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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Part 3/Ch 1/3 :: Article 121 (1A)

Mahathir is back with a vengeance

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — With a hit count reaching almost nine million in just one year, it would not be wrong to describe former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Malaysia's most successful blogger.

His blog, chedet.com, routinely attracts hundreds of comments, and is frequently quoted by the mainstream media. Ironically, he started the blog only because he was blacked out in the media for his harsh criticism of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Five years to the day since his retirement in 2003, Dr Mahathir's influence seems to be growing steadily as Malaysia readies for a new prime minister by the end of March next year.

His every move is dissected for its significance. When he showed up at International Trade Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's Hari Raya open house last week, it stirred much excitement as it was perceived as an endorsement of the minister. This can count for a lot in the upcoming election in Umno, whose members still love him.

Is Dr Mahathir making a political comeback? Not exactly. But there is a strong belief that his influence is on the rise.

Observers suggest that he could have a big say in the next administration after he played a key role in securing the early retirement of Abdullah, who was blamed for the poor showing of the Barisan Nasional in the March polls.

Many believe that Dr Mahathir's skilful manoeuvres behind the scenes were instrumental in getting Deputy Premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak to persuade Abdullah to retire earlier than his original plan of June 2010. The whiff of resurgent power has sent Umno leaders and the media flocking to Dr Mahathir again, and he is back in the limelight after five years of being out in the cold.

“His views are being reported more widely, precisely because many people think that he will make a comeback,” said political analyst Ong Kian Ming.

Professor Agus Yusoff, from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, agreed that this was one perception, but felt that the bigger reason was the weakness of the current leadership.

“His views are being heard now because people are looking for better leadership. They see Dr Mahathir as experienced, and his views relevant,” he said.

Things have come full circle for Dr Mahathir, 82. His star dimmed soon after his retirement when Abdullah won a massive mandate in 2004. But the former premier soon sprang back into limelight after he began to give voice to public misgivings about Abdullah's weak administration.

His attacks gripped Malaysians for months in 2005, but they soon wore thin — until the March election that saw the BN suffer heavy losses. His campaign to topple his successor gained unstoppable momentum, returning him to a position of influence. Dr Mahathir's recent blog entry criticising the reach of vote-buying, or “money politics”, in Umno was debated widely in Umno circles.

His most recent acerbic comments on Najib's alleged young advisers sparked even more talk.

In a blog entry on Tuesday, he warned Najib not to repeat the mistake of cloistering himself with young advisers as Abdullah had, to the anger of Umno.

Dr Mahathir named consultancy firm Ethos as the Deputy Premier's adviser, and claimed that it also had links to Abdullah's young advisers.

“They (Ethos) are interested in getting a portion of the EPF worth RM300 billion to manage its investments, apparently with returns of up to 40 per cent,” he wrote, referring to the Employees Provident Fund.

The management of Ethos was quoted in The Edge business weekly recently about their interest in managing part of EPF investments. Najib has not responded.

Political observers believe that he will not marginalise the former premier, especially after seeing how Dr Mahathir's constant sniping damaged Abdullah's reputation.

“Najib will certainly prefer to have Dr Mahathir inside as an adviser rather than outside lobbing criticism at him,” said Ong.

This has led some people to predict a return of Mahathirism, suggesting a stronger hand on government than Abdullah's looser style. But Najib's supporters have denied this perception.

“Najib is not a puppet, he will have his own way and will want to make his own mark,” said Agus.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir's every move and word will continue to be watched, and his blog can expect to hit the 10 million mark very soon. — The Straits Times

Munawar’s sodomy conviction stays

Munawar’s sodomy conviction staysThe Malaysian Insider
by Debra Chong

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 30 — The Federal Court here today dismissed Dr Munawar Anees's application for an appeal against his 10-year-old sodomy conviction.

"We have decided that the application should be dismissed. We will give our grounds later," said Chief Justice Tan Sri Zaki Azmi, who led the three-member panel of judges.

