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Monday, October 20, 2008

A Malaysian Murder Trial to Nowhere

ImageTwo years after Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu was murdered, her accusers continue to sit in a courtroom

Last Saturday it was exactly two years since a 28-year-old Mongolian translator, Altantuya Shaariibuu was executed and blown up with military explosives in a jungle on the fringe of Kuala Lumpur. And, despite what looked like a routine case in which abundant physical evidence and one confession would be enough for a guilty verdict, the trial of her three accused murderers has been droning on for nearly 18 months.

As the trial grinds on as it has for months, the elephant in the courtroom remains the deputy prime minister, Najib Tun Razak, who along with his wife, Rosmah Mansor, has so far escaped questioning or being called as a witness despite two statutory declarations and other evidence linking them to the dead woman. The questions over Najib’s involvement, or lack of it, are growing in urgency because he is now on track to become the country’s prime minister after Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi designated him last month as his successor.

The three standing trial are Abdul Razak Baginda, a 48-year-old former advisor and close friend of Najib’s, and two of Najib’s bodyguards, who were part of an elite unit specializing in protecting top political figures.

The latest twist is a set of text messages between Najib and Shafee Abdullah, who was represents Razak Baginda, according to an October 11 report on the website Malaysia Today, whose editor, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, currently is standing trial on sedition charges for accusing Najib of being part of the plot to kill Altantuya. In one piece, Raja Petra accused Rosmah of having been present when Altantuya was murdered. She has denied the charge and offered to sue Raja Petra.

One message from Shafee to Najib said: "We provided (the police) everything, including old PDAs and notebooks and a couple of bills. Nothing incriminating." Malaysia Today said the exchange raises questions if anything "incriminating" was kept from the police.

Malaysia Today also suggested that that the message exchange may indicate that Najib had abused his powers as deputy prime minister to interfere with the investigation. Najib subsequently denied that he had abused his power, told reporters the messages are "private" and refused further comment.

"Why do I need to comment? There is no abuse of power," the deputy prime minister told local reporters. ""Why should it be of major concern? The important thing is if there is abuse of power and, if you read it carefully, there is no abuse of power, period."

In any case, whatever the new revelations may be, Najib and Rosmah have remained above it all, gracing functions and appearing in feel-good articles in the government-controlled local media, dishing out platitudes on unity, friendship, integrity and economic management.

Those who exposed the more gruesome aspects of the trial like Raja Petra Kamarudin, editor of Malaysia Today, and P Balasubramaniam, a private investigator hired by Baginda to keep watch on Altantuya, have come under scrutiny. In addition to the sedition charge, Raja Petra is facing charges of criminal defamation for publishing articles on the murder while Bala has gone into hiding after being pulled into a police station to hurriedly retract a statutory declaration which, among other things, claimed that Baginda told him that Najib introduced Altantuya to him in a diamond exhibition in Hong Kong and that she enjoyed anal sex.

Local bloggers are the most vociferous champions of Altantuya. One wrote a gruesome fictional first-person account of how Altantuya may have experienced the murder.

The local media, on the other hand, have buried stories on the murder trial to the inside pages and commentaries calling for justice are rare.

The usual reason given for editors for shying away from the issue is that it is subjudice although occasionally photographs of Najib holding a machine gun or detonating a bomb, and Rosmah aiming a rifle are published in relation to stories on the Defence Ministry, which Najib also heads.

Najib has been widely reported to have been involved as defense minister in a series of unsavoury purchases of submarines, jet fighter planes and other armaments on which individuals close to him, including Razak Baginda, and the United Malays National Organisation earned vast “commissions.” There is strong circumstantial evidence that Altantuya was the translator on at least one of the series of transactions involving the submarine purchases.

There are other questions over how somehow Abdul Razak was allegedly able to involve Najib’s bodyguards in the murder without Najib’s knowledge. Abdul Razak reportedly spoke with Najib’s chief of staff to ask for someone to “do something” about Altantuya, who was harassing him for money after he attempted to end their affair. One of the two bodyguards confessed to the murder, but the confession was stricken, allegedly because the statement wasn’t cautioned. Numerous amounts of other evidence have been tossed out in the marathon case, raising suspicions that the proceedings are being drawn out to prepare for either acquittals or diminished sentences for the three, perhaps to keep them from pointing the finger at Najib.

Now the former premier, Mahathir Mohamad, has come to Najib's defence. He told The Star on Oct 18, that there is a "concerted effort" to demonise Najib. "“I faced all that before. I was labelled many things and was accused of everything," Mahathir said, referring to the countless allegations levelled against him, including fomenting judicial corruption, since he retired.

Uthaya in court to face sedition trial(Malaysiakini)

ISA-detained Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar is in Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court this morning for his sedition trial over a letter which he posted on a website.

MCPX

The letter, addressed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, highlighted the alleged marginalisation of Indians in Malaysia.

uthayakumar hindraf hospital medical aid 200508 03In the letter, Uthayakumar also sought the help of the British government to move emergency UN resolution condemning ethnic cleansing in Malaysia.

The letter was dated Nov 15, 2007 and sent from Hindraf main office in Seremban.

