Share |

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The weakening of the Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia

I am in absolute agreement with Datuk Zaid Ibrahim that Najib should not be allowed to be the next Prime Minister for all the accusations against him have gone unanswered.

This represents a dangerous situation where his office may be put in a position of weakness from possible blackmail attempts and Najib having to acquiesce to certain things he is faced with for fear of exposure.

He must stand down clear his name and let someone else take the helm of the nation and he must portect the people of Malaysia form any possible compromising situation towards the office of the Prime Minister. After all, these people are there to represent and protect the country and not allow the country to be weakened from their own personal weaknessess.

Whether he is guilty or not, Najib must step down and do the right thing to clear his name first. This is in the best interest of the Nation. It is imperitive There can be NO COMPROMISE to the national security of the nation.

Siti Khatijah
Australia

Khairy: Halang media baru strategi salah

Naib Ketua Pemuda Umno, Khairy Jamaluddin berkata tindakan Umno mengharamkan media baru daripada membuat liputan perhimpunan agung Umno sebagai satu strategi yang salah.

"Kita sepatutnya mengalu-alukan media baru. Ini adalah trend masa depan.

"Kita perlu buka pintu kita, jika tidak (kita) akan dibanjiri khabar angin dan surat layang.

"Apa salahnya dengan blogger dan media baru. Kita tidak mengadakan mesyuarat tentang perkara rahsia, malah kita merupakan parti yang paling terbuka.

"Saya akan meminta pihak parti supaya menimbang semula keputusan tersebut untuk memboleh media baru membuat liputan perhimpunan esok," katanya kepada pemberita.

Sekurang-kurangnya enam media internet, termasuk Malaysiakini, gagal mendapat pas media dari Umno untuk membuat liputan perhimpunan agung parti itu yang bermula semalam.

Perhimpunan kali ini akan menyaksi pemilihan sengit bagi jawatan tertinggi parti - dari timbalan presiden, naib presiden, Majlis Tertinggi serta pucuk pimpinan utama Pemuda, Wanita dan Puteri Umno.

Tiada alasan rasmi diberikan mengapa parti itu enggan mengeluarkan kad media kepada pertubuhan berkenaan untuk membuat liputan perhimpunan agung selama lima hari itu.

Selain Malaysiakini, pertubuhan lain yang gagal mendapatkan pas media dari Umno ialah The Nut Graph, Malaysian Insider, Siasah dan Merdeka Review.

Ku Nan says we are irresponsible

Puteri: Money politics is a cancer

Kit Siang ejected from Dewan Rakyat for calling Umno ‘power crazy’

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang was ejected from the Dewan Rakyat by Deputy speaker Ronald Kiandee at about 10.50am for refusing to retract his accusation that Umno was ‘gila kuasa’ or ‘power crazy’ while debating amendments to the Human Rights Commission Bill.

Kiandee ordered Lim to retract his statement but he refused. Lim will not be allowed into the Dewan till 1pm today.

Preceeding that, a screamfest ensued between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers over Lim’s words.

Ronald also ordered Kinabatangan member of parliament, Bung Mokhtar Radin, to retract his insults which he did after Lim was ejected.

Hishammuddin calls Anwar a Malay traitor

Hishammuddin kissing the kris after his address to Umno Youth. - Pic by Choo Choy May

By Shannon Teoh- The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has unsurprisingly attacked those who question the social contract and Bumiputera privileges as provocateurs of racial tension, singling out Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Making a clear reference to the former Youth chief and now Opposition Leader in his opening speech at the wing’s general assembly today, he used the term “Si Petualang,” meaning traitor, for selling out Malay rights in the quest for power.

He accused Anwar of being manipulative and doing things “differently in front, and differently behind,” a reference to the former deputy prime minister’s sodomy charge with drew cheers from the 793 delegates.

“Because they are power crazy, they are willing to do anything. Si Petualang is willing to sow the seeds of hate, cooperate with the enemy, deny the rights of his own race and insult his homeland in various forums across the world.

“He is ready to insult the institution of Malay rulers and whoever else to fulfil his greed,” he said, adding that no matter “how he escaped their trap, the trap would never forget him.”

The education minister also added that those who have questioned the social contract and the special position of Malays and Bumiputeras were being proud and arrogant.

“The social contract has purposely been misinterpreted to light the flames of racism. They purposely refuse to discuss the social contract from a historical perspective, that it was agreed to by all races,” he said.

Referring to the opposition in Parliament, he warned them not to take advantage of the immunity of the Dewan Rakyat to show off their courage.

He also said that the Feb 5 takeover of Perak was divine justice by the power of God after Anwar had made the false claim that Pakatan Rakyat would take over Federal Government on Sep 16 last year.

Hishammuddin also refuted claims that the 12th General Election, where Barisan Nasional suffered heavy losses just over a year ago, was a starting point for the “end of a party that has been great and strong all this time.”

“Umno should not be so pessimistic. What happened was a wake up call,” he said, explaining that mere physical development was no longer sufficient.

Instead, Umno should fight for “politics with value and meaning” that he claimed to have initiated within the Youth wing that has brought it closer to the grassroots.

Play it again, Sam

Image

Let’s call a spade a spade. In the 1980s, when Umno attacked the Rulers, the opposition rallied to the Rulers’ side. It was the opposition that defended the Monarchy in 1980 when Umno attacked it. That is a fact that has gone down into history.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Don't twist historical facts, says Najib

Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Razak reminded all quarters not to twist the facts of history in recounting Umno's action to amend the law with regard to the Malay rulers.

"It was never done in bad faith, but rather with the noble intention of preserving the royal institution and upholding the doctrine of the separation of powers which is the basis of any democratic government.

"I wish to take this opportunity to remind all Malays (Malaysians) not to do things which we may regret later. To those who speak with a forked tongue, do not pledge allegiance in the morning only to betray by mid-afternoon," he said in his speech when simultaneously opening the Wanita Umno, Youth and Puteri Delegates' Conference 2008 at the Putra World Trade Centre, here, tonight.

The deputy prime minister said Umno held sacred the position of the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the land, while the position of the Malay rulers was an essential part of the Constitution.

"Although in our system, the monarchy reigns but does not rule, the state governments and the federal government rule in the name of the Malay rulers as the head above the executive arm of government.

"Therefore, if the Malays (Malaysians) themselves fail to show utmost respect to the Malay rulers who have all this time served as the symbol of unity and stability, then who else will?" – Bernama, 24 March 2009

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

That was an extract of Najib’s speech at the Pemuda and Wanita Umno general assemblies yesterday. Now it is very clear. Umno insulted the Rulers, dragged them through the mud, defiled them, stripped them naked, and left them with absolutely no dignity back in the 1980s, not to destroy the institution of the Monarchy, but to save it.

I suppose Umno will now say they detain Malaysians without trial under the Internal Security Act not to silence them from speaking but for their protection. Hmm…… come to think of it, they did say that.

What a load of bull. Does Najib think that Malaysians are so gullible and naïve or what? Hmm……. come to think of it, Malaysians are gullible and naïve.

If Najib wants to talk about history then let me take Najib down memory lane and teach him a bit about Malaysian history. The Constitutional Crisis of the 1980s -- there were two, actually -- was a Battle Royal between Umno and the Rulers. Prior to that, Malaysia was in a unique situation of having four branches of government -- the Executive (the Prime Minister), the Legislature (Parliament), the Judiciary, and the Monarchy. Each of the four was independent of one another but worked in tandem.

This means Malaysia has four parallel power bases. And this makes Malaysia unique because most countries have three. Malaysia, however, has four, the fourth being the Monarchy.

Not long after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad became Prime Minister, Umno decided it would eliminate the four branches of government and replace it with only one -- the Executive. This means Malaysia will retain the trappings of a democracy but in actual fact would become a dictatorship.

First to go was Parliament. That is why Barisan Nasional is so paranoid about losing its two-thirds majority in Parliament. Without the two-thirds majority, Barisan Nasional can’t control Parliament. With the two-thirds majority in Parliament they can scream and shout at the opposition and tell the Chinese and Indians to go back to China and India.

Next to suffer was the Judiciary. When the judges demonstrated independence, they were sacked or placed in cold storage or demoted (by transferring them to the Makhamah Dagang at Wisma Denmark where they spend the rest of their career listening to unpaid credit card cases). We saw that happen also in the 1980s.

