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Saturday, January 10, 2009

How the other side of Kuala Terengganu lives

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I hope these pictures can say what words can never describe. Do the Kuala Terengganu voters still want to vote these people into office on 17 January 2009? These are the people who have milked an estimated RM20 billion of Terengganu’s Oil Royalty or Wang Ehsan.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Yesterday, we showed you some scenes of how the man-in-the-street Kuala Terengganu voter lives. Today, we are going to show you how the ‘other side’ lives so that you can see the contrast between the very few Bumiputera haves and the majority have-nots. The New Economic Policy and the RM1 billion a year Oil Royalty has not really touched the lives of all Malays or the majority of Terengganu residents as many may have thought.

1. Datuk Seri Tok Guru Haji Abdul Hadi Awang’s humble abode. Hadi, the President of PAS and Menteri Besar of Terengganu from 1999 to 2004, continued to stay in this old family home although he was entitled to stay in the Menteri Besar’s official residence. He also refused to take his RM4,000 a month housing allowance all through those five years. This is the same for Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat who has been the Menteri Besar of Kelantan for almost 20 years now.

2. In the middle is Tun Salleh Abbas, one-time Lord President of Malaysia (now called Chief Justice) and head of the Terengganu Ombudsman when the PAS-led Pakatan Rakyat was ruling the state from 1999 to 2004.

3. Handing over a Barisan Rakyat T-shirt to Tok Guru Ayah Chik, the manja name for Datuk Seri Haji Abdul Hadi Awang.

4. The famous Rhusila mosque.

5. Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Ahmad’s residence. Wan Mokhtar is head of the ‘Wan Clan’ and was Menteri Besar of Terengganu almost as long as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was Prime Minister of Malaysia.

6. Wan Mokhtar has to explain what happened to more than RM12 billion of Terengganu’s Oil Royalty from 1974 to 1999 -- before it was converted to Wang Ehsan from 2000 until now (which resulted in another RM8 billion or so in ‘missing money’). That makes a total of RM20 billion which flowed into Terengganu and was never seen again.

7. The home of Wan Farid Wan Salleh, the man who would like to be the new Member of Parliament for Kuala Terengganu.

8. And this is the home of Wan Farid’s brother, Wan Hashim, the man behind the RM300 million a year Terengganu Monsoon Cup. Thus far, RM1 billion or thereabouts has been spent on this lavish but non-income generating extravaganza.

9. The official residence of the Menteri Besar of Terengganu. Unlike the Umno Menteris Besar, Hadi Awang refused to stay in this house although he was entitled to do so and he also refused the RM4,000 a month housing allowance.

10. See the stable of expensive cars. Most of us can’t afford to acquire these cars even if we worked and saved our money for 30 years.

11. Now see how the other Terengganu cronies of those who walk in the corridors of power live.

And then we have this:

12. And this is how most of the man-in-the-street lives. Although there are brick houses in Terengganu, the majority of the Malays live as this picture shows.

Dad want's explanation on son's 'shock' death

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 - The father of Muhammad Failzul Abdul Basek, 17, who was killed by electrical shock at Taman KLCC on Jan 1 will take legal action against KLCC if no explanation is made in one month.

Abdul Basek Mad Isa, 42, was disappointed that the KLCC management did not meet the family to apologise a letter had been sent asking for an explanation.

"The KLCC management said it was investigating the case but nothing has happened since. I will go to court to seek justice if KLCC does not come back to me in one month," he told a press conference here today.

Meanwhile, Kepong Umno division chief Senator Datuk Rizuan Abdul Hamid said KLCC should be responsible for Muhammad Failzul's death as it happened at a public recreational area. Muhammad Failzul was leaning against a lamp post at 12.04am on Jan 1 when he got an electrical shock due to his wet clothing.

The 20 hectare Taman KLCC next to the Petronas Twin Towers opened by then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Oct 29, 1998 is a popular recreational spot for city dwellers. - Bernama

Najib’s pretensions

By Philip Bowring
International Herald Tribune
January 8, 2009

Malaysian pretensions

HONG KONG: In a move that could backfire by drawing attention to discrimination against Chinese, Indian and other minorities in Malaysia, the country has claimed a role in the advancement of Malays in other lands.

The Malaysian deputy prime minister and heir apparent, Najib Razak, told an international Malay/Muslim audience recently that his government would work to help support them in countries from the Philippines and Singapore to Madagascar, Sri Lanka and South Africa.

