Wednesday, October 1, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and wife Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah kicked off their Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations with an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin and Raja Permaisuri Agung Tuanku Nur Zahirah at Istana Negara early this morning.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Raja Permaisuri Agong, Abdullah and Jeanne, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Muslim Cabinet Ministers, then proceeded to the National Mosque for Aidilfitri prayers.
The entourage then returned to Istana Negara, only to be joined by ambassadors and high commissioners to begin the celebrations proper. Also present were former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali.
The Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and their wives then departed to the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) to host the Hari Raya open house.
The Hari Raya open house is open to diplomats and VIP guests from 11am to 12.30pm, before doors opened to public at 12.30pm and will run up to 4.30pm.
Abdullah started the tradition of holding the joint Hari Raya open house with Cabinet Ministers four years ago and since then, it has become a mainstay and an opportunity for Malaysians of all walks of life as well as foreigners, including tourists, to meet the nation's leaders.
Visitors were treated to various dishes, prepared by 45 chefs at five main halls -- Dewan Merdeka, Dewan Tun Hussein Onn, Dewan Tun Dr Ismail, Dewan Tun Razak 3 and Dewan Tun Razak 4 -- of the PWTC.
About 200,000 visitors are expected to throng the open house with 150 security personnel being deployed for crowd control.
OCT 1 - The Business Monitor International views that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's fragile grip on power continues to slip further from his grasp as pressure continues to mount from both a rejuvenated opposition and from within his own government.
However, with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim proving a more popular alternative to Abdullah's chosen successor, it appears that even the departure of the prime minister is unlikely to provide the necessary boost required to keep the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition in power.
Less than two weeks after the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) announced its withdrawal from Malaysia's ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, the predominantly ethnic Chinese Gerakan party has now also threatened to leave Abdullah's beleaguered government. The rift between Gerakan and the BN has arisen largely due to the government's approach to tackling sensitive racial issues within the country, with Abdullah's liberal use of the controversial Internal Security Act receiving particularly fierce criticism.
Indeed, it is not just Gerakan that has voiced its concerns over the issue. A number of cabinet members have openly criticised the arrests of an opposition politician, a journalist and a prominent blogger on Sept 12 under the Internal Security Act, with one - de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim - actually tendering his resignation in protest at the controversial move.
Meanwhile, a recent poll by Merdeka Centre has revealed that the public share a similar view on the subject, with 70% of respondents disagreeing that it is "necessary to detain people without trial to safeguard national security".
Gerakan secretary general Chia Kwang Chye has announced that party officials are likely to discuss the possibility of leaving the coalition at their annual congress on Oct 11, but party vice-president Teng Hock Nan has suggested that more than half of its members want the party to follow the SAPP's lead and terminate its association with Abdullah's Barisan Nasional coalition.
While such a move may not make any significant dent in the coalition's majority - the party's withdrawal would remove only two lawmakers from the coalition, thereby reducing the coalition's majority to 54 - it would nonetheless make a strong symbolic statement, and serve to further undermine the beleaguered premier - much in a similar way the SAPP's departure did (the SAPP also only had two representatives in the lower house of parliament).
However, how much of an impact these fringe parties actually have will largely depend upon whether they opt to join the opposing Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
As things stand, Teng has said that Gerakan has no immediate plans to join the Pakatan Rakyat, and SAPP president Yong Teck Lee has said that his party will remain independent. However, neither have ruled out the possibility of joining the resurgent opposition.
We highlight that once again, while such a move may not prove numerically significant, it would provide a sizeable - and visible - boost to opposition leader Anwar's designs on the premiership. Anwar has repeatedly stated that he has secured the loyalty of the 30 MPs needed to gain a majority in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives), but has declined to provide any names of politicians willing to defect - saying that it would put the lawmakers at risk - and Abdullah is calling the challenge a bluff.
A public show of support from the SAPP and/or Gerakan would therefore significantly enhance Anwar's claims that he has enough support to topple Abdullah.
At the same time that growing internal divisions within Abdullah's camp are continuing to put him under increasing pressure, the Malaysian premier is also having to fend off an increasingly credible challenge from his opposite number, who continues to make impressive progress towards fulfilling his goal of replacing him. A recent Merdeka Centre poll has revealed that 40% of respondents believed that Anwar would make the better prime minister - just 3 percentage points behind Abdullah and 6 percentage points above Abdullah's chosen successor Najib Razak.
This bodes ill for the Barisan Nasional's prospects going forward, as it is becoming increasingly likely that Najib will soon replace Abdullah as United Malays National Organisation (Umno) leader - and consequently as prime minister.
Having previously stated his intentions to hand over power to his deputy in 2010, Abdullah has now offered to stand down early in order to avoid a leadership challenge. Umno has agreed to postpone elections for its leadership from December, 2008, to March, 2009, thus buyingAbdullah a little more time in the hot seat, but nonetheless, it appears that come March next year, Malaysia will have a new leader.
And with confidence in Najib apparently rather thin on the ground, it may not be an Umno candidate. - Business Monitor International
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 - The story of Malaysia mired in political uncertainty is old news, but the line-up of political events this month has raised expectations that some stability could return to the country.
October marks the start of election season for Umno, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Gerakan - three of the major components of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
And it is also in this month that Parliament will reconvene, providing a make-or-break opportunity for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to seize power through defections.
By the end of the month, Malaysians could have a clearer idea of the country's direction, after nearly seven months of leadership tussles since the March general election threw the power balance off-kilter.
