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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Walking on thin ice

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Politics, in Malaysia, is about race and religion. And no Malaysian can escape that. And this is why the 30 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament should not cross over yet, not if it is going to be 30 non-Malay Members of Parliament. It should only happen if the 30 are half Malay and half non-Malay.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

It would be nice to be able to celebrate a white Christmas this year. But it does not snow in Malaysia so this may be quite impossible to wish for. Nevertheless, white and black are mere personal preferences and what is white to some may be black to others. Anyway, what is wrong with black when they say black is beautiful? So we have a ‘black’ or almost black US President who will soon be living in The White House. And certainly they will not change the name to ‘The Black House’ just for the sake of Obama. So white or black, what does it matter? As Deng Xiao Peng said: never mind if it is a black cat or a white cat -- so long as it catches a mouse.

A ‘white’ Christmas to most Malaysians would be to wake up on the morning of 25 December 2008 to changes in Malaysia. And ‘change’ here would mean a Pakatan Rakyat government heading the federal government of this nation. Would this be something hopeless to wish for? Would Santa fulfil our wish list this Christmas? Many are no longer holding their breath after the ‘aborted’ 16 September 2008 ‘change’ that did not happen. And it did not happen on the rescheduled date as well. So those who still hoped for a ‘delayed action’ now no longer harbour any hope.

But it is not as simple as many thought it would be. Sure, all it takes is for at least 30 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament to cross the aisle over to the ranks of the opposition. Is this so difficult? Are there not at least 30 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament amongst the 140 who clamour for change, as do 50% of the almost 11 million registered voters who voted for the opposition?

Actually, not all the 11 million registered voters came out to vote. As what happened in the 11 general elections before the 8 March 2008 general election, only about 70% of the registered voters came out to vote. The balance 30% stayed home, as they had done since two years before Merdeka in 1955 when we had our first (municipal) elections (the first general election was in 1959). And 12 general elections have shown that only 70% of the registered voters bother to vote. The other 30% do not care who rules Malaysia.

Then we had the 5 million eligible voters who did not even bother to register as voters. So only half the 16 million or so eligible voters actually cast their vote. 8 million Malaysians voted on 8 March 2008 and 8 million more either did not vote or did not register to vote. Half the ‘eligible’ Malaysians sought change. The other half were not concerned what happens to this country. That is the reality of the situation.

And the opposition got only 50% of the votes (which means votes from 25% of the eligible voters). But the 50% that the ruling coalition garnered (which also means votes from 25% of the eligible voters) helped them form the government in all but five states plus they managed to form the federal government with slightly under the two-thirds majority that it hoped it would get. But it still managed to form the federal government, nevertheless, with just half the votes.

Would 30 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament crossing over to Pakatan Rakyat help solve our problems? Not if the 30 are all non-Malays and the MP for Pasir Mas, Ibrahim Ali, plus the MP for Kulim, Zulkifli Nordin, cross over to Barisan Nasional to reduce Pakatan Rakyat’s majority even further. And we really do not know how many more Pakatan Rakyat MPs, or even some State Assemblymen/women, are lurking in the shadows waiting for the word to change sides. And this is not impossible to happen.

Umno’s nationwide campaign since 8 March 2008 is brilliant, though dangerous. Umno is saying that the Malays have lost political power. Umno is saying that 8 March 2008 was a repeat of 11 May 1969. And the solution to this problem must be the same as the 13 May 1969 ‘solution’, says Umno. This has not only worried the non-Malays but even the Malays as well. And some of these Malays include the Rulers or the Raja-raja Melayu. Umno is playing an extremely dangerous race game and is stoking the sentiments of the nationalist Malays. And there are many nationalist Malays still around, as the Permatang Pauh by-election has proven.

In the Permatang Pauh by-election, Anwar Ibrahim won two out of three votes. This is superb by any standards. But it was the first-timers or young voters who almost unanimously voted for Anwar. In the saluran 4 in one of the UPUs (unit peti undi) or polling stations where the first-timers voted, Anwar garnered more than 400 votes against Arif Shah Bin Omar Shah’s mere 7. But in saluran 1 of that same UPU where the old-timers voted, it was a 50:50 tie between Anwar and Arif Shah.

This means, while the first-timers or young voters were almost entirely with Anwar, the old-timers were split 50:50 between the opposition and Umno. There are many pre-Merdeka voters who still root for Malay nationalism and who do not want Umno out of office. Permatang Pauh proved this as will the Kuala Terengganu by-election probably also prove on 17 January 2009.

Therefore, Umno still has a strong following. There are many who still want Ketuanan Melayu to remain. Sure, they are no longer the majority. They have now been reduced to a minority. But the numbers are still significant, nevertheless. And these are the people the opposition has to win over. But it is not easy to win them over when prejudice, suspicion and distrust cloud their thinking. And to wait for them to die before the majority ‘Malaysian-minded’ swamp the minority ‘Malay-minded’ will take too long to happen. We will need at least another ten years to see this become reality. So this will only happen by the 14th or 15th general election long after 2020.

Thus far, the Umno ‘race-card campaign’ has not quite succeeded. Malaysians are not that bad at maths, though the teaching of maths has ding-donged between English and Bahasa Malaysia. Barisan Nasional has 140 Members of Parliament, 79 of them Malays and 61 non-Malays. Pakatan Rakyat, in turn, has 43 Malay Members of Parliament against 39 non-Malays. This means both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat are ‘Malay-majority’ coalitions.

But what happens when 30 non-Malay Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament cross over to Pakatan Rakyat? This would still give Barisan Nasional 79 Malays but it will be reduced to 31 non-Malays. This would make Barisan Nasional even more Malay than it is now. But Pakatan Rakyat would now have only 43 Malays against 69 non-Malays. So, while Barisan Nasional has become even more ‘Malay’, Pakatan Rakyat would become a ‘non-Malay’ coalition. And this would also mean that a ‘non-Malay’ government now runs this country once Pakatan Rakyat, with its 112 Members of Parliament, forms the federal government.

This is what concerns the Malays, the Rulers included. And their concern is not that the Malays have ‘lost political power’ and that the non-Malays have now ‘taken over’ this country. After all, they can even accept a non-Malay Prime Minister. So why fret over a non-Malay majority coalition running this country when the Prime Minister is still Malay? Their concern is that Umno will use this issue to ‘prove’ to the nationalist Malays that, finally, the Malays have lost political power, as they had been saying all along since the 8 March 2008 general election in their many road-shows the length and breadth of this country.

This is what Anwar has to guard against. And the Malays, as well as non-Malays, have told him so. The Rulers too have expressed their concern at the possible backlash from the nationalist Malays who will be led to believe that the Malays have lost political power. And if the numbers do not add up then this would make Umno’s job easier. Umno will have no problems convincing the nationalist Malays that the Malays have lost political power.

So, it is not just about the numbers. It is not just about 30 Barisan National Members of Parliament crossing over to Pakatan Rakyat. It is also about the ‘racial balance’. It is about 15 Malays and 15 non-Malays crossing over to enable Pakatan Rakyat to form the federal government with the ‘right’ balance that even Umno can’t quibble over.

