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Friday, March 13, 2009

Norza claims trial to Umno bribery

The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — Umno supreme council member Datuk Norza Zakaria became the highest-ranking party official to be charged with vote buying today as he claimed trial to two charges of giving bribes at the Temerloh magistrate's court.

Norza, 43, who is also Federal Territory Umno Youth chief, is alleged to have committed the offences on Jan 20 at 6.30pm in Taman Bandar Temerloh.

He is charged with corruptly giving Khadri Musa RM1,500 through Halimi Kamaruzzaman to be distributed to party delegates as an inducement to vote for him (Norza) in the contest for a supreme council seat in the Umno elections in March.

Norza, a former political secretary to a minister, is also charged with corruptly giving RM1,900 to Mohammad Anuar Yunus through Halimi Kamaruzzaman for the same purpose.

He was released on RM10,000 bail in one surety by magistrate Ida Rahayu Sharif who fixed April 22 to mention the case. Norza is represented by senior lawyer Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah while Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief prosecutor Abdul Razak Musa led the prosecution.

Norza had earlier denied that he was under investigation and said that he was asked by the commission to help in its probe on money politics.

It was reported last month that the MACC had hauled him in for questioning following allegations that he had paid several people between RM300 and RM500 to ensure victory in the polls.

More than 13 people were arrested and questioned by the commission as they were alleged to have received money from the politician.

Norza's case came despite a flurry of backroom activity over the past few weeks and speculation of intervention from the highest level over his case.

The action by the MACC comes at a time when serious doubts are being raised over the willingness of enforcement agencies to tackle money politics in Umno and strong perception among Malaysians that corruption is too rooted in Umno.

A survey released by the Merdeka Centre yesterday showed that 61 per cent of those polled viewed corruption as the biggest problem in Umno.

This view on the ground is unlikely to change unless there is a concerted effort to clean up the party.

Speaker can be represented by own lawyers

PUTRAJAYA, 13 March 2009: The Court of Appeal has ruled that Perak Speaker V Sivakumar can be represented by his own lawyers.

The court also ruled that there was no provision that the Speaker had to be represented by the state legal adviser as ruled by Ipoh High Court judicial commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim.

TO BE UPDATED

Malay dominance and rights

By Deborah Loh
deborahloh@thenutgraph.com

IN five short years, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir has emerged from the sidelines in Umno to be a Member of Parliament (MP) for Jerlun, and now a popular candidate in the Umno Youth chief race.

Despite his soft-spoken demeanour, he has not shied away from controversy, no less because of his ties to his outspoken father, retired Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In the 2006 Umno general assembly, Mukhriz wasn't reticent about expressing disappointment with Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's presidential speech. He called it unoriginal, sparking a wave of protests from some quarters within Umno.

In 2008, soon after the March general election, Mukhriz, by then an Umno Youth executive council member, became one of the early voices to call for Abdullah's resignation following the Barisan Nasional (BN)'s dismal performance. He wrote Abdullah a letter, exposed on the internet, which told Abdullah resigning would be the "honourable thing" to do.

In the second part of an exclusive interview with The Nut Graph conducted on 3 March, Mukhriz revisits his controversial statement about closing down vernacular schools in favour of a single-education system. He voices his concerns about Malay Malaysians being left behind, and talks about the Perak impasse. Mukhriz also shares how he views himself as a politician in a changing Malaysia — whether as a Malay one first, or as a Malaysian.

TNG: You've said a weak BN is partly the result of a weak Umno. But the other component parties have said that Umno is like a bully, and that it doesn't treat other BN parties as equals. What is ailing the coalition as a whole?

Mukhriz Mahathir: That's a very unfair statement. We've been extremely tolerant. I admit sometimes the rhetoric can be quite heated, but it has been that way for some time. It was from 2006 [onwards] when we had a live telecast of our general assembly, which [had] never been done before [then].

And we aired for public viewing the kind of rhetoric we use in our closed-door meeting. I thought it was funny, that at the start of the proceedings the media reps were asked to leave the hall, and the doors would shut closed, and then ... it was live! (Laughs incredulously) It was even on the internet. I thought it was just insane. I know we're in this era of transparency and openness, but that was too much.

Unfortunately, the kinds of things said in the meeting brought out some adverse reactions from other people. But I think the general assemblies of other political parties are equal ... if not worse rhetoric is used, but their meetings are not aired live. In some cases, it's in a language that Malays don't understand, so we're not able to respond in kind to the things being said in their meetings. So I think it is unfair.

Umno being the dominant party within the BN, right from the word go, we were open to, in fact we propagated this whole idea of power-sharing within the BN. And we defend that all the time by making sure that the number of seats allocated during the general election meets the requirements of all the parties involved.

Secondly, we do not practise a policy of assimilation. We consider the Malay culture as being the dominant one, but we do not force it on anyone. You do not see us going the way of Indonesia or Thailand, where other races are expected to immerse themselves into the dominant culture to the extent that their original cultures are nonexistent.

I felt quite insulted when Lim Kit Siang in Parliament congratulated the Americans for picking Barack Obama as the president, although he's black. And he went on to say, when is Malaysia going to do the same? I thought that was uncalled for, because do you see anything African about Obama? Does he even speak a word of Kenyan? You see in Obama an American leader who will always have American interests ahead of everything else, and because of that you don't see the colour of his skin.

Here in Malaysia, the constitution doesn't specify that the prime minister has to be a Malay or bumiputera. But until the time comes when it doesn't matter what your name is, even if it's not an Ahmad or a Mohamad or an Abdullah, but if people can see that you are a truly Malaysian leader, and you take care of the interest of everyone, including the Malays, I think the Malays won't have a problem picking that person as prime minister.

But how is that going to happen when we have problems with different school systems going their own separate ways, in different languages, different cultures, and then expect them to integrate when they get into university? By then it's far too late already.

You can't expect people to unite once they've passed their impressionable years in primary and secondary schools, and then complain about, "Oh, when is the time when non-Malays can become the prime minister?" I think that's too much to ask if you still want to defend the vernacular schools.

You are referring to your controversial statement calling for a single education system, which would in effect close down vernacular education. You were seen as shoring up support for your Umno Youth chief bid.

I said it with national integration in mind. We have never gone so far as to say that the non-Malay cultures should not be practised. We've always thrived on the diversity that we have. That's why it's integration. It's not necessarily unity. But national integration is something you start from the ground up.

And I find it odd and ironic that in the Dewan Rakyat, everyone from both sides of the fence complains about polarisation. But when I suggest something to address this issue, they start jumping on me. And I thought it was odd because I don't hear anyone else suggesting an alternative idea. I'm ready to listen to suggestions. Mine seems to be the only idea that has been mooted, but so many out there are against it, and I find that very strange because if you look at other countries in the region, the education system is key in promoting integration among people.

But many Malay and Indian Malaysian parents send their kids to Chinese schools because national schools are not up to par. Shouldn't we address that first?

I admit there is an issue there. And I'm all for improving our national schools. But the excuse that I hear being used as an argument against my idea is that they want to defend their right to teach in their respective languages and to maintain their cultures.

It's not about the national schools being okay or not. I expect that if we improve our national schools, then perhaps many will come back. Having said that, our national schools are not so bad compared to some schools in neighbouring countries; the kind of results we get are a lot better.

But it's not just academic performance that concerns non-Muslim parents; it's fears about Islamisation in schools.

I've heard that. I've talked to quite a number of non-Muslims about this and they complain, for example, about the school assembly. They don't mind that you start off with a doa. But even the principal's speech has religious tones. And they're not comfortable with that. I think we can look into this and try and improve.

About the NEP, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin have both said aspects of NEP need to be removed or reviewed, but gradually. Your position?

I think that this whole philosophy of growth with equity needs to be continued. I agree that there may be some focus that may need to change to adapt to the current situation in order to move forward. But the main philosophy, I can't see it changing.

Because the disparity that we find between the races is still there. We've been very successful in eradicating poverty among all races. That's a huge success story emulated by other developing countries. But in terms of restructuring society, in terms of providing enough jobs for bumiputeras so that they can be in high productivity segments of the economy that give them enough income, I think we're still behind.