It will come as a relief as political fatigue has set in and fears over the economy have heightened. More than 50 per cent of respondents in a recent survey cited economic issues as their biggest worry.
"The government has been unable to respond to the economic crisis with even a basic plan of action," said Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in a recent statement.
The most-watched event this month will begin on Oct 9 with Umno's 191 divisions starting their annual meetings to make nominations for top posts in the party. Party elections will be held in March.
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, who has indicated early retirement, has pledged to announce by then if he will contest the Umno presidency. By convention, the Umno president is also Malaysia's prime minister.
If he does not, it will mean a handover of power to his deputy, Najib Razak, by March. But if he does contest, it could mean more turbulence for Malaysia. The general consensus is that he will not stand but until he makes this clear, the tussling will continue.
Even now, there is talk that Abdullah's supporters want the premiership divorced from the Umno presidency. This means that Abdullah may remain prime minister, but such a move is highly unlikely to be acceptable.
The prolonged uncertainty has prompted three divisions to declare that they will nominate Najib for the top post, a signal to Abdullah that he may not make the 58 nominations needed to contest.
Oct 9 is closely watched as Abdullah's decision will have a bearing on the battle on another front - the war being waged by Anwar.
The opposition leader, who has repeatedly threatened to seize power through defections, will himself face a deadline of sorts when Parliament reconvenes on Oct 13 after a six-week recess.
He had challenged Abdullah to hold an emergency parliamentary session to face a vote of confidence. The PM has refused. But when Parliament reconvenes, Anwar will come under pressure to produce his defectors. His repeated failure to do so has already prompted some Malaysians to question his credibility.
"Anwar's credibility has already been hit, but he's a cat with nine lives," said political analyst Ong Kian Ming.
If Parliament reopens with the prospect of Najib becoming premier by March, it will make it more difficult for Anwar to achieve his ambition. A greater clarity about BN's future leadership will convince some of his claimed defectors to wait and see.
Gerakan, which has two MPs, may also pipe down on its threat to leave the coalition. It is not clear if president Koh Tsu Koon was serious when he said the Chinese-based party was not ruling out the possibility of switching alliances, but clearly his strong words were also geared towards his party's Oct 11 election.
Speculation is rife that he may face a challenge from a younger leader who will take a stronger line against Umno's increasingly sharp Malay rhetoric, as it seeks to regain voter support. The tone of its delegates' conference will provide clues to Gerakan's future direction, especially over the level of pressure from the grassroots for a pullout from the BN.
There is no similar threat from the BN's biggest Chinese party, MCA, which will hold its own election on Oct 18, but expect tough rhetoric from the delegates.
The presidency is being contested between the outspoken Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat and former Health Minister Chua Jui Meng.
October has all the hallmarks of a politically eventful month for Malaysia. By the time it ends though, things could be much more settled than they have been for some time. - The Straits Times
By Wong Chin Huat, The Nut Graph
ALL eyes are on Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's announcement after Hari Raya, but no one would be surprised if he declines nomination for the president's post in the Umno party election. But if that happens, he would be a lame-duck prime minister in the fullest form for the next five months.
Interestingly, Abdullah, who has survived de facto Pakatan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's threat to topple the government by inducing Barisan Nasional (BN) members of parliament (MPs) to defect on 16 Sept, did not survive the plot to force his early exit in the party supreme council meeting 10 days later.
Umno will likely have Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the new leaders by March 2009. As much as former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is unhappy about the delayed elections, he cannot do much but to bid farewell to his chance of making a comeback. He will not get support from Muhyiddin or former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whose sole political goal in the past three years has been to topple his successor.
Muhyiddin YassinThe ruling coalition may also be counted on to get a bit more stabilised. With new leadership in Umno and the BN, aspiring frogs would now not immediately jump so as to avoid miscalculation. However, attrition of members from Umno's discredited and dispirited West Malaysian allies, especially Gerakan, will continue.
No end to political stalemate
But would transition within Umno bring an end to the political stalemate since 8 March? We have not had a government since then because it was busy worrying about its own survival. And neither have we had much of an opposition, as they, too, have been constantly dreaming and plotting to be the next government.
The answer to the question, then, is no.
If anything, the Anwar-Najib rivalry will only become more intense, involving higher stakes than that between Anwar and Abdullah.
First of all, there is intense mistrust between the two. In fact, many Pakatan Rakyat supporters cite checking Najib's rise to power as one reason for the crossovers to the Pakatan. It is quite unlikely that Najib will "return that favour" by treating the opposition parties in a kinder fashion than Abdullah has.
Secondly, the political futures of both Anwar and Najib are threatened by court cases: Anwar's by his sodomy charge, and Najib by his alleged implication in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case. Any new revelation or evidence that comes up in these cases would lead to actions and reactions from both parties.
Thirdly, while it now looks impossible for Anwar to carry out his indefinitely deferred 16 Sept plan, the Pakatan Rakyat may nevertheless gain some momentum from October onwards. The defectors may quit not because of the viability of the government, but because of their own viability within parties.
Gerakan, MCA and Umno party elections
Gerakan logo. The party's exit would be a great
blow to the Barisan Nasional After losing Selangor, Kelantan, Kedah, Penang and Perak, the BN parties now simply have too little political resources to feed everyone. This makes the party elections in Gerakan, MCA and Umno ever more crucial to determine who may enjoy a shrinking cake and who needs to starve. Since there is no more guarantee that those who starve now will be compensated in the future, some of the losers in the parties' elections may well choose to pack their stuff and move on.
