News

No rape witnesses, say police
Sep 11, 09 11:53pm
Police today refuted claims that they are turning a blind eye to alleged sexual abuse involving Penan women and that until today no witnesses have been brought to the police by any NGO fighting for their cause.

According to CID director Mohd Bakri Zinin, police had investigated 14 reports of alleged rapes in the Baram area since 1995 and only four cases involved Penan women, including three cases reported in 2008.

He said these cases were not brought to court due to insufficient evidence and there was also a case involving the sudden death of a Penan elder, where no foul play was suspected.

Bakri said a task force headed by him was formed to investigate these allegations after a meeting in Bukit Aman on Jan 2 with the inspector-general of police and several NGOs which discussed issues relating to sexual abuse of Penan girls and women.

“The task force comprising of police officers from Bukit Aman and Sarawak visited nine settlements to interview witnesses to get to the bottom of the matter.

“However the task force faced numerous obstacles and hurdles investigating these cases, especially non-cooperation by the alleged victims and witnesses,” he said in a statement today.

Bakri said he had a meeting with NGOs in Sarawak on Jan 20 and pleaded for their assistance in bringing forward witnesses and on Aug 17, another meeting was held in Sarawak with NGOs where again Police asked for their cooperation in bringing forward witnesses.

“Sadly, until today, no witnesses have been brought to the police by any NGO fighting for the Penan cause,” he said.

He also remind all those concerned that the police conducted investigations within the perimeters of the law and offenders were brought to court only when there was sufficient evidence.

Irrefutable evidence essential

Bakri said irrefutable evidence was essential to a successful rape prosecution and mere filing of a rape case in court without such evidence was an exercise in futility and may bring about serious legal repercussions.

He added the police had yet to receive an official copy of the report prepared by the special committee set up by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to investigate the allegations.

“We, however, managed to obtain the 112-page document that was made available on the ministry’s website. The report is the culmination of a five-day visit by the special committee to Baram from Nov 10 to Nov 15 last year.

“An officer from the Royal Malaysia Police was a member of the committee that visited five Penan settlements and interviewed the alleged victims. Part 4.1 of the report consisting of 16 pages documented several alleged cases of Penan girls and women either being raped or molested by timber company workers,” he said.

He said the police welcomed the proposals made by the special committee in Part 4.2 of the report and all those concerned should be committed to translate these proposals into action for the betterment and well-being of the Penan people.

Bakri was referring to a front page news report headlined ‘They were raped’ published in The Star today with regards to the alleged sexual abuse of Penan girls and women by timber company workers in the Baram district of Sarawak.

- Bernama

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Published: Thursday September 10, 2009 MYT 4:04:00 PM
Updated: Thursday September 10, 2009 MYT 4:38:00 PM
The rape of young Penan girls: Cops want more info
By STEPHEN THEN and SHARON LING
Thr Star Online

MIRI/ KUCHING: Sarawak police say they would not be able to nail the loggers who raped and sexually abused Penan women and girls in timber concession zones despite a government report that confirmed these crimes — not unless they get detailed information.

The Women and Family Affairs Ministry has confirmed that these crimes — first uncovered by the Bruno Manser Fund on its website, then highlighted by local media — had taken place, but police said they need detailed information that can lead them to these rapists.

The head of the Criminal Investigation Department in Sarawak, Senior Asst Comm 2 Huzir Mohamed, told The Star on Thursday that the police need more detailed and specific information like names, dates and places.

“We need the names of specific victims, where they can be found, more accurate information on the dates and places of the incidents and descriptions of the people who had committed these (sexual crimes).

“We need to interview these victims. If the report is too general and not precise, it will be difficult for us to probe effectively.

“The ministry must furnish us with more details,” he said when was asked whether the police could launch an investigation to pinpoint the rapists following the ministry’s public disclosure that there had been numerous cases of rape and sexual abuse against Penan girls and women in Ulu Baram in northern Sarawak.

When they first investigated the case, the police found no evidence of these crimes, Inspector-Gene­ral of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said in November last year.

However, the continuing public outcry over the horrific crime prompted the Government to study the matter more deeply.

The 111-page report was compiled by a special committee set up by the ministry on Oct 8 last year.

The committee visited numerous Penan settlements in Long Item, Long Kawi, Long Luteng, Long Belok and Niah and said that it had identified several Penan girls and women who had been raped and sexually violated.

The committee members, made up of representatives from several ministries, spoke to these victims in the settlements, as well as two victims who were brought to the Women’s Aid Organisation shelter home in Selangor.

The two victims, aged 17 and 21, had also lodged police reports in Bukit Aman.

“For every case, the committee had difficulties in getting the exact dates of the incidents because the victims could not remember the exact details,” the report said, stressing that these incidents happened years ago.

The report described the testimonies of a 17-year old “Cindy” who said she was raped when she was 12.

She said she was raped by a logging company worker (the name of the company was also disclosed) inside a boarding school, outside the school and when she took a ride on the logger’s vehicle from Long Kawi to Long Lama.

Raping 10yr-old girls
Another girl “Bibi” said she was raped twice by a logger named “Johnny” and she became pregnant in 2005.

The report said the victim told the committee that she did not lodge a police report because she did not know where to go to do so.

She was also uneducated and afraid, said the report, adding that some of the victims had been sexually violated when they were only 10.

The report also said schoolgirls were often molested by lorry drivers while travelling to school in timber company vehicles.

It documented one incident in which a 14-year-old girl’s breasts were touched by a lorry driver. In another incident, a lorry driver tried to molest a group of 10-year-old girls but they managed to escape.

The report highlighted the vulnerability of Penan schoolgirls to such abuse because of their dependence on timber vehicles to transport them to and from school.

“The Penans are overly dependent on timber companies because logging tracks are often the only means of access to their villages,” it said, adding that schools and clinics were four to six hours away by logging track and the Penans were too poor to afford their own transport.

The report said the Penans were also afraid that the authorities may not believe them and would accuse them of trying to create trouble for the logging companies.

The report, however, said that there are Penan women and girls who had admitted to having sexual affairs with some of these loggers, adding that there were some who had married these timber workers.

In the report, the ministry did not recommend what the police should do nor provide exact details of the criminals, where they could be found or if they are still working with the timber company concerned.

Addressing the issue
A copy of the report was released to PKR women’s chief Zuraida Kamaruddin by the ministry on Tuesday and subsequently made available on the Sarawak-based blog Hornbill Unleashed.

On addressing the sexual abuse, the report called for programmes to be conducted to raise the awareness of the Penans on personal safety, sex education and violence against women.

It also recommended the appointment of “trusted” lorry drivers and student management assistants to escort Penan schoolchildren back to their villages.

The report also found that the Penans had little access to registration, healthcare and education due to their poverty and the remoteness of their settlements.

It said many Penans did not have personal documents while their children had a high drop-out rate at school.

“All these issues are closely related to imbalanced development. The lack of infrastructure such as roads and public transport make it difficult for the Penan to communicate with the outside world including government agencies.

“The Penans also feel neglected because of negative perceptions and prejudices against them,” it said.

As such, it said there should be greater involvement of the Penans in the process of making decisions which affect them.

Meanwhile, the Bruno Manser Fund, which first broke the Penans’ allegations of sexual abuse last September, welcomed the release of the task force’s report.

However, it voiced concern that the report apparently did not have any legal consequences for the perpetrators.

“It is high time that those responsible for the crimes described in the report will face the legal consequences of their conduct,” it said in a statement released on the Borneo Project website.

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For Penan: forest is their universe

Posted by: Johnny J Tingang

By Sarah Stewart (AFP) – 5 Sept 09

LONG NEN, Malaysia – In the language of the nomadic Penan there is no word for forest, it is simply their universe, and its destruction is snuffing out the ancient lifestyle of this tribe who are among the world’s last hunter-gatherers.

Wielding spears and dressed in loincloths, one small band who emerged from the Borneo jungles to tell their tale said that encroachment by timber and plantation firms has made their already hard life impossible.

They said they are ready to stop roaming and settle in villages, giving weight to fears that the 300-400 Penan thought to still be nomadic may all be heading this way, or even that their way of life is already extinct.

“Our problem is that there is just not enough to eat, there are no wild boar to catch any more,” said Sagong, the headman of the group.

“The companies logged all the teak already, and now they are going to clear the land for palm oil plantations,” said the young chief, who brought 15 of his people to a blockade against the timber and plantation companies.

“If that happens, we lose everything, we cannot survive this,” he said.

“Yes it is sad to leave this life of roaming. But what can we do? We have to strive for the best for ourselves. It is our fate to face this challenge.”

A lean and muscular man aged in his 30s, Sagong said their last hope was to join the anti-logging campaign which has escalated recently in Sarawak state, on Malaysia’s half of Borneo, an island shared with Indonesia.

“I came here to man the blockade and safeguard the land,” he said at one of the barriers built of logs and bamboo, among seven constructed in the region in recent months to force the timber trucks to a halt.

The Penan of Sarawak, who are estimated to number around 10,000, had mostly abandoned their nomadic ways and settled in villages by the 1970s under the influence of Christian missionaries.

Even the settled Penan still retain a deep connection to the jungle, foraging for rattan, medicinal plants, fruits, and sago palm — a starchy staple. Wild game are hunted with finely crafted blowpipes and poison darts.

The Penan have been opposing logging for decades, but the spectre of bulldozers coming in to clear-fell what is left of the jungles has proved too much to bear.

Jayl Langub, an anthropologist from the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, said the nomadic Penan are being thrust into the modern world through contact with loggers, satellite TV, and the boarding schools where some send their children.

“It would be better if they made their own decision and settled at their own pace, but these changes are coming very rapidly and I think it just overwhelms them,” he said.

“However much they want to remain nomadic, the changes to the landscape mean it probably would not be possible for them to continue anyway… unless they live next to a national park, or unless areas are converted into reserves.”

Ian Mackenzie, a linguist who has studied the Penan since 1991, said he believes that few of the fabled group of 300-400 are truly nomadic as most have taken up some farming and established base camps with sturdier timber huts.

“There are various reasons for it but I would say the primary reason is that it’s economically untenable to live as hunter-gatherers when their jungle has been logged three times,” he said.

“The end of this ancient lifestyle is a very tragic cultural loss,” he said. “That’s how humans were supposed to live, how we all lived a long time ago, and this is the last flicker of it gone.”

Mackenzie, one of a handful of foreigners to speak Penan fluently, said that any groups who wanted to settle should have as many generations as they needed to make the momentous transition.

“To force them to make it brutally in a few years, it’s almost beyond the capacity of human beings to make that leap. It’s as if you or I were dropped down in the middle of the primary jungle and forced to survive.”

On a sliver of hilltop not far from the blockade, Sagong’s tribe from the district of Ba Marong has constructed three sturdy open-sided huts, raised from the ground and built of saplings and bamboo lashed together with vines.

In a tropical downpour that drenched the canopy and turned the ground to mud, they sat serenely with their children — including a five-month-old baby — who, despite these most basic conditions were clean, dry and healthy.

As she played with a baby monkey that the family kept as a pet, Sagong’s daughter Nili smiled and shook her head when she was asked whether she liked this life in the rainforest.

“I would like to go to school,” she said shyly.

These days few Penan still sport the traditional bowl-shaped haircut, woven bamboo hats, brightly beaded necklaces and stretched earlobes that sometimes dangle near the shoulders.

In his baseball cap paired with a purple loincloth, and bare chest marked with tattoos including Christian images, snakes and a skull and crossbones, Sagong laughed when asked about his appearance.

“I’m a new generation, I don’t dress like that,” he said as he stood next to his father-in-law, who wore a monkey tooth around his neck, bunches of woven bangles, and played a bamboo nose flute.

“For us the jungle was our bank, we survived without money. Our life depended on the sago palm and wild animals and for generations we have lived like this,” said the older man, Ngau Anyi.

Sagong said his own band of 27 people wanted help to establish a proper house with access to schools and medical care, while still having the chance to hunt and gather in the forest.

“Our wish is to have our own village, to do farming,” he said. “We see other settlements and that’s what we want. We have to spend a lot of time building huts and moving around. It’s a hard life.”

The plight of the Penan was made famous in the 1980s by environmental activist Bruno Manser, who waged a crusade to protect their way of life and fend off the loggers. He vanished in 2000 — many suspect foul play.

Manser lived with a group of nomadic Penan from 1984 to 1990 and learnt to speak Penan as well as how to survive in the jungle, while gathering a huge amount of botanical and cultural information.

“We have been accused of being against development, of wanting to keep the Penan in a museum,” said Lukas Straumann, director of the Bruno Manser Fund, which continues to campaign for the people of the rainforests.

“Maybe there was a little bit of truth to that. But what we hear from the Penan is that they want development, to participate in modern life, but it has to be development at their own pace.”

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Cow-head bullies strike again — Neville Spykerman

Sept 5, 09 Yet again, the bull headed protesters of Section 23 have successfully shamed Malaysia.

From the word go, it was obvious that disrupting the town hall meeting, rather than engaging in a dialogue, was high on their agenda.

Their boorish behaviour began at the door when they started shouting at Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) officials who were trying to ensure that only residents enter the hall.

Their thuggish behaviour continued inside, when three men were seen intimidating a woman who was holding camcorder. Shouting, they demanded to know if she was a resident and told her to get out if she wasn‘t.

The terrified victim was pulled away by MBSA enforcement officers, who stepped in just in time.

Their target turned out to be 48-year-old Rozaini Mohd Rosli, an aide to Batu Tiga assemblyman Rodziah Ismail.

Rozaini told The Malaysian Insider she was too shell shocked to even respond to the men at the time and is considering lodging a police report.

The “cow-heads” then set out to heckle and shout at every opportunity they found, ignoring calls by moderators for them to remain calm.

Standing on chairs, jeering and making childish noises, nothing was beneath them, never-mind that women and children were also in the hall, and their actions were being recorded for the world to see.

Scuffles broke out several times during the meeting between these men and their Indian neighbours.

But worse still, one protester went out of his way to hurl obscene sexual suggestions at Rodziah.

What possessed them?

No doubt they will again lay blame on the Selangor Government for all their shameful actions like a child saying “the devil made me do it”.

But really, which devil I wonder?

Neville Spykerman is a reporter with The Malaysian Insider and who was at the Selangor government town hall meeting with residents this morning.

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Most red ink ever: $9 trillion over next decade

AP

President Barack Obama looks on after announcing he is keeping Federal Reserve AP – President Barack Obama looks on after announcing he is keeping Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, …

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press Writer 1 hr 36 mins ago

WASHINGTON – In a chilling forecast, the White House is predicting a 10-year federal deficit of $9 trillion — more than the sum of all previous deficits since America’s founding. And it says by the next decade’s end the national debt will equal three-quarters of the entire U.S. economy. But before President Barack Obama can do much about it, he’ll have to weather recession aftershocks including unemployment that his advisers said Tuesday is still heading for 10 percent. Overall, White House and congressional budget analysts said in a brace of new estimates that the economy will shrink by 2.5 to 2.8 percent this year even as it begins to climb out of the recession. Those estimates reflect this year’s deeper-than-expected economic plunge. The grim deficit news presents Obama with both immediate and longer-term challenges. The still fragile economy cannot afford deficit-fighting cures such as spending cuts or tax increases. But nervous holders of U.S. debt, particularly foreign bondholders, could demand interest rate increases that would quickly be felt in the pocketbooks of American consumers. Amid the gloomy numbers on Tuesday, Obama signaled his satisfaction with improvements in the economy by announcing he would nominate Republican Ben Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. The announcement, welcomed on Wall Street, diverted attention from the budget news and helped neutralize any disturbance in the financial markets from the high deficit projections. The White House Office of Management and Budget indicated that the president will have to struggle to meet his vow of cutting the deficit in half in 2013 — a promise that earlier budget projections suggested he could accomplish with ease. “This recession was simply worse than the information that we and other forecasters had back in last fall and early this winter,” said Obama economic adviser Christina Romer. The deficit numbers also could complicate Obama’s drive to persuade Congress to enact a major overhaul of the health care system — one that could cost $1 trillion or more over 10 years. Obama has said he doesn’t want the measure to add to the deficit, but lawmakers have been unable to agree on revenues that would cover the cost. What’s more, the high unemployment is expected to last well into the congressional election campaign next year, turning the contests into a referendum on Obama’s economic policies. Republicans were ready to pounce. “The alarm bells on our nation’s fiscal condition have now become a siren,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “If anyone had any doubts that this burden on future generations is unsustainable, they’re gone — spending, borrowing and debt are out of control.” Even supporters of Obama’s economic policies said the long-term outlook places the federal government on an unsustainable path that will force the president and Congress to consider politically unpopular measures, including tax increases and cuts in government programs. “The numbers today portend the biggest budget fight we’ve probably had in decades in the United States,” said Stan Collender, a former congressional budget official. The summer analyses by the White House budget office and by the Congressional Budget Office reached similarly bleak conclusions. The CBO’s 10-year deficit figure was smaller — $7 trillion — but that is because it assumes that all tax cuts put into place in the administration of former President George W. Bush will expire on schedule by 2011. Obama’s budget baseline, however, hews to his proposal to keep the tax cuts in place for families earning less than $250,000 a year. Both budget offices see the national debt — the accumulation of annual budget deficits — as more than doubling over the next decade. The public national debt, made up of amounts the government owes to the public, including foreign governments, stood Tuesday at a staggering $7.4 trillion. White House budget officials predicted it would reach $17.5 trillion in 2019, or 76.5 percent of the gross domestic product. That would be the highest proportion in six decades. Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf said if Congress doesn’t reduce deficits, interest rates are likely to rise, hurting the economy. But if Congress acts too soon, the economic recovery — once it arrives — could be thwarted. “We face perils in acting and perils in not acting,” Elmendorf told reporters. David Walker, former head of the Government Accountability Office, said the numbers illustrated the need for a national commission that would review spending and taxing options and present lawmakers with a deficit reduction plan that Congress could approve or reject. “We’re going to have to do a hard course correction once we turn the corner on the economy,” Walker, now president and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, said. Both Romer and Obama budget director Peter Orszag said this year’s contraction would have been far worse without money from the $787 billion economic stimulus package that the president pushed through Congress as one of his first major acts. At the same time, the continuing stresses on the economy have, in effect, increased the size of the stimulus package because the government will have to spend more in unemployment insurance and food stamps, Orszag said. He said the cost of the stimulus package — which spends most of its money in fiscal year 2010 — will grow by tens of billions of dollars above the original $787 billion. The White House also credited the $3 billion cash-for-clunkers auto program for contributing to recent economic growth. Orszag, anticipating backlash over the deficit numbers, conceded that the long-term deficits are “higher than desirable.” The annual negative balances amount to about 4 percent of the gross domestic product, a number that many economists say is unsustainable. But Orszag also argued that overhauling the health system would reduce health care costs and address the biggest contributor to higher deficits. “I know there are going to be some who say that this report proves that we can’t afford health reform,” he said. “I think that has it backward.” At the same time, 10-year budget projections can be “wildly inaccurate,” said Collender, now a partner at Qorvis Communications. Collender noted that there will be five congressional elections over the next 10 years and any number of foreign and domestic challenges that will make actual deficit figures very different from the estimates. __ Associated Press writers Christopher S. Rugaber, Tom Raum and Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————- T’ganu assemblyman arrested, political intrigue seen Malaysia Today Tuesday, 04 August 2009 00:41 (Suara Keadilan) – The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission have arrested a Terengganu state assemblyman and two of his friends for allegedly demanding bribes from a landscape company. However, speculation is rife that the 42-year old Umno elected representative is the latest victim in a bitter political feud waged between Menteri Besar Ahmad Said and his predecessor Idris Jusoh. Ahmad, whose appointment by the Terengganu Sultan was against the wishes of his party mates, has been fighting an internal rebellion that broke out into the open earlier this year. He clung onto power after a high-level meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak and DPM Muhyiddin Yassin at Putrajaya. But the tensions between the two factions did not die out and instead has been just as fierce and bitter even though the rift went underground. The MB said on Monday that his state government would not interfere in the matter and will let the MACC conduct its inquiry. It now remains to be seen what retaliatory moves his rivals will make. According to Bernama, the trio are now at the Kemaman police headquarters, where they have been remanded for five days to help in investigations. When arrested, the MACC found RM5,000 on the assemblyman – a third of the RM15,000 he is believed to have received from the company over a landscape project worth about RM2 million. —————————————————————————————————————

Britain faces sharp spending cuts

LONDON, July 20 — A pledge by Britain’s two main political parties to protect the state-run health service means other departments will face sharp spending cuts, an influential fiscal report said today. With an election less than a year away, both the ruling Labour and opposition Conservative parties have promised to “ring-fence” health spending, despite a recession that has pushed the public deficit to a record post-war high. The pledge will require either sizeable tax rises or hefty cuts to other areas, such as defence and education, after 2011, say researchers at the King’s Fund and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. If the National Health Service (NHS) were to receive a real increase of 2.5 per cent a year from 2011 to 2017 — less than half the typical increase of the past decade — then other departments would need budget cuts of around 2.8 per cent a year, the report said. Departmental cuts could be limited to 2 per cent a year while freezing the NHS budget, but only by raising additional revenue of around £10.6 billion (RM61.5 billion) — equivalent to £340 for each family in the country. If health spending were frozen in real terms, budgets for other departments would face a cumulative cut of around 8 per cent over the six years to 2016/2017. “Our analysis shows that the NHS is facing the most significant financial challenge in its history,” said report co-author John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund, a health care charity. “Both the Labour and Conservative parties have pledged to avoid cutting NHS spending in real terms from 2011 but this will come at a big price.” Public spending is set to be a key battleground in the campaign for the national election, due by next June. Britain’s public deficit is forecast to rise to £175 billion this year, more than 12 per cent of gross domestic product. The government has pledged to halve the deficit over the next five years, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called for faster action. — Straits Times ————————————————————————————————————————————————– DITCHING BN *Speech by Dato’ Chua Jui Meng* *Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, Petaling Jaya* *18 July 2009* There has been much speculation recently in the media as what my next move in politics would be. Today I make one of the most important decisions of my life, to leave the MCA and to join PKR. A few days ago I resigned as chairman of MCA Bakri division, a post I have held for 23 years, freeing me to undertake a fresh struggle for the realization of my vision for reforms. These are contained in the manifestos I wrote during the MCA presidential elections of 2005 and 2008. Today I announce that I am resigning as a member of MCA. Now I announce I am joining PKR. Today I am persuaded that I am standing on the right side of history at a defining and critical moment of our nation’s history. What has compelled me to do so? The 2008 General Elections witnessed the passionate desire of 52% of Peninsula Malaysians for change. This astounding voting power gave birth for the first time to a 2 party system. As a result we have seen a hitherto unseen phenomena of UMNO leaders saying “if we do not change the people will change the Government”. Out of this desperation Malaysians see the UMNO-led government making some movement towards appeasing the people. That is the fruit of people’s power. Today we see this nascent 2 Party system under threat, the unrelenting harassment by the UMNO led Government to divide and destroy the 2 party system, the hard earned gains of last year’s General Election. We see the abuse of power in the use of the Federal institutions to harass, persecute and prosecute the leaders of the Opposition, institutions that were supposed to protect the rights of the citizens of Malaysia. The tragic death of 30-year old Teo Beng Hock is the consequence of one such institution going overboard in its action. The seizure of power in Perak, the wooing of PAS by UMNO to form a Unity Government based on race and religion,the farcical persecution and prosecution of Anwar once again for sodomy despite the reports of 2 hospitals, one the KL GH to the contrary, all these are indicative of a pattern of attempts to topple this precious 2 party system. It seeks to remove the people’s new found CHOICE to choose between 2 political fronts. If this conspiracy succeeds UMNO will continue to be the dominant political party going back to its old ways unfettered. It is in these times of trouble and crisis for PKR and PR that has precipitated my decision to join them. It is in these difficult circumstances that I want to contribute in humility to the preservation of this 2 party system. My hope is that ordinary Malaysians will stand up and be counted in the struggle to protect, preserve and promote the growth of this system. Count me in. There are other reasons why I am joining PKR. I see in Anwar a kindred spirit seeking for CHANGE, for deep and genuine reforms. I know also that multiracial political parties caring for all races is the way forward. I know that I am leaving the comfort and security of my present life for a road less travelled, a tough and rough road and that ahead of me awaits hardships. I am prepared for this last hurrah of my life. May God bless our endeavours, our struggle. CHANGE! CHUA HUI MENG 18 July 2009 ——————————————————————————————————-

Perbicaraan kes ‘puaka’ UM 7 Dis
Abdul Rahim Sabri Jul 13, 09 11:09am Malaysiakini.com

kemaskini 1pm Mahkamah Sesyen Kuala Lumpur menetapkan 7 hingga 11 Disember depan untuk perbicaraan dua pelajar Universiti Malaya (UM) yang dituduh menconteng, menceroboh dan cubaan membakar di sebuah dewan Akademi Pengajian Islam (API), 24 Jun lalu. Mohd Izzuddin Hilmi Mohamad Zaini, 21, dan Mohd Syahruldeen Ahmad Rosli, 21, dituduh mengikut Seksyan 427, 436 dan 447 Kanun Keseksaan. Kedua-dua mereka merupakan pelajar tahun dua jurusan Syariah API. Kes mereka disebut semula pagi ini, selepas dituduh ke mahkamah sama pada 30 Jun lalu. Hakim Rozana Ali Yusoff bersetuju mengekalkan jaminan masing-masing RM5,000 ke atas Mohd Izzuddin dan Mohd Syahruldeen sehingga perbicaraan dijalankan. Kedua-dua pelajar tersebut diwakili tiga peguam – Mohamad Arfizi Mohd Ramli, Ahmad Zamri Khuzaimi dan Saidatul Karimah Nasron. Mahkamah mula mendengar kes itu pada 9.50 pagi dan berakhir kira-kira 30 minit kemudian. Dalam sidang media kemudiannya, Mohamad Arfizi berkata, pendakwa memberitahu mahkamah, lapan saksi akan dipanggil memberi keterangan dalam perbicaraan tersebut. Turut hadir di mahkamah ialah ibu bapa Mohd Izzuddin manakala Mohd Syahruldeen pula ditemani ibu saudaranya. Hadir sama memberi sokongan ialah Naib Presiden Persatuan Mahasiswa Islam Univerisiti Malaya (PMIUM) Mohd Aizat Mohd Saleh (foto, tengah) dan seorang exconya Aiman Omar.