Uthayakumar, in ISA detention since Dec 13 for undertaking Hindraf activities, was charged on Dec 11. He pleaded not guilty and is out on a RM50,000 bail before he was detained under the detention-without-trial Act two days later.

He was charged under Section 4 (1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 which carries a fine of not exceeding RM5,000 or a jail term not exceeding three years or both for a first offence.

Prosecution is led by deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozeela Raja Toran while N Surindran and M Manoharan represent Uthayakumar.

Commotion in court

Hearing is before Sessions judge Sabariah Othman but the trial today was preceded by a small commotion in the courtroom when the case was moved to another court, but also before the same judge.

Hindraf supporters were unhappy when they were not allowed into the new courtroom. A shouting match ensued between the supporters and the police, with Uthayakumar - wearing a white shirt and a blue pants - joining in as well.

He was brought from Kamunting detention centre for the trial yesterday.

A woman fainted in the ensuing disorder and was taken to a hospital in an ambulance.

More than 150 Hindraf supporters had gathered at the court complex since early morning for the case.

The government had banned the organisation last week for playing up sensitive issues.

BN parties must speak out

On a related matter, Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy urged all BN component parties to make their stand on the banning of Hindraf and the real problems facing the ethnic Indian community.

"Hindraf urges component parties within BN to come out of their cocoon and speak up the truth on the real situation facing the Indians and the impact of the Umno repression on Hindraf which is causing great uneasiness amongst the people," he said in a statement today.

He said that the Umno-led government "cannot go on forever silencing all legitimate voice of democracy in the unfounded and malicious allegation of national security".

He said the BN component parties have a moral duty to speak up the truth in the larger national interest and to protect and uphold the rule of law.

Speaker rejects emergency motion on Hindraf

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia today rejected an emergency motion moved by M Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) last week to discuss the government's recent ban on Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).

MCPX

The speaker rejected the motion on the grounds that the matter was not urgent enough because the members of parliament still have the opportunity to discuss the ban on the ongoing budget debate session.

"They still can discuss the (Hindraf) issue during the budget debate session, there is an opportunity to do so. Why would we need an emergency motion for it?" asked Pandikar.

Last Wednesday, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar banned the movement after the ministry was satisfied with the facts and evidence which showed that "Hindraf had (been) and was being used for unlawful purposes and posed a threat to public order and morality".

The ban received criticism, especially from the Pakatan leaders as they described it as against the principles of democracy and rights.

A straining relationship between Umno and MCA

By Leslie Lau
Consultant Editor(themalaysianinsider)

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — The message from the delegates and members of the MCA was loud and clear.

They want a party leadership which is more vocal, and which can be seen by the public as having the gumption to stand up to Umno on important issues.

In other words, despite the denials of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Umno is perceived to be a bully in the Barisan Nasional and MCA members want a stop to that.

The mood in last weekend’s MCA general assembly was decidedly hostile towards their most significant BN partner.

“I do not know how clear a message Umno wanted that the MCA feels they are a bully. They just deny it as if what we say did not count,” a close associate of Datuk Ong Ka Ting, who completed his term of office over the weekend as party president, told The Malaysian Insider.

During the assembly, Ong had spoken about how the public perceived Umno as being too dominant in the BN coalition.

While there was no call from the floor during the assembly for the MCA to leave the BN coalition, there was a clear consensus among many delegates that the party would go down in the next general election if the current arrangement and relationship with Umno continues without change.

That was perhaps the most significant reason behind some clearly surprising results in the party elections.

While the election of Datuk Ong Tee Keat, known as a vocal political maverick, was not a surprise, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek caused a major shock in overcoming the hurdle of a sex scandal to win the deputy presidency.

Although both leaders created much animosity with each other during the election campaign, the delegates viewed them both as vocal and outspoken leaders, whom they hoped would stand up to Umno.

But the two men will be hard pressed to deliver on their promises because of Umno’s continued refusal to acknowledge the groundswell of anti-Umno sentiment, especially among the non-Malay communities.

From a platform of reforms and openness, Umno looks likely to become more insular under the likely leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

This is because of the reverse sentiment among the hardcore in Umno.

There is a growing feeling among Umno that the MCA and other parties like Gerakan have been making enough noises in the period since the March general election.

Umno grassroots now want the party leadership to reassert its dominance and leadership of the BN and the country.

There will be a tendency to be less tolerant of dissent among Umno’s incoming leadership.

Even the idea floated by MCA Youth last week of the BN appointing a deputy chairman from the MCA has not been greeted warmly by Umno.

In light of the situation, a resurgent MCA and an Umno eager to flex its muscles could be headed for a clash.

Uthayakumar in court for sedition

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — Hindraf leader P. Uthayakumar appeared in the Jalan Duta courts today, facing a charge of sedition for allegedly publishing seditious materials in a letter addressed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown last November.

The Internal Security Act detainee’s trial, which was scheduled to begin at 9am in front of Sessions Court judge Sabariah Othman, was delayed as she ordered the court to stand down until Uthayakumar, a lawyer, was produced in court.