That left only one institution that needed to be clipped. And that institution was the Monarchy. So the Constitutional Crisis was triggered in the 1980s, twice, and the last independent branch of government hit the dirt.

With Parliament, the Judiciary and the Monarchy neutralised, the Executive became the absolute power in Malaysia. No longer did Malaysia have four branches of government. It was left with only one. And this gave the Executive, the Prime Minister of course, the powers of a dictator.

That was what the Constitutional Crisis was all about and Najib knows this pretty well. Umno wanted to not only neutralise the Rulers but Parliament and the Judiciary as well. And it did, back in the 1980s.

So what crap is Najib talking about? Umno was treasonous. Going by the ‘old laws’, heads would have rolled. Umno and its leaders declared war on the Rulers. When it lost the first time around in the early 1980s, Umno retreated, and after a new strategy was implemented, came back for a second round in the late 1980s and finished what it started a few years earlier.

And this new strategy that Umno adopted was to disgrace and smear the Rulers to the point that the rakyat rose up in anger and demanded that the Monarchy be abolished and Malaysia get turned into a republic. That was how successful Umno’s campaign of hate was. They succeeded in getting the rakyat disgusted enough to want to sack the Rulers and declare the Prime Minister Malaysia’s first President.

Let’s call a spade a spade, as Tun Ghazali Shafie was fond of saying. Umno declared war on the Rulers. And they brought the Rulers down through a smear campaign and by using the mainstream media to spin lies. No doubt, some of what they published was true. But much of what they spun was downright lies.

For example, they showed photographs of the Sultan of Selangor’s so-called lavish palace on a hill in Penang that was actually the home of a Chinese towkay. They showed photographs of the Sultan of Kedah’s so-called lavish mansion by the sea in Northam Road overlooking the sea in Penang that was actually Rumah Kedah -- which was for the use of any Kedah civil servant who visited Penang. They accused the Sultan of Kelantan of evading tax on the car he imported whereas the Sultan did not evade tax since he was exempted from tax anyway, according to the Kelantan State Constitution. And so on and so forth.

And there was much more lies that Umno spun -- which the rakyat believed to be true and which resulted in the rakyat becoming disgusted with the Rulers to the point they wanted the Monarchy abolished and Malaysia transformed into a republic. The Monarchy never recovered from this 1980s attack that it suffered. Until today, the Rulers still remember how dangerous it is to cross Umno. And if Umno says it wants the opposition government sacked and the Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar replaced with a Barisan Nasional Menteri Besar the Rulers would never dare say no.

Sure, today, Umno says it is the defender of the crown. But if the Sultan of Perak had held his ground and had refused to sack Nizar and replace him with Zambry, would Umno still sing this tune or would Umno, again, take the Rulers through a third Constitutional Crisis like it did in the 1980s?

In the beginning, the Sultan of Perak was actually not in favour of sacking Nizar. When Nizar had his audience with the Sultan, His Highness was actually quite receptive to the idea of dissolving the State Assembly so that new state elections could be held. But His Highness got cold feet after Najib visited him and reminded Tuanku that he would be jeopardising his throne if he took Pakatan Rakyat’s side in the Perak Constitutional Crisis.

Yes, that’s right. Najib threatened the Sultan and reminded His Highness that his future lies in the hands of Umno. And Najib has the gall to say that Umno is the defender of the crown. Bullshit! I know what happened. And that is why I spoke in defence of the Sultan of Perak -- and many Malaysia Today readers whacked me because of that. But I also asked Nizar to hold his ground and not back down even if it results in a Constitutional Crisis.

Let’s call a spade a spade. In the 1980s, when Umno attacked the Rulers, the opposition rallied to the Rulers’ side. It was the opposition that defended the Monarchy in the 1980s when Umno attacked it. That is a fact that has gone down into history. And history can’t be changed. You can rewrite history. But you can never change it. And I challenge Najib to prove wrong what I said.

Najib is in the news

It appears that Najib is constantly in the news nowadays. With him about to become the new Prime Minister of Malaysia, he would undeniably be the hottest story in town. But the stories that the international media are running focus on the kickbacks in the submarine deal and Altantuya’s murder. This is how the international media views Najib, a corrupt man and possibly a murderer to boot.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Scorpene’s Sting: Liberation Publishes Expose re: Malaysia’s Bribery & Murder Scandal
Defense Industry Daily, 24 March 2009

The Franco-Spanish Scorpene diesel-electric attack submarine competes on the global market against an array of competitors, foremost of which is ThyssenKrupp HDW’s U209/212/214 family. In June 2002, the Malaysian government signed a EUR 1 billion contract with Armaris (now DCNS) and Spanish naval shipbuilder Izar (now Navantia) for 2 SSK Scorpenes and associated support and training. The first of class KD Tunku Abdul Rahman has begun trials , and is scheduled to enter service in 2009.

Within Malaysia, the sale has been compromised by an ongoing trial and set of legal actions around the public kidnapping and private execution of Mongolian modeling student, translator, and paramour Altantuya Shaariibuu. The case took a dramatic turn when the victim was closely connected to EUR 114 million in “commission” payments to Perimekar, a firm owned by a close associate of Malaysia’s current Defence Minister and impending Prime Minister. The monies were paid by Armaris (now DCNS) for for “support and coordination services,” a term that may bring to mind the murder of Taiwanese Captain Yin Ching-feng in connection with a bribery scandal involving Taiwan’s DCNS frigates .

Full and impartial accountability for public figures is not a prominent feature of Malaysian justice, but French Journalist Arnaud Dubus added to the pressure with a March 5/09 report in France’s Liberation, “Un cadavre tres derangeant: L’etrange affaire du meurtre d’une interprete mongole qui gene le pouvoir en Malaisie” (Page 30-31). It names very prominent names, offers details, and reveals the contents of documents the Malaysian court has refused to admit…

If the documents are true, Altantuya was murdered on the orders of Abdul Razak Baginda. Baginda is a close associate of Najib Razak, who is Malaysia’s Deputy PM and Minister of Defence, and impending Prime Minister. Baginda has been acquitted in a Malaysian court, but Razak himself has been implicated in the associated bribery deal, and Dubus’ report includes detauls of text messages Baginda was reportedly sent by Razak, which strongly imply efforts by Razak to cover up the case and interfere with police investigations.

The motive for Altantuya’s death was reportedly twofold: EUR 500,000 she wished to claim as her share of the “commission,” and the public embarrassment caused to Baginda’s marriage after she tried to collect. The kidnapping was carried out by by agents of the Malaysian Special Branch police, in broad daylight, in front of Baginda’s house, with witnesses present. Malaysian sources have not published full details, but media organizations outside of Malaysia have.

On March 16/09 the case took another turn when Malaysia’s ruling party suspended an opposition lawmaker for a year, after he called Razak a murderer and demanded that he answer questions about his role in the affair.

As is usually true in these operations, it’s the small details that matter. The entire wet operation apparently gave insufficient consideration to the payment of Altantuya Shaariibuu’s cab fare. Somewhere, a cadre of retired Bulgarian KDS professionals are shaking their heads, and wondering what’s wrong with the kids today.

***************************************
'Doomsday pin pulled' on Malaysian politics over Najib Razak
Radio Australia, 25 March 2009

* Listen to the audio report: Windows Media


In Malaysia, an explosive speech by a former UMNO minister has cast a shadow over the imminent prime ministership of Najib Razak. Prominent Malaysian lawyer Zaid Ibrahim says long-standing scandals and sensational charges, including alleged links to a murder case, against Datuk Najib make him unfit for leadership.

Presenter: Joanna McCarthy
Speaker: Professor Clive Kessler, emeritus professor in international studies, University of New South Wales; Lim Kit Siang, parliamentary leader, Democratic Action Party; Razali Ibrahim, UMNO youth head, Johor

McCARTHY: It was, according to long-time Malaysia watcher Clive Kessler, not your average Rotary Club speech.

Speaking to a weekly Rotary luncheon in Kuala Lumpur, former minister in the prime minister's department, Zaid Ibrahim, lashed out at Najib Razak, tying him to a host of scandals that he says make him unfit to be the country's next prime minister.