The non-Malays do not like to hear this. It sounds too much like racism. Many Malays do not like it as well. But this is the reality of Malaysian politics that continues to haunt us. Politics, in Malaysia, is about race and religion. And no Malaysian can escape that. And this is why the 30 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament should not cross over yet, not if it is going to be 30 non-Malay Members of Parliament. It should only happen if the 30 are half Malay and half non-Malay. Then Umno will be silenced. Umno can no longer claim that the Malays have lost political power. Umno can no longer suggest that we are now seeing a repeat of May 1969. And Umno can’t propose that they need a May 1969 ‘solution’ to solve the ‘problem’.

Anwar must not just focus on changing the government. It is not about grabbing power. It is about peaceful change with no loss of life, limb or property. It is about a smooth transition where we can move forward to a better Malaysia -- not moving one step forwards and two steps backwards to the ‘dark ages’ of turmoil, distrust and polarisation. This must be what the game plan should be all about.

And Anwar knows this. The non-Malays, too, know this. And many Malays know this as well, the Rulers included. It is not just about the number 30. It is about a ‘solid’ 30. And ‘solid’ must be read as the number that Umno can’t use to turn victory for Pakatan Rakyat into defeat for race relations.

SANTHA OORJITHAM: 'Why are we still sitting on a two-legged stool?'

ImageNew Straits Times
by Santha Oorjitham

Has Malaysia closed the book this year on the 1988 judicial crisis? It depends on whom you ask, writes SANTHA OORJITHAM.

MALAYSIAN Bar Council members hinted to Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin that Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi would be making a "very important statement" at their dinner on April 17, which would affect the six judges suspended in 1988.
Even so, he had not expected that the prime minister would announce "goodwill ex gratia payments" for them "as a heartfelt and sincere gesture to mend what has been".

It had been 20 years since Azmi and four other Supreme Court judges were suspended after granting Tun Salleh Abas an interlocutory order against the tribunal hearing charges of misconduct against the suspended Lord President.

Salleh and two of the five other judges -- Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah -- were later sacked. Azmi, Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader and Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh were reinstated.
When Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was appointed to the cabinet as de facto law minister after the March 8 general election, he said he had three priorities as he tackled judicial reform: an apology to Salleh and the five judges, reinstating the right of judicial review which had been removed when Article 121 was amended in 1988 and institutionalising the way judges are appointed and promoted.

The prime minister began the process at the dinner in April. "The government would like to recognise the contributions of these six judges to the nation, their commitment towards upholding justice and to acknowledge the pain and loss they have endured," he said.

Over the course of a fortnight in mid-June, Zaid made the payments to Salleh, Azmi, Wan Hamzah and Seah, and to the families of the late Wan Sulaiman and Eusoffe, without revealing the amount.

And in July, a six-man panel of eminent persons handed their report on the 1988 judicial crisis to the Malaysian Bar, which had commissioned it last year along with the International Bar Association, Transparency International Malaysia and Lawasia (an international organisation of lawyers, judges and legal academics).

The panel, chaired by former Chief Justice of India's Supreme Court J.S. Verma, found after a year's research that the composition, process, findings and conclusions of the tribunal which recommended that Salleh be sacked and the tribunal which recommended that Wan Suleiman and Seah be sacked were "not justified" and that the sackings were unconstitutional.

The panel called for "an acknowledgment by the government of the mistake in removing these three judges in 1988" and "suitable amends"-- and said it appreciated "the reported recent statements and action taken by the government in this regard".

In future, they said, such tribunals should be carefully composed to exclude "any likely danger of bias". Members of the tribunals should be "higher than, or at least equal in rank and hierarchy to the judge under inquiry".

The report was launched in August, posted on the Bar's website and forwarded to the prime minister, Chief Justice, attorney-general and Zaid, said Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan.

However, the task of legal reform changed hands when Zaid resigned on Sept 15 after criticising the Internal Security Act detentions of blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Seputeh member of parliament Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng (all subsequently released).

In an open letter to the prime minister on Sept 29, Zaid noted that the constitutional amendment which removed judicial review in 1988 "was prompted by the same series of events that led not only to Operasi Lalang but the sacking of the then Lord President and two supreme court justices".

When he was pushing for reform, he said, his chief concern "was the way in which the jurisdiction and the power of the courts to grant remedy against unconstitutional and arbitrary action of the executive had been removed by Parliament and the extent to which this had permitted an erosion of the civil liberties of Malaysians".

Asked about Zaid's three priorities, his successor, Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz, stresses that the government has not apologised to the judges: "We only said it was ex gratia and there was no apology."

In November, bowing to pressure from MPs to reveal the amount of ex gratia payments, Nazri named a sum of RM10.5 million and gave a breakdown. Zaid criticised the government for publicising the amount, which he said "left a bad taste" for the judges, diminished the purpose of the payments and broke his promise not to reveal the quantum.

But Azmi has yet to hear from any of the other five judges that they asked for it not to be disclosed. "Parliament is entitled to know the amount. It's public funds," he said.

The government has also not agreed to amend Article 121 to revert to the pre-1988 version, Nazri said. But Zaid's third priority of institutionalising the way judges are appointed and promoted "will be done", he promised, through the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill which he expected to table in this session of Parliament.

The attorney-general is looking into "whether the bill requires any constitutional amendment so as to make it effective", he added. If another bill is needed to amend the Constitution in order to set up the commission, he hopes to get the two-thirds majority required to pass it.

Azmi appreciated the ex gratia payment "which helped the pain and suffering" of the six judges and was happy to hear of plans for the commission, "but Article 121 is at the top of my list. It clearly divided the power into three equal parts -- between the executive, the legislators and the judiciary -- like a stool with three legs. Now we only have two legs."

As for the panel's report in August, Nazri has not received a copy. He notes that they were not appointed by the government and the government is not "bound" by the report.

Commenting on the composition of the tribunal that recommended Salleh be sacked, he said: "I do not think the foreign members of the tribunal were junior. The person at issue was Tun Abdul Hamid Omar (the acting Lord President). Probably it was not the right thing to do, to have someone who had an interest."

When shown the panel's recommendations, he "has no problem with" them. Looking back at the steps taken this year to address what happened in 1988, he said, "I hope there has been closure. We want to move on". But for some, this year has refuelled the debate.

"The speech at the Bar Council dinner and the payments have not brought closure," argues veteran journalist Datuk Rejal Arbee, who was Bernama editor-in-chief in 1988. "They have created more controversy. The intention is not to close the controversy but to demonise (then Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad."

"The perception was that Dr Mahathir was interfering in the judiciary and that when a judgment went against the government, the government found ways to strengthen the position of the executive," he recalled.

"But, sometimes, when laws were passed by Parliament, the accusation was that judges did not interpret according to the spirit of the legislation."

Rejal quotes Judicial Misconduct by Peter Alderidge Williams QC which noted that Dr Mahathir had been summoned by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who commanded him to take action against Salleh.