Sumber polis memberitahu Malaysiakini, perkataan-perkataan yang diconteng dekat pintu masuk dewan kuliah utama API termasuklah “bini puaka” dan “pembunuh Altantuya” beberapa jam sebelum kedatangan isteri perdana menteri Rosmah Mansor. Kedua-duanya juga dituduh menyimbah petrol di permaidani merah yang bakal dilalui oleh isteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak untuk kempen derma ‘Power of 10 Sen: Gaza Dibela’ bagi anak-anak Palestin. Sebelum itu, Mohd Izzudin (foto, kanan) dan Mohd Syahruldeen (kiri) dihadapkan ke Mahkamah Majistret Kuala Lumpur terhadap pertuduhan menunggang motosikal bernombor pendaftaran yang sukar dilihat. Mereka didakwa melakukan kesalahan tersebut di tempat letak kereta di fakulti yang sama pada tarikh dan masa yang sama menurut Seksyen 14(1)(b) Akta Pengangkutan Jalan. Bagi kes kesalahan trafik itu, mahkamah menetapkan perbicaraan didengar pada 24-25 Jun 2010. Sewaktu dituduh 30 Jun lalu, mereka dibebaskan dengan ikat jamin RM500 tiap seorang.

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Published: Sunday July 12, 2009 MYT 12:21:00 PM The Star Online

Social ills spreading to Sarawak’s Malay settlements

MIRI: Social ills like juvenile delinquency, and drug and alcohol abuse have spread into Malay kampungs here, disrupting the traditionally peaceful and serene nature of life that was once the norm in these settlements, said a senior Sarawak Minister. State Minister for Public Utilities Datuk Seri Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said these social problems spread from urban areas. “Increasing number of problems have cropped up in the kampungs because of these social menaces. Unless we take steps to tackle these problems, they will spread even further. “If these social ills get beyond the point of control, then there will be serious implications for our Malay communities,” he said at the 50th anniversary dinner of the Miri Malay Association here on Saturday night. Tengah, who is also State Second Minister for Planning and Resources Management, said Malay organisations must put in greater effort to help stop the social ills. He said it was impossible for government authorities to handle the task alone. Tengah, however, praised the association for having done well to uplift the economic standard of the Malays in Miri and in the state.

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Report: Bush surveillance program was massive

By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer Pamela Hess, Associated Press Writer – 11 July 2009

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration built an unprecedented surveillance operation to pull in mountains of information far beyond the warrantless wiretapping previously acknowledged, a team of federal inspectors general reported Friday, questioning the legal basis for the effort but shielding almost all details on grounds they’re still too secret to reveal. The report, compiled by five inspectors general, refers to “unprecedented collection activities” by U.S. intelligence agencies under an executive order signed by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Just what those activities involved remains classified, but the IGs pointedly say that any continued use of the secret programs must be “carefully monitored.” The report says too few relevant officials knew of the size and depth of the program, let alone signed off on it. They particularly criticize John Yoo, a deputy assistant attorney general who wrote legal memos undergirding the policy. His boss, Attorney General John Ashcroft, was not aware until March 2004 of the exact nature of the intelligence operations beyond wiretapping that he had been approving for the previous two and a half years, the report says. Most of the intelligence leads generated under what was known as the “President’s Surveillance Program” did not have any connection to terrorism, the report said. But FBI agents told the authors that the “mere possibility of the leads producing useful information made investigating the leads worthwhile.” The inspectors general interviewed more than 200 people inside and outside the government, but five former Bush administration officials refused to be questioned. They were Ashcroft, Yoo, former CIA Director George Tenet, former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and David Addington, an aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney. According to the report, Addington could personally decide who in the administration was “read into” — allowed access to — the classified program. The only piece of the intelligence-gathering operation acknowledged by the Bush White House was the wiretapping-without-warrants effort. The administration admitted in 2005 that it had allowed the National Security Agency to intercept international communications that passed through U.S. cables without seeking court orders. Although the report documents Bush administration policies, its fallout could be a problem for the Obama administration if it inherited any or all of the still-classified operations. Bush brought the warrantless wiretapping program under the authority of a secret court in 2006, and Congress authorized most of the intercepts in a 2008 electronic surveillance law. The fate of the remaining and still classified aspects of the wider surveillance program is not clear from the report. The report’s revelations came the same day that House Democrats said that CIA Director Leon Panetta had ordered one eight-year-old classified program shut down after learning lawmakers had never been apprised of its existence. The IG report said that President Bush signed off on both the warrantless wiretapping and other top-secret operations shortly after Sept. 11 in a single presidential authorization. All the programs were periodically reauthorized, but except for the acknowledged wiretapping, they “remain highly classified.” The report says it’s unclear how much valuable intelligence the program has yielded. The report, mandated by Congress last year, was delivered to lawmakers Friday. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., told The Associated Press she was shocked to learn of the existence of other classified programs beyond the warrantless wiretapping. Former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made a terse reference to other classified programs in an August 2007 letter to Congress. But Harman said that when she had asked Gonzales two years earlier if the government was conducting any other undisclosed intelligence activities, he denied it. “He looked me in the eye and said ‘no,’” she said Friday. Robert Bork Jr., Gonzales’ spokesman, said, “It has clearly been determined that he did not intend to mislead anyone.” In the wake of the new report, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt, renewed his call Friday for a formal nonpartisan inquiry into the government’s information-gathering programs. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden — the primary architect of the program_ told the report’s authors that the surveillance was “extremely valuable” in preventing further al-Qaida attacks. Hayden said the operations amounted to an “early warning system” allowing top officials to make critical judgments and carefully allocate national security resources to counter threats. Information gathered by the secret program played a limited role in the FBI’s overall counterterrorism efforts, according to the report. Very few CIA analysts even knew about the program and therefore were unable to fully exploit it in their counterrorism work, the report said. The report questioned the legal advice used by Bush to set up the program, pinpointing omissions and questionable legal memos written by Yoo, in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. The Justice Department withdrew the memos years ago. The report says Yoo’s analysis approving the program ignored a law designed to restrict the government’s authority to conduct electronic surveillance during wartime, and did so without fully notifying Congress. And it said flaws in Yoo’s memos later presented “a serious impediment” to recertifying the program. Yoo insisted that the president’s wiretapping program had only to comply with Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure — but the report said Yoo ignored the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, which had previously overseen federal national security surveillance. “The notion that basically one person at the Justice Department, John Yoo, and Hayden and the vice president’s office were running a program around the laws that Congress passed, including a reinterpretation of the Fourth Amendment, is mind boggling,” Harman said. House Democrats are pressing for legislation that would expand congressional access to secret intelligence briefings, but the White House has threatened to veto it. (This version CORRECTS that Bush brought wiretapping program under the authority of a secret court in 2006 rather than started the program in 2006.)

————————————————————————————————————————————————— Dr M: There are corrupt leaders in Najib’s Cabinet Shah A Dadameah Thursday, 09 July 2009 10:56 PUTRAJAYA – This comes from someone who has been hit umpteen times with accusations of cronyism, nepotism and being a dictator: “There are corrupted leaders in Umno and the current administration.” Dr Mahathir Mohamad did not mince words when he gauged the first 100 days of the country and Umno under the leadership of Najib Abdul Razak. He doubts that Najib is fighting corruption effectively. “Sorry to say that. But, it doesn’t look like he is (fighting corruption),” Dr Mahathir told reporters recently at the Perdana Leadership Foundation during a meeting with the Malaysia-Singapore Vintage Car Register, a club for vintage car owners. Despite this, however, he commended Najib for implementing the key performance index (KPI) to measure the performance of all ministers and their subordinates in the administration. Najib took over from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in April against a backdrop of a worsening economic scenario, unstable political climate and ruptured race relations. In contrast, when Abdullah became prime minister in October 2003, public confidence in the Barisan Nasional was at an all-time high due to a secure economy and a relatively harmonious sense of belonging among the people. Just a few months after he took over from Dr Mahathir, he gave the BN its biggest election victory in history. Towards better days under Najib The euphoria sadly fizzled out over the ensuing four years and Abdullah had also to feel the BN’s greatest defeat, when five state governments fell into the clutches of the opposition alliance, now known as the Pakatan Rakyat. Dr Mahathir had said once that Abdullah was an incompetent successor and was banking on Najib to show some guts in running the country. Indeed, when Najib took over, he carried the nation’s hope that under him Malaysia would achieve greater things than it ever accomplished before. In the BN, Umno and its allies are also looking forward to better days under their new leader. Najib sensed that and decided if he is to stay ahead and above his opponents, he has to fight the evils of graft and corruption. Thus, he introduced the KPI, which works as a ‘report book’ to keep his ministers and every civil servant in his administration on their toes. He also introduced his ’1Malaysia’ concept, which came with various social and economic reforms. While approving the KPI, Dr Mahathir is not pleased with some of the reforms, which included the liberalisation of the 30% bumiputra requirement. “It’s not that the new economic policy has prevented Malaysia from growing faster than other countries. “But, the fact remains that bumiputras have not achieved the targeted quota. “Meanwhile, non-bumiputras have exceeded theirs,” he said, adding that he has mixed feelings about Najib’s performance in helming the country during the first 100 days as prime minister. Khairy, Mukhriz and Khir Toyo Dr Mahathir’s skepticism of the new team in Umno and the government was clear from the moment the son of the country’s second prime minister, Abdul Razak Hussein, took over the reins of power in Umno and the government. Najib came to Sri Perdana with a baggage of unanswered questions about his connection to political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who was implicated in the sensational murder case of Mongolian beauty Altantuya Shaariibuu. While he has repeatedly denied he was ever involved, Najib’s political opponents have never stopped taunting him over the Altantuya specter. Dr Mahathir has also no trust for Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin who, he alleged, had interfered in the affairs of the government while Abdullah was prime minister. Dr Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz, had obtained the highest nominations for the movement’s top post but Khairy was elected amid speculations that it had not been a clean fight. Ironically, Khairy, who had also trailed behind former Selangor mentri besar Dr Khir Toyo in the nominations race, had earlier been found guilty of money politics and given a warning. On the other hand, deputy president aspirant Mohamed Ali Rustam was also found guilty of the same offence but was barred from contesting. He was, however, allowed to finish his term as Malacca chief minister. In what later appeared to be a trade-off, Mukhriz was made a deputy minister while Khairy remained just an MP. On the Wanita side, Mahathir had said during the contest between Rafidah Aziz and her deputy, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, that whoever won the fight would not be free of corruption. There is also an irony here. While Shahrizat had lost in the general election, Wanita delegates gave her the votes to be their new chief. She was later made a senator and re-admitted into the Cabinet. Rafidah, on the other hand, was a winner in the general election but evicted from her ministerial post and voted out as Wanita head. Papar MP Rosnah Abdul Rashid Sirlin came in as the new Puteri Umno leader untainted. She was, after all, an activist in the Integrity Institute of Malaysia and her image was as clean as a whistle. Not the first choice Word has it that Najib was not the first choice to be the deputy when Abdullah took over as prime minister (as he was also not the first choice when Mahathir was looking for a deputy after Anwar Ibrahim was sacked in 1998). Abdullah took a long while to ponder over the decision until, it was said, he was pressured by Mahathir to take Najib as the Number Two. At that time, there were still some strong sentiments for Anwar and some Umno people had hoped someone with links to the former deputy prime minister would take a pivotal leadership role in the party. That person was Muhyiddin Yassin. It turned out later that Muhyiddin was the most vocal and most outspoken about speeding up the transfer of power in Umno, following the tsunami blow to the party and its allies in the March 2008 general elections. Abdullah had no choice but to fast-track the transition plans, which saw Muhyiddin stepping into the shoes of the deputy prime minister as Najib moved a notch higher. While it was a sad exit for Abdullah, it was an insecure entry for Najib. Issues like the Perak leadership crisis had not helped to boost his credibility. A 6-1 win for Pakatan? By-election losses in Bukit Gantang (Perak) and Bukit Selambau (Kedah) as well as the BN boycott of the Penanti by-election in Penang did not improve his leadership stature. Only the Batang Ai by-election in Sarawak provided the BN a face-saving win. The BN is set to face its opponents and voters again on July 14 in Manek Urai, Kelantan. If it loses here, the scoreboard would read 6-1 against the Barisan in seven contests since last year’s general election. Political observers said Abdullah had been an easy-going prime minister and had unknowingly allowed others to take advantage of his good nature. It was only towards the tail end of his brief term that he showed a bit of his fangs; particularly in the setting up of the economic corridors, the handling of judiciary issues and the formation of the anti-corruption commission. The commission, which started in January this year has already received loads of reports and complaints for investigation and, among them, it is learned, are reports of corruption involving Rafidah and ex- Malacca chief minister Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik. There are also reports against Abdullah and Mahathir as well as their family members and alleged cronies in the corporate sector, the civil service and the judiciary. After 100 days in office, Najib appears to be still struggling in getting the people to understand what he intends to do for the country. His vision of ’1Malaysia’ is as vague as Abdullah’s ‘Islam Hadhari’ concept. And neither has the strength nor the character of mass appeal as Dr Mahathir ‘s ‘Malaysia Boleh’ clarion call, which was clear, direct and easily understood by all Malaysians. On the plus side, Najib’s popularity rating has moved up in recent months, according to a street poll by think-tank group Merdeka Centre. There’s hope yet for Najib. ————————————————————— SHAH A DADAMEAH is News Editor of the Malaysian Mirror —————————————————————

Affirmative action the Singapore way

SINGAPORE, July 6 — Law Minister K. Shanmugam stands by a controversial suggestion he made six years ago: that Singapore should have some form of affirmative action to ensure that able people from minority races are in top posts. But this must not be done by having quotas or setting aside places for minorities. “I don’t talk about saving so many places for Malays, so many places for Indians, so many places for Chinese. That is the wrong way to go,” he said. In his vision of affirmative action, meritocracy remains a core principle. Affirmative action is a secondary principle, to ensure what he calls “diversity”. “Assuming 10 people made the cut-off, try to look for some who are also from the Malay community,” he elaborated as an example. Shanmugam, who is also Second Home Affairs Minister, was responding to a question posed by grassroots leader Khartini Khalid, during a dialogue with residents of Punggol Central. Khartini had asked about his views on affirmative action for the Malay community, which he first made known six years ago in Parliament as a backbencher. In 2003, in a speech to support the Government’s White Paper on the Jemaah Islamiah arrests, the-then Senior Counsel spoke about closing the gap between Malays and other races. “There must be opportunities, without affecting the core principle of meritocracy, for there to be some form of affirmative action which will see Malays in important positions in greater numbers,” he said then. His remarks, which he described as “mildly heretical”, stirred up a storm. Revisiting the issue yesterday, he reiterated his stance about “leavening the process of meritocracy” so as to create “icons” of success who can be “beacons of hope” for the rest of the community. He cited the example of Condoleezza Rice, an African-American who was provost of Stanford University from 1993 to 1999 before being appointed by then-United States president George W. Bush as his secretary of state. She, too, has been reported as believing in affirmative action, but minus the quota system. Shanmugam revealed yesterday that he had had her in mind when he spoke on this issue in 2003. He said Rice benefited from Stanford University’s selection criteria when she became a professor there. When hiring professors, the university made a conscious decision to aim for diversity, as it did not want professors who were all “white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants”. Rice, like others who applied, had all the right credentials and qualifications. But the university chose her as it felt “it will be good to have an African-American woman”, he noted. Despite being a minority in both ethnicity as well as gender, she went on to become one of Bush’s top advisers, and “inspiring a whole generation of people”, he added. Turning to the local Malay community, Shanmugam said it had made “tremendous” progress in the last six years. He cited as an example the recent appointment of Brigadier-General Ishak Ismail, the most senior Malay officer in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). “When SAF appoints a Malay general, you can be sure they are not appointing him simply because he’s a Malay. It’s a totally meritocratic appointment,” he said. There are also other symbols of success within the community, from top scoring students to top professionals, he said. In terms of educational attainment, however, he noted that while the community has made tremendous progress, it still lags behind other communities in Singapore and is therefore still a “work-in-progress”. Shanmugam’s hour-long dialogue with residents also addressed other issues like integrating new residents here and decriminalising homosexuality. The dialogue capped a four-hour visit to the Punggol Central constituency, during which he also watched a cricket game, gave out food vouchers to needy families, and toured a job fair. — Straits Times

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Rising oil price a risk to global recovery

By George Parker in London, Guy Dinmore in Rome and Ben Hall in Paris Published: July 7 2009 23:29 | Last updated: July 7 2009 23:29

World leaders descend on the earthquake-scarred Italian town of L’Aquila on Wednesday for a G8 summit, amid renewed warnings that the fragile global economic recovery could be undermined by rising oil prices.

A protester throws a flare towards riot police in a demonstration against the G8 summit
A protester in Rome throws a flare towards riot police during a demonstration against the G8 summit

Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, and Gordon Brown, UK prime minister, will urge the G8 to endorse proposals to make the oil futures markets more transparent. There are fears that speculation is increasing volatility.The two leaders also want oil producers to agree a target price range, based on a clearer understanding of the long-term fundamentals, following the recent sharp rise in oil prices to about $70 a barrel. Saudi Arabia is opposed to that idea and will not be among the 40 or so countries and international organisations attending the three-day summit, suggesting there may be little in the way of concrete progress.

Rising oil prices are among a number of concerns hanging over the summit, which will begin with a debate on the outlook for the world economy. Angela Merkel, German chancellor, wants to start a debate on an “exit strategy” for governments that have used stimulus packages to spur growth, fearing a resurgence of inflation. However, other leaders believe such a debate is premature. Mr Brown, who hosted a Group of 20 summit on the financial crisis in April, believes some rich countries – particularly in Europe – are failing to clean up their banks and that there are signs of growing protectionism. The summit is expected to agree a package of at least $12bn (€8.6bn, £7.3bn) of aid over three years to boost agricultural development, marking a shift away from the delivery of food parcels to the world’s poorest regions. In an attempt to address widespread cynicism about such pledges at G8 meetings, Britain and France are among the countries pressing for each summit to produce a country-by-country update on whether past promises are being kept. Although other organisations produce such data, a high-profile “shaming” of summit participants could be uncomfortable for some, not least Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister and host of the L’Aquila meeting. Oxfam, the aid organisation, says Italy is furthest off track in delivering on promises given at the 2005 Gleneagles summit to increase development spending. Japan and the US are ranked joint last by Oxfam in aid spending as a percentage of gross national income, at 0.18 per cent. Britain wants the G8 audit to extend to all commitments given at summits. “The G8 needs to be more transparent if it is to be credible,” said one UK official. On the eve of the summit small groups of anti-globalisation protesters and anarchists fought running battles with riot police in Rome. Italian media said 10 people were arrested. Italian trade unionists and the anti-globalisation movement plan a big march on L’Aquila on Friday at the end of the summit. Q&A: SPOTLIGHT ON THE SUMMIT Why is it called the G8? Good question. What started as a club for eight of the world’s richest countries has now grown to such an extent that representatives from about 40 countries and international bodies will descend on L’Aquila – an Italian town still recovering from a major earthquake – for different parts of the three-day G8 summit. What will be achieved? Silvio Berlusconi, the summit host, has been somewhat distracted by various sexual scandals at home and expectations have been lowered accordingly. For some diplomats, the L’Aquila summit is essentially a staging post for two more significant gatherings later in the year: the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, hosted by Barack Obama, and the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. Will the economic crisis dominate the talks? Not exclusively, but the summit will kick off on Wednesday with a discussion on the global economic outlook. Angela Merkel, German chancellor, wants the G8 leaders to discuss an “exit strategy” from the huge fiscal and monetary stimulus put into the economy. Others, including Gordon Brown, believe the world is not out of the crisis yet. He wants the talks to focus on maintaining pressure for better global financial regulation – agreed in principle at the G20 in London in April – and the need to clean up bank balance sheets and to resist protectionism. Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, and Mr Brown also want to see more transparency in the oil market, fearing that a return of high and volatile oil prices could undermine the recovery. Has the recession diverted attention from climate change? Possibly. The summiteers will try to apply pressure on emerging economies such as China and India to set themselves targets for cutting emissions, ahead of the Copenhagen talks later this year. The US and Japan are also lagging behind Europe in setting targets to meet the ambition of cutting emissions by 50 per cent by 2050. Expect a lot of hot air, but real negotiations will start in the autumn. What about development aid? The G8 is expected to announce a “food security initiative” of more than $12bn over the next three years, marking a shift away from food parcels towards help for long-term sustainable agriculture. Do they ever keep their promises? Silvio Berlusconi is one of the worst offenders in failing to honour past aid commitments. Some countries want the G8 to publish a country-by-country account of which members have kept previous summit promises.