In the case of Gerakan, the party election dynamics may even accelerate its likely exit from the BN, if not at least produce an ultimatum for the BN's reform. Although Gerakan has only two parliamentarians, losing the relatively well-regarded minor party would be a great blow to Umno, as the coalition will be seen as increasingly Umno-controlled and unacceptable to non-Malays.
Depending on the election outcome, the MCA may lose some of its leaders, but it would not be deadly for both the party and the BN. Given the MCA's high dependence on political and economic patronage and its significance to Umno (hence the latter's willingness to offer good concessions), the defectors are likely to be those without legislative and executive offices.
The real threat, of course, is from within Umno. While the deferred party election may prevent a battle between Najib's and Muhyiddin's impatient supporters and Abdullah's defenders, the longer time to the polls also breeds uncertainty.
As it has been pointed out by analysts, more money will need to be burnt by the party warlords, so those with smaller war chests will suffer.
Should Anwar manage to induce any crossover from Umno MPs, especially from the peninsula, the 16 Sept plan will be resurrected - this time with Najib calling Umno's shots.
Fresh elections may settle the dust
Can the country and the economy endure more fears and anxieties wrought by the nobody-knows-when regime change game, possible arrests or even attacks of opposition leaders, demonstrations a la people's power, and maybe even a declaration of emergency?
Members of Bersih who organised a rally on 10 Nov 2007
to campaign for electoral reformThere clearly needs to be a political solution. Since a powerful opposition that will remain "faithful" seems to be a luxury in Malaysian politics, the obvious solution is to make the opposition less powerful or more loyal.
We can learn from the United Kingdom. The 1974 February elections produced a Labour government with 37.8% of votes and 46.7% of seats. The minority government lasted only for nine months. A snap poll called in October returned Labour in power with a slight parliamentary majority of 50.2%, which nevertheless lasted for another four years. (In Denmark, the survival of minority governments is the norm.)
Fresh elections alone will not guarantee political stability. It needs underwriting from both sides of the political divide to respect the electoral outcome.
This must begin with basic electoral reforms executable in the short run, including those demanded by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih): clean-up of the electoral roll; repeal of postal voting for security personnel; employment of indelible ink; a 21-day campaign period; and free and fair media access.
However, snap elections by their very nature rule out comprehensive electoral reforms, including addressing gerrymandering and malapportionment of constituencies (which the opposition parties seldom demand anyway). The imperfection must not be an excuse for crossover again. In other words, even if the BN wins an even slimmer victory, Anwar must accept his role as the parliamentary opposition leader. Reform must not overrule democracy.
The losers must be treated fairly in order for their willingness to be loyal. Threat of political persecution, whether in the form of Internal Security Act (ISA) detention, fabricated charges, or financial penalty to state governments only legitimises political challenges. The BN and the Pakatan Rakyat must commit themselves to respect, and cooperate with the legislative and state opposition should they win.
Let Malaysians decide
When should fresh elections be held? From Umno's perspective, going to the polls before the March transition would be suicidal.
There is, however, a case to do it within months of Najib's ascendance. He needs legitimisation. Tun Hussein Onn, Mahathir and Abdullah all held their maiden polls not long after their succession.
Failure to do this soon may make him a weaker leader than Abdullah. Mind you, he would begin with less public goodwill than Abdullah did. And there are vultures in Umno waiting for his misstep, who would not be as kind to him as they were to Abdullah.
If the latest Merdeka Centre opinion poll is any indication, a snap election may be a good bet for him. While 39% of all Malaysians prefer Anwar as their prime minister compared with 34% for Najib, the deputy prime minister led Anwar by 47% to 33% among ethnic Malays.
Najib and Anwar should let Malaysians choose their leader Given the pro-Malay bias in the electoral constituency delimitation, Najib might just carry the BN through the polls. A victory, even a wafer-thin one, will buy him time to prove his worth. If the elections are relatively clean, it is unlikely that Malaysians would stomach more post-elections manoeuvring.
Many Malaysians have expressed their desire to directly elect their prime minister. With the idiosyncratic exception of Israel, no parliamentary democracy elects their premier directly. The closest alternative is to have a fresh mandate via general election for every new prime minister.
Both Anwar and Najib should commit to letting all Malaysians choose their leader at the polls. That would be my Hari Raya wish.Selamat Hari Raya. Maaf zahir batin
(30 Sept) It's not really a date, as it takes 2 hands to clap & Badawi doesn't know I am coming to meet him. So I hope the messages below gets to him:
- That, I will be heading to his open house in PWTC tomorrow.
- I am not going alone. Various pressure group activists from GMI, Bersih, Hindraf, etc. will be going as well. Joining them, will be Pakatan Rakyat members, Bloggers & even some concerned citizens
- I am not going for the food / left overs
- I am going with the values of abundance ("and" vs. the immature "or" thinking) & respect (for the festival of Hari Raya)... "&" I still want to look Badawi in the eye & convey my 'Abolish ISA & Free All the Detainees Immediately!' message, without saying any words.
- I will not shake Badawi's hands
- I will be wearing this T-Shirt:
- If you don't let me & the others in, & to see you... there better me a damn good reason. We come in / with the spirit of peaceful civil disobedience & solidarity - I am against violence & bodoh-sombong agression. To a degree, we also come because we want you to exit gracefully & go out with a bang - I mean that in a good governance, conscience / virtuous & courageous way of course. What legacy do you want to leave behind? How do you want to be remembered? & the history books to say about you?
KUALA LUMPUR: Don't turn our demolished temple into a political battleground.
