Share |

Sunday, March 29, 2009

7.4.09 - Balik Mengundi!

Early scenes of Bukit Gantang

Crowded Bkt Selambau – headache for BN and PR?

PKR supporters showed up in such numbers that they had to climb up onto any surface to keep close to the action. – Pix by Shannon Teoh

bukitselambau-byelection-signpost.jpgBy Shannon Teoh -The Malaysian Insider

SUNGAI PETANI, March 29 – Just imagine, 15 candidates for one by-election. It’s unprecedented and the presence of the 13 independent candidates for the Bukit Selambau by-election weighs heavy on the minds of both the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and the Barisan Nasional (BN).

The record number of candidates – and the fact that many of them are disgruntled PKR members, both past and present – has brought a different dimension to the contest for the Kedah state seat.

However, PR leaders are confident that they hold a large enough lead on the ground to mathematically overcome whatever votes these independents may “steal.”

“Even if each candidate takes 100 votes, based on our 2,362-vote majority last year, we will still win. That is the formula,” Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak told The Malaysian Insider.

PR’s election director Azmin Ali added that voters would not back the independent candidates as those in rural areas have “been marginalised for the past 50 years, so they now need a strong leader.”

The PKR vice president added that if S. Manikumar wins, he would sit on the executive council by virtue of the fact that the previous incumbent V Arumugam vacated the post reserved for an Indian PKR assemblyman.

“So the people of Bukit Selambau will vote for him, as he can bring direct development to the area,” Azmin said.

But MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek said that the high number of independent candidates would affect PKR adversely, although BN will also have to struggle with anti-MIC sentiments among the Indian community.

“Most of the independent candidates are disgruntled PKR men who are unhappy with their candidate,” echoed MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

(from left) Shahrizat, Hishammuddin, Liow and Azmin discussing the campaign ahead.

He added that Indians here were “overwhelmingly happy” with Datuk S. Ganesan, an MIC central working committee member, citing the support he received when he attended a function last night attended by 1,200 Indians.

However, eyewitness reports said that Samy Vellu was forced to leave the event after 10 minutes because he was booed aggressively by the crowd.

Judging by the head count of supporters, Azmin would seem to have a case, as the 5,000-strong group accompanied by a lion dance troupe waving PKR, Pas and DAP flags cheered boisterously for “Reformasi!”

Barisan Nasional’s 2,000-strong camp was dominated by the baju kurung of Wanita Umno and supported by Malay percussion instruments.

Deputy Election Commission chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar pointed out to police that using musical instruments on nomination day was an election offence and requested that they “advise the supporters to stop” but the supporters kept banging on.

PR supporters engaged in a battle to see who could be louder not with their BN counterparts, but with a police helicopter which whirled incessantly overhead.

The only undesirable incident was when Samy got caught up in a war of words with some PKR supporters, but police quickly moved in to break up the situation.

S. Manikumar (second from right) is jubilant after his nomination was accepted and celebrates with PKR leaders (from left) Azmin, Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrishnan and Selangor executive councillor Xavier Jeyakumar.

With over 100 riot police supported by FRU personnel, supporters did well to keep within their allotted areas.

BN election director for Bukit Selambau Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was visited by Azmin at the BN tent and both agreed to a clean and fair campaign.

“No provocation and no violence,” they said and shook on the deal with Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil, MCA vice president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Pas information chief Mahfuz Omar as witnesses.

The first to arrive this morning was Husaini Yaacob, who was bright and early at 7am. By the time nominations began at 9am, 10 independents and Manikumar were in the centre, but Ganesan was still waiting with the BN ranks for Samy Vellu and Hishammuddin to arrive.

The 10 independents included Radzi Md Lazim, a last-minute candidate who said he was a PKR Baling division chief up to 2007, turning the 14-way fight into a 15-way contest.

But Ganesan and the three independents all managed to show up by 9.45am, 15 minutes before nominations closed.

A. Jayagopal regaling reporters with a Mandarin tune.

It included A. Jayagopal, whose PKR membership was suspended when he declared that he would contest Bukit Selambau.

He arrived and spoke to reporters in English, Hokkien and Tamil and even sang in Mandarin.