The four-member prosecution team, led by DPP Raja Rozela Raja Toran, said it would be presenting four witnesses today. Uthayakumar is represented by M. Manogaran and N. Surendran. He was among five Hindraf leaders detained under the ISA last December for their role in the movement.

The defence asked the court to stand down slightly after 11am as they wanted to speak to their client.

MORE TO COME

311 organisations endorse memorandum demanding for abolition of the ISA

Contributed by Noor Arianti Binti Osman

Noor AriantiKUALA LUMPUR, Sunday, 19 October 2008 – “The Bar Council will keep up the deafening sound of objections against the ISA,” said Lim Chee Wee, the Secretary of the Bar Council, in his speech during the gathering to endorse the abolition of the Internal Security Act, 1960 held at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) today.

Also speaking at the gathering were Dato’ Bong Hon Liong, President of KLSCAH, Dr. Yap Sin Tian, Chairman of Dong Zong, Tan Sri Lim Gait Tong, President of the Federation of Chinese Assembly Hall (FECAM), Ong Chiow Chuan, President of Jiao Zong, Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, Chaiman of Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI), Norlaila Othman, wife of ISA detainee Mat Sah Mohd Satray, Marina Lee Abdullah, wife of Raja Petra Kamarudin and Haris Ibrahim, lawyer and founder of the blog, The People’s Parliament.

Based on the record provided by GMI Secretariat Enalini Elumalai, this year alone GMI has organised over 30 events calling for abolition of the ISA. Today’s endorsement by various organisations from all over the country is seen as the beacon of hope for this draconian law to be abolished in very near future.

Lim Chee Wee in his speech also noted that endorsements are received from organisations, which comprise not only human rights activists, political parties on both sides of the spectrum and educationists, but even business people. If even business people whom are conservative are concerned about ISA, this goes to show how threatening the public as a whole find ISA, he explained. He also urged the Prime Minister to add repealing ISA as his fourth initiative to his three promised initiatives before he steps down.

Norlaila, also known as Kak Laila, stressed that the best way to recruit support is by word of mouth. Marina suggested GMI to hold this sort of gathering all over the country to increase the momentum.

Haris announced that The People’s Parliament has started “ISA Candlelight Vigil” last week and invited the audience to attend the second vigil tonight. “Let’s do it in every state and keep doing it until ISA is abolished,” he said.

The gathering which ended at about 1pm saw about 300 people from the various organisations in attendance, including the President of Pertubuhan Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM), Tn Hj Zaid Kamaruddin.

Also present were Brendan Siva, HR Dipendra and Richard Wee representing the Kuala Lumpur Bar, Syamsuriatina Ishak representing the Selangor Bar as well as the Bar Council Human Rights Committee and Amer Hamzah Arshad, Andy Yong, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, Maria Soosai Raj and Seira Sacha Abu Bakar also from the Bar Council Human Rights Committee.

Challenge to MCA/Gerakan MPs - support parliamentary debate on ISA review

(LimKitSiang) DAP MP for Seputeh and Selangor Senior Exco, Teresa Kok Suh Sim has given notice to move a motion deploring the Internal Security Act (ISA) detention of Sin Chew senior reporter Tan Hoon Cheng, blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin and herself last month and to call for the repeal of the draconian and undemocratic detention-without-trial law.

Teresa’s motion on the ISA is listed No. 41 on today’s Order Paper. Together with 33 other private member’s motion, Teresa’s ISA motion would not have a chance to see the light of day and being debated in Parliament unless the Barisan Nasional government agrees to amend the Order Paper to give it priority over all other parliamentary business.

Yesterday, the MCA’s 55th annual general assembly adopted a resolution urging the Government to review the Internal Security Act and establish a check and balance system to ensure that it strictly applies to terrorism and cases with subversive elements.

A week ago, the Gerakan’s 37th national delegates conference passed the resolution calling for the repeal of the ISA and the introduction of an anti-terrorism law in accordance with a proposal by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

The main burden of the speech by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his capacity as Barisan Nasional (BN) Chairman at his last outing at the MCA general assembly on Saturday was to scoff at suggestions that Umno is the domineering partner in BN and to deny that UMNO is a “bully” vis-à-vis other parties in BN.

However, Abdullah’s denial totally lacked credibility not only from the rich catalogue of past instances of Umno as “bully in BN”, but in the summary and cavalier manner in which he rejected the MCA call for review of the ISA – stating categorically that there are no plans to review the ISA.

Are the other BN component parties “equal partners” in BN, or are they just supplicants or “beggars” to quote former Gerakan President, Tun Dr. Lim Keng Yaik after his retirement from politics to describe the relationship of the other BN component parties to UMNO after his retirement from politics?

If “power sharing” among the BN component parties is meaningful and genuine, and not just empty talk, then the considered proposals of the BN component parties, particularly resolutions adopted at their respective annual conferences, should be given serious consideration by the government-of-the-day.

If resolutions adopted at Umno general assemblies are virtually adopted as government policy of the day, while resolutions of MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP and the BN Sabah and Sarawak component parties are completely ignored and dismissed with contempt, how can Umno claim that it is not “domineering” and not a “bully in BN”?