————————————————————————————— July 8, 2009 Google Plans a PC Operating System By MIGUEL HELFT and ASHLEE VANCE NY Times SAN FRANCISCO — In a direct challenge to Microsoft, Google announced late Tuesday that it is developing an operating system for PCs that is tied to its Chrome Web browser. The software, called the Google Chrome Operating System, is initially intended for use in the tiny, low-cost portable computers known as netbooks, which have been selling quickly even as demand for other PCs has plummeted. Google said it believed the software would also be able to power full-fledged PCs. The move is likely to sharpen the already intense competition between Google and Microsoft, whose Windows operating system controls the basic functions of the vast majority of personal computers. “Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS,” said Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director, in a post on a company blog. “We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the Web in a few seconds.” Mr. Pichai and Mr. Upson said that the software would be released online later this year under an open-source license, which will allow outside programmers to modify it. Netbooks running the software will go on sale in the second half of 2010. The company likely saw netbooks as a unique opportunity to challenge Microsoft, said Larry Augustin, a prominent Silicon Valley investor who serves on the board of a number of open-source software companies. “Market changes happen at points of discontinuity,” Mr. Augustin said. “And that’s what you have with netbooks and a market that has moved to mobile devices.” But while Google has deep pockets and a vast reach, it is in for a difficult battle when it comes to challenging Microsoft in the operating system market. Many companies have tried this over the years, with little success. Google’s plans for the new operating system fit its Internet-centric vision of computing. Google believes that software delivered over the Web will play an increasingly central role, replacing software programs that run on the desktop. In that world, applications run directly inside an Internet browser, rather than atop an operating system, the standard software that controls most of the operations of a PC. That vision challenges not only Microsoft’s lucrative Windows business but also its applications business, which is largely built on selling software than runs on PCs. Google said Chrome OS will have a minimalist user interface, leaving most space on the screen to applications. “All Web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite Web technologies,” the company said. Google has already developed an open-source operating system called Android that is used in mobile phones. The software is also being built into netbooks by several manufacturers. But Google has not encouraged netbook makers to use Android. The company appears to be positioning Chrome OS as its preferred operating system for netbooks, though it said competition between the two systems would likely drive innovation. “It makes total sense,” Mr. Augustin said. “Android wasn’t really meant for netbooks.” Google had planned to unveil the project on Wednesday but moved up the announcement after receiving inquiries from The New York Times, which reported the company’s plans on its Web site late Tuesday. Ars Technica, a technology news site, also reported the outlines of Google’s plan late Tuesday. Google released Chrome last year, describing it as not only a Web browser but also a tool to let users interact with powerful Web programs like Gmail, Google Docs and online applications created by other companies. Since then, Google has been adding features to Chrome, like the ability to run such applications even when a user is not connected to the Internet. Google said Tuesday night that it still had work to do to develop a full-fledged operating system. In a recent interview, Marc Andreessen, who created the first commercial Web browser and co-founded Netscape, said Chrome itself was already well along that path. “Chrome is basically a modern operating system,” Mr. Andreessen said. The first wave of netbooks relied on various versions of the open-source Linux operating system, and major PC makers like Hewlett-Packard and Dell have backed the Linux software. Intel, the world’s largest chip maker, has worked on developing a Linux-based operating system called Moblin as well. The company has aimed the software at netbooks and smart phones in a bid to spur demand for its Atom mobile device chip. To combat these efforts, Microsoft began offering its older Windows XP operating system for use on netbooks at a low price. In addition, the company has vowed that is upcoming Windows 7 software, due out this fall, will run well on the tiny laptops, which have stood out as the brightest part of the PC market during the global economic downturn. Microsoft’s current Vista operating system is designed for more powerful machines. —————————————————————

Mohan Singh given Islamic burial

Islamic officials and Sikh relatives carry the casket of Mohan Singh on its way to a Muslim cemetry. – Picture by Jack Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 – After over a month-long tussle for his remains, Mohan Singh, 41, was accorded an Islamic burial today. Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) public relations officer Rohana Hassan said the body of Mohan, whose Muslim name was Mohammad Hazzery Shah Mohan Abdullah, was brought out of the Sungai Buloh Hospital mortuary at 6pm and taken to his mother’s house in Selayang Jaya to give an opportunity to his family members to pay their last respects. His remains were then buried at the Taman Batu Muda Muslim Cemetry in Batu Caves near here at 9pm, she said when contacted by Bernama. Mohan, an art director, had converted to Islam on Aug 11, 1992, without the knowledge of his family, leading to a tussle between his family and Mais for his remains after he died on May 25 of a heart attack at his home in Damansara Damai, Petaling Jaya. The Shah Alam Civil High Court today determined that he had indeed converted to Islam and rejected his family’s application to allow him a funeral according to Sikh rites. The family was allowed to spend 30 minutes with his remains. The press was barred from the house and security was tight throughout. – Bernama

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Straight fight in Manek Urai

UPDATED KUALA KRAI, July 6 — The Manik Urai state by-election scheduled for July 14 will see a straight fight between PAS candidate Mohd Fauzi Abdullah, 50, and Barisan Nasional candidate Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat, 39. Tuan Aziz, accompanied by about 10,000 supporters led by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, filed his papers at 9.05am, just minutes after the nomination centre at the Dewan Petra, Sekolah Menengah Sultan Yahya Petra 1 here was opened at 9am. Mohd Fauzi, 50, also with about 10,000 supporters led by PAS spiritual leader and Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, submitted his papers at 9.17am. Returning Officer Adnan Hussin received the nomination papers. Parti Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (AKIM) president Hanafi Mamat, who was said to be contesting in the by-election, did not turn up for the nomination process. The by-election is being held following the death of incumbent assemblyman Ismail Yaacob of PAS on May 22 of a heart attack. In the 2008 general election, Ismail won the seat with a majority of 1,352 votes, beating BN’s Mohamed Zulkifli Omar. This is the first by-election in Kelantan and the sixth in the country after the 12th general election in March last year. — Bernama ———————————————————————————————————

Only five judges to hear final appeal
Jun 27, 09 6:19pm Malaysiakini.com
Ousted Perak menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin has been dealt another blow with the Federal Court denying his request for a full 11-member bench to hear his appeal.

MCPX

nizar jamaluddin dr zambry abdul kadir perakInstead a five-member bench has been appointed to hear his appeal in a case brought by Nizar to determine whether he, or Barisan Nasional’s Zambry Abdul Kadir, is the rightful menteri besar. Nizar’s lawyer Leong Cheok Keng said the information was relayed to him through a letter faxed to his firm yesterday. “No reasons or explanations were given as to the refusal,” said Leong in a statement, adding that the legal team was disappointed and disheartened by the refusal. Leong said Nizar will be advised to consider halting the proceedings pending a written appeal for the Federal Court to enlarge the panel and to state their reasons for refusing their initial requests. “This is our client’s last avenue of appeal. If Nizar’s application for leave is dismissed by the five-man bench, this will be the end of the litigation. “We therefore, in the interest of justice, fair play and good judicial governance, request that a full bench be empaneled to hear what will, most probably, be our country’s most important constitutional and landmark appeal,” he said. Judicial integrity at stake Leong explained that having a full bench was crucial to assure the public that the judiciary does not practice“judge-picking” and to ensure greater judicial independence. “The refusal is most upsetting to all Malaysians who believe in the concept of a fair and impartial judiciary,” he said. “So long as there persists the appearance of bias, there can be no finality in the judgment of the highest court of the country.” nizar jamaluddin court 190609 4Nizar’s latest setback comes in the wake of delayed written judgments by three Court of Appeal judges, following their infamous five-minute judgment to quash a High Court decision that declared him the legitimate menteri besar. His lawyers have argued that the delay frustrated their attempts to properly frame questions for the Federal Court application which must be filed by June 21, or 30 days after the Court of Appeal decision. Two of three written judgments – by Md Raus Sharif and Ahmad Maarop – were released yesterday. The final judgment by Zainun Ali will only be released on Monday. Commenting on this episode, Leong said the Court of Appeal’s delay in releasing their written grounds was already seen by the public as an example of the judiciary’s “lack of competency and professionalism”. He notes that Ramly Ali, the judge who on May 12 granted a stay of declaration order on Nizar’s High Court victory, had also yet to provide his written grounds.

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Zaid Ibrahim masuk PKR
Jimadie Shah Othman | Jun 13, 09 1:45pm malaysiakini.com
Bekas menteri di jabatan perdana menteri, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim secara rasminya menyertai PKR hari ini. Ketika mengumumkan perkara itu, ketua umum PKR, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim berkata, Zaid akan dilantik menganggotai Majlis Kepimpinan Tertinggi (MPT) parti itu. pkr egm 130609 zaid ibrahim join party 01Katanya, Zaid secara rasminya akan mengisi jawatan tersebut selepas disahkan presiden Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Ismail dan setelah “dirasmikan dalam mesyuarat” secepat mungkin. Bercakap dalam satu sidang akhbar di Bangi hari ini, Anwar berkata, Zaid juga akan dilantik sebagai anggota biro politik PKR. Turut sama naib presiden, Sivarasa Rasiah dan Setiausaha Agung PKR, Datuk Salehuddin Hashim. Anwar juga menyifatkan penyertaan Zaid itu sebagai satu penghormatan kepada PKR. “Ini berita yang cukup menggembirakan. Ia berkuatkuasa hari ini. Satu penghormatan dan lonjakan kepada perjuangan kita,” katanya. Zaid, tambahnya merupakan seorang yang serius mempertahankan hak asasi dan kebebasan badan kehakiman di Malaysia. “Sikap ketegasan dan keberanian beliau (dapat dilihat), terutama dalam isu hak asasi, kebebasan, proses demokrasi dan bebebasan badan kehakiman,” katanya. Reaksi Zaid Anwar yang juga ketua pembangkang, turut menganggap penyertaan Zaid itu sebagai satu langkah positif kepada PKR dalam usaha untuk mengukuhkan hubungan dalam Pakatan Rakyat. pkr egm 130609 zaid ibrahim join party 02“Saya percaya perkara ini akan dibincangkan dalam mesyuarat Pakatan Rakyat. (Presiden PAS, Datuk Seri) Hadi tidak ada sekarang. Mesyuarat akan diadakan Isnin depan (bila Hadi dapat hadir). Sementara itu Zaid berkata, beliau menyertai PKR kerana yakin dengan parti pelbagai kaum itu yang mahu membela nasib rakyat. “Saya percaya, kalau diberi peluang, saya akan berusaha membantu Anwar dan pemimpin lain. Saya  berminat dan berhasrat mengukuhkan Pakatan rakyat,” katanya. Menurut Zaid lagi, beliau bersedia membantu Pakatan menjadi alternatif yang benar-benar rakyat boleh harapkan untuk menubuhkan kerajaan yang baik. Bagaimanapun, dengan merendah diri Zaid berkata: “Saya belum pakar lagi. Saya harap dapat memainkan peranan. Saya bukan pakar.” Ditanya kenapa beliau mengumumkan penyertaannya hari ini, Zaid berkata: “Saya selalu ingin sertai PKR. Saya beritahu Anwar. Tetapi saya rasa hendak berehat sekejap. Jadi, saya rasa hari ini hari yang sesuai. “Ini hari yang bersejarah apabila kita akan meminda perlembagaan,” katanya.

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Here we go… the haze is back
Jun 9, 09 4:05pm
The familiar signs are all there – dry weather, dusty conditions and the lingering smell of smoke in the air – to signal a return to hazy days in various parts of the country.

MCPX

haze air pollution index map for june 9 090609A Meteorological Department spokesperson said south-westerly winds sweeping across the west coast of Malaysia are bringing soot and dust generated by open burning in Sumatra in Indonesia. “We are monitoring the situation very closely. It is not serious enough to warrant cloud seeding,” she said when contacted. A call to the Department of Environment (DOE) hotline revealed that the situation will depend very much on how authorities in Sumatra now deal with open burning, a traditional practice in clearing land. The department advised the public to report any incidents of open burning, saying that Jalan Kebun and Kota Kemuning in Selangor are among the hot spots that have been identified to date. ‘Moderate’ conditions Penang Health, Welfare and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh told Star yesterday that the situation has worsened and that he hoped the Indonesian government will act against those responsible. Last week, DOE head Rosnani Ibarahim had told Bernama that the conditions were due to the dry season rather than to haze. A check on the air pollutant index on the department’s website revealed that most parts of the country are experiencing good to moderate conditions today. Cheras and Port Klang were identifed as experiencing the upper reaches of the ‘moderate’. Such conditions have recurred annually, despite various neighbouring governments having urged Indonesia to prevent open burning, as well as having provided assistance in controlling raging fires.

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Beberapa nama bakal calon BN tidak disenangi ahli Umno
Muda Mohd Noor | Jun 8, 09 3:19pm Malaysiakini.com
Beberapa nama pemimpin Umno bahagian Kuala Krai yang disebut-sebut bakal dipilih sebagai calon BN dalam pilihanraya kecil DUN Manek Urai bulan depan, tidak disenangi ahli dan penyokong Umno, dakwa bekas ADUN BN, Zulkepli Omar. Beliau mendakwa, mereka termasuklah ketua bahagian, Datuk Ramzi Abdul Rahman; naib ketua bahagian, Che Jalal Muda dan ketua Wanita, Rohani Abdul Majid. bm version kerusi dun manek urai 220509Zulkepli adalah calon BN dalam pilihanraya umum 2004 dan 2008. Beliau memenangi kerusi tersebut pada 2004 dengan majoriti 53 undi sahaja. Bagaimanapun, dalam pilihanraya umum 2008 beliau gagal mempertahankan kerusi tersebut yang dimenangi oleh calon PAS, Ismail Yaacob dengan majoriti 1,352 undi. Kerusi tersebut kosong berikutan kematian Ismail bulan lalu kerana sakit jantung. Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya (SPR) menetapkan 6 Julai sebagai penamaan calon dan pengundian pada 14 Julai. Zulkifli mendakwa, ketiga-tiga mereka tidak digemari oleh ahli dan pengundi Manek Urai sendiri. “Datuk Ramzi, walaupun menang tanpa bertanding jawatan ketua Umno bahagian dalam pemilihan lalu, tetapi banyak cawangan Umno tidak senang dengannya,” kata Zulkifli ketika dihubungi Malaysiakini Sebaliknya, beliau mendakwa, Ramzi yang menyebabkan cawangan-cawangan Umno tidak dapat mencalonkan pemimpin lain untuk mencabarnya. ‘Calon wanita tak sesuai’ Manakala Che Jalal pula, dakwa Zulkifli, dilabelkan sebagai pemimpin yang tidak turun ke bawah menemui penduduk setempat. Katanya, kalau tidak menemui pengundi bagaimana hendak mendapatkan sokongan mereka. polling day 080308 voter ballot box 01Manakala Rohani pula, kata Zulkifli, tidak mempunyai penyokong dan umurnya pula sudah menjangkau 68 tahun. Katanya, jika Rohani dipilih sebagai calon BN, ia umpama memberi kemenangan percuma kepada pembangkang. “Tetapi kalau dia kata hendak bertanding di Manek Urai, tak apalah itu hak dia. “Apapun wanita tidak sesuai bertanding di Manek Urai. Ini kubu PAS dan kawasan kampung dan banyak ladang pula,” katanya. Rohani sebelum ini menyatakan kesediaannya untuk menjadi calon BN dalam pilihanraya kecil tersebut 14 April depan.

———————————————————————————————————————————————– May 20, 2009 19:25 PM Selangor Forms Task Force To Investigate Bukit Botak Land Scam SHAH ALAM, May 20 (Bernama) — The Selangor state government has set up a special task force to investigate the alleged Bukit Botak squatters resettlement land scam. State Housing, Building Management and Squatters Committee chairman Iskandar Abdul Samad said the committee was formed to safeguard the rights of eligible individuals who were omitted from the list of recipients. “The task force will comprise representatives from the Gombak district land office, members of the state housing, building management and squatters committee, Village Security and Development Committee representatives and lawyers. “The committee will reveal the names of those who have received plots of land and rightful recipients who have been omitted, listen to feedback from all the relevant authorities involved before completing a report by Aug 20,” he told reporters after a state executive council meeting here Wednesday. The Bukit Botak, Selayang resettlement of squatters involves 1,400 land owners with an area covering 55.2 hectares. Delpuri Corporation Sdn. Bhd. (DCSB) was appointed contractor in 1999 by the previous State Government to develop and reorganise the squatters in Bukit Botak but DCSB was unable to complete the project, thus the former state government had asked the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) to take over the abandoned project. Iskandar said PKNS had earlier offered residents in Bukit Botak to help build their houses at RM80,000 each on condition that they cancelled their contracts and nullify the power of attorney agreements that they had signed with DCSB. “They (residents) must agree to the offer from PKNS and cancel the contracts and power of attorney documents signed with DCSB, by Aug 20, so that PKNS can start the project, failing which PKNS may withdraw the offer,” he said. — BERNAMA ————————————————————————————-

Mahkamah Tinggi: Sultan tidak boleh pecat MB
May 18, 09 10:00pm malaysiakini.com
Sultan Perak Sultan Azlan Shah tidak boleh memecat Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin dari jawatannya kerana beliau (menteri besar) tidak memegang jawatan itu atas perkenan baginda. Ini keputusan Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim pada 11 Mei lalu, bila beliau mengisytiharkan Nizar sebagai menteri besar Perak yang sah. Dalam penghakiman 78-muka yang dikeluarkan kepada media hari ini, Abdul Aziz berkata sebaik saja menteri besar dilantik, beliau dan majlis exconya bertanggungjawab kepada Dewan Undangan Negeri dan tiada siapa lain. Beliau berkata ini menurut fasal (2), (5), (6) dan (7) Artikel 16 Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri Perak, lapor Bernama. “Sebaik saja menteri besar dilantik, menteri besar mentadbir negeri menerusi Majlis Eksekutif dan menasihatkan Sultan mengenai hal ehwal negeri sebagaimana diperuntukkan di bawah Artikel 18 (1) Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri Perak. Hakim Abdul Aziz berkata Sultan bertindak atas nasihat kecuali dalam perkara di mana Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri Perak memperuntukkan bahawa Baginda boleh bertindak atas budibicara baginda semata-mata. Beliau berkata berdasarkan peruntukan dalam Artikel 16, ia mensyaratkan bahawa dewan undangan adalah pihak yang menentukan sama ada ia menaruh keyakinan terhadap menteri besar selaku ketua majlis eksekutif menerusi undi tidak percaya terhadap menteri besar. “Saya berpendapat bahawa pemecatan menteri besar oleh Baginda atau oleh sesiapa lain tidak sekali-kali dipertimbangkan di bawah Artikel 16 (6) Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri Perak,” katanya. Beliau berkata fasal 7 Artikel 16 undang-undang tubuh itu memperuntukkan bahawa kecuali menteri besar, anggota-anggota lain Majlis Eksekutif memegang jawatan atas perkenan Sultan dan mereka (anggota eksekutif) boleh dipecat dari jawatan oleh Sultan yang bertindak atas nasihat menteri besar. Abdul Aziz berkata Sultan Perak telah menemui dan menginterbiu tiga anggota dewan negeri yang menjadi anggota bebas dan seorang lagi anggota dewan yang sebelumnya keluar dari Barisan Nasional (BN) tetapi kemudian menyertai semula parti itu dan mereka memberitahu Sultan tentang sokongan mereka kepada BN secara sukarela tanpa dipaksa oleh mana-mana pihak. Abdul Aziz, bagaimanapun berkata, walaupun menerusi pertanyaan Sultan, Baginda berpendapat Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir mendapat sokongan majoriti anggota dewan undangan negeri, ini tidak bermakna Baginda boleh membuat keputusan bahawa Mohammad Nizar tidak lagi mendapat keyakinan majoriti dewan berkenaan. Beliau berkata pendapat peribadi atau keputusan Sultan tidak relevan kepada maksud Artikel 16 (6) yang memperuntukkan bahawa “jika menteri besar tidak lagi mendapat keyakinan majoriti anggota dewan undangan, maka, kecuali atas permintaannya, Baginda membubarkan dewan, beliau dikehendaki mengemukakan peletakan jawatan majlis eksekutif”. Abdul Aziz mendengar prosiding semakan kehakiman yang dibawa oleh Nizar, 52, memohon writ “quo warranto” dikeluarkan terhadap Zambry untuk memberi sebab atas asas apa atau kuasa apa beliau adalah menteri besar yang sah. Abdul Aziz kemudian mengisytiharkan Nizar sebagai menteri besar yang sah selepas memutuskan bahawa beliau (Nizar) tidak pernah melepaskan jawatan menteri besar oleh kerana beliau tidak kehilangan keyakinan majoriti dewan undangan negeri. Nizar, dilantik sebagai menteri besar pada 17 Mac tahun lepas selepas pakatan DAP-PKR-PAS memenangi 31 kerusi dalam plihanraya umum ke-12. Kedua-dua pihak, bagaimanapun, mempunyai 28 kerusi masing-masing, selepas tiga anggota dewan dari pakatan itu keluar parti untuk menjadi anggota bebas dan yang keempat melompat semula dari PKR kepada Umno. Sultan kemudian meminta Nizar meletak jawatan menteri besar dan Zambry mengangkat sumpah selepas mengisytiharkan bahawa BN mempunyai majoriti di dewan undangan negeri. Mahkamah Rayuan, pada 12 Mei, membenarkan perintah penangguhan keputusan itu kepada Zambry dan menetapkan Khamis ini untuk mendengar bersama permohonan Nizar mengetepikan perintah penangguhan. Dalam penghakimannya, Hakim Abdul Aziz juga berkata beliau tidak meragui bahawa Sultan mempunyai budibicara mutlak berhubung pelantikan menteri besar dan tidak memperkenan permintaan bagi pembubaran dewan undangan negeri. “Saya tidak pernah meragui tentang pelaksanaan prerogatif diraja untuk melantik seorang menteri besar mengikut Artikel 16 (2) Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri Perak semata-mata berdasarkan pendapat peribadi Baginda. “Dan bahawa Baginda boleh memilih apa carapun bagi memuaskan hati dan membuat keputusan sewajarnya tentang siapa yang mendapat keyakinan majoriti dewan undangan negeri hingga beliau boleh dilantik sebagai menteri besar untuk memimpin majlis eksekutif,” katanya. Abdul Aziz bagaimanapun berkata perkara yang sama tidak boleh dilakukan berhubung Artikel 16 (6) dalam memutuskan sama ada menteri besar tidak lagi mendapat keyakinan majoriti anggota dewan undangan.