Pakistan-born Munawar is a former speechwriter to opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when the latter was Deputy Prime Minister over a decade ago.

In mid September 1998, Munawar was arrested under the Internal Security Act and later charged in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court with sodomy alongside Anwar and Anwar's Indonesian adopted brother Sukma Darmawan.

Munawar pleaded guilty, as did Sukma. He was sentenced to six months’ jail, which he served.

Subsequently, he filed an appeal against his conviction on the grounds that his plea of guilty then was obtained through force while detained under the ISA.

His application was thrown out by the KL High Court in September 2003. Meanwhile, Anwar and Sukma were both cleared of the sodomy convictions.

Munawar took up the matter to the Court of Appeal. The matter was dismissed there as well in October last year though no grounds were given then.

The Federal Court was the last legal avenue available for Munawar's application.

The US-based project management consultant, now 60, had been waiting in court since 8.30am for the decision. He appeared dumbfounded by the decision. He rose up and left the courtroom swiftly.

Speaking to reporters on the grand staircase leading to the lobby of the Palace of Justice, he said: "This is a total disappointment. A total denial of justice. The system is playing with the lives of people.

"Where is the justice for me and my family?"

His voice continued to rise as his frustration became more apparent.

"I will not stop. The system has tried to fail me but it will not fail me. If I don't get justice in this country, my children and my grandchildren will stand up for the justice denied to me," Munawar pledged.

Lawyer Mabel Sebastian, who was standing in for Munawar's counsel Manjeet Singh Dhillon to receive the judgment today, said the next step was up to the latter.

Manjeet is away on business abroad and will only return next week.

Syed Hamid Albar vs. Hindraf on Indian marginalization

by H Lee

So Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar – in a decision, as he puts it, of self-sacrifice for the sake of protecting society – has banned Hindraf.

Similar home ministerial valour must have been present when he chose to detain Raja Petra, Teresa Kok, Tan Hoon Cheng and hundreds of others under the ISA.

Many Malaysians have expressed their outrage at the latest cruel and callous act of repression against a civil group which has highlighted the continuing plight of marginalised Malaysian Indians.

I would like to examine an aspect: the assertion that Malaysian Indians are not marginalised and are actually doing better than Bumiputera Malaysians, and thus, they have no grounds to feel
aggrieved, let alone angry. This is a cynical and specious claim.

We should first take note of the often ignored fact that the Malaysian Indian community is diverse, stratified and complex. Like any other.

Some are rich, some are part of the middle class, some are poor; some are posited in the mainstream, some are at the margins – and some are beyond the margins, trapped in urban squalor. The imperative question is whether the concerns of the Indian poor are being addressed by our
government’s attitudes and policies.

But the ruling regime would rather treat groups as monolithic blobs, then go about brandishing statistics to preempt debate - and stamp the lowly back into their place.

And so, in dismissing Hindraf’s cause, Syed Hamid invoked the reality of high proportions of Indians among registered legal professionals (21.4 percent) and among doctors (18.4 percent), and the ratio of Indian to Bumiputera household incomes, of… 1.20. That’s right, according to 2007 household income survey data, Indian households on average have 20 percent more income than Bumiputera households.

Is there something wrong with these figures? Why has the message of Hindraf resonated when official data paint opposing images of social mobility and nice averages?

There is no need to question the numbers, but every need to handle them responsibly, within context and in recognition of their limited scope. These bits of information provide no basis to conclude that all of the community is doing well and should therefore shut up and get on with their happy lives.

In fact, we do have evidence that Malaysians Indians are struggling as much as others to earn a decent living.

Averaging numbers

Of course there are many Indian lawyers and doctors – who’s not cognisant of that? But there are far more Indian labourers, factory workers, and others at the low reaches of the labour market.

It is highly probable that the household income of the Indian community is propped up by the high earnings of professionals and managers.

Meagre family incomes of displaced agricultural workers and urban elementary workers get shrouded in the process of averaging the incomes of all Indian families.