That is the plaintiff cry of the Sri Mahakaliamman temple committee.
But it looks like the request by temple founder and committee chairman S. Murugiah, has fallen on deaf ears as politicians are still issuing statements and making accusations.
Murugiah said the day after the demolition, the temple committee, together with Lembah Jaya state assemblyman Khasim Abdul Aziz, had met with Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) officials.
"We met with deputy council president Hamid Hussain to complain about the demolition and showed him documents.
"Hamid admitted that MPAJ had made a mistake, following which Khasim and MPAJ councillors had been working on getting the temple rebuilt and registered.
"So, stop making more statements for or against us," he said.
Yesterday, MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu took the Selangor government to task over conflicting statements on the demolition.
He said the demolition showed that the Selangor state government was not committed to its promise that no places of worship in the state would be demolished.
The MCA also joined the MIC to criticise the Selangor government, with its Selangor Wanita chief Datin Paduka Chiew Mei Fun saying that Pakatan Rakyat's promise of religious freedom during the elections was merely a ploy to fish for votes.
MCA Youth secretary-general, Dr Wee Ka Siong, questioned whether the Selangor government's three-men committee overseeing religious matters on non-Muslims was a puppet committee without authority, considering that the MPAJ had not sought its approval before demolishing the temple.- nst
KUALA LUMPUR: DAP wants Kuala Lumpur to be returned to Selangor.
Selangor DAP secretary Lau Weng San said this was because the Federal Government had failed to administer the city properly since it became a federal territory 30 years ago.
"That Pemudah (Special task Force to Facilitate Business) has adopted City Hall shows that the government has failed to administer KL properly."
He said if KL was returned to Selangor, the residents would benefit from community programmes carried out by the state government.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
I was perturbed when I read YB Teresa Kok’s statement that the food under ISA detention is equivalent or slightly better than dog food. It costs RM8 to feed a dog, according to the Malay Mail survey and only RM4.50 to feed on ISA detainees.
I feed my cats and fish premium food such as science diet and would never dream of feeding my pets the food that we are fed here. I actually stopped eating the food here after the first couple of days because it gave me diarrhea.
A couple of nights ago I vomited after eating the food and now I cannot even stand the sight or smell of the trays that they send to our cell twice a day.
I now survive on dates and plain water and I suppose if that is good enough for camels to survive in the Arabian Desert, it should be good enough for me.
I was told camels have a healthy sex drive and I would like to believe it because of the date that is my staple food. Of cause, there is no way I can test this theory until I come safely out of this place.
Actually, food is the least of my worries at this point of time. I am presently in three months solitary confinement and the only pussy I get to see is this mangy cat that somehow has found its way into my cellblock to sleep outside my locked door.
It has not rained since I arrived here a week ago and I was told Kamunting has not seen any rain for the last few weeks.
The heat in the cell is unbearable and the air is very stuffy.
The uncomfortable environment does help to put your mind off your growling stomach.
I am what they call under orientation. This three months' orientation I suppose is to get me used to the 2 years I am going to spend here.
One of my favorite classics that I used to read in Standard 1 is the Tale of Two Cities, which is about the French Revolution. I can now better appreciate the battle cry “give me liberty or give me death”. They say you appreciate something only after it has been taken away from you. Today, my liberty is at the top of my priority list. But I know it shall not come soon and it shall not come easy and it shall only come if there is a change of government and if the new government fulfills its promise to abolish the ISA.
As a young boy, I used to read ‘2000AD’. Through this I came to know of Judge Dredd and how he and his fellow police officers were ‘Judge, Jury and Executioner’. And even though the guns, motorbikes, violence and women in leather were really my focus, an understanding of why the rules had to be suspended in that comic-strip world did filter through. The situation was extreme; these enforcers were the last bastions against a world of total chaos. They were the law because the situation demanded it.
The justifications the Government offers for its continued use of the ISA are strikingly similar. We have been told, in one form or the other, that those detained are threats to national security. We are urged to understand that there are compelling reasons that make it a matter of critical importance that they be detained without trial. Were they left free to work their schemes through to completion, it is said, the nation would be in grave danger.
As much as the current Home Affairs Minister may think he is Judge Dredd (tread with caution, the image of the Minister in leather, zips and boots is not for the faint hearted), he should perhaps appreciate more fully that Malaysia is not facing the kind of apocalyptic prospect that the ISA was designed for. The extreme gravity and urgency warranting summary detentions is conspicuously absent. We are a nation at peace; armed insurrections are a thing of a distant past. We would not be plunged into chaos, democracy destroyed, if we stopped to smell the roses, or try those detained in court for that matter.
Circumstances are such that we are left with little choice but to doubt the legitimacy of detentions under the ISA.
How are we to believe that those detained were in fact the serious threats they were supposed to have been when so many of them had gone on to serve the Government in one way or the other? Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim was detained in 1974 and kept in detention for some twenty months. He went on to serve the nation as Education Minister, Finance Minister and, ultimately Deputy Prime Minister. Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili, our current Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation was also detained for some two months in 1991. They are just two of numerous instances.
How are we not to doubt the bona fides of detentions when the ISA was amended in 1989 to put the Minister’s decision to detain beyond the reach of the law. How else is one to characterize restricting the scope of review to merely matters of procedure? Scrutinizing detention orders to see whether the Minister dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s while he thumbs his nose at you from behind his legislative barricade is not a process that inspires confidence.
