Friday, March 20, 2009
PETALING JAYA, March 20 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lashed out today at Umno’s disciplinary board for squandering a chance to clean up the party and restore its credibility.
The former Umno president also said he had little confidence in the current crop of party leaders, as he stepped up his rhetorics ahead of next week’s crucial Umno elections.
Earlier this week, he described Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who will assume the Umno presidency next week, as someone who did not shine as deputy prime minister.
Dr Mahathir also acknowledged the perception problem faced by Najib over allegations about his involvement in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case.
Today, the fiery ex-prime minister suggested that Umno’s biggest task at hand is to clean up the party to regain public support, and he blamed the disciplinary board for failing to do a proper job this week.
“They had a good chance to clean up Umno but they did not carry out their task properly.” he said.
Umno’s disciplinary panel has barred Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam from contesting next week’s party polls, but let off Khairy Jamaluddin with a warning even though both men were found guilty of money politics, or vote buying.
Dr Mahathir pointed out that some candidates had been found guilty of the same crime but received different punishments, while others who are known to be involved in corruption had been cleared.
He did not say who he thought were known to be corrupt, but both Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib have been battling hard to shake off accusations of vote-buying and corruption from their rivals.
Dr Mahathir added the sentences imposed by the disciplinary board should have been according to the principles of justice.
“They (Board) should know, most of them are lawyers.” he said.
He also cautioned Umno against entertaining appeals from Mohd Ali to be allowed to campaign for the deputy presidency in a campaign which he was seen to be leading.
Dr Mahathir said any reversal would further erode public confidence in the disciplinary board and the party.
Dr Mahathir, who was speaking to the press after attending the opening of the Sultan Abdul Hamid Old Collegian Association (SAHOCA) building in Kelana Jaya today, also took a swipe at the incoming crop of Umno leaders and their ability to lead the country.
“I have no confidence in most of them.”
He said Umno is likely to lose the next general elections if they fail to clean up the party.
Meanwhile Dr Mahathir said he had been invited to attend the Umno general assembly next week and will be going as an observer.
He added that he will think about rejoining the party once Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi steps down.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — The High Court here today set March 27 to hear the Perak State Speaker’s suit against the Election Commission for not holding by-elections in three state constituencies that he declared vacant.
High Court judge Lau Bee Lan allowed the postponement in light of several on-going cases in the Palace of Justice that are directly linked to V Sivakumar’s suit against the election commission.
Sivakumar’s lawyer Razlan Hadri asked for the postponement as lead counsel Sulaiman Abdullah was involved with the proceedings in Putrajaya.
“Our lead council Sulaiman is in Putrajaya this morning,” Razlan told reporters after exiting the judge’s chambers.
Sivakumar had filed the suit on march 10 at the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) against the Election Commission for refusing its duty to conduct by-elections in Changkat Jering, Behrang and Jelapang despite being informed that the seats are vacant.
The three lawmakers for those constituencies had turned independent and declared their support for Barisan Nasional which then formed the state government.
This morning both the Federal Court and the Court of Appeals were scheduled to hear the judicial review matters of the Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin against the appointment of Barisan Nasional’s Menteri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir.
My former Menteri Besar Khir Toyo thinks Eli ought to quit for having a boyfriend who—horror of horrors—has access to her apartment at night. That's not a crime. As far as moral offenses go, it might as well be a virtue. I'd much rather be represented by a politician whose only fault is trusting her boyfriend too much, instead of a politician who went on Malaysian television a few days ago to pour a heap of scorn on my rights as a Malaysian citizen.
There is a pattern to all that's been going on lately, and that pattern is pretty clear: most of our politicians, especially prominent leaders of Barisan Nasional, aren't very interested in protecting the rights and liberties of the citizens they supposedly serve. Look at the body language of the four katak Perak state reps at the press conference Barisan excitedly threw to welcome them—how many of them were actually excited about joining Barisan? Barisan's own politicians are not very keen on being a part of Barisan, and that is because unlike Barisan's top leadership, they understand that there will be a judgement day, and when that day comes, the Malaysian people will judge Barisan very harshly for what it has done.
After all, Barisan decided to kick off the year by subverting the popular will of one of the most prosperous and advanced states in the country. As has become so transparently clear ever since his fall from power, the former Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin is so wildly popular that he has become a hero to Malaysians across the country—an unlikely fate for a former political unknown from PAS, whose initial appointment as Menteri Besar was so controversial amongst people of all political persuasions. Just under a year ago, a majority of the voters in Perak decisively threw their support behind Pakatan Rakyat; the subversion of their will has been a complete and utter betrayal of the democracy we supposedly believe in.
Meanwhile, the campaign against the Pakatan Rakyat government of my state, Selangor, seems to be already well under way. Before anyone could even react to the shocking news about Eli, Khir Toyo was already out there calling for her to resign—shockingly arrogant behaviour for a Menteri Besar whose administration was marked by incredible tolerance for corruption and mismanagement, far worse crimes against the Malaysian people. My family, my constituency, my state voted for a Pakatan Rakyat government, and we'll be damned if Barisan politicians like Khir Toyo think they can just waltz in and undemocratically topple the government we elected.
Of course, Khir Toyo does think that, because like many of his Barisan colleagues, he really does not believe in democracy or in the constitutional rights of the rakyat. At his recent televised debate with two other contenders for the UMNO Youth chief post, he persistently argued that it is unconstitutional to regard non-Malay Malaysians as equal to their Malay fellows. I wonder if Khir is this forthrightly bermuka tebal about non-Malay inferiority in casual conversation with his non-Malay friends.