“I am very close to MB Azizan but I do not want an exco post. I just want to help the poor people who do not even have clean drinking water,” he said before going on with more details about himself to the point that reporters told him to hurry into the nomination centre.

At noon, returning officer Datuk Abdullah Mat Akhir announced that nine objections were received and rejected, confirming that 15 candidates would take part in the historic by-election.

While Manikumar will run under the PKR flag, and Ganesan the BN scales, the other 13 selected various logos such as a rooster, an alarm clock, an aeroplane and a fish.

The battle for the April 7 polls is expected to be fierce, with more than just a state seat at stake.

It is seen as a referendum on the relevance of MIC and forms part of a triple header that will reflect the acceptance of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s newly-minted leadership of BN.

It will also see how the rakyat is responding to the PR administration in Kedah with a series of recent scandals afflicting the coalition’s state governments in Penang, Perak, Selangor and also here in Kedah.

PR look set to ignore a ban on open-air ceramahs reportedly issued by state police with Azizan saying that “the only black and white on that is the newsprint from the media reports.”

BN, on the other hand, is riding on the new leadership of Umno. Vice president Hishammuddin said that “the process of returning support to BN has already begun with the new Umno line-up.”

What Malaysians learnt from the Umno assembly

tmi-n.jpgMARCH 29 – The talking is done and the dust has settled. A picture is emerging.

• Umno – The country’s most powerful party, is not to be underestimated. Sure, it does not have the vintage class of leaders in the mould of Tun Abdul Razak or Tun Dr Ismail and, despite the enlightened rhetoric of the past few days, the party will be mired in a quagmire of corruption and self-interest for a long time to come.

Still, it controls all the levers of power in Malaysia and on Wednesday and Thursday, delegates voted in a team of politicians who want – and know how to exercise – power. They will not readily give up political control.

In its day, Umno still owns an impressive election machinery. When they are not fighting each other, Umno politicians make fearsome adversaries, opponents who are adept at occupying the shady space between white and black.

With a new leader at the helm and the feel good factor flowing back into recesses where recently only despair and self-doubt resided, the Umno-led Barisan Nasional will be tough to beat in Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai.

• Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak – Malaysians got a peek of what Najib is going to do for the first 100 days after he is sworn in as Prime Minister at 11am on April 3. He will seek to surprise.

On Saturday, he went further than any recent party president by saying that he was going to dismantle the archaic and abused electoral system which has seen 2,500 party delegates deciding the line-up of Umno leaders, and by convention, the country’s leaders.

He proposes that 60,000 branch and division members become the party’s electorate. Najib knows that he has little wriggle room. He cannot afford to tweak here and there.

If he is to silence BN’s critics and convince his army of doubters, he has to make an impact with every announcement. Expect his Cabinet line-up to contain at least 50 per cent new faces.

Whether this line-up, which will be unveiled in early April, captures the imagination of Malaysians who have grown promise-weary, will be another thing.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Najib is tapping top overseas talent to advise him on his first 100 days in office and has engaged the services of an international public relations outfit to help with the messaging.

• Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – In October, several Supreme Council members cautioned Abdullah against defending his party president’s position, saying that with the strong groundswell against him, he may not obtain sufficient nominations to contest the top post.

His supporters argued otherwise. They told Abdullah that they had gone down to the branches and divisions and found out that the groundswell was artificial, manufactured by several Umno leaders who were driven by self-interest.

Several top Umno officials visited his home in Putrajaya with a game plan to defend the party president’s position. As Abdullah noted in his speech at the opening of the assembly, he could have defended his president’s position but chose not to, in the interest of party unity.

The election results on Wednesday and Thursday suggest that Abdullah’s aides and supporters were right when they said that the groundswell against him was manufactured.

New Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, Wanita Umno chief Datuk Shahrizat Jalil and at least 16 of the 25 Supreme Council members are identified as those aligned with Abdullah.

Out in the cold was Datuk Rafidah Aziz who told Abdullah that she would suffer the same fate as former deputy prime minister Tun Ghafar Baba if he persisted and defended his party president’s position.