As both the MCA and Gerakan national conferences have adopted resolutions calling for the review and even repeal of the ISA, this has become a test of whether power sharing in BN continues to be a farce, Umno continues with its domineering and bully ways in BN while MCA and Gerakan continue as supplicants and beggars – or whether the BN coalition is to be reconstituted on a more equitable basis to reflect a meaningful power-sharing concept.

If MCA and Gerakan MPs (including Ministers/Deputy Ministers) dare not support a parliamentary debate on review of ISA, what is the use of MCA and Gerakan passing resolutions on ISA in their national conferences?

I am raising this point as I am calling on all MPs, whether Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional, to support a joint call to the Prime Minister to give government consent to move Teresa’s ISA motion from No. 41 to the very top of the parliamentary business, so that it could be debated in Parliament.

Abdullah should not usurp the powers of Parliament and allow Parliament to decide whether there should be a review and repeal of ISA, especially in view of the resolutions passed by both MCA and Gerakan annual conferences making the very same call.

I have no doubt that the majority of the 13-party BN coalition would support the review and repeal of the ISA.

In fact, if a vote is taken in the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council on whether to review and repeal the ISA, allowing each component party to vote according to its mandate given by its national congress, the outcome could be 12-1 or 11-2 in favour of review and repeal.

Isn’t Umno behaving like the “big bully in BN ” in refusing to consider review and repeal of ISA when Umno is outnumbered by 12-1 or 11-2 in BN on this important question about human rights and democracy in Malaysia?

Furthermore, the call for the abolition of ISA has the support of the civil society as demonstrated by the endorsement of 363 organisations for the mass petition to repeal the ISA in a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The “Free MP Teresa Kok” parliamentary caucus will meet tomorrow and I will suggest that the caucus, apart from broadening the scope of its terms of reference to work for the repeal of the ISA as Teresa has been released after a eight-day ISA stint, endorse the campaign to get all MPs genuinely concerned about ISA and shocked by the gross abuses of the draconian law to sign a joint petition to the Prime Minister to bring up Teresa’s ISA motion so that it could be debated when Parliament reconvenes after the Deepavali holidays on Oct. 29.

This would be particularly significant as a debate on Teresa’s ISA motion on Oct. 29 could serve as Parliament marking the 11th anniversary of the infamous Operation Lalang in 1987 when four MPs at the time and who are still in Parliament were among 106 persons detained arbitrarily under the ISA – namely Karpal Singh, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, Lim Guan Eng and myself.

Over 300 gather in PJ calling for end to ISA( by: anilnetto)

Once again, a crowd gathered in PJ to call for the repeal of the ISA (Photo by Rakyat@Work)

Bebaskan RPK! Mansuhkan ISA! (Photo by Rakyat@Work)

Shackled by the ISA: Over in Penang, the Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) held a commemoration of the 21st anniversary of Operation Lalang outside Prangin Mall with live bands, an ISA exhibition and talks (Photo by Mustafa K Anuar. More pics here and here.)

Blog reader kereem sums up the PJ event like this:

Great night! Great sing-a-long too! What an atmosphere… loved it! Felt so safe last week that I brought my daughter and wife along. Hope we will fill up the padang in no time

Rakyat@Work reports for anilnetto.com from Petaling Jaya:

2115: The rain pelts down now; more cars are honking and they are met with more cheers of approval from the crowd. Time to go back. People start leaving…. Well, another night is over.

My mate and I head towards our car, walking silenty and quietly, satisfed with the night. Our thoughts are with RPK, just hoping he was with us. I wonder what he is doing right this moment. We still need to pray hard and to continue until RPK and all the other ISA detainees are set free. That’s our target and that’s our mission… That’s the minimum standard we’re talking about, the new nation and the new rakyat! Good Night and God Bless All.

2045: By this time, it has started to drizzle - but who cares. Marina has arrived, and she utters a few words of encouragement and gratitude to all the rakyat for their loving support. She adds that RPK will know about what we have been doing. Greeting cards are piling up but the authourities have been limiting RPK to only a few. After that, more handshake for new well wishers.

Well known bloggers then take turns to update us with what’s happening with RPK’s case and many other initiatives the rakyat can support. But the night has to belong to these words that we chant:

“Bebaskan!” cries a solitary voice.

“RPK!” the crowd of over 300 responds.

“Mansuhkan!” rings out the solitary voice.

“ISA!!!” the crowd roars back.

Repeated in random order, 20x.

The night ends with the release of all the balloons. Yes… fly free, RPK!

2030: Without a proper programme, you never know what to expect next; you just move along and somehow everything will be all right. Our action blogger gets it going: All right, gather round people, let me introduce you tonight, our dear (singer and guitarist ) is gonna sing us some nice songs. If you know the lyrics, just sing along. (Sing it loud enough to the heavens so that RPK can hear us through his spirit: I added quietly in my heart.) And so it began.

I understand the blogger will published the lyrics to this song in his blog; he agrees to do that. Trust me, the words and melody are so… touching and appropriate. Sorry you have to wait to hear it but I know very soon it’s gonna be a hit.