As comfortable as UMNO politicians like Khir are with playing this nonsensical game of denouncing the rights and prerogatives of half the country they serve, they would be as uncomfortable as ever saying this tripe to their non-Malay colleagues. This doesn't just insult the citizenship and freedoms of non-Malays—this is a challenge to every Malaysian. My Malay friends treat me as their equal, and I treat them exactly the same way; Khir's preposterous argument that it is an insult to the Malays for the non-Malays to be their equal is essentially saying that the Malays are so small-minded, so bigoted, so insecure that they can never engage their fellow Malaysians as equals.
The truth is, Khir is just projecting his own problems and insecurities onto the Malays he so vocally claims to serve; as with most politicians from his party, he is the one who is small-minded, bigoted and insecure. It's no wonder; Barisan can now no longer count on the support of Malaysians, and neither can its leaders. Respect is something you have to earn, and can easily be lost; while Pakatan has been slowly building up respect, Barisan has only seen its reputation shredded over the years.
If Barisan wants to lead, that leadership role is not going to be a free lunch. The politicians of Barisan need to win back the support of the voters. Toppling democratically-elected governments and inventing scandals out of whole cloth is not going to do that. Respecting the voters, engaging them in thoughtful discussion, and attempting to meet their needs is what wins hearts and minds.
That is why Pakatan is on the upswing, while Barisan goes from defeat to defeat. As I write this, Barisan is now angrily lashing out at the Speaker of the Perak state assembly for suspending its supposed Menteri Besar and his exco. Instead of calling for fresh elections, as they undoubtedly would have done themselves if Pakatan had successfully lured 30-plus MPs to its side last September, Barisan leaders whine about Pakatan disrespecting the will of the rulers.
There's a lot of good things to be said for the rulers, and there's a lot of good things to be said for Barisan. You can't deny what they have done for Malaysia in the past. But you can't deny that they are what now seem to be holding us back from the democratic ideals we aspire to. Like it or not, this is a constitutional and democratic monarchy, with rules we have to follow. You can't topple the constitutionally-elected and –appointed government without expecting severe consequences. You can't subvert the will of the rakyat without expecting to run into major difficulties.
At least when Pakatan courted crossovers from MPs, it was open with the public about its actions and the need for feedback and dialogue; Barisan's smug, arrogant "we know better" attitude throughout the recent political storms has only cemented public opinion against it. Barisan does not even care enough about the voters to engage them through the press or to seek their approval, as Pakatan did in its own ethically debatable crossover campaign. Barisan simply does not care about its constituents; it claims to be their legitimate representative, in spite of going behind the public's back to topple their elected leaders. If you want your leadership to be respected, you have to earn that respect—and that respect can only be earned by first respecting those you seek to lead.
The arrogant Barisan persists in asserting that it knows better than the voters, that it has the right to overturn the constitution, the laws, the democracy we have in place. God knows that for the last few decades that's almost all they have been doing. But last March, Malaysians decisively told Barisan to shape up or ship out: that we can have a Malaysia without a Barisan government. If Barisan truly wants our respect and truly wants to lead, it has to start by respecting this verdict. As long as it persists in inventing scandals and excuses to topple our democratically-elected leaders, we the rakyat will be glad to continue rejecting the false and undemocratic leadership of Barisan Nasional.
First published in The Malaysian Insider.
Unfortunately for her, and others who might harbour a similar ambition in the deep recesses of their fantasy, our country is a monarchy, albeit a constitutional one (may it always remain that way) and as such, the First Lady is our queen, not the wife of the prime minister.
By TUNKU ABDUL AZIZ/ MySinchew
Najib Abdul Razak will be remembered as the most controversial prime ministerial aspirant this nation has ever known. The deadweight political baggage he is lugging around, as he sets his course on what he fervently hopes will be the last lap to the best address in the country, is enough to make a grown man cry, but not Najib, the single minded man of destiny according to his wife, Rosmah.
He seems to take his travails in his stride. Is he not, again, according to Rosmah, predestined to occupy the highest political office in the land? I am inclined to think that there may be some truth in what Rosmah has been saying about his destiny because she has already begun, to preen herself, so the gossip goes, to play the part of Malaysia’s First Lady.
Unfortunately for her, and others who might harbour a similar ambition in the deep recesses of their fantasy, our country is a monarchy, albeit a constitutional one (may it always remain that way) and as such, the First Lady is our queen, not the wife of the prime minister. Her confident prediction of Najib’s political ascendancy and immortality could, in the event, prove to be just a little premature given the murky political waters he is wading through.
|"The PM governs; the king rules! The queen is the First Lady."|
It is not my intention enumerate the reasons for Najib’s unprecedented unpopularity. Many serious allegations of moral and ethical lapses have appeared on local blogs as well as in foreign publications. Rightly or wrongly, he has been cast as someone unappealing, and these negative perceptions look set to feed on him. They can only be reversed by his clearing his name in the court of law.
Najib is an intelligent man, and he must surely know that many people do not trust him and that he cannot govern this country effectively with so much ill will surrounding his person. In his beleaguered state and feeling, no doubt, under constant siege there is, many of us fear, no knowing what diabolical measures he will resort to, including using the Internal Security Act, to silence his critics. I hope Najib will take early steps to assure the citizens of this country that the little crumbs of freedom that Pak Lah has grudgingly thrown at us will not be swept away. He has a monumental task to convince us that he really, despite all indications to the contrary, believes in the rule of law. He has to show that he can be trusted to do the right thing by us.
I am greatly amused to read that our irrepressible former prime minister, Tun Mahathir Mohamad the selective amnesiac has proffered gratuitous advice, as is his wont, to “young Najib” who is starting out in the serious business of governance on the importance of choosing the right people to serve as his cabinet colleagues. What sort of people did Tun himself pick when he ran this country for 22 years? Men and women of great moral and ethical rectitude?
