Tuesday, March 24, 2009
A true story as seen as happen
Received a call from YB Mike’s SUP around 2.30pm on Monday, 23 Mar 09. He asked if I’m free to join them to Bukit Selambau as Dato Seri Anwar PKR Supremo expected YB Mike’s presence there.
As I’m keenly observing political scenario in Malaysia since last general election, I decided to join them. Around 4.00 pm both of us jump into YB Mike’s car which currently on loan to him as his official car sent to Perdana specialist.
While, on the car I did caught up some political games took place surrounding Bukit Selambau by election as Makkal Sakthi group claims the candidate doesn’t have good credential. Yes, I heard about that previously but I believe party leadership won’t make such silly mistakes.
Half way near Ipoh, we were informed that Harakah and Suara Keadilan was banned by Home Ministry. The timing of ban so perfect as UMNO General Assembly to convene in couple of days followed by three by elections. So, that the first step showing ruling party rather worried losing their power then disclosing truth.
We stop in Butterworth for a while to catch up with some Makkal Sakthi leaders listening to their grievances before proceeding to Bukit Selambau. We were told the Ceramah be held in a padang near Cinta Sayang Resort. Spotted road blocks just metres before reaching the location. The first thing I saw was Pondok Police but it’s empty . Second is FRU trucks and FRU personnel taking locations. Ah, ah… trouble!
Saw MP’s, Adun mingling around talking to supporters while others eagerly awaiting Dato Seri Anwar. Few minutes later, he arrives straight to the podium together with Pakatan leader and Bukit Selambau PKR Candidate S. ManiKumar. Deep in heart I feel the location I’m standing not safe, the tent next to Podium. So, I walked behind and stand in a shop lot verandah just behind the Podium.
Anwar, says “Saya di sini dengan Kawalan Polis Ketat .. dan kita nak perkenalan Calon …..Polis tak bagi Amaran pun. “ Yes, Police laced Chemical Water Straight to the podium where Anwar and other elected representative standing. No Warning , nothing at all..
I ran left of the building, while Anwar and others taken to PKR Operation Room . Luckily just about 30 cm, from where I’, m standing the Chemical water landed. But the Strong stink chemical irks and I had breathing difficulty. Even, myself whom have no previous health record can feel such difficult what about those with asthmatic and children.
Luckily I escape, so walked towards car, YB Mike was standing together with supporters. As I saw police build up moving towards the podium, we advise YB Mike to left the place. Poop, drops 2 can of tear gas just about a metre from us. There runs every one crossing busy road, I had to take out my glassed on one hand and grip on nose with other hand run across the tear gas. I couldn’t see anything for few minutes as we cross the road.
After about 10minutes YB Mike’s SUP who manage to escape Tear Gas but not Chemical water picks us from the spot and we moved out of Sungai Petani.
BN made a Big Blunder … No WAY BN CAN WIN THIS SIT
sorry for the poor photo quality
IPOH, March 24 - Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim, the most junior judge to hear a constitutional case, has recused himself from hearing one case involving the Perak state speaker and is expected to do the same for a second case.
Lawyers said he recused himself from the Perak executive council's suit challenging the 12 to 18-month suspensions by Speaker V Sivakumar for "unconstitutionally" accepting their appointments.
It is also understood that Ridwan will recuse himself from the suit by Hee Yit Foong, Osman Jailu and Jamaluddin Radzi, who are now independents supporting Barisan Nasional (BN), challenging Sivakumar's claim that they resigned from their seats, once the file has been returned to Ipoh.It comes on the back of yesterday's Federal Court decision to return the suit filed by three former Pakatan Rakyat (PR) assemblymen against the speaker to the Ipoh High Court.
This decision comes as the legal team representing Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Zambry Adb Kadir and his six exco members are applying for an identical referral to the Federal Court.
A member of the team, Faizul Hilmy Ahmad Zamri said that after meeting representatives from both legal teams in his chambers, Ridwan recused himself as he knew the apex court would reverse his decision as it did yesterday.
Ridwan had initially allowed the BN lawyer's application to refer the suit to the Federal Court despite Sivakumar's legal team that the state constitution had been used wrongly in the application.
The case has been transferred to Judicial Commissioner Wan Afrah Wan Ibrahim, who has set April 2 to hear an application to strike out the case made by Sivakumar.
Ridwan's role in hearing the cases had earlier raised eyebrows due to his junior status in the judiciary.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 - Umno, which has dominated Malaysian politics since the country's independence, starts five days of soul searching today at its annual congress, amid unprecedented challenges to its power.
With voter support crumbling and internal dissent running rampant, the focus will be on the party's leader-in-waiting, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, as he tries to carve out a recovery plan.