———————————————————————————————- 03 MEI 2009 SELANGOR SAMBUT HARI KEBEBASAN AKHBAR DUNIA SHAH ALAM: Hari Kebebasan Akhbar Dunia, yang disambut hari ini, mengingatkan kita terhadap betapa pentingnya kebebasan menyuarakan pendapat dan perasaan dalam hal pembinaan masyarakat demokrasi. Bagi negara kita, Malaysia yang mengamalkan prinsip demokrasi, maka undang-undang yang menyekat kebebasan seperti Akta Percetakan dan Penerbitan dan Akta Rasmi yang digunakan bagi menyekat kebebasan media dan rakyat daripada menggunakan hak-hak mereka untuk mendapat pelbagai maklumat, sewajarnya tidak dibiarkan berkekalan. Dengan kesedaran bahawa kuasa untuk menghapuskan undang-undang seumpama itu terletak pada Kerajaan Persekutuan, lantas Kerajaan Pakatan Rakyat Selangor kini berusaha dengan lebih proaktif lagi bagi mempromosikan agenda Kebebasan Maklumat. Seawal tahun 2009, Kerajaan Negeri menubuhkan Jawatankuasa Bertindak Kebebasan Maklumat yang dianggotai Ahli-Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri dan penjawat awam. Projek pertama jawatankuasa khas mengenai kebebasan maklumat ini untuk mengkaji kemungkinan meluluskan undang-undang berupa Akta Kebebasan Maklumat (FOI Act), di samping menyelesaikan beberapa permasalahan teknikal. Diharapkan, Akta Kebebasan Maklumat dapat dibentangkan dan diluluskan semasa Mesyuarat Dewan Undangan Negeri Selangor pada hujung 2009. Bagi mengisi Hari Kebebasan Akhbar Dunia di Selangor, Kerajaan Negeri bersetuju menganjurkan konsultasi awam yang bertemakan “Kebebasan Maklumat: Hak untuk Memiliki” (“Freedom of Information: A Right to Reclaim”) pada 19 Mei 2009 bagi membincangkan beberapa perkara termasuk bersifat keratan lintang masyarakat yang melibatkan kalangan pemegang amanah harta terhadap Akta Kebebasan Maklumat yang dimaksudkan. Saya secara ikhlas menggesa orang ramai agar menggunakan sesi konsultasi ini sepenuhnya oleh sebab semua hasil perbincangan dan maklum balas bakal dikumpul dan dijadikan Rang Undang-Undang yang kemudiannya dibentang dalam Mesyuarat Dewan Undangan Negeri Selangor, untuk kelulusan. Sehubung dengan sambutan yang dianggap penting ini, Kerajaan Negeri turut mengadakan latihan Kebebasan Maklumat dalam kalangan penjawat awamnya terutama mereka yang terlibat dengan orang ramai di peringkat Majlis Tempatan. Usaha ini untuk menggalakkan kesedaran dalam kalangan penjawat awam supaya lebih bertanggungjawab dan memahami peranan dan tugas mereka sebagai penyimpan dokumen awam. Kerajaan Negeri juga dengan senang hati menyambut Hari Kebebasan Akhbar ini bersama-sama rakan-rakan dan kalangan pengamal media, dengan jaminan; Kerajaan Negeri menyokong usaha bersama untuk membina media yang bersikap lantang tetapi seimbang dalam liputan dan kritikan. Saya begitu yakin, rakyat Selangor bersama saya menyambut Hari Kebebasan Akhbar Dunia sebagai usaha mengiktiraf kepentingan kebebasan akhbar yang berusaha mengekalkan perbahasan dan nilai-nilai asas secara terbuka di Malaysia. Terima kasih. TAN SRI DATO’ ABDUL KHALID BIN IBRAHIM MENTERI BESAR SELANGOR ——————————————————————–

Uthaya goes home to hero’s welcome
Hafiz Yatim | May 10, 09 1:48am Malaysiakini.com
Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar returned to his mother’s house in his hometown of Rasah, Seremban late tonight and received a hero’s welcome from a sea of thousands of orange-clad supporters.

MCPX

The 47-year-old lawyer had earlier today refused to sign the conditional papers of release and travelled from Kamunting to Seremban – a six-hour journey across three states – in a convoy of 100 cars and motorcycles. uthayakumar released from isa detention seremban event 090509 05Interestingly, one of the conditions for his release was not to set foot in Seremban. Along the way he stopped at several places – among them, Rawang, Sungai Buloh and Labu toll exit – to speak to his supporters who had came to see him. He arrived at the Labu toll plaza in Negri Sembilan at about 9.15pm where he was greeted with fireworks and drums and mobbed by a jubilant crowd. Later at his house, he hugged her mother and ate mutton curry, his favourite dish which he had longed for after 18 long months behind bars under the Internal Security Act. Uthayakumar, who remained defiant despite his ordeal, said he chose not to sign any conditional release letters as he felt he had done nothing wrong. “I did not sign the conditional release, in which one of the conditions was that I would not return to Seremban. “Following that, the Kamunting authorities decided to throw me out (of the camp),” said Uthayakumar, whose long hair and beard were sprinkled with confetti thrown by well-wishers. The Hindraf leader had refused to neither cut his hair nor shave his beard since he was arrested on Dec 13, 2007. uthayakumar released from isa detention seremban event 090509 08Asked what his immediate plans were, Uthayakumar said he would consult his supporters first. “I feel Umno and Barisan Nasional have not changed despite a change in leadership,” he said. “I called on the leaders of the country to release the remaining 10 detainees who are still being detained in Kamunting. Some of them had been under detention for eight years,” he said, adding that detention without trial is unlawful. To visit younger brother in London Uthayakumar said he would rest for the next two days and would decide on when to go to London to meet with his younger brother, Waythamoorthy, the chairperson of the outlawed Hindraf movement. uthayakumar released from isa detention seremban event 090509 06Waythamoorthy has been in self-imposed exile in Britain since the ISA arrests in late 2007 where his brother and four others were detained. “I want to discuss with him the next course of action. I also want to visit him as he has this rare heart condition and I am very concerned for his health,” he said. “I will discuss with Waytha (about the future) and if the feelings are strong to form a party as demanded by the supporters, we would certainly seriously consider it.” But first, he said he had to look for his passport. uthayakumar released from isa detention seremban event 090509 04He also laughed over the recent formation of another Indian-based party called Mindraf. “There is a joke that the Chinese want to form Chindraf and Jemaah Islamiah may form Jindraf – people are riding on Hindraf’s popularity,” He also reminded his followers not to worship or idolised him, after some Hindraf supporters were seen trying to kneel before him and kiss his feet tonight. uthayakumar released from isa detention seremban event 090509 01“No, they should not treat me in this way as I am an ordinary person,” he said. “But I could see many people are supporting the cause as we have been marginalised and I think we have a platform to seek for better welfare of the Indian community,” he said. Uthayakumar pledged that despite the adversities he is going to face, he would continue with the struggle and would not let the authorities to stop him. ———————————————————————————————————————–

80 GLC unions to picket next month KUALA LUMPUR (May 06, 2009): The 80 unions in the various government linked companies (GLCs) have decided to picket nationwide sometime in June to highlight their grievances. With a total membership of 200,000, these former civil servants who opted for privatisation in the early 80s and 90s were frustrated that the government had neither looked after their welfare nor kept its promise of offering better terms and conditions of work. “The picket would be our last resort to seek justice for our members,” said the unions’ task force chairman, Mohamed Shafie BP Mammal. Mohamed Shafie, who is also president of the National Union of Telecoms Employees (NUTE), told Bernama today that the unions “were still open to negotiations so as not to jeopardise the industrial harmony within the companies”. He said the GLC unions’ three core issues were: To get a standardised minimum pension of RM720 per month as enjoyed by their civil service counterparts; to provide opportunities for serving officers for promotions over outsiders and to standardise the pension age to 58 years. He said at the time of privatisation, the government had promised the workers that the terms and conditions of their employment in the new entity would be no less favourable than what they were previously enjoying. “Sadly, it had been almost 15 to 25 years since privatisation and we are getting less compared with what our counterparts in the civil service are getting currently,” Mohamed Shafie said. For example he said the takehome pay of an office boy in Tenega Nasional was only around RM700 while his counterpart in the civil service was taking home more than RM1,000. This difference was due to the various allowances enjoyed by those in the civil service which were not given to those in privatised companies. Mohamed Shafie called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to look into the plight of these workers who had been “loyal to the government all these years”. “If we had not opted for the privatised companies at that time, the government’s policy on privatisation would not have been implemented,” he claimed. The unions would hold a special national conference on June 6 to discuss the various issues faced by members and prepare a comprehensive memorandum to the government. In the meantime, Mohamed Shafie said the GLC unions would propose the formation of joint committees both from the union and the management to work out common grounds which could be a basis for further negotiations for an amicable settlement. – Bernama———————————————————————————————–

PKFZ audit report: Damning disclosure by R. Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez

PETALING JAYA (May 5, 2009) : The independent audit report on the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) which is expected to be released this week is a damning disclosure of mismanagement, clandestine deals, conflicts of interest and a total disregard for transparency and accountability for a project which was supposed to cost RM1.845 billion but ended up at RM4.6 billion.

Sources told theSun that among the findings of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) are that: » No proper studies were undertaken before embarking on the project; » Major decisions on the project were made without prior approval of the Port Klang Authority (PKA) board; » The PKA chairman and general manager entered into agreements without seeking the advice of the relevant government authorities; » There was a failure to exercise adequate governance and implement checks and balances in the implementation of the project. PWC was commissioned by PKA to probe the troubled project a year ago following an expose by theSun in 2007. The audit report also detailed a series of conflict of interest situations: » Sementa assemblyman Datuk Abdul Rahman Palil was both the Pulau Lumut Development Co-operative (KPPL) chairman and a PKA director in 2002 when the land for PKFZ was sold by KPPL to PKA; » Rashid Asari & Co, the legal firm retained by PKA, was also the same firm overseeing the inking of the sales and purchase agreement between KPPL and turnkey contractor Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB). A point to note is that its senior partner, Datuk Abdul Rashid Asari, was the deputy chief of Umno’s Kapar division, where Tan Sri Onn Ismail is an exco member. Onn was the KPPL chairman and his son-in-law Faizal Abdullah, the then Kapar Umno division youth chief, is also the deputy CEO of Wijaya Baru Global Bhd (WBGB), the firm appointed by KDSB as the main subcontractor; » Perunding BE Sdn Bhd, appointed by PKA as the independent quantity surveyor for PKFZ, was also a quantity surveyor for KDSB; » PKA’s board of directors were not advised that the chairman of the PKA at one time was also the deputy chairman of WBGB; » KDSB directors Omar Latip and Idris Mat Jani are also directors and shareholders of WBGB. One contributory aspect to the PKFZ mess, the sources added, was that several Finance Ministry regulations on transparent accounting practices were not complied with and that the advice of the attorney-general (A-G) was not sought. “The agreement between PKA and KDSB was not even vetted by the A-G,” said one source. The A-G had suggested the government acquire the 404ha for the development of the free zone instead of purchasing it from KDSB at an inflated rate of RM25 per sq foot, although KDSB had purchased the land from KPPL for only RM3 per sq foot. The source goes on to reveal KDSB’s questionable conduct by overcharging PKA in interests of up to RM300 million, while hidden costs amounting to RM100 million were not revealed to PKA, hence the purchase price of over RM1 billion. “There was an absence of competitive open tenders with KDSB being awarded the contract to develop the free zone even before the master plan for PKFZ was completed,” said the source, adding that the audit report showed that contracts were entered into merely on estimation of the projected costs. The report, it is said, also specifies that while the intention of setting up the free zone was to transform Port Klang into a regional trans-shipment hub, cost escalations, poor governance by PKA coupled with weak project management had undermined the viability of PKFZ as well as PKA’s financial obligations where its reserves of RM500 million have been all but wiped out. “If all these bases were covered, then PKFZ would have been a goldmine,” said another source. The audit report also paints a troubling picture of officials in the Transport Ministry, noting that so-called letters of support signed by a former minister for the issuance of the bonds could be construed as a guarantee and that PKA would have to meet its financial obligations under such an arrangement. Instead of complying with the Treasury’s recommendations of issuing government bonds and developing the project in phases, thereby benefitting from lower coupon rates, PKA decided to develop the free zone in one go, having to pay double the rate, estimated at about 8%. Hence, there are concerns the project cost could balloon further. It is learnt that the report also noted that PKFZ only enjoys an occupancy rate of 16% to 19%. “However, one is confident that with the new team at the helm the project is salvageable,” said another source, attributing the disclosure of the PKFZ fiasco to efforts by Transport Minster Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and the “clean-up crew” of PKA chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng and PKFZ general manager Lim Thean Shiang, who took over from Datin Paduka O.C. Phang last year. It is learnt that Lim briefed government backbenchers on the audit report yesterday. An MP, when contacted, said the closed-door briefing was meant to keep them abreast of the issues before the audit becomes public. Ironically, current Backbenchers’ Club chairman, Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing holds a controlling stake in KDSB. Former Umno treasurer Datuk Abdul Azim Zabidi is also a director of KDSB.

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The PKFZ fiasco: Chronology 2002 Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) and Port Klang Authority (PKA) sign deal on Nov 12 in which the former sells 999.5 acres in Pulau Indah to the latter for RM1.09 billion or RM25 psf. KDSB, which is 70% owned by Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, had reportedly bought the land from Pulau Lumut Development Cooperative Bhd for only RM95 million or RM3 psf. 2003 PKA appoints KDSB to develop PKFZ to include office blocks, transshipment facilities light and medium industry facilities and warehouses. The total project cost, excluding land cost, is estimated at RM1.32 billion. KDSB in turn appoints Wijaya Baru Global Bhd as main sub-contractor. Both companies are controlled by Tiong. 2005 PKA and KDSB sign supplemental agreement for additional development works, including building a business class hotel. Total contract value is estimated at RM510.38 million, excluding variation order. 2007 July 18: Dubai-based Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), which was to manage PKFZ, pulls out on July 18, citing “strategic purposes”. Aug 13: theSun exposes correspondences between Jafza and PKFZ indicating the former quit due to red tape, bureaucracy, interference by politicians and those with vested interests, deliberate incorrect minuting of meetings, issues pertaining to the chain of command and even attempts at tax evasion by Malaysian negotiators. Then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi asks Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy to explain why concerns by Jafza addressed to Chan were not entertained. Aug 20: theSun reveals that the Transport Ministry had issued four “letters of support” between 2003 and 2006 which were used by turnkey contractor KDSB to raise bonds and get an AAA rating from the Malaysia Rating Corporation Bhd. The documents were, in fact, letters of guarantee which only the Treasury can issue. Aug 28: Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy denies allegations that PKFZ is a failure. He tells Parliament that since Nov 1, 2006, it had attracted 30 investors bringing in investments of RM725 million and 809 jobs. Sept 6: PKA general manager Datin Paduka O.C. Phang and officials from the Transport Ministry appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) but PAC chairman Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad is not satisfied with answers pertaining to the project’s financing. Oct 18: PAC visits PKFZ but again comes away with more questions than answers. 2008 March 25: Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim proposes that the state government take over PKFZ at book value of RM1. May 5: Newly-appointed PKA chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng tells theSun that an independent audit has been commissioned for PKFZ. June 6: Lim Thean Shiang takes over from O.C. Phang as PKA general manager and executive chairman of PKFZ. April 29: Following declassification of the independent audit report, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat orders that the PriceWaterhouseCoopers findings be made public in a week. He said he intends to submit the report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commssion (MACC) and PAC. ———————————————————————————————-

S’wak gov’t defeated in landmark NCR ruling
Tony Thien | May 5, 09 7:16pm Malaysiakini.com
The Federal Court has upheld the concept of native customary rights (NCR) to land as including not only one class of such land called

MCPX

temuda (cultivated land), but also pulau (communal forest) and pemakai menua (territorial domain). The apex court delivered its ruling today in Kuching, in an application by the Sarawak government in a case initiated by local Malay Madehi Salleh to claim NCR rights over former Shell concession land in Miri. Lawyers dealing in NCR cases were quick to point out the implications of the decision for some 200 land cases filed to date against the state government and companies that have obtained leases mainly for plantation and logging activities. ncr land sarawak and palm oil plantationSo long as NCR claimants can provide sufficient evidence to support their claims, logging and plantation companies may now find themselves in a quandary unless they are prepared to negotiate. Madehi had taken the state government to court in 2007 over his rights to 6.6 acres of land and won the case. However, the state government successfully appealed the decision in the Court of Appeal, following which Madehi turned to the Federal Court and won his case in October 2007. The court recognised the pre-existence of NCR before the coming into force of any statue or legislation, in particular the Rajah Order of 1921. It said the reservation of the land under the Rajah’s Order for Sarawak Oilfields Ltd (SOL) did not have the effect of extinguishing NCR to the land. There was no provision whatsoever in the Rajah’s Order that extinguished Madeli’s NCR to his tract of land, the judges said, noting that all it did was to reserve the land for SOL. Furthermore, the Federal Court said native rights to occupy untitled land in accordance with customary laws subsisted in an area reserved for operation of SOL. Individual rights of natives were the same as communal rights, it added. Application dismissed The Sarawak government, unhappy with the decision, then applied to the Federal Court to review its own decision. Today, however, the court disagreed that the applicants had met the threshold requirement and dismissed the review application with costs. The Federal Court’s quorum comprised the Chief Justice of Sarawak and Sabah Richard Malanjun, Hashim Yusuf and Zulkifli Ahmad Makinudin. Appearing for the applicants (Sarawak government) were State Legal Counsel JC Fong and his assistant Safri Ali. Miri-based lawyer Mekanda Singh Sandhu and his son Sathinda represented Madehi. Sathinda told Malaysiakini later that the judgment can now be applied to all NCR land cases after this. Millions of hectares of land have been leased out over the past 20 years to many companies and state agencies. The Federal Court ruling re-affirmed a similar landmark finding in the Nor Nyawai & Others v Borneo Pulp and Plantation case in Bintulu in 2001.

—————————————————————————————- Pakatan stands united for Penanti Athi Veeranggan | May 3, 09 12:35pm Malaysiakini.com What ever differences they had were things of the past. Pakatan Rakyat component parties are now ready to take on the might of Umno and Barisan Nasional as a united front in this month’s Penanti by-election in Penang. MCPX anwar ibrahim dr mansor othman pkr candidate for penanti state seat by election 280409Claiming this, PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim played down the differences that existed and said they were normal minor problems that would occur in any political coalition. “I will gladly say that whatever differences in opinions and views expressed by Pakatan leaders at local and national-level on the Penanti by-election are now resolved. “All Pakatan parties and leaders will be firmly united to back PKR. “Pakatan will together fight our common foe to win in Penanti,” the parliamentary opposition leader told some 500 Penanti voters in Yayasan Aman, Permatang Pauh last night. Indicating that PAS Permatang Pauh would not field a candidate of its own to contest in Penanti, Anwar said he had personally met PAS state commissioner Mohd Salleh Man and resolved the matter amicably. “Salleh Man has assured me that PAS would fully back PKR in this contest,” he said, without deliberating much on what transpired. Penanti is a PKR stronghold Differences in opinions have prevailed publicly between PKR and its Pakatan partners – DAP and PAS, since last month in connection with the Penanti by-election, which comes under Anwar’s Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency – a PKR stronghold. lim guan eng koh tsu koon penang land scandal issue 220409 fairus khairuddinThe seat fell vacant when incumbent representative, former Deputy Chief Minister 1 Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin resigned on April 16. Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng was cranky early on when Anwar was dragging his feet in deciding on the party nominees to fill up the posts of DCM 1 and state executive councillor in the state cabinet. Both positions, vacated by Fairus effective April 8, were PKR’s quota in the Pakatan Penang government. The chief minister was also upset when PKR announced Fairus’ resignation as Penanti representative before duly informing him. However, the issue was quickly settled after Anwar personally apologised to Lim for his shortcomings. Then a discord surfaced between local PKR and PAS leaders over which party would be the best to represent Pakatan in the by-election even after Anwar had named former university associate professor Mansor Othman as candidate. Anwar said the request by PAS Permatang Pauh to contest in Penanti were not signs of cracks in the Pakatan coalition as alleged by Umno. Mansor’s candidacy gets full support He recalled that prior to Kuala Terengganu by-election in January this year, local PKR leaders claiming that the party had stronger support base, had also requested to contest the east coast parliamentary constituency. However, Anwar said he turned down the request to preserve Pakatan’s concept of power sharing and political unity. “Therefore local PAS leaders’ request to contest Penanti is normal in coalition politics. “It’s up to PAS and Pakatan leadership to decide,” he said. anwar ibrahim dr mansor othman pkr candidate for penanti state seat by election 280409 03He said PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, Salleh Man, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and Guan Eng have all pledged full support for Mansor’s candidacy and were happy that PKR has chosen the right candidate. He said Mansor was the right person because he can provide a strong and vibrant Malay leadership in the current Penang government. He said Mansor was chosen because Pakatan needed a strong Malay leader representing all communities and make Penang Malays comfortable to work, live and move forward together with others. Anwar hit back at Umno for criticising Mansor as an “outsider”, by pointing out that even he was not born in Permatang Pauh. “I was born in Sungai Bakap.” ———————————————————— May 2, 2009 Wider World of Choices to Fill Souter’s Vacancy By CHARLIE SAVAGE WASHINGTON — When President Ronald Reagan decided to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court in 1981, he had to turn to Sandra Day O’Connor, an obscure state judge. When President Bill Clinton decided to add a second woman to the court, he confronted a world in which women were just beginning to climb the ranks of big law firms and ranking female judges, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, were still scarce. Today, as President Obama moves to pick his first Supreme Court nominee as a successor to retiring Justice David H. Souter — a choice many political observers expect will be a woman — he finds a vastly altered scene, with women holding dozens of seats on the nation’s appellate courts, occupying dean’s offices at prestigious law schools, and serving in some of the highest political offices in the nation. “The legal landscape has been totally transformed,” said Deborah Rhode, a Stanford University law professor whose research includes gender issues related to the legal profession. “Obama has a lot of possibilities.” More than 200 women are federal district and appeals court judges, representing about a quarter of each bench, according to statistics compiled in 2008 by the American Bar Association. More than a hundred women are judges on top state courts, and a third of state chief justices are women. In a country where nearly 1.2 million people are practicing lawyers, more than 45 percent of law firm associates — and 18 percent of partners — are women. Nearly a fifth of the nation’s law school deans are women, as were nearly 48 percent of the most recent class of law school graduates. And that is to say nothing of other high-level positions, like governorships, if Mr. Obama chooses to go outside the appellate courts to pick a political heavyweight who brings coalition-building skills as well as legal acumen. In 1981, just one governor was a woman. Today there are seven — not counting Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who recently resigned their governorships to join Mr. Obama’s cabinet. Ms. Napolitano, who is also a former United States attorney, is thought to be a candidate for the court in some circles, as is Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan. Yet despite the rising prominence of women in the legal profession and the political world, the Supreme Court remains something of a male-dominated throwback. Since Justice O’Connor retired in 2006 and was succeeded by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the only woman on the nine-member court has been Justice Ginsburg, who is 76 and recently underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer. That imbalance — and the possibility that Justice Ginsburg will be next to leave the court — is one reason some are calling for Mr. Obama to appoint a second woman to the court. “We think it’s incredibly timely and important that the president replace Justice Souter with a woman, and hopefully more women to come, so that the court will be representative of women in the profession,” said Roberta Liebenberg, a Philadelphia antitrust lawyer who heads the Commission on Women in the Profession at the bar association. Near the top of many lists of women as possible nominees is Sonia Sotomayor, 54, a federal appeals court judge of Puerto Rican descent. A Yale Law School graduate, she was appointed to the district court by the first President George Bush and elevated to the appeals court by Mr. Clinton. Other potential candidates among the nation’s appeals courts judges include Kim Wardlaw, 54, and Diane Wood, 58, who was a colleague of Mr. Obama’s when he taught at the University of Chicago Law School. Two former law school deans, Elena Kagan of Harvard and Kathleen Sullivan of Stanford, are also widely considered to be potential nominees. Ms. Kagan, 49, was an associate White House counsel in the Clinton administration and recently became solicitor general; Ms. Sullivan, 53, is a constitutional law professor. Curt Levey, the executive director of the Committee for Justice, a conservative legal group, said conservatives were convinced that Mr. Obama would pick a woman to replace Justice Souter and were focusing opposition research efforts on 17 women, whom they have divided into two tiers based on their perceived chances. “The men are in a separate category,” Mr. Levey said. It was once rare for women to become lawyers, but they began attending law school in much greater numbers four decades ago because of factors like the Vietnam War and the rise of the women’s movement, Ms. Rhode said. In 1964, A.B.A. statistics show that just 4 percent of law students were women. By 1974, the figure had quadrupled, and it had more than doubled again a decade later. Today, just under half of all law students are women. At the same time, presidents, beginning with Jimmy Carter, began appointing significant numbers of women to federal appeals courts, which has been the primary source of Supreme Court nominees in recent years. According to data compiled by Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution, in 1981, when Reagan plucked Justice O’Connor from a state court, there were just 11 women among federal appeals court judges. In 1993, when Mr. Clinton picked Justice Ginsburg, she was one of just 23 such judges. But today, there are 47 women on the federal appellate bench. To be sure, that does not mean that Mr. Obama has 47 realistic options among the women on the appeals courts. Republicans appointed 25 of them, Mr. Russell’s data shows, while three-fourths of the Democratic appointees are over 60, meaning they would probably have a less enduring impact than a younger appointee. Still, Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, a liberal legal group, said the growth in the pool of women on the appeals courts and in the broader legal world would put pressure on Mr. Obama to pick one. “There are so many more women in the legal profession and on the bench throughout the country, and it’s imperative to have greater gender representation on all of our courts, including the Supreme Court,” she said. ——————————————————————-