Najib’s remarks may draw the attention of China, India and other countries to what has hitherto been regarded by most outsiders as a domestic issue: Malaysia’s official economic and social preferences for Malays, and by extension Muslims, which disadvantage Malaysia’s non-Malay minorities, mostly Chinese and Indian. His statements are also sure to irritate Indonesia, Malaysia’s larger neighbor and fount of Malay culture.

The word “Malay” can mean a language that is native to east Sumatra, which became the lingua franca of trade in Southeast Asia and is now the official language of Indonesia and Malaysia. Or it can mean the relatively small, mostly Muslim, ethnic group of some 20 million straddling Malaysia, and parts of Indonesia and southern Thailand. Or it can mean the much wider Malay racial/linguistic group of more than 300 million people, about 60 percent Muslim, encompassing most of Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia - plus many Madagascans and minorities in Vietnam and Cambodia.

In the 1960s there was talk of a loose Malay confederation encompassing Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. However, other issues obstructed this grand idea. For Malaysia in particular, religion has come to play a central role, identifying all Malays with Islam. This notion is viewed as dangerous by many people in Indonesia, which is 80 percent Muslim but is a secular state focused on national rather than religious identity.

Najib’s effort to include Madagascar in his speech was also contentious. Madagascar was first settled by people from the Indonesian archipelago long before Islam appeared. The Muslim minority in Madagascar has mostly Arab and Indian roots. As for the Malays of South Africa and Sri Lanka, though Muslim, their roots were mostly in Java and other parts of what was once Dutch-ruled Indonesia.

Malaysian pretensions could be dismissed as hot air. But official discrimination against non-Malays in the country was eventually going to attract criticism from human rights groups and other governments. It is hard to argue that the numerically dominant Malays, who control most of the political, judicial and bureaucratic levers of power and many of the country’s major corporations, need help. Yet Malaysia’s leadership continues to claim that the Malay race and religion would be threatened by removal of privileges.

Many Malays view these privileges as perpetuating a system of patronage that enriches the elite and makes the Malay poor dependent. Yet changing the system is difficult. While gains of the opposition coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim in last year’s election offer some hope, it is naturally hard for the majority to vote away privileges - which is why India and China could become catalysts.

For decades China and India have stuck with the doctrine of noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries. But as their global role blossoms, attitudes are changing. China’s eye on the well-being of ethnic Chinese everywhere will increase as Chinese investment and tourism become more important to countries in Southeast Asia with significant Chinese minorities. Ethnic Chinese make up 25 percent of Malaysia’s population and are subject to formal discrimination. India has less potential influence, but Indian politicians have begun to listen to Hindu groups complaining about discrimination and destruction of their temples.

In practice, Malaysia is usually more tolerant than official policies and statements by politicians and clerics might suggest. The prime minister is married to a Eurasian who was born a Christian. Various royals have married non-Malays. However, mixed marriages have become rarer as barriers are strengthened by sectarian privileges allied to religious dogmatism.

So maybe the outside world could do Malaysia a favor by taking Najib at his word and speaking up in support of the minority’s reasonable request - equality for non-Malay Malaysians as well as for Malay minorities elsewhere.

Cabinet to be briefed on Hindraf chairman's call for sanctions

Suriname Vice-President Ramdien Sardjoe (centre) lighting an oil lamp as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left) and Indian Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi watch during the opening ceremony of the seventh Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2009 (Overseas Indians Conference) in Chennai yesterday. — AFP picture
Suriname Vice-President Ramdien Sardjoe (centre) lighting an oil lamp as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left) and Indian Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi watch during the opening ceremony of the seventh Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2009 (Overseas Indians Conference) in Chennai yesterday. — AFP picture

HINDRAF chairman P. Waytha Moorthy's call to the Indian government to impose trade sanctions on Malaysia will be raised in cabinet, said Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam.

He said he would brief the cabinet on the issue which was highlighted on the sidelines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas by the leader of the banned organisation, now in self-imposed exile in London.

"This is so that the government can take suitable action to explain the true situation in Malaysia to the Indian government," he said after attending the two-day conference of the worldwide Indian diaspora which has attracted 1,600 delegates from 46 nations.

On his part, the human resources minister said he had met Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi to explain the situation of Indians in Malaysia.

"They are committed to the good relations between both countries," said Subramaniam, adding that before he left for India, he had told Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of possible efforts to tarnish Malaysia.
"The DPM left it to us to handle it the best way we should," said Subramaniam, who is also the MIC secretary-general.

He said India knew the condition of Indians in Malaysia and would not act on the call by Waytha Moorthy who fled the country after four of his comrades in Hindraf were detained under the Internal Security Act in December 2007.