As MP for Jerlun now, it's more apparent to me that there is a certain segment of society that seems to be left behind. I'd like to see what Najib and Muhyiddin mean by certain amendments to the NEP. Because if it means that, for example, we're going to stick with growth at all cost, I think this is going to be a problem if the economy grows fast but we leave the disenfranchised behind.

In 1990, at the end of the NEP, we did that. The distribution [of wealth] part was made second fiddle, and we just focused on growth. And at that time it was necessary because economic growth worldwide was at unprecedented levels and we didn't want to miss the boat. We needed to get on the bandwagon and attract foreign investment. So we moved away from commodities to manufacturing in a big way. And we were extremely successful then. But at the same time, although more jobs were created, the involvement of bumiputera in high-growth areas was still very lacking.

It shows you that when the NEP was being implemented fully, it was not just the Malays benefiting from it. The government was focused on ensuring that the economic pie was growing bigger, and obviously non-Malays benefited from it as well.

Secondly, the emergence of a Malay middle class provided a market for non-Malays to tap from. If in '69 when the riots happened, sundry shops and cars were destroyed, you could be sure that these shops and these cars did not belong to the Malays. But now try and do that, and more often than not, the Malays would be affected because we've done quite well throughout these years. And I think it's all due to policies like the NEP.

Do you think cronyism and corruption in government and in Umno are what's causing problems to the NEP's implementation?

Yes. That's where a good policy like the NEP gets derailed.

How should Umno address it?

It's not easy, when one has to make a choice between one bumi and another bumi, one is going to be very happy and the other is not. And there will be accusations of cronyism and such. If you see that only a certain few benefit from government policies, then you know there's something wrong with the implementation. But still, in that sense, I think there needs to be enlightened leadership to make sure that people have a certain trust in the system.

You know, this thing about defending the Malays when we are a multiracial nation... On the Perak crisis, you recently called for the Sedition Act to be used against Karpal Singh. That kind of remark gets a lot of support within Umno, but non-Malay [Malaysians] watching don't feel comfortable. How do you see yourself — are you a Malay politician first, or a politician for all Malaysians?

You know, Umno equals Malay. It's a Malay party. And therefore we are expected to hold the interest of the Malays first. I'm unapologetic about that because the Malays, after all, constitute the majority of the population. And I think the majority has certain rights. And this is prevalent even in other countries.

But at the same time, the minorities also have certain rights, so this is something we must protect and preserve. I consider myself a Malay politician first because I firmly believe if the Malays are on a good footing, it will never be at the expense of other races. And the other races benefit from it also.

When the Malays feel that their rights are not being protected, that they are constantly under siege, I cannot see how the country can be stable. It's happened in some countries before where the majority loses control over their political power because they are weak economically. That's happened in Fiji, in Papua New Guinea, and to some extent in Sri Lanka. And I don't see how we can let that happen in Malaysia.

I know my comment about Karpal Singh was not taken lightly by certain people. But people consider me a moderate; I'm not associated with extreme views, so if a person like me can say such a thing, imagine what people who have stronger views than me are thinking. I think it is better for me to say these things than to let the far, far right take things into their own hands.

It's the same thing when I brought up the issue of a one-school system. For the six months preceding it, we felt really under siege because one after another, leaders who should know better, coming from BN component parties, were making very hurtful statements.

They were questioning the social contract, they were recommending for the 30% bumi equity to be taken away. There was a statement that the Malays too are immigrants, and there was a question about Ketuanan Melayu, and all this went unanswered by Umno. How much tolerance can we handle? At the same time I find that a lot of Malays were feeling very disappointed with Umno for not defending our rights.

So I thought, okay, enough is enough. I brought up the issue for the schools, and I think it had an effect in that people stopped talking about these things.

One other example: MCA from Jerlun put out a statement in Nanyang Siang Pau that they regret having voted for me in the 2008 general election because of my statement. And to me, that's exactly right, that when their own MP or their own representative says something that they don't like, that they should feel some regret and that it should be a lesson to the MP to always consider the feelings of their voters.

Because those incendiary statements by other MPs, some of them deputy minister and even ministers, some of them component party leaders, saying hurtful things about the Malays, and yet they were elected in constituencies that had Malay-majorities... did they have any qualms saying those things? Shouldn't we be asking the Malays in those constituencies if they regret voting for those MPs? You don't see Umno leaders in those constituencies making statements that they regret having voted for their MPs. So that's the kind of tolerance we have and we hope others will also temper their statements.

A lot of people say, oh, it's time for multiracial politics. Well, the other BN components are definitely representing their respective races. The way I see it, MCA, Gerakan and DAP, all three of them are racing to show that they are championing important causes for the Chinese, so why shouldn't Umno continue being a Malay party?

As long as there's economic disparity, there will always be a need for a political party like Umno that represents the interest of the Malays. If there is total equality, especially in economic terms, then I think the Malays themselves will feel that we no longer need the NEP, we no longer feel we need a Malay party like Umno, and it will come naturally.

Can it come naturally when you've been so used to it?

It's not going to be possible as long as the Malays feel that they are economically behind. The playing field is not even. We need government policies that even out, that give us a bit of a handicap so that we can compete on a meaningful basis. If that is not sorted out, then forever we'll have race-based politics.

The prevailing mentality in Umno Youth now is to rally support for the Perak Sultan and defend the royal institution. It appears hypocritical to outsiders, because under your father's time, laws were made to curb the powers of royals. And now, in the Perak crisis, it appears convenient to justify the BN's takeover by hiding behind the Sultan.

I see a very vast difference between what was done then and now. At that time, there was the issue of laws being passed in Parliament not getting the approval of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong in a timely fashion. A law was passed so that within 60 days, after Parliament passes a law, if it's still not signed, it's considered approved and gazetted.

The other thing was when it came to criminal matters, if we had royalty who was involved in criminal activity, he would not be able to seek refuge by way of his standing as royalty. And there would be a special tribunal to handle these sort of cases. I think that's fair. Even the Conference of Rulers accepted it. That in no way took away their standing as rulers. And in no way were we disrespectful of royalty.

But now [in the Perak crisis], a commoner has questioned the position of the Sultan. I think that really runs against all that we hold important in this country, the Rukunegara, the federal constitution, and I think that's too much.

But it wasn't a questioning of the Sultan's position, it was a questioning of his decision not to dissolve the state legislative assembly.

But he has the absolute right. The way I see it, the decision made by the Sultan of Perak was in accordance with the state constitution, and I don't see what Tuanku did as favouring us (the BN) particularly. And I might add, this whole idea of party-hopping was never one that we propagated in the first place.

The political situation in Perak is in an even worse mess now, with so many suits being filed. The situation is so unprecedented that don't you think snap state elections is the best way to resolve things?

No (chuckles). I mean, I think it is still within our constitutional right to take over the state that way. Because as it is, the law as it stands right now, party-hopping is not unlawful. It is still considered a part of democracy.

I'm just hoping that everything cools down because we really ought to get back to work. Because by now a lot of people are pretty sick and tired of politics from both sides. They don't really care for the BN, nor do they care for the opposition parties. And I feel for them. I remember this advertisement taken out by a concerned citizen pleading for politicians to not lose the plot, and at this particular moment it's the economic crisis that we should be looking at

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

MARCH 13 — An explosive expose of the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder hit the streets of Paris on March 5 with a two-page expose in the Liberation newspaper. An online version has been posted on its website in PDF format.

The expose came with four colour photographs of the main personalities involved including Razak Baginda, who was charged with abetting the murder and who has been acquitted by the High Court.

Everyone knows that the Barisan Nasional government has done many stupid things. However, its decision not to appeal Razak’s acquittal was, no doubt, a stupidity of the highest order. It was unfortunate that hitherto no reasons have been advanced by the government in not filing an appeal against such an absurd acquittal.

As far as the men on the street are concerned Altantuya’s bloody tragedy began with Razak. Without his intimate involvement with the late Altantuya nobody knew who Altantuya was.