WASHINGTON – The global financial crisis could become “a human and development calamity” for many poor countries, the World Bank said, urging donor nations to speed delivery of money they have pledged and consider giving more. Developing countries, its main constituency, face “especially serious consequences with the crisis driving more than 50 million people into extreme poverty, particularly women and children,” the bank said Sunday. Bank President Robert Zoellick said some of the poorest economies are being hit by “second and third waves of the crisis.” He said no one knows how long it will last or when recovery will begin. “There is a widespread recognition that the world faces an unprecedented economic crisis, poor people could suffer the most and that we must continue to act in real time to prevent a human catastrophe,” Zoellick said. The bank will respond by tapping its healthy balance sheet to increase lending up to $100 billion over three years and launch initiatives in social protection, public works and agriculture, he said. Zoellick spoke at a news conference that wrapped up weekend meetings of the World Bank and its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund, aimed at determining what additional action is needed to counteract the worst financial crisis in decades. The weekend kicked off with a meeting of finance ministers of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations that expanded into a meeting of the Group of 20 nations, bringing in such rising economic powerhouses as Brazil, India and China. There was general agreement at the meetings that voting shares of those nations in the IMF and World Bank should be increased to reflect the changed global economic situation. Ministers pledged to examine ways to do that. The closing news conference took an unexpected turn when Mexican Finance Minister Agustin Carstens, chairman of the World Bank policy-steering committee, outlined steps his government was taking to confront an outbreak of swine flu. He disclosed that the bank was providing a $25 million loan for medicine and logistical help and another $180 million for operational needs. Zoellick said already-mobilized bank public health experts with experience dealing with SARS, or severe, acute respiratory syndrome, and Asian bird flu would provide practical help to Mexico. In their communique, ministers at the bank meeting said “more needs to be done” as the financial crisis unfolds. “We urge all donors to accelerate delivery of commitments to increase aid and for all to go beyond existing commitments,” the ministers said. While they met, small groups of protesters demonstrated near the headquarters of the two organizations three blocks from the White House. They chanted “IMF, tear it down. World Bank, tear it down.” Ministers attending the IMF-World Bank meetings said they saw signs that the world economy is stabilizing, but it will take until mid-2010 for the world to emerge from the worst recession in decades. They said stimulus packages, bank recapitalization and other actions taken by governments and central banks to deal with the crisis are beginning to show results. “Carefully, cautiously, we can say that there is a break in the clouds,” Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, chairman of the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee, said Saturday. He said some financial markets are trending up and other economic indicators are improving, “but there are still downside risks.” On Saturday, as protesters demonstrated in the streets, the finance ministers tried to work out details of the $1.1 trillion plan that President Barack Obama and his G-20 counterparts announced at their recent summit in London. There was much talk about how to come up with the fresh $500 billion infusion that the G-20 pledged to the IMF at the summit. More than $300 billion is already pledged by the U.S., the European Union, Japan, Canada, Switzerland and Norway. It remains unclear which countries will open their wallets wider — or at all. To make up the shortage, the IMF agreed to sell bonds — something it’s never done in its 65 years — to emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India. Those nations have said they want a greater voice at the IMF before they’ll provide additional resources. The bonds would help reach the goal announced at the G-20 in London, but provide shorter-term financing than the pledges made by the U.S., European Union, Japan and others. ___ Associated Press Writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

——————————————————————————————– Monday, April 20, 2009 Why was PKR defeated in Batang Ai? An alaysis by The Brokenshield It is obvious that the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is still riding on the wave of political tsunami in Kedah by winning the Bukit Selambau by-election with a bigger majority last Tuesday, but it failed to cause a wave in the Batang Ai by-election. Its candidate the former five-term Lubok Antu MP Jawah Gerang was soundly defeated. He secured 2,053 votes as against the BN candidate, Malcolm Mussen Lamoh of 3,907 votes. Several factors have been attributed to the failure of Keadilan to take advantage of the seemingly dissatisfied 8,129 voters who have been shabbily treated by the BN State government – the broken promises, the unpaid claims, lack of land for farming and lack of infrastructural facilities. Dayaks not ready to abandon BNTheories are many attributing to the failure. But obviously, one of the main factors is that Dayaks are not ready to abandon the State Barisan Nasional, even although many of its policies are against their interests. Truthfully, many have indeed benefited from the BN polices. For example in this by-election, there are a number of instant “noodle” projects, the promises to look into their problems, to tar-seal their roads and to provide various health and recreational amenities as well as the financial assistance. Being simple-minded and trusting the BN to fulfill its promises, they therefore voted for the BN candidate. BN polices are perceived as “fair”. These voters have also been told that the BN and chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s polices are “fair” in that some Dayaks and Dayak leaders have benefited from such policies; Dayak leaders in PBB like Alfred Jabu Numpang whose wealth is perhaps at par with Leonard Linggi Jugah, the richest Dayak in Sarawak will surely cling like leeches on to Taib Mahmud.And even in Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) itself there are leaders who have timber concessions, large tracts of land for oil palm plantation, school and government contracts. Naturally, these Dayak leaders are at the forefront of the campaigns trying to convince their fellow Dayaks to support Taib’s policies even for small minor rural development projects. As the Dayak Iban community in Batang Ai is one of the poorest in Malaysia, these projects and promises are therefore very tempting; and hence how could they refuse such offer and abandon Barisan Nasional and Abdul Taib Mahmud? But the Barisan Nasional must also remember that this was a by-election during which they promised heaven on earth. However, both the voters and PKR are watching whether the promises made will be fulfilled by the time the next state election comes in two year’s time or even sooner than expected. PKR is considered an “outsider” party. Another reason for PKR’s failure to gain foothold in Sarawak’s rural areas is that the Dayaks especially the Ibans have been told to be wary of peninsular-based political parties. PKR is an “outsider” party, the party that does not respect the Iban customs. This issue has been highlighted in the recent by-election and so repeatedly reminded that the Ibans are skeptical with parties like Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and even UMNO spreading its wings into Sarawak. The State BN knows that the Ibans have always been suspicious of peninsular people and telling them what happens in Sabah makes them more frightened. Sabah is now under the control of UMNO and everything that needs to be done must receive approval from UMNO headquarters. PKR under Anwar Ibrahim will be no different. The “yes Anwar no Taib” slogan was not effective enough to sway voters in the Batang Ai by-election.The point was clearly emphasized by president of PRS and director of operations for the Batang Ai by-election James Masing who said the defeat of peninsular-based party, PKR in the by-election “is proof that it has no place in Sarawak”. “This goes to show that Sarawakians want Sarawakians to be in control in Sarawak, not those outsiders. It showed we do not want PKR to come in. ”Again being multi-racial and “outsider-based” party, PKR has no answer to argue over the current political set-up of the State Barisan Nasional where all communities are represented by their respective communal parties that is considered by the State political leadership as the best assurance towards political stability and economic progress. Racial-based party is still preferred. Thus they see in multi-racial parties like PKR and Sarawak National Party (SNAP) as not suitable as of now as the people are still conscious of racial-based parties. SNAP was once a very powerful Dayak-based party, and when it became multi-racial, it slowly lost its power and influence among the Dayaks. The Dayaks’ frustrations in SNAP gave birth to a racially-based party, Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in July 1983. This belief still holds true till this day. Look at PBB which is representing the Malay/Melanau communities, SUPP the Chinese community and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) representing the rural communities. PRS was almost caught in trouble with some non-Dayak elements in the party. It is now slowly becoming a Dayak-based party. PKR Sarawak- Bickering over the choice of candidate. The other contributing factor that needs mention is the continued internal bickering in PKR over the selection of the candidate for the by-election and carried over into the nine-day campaign period. Two groups with one supporting Jawah Gerang and the other Nicholas Bawin almost came to blows on the eve of nomination day. This heated argument in front of the unfriendly media became the main stories of the local papers and were being exploited by the BN to its advantage. It was said that when Anwar came to Sarawak one week before nomination, he was supposed to announce that Bawin would be the candidate, because Bawin who had been a member of PKR had already prepared for the by-election since May 22, 2008 the day that the late Dublin Unting, the incumbent state assemblyman went into coma. But the group supporting Jawah who recently joined PKR confronted Anwar and even threatened to resign from PKR if he did not accede to their demand. Anwar was more or less held to ransom had he not given in to their demand.Meanwhile, Bawin’s supporters became angry and refused to campaign for Jawah. Even there were rumours to suggest that Bawin himself and his supporters campaigned for the Barisan candidate.The unabated bickering had made the PKR preparations go haywire. Although Bawin was the director of operations, he was no where to be seen in the PKR operations. He was believed to have campaigned in Engkari and Lemanak. Thus, a coordinator of the election in the person of YB Dominique Ng was appointed. Ng played down the open bickering amongst the party leaders and members and said: “The wrong choice of candidate was not an issue in the PKR camp because even if we fielded Bawin, the party would be defeated just as badly.” PKR’s election workers were not paid. Grouses and grumblings among the PKR election workers were also heard that they had not been paid for their services and that no food was prepared for them. This is bad for PKR’s psychological warfare against the enemy. Political observers see that voluntary services by the members for the party’s campaigns may be a good strategy in the peninsula, but in rural Sarawak it cannot be done this way due to many factors one of which is that the campaigners come from poor families. There is also a need to buy petrol for their cars or outboard engines as they have to travel through difficult terrain, and poor road conditions or fast running water or rapids to reach vast and sparsely populated constituencies. Few elected representatives and campaigners from Penang and Selangor who campaigned for the PKR candidate had visited the various longhouses and had some unpleasant experiences – the hazardous journey passing through difficult terrain, sleeping in the longhouses with little food and drinks. But such experiences will help them to understand Sarawak better.”No money, no talk” The other factor pointing to the failure of PKR was money. In Sarawak, money is still the most important tool of the election. Without it, you cannot win any election in Sarawak. You need it to charter boats and vans and pay workers for their food. You need to buy petrol, and even to buy votes. The Barisan Nasional is doing such a thing, sometimes very openly. And nobody can touch them. In Sarawak, Taib said: “I am the government.” For any Sate election, PKR must realize that it is fighting not the politicians or political parties of the Barisan Nasional alone, but the entire government machinery – the State civil service, KEMAS (community development department), MIS (Malaysian Information Service), RTM, the council staff, teachers and community leaders. The might of BN machinery. Logistically, the Barisan Nasional has superior assorts of political weapons such as the use of helicopters to fly ministers to campaign in any remote area unreachable by any other means. Several helicopters were used in this by-election. For the Barisan, money was not a problem. In this by-election alone, it spent several millions of ringgit on travelling, lodging and accommodation expenses, not to mention the instant “noodle” projects that they promised the voters and money allegedly used to buy votes of between RM500 and RM1,000 per vote.Compared with PKR, how could it match the machinery and the organizational skills of the Barisan Nasional? Just impossible, but then the local PKR, unlike the recent by-election, must organise itself with the limited funds available. PKR must get organised NOW! Thus, if PKR is seriously thinking of the next state election, it must begin its planning now, start to identify potential candidates and should look for funds. To unseat this state government, at least a sum of RM500,000 for each of 71 State constituencies is required, otherwise PKR should forget about contesting in Sarawak, let alone trying to change the State government. Rhetoric alone cannot help. Money is the name of the game.Batang Ai – a litmus test for PKRAs mentioned previously, the Batang Ai is a major test for PKR in the Iban-dominated constituency. Winning here would mean the people and PKR are ready to change the government and losing would spell disaster. Although Ng said that the loss will not dampen the PKR fighting spirit, there are others who feel that the defeat here will have some impact on the next election.Ng said: “We have in fact learnt one or two things from the campaign and this experience will be useful for future elections.” Certainly PKR has a lot to learn. ——————————————————————– Human rights march: 7 acquitted S Pathmawathy | Apr 16, 09 10:28am The Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court this morning acquitted seven people, including four lawyers, for participating in an alleged illegal human rights march two years ago. Sessions judge SM Komathy Suppiah said the prosecution had failed to prove a case against the seven of breaking the law. With this decision, the seven were not required to enter their defence. tian chua arrest remand 080307 lawyers statement amerThe four lawyers in the dock were R Sivarasa, N Surendran, Latheefa Koya (photo: right) and Amer Hamzah Arshad (photo: left). The other accused persons were Nooraza Othman, Johny Anbu @ Abu Bakar Adnan and Ashraf Sadakathullah. They also faced an additional charge of disobeying the police order to disperse. The prosecution was led by DPP Raja Rozela Raja Toran and counsel M Puravalen appeared for the seven. Arrested halfway in the march The Dec 9, 2007 march was held in conjunction with the International Human Rights Day and saw the participation of lawyers as well as others. human rights day marchThe police took action to arrest the accused persons after a failed attempt by the organisers of the march to negotiate with the police to allow them to finish their march at their intended spot. The 100-odd crowd was already halfway to their destination when the 500-strong police force gave the marchers a 10-minute warning to disperse. The organisers, who believed that they could complete their march within the time limit, wanted to press on. They were arrested near the Jalan Tun Perak LRT station and were immediately taken to the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters. [More to follow] Previous reports Human rights march: 7 to know fate next Thurs Police witness: Lawyers not a threat to national security Archives – A human rights march cut short Part 1 l Part 2 ——————————————————————

Dayakism died and was buried at Batang Ai
Al Tugauw | Apr 10, 09 5:09pm
Yes, this is what happened in Batang Ai. Believe it or not, that is up to you. If this is not what happened, then it should have. This is not a complete analysis of the Batang Ai by-election and ignores personal issues which may or may not have influenced the voters of Batang Ai.

MCPX

In my opinion, the Iban voters of Batang Ai deliberately went about to kill Dayakism and bury it with all the pomp and ceremony of a seemingly well-fought election campaign that will cost the BN RM80 million or more and help it to lose the next state elections. They did us all a favour, for it is only with the death of Dayakism that a new Sarawak will soon be born for all Sarawakians and not just for the Dayaks. With the rest of Malaysia rapidly abandoning ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ in favour of ‘Ketuanan Rakyat’, is Sarawak going to accept ‘Ketuanan Dayak’? Is Dayakism the only solution to Dayak unity? And is Dayak unity the only answer to change the BN regime? Will it be enough? The Ibans of Batang Ai understood this well and chopped off the head of that useless fighting cock called ‘Dayakism’, a fighting cock which had fought and lost so many wars (not just battles) and disappointed so many Dayaks and which was summarily deserted by its own proponents and leaders such as James Masing who defected to the ‘safe’ pirate harbour of the BN. They were helped along in this intent – but unintentionally of course – by the BN’s normal chicanery, corruption and cheating. I am not discounting the effect of vote-buying and ballot-box tampering, but I am saying that this would not have made much difference, whether in Batang Ai or elsewhere in Sarawak. There is a factor that both BN and PKR underestimate, and that is the collective intelligence of the voters. The voters of Batang Ai are not stupid. They understood full well the dilemma that this by-election put them in – a vote for PKR which had only ‘Dayakism’ on its agenda would have made them a target for discrimination by the BN until at least the next state elections’ A vote for the BN would mean that they had to swallow their Dayak pride yet again and accept the ‘goodies’ offered to them by the BN, tempting enough as these were. Do you think that the Ibans of Batang Ai still don’t know what Taib Mahmud has done throughout Sarawak under the guise of the ‘politics of development’ and how they and other Sarawakians have been abused, made use of and discriminated against by Taib’s regime? All this is no longer news in Sarawak and has gone beyond the blogs. The Dayak voters are already awake and have been for some time. But when will the Dayak politicians wake up from the nightmare of Dayakism? When will the latter understand that there are larger issues at stake here? Stop harping on Dayakism – it will be in their own interests and that of the Dayaks to do so. Start thinking like Sarawakians. PKR Sarawak is stupid if they still think that the Batang Ai voters have been fooled yet again by the BN and BN Sarawak is stupid if they think they have managed to fool the voters yet again as well. The BN is self-delusional if they regard the results of the Batang Ai by-election as an endorsement of Taib, Alfred Jabu or James Masing and BN so-called ‘policies’. Even less is it an endorsement of Najib Abdual Razak and neither is Batang Ai theirs to give to him. The voters of Batang Ai do not need to be convinced by PKR to be united whether through Dayakism or any other agenda against an evil BN regime. They already are. They voted for BN out of convenience and because PKR could not as yet offer a convincing alternative – one that could make a positive difference to both their present as well as future circumstances. Other than putting down the Taib and the BN for their crimes (which everyone already knows) and harping on Dayakism and Dayak ‘unity’, where was PKR’s agenda for ‘change’? What is PKR’s agenda for change? Now that is what the Batang Ai voters wanted to hear, but PKR did not or could not tell them. Maybe the time was not right yet and a win for PKR in Batang Ai would have been disastrous for the longer term goal of overthrowing the BN, since it would have given credence to Dayakism and put a scare into the other non-Dayak Sarawakians. Dayakism makes for good ‘entertainment’ but poor politics. If PKR Sarawak sees Dayakism as the alternative, that is even worse. How does it expect critical support from the crucial Malay/ Melanau voters who may see Taib Mahmud and his evil regime as their only refuge against a full-scale Dayak uprising? Dayakism has not worked for the last 20 years. Don’t expect it to work in the next two years. PKR Sarawak needs a fresh new approach. Even Dayak voters themselves have rejected Dayakism. If PKR still continues to put this fighting cock into the ring, it can expect to lose the next state elections as well. Sarawak does not need a Dayak (or Malay, Melanau, Orang Ulu or Chinese) Chief Minister. It needs a Sarawakian Chief Minister who has the support of all races of Sarawak. The fact that the Dayaks can join a multi-racial party like PKR, even if that is not the ideal solution for Sarawak yet, speaks for itself. But they must resist the temptation to try and turn PKR Sarawak into another Snap or PBDS. If the Ibans and Melanaus can accept a Malayan party like Umno/BN, there is no reason why the Dayaks can’t accept PKR. PKR just has to repackage itself and make itself acceptable. PKR (Malaya) must make greater effort to understand Sarawakians better and PKR Sarawak must really open up to all Sarawakians instead of being held hostage by cliques intent on politicking and each holding on to their pitiful little turf at the expense of the bigger goal. All Sarawakians, not just the other Dayaks as well, will be able to accept a more open PKR Sarawak which concentrates on its vision for a new Sarawak free from the petty yet vicious tyranny of Taib and his gang. Those who are too shortsighted to see why Dayakism shouldn’t be buried deserve to be subservient to Taib and his gang. Umno, MCA and MIC are barely surviving and will probably be swept away in the next general elections. Will Sarawakians want to be left behind again? PBDS is dead. There is nothing left to mend. The ghost of PBDS needs to be laid to rest, not resurrected. If we allow ourselves to dwell too much on the past, this will drag us down and prevent us from advancing. Sarawakians deserve more hope than this. A New Sarawak awaits to be born. Or are we going to put this baby in the hands of the likes of Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib to be abused? Sarawakians for Sarawak!

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U.S. to Join Iran Talks Over Nuclear Program

Published: April 8, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Wednesday that the United States for the first time would participate regularly with other global powers in negotiations with the Iranian government about its nuclear program.

Amir Pourmandi/INA, via Associated Press

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran spoke in Isfahan on Wednesday.

The announcement marked a significant step toward the direct engagement with Iran that President Obama has promised. It came after the United States and five other powers — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — invited Iran to join a new round of talks on its nuclear program. Also on Wednesday, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made unusually conciliatory remarks about the United States. Iran would welcome direct talks with the Obama administration, Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a speech, provided that the shift in American policy was “honest.” The Bush administration had generally shunned the negotiations between other global powers and Iran; an American diplomat last took part in talks over Iran’s nuclear program last July. Since then, Iran has continued its efforts to enrich uranium, which Tehran says is intended for nuclear energy but is regarded by the United States and its allies as a potential part of a nuclear weapons program. The decision is the latest in a series of overtures to Iran, ranging from President Obama’s videotaped New Year’s greeting to the Iranian people to an impromptu face-to-face encounter between an Iranian diplomat and an American presidential envoy, Richard C. Holbrooke. “If Iran accepts, we hope this will be the occasion to seriously engage Iran on how to break the logjam of recent years,” said the State Department’s acting spokesman, Robert A. Wood. “If Iran accepts that invitation, we look forward to direct engagement.” The administration presented its decision to attend the talks “from now on,” Mr. Wood said. Mr. Obama said in a message late last month that he wanted better ties with Iran and offered a new start in relations. Iran and the United States severed diplomatic ties in 1979 after students attacked the American Embassy in Tehran and took its diplomats hostage. “The Iranian people would welcome a hand extended to it if the hand is truly based on honesty,” said Mr. Ahmadinejad in a speech in Isfahan on Wednesday, the Fars news agency reported. “Yet, if it has an honest appearance but is dishonest by nature, the Iranian people would give the same response that it gave to George Bush. Therefore the change should be in action, not in words.” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in another part of his message that Iran favored dialogue as long as it was based on mutual respect. “We favor dialogue with other countries but it has to be based on justice, respect and national security of our and other nations,” he said. Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on state matters, including ties with the United States, rebuffed Mr. Obama’s conciliatory message last month and said that Iran was still waiting to see concrete changes. “As long as the American administration is pursuing the policies of 30 years ago, our people are still the people of 30 years ago,” he said, referring to the hostility of the early days of the revolution. “Our people do not like to be spoken in the language of deception or intimidation.” But he also added: “Of course we do not know the new American president and administration and will respond based on its actions.” Mr. Ahmadinejad’s cautious tone came as a senior judiciary official said that the American-Iranian freelance journalist, Roxana Saberi, who was arrested in early February, was charged with spying. The deputy head of the prosecutor’s office, Hossein Haddad, told ISNA news agency that Ms. Saberi had “accepted the accusation.” “She had been carrying out espionage activities under the cover of a journalist,” he was quoted as saying. “The evidence is in her case and she has accepted the accusations.” Mr. Hadad said that Ms. Saberi has Iranian nationality and she would be treated as an Iranian national. “She has Iranian passport and birth certificate and has entered the country based on those documents. We are unaware of her dual nationality and it will not have any effect on her case in Iran’s judicial system,” he added. Ms. Saberi, 31, came to Iran six years ago and has worked for the BBC and National Public Radio. Her press credentials were revoked in 2006. Authorities first accused her of working illegally without a press card. Her lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi said he had not seen the case yet but expressed hope that he might be able to release her on bail after the judge reviews the case in the next week or so. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that she was very concerned by espionage charges against Ms. Saberi and demanded the journalist’s immediate release, Reuters reported.

