All the photos are from Hindraf candle vigil. Click here
Sunday, September 28, 2008
All the photos are from Hindraf candle vigil. Click here
ANALYSISBy Baradan Kuppusamy
SEPT 28 - With Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi eclipsed, his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak on the rise and the Umno succession dispute all but settled, it is tough times ahead for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the erstwhile prime minister-in-waiting.
While meeting fund managers In Hong Kong on Thursday Anwar put up a brave front to questions on whether it is troubling him with Najib set to get the job he craves and whether the leadership transition in Umno means a strong and united Umno training its guns on him.
"No," Anwar told them. "In fact the changes makes it easier for me…nothing really has changed because the corrupt system remains, the cronyism remains and race and discrimination remains."
He went on to thrash Najib, attempting to link him to unexplained and unanswered questions over the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, the Mongolian woman who was blown up into pieces in late 2006 with C4 explosives.
Anwar also linked Najib with alleged "shady deals" involving multi-billion defence contracts and his inability to reform the corrupt system or give Malaysians a new hope of the future.
However after a string of successes, the political landscape is changing and turning hostile for Anwar.
His plans to seize power have been killed in its infancy and his allies DAP and PAS have got over the mesmerising effect of the Anwar-charm offensive and are now openly dragging their feet.
Worst is a potentially debilitating sodomy trial that will sap his energy, create distance between him and PAS and DAP and raising fresh questions about his ability and suitability to lead a nation from the docks.
On the deadline to seize power, Anwar has also changed course disappointing his legions of supporters and alienating fence sitters. "It is not an issue of deadlines any more…I urge Malaysians who believe in change to be patient."
Whether he has the numbers or not however will be tested when Parliament reconvenes on Oct 13 to debate and approve the 2009 budget.
If he has the numbers as he claims to have he can easily kill the budget and demonstrate to the world that he really has majority support in the 222-seat parliament.
The budget of 24 ministries have to be debated and approved and if he can kill any one of the ministries' budgets, that would be a successful vote of no-confidence against Abdullah and the BN government.
"He has 24 chances to do it," said Dewan Rakyat deputy Speaker Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in Kuching on Saturday virtually throwing the gauntlet to Anwar.
However on Oct 7 Session Court judge Komathy Suppiah will rule whether to hear the Sodomy II case or transfer it to the High Court as the prosecutors want.
There is no real issue here because a transfer is an established procedure and even if she refuses, which is really going against established norm, the government can always appeal her decision and probably have it reversed.
A higher court can reverse her decision on appeal, if necessary, even on the same day.
Anwar's lawyers have argued that the transfer was signed by Attorney-General Ghani Patail whom Anwar is suing for fabricating evidence in the 1999 sodomy case which saw him imprisoned for six years for corruption.
In 2000 Anwar was jailed an additional nine years for sodomy but the conviction was quashed in 2004 and he was freed after serving six years altogether.
Meanwhile, the political ground is slipping under Anwar with the changes in Umno's leadership and by extension that of the country.
Abdullah had been kindest to Anwar among the top Umno leaders.
Abdullah, who had also tried to use him to scare Umno into submission, is leaving for good having to make an announcement before Oct 9 whether he is offering himself to contest as Umno president.
It was also Abdullah who Anwar had hoped to confound and stampede into handing over the government to him by triggering a mass exodus, a harebrained scheme that has since died under the weight of its own implausibility.
That small window for Anwar - Abdullah's willingness to play by the rules, an inherent sense of justice and fair play - has closed with the Prime Minister's impending departure leaving Anwar without a "friend."
Anwar could have inadvertently hastened Abdullah's departure after his Information chief Tian Chua claimed Anwar and Abdullah were meeting behind the scenes to discuss a transfer of power, something that Umno veterans feared the most.
Anwar had to rubbish Chua's statement immediately but it did not help when the Umno supreme council met a day later to decide on the transition.
Abdullah's departure leaves Anwar facing the brute force of power and real politics exposed without his breastplate as the old forces that ousted him in 1998 and benefited from the political vacuum he left behind, now gather once again to stop his march to power.
