although they were naturally the first original inhabitants of this country.
All they got was a Jabatan Orang Asli. The special provisions for Bumiputras
under Article 153 do not make them more special than other citizens, for the
fighters of independence did not envisage an Orwellian society where some
are more equal than others. The acceptance of equality of rights as citizens
is central to the success of our Malaysian journey.

1Malaysia: Are Malaysians equal?

When the Prime Minister announced his ‘1Malaysia’ slogan, I asked if that
meant he would make a declaration that all Malaysians are equal. The answer
was not forthcoming till today. All he said was rights must be understood in
the context of responsibilities. Another fuzzy reply.

When critics asked if ‘1Malaysia’ is an affirmation of the rights of ALL the
citizens under the Constitution, an affirmation of the multicultural and
multi-religious nature of our country; and that the principles of Rukun
Negara will continue to be the mainstay of our society… my detractors say
that my views are fodder for the egos and insecurities of those who detest
the constitutional position of the Malays.

They say I work too hard at being a Malaysian and by doing so, have
forgotten my roots and responsibilities to the Malays. And that no right
thinking Malay, who truly understands what is at stake, would ever support
me. I know my heritage. I know my humble beginnings. And I know my roots and
responsibilities as a Malay. They are wrong. To them, let me say this:

Umno – being hidden in a cave for so long and concealed from the real world
– have almost abandoned the idea of a shared and common nationhood. They
believe that for so long as the MCA and the MIC remain with them as partners
of convenience, that is sufficient to build a nation. They think it’s
sufficient to forge a new nation by electoral arrangements. The MCA and the
MIC also think it’s sufficient for nationhood if they remain business
partners of Umno.

A new united Malaysia can only come true when Umno changes and abandons
racial politics and the politics of racial hegemony. Or when the Malays can
be made to understand that patronage, authoritarianism and nationalist
extremism, which underpins Umno’s style of leadership, does more harm to the
community and the country than good. That Malays themselves must break from
the shackles of narrow nationalism so that they may realise
self-actualisation and emancipation. The first is difficult to achieve but I
take it as my responsibility to try and achieve the second.

Let me now get into the subject of the speech by giving you an understanding
about how Umno ticks. This, to me, is critical in order for you to
appreciate what hope we have for the preservation of the Rule of Law and
Democracy in Malaysia.

Umno’s authoritararianism

At the heart of Umno’s philosophy on leadership is a conviction that there
is an inherent, almost ‘divine’ right to retain power at all costs. This is
so for two reasons: firstly, because they assume that they are the only
political force, by way of Barisan Nasional¸ to offer a workable
power-sharing leadership of this nation. And secondly, because they believe
that the Malay hegemony that Umno maintains is necessary to prevent the
Malays from becoming marginalised.

It is these beliefs that are at the centre of Umno’s self-indulgent sense of
indispensability and self-importance that is today causing them to steer the
nation to an authoritarian rule. It is this sense of self-importance that is
accountable for the authoritarianism in leadership and government. It is
this that has helped justify in their minds their right to quell anyone who
threatens the status quo, whether it be a group of politicians or activists
protesting against abuses in government or a group of Indians protesting
against their treatment and lack of opportunities or a previous Deputy Prime
Minister who was no longer in step with the ‘Big Boss.’ It does not matter.
Self-preservation demands expedience at all costs to resolve any impending
threat.

But there is more. Since the hegemony is protected by policies that benefit
the elites and other powerful forces, this sense of self-importance becomes
even more dangerous. Because it justifies why real checks and balances
against governmental abuses can be done away with. It justifies trampling on
fundamental safeguards in the Federal Constitution in the last 20 years.

But there is more. If you are on the cause of preserving the rights of the
elites, the oligarchs, then it brings you no shame to have a former Umno
lawyer as Chief Justice; in fact, you become proud of that achievement. Even
if the Attorney-General had committed many errors in the discharge of his
functions and duties, a well-known fact amongst the legal fraternity, you
will not change him; nor would you change the Chief of Police despite so
many reports of transgressions committed by him. All for the ‘Malay cause’,
they would say! And if you are on the Bench writing your judgment on the
Perak fiasco; you can tailor it to suit your master’s political interests,
and you will be lauded for that. The ‘Malay Cause’ is everything. The
Constitution can wait; sound legal reasoning can wait, justice can wait..

But there is more. Many in Umno see the hegemony as a ‘be all and end all,’
with the power sharing between component parties as being a means to an end.
Ketuanan Melayu, a mantra of Malay supremacy, has gained ground instead of
receding over time. More accurately it is Ketuanan Elit Melayu as the
majority of the Malays have found out to their dismay.

We will be cursed

What is the price that we ultimately pay as a nation, if this pernicious
doctrine is embraced by many? Clearly to start with, we would continue to be
cursed with a non-transparent government without the capability of
functioning in a way that respects the rule of law. We will be cursed for
having laws that oppress, that curtail and suffocate the basic freedoms of
the people. We now have a set of rules for the elites and one for the
rakyat, one for Barisan Nasional and one for Pakatan Rakyat.

If the public believes that the government is not beholden to a set of
commonly revered values and principles, and its actions are tainted by
racial biases, there will continue to be physical and emotional segregation
of communities, regardless of how many times we change the slogans to break
such divisiveness. The notion of creating a free and democratic Malaysia
therefore becomes unachievable.

The ultimate price that the country suffers from the present political
culture is that the Malays and non-Malays will continue to be denied a sense
of ownership of Malaysia’s nation-building journey. And instead of becoming
partners in this voyage to mature nationhood, they continue to bicker and
remain suspicious and distrustful of one another. Because of this
segregation, the government is unable to set a new direction for the
country. Because of racial polarisation, the people are not ready to accept
a multi-racial dimension for this country. As a result, we are not able to
enact or even discuss comprehensive national policies whether it is
regarding the police, education or judicial and civil service reforms. The
distrust of the communities will prevent objective appraisals and solutions
to the problems.

Ethnic interests take precedence over national interests. National interests
become a strange and fearful concept. And there will continue to be a brain
drain of Malaysian talents who would have decided that they would rather
make their homes elsewhere. This is a high price that the country can
ill-afford to pay given the increasingly challenging global outlook.

Authoritarianism, patronage, and nationalist extremism from any quarter
destroy the key ingredients necessary for the Malaysian community to really
build on and retain that wealth and knowledge. Competitiveness and true
economic and scholastic success, is a function of instilling in the hearts
and minds of beneficiaries a set of new behaviours, around the capacity and
desire to take personal accountability, to trust one another, to be
achievement-oriented, to develop a sense of curiosity, a sense of solidarity
that go beyond our own ethnic clans and groups; so that together, we are
able to build this country. We must do away with unprincipled politics, with
Machiavellian methods but instead seek to change with reforms that encourage
the development of a viable democracy and a prosperous country for all.

The government says it hopes to amend up to 33 laws, which involve
discretionary powers of the Home Minister, beginning with the controversial
Internal Security Act (ISA) in the next Parliament session. Let’s hope and
see if this will bear fruit. Authoritarianism in government will continue
albeit in a different guise, unless the whole of the ISA, Official Secrets
Act, the Sedition Act and similar such laws are abolished. This would be an
example of good governance. However authoritarian policies will most likely
continue while corruption is rampant when the elites need protection from
their misdeeds. Najib will not be able to change any of these.

