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Thursday, March 12, 2009

End of the road for Azalina

KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 — The end could be near for Datuk Azalina Othman Said.

Even if the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission does not find any evidence that she is involved in vote-buying or any other forms of corruption, her meteoric rise up the political ladder — which saw her turn from lawyer-cum-talk show presenter to full minister in five years — could be over.

Why?

Because incoming Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has enough controversy and baggage accompanying him into office, and he does not need his ministers to have question marks planted next to their names.

As Barry Wain noted in his article in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Najib brings much political baggage to the job, namely, the controversy surrounding the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shariibuu in 2006.

Abdul Razak Baginda, an adviser to Najib, was charged with and then cleared of the murder of the model.

Wain noted that though the DPM has denied knowing the victim and has sworn his innocence in a mosque, he has been “unable to stem an avalanche of gossip, speculation and serious analysis, much of it circulated on the Internet”.

Then there are nagging questions over defence deals and Najib’s role in the defection of three Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers in Perak, an unpopular move which led to Barisan Nasional wresting control of the state from the opposition.

Given this backdrop and the fact that Najib is coming into office with a 46 per cent approval rating, he cannot afford his appointments to the Cabinet to be controversial, questionable or scarred in the eyes of the public.

For these reasons, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek may not find himself in the new Cabinet despite having even closer ties with Najib than the DPM has with Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and despite commanding strong support in Umno and MCA.

Dr Chua’s role in the sex videotape scandal just makes him a distraction, another soft target for the opposition and Malaysians who expect their politicians to be role models.

For these reasons, Azalina will have a tough time remaining in the frame for a Cabinet position after April 3.

Her tour of duty as the Youth and Sports Minister and then as Tourism Minister has been pockmarked with controversy and laced with allegations, beginning with the still-born idea to turn the rubber research centre in Brickendonbury, England, into a high-performance sport centre for Malaysian athletes, to reports of wrongdoing in Pempena, a subsidiary of the Tourism Ministry.

Sandwiched in between are allegations of money politics, etc.

And yet not too long ago, she was the face of renewal and reform in Umno.

After the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in 1998, Umno suffered rejection from young Malays.

The party went on an overdrive to attract young Malay professionals into their fold.

Azalina was appointed to the Umno supreme council in 2000 by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. She founded Puteri Umno a year later.

Within a couple of years, she managed to build Puteri Umno into a formidable unit, all the while displaying her aggressive and brash style of leadership.

During her early years in Umno, she became known as a favourite of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and close associate of Khairy Jamaluddin.

After the 2004 general election, she was made a full minister and despite an average first term in the Cabinet, Abdullah retained her after the March 8 debacle, sealing her reputation as an Abdullah loyalist.

But she did wear the tag of a loyalist easily last year when the knives were out for Abdullah. Party insiders say that she, like other Umno politicians, believed that Abdullah’s two-year transition plan was untenable, and was not shy of making her views known in party circles.

Her supporters believe that her troubles with the MACC are linked to her criticism of Abdullah’s leadership, a line of reasoning flicked aside by party insiders as lame.

They point out that she is still viewed as an Abdullah protégé and this label combined with her patchy and controversial time as a Cabinet minister makes her only an outsider for a place in the Najib administration.

Khir Toyo claims sabotage in Umno Youth race

By Neville Spykerman

SHAH ALAM, March 12 - Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, currently the front-runner in his bid to become the Umno Youth chief, has claimed he is a victim of sabotage by his political rivals.

He did not, however, say how he was being sabotaged. His two rivals in the contest are Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.

Speaking to The Malaysian Insider yesterday, the former Selangor menteri besar said he was aware of the "undercurrents" to undermine his chances.

"I was informed about it three weeks ago and I am not surprise because some other candidate is looking to win without contest." he said without elaborating on who it was.

Dr Mohd Khir said he was not the only candidate in the party election campaign facing sabotage.

He claimed Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, who is vying for the deputy presidency, is also being targeted.

Dr Mohd Khir said news reports about him being the front-runner in the race has also not helped his chances because his political adversaries have increased their efforts to stop him.

He also denied persistent rumours that he had been hauled up by Umno's Disciplinary Board on Tuesday.

However he did not rule out the possibility that he too could be called at any time.

The Selangor Opposition Leader stressed that he did not indulge in money politics but his own "sin" would be for meeting the delegates and for attending Umno functions.

"I feel the Disciplinary Board should only take action if a candidate is caught red handed giving money to delegates and not for attending gatherings."

He said he did not agree with the rule because as a politician he needed to meet the delegates.

"If I don't go to meet delegates, how will they know if they should vote for me."

Dr Mohd Khir seemed unfazed with taking on two other high profile candidates.

"I believe I have a strong chance but anything can happen in the next few weeks."

Meanwhile, Dr Mohd has also managed to brushed off mounting allegations by the Pakatan Rakyat state government against him much like "water off a duck's back".

During yesterday's state assembly sitting, he fended off repeated attacks on various outstanding issues including the unauthorised acquisition of apartments in Mecca while he was chairman of state investment arm Permodalan Negeri Selangor Berhad (PNSB) and the misuse of funds by the Wives of Selangor Assemblymen and MPs Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis).

HINDRAF – Syed Albar lies through his teeth

It is so unbecoming of a Home Minister who has no account of accountability and transparency in the interest of public by claiming that P.Waythamoorthy had returned his passport to the High Commission in London.

It is a well known fact that based on a written instruction from the Malaysian authorities on March 14, 2008, the British government had retained P.Waythamoorthy’s passport on his return from Geneva on April 21, 2008.

It is also another fact that the Malaysian authorities had written to the UK government on July 2, 2008 to return the retained passport to them. Please see attached the letter from UK Border Agency.

These are factual events, not some unsubstantiated story telling to hoodwink the public. HINDRAF challenges the Home Minister to produce evidence to substantiate his claims rather than spinning the truth of the matter to the public.

Further, the Home Minister insinuates that "Despite returning his passport, he is still the citizen although he claims otherwise”

P.Waythamoorthy has never claimed to be otherwise, and has always maintained to be a loyal Malaysian but forcefully prevented from returning to Malaysia for fear of unlawful persecution by the Malaysian authorities.

These lies are blatant arrogance of the Home Minister against a Malaysian citizen.

Bearing his precarious medical condition, the Malaysian government should show their humanitarian side for once in allowing him to recuperate with his family and love ones under the following conditions;

1. The Malaysian government to issue a new Malaysian passport to replace the revoked passport to P.Waythamoorthy and this to be made available for him or his representative to collect from the Malaysian High Commission in London.

2. The Malaysian government guarantees the safe return of P.Waythamoorthy to allow him to recuperate with his family members and loved ones.

3. The Malaysian government guarantees that P.Waythamoorthy will not be subjected to any arrest, harassment or charges upon his return including under those under ISA.

4. The Malaysian government’s assurance and guarantee that he will be allowed to return to London for follow up checks and possible further operations.

5. Lastly, the Malaysian government’s unconditional guarantee that his life will be protected from any form of persecution upon his return and no harm shall befall him.

Thank you

R. Shan
(Hindraf – New York)

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The Altantuya Foundation has been set up in Bangkok

An association of independent journalists based in Bangkok and coordinated by French Liberation correspondent, Arnaud Dubus, has set up a foundation to offer material support to the family of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, killed in Malaysia in October 2006.

The Altantuya Foundation aims to bring concrete help to Mr Shaariibuu, the father of the deceased, and her two children, Altanshagai (five years old) and Mungunshagai (12 years old).

“When I met Shaariibuu in Ulan Bator in January, he told me he has not bought clothes for two years as he could not afford it. This sixty-year old man has to work on two different jobs, to be able to take care of his two orphaned grandchildren”, says Arnaud Dubus.

“I am a journalist, but I also have a heart. I could not help feel compassion for the Shaariibuu family”, he adds.

For transparency, the Foundation will be supervised by the Mongolian Embassy in Bangkok. All donations will be given to the Embassy, which will convey them directly to Mr Shaariibuu.

The first donor was Danthong Breen, well-known Thai human rights activist and Chairman of the Union for Civil Liberties. All donors will receive an official receipt. Small contributions (as well as bigger ones, but not too big please) are very much welcome, as any small amount can make a huge difference for the life of the Shaariibuu Family.

Foundation founders consider that it would be a wonderful gesture of human solidarity for people from different Nations, Asian and Western, to show their support for the family of this young interpreter savagely killed at the age of 28 years old.

For details, contact altantuyashaaribuu@yahoo.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Arnaud Dubus, Foundation coordinator

Arnaud Dubus
Bangkok based journalist
Tel : 66 2 3816599
e mail : arnauddubus@yahoo.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Blog : http://arnodubus.blogspot.com
Website : http://www.arnauddubus.com
adresse skype : arnauddubus

Najib’s roll of the dice - RM60 billion economic stimulus package

What is now being labeled the Great Recession began in mid 2007 as the sub-prime fiasco in the United States began to unfold. The economic slowdown gained momentum in 2008. As the gathering, storm clouds gathered over the horizon, Governments began to react and take counter recessionary measures.

The Barisan Government for its part remained in a state of denial. Ministers dismissed with some arrogance the notion that the Malaysian economy would succumb to the global slowdown. They argued rather smugly that Malaysia enjoyed a certain immunity as it had decoupled from the global economy. Despite the key economic indicators pointing to a weakening in terms of industrial output, declines in FDI flows, lower exports and indications of capital flight, they continued to forecast robust growth.

The markets for their part made their own assessments and lowered the ratings. The Budget for 2009 presented in August was based on unrealistic and rosy assumptions of growth and buoyant commodity prices, especially of petroleum, and the Government announced a humongous increase in spending both on the recurrent and development budgets. An increase of RM 20 billion was unprecedented.

In the months that followed, as it begun to become crystal clear that the global crisis was likely to be severe, the Finance Minister, the Second Finance Minister and the Governor of Bank Negara indulged in soothing sound bites about the state of the economy even as the indicators pointed to a slowdown; they persisted in sticking to untenable estimates of growth, made light of the weaknesses and refused to use the instruments at their disposal to make policy corrections.

Thus when almost every country was lowering interest rates, Malaysian policymakers remained in a state of paralysis. In late 2008, as it began to become abundantly clear that the economy was indeed weakening, panic measures were taken.