While Anwar's troubles are set to mount in the power game, public perception and support for him remains strong. He is continued to be seen as the best future leader for a new Malaysia.
However the most recent poll by the Merdeka Center also shows that the racial divide between Malays and non-Malays is wider and widening with more Malays backing Umno and Najib on one side and more Chinese and Indians backing Anwar and the Pakatan coalition on the other.
A very dangerous sign in a multi-ethnic society already widely divided over race, religion and discriminatory policies.
The poll based on 1,002 people showed that 39.3 per cent supported Anwar and 33.8 per cent backed Najib.
While about 40% of those polled supported Anwar but the remaining 60% were either not in favour, undecided or marked as "don't know" - a rather high percentage compared to the 70% or more support from non-Malays he had received on March 8.
If these figures are to be accepted it means the non-Malay support for Anwar is sliding.
His constant attempts at grabbing power are causing instability, uncertainties and people, especially the middle class, tend to worry.
For now Anwar has eased off on his "take over" games and for the future he should reaslise that the March 8 vote was for change and not a personal vote for Anwar or an endorsement of his frolics.
He leads a coalition that rules five big states and he should work at change there to win public confidence and not be carried away by his own rhetoric.
“916” signifies political “sky-change”. Its importance does not lie in whether the change in federal power takes place on Sept. 16 but in the sea-change in the political mindset, attitudes and expectations of Malaysians about power change.
Six months ago, the Barisan Nasional was so monolithic and impregnable that it was unthinkable and impossible to envisage that it could be toppled from the federal government level.
In the past six months however, the dream and possibility of change of federal power have spread like a prarie fire among Malaysians that it is no exaggeration to say that today the overwhelmingly majority of Malaysians believe that change of federal power is possible while a clear majority would want such a change to take effect immediately.
This is what is most important about the “916” magic – not whether the “skychange” took place on September 16, 2008 (which it did not) but that the political moment in Malaysia has arrived when change of federal power is no more an impossible dream but has become a practical possibility and it is only a matter of time when this “skychange” transforms the political landscape in the country.
When the “916 skychange” takes place remains a very immediate political agenda in Malaysia – whether 1016, 1116, 1216 or in an early 13th general election.
“926” is another momentous date, for a coup d’etat was staged on September 26 in the Umno Supreme Council emergency meeting where Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was given the ultimatum to abandon his mid-June 2010 power-transition plan and to agree to relinquish his posts as Umno President and Prime Minister in March next year or he would be packed off from the Putrajaya corridors of power summarily and ignominiously.
Abdullah appears to have three options before him:-
Firstly, before the October 9 deadline when Umno divisions begin their month-long process to submit nominations for the various Umno party elections to declare his intention to contest for the post of Umno President so as retain the initiative in his hands as to his own timeline to effect the power transition.
Would Abdullah dare to fight for his political life when his first hurdle is to prove that he is capable of winning 58 or one-third of the Umno division nominations for the post of Umno President.
This is not going to be an easy accomplishment for Abdullah and he must be prepared to suffer the ignominy of the first incumbent Prime Minister and Umno President who could not secure adequate nominations to contest for the post of Umno President and the disgrace of being stripped of the premiership.
Secondly, to bow to the pressures of the “926” Umno Supreme Council meeting and announce that he would not contest for the Umno President’s post, becoming a lame-duck Prime Minister for the next six months until March 2009 – after a completely lacklustre premiership for five years!
Thirdly, to announce his retirement as Prime Minister by Oct. 9.
There are two further options open to Abdullah:
• Advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong for a dissolution of Parliament for the holding of fresh general election to end the seven-month political uncertainty in the country in the past seven months since the 12th general election on March 8, so as to give the Malaysian electorate an opportunity to decide whether they want a continuation of the Barisan Nasional government or a new Pakatan Rakyat federal government; or
• Co-operate with Pakatan Rakyat to bring about a change of federal government so that the country can end seven months of drift and lack of direction, which have compounded the multiple crisis of confidence afflicting the country.