Whether Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also knew Altantuya is a matter of speculation. Nevertheless since Razak was close to Najib it is hard to dismiss the speculation that Najib might have also known her.

Without Altantuya’s harassment, Razak had no reasons to engage the services of policemen Sirul Azhar Umar and Azilah Hadri. Why should Sirul and Azilah come into picture if Razak had not contacted them? And why should not Razak have contacted Sirul and Azilah when he was consistently harassed by Altantuya.

Razak needed help to get rid of Altantuya and he got these two policemen. One of them, according to Razak’s affidavit in his application for bail, proudly confessed to him that he had previously killed six people.

The decision of the Attorney-General not to file an appeal against Razak’s acquittal was definitely not a wise decision. It has left many questions unanswered.

The refusal to appeal implies that the decision of the High Court was so strong that there was no room for appellate interference.

If this is the excuse given by the government our short answer will be — do not insult our intelligence.

Since when has the A-G been easily convinced by a decision of the court in the first instance in a crime of murder. Since when has an appeal become an expensive enterprise for the A-G.

If Haneef Basri’s acquittal in Norita Samsudin’s murder prompted the A-G to appeal against such an acquittal, why is Razak’s case different? Why was Razak given preferential treatment vis a vis other murder cases?

Altantuya’s murder was not a run-of-the-mill crime. The fact that C4 explosive was used in the murder depicts the ugly picture of the crime. By using C4 explosive, the crime has strong elements of washing away the evidence. Apart from C4, the crime also involved a powerful individual who has close and strong connections with the Deputy Prime Minister.

The reputation and the integrity of our administration of justice has been closely attached to this trial. If the prosecution of Razak brought a glimmer of hope to our justice system, the government’s decision not to file an appeal has thrown that little hope into the drain.

The government’s decision has once again brought our justice system into disrepute. It seems that our justice system will forever become a laughing stock.

The people have a right to know the actual and truthful reasons behind the decision not to appeal. Is it because the decision of the High Court judge was so powerful? Or was it the pressure by the ruling elite that led to the decision of the A-G not to appeal?

You don’t have to earn a degree to come to the conclusion that the latter was definitely the factor which prompted the A-G not to proceed with the appeal.

Legal or political reasons dictate Razak should not easily get off merely on a decision of one High Court judge. In a serious case of this nature, the judgment of the High Court judge must face detailed scrutiny from the appellate court.

Under the present law the prosecution is given two chances of filing an appeal, that is it may appeal to the Court of Appeal and if it still fails there, it has a second chance of filing an appeal in the Federal Court.

When the government decided to press a charge against Razak it presumably had strong evidence preceded by a comprehensive, detailed and thorough investigations. Be that as it may, once it decided to prosecute Razak it would proceed until the end, meaning that it would proceed until the matter reaches the final gatekeeper i.e the apex court.

Do not tell us just because the High Court judge decided Razak was not guilty, such a decision was exceptionally strong thus the prospect of such a decision being overturned by the appellate court is slim.

When the prosecution decided to charge Razak, it, in actual fact, represented the people. Thus the people earn a right to demand a first-class prosecution. A first-class prosecution entails a very detailed and comprehensive preparation. A detailed preparation means all possible angles had been sufficiently covered by the prosecution team.

The moment the prosecution set a motion to charge Razak for a crime of abetting this heinous murder, it should be always ready to let its case be challenged by either the defence counsel or the trial judge. In the event the trial judge dismissed its case, as the former did in this case, the prosecution must be able to satisfy the appellate forum that the learned judge had erred in law in dismissing its case.

Simply put, when the prosecution decided to prosecute Razak it should have been ready to complete the job until the end i.e until the final decision by the apex court. Losing the first battle in the trial court should not be taken as an excuse for the prosecution team to abruptly halt the prosecution against Razak.

The unwise decision not to proceed with an appeal is definitely seen as a lackadaisical attitude of the government in combating a serious crime particularly when it involves powerful and influential individuals.

This will certainly affect the investment climate. It goes without saying that investment has strong links with security. If investors feel that their money is not safe they will definitely move it elsewhere — to places where beautiful women are not murdered by C4.

In the final analysis as far as the rakyat are concerned, the judgment of the High Court is not the sole criterion of establishing the guilt or innocence of Razak. The judge may have said that there was no prima facie evidence that Razak had abetted in the murder of Altantuya.

As for the people on the street they sincerely believe that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Mohamed Hanipa Maidin sits on the Pas central committee and is the Pas legal adviser. He is also a lawyer who blogs at peguampas.blogspot.com.

Prospek Tengku Razaleigh sebagai bakal PM

MAC 13 — Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah telah menggariskan beberapa gagasan penting apabila berbicara tentang kerajaan perpaduan yang disokong oleh beliau.

Gagasan itu antara lain adalah menstabilkan kerajaan pusat dan negeri, memberikan ruang kebebasan untuk media, memperteguhkan ekonomi dengan melaksanakan projek yang boleh menggerakkan ekonomi ke arah lebih baik dan membebaskan para cendekiawan di universiti dari kongkongan AUKU.

Sebagai wartawan, saya sempat mewawancara beliau Selasa lepas bagi mengetahui apakah yang ada dalam pemikiran beliau apabila menyambut gagasan kerajaan perpaduan yang disarankan oleh Presiden Pas baru-baru ini.

(Wawancara penuh dalam www.youtube.com/kubikminda)

Bagi Tengku Razaleigh, beliau telah membincangkan gagasan ini bukan sahaja dalam pertemuan beliau dengan Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, Presiden Pas itu tetapi juga dalam pertemuan dengan Ketua Pembangkang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Bagi Tengku Razaleigh, negara memerlukan sebuah kerajaan yang kuat dan stabil sekarang terutama dalam menghadapi kemelut ekonomi ekoran kemelesetan ekonomi dunia.

Dengan kegagalan Barisan Nasional mendapat majoriti dua pertiga dalam Dewan Rakyat dan kehilangan lima negeri penting dalam pilihan raya Mac 2008 lalu, negara berada dalam keadaan tidak stabil. Kini, kerajaan BN bergantung kepada para ahli Parlimen dari Sabah dan Sarawak.

Ekoran itu, katanya, BN tidak akan dapat berbuat banyak.

Untuk memajukan ekonomi, Tengku Razaleigh mencadangkan agar kerajaan Pusat menjalankan projek perumahan besar-besaran di seluruh negara.

"Saya menganjurkan satu rancangan untuk mengatasi kemelesetan iaitu rancangan perumahan besar-besaran di seluruh negara," kata Tengku Razaleigh dalam wawancara itu.

Beliau mempunyai alasan tersendiri kenapa projek ini boleh mengatasi kemelesetan negara.

"Sebab perumahan adalah satu aktiviti ekonomi yang boleh menggandakan aktiviti lain, aktiviti sampingan, mencetus multiplier effect yang boleh menambahkan kewangan, pekerjaan kepada orang ramai.

"Dan melibatkan pengusaha kecil-kecilan yang ada kaitan dengan rancangan pembangunan perumahan. Jadi ini semua akan mendorong semua pihak bekerjasama tetapi kerajaan mesti membantu sepenuhnya," kata Tengku Razaleigh dalam wawancara itu.

Untuk melaksanakan projek ini, katanya, perlukan kerjasama sepenuhnya antara Pusat dan negeri kerana pusat mempunyai sumber kewangan manakala negeri pula memiliki tanah. Kalau kedua-duanya tidak bersama, macamana segala hasrat baik ini akan berjalan.

Bagi beliau, melalui gabungan kerjasama antara pusat dan negeri inilah, projek sebegini akan berjaya. Dan di sinilah perlunya kerajaan campuran atau kerajaan perpaduan itu.

Ketika ditanya, bagaimana hasrat ini boleh dicapai, Tengku Razaleigh dengan tegas berkata, ia perlukan kerjasama semua pihak tanpa mengira parti di negara ini.

Bagi Tengku Razaleigh, prospek kerajaan perpaduan ini sangat luas apabila kebanyakan pihak semacam setuju bahawa bakal perdana menteri yang ada, Datuk Seri Najib Razak memikul terlalu banyak “extra baggage” untuk memikul pula tanggungjawab baru itu.