IBRAHIM: This is really the high noon of Malaysian politics you could say. It is, by making that speech, Zaid, by going public, by making that speech, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim you may say pulled the pin on the doomsday machine of Malaysian politics.

McCARTHY: Clive Kessler says Zaid Ibrahim has thrust into the public eye the range of sensational allegations that have long dogged Najib Razak but have been ignored by Malaysia's government controlled media.

They include charges of cronyism over the award of military contracts, the recent power grab in Perak state, and most controversially, alleged links to the brutal murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya, charges he denies and for which no evidence has been produced.

KESSLER: I think the point that I would make and possibly I think Zaid Ibrahim would make is without going into, without canvassing, without going into the substance of these accusations, that many people are discussing, are talking about these things. Many people believe them to be true and I think Zaid Ibrahim's central point is that however eager people may be in Malaysia to get rid of somebody who is perceived as a weak prime minister they should not rush to replace him with somebody who is no less widely seen to be a compromised prime minister.

McCARTHY: The alleged ties to the murder of Altantuya, for which two of Najib's bodyguards have been tried and are awaiting a verdict, continue to haunt Najib Razak.

Last week opposition lawmaker Gobind Singh called him a murderer in parliament. He's now been been banned from the house for one year.

Gobind Singh's colleague and leader of the opposition Democratic Action Party, Lim Kit Siang, says Najib Razak needs to answer to a royal commission over the allegations against him.

SIANG: There should be open transparent accountability. He should come forward so that all these allegations, serious allegations and doubts over him will stop hounding and haunting him, which will affect definitely his legitimacy as the prime minister. For the first time in the country's history, no one who is going to become the prime minister has been caught with so many questions and inquiries and this is something that has to be addressed and creates serious problems of crisis of confidence.

McCARTHY: Despite the allegations, Najib Razak is expected to be safely appointed party leader this week and assume the prime ministership soon afterwards.

The UMNO conference is a chance for the party to take stock of its unprecedented losses in last year's elections and set a course for tackling the country's looming recession.

The UMNO youth head for Johor, Razali Ibrahim, says the party is united behind Najib Razak.

He says the allegations raised by Zaid Ibrahim, who was ousted from UMNO last December, are an attempt to tear down his former party.

IBRAHIM: Who is Zaid anyway? And of course this transition will strengthen the position of UMNO and the opposition will be not happy with this transition. I can assure that it will be the best for Malaysia, furthermore, in this world economic crisis, that with this transition, UMNO will be able to overcome the downfall of the problem that is existing before.

McCARTHY: But Clive Kessler says Najib Razak's leadership has been undermined by these allegations.

He says Zaid Ibrahim has raised the so-called doomsday scenario by urging Malaysia's king to intervene.

KESSLER: I believe that there were a number of people who are trying to promote this idea that the ruler might not want to and might not be obliged to appoint Najib even if he wins the UMNO election, but that was a kind of a bit of an underground movement. It's now out in the open, and there is a head of steam behind it, and I think it's got a much better chance than it did a week ago. It may not be a great chance, but it's a much stronger one than it was a week ago.

BN Takut Rakyat Tak Takut

selambau01

Umno's unholy trinity

By Wong Chin Huat (The Nut Graph)

MANY Umno leaders and analysts are talking about corruption in the party as if that is its biggest problem.

After all, it was the justification used in barring party vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam from contesting for the party's No. 2 post. And as Ali's supporters have persuasively argued, Ali did not do much worse than others in Umno who also engage in vote-buying.

Corruption, or more accurately, patronage is undoubtedly a problem with Umno. But the real problem for the party is that it is trapped in uncompetitiveness — a consequence of subscribing to the unholy trinity of authoritarianism, ultra-nationalism and patronage.

Authoritarianism

For the past 53 years, since Umno squarely defeated Datuk Onn Jaafar's Parti Negara and PAS in the 1955 home rule elections, Umno members have viewed themselves as the "natural" party in government.

So long as Malaysians accept that Malaysia needs a Malay-led multiethnic government, and Malay Malaysians accept Umno as its champion, Umno has to be the irreplaceable element in any viable government. In Malaysia's political equation, Umno is the given.

But how does Umno maintain this position of being the irreplaceable "given", notwithstanding all of its contributions in developing this country?

Umno's dominance is not a result of the numerical strength of the Malay-Muslims. Rather, it is a result of the threat of ethnic violence. The threat of ethnic violence makes authoritarianism the lesser evil, thus allowing Umno to perpetuate its dominance through authoritarian means.

And very often, that threat is coated in positive language; for example, when politicians talk about the need to preserve interethnic harmony, and by extension, political stability and economic development.

Ultra-nationalism

If authoritarianism is the lesser of two evils compared to the threat of ethnic violence, what is it that makes the threat of ethnic violence loom large in our consciousness? It is the sustaining of ethnic distrust and hostility.

If ethnic violence remains an attractive strategy for one side and a credible danger for the other side, Umno can sustain its privileged position of being the given. After all, the clearer and more present the threat of ethnic violence is, the more valuable a strong and authoritarian government will be — hence the observation that Umno is becoming more rightist.

Indeed, there are enough examples of a more right-wing Umno among upcoming leaders. Consider Hishamuddin Hussein's keris-waving to Khairy Jamaluddin's attack on embattled Perak Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as "penderhaka", as well as Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir's call to close down Chinese- and Tamil-language schools.

Is it any wonder that incidents such as the ban on yoga and on the use of "Allah", and pro-Internal Security Act (ISA) demonstrations have also been on the rise? No doubt, ultra-nationalism will also rear its ugly head during the ongoing Umno general assembly.

In a nutshell, being the "given" requires no democratic competitiveness. This explains Umno's addiction to ultra-nationalism and the discourses of ethnic threat and survival. And it is these addictions — not the mass migration of the "pendatang" or the existence of a multistream education system — that perpetuate ethnic tension in Malaysia.

Hence, unless Umno gives up authoritarianism, it cannot totally give up ultra-nationalism. Whether or not the keris — itself a covert symbol of ethnic violence — is raised at the Umno general assembly this time around will merely be a barometer of arrogance and insecurity. But if it doesn't get raised, that can hardly be a real indicator of an ideological shift. Any shift, if it is to happen, can only occur after the assembly when leaders have secured their positions.

Patronage

Authoritarianism breeds in Umno not only an addiction to ultra-nationalism, but also an addiction to the veneration of loyalty over meritocracy. (This is starkly different from Singaporean authoritarianism, which places competence at the heart of loyalty.)

The compatibility between ultra-nationalism and patronage is rather straightforward. If ethnic outsiders cannot be trusted no matter how competent they are, then similarly within the ethnic community, the party and faction faithful is privileged over the cynics and critics of ethnic solidarity. Hence, regardless of competence, it is the faithful who will hold positions of power and/or undertake projects.


Anwar
This does not mean a competent politician cannot emerge from competition within Umno. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim are all cases in point, but it is unlikely that any competent politician can win just on merit. Since a large war chest is paramount, it pays to be aggressive in building a network and sourcing for patronage.

This then leads Umno and the nation to the current dilemma we face. How can one clean out corruption in the party elections when corruption in general elections is rampant? And how can one not alienate thinking voters in the general elections when candidates excel in vote-buying rather than policy debates in party elections?

Umno is therefore caught with a tough choice: abandon patronage and money politics in toto in order to reform, or forget about reforms completely.

But it would be difficult for Umno to abandon money politics because patronage serves two important functions.

First, it materially sustains ultra-nationalism by rewarding supporters and penalising opponents. If all Malay-Muslims were treated equally, what would make Umno more attractive compared with PAS and Parti Keadilan Rakyat as the political vehicle of Malay unity? If bumiputera and non-bumiputera are to be aided on a needs and merit basis, Malay Malaysians would not rally around Malay unity for fear of losing out.

Secondly, patronage indirectly justifies authoritarianism by delegitimising the opposition. By narrowing the government's function to redistribution of wealth, the opposition is made to look useless by default. Patronage therefore indirectly delegitimises both non-Malay parties (purportedly the threat to Malay Malaysians' well-being) and Malay-based opposition parties (seen as naturally the culprit of Malay disunity) in electoral competition.

Hence, eliminating patronage would threaten both authoritarianism and ultra-nationalism.