Interest rates were lowered marginally; a Stimulus package of RM7 billion was hurriedly put together; RM5 billion was channeled to up the stock market; there were additional off budget measures taken. At a minimum some RM 32 billion were injected.

Despite this massive infusion of resources the economy continued to spiral downwards. It is patently clear that the remedies adopted, namely propping up “friendly “corporations, massive spending on less than urgently needed infrastructure projects, and handouts to party warlords were not the right mix of measures to stem the hemorrhaging.

The ad hoc packaging of projects with long gestation periods was clearly inappropriate to address the immediate effects of the economic slowdown with consequences for employment and income levels. It is also starkly clear that without policy reforms there would be a failure in coping with the recessionary effects. These lessons were not learnt and sadly have not been applied in crafting the Second Stimulus Package.

The truth of the matter is that Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the Finance Minister was either asleep at the wheel or had his eye on dubious schemes and narrow politicking in the context of UMNO politics. The Second Finance Minister cut a sorry figure as he went about repeating like a broken record that the Malaysian economy would continue to grow; the Minister responsible for the EPU was neither heard nor seen; the Governor of Bank Negara was hamstrung and failed to move by adjusting interest rates or by allowing a true float of the ringgit.

This is a sorry indictment about the competence of the BN government in piloting the economy through stormy and uncharted waters. Najib is scheduled to assume the helm in approximately two weeks. His performance as the Minister of Finance leaves open the question as to how he will steer the ship of state. The omens are not encouraging.

Nazri: Bar Council can voice opinions without interfering

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar Council has the power to give opinion on national political matters that involve legal issues without direct involvement, said Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

Nazri was answering a question from Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir (Jerlun-BN) on whether the government proposes to amend the Legal Profession Act 1976 to narrow the purpose and powers of the Bar Council that has been actively involved in the political sphere while neglecting the welfare of its own members.

In asking the supplementary question, Mukhriz said he is disputing the manner in which the Bar Council has been voicing their views, where its opinion on the current political scenario and the status of Islam in Malaysia has caused anger and doubt among the people

"If the government of a neighbouring country in the south can take action to curb the powers of its Bar Council from interfering with government matters, why can’t similar actions be taken here?" asked Mukhriz.

Nazri said the Bar Council is regarded as an entity and actions can be taken against them if any laws are breached.

Anwar Says Stimulus Package Does Not Inspire Confidence

From The Malaysian Insider
By Adib Zalkapli

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 – Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today the RM60 billion stimulus package announced by the government yesterday would not restore the people’s confidence.

“The biggest weakness of this package is the failure of the government to understand that the issue of the confidence of the people, of the domestic and international investors is central,” he told reporters after debating the mini budget at the Dewan Rakyat.

He added that promoting accountability should have been a major component in the package.

“The government needs to change their attitude in order to get the people’s support, if not this stimulus package will only be seen as an exercise to rescue sick cronies and greedy monopolists, to reward the inefficient,” Anwar told the House.

He also painted a more gloomy picture of the economy, predicting that the economy would contract by up to five per cent this year.

He added that even if the package is implemented, the country’s growth would still be in the negative.

“The fiscal injection is only RM15 billion where RM10 billion is for 2009 and RM5 billion for 2010. The rest does not involve development expenditure which will help generate growth,” said Anwar.

“This means that for the year 2009, the fiscal injection is only RM17.1 billion. RM7.1 from the first stimulus package and RM10 billion for the second stimulus package. Theoretically, it will only contribute 3.2 per cent to the economic growth based on the GDP of RM535 billion in 2008,” he added.

“I hope the government will revise the package as the amount may be big but the impact will not be huge to the nation’s economy,” said Anwar.

He also accused the government of attempting to bail out certain companies in the stimulus package.

“My concern is the allocation of RM10 billion for capital investment. Will this be used to bail out certain companies? The government had channeled RM7 billion to Valuecap where RM5 billion was borrowed from EPF? What has happened to the investment made by Valuecap?” asked Anwar.

He also urged the government to reassess concession agreements with toll operators adding that he believed toll charges would go up after the three by-elections next month.

nwar slams MACC in clearing AG and IGP of any wrongdoing

From The Edgedaily

By Yong Min Wei

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has slammed the decision of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to clear Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan of any wrongdoing on the fabrication of evidence relating to the ‘black-eye’ incident.

Anwar said he felt disgusted that the two were not charged despite strong evidence and documents provided to the authorities.

“I believe there is a cover up,” he told reporters at the parliament lobby today.

Anwar said he had recently written to every member of the Advisory Panel of the MACC highlighting his plight, adding that he hoped the panel members would look at the ‘black-eye’ evidence thoroughly and reopen the case.

“I think it is very unfortunate that in a case like this, they (MACC) just brush it aside,” he added.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Nazri Abdul Aziz told the Dewan Rakyat that a three-man independent panel has cleared Gani and Musa of any wrongdoing against Anwar on fabrication of evidence relating to the ‘black-eye’ incident.

Anwar was beaten while in police custody in 1998 by the then IGP Tan Sri Rahim Noor and suffered injuries including on his left eye which has since been referred to the infamous ‘black-eye’ incident.

The Opposition leader said it was paramount to know what was submitted to the three-man panel to deliberate, stressing that a general report on the black-eye without the medical reports and facts attached might not carry much weight to prefer charges on the AG and IGP.

“You think it’s easy to bring a case against the AG and IGP with such evidence? It is very tough,” he pointed out.

Anwar said he was out to prove a point that there was abuse in the current system as allegations brought against VVIPs were often shot down, adding that investigation into the fabrication of evidence on the ‘black-eye’ was a typical case of such abuse.

Asked whether there was any response by the 12-member Advisory Panel of the MACC, he replied: “Not yet, they will probably take some time.”

On whether there is room for appeal, he said: “It is not a matter of appeal. The MACC has decided there is no case to pursue against the AG and IGP.”

Ng Yen Yen: Why are you letting RAGM posion the residents of Raub?

Wanted to draw attention to this video below.

The people of Raub obviously feel very strongly that Raub Australian Gold Mining (RAGM) is using cyanide as part of its mining process, and that it’s causing severe life-endangering environmental damage in Raub.

With nothing short of their lives at stake, I think we’re looking at yet another example of simple Malaysian citizens who are pushed into taking drastic action because they’ve been forced into a corner by authorities that probably care more about money than the lives of those who entrusted them to rule.

Minute 2.00 onwards has some especially great moments demonstrating how Malaysians don’t put up with crap lying down, even in the face of noxious police intimidation. The bravery shown by some of those old ladies (not to mention their brilliantly scathing comments :) gives us inspiration and hope that this country will not stand long for oppression.

I mention Ng Yen Yen because one of the residents specifically did in the video. She seems to be a million miles away, enjoying ministership while her constituents face cyanide.

I’m not that familiar with the whole case, although I did hear of it even way back. I’ll let the video do the talking:


Muhyiddin: Umno General Assembly Focus Of Attention

Umno's 63rd general assembly at the end of this month is the focus of everyone's attention because it involves the power transition between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, said International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin, who is also Umno vice president, said the matter would be considered settled when Najib took over the mantle.

"Other contests like for the deputy president's post of which I am in the fray are also deemed very important especially in the current political and economic scenario.

"We can say Umno is faced with challenges and so too the Barisan Nasional in terms of the people's perception following the outcome of the last general election," he said on the Dialog@1 talk show aired by the TV1 television channel here tonight. The talk was entitled "Global Economic Crisis: Miti's Challenges and Hopes".

He also said besides the power transition, the people wanted to know how Malaysia could ride the crisis, the worst the world has faced since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

"We do not want too much politicking, economic issues are of the utmost priority to ensure Malaysians can have a better life," he said.

Muhyiddin said whoever was elected to fill leadership positions in Umno in the party's polls during the GA must be able to solve the challenges the country was facing now.

Asked whether allegations of rampant money politics in Umno portrayed a negative image of the party in the eyes of the public, he said many people felt this but not all candidates were involved.

"It is important to show Umno is ready to change and overcome weaknesses that may exist. The people are not interested to hear Umno will change, they want to see real changes," he said.

He said Umno must be ready to go to the ground, be people-friendly and undertake many more programmes that were beneficial to the people.

He added that the political scenario had changed and the younger generation of voters were very demanding.

"They are not like voters of before, so the decisions and actions we take will ultimately determine our fate," he said.

AG, IGP 'cleared' in black-eye case - Malaysiakini

Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail and inspector-general of police Musa Hassan have both been cleared of any criminal involvement in Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's black-eye case, according to the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz.

MCPX

parliament gobind singh ban over nazri mistake 251108 04He was replying to Gobind Singh-Deo (DAP-Puchong) as to why no action has been taken by the authorities after Anwar had lodged reports with the police and the then Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) last July.

Subsequently, the ACA - now called the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission - set up an independent panel to probe the case.

The panel members were Kadir Sulaiman, Wira Mohd Nor and Ahmad Nor Abdullah - all former judges from the Federal Court and Court of Appeal.

According to Nazri, the investigation by the panel began on July 2 last year.

"The investigation was completed two months later as it was considered a sensitive and high-profile case," he said.

"After a detailed investigation, they found the AG and the IGP did not commit any wrongdoing relating to the case as alleged by Anwar."

anwar ibrahim black eye small 080206He further said that each of the panel members had to probe the issue independently in order to draw their own conclusion on the matter.

However, several opposition MPs were not convinced by the minister’s answer, stressing that there had been no information on the case after the investigation was completed.

In his supplementary question, Gobind queried Nazri as to when the panel had made the decision and why there had been no disclosure on this earlier by the authorities.

“We have also not been informed whether any action has been taken against the suspects,” asserted Gobind.

One panel member found case against AG

Nazri said the authorities required “ample time to make the decision public so that it would not be doubted by some parties”.

dap education roundtable meeting 111006 lim kit siangLim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor) then questioned Nazri as to who had made the final decision, since the investigation had been conducted independently.

“Let’s say one of them decides that the AG is guilty. In that case, who makes the final decision?” asked Lim.

Nazri explained that the decision was made based on the majority view, and in this case, all three members had found no case against the IGP, and only one had found a case against the AG.

He however refused to divulge further details.

Later at a press conference, Anwar, who is also de facto leader of PKR, said it was typical of the government to “manipulate” the facts adduced to the MACC.

“It is not easy to bring a case against those two without evidence, and it also depends on what has been submitted,” said Anwar.

He further accused Nazri of using the Parliament as a place to “defend the case” as the latter chose to reply in the House this morning.