P. Uthayakumar (Waytha Moorthy's elder brother), M. Manoharan, R. Kengatharan and V. Ganapathi Rao have been held at the Kamunting detention centre from Dec 13, 2007, under a two-year order issued by the Home Ministry.

Subramaniam was commenting on Waytha Moorthy's call earlier in the day to the Indian government to impose trade sanctons against Malaysia, especially in not buying palm oil, as a form of "punishment" for the alleged ill-treatment of Indians here.

Waytha Moorthy, who had issued a booklet to journalists here entitled "Malaysian Indian Minority and Human Rights Violations Annual Report 2008", said he wanted India to pressure Malaysia into releasing the four Hindraf leaders.

He had also said that he would try to meet Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in New Delhi later this week to explain his call for trade sanctions against Malaysia.

"I am trying to arrange a meeting with Dr Manmohan Singh so that the Indian Government can help us to free the four ISA detainees by using trade sanctions against Malaysia," he added.

Earlier, MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said Waytha Moorthy was "engaging in utter lies" by claiming that Malaysian Indians were being mistreated by the government.

"I am surprised that he has travelled 6,000 miles from London to drop a bombshell in India.

"His statement that 130,000 Malaysian Indians are stateless is an utter lie."

Samy Vellu, who earlier presented a paper entitled "India as an Emerging Power: The Diaspora Factor", said Waytha Moorthy was detached from the situation in Malaysia and out of touch with reality.

"His claim of ethnic cleansing in Malaysia is a lie. So is his claim that one Hindu temple is being destroyed daily.

"Everyone knows that no such things are happening."

Samy Vellu said the Indian government was led by capable leaders who would not be convinced by Waytha Moorthy's claims.

The Star

Friday January 9, 2009

Samy: Hindraf leader spreading lies in India


CHENNAI: MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu lambasted the outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader, P. Waythamoorthy, for distributing a pamphlet containing seditious allegations at the ongoing Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here.

“All the allegations are lies. As a lawyer, he should know that he would have to pay for it if he tells lies,” he told reporters.

Samy Vellu said the Indian Government and leaders were wise and would not listen to their call for them to stop all investments in Malaysia and also refrain from buying palm oil.

He said Waythamoorthy was behind time when he alleged that Indian slavery, including sex and child slavery was rampant in Malaysia even after 51 years of independence.

Samy Vellu, who is leading a 150-member delegation to the three-day conference, said the claim that there were 150,000 Malaysian Indians who were stateless was an outright lie.

In fact there were only 21,000 people without birth certificates and the Home Affairs Ministry had been directed to attend to the problem, he said.

Samy Vellu said they would write to the Indian government to inform them that the allegations in the pamphlet were not true.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, who is also here, said he had briefed Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukerjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Overseas Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi last week about the situation faced by Indians in Malaysia.

“They value the good relationship between Malaysia and India and are aware of the tremendous progress of the Indian community in Malaysia,” he said.


Hindraf Under Fire For Smearing Malaysia's Image

By P. Vijian

CHENNAI, Jan 8 (Bernama) -- The banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), which had distributed pamphlets smearing Malaysia's image at an international conference attended by thousands of overseas Indians here, was flayed by MIC leaders today.

MIC secretary-general and Malaysian Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said he would raise the Chennai incident in the Cabinet next week, and added that he had also briefed several top Indian leaders about the status of Malaysian Indians during his visit to New Delhi last week.

"I will bring this to the Cabinet. I have also explained to several Indian leaders about the situation in Malaysia. All of them are committed to the good relations with Malaysia. They are aware of the tremendous progress achieved by Malaysian Indians," Subramaniam told journalists on the sidelines of the 7th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conference in Chennai.

Subramaniam met Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayal Ravi last week.

Several Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders and Hindraf leader P. Waytha Moorthy are in Chennai to attend the three-day conference which started today in this southern Indian city.

Several Hindraf members distributed their annual report to the local media and conference delegates at the Chennai Trade Centre where the meeting is being held.

A few local television stations also interviewed Waytha Moorthy who had flown in from London. It is believed that he does not hold a Malaysian passport anymore.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu described some of Hindraf's claims as "utter lies" and said the group disseminated incorrect information about the welfare of Malaysian Indians.

"That the 150,000 Malaysian Indians of the fourth and fifth generations are stateless is an utter lie. There are only 21,000 without birth certificates, and the Home Ministry has ordered that they be issued the birth certificates.

"Demolition of one temple a day is an old tune which he (Waytha Moorthy) is still singing. If one temple a day (is demolished), it means in the last 25 years there won't be any Hindu temple," Samy Vellu told Malaysian journalists.