Panel member Tan Sri Dr Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman urged the public to read both Judicial Misconduct and their report and then make their own judgment.

This year, he said: "People now know more about what happened in 1988 and that the government has taken steps to do something. It satisfied members of the public."

As for the judges, he said: "They now know that at least there has been an independent report by people of the legal fraternity and the government has paid attention to them and paid compensation. I think they can more or less live with that."

"No further comment," said Zaid firmly. "The judges told me they wanted to retire peacefully. Me, too."

"We must have a final chapter in this constitutional episode," said Azmi. "It would be unfortunate to stay bogged in 1988."

But another thing remains to be done, he claimed: The then attorney-general, Chief Justice of Malaya and chief secretary to the government should explain their actions in 1988 to a commission of inquiry.

"We were looking to them to do something to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the prime minister that it was not right.

"At least they could have given written advice or resigned. Maybe they have an explanation."

Understanding the events which led to the 1988 judicial crisis is crucial, said the former Supreme Court judge, "so that it will never happen again".

Bukit Antarabangsa landslide disaster – criminal negligence after Highland Towers tragedy 15 years ago

The Bukit Antarabangsa landslide disaster yesterday, claiming at least five lives, injuring at least 15 and dislocating thousands of residents after destroying 14 bungalows, is sheer criminal negligence after the Highland Towers tragedy which killed 48 people 15 years ago.

Clearly, the lessons of the Highland Towers tragedy 15 years ago have not been learnt by anyone, least of all the various government agencies, whether at the federal, state or local government level.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday lamented that “Malaysians never want to learnt from past experiences” – “They want good views while developers only seek to profit; but no one takes safety and soil stability into consideration”.

Conspicuously absent from Abdullah’s blame list are the various government agencies and authorities who should be even more culpable in giving approvals or closing an eye to dangerous hillside developments and in totally ignoring the lessons of the Highland Towers tragedy 15 years ago.

I visited the site of the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy this morning together with several DAP MPs – Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (Kepong), Fong Kui Lun (Bukit Bintang), Lim Lip Eng (Segambut), Teo Nie Ching (Serdang) – Selangor State Exco Member Ean Yong Hian Wah (Seri Kembangan) and Lee Ying Ha (Teratai) and I was shocked that the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Datuk Ong Ka Chuan had still to make his appearance at the site although it was more than 24 hours after the tragedy.

When the Highland Towers tragedy occurred on Dec. 11, 1993, the then Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh, was immediately on the scene and stayed for hours. Where is Ong Ka Chuan?

Parliament must prove its relevance by having an immediate debate on why the lessons of the Highland Towers tragedy 15 years ago have not been learnt or the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide disaster yesterday would not have happened.

MPs from both the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat should speak loud end clear in Parliament on Wednesday to express their condemnation of the criminal negligence which had failed to learn from the Highland Towers tragedy to prevent the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide disaster yesterday.

I call on Ka Chdua to work with the Works Minister and the Environment Minister to present a ministerial statement on the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy in Parliament when MPs reconvene on Wednesday and to ensure that his ministerial statement is followed by a full parliamentary debate.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry should be established to inquire not only into the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy, but even more important, why the lessons of the Highland Towers tragedy 15 years ago have not been learnt by all the parties concerned, including the federal, state and local government authorities as to prevent yesterday’s tragedy from happening.

A TRAGEDY AT TAMAN BUKIT ANTARABANGSA, ULU KELANG, SELANGOR







There was a massive landslide involving 14 luxury bungalows at the Taman Bukit Antarabangsa, Ulu Kelang early this morning. It was reported that 4 people have so far been identified as death and it was reveal that there are 2 units that have been completely buried.

It was reported that the affected were bungalows 15 and 16 in Taman Bukit Mewah, one of the two housing estates affected by the landslide while the other was from Taman Bukit Utama.

Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar stated that the fate of the four people were still unknown as the landslide had shifted the two bungalows from their original sites.

Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar reveal that the teams were using an excavator to move the rubble but the teams would ensure that the trapped residents were unhurt in the search and rescue operation.

Initially, three people were killed in the landslide which occurred at about 4am when most of the residents were still asleep.

Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar assured that the search and rescue operation would go on round the clock unless it rained heavily and the ground conditions prove too dangerous for the search and rescue personnel. Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar informed that 14 SAR teams were involved and they were carving out two alternative routes to enable desperate residents on Bukit Antarabangsa to leave the area as the main road has been sealed off.

In the meanwhile, it was informed that between 3,000 and 5,000 residents, mainly living in apartments in the vicinity of the landslide area, have been asked to evacuate for their safety as the ground was found unstable and unsafe for occupation.

It was learned that helicopters were used to evacuate the infants and elderly while affected residents we accommodated at Sekolah Kebangsaan Hulu Klang and will be allowed to return to their homes after the Public Works Institute of Malaysia (Ikram) confirms that the area is safe.

Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar commented that the ground was still unstable and earth movements were detected when any digging was done. The landslide area covers four hectares.

The Sultan of Selangor, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and the Selangor Mentri Besar have visited the site to see the situation on the ground during the day.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had instructed that construction atop Bukit Antarabangsa be stopped immediately. Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was accompanied by wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, announced that all hillslope development in Selangor is prohibited until further notice.

news n pictures courtesy of tumpang sekole.... n Paneh Miang

Tragedi Tanah Runtuh di Bukit Antarabangsa

Saya terkejut dengan khabar berita tanah runtuh di kawasan Bukit Antarabangsa awal pagi tadi. Sepanjang ingatan saya, ini tragedi kali ketiga selepas rebahnya Highland Towers pada Disember 1993 dan juga di Ukay Views beberapa tahun yang lalu.

Hal yg diprihatinkan ialah samada kecuaian yang dikenalpasti dalam bencana Highland Towers berulang. Arahan baru agar dihentikan semua projek pembangunan dilereng bukit bukan perkara baru. Kekhuatiran kita ialah seandainya ketamakan mengatasi kewarasan, nyawa dan harta menjadi kurban.

Isunya bukan sekadar pembangunan dilereng bukit, tetapi kelulusan yang mengenepikan pertimbangan keselamatan dan persekitaran.

Ucapan takziah saya rakamkan atas pemergian 10 orang mangsa yang terkorban dalam bencana tersebut. Sama-samalah kita berdoa agar Allah s.w.t. mencucurkan rahmat ke atas roh mereka dan mempermudahkan urusan pasukan keselamatan dalam menjalankan usaha mencari dan menyelamat.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

Social contract means compromise, Selangor Sultan explains

By Leslie Lau
Consultant Editor

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 - The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has defined the social contract as compromise between the rulers and subjects as well as between Malays and non-Malays.

He also said that the Malay community should not make accusations about their rights and position being challenged.

Instead, the Malays should ask themselves if they have acted accordingly, he said while citing the recent flap over the fatwa on yoga.

"Malays must ask themselves why," the Sultan said.