Consider some changes that have taken place in the past decade or so.

In 1995, 17.7 percent of employed Indians worked as agricultural labor, while 8.7 percent were in professional and technical occupations.

By 2005, only 4.9 percent of employed Indians were agricultural workers, but 20.1 percent worked as professionals and technicians.

Albeit rather cursorily, we gain some impression here of developments at two ends of the socio-economic hierarchy: the continuous urbanisation of a low-skilled former plantation workforce; a steadily growing presence in highly qualified jobs providing middle class living standards.

In what sort of jobs are most Indians working? Within communities, Indians registered the highest proportion of persons classified as production workers.

In 2005, 45.8 percent of employed Indians fell in this category, compared to 33.8 percent Chinese and 34.1 percent Bumiputera.

Due to the unfree state of information in this land, the most we can do with officially disclosed statistics is make deductions and inferences such as these.

We are still left with a knowledge gap.

However, a study by Branko Milanovic, a World Bank researcher and renowned scholar of global inequality, helps fill the void¹.

He analysed Malaysia’s household income data of 1997. This is from the national survey that the Statistics Department conducts twice in five years, from which all the inequality measurements we know are calculated.

One difference with the official accounts is that Milanovic focussed on individual earnings (wages, salaries and bonuses) instead of household income (the sum of household members’ earnings, property income and remittances). His findings are therefore more reflective of the earnings capacity of Malaysians in the labour market.

The housewife factor

The study analyses inequality more generally, but in the process finds something very striking: in 1997, the ratio of Indian to Bumiputera individual earnings was 0.98.

The official figure for Indian: Bumiputera household income was 1.41. In other words, the average earnings of individual Indians was basically the same as the average earnings of individual Bumiputera, even though average household incomes were quite unequal.

How might this be possible?

In terms of the gap between individual earnings inequality and household income inequality, we could postulate that combined earnings of Indians, especially in households with both spouses in professional jobs, raised their income to levels significantly higher than Bumiputera households.

This is a guess, and that’s as far as we can go with available data.

What’s not a guess is this objective report that average individual earnings of Indians and Bumiputeras were equal in 1997.

In 2007, with an Indian-to-Bumiputera household income ratio of 1.20, what might the inter-group earnings ratio look like? We don’t know, but it is more than likely that the ratio is less than 1.20.

It is possible that earnings are on average close to equal, or that Indian earnings are less than Bumiputera earnings.

Consider recent data on the distribution of employed persons by occupation.

In 2005, with 45.8 percent of the total employed Indians engaged as production workers and 4.9 percent as agricultural workers, it is plausible that average individual earnings are on par with the average among employed Bumiputera, of whom 34.1 percent are production workers and 15.2 percent are agricultural workers.

These two low-paying occupational groups account for about 50 percent of employed persons of both race groups.

Again, we won’t have a clear picture unless we have access to data and can engage in constructive discussion.

Hindraf has grounds

We have a clear enough picture, however, to affirm the plight of marginalised Indian households, whose tough circumstances in labour markets and poor living conditions are a shameful reality that cannot be garbed in middle-class statistics.

Hindraf has grounds for grievance – yes, even in the official data, if only we would take a more balanced and critical look.

And we could better understand this whole inequality thing, and devise fairer and more effective policies, if the ruling regime would release more information to our - um - knowledge society.

Resistance towards extending the same policies to members of the Indian community as currently provided to Bumiputera is partly predicated on official household income statistics.

But they give us an oversimplified and selective glimpse to a complex of problems.

It is high time to reevaluate the way we assess income and earnings and to aim assistance at the people who need or merit it most.

¹ Branko Milanovic (2006) “Inequality and Determinants of Earnings in Malaysia, 1984-97″, in the Asian Economic Journal, 20(2).

Article 153 and the “Social Contract”

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

My sedition trial will resume on 10th November 2008 after a three week postponement. Thus far six prosecution witnesses have testified and it appears like the prosecution has 10-13 more witnesses lined up.