The real issue

The real issue for this Umno general assembly is not the change of leadership or corruption, but how the new leadership will deal with the archaic unholy trinity of authoritarianism, ultra-nationalism and patronage.


Nizar
The trinity was effectively broken in the general election of 8 March 2008. Indian Malaysians refused to take Umno or its style of power sharing as the given. They voted in PAS politicians like Mohammad Nizar and Dr Siti Mariam Mahmud over the MIC's Indian Malaysian candidates. Because an ethnic riot did not occur post-8 March, the spectre of another 13 May has somewhat faded. Thus, Umno's own position as the natural given has also suffered a setback.

Umno now has two choices.

The first is to accept that the unholy trinity of authoritarianism, ultra-nationalism and patronage has been dismantled since March 2008. If it picks choice #1, Umno will then need to be cleaner, more inclusive, and most of all, more democratic. This is the reform most Malaysians outside of Umno would like to see happen.

The second choice would be to restore this unholy trinity. There is a limit to what patronage can do, especially during an economic recession. Since non-Malay Malaysians will no longer accept Umno as the given, ultra-nationalism and authoritarianism will be punished come the next general election.

The only way to counter this would be to let the threat of ethnic violence materialise, hoping Malaysians would take it lying down and re-accept authoritarianism as the lesser evil.

The first choice is tough for Umno for it would have to accept the possibility of losing in the elections despite reforms. But in a real democracy, that would happen sooner or later. Umno would need to find inclusive ideological positions and device a democratic modus operandi to retain power or to survive as the opposition.

The second choice is much easier by comparison for Umno. That choice even stands a good chance of effectively convincing some Malaysians that democracy is bad. But what a catastrophe it would be for Malaysia and the region. Just look at Perak, which now offers a good example of democratic ruin.

So the question confronting us today, as Umno gathers at a politically-significant assembly, is this: Will Malaysians stand up before the second option is taken up?

Arresting the decline in public trust

The Star
by Lourdes Charles

The police, facing an image problem, have come under a barrage of criticism but Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan vows to arrest the problem and regain public trust

A MASSIVE restructuring and reorganising of the police force is under way with Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan (pic) declaring that the force has to increase its capacity of training to acquire new and better policing skills.

The move is timely as the public’s perception of the police has never been so critical in view of recent happenings that saw scores of reports being lodged against the force.

“I’m very aware of what is happening and being said of the force. That is why we are in the midst of restructuring our training and policing skills to ensure all personnel are professional and truly live up to our motto of being Firm, Fair and Courteous.

“We have never encouraged or condoned corruption, race discrimination, brutality or indiscipline in the force,” Musa said.

The IGP, known to be strict and firm with his men, recently issued a strong warning not only to the rank-and-file but also to officers and commanders to buck up and toe the line.

He has on numerous occasions stressed that he only wants dedicated men with high integrity in the force.

“We must be prepared to meet the challenges ahead in this borderless world with criminals being more brazen in committing crime.

“There is no room for complacency and anyone who cannot live up to the expectations of the force and public should leave. There are many others out there who are keen to join the force,” he said.

As part of his long-term plan, Musa said he had recently submitted a proposal to the Govern-ment to expand the force, including having three deputy IGPs - for administration, intelligence and operations.

This would help achieve its five-year strategic plan for professionalism and being a world-class force.

Musa said police recently formulated a new strategy in which various departments combined their efforts in investigating and combating crime apart from introducing community policing. “Previously, if it was a CID case only the CID would investigate. But with the combined efforts of officers from the Special Branch, Narcotics Crimes Investigating Department, Commercial Crimes and the General Operations Force, we now have better success.

“We are constantly finding new ways to improve ourselves and we need public support to ensure that crime is kept in check,” he added.

Press Release: Malaysians must rise above polemics

ImageDatuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s statement regarding the Bar Council’s on-line poll on the use of the word “Allah”, as reported in the media on 23 March 2009, makes for disappointing reading in our country’s continuing democratic discourse.

We are confident that Malaysians will rise above mere polemics and will not see the poll as inciting disaffection. We are mature and responsible citizens who are capable of resolving any differences relating to race or religion through rational and constructive dialogue, with the focus on common values and respect for one another.

The Bar Council is committed to embark on dialogues with diverse stakeholders including the government, Muslim NGOs and individuals to engage in discourse on issues of mutual concern.

We urge the Minister to lend his full support to the responsible exercise of the right of freedom of expression, which is an indivisible right, and part and parcel of our nation’s system of democracy. We look to our elected leaders for guidance, and these leaders have a duty to promote values that foster peace and national unity rather than pandering to partisan self-interest and parochial emotive fervour, which can themselves create disaffection.

The Bar Council remains committed to the promotion and protection of full, free and informed debate on the basic rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in our Federal Constitution. We shall continue with our public duty to educate our fellow citizens on the various issues and the different perspectives, so that all of us may benefit from a more complete comprehension of the diverse views and opinion. We strongly believe that the unique multi-racial and multi-religious make-up of our country is a strength that must be harnessed for the good of our people.

We call on others to do the same, constructively and peaceably. Vocal might is never right, nor is the act of misrepresenting, intimidating or silencing those who do not share one’s viewpoint.


Ragunath Kesavan
President
Malaysian Bar

25 March 2009

Three Umno Wings Express Appreciation For Abdullah

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 (Bernama) -- The three Umno wings - Wanita, Youth and Puteri - have expressed their appreciation for Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for his contributions as the party's president and Prime Minister.

They also pledged their unflinching support and cooperation for Deputy Umno President and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who would be taking over the reins from Abdullah.

Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Rafidah Abdul Aziz said Abdullah had strengthened Umno and the government.

"He had given emphasis on the qualitative aspect of the society and the government administration through integrity, transparency, human capital development, mechanisms and system," she said in her keynote address at the Wanita Umno general assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre here, Wednesday.

Pledging Wanita support for Najib, she called on Umno members to give their undivided support to the incoming president.

Outgoing Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said Abdullah had set the pace for the transition of power to the second-liners and Youth members would emulate his statesmanship traits.

Delivering a keynote address at the Umno Youth general assembly at the PWTC, he asked the three wings to unite and support Najib, who would lead the party and the government through the most challenging period in the country's politics and economy.

Puteri Umno chief Datuk Noraini Ahmad said the movement thanked the prime minister who had been helpful and supportive of the movement.

"We greatly appreciate Pak Lah's deeds and advice, it leave an indelible mark in our memory until we breath our last. Prayers from Puteri members, may God bless Pak Lah and family," she said in her keynote address at the Puteri general assembly at the PWTC here today.

Noraini said she was confident that Najib would be able to continue the struggles of previous presidents in strengthening the party, thus making Malaysia more peaceful, prosperous and harmonious.

Anwar's ceramah disrupted again - Malaysiakini

For the second successive night, a ceramah by PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim was disrupted by the police - this time in Bukit Gantang, Perak.
MCPX

Last night, a Pakatan Rakyat ceramah held at the PAS headquarters in Sungai Tinggi in Bukit Gantang ended when about 200 riot police waded into sections of the 5,000 crowd, ordering them to disperse.

Anwar was arriving at the veneu for his speech when the police intervened to end the ceramah.

bukit selambau anwar ceramah police fru attack 240309 08The pattern of police intervention was similar to Monday night in Bukit Selambau in neighbouring Kedah when a much larger contingent of police broke up the ceramah by firing tear gas and chemical spray into the crowd (left). Thirty-one were arrested.

However, no arrests were made in Sungai Tinggi last night and the crowd eventually dispersed without any incident.

anwar ibrahim special briefing 280209Besides Anwar, the other key speaker was Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin, the ousted Perak menteri besar who is PAS candidate for the April 7 parliamentary by-election in Bukit Gantang.

Also slated to speak were DAP Hutan Melintang state assemblyman S Kesavan and PKR MP for Gopeng, Dr Lee Boon Chai.

PKR secretary-general Salehuddin Hashim has denounced the “repression which is now slyly seeking legitimacy”.

He lamented that such police crackdown on peaceful assemblies are becoming the pattern of the norm.

Cops bent on breaking up ceramah

In remarks made to Malaysiakini today, Salehuddin said the authorities are bent on disrupting ceramah organised by the opposition on the flimsy pretext that campaigning can only begin for the Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai by-elections after nomination day on March 29.