I believe Najib knows what he needs to do to survive the next general elections. The luckless man will be scraping the bottom of the barrel to find men and women of integrity whose main interest as politicians is service in the public interest. We wish him well as he goes about putting his team together. It does seem me that Najib might yet turn out to be a great prime minister by doing the opposite of what Tun Mahathir did when he held sway over this country. He should distance himself from the great meddler and be his own man for once.
Najib will need to be less of an Umno top brass and more of a Malaysian nationalist by putting the interests of the country first and last. Malaysia after the political machinations of nearly three decades is divided as never before on all fronts, and it is time we settled down to a period of calm reflection and introspection. We cannot hope to achieve sustainability of purpose as a united, prosperous and peaceful nation by blind indulgence in policies that we know to be unjust and unfair, policies that are inimical to the future well being of our people.
We cannot survive as a nation in social, political and economic terms unless this country is governed with equity and justice for all. We need another unprincipled politician like we need a hole in the head. However, we need desperately a statesmanlike politician (a contradiction in terms, be that as it may) who has broad appeal not because he embodies and personifies the politics of patronage that sustained Mahathirism of unhappy memory but because he knows instinctively that integrity, and all that it stands for, in governance is the only way forward for this country of ours.
Najib has his work cut out for him, and I wish him well as our next head of government. He governs; the king rules! The queen is the First Lady.
TUNKU ABDUL AZIZ is a former Special Adviser on Ethics to the Secretary General of the United Nations
Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dijangka menyerahkan kuasa pada 2 April - lima hari selepas perhimpunan agung Umno.
Difahamkan, Abdullah akan memaklumkan mengenai perkara itu kepada kabinet dalam mesyuarat mingguannya hari ini, dan beliau akan menemui Yang di-Pertuan Agong pada 3 April depan.
Manakala, bakal presiden Umno, Datuk Seri Najib pula dijangka mengangkat sumpah sebagai perdana menteri Malaysia yang keenam pada 4 April.
Perhimpunan agung Umno yang turut menyaksi pemilihan pucuk pimpinan parti itu akan berlangsung mulai Selasa depan sehingga 28 Mac.
Najib merupakan calon tunggal bagi jawatan presiden dan secara rasmi akan memimpin Umno selepas mendapat mandat rasmi dalam pemilihan parti.
Penyerahan kuasa itu akan berlaku sebelum berlangsungnya tiga pilihanraya kecil yang dianggap sangat penting iaitu parlimen Bukit Gantang di Perak, DUN Bukit Selambau di Kedah dan DUN Batang Air di Sarawak - kesemuanya pada 7 April.
This is countdown time for Datuk Seri Najib Razak – with a week to go to his anointment as UMNO President next Thursday to be followed by his ascension as the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia in the first few days of April.
What is clear is that Najib’s takeover as Prime Minister of Malaysia will not be on April 1 so that it would not go down in history as “April Fool’s Joke”!
As it is, Najib’s impending takeover as the sixth Prime Minister is sufficiently dogged, hounded and haunted by grave doubts and allegations about his integrity and legitimacy, to the extent that for the first time in the 52-year history of Malaysia, strong objections are being raised publicly about the suitability of the Prime Minister-in-waiting, hardly a fortnight to his ascension to the highest political office in the land – and which is growing stronger by the day.
There are so many so skeptical and cynical about Najib’s suitability, integrity and legitimacy to become the next Prime Minister that they have spawned an increasing chorus of calls to stop Najib from becoming the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia.
The latest to join this chorus is the former Law Minister, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who called on the Yang di Pertuan Agong to reject Najib if UMNO puts him forward as Prime Minister to replace Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and to appoint someone who would “bring us back from the brink”.
There are online campaigns to get Abdullah to remain as Prime Minister even after the UMNO General Assembly next week, not because Abdullah is an effective and successful Prime Minister but because his replacement, Najib, is “evil”.
Although Abdullah’s popularity rating had plunged from a record high of 91 per cent in November 2004 to 61 per cent in January 2008 (just before the March 8, 2008 general election), down to 46 per cent in Dec 2008, he was at all times more popular than Najib, as demonstrated by the following surveys by Merdeka Centre:
I do not think anyone will dispute that if an opinion poll is now conducted, Najib’s popularity would have fallen further even below the lowest point of 34% recorded in July last year, while Abdullah would have improved in his popularity rating.
However, there are others who feel that asking Abdullah to remain as Prime Minister is not the real option and propose that a more suitable candidate should be chosen from the present UMNO ranks, with Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s name most often mentioned in this context.
There is of course another scenario, which is for Pakatan Rakyat to replace Barisan Nasional at the federal government, but as the numbers are not present, this option is not really available.
Putting aside for the moment the question as to how real or realistic are these growing rumblings to stop Najib from become the next Prime Minister, the inescapable fact is that such public opposition to a Prime Minister-in-waiting is happening for the first time in the 52-year history of the nation, as was never the case in the nation’s history, whether Tun Razak, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad or Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
In fact, such doubts and objections to Najib taking over as the new Prime Minister seems to growing stronger by the day, the nearer to Najib’s ascension to the highest political office in the land.
This is why Najib’s RM60 billion second economic stimulus package have failed to rally confidence, as he is seen as the most divisive and distrusted Prime Minister-designate, who will not enjoy the customary political honeymoon of “First 100 days” for new Prime Ministers, as his Machiavellian machinations in his pre-100 days, like the undemocratic, unethical, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak, the selective and malicious prosecution of DAP National Chairman Karpal Singh for sedition and the arbitrary and high-handed one-year suspension of DAP MP for Puchong, Gobind Deo Singh without pay and parliamentary privileges, have created widespread concern whether Najib’s ascension as the sixth Prime Minister marks the start of a national nightmare.
This also raises the question whether the “N” in the most famous political prophecy in the country, RAHMAN about the first six Prime Ministers in the country, has a double meaning – that it signifies Najib as Prime Minister after Tunku Abdul Rahman, Razak, Hussein Onn, Mahathir and Abdullah, but it also marks the “end” of the line of Umno Prime Minister, UMNO hegemony and Umno government in the next 13th general election.
