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Monday, December 22, 2008

MP to tell Sultan his side of the story on bicycle campaign

(The Star) Sungai Siput MP Dr D. Jeyakumar will write to Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah to explain matters about the recent bicycle campaign organised by Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit).

He believed that certain quarters deliberately spread inaccurate information to the Sultan of Selangor that Jerit was deemed to have exploited children for political mileage.

“I don’t know what was informed to Tuanku about the situation, so I will write a letter of explanation to Tuanku,” he told mStar online, The Star’s Malay news portal, yesterday.

“I think if Tuanku knows what actually happened, he will support it.”

He was responding to Selangor Police Chief Deputy Comm Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar’s remark that the Sultan had expressed regret that there were irresponsible parties exploiting children in their campaigns.

Dr Jeyakumar said the bicycle campaign from the northern and southern states to Kuala Lumpur, which ended last Thursday, had given participants experience and exposure about the lifestyle of the local communities in the areas they visited.

“Even my 15-year-old child was also involved in the campaign as the children could gain new experience about the world outside.

“They also stopped overnight in estates and orang asli villages. This is very good exposure,” he said, adding that it was regrettable that police seemed to be against the programme.

On police plans to prosecute Dr Jeya­kumar, who was arrested in Rawang last week for allegedly exploiting children in the campaign, he said he was prepared to face any possibility.

“If they want to prosecute, let them do so. I have enough lawyers because I am confident that I have not done any wrong,’’ he added.

On Dec 15, the police also arrested Rawang assemblyman Gan Pei Nie, who was believed to have been involved in the organisation of the Jerit campaign.

ALSO READ : Sultan upset over use of kids in protests, says cop

Johor folk keep fingers crossed as retrenchments mount in Singapore

By Shannon Teoh, The Malaysian Insider

They are already seeing all the signs pointing towards tough economic times ahead.

But Johor folk, from businessmen and rubber smallholders to the thousands who cross the Causeway daily for rapidly disappearing jobs in Singapore, are adopting a stoic wait-and-see attitude towards the economic storm brewing around them.

For the 300,000 estimated to be employed in Singapore, retrenchment looms with up to a third of them estimated to lose their jobs.

There are signs that it may be worse than that as job losses in the republic spiked by 70 per cent to 3,178 in the third quarter and look set to get worse as job creation also dropped.

The current vacancy-to-unemployed ratio has sunk to 0.81 from 1.34 at the end of last year.

Still, many are refusing to accept their fate and take up the some 10,000 jobs that the state government says are available in Johor.

According to local politicians, many blue-collar workers are looking to shift industries in a bid to continue earning Singapore dollars.

"I have signed hundreds of letters of good conduct in the past month," state opposition leader Dr Boo Cheng Hau told The Malaysian Insider.

Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Datuk Soh Poh Sheng says that most Malaysians retrenched in Singapore would rather wait it out and continue to seek alternatives to return to the island-state.

In Johor itself, falling commodity prices, shrinking order books and empty nightspots suggest few are being spared.

Adopting a similar wait-and-see approach are rubber smallholders. With rubber prices falling from RM10.55 per kg to RM3.95, profit margins have been hard hit.

Many smallholders in the state have stopped production and are holding their breath until prices recover.

Palm oil plantations, however, cannot stop production, and are facing continually lower yield.

Soh says the approximate production cost per ton is RM250, but prices for fresh fruit bunches have fallen from RM820 per ton to RM300.

In Johor Baru, nightspots are also feeling the effects of locals bracing themselves for the economy to bite harder.

Already, the city's clubs, karaoke bars and pubs are seeing fewer customers even during the weekends.

The belt-tightening appears to have resulted in more people finding it a luxury to drown their sorrows.

The constantly grumbling Chinese

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Some Chinese say they refuse to vote for PAS because they are worried that PAS may implement Islamic laws. But how can PAS implement Islamic laws when they will never have a two-thirds majority in Parliament?

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malays can sometimes be real assholes. But at least they are honest about it. Chinese can also sometimes be assholes as well. But they pretend to be something else whilst they are actually the opposite of what they pretend to be. In that sense the Chinese are hypocritical assholes. And this is where the Malays are better than the Chinese. The Malays are honest assholes while the Chinese are dishonest assholes.

Look at what MCA said yesterday. They want PKR and DAP to state their stand on the Hudud laws. But when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad declared that Malaysia is already an Islamic state and therefore the Malays do not need PAS any more, MCA clapped and whistled just like trained seals in a circus. MCA should have demanded that Umno states its stand on the Hudud laws the day Mahathir made his announcement. What about the government proposal on the Syariah laws? What has MCA go to say about the matter? Why no response? Why as silent as a church mouse?

Look at the petition to the King and the Sultans. The Malays keep a respectful silence when it comes to the Rulers. Except for a handful of Malays, the majority of the Malays do not drag the Rulers through the mud. And you do not need the Sedition Act for the Malays to show respect to the Rulers.

The Chinese, however, grumble that the Rulers are a waste of money. “Why do we need Rulers?” the Chinese argue. “It just costs us a lot of money to maintain a Monarchy. And the Rulers do not do anything to earn their salary.” But when we take the initiative to send petitions to the Rulers, these same Chinese will argue, “Why waste time with petitions? It is not like the Rulers will do anything.”

So what do the Chinese really want? When they perceive the Rulers as not taking any action, they grumble. But when we take the initiative to bring to the Rulers’ attention certain grievances of the rakyat, they also grumble. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Sometimes I get the impression that these Chinese get an orgasm by grumbling. Maybe it’s a fetish thing, sort of like kinky sex.