“They are trying to shackle the opposition to a tight time zone to curtail our ability to communicate our message of political change. Coupled with the banning of Suara Keadilan and Harakah, they hope to weary us into submission,” he said.

On Monday, the Home Ministry notified both PAS and PKR of a three-month ban on their party organs, Harakah and Suara Keadilan, respectively. The reason given was that the publications incited hatred of the government.

“The pattern of repression is now clear. Ban the newsletters, disrupt the ceramah, arrest when you feel like it – do all these as if it is business as usual,” said Salehuddin.

“They are trying to legitimise their repressive tactics by pretending it is the norm. Trot out the usual pattern of intervention and when necessary, round up the usual suspects – that seems to be the pattern,” he commented.

“As usual, they are misjudging the mood of the people. The rakyat can see through the sham of their repeated calls of the need to change simply because in their conduct, they are reflexively the same as they have long been – tired, old, obsolete and bankrupt,” said Salehuddin.

20090324 PPSMI

Nizar is PAS' Bkt Gantang candidate

To kill money politics Najib wants more Umno members to get the vote

By Leslie Lau
Consultant Editor- The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak signalled his intention tonight to change Umno’s electoral system by taking away the vote from just party delegates in a move which he says is necessary to save the party and win back the support of ordinary Malaysians.

“This move will be able to put to an end the problems of money politics and abuse of power,” the incoming Umno president and the country’s next prime minister told delegates of the party’s Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings tonight.

Najib’s remarks tonight, goes further than what any other Umno leader has suggested to introduce the kind of reforms needed to counter the widespread perception of Umno as a corrupt party.

The Umno deputy president said the party must now reexamine its quota system for selecting candidates to senior positions and give the vote to a greater number of members.

“As it stands the deciders are a delegation of some 2,600 delegates from 191 divisions. Clearly the choice of these delegates cannot correctly reflect the preferences of more than three million grassroots members.

“To my mind the time has come for us to review the constitution of Umno so that the selection of Umno leaders will be more inclusive,” he said.

Najib’s proposal may cause some controversy among delegates who have largely benefitted from being courted for their votes, but it is likely to get the backing of party members as well as ordinary Malaysians.

Spelling out the need for Umno to reinvigorate itself, he implored party members to undertake a process of addressing its weaknesses or risk being continued to be seen as a party in denial.

“To do this Umno must first remove itself from being linked to money politics and any other form of unsavoury activities. Umno will be destroyed if its leaders are enshrouded in the evils of money politics.

“Clearly if this evil is not halted and is allowed to grow and fester it will become so commonplace that leaders and followers alike can make light of it with humorous remarks like ‘beri salah take beri kalah (To give would be wrong, not to give would result in defeat)’,” he said.

Umno has been heavily criticised in recent weeks over the manner in which it has handled the problem of money politics, or vote buying, especially after the party barred Datuk Ali Rustam from contesting elections but allowed a number of other leaders to continue their campaigns despite perceptions of impropriety against them as well.

In recent days, senior leaders aligned with Najib have been working hard to try to convince delegates to reject tainted candidates.

While tonight’s remarks were addressed towards his own party, Najib clearly acknowledged the anticipation of him becoming prime minister next week by acknowledging the negative public perception of Umno.

Touching on the party’s worst ever electoral performance in last year’s general elections, he said: “We lost the two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time since Barisan Nasional was formed. It is an awful and bitter truth, but a truth none the less and one which we must accept.”

He said public perception showed the party had swayed far from its original struggle and its raison d’etre.

“That being the case, your collective duty as delegates this year is the heaviest duty to have ever been borne by any delegation in the history of Umno.

“What is at stake is nothing less than the fate of Umno. The decision we collectively make at this assembly will determine the future of our party; whether we continue to shape and mould history or just become an entry in the annals of history.”

Najib also gave a particularly measured response to accusations that the government’s affirmative action policies were akin to racial segregation.

“There are those who dare question what has previously been agreed to and entrenched in the federal constitution. There are even those who have the audacity to accuse us of Apartheid when history will show this is far from the truth.

“Let it be known that the policies introduced by the government in aid of the Malays are not formulated because we feel that the Malays are better than everyone else. Rather we crated these policies precisely because the Malays are left behind compared to others.”

Najib tidak membawa kebaikan, UMNO wajar dikebumikan

dzulkhairiOleh: Mohd Dzul Khari Mohd Nor

Sesudah negara menyaksikan drama penafian hak bertanding ke atas Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, kini UMNO kehilangan pula seorang pencalonan untuk kerusi Majlis Tertinggi UMNO iaitu Datuk Mohamad Norza Zakaria atas tuduhan politik wang. Sehingga kini Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia telahpun membuat dakwaan ke atas 3 orang ahli UMNO iaitu dari Melaka, Perak dan Wilayah Persekutuan di atas perkara ini.

Menelusuri rentetan fenomena ini, dapat disimpulkan bahawa terminologi perubahan yang diwar-warkan oleh Timbalan Perdana Menteri Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abd Razak hanya mendokong maksud ke arah pengukuhan kembali kuasa, bukannya pembersihan UMNO daripada najis rasuah.

Keseriusan sindrom “penyakit gila duit” yang melanda UMNO ini turut digambarkan melalui bekas Presiden UMNO itu sendiri, Tun Mahathir Mohamad menerusi blog peribadi beliau - chedet.cc. UMNO dikatakan telah mengundang kejelekan dan kemuakan yang melampau daripada rakyat ekoran gejala ini.

Tambah parah, terdapat ketempangan daripada kes Ketua Menteri Melaka ini. Kita lihat Ali Rustam dikenakan tindakan disiplin yang menyebabkan beliau digugurkan kelayakan untuk bertanding tetapi tidak digantung keahliannya. Beliau dilaporkan turut melakukan perbuatan membeli undi melalui agen beliau. Namun menggugurkan hak bertanding tidak disertai dengan pergantungan sebagai ahli dan tidak pula di caj ke mahkamah. Berbeza pula dengan kes Datuk Norza yang fakta kesnya adalah serupa.

Datuk Seri Najib, dalam wawancara rancangan Dialog @ 1 kelmarin menyatakan bahawa antara perubahan yang ingin dikemudi beliau di dalam bahtera UMNO adalah mengurus politik persepsi yang mana terdapat dua persepsi negatif perlu UMNO tangani.Pertama, persepsi yang mengatakan UMNO sombong dan angkuh manakala yang kedua UMNO mengamalkan salah guna kuasa sama ada dalam kerajaan mahupun parti. Malah beliau juga sering menekankan bahawa beliau mahu pasukan yang bersama-sama beliau adalah terdiri daripada individu-individu yang mempunyai keintigritian yang tinggi.

Namun kata-kata tersebut ibarat cakap tidak serupa bikin. Contoh paling nyata ialah, meskipun didakwa terbabit dengan kes rasuah, hairannya, Datuk Seri Mohamad Ali Rustam tidak dipecat daripada jawatan Ketua Menteri sedangkan berbeza pula halnya dengan Datuk Norza. Di mana menghilangnya nilai integriti yang diperjuangkan dalam hal ini? Di mana slogan UMNO akan berubah lebih mengutamakan kebajikan rakyat yang dilaung-laungkan? Apakah UMNO melihat pemimpin yang mempunyai rekod rasuah adalah terbaik untuk rakyat?

Konklusinya, walau apapun gendang perubahan yang dicanangkan, UMNO tetap UMNO. Bobrok tetap bobrok. Serong terus melencong. Bengkak kian bernanah. GAMIS berpandangan, UMNO ibarat pesakit kanser yang menanti masa untuk mati dan pesakit seperti ini tidak harus diubati lagi sebaliknya terus dikebumikan demi mengelakkannya daripada terus menderita lama.

*(Penulis merupakan Presiden Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam SeMalaysia (GAMIS)

Our God-given right of freedom of speech

Image

But those who walked in the corridors of power resented Jesus and would not allow him freedom of speech. So they plotted to kill Jesus so that they could silence him. Freedom of speech was regarded as dangerous because the rakyat might start believing all those ‘lies’ from Jesus.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

According to Selangor State EXCO member, Dr Xavier Jayakumar, 40 people were arrested in a ceramah in Taman Ria in Sungai Petani, Kedah. Dr Xavier said that the police, who fired water cannons and teargas into the crowd that included women and children, did not issue the mandatory warning beforehand.