(Speech at the DAP Damansara/Paramount Garden Dinner “Moving Selangor Forward” at Damansara Palace, Kota Damansara, Selangor on Thursday, 19th March 2009)
The Nut Graph
by Deborah Loh
WHEN toll concession agreements were declassified in January 2009, it was a milestone for the nation because for the first time ever, these contracts could be scrutinised.
To the credit of the DAP, its politicians spent hours copying the agreement by hand at the Works Ministry because the government would not allow any copying or recording of the documents.
While the declassification indicates some movement towards transparency, what was even more revealing was that the agreements themselves show that no contract is so sacred it cannot be reviewed. At a time when taxpayers are being told that the government must honour the contracts it has signed with the concessionaires for roads, water and power, the DAP politicians' findings are not only significant. They could help save taxpayers' money.
In 2007, politicians from the DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat obtained a copy of the Lingkaran Trans Kota Sdn Bhd (Litrak) 1996 concession agreement for the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP) and revealed its contents to the public.
The details showed that the government guaranteed fixed toll hikes at certain intervals over the concession period, regardless of profits made. This was despite Litrak having already recovered its building costs for the expressway within a few years after the LDP was operable.
The government's reaction was to threaten legal action against the politicians for breaching the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972. But shortly after, it began to acknowledge the need to declassify such agreements to prevent negative public perception.
Now, scrutiny of the declassified agreements has revealed that it is possible for the government to buy back the highways under an expropriation clause in several of the agreements.
"The government has always hidden behind the principle of the sanctity of contracts when not wanting to review toll agreements. But after looking at the declassified documents, we found that quite a number of them had expropriating (buy back) clauses," Teh Chi Chang tells The Nut Graph.
Teh says renegotiating toll agreements would not violate the contract because the clause was already in the agreement. "It was just a matter of exercising the clause," the economic adviser to the DAP secretary-general and member of the DAP's Operation Restore (Restructure Toll Rates and Equity) team says.
The question is whether the government has the political will to do so, and if not, why?
Under existing concession agreements, highway companies are guaranteed ever-increasing profits whether the government approves their toll hikes or not. If consumers don't pay through increased rates, the government is obliged to compensate the companies in lieu of a toll hike, as stipulated in the agreements.
DAP recently outlined a proposal to nationalise the North-South Highway, making it, and a few others under PLUS Expressways Bhd, toll-free by 2016.
The buy-back plan would be funded by government bonds and continued toll collection for six years. There would be no extra cost incurred for the government and for consumers.
For other highways, compensation terms under the expropriation clauses were not unreasonable.
"It is noted that for a vast majority of the toll concession agreements, the government has been granted the expropriation for national interest by providing three to six months notice. The terms of the relevant compensation required for expropriation appears to be fair.
"For concessionaires not willing to renegotiate the toll rates to reasonable levels, it will not cost the government an arm or a leg to expropriate some of these highways," says Tony Pua, an Ops Restore member and Petaling Jaya Utara Member of Parliament (MP).
Pua was asked about the issue and referred The Nut Graph to his blog, where he notes that expropriating some of the highways would actually be cheaper than continuing with compensation.
In the Ops Restore team's letter to Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed sent in January, Pua gave the example of buying back Litrak, which he calculated would cost the government less than the compensation payable for retaining LDP toll rates at their present tariffs.
Where certain expropriation clauses have "unfair terms" such as requiring the government to include the loss of future profits in the buy-back price, Pua suggests the use of capital market strategies.
In the case of the North-South Expressway, for example, which is 64% owned by Khazanah Nasional, the government's investment arm could make a general offer to buy up the balance of shares.
These were just some of the preliminary findings and solutions Pua and the Ops Restore team have drafted from a first look at the declassified concession agreements. The team is to develop a final report for the Works Ministry, due this month of March 2009.
On another front, the similar principle of guaranteed profits for concessionaires is proving to be an unbearable burden for Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) through its power purchase agreements (PPAs) with independent power producers (IPPs).
TNB is obliged to pay the IPPs for whatever electricity is produced, regardless of whether TNB distributes it to consumers or not.
The utility giant's former executive chairperson Tan Sri Ani Arope has revealed how lopsided the agreements with the IPPs were, and how they were literally forced down TNB's throat.
Recently, current TNB chairperson Tan Sri Leo Moggie said the PPAs needed to be reviewed as they were unsustainable given TNB's RM24 billion debt.
Shattering the myth that contractual terms cannot not be changed, Leo Moggie said reviewing long-term agreements were normal practice in many countries, including in the power sector.
As an example, Teh notes that when power producer Tanjong PLC bought power plants in Egypt via PPAs, the Egyptian government renegotiated downwards for a lower price.
"In Malaysia, the IPPs are against renegotiating PPAs downwards but if that is the logic, why could one IPP accept it in Egypt but not here?" says Teh.
Unique problem, unique solution
The problem of unfair concession agreements appears unique to Malaysia, observes constitutional and corporate lawyer Tommy Thomas.
In Malaysia, no thanks to the OSA, and without a Freedom of Information Act, there is little avenue for citizens to rectify lopsided contracts.
As such, Thomas has suggested an Unfair Public Contracts Act that allows biased concession agreements to be reviewed.
"It would be based on the principle that public interest overrides private interests. There would also be limits to the amount of compensation paid to concessionaires — it can still be paid, but within limits based on past profitability," he says in a phone interview.
Such a law is not common elsewhere, and as such, a "made-in-Malaysia statute might be the remedy for a uniquely Malaysian problem," Thomas adds.
Being transparent will likely result in some private interests being exposed and challenged.