How are we to trust in the sincerity of explanations when though our current Prime Minister declared in 1987 that, “Laws such as the Internal Security Act have no place in modern Malaysia. It is a draconian and barbaric law.” he did an about face in 2003, saying instead, "We have never misused the Internal Security Act. All those detained under the Internal Security Act are proven threats to society”. The irreconcilable positions reveal just how far politics rules the day. That a significant number of those detained through the years have stood in the way of the Government’s political interests only goes to reinforce this impression.
Sadly though, what I have said here is not novel. Many before me have expressed the same sentiment, their pleas having fallen on ears deafened by other priorities it would seem. This has been aided in part by the way in which the issue has consistently been permitted to slip back to the periphery after the initial flurry of excitement and expressions of disbelief that mark the then most recent round of detentions. The issue lies there, in its dark corner, forgotten like those who have been detained; out of sight, out mind.
In allowing for this we have given comfort to the Government, indicating to it that as much as we may have disagreed, it is not a matter of great importance to us. We are as much to blame as those who put the detainees away.
Eid is a time for reflection and introspection; it is a time for resolve. This year as we celebrate and give thanks, perhaps we could pause to remind ourselves how fortunate we are for not having been forgotten, for being able to reach out to touch those who matter to us. Perhaps we could take a moment to see that we are really all that those who slowly fade away under the ISA have.
Let us remember them and the injustice that they have been made to suffer, let us not let others forget.
(Malik Imtiaz Sarwar is counsel to Raja Petra Kamarudin who was detained under the ISA on 12.09.2008. He is also the President of the National Human Rights Society and blogs as ‘Disquiet’ at www.malikimtiaz.blogspot.com)
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — Gerakan vice-president Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan today told off deputy Penang Umno chief Datuk Rashid Abdullah for meddling in its affairs.
"For Gerakan to stay on in Barisan Nasional or to leave Barisan Nasional is absolutely the decision and prerogative of its members. Nobody should tell us what to do," said Teng in a press statement released today.
Yesterday, the deputy chairman of the Penang Umno liaison committee was reported to have accused Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon of being a BN "party spoiler" for voicing out the desire of a majority of party members for Gerakan to pull out of the coalition.
"As a leader, he must be responsible to the coalition. He needs to set the course for Gerakan and make his position clear. After all, a fish rots from the head down," Rashid had said.
He added that such "factions can leave if they want to".
Teng blasted Rashid for his "totally uncalled for" remarks and reminded him to abstain from making further insinuations as the BN had proper channels for discussing and deliberating component party issues, that is at the BN supreme council and the management committee.
Teng, who is also Gerakan state chairman, said that Rashid was in no position to challenge Gerakan's stand as he is "only the Nibong Tebal Umno division chief and liaison committee deputy chairman".
"I wonder whether he made this comment so as to obtain political mileage in his up and coming division contest," Teng questioned.
He also took umbrage at comments made by another BN ally, MCA state deputy chief Lau Chiek Tuan, who had allegedly said that Koh was "hiding behind party members' opinions".
"During this uncertain political climate in the country where Gerakan is going through its party elections, Umno itself is facing its worst ever political turmoil and MCA is facing a big challenge in its upcoming party elections, I would like to request all BN component party leaders and members to speak with care and sensitivity so as not to further aggravate the present political situation," he concluded.
Despite public promises of a political takeover, Anwar Ibrahim is still but a voice in the opposition wilderness
After months of eager anticipation, September 16 came and went like any other ordinary day in Malaysia.
That was the day opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had repeatedly promised he would overthrow the Barisan Nasional, or National Front, federal government, ending over 50 years of rule following independence in 1957.
On the eve of the what-should-have-been a momentous day, the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, or People's Alliance, held a Malaysia Day celebration in Kuala Lumpur. Reportedly about 20,000 people turned up, eagerly awaiting the dramatic unveiling of the identities of at least 31 defecting Barisan lawmakers. But when the event came Anwar revealed only that he had the "numbers" to topple Barisan, and nothing more. The proof that he had the means to take power, remained firmly under wraps.
The next day, Anwar held a press conference to postpone the deadline further, pending Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's approval of an emergency parliamentary session to allow a no confidence vote against him by September 23. Expectedly, Badawi ignored the request and this week the Tuesday deadline also came and went.
By Wednesday, Anwar was clearly singing a different tune. He urged Malaysians to be "patient" because Pakatan "do(es) not want to transgress the constitutional rules and procedures".
On accusations calling him a "liar" for failing to meet his self-imposed deadlines, he blamed Badawi for refusing to meet him, jeopardising his plans. "They have called me a lot of things before (but) the point is, if they really believe I am a liar then put me to (the) test and have a (no-confidence) vote taken (in parliament)," Anwar told reporters.
Moreover, Anwar has more to worry about than luring lawmakers to his side to form a government. He also faces fresh allegations of sodomy, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail. Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a 23-year-old one-time aide has accused Anwar of sodomising him in an apartment in the posh neighbourhood of Mont Kiara. A medical report and a statutory declaration by the doctor who examined Saiful says no medical evidence of sodomy was found. Yet, the government is rushing through a DNA bill that will allow it to compel Anwar to give a DNA sample. Anwar refuses, saying there is no case against him and that the sample will be used to fabricate evidence against him.
The government is also trying to move the case from the Magistrate Court to the High Court, although such cases are normally heard in the former. Anwar's lawyer has protested, observing that the transfer sheet was signed by Attorney-General Ghani Patail, whom Anwar is suing for fabricating evidence in the 1999 case which saw him imprisoned for six years for corruption. In 2000 he was jailed a further nine years for sodomy, but this conviction was reversed in 2004 and he was released from jail after serving his abuse of power sentence.