Pakatan will get stronger

The whole cloak-and-dagger story of intrigue about the overthrow of the
Pakatan Rakyat government gave rise to much suspicion about Najib’s style,
well before he took office. He could have allayed fears that he would not be
one to resort to below-the-belt tactics in his leadership by calling for
fresh elections. Najib’s unwillingness to dissolve the Perak Assembly has
got the country deeper into a political quagmire. By doing so, he will also
help the Federal Court judges from having to come up with a convoluted legal
reasoning, like that of the Court of Appeal, to please the Prime Minister.

This is again Najib’s idea to strengthen himself. If Pqs were to support
Umno under the guise of a ‘unity government,’ a viable alternative to
Barisan Nasional at the next elections would be seriously undermined. Najib
wanted the internal difficulties between Pakatan Rakyat parties to continue
and fester as the mainstream media went full steam ahead to ensure Pakatan’s
demise. Let me assure you that such a scenario will not happen.

Pakatan will only get stronger. Pakatan has its weaknesses but we do not
have the culture of hegemony. We do not suppress dissent. Hence you will
hear of occasional disagreements. You will hear of occasional flare-ups; but
Pas, Keadilan and DAP are committed to finding ways to strengthen their
partnership. They will not break up. Instead they will form a formidable
coalition that will be ready to provide an alternative government to the
people.

Today Malaysians are suffering the deleterious effect of a stagnating world
economy, and the GDP will contract by 4.4 percent according to the World
Bank. FDIs continue to fall while talent is being lost. The standard of
education and the skill sets including the command of English, necessary for
the workforce to remain globally competitive continues to plummet. Now after
spending billions on teaching Science and Maths in English in the last six
years, the government has announced the reversal of the policy effective
2012. One wonders if the farcical National Service programme, which is
neither a national service nor an educational programme will be scrapped
too.

Findings of Lingam case not acted upon

Crimes and home security issues have increased since 2003 and these remain
major concerns of the people. In the 1998 case of Anwar Ibrahim, allegations
by the investigating officer himself of tampering with evidence by the IGP
and the A-G have not been answered satisfactorily. Of course, the government
had formed a certain panel comprising three ex-judges deliberating in a
secret place. Not surprisingly the panel cleared them. The findings of the
Royal Commission in the Lingam case have not been acted upon in a
satisfactory manner also. And many high profile cases reported to the
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) remain unattended. Such is the
state of the Rule of Law in Malaysia. Will Najib attend to these issues?
Certainly not.

All he can do is to announce the scrapping of some outdated policies that he
had little choice but to do it anyway, as part of the demands of the
international and Asean trade agreements. After decades of the NEP, the 30
per cent equity requirement in companies listed amongst the 27 services
sub-sectors are taken away. Also the Foreign Investment Committee regulating
investments in Malaysia has been scrapped. The reasoning of the government,
which is disputed by many Malays, is that the Bumiputra participation in the
relevant services sub-sectors are satisfactory and hence the removal of the
quota requirement. Whilst the move has made Najib popular in the short term,
it will come back to haunt him. Economics and social justice require him to
address the larger question of disparities in income of the people. The
plight and grievances of ordinary people will not be redressed by one or two
populist policies.

Najib should not have started the Perak debacle

On the question of the preservation of the rule of law and democracy, he did
nothing and probably will continue to do nothing. He should have acted as if
he has only 100 days before his reign comes to an end. He should have
embraced Roosevelt’s dictum: “there is nothing to fear but fear itself” –
and embarked on far-reaching policies to give back judicial power to the
courts, to give back integrity, trust and respectability to governmental
institutions like the police, the Attorney-General’s office, the Election
Commission; that of which Malaysia desperately needs. In doing so, he could
have shown the people he was prepared to sacrifice his neck if that was
required of him.

He should not have started the Perak debacle but since it had already got
under way, he should have had the courage to win back the support of the
people by allowing for the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly. Instead
of embarking on the inane idea of Umno-Pas unity – confirming the suspicion
that he is like his Deputy, who only understands Umno-Pas unity at the
expense of everything else – Najib should have called for a national debate
amongst all leaders of major political parties for a serious discussion on
key and core values for the country.

The problems in our country are not race or religion based but BN has worked
very hard to make them so. It’s always about the rakyat against the elites
or the powerful oligarchs that run and control the country’s institutions
and wealth. The rakyat for too long have become pawns in this political game
where the race and religious issues are being played out to divide them.

Punish racism and racist speeches and writings

Najib should have started his administration by pushing through a Race
Relations Act, which that will punish racism and racist speeches and
writings from all quarters, even if it’s from leaders of his own party and
from Utusan Malaysia. This single greatest impediment to Malaysians being
united and working together for the common good is racist policies in
Malaysia. Racism here is not the same kind that the Anglo Saxon whites have
over blacks and coloureds (or vice-versa) for many years. It’s not the
apartheid kind of racism where whites generally believe they are superior to
blacks and coloureds in genetics and all spheres of life.

Our racism is driven more by ethnic distrust and ethnic rivalry for the
economic cake. They are mainly economic and cultural in nature based on the
fear that the wealth of the country will be taken away by the Chinese and
vice-versa. But it is just as divisive and dangerous. It refers to both
institutionalised racism and those exhibited by individuals.

Malaysia needs to combat this problem because it is particularly acute.
Because we have three major races that did not have the luxury of time for
natural assimilation or the time to gel and live in harmony, we need
legislation and governmental support to push through the unity factors and
manage the divisive factors found in the community.

To bring about a truly united ‘1Malaysia,’ our Prime Minister must not
always refer to the deprivation of the Malays suffered under the British. No
amount of wallowing in the past can change history nor can we just tell the
Chinese and the Indians how grateful they should be for events taking place
a hundred years ago. Equally he cannot just be happy that he has the MCA and
the MIC taking care of the non-Malays. He has to do more to make sure that
the non-Malays are equally responsible and generous with the Malays. Will
they open their businesses to the Malays? Will they give credit on the same
terms they do to their own clans?

But at the same time, the people, including the Malays, must be convinced
that democracy and a functioning bureaucracy are good for them. That they
have a better chance of realising their potential and benefiting from their
rights and privileges under a government that respects just laws. They must
resist corruption by all means at their disposal. The notion of Bangsa
Malaysia will not detract or take away anything from them but instead they
become a part of a larger and more diverse community where they too can
experience the generosity, beauty, strength and richness of Malaysian
cultures. They will benefit from the solidarity of people from all walks of
life and their worldview will change to make them stronger and more
confident in themselves.

Can’t survive the outrage of the masses

A prime minister of this country must not succumb to the idea that force and
repression will prevail over the people’s will. The prime minister of this
country must not suffer from the delusion that the police, the army, the
courts, the Election Commission and the Attorney-General can strike fear in
the hearts of the people to the extent that they will and must retreat. No
leader in ancient and modern times has survived the outrage of the masses.
Today we have witnessed a new sense of outrage: outrage against the abuse of
power, against inequality, outrage against the continued persecution of
Anwar Ibrahim, and outrage against the policies of divide and rule.