Mr Najib is due to take over from Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi as United Malays National Organisation president at the congress, before being installed as prime minister on April 3."Not just Umno members but most Malaysians are focused on the congress and on Najib, because although Umno is battered, it is still a big power player," said political scientist Chandra Muzaffar.
"Besides the elections [for party posts], the other main focus is on how Najib proposes to revive Umno's flagging fortunes."
In the past year, the party suffered its worst electoral results, losing power in five states and a third of its seats in the national parliament to a resurgent opposition, led by the charismatic Anwar Ibrahim. The results forced Mr Abdullah to step aside in favour of Mr Najib.
More recently, the party has been embroiled in a bribery scandal involving payments for influence.
Last week, the party's committee barred about 20 members from contesting elections. Senior Umno leader Ali Rustam was barred from standing as deputy president on grounds of vote-buying.
Publicly, Mr Najib has committed himself to an agenda of change.
"This is the most critical time in the history of Umno and (the ruling National Front coalition)," the incoming leader told the New Straits Times.
"We need to undertake reforms, be it in the party or government, as the people have given us the signals in the last general election - to change," he said.
"We need to accept this challenge by making massive changes to the party
and the government."
But the task may be easier said than done.
"It is hard to eradicate money politics in Umno because it has become the norm," said Ramon Navaratnam, Transparency International Malaysia chairman.
"We hope Najib will bite the bullet and clean up Umno and society, because his predecessor, Abdullah, has failed."
Mr Abdullah will give his final speech as party president tomorrow, but most attention will be on Mr Najib's speech on Saturday, in which he will outline his vision.
"The general theme is change to survive, or die," said political scientist Denison Jayasooria of University Kebangsaan. "He will tell the delegates that they must respond to rising demands for good governance or disappear from the political scene.
"There is strong resistance to change within Umno," Dr Denison said.
"Despite the polls losses, the party is still in denial."
About 4,000 delegates and observers are being put up in hotels surrounding the Putra World Trade Centre, the congress venue.
The centre is decked out in banners and flags as candidates lobby for support.
Mr Abdullah's predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad, is making a play for influence. He is publicly "advising" Mr Najib how to run the country, who to pick for his cabinet and what the priorities should be.
Dr Mahathir, who stepped down in 2003 after 22 years, is openly backing candidates for key posts, pushing the candidacy of his son Mukhriz Mahathir to head the Umno Youth wing. Mr Abdullah is backing his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin against Mr Mukhriz.
Nearly 50 others leaders are vying for the three posts of vice-president and the 35 vacancies on the party's Supreme Council. - South China Morning Post
“Proclaim their real parentage. That will be more equitable in the sight of God. And if ye know not their fathers, then (they are) your brethren in the faith, and your clients. And there is no sin for you in the mistakes that ye make unintentionally, but what your hearts purpose (that will be a sin for you). God is ever Forgiving, Merciful” - Surah 33 verse 5 of the Holy Qur’an.
I’ve always understood this verse to mean that you do not change the name of a person such that the identity of his parentage gets lost in the name change.
For example, say Leong Kim Soon names his firstborn son Leong Soon Kim.
Soon Kim, upon attaining the age of majority, embraces Islam.
Should he now change his name to Imran bin Abdullah?
Premised on my understanding of the above verse, no.
Maybe, to avoid an accidental burial as a non-Muslim upon his death, the addition of “bin Abdullah” behind his name of birth might not offend the the verse above.
Leong Soon Kim bin Abdullah might just be acceptable.
See, you add to the name, and not remove anything therefrom.
And the name, with the “bin Abdullah”, continues to proclaim the parentage of Soon Kim.
Which brings me to my questions.
Why would a certain doctor cum politician of the Muslim faith and born of an Indian father drop the “Kutty” in his name of birth?
To be more Malay than your average thoroughbred Malay, perhaps?
And why would such a person go out of his way to portray himself as the champion of the Malays, all the whilst turning a blind eye to the plight of those marginalised from his Indian side of the family?
Ashamed of his Indian parentage, perhaps?
Feels the need to be more Malay than the average thoroughbred Malay, perhaps?
Not politically expedient, both for himself and those of his progeny who may also incline towards politics to amass riches, to not be seen by others as Malay, perhaps?
I mean, I share the same circumstance as this doctor in that I’m of mixed parentage.
Dad was Malay and mum was Ceylonese.
I’m anak Bangsa Malaysia.
That doctor, though, has turned out to be a rabid racist.
Who went wrong, I wonder?
Are Malaysians seeing the start of the Najib crackdown from events of the past week?
These developments include:
16.3.09: DAP MP for Puchong Gobind Singh Deo suspended for one year in “kangaroo court” proceeding in Parliament without parliamentary pay and privileges for asking the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak whether he was involved in the murder case of Mongolian Altantuya Shariibuu.