Witness the tussle over the Selangor Water Restructuring plan between the state and federal governments. The plan essentially moves water services away from a concession system to a licensing regime.
To keep tariffs low, the state government wants to take over the management of water in Selangor and has offered to buy back the water assets and concessions of private water companies. But its price has been rejected for being too low and not inclusive of the companies' debts.
Selangor Water Review Panel member Charles Santiago says it goes against principle to buy the debts of companies which have been making lucrative profits.
"The concessionaires have been paying high dividends to their shareholders but have not been servicing their debts. Also, when plans to restructure the water industry in 2006 were first announced, they should have taken the initiative to clear their debts then to prepare for the restructuring.
"Instead, their attitude is to just sit back and wait for the best deal from the federal government to buy over their liabilities," Santiago, who is also the Klang MP, tells The Nut Graph.
Additionally, Santiago questions why the biggest concessionaires, Syabas and its parent company Puncak Niaga, ought to be "protected" when Syabas was found to have breached several terms under its concession agreement.
The federal government recently launched direct negotiations with the water concessionaires, prompting accusations of a bailout.
Indeed, the stakes are high for both the public and private interests. These concession agreements are worth billions of ringgit. But with concession agreements that unfairly drain public funds and tax citizens, surely renegotiating in the public's interest would be a matter of national interest.
SUNGAI PETANI, March 20 (Bernama) -- A businessman S.Manikumar, 35, was selected as Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) candidate for the Bukit Selambau, Kedah state seat by-elections, PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced.
The police have declared Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's ceramah tonight in Taiping illegal, resulting to a hasty change of venue to Bukit Gantang.
According to organiser Nordin Jaafar, the event will now be held outside the PAS office in Bukit Cempedak, Bukit Gantang, where a by-election will be held on April 7.
The police have earlier warned the public not to participate in the Taiping ceramah.
The ceramah, which is expected to draw thousands of supporters, will be held in Simpang.
Taiping district police chief Raja Musa Raja Razak was reported in Bernama today as saying that the venue was not suitable to hold a ceramah as it was located near the main road.
He added that the ceramah would affect traffic flow and public safety.
"Police will take stern action against those who stage or participate in the assembly," he said.
When asked to comment on the police move, Anwar asked mockingly: "Is this new?"
"It happens all the time," he told reporters in Parliament, adding that the organisers would not be deterred from holding the event.
"We will just say we are having dinner," he quipped.
The ceramah is part of Anwar's visit to Perak and Kedah today and tomorrow.
Ousted Perak MB to speak too
Anwar will be sharing the stage with ousted Perak Menteri Besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin tonight.
They are expected to talk about the on-going political impasse in the state as a result of the power grab by Barisan Nasional.
Anwar is also expected to touch on the forthcoming by-election in Bukit Gantang.
While Umno has named its candidate for the seat, Pakatan has yet to officially name their choice.
Nizar is believed to be one of the early favourites to contest for the parliamentary seat.
On Friday, Anwar will be in Kedah where he is likely to name S Manimaran as the party's candidate for the Bukit Selambau state seat by-election.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was forced today to dispel swirling rumours that he had asked PKR’s Penang deputy chief minister Fairus Khairuddin to resign amid a cloud of suspicion.
But The Malaysian Insider understands that Anwar is planning to announce Fairus’s resignation at a public rally in Bukit Gantang, Perak tonight.
Anwar appeared uneasy when asked by reporters in Parliament about speculation over Fairus’s position.
“As far as I know, Fairus is carrying out his duties and is on leave for a few days,” he replied when asked to confirm the rumours.
“There are many other national issues,” he said when pressed on the issue, and declined to elaborate further.
Despite Anwar’s best efforts, it appears that Fairus’s position in the Penang state government appears untenable because he faces a mountain of allegations over suspected abuse of power.
Earlier today, Penang Chuef Minister Lim Guan Eng also denied his deputy had resigned.
“As of now he is still the deputy chief minister,” Lim had told reporters.
When asked if he was pleased with Fairus’s performance as DCM, Anwar replied that he had performed well in some areas but had room for improvement in others.
He also sidestepped a question on whether there were conflicts between Fairus and PKR.
“Umno also is conflicting with PKR,” he replied.
Speculation about Fairus’s resignation surfaced yesterday after an anonymous text message was circulated saying that he was instructed to quit by Anwar over allegations of abuse of power.
Fairus’s appointment as deputy chief minister has been a source of controversy and he has been told off by Anwar for not even visiting his constituency. He was also forced to quit as Penang Football Association president due to his lack of enthusiasm.
Speculation is also rife that he is one of two PKR leaders in Penang accused of corrupt dealings involving a quarry.
Meqna picking quail eggs.
Move aside Ali Rustam, it is time for UMNO to vote Mat Tyson as the next Deputy President and maybe, if UMNO can survive the next few years, he may stand a chance to be our next next Prime Minister.
This is my choice of UMNO Dream team:
President - Najib Razak
Deputy President - Muhammad Bin Muhammad Taib
Vice President - Syed Hamid Albar, Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, Hishamuddin Tun Hussein.
Wanita Chief - Rafidah Aziz
Youth Chief – Tie between Khir Toyol and Khairy Jamaluddin.
It is an obvious dreamtime as it is fill with masters for all sort of expertise.
Why should I waste my next weeks monitoring the outcome of the future of the nation… does we have a future?
I would rather focus on my quail project at my backyard.
The Male Quail.
Will the ROS act against these 'unfair and double standard' treatment?
By Lim Kit Siang
Former MCA President and MP for Kulai Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting made one of his rare appearances in Parliament today.
Not to speak on anyone of the many great issues currently disturbing thinking Malaysians.
But to complain at the 2008 Supplementary Estimates Committee stage debate on the Education Ministry at the breach of the promise made by the Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein when he was MCA President that the new SJKC(2) Kulai in his parliamentary constituency would be built with 30 classrooms.