Anwar: I'm disgusted

Anwar said he was "disgusted" with the finding and said the government did not provide full details of his complaint to the investigating panel.

"I believe there is a cover-up because it involves the VVIPs. I am disgusted, I think it is very unfortunate with all the evidence provided, they can brush it aside," he told reporters at Parliament.

"It is typical of the government - you give them strong evidence, medical reports, they refuse to act and allow them to go free," he said.

Last month, Anwar had lodged a police report claiming that the AG and the IGP were involved in a conspiracy to fabricate an arrest warrant in 1998.

gani patailAnwar had also accused Abdul Gani (left) and Musa of fabricating evidence in an investigation into the beating he received by former police chief Abdul Rahim Noor while in police custody.

Anwar, then deputy prime minister, was arrested and jailed for corruption. A sodomy conviction was later overturned on appeal.

The oppposition leader had said the involvement of Abdul Gani and Musa was further affirmed by a defamation suit against him last October by Mat Zain Ibrahim, the investigating officer who probed the 'black eye' incident.

Mat Zain had stated that Abdul Gani, who was then a senior deputy public prosecutor, delayed the investigation process and concealed facts from then AG, the late Mohtar Abdullah.

Musa was the investigating officer into previous cases against Anwar, where the former DPM was accused of abuse of power, corruption and sodomy.

Police report last July

In his police report last July, Anwar had alleged: "I believe Musa and Abdul Gani were present in Bukit Aman on Sept 20, 1998 and knew about the assault by Rahim Noor on me.

"Musa and Abdul Gani further concealed the fact of the assault on me from the public until my black eye and injuries were revealed in court.

anwar ibrahim black eye photo 020708"I believe both Musa and Abdul Gani were actively involved in the procuring of the second undated (medical) report by Dr (Abdul) Rahman (Yusof) which makes false and incredible conclusions (regarding his injury).

"They gave instructions to Dr Rahman to proceed to write this second report and were acting under the direction and/or jointly with Mohtar.

"These facts show that Musa, Abdul Gani and Mat Zain (who, according to Dr Rahman's second report, accompanied him to the cell in Bukit Aman where I was detained and participated in the so-called reconstruction of the scene) conspired with Dr Rahman to procure the production of this second report.

"This was done so that my police report of Sept 27, 1998, in respect of the assault would be regarded as a false police report for which I could be charged, or at the very least, to damage my credibility, so as to affect my defence in the other criminal cases where I was charged for so-called corruption and sodomy to facilitate a conviction."

'Waythamoorthy can return any time' - Malaysiakini

Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chairperson P Waythamoorthy is still a citizen and can come back to Malaysia any time, said Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar.

MCPX

waythamoorthy and malaysia passportHowever, there is a snag - the minister claimed that Waythamoorthy has returned his passport to the Malaysian High Commission in London and is travelling with British travel documents.

"Despite returning his passport, he is still the citizen although he claims otherwise,” said Syed Hamid.

Waythamoorthy, who has been living in self-exile in London since November 2007, is said to be suffering from a rare heart condition and wants to return to Malaysia to seek treatment.

A scheduled operation at a specialist centre in London on Monday had to be postponed as he was not well enough to undergo surgery.

Doctors are observing him for 48 hours before deciding whether or not to carry out the operation to place an implant in his heart.

The Hindraf leader had expressed his wish to return home so that he can be with his family, and he had sought the government's guarantee that he will not be arrested.

Hindraf's New York-based coordinator, R Shan, has also insisted that the government should issue Waythamoorthy with a new passport.

It is understood that the government had revoked Waythamoorthy's passport last year and he was issued a limited travel document by the British government. Syed Hamid has, however, refuted the claim.

No express guarantee

Shan reiterated the plea to guarantee that Waythamoorthy would be allowed a safe return to be with his family, including his six-year-old daughter.

syed hamid albar exclusive interview larger pix 231008 04Asked today at the Parliament lobby if action would be taken against Waythamorrthy if he returns, Syed Hamid declined to give a direct answer.

"Everyone is subject to the law... everyone has to face the consequence," was all he would say.

Waythamoorthy and his brother Uthayakumar were the lead organisers of a massive 30,000-strong rally in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25, 2007, to highlight the marginalisation of the Indian Malaysian community.

Uthayakumar and four other Hindraf leaders were then detained under the Internal Security Act from December 2007.

However, Waythamoorthy had left the country by then and has been bringing up the issue with political leaders and human rights bodies in Europe and India.

Hindraf itself has since been banned, but its supporters have kept up the pressure on the government to improve the community’s lot under the Makkal Sakthi (people power) movement.

Call for unity: Anwar doubts Najib's sincerity

Bukit Selambau By-Election : The Path To Victory (07/03/2009)

Azalina’s office raided by MACC

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 – Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers raided the office of Tourism Minister Datuk Azalina Othman in relation to a probe on vote-buying for the Umno party elections.

Azalina was not present during the raid.

MACC officers spent three hours in her office and inspected documents in relation to the award of contracts by the ministry.

The officers also took away with them a number of files and other documents.

Today’s raid follows the detention last week of Azalina’s political secretary who was caught by MACC officers with RM75,000 in cash in his car.

The arrest of Azalina’s political secretary and the raid on her office today will have a significant impact on the minister’s fortunes in Umno and continued employment in the incoming Najib administration.

The minister is competing for a position on the party’s supreme council.

So far no senior Umno politician has been charged with corruption in relation to vote-buying in the Umno elections though there has been a trail of claims saying that money has been exchanging like never before for Election 2009.

Azalina is the highest profile politician to be under investigation in the current probe on vote-buying in Umno.

In a statement issued after the MACC raid, her office said they noted press reports about the probe into her political secretary’s affairs.

They also pledged to give their full cooperation to MACC officers.

It is understood the investigations are centred on whether the Tourism Ministry had awarded contracts to Umno delegates ahead of the party polls.

Investigators are also looking into the affairs of Pempena, a subsidiary of the Tourism Ministry,
which had shed its investments in five companies after suffering a loss of RM20 million.

This was out of an RM54.4 million total outlay on 24 companies as stated in a summary report of a “high level business review” of the Pempena Group released to the ministry on Nov 6.

In their probe into vote-buying activities for the Umno polls, the MACC has so far picked up 12 party divisional officers.

They were allegedly working to help Datuk Norza Zakaria defend his supreme council seat.

The men are being investigated for distributing between RM300 and RM500 to some of the 2,000 delegates who will be attending the general assembly-cum-elections.

Norza has also been questioned by the MACC but has denied any involvement in money politics, saying that he was a victim of a scheme to discredit him.

Guan Eng thanks Najib for money, then asks where it will come from

By Debra Chong- The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 11 - Like many other Pakatan Rakyat leaders, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng welcomed the new stimulus deal, with a great deal of scepticism thrown in.

The Penang Chief Minister thanked Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for setting aside RM250 million to expand the state's international airport.

But he wants the federal government to pump in an additional RM11.5 billion into 21 state projects he described as "critical" to boost economic growth, such as the proposed RM500 million halal hub in Balik Pulau and Batu Kawan; RM200 million loan for its Heritage Rehabilitation Plan in Georgetown as a Unesco-recognised World Heritage Site; and RM1.1 billion to expand the Mengkuang Dam.

"The reality is if Penang fails, Malaysia will fail because 30 per cent of the total export and tourists originate from and visit Penang," Lim, who is also Bagan MP, said in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Lim's biggest beef with the stimulus concerned the RM60 billion figure. "Where is the RM60 million coming from?" he asked.

"How does the RM10 billion equity investment benefit ordinary workers?" he added.

He claimed that the RM10 billion would be used as a "rescue package for certain crony companies" and pointed to last year's RM5 billion loan from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to ValueCap to support his statement.

He concluded his speech by offering to work together with the federal government to face the economic crisis if it prioritised the public.

"What we want to see is direct assistance to the rakyat, not only focusing on companies. Look at Taiwan and Singapore which gave RM8.5 billion or RM400 spending money in cash to each citizen. Not a sen was for ordinary Malaysians," said Lim.

Transition is on, for sure

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 - The Opposition may attempt to rally support in Parliament and around the country for Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to stay on as prime minister but the transition timetable is cast in stone.

Abdullah has informed his successor Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak this week that he will hand over the reins of government on April 3.

This slight change to the earlier timetable of stepping down on March 31 is because Abdullah would like to chair the Cabinet meeting on April 1 and bid farewell to the ministers in person, some of whom have served with him under the previous administration.

The swearing in of Najib as the sixth prime minister of Malaysia is set for Friday, four days before the clutch of by-elections in Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai.

This news is likely to dampen speculation that Abdullah will continue in office even after the Umno elections – speculation that went up several notches after Abdullah and Opposition icon Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim met at a lunch yesterday in conjunction with the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

The event was held at Madrasah Nurul Iman in Hulu Langat and was hosted by prominent religious leader Sheikh Mahmud. The two men and Sheik Mahmud spent some time talking in private.

Anwar downplayed the significance of the meeting saying: “too many assumptions and interpretations have been made about my presence and that of the prime minister in Hulu Langat.’’

Still, Pakatan Rakyat supporters have not been shy to offer their interpretation of the meeting, stressing that there could be a move by Opposition MPs to show support for Abdullah in Parliament next week.

This move, if it happens, will be the latest attempt by the Opposition to convince Abdullah that he has the support of Malaysians and should consider remaining in the country’s top job.

Opposition leaders including Pas spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat have in recent weeks urged Abdullah to toss aside the transition plan, arguing that he was given the mandate in March 2008 to lead the country till the next general elections.

Barisan Nasional officials said that any show of support by Pakatan Rakyat for Abdullah should be viewed through political lenses- as nothing more than an attempt to sow discord within the ruling coalition, especially Umno, and challenge the legitimacy of Najib as the prime minister.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Abdullah has not changed his position on retiring after the party elections in March ever since he told Malaysians in October that he was not seeking re-election as Umno president.

An old school Umno official, he believes that the prime minister of Malaysia must have the support and endorsement of the ruling party.

After March, Najib will have both.

Stimulus Package Lack of True Economic Stimulant

Firstly let me congratulate Prime Minister to be Najib Razak for his sensitiviness towards ailing Malaysian Economic. He finally admit the Economy need antibiotics and serious attentions. When he took over Finance Ministry in Sept 2008, we was told country will able to wade through the economic crisis.