Children coming out of a nearby tuition centre were also doused by the spray from the water cannon, as were the patrons in a nearby Chinese restaurant. Even the traders selling memorabilia and souvenirs were not spared the heavy-handedness of police who screamed like wailing banshees to expect ‘more aggressive action’ as they chased the people away.

Meanwhile, two opposition newspapers, Suara Keadilan and Harakah, have been suspended for three months – meaning, basically, that they can’t report about any problems in the ongoing Umno general assembly or play a role in the three by-elections early next month.

Former de facto Law Minister, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, has hit out at the suspension of these two opposition party publications and said that Malaysians should denounce attempts to silence opposing voices, reported The Malaysian Insider.

Zaid said that he was not surprised by the suspension of the opposition party owned newspapers and added that the only way to prevent more such attempts was if more people would stand up and criticise the move.

"We're all vulnerable," he said. "Those who think they are safe are mistaken. No matter how much you try to play safe, you are never safe. If more and more people stand up, then the people in power will probably think twice."

The government did not give an explanation for suspending the two opposition newspapers yesterday. However, it is widely perceived as a move to stifle the reach of opposition parties and bolster the chances of the ruling party in three critical by-elections next month.

In another move that is seen as an attempt to tighten its grip on the media landscape, Umno, the party that forms the backbone of the Barisan Nasional government, also barred six Internet-based media from covering its annual general assembly this week.

Further to that, Gobind Singh Deo has been suspended from Parliament for one year, with his salary and all privileges suspended as well during that same period. His father, Karpal Singh, faces sedition charges, to add to the many cases of sedition, criminal defamation, illegal assembly, and whatnot, that hundreds of others who are perceived as threats to Umno also face.

All this reminds me of Nazi Germany during the time of Adolf Hitler when the ‘black shirts’ were practically running the country at the point of the gun. That was more than 70 years ago. But nothing has changed much over 70 years as far as Malaysia is concerned. Time has almost stood still in Malaysia.

Malaysia too has its ‘black shirts’ a la Nazi Germany and these people are from Pekida. Pekida, a sort of militia, was formed soon after ‘May 13’ and is supposed to be the spearhead of the next race riots, if Malaysia ever does see another one. From the looks of things, though, Umno is bent on ensuring that there is.

In case you do not know, Pekida is promoting a ‘Say YES to ISA’ campaign. They want the Internal Security Act to be retained so that ‘Malay rights and privileges’ can be protected. And how would the ISA help protect ‘Malay rights and privileges’? Easy. All those who question ‘Malay rights and privileges’ can be detained without trial and sent to Kamunting where they can be silenced and will not be able to speak any longer.

In short, the ISA can stifle free speech and silence dissent. That, basically, is what the Umno-Pekida militia are saying. And that is Umno’s gameplan. Now can you see why all these happenings have been going on the last few weeks? They want Malaysians to shut up and not complain so much.

Hey, I did not say Malaysia does not allow freedom of speech. Of course we have freedom of speech in Malaysia. It is freedom after speech that we don’t have. And this is what my grouse is all about.

God has allowed freedom of speech. In fact, God not only allowed freedom of speech. God has made it mandatory. And all those who oppose freedom of speech are going against God’s wishes. So they are God’s enemies. And enemies of God are my enemies as well. And their blood, therefore, becomes Halal, to quote what many Muslim scholars say.

Hey, I am not saying this. Muslim scholars are saying this. And I was told by the ustaz in Kamunting during my ISA detention that I must listen to the religious scholars. This is what the ustaz in Kamunting told me and they sent me to Kamunting so that I can listen to the ustaz and become rehabilitated.

So this is the newly rehabilitated Raja Petra Kamarudin speaking. I speak the words of the religious scholars who rehabilitated me in Kamunting. Those who oppose God are enemies of God and their blood is Halal, said the ustaz who were responsible for my rehabilitation. And those who stifle freedom of speech are enemies of God. So their blood is Halal.

The People of the Book believe in the story of Moses (Musa) and how God commanded him to go meet the Pharaoh and deliver God’s message to him. The message was simple. Moses was asked to abandon his evil and misguided ways and to allow his citizens the freedom to practice their religion as outlined by God.

But the Pharaoh would not listen. He was stubborn, just like Umno, because he thought he was God and that Moses’ God was bullshit, just like how the Umno people today think. God then commanded Moses and his people to leave the country so that they could be free to speak and free to practice their beliefs.

But the Pharaoh would not allow them to leave and he tried to stop them. So God drowned him in the Red Sea just like how Umno was drowned in the Indian Ocean during the Permatang Pauh by-election and in the South China Sea during the Kuala Terengganu by-election.

Hey, I am just relating history and about what the People of the Book believe. I did not create all these stories. These things happened long before I started writing and I am just relating what happened 3,500 years ago in Egypt when I was still a very small boy.

Then, 1,500 years later, another man came along, according to the belief of the People of the Book. And this man was named Jesus (Isa). And God commanded Jesus to sort out those who walked in the corridors of power at that time. These people were all corrupt, cruel, oppressed the rakyat, discriminated against those less fortunate than them who happened to have come into this world through the ‘right’ pussy and were therefore the Bumiputeras of that era, and whatnot.

But those who walked in the corridors of power resented Jesus and would not allow him freedom of speech. So they plotted to kill Jesus so that they could silence him. Freedom of speech was regarded as dangerous because the rakyat might start believing all those ‘lies’ from Jesus. This would mean the government would be in trouble if the rakyat started believing Jesus instead of believing those who walk in the corridors of power.

But what these people did not know is that Jesus spoke the word of God and they also did not know that God wanted Jesus to speak so that the truth can emerge and the corrupted government of the day could be exposed for what it is, a bullshit government, just like the Umno government of today. And God proved that those who stood on the side of truth would prevail while the bullshit government will eventually crumble to dust and will be blown by the wind to disappear into the desert, like what will happen to Umno in the not too distant future.

Then, about 600 years later, another man came along who faced the same problems as those faced by Moses and Jesus. And this man, whom Time magazine labelled as the most influential man in history, was named Muhammad. And that is why many Malays like to name their sons Muhammad, because he was the most influential man in history.

Some even have two Muhammads in their name because their parents thought the more Muhammads they have in their name the more influential they will grow up to become. Sometimes, however, the more Muhammads they have in their name, the more corrupt they become. In fact, many Malays with two Muhammads in their name have become more like the Pharaoh than like the Prophet. Furthermore, people with names like Isa (Jesus) or Musa (Moses) are the biggest crooks in Malaysia.

Eventually, they plotted to kill Muhammad, like how they did to Jesus and Moses before that. This was because Muhammad, like Jesus and Moses before that, believed in freedom of speech and that an oppressive and corrupt government should be toppled. So the oppressive and corrupt government tried to silence them just to protect their interest.

This happened 3,500, 2,000 and 1,400 years ago. Thousands of years ago, the corrupt governments of that time also tried to stifle freedom of speech in an effort to ensure that the truth does not surface. And the People of the Book believe that all these people are enemies of God and that their blood is Halal. These are enemies of the truth, who are therefore also enemies of God, and they should not be allowed to live. They must die. And it is the rakyat’s duty to kill them, like how God did thousands of years ago to those who stifled freedom of speech and would not allow the truth to surface.

Bukit Gandang By-Election : Perak Decide

Palanivel Questions Ramis' Authority On Suggestion

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 (Bernama) -- MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel has questioned the authority of the party's Youth national advisory council chief S. Ramis for suggesting that he (Palanivel) should not defend his post in the party's elections in September.

"Who is Ramis to say, who should stand and who should not?

"It's up to the delegates to nominate people whom they think are capable to lead the party.


"(Morover) Ramis is not qualified to make the suggestion as he had lost the chairmanship of his own branch.

"As such, he is not even eligible to get elected as a delegate for the party's general assembly which would eventually elect the deputy president," an irate Palanivel told Bernama today.

He was responding to a suggestion by Ramis that he (Palanivel) and former party deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam should not contest the deputy presidency, this time round.

Ramis, a lawyer and former state assemblyman from Johor, had instead suggested vice-president Datuk S. Sothinathan, secretary-general Datuk Dr. S. Subramaniam, who is also human resources minister, and deputy ministers Datuk S. K. Devamany and Datuk M. Saravanan to contest the post.