"For example the yoga issue. One side speaks. Pam Pam Pam. Non-Malays start interfering. The source of it is that we are wrong for not following procedures. We make noise before we even do something correctly.

"We must know where the mistake is. We cannot make accusations. When we do something without following procedure everyone will be in a muddle."

The Sultan was speaking in an interview with Mingguan Malaysia published today.

It is the second time in a week the Sultan has spoken out on race relations and religious issues.

The remarks come amid a heated debate sparked by a raft of recent public comments about race relations and the concept of Malay Supremacy.

His comments are also the latest sign of a more vocal royalty which appears to be filling the vacuum left by a lack of political leadership.

In the interview with Mingguan Malaysia, the Sultan was also asked his opinion on how the issue of Ketuanan Melayu, or Malay Supremacy, which the newspaper described as a concept which for the Malays, was tied to the royalty, but which the non-Malays had other views.

He would not be drawn in, however, to the debate, pointing out instead that he did not know how to answer such questions because "we are the Malays, the sultans are Malays so why must it be brought up?"

"We must focus on more important issues such as the education, economy and income of the Malays."

The Sultan said he did not understand the restlessness, as described by the newspaper, regarding Malay rights.

He suggested it may all just be politics, adding: "that is why I do not understand politics. The proverb ada udang disebalik batu (having a hidden agenda), I don't understand all that."

But the Sultan pointed out that it was important for the sake of race relations for the public to know their history.

That was the reason why he it was his initiative to have the recent Conference of Rulers issue a statement defending the social contract, which has also been the subject of roiling debate recently.

In his interview with Mingguan Malaysia, the weekend edition of the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia daily, the Sultan spoke of the social contract that needed to be understood.

"Previously no one spoke of the social contract but it did not mean they were ignorant.

"What is the social contract? It is compromise, between the people and the royalty, the Malays with the Chinese and the Malays with the Indians."

Asked about the a recent suggestion by Tunku Naquiyuddin ibni Tuanku Jaafar for royal immunity to be restored, he said it was entirely up to the public.

"If the people feel that I am entitled I will accept it and I will do my best. I am not making any request for it.

The Sultan added that perhaps a conditional immunity should be considered.

"I do not agree in having immunity from paying my debts or from assaulting someone until the public does not get any justice," he said.

He suggested instead that royal immunity be granted for the rulers to speak out on issues.

Tunku Naquiyuddin's suggestion for a restoration of royal immunity, was described by Mingguan Malaysia an attempt to challenge Ketuanan Melayu and Malay rights, although the Negeri Sembilan regent had said only that it was to place the Malay rulers back on par with other constitutional monarchs around the world.

Tunku Naquiyuddin had also argued that royal immunity needed to be "reclaimed and reinstated so that the constitutional monarchy can be restored to its full sovereignty so as to play a more fitting role in the 21st century as a guardian of the Federal Constitution."

It was former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who led the charge against constitutional monarchy in the late 1980s and 1990s. Around 1992, the media exposed the excesses of the royalty and their extravagant lifestyle.

It so happened that a hockey coach was assaulted by a member of the Johor royalty. This unleashed a wave of public anger against the Rulers and culminated in Parliament, amending the Constitution and withdrawing royal immunity.

The personal immunity of Rulers was removed, except for the legal process relating to the performance of their duties.

Some Malaysians have also questioned the timing of Tunku Naquiyuddin's statement on reinstating the full immunity of the monarchy. His father, the Ruler of Negeri Sembilan was recently in the dock in a legal tussle with a bank.

A special court ruled that Tuanku Jaafar Tuanku Abdul Rahman had to pay Standard Chartered Bank nearly US$1 million to honour his commitment in a letter of credit over a business deal.

This was the first time the special court had heard a case involving a member of the royalty.

PETITION OF PEOPLE'S POWER – MAKKAL SAKTHI MALAYSIA

High Commission of India. No 2,
Taman Duta, off Jalan Duta,
50480 KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

PETITION OF PEOPLE'S POWER – MAKKAL SAKTHI MALAYSIA

On behalf on Malaysian Indians we send its deepest condolences to the people of India in their recent predicament on the cowardly terrorist attack in Mumbai which unfortunately also claimed the life of a Malaysian citizen and wish to state we mourn with millions throughout the world with you.

India as a secular, plural, open and tolerant country is also resolute when its nations and subjects are threatened with premeditated terrorist act that cause unwarranted unrest to its secular society.

The Indian nation with its rich varied culture and like mind secular society should make a strong stand and take proactive action in combating this fanatical terrorism.

The Indian nation is the largest democracy society in the world and probably the only one that hold truth to its meaning to its secular population.

India should no longer be cowed but realize that they are a superpower that will act against any elements that threatens its subject and the peace of the nation.

India has been at the brunt of terrorism once too many, it is time India takes a stoic stand against these terrorists who continue to abuse and misuse the natural tolerance of this great nation.

Finally we bow in prayers for all those innocent people who lost their lives and may the almighty give strength for their families to overcome this great tragedy- May those souls rest in peace.

MAKKAL SAKTHI

S.JAYATHAS
National Coordinater
012-6362287
Valga Makkal SAKTHI
Valga Uthaya SAKTHI

Letter from reader: f Obama had done his magic here ...

A Disappointed Member | Nov 14, 08 4:20pm

It is nice to know that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

thinks anyone can become PM in Malaysia . He must think we

are stupid and blind to the realities of being ethnic minorities in
Malaysia .

If Barack Obama was unfortunate enough to have been born in
Malaysia , he couldn't even become the general manager of

PKNS, never mind, president of the US , the most powerful

country in the world.

If he became a born-again Christian in his teenage years,

keeping in view his father was African Muslim, JAKIM would

have hauled him off to a religious rehabilitation detention

centre in Malaysia , and his kids would have been taken away

from him.

Michelle Obama would then have been advised by our racist
religious authorities to divorce him.

Just for not being Malay, Umno would have overlooked his
obvious talents and intelligence, and they would have denied

him permanent residence or a citizenship and he can forget

about any potential scholarships, job promotions or a place

in a public university.

Like Vijay Singh, world champion golfer, he would have been
forced to emigrate to live elsewhere.

If Barack Obama had advocated equal opportunity and equal
rights in Malaysia , he would have been demonised by Utusan

Malaysia as being anti-Malay and anti-Islam and taken into

custody under the ISA just like what happened to Teresa Kok,

and he would have had Molotov cocktails chucked into his

parent's house, and had curly daggers waved at him.

If he had advocated rule of law like Zaid Ibrahim, they would

call him a traitor to the Malay race. If he advocated democracy

like Anwar Ibrahim, then Umno, the world champions of fitnah

would have fixed him for sodomy.

If like the jailed Hindraf 5 leaders, Barack Obama tells us to

'hope for change' and have the 'audacity of hope' then it would

have been ISA and water cannons for him and his supporters.

For practicing freedom of religion and conscience, and following

the religion of his choice, he would have been charged with

apostasy, and don't forget, some of our Malaysian politicians

have advocated death for apostasy, just to prove their religious

standing in the eyes of their ethnic voters.