However, I feel the second Stimulus Package too failed to meet really economic problems faced by Malaysia. Append below some of my views based on little economic knowledge I have:

1) The Fiscal expenditure for the year 2009 is only RM10billion of which RM 5 billion each goes to Operational and Expenditure expenses. Even the first Stimulus package of Rm7 billion not bear any fruit, I’m doubt the additional Rm10 billion able rejuvenate the economic root. Even if it does , the beneficiary will be those involve with Government Contracts and Procurements.

2) RM20 billion Guarantee Scheme- we have to look the beneficiary , i.e commercial bank to encourage them lend money. When bank’s principal business is to make LENDING do we need to provide them with incentives and encouragement when DEMAND is great?

We need to understand Malaysian Economic is based on Export Model i.e producing country . For example we only need about 850,000 MT of Palm oil while the rest of about 12 million tonnes exported out. Since, it’s edible the demand somehow exist but not that great extend as Industrial user might have lesser demand or switch to other alternatives. The level of stock of palm oil itself already an indication that demand diminish.

Let Commercial bank by itself , no need to BAIL THEM OUT by providing RM20 billion Guarantee. Instead, use the fund to insure all Produce of Malaysia (with exceptional petroleum ,electronic items and constructions) so that Manufacturer and Exporter able to penetrate new or even Virgin markets. The Business able to generate faster cash flow then.

They may argue we already has Malaysian Export Credit Insurance to assist exporters? This again another white elephant? Just walking in to their office and get some information on their services. They want Super A customer, premium paid upfront, 3-6 months to get customer approved and blah,blah..

Malaysian Products are well received by International Market only our Financial system made it difficult for cash flow turn around faster. How may SME’s suffering due to lack of bank’s support. Leave along SMI/SME with RM20 million capital , how about those with RM500,000 and below. How many of them can survive during this tough time?

We should also look into possibility of Introduce Export Grant as part of encouraging more Malaysian Product exports. This grant should be targeted for companies with RM500,000 paid up capital and those emerging entrepreneurs.

Another factor the package failed to stimulate is LOCAL DEMAND . Train and retrain may prepare us for future but how their family going to survive? Government should atleast consider :

a) Reduce Petrol , Gas and Electricity prices further immediately

b) Allow Industries to Import sugar, flour and other controlled item by themselves . This will reduce quantum of subsidies. The reason behind Government still holding tight import monopoly of Sugar and Flour still remain unanswered.

c) Encourage all Toll Express way to provide discount for users without time limitation

d) As part of Corporate Social Responsibility Toll Express Way operates should voluntarily forgo Government Subsidies due to non increment of Tolls. What if the economy slip further and government revenue dropped significantly?

e) Encourage hypermarkets to buy Made in Malaysia Products. Why only Proton and Perodua, how about other Made in Malaysia products, don’t they entitle for some incentives too.

f) Speed up infrastructure projects including Public Transportation system

g) As health related problem expected to raise , government should consider appoint panel of doctors nationwide to provide medical treatments.

I believe once government successfully rekindle the local and export demand , employment rate will increase thus creating opportunities for all other related industries.

Controlling Local demand is in Governments hand while Industries players with Government support may able to outshine other global competitors making product of Malaysia most preferable.

Conditional cooperation on economic front: Anwar

KUALA LUMPUR, 11 March 2009: Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the opposition was prepared to cooperate for the people's benefit in tackling the worsening economic crisis, but on certain conditions.

Anwar (PKR-Permatang Pauh) said the "olive branch" offered by the government was a sign it wanted to cooperate with the opposition, but he reminded the government that the opposition did not forget easily.

He said this when debating the Supplementary Supply (2009) Bill 2009 or the Mini Budget at the Dewan Rakyat today.

Anwar said the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein (the second prime minister), when moving the motion for a coalition government with PAS, had done away with victimisation, stopped making slanderous statements in the media, released detainees held without trial, negotiated, and later offered the olive branch with an open mind.

As such, Anwar asked that these were also implemented by the government, claiming that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was not emulating his late father.

When tabling the second stimulus package totalling RM60 billion yesterday, Najib asked everyone, including the opposition, to cooperate.

Najib noted that there were already calls by the people for the government and the opposition to focus on efforts to resolve the country's economic woes and put aside their political problems. — Bernama

In case you have forgotten: a rebuttal to Nazri Aziz

Image

With press censorship and plummeting newspaper sales, the Internet has become the main source of information. Students are accessing the net, then distributing their printouts, demonstrations are organised via the net, then within hours of the demonstration the action is posted on the net. The censored press is starting to react, being more adventurous in what they dare to publish. The corrupt authorities are finding that they are powerless to act. Such is the power of the net that it has become a case study in itself as to how to counter corrupt governments. – Amnesty International, September 1999

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

First, read this report from the Star today:

A-G, IGP cleared in Anwar ‘black eye’ case

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan and Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail were cleared of fabricating evidence in the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim “black eye” incident of a decade ago.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz told the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday that the two were cleared of any wrong-doing after a two-month investigation conducted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Anwar had accused both Abdul Gani and Musa of tampering with evidence in an investigation into an alleged beating he received from then IGP Abdul Rahim Noor while in police custody in 1998.

“Since this case is sensitive and of high profile, the MACC had suggested a three-person independent panel be appointed as deputy public prosecutors to look into the case,” Nazri in response to a question by Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong).

The independent panel was made up of former Federal Court judges Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman and Datuk Wira Mohd Noor Ahmad, and retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah.

In reply to Gobind’s supplementary question on when the decision was made, Nazri said that the case was investigated on July 2 last year and was completed two months after that.

“Since we need to consider several things, we took a bit more time to announce the decision so that it does not create doubt among people,” he said, adding that that was why he decided to reply on Wednesday.

In reply to DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang’s question on who was the dissenting voice, Nazri said he could not give the information and majority decision obviously means a 2-1 decision.

He added that the decision for the IGP was 3-0.

Gobind had been asking why the result of the investigation was not officially announced.

MACC Chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan had announced the results in an interview with Sunday Star on March 1.

Later Wednesday, Anwar expressed his "disgust" at the outcome of the probe, claiming that the evidence against the IGP and A-G was "strong and solid."

*****************************

Okay, after having read that, now read this piece from Amnesty International circa September 1999:

The Detention and Brutal Treatment of Anwar Ibrahim

20 September 1998, in the closing days of one of the worst Commonwealth Games, on the eve of the Queen's visit to Malaysia, 30,000 people took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur calling for democratic reform and the removal of the corrupt prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamad. The police and security forces reacted with violence, weighing in with tear gas and clubs to clear the streets.

One of the star speakers was Anwar Ibrahim, less than a month before, Finance Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and heir apparent to the corrupt Mahathir bin Mohamad. After decades of subservience, Anwar Ibrahim did the unthinkable and spoke out against the corrupt Mahathir bin Mohamad, the mismanagement of the economy, the cronyism, the corruption. Anwar Ibrahim was sacked (2 September 1998) and the corrupt Mahathir bin Mohamad ran a smear campaign to discredit him. After speaking at the rally, Anwar Ibrahim walked home to the resounding cheers of his supporters. At his home he gave a press conference. Paramilitary police kicked in the door and took him away. He wasn't to be seen again in public for ten days when he made a brief court appearance.

Anwar Ibrahim was beaten into unconsciousness on the evening of his arrest (20 September 1998). Only a few miles away, the Queen and Robin Cook (UK Foreign Secretary) supped and dined with a dictator, toasted the end of the Commonwealth Games. Neither spoke out. The UK has an 'ethical foreign policy'.

Since the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim there has been daily street protests.

The fabricated charges laid against Anwar Ibrahim were corruption and perverse sexual practices. Two star witnesses against Anwar Ibrahim were his friends who had admitted to participating with him in perverse sexual acts, and had been found guilty for these same offences. Ten days later they were to withdraw their 'confessions', claiming they had been extracted under duress.

On the day following Anwar Ibrahim's arrest, with people on the street, the police detained his friends and colleagues. Transmissions (video footage) from broadcasters of the demonstrations and police brutality were blacked out.

The arrest of Anwar Ibrahim spurred the fragmented opposition groups into co-operation. Political parties and NGOs called a joint press conference (27 September 1998) to protest the police brutality, the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim, and called for freedom of speech, right of free assembly, right to fair trial and fair hearing and repeal of all anti-human rights legislation, especially the Draconian Internal Security Act (that enables detention without charge or trial).

22 September 1998, Azizah Ismail, wife of Anwar Ibrahim, was questioned for several hours. Her request to see her husband was denied. She was warned not to ferment trouble. She feared for the safety of herself, her husband and her family. Police Chief, Abdul Rahim Noor, warned that now the Commonwealth Games were over, to expect a purge.

24 September 1998, the fascist police chief, Abdul Rahim Noor, called a news conference. Not used to Western style news conferences or Western media, he shouted at the journalists to 'shut up' and tried to tell them how to behave. The fascist buffoon, festooned with medals, looked like an over-decorated Christmas tree.

29 September 1998, Anwar Ibrahim appeared in court to face nine charges of corruption and perverse sexual activity. This was his first public appearance since his arrest ten days earlier (20 September 1998). He appeared looking pale, drawn and thin, his left temple bruised, his left eye black. He pleaded not guilty to the nine fabricated charges. He described how: “I was boxed very hard on the left temple and the right part of my head. I was hit very hard on the left part of my neck. I was then slapped very hard left and right, until blood seeped from my nose and lips.”

He then collapsed and passed out. He was denied medical attention for five days. He was held in solitary confinement in a darkened room.

On seeing the condition of their father, two of Anwar Ibrahim's daughters wept openly in court. His wife said that she was 'shocked and stunned that my husband has been a victim of police brutality'. She has been warned not to meet with journalists and not to ferment trouble. Anwar Ibrahim faces up to 20 years imprisonment on the false charges laid against him. Under the Internal Security Act he can be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

The authorities have threatened to inject Anwar Ibrahim with the AIDS virus unless his wife calls off the street demonstrations.

According to reports in the Malaysian press, the corrupt Mahathir bin Mohamad has claimed that the injuries sustained by Anwar Ibrahim were self-inflicted. An examination by a doctor of Anwar Ibrahim following his court appearance, supported the allegation that he had been beaten and sustained injuries whilst in police custody.