Abdullah has less than 12 days to mull over the options available to him. It is important that his decision must hinge on the primary consideration of what is in the best interest for the nation and Malaysians at this hour of national crisis and need rather than on what would be in his own best interest and that of his family.
(Speech at the Perak DAP 5,000-People Solidarity Dinner in Ipoh on Saturday, 27th September 2008 at 9 pm)
ANTI-ISA CANDLELIGHT VIGIL 27 SEP 08. Click here to watch the clip.
One of Malaysia's most prominent online campaigners has been arrested after the government ordered that he was a threat to national security.The blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin was detained by police after a race row threatened to engulf the ruling coalition as it tries to stave off growing support for the opposition. Click here.
Whether Pak Lah gets to read it is another matter.
Dear Prime Minister
Please read my attached letter.
I would appreciate an acknowledgement that you have received the letter.
23rd September 2008
ABOLISH THE INTERNAL SECURITY ACT
Dear Beloved Prime Minister,
I am sure you are aware that on12th September 2008, Member of Parliament, Teresa Kok, a Sin Chew Daily Journalist, Tan Hoon Cheng and a Blogger of Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Kamrudin was arrested under the ISA.
I am happy to note that the two women had been released but am most devastated to learn that your Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar last night signed the detention order for the blogger to be held under section 8(1) of the ISA. This I understand mean that Pete would be detained for at least two years without trial. The section mentions that the detention “is necessary with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia…”
Do you honestly believe or perceive that Pete would act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia?
According to his lawyer J Chandra, Raja Petra was arrested for publishing articles on the news portal Malaysia Today, which allegedly tarnished the leadership of the country and insulted the sanctity of Islam. Do you personally think he has insulted the sanctity of Islam? If he had allegedly tarnished the reputation of our leaders, then how come those leaders do not challenge him in court for defamation?
I still can't understand how articles in RPK’s blog can create unrest and chaos. If his articles are indeed sensitive or made up of plain lies, charge him in a court of law. In fact, he has been charged under the Sedition Act and is awaiting trial. Why the need to incarcerate him in Kamunting?
I was under the impression that the ISA was first created to fight armed terrorists and those communists. Some time ago, when some terrorist commandos tried to take over an army camp, the government did not arrest them under the ISA. If I remember correctly, they were arrested and charged with treason and jailed. Those men were carrying weapons of mass destruction and yet they escaped the ISA. However this archaic law has been used on Tan Hoon Cheng, Teresa Kok and RPK who can hardly be considered dangerous. Where is justice? Where is the rule of law?
I am just a very simple housewife with two teenage children who are born overseas but choose to come back to live in Malaysia because I love this country of ours where I believe that our multi cultural people can live together in harmony.
I cannot sit back and watch this upstanding citizen Raja Petra spend two years in detention, while rapists, murderers, racial bigots, thieves, Mat Rempit and the like are free to roam the streets? I don’t think the rakyat will keep silent very much longer over such a travesty of justice.
John R Malott (former US ambassador to Malaysia): The decision by Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to send RPK to the Kamunting detention centre for two years under the ISA is an outrage.
I beg you, my beloved Prime Minister, Please get rid of this very BAD ACT. Please do not let any future leaders use this law against any Malaysian Citizen.
SEPT 28 - For the first time in many decades, Umno members are now free to nominate anyone they want for the party presidency. There is so far neither a no-contest rule nor a retain-the-incumbent directive this time around.
With Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi exiting the political stage – it doesn't mater whether it's in March next year or anytime after the Hari Raya celebration – his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak is set to take over.
To his detractors, Najib's inaction since the general election debacle has proven that he's too safe to bring about the expected change in the party – something to make Umno respectable again, not only for the Malays but also Malaysians at large.
The anti-Abdullah action within Umno had hoped that Najib would oust his boss to pave the way for change. But nothing happened until Friday.
For those who support Najib, they will have started daydreaming about the power and perks that come along with the Umno presidency. For them, it is inevitable that Najib will become the Umno president by March.