Look at the issue of free speech. When I whack the Malays, I am a great guy. I am open. I am fair. I am a person who allows and practices freedom of expression. But, when I whack the Chinese, I am a racist pig. Whacking Malays is good for the country and in the spirit of free speech. Whacking the Chinese is a negative thing and bad for the country’s future.

The Chinese do not believe in freedom of expression. They believe in the freedom to whack the Malays. And whacking the Chinese is not freedom of expression. It is racism.

Look at the issue of who to vote for in the elections. Barisan Nasional is evil. Barisan Nasional is Umno. The non-Malays have no say in Barisan Nasional. The non-Malays in Barisan Nasional are Umno’s running dogs. But we Chinese must vote for Barisan Nasional because it is a devil we know. Pakatan Rakyat may be an angel but it is an angel we don’t know. Better a devil we know than an angel we don’t know.

The Malays are split into four groups. There are the Malays who support Ketuanan Melayu and the New Economic Policy. These Malays will vote for Umno come hell or high water. And they will defend Ketuanan Melayu and the New Economic Policy with their six-inch keris to the death. Then there are the Malays who support PAS, basically because they believe it is the Islamic thing to do. Then there are Malays who want to see transparency, good governance, freedom of expression and assembly, independence of the judiciary, an end to abuse of power and corruption, an end to police brutality, and all those other ‘Western notions’. These Malays will vote for PKR. Then there are those Malays who don’t care a damn and think that all politicians are hypocrites and politics is sheer bullshit. They don’t bother to come out to vote or even to register as voters.

The Malays are clear in their leanings. They don’t hide their feelings. They say it as they see it and you can go to hell if you don’t like what they say for all they care. But you can’t say the same about the Chinese. They grumble and grumble till the cows come home. But they will do the exact opposite of how they feel. They equate Barisan Nasional as the reincarnation of the devil. But then they will vote for Barisan Nasional because it is the devil they know and the devil they know is better than an angel they don’t know.

Some Chinese say they refuse to vote for PAS because they are worried that PAS may implement Islamic laws. But how can PAS implement Islamic laws when they will never have a two-thirds majority in Parliament? PAS contested only 60 seats out of 222 Parliament seats. Then they went and won only 23 seats.

PAS needs about 150 seats in Parliament to change Malaysia from a Secular state into an Islamic state. But when they contest only 60 seats, even if they win all the 60 seats they contest it will still be only 60 seats. And they can’t win all the seats they contest. They can only win less than half the seats they contest. Where would PAS get the 150 parliament seats it requires?

The Chinese counter this argument by saying that PAS can always team up with Umno to form an Islamic state. So better we vote for Barisan Nasional than vote for PAS. This will prevent PAS from teaming up with Umno to change Malaysia into an Islamic state.

Again, this argument does not make sense. If you refuse to vote for PAS because you are scared that PAS will team up with Umno to change Malaysia into an Islamic state, would voting for Umno instead of PAS prevent this? I mean; you are scared of a PAS-Umno alliance. So you refuse to vote for PAS and instead vote for Umno. Does this mean the alliance will not happen if this is what you suspect is going to happen? You are just transferring from the right pocket to the left pocket. The sum total still remains the same.

You transfer your vote from PAS to Umno. One seat less for PAS means an additional seat for Umno. Or you transfer your vote from Umno to PAS. One seat less for Umno means an additional seat for PAS. You are merely ding-donging from PAS to Umno and vice versa. Therefore, if PAS and Umno form an alliance, would not the number of ‘Malay’ seats total the same? How does ‘robbing’ PAS of one seat and giving that seat to Umno have any impact if PAS and Umno form an alliance?

Now, if Umno and DAP are face-to-face in that constituency and you vote for DAP instead of Umno, then this would make a difference. And if PAS faces MCA or Gerakan in that constituency and you vote for MCA or Gerakan, this too would make a difference. Then you are not giving the seat to either PAS or Umno; you are giving it to DAP or MCA or Gerakan. But DAP will face MCA or Gerakan, not Umno, while it is PAS that is facing Umno. So you either vote for PAS or Umno. There is no DAP to vote for. DAP is fighting MCA or Gerakan.

Anyway, PAS has 23 seats in Parliament. Umno has 66. Even if you add Umno Sabah into the equation, Umno’s seats will come to only 79. 23 plus 66 equals 89. Add the 13 Umno Sabah seats and it still comes to only 102. 102 of 222 comes to less than 50% because 50% of 222 is 111.

So you are scared that PAS will betray us and team up with Umno. But if they do that they still do not have the two-thirds they need to change Malaysia into an Islamic state. In fact, they do not even have 50% of the seats. How do you, therefore, reconcile the ‘logic’ that you vote for Barisan Nasional instead of Pakatan Rakyat to prevent PAS from teaming up with Umno? But this is Chinese ‘logic’ for whatever it is worth.

Chinese demand mother-tongue education. They argue that vernacular schools offer better education than national schools. Many Chinese go to Chinese schools while Malays go to national schools, although some Malays do go to Chinese schools. But Malays can rationalise better than the Chinese can. Chinese may be better at mathematics. That I don’t deny. But those Malays who are supposed to be weak in mathematics can count better than the Chinese. The Malays know that 23 plus 79 equals 102. And the Malays know that 50% of 222 is 111. The Chinese don’t know this in spite of the fact they are better at mathematics than the Malays.