Ladies and gentlemen, the winds of change have never blown so strong. Today
the rakyat has spoken and they want their voices heard. They want a new
beginning, so that this country, which we all call home, will be transformed
into a dynamic, open and vibrant democratic sanctuary. A sanctuary where we
live without fear of police harassment, without fear of wearing black or
yellow, without fear of detention without trial, without the nausea of
reading newspapers whose editors have to toe the line to keep the papers
alive. We will make this country such that we have room and space for all of
us to have our dreams and hopes come true.

But the window of opportunity has opened for one central reason. And that is
because the people now have a choice; between the establishment that has led
the country astray over the last 50 years or a viable alternative in Pakatan
Rakyat, which can inclusively carry the hopes and aspirations of all
Malaysians, no matter they be Malay, Chinese or Indian. For without this
alternative, the self-indulgent and delusional sense of self-importance of
Umno and its cohorts in Barisan Nasional will continue to impose itself.

No doubt Keadilan is a new party, and Pakatan Rakyat is in its infancy, and
the coming together of different political parties to find a common thread
with which to build meaningful solidarity to work together is a long and
arduous journey. Let us not kid ourselves. Many challenges lie ahead to make
it a truly viable alternative political force to Barisan Nasional and an
acceptable choice for all Malaysians. And the traps and snares to trip up
this fledgling alternative are being laid everywhere; the ‘unity’ talks
being just one.

My colleagues and I in Pakatan Rakyat must be cautious and yet courageous,
patient yet purposeful, tolerant yet principled to ensure that Pakatan
Rakyat steers clear of these traps, and that we build a truly robust and
secure alternative from which the electorate can choose to form a
government. We must desist from any temptation to go back to the ways of the
past, in which opposition parties represent their own narrow factional
interests, only to grant a walkover victory to the status quo.

Will not champion racial politics

As for Parti Keadilan Rakyat, it must soldier on come what may, as a party
that will protect the people regardless of race and ethnicity. The ‘special’
position of the Bumiputras and Islam as mandated by the Constitution will be
honoured but will do so in an open, transparent manner, as a democratic
multi-racial party that observes the Rule of Law will be obliged to do.
Keadilan will not champion racial politics and will not seek racial
hegemony. We are a lot more humble than Umno but we will be fearless in the
defence of the rights of the rakyat against powerful oligarchs and vested
interest groups. We will make the public institutions in this country
respectable and full of integrity. These institutions will regain the
respect and the trust of the people.

Ladies and gentlemen, we do not live in a world of black and white. We live
in a world full of different colours, shades and textures. No truer is this
than in Malaysia. I can stand here and tell you of my immense sense of pride
and affection in being a Malaysian, just as I can do the same about being
Malay. And I believe that we all are just as capable of feeling that way
about being Malaysian and yet similarly proud of being Malay, Chinese,
Indian, Kadazan or Iban, no matter who we are.

And it is this mix of seemingly conflicting values, which when blended and
tempered with courage, tolerance, good faith and framed by universally held
moral and civic values, that make the canvas of Malaysia so rich, so
powerful and so full of potential. Let us preserve this living piece of art
and ensure that it continues to beautify and enrich our personal lives, as
private citizens.

For if we fail, then the providence with which we are blessed today to make
a breakthrough change will disappear as quickly as it came; and we will be
back to square one. Our future and that of our children and their children
depends on our success. Failure is not an option. God favours the brave.
———————————————————
Zaid Ibrahim delivered the above keynote address at The Oxbridge Malaysia
Dinner Dialogue Series hosted by the Oxford & Cambridge Society of Malaysia
on 9 July 2009 in Kuala Lumpur.

Sidang Akhbar PR untuk PRK Bagan Pinang

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 14, 2009 by ckchew

Bagan Pinang residents will vote on Oct 11

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 14, 2009 by ckchew

The Election Commission (EC) today fixed Oct 3 (Saturday) for nomination and Oct 11 (Sunday) for polling for the Bagan Pinang state seat by-election in Negeri Sembilan.

There will be a eight-day campaigning period.

The dates were announced by EC chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof at a press conference today.

Abdul Aziz said there are 13,664 voters in Bagan Pinang, of which 9,060 are normal voters while the remainder 4,604 are postal voters. The large number of postal voters are due to the presence of several army camps in the constituency.

This is the ninth by-election since the 12th general election in March last year.

The seat fell vacant following the death of incumbent Barisan Nasional assemblyperson Azman Mohammad Noor on Sept 4 due to blood infection.

Malay-majority seat

In the general election in March 2008, Azman defeated PAS’ Ramli Ismail with a majority of 2,333 votes. He polled 6,430 votes against Ramli’s 4,097.

Malay majority seat Bagan Pinang is part of the Teluk Kemang parliamentary seat in Port Dickson with voters from the community making up 66 per cent of the electorate.

Of the four other state seats in Teluk Kemang, three – Port Dickson, Chuah and Lukut – are under the opposition while BN holds Linggi.

Last week, the Teluk Kemang Umno division unanimously nominated division chief Isa Samad as a candidate for the seat.

Meanwhile, Negeri Sembilan PAS has identified three “well-qualified” locals to be considered as the candidates but did not reveal them.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Hadi Awang said yesterday that the names had been submitted to PAS’ central leadership for deliberation. Mkini

Revealed: The ghost fleet of the recession – current gloomy state of world economy

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 14, 2009 by ckchew

The biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history lies at anchor east of Singapore. Never before photographed, it is bigger than the U.S. and British navies combined but has no crew, no cargo and no destination  –  and is why your Christmas stocking may be on the light side this year

article-1212013-06435781000005DC-710_634x403

article-1212013-063682F9000005DC-132_634x382

The tropical waters that lap the jungle shores of southern Malaysia could not be described as a paradisical shimmering turquoise. They are more of a dark, soupy green. They also carry a suspicious smell. Not that this is of any concern to the lone Indian face that has just peeped anxiously down at me from the rusting deck of a towering container ship; he is more disturbed by the fact that I may be a pirate, which, right now, on top of everything else, is the last thing he needs.

His appearance, in a peaked cap and uniform, seems rather odd; an officer without a crew. But there is something slightly odder about the vast distance between my jolly boat and his lofty position, which I can’t immediately put my finger on.

Then I have it – his 750ft-long merchant vessel is standing absurdly high in the water. The low waves don’t even bother the lowest mark on its Plimsoll line. It’s the same with all the ships parked here, and there are a lot of them. Close to 500. An armada of freighters with no cargo, no crew, and without a destination between them.

My ramshackle wooden fishing boat has floated perilously close to this giant sheet of steel. But the face is clearly more scared of me than I am of him. He shoos me away and scurries back into the vastness of his ship. His footsteps leave an echo behind them.

Navigating a precarious course around the hull of this Panama-registered hulk, I reach its bow and notice something else extraordinary. It is tied side by side to a container ship of almost the same size. The mighty sister ship sits empty, high in the water again, with apparently only the sailor and a few lengths of rope for company.

Nearby, as we meander in searing midday heat and dripping humidity between the hulls of the silent armada, a young European officer peers at us from the bridge of an oil tanker owned by the world’s biggest container shipping line, Maersk. We circle and ask to go on board, but are waved away by two Indian crewmen who appear to be the only other people on the ship.