He said that months have passed since his intervention, but the issue of the new SJKC(2) Kulai being built with only 24 classrooms instead of 30 classrooms as originally promised remains unresolved.
How the mighty had fallen when the former MCA President has to come to Parliament to complain about the disappearance of six classrooms despite the public pledge jointly made by him as MCA President and Hishammuddin as Education Minister only last year!
Sad, sad, sad!
The anointment of Najib Tun Razak as prime minister could hit some bumps in the road
Against all odds, what been the almost certain anointment of Najib Tun Razak as Malaysia's prime minister appears to foundering as opposition over corruption, high-handedness and other issues mounts, with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and others turning cool on him.
Najib, Malaysia's scandal-scarred deputy prime minister, had been all but selected as president of the United Malays National Organisation, the leading ethnic political party in the ruling national coalition after the current prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was forced out as party leader late last year. Najib must go through the formality of being named party leader in intra-party elections scheduled from March 24 to 29.
The odds are strong that Najib will get the job. However, no date has been announced for his takeover from Badawi, suggesting that there is still uncertainty within the party over his primacy. The party also appears to be reaping a whirlwind by encouraging young outsider candidates to go against established leaders in an effort to clean the stables. The result, a member of an anti-coirruption agency told local reporters, is that there have been so many complaints of political bribery and corruption that the board doesn't have the manpower to investigate them all.
UMNO is increasingly in chaos, not just for that reason but because public objections are growing over massive scandals when Najib was defense minister, including the purchase of three French submarines that netted a company controlled by his controversial crony, Abdul Razak Baginda, 114 million euros in commissions. Other scandals included the purchase of Russian Sukhoi jet fighters and substandard patrol boats costing hundreds of millions of ringgit in overcharges from a company owned by another UMNO crony, Amin Shah Omar.
Najib's candidacy has been badly bruised by an extraordinary speech to the Rotary Club in Kuala Lumpur by Zaid Ibrahim, who was appointed by Badawi last year as a minister in the prime minister's office with a mandate to clean out the country's scandal-ridden judiciary. However, Zaid was forced out of office by UMNO stalwarts.
In the speech, which can be found in its entirety here, (see Text of Dato' Zaid Ibrahim's speech) Zaid said the country's political institutions are "hollowed out caricatures, unable to distinguish vested party interests from national ones, unable to offer the man in the street refuge from the powerful and connected. Our social fabric that took us from colony to an independent nation and on through the obstacle of nation-building has reached a point where it sometimes feels like we are hanging on by a thread."
Zaid pointed directly at Najib, accusing him of a "shameful power grab" by overthrowing the elected government in the tin-rich state of Perak, of using a "sledgehammer" in the detention of journalists and of complicity in the award of the military contracts.
However, Zaid's most damaging charge was to make a clear reference to the long-standing reports of Najib's complicity in the sensational murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was executed by two shots to the head in October of 2006 and her body was destroyed by military explosives. Two of Najib's bodyguards have been the subject of a long-running trial for her murder and Razak Baginda, his best friend, was acquitted under questionable circumstances. The trial has been concluded, but the verdict against the two has yet to be announced. Baginda has left the country for England.
UMNO, Zaid said, "is on a rampage to regain what it lost by any method available and the man who is expected to lead it to victory is the man who succeeds Abdullah: Najib Razak."
Zaid's speech has been studiously ignored by Malaysia's mainstream press, all of which is owned by the major political parties. But bloggers, who played a major role in the election disaster that cost the ruling coalition its two-thirds majority last March for the first time since Malaysia became a nation, have published the speech widely.
In addition, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the most popular blogger in Malaysia, has published a series of devastating articles on his website, Malaysia Today, including one from the French newspaper Liberation that tied Najib closely to the murder of Altantuya. Raja Petra also published a Malay-language copy of the confession of Sirul Azhar Umar, one of the two men on trial for the murder, in which he named Najib's chief of staff, Musa Safri, as the man who ordered the two alleged murderers to pick up Altantuya from in front of the home of her jilted lover, Abdul Razak Baginda.
The rising concerns over Najib have led to the unlikely possibility that dissident elements within UMNO and the other parties, possibly led by the veteran politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, would seek to form a coalition government with elements of Pakatan Rakyat, the three-party opposition coalition headed by Anwar Ibrahim. Others have called on Badawi to stay on, although the king has already accepted his resignation. One opinion poll showed that Badawi has stronger support – a weak 46 percent – than Najib at 41 percent.
Either scenario is farfetched. But in the meantime, UMNO appears to be falling on itself in the factional battle for primacy between the remainder of Badawi's forces,Najib's allies and those aligned with Mahathir Mohamad, who has continued to hammer Badawi and lately has written uncomplimentary remarks about Najib as well, saying he has not been a success as deputy prime minister.
An anti-corruption committee has barred the Malacca chief minister, Ali Rastam, from contesting for the job of deputy president against Muhyiddin Yassin, who is believed to be backed by Najib, on charges of throwing money around to UMNO delegates. At the same time, Mohd Khir Toyo, who is the Najib-backed front runner for the job of leader of the influential UMNO youth wing, was acquitted of the same charges. Apart from Ali Rastam, anti-corruption officials are also investigating the Tourism Minister, Azalina Othman Said and Umno Youth FT head Norza Zakaria, all of whom are reputed to be Badawi supporters and close to Khairy Jamaluddin, who is seeking to become head of the youth wing against Mahathir's son, Mirzan, and Mohd Khir Toyo. That has raised allegations that the anti-corruption agency, installed last year by Badawi, has become politicized.
In addition to attempting to overthrow the state governments now in the hands of the opposition by luring opposition members to the ruling coalition, Najib and UMNO forces have fanned Malaysia's always touchy ethnic divisions by charging Karpal Singh, the national chairman of the opposition Democratic Action Party, of sedition after Karpal announced he would sue the sultan of Perak for appointing an UMNO chief minister after Pakatan lawmakers defected in February, resulting in a 28-28 tie. Karpal's threat of a suit against the sultan was taken by UMNO as a provocation against the Malay royalty. Karpal's son, also a member of parliament, didn't help, however, when he called Najib a murderer in parliament, which got him banned from the house for a year
"The charges against Karpal are ludicrous because it was during the Mahathir administration that they amended the constitution removing the immunity of the rulers," said a longtime Badawi ally. "During that period, the comments made by Mahathir and his Umno leaders and the editorials in Umno-controlled newspapers were so bad that they should all have been charged with sedition and put behind bars."
He said the statement was clearly aimed at creating unease among Umno members in particular and Malaysians in general.
Muhyiddin said this in response to Zaid's remarks yesterday in which he urged the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not to appoint Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the new prime minister.
Speaking at an event here yesterday, Zaid said that Najib's appointment as the prime minister would divide the people.
Muhyiddin said Zaid's statement was not helpful in uniting the people.
It also showed his opportunistic character, said Muhyiddin who is the International Trade and Industry Minister.
"I strongly deny Zaid's claim that the country is in crisis over the appointment of the prime minister.
"The Umno leadership transition is progressing well and it has been proven that Najib has the confidence of Umno divisions to be the new party president," he said in a statement.
Muhyiddin also said that it was clearly stated in Article 43(2) of the Federal Constitution that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall first appoint a member of the Dewan Rakyat, who is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the House, as the prime minister to preside over the cabinet.
"The Barisan Nasional (BN) is the party that commands the majority in the Dewan Rakyat, with Umno having the most seats among the BN component parties," he said.
Muhyiddin said Najib's appointment as the prime minister would unite the people.
"In this connection, I would like to remind the people and Umno members not to fall for Zaid's propaganda which is clearly ill-intent, irresponsible and putting self interest above that of the country," he said.
Meanwhile, Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal described Zaid's statement as devoid of logic as it had been the practice to appoint Umno president as the prime minister.
He said that the power transfer between Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib was progressing smoothly.
Mohd Shafie who is Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister said what was important was for the government to remain focus on the efforts to bring development to the people.
He was speaking to reporters after opening the National Craft Day 2009.
Earlier in his speech, Mohd Shafie said the craft promotion at the Harrods, London, had chalked up RM631,000 in sales since 25 Feb, with the batik traditional fabric being the best-seller.
He expects the sale to reach RM1 million at the conclusion of the campaign on 28 March.
In KOTA KINABALU, former Chief Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak described the call by Zaid as inappropriate and going against convention.
He said that although the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had the discretionary power to appoint the prime minister, it would be based on tradition practiced in the country for so long.
Salleh, who is Kota Belud Umno division chief, said Umno leadership had consented to the leadership transition between Abdullah and Najib.
"The issue of over Datuk Seri Najib's appointment as the new prime minister should not arise.
"He will be the Umno president and BN chairman and according to convention, he will be appointed the prime minister," he told Bernama.
Salleh, who is United Sabah Bajau Organisation (Usbo) president, also slammed Zaid for playing divisive politics at a time when Umno was facing party elections.
"It has been the practice among opposition parties to raise issues which they think will attract public attention, with the intention of smearing the good names of government leaders... it's as though the opposition leaders were blameless," he said. — Bernama
2356: The ceramah is over now with no announcement of the candidate made. My contact is on his way out, wondering when they will reveal the candidate. His final estimate of the turnout is around 10,000.
2328: Gantagian adds:
There are shouts of support from the crowd and cheers for Nizar and Anwar. Looks like it’s gonna be an easy win for Pakatan.
2324: Blog reader Gantagian reports:
I am in the markas for your info. Helping with the sound system here. Estimated about 15,000 people are here tonight. Anwar is talking about the unfairness of the BN goverment, corruption, and Najib as the next PM.
2313: Anwar is now addressing the crowd, according to my contact.
2259: Nizar is speaking now before a crowd of 8,000-10,000. People are having to park their cars 4km away and walk to the ceramah site.
2158: Some 5,000 people are now at a Pakatan ceramah at an alternative venue in Bukit Gantang. More people are trooping in. Anwar and Nizar are already present. My contact at the scene expects them to announce the PR candidate for the constituency tonight.
Anwar is expected to announce PR’s candidate for Bukit Selambau tomorrow at 10.00am in Merbok, Kedah.
2115: Police roadblocks have been set up around Taiping especially around the Simpang area. Police presence has been heavy.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — Pakatan Rakyat is appealing to Parliament for Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo to be paid his allowances while serving out his one-year suspension.
Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen filed a motion under standing order 8(1) today to ask Parliament not to withhold Gobind's allowances and privileges as a MP.
Gobind was suspended from Parliament for one year on Monday without pay and privileges after calling Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak a murderer and insulting the House Deputy Speaker last week.
“At most the House can only stop Gobind from entering the premises of the Dewan. That is the most that the Dewan can do but they went beyond that by taking away his pay given to him under the law. What the law has given to him, the Dewan cannot take it away,” he explained.
“If Gobind tries to commence an action in court and the court finds that the House has no power to take away his salary as an MP, he will put the whole House to shame. To prevent such a consequence from happening, I’ve submitted this motion today for the House to reconsider and to revoke the decision.”
"We will have a meeting with MPK to find out the rationale for the proposal," he told reporters after the presentation of school aid by the Selangor Islamic Affairs Council, here.
The media reported that Selangor MIC was opposed to the MPK proposal to rename "Little India" as Medan Kelana as it would cause the area to lose its identity. The "Little India" Traders Association also voiced opposition to the move as well.