Anwar and his supporters have always maintained that the charges were "trumped up", part of a "political conspiracy" to end his political career by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who famously sacked Anwar, his former political protégé, as Deputy Prime Minister.
But while Anwar's latest case is being put on the fast track, other more serious allegations against those in government are being swept under the carpet.
Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been linked to the gruesome death of a 28-year-old Mongolian translator, Altantuya Shariibuu, in 2006. Witness testimonies in court have identified Najib in a photograph with the deceased and her lover, Abdul Razak Baginda, Najib's close friend and advisor who is on trial for her murder. In a statutory declaration, P Balasubramaniam, a private investigator and retired policeman hired by Razak Baginda, alleged Najib not only knew the murdered woman but had an affair with her, was involved in her disappearance and introduced her to Razak Baginda. Another statutory declaration by Raja Petra Kamarudin, editor of the political news portal, Malaysia Today, claimed that Rosmah was present at the crime scene where Altantuya was blown-up with military explosives after being shot twice. Despite this, Najib and Rosmah have not been charged.
Raja Petra's constant exposure of Barisan's dirty deeds, have landed him in jail again. The government on Tuesday locked him up under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for indefinite detention without trial, for two years. The Home Minister Syed Hamid Syed Albar reportedly said that Raja Petra was jailed because some articles had "ridiculed Islam, which could arouse anger among Muslims."
International organisations have condemned the detention and called for his immediate release.
"A two-year jail term imposed at the government’s sole discretion against one of its known critics is cause for real concern," Bob Dietz, the Committee to Protect Journalists' Asia Program Coordinator, said. "We call on the home minister to overturn this sentence immediately. No online commentator should be jailed because of the articles they have published."
"As well as being issued arbitrarily, behind closed doors and without informing Raja Petra’s lawyers, this detention order is devoid of any legal basis as it violates the constitutionally-guaranteed right of religious freedom," Reporters Without Borders said. "The interior minister clearly wants to silence RPK for good and to keep up pressure on bloggers who dare to criticise the increasingly fragile government. We call for his release."
By Martin Jalleh
Umno’s “internal security” is being severely threatened. The Umno elite are scared stiff as their political survival is seriously at stake. Split into camps, they scramble to save themselves.
The PM and DPM put on a see-through smile together as they sit side-by-side – and struggle with the hidden question – who is going to sink or swim by the end of the “show”?
The sad and solitary-looking president of Umno is stunned and left speechless after the Umno supreme council made a decision to “smoothen” his early exit.
The bosses of the servile mainstream press continue to suck up to their political masters, giving stories a spin and a slant that suits, soothes and serves the Umno-dominated government.
As it slowly self-destructs, a desperate Umno begins yet another senseless season of intimidation with a slew of repressive laws to contain, cripple and crush legitimate dissent.
It is an open secret that since the days of Dr M, the ISA has been used as a weapon by the Umno elite to protect, perpetuate and preserve their own political power.
In fact Pak Lah had in the past slammed Dr M for using the ISA to “silence crtitics” and had solemnly added: “If we want to save Malaysia and Umno, Dr Mahathir must be removed…”
Now, Dr M wants Pak Lah removed. He shamelessly accuses and abuses the PM of the political gangrene that has set in – when he himself is guilty of gutter politics and digging Umno’s grave.
Thorn & Threat
No one has been such a thorn in Umno’s side as Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK). Umno has been hell bent on shutting up Bolehland’s Bravest Blogger, who has told them to “go to hell”.
They tried to “shut down” Malaysia Today but Raja Petra was the least petrified. Then they realized they had made suckers of themselves and ordered access to the blog to be reinstated.
On specious and spurious claims the police detained RPK under section 73(1) of the ISA. RPK sought the help of the courts. But Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, whom no one takes seriously these days, had something more up his sleeve.
On the night before RPK’s habeas corpus hearing in court, Syed Hamid slyly changed his detention order to section 8(1) of the ISA which supercedes the earlier section. RPK was sent to Kamunting for two years and the government did not have to explain why.
RPK’s lead lawyer Malik Imtiaz called the stealthy act “completely unacceptable”. Another lawyer said it was a “mean, dirty trick” that allows the government to “hide behind a veil of secrecy”.
RPK’s wife Marina Lee Abdullah, a woman of great courage, took it in her stride: “This is dirty foul play …but I was expecting this”. Indeed, Umno has become synonymous with slimeballs, slickers and scumbags!
“There are strong grounds for him to be further detained for two years in Kamunting” Syed Hamid stammered, stuttered and strained to make some sense, satisfying no one but himself.
His “grounds” kept on shifting. On Sept. 12 they said he was “a threat to public order and national security”. Later Syed Hamid would say it is “due to Raja Petra’s articles that ridiculed Islam which could arouse anger among Muslims”.
Syed Hamid was silent on the detailed justification of the new detention order. He shied away from giving any “damning evidence” – there was none – though there was solid evidence of the Minister being too asinine to understand what RPK had written!
RPK has already been charged with sedition and defamation after linking the DPM and his wife to the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman. Silencing him under the ISA would seal his fate and of course, his mouth – so they thought!
The police warns us not to speculate on a government takeover. But they “speculate” on a person being a “national security threat”, arrest him/her first and only then carry out an investigation to justify the incarceration. It is easy to speculate on the reason for such blatant abuse by the police.
Suffice to say, far from insulting or ridiculing Islam, RPK has been an exemplary Muslim, who has earned the respect of many non-Muslims and have often saved the good name of Islam from the country’s shallow-narrow-minded “little mullah napoleons”.