No, the Chinese are not poor in mathematics. They are not even stupid. They are in fact quite clever and, at times, cleverer than the Malays. It is just that the Chinese like to grumble. The Chinese are constantly grumbling. And they will raise all sorts of grievances -- the Malays this, the Malays that, the Chinese are second-class citizens, the Chinese are unfairly treated, the Malays are mean to the non-Malays, without the Chinese Malaysia would never have developed, Malaysia is what it is because of the Chinese, and so on and so forth. But ask them to act on their grievances and the Chinese will offer a million lame excuses why they will vote Barisan Nasional instead of Pakatan Rakyat.

You can’t get the job because you have no experience and the job specifications stipulate they require at least three years experience. But how to get experience when you can’t get a job? That is called ‘Catch 22’. The Chinese refuse to vote opposition because, according to the Chinese, the opposition does not have a track record in government whilst Barisan Nasional has 51 years experience. But how will the opposition build up its track record or prove what it can do if it never gets to form the government? That is also called ‘Catch 22’.

Maybe the Chinese can answer this question. But their answer will be the typical: better a devil you know than an angel you don’t know. And then, after voting for Barisan Nasional, the Chinese will go on grumbling about how unfairly they have been treated by Umno, and that the non-Malay parties in Barisan Nasional are Umno running dogs, etc., etc., etc. And the Chinese are supposed to have received a better mother-tongue education than the Malays.

You could have fooled me.

Year in review: Political ‘tsunami’ as opposition takes five states

SHAH ALAM, Dec 22 — The fall of four more states — Penang, Perak, Selangor and Kedah — to the opposition in the March 8 general election was regarded as a “political tsunami” for the Barisan Nasional.

The BN had also failed to recapture Kelantan from Pas since it was toppled in the state in 1990.

In SELANGOR, former corporate figure Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim became the menteri besar of the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government comprising Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Pas and DAP.

BN’s downfall in Selangor, one of the most developed states in the country, was attributed to the disenchantment of the people towards the government over various issues especially irregularities in land matters.

The Chinese community also felt slighted over racist remarks by certain Umno leaders while the Indian community cried foul over demolition of Hindu temples.

The new Selangor state government faced a daunting task to honour its election promises.

However, it managed to provide 20 cubic metres of water free every month to Selangor residents from June, enjoyed only by consumers with individual water meters.

Former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo chided the state government for its failure to reduce the quit rent of private properties by 20 per cent and that of commercial properties by 10 per cent.

He claimed that certain quarters had defaulted on the quit rent payment to protest.

Hardly had the issue died down, Seputeh Member of Parliament Teresa Kok filed two defamation suits against the Utusan Melayu Group over two articles published in the two newspapers under its stable on Sept 10 and Oct 12.

Calling them “highly defamatory”, the Selangor executive councillor claimed that the first article in Utusan Malaysia had resulted in her week-long detention last month under the Internal Security Act.

On Oct 12, Mingguan Malaysia published a short story titled “Politic Baru YB Josephine”, which Kok claimed referred either directly or by innuendo to her.

In PENANG, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng took over as chief minister from Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon after the opposition whitewashed the BN in the state.

DAP won 19 of the 40 state seats, PKR nine, Pas one while the BN could only manage 11 seats.

In a show of strength, PKR won the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election with a bigger majority on Aug 26 through PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

It paved the way for him to return to Parliament following an absence of 10 years from political office and being appointed the opposition leader.

In September, the DAP-PKR government rejected the proposed RM25 billion Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) with Lim describing it “as good as dead”.

He said the developers had failed to submit planning plans as required by the state.

The state government also put up multi-lingual road signs in Georgetown despite protests from the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry, claiming it was part of its efforts to promote tourism in the Unesco World Heritage site.

In July, Georgetown was declared a World Heritage site along with Malacca by Unesco.

The construction of the planned 26km second Penang bridge linking Batu Maung on the island to Batu Kawan on the mainland is expected to be a catalyst for growth in Seberang Perai.

In KEDAH, former Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid and former opposition leader Azizan Abdul Razak of Pas “swapped” positions.

The Sultan of Kedah, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, 82, celebrated his golden jubilee in July after 50 years successfully reigning the state.

Several districts in Kedah were hit by floods in September, during the Ramadan fasting month, forcing about 5,000 people to seek refuge at relief centres.

In PERAK, the DAP had initially protested against the appointment of Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin (now Datuk) of Pas as menteri besar as he represented only the third and smallest political party in the coalition.

Pas won six state seats while PKR seven and the DAP 18.

The state government’s decision to allow 149,000 people living in 349 planned and 134 new villages in Perak, with an appreciated land value of over RM1.5 billion, to apply for freehold titles has also created a controversy.

Senior executive councillor Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham said the freehold titles were in perpetuity and not for 999 years as claimed by certain parties.

He claimed that the issuing of freehold titles to those living in planned and new villages was not against the National Land Code, as the state had consulted a former Court of Appeal judge and a panel of experienced lawyers on the matter before implementing the move. — Bernama

As Penang teeters, a race to retrain

By Debra Chong(Themalaysianinsider)

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 — Penang's economy is wobbling.

One by one, the factories in Penang are extending their year-end shutdown period from one week to two, triggered by the slowdown in sales orders.

Salaries have been slashed. Work hours have been halved.

And some, like Vincent Lim, have been laid off.

The 34-year-old was the Penang branch manager for German company Siemens until he was given his marching orders in October.

It could not have come at a worst time. Lim's wife is expecting their third child and his eldest will be starting primary schooling next month.

"At this rate, I only can last until Chinese New Year," he said of the festival barely one month away.