Abdullah Badawi's statement that anyone can be PM in Malaysia

is a sick joke and a clear attempt to mislead the public, and to

assuage the collective privileged guilt of Umno's wealthy and

corrupt warlords who head a party dedicated to race supremacy,

religious and racial apartheid, and the worst type of racial and

religious politics.

I am so glad Barack Obama will be the next president of the US .

It goes to show that ordinary voters in the most powerful

country in the world are prepared to reject the evils of racism,

and embrace solidarity with their fellow voters in the context of

equal rights and equal citizenship.

They have shown long-suffering ordinary Malaysians what real

muhibbah looks like instead of the dagger-waving displays

(Umno AGM), Umno Youth beating up women delegates at

peace conferences (Apcet II, KL), and nameless criminals

chucking Molotov cocktails into women MPs' houses - that is,

what I would term the Biro Tata Negara brand of nation-

building by Umno.

I doubt if Barack Obama can have any impact on Malaysia 's

racist politics but it is good to know that people in America can

still make a common stand with their fellow voters across

racial lines for the common good.

I challenge Umno to invite Barack Obama to Malaysia to show

him the political and judicial wonders of our Malaysian system.

I challenge Umno's gutless politicians to tell Barack Obama,
president-elect of the United States of America what

opportunities he would have had if he were born in Malaysia.

Broken lives amid sea of mud

This photo released by Royal Malaysian Police shows an aerial view of the landslide in Bukit Antarabangsa today. – AP pic

-Four dead in Bukit Antarabangsa landslide



Homeless landslide victims carrying their belongings in plastic bags. – Picture by Choo Choy May

By Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — Hours after a massive landslide destroyed more than a dozen homes and caused thousands to be evacuated from the leafy Bukit Antarabangsa suburb, a car still laid on its side resting on tonnes of earth, pushed into the second floor of what was once a luxury home.

In another house nearby, what was once a well-manicured lawn had been compacted into a roller-coaster shape with parts of it turned into a vertical wall. Beside the lawn, the house was tilted a crazy angle, with an MPV sticking out of what was once the roof.

These were the less devastating scenes. Many of the other homes had either been reduced to rubble or still buried under tonnes of earth where rescue workers worked feverishly to try to locate survivors.

Workers using excavators dug non-stop to clear the earth but appeared to hardly make a dent.

The scene was chaotic, with hundreds of rescue workers, police, residents and the press milling about on the narrow roads in the area.

Police helicopters whirled overhead. Some had been deployed to airlift some of the thousands of residents trapped in the neighbourhood with no water or electricity. Most of the residents and survivors, though, had to walk down the hill through jungle-like terrain.

One police dog unit officer, identified as Rano, said the afternoon rain had halted search and rescue operations for the missing.

“We have already found where the victims are under the rubble. But as long as it is raining and they are uncertain of conditions, they cannot go in and get them out,” he said, adding that he is unsure if the victims are still alive.

One elderly woman making her way out of the area told The Malaysian Insider that her house was still intact but she feared for the safety of her family if they had to return to their homes.

Hizam Sujairi, 30, looked forlorn, dragging a luggage bag behind him, as he made his way from the carnage.

He was soaking wet and had no idea where he was going to stay.

“I have not had time to think about anything yet.

“We are safe up on the hill. But there is no electricity or water and we may run out of supplies,” he says, bemoaning the fact that he will have to be without his car for the next few days.

Jasmiah Abdul Mutalib, 56, was lucky to escape unscathed when the wave of mud petered out just a few feet from her home.

She related how she heard three explosive sounds this morning. She rushed out of her home to a devastating scene.

She told reporters how a month ago, five trees in the area had been uprooted.

Jasmiah said: “Perhaps it was a sign.”


Dr M spooking Najib to go his way

COMMENTARY

DEC 6 — Here we go again.

That must be the sentiment being felt by Prime-Minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his band of supporters in recent days after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ratcheted up pressure on him to become his “own man” and support certain aspirants to senior positions in Umno.

The Deputy Prime Minister knows that the caustic comments and biting statements will not stop until the party elections are over in March or until he gives his full backing to candidates endorsed by Dr Mahathir.

On the flip side, he also has to accept that showing favour to one set of candidates or becoming a proxy for the former prime minister could provoke other candidates to go for broke and destroy any sense of stability in a ruling party already knee deep in controversy and facing an important by-election on Jan 17.

Running through Dr Mahathir’s recent statements and postings on his blog, he appears peeved that Najib has become too comfortable with the transition plan and not assertive enough in supporting Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as his choice for the number two position in Umno.

Muhyiddin, who played a significant role in building up momentum for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s ouster, has been Dr Mahathir’s only choice for the number two position.

He is up against Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam and Rural Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib for the deputy president’s position.

Dr Mahathir is also partial to his son Datuk Muhkriz Mahathir being elected Umno Youth chief over Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo.

In a posting on his blog, he accused Abdullah of busy campaigning for his chosen candidates for the posts of deputy president, Wanita chief and Youth chief, noting that winners will be rewarded with appointments as ministers.

“Najib is going to be surrounded by Abdullah's people and through these people Abdullah will control the government of Najib. Najib has already abandoned Muhyiddin, the fierce critic of Abdullah. He does not want to incur the displeasure of his boss. Would he refuse to appoint Abdullah's nominees? Would he dare go against them?” he provoked.

Several days ago, he suggested that Najib may end up as the president of Umno but Abdullah will hold the ultimate prize — the prime ministership.

In an interview with Riz Khan on Al Jazeera, he followed up with another observation, noting that Najib is “more a follower than a leader and must change that.”

These statements are designed to spook Najib and his supporters and provoke them into action, namely showing clear support for candidates with antipathy towards Abdullah.

These statements must also be read together with the warning by Dr Mahathir to expose election candidates who he believes are guilty of buying support.

In his opinion, Muhyiddin should be a shoo-in for the number two job.

Instead, he appears to be in a dog fight with Ali and Muhammad Taib, two candidates said to be close to Abdullah.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider that Najib may prefer Muhyiddin over the other two candidates but will not publicly endorse anyone contesting the party elections.

The reason: he believes that it could complicate efforts to restore unity to the party after March.

Also, it is too early in the game to be showing his hand.

The party polls are a good four months away and no candidate in any category is an overwhelming favourite.

Finally, if Najib endorses any candidate or a slate of candidates, he runs the risk of exposing himself to fire from those left out of the equation.

Given the poisonous mood in the party, the return fire could be damaging.

So for the time being at least, staying on the sidelines makes sense for Najib.

Only problem is that Dr Mahathir is not going to be silent.

Clinton gets flak for speaking on behalf of Vinod Sekhar

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — Former US President Bill Clinton visited Malaysia yesterday to deliver his first paid speech since his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, was selected on Monday by US President-elect Barack Obama to be secretary of state.

Bill Clinton spoke before nearly 3,000 people in Kuala Lumpur at the invitation of Vinod Sekhar, a businessman whose foundation paid Clinton US$200,000 (RM720,000), according to several people with knowledge of the fee. The figure is on the lower end of the scale that Clinton usually commands for his speeches.