Mark Landler reported from Washington, and Nazila Fathi from Tehran.

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Malaysia deputy Najib Razak ‘unfit to govern’

Correspondents in Kuala Lumpur | March 26, 2009

Article from: The Australian
A FORMER minister in Malaysia’s ruling UMNO party has questioned the suitability of Najib Razak to take over the prime ministership because of his alleged links to corruption scandals and a murder case. Radio Australia reported yesterday that Zaid Ibrahim, a former law minister in Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s Government told a Rotary lunch in Kuala Lumpur that Mr Najib, the current deputy, was unfit for the national leadership. Mr Zaid singled out charges of cronyism over the award of military contracts, a recent power grab in Perak state and alleged links to the murder of Mongolian model, Altantuya Shariibuu, who was the lover of a close associate of Mr Najib at the time of her death. The speech caused a sensation. “This is really the high noon of Malaysian politics, you could say,” Razali Ibrahim, the head of UMNO’s Johor youth wing, told Radio Australia. “By going public, by making that speech, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim you may say pulled the pin on the doomsday machine of Malaysian politics.” Opposition politician Gobind Singh was last week banned from parliament for a year after he used the house to call Mr Najib, the Deputy Prime Minister, a murderer. The Sunday Times of London reported that Shariibuu, 28, was shot and then blown up with explosives in 2006 to silence her demands for a share in an arms deal involving three submarines that were sold to the Malaysian government. Two of Mr Najib’s bodyguards have been tried in connection with the murder and are awaiting a verdict. Mr Najib has strongly denied any involvement. Delegates to UNMO’s annual meeting are today expected to anoint Mr Najib as the new UMNO president, and cast their votes for key roles including deputy president and heads of the youth and women’s wings. In a speech to the UNMO assembly late on Tuesday, Mr Najib warned the ruling party it must embark on a radical overhaul to win back public support, or face the end of its half-century grip on power. “What is at stake is nothing less than the very fate of UMNO,” he said. Mr Najib is expected to succeed Mr Badawi shortly after UNMO’s five-day assembly concludes this week. Lim Kit Siang, a leader of the opposition Democratic Action Party, said Mr Najib’s legitimacy was at stake. “For the first time in the country’s history, no one who is going to become the prime minister has been caught with so many questions and inquiries, and this is something that has to be addressed and creates serious problems of a crisis of confidence,” he said. AFP, agencies

Ku Li: Possible for king not to name Najib as PM

Koh Shing Yee, Nash Rahman & Steven Gan | Mar 21, 09 6:40pm
It is possible that Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin may not appoint Najib Abdul Razak as prime minister despite being Umno president, said Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

MCPX

tengku razaleigh ku li interview 190309 04Razaleigh, a veteran Umno leader, pointed to last year’s decision by the king, who is also Terengganu sultan, in refusing to endorse the Umno leadership’s nominee Idris Jusoh as menteri besar for his state. Eventually Umno backed down and the king’s choice, Ahmad Said, became menteri besar. “He (the king) could probably appoint someone other than the man nominated by the party,” said Razaleigh, a Kelantan prince and uncle of Sultan Ismail Petra. Razaleigh was asked by Malaysiakini to comment on former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim who had on Wednesday urged the king not to appoint Najib as PM. Going gets tough for BN Razaleigh also said that Barisan Nasional will face a “tough” fight in the next general elections, expected to be held in three years. “Don’t forget, there are going to be six million new voters, so we’ve been told – two million who missed the vote in the last election and the four million others in the coming years. So you have six million plus who will be testing us.” He said that the ruling coalition will find it difficult to win the April 7 bellwether by-election in Bukit Gantang – a parliamentary seat in Perak that will be a ‘referendum’ on the BN takeover of the state government there. Razaleigh, 71, a former finance minister, was a heartbeat away from becoming prime minister in 1987 after a power struggle within Umno in which he challenged Dr Mahathir Mohamad for party president and lost by a wafer-thin majority of 43 votes. He had since run twice for Umno presidency – in 2004 against Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and more recently against Najib Abdul Razak. But both times he failed to secure the required nominations from Umno divisions to qualify for the contest. Razaleigh ironically said he “cannot see” Najib resorting to repressive measures against his critics when he becomes prime minister. He would prefer Najib not play dirty. “If he wants to improve his image with the people then he has to come clean. You have ways, go to the court or do things that will be accepted by the people – not to use force or power because that will put him in a worse position that he is experiencing now.” The following is the second of a four-part interview conducted at Razaleigh’s palatial home-cum-office in Ampang dubbed as the ‘White House’. Malaysiakini: Zaid made a hard-hitting speech urging the king not the appoint Najib because he is seen to be tainted. What’s your view on that? Razaleigh: That seems to be the talk everywhere. People are not happy with the way things are happening – Perak, here, and because of that, it prompted people like Zaid to say all these things which otherwise would only be whispered in coffee shops and offices. Do you expect the king not to appoint Najib as PM? You can never tell, because you never thought the king would move to appoint a different person to head the government of Terengganu. He is no longer the sultan of Terengganu when he became the Agong, yet because he felt strongly about the situation in his own state, he decided to function also as the ruler of Terengganu. He could probably appoint someone other than the man nominated by the party. Seeing that Najib will be PM, how is he going to be different from Abdullah? What do you expect from a Najib government? You are asking a very unfair question, he is not even PM yet. He is a ‘play safe’ chap from my knowledge of Najib. It is very difficult to say anything much more about him. And because of that, it is very difficult to compare (him with Abdullah) because he hasn’t started (as PM). But he did show his hand somewhat, such as the Perak takeover… The Perak takeover is in a mess. The (second economic) stimulus is also not bearing fruits, it’s not effective. Zaid said he expects a little more repression, a reversal of democratic opening… I normally associate repressive measures with people who are weak. If Najib is as strong a personality as he tends to portray, then he wouldn’t adopt repressive measures. He would adopt repressive measures if there is a ‘war’, you know, not being able to fight back democratically, then he would use all the instruments (of power) in his disposal. He has to do something to bring the party back together again. But whether he could do it or not, that’s another matter. We are in a very unique position today. najib on kuala terengganu by election 060109 03Previously the party was strong, and there may be divisions but because of the strong representation of the party in Parliament and at the state government level, whatever divisive forces taking place within the party did not mar the party’s performance. But Najib, to some extend, is being pushed to the corner. The opposition is getting stronger. We have not seen him being pushed to the corner yet. He is, after all, going to win uncontested as president of Umno, and it’s a sure thing for him to be prime minister because Abdullah is going to let go (of the post) and let him take over. I see no necessity for him to do otherwise other than accept what is coming to him. But do you expect him to impose repressive measures? I cannot see, I cannot see. Most people would say that they expect Najib to do that. Yes, a lot of people say that, but I cannot see. Why? What for? If he assumes power, he has all that power to exercise and there is nothing in the way that will obstruct him. In Parliament, he has the majority; he does not need to do things to stop the opposition from obstructing his action. But he does have an image problem. If people out there continue to throw mud at him, like the Altantuya case, he would have to respond. Well, by not using (state) power. I think he has to come clean with the public. If he wants to improve his image with the people then he has to come clean. You have ways, go to the court or do things that will be accepted by the people – not to use force or power because that will put him in a worse position that he is experiencing now. Will Umno survive the next general election? Tough, very tough. In fact, I’m not so sure we could win in Bukit Gantang. We have a good candidate, but depending on the voter turnout, we don’t know whether we can make it or not. After all, we lost that seat in the general election and we may not be able to recover unless the voters come out, but with what is happening in Perak, and the economy – people are losing their jobs – I think it is going to be very tough for us. What about Bukit Selambau? Even Bukit Selambau, because of the MIC’s position today – it’s not being able to give leadership or direction. Again, I think it is going to be tough. Batang Ai? There is a lot of defection to PKR. I’ve not been there, but I think all three by-elections are going to be tough for us. You’ve mentioned a number of times about the need for reforms in Umno. Do you think the party can really reform itself? It depends on the leader. If the leader genuinely demonstrates that he honestly wants to bring about changes, then I think he could get the support and get the reforms. But if he does not show or demonstrates that he wants reform, then I don’t think he will get that support. If you look at other countries, the ruling party would have to lose power before it would reform itself. I’m not suggesting that we should lose power; I don’t think the Malays are going to see Umno lose power. polling day 080308 voters queingBut on the other hand, we can never really tell, because nobody in power thought we were going to lose that badly on March 8 in 2008. But there you are, we lost – we lost five states and we lost two-thirds majority in Parliament. But this time around, I think the voters may put us to test, and we may lose, or we may not lose very badly, depends on how the leadership shape things. You mean the voters in the next general election? Yes, next general election, because don’t forget that there are going to be six million voters coming in, so we’ve been told – two million who missed the vote in the last election and the four million others in the coming years. So you have six million plus who will be testing us. Umno has always been getting support from the rural areas, do you think in the coming general election they will enjoy the same support? Yes and no, it depends on how well the people find us, whether we have served them well, and of course like I said, even in Bukit Gantang, things are not going to be favourable to the government. So it’s going to be very tough for the government to go around making the voters happy. It’s not going to be easy.

——————————————————————————————————————– Nizar is PAS’ Bkt Gantang candidate

Mar 23, 09 11:06pm
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MCPX

Ousted Perak Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin will be the PAS candidate for the Bukit Gantang by-election on April 7. The announcement was made at about 11pm by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang during a ceramah in Padang Kota, Taiping. Several thousands of PAS supporters had gathered to find out the party’s candidate for the by-election. In naming Nizar as the candidate, the opposition is turning the Bukit Gantang by-election into a referendum on the messy takeover of the Perak state government by Barisan Nasional last month. nizar jamaluddin court 230209 04Nizar, a mechanical engineer, is also the Pasir Panjang state representative. He had just turned 52. He will be facing Barisan Nasional’s Ismail Saffian, 49, the former Bukit Gantang Umno information chief. Nomination day is on March 29. The parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of PAS MP Roslan Shaharum on Feb 9. PAS has picked Nizar from a shortlist of four candidates. The party is confident of retaining the seat, especially with the ongoing political impasse in the state following the BN takeover. Nizar was made the Pakatan Rakyat menteri besar after the opposition coalition took over the state in the last general election in March last year. However his hold on the power lasted less than a year as defections of three Pakatan reps to become BN-friendly independents caused the Pakatan coalition to be swept out of office. Letting the people decide Following the defections, the Perak sultan had granted the state BN the right to form the new state government, which they did on Feb 5. bukit gantang parliamentary seat 090209Nizar however is adamant that he had not been legally dismissed through a vote of no confidence in the state assembly and is maintaining that he is still the menteri besar. He and other Pakatan leaders have continuously urged the sultan to dissolve the state assembly so that the people can decide on who they want to be their political masters. The sultan however is not moved by these calls and the BN is adamant to administer the state despite the uncertainties. Many political commentators have said that the Bukit Gantang by-election will serve as a referendum for the voters to decide if they back Nizar’s Pakatan state government or the new BN rule. st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } “The battle for democracy in Perak and Malaysia is now full joined with Nizar the official standard bearer for Pakatan Rakyat in the by election,” said DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang in an immediate reaction.

——————————————————————————————————————— Najib’s fatal mistake – failure to call assembly meet

Koh Shing Yee, Nash Rahman & Steven Gan | Mar 23, 09 2:03pm
Perak BN made a fatal mistake in the wake of the controversial takeover of the state government by failing to call a state assembly meeting for a vote of confidence in its nominee, Zambry Abdul Kadir, as menteri besar.

MCPX

Umno veteran leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah told Malaysiakini that while Perak Sultan Azlan Shah has the constitutional power to name Zambry as the new MB, the final arbiter is still the state assembly. tengku razaleigh ku li interview 190309 04“Whoever claims he is the menteri besar, he is not MB until he is voted in by the majority in the assembly,” Razaleigh told Malaysiakini in a 60-minute interview last week. “Of course, the sultan appoints him (Zambry), but the minute someone else is voted in by the majority of the (assembly) members, then he becomes the rightful leader of the assembly and the executive of the state under the constitution, and nobody can remove him unless the assembly removes him or he himself resigns.” Because of that, Razaleigh maintained that ousted Pakatan Rakyat leader Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin is still the Perak MB. According to Razaleigh, who is a prince and uncle of the Kelantan sultan, Nizar has not been officially removed by the state assembly. Further complications There has been further complications since the Feb 4 power grab with powerful Perak speaker V Sivakumar suspending Zambry and six of his cabinet members. Even an assembly is called now – which under the state constitution must be held by April – there will be continual quibble over whether the seven BN assemblypersons are entitled to attend the crucial meeting. The Federal Court is to make a decision soon on who is the rightful MB but even this will not resolve the political impasse until the assembly meets. Razaleigh, who will be celebrating his 72nd birthday in two weeks, also told Malaysiakini he had no thought of quitting politics. The following is the last of a four-part interview conducted at Razaleigh’s palatial home-cum-office in Ampang dubbed as the ‘White House’. Malaysiakini: What’s your view on the decision by the Perak sultan to name Zambry as new MB? Razaleigh: I’d like to fall back on the constitution. I think you can’t go wrong with that, whether it’s the sultan or not. Nizar, whom I feel is still the menteri besar, should get a vote of confidence in the state assembly, and he should do it today. And if he gets it, he is still the menteri besar. Whoever else claims he is the menteri besar, he is not MB until he is voted in by the majority in the assembly. Of course, the sultan can appoint him, but the minute someone else is voted in by the majority of the (assembly) members, then he becomes the rightful leader of the assembly and the executive of the state under the constitution, and nobody can remove him unless the assembly removes him or he himself resigns. That is why I maintain Nizar is still the menteri besar because he hasn’t been removed (by the assembly). Why not call an assembly meeting so that we don’t have to squabble about who’s the real MB? I don’t know. (It would be better) to get the endorsement of the assembly (first), and then get the sultan to appoint the new man. That would be my approach. Not see the sultan, swear in somebody and start thinking about the assembly. I don’t think that’s the right procedure. Do you agree with the sultan in not calling for fresh elections in Perak? It is not a question of whether I agree or don’t agree. It is his prerogative. Yes, he does have the prerogative, but what’s your view? My viewpoint is not important. What I’m saying is – the right thing that should have been done is to go to the assembly. So you’re not willing to state whether the sultan had made the right decision? Well, he has his prerogative. He has rejected the dissolution (of the state assembly). I don’t think anyone is questioning his prerogative. They’re questioning whether this is the right decision, not whether the sultan has the right to make that decision. Given the situation where you have 28 seats versus 28, and three independents… I still maintain that they should have gone to the assembly. If I were the leader of Barisan National, I would go back to the assembly, and not drag the sultan in. Eventually they will have to hold the assembly by April. Yes, by April, that will be the test. But why not test it earlier? Even today, as I’ve mentioned just now. If Nizar is confirmed as having the majority, then he continues as the menteri besar. I don’t want to talk about the sultan, because I think he was pressured. He was here… in Kuala Lumpur (during the takeover crisis). He had a heart problem. And he was rushed back. Why do you say he was pressured? Must have [laughs]. Otherwise, why would he have sworn in (the new mennteri besar)? Do you see the logic? My future? I’m here… My future? I’m here… You have tried to contest for the Umno president twice recently, you didn’t even manage to get nominated. I couldn’t have gotten the nomination because I don’t follow the way people wanted me to. I don’t use money – I never do anyway, although some people say I should get use to it and use money. How to you feel about not getting the nominations? Just too bad. Don’t you feel that Umno delegates are so enamoured with money they would not even give you… You’ll be surprised. There were votes, although I didn’t campaign for it. Of course, those people who gave something have got better votes. There was support (in the contest for party president), I didn’t go in blindly.When votes were taken, I missed by 20 votes, 15 votes, 30 votes, you know, out of a hundred over votes. And given this, you’re still not giving up on your struggle? No, that’s not a struggle. I just want to see that the country is at peace. There are so many opportunities in this country for everybody, why should anybody fight? That’s my point, we are a country of young people, very productive people, we are rich, except that we’ve squandered our wealth through corrupt means, through leakages, through wasteful expenditure. When I was the minister, we save that money – our development expenditure was spent with money from our revenue, and I reduced the deficit until there was no more deficit and I controlled the purse very tightly. No minister can spend without getting the approval from the Ministry of Finance, but now, they can even have their own tender. They are able to buy things, but not under my time, I don’t allow that. Everything must be bought through the tender system and proper products are evaluated and proper money spent. Now you see the Auditor-General’s Report, all kind of things happening, there is no proper care, they don’t care about the money, they think it’s easy to get money. Now we’re having difficulties, there’s no money. Any thought of retiring? I’ll retire if I grow old, some people say why I remain okay because I’m active, mentally active… So we will continue to see you fighting… I’m not fighting, I’m offering myself… I’ll continue to offer myself if people think that I’m still useful. I’ll retire when I’m no longer able to move around or think properly. tengku razaleigh ku li interview 190309 08I think nobody should retire… You see all those people in Damansara, those who go to the masjid, they were all former KSN (chief state secretaries), they are all with walking sticks, and they are much younger than me… They are only 60 years old and with walking sticks. I said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ I can still go dancing… So Mahathir is doing the right thing? He’s still very active. Yeah, but he make other people have stomach aches [laughs].

Ku Li: What RM60 bil?

Mar 22, 09 4:52pm
Former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah lamented that only RM15 billion of the recently announced RM60 billion stimulus package goes directly to the people.