I phone Anil when we all sang ‘Imagine”; my hair stands on end, not because its lousy but it’s so touching when you hear the crowd all sing together. Sometimes, tears can come in many ways; this is surely one of those. The musicians belt out a couple other songs, in Mandarin, and Malay too. Rasa Sayang? La-bamba? Great.

And when it comes to “Blowing In the wind”… During chorus… my words just refuse to come out cos I’m choked with emotion. Oh dear, whats going on? Take a deep breath and sing out loud!!! “The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind….” More cheering and clapping, it’s the moment…

2015: People just coming in groups and families. Someone has already spelled the words with candles “NO 2 ISA FREE RPK”. People are mixing in small groups and camera begin flashing.

Met two guys with guitars and a great blogger who cordinated their chorus for us later on. I took some pics of the lyrics and the blogger reminds me that it is copyrighted and that I should mention their ownership, to which I readily agree. As I’m very careful and respect names, I rather not mention cos I may mispell and that could be embarassing. Anyway, other blogs will identify who they are, okay?

All right! Music in the air, balloons evrywhere - can you imagine that, folks? Wish you all were here. Again, as one would expect, the crowds are swelling now. It’s definitely more than last week’s… I move on like a real ‘pro-journalist’ taking pictures, occasionally stopping to talk to (strangers?) my extended family. Man, it’s fun! Brought with me another digital camera tonight alongside a camcorder; this should make me look like a real pro, ya?

2000: Small crowds of people were there much earlier though we arrive at about 8.00pm. The first thing we see are some beautiful coloured ballons. Great! I suppose this is a symbol to set RPK free as well, says my partner whom I got acquainted with during RPK’s court case.

Siaran Langsung Perbahasan di Parlimen

Siaran Langsung Perbahasan di Parlimen

PEJABAT DATUK SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM

Who says NST's "an old rag"?

(Rocky's Bru)


Another revamp, with or without the god and his angel. The Board of NSTP meets today and one of the things it will discuss is the resignation of Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan and the expiring contract of Group Editor-in-chief Hishamuddin Aun.
I'm not sure if the Board knows about "an exhaustive revamp" of the NST due to roll out in January 2009 (pls ignore the little mistake about the year in the memo above). Meetings on the revamp are due to start next month.
It seems that the young jounalists at the NST view their paper like an old rag.

Teresa's 2009 Budget speech (1 of 4)

Uthayakumar's day in court

(Rocky's bru)
I haven't changed my mind about Hindraf.
Read my posting Why I didn't Walk yesterday? posted on Nov 26 last year, the day after P. Uthayakumar led the march in KL of thousands of Hindraf supporters against the "ethnic cleansing" in Malaysia. In that posting I produced a memorandum submitted by Hindraf to the British Government.

I haven't changed my stand on the ISA, either. I am totally against it, and I believe the Government must release all ISA detainees and charge and each and every one of them in court.

It's with considerable interest, therefore, that I read h e r e about Uthayakumar's date with the court of law this morning. Haris Ibrahim says the sedition laws are used to silence legitimate dissent. I agree with him that sedition laws are used to silence legitimate dissent, but was Hindraf's - and Uthayakumar's - dissent legitimate?

Uthayakumar's trial will take us back to Hindraf's memorandum to the British government and the various allegations made in that memorandum.

I am not going to reproduce the Hindraf memorandum with this posting; anyone who wishes to read it may click h e r e.
Also Uthayakumar's Singapore Interview h e r e.

Ong: MCA members must dare to speak up

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA members must adopt the attitude of “dare to be angry, dare to speak up and dare to act” in order to re-engineer the party to regain the people’s confidence.

Party president Datuk Ong Tee Keat said being daring should not only be the party’s slogan but should also be the characteristic of its politicians. “We must also dare to dream and dare to implement. What we have not done in the past does not mean that it is something that we cannot implement.

“For example, we never dared to dream of having non-Malays as deputy vice-chancellors at public universities but we now have three Chinese and one Indian holding these posts,” he said when winding up the debate at the end of the party’s annual general assembly on Sunday.

On having two top leaders who are very strong-headed in the party, Ong agreed that both he and his deputy Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek were “very strong”.

“However, we are not tough in an unreasonable way but instead we are objective and able to work as team members.”

He said the most important thing for both of them was not to back out and give up when faced with tough challenges but hold strong to their principles, beliefs and responsibilities.

On him and Dr Chua, who are described as kangkung (weng chai), Ong said whether the food was delicious or not, it depended on the skills of the chefs, who were the central delegates.

“You (central delegates) are the one cooking the dish and you will be the one who taste it,” he said. He said it was a must for the party to reform and re-engineer to win back the people’s confidence. “In any process of reformation, it is impossible to see immediate results.

“We will have to draft a plan which fits the different situations in the five Pakatan Rakyat-led to fight this battle,” he said.

Later at a press conference, Ong said he would only announce the appointments in the party and the fate of one minister and two deputy ministers who lost in the party election at a later date.

- The Star

The Hundraf of Umno’s making

By Helen Ang

There is no typing error above; I did spell ‘Hundraf’ for Human Rights Action Force. Hundraf is the twin spirit of Makkal Sakthi, an expression translated as People Power, not Indian Power.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar is reported by Bernama as saying the Indians are not neglected in Malaysia. What he implied is that Indians have little cause for complaint and thus the complaining Hindraf have no basis for their struggle.