World leaders have rallied to the support of Anwar Ibrahim leaving the corrupt Mahathir bin Mohamad looking increasingly isolated. At the IMF/World Bank meeting in New York finance ministers spoke out against the treatment of Anwar Ibrahim, the exception was Gordon Brown (UK Chancellor of the Exchequer) who remained silent. Neighbouring countries have spoken out against the treatment of Anwar Ibrahim. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit held in Kuala Lumpur, US vice-president Al Gore launched a strong attack on the corrupt Mahathir bin Mohamad. World leaders now need to back their fine words with sanctions against the corrupt Malaysian regime.

Opponents of the corrupt Prime Minister are making full use of the Internet to co-ordinate their opposition and to inform the world of the brutal regime. Malaysia is following the path of Indonesia, institutionalised brutality, lack of democracy, with the majority of the population wishing to see the downfall of a corrupt leader. The people are expected to take to the streets until the corrupt Prime Minister is removed from office.

Anwar Ibrahim's teenage daughter, Nural Izzah, has taken up the campaign against the corrupt regime on her father's behalf.

Monday 2 November 1998, the trial of Anwar Ibrahim began. He appeared looking pale, thin and downcast. Most of the defence pre-trial appeals had been rejected by the judge. Several new charges were added to the original list. International observers were denied access to the trial, though several managed to slip into the public gallery. The US State Department attacked the decision to deny access to international observers. Armed security police ringed the court and prevented Anwar supporters from approaching the court.

The key prosecution witness was to have been Mohamed Said Awang (Special Branch director), but the choice of this witness backfired on the prosecution and only served to highlight the level of political corruption under Mahathir. Under oath, Mohamed Said Awang admitted he would lie if instructed to do so by his superiors, he spoke of 'turning over' witnesses and 'neutralising' anyone considered to be a threat. Mohamed Said Awang's testimony revealed a sordid tale of cronyism, political and financial corruption with the corrupt Mahathir at its heart.

Mid-January 1999 as the trial continued the prosecution admitted that Anwar Ibrahim had been badly beaten whilst in police custody. A couple of days later the chief of police resigned.

Freedom of expression and respect for democratic institutions and human rights do not exist in Malaysia. The Prime Minister justifies his iron rule as necessary to keep Malaysia on the path of economic success. The so-called Malaysian economic miracle now lies in ruins. In a histrionic outburst, Mahathir bin Mohamad, desperate to blame others for his own shortcomings and failings, has blamed foreign speculators and agents of foreign powers. In addition to the Draconian and repressive Internal Security Act (which grants the power for indefinite detention without charge or trial) Malaysia also uses the Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act to silence critics.

Those concerned with the treatment of Anwar Ibrahim and the lack of fundamental human rights within Malaysia should raise their concern with Malaysian diplomats in their own country, and also pressurise their own politicians to impose sanctions on Malaysia.

Malaysia is currently seeking funds from the West to bail out its failed economy. In addition to the usual economic strings, conditions on the reform of the democratic and judicial systems should be attached.

The detention and trial of Anwar Ibrahim is an abuse of the political system and the judicial process. In detaining Anwar Ibrahim Malaysia is contravening acceptable international standards on freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial and the treatment of detainees.

Amnesty International has adopted Anwar Ibrahim as a Prisoner of Conscience. In addition AI has called for the immediate release of all prisoners detained under the ISA and for an independent investigation of the injuries sustained by Anwar Ibrahim whilst held in custody.

Sources of information


John Aglionby, Anwar's teenage daughter picks up baton of reform, The Guardian, 19 October 1998

A.I., Malaysia: A crossroads for human rights and the rule of law?, Amnesty International, 18 September 1998

A.I., Malaysia: Amnesty International calls for Anwar to be charged promptly or released, Amnesty International, 21 September 1998

A.I., Malaysia: Amnesty International declares Anwar a prisoner of conscience, Amnesty International, 25 September 1998

A.I., Malaysia: The arrest of Anwar Ibrahim and his political associates, Amnesty International, 3 October 1998

BBC, The World at One, Radio 4, BBC, 29 September 1998

BBC, News Day, BBC World Service, BBC, 30 September 1998

BBC, The World Tonight, Radio 4, BBC, 30 September 1998

BBC, News Desk, BBC World Service, BBC, 1 October 1998

BBC, News Desk, BBC World Service, BBC, 2 October 1998

BBC, News Desk, BBC World Service, BBC, 5 October 1998

BBC, News Desk, BBC World Service, BBC, 10 October 1998

BBC, News Desk, BBC World Service, BBC, 18 October 1998

BBC, News Desk, BBC World Service, BBC, 25 October 1998

BBC, News Desk, BBC World Service, BBC, 1 November 1998

BBC, News Desk, BBC World Service, BBC, 3 November 1998

BBC, News Desk, BBC World Service, BBC, 15 November 1998

BBC, The World Today, BBC World Service, BBC, 17 November 1998

BBC, News Desk, BBC World Service, BBC, 8 December 1998

Nick Cumming-Bruce, Mahathir sacks deputy in row over economy, News in Brief, The Guardian, 3 September 1998

Nick Cumming-Bruce, Malaysia leader goes for gold in power game, The Observer, 13 September 1998

Matt Frei, Black eye may floor Mahathir, The Daily Telegraph, 4 October 1998

John Gittings, Angry Anwar spurned chance to flee, The Observer, 1 November 1998

John Gittings, Anwar faces fresh charges, The Guardian, 2 November 1998

John Gittings, Anwar downcast as marathon trial begins, The Guardian, 3 November 1998

John Gittings, US 'lecture' ruins dinner, The Guardian, 17 November 1998

John Gittings, Interrogators 'abused Anwar speechwriter', The Observer, 22 November 1998

John Gittings, Anwar 'victim' gives evidence, The Guardian, 3 December 1998

Guardian leader, Malaysian subtext, editorial, The Guardian, 19 November 1998

Frances Harrison, Anwar tells court of political plot, The Guardian, 9 February 1999

Nick Hopkins, Troops guard Queen amid rioting, The Guardian, 21 September 1998

Nick Hopkins, Mahathir cracks down on protests, The Guardian, 22 September 1998

Nick Hopkins, Wife cannot see Malay detainee, The Guardian, 24 September 1998

K Baranee Krishnaan, Anwar was assaulted, confirms doctor, Cyprus Mail, 1 October 1998

Kathy Marks, Anwar's trial is halted by arsenic claims, The Independent, 11 September 1999

Sheila McNulty & Peter Montagnon, Gore backs Malaysian protesters, Financial Times, 17 November 1998

Peter Montagnon & Sheila McNulty, Apec assails credit rating agencies, Financial Times, 19 November 1998

Seth Mydans, Arrested heir voices the unthinkable, The Guardian, 22 September 1998

Richard Lloyd Parry, Battered Anwar in court at last, The Independent, 30 September 1998

Richard Lloyd Parry, Malaysian furry at Al Gore's 'interference, The Independent, 18 November 1998

M G G Pilai & David Watts, US 'encouraging' Malaysian unrest, The Times, 18 November 1998

Michael Sheridan, Police witness turns the tables on Mahathir, The Sunday Times, 8 November 1998

Alex Spillius, Malaysian police storm mosque to break up demo, The Daily Telegraph, 26 September 1998

Alex Spillius, Police beat me as Queen was visiting, Anwar tells court, The Daily Telegraph, 30 September 1998

Alex Spillius, Australian leader hits at Mahathir over Anwar, The Daily Telegraph, 1 October 1998

Alex Spillius, Critics scorn Mahathir's claim that Anwar hurt himself, The Daily Telegraph, 1 October 1998

Alex Spillius, Doctor confirms Anwar's beating, The Daily Telegraph, 2 October 1998

John Sweeney, Don't act like that here in Malaysia, The Guardian, 25 September 1998

John Sweeney, Arrest of Anwar spurs solidarity, The Guardian, 28 September 1998

John Sweeney, Battered Anwar in court, The Guardian, 30 September 1998

Times editorial, The Regime in Malaysia - Corruption, cronyism and clamp-down are also Asian values, The Times, 22 September 1998

Stephen Vines, Malaysia losing fight against cyber protest, The Independent on Sunday, 13 December 1998

David Watts, Malaysia in turmoil as government cracks down on dissenters, The Times, 22 September 1998

David Watts, Anwar's wife accuses police of beating him, The Times, 30 September 1998

More information on Anwar Ibrahim may be obtained from:
Amnesty International, 1 Easton Street, LONDON WC1X 8DJ, England
tel +44-171-413-5500 / fax +44-171-956-1157
e-mail: info@amnesty.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Web: http://www.amnesty.org

Learning Maths & Science in English Will Make You A Mat Rempit!

by Sheih Kickdefella

In an unprecedented statement so far, the PAS Muslimat Chief alleged the teaching of Maths and Science will send students backwards and force them into doing all sort of negative things such as becoming drug addicts, Mat Rempit and other ‘wild’ things.

HarakahDaily quoted Ustazah Nuridah Salleh during the launch of The Bukit Gantang Campaign Machinery in Perak. Read here.

Tegas Nuridah, dasar tersebut (Teaching Match and Science in English) seumpama “keris makan tuan” iaitu merosakkan masa depan generasi muda kita .

“Anak-anak kita bukan bertambah maju ke depan malah sebaliknya ianya banyak mendorong kepada kegiatan sosial yang negatif, seperti mendekati penyalahan pengunaan dadah, mat rempit dan terpengaruh sosial liar”.

SURUHANJAYA INTEGRITI AGENSI PENGUATKUASA (SIAP) TABLED BUT HAS 'NO POWERS'

The Special Complaints Commission (SCC) which was tabled last year to replace the (Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) was criticized as a mere "post box" in that it is toothless (no power to persecute) and it just act to receive complaints and forward these complaints to relevant enforcement agencies thus essentially acting like a "post box" while adding another layer to cumbersome bureaucracy.

Today, Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar has tabled another bill in Parliament, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission or SIAP (Suruhanjaya Integriti Agensi Penguatkuasa). SIAP will also have no persecution power and is likely to meet the same fate as SCC.

The UMNO-led Barisan Nasional government 'fears' to form a credible Commission which has absolute persecution powers, since most of its UMNOputras or Barisan Nasional officials would face prosecution.

picture courtesy of Malaysiakini

Verdict In Hindraf Leaders' Appeal Deferred

PUTRAJAYA, March 11 (Bernama) -- The Federal Court today deferred judgment in the appeal brought by five leaders of the banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) in their second bid for freedom from Internal Security Act (ISA) detention.