Setuju dengan tulisan saya sebelum ini bahawa Yang di-Pertuan Agong mempunyai kuasa mutlak untuk melantik perdana menteri di kalangan mereka yang difikirkan baginda mempunyai sokongan majoriti ahli Dewan Rakyat, Tengku Razaleigh yakin, prospek untuk baginda memilih calon lain dari Najib sangat besar.

Ketika ditanya, apa beliau bersedia untuk memimpin kerajaan perpaduan ini, Tengku Razaleigh dengan rendah diri berkata, "Saya sanggup bersama-sama dengan mana-mana kumpulan yang boleh membantu."

Inilah realiti dan alternatif yang ada di depan kita sekarang. Satu, kita kekal dengan kerajaan BN pimpinan Najib yang telah menawar RM60 bilion melalui bajet mininya atau satu alternatif lagi kerajaan perpaduan yang dipimpin oleh Tengku Razaleigh. Sudah tentu satu lagi alternatif adalah kerajaan Pakatan Rakyat. Namun sehingga pilihan raya umum akan datang, prospeknya agak kecil. Menjadi alternatif juga adalah Abdullah mengekalkan kerusi PMnya namun dengan titah Yang di-Pertuan Agong di Parlimen baru-baru ini, ia menyukarkan laluan itu.

Najib sendiri telah mengakui bahawa suara-suara tuntutan agar semua pihak mengenepikan perbezaan politik buat sementara dan menumpukan kepada usaha untuk menghadapi masalah kemelesetan ekonomi amat kuat sekarang.

Namun, adakah semua bersedia untuk berada di belakang Najib dalam merealisasikan agenda bersama itu? Anwar sendiri, sehari sahaja selepas huluran tangan Najib itu, menyifatkan ia umpama menghulurkan ranting zaitun untuk perpaduan tetapi dalam masa yang sama menghunuskan keris ke arah rakyat.

Pendek kata, amat sukar untuk mana-mana pihak yang waras sekarang untuk menyambut tangan Najib yang dianggap mereka penuh dengan “masalah” kalaupun bukan “darah” itu.

Alternatifnya adalah cadangan Tengku Razaleigh. Namun, isu besar sekarang adalah mampukan Tengku Razaleigh sendiri membawa sekurang-kurangnya 30 anggota Parlimen BN bersama-sama beliau untuk bergabung dengan anggota Parlimen Pakatan Rakyat bagi membentuk suara majorti dalam Dewan Rakyat?

Jika tidak, sekali lagi Tengku Razaleigh hanya bermimpi sebagaimana mimpi beliau mahu merebut jawatan Presiden Umno dalam sessi pencalunan kepimpinan Umno tahun lepas. Akhirnya hanya bahagian beliau sahaja yang mencalunkannya.

Tun Dr M : UMNO Can Split In Two

By Syed Akbar Ali


Today March 12, 2009 I was among 60 people invited to attend a brainstorming and think tank session organized by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed’s Yayasan Kepimpinan Perdana in Putrajaya and in association with Kumpulan Melayu Serdang (an outfit connected to academics at the Universiti Putra Malaysia).



The one day session was called a ‘Bengkel Resolusi Melayu & Gejala Rasuah’. Basically we spoke about issues relating to capacity building, nation building and the weaknesses in the country now. Throughout the day, the discussions were underlined by the problem of corruption in the country.



We broke up into rotating workshops and were able to have a good round of venting views and ideas. Some of the discussions became heated. Our deliberations were later presented to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed in the afternoon, followed by another round of vigorous question and answer.



I was invited to a similar brainstorming and think tank session over a month ago chaired by Dato Mustapha Mohamed, the Minister of Agriculture and my former boss at the NEAC in 2000. But true to his form, Dato Mustapha asked us not to write about that session, so we did not. At Dato Mustapha’s session there was a good representation of Malaysians too with folks like Citizen Nades of The Sun and Bishop Pakiam among the 160 people in attendance.



I can say quite safely that in both sessions so far, people just ripped into the state of things in the country and tore into the Government as being irresponsible and having lost touch with reality.



From these two rounds I can vouch with some certainty that the popularity of the Government is somewhere between bathroom fungus and something lower than that. There is little love for the Barisan Nasional either.



I will not bore you with the deliberations. Read my Blog, read any Blog, talk to anyone at any coffee shop about what is happening in the country and you will get a good idea about what was discussed. And there were plenty of good ideas generated about what needs to be done to do good for the country and ALL our people.



What interested me most was the question and answer session with Dr Mahathir. Answering a question (from me) Dr Mahathir reiterated his fear which he has repeated many times in his Blog that Abdullah Badawi may not step down as Prime Minister at the end of this month (18 days away).



Dr Mahathir said Badawi may remain as Prime Minister despite Najib Tun Razak becoming the president of UMNO. Then Dr Mahathir said that if this happens UMNO will be split in two with one camp supporting Najib and those who are beholden to Badawi moving to the other side.



Dr Mahathir said that in such event, there may be a Motion of No Confidence (against Badawi) moved in the Parliament which Badawi will win through the support of Anwar Ibrahim and the Pakatan Members of Parliament (Karpal, Haji Hadi, Lim Kit Siang etc).



In such event I think the ‘political analyst’ portion of my brain will spin like a top because where then would Najib and his supporters sit in Parliament? And with whom? Does the Cabinet still remain intact? Or will half the Cabinet be asked to resign (or resign of its own accord)?



By coincidence or no, just the day before yesterday Abdullah Badawi and Anwar Ibrahim met for about an hour at the home of some religious guru in Hulu Langat.

At this point I urge the reader to see Dato Abdul Kadir Jasin’s take on these speculations. Here is an excerpt from Dato Kadir Jasin:



"The two leaders talked about the need to salvage the country and agreed to keep communication lines open between them," the Malaysiakini source said.

Political writer and blogger Mohd Sayuti Omar, who was at the function, said he was informed by the organiser that the duo had talks regarding the possibility of Abdullah remaining in power.
"


Interestingly Dr Mahathir also said that he had confidence in Dato Dr Rais Yatim and Dato Shafie Apdal (from Sabah) as capable or potential leaders for this country.



Here are some pictures from today’s think tank session:





















Umno corrupt, says survey

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — Umno has received a slap in the face just ahead of its key annual meeting, with many voters polled in a survey seeing the country's biggest political party as corrupt and out of touch with the ground.

Respondents to the survey also said that International Trade Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was the best choice for the deputy prime minister's position, a contrast from Umno pundits, who expect another leader to emerge as the new No. 2.

The 1,031 respondents also felt that the views of ordinary Malaysians should be considered while picking leaders in internal Umno polls, going against the conventional political wisdom that the leaders are picked only by party members.

The party's chiefs are currently elected by about 2,500 top Umno cadres in elections that are held every three years.

The survey was conducted last month by independent pollster Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research.

Respondents comprised 57 per cent Malays, 31 per cent Chinese and 12 per cent Indians based on random sampling.

The survey showed that a year after the watershed general election that empowered the opposition, voters were clamouring for a bigger say in how the country's leaders were picked.

“This survey indicates the Malaysian public's keen interest in Umno's election,” Merdeka Centre chief Ibrahim Suffian said in a statement.

“They also have strong views about the problems affecting the party while at the same time harbour high hopes that those elected... will be able to fulfil their wishes.”

From March 24 to 28, Umno will hold its annual assembly, which incorporates the triennial party polls.

Its president and deputy president traditionally become the prime minister and deputy prime minister respectively, and many of its top leaders are Cabinet ministers.

The survey found that 79 per cent of the voters polled wanted Umno delegates to “take into consideration the views of ordinary Malaysians in determining Umno leadership line-up as it influences national politics”, the Merdeka Centre said.

“Why should the power to appoint the leaders who will rule 27 million people be in the hands of such a select few?” asked 43-year-old housewife Connie Wong.

The survey showed that a high percentage of voters have a negative image of the 3.2 million strong party.

