Wednesday, October 29, 2008
GEORGE TOWN: Former MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik's controversial statement that it was not a problem for men to release their "extra energy as long as they don't talk about it or get caught" came under fire again.
National DAP chairman Karpal Singh said Dr Ling's statement belied his stature as a Tun and a former minister.
"It is shocking that he said it. He should mind his language.... His views could adversely affect society and lead to the break-up of the marriage institution," said Karpal in a statement.
"I hope that he will not, in the interest of the public, be included in the cabinet again in view of the imminent cabinet reshuffle."
The Prime Minister-cum-Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced yesterday that the defence procurement of 12 Cougar EC725 Eurocopter helicopters had been put on hold until better economic times – making history of the shortest-lived multi-billion ringgit defence deal between the issue of Letter of Intent (LOI) and its cancellation.
He has created more queries about the Eurocopter deal now put on hold, which must be answered either by Abdullah in the Defence Ministry reply in the budget debate in Parliament beginning today as well as the subject of the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the Eurocopter deal, including:
1. Abdullah said that the Eurocopter deal is worth RM1.67 billion and not RM2.3 billion. This figure is also at variance with the price quoted by the Defence Ministry secretary-general Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah who said last week that the tender price of the Eurocopter helicopters was RM1.l billion. How did the RM1.1 billion Eurocopter deal balloon to RM1.67 billion even before the issue of LOI?
2. Abdullah contradicted Abu Bakar as the latter had said that Eurocopter bid was selected in preference over the other six tender bids because “the company had a complete tender offer that obtained the highest marks based on technical evaluation, an offset package while also being at a reasonable price”.
Eurocopter had announced that its “offset package” if successful in the helicopter procurement is a RM250 million investment in Malaysia, including upgrading Eurocopter Malaysia’s maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capacity in its Subang facility.
However, Abdullah denied the “offset package” was a factor, stating that the government did not ask for a RM350 million development package from Eurocopter for the Subang Aviation Park, adding: “Whatever they want to do, it is up to them. As far as I have been told, they offered it in the tender, we did not ask for it.”
The PAC should inquire into the “offset” dimension of the tender and report on the comparative “offset packages” of all the tender bids for the helicopter procurement.
3. Abdullah also justified the price as compared to the 50 Super Cougars procured by Brazil - at RM141 million per Cougar helicopter (at RM1.67 billion) for Malaysia as compared to RM84 million per Super Cougar helicopter by Brazil, claiming that the 12 Eurocopter units ordered by Malaysia are more expensive as they had different specifications.
He said: “Our requirements are more advanced. That obviously would come with a higher price,” adding that the Malaysian Eurocopters would be capable of search and rescue missions, combat operations and other duties.
PAC should investigate and report on this matter.
4. PAC should broaden its investigation into the history of Nuri helicopters crashes in the past 40 years, costing the government RM86.9 million in losses from 15 crashes, involving 70 officers and personnel apart from 19 deaths.
The first Nuri helicopter crash was on 25th April 1969 killing four RMAF personnel while the last fatal one was in Genting Sampah on 13th July 2007 claiming six lives. A RMAF inquiry concluded that there was no mechanical fault in the Genting Sampah crash.
The PAC should submit a report to Parliament to study all the reasons for all the Nuri helicopter crashes, whether as a result of human error or mechanical and helicopter faults.
NST, Oct 28 2008
A total of 96 Hindu and 37 Buddhist temples were demolished in Selangor between 2004 and 2007.
Among the applications are for 25 Hindu temples, 19, Buddhist temples and 10 churches.
Dr Xavier, who was answering a question from Lee Ying Ha (PR-Teretai), said although the applications had been approved by the committee, they would still need to be approved by the state executive council before the new places of worship could be built.
At some point I began to talk about my father. And as I progressed into my narrative, she suddenly remarked that it was as if I was describing someone very different from the person I had talked about a year and a half ago. I thought about it and understood that she was right. The person I had just been describing was a warm, humorous and slightly dotty academic who, in the recounting of his madcap adventures across the globe in search of his truths, came across as a less sexy version of Sean Connery in his role as Indiana Jones’ father. The father I had described the year before was a quiet, reserved man so removed from his context and so driven in his academic research that he was virtually impossible to relate to. So much so that I had at times wondered what it was that he was running away from.
It struck me then that my father had not changed. I wondered whether I had been romanticizing my account of my father. Writers tend to exaggeration in the name of art, they call it artistic licence, and I was really a closet writer who had stumbled into the practice of law. But then I reconsidered, if that were the case why had I not done that before and, if the truth were to be told, our relationship had always been disjointed. I saw that there had to be another reason.