• Party under siege – It was no coincidence that delegates elected more vocal candidates to the Umno Supreme Council. Puad Zarkashi, Tajudin Rahman, Bung Mokhtar Radin, Noh Omar, Idris Haron, Jamaluddin Jarjis may not have the gravitas or finesse of other Umno politicians but they are fighters and are not afraid of getting into a scrap with Opposition leaders or non-governmental organisations.

Listening to Umno delegates, it is clear that they want the party to start pushing back hard against what they view as excessive demands by non-Malays.

And if Umno’s partners in BN also start mouthing off like the Opposition, they too should be mowed down.

• Reform, what reform? – They want more positions in government-linked companies, they want the party to control the government, they want the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to stop investigating corruption in Umno, they want Malaysians to stop challenging the institution of the Malay Rulers, they want non-Malays to stop using the word Allah, they want newspapers to stop calling the Opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat, they want those appointed to the board of public universities to be Umno-friendly and they want Anwar Ibrahim corralled for promoting the concept of Ketuanan Rakyat and daring to put Chinese and Malays on the same platform as Malays.

Live dari Bukit Gantang

dsc09816

9.00 pagi. Dianggarkan 60-80,000 orang penyokong Pakatan rakyat terdapat di Taiping hari ini. Gambar diatas hanya yang terdapat di kawasan padang Majlis Bandaran Taiping. Ramai lagi yang tersekat di kawasan bandar dan hampir seluruh kawasan Taman tasik Taiping dipenuhi oleh penyokong PR.

dsc09820

Kalau aku bagi 500 orang…sikit sangat. Kalau aku kata 2,000…aku bohong. Kalau hangpa nak kata 1000 orang penyokong BN…boleh la. tapi yang banyak bendera merah hitam. Tu bendera sapa.

dsc09807

dsc09821

dsc09785

6.30 pagi. Gerai-gerai kebab dan kacang rebus sudah dibuka sejak awal pagi untuk sesiapa yang belum bersarapan.

dsc09787

Penyokong-penyokong Pas yang berkampung sejak malam tadi. Krew Bloggers Network lambat sikit sampai, kena solat subuh dulu. Bila sampai dikawasan yang dikhaskan untuk Pakatan Rakyat sudah hampir penuh.

dsc09792

7.00 pagi. Seluruh kawasan padang sudah dikepung oleh polis. Penyokong-penyokong masih belum dibenarkan memasuki kawasan padang esplanade.

dsc09797

7.30 pagi. Tidak pasti…adakah kita mahu melihat penamaan calon atau sudah mula berperang. Yang pasti…seluruh kawasan seolah-olah dibawah perintah berkurung. Ada sesiapa yang boleh memanggil pasukan pengaman Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu?

Albanjari akan melapurkan dari masa kesemasa manakala gambar-gambar akan di uploadkan bila berkesempatan melalui perakexpress.com

Check for more updates at: http://perakexpress.com/www/?p=2270

Khairy: I’m open to advice

(THE STAR) - NEW Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin says he is willing to listen to criticism and advice to help him better lead and guide the movement.

He acknowledged that he still had a lot to learn in bringing about changes to strengthen the movement.

“I stand here before you for the first time as the head of Umno Youth and I am aware that I am merely human, with all its weaknesses and shortcomings,” he said.

“There is still a lot for me to learn to ensure that the movement’s struggles are carried out smoothly to achieve its objectives.”

He added that if there were shortcomings in his leadership, it was all right for others to point them out to him and guide him.

He noted that the movement also viewed the transition of power at the party’s top leadership carried a deep symbolic meaning for those born before and after Merdeka.

“Even more so when the movement faces the tough challenge of winning back support of young voters to Umno and Barisan Nasional,” he said.

He said training programmes and activities that covered politics, education, religion, sports and social issues would be implemented to ensure that closer rapport is built between the movement and youth.

Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil hoped that she would be able to measure up to the expectations of new Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in her capacity as the new leader of the wing.

In thanking Rafidah for her services to the movement and nation, she said “anyone who takes over from (former chief) Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz will have a hard act to follow,” in her winding-up speech.

Shahrizat said she knew that expectations of her to perform were high.

“God-willing, with support from you (Najib) and the new leadership, my new line-up and I will bring the country into a new political era,” she said.