A total of 61 per cent of those polled viewed corruption as Umno's most serious problem, while 13 per cent said its second most serious problem was being “out of touch” with the public.

Voters were also worried the party had “weak leaders” and that it was a “weak manager of the economy”.

In a startling reflection of the Chinese voters' rejection of the Malay party, which leads a multiracial coalition, the poll showed that just 1 per cent of Chinese respondents hoped Umno would “continue to lead the country”.

Three per cent of Indian respondents hoped the same for Umno. In contrast, 19 per cent of Malays wanted the party to continue leading the country.

A similar 1 per cent of Chinese respondents said they had hope for Umno to develop the country, yet none expected Umno to “perform well and keep the promises”.

As for the qualities they desired in Umno leaders, 21 per cent of the respondents ranked “being just to the people” or being “close to the people” (11 per cent) as among the most important.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is slated to take over as Umno president and prime minister by early next month.

But the Umno deputy president's post, and hence the deputy prime minister's post, will be decided by the party from among three men.

Umno pundits are saying that Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Ali Rustam is leading in the unofficial count, followed by Muhyiddin and Rural Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib.

But if voters were allowed to make their pick, Muhyiddin would be the outright winner. — The Straits Times

6 BLOGGERS TO BE CHARGED FOR SULTAN PERAK INSULT

Perak seem to be on the spotlight everyday with surprising events, and today, its reported that six bloggers and some who posted comments insulting the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah for his action in appointing the unscrupulous Barisan Nasional leaders as Mentri Besar and Exco members by using dubious means to wrest the State Administration while the legitimate Pakatan Rakyat Mentri Besar and the Exco Members had not resigned which is in total violation of the State and Federal Constitution are going to be charged in court.

The demand made to the Sultan to dissolve the State Assembly was just neglected for reasons best know to the Sultan but since his subjects want a fresh State Election to overcome the political turmoil faced by Perak, until to date nothing has been forthcoming, but the Sultan seem to be validating an illegal act by participating in the Barisan Nasional organised functions.

To create further doubts on the 'wisdom' used by the Sultan on his haste decision, numerous reports show the royal family heavily indebted to the Barisan Nasional for multi-million ringgit contracts awarded to them.

It need to be emphasized that whatever action taken by the authorities would not change the public image and opinion since the Perakians are demanding for the dissolution of the State Assembly, paving the way for a fresh State elections, so that a new and able State government could be formed.

The continued harassment against bloggers and 'frank' commentors, could see a change where the monarchy system is Malaysia may be abolished, with the establishment of a REPUBLIC.

The Rulers and the Executive need to realise that the real power is vested with the RAKYAT and at the next general elections, this will dictate.

picture courtesy of Malaysiakini

Najib – like Nero who played the fiddle while Rome burned

By Lim KIt Siang

At the beginning of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s winding up of the RM60 billion mini budget (second economic stimulus package) in Parliament yesterday, I asked why his response to the economic crisis was so slow and so late, when it was evident to all economists and analysts last year that his RM7 billion “first economic stimulus package” was totally inadequate to the economic challenges facing the country.

As far back as January 21, Najib was so deep in denial that he could maintain that Malaysia could still achieve 3.5% GDP growth this year when there were already forecasts of negative growth.

It took Najib another seven weeks in his mini-budget of March 10 to revise Malaysia’s estimated GDP growth this year to between -1% to 1%, when there were even more dire forecasts of negative growth of between three to five per cent.

As Finance Minister of a country facing the world’s worst economic crisis in 80 years, Najib should have focused single-mindedly on the country’s economy.

Instead, he neglected his responsibilities as the Finance Minister at the country’s most critical stage to play politics, orchestrating the unethical, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak, which has plunged Perak and the country into a new crisis of confidence in governance and democracy.

I told Najib in Parliament that what he did was like Nero who played the fiddle while Rome burned.

By that time, the House was in total pandemonium, with the shouting and heckling of UMNO MPs which started when I stood up for intervention, rising to a crescendo to drown out what I said.

Najib’s reply in the mini-budget yesterday was a great disappointment. He was clearly uncomfortable winding up the debate, refusing to allow MPs to engage him in a debate after perfunctory responses to a few interjections, even ending his speech without finishing the prepared text he had before him.

Anwar Ibrahim di BBC News Malam Ini

Anwar Ibrahim akan muncul di saluran berita BBC pada hari ini, jam 1.00 PM (GMT) atau pada jam 9.00 PM (waktu Malaysia).

Beliau antara lain akan diwawancara berkenaan pakej ransangan RM 60 bilion yang diumumkan oleh kerajaan baru-baru ini, krisis ekonomi global dan perihal bakal Perdana Menteri Malaysia.

PEJABAT DATUK SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM

Bar Council threatened with action over online Allah poll

by Neville Spykerman- The Malaysian Insider

SHAH ALAM, March 12 — The Bar Council may face legal action from the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) for holding an online poll on the use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims in their publications.

Mais chairman Datuk Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa said they were consulting their legal advisors on what action can be taken.

Mohamad said the word Allah was only for Muslims and the policy had been gazetted by the Non Muslim Religious Enactment 1988 and the Bar Council should adhere to the ruling.

He said it was wrong for non-Muslims to use the word Allah in their publications and they could face legal action under the enactment.

Two polls seeking public views on the use of Allah is currently being conducted on the Bar Council website.

The poll are “Does any one race e.g Muslims have an exclusive right to use the word ‘Allah’?” and “Should The Herald and other religious publications be allowed to use the term ‘Allah’?”

So far over more than 1,000 people have responded and the majority have voted that there was no exclusive right to the word and other publications should be allowed to use Allah.

Datuk Mohamad Adzib said the ban on the use of the word for non Muslims was to prevent confusion among Muslims on the concept of one God as Allah.

Forum on Water Restructuring Scandal, no news on bloggers yet?

I’m still very keen to learn the full details of the bloggers to be charged in court today, but no information appears to be available yet. The Star reports that one of the places raided in connection to this is not far from my house. (another coincidence: I think it was a Friday the 13th, like this one, when I was arrested).

A harbringer of what the Najib regime will bring?

Anyway, in the meantime, here’s a forum you really should attend. I’d call it the biggest financial scandal Malaysia is currently facing.

We’re at a stage where we can still stop billions of our money from being shoved into the pockets of bloodthirsty cronies. The only question is: will we?

Come, and educate yourself!

PUBLIC BRIEFING / TAKLIMAT

There will be a public briefing for Selangor residents on the proposed takeover of water concessionaires by the Selangor Government.

Please come and listen to the facts and figures, and show your support for the Selangor Govt who is trying desperately to stave off the SABOTAGE being orchestrated by the Federal Govt who is offering the four companies - Syabas, ABBAS, Splash and Puncak Niaga - a BAILOUT by buying up their assets, as well as huge loans worth RM6.4 billion.

Issue: Pengstrukturan semula Industri Perkhidmatan Air Selangor / Restructuring of Water Services Industry in Selangor

Date: 13 March 2009 (Friday)

Time: 8.30pm

Venue: Lecture Room, Civic Hall, MBPJ

PLEASE SPREAD THIS MESSAGE!

Teresa Kok Sues Syed Hamid Albar And Three Others

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 (Bernama) -- Seputeh Member of Parliament Teresa Kok Suh Sim today filed a suit against Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and three others claiming that she was wrongfully arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) last year.

She filed the suit through Messrs S.N. Nair & Partners at the High Court registry here at 8.40am.

Besides Syed Hamid, she also named Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan, DSP E Kim Tien and the Malaysian government as defendants.

In her statement of claim, Kok said that she was arrested by the defendants at the entrance to her residence at Pearl Tower, OG Heights at 11.15pm on Sept 12 last year and detained for two hours without being allowed to contact her closest relative or her lawyer.

She said that at 2am on Sept 13 at the Wangsa Maju police station she was informed by the three defendants that she was detained under section 73(1) of the ISA on the ground that she had taken part in activities that could cause tension and racial clashes.

Kok said she was then sent to a secret location where she was detained without trial until Sept 19.

She claimed that her arrest and detention were done without basis.