Justices Datuk Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman, Datuk Seri S.Augustine Paul and Datuk Hashim Yusoff reserved judgment to a date to be fixed to consider the submissions forwarded by Karpal Singh, counsel for the five, and Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden.


R. Kengadharan, 42; M. Manoharan, 48; V. Ganabatirau, 36; P.Uthayakumar, 47, and K. Vasantha Kumar, 36, filed this second joint application at the Ipoh High Court on May 30 last year after a similar application was dismissed by the High Court and Federal Court.

Their first application was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Dec 26 2007 after they were arrested. They failed to secure their release as both the High Court and Federal Court ordered that they remain in the Kamunting Detention Centre.

Uthayakumar, a diabetic, has also filed a separate habeas corpus application on grounds of medical negligence but it was also rejected by the High Court and Federal Court. His appeal was thrown out by the Federal Court yesterday on technical grounds for failure to comply with the Rules of the Federal Court to file the petition of appeal.

Meanwhile, Manoharan filed a separate habeas corpus application to challenge the validity of the detention order under Section 8 (1) of the ISA on Aug 8, last year but was also unsuccessful at the High Court and the Federal Court.

In the second joint habeas corpus application, the five men sought to be brought before the court and released in line with the provision of Article 5(2) of the Federal Constitution.

They challenged the validity of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's order confirming the recommendation of the ISA Advisory Board for extension of their detention on and after March 26 last year because of procedural non-compliance by the Advisory Board.

Today Karpal Singh urged the court to reverse the decision of the Ipoh High Court delivered on Sept 8 last year, dismissing his clients'second habeas corpus bid.

He said there was procedural defect due to the Advisory Board's failure to allow the five leaders' application to call the investigating officer as a witness.

Karpal Singh disputed the presence of two senior federal counsel, Datuk Abdul Wahab Mohamed and Najib Zakaria, at the Advisory Board hearing which was done in camera and in the absence of the detainees and their counsel.

He said the procedure adopted by the board was flawed due to their presence thereby contaminating the board's recommendation and the King's decision confirming the extension of the detention.

Yusof argued that the men's continued detention after March 26 last year was valid and in accordance with the Federal Constitution and that the board had strictly complied with the law.

He said the powers and functions of the Advisory Board were governed by Rule 10 (1) and 10 (2) of the Internal Security (Advisory Board Procedure) Rules 1972 which empowered the board to self-regulate its own procedure in respect of any matter.

He also contended that the board was empowered under Rule 10 and Section 16 of the ISA to examine the investigating officer in absence of the detainees and their counsel.

Muthu: Underhand Tactics To Ensure No-contest

By S. Retnanathan

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 (Bernama) -- MIC presidential aspirant Datuk M. Muthupalaniappan has charged that several MIC leaders are using underhand tactics to frustrate his bid for the party's top post.

Such below-the-belt tactics, he said, were deployed to ensure incumbent MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu won the post uncontested.


The 66-year-old leader from Seremban also claimed that MIC branch chairmen were subjected to threats to ensure that he did not meet the 50 nominations required, to enable him to contest the top post.

"There are people going around asking branch chairmen to sign nomination forms for Samy Vellu, when they (the branch chairmen) had already nominated me.

"Some leaders think that if they force branch chairmen to sign both the nomination forms, one for me and one for the incumbent, automatically the nomination would be null and void.

"Branch chairmen are only allowed to nominate one person. Some leaders are saying it is alright to sign twice. This is wrong and misleading. All they want is to declare my nomination null and void but I have my defence mechanism which I would reveal at the right time," he told Bernama in an interview today.

Late last year, Muthupalaniappan announced his intention to contest the party's top post. He will face Samy Vellu, who had declared that he would defend the post.

The incumbent has been at the helm of the largest Indian-based political party since 1979, when he became the acting president, following the demise of then-president Tan Sri V. Manikavasagam.

Under the party constitution, a presidential aspirant needs to obtain 50 nominations, with each nomination needing one proposer and five seconders, to be eligible to contest. All proposers and seconders must be branch chairmen.

The MIC president will be picked by some 3,700 branch chairmen nationwide. The party has fixed March 22 for the presidential nomination while polling is slated for April 12.

If Samy Vellu wins uncontested, in the event Muthupalaniappan fails to obtain the 50 nominations needed, then the MIC chief would be crowned president on March 22 -- the same date he officially became the party supremo, 28 years ago in 1981.

Another issue brought up by the former MIC vice-president was that the party headquarters was issuing "two sets" of nomination forms to branch chairman.

"One nomination form has Samy Vellu's name printed on it, while the other is empty. The nomination form which has his name is given out freely to branch chairmen while the empty form is only given out after some pestering and coaxing...it is so difficult to obtain a nomination form which is empty as the incumbent's name is printed on it to ensure he obtains the nomination.

"If they give out empty forms, then they are scared that the branch chairmen would nominate me and allow me to contest. The forms should not be handled by the MIC headquarters but the election steering committee.

"The headquarters is controlled by one leader and we all know who he is...he must provide a level-playing field. Let democracy takes its course.

"There is no need for such tactics. If the people really want you to lead, then they will definitely pick you. Please do not force people to pick you," urged Muthupalaniappan who furnished Bernama with a nomination form with Samy Vellu's name printed on it. The form was supposedly obtained from the MIC headquarters.

He said he was only allotted 65 nomination forms and his request for more forms had yet to be entertained, with nominations just 10 days away.

"Although I only need 50 nomination forms, I want more forms as it can be distributed easily. Presently, with the available forms, I have to ensure all forms are filled out properly. If I get two branch chairmen who want to nominate me in Johor, I need to rush the forms to Kedah for the remainder four nominations.

"This takes time. This is because I only have 65 forms. If more nomination forms are given out, then it would make the whole nomination process easier. Nomination forms, which are supposed to be distributed at all state MIC offices, are just not there.

"You can only obtain the forms at the headquarters. So, if someone from Kedah wants to nominate me, then the person has to come down to Kuala Lumpur to collect it. This is not feasible," he added.

He refuted recent claims by party secretary-general Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam that presidential nomination forms were available at all state liaison offices.

"Let me tell you that there are no nomination forms available at state offices. I have checked and double-checked. It can only be obtained at the headquarters. Why is it so difficult to obtain nomination forms? Why limit it to just 65 for a candidate? Give it out freely.

Asked on his chances of obtaining the nominations and contesting the MIC top post, he said presently, the concerted effort put in by some party leaders to ensure he did not contest, seemed to bear fruit.

"I would say that I am facing an uphill task. Even obtaining nomination forms is a huge task, what more asking branch leaders to sign it. The branch chairmen are scared.

"Even in the event of a contest, I am sure there are more tricks up the sleeves of some leaders to ensure Samy Vellu wins comfortably," Muthupalaniappan claimed.

Can the BN save itself? -Anil Netto

morning-visitors-2

The majestic Democracy Tree: Visitors from all ethnic groups gathered here yesterday morning - (Click to expand) Photos by Kinta Kid

evening-visitors-1

More visitors turned up in the evening; notice the bouquet beneath the tree

The BN knows what it needs to do to survive: it has to push through major reforms to wipe our corruption and abuse of power to win back lost support. But is it really capable of such reforms? This was the cover story I wrote for a recent issue of Aliran Monthly:

As the Umno election and general assembly in March approaches, the party faces a huge dilemma.

It is phasing out a leader (Abdullah Badawi) it feels is not suitable to lead the party following a general election setback last year which saw it lose its coveted two thirds parliamentary majority, while five out of 13 states fell to opposition hands.

Umno is now about to endorse a new leader, Najib Razak, whose own leadership credentials are in tatters following crushing by-election defeats in Permatang Pauh last August and Kuala Terengganu in January.

The irony is that it was the lack of meaningful reforms that led to the BN suffering an erosion of support. But it was Abdullah, more than Najib, who realised the importance of reforms, even though he largely failed to deliver them.

The 17 January by-election may not have changed the balance of power but it has implications that extend far beyond the capital of the resource-rich state of Terengganu. Voters were also sending a signal that the Umno power transition scheme had not impressed them. Many analysts saw it as the voters’ refusal to endorse Najib as the prime minister-to-be.

Nota Ucapan Anwar Ibrahim Membahas Rancangan Ransangan Ekonomi Ke-2

Nota Pembukaan Ucapan Membahaskan Rancangan Ransangan Ekonomi Kedua Oleh YB Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Tuan Yang Di Pertua,

Saya ingin memulakan ucapan saya dengan menegaskan bahawa saya dan rakan-rakan bersedia melakukan apa sahaja demi untuk membela rakyat. Kami menyokong sebarang inisiatif untuk membantu rakyat. Ada di antara kami telah masuk penjara, dipukul dan disembur dengan gas pemedih mata demi memperjuangkan nasib rakyat.

Elok kita buat perbandingan dengan apa yang dibentangkan oleh Menteri Kewangan semalam dengan apa yang berlaku di Amerika Syarikat. Kerana apa yang dilakukan tidak lain dari mengikut apa yang dilakukan oleh Presiden Obama. Obama mengambil pendekatan Keynesian, maka Menteri Kewangan juga mengambil pendekatan Keynesian.

Ramai yang terpukau dengan begitu besarnya pakej ransangan Obama, berjumlah USD 787 billion (RM 2.91 trillion). Tetapi Paul Krugman, pemenang Hadian Nobel ekonomi, dan ahli ekonomi Keynesian paling terkenal dewasa ini, mengatakan ia mulai “falling behind the curve.” Masalah dan krisis yang berlaku, jauh lebih besar dari pakej ransangan.

Jelas sekali pakar ekonomi ini sedar persoalannya bukan sekadar jumlah dana yang besar dan kemudiannya digembar gemburkan oleh media. Persoalan sebenar yang harus diberi perhatian ialah ketelusan dan pertanggungjawaban institusi serta memecahkan tembok psikologi rakyat terbanyak, peniaga juga pelabur agar yakin dengan pengurusan ekonomi negara. Ini ditegaskan oleh pemenang Hadiah Nobel terkemuka Amartya Sen yang mengutip pandangan Arthur Cecil Pigou, ” One of the problems…arising from financial mismanagement and other transgressions, has become many times magnified by a psychological collapse.”