She assured them that she had learned from the best in Malaysian politics and named former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali as her first teachers.

She added that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, his late wife Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood and his wife Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah were her second teachers in politics.

The delegates teased her with cheers when she continued to mention Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and subsequently his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his wife as her teachers as well.

Puteri Umno will work hard to dispel misconceptions that the movement is irrelevant and weak, its chief Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said.

She said the movement hoped to use an integrated approach, including information technology, to help spread the party’s message to the people.

Chitrakala: Chitrakala’s 13 companies

Makkal Osai, Sunday, March 29, 2009

While the Indian community is pondering the causes for the smoldering in MIED, the latest disclosure of former MIED CEO Chitrakala’s interest in 13 companies shocked top leaders, according to MIED source.

The top leaders are further astounded by the revelation of Mrs. Chitrakala and MIC national youth leader T Mohan being directors in the same companies, the source added

 3.5 m hijack


It seems things went smoothly in MIED when Chitrakala took over the CEO position.

But, troubles started after the official opening ceremony of AIMST College, Kedah.

Later Chitrakala resigned, a three member investigation committee was setup and a series of police reports followed.

Now, Dato Sri Samy Vellu is apparently enraged on T Mohan for his involvement with Chitrakala.

It looks MIC leadership has decided to remove T Mohan from his position, in a couple of months.

Dato Sri Samy Vellu is saying that during his tenure many were given opportunities and positions, yet they are working against him. Millions of shares in many companies shocked many including Dato Sri Samy Vellu.

Chitrakala is director and shareholder in the following companies:

1. Surya Setia Capital Berhad

2. Vista surya Sdn Bhd

3. V C Publications (M) Sdn Bhd

4. V Media Sdn Bhd

5. Vista Cheriya Sdn Bhd

6. Juara Masuri Sdn Bhd

7. Jernih Permai Sdn Bhd

8. Vistam Peace Publications Sdn Bhd

9. Silver Line Service Sdn Bhd

10. Pyramid Symira Theater (M) Sdn Bhd

11. E S Communications Sdn Bhd

12. Konsortium Surya Setia Sdn Bhd

13. Indrani Holdings Sdn Bhd

On these, Indrani Holdings operates at Minara Manikavasagam building where MIC headquarters is.

Mrs. Chitrakala has 1 share in Indrani Holdings. She is a director of Silver Line and Mohan a/l Thangarasu has 1.4 million shares. Malays and Chinese are also partners in Chitrakala’s businesses.

Because of these business dealings between Chitrakala and T Mohan, a venomous campaign is being carried out, the source said.

Nomination day in Bukit Selambau

By Shanon Shah
thenutgraph


Party flags lining a road in Bukit Selambau

Updated on 29 March 2009 at 11.40am

SUNGAI PETANI, 29 March 2009: The electoral process for the Bukit Selambau by-election kicks off this morning with the nomination of candidates.

Up to 14 candidates are expected to file their nomination papers today with the Election Commission (EC) between 9am and 10am. A dozen out of that 14 are independent candidates.

After the nomination papers are filed, objections can be lodged against the candidates. Between 11am and noon, the EC's returning officer will decide on the objections, after which an announcement will be made about who qualifies to run in the elections.

The 7 April by-election for this state seat in Kedah is being held following the resignation of assemblyperson V Arumugam on 8 Feb.

In the 2008 general elections, Arumugam won the Bukit Selambau seat by defeating Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate S Krishnan with a majority of 7,695 votes.

Arumugam later joined Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and was appointed a state executive council member.

At the nomination centre at Sekolah Menengah Teknik Sungai Petani 1 this morning, candidates started arriving as early as 7am.

7.45am Approximately 60 Federal Reserve Unit are lined up in front of the nomination centre. Several Black Marias are on standby. Three independent candidates have already arrived at the centre.

The three candidates are Husaini Yaacob, 44, who arrived at 7am, T Chandrarajan, 40, who arrived at 7.30am and Major (Rtd) Anuar Abdul Hamid, 58, who turned up in full baju Melayu.

8.08am A group of 30 supporters of independent candidate Chandrarajan hold up banners and shout "Hidup, Chandrarajan!" outside the police barricades. The supporters are very peaceful. They are mostly male Indian Malaysians. But there are some women, Chinese and Malay Malaysians.