Datuk Lee Kah Choon, the man handpicked by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to head Penang's investment arm, told The Malaysian Insider that action is being taken to counter the state's wobbling industrial economy brought on by the global slowdown.

Guan Eng himself is leading the pack to woo new investors to open up shop in Penang and create more jobs for locals.

Several major players have already signed on.

Among them are the Nasdaq-listed National Instruments and NYSE-listed Honeywell International. Both have committed over RM400 million together to open R&D plants in Penang.

But Lee knows as well as anyone else that Penang is a land-scarce state and that its real assets are its people.

The state has set aside RM10 million of its own money to help people like Vincent Lim widen and sharpen their skills and migrate into other sectors where work is more readily available.

"I know it's peanuts, but we don't have enough money," said Lee, adding that the state revenue is not enough to cover the amount needed to carry out the retraining project.

"To give a perspective on the situation, the state revenue last year was RM300 million. That's the same amount the Penang General Hospital spends in a year," he said.

That is why, like US President-elect Barack Obama, Penang is asking the federal government for a RM500 million stimulus, spread out over the next five years, to carry out its planned economic reforms.

"Now is a good time for people to get retrained," remarked Lee, who is also director of the Penang Development Corporation.

He explained that during the slump, the programme was both a safety net to stop companies from retrenching their workers, as well as a booster shot.

Armed with extra know-how and skills, workers will be able to bounce back instantly once the economy recovers, he said.

He added that the retraining would also involve those in the service sector, which includes retraining hotel staff, tourism personnel and real estate agents to sell Penang as a destination of choice for holidays and as a second home for expatriates.

Lee is optimistic about the programme's success.

He is in talks with PDC's partners, including apex university Universiti Sains Malaysia and Khazanah Nasional, which is also the federal government's investment arm, to fund the retraining programme as part of their key performance index.

Lee said the state is also focusing on making Penang a environment conducive for investors to run their business by improving the infrastructure.

Despite the uncertainty over their future, the DAP-led government's efforts have helped reassure Penang folk.

"People say Penang will be hit hard, that this crisis will be worse than the previous one," said a worker from Agilent Technologies who asked not to be named.

"I'm happy Lim Guan Eng is our CM now. He is kind of transparent. He seems to be doing things for Penang. He certainly has helped boost our morale," she added.

Malaysia scrambles to head off recession

KUALA LUMPUR(Themalaysianinsider), Dec 22 — The R word may be used sparingly in public but the possibility of the economy sliding into negative territory next year is keeping government officials awake at night.

With economic indicators showing that the economy is slowing faster than expected and Malaysia's trade partners including the United States, China, Singapore and other Asean countries in a deeper hole than estimated, there is a growing sentiment in Putrajaya that it will be a major challenge to achieve next year's growth forecast of 3.5 per cent.

Indeed several banks and research houses believe that Malaysia's economic growth will be between 0.5 per cent and 2.0 per cent.

Morgan Stanley in its latest report said it expected growth to be 0.5 per cent, noting that latest figures showed that the country's trade surplus was narrowing.

Their gloomy forecast could be unhinged further if there are further shocks to the global economy and if Malaysia's RM7 billion stimulus package is not implemented by the first quarter of next year. A country is in technical recession is there is negative growth for two consecutive quarters.

Publicly, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop have been leading the cheerleaders in pointing out the resilience of the economy, but they are preparing to unveil a strategic package of measures in February and are prepared to unleash another multibillion ringgit stimulus package if necessary.

Already, data is trickling from across the country showing that factories are either not renewing the contracts of their workers or reducing the operating hours of their plants.

This situation is evident in the electrical and electronics sector in Penang where orders for computer parts have been slow because of the soft demand in the US. Government officials are preparing for the worst, believing that unemployment figures could climb to be in the six figures, a historical high.

To date, government captured data only shows that 30,000 Malaysians have lost their jobs but the Human Resource Ministry believes that the number will spike by the first quarter of 2009 and have recently asked the Cabinet for an additional RM100 million to retrain retrenched workers.

At the same time, ministry officials have been asked to put together a package of initiatives to help middle-level management who could be displaced by next year and find work for the 120,000 new graduates.

The message to the ministry is simple: consider all options, including placing retrenched middle managers as tutors and lecturers in tertiary institutions.

A government official told The Malaysian Insider that worse case scenarios have been sketched by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning Unit.

"We still think that Malaysia will avoid going into a recession next year but nothing is being discounted. Much will depend on whether our trading partners sink further and the level of confidence in Malaysia.''

Hukum hudud not Pakatan Rakyat policy

Media reports that PAS vice president Datuk Husam Musa has said that PAS will implement hudud if Pakatan Rakyat takes over the Federal Government has created a frenzy of reaction.

Hukum hudud is not Pakatan Rakyat policy and it is for Husam to clarify what he actually said.

DAP’s stand on the secular character of Malaysian nation and state as agreed in the social contract by our forefathers when Merdeka was achieved 51 years ago remains consistent and unchanged.

If unclarified, Husam’s statement would create unease, anxiety and opposition not only among the 11% of the Chinese voters in the critical Kuala Terengganu by-election on January 17 but also among both Malay and non-Malay voters whether in Terengganu or the rest of Malaysia.

More posts on Chin Peng

Did you know that ...
1. The first sec-gen of Communist Party of Malaya was a Vietnamese, an ex-French agent British spy who could not utter a word of Malay and absconded in 1947 with a million dollars of CPM's money?

2. Chin Peng was a member of Mao's Anti-Enemy Backing-Up Society (Aebus) and wanted to go to Beijing to help China in the war against the Japs?