“You should be proud of this man,” Clinton told the audience, pointing at Vinod, the 40-year-old chief executive of the Petra Group, a privately-held rubber technology company.

But several angry investors in Britain and Malaysia say they disagree with the former president’s glowing assessment of Vinod, whose company has suffered a rough few weeks.

“I believe he is using Bill Clinton — this is what he does,” said Abdul Azim Zabidi, a former board member of the Petra Group who claims Vinod broke numerous promises to him and still owes him US$100,000. “He just wants to get new investors.”

Another investor, the actor Bruce Willis, recently settled a lawsuit with Petra over the return of US$900,000. The company called it a “misunderstanding.”

And this week, after a 10-year partnership, a member of the Negri Sembilan royal family quit as Petra’s chairman, saying he was tired of the many “surprises” during his affiliation with the company.

“Enough is enough,” the former chairman said.

Vinod declined to comment. A spokesman for the Petra Group, Andrew Murray-Watson, said that Abdul Azim’s assertion that he was still owed money was “utter rubbish,” and that the Clinton event was held as a memorial for Vinod’s late father, a scientist who invented an environmentally sound way to recycle tyres.

“The idea that Vinod organised this event purely for public relations purposes is frankly ludicrous, and insulting to the memory of his father,” Murray-Watson said.

Officials with the Obama transition team said they did not vet Vinod’s background before Clinton’s speech. The speech was one of the last Clinton will deliver without being reviewed by a State Department ethics panel, a requirement he has agreed to follow if Hillary is confirmed by the Senate as secretary of state. Clinton also agreed to have his fees from business dealings and foreign speeches reviewed by the White House Counsel’s Office, if necessary.

When Hillary emerged as the leading contender for secretary of state, questions were raised about whether she could work as the nation’s chief diplomat while Clinton continued to pursue his global business dealings and foreign speechmaking. In a bid to erase worries about conflicts of interest, the former president agreed to every request made by the Obama transition team.

“If she is going to be secretary of state, and I operate globally and I have people who contribute to these efforts globally,” Clinton told CNN this week, “I think that it’s important to make it totally transparent.”

Since leaving the White House, Clinton has travelled the world fighting AIDS, malaria and other maladies. Since its formation in 1997, the Clinton Foundation has raised more than US$500 million to build a presidential library and finance charitable programmes.

This week, he hosted the Clinton Global Initiative Asia meeting in Hong Kong. It will be the last such meeting for some time; under the terms of his agreement with the Obama transition team, Clinton agreed to no longer host those meetings overseas.

His decision to accept the invitation of Vinod, who has made contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative, surprised several Petra Group investors, who say Vinod was using his association with Clinton to attract new investment. It was Clinton’s first visit to Malaysia.

Barrie Clapham, a British investor who says he put £300,000 (RM1.7 million) into Vinod’s company in 2003 and lent him an additional £170,000, now says he blames himself for failing to recognise that Vinod is “a man of straw.”

“He’s very flamboyant,” Clapham said. “People think this guy is a real mover and shaker, and he keeps lending credibility to himself through association with the right people.”

Despite what Clapham called Vinod’s veneer of wealth, he said, “I learned later that the house he lived in was rented.”

“Everything was rented,” Clapham added.

He says he has been asking Vinod for the return of his money since 2003, but has received only £30,000 of the £470,000 he says he is owed. “He told me he was a man of honour, and he would honour it,” Clapham said. “I have been pressing him ever since.”

Murray-Watson said that Clapham had agreed to invest a large sum in the company, but that “as far as the company is concerned, he did not fulfil that obligation.”

“He remains a shareholder,” Murray-Watson said, “and negotiations are ongoing that the company expects will lead to a satisfactory outcome for all parties.”

This week, Vinod’s partner, Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar, the prince from the Negri Sembilan royal household, announced he was ending his decade-long affiliation with Vinod by resigning as chairman of the Petra Group and a director of its affiliated companies.

“I have received many surprises during my tenure with the group,” he said in a statement, citing the lawsuit involving Willis as “just one, and unfortunately the most high profile.”

He said the lawsuit caused “embarrassment to my family, particularly to my royal parents.”

Although Murray-Watson acknowledged that the company had had a difficult few weeks, he said its future was bright.

“Petra Group companies are trading well in a difficult economic environment,” he said, pointing to “a recently signed, groundbreaking deal with Timberland” to make shoe soles out of recycled materials manufactured by the company.

The Petra Group, he said, “is set for record global growth over the next 12 months.”

Clinton promoted the Petra Group’s new deal yesterday, telling the audience: “One of the biggest rubber shoes and boots manufacturers, Timberland, is replacing the soles of its shoes it makes with this man’s green rubber technology.”

Clinton often praises companies that pay him to speak. In 2001, he received US$125,000 from an Illinois management consulting company called International Profit Associates. It was later revealed that the Illinois attorney general was investigating accusations of deceptive marketing tactics by the company.

After a start-up web search site named Accoona donated US$700,000 worth of stock to his foundation, Clinton praised the company at a corporate event in December 2004.

“I hope you all get rich,” he told Accoona executives, “but, remember, you are doing something good for humanity as well.” — NYT

UMNO top leadership opposing Abdullah’s reform bills for anti-corruption and judiciary?

With the end of the 31-day debate on the 2009 Budget last Thursday, the focus of the last six sittings of the current budget meeting ending on December 18 will be on two of the three reform measures which the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had promised to accomplish before he steps down from office next March.

These are the Bills to establish the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MCAC), reputedly patterned after Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Judicial Appointments Commission.

As I have not sighted either of the bills, I am unable to comment intelligently on them.

However, it is evident that both these “reform” bills have evoked considerable opposition in UMNO circles, reaching to very high evels of the Umno leadership.

It would appear that there are powerful Umno circles who are uncomfortable with any measures to create a more independent agency with a bit more bite to fight corruption, especially as the ongoing Umno party elections is mired in the worst money politics and corruption in the party history.

I understand that among powerful UMNO personalities who are strongly opposed to Parliament enacting reform legislation on anti-corruption and the judiciary, and the four-day extension of Parliament to Dec. 18 to debate and approve these bills, are those who are contesting for high Umno posts next March, including candidates for Umno Supreme Council, UMNO Vice Presidents and Deputy President.

I call on the Prime Minister-designate Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has won the Umno President’s post uncontested, as well as all UMNO candidates for the top party posts, particularly those contesting for the positions of UMNO Deputy President and Vice Presidents to immediately and publicly declare whether they give full support to the reform legislation for anti-corruption and the judiciary, and in particular whether they are fully behind Abdullah with regard to the bills for judicial and anti-corruption reforms to be tabled in Parliament next week.