Syed Hamid in announcing the ban on Hindraf said the Indian community was quite well represented with 14 Members of Parliament, 21.4% in the legal fraternity, 18.4% in medicine and their income was 1.2 times higher than the Malays.

Out of his count of 14 Indian MPs, only three are from MIC compared to six from DAP. There are three from PKR and one from PSM — Samy-slayer of Sg Siput, the redoubtable Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj. If Indians are ‘well represented’, it is no thanks to BN. (I could only recognise 13 Indian names, maybe I missed someone or perhaps there is a Malay Dilemma-ed MP in the House.)

Regarding the statistics Syed Hamid cited, may I ask how many Indian lawyers and doctors got their degrees from Malaysian public universities? And secondly, how many had their education paid for by the state?

This is what blog commentator Parameswara tells me about one of the Hindraf-5 lawyers: “To my knowledge. R. Kengadharan the eldest son of a postal worker and housewife, completed his law studies on the meagre proceeds of a single storey house that was hocked to a financial institution to procure a study loan. Having returned from his studies, he not only paid off the loan but educated his siblings through the same house and earning from his law practice.”

And DAP’s Tony Pua says of another Hindraf-5 lawyer V. Ganabathirau:

“Gana never manage to have the privilege of completing his education at one go. After finishing Form 5, he had to take up various odd jobs to help support himself and his family. That however, did not prevent him from investing his earnings and taking up part-time courses to pursue his ambition of becoming an officer of the court. His dream came true in his late twenties when he graduated with a law degree from the University of London external programme.”

Those who hold external or foreign degrees are required to additionally have the Certificate of Legal Practice, a hard-to-pass Malaysian exam designed to block entry into the profession.

SPIN ON STATISTICS

Syed Hamid conveniently forgot other professional fields where Indians are under-represented. From the same table of statistics that he drew his figures, here’s what the Minister omitted: Of architects, 45.3% are bumiputera, 1.4% are Indian. Of engineers, 46.0% are bumiputera, 5.4% are Indian.

I have statistics as well: While Indians accounted for 9.8% of civil servants in the 1980s, they were 5.2% in 2003. Malays are fast increasing in numbers in the skilled professions and dominating government and GLC posts, while the Indians are regressing in proportionate numbers.

And more statistics: In the present Abdullah cabinet, there is one Indian out of 27 Ministers — 3.7%. The Indian share in 2004 of corporate wealth (ownership of capital at par value) is 1.2%.

Now with regard to those living under the poverty line, Syed Hamid said Indians comprised 2.9%, Chinese 0.6% and Malays 8.3%. Again, he has deliberately obscured the truth. He said ‘Malays’. Wrong, it’s bumiputera 8.3%. These figures come from the Ninth Malaysia Plan. The poorest, least helped among bumiputera are the Orang Asli of the peninsula and the indigenes of Sabah and Sarawak who are not Muslim.

How did the statistics measure ‘poor’?

Over 300,000 Indians have been displaced in the last two decades after they lost their jobs in the plantations. In 2005, it was reported that more than 30% of Indians did not own a house. Indians are squatters in urban centres or the periphery; Indian vagrants sleep in the street — you have seen them.

The poverty line income used for 2004 in Peninsular Malaysia was RM663 per month for urban areas, and RM657 for rural areas. The Department of Statistics, ior year 2000, reported that out of approximately 1.68 million Indians, some 80% were urban and the remaining 20% rural.

If one lived in his own house in the kampung, he does not have to pay rent. If one planted vegetables on his land and reared chicken, he spends less on food. The use of household income as a single yardstick (RM663-urban and RM657-rural; the RM6 differential fails to reflect the cost of living gap between the two regions) does not signal the true level of deprivation.

While on paper mean household income may look more for Indians, it is an average jacked up by the earnings of Indian professionals, and Ananda Krishnan. But the figures also indicate class differences within any one community. Just as the Tan Sri Chinese tycoons have absolutely no bearing on my daily life, how much does the monthly income of RM3,456 attributed to Indians reflect their salary overall?

Yayasan Strategic Sosial in 2005 put 30% of Indians in the bottom strata of society, and 20% in the top strata. My analogy would be that for the one doctor and one lawyer Syed Hamid mentioned, you have three low-wage earners in the labourer, cleaner and production worker. Drawing from the same statistical pool dipped by the Minister, while Indians made up 7.5% of Malaysia’s population, they constituted 14.7% in the elementary occupations.

Next, Syed Hamid said the overall income of the Indian was 1.2 times higher than Malay. Heck, if I’m Indian and took home RM3,456 a month, why would I want to go out and demonstrate? So where does the Tamil underclass that is the backbone of Hindraf come from then?

TEMPLES IN A ROW

Are the Indians a community in distress? How about looking at this set of social indicators? There were 2,555 suicides nationwide [Health Ministry report cited by NST in Sept, 2005], and 21.1 suicides per 100,000 Indians, 2.6 per 100,000 Malays. They are killing themselves in despair, it would seem.