Chandrarajan is an insurance company director originally from Raub, Pahang.

8.21am There is a lot of confusion because of the high number of candidates involved in this by-election. Three other independent candidates have reportedly since showed up. They are Vaneson Michael, 34, S Moganakumar, 43, and Abdul Rahim Abu, 47.

8.32am A light drizzle has begun. Chinese drums and chants of "Reformasi!" accompany a multi-racial PKR procession to the nomination centre. The candidate for PKR is S Manikumar. Asked how he feels, Manikumar says, "Very fine!"

The PKR procession is estimated to be a 1,000 people-strong.

8.48am L Sarala's supporters are also at the nomination centre. The 34-year-old is the only woman candidate vying to contest in the by-election. Tellingly, her group of 30 supporters are mostly Indian Malaysian women of all ages.

8.55am At the 2,000-strong BN procession, a shout of "Hidup Pak Lah!" was greeted with laughter. The chant was then changed to "Hidup Najib!" The BN supporters are also chanting, "Hidup BN! Hapuskan Keadilan dan parti pungkok (backside)!", referring to PKR.

Among the BN leaders in its ranks are Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and vice-presidents Datuk Liow Tiong Lai and Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen, and MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu.

The PKR crowd has swelled to 3,000 supporters by one estimate. Among the Pakatan Rakyat leaders in the PKR procession are DAP national deputy chairperson Dr Tan Seng Giaw and national Wanita chief Chong Eng, PKR vice-president Azmin Ali and PAS information chief Mahfuz Omar.

9.50am The media are denied access into the nomination hall but it is confirmed that 15 candidates have entered to file their nomination papers.

10.10am The EC has received a record-breaking 15 nominations for the Bukit Selambau by-election, out of which 13 are independents. The one-hour period for objections to be made against the potential candidates ends at 11am.

11.05am EC returning officer Datuk Abdullah Mat Akhir says no objections have been filed against the 15 candidates.

The confirmed 15 candidates now have to vie for their positions on the ballot paper. The 13 independent candidates have to also vie for the symbols they can use in their campaigning that will be determined by the EC. The BN and PKR candidates don't have that issue because their symbols are already registered.

Of the three showdowns, Batang Ai is the most critical

By Anil Netto

1229: Sarawak - Abang Benet reports:

Of the three by-elections now underway, the most critical is that of Batang Ai in Sarawak.

Bukits Gantang and Selambau are both PR seats and their retaining those seats – although extremely critical – will reflect the electorate’s referendum on Umno’s recent assembly and how Umno undermined constitutional governance in Perak. PR winning both seats would only restore the status-quo ex-ante between both coalitions in Semenanjong. It goes without saying that losing any one or both of the seats would be a major blow to PR.

Batang Ai, however, is a whole different ballgame. Sarawak has long provided a crucial ‘fixed deposit’ of parliamentary seats to the BN thanks to local strongman and CM Abdul Taib Mahmud’s iron grip over patronage in the state! Any PR electoral inroads in Sarawak would pose a serious threat to the BN nation-wide, far bigger than if PR merely retained both Bukits in Semenanjong. Hence, BN’s determination to retain Batang Ai at all costs. Already, everything at the BN’s disposal - including instant noodles and the kitchen sink - has been thrown into the contest.

Batang Ai has long been a BN seat. Although the BN candidate is a local unknown, he has the massive BN machinery to help him win. The PR candidate is a popular five-term former BN MP who, after being dropped by the BN in 2008 given local party conflicts, has since moved his politics and his longhouse into PR. Campaigning together with the popular Batang Ai PKR division chief, they collectively pose a clear and present electoral danger to the BN.

Currently, throughout Sarawak there is deep anger and widespread antipathy among native Bumiputeras towards Abdul Taib Mahmud’s family’s corporate shenanigans. These Mahmud-linked companies enrich themselves and other BN cronies at the expense of native lands and livelihoods. As well, Batang Ai folk, many who were resettled by the Batang Ai dam 23 years ago, have been largely neglected and shortchanged by the BN ever since.