Kita jangan cepat terpukau dengan jumlah RM 60billion yang diumumkan semalam. Pengumuman semalam langsung tidak memulihkan keyakinan rakyat terhadap penguasa apatah lagi terhadap menteri kewangan yang dicemar dengan pelbagai skandal serta tidak ikhlas untuk menyelesaikan masalah ekonomi yang sedang dihadapi. Beliau leka berpolitik dengan rakus serta kasar, hanya untuk memastikan cita-cita manjadi perdana menteri tercapai.

Perlu ada kejujuran, keikhlasan dan sifat tawadhu, sedia mendengar, pada pihak kerajaan. Ungkapan sahaja, apalagi bila diucapkan dengan nada sinis, untuk mengajak pembangkang menyokong, tidak akan membawa keyakinan rakyat. Kerajaan masih dalam suasana penafian, “in state of denial”. Masalah sekarang terlalu besar, dan kerajaan sahaja tidak mampu mengatasinya. Wang sahaja tidak dapat mengatasinya.

Kerajaan memerlukan dokongan rakyat. Dan jangan lupa di semenanjung majoriti rakyat adalah bersama Pakatan Rakyat.

Kerajaan memerlukan anjakan sikap, revolusi sikap, untuk mendapat dokongan rakyat. Jika tidak pakej ransangan ini akan dilihat sebagai usaha untuk membantu kroni yang sakit, dan monopolis yang rakus, “to reward the inefficient.” Ini yang disebutkan oleh Paul Krugman sebagai “lemon socialism” -”taxpayers bear the cost if things go wrong, but stockholders and executives get the benefits if things go right.”
Lihatlah sahaja apa yang terjadi di Perak. Pentadbiran Dato Seri Nizar hendak dijatuhkan dengan cara yang tidak berperlembagaan di saat kita berhadapan dengan krisis ekonomi yang kian meruncing. Tindakan seumpama ini tidak membantu memulihkan keyakinan para pelabur baik dari dalam mahupun luar negara. Kita pasti tidak berupaya memulihkan keruntuhan psikologi, aspek penting menurut Amartya Sen yang perlu pantas ditangani jikalau menteri kewangan asyik leka mengasah bakat bermain silap mata dengan menghilangkan orang tertentu dan tiba-tiba muncul!

Sekonyong-konyong di dalam ucapan semalam, ranting zaitun tanda ingin bekerjasama dengan Pakatan Rakyat dihulurkan, demi bersama-sama memulihkan kedudukan ekonomi negara. Apa kah menteri kewangan ingat rakyat cepat melupakan penglibatan beliau di dalam menjatuhkan kerajaan Perak yang sah dengan cara haram!

Begitu juga dengan apa yang berlaku di Kedah, usaha membeli, merasuah dan mengugut wakil Pakatan Rakyat dilakukan demi keuntungan politik semata. Ranting zaitun yang dihulurkan hanya omogan kosong menteri kewangan.

Sudah sekian lama kami pihak Pakatan Rakyat menegaskan kedudukan ekonomi berada dalam kedudukan yang getir. Saranan serta nasihat kami tidak diberi perhatian kerana Umno-Bn leka berpolitik berbanding berusaha menyelamatkan negara ini dari terkena bahana kemelesetan. Apabila sudah tidak boleh lagi menyembunyikan fakta kedudukan ekonomi yang malap dari pengetahuan umum, barulah tergesa-gesa mengumumkan satu rancangan ransangan ekonomi. Ini benar-benar seirama dengan maksud dari pepatah Melayu “jangan sudah terhantuk baru tergadah.”

Di Selangor, apabila Kerajaan Persekutuan enggan bekerjasama demi memastikan pengurusan air berada di tangan kerajaan negeri yang sememang-memangnya mahu memastikan tarif air berada pada tingkat harga yang rendah. Kerajaan hanya mahu menyelamatkan syarikat kroni seperti Puncak Niaga bukannya kepentingan rakyat Selangor yang menjadi pertimbangan utama. Mengapa masih mahu dikekalkan penglibatan Puncak Niaga, SYABAS, Splash dan ABBAS di dalam pengurusan air di Selangor sedang kan terbukti jumlah hutang syarikat-syarikat tersebut ialah RM 6.4 billion. Walaupun syarikat mengalami hutang yang sebegitu besar Pengurusi Syabas (Tan Sri Rozali) masih dibayar elaun di antara yang tertinggi di negara ini iaitu sebanyak RM 5.1 juta pada tahun 2007.

Pulau Pinang juga mengalami nasib yang sama kerana dianak tirikan oleh Umno-Bn, pengumuman RM250 juta untuk memperluaskan Lapangan Terbang Pulau Pinang tidak mengubah hakikat tersebut sedangkan Pulau Pinang menyumbang 30% dari ekspot negara. Projek-projek yang harus diberi keutamaan ialah perlaksanaan Lingkaran Luar Pulau Pinang berjumlah RM 1.5 billion, membesarkan Empangan Mengkuang bernilai Rm 1.2 billion serta Projek Monorail Pulau Pinang berjumlah RM 2 billion.

Tuan Yang Di Pertua

Pengurusan ekonomi negara yang diketuai oleh menteri kewangan sebelum ini berada dalam keadaan penafian. Beliau cuba menggambarkan kedudukan ekonomi negara ini berada dalam keadaan serba molek. Termasuk mereka yang senantiasa memberi gambaran yang tidak tepat ini ialah menteri kewangan kedua. Namun semalam, 10hb Mac 2009, menteri kewangan secara panjang lebar mengakui negara ini berhadapan dengan satu krisis ekonomi yang meruncing ketika membentangkan apa yang dipanggil sebagai Rancangan Ransangan Ekonomi Kedua.

Pakar dan ahli ekonomi baik di seluruh dunia mahupun di Malaysia memberi amaran jelas akan kedudukan ekonomi negara ini. Malangnya prestasi ekonomi negara yang merudum dan dituding bersalah ialah kedudukan ekonomi sejagat. Benar, kedudukan ekonomi sejagat tidak membantu, namun ini tidak menjadi alasan kepada pengurusan ekonomi negara menjadi tidak bermaya, kaku serta bersikap tidak bertanggungjawab dengan menyalurkan maklumat yang tidak tepat. Oleh kerana itu kita meragui keupayaan menteri kewangan untuk berhadapan dengan cabaran krisis ekonomi ini. Persoalannya mengapa terlalu lambat? Pengurusan ekonomi seharusnya mempunyai keupayaan untuk lebih pantas bertindak dan mempunyai daya cipta di dalam berdepan dengan kedudukan sebegini.

Kelemahan dan kelekaan pengurusan ekonomi negara ini menyebabkan kita terjerumus, dengan apa yang disifatkan oleh John Maynard Keynes dalam The Great Slump of 1930 sebagai:
Hari ini kita menjerumuskan negara ke dalam kekalutan yang dahsyat(colossal muddle), kerana kegagalan mengawal mekanisma yang sebegitu halus, serta tidak mampu kita fahami. Hasilnya, kita berkemungkinan besar kerugian untuk satu jangka masa yang panjang.

Tuan Yang Di Pertua

Mereka yang sepatutnya bertanggungjawab untuk menjaga negara ini tidak syak lagi gagal dalam menunaikan amanah tersebut. Mereka telah menyebabkan negara ini berhadapan dengan risiko. Rakyat Malaysia bukan sahaja terpaksa mengharungi dampak krisis ekonomi akibat dari kelalaian pengurusan ekonomi negara, malah terpaksa berdepan dengan satu pentadbiran yang terbukti liat untuk melakukan perubahan demi kesejahteraan rakyat dan kemakmuran negara.

Menteri kewangan yang bercita-cita mengambil alih tampuk kerajaan dalam sedikit waktu, tidak memenuhi kehendak rakyat yang mahukan seorang pemimpin yang berdaya maju, beriltizam terus untuk melaksanakan Perubahan, malahan ramai yang percaya menteri kewangan hanya akan menyebabkan negara berterusan mengalami krisis baik dari sudut ekonomi mahupun politik. Apatah lagi sekiranya yang bertanggungjawab untuk mengetuai pengurusan ekonomi sememangnya mempunyai rekod mengambil komisen serta terlibat dengan skandal rasuah.

Sepanjang menjadi menteri kabinet dan kemudiannya sebagai menteri kewangan, beliau belumpun melakarkan kepada kita apakah falsafah ekonomi yang akan mendasari program untuk mendepani tantangan krisis ekonomi. Dengan pengumuman RM 60 billion semalam, sahlah bahawa beliau bukan seorang yang mahukan Perubahan. Rancangan ransangan ini hanya akan menyebabkan hutang negara bertambah besar. Defisit akan mencecah 7.6 % dari hanya 4.8% Keluaran Kasar Domestik.

1. Saya mulakan perbahasan dengan ungkapan pantun yang memberi gambaran kedudukan ekonomi Negara.

2. Berdasarkan analisa yang dibuat oleh IMF keatas Negara-negara OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) dari 1960 – 2007 menunjukkan pelabur-pelabur swasta secara umumnya keluar dari pasaran terlebih dahulu sebelum kemelesetan “rasmi” melanda sesebuah Negara atau rantau. Pelabur tidak akan masuk semula kedalam pasaran sehingga kemelesetan pulih sepenuhnya.

3. Berlainan dengan zaman “Great Depression”, milenium baru dikaitkan dengan globalisasi kewangan yang mengandungi kekayaan swasta dan perseorangan yang begitu besar bersedia bergerak bila-bila masa apabila iklim kewangan global pulih dan keluar apabila terhidu kegawatan akan melanda.

4. Tanda-tanda kemelesetan akan melanda Negara jelas kelihatan sejak akhir tahun 2005 apabila pelaburan langsung asing (FDI) mula mengalir keluar dari pasaran secara besar-besaran sehingga pada tahun 2007, yang keluar melebihi yang masuk. Saya telah memberi amaran kepada kerajaan supaya berwaspada dan berjaga-jaga apabila meminta Dewan ini membahas usul tergempar kedudukan pengaliran keluar pelaburan langsung asing yang amat meruncing ini tahun lepas tetapi tidak diendahkan dan usul saya ditolak. Malah kerajaan terus mengambil sikap “denial” sehingga semua petanda ekonomi untuk suku akhir 2008 menunjukkan Negara sudah mengalami kemelesetan sejak pertengahan tahun 2008 yang dinafikan kerajaan selama ini.