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Moreover, he said the RM15 billion is spread over two years instead of being fully utilised this year. “What RM60 billion? It is not RM60 billion, it is RM15 billion (going directly to the people) – RM10 billion this year and RM5 billion next year,” the Umno veteran leader told Malaysiakini. “The allocation for agencies like Khazanah (Nasional) is as much as RM29 billion. The rest are guarantees and tax exemptions, which non-tax paying people are not benefitting from anyway. “What about the small and medium-sized industries? What about the small man doing businesses that employ nearly – or generate jobs – for over five million people?” tengku razaleigh ku li interview 190309 04According to Razaleigh, who served as finance minister for eight years, the second stimulus plan was not nearly enough. “The RM15 billion – or RM60 billion – will not amount to too much. It’s over two years. You don’t know what’s going to happen next year. So why not concentrate everything this year. Say, throw a hundred billion this year. “Of course, the government has no money. So where is the money? Some people have pocketed the money – that’s the trouble.” In a 60-minute interview with Malaysiakini, Razaleigh also sees a continuing role for racially-based political parties such as Umno so long there are inter-ethnic inequalities in Malaysia. The following is the third of a four-part interview conducted at Razaleigh’s palatial home-cum-office in Ampang dubbed as the ‘White House’. Malaysiakini: You’ve written a lot about reforms in Umno. Can you pinpoint three major reforms it really needs? Razaleigh: Number one, you have to learn how to behave, and not go around showing that you’re arrogant and not giving two hoots about other people’s welfare. I think this has to change. tengku razaleigh ku li interview 190309 03Number two, Umno of the old days were for the people. Although it had the interest of the Malays at heart, the Malay members of Umno were for the people. And that is why the component parties that joined Umno – MCA, MIC and Gerakan – looked up to Umno because Umno leaders were not biased. In those days, even during Umno general assemblies, they spoke for the people. Their minds were set that they had to take care of the interest of other Malaysians, whether Indian, Chinese… who were represented by their main allies of MCA, MIC and Gerakan. Thirdly, I think corruption is eating into the system, it’s cancerous and the people abhor it. Islam is against it. The Malays are against it. You can bring ‘buah tangan’ (gifts) when you visit somebody. That is a matter of habit culturally, which is acceptable, but not when you start stealing things which are not yours or cheating. And we must start with the leaders. The leaders must impress upon everybody, particularly their followers that they are against it and you only do it by showing the example that they’re not going to like this or condone such behaviour. The best thing that leaders can do is that they themselves must come clean with the public, and that they are not going to be tainted like with they have been accused of all this while. It is going to be difficult for Umno… Why? Because it is a patronage-based party… It is not a patronage party. I beg to differ. Umno members say that they joined the party because (they want government contracts)… I didn’t join Umno because of that. Many people joined my division not because I give them patronage. I don’t patronise them. But they joined Umno because they think we can look after them, and through our common effort, we’re able to look after the people who are with us, not just the Malays, but also a lot of Chinese voters in my area as well, and we look after them just like (we do with) other voters in the constituency. There is no discrimination. Only recently, people rely on patronage. That’s why a lot more people rally around the leadership. And that’s why the party is broken up, because so-and-so is somebody’s crony or follower. But such things have happened before. There were such things as Tunku Abdul Rahman’s boys, or Tun Abdul Razak’s boys … but they were not there because of patronage. I never joined the party because of patronage. There were many others in my generation who didn’t join the party because of patronage. They believed in the cause that the party was fighting for. But somehow a lot of leaders have deviated from that original cause… These are the new breeds of leaders who exercise patronage because they probably are unable to transmit to their followers the kind of struggle that they have promised – to bring betterment to the lives of the people which we are all fighting for. So that’s why they needed something extra to keep them (followers) together. By giving contracts and things like that? I don’t know, possibly. But it didn’t happen during my time. It was not expected of us to buy their support through contracts, through gifts, through whatever, you know. I was running a bank (Bank Bumiputra). I didn’t simply give bank loans to people because the bank would then be bankrupt [laughs]. I was minister of finance. Everything was on tender. No ministry in my time could give awards. Only the Ministry of Finance could give awards, and these awards were always advertised. And indeed, if we had anything for say, the bumiputeras, then we’d have a separate tender exercise for them. And it is made known to everybody that this limited exercise is confined to bumiputeras. Again, it is by tender, and not by private negotiation or whatever. Is there a future for racialist parties like Umno, MCA and MIC? There is, there is. Why do you say that? Because even in America today, the Jews get together, the Poles get together, even the blacks get together. Did you see what happened during (US President Barack) Obama’s election? The blacks rallied around Obama. I’m not saying a hundred percent of them did, but the majority of them did. But not as a racialist party. It (US) is a developed society. But in a developing society like ours, people still think of themselves in terms of you and me, what my community gets, what your community gets. Even among the Chinese, they talk of Chinese education, Chinese culture, which I think should be preserved. To say that (racialist parties) is not going to be around, I don’t think that’s true. Let’s not kid ourselves. Until we’re really developed and we have equal statuses, and when you talk about hudud…not that I’m against it but I don’t think hudud can be implemented here, not because we want to do away with a law that was handed down by God, but because there’s no equality. There’s still poverty. How can you implement hudud on people who’re stealing if he did it because there was no other means by which he could support himself? I think these racial feelings will be there for a long time…maybe 25 years, maybe 50 years. And it’s very difficult to say that there won’t be anymore racial feelings… The only thing is, if we could only engender a cooperative spirit and comradeship, and if you have a cause to fight for, then we won’t have these feelings that will cloud your thinking. Sports is one, culture is another, which will bind us together for common causes. So there is still a future for parties like Umno… Oh yes, definitely. MCA, DAP… DAP does not call itself the Chinese Party of Malaysia. Well, they have token Malay members. They have token Indian members. But they are (in reality) a Chinese party. I was very frustrated with DAP for some time when I joined them (at functions). Their functions are very, very Chinese [laughs]. What’s your opinion on the teaching of Science and Maths in English? Very simple, I support the policy of doing away with PPSMI (teaching of Science and Maths in English). What do you want? You want English? Or do you want them to be proficient in Maths and Science? These are two different things. As a Malay and as a Malaysian, I’d like to be proficient in my own national language. But if you want me to know English better, then teach me English. Why must you use a foreign language to master Science and Maths? For the well-being of the country, it is essential that everybody should know their (national) language and that they know their roots. tengku razaleigh ku li interview 190309 08The Chinese hang on to their language for a simple reason – they want to know their roots. It’s a rich cultural heritage to be gained. There’s no reason to do away with Chinese, or Tamil, or Hindu. The Malays feel very strongly about this (too), but it doesn’t mean we dismiss English. By all means, we should concentrate on English. I’m for it. But, if you want our people to be proficient and excel in English so that they can master the sciences, by all means, use English, but don’t ignore the national language. I think we want to be competitive in the world, and we want our people to be proficient in not just English. I don’t have children. But if I have children I will make them proficient in Mandarin, in Arabic, in English, whatever… Start them early, at age two or three… Let’s not be prejudiced in this. You were a former finance minister. We have the new finance minister unveiling his RM60 billion stimulus package. Do you think the money will be well spent…? What RM60 billion? It is not RM60 billion, it is RM15 billion (going directly to the people) – RM10 billion this year and RM5 billion next year. The allocation for agencies like Khazanah (Nasional) is as much as RM29 billion. The rest are guarantees and tax exemptions, which non-tax paying people are not benefitting from anyway. What about the small and medium-sized industries? What about the small man doing businesses that employ nearly – or generate jobs – for over five million people? I don’t think it (the stimulus package) is enough. I think if we really, really want to fight this, it should be about jobs, about spending. These are the things that should be at the top of your mind when you think about recession. 60 billion budget stimulus the four aims breakdown 100309How do you protect your country? You protect your country by getting your people to spend more money so that it will create more economic activity that will generate more opportunities for employment for businesses at the lower level, and to take care of their livelihood. We must do things that will generate activity that will support their daily lives. So the RM15 billion – or RM60 billion – will not amount to too much. It’s only over two years. You don’t know what’s going to happen next year. So why not concentrate everything this year. Say, throw a hundred billion this year. Of course, the government has no money. So where is the money? Some people have pocketed the money – that’s the trouble.Despite that Petronas is actually making quite a lot of money… Yeah, so why don’t you use all that money that you can afford to save the people this year? So that you can follow through to next year on a better footing. I would have thought that would be a better strategy. What would you recommend as a former finance minister? Well, I spoke to Asli (Asian Strategic and Leadership Institute). I was invited once, I think about two months ago, and I addressed a gathering there. It was an economic seminar of sorts. I suggested that apart from saving jobs, we should also create jobs, train people and look back on our labour policies. We are having too many foreigners here. We are sending money by the billions to their countries. 60 billion budget stimulus how malaysia will suffer 100309We’re not blaming them for doing their work, and we’re not angry with them. When we brought them to work here, we were aware that they would be remitting money to their homelands. Fine. But we are facing difficult times now. We have to look after our people. But they say our people are very choosy about jobs. What do you expect? You cannot pay our people who have to maintain very high costs of living here with the rates that you pay these legal and illegal immigrants. You must adjust these policies so that our people are better paid. You must get these people (foreign workers) out of the country and make sure that they are no longer around. You must get into mechanisation, you must automate, and you must choose industries that will minimise the use of labour. After all, we’re going into industrialisation. And we must pay our people better. We want to improve the standard of living of our people anyway. If they want to employ locals, they will have to pay more and that will in turn increase the cost of living. Do you think that Malaysians have had it good over the past 10 or 20 years because of foreign workers? Yes and no, because in certain sectors we can still use foreign labour. I’m not saying (we want foreign workers) one hundred percent out. But at least, there must be attraction for our local people to be in employment. You cannot expect to pay them with the meagre salary that you pay foreign workers. They cannot survive. How can you expect to pay for their children’s education? Their rental, transport costs, especially in Kuala Lumpur. They cannot live, they cannot survive. So, I think you have to make adjustments. You have to be realistic. The other thing I spoke about was my pet subject – housing. I would have a national housing policy, because I believe that housing can create a multiplier effect and generate a lot of activity right down to central lighting to beds to transportation vans to what-have-you, and you can upgrade the skills of our people in Malaysia. At the moment, we’re relying on the Bangladeshis. We used to have people who were very good carpenters, but we don’t have that now because they won’t work at the rate you’re paying them now and they can’t survive at that rate. We should bring that back again but we must adjust their take-home pay and induce them to join this industry again. But housing is a thing that I’m sold on. Look at the housing board in Singapore. If I talk about Singapore, the people here hate me [laughs]. They think Singapore shouldn’t be an example, but there are good things done in Singapore that we should follow, that we should emulate – things that we can copy for our country, and improve on them. The next thing that I suggested was the oil and gas hub which I spoke about in Parliament and two other seminars. It has fallen on deaf ears but Singapore is catching on (the idea). They’re doing it and spending money on it. They don’t have a drop of oil, but they’re going ahead to become the oil and gas centre of Southeast Asia. I think we’re in a better place. We have friends in the Middle East. We have consumers like China, India…they’re hungry for energy for the future. I think we can be a better place to take care of people who want to store their oil and gas and at the same time, supply to consumers like China, Japan, India…they need this for many, many more years. And we have befriended the Middle East producers: Iran – which is under sanction today – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait…these are our age-old friends. We have been trading with them, and I know them personally, and leaders like Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) know them. We can ask them to come here and tell them that it’s safe to come here, (we are) not under threat of being bombed or whatever. And I even told John (Pang, Razaleigh’s aide) that we can even park any number of tankers in the South China Sea near Labuan. And we don’t have to worry about piracy… No, not like Somalia (laughs). We have a big expanse of sea. They (the tankers) can park there.

Khalid: Sultan in favour of Selangor controlling its water resources
Ramah Ghazali | Mar 22, 09 1:09pm
Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim revealed that the state ruler, Sultan Sharifuddin Idris Shah has thrown his weight behind the Pakatan-led government in reclaiming water management in the state.

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khalid ibrahim selangor waterRevealing this during his speech at Pakatan’s first anniversary celebration in Stadium Malawati, Shah Alam last night, Khalid said that he “had an audience with the sultan and he advised me to give back the water assets to the people”. “And I agreed with him. This is one of my responsibilities as an executive councillor member and this is my promise that I should keep. “Whenever we drink the water, we should remember where we get it from. And it should be brought back to the people of Selangor,” said Khalid to a cheering crowd of 4,000 people. On the same note, he added, this has to be done in accordance with RM50 billion stimulus package that was announced by the state government previously. One of the package breakdowns is to “upgrade and replace water assets following the assets takeover by Pengurusan Aset Air Berhad (PAAB)”. “We must give back what belongs to the people. This is not politics…but what the Selangor people own is RM9 billion worth of assets while the water concessionaires only own RM5 billion. Khalid added that if the state manages all of the water assets, we would not face any hike in water tariffs and the people can still enjoy the 20 cubic metres of free water. Span threw a spanner into negotiations Initially, the Selangor government had offered RM5.184 billion to Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd, a 70 per cent shareholder of Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) and Syarikat Pengeluar Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash). In total, Selangor was offering RM5.7 billion to take over the complete assets of Selangor’s four concessionaires Puncak Niaga, Syabas, Splash and Konsortium Abass Sdn Bhd (Abass). However, a couple of days before the concessionaires were due to respond, the water restructuring exercise regulatory body, National Water Service Commission (Span) announced that the federal government would directly negotiate with the water concessionaires to wrap up the deal. water paipsSeveral reports have indicated that the federal government, through the Span-owned PAAB, was offering RM9 billion to the four concessionaires. The Selangor government has since accused the federal government of reneging its Jan 18, 2008, commitment to allow the state to handle water restructuring on its own. Although Selangor was given the green light to lead the talks to nationalise the state’s water assets, the federal government’s intervention to scrap the state government offer from the negotiations resulted in the concessionaires rejecting Selangor’s first offer. Various non-governmental groups, seeing red over the exclusion of the state in talks, have voiced their suspicions that the federal government and the Energy, Water and Communication Ministry were favouring the concessionaires rather than the well-being of the people.

Fairus resigns as Penang DCM

Rahmah Ghazali | Mar 21, 09 1:46pm
Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin has resigned as Penang Deputy Chief Minister (1), revealed Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today.

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According to Lim, Fairus’ resignation would take effect from April 8, but he would remain as Penanti state assemblyperson. mohammad fairus penang deputy cm deny resign 160708 01Fairus has also resigned as the state Entrepreneurial, Cooperative Development, Information and Community Relations Committee chairperson. Lim said he accepted Fairus’ resignation but declined to state the latter’s reasons for stepping down. However contacted later in the day via SMS, Fairus said the resignation came following his decision to “further his studies”. “Sebabnya adalah untuk melanjutkan pelajaran, (because I wish to go for further studies),” read his SMS sent to Penang Malaysiakini correspondent Low Chia Ming. However, Fairus did not elaborate as to what and when he would like to further his studies. anwar ibrahim 290408Later in the afternoon, Pakatan leader Anwar Ibrahim told a press conference in Subang that Fairus resigned for the same reason. “He has expressed his desire to go for further studies,” said Anwar. Fairus, 33, was among the youngest to hold such a high post in Penang history. But his “attitude problem” as alleged by his former officers had put him in a tight spot for the past many months. He had denied this, saying that many were jealous of him getting such a position at an early age. Fairus, a father of five, holds a degree in Political Science and International Relations from Universiti Islam Antarabangsa and Syariah Studies Certificate from Universiti Malaya. He was also said to hold a Masters in Strategic and Defence Studies and a MBA in Strategic Management, from a university in United Kingdom. Fairus’ resignation comes as no surprise as there had been intense speculations that he would quit due to under-performance and purported graft involvement. ‘His detractors gave him pressure’ But to Selangor PKR Youth leader Amiruddin Shaari, Fairus’ resignation is expected as many “grassroots have lodged complaints about him to top PKR leaders”. “His detractors did add pressure on his resignation and the party needed time to review the complaints againts him. “This was also meant to be fair to Fairus (to improve himself), that is why the party took time to make this decision,” he said, adding that Fairus was not the only one being reviewed but other executive councillors go through the same process. Amiruddin also revealed that there was “no pressure from the party” that prompted Fairus to resign because he had made the decision through “his own will”. “We are in a big family in PKR. After discussing with him, the decision was made in order to strengthen Pakatan and the state government’s performance,” he said. Amiruddin, who is Batu Cave state rep, also said that the resignation is part of a “good, normal process to enable the party to find better leaders”. “The party might also replace him with a more senior leader and it could be Abdul Malik Abdul Kassim,” he added. abdul malik abul kassimAbdul Malik, an assemblyperson for Batu Maung, took over Mohammad Fairus’ religious affairs portfolio earlier this month and is perceived to be the ‘best’ candidate to replace Fairus. To Penang PKR chief, Zaharain Hashim, he was “shocked” upon the resignation which he just learnt about it this morning despite he, Fairus and Anwar had a discussion about it. “All I know is that both of us had a discussion with Anwar. But I am shocked to learn that he had actually resigned,” said the Bayan Baru MP when contacted. With the latest resignation, the Penang government still has one deputy left, P Ramasamy, who is also Batu Kawan MP. Ramasamy is from the DAP. Days of intense speculation Since the removal of the portfolio, speculations had been rife that Fairus would be asked to quit his post but Lim denied this. He also said that Fairus had denied it and “didn’t know where the story came from”. lim guan eng and penang deputy cm p ramasamy and mohd fairus khairuddin 120308However, the situation got more intense when Lim revealed that he approved his deputy’s leave application following a request from Anwar. Fairus had been dogged by controversy from the day he was appointed to the second top post in the state. Two main complaints on Fairus were on his apparent ‘disappearance’ from his state constituency Penanti and his lack of interest as the Penang Football Association president. Anwar had openly rebuked Fairus during the Permatang Pauh by-election last August for not visiting Penanti regularly.

——————————————————————————————— Bkt Selambau: New face Manikumar is PKR candidate Mar 20, 09 10:56am Pakatan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim today announced new face S Manikumar as the candidate for the Bukit Selambau by-election on April 7. Anwar made the announcement this morning at the PKR operation centre in Sungai Lalang at Bukit Selambau, in front of a crowd numbering about 500. Also present were Kedah Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak and several PKR leaders, including Padang Serai MP N Gobalakrishnan, Kapar MP S Manikavasagam and PKR’s Kedah state exco member Tan Wei Shu. A total newcomer to politics, Manikumar, 35, is a surprise candidate for the crucial by-election. Manikumar, a business degree holder from UUM, is a car dealer in Sungai Pasir, Padang Temesu, located within Bukit Selambau. He is also a resident of Bukit Selambau. He will face Barisan Nasional’s S Ganesan, who is from MIC, and a number of independents in the by-election. It is not clear how many independents will eventually be contesting the seat with more than seven having indicated their intention to vie for the state constitutency. One of them will be local boy R Loganathan who told Malaysiakini that he had no intentions of pulling out at the last minute. “I have paid my deposit to the Election Commission and I fully intent to fight this contest,” said the contractor who has no political experience. He added that he was contesting in the by-election with the intention of helping the Indian community in the constituency. Indians make about 30 percent of the total number of voters. Apart from Loganathan, three other independents are believed to have paid their deposits to the Election Commission. The seat fell vacant following the sudden resignation of V Arumugam, citing pressure from BN for him to defect to the ruling coalition. Arumugam won the seat as an independent and subsequently joined PKR. It is learnt that Manikumar was an Arumugam-backed candidate for the by-election. Malaysiakini reported on Wednesday that Manikumar would PKR’s candidate for the by-election. Party members unhappy with candidate Anwar’s announcement was however greeted by howls of protest from some PKR supporters. Eyewitnesses told Malaysiakini that these supporters – numbering about 20 – were from the Merbok division, which had previously backed its division committee member, K Masilamani. “They are unhappy with Manikumar’s nomination as he is an unknown and was not a local born but someone who was born in Alor Star,” said a local PKR leader. Before the announcement today, Masilamani, a Sungai Petani municipal councillor, was among three frontrunners to be the party’s candidate. The other two were Sungai Petani PKR division member Dr R Krishnamoorthy and the division’s committee member S Sritharan. Anwar had to step in diffuse the situation and held talks with several local Indian leaders, including Masilamani, urging them to ask their supporters to cool down. Soon after the brief meeting which lasted less than 30 minutes, these local leaders came out and urged their supporters – now numbering about 100 – to disperse, which they did. Meanwhile, when contacted, Krishnamoorthy expressed surprise with the party’s choice of candidate. However he said that he would support Manikumar. “I have no objections although I was taken by surprise. I will remain loyal to the party and support Manikumar. I think the voters will accept him,” he said. [More to follow] ——————————————————————-

Tensions rise between No 1, No 2 camps
Mar 19, 09 11:05am
Prime Minister-to-be Najib Abdul Razak today took pains to deny there was selective persecution of Umno deputy president hopeful Mohd Ali Rustam, who reportedly has the backing of the outgoing premier.

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najib deneis allegations of buying state assembly person 260209 01Najib stressed that Mohd Ali was not made a scapegoat in the ruling party’s fight against money politics where the deputy president candidate was barred by the powerful Umno disciplinary committee from contesting next week’s polls. At the same time, another deputy president candidate Muhyiddin Yassin dismissed the accusation that he was involved in a conspiracy to stop Mohd Ali from participating in the contest. Muhyiddin appears to have received the nod from Najib for the much-coveted deputy post. Meanwhile, former premier Dr Mahathir Mahathir – a major critic of PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – said the party should ignore Mohd Ali’s appeal against the disciplinary committee’s decision. umno general assembly 240904 muhyiddin and rustam congratulating one anotherHe said any reversal of the decision will seriously impact the image and credibility of the party. Mohd Ali’s fate rests on the final supreme council meeting before the party’s three-day general assembly which is to kick off on March 24. The supreme council can make a decision not to endorse the disciplinary committee’s decision to bar Mohd Ali from the polls. A number of key Abdullah loyalists have been investigated for vote-buying by the disciplinary committee and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. [More to follow]

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Ali Rustam barred from contesting
Mar 17, 09 11:29am
Umno deputy president aspirant Mohd Ali Rustam has been barred from contesting in the upcoming party polls.

MCPX

umno disciplinary committee decision ali rustam khairy toyo 170309The decision was revealed by the party’s disciplinary committee chairperson Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen Tengku Ismail at a special press conference at the Umno headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Ahmad Rithauddeen said Mohd Ali was disqualified from running for the post after three of his aides were found guilty of vote-buying. “It is presumption of guilt, as the principle is that he is liable for the wrongdoing of his agents,” the disciplinary head told a press conference. [See chart below] Mohd Ali’s party membership however was not suspended. The powerful committee also issued a stern warning to Khairy Jamaluddin, who is standing for Umno Youth chief. It, however, cleared another candidate, former Selangor menteri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, of any wrongdoing. In view of Mohd Ali being barred, the contest for the No 2 slot will see a straight fight between favourite International Trade and Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Rural Development Minister Muhammad Muhd Taib. State Youth chief suspended umno code of ethics assumption of third party faults 170309Over the past weeks, speculation has been rife that the Malacca chief minister’s political ambitions would be dashed over his alleged involvement in money politics. However, certain quarters claimed that Mohd Ali has been deliberately targeted since he was seen as being able to stage an upset. During the press conference, Ahmad Rithauddeen announced the committee’s investigations involving 29 party members. According to him, 10 have been suspended for three years effective March 12 and four were issued with a warning. Among those suspended is a state Umno Youth chief – Japlin Akim from Sabah. Ali’s political secretary suspended According to Ahmad Rithauddeen, action was taken against Mohd Ali as under the Umno code of ethics, he was liable for the acts of his agents. He said that Mohd Ali’s political secretary Saadun Basirun and two other agents were found guilty of being involved in vote buying. No other details were however revealed. Saadun and the other two Mohd Ali’s agents were suspended from the party for three years. As for Khairy, the Umno Youth chief contestant was also found liable for his agent’s misbehaviour. However, since the agent’s offence was lesser in gravity than Saadun, Khairy was let off with just a warning. It was also learnt that there was no obvious link between Khairy and his so-called agent. Khir meanwhile was also investigated for alleged money politics but he was cleared on any wrongdoing by the committee, added Ahmad Rithauddeen. He revealed that Mohd Ali was interviewed regarding the matter during the course of the investigation. The disciplinary committee chief mentioned that Mohd Ali can appeal but refused to divulge more information on the timeframe for such an appeal. He also declined to answer whether a decision could be made before next week’s general assembly should Mohd Ali made an appeal now. Both cases involved different factors When asked why Khairy and Mohd Ali have committed the same offence but the action taken was markly different, Rithauddeen said that both cases involved different factors. He gave an example of two homicide cases – if one stabs a victim once in one case compared to another case where one stabs a victim 20 times, the sentence for both murderers would be different. However, he refused to reveal who Khairy’s agent or agents were and the offences committed by them. Rithauddeen also refused to answer questions posted to him regarding Tourism Minister Azalina Othman’s case as compared to the above cases. “Azalina’s case involved criminal cases. If there is a crime, it is up to the police to investigate…” Khairy: I respect the committee’s decision Fifteen people showed their support later in front of the entrance of the PWTC building, shouting slogans such as “Long live Datuk Ali!” and “Only Datuk Ali can bring reform to Umno!” However, it only lasted for about five minutes under the watchful eyes of the police. umno disciplinary committee ali rustam supporters protest at pwtc 170309 amran ahmadOne of the supporters, Amram Ahmad (pic) said that it was unfair when two leaders who committed the same offence were not given equal punishment. In an immediate reaction, Khairy said that he respected the decision of the committee although he claimed he was “innocent”. “The important thing is that I have been just warned and I am allowed to contest. I’ll still going to contest,” he told Malaysiakini when contacted. khairy jamaluddinHe said that there was an agenda to stop him from contesting for the Umno Youth chief post. “I know there is an agenda but I don’t know by whom and why they are doing this. I am maintaining my innocence,” he added. He added that he had presented his case to the committee and fully respected the decision. Click here for offenders’ list l 4 pages VIDEO l 5 mins

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Ipoh council demolishes ‘Pokok Demokrasi’ plaque
Mar 15, 09 5:24pm
<!–By: Ramjit–> In a move that will very likely anger the Pakatan Rakyat assemblypersons, the Ipoh City Council this morning demolished the marble plaque that was put up to commemorate the controversial state assembly emergency sitting on March 3. perak democracy tree plague demolished 150309  processThe Perak Local Government Committee chairman Mah Hang Soon told Bernama that the marble slab structure was removed as it contravened the Road, Drainage and Building Act 1974 and it was deemed an obstruction in a public area. “I do not treat this as a special case as appropriate actions will be taken according to the laws if any structure is erected in the capital without the council’s permission,” he said when commenting on the demolition of the plaque. The Ipoh council ordered the demolition of the plaque under a raintree dubbed as the “Tree of Democracy” by Pakatan on Friday by pasting a notice on the raintree. It gave the owner of the plaque beneath the raintree, which was unveiled by former Perak menteri besar Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin near the state secretariat on March 8, 24 hours to demolish it. Plaque vandalised two days ago On Friday, vandals had smashed the plaque and poured road tar over it to deface the inscriptions. Also removed today are the signposts of five other saplings which were planted a week ago. In a ceremony last weekend, the five new trees of the same species, representing Justice, Integrity, Welfare, Transparency and Trustworthiness, were planted near the ‘democracy three’ by Pakatan Rakyat leaders. perak tree of democracy - the plaqueThe tree-planting ceremony was attended by DAP stalwart and Ipoh Timur assemblyperson Lim Kit Siang, ousted Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin, state assembly speaker V Sivakumar, Perak DAP chief Ngeh Koo Ham and other Perak PR state assemblypersons. “Just as Umno has killed the constitution of democracy, we hope that these trees will remind us that we are capable of breathing new life into it,” said Nizar during the ceremony.