‘They are telling us to go away,’ the boat driver explains. ‘No one is supposed to be here. They are very frightened of pirates.’

Here, on a sleepy stretch of shoreline at the far end of Asia, is surely the biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history. Their numbers are equivalent to the entire British and American navies combined; their tonnage is far greater. Container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers – all should be steaming fully laden between China, Britain, Europe and the US, stocking camera shops, PC Worlds and Argos depots ahead of the retail pandemonium of 2009. But their water has been stolen.

They are a powerful and tangible representation of the hurricanes that have been wrought by the global economic crisis; an iron curtain drawn along the coastline of the southern edge of Malaysia’s rural Johor state, 50 miles east of Singapore harbour.

It is so far off the beaten track that nobody ever really comes close, which is why these ships are here. The world’s ship owners and government economists would prefer you not to see this symbol of the depths of the plague still crippling the world’s economies.

So they have been quietly retired to this equatorial backwater, to be maintained only by a handful of bored sailors. The skeleton crews are left alone to fend off the ever-present threats of piracy and collisions in the congested waters as the hulls gather rust and seaweed at what should be their busiest time of year.

Local fisherman Ah Wat, 42, who for more than 20 years has made a living fishing for prawns from his home in Sungai Rengit, says: ‘Before, there was nothing out there – just sea. Then the big ships just suddenly came one day, and every day there are more of them.

‘Some of them stay for a few weeks and then go away. But most of them just stay. You used to look Christmas from here straight over to Indonesia and see nothing but a few passing boats. Now you can no longer see the horizon.’

article-1212013-0636819F000005DC-931_634x444

The size of the idle fleet becomes more palpable when the ships’ lights are switched on after sunset. From the small fishing villages that dot the coastline, a seemingly endless blaze of light stretches from one end of the horizon to another. Standing in the darkness among the palm trees and bamboo huts, as calls to prayer ring out from mosques further inland, is a surreal and strangely disorientating experience. It makes you feel as if you are adrift on a dark sea, staring at a city of light.

Ah Wat says: ‘We don’t understand why they are here. There are so many ships but no one seems to be on board. When we sail past them in our fishing boats we never see anyone. They are like real ghost ships and some people are scared of them. They believe they may bring a curse with them and that there may be bad spirits on the ships.’

As daylight creeps across the waters, flags of convenience from destinations such as Panama and the Bahamas become visible. In reality, though, these vessels belong to some of the world’s biggest Western shipping companies. And the sickness that has ravaged them began far away – in London, where the industry’s heart beats, and where the plummeting profits and hugely reduced cargo prices are most keenly felt.

The Aframax-class oil tanker is the camel of the world’s high seas. By definition, it is smaller than 132,000 tons deadweight and with a breadth above 106ft. It is used in the basins of the Black Sea, the North Sea, the Caribbean Sea, the China Sea and the Mediterranean – or anywhere where non-OPEC exporting countries have harbours and canals too small to accommodate very large crude carriers (VLCC) or ultra-large crude carriers (ULCCs). The term is based on the Average Freight Rate Assessment (AFRA) tanker rate system and is an industry standard.

A couple of years ago these ships would be steaming back and forth. Now 12 per cent are doing nothing

You may wish to know this because, if ever you had an irrational desire to charter one, now would be the time. This time last year, an Aframax tanker capable of carrying 80,000 tons of cargo would cost £31,000 a day ($50,000). Now it is about £3,400 ($5,500).

This is why the chilliest financial winds anywhere in the City of London are to be found blowing through its 400-plus shipping brokers.

Between them, they manage about half of the world’s chartering business. The bonuses are long gone. The last to feel the tail of the economic whiplash, they – and their insurers and lawyers – await a wave of redundancies and business failures in the next six months. Commerce is contracting, fleets rust away – yet new ship-builds ordered years ago are still coming on stream.

Just 12 months ago these financiers and brokers were enjoying fat bonuses as they traded cargo space. But nobody wants the space any more, and those that still need to ship goods across the world are demanding vast reductions in price.

Do not tell these men and women about green shoots of recovery. As Briton Tim Huxley, one of Asia’s leading ship brokers, says, if the world is really pulling itself out of recession, then all these idle ships should be back on the move.

‘This is the time of year when everyone is doing all the Christmas stuff,’ he points out.

‘A couple of years ago those ships would have been steaming back and forth, going at full speed. But now you’ve got something like 12 per cent of the world’s container ships doing nothing.’

Aframaxes are oil bearers. But the slump is industry-wide. The cost of sending a 40ft steel container of merchandise from China to the UK has fallen from £850 plus fuel charges last year to £180 this year. The cost of chartering an entire bulk freighter suitable for carrying raw materials has plunged even further, from close to £185,000 ($300,000) last summer to an incredible £6,100 ($10,000) earlier this year.

Business for bulk carriers has picked up slightly in recent months, largely because of China’s rediscovered appetite for raw materials such as iron ore, says Huxley. But this is a small part of international trade, and the prospects for the container ships remain bleak.

Some experts believe the ratio of container ships sitting idle could rise to 25 per cent within two years in an extraordinary downturn that shipping giant Maersk has called a ‘crisis of historic dimensions’. Last month the company reported its first half-year loss in its 105-year history.

Martin Stopford, managing director of Clarksons, London’s biggest ship broker, says container shipping has been hit particularly hard: ‘In 2006 and 2007 trade was growing at 11 per cent. In 2008 it slowed down by 4.7 per cent. This year we think it might go down by as much as eight per cent. If it costs £7,000 a day to put the ship to sea and if you only get £6,000 a day, than you have got a decision to make.

‘Yet at the same time, the supply of container ships is growing. This year, supply could be up by around 12 per cent and demand is down by eight per cent. Twenty per cent spare is a lot of spare of anything – and it’s come out of nowhere.’

These empty ships should be carrying Christmas over to the West. All retailers will have already ordered their stock for the festive season long ago. With more than 92 per cent of all goods coming into the UK by sea, much of it should be on its way here if it is going to make it to the shelves before Christmas.

But retailers are running on very low stock levels, not only because they expect consumer spending to be down, but also because they simply do not have the same levels of credit that they had in the past and so are unable to keep big stockpiles.

Stopford explains: ‘Globalisation and shipping go hand in hand. Worldwide, we ship about 8.2 billion tons of cargo a year. That’s more than one ton per person and probably two to three tons for richer people like us in the West. If the total goes down by five per cent or so, that’s a lot of cargo that isn’t moving.’

The knock-on effect of so many ships sitting idle rather than moving consumer goods between Asia and Europe could become apparent in Britain in the months ahead.

‘We will find out at Christmas whether there are enough PlayStations in the shops or not. There will certainly be fewer goods coming in to Britain during the run-up to Christmas.’

Three thousand miles north-east of the ghost fleet of Johor, the shipbuilding capital of the world rocks to an unpunctuated chorus of hammer-guns blasting rivets the size of dustbin lids into shining steel panels that are then lowered onto the decks of massive new vessels.