In the 2006 state election, the BN candidate only won by a mere 806 votes out of 5,784 total votes cast. Given the rising popularity of PKR in Batang Ai and throughout Sarawak, CM Abdul Taib Mahmud has to win - and win emphatically - to prove to big brother Umno that he still has what it takes for the state to continue grabbing native Bumiputera land and to preserve BN corporate interests. But, only if he wins BIG given the amount of resources and money the BN has already thrown and will continue to pour into the contest. Anything less and Abdul Taib Mahmud’s justifications to continue in office as manager of the BN’s ‘fixed deposit’ of parliamentary seats in Sarawak will be tenuous in the eyes of Umno. An ominous thought certainly for Taib Mahmud and his family!

Consequently, Batang Ai is a by-election in which the BN has everything to lose while PKR has everything to play for given their long-term game plan.

1222: Bukit Selembau - A record 13 independent candidates have been accepted along with the BN and PKR candidates. It is difficult to gauge the crowd size from the centre as vegetation blocks the view. But loud roars can be heard indicating large crowds. Three or four of the independent candidates appear to have sizeable entourages, but not as many as the two main candidates.

1216: Bukit Gantang - It’s a three-way fight here, with an independent joining the fray. A huge crowd of 30,000-50,000, including some 2,000 ethnic Indian Pas supporters. Pakatan supporters outnumbered the BN crowd, which numbered around 6,000. Pakatan supporters at a field nearby did a ‘Mexican wave”. There was some tension and yelling when the Bagan Dato Adun from the BN mistakenly walked into the Pakatan area, but thankfully nothing happened. Overall, it’s been a festive atmosphere.

1146: Batang Ai - It’s all over. It’s a straight fight between BN and PKR. Supporters are slowly leaving.

1005: Batang Ai - An interesting development: A group of Pas supporters marches in and immediately 16 of their flags are confiscated. Dominique intervenes and Mafrel protests. After discussion with the CID head, the flags are returned. The candidates are still in the hall. It is scorching hot here. The SPR is close to making an announcement now and calling for objections, if any.

0933: Batang Ai - Malcom Mussen arrives with 1,000 supporters including Taib Mahmud and Peter Chin. PKR candidate also arrives, led by Khalid Ibrahim. Both candidates are in the hall now. Khalid bravely walks into the lions’ den and has tea with Taib Mahmud, Peter Chin, Dompok and Masing. The crowd has swelled with the BN side having 3,000 while PKR has 5,000.

0910: Bukit Selambau - PKR and BN supporters have been kept apart on the route to the centre. Dense vegetation separates the two sets of supporters on the roads to the centre, which lies in a park. The PKR candidate is already at the centre. Nine independent candidates have shown up. Waiting for the BN candidate to show up.

0908: Bukit Gantang - Thousands here. Prayers for goodwill. All PR parties represented.

o855: Batang Ai - Waiting for the candidates to arrive. An independent candidate might be joining the fray. A helicopter hovers overhead. BN supporters number around 500, while the Pakatan supporters are easily five times more and their number keeps increasing. Both sides engage in a war of words. But everything is orderly and the atmosphere, festive.

0822: Bukit Gantang - Festive mood in Taiping, reports my other contact. Buses with PKR supporters heading in. BN needs a miracle to win here.

0809: Batang Ai - Our arrival at the Lubuk Antu sports complex is greeted by a long line of FRU and police personnel. PKR and BN banners are already in the padang. A contingent of DAP supporters has marched in. PKR supporters are supporting “Reformasi n tiga kosong!” One single Pas flag seen among a sea of PKR and DAP flags.

0737: Batang Ai - My contact reports he is leaving the longhouse now for the nomination centre. In the area are about 500 people from out nearby towns, Sabah and the peninsula. Some of them had come to Bawin’s longhouse after the ceramah for a late night dinner. Imagine slaughtering chicken at 11.00pm! About 200 slept over. A few drank ijok and langkau until 4.00am. Will talk about Iban hospitality later. Huge jam ahead.

Nominations For Three By-elections Open At 9am

KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 (Bernama) -- Nominations for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election in Perak and the state seats of Bukit Selambau in Perak and Batang Ai in Sarawak opened at 9am today.