The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that I was the reason. I had changed, it seemed, and in as big a way that allowed black to have somehow become white. How that had happened, what had caused that shift in me, these were things I was less sure of.
Over the next few days, I kept on going back to that insight, twisting and turning it in my mind to look at it from different angles. I gnawed at it like a dog with a bone, trying to extract its essence. Slowly, my ruminations took me through the ebb and flow of the preceding year. Gradually, realization dawned.
At some point, I had accepted him; the good, the bad, everything. More crucially, I had accepted that I was his son and that without him, I would not have journeyed down that road that allowed me to become who I was and who I was becoming. My father may have been running, but I had been on my own long distance run. One that had instead of taking me towards where I wanted to get to had taken me away from it. I had stopped running. There was no reason to any longer; there had never been one.
And I saw then that we had to stop running away from who it is that we are.
For years we have fought off any idea of a real Malaysian identity, one in which we could just simply be Malaysian without having to underscore whether we were Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban or anything else. We have done this not because we know that we cannot have such an identity but because we have preferred to believe in a fiction that had over the years been constructed on the foundation of pain, anguish and hopelessness that enforced separation from one another has caused us all.
It is in the interests of those who prefer to say that a Malaysian identity, a Bangsa Malaysia, is a myth, or that it can only be built around a national identity that prefers one aspect of our beautifully diverse lives, to perpetuate the reasons that keep us apart. The proof that what it is they say is the myth and that each and every one of us has a role in creating, nurturing and evolving our national identity, lies all around us. We just have to want to see it: the way we eat each other’s food and how that food has in a way become all our food, the way we celebrate each other’s festivals with as much gusto as we would ours as if they were our own, the mixed marriages and the children they have blessed this country with, the common dreams and ambitions, the aspirations of our young, our collective destiny.
What are these if not aspects of who it is we all are?
What makes us uniquely Malaysian is our difference and the way we embrace it as one community, warts and all. If we could begin to see that, then that day when we topple that foundation of illusions, and with it that edifice that has for far too long cast a gloom over us, will dawn.
My father is my father and I am his son. I am a Malaysian and I want to stop running.
Malik Imtiaz Sarwar
OCT 27 — It is a sad Deepavali for members and supporters of the Hindu Rights Action Force. Their organisation has just been outlawed and their leaders are still detained without trial under the Internal Security Act.
They have recently heard Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar's decree that their organisation was detrimental to peace, public order, security and the moral values of Malaysia
They have also heard Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan's claim that Hindraf's status was akin to a secret society.
And like many Malaysians, they are wondering why their organisation was banned just a couple of weeks after they attended a Hari Raya open house at the PWTC in Kuala Lumpur to present a card to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi asking him to release their leaders detained under the ISA.
Many of them are still puzzled on how they could be accused of gate-crashing an "open house".
Even those who don't support Hindraf — some Malaysians think the group exaggerated claims of the Indian community being marginalised — thought it was just "rude" of them to ask the five-year-old daughter of exiled Hindraf leader P. Waythamoorthy to deliver the card — deemed political by some people — to the Prime Minister at such an event.
But they didn't expect that such an out-of-protocol act — which also included some supporters of blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, also detained under the ISA, who wore T-shirts bearing the slogans "Free RPK" and "No to ISA" at the same Aidilfitri open house — would result in the banning of Hindraf.
Waythamoorthy has said that the ban would not banish the spirit and idea that created it.
"Hindraf represents the Indian commoner, the hard-working oily-faced man who is made fun of in the streets, and the man who people step on, the man who walks past you yet you notice him not."
As no one can kill off the spirit of perjuangan Melayu in Umno, it is almost impossible to destroy the idea of Makkal Sakthi (people's power) brought about by Hindraf that helped the opposition to wrest power from four states and deny the Barisan Nasional's two-thirds majority in Parliament in the last general election.
Just days before Deepavali, a group of Indian Malaysians were arrested when they tried to send a letter to the Prime Minister's office. Among those brought to the police station was a six-year-old girl.
Earlier, Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had described the Hindraf members' presence at the Cabinet's Hari Raya open house as part and parcel of democracy.
"I don't think it was rude. That's democracy. In the United States, people demonstrate in front of the White House," he said recently.
Hindraf members did exactly the same thing at opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's Hari Raya open house in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur, and instead of harassment from the organisers or the police, they were welcomed with open arms.
The opposition Pakatan Rakyat has criticised the ban on Hindraf.
"For the past few years, there were many coalition bodies, NGOs and concerned groups that have come up to champion various issues. We are surprised why only Hindraf is targeted.
"We are worried that this action to restrict civil rights will only anger the Indian community and add to more racial tension," said its spokesman Pas secretary-general Datuk Kamaruddin Jaffar.
However, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker recently rejected an emergency motion to debate the ban, citing "no urgency" to discuss the matter brought up by DAP vice-chairman M. Kulasegaran.
In his argument, the Ipoh Barat MP said: "Instead of using harsh, terror tactics, the authorities should engage Hindraf and resolve the fundamental problems of poverty and lack of opportunity that the Indian community faces. The ham-fisted move to ban Hindraf will only aggravate the disaffection of the Indian community towards the BN".
Many Indian Malaysians were loyal supporters of BN but Hindraf opened their eyes to problems of discrimination and neglect. Some joined Parti Keadilan Rakyat while others the DAP but many more have remained non-partisan
For many Indian Malaysians, they hope the spirit of Deepavali — the triumph of good over evil — will prevail. The Malays too might want to remember the wayang kulit epic about the triumphant return of Seri Rama and Sita Dewi after the hero rescued his wife who was kidnapped by the demon king Rawana, and that the couple later lived happily ever after.
It may be a myth to many but it is still an inspiring story despite the current sad mood for some people in celebrating this year's festival of lights.
PUTRAJAYA, Oct 28 - The hearing of an application for a judicial review by five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders detained under the Internal Security Act was adjourned today because there was no written judgment by the Federal Court.
Federal Court judge Datuk Nik Hashim Nik Abdul Rahman, who presided over the hearing, ordered the previous Federal Court panel which made the decision to write the judgment as the court could not proceed without the grounds of judgment.
Justice Nik Hashim, who sat with justices Datuk S. Augustine Paul and Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, then adjourned the hearing until the written grounds of judgment are ready.
Earlier, counsel for the five men, Karpal Singh, informed the court that today’s hearing was for a judicial review of the Federal Court’s rejection of their habeas corpus appeal to be freed but the grounds of judgment had yet to be written.
On May 14 2008, a three-member panel of the Federal Court headed by Chief Judge of Malaya Datuk Alauddin Mohd Sheriff (now Court of Appeal President) dismissed their appeal after ruling that the order for their detention at the ISA camp in Kamunting, Taiping, by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was also the Internal Security Minister then, was lawfully executed.
The five are lawyers M. Manoharan, 46, who is also the state assemblyman for Kota Alam Shah, P. Uthayakumar, 46, V. Ganabatirau, 40, R. Kenghadharan, 40, and former bank officer K. Vasantha Kumar, 36.
They were held under the ISA on Dec 13 after being involved in street demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25 and issuing slanderous statements against the government.They took the case to the Federal Court after failing to get the High Court to release them. - Bernama
SHAH ALAM, Oct 28 (Bernama) -- Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim on Tuesday defended his move to appoint the Selangor State Development Corporation's (SDC) deputy corporate affairs and accounting manager Low Siew Moi as acting general manager, saying it should not be an issue.
Khalid's decision was met with objection from the corporation's own staff who submitted a protest memorandum to him this morning, while Selangor PAS wants to suggest its own candidate besides helping the state government find a suitable candidate.
"The tasks of the Selangor SDC is to develop the state and Bumiputera community under the New Economic Policy, but the results have been rather unsatisfactory," he told a news conference after the state assembly sitting, here.
"If the Malays manage this themselves and they do not benefit from it, then we have to look at the matter seriously.
"People get angry over such a change (appointment) but their stand is different when millions of ringgit go down the drain," he said.
Khalid said Low's appointment should not be an issue because it was only temporary as the current Selangor SDC general manager Datuk Harun Salim would be retiring at the end of the month, while Low herself admitted that a Bumiputera should be appointed to continue steering the government agency.
On another matter, he said the state's 2009 Budget tabled by him was approved by the assembly without any amendment.
Khalid said the state assembly also passed the Contempt for the House Bill 2008 to protect the sanctity of the House, whereby individuals who committed offences such as refusing to testify in investigations carried out by the special committee set up by the House, would face action.
He said the state assembly would have the right to request the Attorney-General (AG) to act against the offenders, and this procedure was akin to the system used by the United States Congress.
Asked why the need to get the AG's assistance, he said the state had no such power, so it would have to advise the AG. "If this is not effective, we will come out with another enactment," he added.
Datuk Azmi Khalid, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), should personally withdraw from the PAC inquiry into the RM2.3 billion 12 Cougar EC725 Eurocopter deal because of his “close proximity” to the Executive as two-term member of the Cabinet until seven months ago.
Azmi’s background as a two-term Cabinet Minister under Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would be important considerations to the Prime Minister why Azmi is regarded as politically suitable, stable, reliable and trustworthy candidate as PAC Chairman although from the perspective of established parliamentary conventions in mature democracies, these same factors would be regarded as precisely the reason why he is not suitable or qualified for the post.