As the shipping industry teeters on the brink of collapse, the activity at boatyards like Mokpo and Ulsan in South Korea all looks like a sick joke. But the workers in these bustling shipyards, who teem around giant tankers and mega-vessels the length of several football pitches and capable of carrying 10,000 or more containers each, have no choice; they are trapped in a cruel time warp.

Click here to read more

By Simon Parry/MailOnline

Justice now for Penan rape victims

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 13, 2009 by ckchew

Finally, it is officially confirmed – Penan girls in the interiors have been raped and sexually harassed by timber camp workers.

The story first broke in October last year when some Penan rape victims came to Kuala Lumpur in the company of a few women NGOs to seek redress for their plight.

Because of the seriousness of the allegations and the publicity around the issue, a special task force was set up on Oct 8, 2008 under the then Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Ng Yen Yen. The task force also included representatives from a number of other ministries.

I know for a fact that the task force did send a delegation to visit the Penan settlements to interview the rape victims. They were helped by the local NGOs, and did not encounter much problem during their investigation. A source reported that one female official was sobbing as she was taking down the testimony of the rape victims.

Then inspector-general of police Musa Hassan took a personal interest in the matter, and invited some Sarawak NGOs and their West Malaysian counterparts for a meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 9 this year.

He subsequently instructed his men and women to work with the NGOs to probe into the rape allegations. Until today, the investigation has yet to made a single trip to interview the Penan victims in their villages. It is probably not high on their list of priorities.

Then silence reigned supreme. I had heard quite a while back that the task force report had been prepared and later approved by the cabinet, but somehow it was hidden deep in the bowels of bureaucratic officialdom.

Then a few days ago, PKR Wanita chief Zuraidah Kamaruddin and her team held a protest outside the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s office, demanding that the report be released. They were given a copy of the task force just like that, “Nah, ini dia!”

My communal blog ‘Hornbill Unleashed‘ uploaded the report on the same day, Sept 8, and it was quickly picked up by net news portals such as Malaysiakini. Three days later, it made frontpage headline in the Star, detailing all the horror the Penan women and girls had to suffer at the hands of the lecherous timber camp workers.

For once, I was pleased with and grateful to the Star, even if it is owned by MCA. I know its reporters have been under some pressure to step back a little from covering the unfolding events.

CM: Rape reports all ‘lies’

What has been the official response so far?

The Sarawak Woman and Family Council chairperson and Assistant Minister in the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Department Fatimah Abdullah has refrained from giving comments until she has read all the reports and discussed with her council members.

She said there are different investigations by different groups with their own agenda, so she had to be careful.

She is amazingly simplistic of course, despite her long title. She could have easily read the task force’s report online. Besides, there has been no investigation at all by the police or any official authorities, except that which was conducted by the Woman, Family and Community Development.

When she talked about agenda, she was probably thinking of those NGOs and foreign instigators hiding behind every tree in Sarawak’s vast jungle.

Moreover, she did not express any concern for the Penan girls who were raped.

Fatimah is just a junior member of the Sarawak state government. Let us hear what the leading lights of the Sarawak administration have to say.

When the story broke last year, the Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud said the reports were nothing but “lies” and demanded that the newspapers corrected them. “Check your information or you will be suspected by the decent people of Sarawak of trying to sabotage us when we have toiled and developed our state,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu, who is the chairperson of the steering committee on Penan Affairs, said that it would be a waste of time to investigate. He said: “I have not heard of such complaints from the Penan communal leaders in my many visits to Ulu Baram.”

Sarawak Rural Development Minister James Masing described the Penans as “good storytellers”.Then on Sept 8, the Sarawak CID chief senior assistant commissioner II Huzir Mohamad told the Star that unless the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry can furnish them with details such as names, place, and time, the police cannot do much investigation.

This really takes the cake. The police are paid by the taxpayers to investigate the reports of crimes. A year after the police reports had been lodged, they are still waiting for the ministry to do their police job. Talk about Little Napoleons!

Police the problem, not solution

Actually, the police are the problem, and not a solution to the problems faced by the Penans.

In the past, whenever the Penans put up blockades to stop the incursion into their ancestral land by logging and plantation companies, the police would come and arrest them and break up their blockades.

Without having read Karl Marx, the naturally wise Penans have long ago realised that the police are part of the superstructure of the state out to protect the interest of the capitalists. Whatever report they make to the police will be consistently ignored.

Even if a police team were to be sent to the Penan settlements to investigate the rape allegations, the Penans have such fear and suspicion for these officers of the law that they will run to hide in the forest.

The Penans will only trust those NGO activists who have been working for a long time with them, and for them. There is a coalition of 35 Malaysian NGOs actively agitating for justice for the Penan rape victims. Since last year, they have pledged their cooperation with the police to get to the bottom of the matter. Without their help, the police may as well give up on investigating the cases.

In the end, the police have not cooperated with the NGOs. They refused to accept the NGOs’ terms of reference, their itinerary, the mode of transport, and even the proposals as to where to meet the Penan rape victims.

The police are simply not culturally sensitive to the unique Penan way of doing things. To them, the Penans are the subaltern objects of administration, and not subjects like all other Malaysians whose life and personal security the police are paid to protect.

The Penans are a small community of about 12,000 people, living in the remote upper reaches of the Baram and Rejang rivers. The so-called “development” brought in by the logging and plantation industries have resulted in endless grief for the Penan, though the opening of the rainforests has brought immense wealth to a few politically-connected individuals.

Even as you read this, there are a few Penan blockades in the Baram region where they try to challenge the might of the bulldozers with their blow pipes and their bodies. In the Bakun area in upriver Rejang, some 3,000 Penans are suffering from an acute shortage of food because of failed crops and destruction of their food source in the jungle.

The rape of young Penan girls may still be going on.

Please do not for a moment think that the Penans are far away, out of sight, and therefore out of mind. They are like you and me, fellow Malaysian citizens who should benefit from the fruits of independence and development.

The rape of women anywhere is a hideous, heinous crime of violence. To appreciate the sorry plight of the Penan womenfolk, just ask this question to yourself: “How will I feel if my young daughters are raped by total strangers who happen to be driving their school buses?”

SIM KWANG YANG can be reached at kenyalang@hotmail.com./Mkini

Land issue in Penang, today is our day: Penang Malay village wants heritage status fast tracked

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 12, 2009 by ckchew

Kampung Melayu Tanjung Tokong village residents, said to be among the oldest living indigenous enclave in the state, will step up their campaign to get their village declared a heritage site as well.

The Tanjung Tokong Villagers Association, a registered body with 500 members, has launched a nationwide signature campaign today to obtain support of Malaysians from all walks of life to back its demand.
Athi Shankar/Mkini
The association aims to collect at least 3,000 signatures with help of many non-government organisations supporting the cause.

The association will also carry out a census of the village to ascertain the exact number of people who have the legitimate rights to claim any compensation if the traditional village were to be demolished by the developer , the Urban Development Authority (UDA).

Association chairperson Mohd Salleh Yahaya said its utmost priority is to preserve and conserve the village as a Malay heritage village.

Since UDA had declared the villagers as squatters, he said the people as for now have lost all their rights over their own land.

“We have lost our rights even though we are the descendants of the original natives of Penang because of UDA’s statutory declaration.

“The federal government must declare the village aMalay heritage for us to retain any of our legitimate rights over our traditional land,” he said.