17.3.09: DAP National Chairman and MP for Bukit Gelugor Karpal Singh charged under the Sedition Act 1948 for stating that a State Ruler can be brought to court in their official and personal capacities under the Constitution.
18.3.09: Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) showed utter contempt for the doctrine of separation of powers and continued harassment of the Perak State Assembly Committee of Privileges chaired by Perak State Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar for suspending usurper Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and his illegitimate six exco members from the assembly, by subjecting the committee members to questioning for the offence of corruption in misusing their powers.
23.3.09: Unreasonable and undemocratic three-month suspension of PAS’ Harakah and PKR’s Suara Keadilan;
23.3.09: Indiscriminate police firing of tear gas and chemical-lacked water on 5,000-people ceramah at Bukit Selambau, Kedah minutes after Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim took the podium.
Since the unethical, undemocratic, illegal and constitutional power grab in Perak on 5th February 2009, personally orchestrated by Najib, the PM-in-waiting has confirmed the worst fears that his ascension as the sixth Prime Minister would see a return of Mahathirism and a Najib crackdown.
Media reports of the parliamentary debate on the Witness Protection Bill yesterday have been sanitized to remove all reference to questions about Najib’s suitability, integrity and legitimacy to become the new Prime Minister, so long as he is not prepared to take the necessary actions to clear all doubts haunting and hounding him, whether about mega defence deal commissions, the Altantuya Shariibuu murder case or the undemocratic, unethical, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak.
During the debate, I referred to the spate of adverse international media reports about Najib’s coming ascension - in London Sunday Times on Sunday, Paris Liberation last week, as well as in Thailand and Australia - questioned the seriousness and the political will in the purported reform to root out corruption (of which the Protection of Witness Bill is part of the package), the disappearance of private investigator Bala Subramaniam after two statutory declarations highly detrimental to Najib’s reputation and integrity, and the urgent need for Najib to respond frontally to the many swirling allegations dogging him by establishing a Royal Commission of Inquiry to vindicate his innocence, as he had claimed.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz avoided all these burning issues with the stance that they were totally irrelevant to the Bill.
Who is really being protected - Najib?
BY retaining the presidency of MIC without a fight for the 11th consecutive term on Sunday, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has become the longest-serving leader in Barisan Nasional. While nobody sensible was betting on anything other than Samy Vellu's re-election, this record-breaking feat is, nevertheless, a noteworthy achievement. However, it is clear that all is not well in this victory. As much as the MIC president wants to cut the impression that he is still strong, the reality is that the leadership question stands paramount among the host of unresolved issues facing the MIC. Political longevity is not necessarily a reflection of popular acclaim, as the accusations of dirty tricks from Samy Vellu's detractors make clear. Neither is it much of an asset when it becomes the subject of taunts from the opposition and a source of worry for its coalition partners, who fear it could undermine their own electoral chances.
While Samy Vellu has intimated that he will make room for a "younger leader at the right time", not having a clear road map and timeline for succession does not inspire confidence that there will be room in the party for young blood and fresh ideas. At a time when its partners in Barisan Nasional have been going through agonising appraisals of where they went wrong and doing what they can to transform themselves, the right time for MIC's rejuvenation is now rather than later. With a new leadership already in command of the MCA and with Umno soon to have a new president, the very fact that the old hand at MIC's helm is not prepared to let go speaks volumes about his unwillingness to read the writing on the wall.
By Anil Netto
The federal government says it has no choice but to approve highway toll increases because it is stipulated in the concession agreements that they would have to pay compensation if they do not approve them. (We won’t discuss here how they drew up such lopsided agreements in the first place.)
So is it fair to retrench foreign workers with valid employment agreements without paying them adequate compensation?
LABOUR-MALAYSIA: Hit Foreign Workers First Govt Tells Employers
By Anil Netto
PENANG, Mar 23 (IPS) - An official guideline for employers to retrench their foreign workers ahead of local employees has alarmed civil society society groups who fear that indebted migrant workers could be sent home with inadequate compensation.
Worries about retrenchment and unemployment have been mounting as Malaysia sinks into a recession, its export-oriented economy taking a hit from a slump in global consumer demand.
In the last quarter of 2008, the economy grew by just 0.1 per cent and many fear the economy will shrink this year despite a huge 60 billion ringgit (16 billion US dollars) government stimulus package.
In January, exports dropped by 28 percent and the number of workers employed by the manufacturing sector fell by nine per cent against the previous year.
Thousands have been retrenched in the last few months. Labour Department statistics for the month of January alone show 4,325 workers retrenched of which 2,153 were local and 2,172 foreign. These of course are only reported figures.