She said Deputy Inspector-Geneal of Police, Datuk Ismail Omar, issued an official press statement on Sept 19, 2008, which was published in the media, saying that she was released unconditionally because "the police were satisfied that she was not a threat to public order and security".

Kok claimed that because of the negligence, arbitrariness and frivolity of the defendants in effecting her wrongful arrest and detention, she had been placed under severe mental stress, pain and suffering due to food poisoning and denial of her constitutional rights.

She is seeking damages for wrongful arrest and detention, pain and suffering and mental stress, general and special damages and other reliefs deemed fit by the court.

Speaker should quit, says Karpal - Malaysiakini

Veteran parliamentarian Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) today called for the resignation of Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia.

This followed the speaker's inaction in issuing arrest warrants under the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952 on those who were involved in preventing Karpal from going into Parliament on Feb 26.

After the incident, Karpal had on several occasions asked the House to pass a resolution under the act to issue warrants of arrest against three Umno Youth members.

Selangor Umno Youth Mob Karpal Singh Abdul Syukur Idrus 050309 01However, the speaker had turned down his request, insisting that it would be best to set up a special committee to investigate the matter under Section 80(A) of the Standing Orders.

“If the speaker does not act in calling the three people to the House for punishment, it is my view that he is a very weak speaker and ought to step down,” Karpal told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

“By his inaction, the speaker has in fact set a very dangerous precedent. I understand that the speaker together with the others on the committee had viewed the clip of the mob attack yesterday.

“Those three individuals (in the video) should be brought before the House, there is not necessity for this committee under section 80A to go about setting up an inquiry,” he said.

Karpal, who was the victim during the affray, was served a notice today to attend a meeting by the committee at 1pm next Tuesday as a witness.

violent attack towards dap karpal singh and lim lip eng at parliament 260209 sequenceOther MPs who came to Karpal's aid when he was mobbed on Feb 26 were also served notices to attend the meeting. They are Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut), Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) and Fong Kui Lun (DAP-Bukit Bintang) as well as N Gobalakrisnan (PKR-Padang Serai).

Karpal's 34-year-old personal assistant Michael Cornalius, was also called to attend the meeting.

However, Karpal asserted that DAP MPs will not cooperate by attending the meeting as they supported his call for the House to act as the court of law and issue the arrest warrants.

Asked if there would be consequence if they boycott the meeting, Karpal said: “Actually it is neither a select committee nor a privileges committee but just a committee (therefore it has no power to call witnesses)”.

“It is wrong to say it is a select committee,” said Karpal adding that it is a “dangerous precedence if I appear before this committee because the perpetrators identified themselves so defiantly”.

He added that “the speaker has got it all wrong” and “it is not too late for him to uphold the dignity of the House”.

“If each time they are going to set a committee for the purpose of inquiring if there was a disturbance in Parliament, it clearly shows that we have a very weak Parliament and a Parliament that is not prepared to take on any challenge,” said Karpal.

“As a MP, I expect the speaker to protect, not only his own dignity by acting without fear or favour, but also my dignity,” he asserted.

The first meeting took place yesterday in the Speaker’s chambers. It was attended by deputy speaker Ronald Kiandeee, as well as MPs Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu), Fong Chan Ong (BN-Alor Gajah), Hajah Nancy Shukri (BN-Batang Sadong), R Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) and Kamaruddin Jaffar (PAS-Tumpat). Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor) had opted out of the meeting.

Do reporters need bodyguards?


chor chee heungDeputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung said there was no need for members of the press to have bodyguards as Malaysia is “safe enough” even though there were several cases involving physical attacks against them over the past two years.

He said this in response to Bung Mokhtar Radin's (BN-Kinabatangan) supplementary question on whether journalists needed bodyguards because “getting a story was very important to the public”.

Chor said the police are able to safeguard a particular place and prevent any attacks from happening and the journalists have to listen to advice from the police.

“If they are not allowed in, don’t be too excited to go in to get a scoop,” he said.

Earlier, he told the House that six cases of physical attacks against journalists were reported last year compared with four in 2007, in response to a question from Charles Santiago (DAP-Klang).

One was reported last year in Perlis and two in Kedah, both reported in 2008 and 2007 respectively.

In Kuala Lumpur, two cases were reported in 2008, two in Penang last year and in 2007. There were two other cases involving a Kosmo reporter in Negri Sembilan and the other involving a Malaysia Nanban reporter in Johor in 2007 - both cases are still under investigation.

Decide on Penang's second bridge project

Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Bukit Bendera) asked the federal government not to condone UEM Builders Bhd's escalated offers, if there was one, in the construction of Penang's second bridge.

Liew said the prices today are far more lower than they were in July last year. Therefore the federal government should reduce the cost which according to Liew stands at RM4.3 billion.

“Last November, the media had reported that Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB) managing director Zaini Omar would complete negotiations with UEM on the cost of building the bridge in one week,” said Liew.

penang second link bridge 030408 01JKSB is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up by the government to supervise and fast-track the second Penang bridge project.

“But that one week deadline ended a long time ago and yet the negotiations had not been resolved,” he said.

At a press conference in Parliament today, Liew appealed to outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to get involved in the decision to build what will be the longest bridge in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

Liew added that Pak Lah would be remembered and honoured if he resolves the glitches before the end of his tenure this month.

According to a report by consultancy firm Zaidun-Leeng Bhd, UEM should be given RM2.1 billion instead, he said.

Pemuda PKR beri keterangan isu Altantuya-Najib

Probe begins into Kugan’s post-mortems

SERDANG, 12 March 2009: The special committee set up by the Health Ministry to investigate the two post-mortem reports into the death of A Kugan, the suspected car thief who died in police custody, held its first meeting today, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

Speaking to reporters at Serdang Hospital here, he said the six-member committee would carry out a thorough probe into the two reports.

"They have been asked to expedite the probe and the findings will be made public," Liow said.

Asked about the deceased's family not wanting the Health Ministry to be involved in the investigation, Liow said it needed to be done to protect the ministry's credibility and professionalism.

Kugan, 23, was detained at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya on 15 Jan on suspicion of being involved in a syndicate that specialised in stealing luxury cars. He died while in police custody on 20 Jan.

The first post mortem report done at Serdang Hospital indicated Kugan died of fluid accumulation in the lungs while the second, conducted by the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre at his family's request, showed his death was due to multi-organ failure as a result of severe beating.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail on 23 Jan had classified the case as murder. — Bernama

Selangor MB slams ex-MB for blowing up

By Asrul Hadi Abdulah Sani- The Malaysian Insider

SHAH ALAM, March 12 — Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim today condemned Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo for losing his cool with a fellow assemblyman.

Threats and curses were allegedly uttered at the lobby of the State Assembly by Khir Toyo against Ulu Kelang Assemblyman Saari Sungib. This was after it was disclosed during proceedings that his wife had been given a RM500,000 Range Rover by a state subsidiary during his administration.

Khir allegedly told Saari to “watch out” as they were leaving the assembly to break for lunch.

Khalid told reporters that the action conducted by the former Menteri Besar was inappropriate. He should have taken his time to answer the allegations in the assembly.

“Today there was a discussion in the State assembly by an assemblyman to give information. It was up to other assemblyman to say whether or not the matter was true or false. Because it is important that all the issues regarding the people and administration are brought up in the assembly and through that that people will be able to know the truth,” he explained.

Khalid believes that the assembly is an important arena for the issues regarding the people and the state’s administration to be discussed. Only through the discussion can the people know the truth.

“This is why the State assembly is protected by law and this gives freedom to any parties to discuss without fear,” he added.

He also stressed that no one has the right to stop any assemblymen from entering the state assembly and expressing their views. If an assemblyman is unhappy over a statement made in the assembly, the person can ask the perpetrator to make the statement outside, he said.

Bar Council threatened with action over online Allah poll

By Neville Spykerman- The Malaysian Insider

SHAH ALAM, March 12 — The Bar Council may face legal action from the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) for holding an online poll on the use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims in their publications.

Mais chairman Datuk Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa said they were consulting their legal advisors on what action can be taken.