Kampung Buah Pala parallel

Referring to what had happened to the Indian traditional village – Kampung Buah Pala, and the happenings to his village he said that it seemed “the governments both at state and federal levels were not keen in protecting minority interests and rights in Penang.”

He cited the recognition of a nearby Chinese fishing village – Bang Liau, and Chinese clan jetties in George Town as heritage sites to back his claim.

“We can only restore and regain our rights by getting the federal government to declare the village as heritage living human cultural site,” said Mohd Salleh when explaining to newsmen on the signature campaign.

After collecting the targeted signatures in a month’s time, the association aims to handover a memorandum, enclosed with the signatures, and have a dialogue session with the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage Rais Yatim.

Kampung Melayu Tanjung Tokong stands on a 24-acre land with 300 houses, including 30 illegal structures without registration numbers, and about 6,000 residents,

According to a UDA census done in 2003, the village now has 1,026 families.

But the association secretary Abdul Wahab Sini Ibramsa said the list on UDA’s report showed discrepancies with at least 500 house owners’ names missing.

“We will carry out our own census with help from Universiti Sains Malaysia students to correct the list with the exact numbers of house owners and families in the village,” he told the press conference.

One activist backing the villagers demand, Wazir Jahan Karim from the Academic of Socio-Economic Research and Analysis (Asera) finds it amusing that the authorities were keen to develop new artificial traditional villages to lure tourists when they could restructure, reorganise and refurbish the existing original villages.

Replacing tradition with artificial antiquity

“The authorities seem prefer to demolish existing ones and replace them with skyscrapers while building so-called traditional villages elsewhere for foreigners to stay,” she said.

She stressed that Penang, Tioman, Langkawi and Pangkor have been suffering from such lopsided policy for years.

“Like Singapore, traditional villages in Malaysian islands have become endangered species due to high density urbanisation,” she lamented.

Historical facts say that Kampung Melayu Tanjuing Tokong is the oldest living Malay cultural village in the state.

A book entitled ‘Old Penang’ claims that the village had existed for more than 200 years, long before the arrival of English captain, Sir Francis Light, in 1786.

However, in an affidavit submitted by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) in November last year, the government agency declared the villagers as ‘squatters.’

The association has already submitted a letter on the matter to the Prime Minister’s Office in May this year asking the federal government to declare the village a Malay living heritage.

However, Mohd Salleh claims that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak never replied to the letter.

He added that the current state government had told the association it was powerless to do anything about it.

The previous Barisan Nasional state government alienated and leased out the village land, encompassing about 64 acres (about 26ha) for 99 years to UDA in 1974 under a redevelopment policy.

Failure to implement policy

It was to create Malay settlements in George Town embarked by the late premier Abdul Razak , ironically Najib’s father.

Several years ago, the previous state government had also leased out another nearby 54 acres of reclaimed land to UDA for development purposes.

According to Mohd Salleh, under the policy, the village must be ‘rehabilitated, reorganised and upgraded’ to match current mainstream development in the city.

However, he said UDA failed to carry out any projects in line with its policy.

UDA instead built three phases of 650 unit low cost flats on a 40ha of land to relocate some villagers, who were not house owners.

The agency built another phase of medium cost apartments for the open market.

“All the reclaimed areas were used for profit-making housing and commercial projects in the open market,” said Mohd Salleh.

He claimed that UDA planned to table a formal compensation offer this October to the villagers, promising to provide each family a flat in a future project.

“Since the state government is powerless, we want the federal government to intervene and declare the village as heritage.

“We want our rights over our traditional land,” he said.

Quoting from Islamic law he said “Those who have been there before anyone else came to explore and develop the land, are the legitimate rightful owners of the land.”

MCMC gathers final evidence, charges expected

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 11, 2009 by ckchew

The investigation into the “offensive” videos relating to the controversial cow-head protest continued today with the authorities inspecting Malaysiakini.tv’s servers hosted at Internet service provider Jaring in Bukit Jalil’s Technology Park Malaysia.


Malaysiakini’s technology manager Danny Hong and senior video programmer Aizuddin Akmal Ahmad assisted five officers from the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) led by Mohd Syukri Jamaluddin to make copies of the videos stored in the servers.

The investigation team, which included two digital forensics experts, spent about two hours at the servers farm, where a number of photographs were taken.

Later in the afternoon, Syukri and another officer arrived at the Malaysiakini office in Bangsar Utama, Kuala Lumpur – their fourth visit in the past one week – to record statements from Aizuddin and chief executive officer Premesh Chandran.

They were at Malaysiakini office last Saturday and on Tuesday and Thursday.

Today’s actions by MCMC were to establish a ‘digital trail’ from the original video footage to the final uploading of the two videos.

“Given the intensive investigations and evidence gathering, we believe that the authorities are adamant in charging Malaysiakini,” said Chandran. “On our part, we are preparing to defend ourselves in court.”

Malaysiakini has argued that the videos in question are not intended to offend or annoy anyone, and they were uploaded because of their important news value.

According to Chandran, any action to prevent the airing of such news videos would contravene Section 3 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 which states that “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting the censorship of the Internet.”

Malaysiakini vows to fight case in court

The investigation by MCMC centres on two video clips published by Malaysiakini – one on the Aug 28 cow-head protest in Shah Alam and the other on Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s press conference after his meeting with the protesters.

The videos cited were the ‘Temple demo: Residents march with cow’s head‘ and ‘Hisham: Don’t blame cow-head protesters‘.

Malaysiakini is accused of contravening the Communication and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 by putting up the two video clips.

The commission had sent a letter last Thursday requesting the independent news portal to take down two ‘provocative’ videos from its website.

According to MCMC monitoring and enforcement division senior acting director Abdul Halim Ahman, in his letter, the display of both videos on the news portal “is an offence under Section 211/233 of the CMA”.

Under the Act, any individual found guilty of publishing content “which is indecent, obscene, false, menacing, or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person” is liable to a fine of up to RM50,000 or a jail sentence.

Editor-in-chief Steven Gan said that Malaysiakini would not remove the videos from the website and has vowed to fight the case in court. Mkini

NGOs to get 100,000 signatures to remove mentally retarded MP of Jelutong : The people of Jelutong must booted him out come next election.

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 11, 2009 by ckchew

mentally retarded mp

If the group Forum is not registered entity, so do Bersih, Protes, & GMI etc. Does the mentally retarded MP means that the coalition of NGOs & political parties including his own party that formed Bersih, Protes or GMI don’t deserve to be heard & given responds by the federal or state government? And Forum, an umno backed entity? Well, he seems to be lost & doesn’t know who is who in Penang political arena.  He can get himself out of gerakan but the dap can’t get the gerakan out of him. The people of Jelutong must booted him out come next election.

——————————————-

Pertubuhan Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) and other Muslim NGOs are gathering 100,000 signatures across Penang to force Jelutong parliamentarian Jeff Ooi Chuan Aun to resign as the chief minister’s chief of staff.

Failing this, the NGOs will demand that Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng sack Ooi from his administration.

Penang JIM committee member Dr MD Roslan Hashim said Ooi  has failed to apologise for referring to a JIM member as an ‘Islamic extremist’.