(Speech at the 2008 DAPSY Congress at Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 6th December 2008)

The glass wall that separates the rich from the poor

(Anil Netto)

The glass facade of George Town’s premier business hotel, Traders Hotel (formerly Shangri-la Hotel), where Jerit cyclists were to hand over their memo to Guan Eng at 1.30pm

Pakatan leaders were inside attending a conference to outline their “New economic vision for Penang and Malaysia”. US multinational electronics corporation, Agilent Technologies, and the Shangri La hotels chain were the sponsors of the event, to which participants had to pay RM250/person to attend. Ironically, the session scheduled just before lunchtime was “Getting the politics right to enable sustainable economic growth that is socially just.”

But nobody cared to ask the workers and representatives of marginalised communities outside what they thought of this vision. Instead, the front door of the hotel was locked while hotel management and security looked concerned. Not that the Jerit cyclists were desperate to get in. All they wanted to do was hand over their memo and leave. Still, it would have been a great gesture if the Pakatan reps inside had invited the cyclists and activists in to listen to the aspirations and hopes of workers and marginalised groups. The Pakatan folks would have been seen as pro-people.

As it stands, the Pakatan leaders in general look increasingly pro-market, pro-investor and pro-business while lowly paid workers, who are struggling to make ends meet, do not seem to figure very highly on their list of priorities.

Jerit cyclists peering through the glass to see how the rich wine and dine: The poor in Malaysia can only dream of the lavish life-styles of the upper middle-class and the rich.

The rich top 10 per cent of the population earn 22 times what the bottom 10 per cent earn, making Malaysia one of the most unequal societies in East Asia in terms of income disparities. The Jerit campaigners and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress have been calling for a decent minimum wage in the country that would enable workers to live in dignity. A minimum wage would also help the economy as it would give the public, especially workers, greater purchasing power.

Outside the locked main entrance: Penang state exco member Abdul Malik holding the fort and negotiating with police, who had given the cyclists, who arrived at 1.10pm, half an hour to disperse or risk arrests. Also present was Sungai Siput MP Jeyakumar Devaraj.

Guan Eng was delivering his closing remarks at the conference and came down at around 1.45pm after being told that the police had given the Jerit folks a deadline to disperse. At first, he was expecting to walk out of the main entrance. But even the Chief Minister was not allowed to exit through the main entrance. Instead, the hotel’s top management ushered him to the smaller front door near the reception. Once he stepped outside, Jerit representatives finally got to hand over their memo.

Guan Eng said he supported their campaign - though he was able to spend just a couple of minutes with the Jerit representatives.

PRM’s Gary Nair flags off the cyclists at Swatow Lane in Penang after treating them to a meal at his Passions of Kerala restaurant at New World Park

Apart from Gary, Deputy CM Ramasamy and a PKR state exco member who said they supported the campaign, the response from other ruling politicians in the state wasn’t exactly one of whole-hearted support. “They could have been more pro-active in supporting the cause of workers,” Suaram’s Choo Chon Kai told me.

This was what the Pakatan leaders were busy talking about inside the hotel:

Friday/Time
Programme
8.00 a.m.
Registration (Refreshments will be served)
9.00 a.m.

Welcoming Address by Organising Chairman, Dato’ Lee Kah Choon, The Chairman, Executive Committee of investPenang

9.15 a.m.

Launching of the International Conference on “The New Economic Vision for Penang and Malaysia” and the I-George Town website

9.30 a.m.
Keynote address by the Chief Minister of Penang,Rt. Hon. Mr Lim Guan Eng
10.00 a.m.
Session 1: Overcoming the Obstacles to High Growth in Penang and in Malaysia
11.30 a.m.
Tea / Coffee Break
12.00 p.m.
Session 2: The Priorities in Formulating the Development Strategy
1.30 p.m.
Lunch
2.30 p.m.
Session 3: Moving Up the Value Added Ladder
4.00 p.m.
Tea / Coffee Break
4.30 p.m.
Session 4: New Engines of Growth in a Globalised World
6.00 p.m.
End of First Day

Day 2, Friday, December 6, 2008

Saturday/Time
Programme
8.30 a.m.
Networking (Refreshments will be served)
9.00 a.m.

Session 5: Establishing the Framework Institutions to Support Development

10.30 a.m.

Tea / Coffee Break

11.00 a.m.
Closing Keynote by the Hon. Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Parliamentary Opposition Leader
11.30 a.m.
Session 6: Getting the Politics Right to Enable Sustainable Economic Growth That Is Socially Just
1.00 p.m.
End of Conference


Ingatan Pak Lah dan Najib

(Agenda Daily)

Macam pahat dengan penukul atau sudah terantuk baru tengadah. Itulah antara kesimpulan Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dan Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yang kecewa kerana kejadian tanah runtuh sekitar Bukit Antarabangsa di Hulu Klang sebelum ini masih tidak jadi pengajaran kepada banyak pihak terutama pemaju perumahan di lereng dan cerun bukit.

Kenyataan Perdana Menteri dan timbalannya itu tentu merujuk tindakan pihak tertentu termasuk kerajaan negeri dan pihak berkuasa tempatan yang hanya akur arahan tidak membenarkan projek di lereng bukit selepas sesuatu tragedi.

Bagaimanapun, selepas beberapa bulan, pemaju masih mengemukakan permohonan bagi mendapatkan kelulusan projek tanpa memikirkan risiko yang bakal menimpa penghuni yang mendiami rumah di lereng atau cerun bukit.

Abdullah menyelar ‘sikap tak apa’ golongan ini pada sidang media selepas melawat lokasi tragedi tanah runtuh yang meranapkan 14 banglo serta meragut empat nyawa penghuninya di Bukit Antarabangsa, Hulu Klang, Sabtu.

“Cukuplah…cukup,” katanya sambil meminta semua kerajaan negeri menimbang menghentikan projek perumahan di kawasan berbukit yang berisiko tinggi kerana ianya bukan soal kerugian tetapi keselamatan nyawa.

"Mungkin tuan tanah akan marah, sebab nak guna tanah untuk bina rumah. Mungkin pemaju nak dirikan rumah atau kondominium di sini akan tidak senang hati, kalau sekiranya ditegah meneruskan hasrat mereka di kawasan berisiko itu," katanya.

Menurut Abdullah, kejadian awal pagi Sabtu dan dua kejadian sebelum ini perlu dijadikan isyarat bahawa sekiranya perhatian serius tidak diberi, ia boleh mengundang kejadian yang lebih buruk.

"Mungkin tidak suka melihat, tapi kalau kita tak ambil peduli tentang perkara kestablian tanah, khususnya di lereng-lereng bukit, kita sebenarnya menempah nahas dan tragedi yang merugikan semua pihak," katanya.

Beliau juga mengarahkan pakar-pakar Institut Kerja Raya Malaysia (Ikram) melakukan pemeriksaan dan pemantauan dengan segera di kawasan Bukit Antarabangsa supaya dapat menyelamatkan kawasan perumahan yang berhampiran.

Katanya sebagai kawasan tadahan air, Bukit Antarabangsa tidak sepatutnya dibangunkan untuk penempatan.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri pula yang turut meninjau lokasi tragedi juga senada dengan Abdullah dengan meminta kerajaan negeri tidak lagi membenarkan projek pembangunan di kawasan berbukit berisiko tinggi.