Syed Hamid further claimed that there is a ratio of one temple to 149 Hindus and one mosque to 2,300 Muslims in this country. Aaah, the good Minister must have gone around the country tallying the little Hindu shrines under trees and altars lodged in rock crevices. I hope these ‘temples’ — one for every 149 Hindus — are marked on maps because tourists may like to visit them.

He also equated action against Hindraf to action taken against Al-Arqam, Al-Ma'unah and Kumpulan Militan Malaysia in the past, saying “The government's priority is to protect the security of Malaysians”.

As a Malaysian, I do not feel threatened by the Muslims of Al-Arqam as I know the Malays to be a race full of kindness and budi bahasa. And as for the KMM, Syed Hamid as Home Minister should sign the order for their immediate release from ISA; prove their militancy in open court. Otherwise, I could think that Syed Hamid has committed fitnah, a grave sin in Islam, to allege his fellow ummah are militants.

Lastly, Syed Hamid said the government “cannot tolerate groups that propagate extremism and stir up racial and religious tension” and accused them of having “created fear among the people”. Yet it appears to me as if he is describing Umno factions. Is Umno going to be declared illegal soon too?
- Centre for Policy Initiatives

Can Abdullah’s last five months as PM survive the return of Mahathirism?

“Who is he, asks Abdullah” is the New Sunday Times headline for the report of what it described as “The gloves came off yesterday.”

The New Sunday Times reported from Kota Kinabalu yesterday that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s “patience finally wore off and he lambasted his predecessor, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad”, viz:


Abdullah said Dr Mahathir was acting as if it was he (Dr Mahathir) who should determine who played what role in the party.

“Who is he? He has left Umno but he still issues orders to members of Umno. The party does not need to take orders from anyone who is no longer a member of the party,” said Abdullah who was here to attend the Hari Malaysia and closing of the Merdeka month celebrations.

“He is trying to create a rift and (incite) anger and hatred. What is wrong with people who work with me? He is trying to teach people to hate one another.”

The Umno president said this in referring to a posting on Dr Mahathir’s blog, calling on Umno to rid itself of all those who supported Abdullah, referring to them as “toadies”.

“Who is he when he is no longer a member of UMNO?”

Abdullah cannot be naïve in not knowing the answer to his own query, although his rhetorical question is meant to convey his frustration, impotence and bitterness than to elicit a real answer.

The answer is clear for all – the country is witnessing the return of Mahathirism with the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad seen as having become the single most powerful and influential individual to UMNO although he is “no longer a member of the party”.

In fact it would be more congruent with the power reality for Mahathir to ask, “Who is he” when referring to Abdullah, than for Abdullah to pose this question vis-à-vis Mahahtrir.

This is because Mahathir was transformed from a gadfly into “king-maker” on October 8 the instant Abdullah announced that he had buckled down to pressures in Umno Supreme Council for an early exit as Prime Minister next March and would not defend the post of Umno President.

This is obvious from the following incidents:

· Cabinet Ministers beginning to distance themselves from Abdullah after the Oct. 8 announcement as observed and deplored by the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Johari Baharom earlier this week;

· Overnight reversal of role with Abdullah’s son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin transformed from “top dog” to “underdog” in Umno Youth chief election – while Mukhriz Mahathir swept nominations including securing the requisite 39 nominations to contest Umno Youth chief in the first of four weekends for nominations while Khairy is still struggling to get his “passport” to contest even after a second weekend of nominations. Mukhriz would be in Khairy’s shoes, struggling to get the requisite 39 nominations, if not for Abdullah’s Oct. 8 announcement.

· The landmark Hari Raya Open House of Umno stalwart Rauf Yusoh on Tuesday evening, where the guests and guests-of-honour signal the real wielders of power in Umno and Barisan Nasional government today – Najib Razak, Muhyiddin Yasin, Syed Hamid Albar, Shafie Apdal together with Mahathir.

Abdullah also zeroed in on Muhyiddin in his lambasting in Kota Kinabalu yesterday, as the International Trade and Industry Minister had called for the Umno party elections to revert back from March next year to December, as it is also tantamount to forcing Abdullah to an earlier exit as Prime Minister in December as well.

In fact, Mahathir had never hidden his position that he wants Abdullah to step down immediately, claiming that there is nothing Abdullah could achieve as Prime Minister in the next five months.

Abdullah should know that his writ has now shrunk to very limited power, scope and effect – whether in government or even in Cabinet.

Although in response to Abdullah’s uncharacteristic outburst, Muhyiddin has backed off and denied that his call for early Umno party elections meant that Abdullah speed up the transfer of power to Najib, Abdullah should have a healthy cynicism and skepticism when his original June 2010 power transition plan had been scuttled repeatedly by the same tactics.

The question Abdullah faces is: can his last five months as Prime Minister survive the return of Mahathirism?

Will the Umno Supreme Council meeting tomorrow decide another modification of the power-transition plan, reverting the Umno party elections to December and shortening Abdullah’s five-month exit as Prime Minister by another three months?