5. Kemelesetan ekonomi menjadi lebih parah dan berpanjangan lagi kerana ia bergabung dengan krisis kewangan global. Hamper semua pelabur swasta telah keluar dari pasaran. Yang tinggal hanya pelaburan kerajaan, agensi-agensinya dan sedikit pelabur swasta domestik. Negara terpaksa bersendirian dalam menghadapi kegawatan ekonomi hari ini tanpa sokongan sector swasta.

Ini membebankan lagi kerajaan dan belanjawan defisit akan terus meningkat kerana terpaksa berbelanja untuk menjana kegiatan ekonomi Negara sepertimana yang diusulkan oleh Menteri Kewangan semalam.

B. BILA RM7.1 BILLION DILULUSKAN?

6. Dalam Kertas Perintah 4A Tahun 2009 yang diedarkan, Maksud B.11 Perkhidmatan Am dan Perbendaharaan – 021900- Pemberian Kemudahan Projek Khas – disebutkan RM7.1 billion telah diluluskan dalam anggaran 2009 (kolum 5) dan Tambahan Pertama 2009 RM5 billion dipohon untuk diluluskan.

7. Setahu saya peruntukkan RM7.1 billion ini belum diluluskan apabila Dewan perintah dihentikan perbahasan kerana Kertas Perintah 4 tahun 2009 untuk maksud peruntukkan ini tidak diusulkan pada sesi yang lepas. Saya pohon Dewan menarik balik Kertas Perintah 4A Tahun 2009 sehingga dinyatakan RM7.1 billion dipohon untuk diluluskan bersama dengan tambahan RM5 billion yang dikemukakan.

8. Sejak diumumkan pada 4 November 2008 hingga akhir Februari tahun ini RM5 billion atau 71.4% telah diagihkan kepada kementerian dan agensi-agensi yang berkenaan. Kerajaan telah membelanja RM567.9 juta atau 8.1% daripada RM7 billion keatas 8,474 projek yang mana 6,239 projek terdiri daripada kerja-kerja infrastruktur awam dan kemudahan asas.

D. PENGAJARAN DARI KRISIS KEWANGAN ASIA 1998

13. Saya masih ingat semasa krisis Kewangan Asia 1998 yang melanda Negara, peruntukan diutamakan untuk “bail-out” syarikat-syarikat kroni daripada digunakan untuk projek-projek pembangunan.
Syarikat-syarikat yang dibail-out pula mengalami pelbagai masaalah sehingga hari ini. Wang-wang rakyat yang digunakan untuk bail-out masih belum terbayar dan ada yang ditukar sebagai geran seperti Perwaja, ada yang terpaksa diambilalih semula oleh kerajaan dengan harga yang merugikan lagi wang rakyat seperti MAS, saham-saham yang dipaksa beli oleh agensi-agensi kerajaan kehilangan nilai seperti TimeDotCom, pinjaman-pinjaman bank yang dijamin kerajaan dilupuskan seperti Time Engineering Bhd dengan Bank Infrastruktur dan pelbagai lagi.

14. Ini menyebabkan sejak krisis kewangan Asia, ekonomi Negara masih belum pulih, mengalami masaalah kronik, tidak berdaya kembang, pertumbuhan terpaksa dijana melalui perbelanjaan deficit kerajaan 11 tahun berturut-turut, dan kemampuan serta daya tahan kewangan kerajaan untuk menghadapi krisis ini adalah amat terbatas.

15. Semasa dunia sedang mengalami “commodity boom” beberapa tahun kebelakangan ini, semua negara pengeluar komoditi yang besar mendapat belanjawan lebihan kecuali Malaysia. Kelemahan kita ini ialah memperkecil dan kadangkala tersilap perkiraan sehingga rancangan pemulihan tidak memenuhi sasaran.

16. Perlu diingatkan keberkesanan pakej rangsangan ini ada hubungkaitnya dengan ekonomi global. Berlainan dengan dekad 30an, ekonomi global hari ini jauh lebih besar dan lebih saling bergantung diantara satu sama lain dengan Negara-negara seperti Brazil, China, India, Timur Tengah selain Jepun, Amerika Syarikat dan Eropah yang menjumlah jutaan pengguna baru berpendapatan menengah. Melainkan pakej rangsangan menjurus kepada peneguhan dan peningkatan perdagangan bebas, sumbangannya akan terbatas terutama sekiranya ia tidak dikoordinasi diperingkat antarabangsa.

E. BELANJAWAN DEFISIT MENINGKAT

17. Peruntukkan fiscal dalam pakej rangsangan pertama dan kedua untuk 2009 sebanyak RM17.1 billion akan meningkatkan belanjawan deficit 2009 kepada 7.6% daripada anggaran asal 4.8%. Belanjawan deficit akan berterusan untuk 2010 dan melihat kepada ‘track-record’ pengurusan ekonomi kerajaan hari ini tak tahu bila ia akan berkahir. Jumlah terkumpul deficit kerajaan sudah lebih daripada RM200 billion atau 37.4% daripada Keluaran Kasar Domestik. Akibatnya hutang kerajaan telah melonjak dari RM112 billion pada 1999 kepada RM289 billion pada suku ketiga 2008. Hutang kerajaan akan meningkat kepada lebih daripada RM300 billion dengan pakej ransangan ini.

18. Kita tidak mahu melihat apa yang berlaku di Amerika Syarikat juga berlaku di Malaysia. Apabila President Bill Clinton meninggalkan White House pada tahun 2000, kerajaan AS mempunyai belanjawan lebihan ‘surplus’ US$280 billion (RM1.04 trillion). Lapan tahun kemudian pada 2008, apabila President George Bush meninggalkan White House kerajaan AS terpaksa menanggong belanjawan ‘defisit’ US$1.6 (RM5.9) trillion dan melumpuhkan bukan sahaja ekonomi AS tetapi seluruh dunia.

F. DEFISIT TAHUN 2010 LEBIH MENCABAR

19. Tahun 2010 akan lebih mencabar. Ini kerana tekanan kepada kejatuhan royalty minyak akan dirasai pada tahun 2010 dan tidak 2009. Hasil kenaikan harga minyak dunia yang begitu tinggi tahun 2008 telah melonjak keuntungan bersih Petronas 46% berjumlah RM38.6 billion dan diambil kira untuk tahun 2008. Ini bermakna Petronas akan membayar cukai dan dividen lebih daripada RM20 billion kepada kerajaan untuk tahun 2009. Ini berdasarkan purata harga minyak US117 seton untuk 2008. Hari ini harga minyak sudah susut kurang daripada US40 setong. Jika ini berterusan dalam tahun 2009, maka hasil cukai dan dividen dari petroleum dan gas akan berkurangan lebih daripada separuh untuk 2010.

K. SISTEM ISLAM ATAU JUDI JADI PILIHAN?

40. Sudah ada kepercayaan bahawa semua pakej menyelamat kewangan yang diumumkan setakat ini di Amerika Syarikat, United Kingdom dan Eropah masih tidak mampu membantu system kewangan dari keruntuhan. Kawalan tersendiri (self regulating) system kewangan sedia ada tidak lagi berfungsi kerana sikap tamak dan rakus mengaut keuntungan tanpa mengira tanggongjawab dan kos social.

Kemungkinan besar system kewangan baru akan muncul atau tercipta tetapi masih kabur bentuk dan jenisnya dan bagaimana ia akan selari dengan system sekarang. Saya tidak mahu terlalu optimistic tetapi system kewangan Islam mungkin akan menonjol sebagai alternatifnya.

41. Ini dapat dilihat dari penerimaan system perbankan Islam secara berleluasa dalam system perbankan Eropah. Bank-bank utama Britain seperti HSBC dan Standard Chartered menyedia kaunter perbankan Islam. Malah badan perakaunan terbesar dunia yang berpusat di London, ‘Chartered Institute of Management Accountants’ mengeluar Sijil Kewangan Islam (Certificate in Islamic Finance) kepada pelajar yang ingin mempelajari system kewangan Islam. Begitu juga Kerajaan Perancis secara rasmi telah membiayai penyelidikan pelaksanaan system ekonomi Islam sebagai alternative dalam menghadapi kegawatan ekonomi global hari ini. Jelas telah berlaku peralihan paradigma dalam system kewangan dan ekonomi global.

42. Malaysia boleh berbangga sebagai salah sebuah Negara pelopor system kewangan Islam global. Tetapi malangnya tindakan Menteri Kewangan yang baru mengambil pendekatan yang tidak konvensyional dalam usaha meningkat pendapatan Negara. Sejak mengambil alih Kementerian Kewangan Oktober lepas, YB Pekan yang juga Timbalan Perdana Menteri telah mengeluarkan 10 lesen judi baru dalam suasana dunia sedang mendekati system Islam dalam pengurusan ekonomi dunia. Sila nyatakan syarikat-syarikat yang mendapat lessen mengeluar cabutan-cabutan baru ini.

43. Amat mudah menjebak masyarakat dalam perjudian, apatah lagi dalam keadaan rakyat tertekan mencari jalan mudah bagi menyelesai kegawatan dan kesempitan kewangan dan kehidupan akibat kegawatan ekonomi negara.
L. PROJEK-PROJEK YANG PERLU DIUTAMAKAN
44. Isu utama berapa besar program pembangunan, dimana dan sector apa yang patut dibelanjakan untuk memberi impak maksima kepada ekonomi. Lebih banyak lebuhraya bertol bukan jawapannya. Negara memerlukan pengangkutan Bandar baru dan moden. Kerajaan patut mengambil kesempatan memulakan fasa pertama dalam system pengangkutan Bandar di Bandar-bandar utama. Inilah masanya kerajaan menyedia peruntukkan untuk projek-projek mengatasi banjir dan banjir kilat, memoden infrastruktur system industri dan perusahaan, infrasruktur penyediaan air bersih, memodenkan system pendidikan, melatih semula kemahiran pekerja mengikut kehendak pasaran semasa, menyedia latihan dan pengalaman kerja kepada penganggur, memperkasa hasil penyelidikan dan pembangunan, membina perumahan untuk golongan berpendapatan serdahana dan rendah, system pengairan untuk pertanian dan ternakan, membuka kawasan-kawasan baru untuk pertanian dan penternakan, membangun kawasan rekreasi dan pelancongan dan pelbagai lagi yang bukan sahaja membuka peluang pekerjaan tetapi juga memberi menafaat besar kepada rakyat dan ekonomi negara.