The MIC has just concluded the election of its president, where incumbent Datuk Seri S. Samy Velu was returned for the 11th three-year term as his only opponent, Datuk M. Muthupalaniappan, was disqualified because he could not garner the required nominations.

The party will now hold the elections for deputy president, three vice-presidents and 23 central working committee members at its General Assembly in September.

Palanivel said democracy in a political party could not be developed by arranging successors or trying to elect leaders without contest.

However, while he fell short of announcing his intention to contest the No. 2 post, Bernama understands he was already busy laying the foundation to defend his post.

Meanwhile, party sources said that this time around, the contest would be very intense as the deputy would succeed the aging president who had indicated that this was his last term.

Ultimately, it would be Samy Vellu who would decide the winner because the delegates were on his side, the sources added.

-- BERNAMA

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

The Undying Legend Of Samy Vellu


$(document).ready(function(){ $("#node-page").addClass("visible"); });

The senile Samy is, once again, the MIC president. To the party, time has almost stood still, and life remains very much the same after decades.

And to Samy, time is moving backward, back to the good old days.

Little wonder that the hair on Samy's head is getting thicker by the year, and is more luxuriant, darker and glossier than three decades ago.

Miracles of life have been worked in his physique.

His contemporaries have either withered or retired into obscurity.

Mahathir has moved behind the scene, and becomes a showy old man with a fair deal of grumbles to make every now and then. Abdullah is already drafting his retirement speech, although he is a lot younger than Samy.

Ling Liong Sik, the name is beginning to get strange to many people. Ong Ka Ting is perhaps just a young chap in the eyes of Samy.

These people used to be Samy's allies and comrades in BN.

Time is like a river that flushes them into history.

Except S Samy Vellu, who is attempting to distort the laws of time, go against the current, and fight against the time.

At the advanced age of 73, he is, as widely anticipated, re-elected the party president, unchallenged.

His opponent does not even have the opportunity to contest, as he was sent out of the race prematurely.

This position seems to have been tailor made just for Samy. MIC without Samy is like the Indian rice without the rich curry gravy.

But Samy seems to have forgotten that no one could ever challenge the time. MIC is no longer that same entity it once was. And the senile Samy is no longer who he used to be.

Samy and MIC may still live in the illusion of their glorious past as if nothing has changed.

They fail to see the emergence of Hindraf, or the fury and misery of their Indian compatriots.

They also can't hear the shouts of Makkal Sakthi, or the dissatisfaction and angry howling of their Indian compatriots.

They have even forgotten that MIC almost lost all their seats in the general elections, including Samy's bastion Sungai Siput.

Even the almighty UMNO needs to move with the times, and hoist the banner of reform.

Only MIC and Samy Vellu continue to bask in their stagnant glory. With Samy as the core, they have erected a solitary Taj Mahal.

Inside the fortress, Samy is the immortal being; but outside the fortress, he may be blasted to ashes.

Within the fortress, the legend continues, locking the realistic world out. (By TAY TIAN YAN/Translated by DOMINIC LOH/Sin Chew Daily)

********

Malay Mail

MIC's time for change
March 24, 2009

UNLIKE other Barisan Nasional component parties, the Malaysian Indian Congress has re-elected president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu for an 11th consecutive term, indicating either that members have chosen unanimously to rally behind the party’s embattled leadership or that the MIC strongman
still possesses an iron grip, or both.

At best, however, Samy Vellu will have bought some time for his party to heal its divisions, determine a new course and reach out once again to constituents who have obviously become disenchanted with the party.

The MIC was almost completely routed in the March 8 general elections: it fielded 19 candidates for the State assemblies but won only seven, and of its nine candidates for Parliament, six lost their seats, including two vice-presidents, the heads of the Youth and Women’s wings and, most embarrassing of all, Samy Vellu himself.

Based on its current numbers, the MIC cannot claim third place in the Barisan pecking order — in terms of Parliamentary seats it is outranked by five Sabah- and Sarawak-based parties, and while the MIC has two junior Ministers, these other parties have staked claims to Cabinet positions that will likely be obliged at the next reshuffle.

Analysts have attributed the MIC’s dismal performance to disaffection rooted deeply in poverty: The growing income gap affects not only Malaysian Indians vis-à-vis other communities, but also
within the community itself, and these divisions have taken their toll through the growing tendency towards racial stereotyping and discrimination against Indians, especially Indian youths.

This disaffection has also fuelled the massive blue collar protest that was the Hindraf rally and it is telling that, unlike other public demonstrations, the Hindraf movement received little mainstream political attention until after the issues it raised went wildly out of control.

It is also very telling that ethnic Indian politicians on either side of the political divide are given less attention for putting forward arguments that concern Malaysians as a whole than they get for championing the specific interests of the Indian community.

For this reason it often appears as if the media is far more aware than politicians that the Indian community has, by and large, been left behind by policy and economic development; and as long as a single ethnic community remains in this State none of us can achieve the greater goals of national
unity.

Samy Vellu has gained himself precious time to address these issues, but the pressure has been mounting and constituents, perhaps unfairly, will expect near instant results.

Many expect the Bukit Selambau State by-election on April 7 to be part of a wider “referendum” on both the Barisan and the Pakatan Rakyat, but for the MIC a victory is critical for its claims to seniority in the government coalition, and perhaps for its very survival.

But even if it were to win, Samy Vellu will only have bought a little more time in which to undertake massive reforms to his party’s approach to the rapidly changing demands of coalition politics; and in order for him to succeed he must continue to champion Indian interests in an environment that is becoming increasingly hostile towards outward displays of ethnic communalism.

The future of the MIC, and thus political representation of the Indian community in government, now hangs in the balance, and Samy Vellu remains the single fixed point around which Malaysian
Indian politics must revolve.

Latest game in town: Restricting the media - Anil Netto

Imposing restrictions on the media seems to be the flavour of the week.

Spot the difference - if any:

New media denied passes by Umno

Banning NST won’t solve anything

Harakah, Suara Keadilan banned 3 months

You see, once politicians start restricting the media because they think certain media have been “unfriendly” or “biased” or whatever, there’s no end to it…

Restricting press conferences or party events to only “friendly media” is short-sighted and reflects on the insecurities of the politicians concerned. Can the Pakatan leaders now complain with a straight face about the restrictions on the new media in covering the Umno assembly after what has happened in Penang?

In more liberal democratic societies, the media regularly and often savagely lampoon and mock their leaders, but do we see the leaders who have been targeted then barring the media from their press conferences or suspending their permits in retaliation? Relations may be a little strained between the politicians and the media after that - but hey, that’s life in politics. Get over it.

Of course, the media in some of those countries belong to corporate media empires friendly or critical to the political parties in power for whatever reason.

But to be a political leader means accepting dose scrutiny and a regular dose of criticism - some of which might be considered unfair - as a fact of life. That comes with the (political) territory. Get used to it.

A statesman-like politician could always hold a press conference or issue a press release to clarify matters. If that is not enough, in exceptional circumstances, he or she could turn to the courts for a remedy.

Gutter journalism should rightly be condemned but barring “unfriendly” media from covering events or suspending their permits leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Speak up against attempts to silence opposing voices, urges Zaid

The Malaysian Insider
by Lee Wei Lian

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 - Outspoken political observer and former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has hit out at the suspension of two opposition party publications and said that Malaysians should denounce attempts to silence opposing voices.

Zaid said that he was not surprised by the suspension of opposition party owned newspapers Suara Keadilan and Harakah and added that the only way to prevent more such attempts was if more people would stand up and criticise the move.

"We're all vulnerable," he said. "Those who think they are safe are mistaken. No matter how much you try to play safe, you are never safe. If more and more people stand up, then the people in power will probably think twice."

The government did not give an explanation for suspending the two opposition newspapers yesterday. However, it is widely perceived as a move to stifle the reach of opposition parties and bolster the chances of the ruling party in three critical by-elections next month.

In another move that is seen as an attempt to tighten its grip on the media landscape, Umno, the party that forms the backbone of the government, also barred six internet based media from covering its annual general assembly this week.

Zaid was speaking at the launch of two books published by The Malaysian Insider - 'Politik Abad ke-21. Perubahan Ataupun Harapan Palsu', by columnist Zulkifli Sulong and 'The Malaysian Insider: A year in the life of a country', a collection of columns that appeared in The Malaysian Insider which was edited by consultant editor Leslie Lau.