Basically, the government is of the view that my article, “Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell”, is seditious. And to ensure that I am duly punished, other than facing trial, I am also under Internal Security Act detention. This means, even if the court acquits me, I shall still not be free. It is like taking double insurance. Either way you are covered.

I suppose sedition is the natural thing to charge me with. Moses was charged with sedition that he had to flee Egypt. Jesus was charged with sedition and the Christians believe he was executed because of that. Muhammad too was charged with sedition and the Muslims believe that God commanded him to flee Mecca lest he get murdered that same evening.

I am not trying to compare myself to the three main prophets of the Abrahamic religions. What I am trying to say is that if even the three most important prophets of the Jews, Christians and Muslim are not spared the allegation of sedition, then who am I to escape?

On 7th November, the court will decide if my ISA detention is legal. I could say that my freedom is now in the hands of the judge and may he rule wisely. And of course, to me, “wisely” would mean to free me – whereas that may not quite be the government’s view of “wise”.

Something significant of late was the Rulers’ statement on Article 153 and the “Social Contract”. We could say that this was historic as the Rulers have never thus far made such statements. Could this be said as something timely or something the Rulers should not have done? I really don’t know.

The Pakatan Rakyat Kedah state government’s ruling of imposing a 50% Bumiputra quota on houses in the state does not help either. Why 50%? Why even 30%? Should in the first place there even be a quota?

If you have not done so this you should read Zaid Ibrahim’s book “In Good Faith”, Zaid has addressed this matter of Article 153 and the “Social Contract” with great clarity.

What the Kedah state government has done is unconstitutional. Article 8 and Article 153 of the Constitution do not allow this. You just can’t dictate how people run their businesses.

Those who support the imposition of quotas argue that there exists a “Social Contract” that allows them to do so. But while they mention this “Social Contract”, they fail to mention the terms of this “contract”, what it says, and who is bound by it.

In short, if I am not a party to that contract can I be bound by it? The contract was entered into by the Malays and the then immigrant Indians and Chinese; of course it is not really a written contract as much as a verbal contract and we all know that a verbal contract is not worth the paper it is written on.

Nevertheless, should Malaysian-born Indians and Chinese who have never even visited India and China be made to abide to a verbal “contract” made by their immigrant parents and/or grandparents? How long will this “contract” run? Will Indians and Chinese 1000 years from now still be made to abide to a “contract” made in 1957?

There should be a cut-off date. There must come a point of time when all Malaysians are regarded as equal. How can an Indonesian who migrated to this country a few years ago be regarded as Bumiputra when Chinese and Indians who come to this country in the 1400s are still second class citizens?

Yes, Article 153 accords Malays certain rights and privileges. But that same Article, and Article 8, do not allow imposing of quotas and permits which deny Indians and Chinese their rights in favour of the Malays. This, many people do not seem to understand.

We also seem to have forgotten that the New Economic Policy is a two-pronged attack. Other than reducing the gap between the different races it is also about reducing the gap between the rich and the poor. And this would mean regardless of race.

When we talk about the Malay farmers and fisherman. We do not seem to realize that there are Chinese farmers and fishermen as well. Poverty does not recognize race.

It is time that the “Social Contract” be reviewed. A new “Social Contract” must be drawn up that looks into the SOCIAL structure and not RACIAL structure that the present “Social Contract” addresses. Only then can it be called a “Social Contract”. If not, then let us call it what it really is, a “Racial Contract”.

The poverty level also needs to be reviewed. The new “hardcore” poverty level should be RM1200. Anyone earning below RM1200 per month should be considered poor. That would mean a high percentage of Malaysians. Then the NEW “Social Contract” should address the needs of those who live below the NEW poverty level of RM1200.

And the NEW “Social Contract” should no longer be a verbal contract but chiseled in stone. And it should be a contract to take care of Malays, Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, Ibans, Dayaks, etc. As long as you are poor, meaning earning below RM1200 then you are taken care of. That should be Malaysia’s NEW SOCIAL CONTRACT.