3. Ho Chin Minh or Nguyen Ai Quoc was present during the first CPM's meeting in Kuala Pilah in 1930?

Jebat Must Die opened a Pandora's Box with his rebuke of Chin Peng's worshippers. Over the weekend, after his positng here, the following blogs have taken up the subject and expanded the argument as to why Chin Peng was no freedom fighter:
1. Chin Peng - A Wasted Life by OutSyed the Box

2. Bintang Tiga dan Chin Peng bukan Pejuang Pembebasan - Pesanan-Pesanan

3. Nyawa dan Darah Melayu membuktikan Chin Peng bukan Pejuang Kemerdekaan by Ron

4. CPM stands for Chinese Party of Malaya and they failed to form a Chinese entity in Malaya ... cept for Penang! by Barking Magpie

Najib: Two reasons why Barisan must win

By : Rosli Zakaria and Sean Augustin, NST

Senator Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh will be the Barisan Nasional candidate for the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election on Jan 17.

BN deputy chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who announced this yesterday, said the selection was one that both BN chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and he had in mind.

"When I discussed with the prime minister about the candidate for the by-election, we shared the same view.

"We also took into account the views of other BN members. We hope our choice is the best and that BN will succeed," he said.

Present were Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and her deputy Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Puteri Umno chief Datuk Noraini Ahmad and Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said.

The seat fell vacant following the death of Datuk Razali Ismail last month.

Najib said the announcement was made earlier to give more time to the candidate to go to the ground as well as to deal with any problems.

He said obtaining a mandate on Jan 17 was important for two reasons: to reclaim the party's dignity after the loss in the Permatang Pauh by-election and in honour of Razali's contribution to both state and country.

Later at a press conference, Najib said Wan Ahmad Farid received the support of all 103 Umno branches in the parliamentary constituency.

He said all BN component parties had pledged their commitment to work to ensure a win for the coalition.

"With fewer internal problems, a strong machinery and well-received candidate, we can focus on canvassing for votes.

"But I don't want those involved in the BN machinery to give priority to the Umno elections instead of ensuring BN's victory."

Wan Ahmad Farid said it was time for BN to prove that the party would always look after the interests of the people.

Another candidate for the by-election is Isma Airfath Hassanuddin, who will contest as an independent. Pas is expected to announce its candidate after its central committee meeting today.

Strong two-coalition system facilitates BN, says Khairy

A strong system of two political coalitions - the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) - has given the BN the opportunity to restore its image and bring about better change, according to Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said the political change following the general election in March portrayed the BN as being more transparent, and it has been able to fulfil its commitment to bring about a more transparent government.

"The change includes the passing of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2008 and the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2008.

"In fact, the BN has even amended the Universities and University Colleges Act 1987 to provide greater autonomy to the universities in adopting decisions pertaining to management and administration.

"All these clearly depict the strength of the BN government in championing the interests of the people although the number of its elected representatives may be short of the two-third majority in the Dewan Rakyat," he said at a discourse on political transformation in Malaysia here last night.

Besides Khairy, the other panelists at the discourse were PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa and International Islamic University (UIA) law lecturer Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari. The discussion was chaired by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) political science lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Mohammad Agus Yusoff.

Khairy said he was of the opinion that the March 8 general election saw protest votes against the BN, and not a political transformation, to remind the BN, particularly Umno, to have more transparent and people-oriented principles of government.

As such, he said, PR and particularly PAS should not be over-confident with their capturing of five states in the general election as the people's votes would switch if the BN was able to bring about a better government for the people.

"In fact, PAS, which has been a strong party, is seen to have shed much of its influence, evident particularly from the appointment of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) as the opposition leader in parliament," he said.

He also said that PR was just waiting to break up because there had emerged ideological conflicts among the Husam said the results of the last general election were indicative of the people's boredom with the BN over what he claimed was ineffective administration of the country.

He said the change of government in five states showed that the people wanted a new government which was more just.

Husam was critical of the BN government on the issue of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Judicial Appointments Commission as well as the proposed (and now called off) privatisation of the National Heart Institute (IJN) which he said would have had much impact on the poor.

Dr Abdul Aziz said the political change was a positive one because it took place within a peaceful framework.

"Like in the United States, there are two strong parties always vying to provide better service to the people, and this will benefit the people and the country," he said.

However, he added, the change might not be permanent, and cited the case of Taiwan where the people returned the Kuomintang Party to power after a two-term "rest". - Bernama

Using his name in vain

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Many a time the government and police use the name of the Sultan to perpetuate violence, like in Batu Burok, Terengganu, where two people were shot during a BERSIH rally, and to deny us our fundamental rights. It is time this stopped. But it will not stop unless we fight back.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

I remember, back in the 1980s, at the height of the second Constitutional Crisis, the late Sultan of Terengganu almost incurred the wrath of the people. The current Agong was then the Raja Muda of Terengganu. And how it happened was as follows.

The Terengganu state government had been awarding more than RM100 million worth of state government contracts to one particular company. This company was owned by Dato’ Yong, Dato’ Azhar and Dato’ Yusof. RM100 million, about 20 years ago, is probably worth RM500 million or more today considering a BMW 7 series or Mercedes S class cost only RM80,000 at that time.

I spoke to the Director of the Public Works Department (JKR) and he complained that the work was not only ‘negotiated without tender’, but they were awarded to this company at more than double the estimated price. And that was why a mere fencing job, which could be done for RM500,000, was being awarded at a price of RM1.6 million.