The former partner of the largest law firm in the country also touched on the need for more influential writers to communicate their ideas in Bahasa Malaysia in order to reach those who do not understand English.

"I know there is a language issue," he said. "You can say the best things in a language that nobody understands but there is no point. People oppose because they don't understand. I find that if you explain, ordinary people will understand."

Referring to the suspension of the two party publications, Zulkifli, a former writer for Harakah, told attendees at the book launch that he wore a dark shirt because it was "a dark day for Malaysian media."

When asked about his political future, Zaid said that he would like to return to parliament and would need to join a party to do so. But he declined to reveal which party yet as he has to "sort a few things out".

Ceramah di Bukit Gantang terpaksa dibatalkan

Ceramah di Bukit Gantang yang dijadualkan pada malam ini terpaksa dibatalkan kerana pihak polis telah mengepung kawasan ceramah dengan menempatkan trak-trak FRU bagi menghalang kehadiran Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Sekali lagi, UMNO-BN menggunakan modus operandi yang sama untuk menghalang dan menyekat hak rakyat dari mendapatkan maklumat.

PEJABAT DATUK SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM

Najib’s speech: Hypocrisy flying spectacularly in the face of facts

pre-script: FYI, apparently another ceramah at Bukit Selambau tonight was broken up because of FRU harassment.

It’s almost embarrassing to say I’m shocked. You’d think we’d be used to it by now. But maybe it’s a good thing that we still cannot abide by these discrepancies between word and deed; let us never come to tolerate it.

Excerpts from and comments on Najib’s kononnya nak jadi Obama speech (here and here) tonight.

Incoming prime minister and Umno president Najib Abdul Razak said the new media cannot be regarded as an adversary.

“We were lulled by the massive mandate given to us to the extent that we made no preparations for battle within the cybersphere. In the end, we were rudely awakened in 2008 when we suddenly realised the folly of not understanding the power of the new media,” he added.

Like it or not, Najib said: “We cannot regard the new media as our enemy.”

Fact: Barely hours prior, Umno banned almost all online media from covering their assembly. Suara Keadilan and Harakah also suspended. Sounds like enemy-making behaviour to me.

“Umno, or for that matter any party or organisation will be destroyed if its leaders are enshrouded in the evils of money politics. Leaders of good standing who do not indulge in corruption will be sidelined in favour of those who bribe. The party will be led by those who will bring their culture of corruption in the way they lead,” he added.

Question: Why was Najib-linked Razak Baginda’s company Perimekar paid RM 500 million during the purchase of submarines? Is it reasonable to believe that Perimekar provided services worth that much? Is it reasonable to believe that Najib did not benefit one bit from said payment?

I suspect Najib has made more money corruptly possibly than any person living in Malaysia.

“We must ensure that we as a party cease and desist from the deplorable acts of eliminating and blocking talented members from making progress in the party. Such despicable behaviour only serves to alienate those who sincerely wish to contribute to the struggle.”

Fact: Ali Rustam, Norza.

“Umno holds sacred the position of the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the land. The Malay rulers and the monarchy are an essential part of the constitution. Even though in our system the monarch reigns but does not rule, the state governments and the federal government rule in the name of the Malay rulers as the head above the executive arm of government.

“Therefore if the Malays themselves fail to show the utmost respect to the Malay rulers who have all this time served as the symbol of unity and stability, then who else will?

“Therefore let no one twist the facts of history in recounting Umno’s actions to amend the law with regard to the rulers. It was never done in bad faith, but rather with the noble intention of preserving the royal institution and upholding the doctrine of the separation of powers which is the basis of any democratic government,” he added.

Fact: Mahathir did more damage to the royalty than any man living. Umno has consistently shown absolutely no hesitation in trampling and besmirching the royalty anytime they do not behave the way Umno wants them to - take for instance the constitutional crisis of the late 80’s and the Menteri Besar dilemma of Terengganu.

“Now, we see that the Malays seem lost and weakened. Because of that, there are those who dare question what has previously been agreed to and entrenched in the Federal Constitution. There are even those who have the audacity to accuse us of apartheid, when history will show this is far from the truth.

“Let it be known, that the policies introduced by the government in aid of the Malays are not formulated because we feel that the Malays are better than everyone else. Rather, we create these policies precisely because the Malays are left behind compared to others.

If we feel that Malays have been left behind in Malaysia, I charge that Umno has been more responsible for this than anyone, far and away. An entire generation poisoned by feudalistic patronage politics, where every effort is made to keep the poor in their place so as to continuously ease oppression and exploitation, has robbed both Malays and Malaysians from the opportunity to realise their true potential.

I think Najib has a real hard on to be just like Mahathir. He seems to have adopted not only his racism and penchant for heavy handedness, he is certainly taking to heart TDM’s noteworthy ability to completely - in a manner that flies spectacularly in the face of readily available facts - divorce word from deed, and rhetoric from reality.

We remain hopeful for upsets over the coming weeks, and prepare ourselves to persevere for what may lay beyond.

Najib Urges Malays To Return To Teachings Of Islam

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 (Bernama) -- The Malays have to return to the teachings of Islam and not be sidetracked into a culture of hurling slander at one another which has been undermining racial unity of late, Umno Deputy President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Tuesday night.

Najib, who is the deputy prime minister, said they should return to the beginning through the process of reflection and introspection.

"Today, slander is not just the practice of the hypocrites but sadly it has become a norm for individuals claiming to be Muslim leaders and religious scholars," he said when simultaneously opening the Wanita Umno, Umno Youth and Puteri Umno general assemblies at the Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), here.

Najib said Malays should emulate the leadership of Prophet Muhammad as the greatest transformational leader of all time who successfully led and educated the pagan Arabs from a period of darkness into the age of enlightenment.

He said the prophet had united the tribes of Auz and Khazraj and subsequently brought together as one the Muhajireen and the Ansar and proceeded to unite the Muslims and the non-Muslims.

"This goes to show that the success and failure of a certain civilisation depends not just on physical development alone.

"Rather, there are more important elements like unity and solidarity which come from emotional and spiritual factors as well as the value system of a particular community and its leadership," he said.

Najib said that among the most important values that would determine the success or failure of any people were the values of comradeship, discipline, respect for time, honouring one's word, dedication to work, efficiency in the implementation of tasks, diligence and the placement of the interest of the larger community over and above the interests of the individual.

"Indeed, these are the universal values of Islam that the Holy Prophet has enjoined in leading the ummah towards success and glory," he said.

Najib said that Muslims should return to the teachings of Islam to face current challenges.

The deputy prime minister called on the delegates to ponder three verses of the Quran as guidance.

Verse 26 of the Surah Ali Imran, which reads as follows: "Say: "O Allah. Lord of Power (And Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest."

In the Surah Ar-Ra'd Verse 11, Allah (God) says: "For each (such person) there are (angels) in succession, before and behind him: They guard him by command of Allah. Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls).

Whereas in Surah Az-Zumar, Verse 53, it is written: "Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

14 Hindraf Supporters Plead Guilty To Participating In Unlawful Assembly

SHAH ALAM, March 24 (Bernama) -- Fourteen people charged with participating in an unlawful assembly organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) in Batu Caves in November 2007 pleaded guilty to the offence in the Sessions Court here today.

Thirteen of them pleaded guilty to a charge of causing damage to public property under Section 149/440 of the Penal Code.

The other pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 143 of the same law for displaying criminal force to instil fear in police who were discharging their duties at the mass gathering on Nov 25, 2007.

Judge Hasbi Hasan fixed this Thursday for sentencing after counsel G.K. Ganesan informed the court that all the accused were not ready financially if they were to be sentenced today.

She said the court had to hand down sentence on the accused who pleaded guilty before hearing the cases of those who pleaded not guilty, including Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) supreme council member and Padang Serai Member of Parliament N. Gobalakrishnan.

At today's proceeding, three accused were absent and Hasbi ordered a warrant of arrest on one of them, who is among four students awaiting the outcome of their representations to the Attorney-General.

The other was absent because he was being detained at the Sungai Buloh prison and another was on medical leave.

Hasbi also fixed this Thursday for mention of the cases involving the remaining accused.