Compared to some “Muslims” in Umno, RPK does not shortchange the poor Malay and put the blame on non-Malays; he does not sell his country and stash his money overseas. He does not suck or bleed the country dry or gamble away the country with a racial-religious card.
RPK is seen by many as a principled Muslim who walks the talk – who cannot be bought over, bargained with, bribed, or bullied into submission, nor does he need to brandish a keris. His main concern has been genuine spirituality and not superiority!
RPK is a fearless Muslim. The PM’s Islam Hadhari has failed. Religious polarisation is worsening. This has led him to challenge Muslims in the country to do some serious soul searching that ultimately leads to the truth that Muslims could be their very own worst enemy.
In his writings on religion, RPK has spent his energies on what the PM sees as the role of religious scholars and intellectuals – “combating ignorance and the perversion of religion” and “broadening public understanding of religion, and its role in promoting justice and peace”.
The PM said this when he opened the “International Conference on Religion in the Quest for Global Justice and Peace”, in July this year. But the ignorant and insecure cannot stomach RPK’s uncompromising honesty and his significant role.
We are told that RPK will have to undergo “religious rehabilitation” by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) at Kamunting to enable his speedier release. Such an attempt would be like what he calls (in the title of an article) “spitting in the wind”.
In it he writes: “No, I am not a deviant or a blasphemous Muslim of the worst kind. It is those in government who are. And I will uphold the true Islam and oppose these deviants till my last breath and the last drop of my blood.” Rehabilitation of RPK? Jakim might be sorry for trying!
Free & fearless
RPK has never been a respecter of persons. No one has been spared. He has been a critic of even Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Abdul Hadi Awang, and the parties that make up Pakatan Rakyat.
He does not succumb to nor shiver at the ploys of the powerful or Umno’s scare tactics, saber-rattling tricks, silly threats and sinister theatrics. His “no holds barred” brand of journalism has struck fear in the self-serving sycophants surrounding the PM.
RPK has exposed the sordid details of financial and moral scandals, “exhumed” long-hidden skeletons in the cupboards of Umno, and successfully exhorted whistleblowers to spill the beans in a press statement or statutory declaration.
When Pak Lah tried to sway public support with his four economic corridors, RPK was busy writing about the somnolent PM and his cronies in the “Corridors of Power”, and “chronicling” the stark reality of how the Umno elite has become corrupt to the core.
Umno was frustrated because it was not able to label RPK or lump him or lampoon him as a self-seeking politician. RPK does not gain anything for being a “cyber-warrior” – no political power, position, privilege…and definitely not the premiership! So they arrested him under the ISA.
RPK knew that the “less-travelled” road that he had so boldly chosen would ultimately lead to Kamunting. He has been standing up against the powers that be and prompting the citizens of Bolehland to stand up and be counted – which many did in March this year.
He knew he had to be ready to pay the price for his convictions or be accused of displaying the same hype and hypocrisy of BN and Umno. He had to bear the risks involved in going against a hegemony capable of the most heinous.
He challenged the careful, cautious and calculative middle-class who are often contented in their comfort zones to be courageous and concerned for all races and religions. In an interview in a new book March 8: The Day Malaysia Woke Up he would ask: “How big are your balls?”
RPK may be behind bars but he has started a ripple effect. He has stirred within the average Malaysian an indomitable spirit ready to take on the seemingly insurmountable odds and intimidation by Umno. More bloggers are willing to put their head on the block.
“We are not scared of the government. The government should be scared of us,” RPK once wrote. To a great extent this has become a reality today. People are willing to sacrifice their candle-light dinners to take part in a candle-light procession and to call for an end to the ISA.
RPK has earned the respect of countless in Bolehland and all over the world. Their synergy and solidarity with him cannot be contained – they transcend the walls of the Kamunting Detention Centre.
Selamat Hari Raya Raja Petra !
KUANTAN: As two schoolgirls caught on video in a lesbian romp were suspended from school for two weeks, the Education Department is investigating the existence of a similar clip involving a Form Two girl.
Datuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom
They would also have to attend counselling sessions conducted by counsellors, religious teachers and guest speakers at the district education office from Oct 6.
Aziz hoped this would strengthen them spiritually and make them realise their error which had tarnished the image of their school and families.
He said an investigating committee was set up after receiving a report on the first video last Tuesday.
The committee of the school principal, district education department officers and counsellors identified the students on Wednesday.
The first video is believed to have been recorded at the home of one of the girls in July.
Aziz said the department had no knowledge of the second video but would carry out investigations.
"The second video is something new. Maybe it was brought in from another place before being circulated here."
Yesterday the New Straits Times reported on the second clip circulating here which shows a Form Two student being forced to strip and perform sexual acts by a group of female students.
Sources said the culprits were believed to be responsible for the first video clip.
In Kuala Lumpur, the director-general of education Datuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom, said the ministry viewed the matter seriously and would carry out investigations.
"I have instructed the school inspectorate, state education department and district education department to conduct a thorough investigation before taking further action.
"We will also seek the assistance of police," he said in a statement.
Student's lesbian sex romp video makes the rounds NST, September 23 2008
On reading various reports, I felt the need to give you all first hand what transpired at the intersection of Dataran Merdeka and Tun Perak. I'm sad that we did not meet up with the candle lighters at the Flagpole.