Before I sign off, I would like to apologise for the quality of my articles. It is not so convenient to type from where I currently live so I need to just get my points across without much focus on the presentation. I hope this will not be for long and that I may soon be back with you. Anyway I was told that Malaysia Today is under control and in good hands. Till we speak again.

Verdict On Friday For Altantuya's Murder Trial

Zalina Maizan Ngah, Bernama

The Shah Alam High Court will be at the centre of attention this Friday when judge Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin delivers the verdict on the sensational murder trial of a Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Mohd Zaki's verdict will not only decide the fate of the three accused - Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar (both members of the Special Action Unit, UTK) and a renowned political analyst and strategist Abdul Razak Abdullah Baginda - but will also end wild speculations and rumours relating to the case.

This high-profile case has generated a big following especially when there were rumours of a public figure linked to the murder, revelations of intimate involvement of one of the accused with the victim and some shady business dealings.

The trial on the gruesome murder of Altantuya who body was blown up using explosives to cover up the crime went on for almost two years with the prosecution winding up their case on June 23.

If the court's decides a prima facie against the trio, they will have to make their defence or if otherwise they will be discharged and freed.

KEEPING UP THEIR HOPES

When inquired by Bernama on the sidelines of the court proceedings what they would do if they were freed, Azilah, 32, who has an adopted child stated that "there are too many things to do, but above all I want to cuddle my child and hold a thanksgiving feast".

Sirul Azhar, 36, when asked the same only offered a smile, typical of this former aide de camp for VIPs who is known to be discreet. On the dock he sits quietly and once in a while he turns toward the members of the media sitting behind him to ask for sweets and pickled fruits.

Meanwhile Abdul Razak, 48, the Executive Director for Malaysian Strategic Research Centre wants to take a break overseas with his only daughter Rowena when everything is over.

Throughout the trial, Abdul Razak was accompanied by his wife Mazlinda Makhzan, his parents and close family members. However, at the initial stages, Mazlinda's presence made Altantuya's father, Shaariibuu Setev frown as he claimed she had verbally abused him and court officers went all out to keep them apart.

Even when Mazlinda was asked on the fate of her husband, she replied: "I will leave it to Allah. Razak is innocent."

Yet the drama did not end there. The 151 day proceeding witnessed many bizarre and hilarious incidents. Apart from this there was also a change in the presiding judge and the clash between two counsels on who should be representing one of the accused.

BIZARRE INCIDENTS

Abdul Razak caught the attention of the media with some of his antics in the courtroom. He had been noted to throw tantrums and even went to the extent of kicking the dock and cursing others. He kept pushing his counsel Wong Kian Kheong to speed up the trial without any deferment and this certainly incensed Deputy Public Prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah who ticked of Wong by saying that Abdul Razak is not the only person in prison.

The media hype had certainly attracted the wrong type of crowd into the courtroom as well. It was obvious some wanted to take advantage of the media coverage to be on the limelight, but for the wrong reasons.

Readers would probably recall the presence of a woman dressed like a counsel claiming that she was a representative of peace organisation and had the authority of the police and the Attorney-General's Department.

She wanted the media attention and would closely follow the cameras and even refused to take a back seat. When there were no seats available she would insist the court officials to make special seating arrangements for her. Her presence was unwelcome and she even dared to intercept the judge.

When her behaviour became intolerable, not only because of her constant nagging but also her handphone that rang often, a police report was made and she eventually disappeared.

During the initial stages of the hearing there appeared another woman who claimed that she was a representative of a women's right organisation carrying a placard condemning Abdul Razak for the brutal slaying of Altantuya.

The one-woman demonstration did not go down well with the police as it was seen as disturbing the public order and the police gave her a warning and told her to leave the court compound.

However, the woman in her late 40s remained unfazed and instead shouted back at the unarmed policemen, "I have the rights, you police can stop me using your firearms, let the public be the witness".