Meanwhile, Abdul Khalid, when asked to comment on Bukit Lanjan Assemblyman Elizabeth Wong's decision to quit, said a decision on the matter would only be made at the weekend.
He said the matter would be discussed by the Selangor State Executive Council.
"Whatever the decision, it can only be made by the menteri besar and the state executive council," he said.
Wong, 37, had submitted her letter of resignation as a state executive councillor and state assemblyman to Abdul Khalid on Feb 17 after her semi-nude photographs had appeared on the Internet.
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Thursday it is illogical to call on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not to appoint Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as the prime minister.
Commenting on the call by Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, urging the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not to appoint Najib as the prime minister, Dr Mahathir said, "He can say what he likes but he is just one person."
"Whether the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will listen to the opinion of one person will be up to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," he said.
He was speaking at a news conference to announce the "Forum and Exhibition on Gaza Genocide: Palestine Solution" here.
Zaid, the former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, claimed that Najib's appointment would divide the people.
Dr Mahathir said: "The person who made this suggestion is not someone who is regarded highly or someone who is rational. If I were the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, I wouldn't even want to read about this. It's too stupid. Who does he want to be?"
Asked whether he would fully support Najib's appointment as the prime minister, Dr Mahathir said, "I will give a full backing to Datuk Najib on condition that he must not appoint any of the corrupt leaders to his cabinet."
He also commented on perception that Najib was corrupt.
"I'm not talking about what people believe. A lot of people believe about something but there is no legal stand taken on whether Najib is corrupt or not."
Asked on his choice for the Umno deputy president's post, Dr Mahathir said, it would be Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the International Trade and Industry Minister.
"I think what is left is somebody who is... well, could not read English and therefore he did something wrong in Australia. So my choice is Muhyiddin," he said.
The contest for the deputy presidency is now between Muhyiddin and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib.
A third candidate, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam was barred from contesting after the party's disciplinary board found him guilty of breaching party ethics.
Dr Mahathir also commented on the statement by Mohd Ali that he (Dr Mahathir) had a hand in the recent decision taken by the disciplinary board.
Dr Mahathir said: "I wish I had but I'm not a member of Umno. If I had been involved, I would have thrown him out from the very beginning but I'm not involved. I have to very reluctantly wait for the decision by the board and I'm not completely happy with it."
He said that Mohd Ali should be treated the same way former Umno vice-president Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Abdul Samad was treated in 2005.
"Isa was thrown out because he was involved in money politics but he also lost his position as a minister. But here, we have a very strange decision.
"He was found to be corrupt but he can remain as the Chief Minister (of Melaka). Now we have a person who is confirmed corrupt but the party accepted him as the chief minister.
"If you pass judgment, you must be consistent. It must apply to everybody in the same way and in the same amount.
"You cannot say, well, he killed that person so he should be hanged. And then he killed another person but this other person is not important, so let him go," he said.
The former Umno president also spoke on the possibility of a "motion of confidence" be tabled in Parliament to have Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi remained as the prime minister.
"It's a possibility; it's not against the law. The law provides that to be the prime minister, you must have the support of the majority in Parliament but it does not say from which party.
"According to the constitution, the person who shall be made the prime minister is a person who has the majority support in Parliament. If you appoint somebody who has no majority support, he will be out," he said.
Dr Mahathir said that there was nothing in the Federal Constitution which stated that the Umno president must be the prime minister.
"There is no provision. That is only our arrangement," he said, adding that legally, the current prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi could continue serving his term until the next general election if he wanted to.
"But of course he may face a vote of no confidence in Parliament... he has a good chance of winning with the support of opposition members but he will become the prime minister of the opposition," he said.
Dr Mahathir said opposition members also had votes in Parliament and if they, together with some members of the Barisan Nasional, were to vote for Abdullah, "then he will be the PM (prime minister)."
wartawan / penulis bebas
ISU PENGAMBILALIHAN TANAH (FELDA) SENDAYAN YANG TAK KESUDAHAN
Dengan segala hormatnya perkara di atas dirujuk.
Felda Sendayan terletak dalam Daerah Seremban, dalam kawasan Parlimen Rembau dan DUN Rantau. Apabila menyebut Felda Sendayan ramai yang mengaitkan kami dengan Peneroka Jutawan. Ia hanyalah persepsi yang salah. Kami mengalami perbagai masalah semenjak proses pengambil alihan bermula dan kini sudah lebih berbelas tahun masalah tidak selesai juga.
Kami merayu kepada semua untuk hadir ke
SESI PENJELASAN KEPADA MEDIA / BLOGGER –
ISU PENDUDUK SENDAYAN TERTIPU
Tarikh : 16 Mac 2009 (Isnin)
Masa : 4.45 petang – 5.45 petang
Tempat : Ibupejabat Parti Keadilan Rakyat,
A-1-09, Merchant Square,
Jalan Tropicana Selatan,
1 47410 Petaling Jaya.
Perlu ditegaskan bukan semua kami ahli KEADILAN, ramai juga ahli Umno. Namun lokasi program kerana kami dijemput dan disediakan tempat oleh KEADILAN setelah usaha kami meminta perhatian Umno gagal.
Tujuan program ini diadakan bagi meminta bantuan semua penggiat media dan blogger menghebahkan perkara sebenar kepada semua dan memberikan tekanan kepada kerajaan untuk menyelesaikan perkara ini dengan serius. Kami sudah dizalimi berbelas tahun lamanya.
Jika ada sebarang pertanyaan sila hubungi Mustafar 0196428525 atau Fauzi 0176460430.
Rayu untuk hebahkan dan panjangkan jemputan kepada semua penggiat media dan blogger.
Pendedahan kezaliman berterusan melibatkan tanah peneroka felda.
Seketeriat Bertindak Penduduk Sendayan.