In fact, in mature and developed parliamentary democracies, the Chairman of PAC is invariably from a senior Opposition MP, and not an MP from the administration, let alone a person who had just been a two-term Minister under the Prime Minister-of-the-day.
Credibility is greatly stretched for anyone to believe that a two-term Minister would be prepared to be very zealous to conduct a no-holds-barred PAC investigation into any major government irregularity or impropriety like the RM2.3 billion 12 Cougar EC725 Eurocopter deal – especially as Azmi was a Minister in the original Cabinet decision of 18th July 2007 to phase out the Nuri fleet of helicopters after the latest Nuri helicopter crash the week before.
As the maxim goes, justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. Any hint of conflict-of-interest whether arising from “close proximity” as a two-term Cabinet Member of the Prime Minister-of-the-day or other reasons should be avoided at all costs.
Azmi Khalid should therefore withdraw from any PAC inquiry into the RM2.3 billion Cougar EC725 Eurocopter deal, and the full responsibility for conducting the helicopter investigation should devolve to the Deputy PAC Chairman Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (DAP – Kepong).
Two weeks ago, after the Parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and I queried the propriety and integrity of the Cougar EC725 helicopter deal in Parliament, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that he would probe allegations that there were irregularities in the multi-billion ringgit defence procurement.
The silence of Abdullah, who is also Defence Minister, in the past fortnight on this issue has been deafening.
Abdullah had also said that the Anti-Corruption Agency will also look into the helicopter deal.
Has this been done?
The PAC investigation into the RM2.3 billion Cougar EC725 Eurocopter helicopter deal cannot be used as an excuse for Abdullah as the Defence Minister to avoid giving a proper reply to the issues raised by Pakatan Rakyat MPs on the deal during the budget debate.
I for one will be looking forward to Abdullah’s response to the various queries raised in Parliament and outside on the RM2.3 billion Cougar EC725 Eurocopter deal during the four-day Ministerial replies in Parliament starting tomorrow.
1. Satu inovasi yang diperkenalkan oleh Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi apabila sahaja dia menjadi Perdana Menteri ialah penubuhan satu badan penasihat khas yang dianggotai oleh menantu, anak dan kawan-kawan muda mereka. Kononnya mereka ini bijak dan pandai lebih daripada orang yang lebih tua dan berpengalaman. Pendapat mereka ini lebih dipercayai oleh Abdullah daripada Kabinet atau Majlis Tertinggi UMNO.
2. Lulusan Oxford dan Cambridge memang dianggap istimewa, tetapi yang lulus dari universiti-universiti ini bercambah dan ia tidak menjamin kebolehan yang luarbiasa. Lagi pun, orang-orang muda ini tidak punyai pengalaman mendalam dalam pentadbiran, politik dan ekonomi negara.
3. Yang lebih buruk ialah mereka mempunyai kepentingan tertentu dan berhajat untuk mendapat pulangan wang yang banyak daripada pengaruh mereka keatas Perdana Menteri dan Kerajaan.
5. Dengan perletakan jawatan Abdullah pada Mac 2009, timbalannya Dato Seri Najib akan mengambilalih dan menjadi Perdana Menteri. Apakah Najib akan bebas daripada jenis penasihat ala Tingkat Empat?
6. Saya diberitahu Najib juga mempunyai penasihat muda yang amat berpengaruh terhadapnya. Mereka ini mempunyai hubungan rapat dengan menantu Abdullah dan Tingkat Empat, bahkan mereka adalah daripada kumpulan yang sama.
7. Mempunyai penasihat bagi PM adalah baik. Tetapi apabila penasihat mempunyai syarikat sendiri dan dapat menggunakan pengaruh ke atas Perdana Menteri untuk meraih keuntungan daripada projek-projek Kerajaan atau dana-dana yang dimiliki oleh Kerajaan nasihat yang diberi mungkin terpengaruh dengan minat untuk memperkayakan diri.
8. Kita lihat peranan yang dimainkan oleh ECM-Libra. Apakah Ethos, yang juga terlibat dengan Tingkat Empat, akan menjadi seperti ECM-Libra? Ethos Capital, sebuah syarikat pelaburan jenis Equity Capital tidak banyak berbeza daripada hedge fund. Mereka amat berminat untuk dapat sebahagian dari tabung Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP) yang sekarang berjumlah RM300 bilion untuk mereka mengurus pelaburannya, kononnya dengan pulangan 40 peratus. Najib mungkin ingat bagaimana Orange County di California menjadi bankrap kerana pelaburan dalam hedge fund.
9. Nasihat badan penasihat yang dianggotai oleh orang-orang muda yang amat disanjungi oleh Tun Musa Hitam telah bawa bencana kepada Abdullah. Najib harus berhati-hati supaya pisang tidak berbuah dua kali.