“We are upset that Ooi had only retracted his statement, but stopped short of apologising to JIM and resigning from his position as demanded,” he told a press conference when launching the signature campaign in Sungai Nibong, George Town today.

He said JIM will now carry out a state-wide online information campaign, public forums and dialogue sessions to canvass public support and collect the signatures in a month or two.

After that, he said JIM office-bearers will seek a meeting with Lim to table their demands.

“We will take follow-up actions to achieve our goals based on Lim’s response,” said Roslan, expressing optimism that JIM will get the signatures it wants to back its demands.

‘No comment’

When contacted, Ooi declined to comment on the campaign and the renewed demand for an apology and his resignation.

“The organisation does not deserve a comment from me,” quipped the outspoken MP, who rarely conceals his feelings on any subject of interest.

A public row erupted early last month when Ooi branded PKR-nominated municipal councillor Mohd Razali Abdullah, a JIM member, as an Islamist extremist.

Sensing that Ooi’s statement may trigger a Muslim backlash on his DAP state government Lim  promptly said that he was not with Ooi on this and directed him to withdraw his remark.

Ooi obeyed his boss’ directive and duly withdrew his statement.

However, he refused to bow to demands from JIM and other Islam-based organisations, and to apologise and resign from his state post.

‘Senseless’ to attack JIM

Penang DAP Socialist Youth (Dapsy) secretary Ng Wei Aik also ticked off Ooi for dragging JIM into his personal feud with Mohd Razali.

Ng said it was senseless for Ooi to attack JIM, a registered organisation working closely with Dapsy on various social issues in the state.

State executive councillor Abdul Malik Kassim has called on Ooi to retract his statement as it was sensitive.

PKR state Youth secretary Khairil Anuar Kamaruddin has submitted a memorandum to Lim demanding that Ooi apologise to the Muslim community as well as to JIM.

Khairil said Ooi had crossed the line by attacking Islam and wanted him to apologise and retract his statement within 48 hours.

Even the police threatened to charge Ooi under sedition for stoking racial tensions and insulting Islam.

A ‘political burden’

Ooi had criticised Mohd Razali and called him a political burden to the state government.

He said complex circumstances surrounding Mohd Razali’s appointment in the One-Stop Centre of the Penang Island Municipal Council and his behaviour at meetings had made things difficult for the state government.

In a recent statement, JIM national president Zaid Kamaruddin  said the organisation would continue to advocate for the understanding of Islam.

He said JIM prefers to present Islam as a choice, work on building acceptance and consensus while leaving it to the people to make their choice.

He said JIM’s position is stronger in accordance with the federal constitution than the secular position Ooi attempts to champion.

“As a responsible NGO, JIM stands to preserve peace, uphold law and order and justice for all,” he added.

Athi Shankar/Mkini

Cow-head videos: MCMC comes a-calling again

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 10, 2009 by ckchew

Officers from the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) have again visited independent news portal Malaysiakini today to further investigate the “ deemed offensive” cow-head videos.

The seven-member MCMC team, which included three digital forensics experts, demanded Malaysiakini to hand over the original tapes of the two videos.

The team, led by Mohd Syukri Jamaluddin, has also sought to copy certain parts of the hard disk from two Malaysiakini computers used to edit and upload the videos.

MCMC officers also interviewed Malaysiakini cameraperson Mohd Kamal Ishak, who covered the press conference held by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein following his controversial meeting with cow-head protesters.

This is the third time MCMC officers have visited the Malaysiakini office in Bangsar Utama, Kuala Lumpur.

The first was on last Saturday where a three-person team recorded a statement from editor-in-chief Steven Gan.

On Tuesday, eight MCMC officers interviewed the online daily’s 12 staff in a marathon session lasting eight hours.

Among those questioned were Malaysiakini chief executive officer Premesh Chandran, editors, journalists, video team members and one technical staff.

Probe centres on two video clips

Except for Chandran and the technical staff, all the others were involved in the process of news gathering, editing and publishing two stories and videos related to the cow-head protest in Shah Alam on Aug 28 and the press conference by Hishammuddin on Sept 2.

They were journalists Rahmah Ghazali, Jimadie Shah Othman, Andrew Ong, cameraperson Amir Abdullah, editors K Kabilan, Nasharuddin Rahman, Fathi Aris Omar, video editors Shufiyan Shukur, Ng Kok Foong and Lydia Azizan.

The investigation by MCMC centres on two video clips published by Malaysiakini – one on the protest and the other on Hishammuddin’s press conference – which were deemed offensive.The videos cited were the ‘Temple demo: Residents march with cow’s head‘ and ‘Hisham: Don’t blame cow-head protesters‘.

On the same day, MCMC officers have also taken a statement from Malaysiakini’s server hosting company.

‘Videos to stay online’

Malaysiakini is accused of contravening the Communication and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 by putting up the two video clips.

The commission had sent a letter last Thursday requesting the independent news portal to take down two ‘provocative’ videos from its website.

According to MCMC monitoring and enforcement division senior acting director Abdul Halim Ahman, in his letter, the display of both videos on the news portal “is an offence under Section 211/233 of the CMA”.

Under the Act, any individual found guilty of publishing content “which is indecent, obscene, false, menacing, or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person” is liable to a fine of up to RM50,000 or a jail sentence.

Gan has said that Malaysiakini would not take down the videos.

“Our intent in putting up the videos was not to ‘annoy’ anyone, but to do our job as journalists to draw attention to the protest and to ensure action is taken so that incidents like this will not happen again in Malaysia.” /Mkini

Keadilan Saidina Umar Al-Khattar Terhadap Rumah Ibadah Agama Lain

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 10, 2009 by ckchew

Keadilan Saidina Umar Al-Khattar Terhadap Rumah Ibadah Agama Lain

Saya ingin mengambil kesempatan ini untuk mengemukakan sebuah kisah dari zaman pemerintahan Saidina Umar Al-Khattab (r.a) untuk tatapan dan renungan tuan-tuan sekalian. Melalui pendedahan ini, adalah diharap sebahagian dari ummat Islam yang tidak memahami konsep keadilan Islam terhadap agama lain, akan sedikit sebanyak dapat memikirkan kembali sikap dan pendirian mereka itu.

Kisah yang ingin dikemukakan adalah kisah Saidina Umar dan Kanisah (gereja) Al-Qiamah yang terletak di Quds. Kisah ini adalah petikan dari muka surat 114, kitab Itmam al-Wafa’ fi sirah al-Khulafa’, tulisan as-Syeikh Muhammad bin al-Afifi al-Banjuri, Darul Ibnu Hazim.

“Dan apabila masuknya Saidina Umar ke dalam kota, maka masuklah beliau ke dalam Kanisah (gereja) al-Qiamah, dan beliau duduk di ruang utama gereja tersebut . Setelah tiba waktu solat asar, maka berkata Saidina Umar kepada Patriach Kanisah tersebut, “Saya ingin mengerjakan solat.” Jawab Patriach: “Solat sahajalah di sini”.