I checked with the architect and quantity surveyor and they ‘opened up the books’ to show me how the ‘negotiated without tender’ contracts were all awarded at double the price. Therefore, the contracts totalling RM116 million should have been awarded to the company at RM50 million or so -- and, even then, at RM50 million they would still be making money as the cost had been estimated at around RM40 million.

In short, the company was making about RM66 million on these jobs totalling RM116 million and at today’s purchasing power we can easily and conservatively estimate that as more than RM300 million in ‘clean’ profits.

I was perturbed. I decided to raise this matter in the Malay Chamber of Commerce meeting and it was agreed that we would make a representation to meet the Menteri Besar, Wan Mokhtar Ahmad. I went along with the delegation to meet the Menteri Besar in his office.

The Menteri Besar explained that there was nothing he could do about it. He had received, he said, a surat kuning (yellow letter) from the palace to award these contracts to the company owned by the three Datuks. What Wan Mokhtar failed to mention is that there is a fourth Datuk who is the ‘secret shareholder’ of this company. And this fourth Datuk was none other than Wan Mokhtar himself.

Now do you know why Wan Mokhtar, Dato’ Yong, Dato’ Azhar and Dato’ Yusof were known as ‘The Gang of Four’? And Wan Mokhtar played the role of ‘Madam Mao’ as in the infamous Gang of Four from China.

I went to meet Shahidan Kassim, then the Parliament Backbenchers Club Chairman, and told him the whole story. Shahidan, in turn, raised the matter with the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, who made a press statement that was carried on the front pages of the Malay newspapers.

Terengganu went into panic mode.

Wan Mokhtar called for an emergency public meeting and invited more than 1,000 Malay businessmen to attend the ‘conference’. In this meeting, he explained that the opposition was trying to bring down the government by triggering a conflict between the government and the palace. He accused this group of lying that they had met him and that he had revealed in this meeting he received a surat kuning from the palace. He profusely denied making such a statement and denied he had received a surat kuning from the palace.

I was identified as the dalang (puppet master) behind this ‘conspiracy to trigger a clash between the government and the palace’ and Umno Youth subsequently ousted me from the Malay Chamber of Commerce. The Umno Youth personalities were Wan Hisham (brother of Wan Farid, the candidate for the 17 January 2009 Kuala Terengganu by-election), Wan Bakri, Nasir Ibrahim Fikri, etc., and led, of course, by Wan Mokhtar, the Menteri Besar and head of the Wan clan of Terengganu.

We found out later that the palace had, indeed, not issued any ‘yellow letter’ and that Wan Mokhtar was, in fact, the partner of these three Datuks. The palace had been used to siphon out more than RM100 million worth of government money, which, at today’s prices, could easily be five times that amount.

Some years back, the Selangor State Government sacked about seven imams from various mosques all over Selangor on what they said was the instructions of the Selangor palace. My brother and I investigated this matter and found out that the Selangor religious department had complained to the Sultan that these imams were anti-royalty and had used the mosques to spread hate against the Sultan. The religious department asked for the Sultan’s consent to remove these imams, which the Sultan consented to.

The religious department then sacked the imams and said that this was done on the instructions of the Sultan of Selangor. My brother and I were of course extremely perturbed because we personally knew some of these imams and we knew for a fact (since we had gone to pray at these mosques a number of times) that this was not true. The truth was, these imams were PAS members and Umno wanted them removed and they were using the Sultan’s name to do this.

Now, the CPO of Selangor, said that the police took action against the JERIT cyclists because the Sultan of Selangor was not happy that the opposition was using children for political ends. Did the Sultan personally meet the ‘children’ and personally check their birth certificates to verify their ages and got confirmation from reliable sources that the ‘children’ were in fact ‘being used’ by the opposition? Or, is the CPO, just like in so many incidences before this over the last 30 years, using the Sultan’s name, as usual?

Yes, it seems the Sultan told the CPO just before His Highness left for an overseas trip that he is not happy the opposition is using children and that he told the police to take action. How convenient that the Sultan is overseas when action was taken.

The cycling expedition was endorsed and supported by the Penang, Perak and Selangor State governments. These are the governments of the respective states. They are not opposition. Umno is the opposition in these states. So how can the opposition be using children when Umno is the opposition and it is not Umno that is behind JERIT?

In the early 1990s, I organised a run from Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Lumpur. It took us 48 hours to cover the 500-kilometer distance. The Terengganu state government sponsored the run of 60 runners and the police gave us a police escort the entire duration of the run. 20 of us were from the Terengganu running club, 20 of them were Hashers, and 20 were children (all below 18).

The current Agong, the Terengganu Raja Muda then, flagged off the run and the Federal Territory Minister, Yusof Nor, received us at the Dataran Merdeka, sharp 8.00am on Federal Territory Day, and threw us a party after that. Now, why was the issue of ‘using children’ not raised then? In fact, we were fully backed by the government and police. No one got arrested and we did not even have a police permit for this ‘illegal’ run.

It has become the habit for the government and police to clamp down on those not aligned to Umno while using the palace as the excuse for doing so. “We are just doing what the Sultan ordered,” would be the normal argument. They even use the Sultan’s name to rob us of billions of the rakyat’s money. Podah, we no longer fall for that crap. And we are going to send a petition to the Sultan to protest what the police did. So, please sign the petition and let us get as many signatures as possible. We are going to fight back with a vengeance.

Sign the petition here: http://www.petitiononline.com/petra/petition.html

Find jobs in Iskandar M'sia, retrenched workers told

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 – Jobless Malaysians, especially those retrenched in Singapore, should seek employment in Iskandar Malaysia, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said tonight.