151 DAY TRIAL

Azilah and Sirul Azhar who covered their faces using the 'ninja' mask set a new trend for accused in other cases and when inquired by Bernama why they did so Azilah had this to say: "Life is long way to go, there are some things best kept secret."

Another drama that unfolded at the 151 day trial was that a policeman stationed at the courtroom Lans Corporal Othman Abdul Rahman, 47, collapsed when accompanying the three accused to the courtroom and was later confirmed dead due to heart failure.

Azilah and Sirul Azhar were alleged to have murdered Altantuya between Lot 12843 and Lot 16735 Mukim Bukit Raja, Shah Alam, between 10 pm 19 Oct and 1 am 20 Oct 2006. The duo was well versed in the use of explosives and was said to have taken the plastic explosives, detonator cord and CLC (cutting liner charge) from the UTK storeroom.

Abdul Razak who is alleged to have abetted with the two UTK members, is said to have committed the crime on Oct 18 2006 at his office at 10th Floor, Bangunan Lembaga Getah Asli Malaysia (LGAM), Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur and the motive of the murder is due to demands and threats from Altantuya.

Based on the evidence adduced from the prosecution witness Deputy Superintendent Muhammad Koey Abdullah, the explosives were probably placed in the victim's mouth or the upper torso and the impact reduced her bones to fragments. On the puzzle why no traces of the victim's clothing were found, Dr Mohd Shah Mahmood, the Head of the Forensic Medical Department at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL), explained the victim was probably stripped of her clothing before being blown up.

JUDGE TO PORE OVER 6,000 PAGES OF PROCEEDING NOTES

However, lawyer J. Kuldeep Kumar and Datuk Hazman Ahmad who represented Azilah were persistent that their client was no way involved in the murder and the Azilah was not the one who led the police to the crime scene.

Sirul Azhar's counsel Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, Hasnal Redzua Marican and Ahmad Zaidi Zainal pleaded their client's innocence and stated that he was victimised just because Altantuya's jewellery were found his home. On Atlantuya's blood stained sneakers found on Sirul Azhar's four wheel drive, they claimed anyone could have left it there as the vehicle could be accessed by others as well.

Wong who represented Abdul Razak held that his client had nothing to do with Altantuya's murder and throughout the trial there was no proof that the murder was carried out under Abdul Razak's behest. He also questioned the failure of the prosecution to call several senior police officers during the trial.

Nevertheless, Mohd Zaki will make his decision based on the evidence provided by the 84 witnesses that has been compiled into 6,000 pages of proceeding notes.

Prior to delivering the decision on the main charge, Mohd Zaki is expected to decide on the prosecution's application to challenge the credibility of Lans Corporal Rohaniza Roslan (Azilah's girlfriend), the decision on trial within trial on Altantuya's jewellery found at Sirul Azhar's home and on the statement by police that Azilah is the one who led them to the crime scene.

Nonetheless, all the allegations and speculations will be put to rest on Friday when Mohd Zaki delivers his verdict.

Tunku Aziz: PKNS staff shouldn’t interfere

Staff at the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) should respect the menteri besar’s prerogative in appointing a non-Malay to head the state agency, said DAP vice-chairperson Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim.

“I hope the menteri besar’s decision is respected by all and the PKNS staff will focus on doing their work professionally instead of questioning the prerogative of the state government to appoint the most suitable person for the post,” he said in a statement today.

Tunku Abdul Aziz was commenting on protests by six staff bodies against the appointment of the corporation’s deputy corporate affairs and accounting manager Low Siew Moi as acting general manager.

The decision by Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim to appoint Low was met with objection from the corporation’s own staff who submitted a protest memorandum to him.

At the same time Selangor PAS wanted to suggest its own candidate besides helping the state government find a suitable candidate.

Tunku Abdul Aziz expressed “great concerns” over the opposition shown by the staff bodies and opposition coalition partner PAS against Low’s appointment on the grounds that the post should be filled up by a bumiputera.

Tunku Abdul Aziz said that the opposition based on someone’s ethnic background augured badly for ethnic relations and national unity.