The first hurdle for him is to get the nominations, and this time, he has a rival in Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
Along with the Kelantan prince, there are strong voices of dissent in the party in wanting to abolish the quota system introduced by former leader Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad almost two decades ago.
The quota system makes it difficult for contenders at the top to get the large number of nominations required. This means the top incumbent is assured of nominations, and he too can ensure his number two get the support by indicating his choice.
Some leaders and members are demanding that the party get rid of the system to go back to the basic minimum of two nominations for every post contested. This means no one will know for sure who will be the winner as there will be quite a number of candidates.
At the moment, Abdullah and Najib are silent on the matter. Another hurdle for any challenger is money politics.
It is going to be a tough fight for Tengku Razaleigh. Unless he has the support of the revered Dr Mahathir who still commands a strong influence among members. And the possibility of getting the senior number three Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as his running mate.
These factors will at least help Tengku Razaleigh's almost impossible challenge against Najib who has also been in the government, and who has managed to fortify his position, for more than 20 years.
At the moment, factors that can go against the Kelantan prince are his age and the fact that he holds no position in the party or in the government.
Beyond the reach of the news media radar, Umno division leaders as well as their contenders have been busy campaigning for the past few months. By next week, they will intensify further efforts to go in for the kill.
Contrary to popular belief, Umno members are still unfazed by opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. They are more concerned with the survival of their party to the extent that most of them neglect their BN partners.
But if Anwar can pull off a surprise before the Umno divisional meetings end in November – like persuading BN MPs to jump to his side - it's not just game over for Abdullah and Najib, it will also mean Umno will become the federal opposition party.
If not, it's game over for Anwar; and a new Umno will emerge by March next year.
Wan Hamidi Hamid is a writer
Kira-kira 2,000 menyertai perarakan aman di ibunegara malam ini, mendesak supaya dimansuhkan Akta Keselamatan Negeri (ISA) dan dibebaskan tahanan di bawah akta tersebut.
Pada mulanya, dua kumpulan - Barisan Bertindak Hak Hindu (HIndraf) dan gabungan NGO yang diketuai oleh Pakatan Penulis untuk Kebebasan Media (Wami) - merancang untuk mengadakan majlis memasang lilin di Dataran Merdeka pada kira-kira jam7.30 malam.
Apabila polis mengawal Dataran Merdeka, kumpulan Hindraf yang berjumlah kira-kira 500 orang, berarak menuju ke kuil yang terletak di depan pusat perhentian bas Puduraya kira-kira 1 km dari situ.
Ketika berarak ke sana, orang ramai turut menyertai mereka dan jumlahnya kemudian bertambah mencecah kira-kira 2,000 orang, dengan ramai yang membawa lilin.
Satu lagi kumpulan, yang berarak sambil membawa tanglung, kemudiannya turut menyertai kumpulah Hindraf tersebut.
Sambil berarak, mereka melaungkan “Mansuhkan ISA”, “Bebaskan Raja Petra” and “Hindraf Valga (Hidup Hindraf)”.
Akhirnya, mereka berkumpul di kawasan kuil berkenaan di mana beberapa individu menyampaikan ucapan.
Penyelaras pusat Hindraf, R Thanenthiran menggesa kerajaan memenuhi tuntutan peserta perarakan tersebut supaya membebaskan tahanan ISA.
Katanya, Menteri Dalam Negeri, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar tidak boleh memutuskan seorang diri apakah yang terbaik untuk negara.
"Malam ini, kita rakyat, menjadi hakim," tambahnya.
Kemudian, ahli Parlimen Teluk Intan, M Manogaran memberitahu hadirin bahawa perhimpunan tersebut diadakan untuk mengingati ulangtahun pertama penahanan lima pemimpin Hindraf di bawah ISA dan kini ditahan di Kem Tahanan Kamunting.
"Kita akan terus mengadakan perhimpunan sehinggalah tahanan ISA dibebaskan," katanya.
Sementara itu, perarakan itu berjalan dalam suasana meriah. Beberapa penyokong Raja Petra Kamaruddin turut menyanyikan lagu selamat jadi kerana hari ini merupakan hari jadi penulis blog tersebut.