The steady rate of retrenchments has worried the government, which has announced a principle of foreign workers first out (FWFO), meaning that employers should lay off foreign workers before they retrench locals.
Even the country’s trade union movement is worried about the influx of migrant workers at a time when retrenchments are rising. Full article here.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — The contrast yesterday could not have been more striking.
There he was looking tired, spent, raiding a bare cupboard to justify his 5 ½ years in office and looking forward to a life of gardening with his wife. At the age of 73.
There he was looking sprightly, combative, ready to clock 12 hour days in the office and looking forward to another shot at public service, another short of salvaging his legacy. At the age of 84.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi looked and sounded like a defeated man in his farewell interview with Mingguan Malaysia, a man exiting the main stage with a whimper.
The man who forced him out, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad looked and sounded like a politician ready for another tour of duty in his series of newspaper interviews and address to Malay right-wing group Perkasa.
The attempt to put a gloss on Abdullah’s years as prime minister has started.
From his replies, it is clear that he truly believes that Islam Hadhari, fiscal prudence , the Judicial Appointments Commission, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and opening up of discourse here will burnish his legacy.
Newspapers are ready to publish articles on the high points of the Abdullah era.
Utusan Malaysia is proposing that he be feted like a statesman when he leaves office on April 3. But if Malaysians are honest; if his supporters are honest; if Abdullah is honest, his five years in office should be headlined: The Missed Opportunity.
If it seems that he and his supporters are scrapping the barrel to prop him up as a top notch leader, it is because they are.
His failings become obvious when his time in office is measured against the likes of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Hussein Onn and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Historians may rank him joint fourth or fifth in terms of achievements, fulfilling promises and utilising a mandate.
Look at what his competition achieved:
Tunku Abdul Rahman — Delivered independence for the country, embraced the idea of the Alliance and never once forgot that he was the leader of all Malayans/Malaysians. Because he and other early Umno politicians like Tun Dr Ismail and Tun Abdul Razak were fair and honest men, non-Malays were happy to accept the leadership of Umno.
The independence of institutions was respected during his time and there was a respect for the separation of powers by the government.
Tun Abdul Razak — He crafted policies and ideas which helped Malaysia navigate itself through the dark days after the May 1969 riots. The New Economic Policy, Rukunegara and Felda were born during his short term inoffice. Barisan Nasional and concept of power-sharing among different races was introduced by him.
Some of the most prominent politicians whom he selected and nurtured in the 1970s still dominate the scene today. In short, a prime minister who left an indelible mark on Malaysia.
Tun Hussein Onn — He largely continued Razak’s economic policies but pushed for the creation of a Malay business class. During his short term, NEP policies exceeded their targets, so soon after he left office in 1981, Dr Mahathir reaped the rewards and was credited with most of its achievements.
Some say he was a meticulous man, others claim he was indecisive. He took six months to go through the 403-page Third Malaysian Plan.
A lawyer by training, he was a stickler for rules. During his time in office, he was challenged by elements in Umno, communist insurgency and secession from Sabah.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad — He transformed Malaysia from an agrarian society to one of the top trading nations in the world. His economic policies helped create the large middle class we have in the country today.
Built the national car, the Petronas Twin Towers, Putrajaya and gave Malaysians a sense of confidence. His 22 years in office also witnessed the controversial round up of some 100 people under Operasi Lalang, the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim from government, the clipping of the power of the royalty and the hollowing out of the institutions.
On the world stage because of his willingness to go against convention, Malaysia punched above her weight. Umno became bigger, more assertive and less accommodating during his time.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi — He won the biggest mandate in history. Introduced Islam Hadhari; reduced the budget deficit to 3.2 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product; allowed more debate and opening up of democratic space; set up the MACC and JAC and introduced the five economic growth corridors.
On the surface, Abdullah looks to have done a decent job. But remove a couple of layers and a sorry picture emerges.
He is leaving a country fractured by racial and religious polarisation. Anyone listening to the rabid speeches at the Perkasa function yesterday would have wondered whether Malaysia is home to Malays, Chinese, Indians or home only to Malays.
If there is growing chauvinism among Malaysians, it is because the Abdullah administration took a cavalier attitude towards the festering sores in Malaysian society.
It leaned too heavily on “the time will heal every problem” approach, putting off solving vexing issues of religious freedom and the abuse of the NEP to another day, hoping that the embers of anger in each community would douse itself out.
He is leaving behind institutions a significant number of Malaysians do not have trust in. The Police. The Judiciary. The Civil Service.
The early signs from the MACC are not promising. Government lawmakers believe that it has been invested with too much power and the Opposition feel that the commission will do the bidding of the BN government.
A survey by the Merdeka Centre shows that the majority of Malaysians do not believe that either the MACC or the JAC will be effective in tackling corruption and improving the standing of the judiciary.