On the calls by Hindraf to the Indian government to stop bilateral trade with Malaysia, Samy Vellu said the group failed to understand how two nations do business and that Indian leaders were wiser in dealing with such issues.

"We will reply to the Indian government on these utter lies. Indian leaders are very wise and they will not listen to this rubbish. They will go ahead with their arrangements," he retorted.

About 1,500 Indians from over 50 countries are attending the conference.


Set up tribunal to try Israel, says Dr M

Dr M says Malaysia should call for the creation of an international Tribunal to try Israel for war crimes against Palestina and Gaza. Malaysia can do this by pushing for a resolution to be tabled at the United Nations General Assembly on the formation of the Tribunal.

The former Prime Minister said our MPs can make this happen by calling on the Malaysian Government to table the resolution at a UN General Assembly. "It can be done but we need to have the courage to propose the setting of the tribunal. We need a country brave enough to push for a debate at the UN.

Dr M made the suggestion during a 30-minute Blog@1 program hosted by blogger and former NST Group Editor Ahmad A. Talib.

Israel has continued to attack Gaza and kill hundreds of civilians despite global criticism and a UN resolution described by Foreign Minister Rais Yatim as "melepas batuk di tangga".

Dr Mahathir also spoke at length on how Malaysians can make a difference by boycotting US products. Malaysians can also

Malaysia Not In Recession Now, Says PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 (Bernama) -- Malaysia is not facing a recession now despite the global financial meltdown that has badly hit the United States and Europe, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Friday.

"We are not in recession now," he said.

"We are not having too much problem in the fourth quarter. Even the growth at two percent in the quarter, it would give us an average of more than five percent," he told reporters after opening the permanent secretariat of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) Foundation.

"Definitely more than five percent," Abdullah said in responding to comments from former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah that the Malaysian economy was bad.

"I don't think that's right. Maybe he doesn't have all the information that we have. If it is really that bad, we would have be in recession by now," he said.

"For next year, we all know we are going to face hard times. We have to place ourselves to face all these. The RM7 billion stimulus package, which has been set aside, has gone down partially for immediate implementation," he added.

The government has projected the gross domestic product (GDP) for last year at five percent and this year at 3.5 percent.

The Malaysian economy expanded by 4.7 percent in the third quarter of 2008.

"That (package) will save us. That will prevent us from facing the threat that may come. It will also help us to continue with economic activities," Abdullah said, adding that the basic economy must be improved while real economy must not be affected.

"So far, our real economy is not affected (and) the stimulus package will help us," he said.

Asked whether the government would revise the 2009 Budget, Abdullah said that no revision was planned at the moment, "except for what has been announced".

"But we are on the lookout. If we need to make adjustments... we will make adjustments," he said.

"We have to be realistic. We cannot afford to be sitting down and in denial. This is not the time to bluff the rakyat. It is not the time to just say things to make the rakyat feel happy. If we say it is okay... it is okay. If we say it is under control... it is true that it is under control," he added.

Abdullah said that the government could not afford to say "a wrong thing and lie to the rakyat".

"We can't do that. We are a responsible government," he said.

The Prime Minister also said that at the moment the government has a serious responsibility to ensure that the country's economy remained resilient despite the current critical situation.

"As much as we can predict, we can look after the economy," he said.

On the possibility of a second stimulus package, Abdullah said that he could not give details at the moment.

"That (second stimulus package) is only indication that was given by Datuk (Seri) Najib (Tun Razak). That if necessary he (Najib) said there may be a second stimulus package," he said.

Najib, who is the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, said recently that a second stimulus package would be introduced if needed.

On the WIEF, Abdullah said that it could play a greater role to increase intra-trade and investment among Muslim countries as they have resources which could be utilised further.

"We could have the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) capacity building to adopt programmes on commercial basis," he suggested.

Abdullah also said that Malaysia would give full support if Islamic financial principles become an alternative to the current "weak" global conventional financial system.


Race Relations in Malaysia

Part 1

Part 2



part 5

Malaysia - racial supremacy no more?

Malaysian Market

For nearly four decades, ethnic Malays have benefited from positive discrimination and special rights over the nearly 40% of Malaysians from the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

But in 2008, the country's unique racial compact began to be strongly challenged from within.

For Crossing Continents, Mukul Devichand reports from this remarkable multi-ethnic nation and asks if this is a defining moment?

He meets Malay, Indian and Chinese young people on the front lines of the struggle between ingrained racism and the possibility of a more equal future.

BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 8 January, 2009 at 1102 GMT. It will be repeated on Monday, 12 January, 2009 at 2030 GMT.

Listen the audio broadcasting here

Reporter and Producer: Mukul Devichand