Mohamad said the word Allah was only for Muslims and the policy had been gazetted by the Non Muslim Religious Enactment 1988 and the Bar Council should adhere to the ruling.

He said it was wrong for non-Muslims to use the word Allah in their publications and they could face legal action under the enactment.

Two polls seeking public views on the use of Allah is currently being conducted on the Bar Council website.

The poll are “Does any one race e.g Muslims have an exclusive right to use the word ‘Allah’?” and “Should The Herald and other religious publications be allowed to use the term ‘Allah’?”

So far over more than 1,000 people have responded and the majority have voted that there was no exclusive right to the word and other publications should be allowed to use Allah.

Datuk Mohamad Adzib said the ban on the use of the word for non Muslims was to prevent confusion among Muslims on the concept of one God as Allah.

Khir denies wife used Rover

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

SHAH ALAM, March 12 — Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, today denied that his wife had been given the use of a Range Rover by a state subsidiary while he was Menteri Besar.

He also called the Ulu Kelang assemblyman Saari Sungib a coward, for bringing it up, in the State Assembly this morning.

He said the allegation were “110 per cent” false and said that Saari should not have attacked his wife.

Dr Mohd Khir, who was still upset about the incident when he was contacted by phone, said he confronted Saari outside the assembly and told him to get his facts right.

“I told him he was old and he should not have lied,”

Earlier while debating the Royal Address, Shaari alleged that the luxury four wheel drive vehicle was purchased by development company Syarikat Cekal Tulen, a subsidiary of Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad (KDEB).

The company had claimed that they needed a robust vehicle for executives to make site visits, but the car was handed over to the wife of the KDEB chairman to use.

However Khir said he only entered the car once to make a site visit.

Khir also denied knowledge of a KDEB attempt to buy two Mercedes Benz cars at a cost of RM2.5 million prior to March 8 last year.

“The decision to purchase the cars were made by KDEB’s management Committee.”

Earlier Saari disclosed that one of the cars was a Mercedes S500, worth RM1.5 million meant for the KDEB chairman while the other was a Mercedes S350, which cost almost RM1 million for the KDEB president.

Saari also claimed that RM1 million or 40 per cent of the price was paid to a salesman from Cycle and Carriage as down payment, but the cars were never delivered after March 8, when Selangor fell to Pakatan Rakyat while the money was also never returned.

Surat mohon menghadap Sultan Perak sudah dihantar

(PerakExpress.com) - Surat rasmi bagi memohon perkenan menghadap Sultan Perak telah dihantar oleh Datuk Seri Muhamad Nizar Jamaludin semalam, 11 Mac.

Surat itu difaxkan tengahari 11 Mac ke pejabat Tuanku Sultan Azlan di Istana Kinta oleh Setiausaha Politik Nizar, Misbahul Munir Masduki melalui Setiausaha Sulit Sultan, Datuk Kolonel Abdul Rahim.

Dalam surat tersebut, Nizar mohon perkenan untuk menghadap Tuanku bagi menyembah maklum keputusan persidangan tergempar Dewan Undangan Negeri Perak yang telah menerima tiga usul yang dikemukakan oleh tiga orang Ahli Dewan Negeri Perak.

Persidangan Tergempar tersebut diadakan pada 3 Mac 2009 di bawah sepohon Pokok Sena kira-kira 100 meter dari Bangunan Perak Darul Ridzuan.

Persidangan terpaksa dibuat di bawah pokok disebabkan daripada tindakan Setiausha Kerajaan Negeri dan Pihak Polis yang menghalang Speaker dan Ahli-ahli Dewan memasuki bangunan Perak DR bagi menjalankan Persidangan Tergempar DUN Perak.

Kini, Nizar sedang menunggu jawapan dari Istana Perak.

'Internal conflicts made us leave PR', say duo

by Humayun Kabir, The Sun

OSMAN SAYS:
> COUSINS NGEH AND NGA DOMINATED EXCO MEETINGS
> HE AND JAMALUDDIN WAITED 10 MONTHS HOPING FOR CHANGE IN PR
>THEY WERE NOT OFFERED POSTS AND MONEY

Internal problems, including alleged obsession with power by certain Pakatan Rakyat state executive councillors, were the main reasons why the two former Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) assemblymen left the party to become independents.

Changkat Jering assemblyman Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu said he and Behrang assemblyman Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi left PKR because they were unhappy with the state of affairs in the state executive council.

Speaking at a gathering of about 100 people at Kampung Air Kuning near here today, Mohd Osman claimed that the majority of the decisions taken at the state exco meetings were made by senior exco members Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham and Nga Kor Ming who "dominated" the meetings.

Osman claimed that even some decisions made by former Mentri Besar Datuk Sri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin were overruled by Ngeh and Nga, who are cousins.

In what is believed to be his first public address since becoming an independent, Osman was overcome by emotion several times and had to pause before continuing his 20-minute speech. Also present was Mentri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir.

Osman said he and Jamaluddin were unhappy with the way exco meetings were conducted because the opinions of the majority of the members were not sought and decisions were made only by a few.

Saying he had always been a strong critic of the Barisan Nasional during his 10 years as a PKR member, Osman said he and Jamaluddin did not come to a sudden decision to become independents.

"We waited for 10 months hoping that a change will come in the administration of the PR state government, but this did not materialise," he said.

After discussing the matter with their families and friends, they decided to become independents, he added.

Osman said he did not leave because he was offered posts and money, as alleged by certain quarters, but because of his love for the "religion and race, and the voters who had high hopes of Pakatan Rakyat fulfilling its election promises".

Internal problems in the PR, rather than outside political influence, were the main reason for their departure, he claimed.

Osman claimed that his main concern was to serve the voters in his area and he felt he could only do so as an independent and with the help of BN.

He said he was surprised when Jelapang assemblywoman Hee Yit Foong also left DAP to become an independent.

The departure of the trio resulted in the collapse of the PR state government.

Perak Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar had subsequently declared the three state seats of Jelapang, Changat Jering and Behrang vacant but the Elections Commission declared otherwise.

The three independents have since filed a suit in the Ipoh High Court claiming that their seats are not vacant as declared by Sivakumar.

Both Osman and Jamaluddin were charged with 16 counts of corruption last August with four others.

The charges included soliciting or accepting bribes of between RM400 and RM100,000 between Aug 6 and 19 as incentives to help businessman Mohamad Imran Abdullah obtain a contract to develop 36ha in Seri Iskandar from the Perak Tengah district council. The trial has been fixed for June 15 and 16.

Govt studying DAP proposal to buy back North-South Expressway and end toll collection in six years

The government is studying the DAP proposal that the government buy back the North-South Expressway to end toll collection completely in six years.

In reply to my query during the winding up of the committee stage debate for the RM60 billion mini-budget, the Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcop said the government is studying the DAP proposal to return the expressway to the people.

The proposal, a comprehensive, practicable and creative one formulated by the DAP Ops RESTORE (Restructure Toll Rates & Equity) Team, after consultations with legal experts, investment bankers as well as the general public, has the following features:

1) Impose no further increase in North-South Expressway toll rates.

2) End toll collection after 2015 instead of 2020.

3) Create RM14 billion savings for Malaysians from 2009-2015 - saved either (i) by Malaysians using the highway because of no further toll rate increases or (ii) in terms of compensation which would have to be paid by the Government to PLUS Expressways.

4) Incur no additional cost for the Malaysian Government or Malaysian tax-payers

The North-South Expressway ‘buy-back” scheme, worked out by the DAP RESTORE Team, helmed by The Chi Chang, economic adviser to DAP Secretary-General and Tony Pua, DAP MP for Petaling Jaya Utara last month, was based on the following mechanics:

1) PLUS is listed on Bursa Malaysia at a price of RM2.88 per share and a market capitalisation of RM14.4 billion (24th February).

2) The Government of Malaysia, via Khazanah owns 65% of PLUS.

3) PLUS has outstanding net debt amounting to RM8.5 billion.

The buy-back scheme calls on the Government to take the following actions:

1. The Government should make a General Offer (GO) to acquire all minority shareholders of PLUS with a generous 15% premium at RM3.30 per share, costing RM5.25 billion thus ensuring that minority shareholders are protected.