Abdullah’s third initiative — a tribunal for enforcement agencies — is currently in limbo. Government lawmakers have blocked its passage through Parliament, arguing that more work needs to be done before the legislation is rubber-stamped.
That is the official reason.
The real reason is that BN lawmakers are suspicious of the tribunal, and do not believe that any independent body should be empowered to lord over the police, customs, immigration and other uniform services.
Looking back at his term as PM, Abdullah told Mingguan Malaysia that he made a couple of strategic errors.
He should have pushed ahead with all his reforms just after winning the 2004 elections.
With a solid mandate, momentum and with the pro-status quo powers cowed into silence, he could have reformed Umno and the country.
Instead, he waited and waited and the establishment forces in Umno recovered their poise and strength. Knowing that he could not control the party, he became a prisoner to its wants.
For example when the party rejected the open tender system, he went along with it.
Not surprisingly, 80 per cent of all government contracts during his term were direct negotiations.
Abdullah also lamented that while he encouraged more discourse on sensitive topics and openness during his time as PM, he should have redrawn the out-of-bound markers for Malaysians.
True, he should have better managed the opening up of democratic space in Malaysia.
True, he should have had more resolve in tackling excesses by his party.
True, he should have done more to ensure that a more equitable system was put in place.
True, he should have made good all his promises in his first term of office.
He did not.
And as a result, his goal of serving two terms in office was cut short, dramatically by the party he served so slavishly.
Historians may be kinder to him.
His party men will bid him farewell this week in glowing terms.
But for many Malaysians, the Abdullah years will be remembered as the Missed Opportunity.
Wow. If Abdullah doesn’t do something to defend his people, he’s sure gonna be spat on when he leaves.
Norza seems the latest victim in an early effort to ensure that Najib has everyone ‘in power’ under his thumb. If I were in Umno (haha), I’d be wary of so much power in one man’s hands.
Sure, Najib loyalists may be rubbing their hands in glee. It’s never a problem to watch other people getting persecuted.
But one day, if your boss decides to hang you out to dry for whatever reason (and these are easier to come by than you think), you’ll be sorry you let that one man amass so much power.
So, Abdullah has days to show whether he has any kind of consideration for loyalty. If he doesn’t do anything to protect his people, I wouldn’t be surprised if they became only too happy to cooperate should Najib decide to take some extra steps to make sure Abdullah doesn’t come back from retirement.
The clock is ticking Abdullah. Do the right thing.
I managed to make it to the book launch of Zaid Ibrahim’s Saya Pun Melayu and a biography of Tok Guru Nik Aziz today. The two gentlemen launched each other’s books, and Anwar was there (literally in between Batang Ai and Bkt Selambau - still the superhuman worker) to share some literary ruminations (something I think he quite enjoys).
I’m not sure I’ve heard Nik Aziz speak before, but he was fun to listen to. He reminds of other religious figures who seem to transcend religion - like a statesman in politics; people like the Dalai Lama or the Pope. The word ‘venerable’ comes to mind.
Tun Salleh Abas was there, and Anwar questioned when we were going to follow in the steps of Pakistan :) But no special announcement from Zaid (who also spoke entertainingly), if that was what you’re looking for.
Here’s a blog survey from an anthropologist who’d like to hear your thoughts :)
"The movement must change for the sake of the people if they are serious about supporting Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak leadership to win the 13th general election," she said.
Wanita Umno should also champion the women and family cause and get involve in religious issues, she said, adding that, they should not leave them to the government to solve them if they want to win back women's votes in the election.
Wanita Umno should also fight for the rights of its members in the party and government as well as help improve the livelihood of poor members, she said in statement today.
Shahrizat, who is challenging Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz at party elections, said she would shoulder the responsibility entrusted wisely should she win the post.
The first case involved an application by Perak's BN Menteri Besar Zambry Abd Kadir and his state exco members against V Sivakumar for suspending them from attending the state assembly.
And the second suit was by three BN-friendly independents against Sivakumar's decision to declare the seats vacant using their undated resignation letters.
When the suits first came up for hearing last month, Ridwan had ruled that Sivakumar can only be represented by the state legal advisor on the grounds that he was a public servant.
Sivakumar had objected to this ruling, stating that there would be a conflict of interest as the state legal advisor was also appearing for Zambry in another matter.
Court of Appeal ruling
The matter then went to the Court of Appeal which ruled last week that Sivakumar can appoint his own team of lawyers.
"We find no provision in any law that states the speaker must be represented by the state legal adviser.
"Under the Government Proceedings Act, the speaker is not a state officer or the government of the state. The appellant is at liberty to engage his own private advocates and solicitors," ruled the Court of Appeal.