Menjelang jam 9 malam, mereka bersurai dan tiada kejadian yang tidak diingini dilaporkan berlaku.
Thanenthiran kemudiannya memberitahu pemberita bahawa perarakan malam ini membuktikan bahawa rakyat Malaysia boleh berhimpun secara aman untuk menyuarakan isi hati mereka.
“Jika pihak polis mematuhi undang-undang, kita pun juga boleh berbuat demikian," katanya.
Dalam satu kenyataan selepas orang ramai bersurai, pengerusi Hindraf, P Waytha Moorthy mengucap terima kasih kepada pihak polis kerana membenarkan perarakan tersebut diadakan.
"Kerajaan kini seharusnya menerima hakikat bahawa rakyat Malaysia telah menghantar satu mesej yang kuat dan jelas menolak penggunaan ISA," katanya yang kini tinggal di luar negara.
Sementara itu, dua peserta buta memberitahu Malaysiakini mengapa mereka turut menyertai perarakan tersebut.
Ramli Abu Bakar, 51, berkata beliau menyokong gerakan anti-ISA sejak ia dimulakakan kerana "negara telah mencapai kemerdekaan".
"Kita telah merdeka selama 51 tahun, jadi mengapa kita perlukan lagi undang-undang itu sekarang," kata Ramli.
Rakannya, Kamal Abdu Bakar, 48, turut menyokongnya dengan berkata ISA tidak relevan lagi sekarang.
Manakala seorang penyokong Raja Petra - Sampa Lee, 60 - berkata pembebasan penulis blog itu serta tahanan ISA yang lain, akan merupakan hadiah hari jadi terbaik yang boleh diberikan oleh kerajaan.
"Ia akan merupakan hadiah terbaik untuk Raja Petra dan semua rakyat Malaysia kerana kita semua menentang undang-undang yang zalim itu," kata Sampa.
Sementara itu, Ketua Polis Daerah Dang Wangi ACP Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman berkata polis mendapat maklumat bahawa perhimpunan itu dijadualkan diadakan di Dataran Merdeka.
"Tetapi kita telah menempatkan anggota polis di beberapa jalan masuk menuju ke Dataran Merdeka dan ini menyebabkan peserta perhimpunan bertukar lokasi menuju ke kawasan berhampiran Puduraya.
"Tiada sebarang insiden yang tidak diingini berlaku dalam perhimpunan ini dan tiada sebarang tangkapan dibuat," katanya dalam laporan Bernama.
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — If Hindraf's anti-ISA rally tonight is anything to go by, a cross-section of the public is united in opposing the Act.
Despite the fact that the civil society group champions the cause of ethnic Indians they claim to be marginalised, the 2,000-strong crowd that gathered at the Court Hill Sri Ganesar Temple tonight saw a sizeable number of Chinese and Malays.
Hindraf leaders expressed their surprise as they had not expected such a large crowd. Moreover, they were glad to see Chinese and Malays supporting their cause.
"This is a signal to the government that the Internal Security Act is hated by all Malaysians," legal advisor N. Surendran had declared, a sentiment echoed by both national coordinator R.S. Tanendran and events coordinator R. Kannan.
In turn, the majority Indian protestors also began to chant loudly for the release of controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin who had recently been slapped with a two-year detention order.
There were even two blind Malay gentlemen in the crowd.
"I disagree with the ISA. This is not about bringing up the opposition but the fact that the law is archaic. It is now only being used to protect the interests of Barisan Nasional," said one of them, Ramli Abu Bakar, 51.
Su-Ann Wong, 30, had come with a small group of friends to light candles along the pavement outside the temple.
"The people have never incited anything and we've voiced our concerns peacefully but the government sees us as a threat. In fact, with the ISA, it is they who are threatening us," she said.
Her friend, Andrew Ng, 36, called the Act "unacceptable" and "detention without trial does not make sense."
"It doesn't matter who is being held under ISA. I am here to show my support because we all need to make a difference to get rid of the ISA," he said.