“The interference by the senior staff of PKNS runs counter to established management practices and may well be the result of the race-based policies and indoctrination that the nation had been subjected to for the better part of 50 years or so,” he said.

‘Blind prejudice’

Tunku Abdul Aziz urged Malaysians to put aside “blind prejudices” and recognise that progress required the recognition for efforts and contributions of all citizens regardles of ethnicity or gender.

On the contrary, he said that a culture had developed where merit was overlooked while “less than relevant considerations” such as ethnicity and religion were prioritised.

“It is indeed sad that while we have progressed in economic and material terms, our nation is still bound to old ways of thinking and acting that have no place in a modern democratic society,” he said.

The Selangor government, in particular Khalid, has come under fire from various groups and media over Low’s appointment.

Filling the gap

In a statement yesterday, Khalid defended Low’s appointment, adding that she was the most suitable candidate to fill the post for the time being.

Khalid said Low’s appointment should not be an issue because it was only temporary as she was needed to stand in to replace the void left by the current PKNS general manager Harun Salim would be retiring at the end of the month.

Low, who is due to retire this year, was given an extention to undertake the new post.

Khalid had explained that if both Low and Harun retired at about the same time, it could affect to smooth running of PKNS.

Thus the state had asked Low to defer her retirement by a year until a suitable bumiputera successor was found, he had said.

Low was also quoted in the media as saying that a bumiputera candidate should be appointed to continue steering the government agency.

Salleh Abas rests his case

"In none of these correspondences has the Bar Council ever provided any explanation other than that I have not met with the requirement of the Rule 60 (1) ... only now members of the Bar Council have finally come out to give a clearer picture ..." - Tun Salleh Abas

Please click on the press satement to enlarge.

Ambiga pleads for ISA repeal

By Adib Zalkapli

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 – Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan made an impassioned plea today to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi to abolish the Internal Security Act before he leaves office next year.

"Prime Minister, while it may still be in your means to do so, and as a historic legacy to this nation that both you and I love, I ask you, on behalf of all right thinking Malaysians and on behalf of the legal fraternity of Malaysia, to move to abolish the ISA," Ambiga said in her speech at the opening of the 21st Lawasia Conference here.

She said the enforcement of the ISA had diverted from the original intention for which it was enacted.

"One can see how far we have strayed from the original intent of the ISA when a blogger, a politician, a journalist and a civil society organiser can, independently of each other, be seen as threats to national security," said Ambiga referring to recent ISA arrests.

In September, blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, lawmaker Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng,were arrested under the ISA. Tan was released less than 24 hours later and Kok was released after one week. Raja Petra is currently is serving a two-year detention order.

Abdullah, however, was non committal when responding to Ambiga's appeal, but hinted that the law will not be abolished.

"I am happy to hear that she raised this issue without fear or favour. As the Home Minister, I have discharged my responsibility without fear or favour," said Abdullah in his keynote address.

Late last year, Abdullah as the Home Minister ordered the detention of five Hindraf leaders after they led a street protest in Kuala Lumpur demanding the government stop discriminating against the Indian community.

On his pledge to reform the judiciary, Abdullah said the plan to form the Judicial Appointment Commission is on track.

"Work on the relevant legislation is progressing well and the government aims to table the relevant legislation to establish the commission by the end of the year," he added.

Fatwa on yoga next

PENANG, Oct 29 - The National Fatwa Council will come out with a ruling relating to the yoga exercise soon.

The announcement would be made by the council’s chairman, Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin, said Deputy Director-General (Operations) of the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) Othman Mustapha.

He told reporters this after opening the two-day seminar on Islamic Jurisprudence and Eternal Islamic Thinking at Universiti Sains Malaysia jointly organised by the Islamic Studies Division of the university’s Human Knowledge Study Centre and Jakim here today.

Yesterday, lecturer Prof Zakaria Stapa of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Islamic Studies Centre advised Muslims to stop practising yoga for fear that it could deviate their belief. - Bernama