Both the cases came up for hearing before Ridwan this morning in chambers and the judicial commissioner recused himself from hearing the cases.
The matters have now been transferred to the chambers of Ipoh High Court judge Wan Afrah Wan Ibrahim
She has fixed April 2 to hear application from Sivakumar's lawyers to strike out the suit.
Najib Razak is expected to take over as prime minister by early April
(BBC)Malaysia's government has imposed a ban on two main opposition newspapers, ahead of key political developments.
Harakah and Suara Keadilan have been told they cannot publish for the next three months, with immediate effect.
It comes a week before the expected designation of a new and controversial prime minister, Najib Razak, and two weeks before important by-elections.
Analysts say the government, which has faced strong opposition challenges, is increasingly intolerant of criticism.
The government announced its decision in a letter from the Home Ministry addressed to the head of the Suara Keadilan newspaper.
"This latest suppression underscores the insecurity and fear that Najib and his supporters feel about their political situation," Tian Chua, a spokesman for the newspaper, is quoted by AFP news agency as saying.
"We fear that this action by the government is a prelude to a general clampdown on press freedom in Malaysia," he said.
Mr Chua said that no reason for the ban had been given, adding that the newspapers would defy it despite the threat of legal action.
Harakah and Suara Keadilan are the main publications of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party and the People's Justice Party, which belong to a three-party opposition alliance that has made major inroads against the ruling National Front coalition in the past year.
Mr Najib is expected to take office by early April when the current prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, steps down.
The transition will follow a turbulent period in Malaysia, which has seen growing political conflict and protests from angry minority groups.Mr Najib would also enter office amid a series of allegations, including one linking him to a murder case, all of which he strongly denies.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — The Police will apply to the court to issue a warrant of arrest against Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong’s ex-boyfriend following his failure to give a statement over the posting of semi-nude pictures of her on the Internet.
Police had given him until last Thursday to give a statement on the matter at city police headquarters here, but he failed to show up.
City deputy police chief Datuk Abdul Samah Mat said it was only proper that a warrant of arrest be issued against him following his failure to assist investigations into the case.
“We had conveyed through his father on the need for him to give a statement by last Thursday but he still did not turn up,” he told Bernama here today.
Meanhwile, on the police report lodged yesterday by Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin against the writer of a book which defamed him, Abdul Samah said police would be calling him for questioning soon. — Bernama
But he declined to say which party he was considering.
Zaid said he was still in active politics and was close to leaders of all three Pakatan rakyat (PR) parties.
“I will make an announcement when the time comes but I am in no hurry.”
He said he would join a party in which he would be most effective.
Zaid was speaking after the launch his second book Saya Pun Melayu, which also saw the launch of Pas spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat’s book entitled Kemilau Peribadi, at the Tropicana Golf and Country Club here.
The former minister also said that Malaysia needed a leader to unite rather than divide now more than ever.
He said as a democracy, leaders should show some maturity and lead by example.
Zaid, who has been labelled a traitor by his former Umno colleagues for saying that the King had the discretion not to appoint Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the next prime minister, said his suggestion was just an idea.Speaking in reference to the current economic and political turmoil in the country, Zaid said he had nothing personal against Najib and admitted he was not a soothsayer.
“He (Najib) may be the (right) person (to lead the country) so prove me wrong.”
But he said Umno should be more tolerant of dissenting views.
“I am just an ordinary rakyat but they are so dismissive and this reflects on their leadership style. ”
Zaid compared the personal attacks against him to the divisive politics of the 60s where Pas and Umno members used to burnt flags and effigies of each other.
“It is like the people have progressed but the (Umno) leaders have not and I feel sorry for them.”
Zaid said he hopes his book will be read especially by the Malay community and
denied the launch date was set to coincide with the Umno General Assembly.
“It a coincidence, like many others things in this country.” he quipped.
Also at the event today, was Nik Aziz and opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
SUNGAI PETANI, March 23 — Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) forces fired tear gas and used water cannons tonight on thousands gathered at a ceramah in Bukit Selambau just as Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was beginning his speech.
At about 10pm, the FRU engaged the crowd gathered in an open field in front of a shophouse that is being used by PKR as its operation centre for the April 7 by-election.
The opposition leader and other Pakatan Rakyat leaders were holed up in the operation centre until nearly 11pm as police continued breaking up the crowd outside.
According to PKR’s Selangor executive councillor Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, those arrested include fellow party member Zamri Yusuf who is a Senator from Kedah and Anwar’s chief of staff Ibrahim Yaacob.
He added that the crowd of thousands dispersed into nearby housing areas with the FRU giving chase as they continued to fire tear gas.
Others arrested include aides to Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak and S Manikumar, the candidate for the Bukit Selambau by-elections.