Tetapi Umar menolak cadangan Patriach dan solat (di luar) di tangga yang berada di hadapan pintu gereja tersebut secara bersendirian. Selepas beliau menyelesaikan solat asar, beliau (masuk kembali lalu) berkata kepada Patriach al-Quds :

“Sekiranya saya mengerjakan solat tadi di dalam gereja tuan, saya merasa pasti bahawa ummat islam pada zaman akan datang akan menyatakan bahawa Saidina Umar mengerjakan solat di dalam gereja ini, maka kita boleh menukarkan gereja ini kepada masjid untuk melaksanakan solat di dalamnya”.

Kisah di atas menceritakan respon Saidinna Umar kepada cadangan Patriach supaya beliau solat di dalam gereja al-Qiamah. Respon Saidina Umar merupakan satu respon yang mengambil kira kepentingan golongan Nasrani dan Patriach sambil dalam masa yang sama melindungi Kanisah mereka.

Sehubungan dengan itu, sekiranya ummat Islam adalah peroboh kuil, gereja dan synagogue seperti yang didakwa oleh musuh-musuh Islam dan turut dipercayai oleh segolongan ummat Islam yang jahil, sudah pasti Saidina Umar akan bertindak sebaliknya. Maka amatlah malang sekiranya ummat Islam sendiri tidak memahami konsep keadilan yang dipertahankan oleh Islam sepertimana yang telah dizahirkan oleh Saidina Umar. Konsep keadilan ini meliputi berbagai perkara, termasuklah keadilan terhadap orang bukan Islam sendiri.

Khalifah-Khalifah Islam sebelum mengutus tentera Islam sentiasa berpesan supaya tidak dibunuh kanak-kanak, orang tua, orang yang berlindung ditempat-tempat peribadatan dan tidak diroboh rumah-rumah peribadatan mereka. Begitu juga, tidak dibunuh haiwan ternakan kecuali untuk dimakan dan tidak dimusnahkan tanam-tanaman dan menebang pokok-pokok tanpa alasan.

Keadilan yang sebeginilah yang melonjakkan ummat Islam ke kedudukan istimewa satu ketika dahulu! Bukan kekejaman dan bukan kezaliman.

Menurut kisah ini juga, maka adalah jelas bahawa Saidina Umar memasuki gereja dan berbincang dengan Patriach di dalamnya. Dengan itu, adalah diharapkan tiada pula dari golongan jahil yang akan menggelar Saidina Umar dengan gelaran ‛Umar Gereja’ di atas sebab ini.

Saya sememangnya cukup hairan dengan sikap sebahagian dari ummat Islam dewasa ini. Mereka berhajat besar untuk memimpin dunia, tetapi tidak menzahirkan sikap yang memungkin cita-cita ini tercapai. Terlalu banyak yang disensitifkan sehinggakan tidak mungkin berbincang dan berunding dengan yang bukan Islam sama sekali. Manakan mungkin menjadi pemimpin dunia yang majoritinya bukan Islam, sekiranya kita sendiri tidak mampu untuk berinteraksi bersama mereka bagi membuktikan keadilan Islam itu sememangnya untuk semua.

WaLlahu ‛Alam
KHALID SAMAD

RPK Speaks His Mind – Altantuya Statutory Declaration

Posted in RPK with tags on September 10, 2009 by ckchew

Macc officers beat me up, says new witness: He was hit with the metal rod, punched, kicked, slapped and caned on his genitals and the soles of his feet until he passed out from the pain.

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on September 9, 2009 by ckchew

SHAH ALAM, Sept 9 — He was handcuffed and taken into a dark room where he saw a tall man with spectacles wrapping an iron ceiling rod in newspapers.

He was told to strip. Several men assaulted him. He was hit with the metal rod, punched, kicked, slapped and caned on his genitals and the soles of his feet until he passed out from the pain.

Sivanesan Tanggavelu, 22, who stepped into the witness box at today’s inquest into the death of political secretary Teoh Beng Hock gave a highly-graphic account of his experience at the hands of the Selangor graft busters.

The assistant manager of a Kuantan-based company recounted how he was met at home on Sept 4 last year by three men who said they were anti-graft officers and requested his help in an investigation.

He followed them to their office on the 14th-floor of Plaza Masalam here and tried to get him to sign a document admitting guilt.

When he refused, one of them, whom he called “Mohan”, told him in Tamil: “If you don’t tell the truth, this place will be hell.”

The 22-year-old was introduced today as a new witness into the inquest of Teoh Beng Hock who fell to his death on July 16 after being interrogated overnight by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office on the 14th-floor of Plaza Masalam here.

Lawyer for the MACC, Datuk Abdul Razak Musa had objected strongly this morning to admitting Sivanesan’s testimony as well as police report on the assault.

Abdul Razak who had objected to the testimony yesterday when it was to be put to the MACC’s own man, Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus, for questioning, maintained his stand.

He said Sivanesan’s report “is not relevant” to Teoh’s inquest because it was too long ago, before the anti-graft agency became the MACC.

Teoh, the political secretary to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah was said to be the star witness in an ongoing probe over the abuse of state funds by DAP assemblymen.

The 30-year-old husband-to-be had checked into the office on July 15 but never checked out. His body was found sprawled on a 5th-floor landing of the same building the next day.

It was “sudden death”, the police said initially. Then, two pathologists who carried out the autopsy on Teoh said all the signs point to “suicide”.

But his family and his employer strongly believe foul play is involved. Their lawyers believe the same.

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, representing the Selangor state government, told the coroner’s court today that the state plans to enter famed Thai pathologist, Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand, into the witness box next Monday (Sept 14). MI

Sivanesan dihentam dengan batang besi, ditumbuk, ditampar dan di rotan alat kelaminnya

(Buletin Online) – Seorang saksi kekejaman tindakan Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) telah menceritakan bagaimana dia telah digari dan dibawa ke bilik gelap dimana dia melihat seorang seorang lelaki yang tinggi yang memakai cermin mata, telah membalut satu batang besi dengan suratkhabar lama.

Dia telah diarahkan berbogel dan beberapa lelaki menyerangnya. Dia telah di hentam dengan batang besi, ditumbuk, disepak, ditampar dan tapak kaki dan alat kelamin telah dirotan, sehingga beliau terkencing dan terberak kesakitan.

Sivanesan Tanggavelu, 22, menceritakan sebagai saksi kepada perbicaraan inkues kematian Teo Beng Hock, bagaimana pengalaman yang menyeksakan itu di alaminya ketika disoal siasat oleh para pegawai penyiasatan SPRM Selangor.

Bekas penolong pengurus satu syarikat berpangkalan di Kuantan, menceritakan bagaimana di telah didatangi tiga orang lelaki yang mengaku sebagai pegawai pencegah rasuah dirumahnya pada 4 September tahun lalu, meminta bantuannya dalam satu siasatan.

Bagaimana pun ketika mengikuti mereka ke pejabat SPRM tingkat 14 Plaza Masalam di sini, beliau telah diminta menandatangani satu dokumen ’pengakuan bersalah’.

Apabila beliau enggan, salah seorang daripada mereka, yang dikenali sebagai “Mohan”, memberitahunya dalam bahasa Tamil: “Jika kamu tidak bercakap benar, tempat ini akan jadi neraka.”

Savanesan berumur 22 tahun telah diperkenalkan hari ini sebagai seorang saksi baru kepada inkues kematian misteris Teoh Beng Hock pada Julai 16 lalu, selepas disoal siasat  oleh Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM).