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Friday, October 31, 2008

LATEST: Razak Baginda acquitted

A happy and smiling Abdul Razak Baginda, accompanied by his wife (partly hidden), leaves the Shah Alam High Court soon after he was acquitted this morning on a charge of abetting in the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu. Two policemen charged with him were ordered to enter their defence for the murder. – Picture by Choo Choy May

Sodomy trial transfer: Court hears objections from Anwar

PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim is back in court for his sodomy trial today.

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Sessions judge SM Komathy Suppiah is hearing arguments from both sides on whether the trial should not be transferred to the High Court as requested by the prosecution.

In the last sitting on Oct 7, Komathy had dismissed a preliminary objection raised by the prosecution that she had no jurisdiction to hear the defence team's argument against the transfer.

The prosecution, led by Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden, had argued that the judge "had no choice" but to transfer the case to the higher court.

the charge against anwar ibrahim sodomy allegation trial 070808Komathy however ruled that she had the jurisdiction and allowed the defence team to make their submissions. Anwar's lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah continued his submissions this morning and this was followed by Mohd Yusof.

The court is not expected to make a decision on the matter today.

Anwar's objection to the transfer is due to the transfer certificate being signed by attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail.

This objection was on the basis that the AG should not have played any role in this case as he was being investigated following a complaint that he had allegedly tampered with evidence in Anwar's trials 10 years ago.

The defence lawyers based their objection on a statement made by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who assured that the AG would not be involved in the latest sodomy case.

Defence submits affidavit from Wan Azizah

This morning Sulaiman also tendered an affidavit by Anwar's wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail which stated that she was given an undertaking by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that the sodomy trial would be conducted in a proper manner.

In her affidavit, Wan Azizah said the premier gave her this assurance in response to her worries on the possible involvement of Abdul Gani and police chief Musa Hassan in the case.

She said that as a result of that assurance, she had a legitimate expectation on Abdul Gani's non-involvement in the case. She said she was disappointed when Abdul Gani had signed the transfer order.

Anwar had claimed trial on Aug 7 when charged with sodomising his former aide, 23-year-old Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

If convicted, he could face a 20-year jail term. He is currently out on a RM20,000 personal bond.

Abdul Razak Baginda acquitted

(malaysiakini)The Shah Alam High Court today acquitted political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda of abetting the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu.

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Justice Mohd Zaki Md Yasin ruled that the prosecution failed to prove a case against Abdul Razak.

"I find there is no prima facie case for him to answer his charge. He is therefore acquitted and discharged," said Mohd Zaki.

Abdul Razak, a close associate of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak had faced the death penalty by hanging if found guilty, of abetting the 2006 murder of his former lover Altantuya, whose body was blown up with explosives in a jungle clearing.

In one of the longest hearings in Malaysia's history, the court spent 151 days hearing testimony from 84 witnesses on whether Abdul Razak and two police officers accused of carrying out the murder should face trial.

the altantuya trial fact box 050607The court however ordered chief inspector Azilah Hadri, 32 and corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 37, from the elite Special Action Force (UTK) which guards the prime minister and deputy prime minister -, to enter their defence to the charge of murder.

Both have decided to testify under oath and they will be taking the stand on Nov 10.

The prosecution is also expected to file an appeal against Abdul Razak's acquittal.

Deputy public prosecutor Tun Majid Tun Hamzah said the decision could be contested.

"We will consider appealing the decision. The battle is not over yet," he said.

On hearing that he could walk free, Abdul Razak, 48, hugged his wife and daughter from the dock while his elderly parents sat crying in the court.

"I just want to go home," he said as he was escorted out through a huge media scrum at abouit 10.10am.

Altantuya's father distraught over decision

Altantuya's father Setev Shaariibuu, who has repeatedly criticised the handling of the case, was distraught over the decision.

"I am not satisfied. My daughter knows only one Malaysian and it is Razak Baginda. Now my daughter is dead and Baginda is freed... the country has lost credibility in the world," he told reporters.

Karpal Singh, a lawyer representing Altantuya's family, said that based on the evidence Abdul Razak should have been called to defend the accusations.

"They should not have acquitted him at this stage of the trial," he said.

Najib, who is expected to be appointed premier next March when Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stands down, has vehemently denied any involvement in the case.

Top blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin has repeatedly linked Najib and his wife to the murder on his popular website Malaysia Today. He was jailed in September under tough security laws for insulting Islam.

Abdullah last month defended his deputy over new allegations that Najib interfered in the case, after Malaysia Today published an SMS text message exchange purportedly between the deputy premier and Abdul Razak's lawyer.

Altantuya was allegedly shot before her body was blown up with explosives two years ago.

Azilah and Sirul are jointly charged with murdering Altantuya, 28, at a location between Lot 12843 and Lot 16735 in Mukim Bukit Raja, Selangor between 10am on Oct 19, 2006 and 1am the following day.

Abdul Razak was charged with abetting them. He is a known confidante of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, having worked on government arms procurement projects while the latter was defence minister.

Anwar wishes Abdul Razak well

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, during the lunch break in his sodomy trial case, said that he wished Abdul Razak well.

“At the personal and family level, I wish Razak well. He is now back with the family, but the issue here revolves around the court procedure and the investigation (into the murder).

“There is growing perception that the investigation was not done professionally. There is a clear motive to cover up (the murder), a lot of evidence was not adduce. The prosecution has failed to conduct the case professionally from the beginning, changes were (also) made to the court and the judge.

“Now that there is more allegations involving DPM Najib - the SMSes and (other) evidence the public has raised a number of times - this case clearly is bigger (than just Abdul Razak).”

Eurocopter scandal: No inspection done on choppers

Defence Deputy Minister Abu Seman Yusop received a beating from Pakatan Rakyat MPs today when he openly admitted that the multi-billion ringgit military helicopters did not undergo any physical inspection.

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abu seman yusopAbu Seman, in his Budget 2009 winding-up speech, said the ministry’s technical committee had decided to buy 12 units of the Eurocopter Cougar EC 725 helicopters based on documents alone.


He also took pains to explain that the purchase of the helicopters had cost the government RM1.6 billion, instead of the RM1.1 billion figure given by the ministry’s secretary-general Abu Bakar Abdullah in a press statement last week.

His revelation sparked an uproar in the House and prompted several Pakatan Rakyat MPs, led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, to grill him.

“How is it that a government procurement as big as this did not undergo any physical inspection? I have eight years of experience as finance minister and we have never make procurements without first inspecting (the items),” thundered Anwar.

M Manogaran (DAP-Teluk Intan) took a swipe at the deputy minister, saying that “even when you purchase something as small as a Perodua Kancil, you would want to inspect it first, what more when it is helicopters worth RM1.6 billion.”

Anwar said various aspects have to be taken into consideration like the safety of the pilots should there be any defects in the helicopters and it was absurd of the government not to make such deliberations when procuring the helicopters.

He demanded answers as to why conflicting figures have been cited on the cost of the helicopters.

Abu Seman then replied that it was a mistake on his part as he had overlooked the fact that the services charge and ‘offset package’ like supplementary military hardware had added RM500 million to the original RM1.1 billion to make it RM1.6 billion.

Set up Royal Commission

At a press conference later, Anwar said he could not accept the reasons given by Abu Seman although he believes that the deputy minister was only “reading the text provided to him by his superior” and was not involved in the matter.

anwar ibrahim parliament pc on budget and najib 131008 04“This is a shocking revelation by the deputy minister. A procurement this big without a physical inspection being done is swindling the people’s money par excellence.

“How can you allocate RM1.6 billion for something that you have never even seen or (when you don’t) know if it works or not.”

He said he could “vouch on behalf of the Malaysian army that they would definitely want to inspect the helicopters before purchasing it.”

Asked what he thought of all this, Anwar reiterated his demand for the government to set up a royal commission to probe the matter.

Earlier today, a decision on Anwar’s emergency motion to set up a royal commission to probe not just into the Eurocopter scandal but two other ‘mega-projects’ was deferred to Monday by the speaker.

A RM11.31 billion high-speed broadband project and the RM4.26 billion purchase of the Bank Internasional Indonesia by Maybank were the other projects Anwar had wanted to government to probe.

Raja Nazrin: Governments must not discriminate

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 - The Raja Muda of Perak Raja Nazrin Shah said today that governments should not set down discriminatory laws or policies but must ensure inclusive development through empowerment.

"No segment of society must be disrespected, discredited and disenfranchised," he said in his address at the 21st LawAsia Conference here.
He said that no single group in any country should feel their contributions are unrecognized or unwanted.

While the Perak Raja Muda did not specify what laws or which countries he was referring to, his remarks comes amid a roiling debate over the country's "social contract" and the government's pro-Bumiputera affirmative action policies.

His advice also comes on the heels of the recent statement by the Rulers Council calling on all parties to stop questioning the social contract between Malays and non-Malays as it would cause unease.

In his speech today, Raja Nazrin called for the abandonment of what he called "the silo mentality where we only look up at what is happening and not beside us at what others are experiencing."
He made a case instead for policies which empower through inclusiveness.

"Only with inclusive development through empowerment can societies become strong," he said.
The lack of empowerment, he said, would lead to a sense of alienation and hostility that could result in "rash acts of violence."
"We cannot morally turn our backs on the fundamental responsibility of ensuring that all stakeholders in our society, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, have a place under the sun."

Among the prerequisites cited by Raja Nazrin for empowerment was for governments to strengthen the rule of law and to ensure greater political participation for citizens as stakeholders.

"It is only when citizens are also stakeholders will there be the widest sense of ownership of problems and challenges," he said.

Najib: No time frame on dismantling NEP

By Debra Chong(themalaysianinsider)

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 - Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak appeared today to welcome debate on the proposed gradual dismantling of NEP-type policies but he would not set a time frame for the process.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament today, he, however, sidestepped a question on whether he thought his proposal would cost him support among the Malay grassroots.

Instead, he once again emphasized any move to dismantle elements of the affirmative action policies would be a gradual process.

Najib said it would happen at a time "when the Malays are comfortable enough to talk about it," and "as and when it is required."

The DPM had said in a recent interview on Bloomberg television that he was ready to gradually end elements of the affirmative action programme "in the not-too-distant future."

In the interview, he had pointed out that "if we do not change, the people will change us".

His remarks have sparked off a widespread debate with former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad weighing in recently to say that the time was not the right time yet to end the Bumiputera policy, especially the target of 30 per cent equity in public listed companies.

But in recent days, leaders from Umno's coalition partner MCA have started applying pressure on the government by calling for a review of the 30% ruling, sparking unhappiness from some quarters in Umno.

Najib said today that he did not want to give a time frame for his proposal to be implemented, but he indicated that he welcomed debate on the issue.

"We should engage on this issue to ensure what is good for all communities," he said.

Long time Muslim yoga instructor expresses shock over UKM lecturer's statement

Long time Muslim yoga instructor expresses shock over UKM lecturer's statementNew Straits Times

GEORGE TOWN, PENANG: A long-time yoga instructor has expressed shock and dismay over statement by a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) lecturer who said that practising yoga could cause Muslims to deviate from the teachings of Islam.

Datin Suleiha Merican, 56, who has been practising yoga for 40 years, said the meditation technique is a science of health and had nothing to do with religion.

"When we are strong in our faith, why would we want to deviate? The professor's statement is totally uncalled for," she said.

Suleiha was commenting on Prof Zakaria Stapa's statement that yoga could be traced back to Hinduism and that practising it could cause Muslims to deviate from the teachings of Islam.

Zakaria, who is from the Faculty of Islamic Studies, also urged Muslims who are practising yoga to stop it and return to the teachings of Islam.

Suleiha said she still diligently performed prayers every day despite practising yoga.

"There is no conflict at all as yoga is not religion-based. There is no problem. I would definitely encourage Muslims to practise yoga," she said.

Suleiha said yoga was the answer to health problems, such as headaches and back pain. She noted that hospitals in the United Kingdom and United States offerred yoga as an alternative therapy.

"Every part of the world I have gone to there are Muslims who practice yoga practitioners, for instance in Iran," she said.

Suleiha, who runs the Maya Yoga Studio in Damansara Perdana, said yoga ran in the family as her father and her grandfather were also yoga instructors.

It was reported that the national fatwa council is also expected to announce its stand on Muslims practising yoga soon.

The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) deputy director-general of operations, Othman Mustapha, was quoted as saying that an announcement on the decision would be made by the council soon.

Eurocopter deal - shameful episode in Parliament

Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusof was literally grilled in Parliament for over two hours over the billion-ringgit 12 Cougar EC725 Europter helicopters deal as he was totally at sea and unable to answer the most elementary of questions, such as

(i) Why three sets of different figures for the 12 Cougar helicopter deal - RM1.1 billion given by Defence Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah; RM1.67 billion given by the Prime Minister-cum-Defence Minister; and RM1.604 billion stated by Abu Seman Yusof in Parliament today;

(ii) Why no physical evaluation or test flights for the short-listed helicopters; or as I said in Parlaiment, getting Malaysia into the Guinness Book of Records as probably the only government in the world to order sophisticated and expensive aircrafts without any test flight although such physical evaluation for the short-listed tenderers was one of the conditions specified in the tender docunment.

Abu Seman was dumbstruck when asked both questions and was unable to give any sensible reply. It was a most shameful episode in Parliament.

It has to be left to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to try to immediately repair the damage created by the deputy Defence Minister by answering these two questions outside Parliament, as in the following report:

The Malaysian Insider
Thursday October 30 2008
PM admits price mistake, Najib says RMAF pilots tested Eurocopters at Lima

By Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi admitted he had made an error when he spoke of the package price of the much-disputed Eurocopter helicopter deal and which had caused an uproar among Opposition lawmakers in Parliament.

Abdullah who is also the Defence Minister said he was informed by officials in the Defence Ministry this morning on his slip.

The correct figure is RM1.604 billion, but he had thought it was RM1.67 billion and had rounded it up to RM1.7 billion.

“I apologise for my mistake,” he said.

Asked to respond to the opposition’s calls for him to explain the price discrepancy inside the Dewan Rakyat, Abdullah said it was unnecessary as he had already announced that the deal would be deferred to a later date.

He pointed out that the price would be renegotiated again as and when the government finally decides to purchase the helicopters.

“This is academic,” he said.

Speaking at the same press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also denied claims that no physical evaluation was conducted on Eurocopter aircraft.

Najib who until last month held the Minister of Defence portfolio emphasised that the Eurocopter EC725 Cougar was not a new or ‘experimental’ aircraft. He noted that many countries had tested it out, including in combat in Afghanistan.

He said that Royal Malaysian Air Force pilots had tested it in local flight at the Langkawi International Marine Aerospace (Lima) show previously.

Asked to comment on calls by the Opposition for an independent expert panel to evaluate the procurement process, Najib said: “They are making too much a big deal out of it.”

Anwar court case to be mentioned 31.10.2008

The charge against Anwar Ibrahim will be mentioned at Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court, Jalan Duta 31st October at 9:30am

Sessions Court judge SM Komathy Suppiah will deliver her decision tomorrow on whether the matter can be moved up to the High Court as applied by the prosecution.

Komathy had allowed Anwar to be released on a personal bond set at RM20,000 without surety after his defence lawyers pleaded for him to be released on personal bond under Section 388 (ii) of the Criminal Procedure Code while the prosecution argued for bail to be set at RM20,000 on 7th August this year.

Earlier this month, Komathy dismissed a preliminary objection raised by the prosecution that she had no choice but to transfer the case to a higher court. Komathy then ruled to hear the merits of an objection raised by Anwar’s legal team against the transfer notice.

Office of Anwar Ibrahim

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