According to PKR party workers, about 50 people were detained and taken to the police headquarters in Kuala Muda.
“I am so angry that the FRU used water cannons and tear gas on 5,000 people gathered to hear DSAI speak,” Dr Jeyakumar stated.
He also told The Malaysian Insider that there were rumours that the authorities wanted to detain the PKR de facto leader.
Other PKR sources have also told The Malaysian Insider of such rumours since last week when Anwar first hit the campaign trail for the three simultaneous by-elections in Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai.
Anwar did however manage to leave the scene after 11pm after being escorted by his security personnel to his car.
Jeyakumar also said that many were injured in the attack as the crowd were ambushed from the back.
The police and FRU also dismantled the tents, confiscated the rostrum and all the PA equipment from the site.
2342: Just off the line with Selangor state exco member Xavier Jayakumar. He told me that the speakers on stage in Sungai Petani tonight did not hear any police warnings to disperse.
Police fired water cannon and tear gas into the crowd, including women and children, as they moved in.
Children coming out of a neaby tuition centre were also doused by the spray from the water cannon; so were patrons in a nearby Chinese restaurant, according to Xavier.
Even the usual small itinerant traders selling Pakatan memorabilia were not spared the action. Police could be heard warning of even more aggressive action as they chased the people away. “The police action was aggressive,” observed Xavier.
According to Xavier’s blog:
2330: Dr Xavier and team have regrouped and are making their way back to their lodgings for the night.
2250: Anwar has managed to leave the chaos in Taman Ria, Sg Petani. Many of us are trying to locate friends that have run in every direction possible. Many people were injured in the chaos that ensued after the FRU opened the water cannons on the crowd.
The crowd was fired upon from the back. They had to no idea that the attack was coming. Many people had brought their entire families along to hear Dato Seri speak…
2245: The police and FRU have secured the perimeter of the ceramah area. The police even dismantled the tents, confiscated the rostrum and the PA equipment.
2235: Six people are believed to be arrested.
2225: The FRU continue to fire the water cannon and tear gas on PR supporters.
2215: The crowd of about 5,000 people have dispersed with the FRU on their tails. Many ran into the nearby housing areas (Tamans). The FRU gave chase and continued to fire tear gas even into the housing estates.
2200: Police have fired water cannon/tear gas to disperse a crowd of several thousand (1,000-5,000), including women and children at a ceramah in Sungai Petani. The tear gas was fired, apparently without any warning, just as Anwar was about to speak after greeting the crowd in several languages.
The situation is described as chaotic and even the reporters are in a state of shock. Police are securing the perimeter.
Anwar was due to address the ceramah in Taman Ria in Sungai Petani tonight.
by Christina Koh
IPOH: The Federal Court will be asked to decide on whether a state assembly Speaker or the Election Commission (EC) has the final say in determining the vacancy of a seat.
Ipoh High Court Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim, in a closed courtroom yesterday morning, referred the matter to the apex court after hearing arguments on an application raised by counsel for three independent assemblymen.
The High Court was supposed to have heard two earlier applications relating to a suit brought against Speaker V. Sivakumar by Jelapang assemblyman Hee Yit Foong, Behrang assemblyman Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Changkat Jering assemblyman Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu.
Both applications – one by Sivakumar asking to strike out the suit and another by six plantiffs to act as interveners – were stayed pending the Federal Court decision.
Later outside the court, the assemblymen’s lead counsel Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin said it was essential to achieve a finality of interpretation on many questions of constitutional importance.
This included, he said, the validity of the assemblymen’s letters of resignation supposedly sent to Sivakumar, the role of the EC in determining the casual vacancy of the seat and whether a by-election could be held.
However, Firoz Hussein declined to reveal the five questions to be referred because the judicial commissioner was still awaiting the final written draft for approval or amendment.
Umno legal adviser Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, responding to accusations that the judge had erred in his decision, clarified that it was made under Section 84 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, read with Article 63 of the state constitution.
On complaints by Sivakumar’s lawyers that they had no warning of the questions, Mohd Hafarizam retorted that they had advance notice because the questions were based on the originating summons filed by the independents.
Sivakumar’s lead counsel Chan Kok Keong had told reporters that it was their view that Ridwan had misinterpreted the law, adding that they would file an appeal with the Court of Appeal.
Ketua staf pejabat saya, saudara Ibrahim Yaacob, Senator Zamri Yusof dan saudara Ismadi (Pegawai Khas Menteri Besar Kedah) di antara yang ditahan polis dalam insiden kekacauan sabentar tadi.