Initially up until 7.15 pm, our numbers were small, possibly not more than 200, yes Penang Man, who came from there was disappointed that we were not allowed into Dataran by our, this time round, pretty much friendly police force. Some of us other seasoned vigil lighters expected it. The numbers rapidly increased, it was a balmy night, all in synchronization, with the somber mood of the people. We lit our candles amidst shouts of "Bebaskan RPK, Bebaskan Semua, Makkal Shakti".
The Hindraf contingent were there in their orange T-Shirts and we were allowed to remain outside Dataran only until 8pm. By now almost three quarters of the intersection was blocked, traffic slowed down to a single lane and we got a lot of support by way of honks and thumbs up from the public.
As we started moving, towards Kothumalar Puliar Temple the numbers kept swelling, it was awesome, as far as the eye could see, all along Jalan Tun Perak, was a swarm of flickering candle lights. Tears welled up, our throats constricted, to see Chinese, Indians, Malaysia, walk side by side, holding up their candles, for all to see, that we're united in our stand to abolish ISA.
By now, as we journeyed Jalan Tun Perak, the traffic was almost at a standstill, while the beginning of the procession was at Menara Maybank, the sea of flickering candles ended near the Mc Donalds. Words cannot describe the feeling of camaraderie that permeated the procession, young and old, Malaysians hailing from all walks of life, of all races, was fighting a common cause to "Abolish ISA".
As we walked towards the temple, we filled the entire T junction from end to end and even across the main road, right until Pudu Raya Bus Station. Temple Prayers were going on, people has not lost the momentum, they were still shouting to be rid of the ISA, while some of the leaders gave their statement to the media present, YB Tian Chauh came by and said a few words.
We lit hundreds of Ghee lamps at the temple for the freedom, of the ISA detainees, we remembered them all - the Hindraf Heroes, our blogger boss YM RPK, our muslim brothers who would not spend Hari Raya with their loved ones, the foreigners, and each of the 64 detainees, we will not let the world forget you.
I could not help noticing those leading the shouts for Hindraf Valaghe were not so much the Indians, but tirelessly it was their Chinese brothers who encouraged, supported and led in the shouts for Hindraf Valaghe!!
As we stood there, people of all races, soaking in the ambience, the words of RPK, resonated, Malays and Non-Malays will fight to protect each other – yesterday I realized, how prophetic his words were. Without doubt I knew that there will not be any hesitation to protect one another – we were all Anak Bangsa Malaysia, no race, no religion will separate us.
None of us wanted to leave, we just wanted to continue to enjoy the spirit of oneness, but soon it was time to bid our goodbyes and encourage each other to continue to fight for the Abolition of the hated ISA.
We could have done many things better, not much experience at this, ma? But we'll try to get better at organizing media release and participant information on time.
Yes my MT siblings, each of us have to continue our Hartal for ISA, until all the detainees are released. We need in large numbers to co-ordinate the sustained efforts, in writing to our MPs, to International bodies, and in all possible ways to oppose the ISA, till it can no longer be used for mere political hegemony. Let the ISA detainees be charged in court or release them.
Let all Malaysian unite and may no unscrupulous politics divide us.
Suara Rakyat, Makkal Shakti.
Folks, slight change of plans.
You will see from the schedule of open houses below, which was kindly prepared by Star Online, that the Raya open house hosted by the PM and other Muslim ministers is in two parts.
The first part, which is for the dignitaries, is from 11.30am-12.30pm.
The second part, for the non-dignitary rakyat to have the left-overs after the dignitaries have feasted, is from 12.30pm to 4.30pm.
I don’t want to eat left-overs. In fact, I don’t want to eat anything that BN is serving. And so I will not be attending the ’second class’ segment.
I’m going for the 11.30am segment.
I’ll be dressed in
Incidentally, those of you who are keen to get the RPK T-shirts may want to get in touch with Gan at 016-3021125.
Back to tomorrow.
I’ll be meeting up with friends in the vicinity of Secret Recipe at the Mall around 11.00am before moving on to PWTC.
For those of you who must have further details, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Viveg, Chris and all you people in Penang, please note that Pak Lah is having an open house up north on 4th October.
How about it?
But if the named successor is Mohd Najib Razak, then, really what difference would that make ... would he do anything differently from what has been done by the present Prime Minister - I do not think so. There has been no instance of any indication that he is different...or that he would have done something different from the PM.
In fact, Mohd Najib Razak would really not be the best choice at all for the weakened UMNO and Barisan Nasional.
Read more at: http://charleshector.blogspot.com/2008/09/is-malaysia-heading-for-another-new.html
With RPK imprisoned for such a long time, many have lost hope or are losing hope of there ever being a change in the government. They may still want Pakatan in power, but when asked if they still support Anwar, many are now hesitating. They blame Anwar for procrastinating. They blame Anwar for each day that RPK remains locked away.
DO NOT ALLOW SYED BOTAK TO MANIPULATE YOU! Yes, deadlines have been broken time and time again but Malaysians still need to believe that change can happen. Even if you do not want to believe in Anwar's or Pakatan's promises any longer, we can still make this change happen.
We people have a say as well. Why do we need to keep depending on someone to lead us? Such leaders can always be locked away. But if ALL of us start doing our little bit to help, there are just not going to be enough space in our prisons to hold all of us.
Everyone of us are able to contribute to change, even if it may be considered extremely miniscule to others. But all these little acts of showing solidarity will add up. It does not matter what others choose to do. Why put them down for not doing enough? We are all together in this. Some do not mind a bigger role but others still need to conquer their fears. It is ok. We all want the same things.
Let us show Syed Hamid that he did not sign away our spirit.
By Freedom for All