2. The cost of acquisition, added to the RM8.5 billion net debt of PLUS will amount to RM13.75 billion.

3. This cost will be funded by issuing Malaysian Government Securities (MGS) at 3% interest (or less), costing RM413 million per annum. Total repayment will amount to RM16.2 billion over 6 years.

4. At the same time, PLUS should generate at least RM20b in net positive cashflow the 6 years to 2015 without further toll rate hikes and assuming a conservative 3% pa traffic growth.

5. Therefore by 2015, the government can completely repay the MGS and still have RM3.8 billion excess which could be used to build a better public transportation system throughout the country.

Not only will the execution of the above proposal bring joy to all Malaysians with a toll-free North South Expressway, the exercise will also have the following effects:

• RM14 billion saved by Malaysian consumers will reduce the cost of living for the average Malaysian in times of economic difficulties we face today.

• RM14 billion saved will also redirect expenditure to other more productive sectors of our economy by increasing domestic consumer demand.

• The reduced toll rates and its subsequent abolition will substantially reduce the cost of doing business in Malaysia, increase logistical efficiencies and ultimately make Malaysian companies more globally competitive.

• Best of all, the plan will stimulate demand and make available substantial funds for public infrastructure development without the Government having to increase the precarious budget deficit further.

To another query, Nor Yakcop said the government welcomes public input to the government’s study on the viability of the proposal for government buyback of the North-South Expressway to relieve the toll burden of the government and the Malaysian public.

Malaysian Indian lawyer wins US award

Times of India, 12 Mar 2009
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian bar council president Ambiga Sreenevasan, an ethnic Indian, is one of the eight women who received the prestigious "women
Women of Courage Awards
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) gives away International Women of Courage Award to Ambiga Sreenevasan from Malaysia at the State department in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo)

of courage" award from secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton in the US.


ambiga

From Left - First lady Michelle Obama, Mutabar Tadjibayeva from Uzbekistan, Veronika Marchenko from Russia, Wazhma Frogh from Afghanistan, Norma Cruz from Guatemala, secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, Suaad Abbas Salman Allami from Iraq, Ambiga Sreenevasan from Malaysia and Hadizatou Mani from Niger pose for a photograph at the International Women of Courage Award ceremony. (AP Photo)

Sreenevasan, who has been at the forefront of the civil liberties movement in Malaysia, was present at the ceremony in Washington Monday, The Star newspaper said.

The Malaysian women's bodies have hailed Sreenevasan's award as a recognition in the international arena for taking a firm stand on national issues such as judicial independence, gender equality and good governance.

ambiga
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and US First Lady Michelle Obama (R) strike a pose with Ambiga Sreenevasan (C) of Malaysia at the state department in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo)


Chew Mei Fun, Malaysian Chinese association women's wing chief, said Sreenevasan was "a living proof of this".

"Ambiga's efforts should not only be viewed from a gender perspective as a woman, but as a Malaysian individual who champions justice and equality," Chew said.

Ethnic Indians, an estimated two million-plus, form about eight percent of Malaysia's multi-racial population of 28 million.

ambiga

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) gives away International Women of Courage Award to Ambiga Sreenevasan from Malaysia at the State department in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo)

6 bloggers (at least) to be charged for insulting Sultan Azlan Shah

Malaysiakini:

Six people nationwide will be hauled up in court tomorrow for insulting Perak Sultan Azlan Shah in blogs or through the posting of comments.

It is learnt that to be charged are two individuals at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court, one in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, one in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and one in Butterworth, Penang.

A few more are scheduled to be charged in Kuala Terengganu on Sunday with a similar offence.

It is understood that they are being hauled up for posting comments which have been deemed to be insulting to the Perak sultan over the present political crisis in the Silver State, which saw the Pakatan Rakyat-led government being ousted by Barisan Nasional following the defection of three assemblypersons.

So, we don’t know who the 6-8 are. If it’s me, it’ll certainly come as news :P

I guess we’ll have to wait and see exactly what words got these bloggers into all this trouble before being too quick to pass judgment, but I have a feeling that this action will be unjust.

Hmm. I don’t think there’s much else to be said for now, even though many thoughts come to mind. We’ll watch closely for more news and details, and stand by our fellow bloggers if need be.

RM60b... how confident?

By Jeff Ooi

BLOGGING FROM PARLIAMENT

UPDATES, 15:33hr March 12: NAJIB REFUSED TO TAKE FROM THE FLOOR QUESTIONS ON THE RM60 BILLION QUESTION, AND RUSHED THE WRAP-UP IN AN EXPRESSIONLESS EXIT.

MALAYSIA'S FISCAL RISK IS LOCKED IN 58 MINUTES.


ORIGINAL POSTING

Starting 2.35pm, Finance Minister cum PM-in-waiting Najib Razak took the floor to wrap-up the policy-level debates on the Supplementary Supply Bill (2009), or the mini budget.

He seemed to read very cautiously from a prepared speech. That he refused to take on interjecting questions from the MPs and speak off-text, apart from being mindful of time, indicated that he hadn't yet a sound handle on economic strategies.

Meanwhile, the KL Composite Index (KLCI) on Bursa Malaysia dropped a further 13.17 points as at 2.46pm, a while ago. Trading volume was thinner than yesterday's.

UPDATES, 18:00hr March 12: By the end of trading day, KLCI dropped 11.98 points to close at 838.39. Losers led gainers 520 by 170. Volume was thinner than yesterday's at 3,521,799 lots. Major losers were from banking sector, particularly Public Bank and Maybank.

In fact, Maybank has seen RM6.54 billion wiped out from its market capitalisation in the past 11 straight days of losses after announcing its rights issue. Its share price fell from RM5.40 on Feb 24 and it closed 28 sen down to RM4.06 today.

KLCI dropped 4.88 points to close at 850.57 yesterday.

Big Question: How confident is Malaysia with Najib as the new Prime Minister, perched at the tail end of the RAHMAN theory?

Gobind Ordered Out Of Parliament For Third Time

KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 (Bernama) -- An opposition MP was ordered out of the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday after he repeatedly raised the murder case of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu although he was told not to do so.

parliament gobind singh ban over nazri mistake 251108 02This was the third time that Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) was asked to leave the hall since parliament sitting began for the current session, when he raised the murder case while debating on the Supplementary Supply Bill 2009 (Second Stimulus Package) at the committee level.

The matter was also raised immediately after Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wound up the debate on the Bill at the policy level.

Gobind had expressed dismay over how the government could spend so much money to put up buildings and infrastructure when the money could be used to ensure a good justice system.

At this juncture, Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee tried to stop Gobind's harangue but the latter refused to budge until he sat down before he was ordered to leave the hall by Kiandee.

Gobind stood up and said to Kiandee: "You should be ashamed of yourself" and was then escorted by the sergeant-of-arms out of the hall.
najib meet with sultan perak pc 050209 02

Gobind who was later met by reporters at the parliament lobby said he did not regret his action.

He was the second MP ordered to leave the hall today. Earlier, Datuk Siringan Gubat (BN-Ranau) was also given the marching order by Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia after he refused to ask the Speaker's permission before getting up to speak.

Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said Pandikar Amin's decision on this should be respected by all MPs as almost a year had passed since the last general election, so they should understand the parliamentary Standing Order.

"If it were me (as Speaker), within six months I would have chased out some MPs who deliberately created problems, but Pandikar Amin is a patient man, yet serious in carrying out his duty," he said.

Nazri said as time was precious to debate on and pass Bills, the proceedings should be relatively smooth with not too many disruptions.

Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club deputy chairman Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) said what happened to Siringan showed that Pandikar Amin was impartial.

"Although this was the first time a government backbencher was orderd out, the Speaker's decision must be respected because from time to time, he had reminded MPs to be careful about what they said and not to go out of line." he said.

Siringan was only out for three hours and was allowed to enter the hall at 2.30pm.

The commotion happened after Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa (PAS-Parit Buntar) asked about the government's action to punish any political party which uttered words with racial sentiments which was to be answered by Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Deputy Minister Teng Boon Soon.