“With the investments start coming in to the Iskandar region, I believe there will be many job vacancies available.

“And those who got retrenched should try to seek employment there. There are some 12,000 vacancies available in Johor,” he told reporters at the 5th Young Indian Entrepreneur Award ceremony here.

He said a meeting with the ministry’s labour attache in Singapore and employer representatives in Johor Baru last week had found that the situation was not as serious although there was an anticipation that it might happen as Singapore was slipping into recession.

“There were no real large numbers of people being retrenched in Singapore and coming back to Malaysia at the moment,” he said when asked to comment on rumours that tens of thousands of Malaysian workers from the services and manufacturing sectors in Singapore would be retrenched when employers, hit by the recession, start downsizing. On the Western Digital issue, Subramaniam said his officers were in the process of assisting the retrenched employees to get the necessary compensation.

The American hard disk manufacturer had closed down its plant in Kuching after 13 years in operations and retrenched all its 1,500 workers, citing a sharp drop in demand for its products.

On football players, he said if their employers failed to pay their salaries, they could take their case to the civil court because professional football players were not defined as workers under the Industrial Relations Act and Employment Act.

“To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think both Acts actually covered that. They should go for civil action,” he said when asked to comment on the players’ claim that some of them had not been paid for up to two years. – Bernama

Tee Keat trumpets PKFZ successes, refuses to point fingers

By Adib Zalkapli(Themalaysianinsider)

KLANG, Dec 21 – Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, who vowed to reveal all in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) debacle, offered instead a testimonial of his own apparent success in revitalising the scandal-ridden project that helped force his predecessor out of office.

At a much-anticipated special briefing today, the minister said the performance of the integrated commercial and industrial zone had improved since last March.

He told a press conference that lasted more than an hour that the occupancy rate, employment, investment status and cargo movement have increased since the change of management that took place in May.

He stressed that the review, which he had previously called a chronology of events, was not a financial audit but a statement of facts.

“My job is not to pass judgement but to enumerate what has been happening,” said Ong.

“This is entirely based on documents and official records that we have,” he added.

Question marks about the project arose late last year after a RM4.6 billion soft loan was proposed for the industrial zone, which has been described as a ghost town with few tenants or investors.

The PKFZ project has been criticised because its development cost of less than RM2.5 billion had ballooned amid concerns about its ability to meet its debt obligations as well as that of the soft loan.

There were also questions about the possible kickbacks after it was disclosed that several individuals acquired the piece of land where the PKFZ now sits at RM3 per sq ft in 1999. The Port Klang Authority (PKA) later acquired the land at RM25 psf.

PKFZ ran into further problems when Jebel Ali Free Zone quit the management of the property.

Former Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy was dropped as a Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate in the March general elections, and subsequently lost his job, largely as a result of how the debacle was handled.

The PKA decided in its board meeting in May this year to hire PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent audit.

Reading from a prepared statement today, Ong said PKFZ had recorded an increase of more than RM200 million in investments from March to November.

Occupancy rate for all facilities had also increased, with the leased office block recording the most significant increase from one per cent in March to 19 per cent as of November.

For open land and light industrial unit facilities, the occupancy rate is now 18 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

“The Jebel Ali took six years to have 40 per cent occupancy,” said Ong referring to the free zone in the United Arab Emirates.

An employee sweeping a deserted complex at the PKFZ.

An employee sweeping a deserted complex at the PKFZ.

Most importantly, said Ong, was the number of employees in the area which had increased from 972 to 1,659 within the last eight months.

“I still can remember when I first set foot in the area, people said this is a ghost town,” said Ong when elaborating on the success in increasing the number of employees in the PKFZ.

Ong however refused to blame his predecessors at the Transport Ministry.

“That is the question that only my predecessors can answer at that point of time,” said Ong.

“You are asking me to comment on my predecessor. This is, of course, his discretion at that point of time, perhaps due to whatever reasons or circumstances that he had at that material time. That is the question only my predecessor could answer at that material time,” Ong said.

“But if you were to ask me then of course I might have my own views ... I may not do it but it doesn’t mean what I say or what I choose is going to be the gospel truth.”

Ong denied that he had any knowledge of any action that would be taken against two notable politicians with regard to the PKFZ project as reported by a Chinese newspaper.

Responding to a question whether a minister could write a letter of guarantee on a loan for a mega project such as the PKFZ, Ong said that as he had said in parliament previously, the letter issued by the minister before him on the project was a letter of support and not a guarantee.

He slammed the opposition for misleading the public into thinking that the RM4.6 billion government soft loan to PKFZ had been wasted.

“The 4.6 billion is the total amount and takes into account the accumulated interest,” said Ong, adding that the money is being issued in stages.

He added that the financial aspects of the PKFZ would be presented upon the completion of the report by audit firm PriceWaterHouseCoopers.

Which earlier – next Sarawak state election or 13th national election?

(Lim Kit Siang)Which will be held earlier – the next Sarawak state general election or the 13th national general election?

The conventional wisdom will be the former as the Sarawak state general election is expected to be held in the next 12 to 18 months.

In the May 20, 2006 Sarawak state general election, the Sarawak Barisan Nasional suffered a major and unforgettable blow when its political hegemony in the Sarawak State Assembly was smashed with the loss of nine state assembly seats – six to the DAP.

After the “political tsunami” of March 8, 2008 general election, where five states in Peninsular Malaysia fell to Pakatan Rakyat and the Barisan Nasional lost for the first time its parliamentary two-thirds majority, the expectation and hunger for greater political change is thick in the air all over the country.