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Top leader endorses Bawin as PKR choice
Joe Fernandez | Mar 15, 09 3:20pm
PKR advisor Anwar Ibrahim’s special representative for Sarawak Jeffrey Kitingan is in favour of Nicholas Bawin Anggat, the Lubuk Antu division chairman, to take on the BN in Batang Ai.“I have studied the matter in great detail and consulted with people on the ground,” said Kitingan, who is also PKR vice-president and the party’s deputy chief in Sabah.However, Kitingan is leaving the final decision to his party boss, Anwar Ibrahim.Anwar heads PKR in both Sabah and Sarawak which have since emerged as the party’s frontline states in the struggle to seize the reins of power in Putrajaya. nicholas bawin pkr candidate for batang ai state seat 270209 04Bawin (left) himself claimed that he knows who will be the candidate for Batang Ai but is keeping mum. “Let the PKR headquarters make the announcement at a suitable time,” he said. Kitingan stressed that Bawin, despite all the negative reports on him, will be the best man to challenge Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, 49, selected yesterday by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud as the BN candidate for the by-election. “Bawin may not have won in his previous outings but there are reasons for this including shortage of funds, the logistics involved and electoral fraud,” said Kitingan. “Bawin is hard-working, he knows the territory well and has been increasingly getting more and more support in Batang Ai over the years. He almost beat the late Dublin (Unting) in the last state election. Only the lack of campaign funds prevented him from clinching victory.” Kitingan: Bawin’s rival Jawah can wait Former Lubuk Antu MP Jawah Gerang, also tipped to stand in Batang Ai by his supporters in PKR, will most probably be fielded in the nearby Engkilili seat in the next state election, according to Kitingan. “Between the two of them, Bawin and Jawah, the latter can wait.” batang ai state seat past results 110309He denies that Bawin has the edge in the party’s selection process because of Jawah’s close links with former PRS deputy president Sng Chee Hwa, who was reportedly instrumental in efforts to wreck his former party and also Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) – where he was senior vice-president, which has since been deregistered. This is a view shared by former Baram MP Harrison Ngau Laing, 49, who joined PKR last December after a two-year courtship. “Even Leo Moggie, when he was PBDS president, warned everybody against Sng,” disclosed Laing. Laing, an ex-ISA detainee, is also active in the environmental movement in Sarawak, and in his words, “needs permission to leave the country as I am in List P – a security watchlist – of the Immigration Department.” Another point against Jawah’s candidacy in Batang Ai is BN’s Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) leader James Masing’s oft-repeated charges that the PKR man is responsible for the still unresolved problem of compensation to those affected by the building of the Batang Ai dam. Masing is not immune either since he has been linked with problems over compensation issues in Bakun, which is expected to feature in the Batang Ai campaign as well, and unhappiness over the state government’s approach to the takeover of NCR (native customary rights) land, among others. “We will be sending some native ex-landowners to Batang Ai to give their personal testimonials on how big business and the state government work together to seize NCR land for themselves,” warned Laing. However, PRS supreme council member Tedewin Ngumbang Datu, who moves closely with Sarawak PKR leaders and members, begs to differ with Kitingan. He thinks PKR is likely to field Jawah. “The ex-MP will be seen as the ‘perfect opponent’ for all reasons peculiar to Batang Ai where relations, past liaison, family ties, pedigree, etc, will be the main consideration,” reiterated Ngumbang, seen by his own party leadership as a fence-sitter, despite open professions of his loyalty to Masing. PRS names Musen as BN candidate Ngumbang also hints at Jawah’s strong links with Sng, who has reportedly been lobbying Anwar for the former MP’s candidacy in Batang Ai. Both Sng and Jawah left PRS together although Sng’s son, Larry, remains in Taib’s cabinet as a partyless assistant minister and claims to be “the real president of PRS”. Larry is married to the only daughter of construction magnate, Ting Pek King, who is closely connected with the Taib family and newly-appointed senator and dark horse in the power game, Effendi Norwawi. One point in favour of the opposition is that the Sarawak BN is divided among themselves on the Batang Ai candidacy with PBB (Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu) finding itself isolated on the issue and at loggerheads with the other three BN component parties – PRS, SPDP (Sarawak People’s Democratic Party) and Supp (Sarawak United People’s Party), which apparently took a rare united stand against oft-repeated charges of “PBB bullying”. Mussen was nominated by PRS as the sole candidate by party chief Masing who, contrary to earlier reports, reportedly refused to re-submit a revised list with more than one name as demanded by Taib. The ailing chief minister, in a huff, refused to announce the name at a press conference and stalked out after reminding Masing starkly that BN chief and outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had yet to endorse his candidate. james masingMasing (right), undeterred by Taib’s reminder, proceeded to announce at a delayed press conference that Mussen was the BN candidate for Batang Ai. Abdullah disclosed last night on national TV that he had yet to receive any recommendation for Batang Ai and complained that he – not Masing or Taib – was supposed to make the official announcement on the candidate. This is believed to be the first time that Masing has crossed swords with Taib in public on an important party matter and suggests that the chief minister may be finally losing his grip on the Sarawak situation as the economy takes a worst than expected tumble in the face of government inaction and a continued state of denial. “I think Mussen is the best candidate to win the by-election,” a confident Masing told reporters after the State BN supreme council meeting at the PBB headquarters yesterday. “He is a well-educated, hardworking and helpful person. He is also a humble man.” Masing added the party had chosen Mussen, an engineer with the state Agriculture Department, from among several potential candidates. Apparently, the late father of the aspiring BN candidate was a very influential headman in Engkilili, the state seat next to Batang Ai, both in the Lubuk Antu parliamentary constituency. Mussen is not a member of PRS, only a sympathiser, and is expected to join the party after resigning from the state government next week. PM to make official announcement Meanwhile, it is learnt from reliable PBB sources that Taib will be forwarding a name, perhaps names, to Abdullah for his consideration and the official announcement is likely to be made tomorrow by the outgoing prime minister. abdullah visits taib mahmud 110206The fear among PRS leaders is that Taib’s recommendation to Abdullah will give Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Numpang “a golden last chance” to push his idea that PBB should “loan” a candidate to PRS despite such moves compromising and circumventing the of-cited and time-honoured BN concept of power-sharing. Insiders say that Jabu sat sullen-faced, saying very little, during the State BN supreme council meeting, reportedly prompting Taib to remark: “Fred, manah meeting sehari tu nadai maioh jaku. (Fred, it is good to have a meeting today with little discussions).” The name often mentioned by Jabu is Lubuk Antu district officer Nelson Mujah Giri, a brother of federal minister and senior PBB vice-president Douglas Uggah. The idea is to ask Mujah “to join PRS” and then name him as the candidate for Batang Ai for the BN. Mujah, an Iban from Betong, has since been appointed the returning officer for Batang Ai. Jabu has “bulldozed” through his “loan” candidates in the past to other BN component parties despite charges of “PBB bullying”. Lubuk Antu MP William Nyallu and Sri Aman MP Mesir Kujat, both from PBB, are “on loan” to PRS. Should a candidate other than Mussen be announced by Abdullah in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow, the state BN machinery will be off to a rocky start in Batang Ai. However, PBB members and leaders in the area are confident of the coalition clinching victory.

———————————————————————————————– EPF dividend for 2008 a mere 4.5%? M Krishnamoorthy | Mar 14, 09 5:06pm It’s bad news for Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors – the dividend is expected to be as low as 4.5% for 2008. MCPX And this is what unionists are telling their members to expect, claiming that their source is reliable.. They say it is too low despite the fund doing well for the first nine months of 2008 as announced in its third quarter results last year. j solomonNational Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) secretary general J Solomon said employees were looking forward to better dividends because the fund claimed that it had prudently invested in long-term securities. “As a long-term player in the local market, coupled with our ability to leverage on the large size of our funds through diversification, the fund should be able to withstand the economic challenges. “The fund should share its profits through increased dividends with the workers because the economic slowdown has made thousands unemployed. “It is a lame excuse to state that the global economic slowdown has reduced the profits of the fund,” Solomon said quoting reliable sources about the 4.5%. mtucMalaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) executive council member A Sivananthan who was reliably informed that the dividend would be 4.5%, said EPF should change its investment advisers because the dividends were always half that of Permodalan Nasional Berhad’s (PNB) dividends. “I cannot understand why EPF‘s dividends have always been so much lesser than PNB’s. “It’s time the government give preferential shares or pink forms to EPF so that Malaysians could benefit. Infact, there are more Bumiputera contributors in EPF than in PNB,” he added. Complaints from pensioners Meanwhile, stock market analysts forecast that the dividend for 2008 will be lower and range between 4.5% and 5%. The dividends which will benefit about 10 million EPF contributors has still not been announced. Last year, Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop, announced dividend rate of 5.8 % on Jan 22. Pensioners have complained of the delay by writing to the media. They urged the government to announce the dividends soon as they depend on it for an income. Following the announcement of the dividends last year, EPF chairperson Samsudin Osman said, “The buoyant stock market in 2007 was consequential to the higher dividend declared for the year, as was the efficient and effective management of the EPF funds.” The rate declared for 2007 marks the fifth consecutive year that the EPF has increased its dividend rate. In 2006, the dividend was 5.15%. However, this year’s dividend according to stock market analysts would be reduced by about one per cent. In December last year, EPF chief executive officer Azlan Zainol said the outlook in the fourth quarter (2008) was likely to reflect the full-scale impact of the global meltdown. In December, EPF reported an unaudited investment income of RM2.06 billion during the third quarter of 2008. This positive income was predominantly driven by Malaysian Government Securities (MGS) and Loans and Bonds, both of which posted higher returns compared to the second quarter (2008). Now, stock market analysts are stating the weak stocks and global performance of EPF investments in the fourth quarter of 2008 is likely to reduce its dividend rate. In 2008, equities were the biggest contributor of the EPF’s earnings at RM6.04 billion, up 81 per cent from RM3.33 billion in the previous year. Nevertheless, EPF has continued to invest most of its funds in more secure fixed income instruments, in line with its prudent strategy to ensure members’ savings are well protected in the longer period. ——————————————————————-

Sapp: Stimulus package unfair to Sabah
Tony Thien | Mar 14, 09 12:05pm
Sapp president Yong Teck Lee has said his party finds it most amusing that Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman is talking about asking for more funds only after the tabling of the RM60 billion second economic stimulus package in Parliament.

Sapp is an ex-component party of the Barisan Nasional which rules the state. yong teck lee and sapp“Each time a federal budget has been tabled, the state BN leaders automatically and loyally heaped praises on the finance minister of the day without actually seeing whether the budget provisions are fair to Sabah and the people,” Yong said in a statement today. The party is monitoring the progress of the second stimulus package to make sure that Sabah is not cheated, the former chief minister said. For instance, out of the RM60 billion, only RM1.2 billion is allocated for infrastructure in Sabah and Sarawak, Yong said, adding that “if Sabah and Sarawak share equally, then Sabah gets only RM600 million in the next two years.” This amount represents only one percent of the RM60 billion additional allocation, which the Sapp leader said is an insult to the people of Sabah. “It is yet to be seen how the billions will benefit Sabah and the people.” Scrap the discrimination immediately For instance, the RM5000 discount given to car owners who exchange their old cars for Proton and Perodua under the auto-scrapping scheme is applicable only in Peninsula Malaysia,” according to Yong. “Sabah and Sarawak are excluded from this scheme. We demand that this discrimination against Proton and Perodua car buyers in the Borneo states be scrapped immediately,” Yong added. proton and perodua mergerHe said this form of discrimination is an added insult to injury because Proton and Perodua cars sold in Sabah are already more expensive by RM1900 to RM2,200 per unit than those sold in Peninsular Malaysia. He asked: “Why should Proton owners in Sabah continue to subsidise Proton owners in Peninsular Malaysia?” Yong said the RM60 billion allocation should also have been used to stimulate the Sabah economy by reducing the high freight charges caused by the artificial cabotage policy imposed by the federal government to protect shipping companies. The cabotage policy, he added, has caused prices of imported goods to be much higher than necessary. “Since the federal government wants to protect ship owners at the expense of overall economy, then the federal government should be fair and subsidise freight charges to Sabah,” the Sapp leader said. Subsidise transportation too If the federal government can subsidise KL road users to the tune of RM287 million at the North-South Expressway, Sprint Highway, Ampang Elevated Highway, Sungei Besi Highway and New Pantai Expressway, why can’t the government practice fairness in subsidising Sabah’s higher costs of living caused by the cabotage policy? Why subsidise KL highway companies and not shipping companies? Yong also wanted to know. In the interior areas, where the people are the poorest, food and other necessities cost much more due to transportation, he said, adding that the rural economy needs stimulation by way of subsidies in transportation. He said his party had spoken against the cooking oil subsidy that mostly Sabah oil palm producers have had to subsidise other Malaysian consumers to the tune of RM700 million from 2007 to 2008. “Both Sabah and Sarawak together have also been subsidising the Bernas rice monopoly at RM400 million per annum for more than 10 years.” This was stopped only in June last year after Sapp protested in public. rice paddy padi beras sacks“If the federal government had used the funds to promote local padi planting, then we would have achieved self-sufficiency in padi production. Instead, we are subsidising an Umno-controlled Bernas monopoly to import rice,” the former chief minister said. Yong said consumers in Sabah have been bearing the higher costs of products such MAS air fares, newsprint, electricity tariffs and all types of imported goods. Such man-made policies have dragged down Sabah’s economic performance for decades to the extent that Sabah is now more and more dependant on federal charity. Rural people and some east coast towns also cannot receive RTM1, RTM2, TV3 and NTV7. Many districts need funds Hence, the few people who can afford, have to use their meagre income to pay for media and news via Astro, while the poor are denied their right to information, he said. He called on the government to build television transmission towers in these rural areas without delay. “Sapp is also disappointed that none of the RM60 billion is meant for a general hospital in Kota Kinabalu city or an elevated railway to solve the problems caused by the Petagas railway line that has cut off thousands of people from the main Petagas road.” Yong said many districts in Sabah are crying out for desperately needed funds such as the Sandakan electric power generation plant, the Tawau port and barter trade centre. The people of Lahad Datu are not impressed by the new KL low-cost airport costing RM2 billion and the 50 percent rebate on airport landing charges amounting to more than RM100 million. “This is because in the 9th Malaysia Plan, the Lahad Datu Airport project was shelved. The Kota Kinabalu/Lahad Datu MAS fare is one of the highest per mile in the world.” Yong said the party considers the second stimulus package as being unfair to Sabah and does not help to stimulate the Sabah economy.

Nizar vs Zambry: Apex court to hear questions on March 20

Hafiz Yatim | Mar 13, 09 6:34pm
<!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–> <!–[if gte mso 10]> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} <![endif]–> The Federal Court will hear the judicial review application by ousted Menteri Besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin against Barisan Nasional’s Zambry Abdul Kadir next Friday (March 20) to determine the legitimate Perak state chief.Lawyer Leong Cheok Keng representing Nizar said he had just got the dates from the Federal Court registry today.The case is scheduled to hear questions to determine the legitimacy of the menteri besar. The four questions were posed by the Attorney General Chambers requiring an interpretation of the Perak constitution. nizar jamaluddin dr zambry abdul kadir perakLawyers representing Nizar decided not to pose questions in the last High Court sitting on March 10, as they felt their leave application should have been heard first at the High Court and not for the issues to be transferred directly to the apex court. Leong said he would file an appeal on Monday, over the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers division) Justice Lau Bee Lan’s decision on referring the matter to the Federal Court. Lau ruled there was a constitutional issue in question, especially on the interpretation of Article 16(6) of the Perak constitution. She said she agreed with the senior federal counsel that the interpretation of Section 84 of the Courts of Judicature Act does not only refer to the Federal Constitution but also the Perak state constitution. Justice Lau also agreed that according to Article 63 of the Perak constitution, matters pertaining to the interpretation of articles could be referred to the Federal Court, and the court could allow a stay of the proceedings. “Hence, for a speedy and economical decision, the court decides to transfer the case directly to the Federal Court. “The court also orders a stay of all proceedings and that the court will adjourn for a while for counsel to formulate questions to be referred to the apex court,” said Justice Lau in her ruling then. Nizar’s application In the suit filed on Feb 13, Nizar, among others, is seeking a declaration that he is the rightful Perak menteri besar. He is also seeking an interpretation of Article 16(6) of the Perak constitution on whether the menteri besar’s post can be vacated when:

  • The menteri besar had advised the ruler on dissolution of the state legislative assembly;
  • There was no dissolution of the assembly;
  • There was no motion of confidence against the menteri besar in the state legislative assembly; and
  • The menteri besar did not resign.

In his application, Nizar said Zambry should cite the authority that allowed him to legitimately become the menteri besar. Nizar is also seeking a declaration that Zambry has no right to be menteri besar at any material time plus an injunction to prevent him or his agents from continuing his task and role as the menteri besar.

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Motion filed to suspend Gobind for one year
Mar 13, 09 6:17pm
Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–> <!–[if gte mso 10]> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} <![endif]–> The government has submitted a motion at the Parliament seeking for a 12-month suspension of Puchong member of parliament Gobind Singh.The motion, submitted by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz, will be debated and voted when the Parliament resumes its sitting on Monday.Nazri would be tabling the motion at 11.30am and the House would be open for debates before a vote is taken. 12th malaysia parliament king officiate 290408 gobindAccording to the motion, the severe action against Gobind is sought over his unparliamentary conduct last Thursday. The motion said that Gobind had implicated Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in a murder case. The motion stated that Gobind’s accusations against Najib were serious and breached the privileges he enjoyed as a parliamentarian. It also said that Gobind had also insulted deputy speaker Ronald Kiandee and the House. If passed, the motion would mean Gobind would be suspended for 12 months, without enjoying any allowance and perks as an MP. Last Thursday, Gobind was suspended from the House until the end of the day by Kiandee for refusing to obey the deputy speaker. Gobind had wanted Najib, who had just completed his winding up speech on the mini-budget, to answer questions on his (Najib’s) links with the death of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu. ‘Answer me, you murderer’ Najib has been linked with Altantuya’s death although the deputy prime minister has repeatedly denied it. Despite repeated calls by Kiandee for Gobind to confine his questions to economic issues, the latter persisted in wanting Najib to answer questions relating to Altantuya. “I have not finished with you. Please sit down… Pekan MP you are here, stand up and explain yourself,” he told Najib. “Answer me, you murderer,” he said again, directing his verbal assault at Najib. At this stage, Kiandee ordered Gobind to be escorted out of the House. That was Gobind’s third suspension from the House in his debut year as a parliamentarian. If the motion is passed on Monday, it would be the most severe punishment meted out on Gobind. Gobind could not be reached for comment. A motion filed by a minister needs only one day to be scheduled in the House’s order list and to be debated. A similar motion filed by a member of parliament would need 14 days before it is brought to the House.

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AG, IGP ‘cleared’ in black-eye case
Rahmah Ghazali and S Pathmawathy | Mar 11, 09 11:18am
Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail and inspector-general of police Musa Hassan have both been cleared of any criminal involvement in Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s black-eye case, according to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz.parliament gobind singh ban over nazri mistake 251108 04He was replying to Gobind Singh-Deo (DAP-Puchong) as to why no action has been taken by the authorities after Anwar had lodged reports with the police and the then Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) last July.Subsequently, the ACA – now called the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission – set up an independent panel to probe the case.The panel members were Kadir Sulaiman, Wira Mohd Nor and Ahmad Nor Abdullah – all former judges from the Federal Court and Court of Appeal. According to Nazri, the investigation by the panel began on July 2 last year. “The investigation was completed two months later as it was considered a sensitive and high-profile case,” he said. “After a detailed investigation, they found the AG and the IGP did not commit any crime relating to the case as alleged by Anwar.” anwar ibrahim black eye small 080206He further said that each of the DPPs had to probe independently in order to obtain personal views on the matter. However, several Opposition MPs were not convinced by the minister’s answer, stressing that there had been no information on the case after the investigation was completed. In his supplementary question, Gobind queried Nazri as to when the panel had made the decision and why there had been no disclosure on this by the authorities. “We have also not been informed whether any action has been taken against the suspects,” asserted Gobind. Who made the final decision? Nazri said the authorities required “ample time to make the decision public so that it would not be doubted by some parties”. lim kit siang 201108 Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor) then questioned Nazri as to who had made the final decision, since the investigation had been conducted independently. “Let’s say one of them decides that the AG is guilty. In that case, who makes the final decision?” asked Lim. Nazri explained that the decision was made based on the majority view, and in this case the three members had found no case against the IGP, and only one had found a case against the AG. He however refused to divulge further details. Later at a press conference, Anwar, who is also de facto leader of PKR, said it was typical of the government to “manipulate” the facts adduced to the MACC. “It is not easy to bring a case against those two without evidence, and it also depends on what has been submitted,” said Anwar. He further accused Nazri of using the Parliament as a place to “defend the case” as the latter chose to reply in the House this morning. ‘I am just disgusted’ Anwar reiterated that he had “written to every member of the advisory panel and given them the evidence”. “I just wanted to see whether they would respond or not”, he said, adding that “just because it refers to the VVIPs, they will be spared”. Asked whether he is angry about the latest development, he replied: “I’m seldom angry, I’m just disgusted.” Last month, Anwar had lodged a police report claiming that the AG and the IGP were involved in a conspiracy to fabricate an arrest warrant in 1998. gani patailAnwar had also accused Abdul Gani (left) and Musa of fabricating evidence in an investigation into the beating he received by former police chief Abdul Rahim Noor while in police custody. Anwar, then deputy prime minister, was arrested and jailed for corruption. A sodomy conviction was later overturned on appeal. The oppposition leader had said the involvement of Abdul Gani and Musa was further affirmed by a defamation suit against him last October by Mat Zain Ibrahim, the investigating officer who probed the ‘black eye’ incident. Mat Zain had stated that Abdul Gani, who was then a senior deputy public prosecutor, delayed the investigation process and concealed facts from then AG, the late Mohtar Abdullah. Musa was the investigating officer into previous cases against Anwar, where the former DPM was accused of abuse of power, corruption and sodomy. Police report last July In his police report last July, Anwar had alleged: “I believe Musa and Abdul Gani were present in Bukit Aman on Sept 20, 1998 and knew about the assault by Rahim Noor on me. “Musa and Abdul Gani further concealed the fact of the assault on me from the public until my black eye and injuries were revealed in court. “I believe both Musa and Abdul Gani were actively involved in the procuring of the second undated (medical) report by Dr (Abdul) Rahman (Yusof) which makes false and incredible conclusions (regarding his injury). “They gave instructions to Dr Rahman to proceed to write this second report and were acting under the direction and/or jointly with Mohtar. “These facts show that Musa, Abdul Gani and Mat Zain (who, according to Dr Rahman’s second report, accompanied him to the cell in Bukit Aman where I was detained and participated in the so-called reconstruction of the scene) conspired with Dr Rahman to procure the production of this second report. “This was done so that my police report of Sept 27, 1998, in respect of the assault would be regarded as a false police report for which I could be charged, or at the very least, to damage my credibility, so as to affect my defen

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//
// ]]>

//

//

//

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