Najib turut mengingatkan pemaju supaya jangan lagi menekan kerajaan untuk melobi bagi mendapatkan kelulusan bagi membangunkan sesuatu projek di kawasan seumpama itu.

"Saya fikir tidak ada alasan lagi untuk jalankan pembangunan di atas tanah yang curam dan tinggi yang berisiko tinggi. Ambil sikap pencegahan adalah lebih baik daripada sesuatu kejadian yang mungkin berlaku.

"Kita perlu belajar atas apa yang berlaku termasuk kejadian hari ini," katanya.

Najib berkata tidak mustahil pemaju akan terus menghantar permohonan selepas insiden tanah runtuh sedemikian, reda.

"Ingatan manusia ini pendek. Tiga, enam bulan bila orang dah lupa, pemaju akan sorong permohonan dan melobi supaya diluluskan, tidak belajar apa yang berlaku," katanya.

Tragedi kira-kira jam 4 pagi Sabtu ini bukanlah cerita baru kejadian tanah runtuh sekitar Bukit Antarabangsa dan jajarannya malah sejak tahun 90-an beberapa kes serupa termasuk runtuhnya satu daripada tiga blok kondominium Highland Towers yang letaknya 1.5 kilometer daripada lokasi hari ini.

Dalam tragedi Highland Towers pada 11 Disember 1993, seramai 48 orang terkorban. Ini diikuti kejadian tanah runtuh meranapkan sebuah banglo di Taman Hillview milik bekas Panglima Angkatan Tentera, Jen (B) Tan Sri Ismail Omar pada 20 November, 2002.

Selepas tragedi-tragedi itu, kerajaan mengeluarkan arahan jangan ada lagi projek perumahan di lereng dan cerun bukit dan berisiko tetapi ibarat kata Najib, “Ingatan manusia ini pendek”. Dan selepas arahan dua pemimpin utama negara ini, apakah ada jaminan tiada lagi projek-projek baru di tempat merbahaya itu?. Tunggu dan lihat. - 6/12/2008

Tok Ali 'ikat' Datuk Shah Rukh Khan

(Agenda Daily)

Ketua Menteri Melaka, Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam dan bintang Bollywood, Datuk Shah Rukh Khan telah sepakat supaya penggambaran filem berjudul “Happy New Year” tahun depan diadakan seratus peratus di Melaka.

Bercakap kepada Agendadaily semasa makan tengahari sebaik selesai majlis penganugerahan Darjah Mulia Seri Melaka (DMSM) kepada aktor itu dalam satu istiadat ringkas di Seri Negeri, hari Sabtu, Mohd Ali berkata, beliau juga akan mengemukakan cadangan kepada Shah Rukh Khan supaya judul filem itu diubahsuai kepada “New Year In Melaka”.

“Jika tidak seratus peratus pun, saya akan mencadangkan kepadanya supaya hampir keseluruhan penggambaran filem itu diadakan di Melaka. Ini sudah pasti akan meningkatkan lagi industri pelancongan negeri ini,” tambahnya.

Terdahulu, semasa sidang akhbar yang diadakan selepas menerima anugerah DMSM, Shah Rukh mengumumkan beliau akan membintangi sebuah filem yang bertujuan mengetepikan salah faham masyrakat dunia mengenai Islam.

Filem yang berjudul “My name is Khan” itu akan menjalani penggambaran di Amerika Syarikat awal tahun depan.

“Saya berharap menerusi filem ini saya dapat menjelaskan bahawa agama Islam tidak berkait dengan keganasan. Saya mahu menjelaskan konsep jihad dengan cara yang baik. Filem ini akan diarahkan oleh pengarah terkemuka Bollywood, Karan Johar dan saya kemungkinan akan bergandingan dengan Kajol,” katanya.

Dalam sidang akhbar itu juga Mohd Ali berkata, Shah Rukh Khan telahpun menyuarakan kesediaannya untuk membantu kerajaan negeri Melaka memajukan industri perfileman di negeri itu.

“Kami telahpun menyediakan sebuah studio animasi di Rumah Media Melaka dan akan menambah beberapa kemudahan teknikal, antaranya membina sebuah studio penggambaran.

“Shah Rukh Khan telah bersetuju membantu di segi memberi khidmat nasihat dan rundingan. Kami akan menghantar lima orang pegawai teknikal ke India untuk dilatih di sana,” tambah Mohd Ali.

Sebelum sidang akhbar berakhir, Shah Rukh Khan berkata beliau berterima kasih kepada kerajaan negeri Melaka dan juga rakyat Malaysia kerana menghargai sumbangannya dalam industri seni. “Anugerah yang saya terima ini bukan sahaja untuk saya, tetapi juga rakyat India,” katanya. – 6/12/2008

Cuit sedikit untuk rasuah


1. Nampaknya ada orang yang tidak senang kerana saya kecam amalan sogokan wang dalam pencalonan jawatan-jawatan UMNO.

2. Yang jelas daripada teguran terhadap saya oleh orang ini ialah baginya sogokan wang tidak salah bahkan ianya adalah amalan biasa dalam demokrasi.

3. Secara tidak langsung orang ini mendedahkan nama calon-calon yang terlibat dengan sogokan wang. Kononnya teguran saya ialah untuk menjejaskan peluang mereka ini untuk dapat kemenangan. Orang ini sendiri nampak terlibat dengan kegiatan ini. Jika tidak kenapakah dia beria-ia mempertahankan sogokan wang oleh calon tertentu. Jika semua calon terlibat dengan politik wang, apa perlunya mempertahankan calon tertentu dan menuduh tulisan saya sebagai sokongan kepada calon yang bertanding dengan mereka ini. Sekali lagi secara tidak langsung orang ini ternampak percaya calon yang saya dituduh menyokong tidak memberi sogokan. Jika mereka ini juga terlibat maka kecaman saya tentulah terkena kepada mereka juga.

4. Kononnya pengkritik ini penyokong kuat saya. Sokongan kepada siapa pun tidak boleh secara buta-tuli. Saya tak minta saya disokong secara buta-tuli.

5. Tetapi pengakuan bahawa pengkritik adalah penyokong kuat saya bermakna selain daripada kecaman saya terhadap politik wang pengkritik sokong penglibatan saya dalam "Mencatur UMNO". Kenapa penglibatan saya dalam percaturan politik UMNO dahulu tidak dikecam oleh pengkritik, bahkan disokong?

6. Saya belum pernah dengar sesiapa menyokong dan menghalalkan rasuah. Walaupun mereka terlibat dengan rasuah biasanya mereka anggap rasuah sebagai satu jenayah, satu perbuatan haram yang berdosa.

7. Inilah kali pertama saya dapati ada orang yang menghalalkan rasuah. Bagi orang ini asalkan dapat duit apa peduli jika akhirnya bangsa dan negara dijual oleh perasuah yang dipilih memerintah negara melalui sogokan.

8. Na'uzubillah. Barang dijauhi Allah daripada bencana ini.