Ternyata tindakan rakus sademikian olih pasukan polis sejurus satelah Suara Keadilan dan Harakah diharamkan merupakan petanda betapa sistem pemerintahan di bawah Najib bakal menjerumuskan negara ke kancah ketidakstabilan dan pentadbiran kuku besi. Bicara beliau mengenai perubahan hanya omongan kosong untuk mengalih perhatian rakyat dari skandal yang terpalit.
Tanpa sebarang amaran, polis membedil gas pemedih mata beserta pancutan air. Hadirin lari bertempiaran menyelamatkan diri. Namun ia tidak menghentikan pembedilan bertubi-tubi tanpa sebarang belas kasihan terhadap wanita dan kanak-kanak.
Saya diseludup ke bilik gerakan pilihan raya dan berlindung bersama beberapa orang pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat. Difahamkan hampir 50 das gas pemedih mata dibedil oleh pihak polis sabentar tadi.
Jelas, UMNO-BN sememangnya dalam keadaan yang sangat terdesak ketika ini. Gelombang kebangkitan rakyat di Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang dan Batang Ai cukup meresahkan mereka.
Saya menyeru agar kita semua bertenang dan tidak mudah dibakar dengan provokasi jahat yang dicetuskan oleh mereka. Walau apa yang terjadi, semangat rakyat yang mahukan perubahan pastinya tidak akan dapat digugat!
What on earth is going on?
Quite frankly, I’m surprised at the amount of repressive measures, all lumped in one day.
First we have the outlawing of Suara Keadilan and Harakah, at oh so convenient timing, and now, I’m informed that tonight’s ceramah (5,000 strong, with women and children in attendance) at Bukit Selambau was attacked by the FRU and their unholy tear gas and water cannons.
Wtf? This is almost a first. Night time ceramahs have very seldom been fired on. What’s going on?
I know many would scoff when I say that the powers that be (incoming more likely than outgoing) can’t possibly be so stupid as to think that these kinds of brutal repression will help their chances in the 3 by-elections?
Exactly what is the tone being set, what is the message?
Behold our might? Cower before our strength?
I suppose there is a small chance someone out there stupidly believes that this will make people tremble in fear and somehow allow Najib to rule on.
And yet, all evidence points to the contrary. They fired on the Bersih and Hindraf rallies, they shut down opposition ceramahs all over the place, they outlawed our publications, and continuously tried to peddle lies in their media.
Where did this get them?
The loss of 5 states and their precious two thirds majority.
I used to tell people that Najib is a little too soft for all out iron fist repression. I must say, I am ever so slowly being persuaded otherwise. We’ll see what that ass of a presumptive PM has to say about it tomorrow (’the police must do their job, illegal illegal gathering!’?). I guess Abdullah is just going to leave the rest of us to this wretched fate.
If they really want to come down hard, we’ll have to prepare for the worst. But I assure you, the rakyat - you and me - will not be backing down.
You can take your tear gas and your suspensions and shove them. We will defend what belongs to the rakyat, and we will defend what is right. Lawan tetap lawan!
KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 (Bernama) -- The Home Ministry has suspended the publishing permits of Harakah and Suara Keadilan, the party organs for PAS and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) with immediate effect.
Home Minister Datuk Sri Syed Hamid Albar said the action was taken because they had violated the conditions of their permits.
He said they often published articles which questioned Royalty and sensationalised news that were defamatory and aimed at causing confusion and disharmony in society.
"This action does not mean the government is curbing press freedom but to preserve peace and harmony in our multi-racial society," he told Bernama.
He added that the government never restricted political parties from propagating their philosophies and ideologies through their party organs but would not tolerate the writing of lies which could cause serious conflicts among the people.
He added that Harakah and Suara Keadilan had been warned many times but had chosen to ignore the warnings and also kept selling copies to the public though they were meant for only party members.
It is understood the suspension notice for Harakah was sent to PAS secretary-general Datuk Kamaruddin Jaffar while for Suara Keadilan, to PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
TAIPING, March 23 (Bernama) - Former Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin will be PAS' candidate for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election, polling of which will be held on April 7.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang made the announcement during a PAS rally at Taman Kota Jaya in Simpang here tonight.
Nizar, 52, is also the deputy PAS commissioner of Perak and state assemblyman for Pasir Panjang.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) has named Bukit Gantang Umno information chief Ismail Saffian, 49, as its candidate for the seat.
Nomination is on Sunday.
The by-election is necessitated by the death of its Member of Parliament Roslan Shahrom of PAS on Feb 9. In the general election held in March last year, Roslan defeated the BN's Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Zabidi Roslan by a majority of 1,566 votes while an independent candidate, M. Mogan, secured only 882 votes and lost his deposit.
Meanwhile, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice president Azmin Ali, who was also present, said PKR would ignore the three-month suspension imposed by the Home Ministry today on the party organ, Suara Keadilan.