Even if Umno Supreme Council just decide on reverting back the Umno party elections to December without any mention about the power-transition plan, what is there to stop a resolution by acclamation at the Umno General Assembly in December demanding the immediate transfer of power for Najib to take over as the sixth Prime Minister instantly after the Umno general assembly?

Najib belum selamat,Abdullah sedang susun strategi

KUALA LUMPUR, 19 Okt (Hrkh) - Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak berkemungkinan tidak berpeluang untuk mengambil alih jawatan Perdana Menteri ekoran beberapa isu terkini yang dikaitkan dengan beliau.

Beberapa penganalisa politik berkata, Perdana Menteri, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi biarpun ditekan hebat oleh pemimpin Umno agar berundur diri tidak akan melepaskan jawatan tersebut dengan mudah.

Sebaliknya, Abdullah kini sedang menyusun strategi untuk memerangkap Najib dengan pelbagai isu yang boleh memusnahkan impian anak bekas Perdana Menteri kedua itu untuk menerajui kerajaan.

Abdullah yang dibantu oleh menantu beliau, Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar bersama geng tingkat empatnya sedang mengumpul sebanyak mungkin bukti penyalahgunaan kuasa yang dilakukan oleh Najib sepanjang memegang jawatan Menteri Pertahanan.

Pendedahan kelulusan pembelian helikopter Cougar EC 725 kepada syarikat Eurocopter dalam "keadaan meragukan" serta dakwaan salah guna kuasa dalam kes Altantuya dikatakan dirancang oleh Khairy dan 'budak tingkat empat'.

Abdullah dilaporkan telah memanggil Ketua Setiausaha Kementerian Pertahanan baru-baru ini untuk meneliti hal ehwal tender pembelian helikopter tersebut.

"Keputusan Abdullah bertukar dari kementerian kewangan ke kementerian pertahanan kerana beliau mahu mendapatkan bukti untuk menjatuhkan Najib," kata penganalisa politik yang enggan identitinya dikenali.

Kata penganalisa politik itu lagi, Najib sepanjang memegang jawatan Menteri Pertahanan telah membiarkan isterinya, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor berkuasa hingga dikatakan memiliki pejabat sendiri di kementerian tersebut.

"Ada yang mengatakan kalau mahu dapat kontrak dengan kementerian pertahanan perlu jumpa Rosmah bukan Najib," kata penganalisa politik itu lagi.

Abdullah juga dikatakan sengaja mengarahkan agar pengendali laman web Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Kamaruddin ditahan dibawah ISA kerana bimbangkan keselamatan penulis kontroversi itu.

Tindakan menahan Raja Petra dilakukan semata-mata kerana tidak mahu Najib mengupah sesiapa sahaja mencederakan atau membunuh penulis tersebut.

Raja Petra yang banyak mendedahkan salah laku Najib dikatakan memperolehi maklumat dari orang Abdullah.

Kandungan SMS antara Najib dan peguam kanan Dato' Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, dipercayai telah diberikan kepada pengedali Malaysia-Today oleh 'orang' Khairy kerana mahu memastikan imej Najib terus tercalar dan akan disiasat serta didakwa atas dakwaan salah guna kuasa.

Jika Najib didakwa, Abdullah akan mengumumkan pelan peralihan kuasa dibatalkan dan terus kekal sebagai Perdana Menteri serta akan melantik Timbalan Perdana Menteri baru.

Manakala seorang lagi penganalisa politik pula berkata tindakan Abdullah menyerahkan jawatan Menteri Kewangan kepada Najib merupakan isyarat tersembunyi untuk menjatuhkan Timbalan Perdana Menteri itu.

Kata penganalisa politik itu, tidak pernah berlaku dalam sejarah politik tanahair seorang menteri kewangan akan dilantik menjadi Perdana Menteri sebaliknya kebanyakan mereka akan disingkirkan.

Dengan mengambil contoh penyingkiran yang dilakukan oleh Tun Mahathir terhadap Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim selaku Timbalan Perdana Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan, Abdullah akan menggunakan cara yang sama untuk menyingkirkan Najib. - mks

Tan Lian Hoe told to apologise

LENGGONG, Oct 19 – The Malaysian Youth Council (MBM) has called on Gerakan Wanita chief Datuk Tan Lian Hoe to apologise and retract her statement which termed Malays as immigrants as it could affect racial harmony.

Its president Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said Tan, who is member of parliament for Gerik, should also clarify her statement to allay displeasure of the Malays as it involved a sensitive issue.

“It is unbecoming of her as she had contested in Gerik (in the March 8 general election) where 85% of her voters are Malays and Umno made way for her to contest the seat,” Shamsul Anuar told reporters after attending the Lenggong Umno division delegates’ meeting here today.

He said Tan should have learned a lesson from the uproar caused by former Bukit Bendera Umno division head Datuk Ahmad Ismail over an alleged racist statement.

Meanwhile, Shamsul Anuar was elected Lenggong division deputy head when he beat incumbent Datuk Ahmad Mahiyuddin Abdullah by 174 votes to 94.

Division head Datuk Ahmad Shaarani retained his post when he beat division information chief Roslan Latif. – Bernama