In the first six months after the March 8 general election, Sabah held the political centre-stage as the pivotal state to take the “political tsunami” to a higher level.

Although this has still to come to fruition, the political centre of gravity has shifted to Sarawak which is expected to go to the polls in the next 12 to 18 months – providing a critical test whether the political changes started in the May 2006 Sarawak state general election and expanded in the March 2008 national general election will culminate in a great political tsunami in the next Sarawak state general election with the toppling of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and the Sarawak Barisan Nasional state government.

In the next Sarawak state general election, DAP and PKR must endeavour their utmost to ensure that they could unite their resources and efforts to present a single slate of candidates to ensure that the ‘political tsunami” can come fully to Sarawak for a new government to be formed.

However, I am not certain whether the next Sarawak state general election will be earlier than the next 13th national general election, as the first thing Najib Razak must decide when he takes over as Prime Minister from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in early April next year is whether to hold a snap general election to take full advantage of the initial “honeymoon” euphoria of a new Prime Minister.

It is not going to be an easy decision for Najib. Both his predecessors, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah had taken full advantage of their first months as Prime Minister to win big in their first general election.

The temptation for Najib to go down the same route will be very great, although he would be faced with problems which both Mahathir and Abdullah did not have to face – the worst-ever economic crisis and the possibility of Barisan Nasional and Umno losing power.

But is there any surety that Najib will be on a better wicket if he forgoes the advantages of having a snap general election in his early months as the new Prime Minister by calling his first polls only after some three years as Prime Minister, i.e. 2012, when he would have to campaign on the results he could deliver as PM and not on promises or nd appeal to the voters to give him a chance to perform?

Najib must be mindful of the most famous political prophecy “RAHMAN” as to whether the final and sixth alphabet “N” signifies not only his becoming the sixth Prime Minister, but whether he would be the last in the line of UMNO Prime Ministers before giving way to a new Malaysian government and political coalition.

(Speech at the Miri DAP Branch Dinner to celebrate 30th Sarawak DAP Anniversary in Miri on Saturday, 20th December 2008)

Give details of PFI for Sime Darby/Air Asia airport

First, Sime Bank tak boleh tahan.

Then, Sime Darby turns down Bakun undersea cables project - cannot make money-lah.

Next, public outcry forces postponement of IJN privatisation.

Now, it’s a new low-cost carrier (LCC) airport in Negri Sembilan.

The government has given the green light for a RM1.6 billion low-cost carrier airport, about 20km away from the KLIA. It will be built by Sime Darby and Air Asia under a private finance initiative (PFI).

The rationale is that the KLIA cannot cope with the expected influx of LCC passengers. (Didn’t Mahathir say, when he tried to justify the KLIA, that it was being built to meet the country’s needs for the next 100 years? What about Subang - is it now fully utilised?)

The government must give us details of what kind of PFI is involved. Will any government or public money be indirectly used for this project?

And who will pay for government facilities required at the airport - customs, immigration, air traffic control, highways and other connenctions to the new airport?

SIME DARBY VERY EAGER TO INVEST - WHY?

It was widely reported that Sime Darby Bhd would invest on the a new low-cost carrier (LCC) airport in Labu, Negri Sembilan while it was reveal that the government has given its approval for a RM1.6 billion low-cost carrier airport together with Air Asia under a private finance initiative (PFI).

Recently, Sime Darby was involved in the controversy over a takeover of the National Heart Institute (IJN) and the deal was postponed by the government for further evaluation since various groups have raised their concern on the poor obtaining reasonable health care which the BN government had always assured to give the really needy.

Sometime ago, Sime Darby had also turn down the Bakun undersea cables project and the reason offered was it would not be viable for the company.

The surprising factor is why is Sime Darby so keen to invest suddenly ?

The government would have to give details of what kind of PFI is involved and whether any government or public money would be utilised for this project?

news courtesy of NST

Hujung Minggu di Permatang Pauh

Satelah berhempas pulas berbahas di Parlimen, hujung minggu ini sebagaimana biasa saya turun padang ke Permatang Pauh. Aktiviti yang disusun KeADILan Bahagian sangat padat.

Di kesempatan ini, KeADILan Pulau Pinang turut mengadakan mesyuarat khas untuk menyusun strategi memperkemaskan organisasi di peringkat negeri dan bahagian-bahagian.

AMK Permatang Pauh juga tidak ketinggalan dengan menganjurkan pertandingan futsal di kawasan Seberang Jaya. Penyertaan belia cukup memberangsangkan.

Saya berkesempatan untuk menziarah aktivis KeADILan tempatan yang kini terlantar sakit, disusuli dengan ziarah kematian di kawasan sekitar.

Sehari suntuk turut dipenuhi dengan menghadiri undangan majlis perkahwinan termasuk di Kubang Ulu, Mengkuang, Tanah Liat, Sungai Semambu, Guar Perahu dan Bukit Mertajam.

Rata-rata rakyat yang saya temui sering mengeluh tentang peningkatan isu pengangguran, pembuangan pekerja dan kenaikan harga barang. Ramai juga yang menyatakan hasrat untuk bersama membantu calun Pas di Kuala Trengganu dalam pilihanraya kecil bulan hadapan.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

Dong Juan

By Rocky's Bru
Loot Ting Yee, a Dong Jiao Zong veteran, has reportedly resigned over a sex scandal, I read at Wong Chun Wai's here.
The group recently threatened a mammoth rally if the Government pursues a plan to introduce English for Maths and Science in primary schools.