The nomination centre for Bukit Gantang is at the Taiping Municipal Council hall in while that for Bukit Selambau is at Sekolah Menengah Teknik Sungai Petani and Batang Ai, at the Lubok Antu sports complex.

Nominations will close at 10am, to be followed by an hour for objections.

Polling for all three seats has been fixed for April 7, in the event of contests.

The returning officers will announce the names of the candidates at noon.

The Bukit Selambau seat fell vacant after incumbent V.Arumugam of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) resigned on Feb 8 while the Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai by-elections are being held following the deaths of Roslan Shaharum of PAS on Feb 9 and Datuk Dublin Unting Inkot of Barisan Nasional on Feb 24.

Bukit Gantang has 55,562 registered voters, including 136 voters, of whom 63.5 per cent are Malays, Chinese (27.1 per cent), Indians (9.1 per cent) and others.

Bukit Selambau has 35,140 voters (15 postal voters) with Malays making up 50.2 per cent, Indians (29.5 per cent), Chinese (19.3 per cent) and others (1 per cent).

In Batang Ai, there are 8,006 registered voters (43 postal voters)with the Ibans making up 95 per cent and the rest being Malays, Chinese and others.

The weather was fine at all the three nomination centres and the candidates' supporters arrived as early as 6.30am.

In Taiping, police closed up five roads leading to Taiping town -- Jalan Sultan Mansur, Jalan Kota, Jalan Taming Sari, Jalan Temenggong and Jalan Berek -- at 6am.

Meanwhile, in Lubok Antu, Sarawak, the 38km road leading to Lubok Antu from the junction with the Sri Aman-Miri trunk road was jammed since early morning as many vehicles carrying party supporters, election workers and dignitaries, headed there.

Political-sec scolds police

Police brutality in Chemor?

Even Family Members Beaten By Police (MP Kapar)

polischemor
Two Indian youths, P Uthayakumar and K Batmanathan, were allegedly beaten up by the police while looking for the detained brother of one of the youths last Thursday.

P Venayagam, the younger brother of Uthayakumar and M Khrishnan, the father of Batmanathan, have filed separate police reports on the matter at the Ipoh central police station.

According to Khrishnan, he was notified by the police that one of his younger sons, Vijaya Kumar, had been detained at the Tamil Settlement in Chemor on March 25 to assist in investigations into drug abuse.

According to the police report that he had filed, he claimed that: “On the night of March 25, my eldest son Batmanathan and his friend Uthayakumar had gone to the Chemor police station to check on his brother Vijaya Kumar.

ipoh-police

“However, he was refused and asked to leave the police station. At the same time, he saw Vijaya Kumar being beaten up by some policemen and wanted to intervene.

‘Beaten until he lost consciousness’

“The policemen then turned to beat Batmanathan up instead. He was also taken to the Ipoh district police headquarters, where he was beaten until he lost consciousness.”

According to the complaint filed by Venayagam, he received a call from his older brother at 1.43am on Thursday, telling him that he too, had been beaten up in the police station.

“On March 26 morning, my brother and his friend Batmanathan were ordered to attend the remand hearing of Vijaya Kumar at the Ipoh Magistrates Court.

“However, both men were not seen in court. I feared for my brother’s safety as Batmanathan had been sent to the Ipoh General Hospital for treatment.

Told to contact an investigator

“On Thursday night, I called the telephone number that my brother had used in the police station to call me.

“I was greeted by a man who spoke in Malay. He told me to contact an investigator then hung up.”

When contacted by Malaysiakini, Khrishnan also confirmed that both Uthayakumar and Batmanathan were taken by police personnel to the Ipoh General Hospital for treatment.

He also remarked that that his son sustained swells and bruises on his eyes, lips, ears and arms.

Both Venayagam and the Ipoh central police station could not be reached for comment.

Report : Malaysiakini, photos: Jayathas (Police Watch Malaysia)

Najib gets Pak Lah, Dr M together

Combination pictures of Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak in his winding-up speech at the party’s General Assembly today. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak today pulled off a major public relations coup by brokering a rapprochement of sorts between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The former prime minister and the current prime minister shook hands on stage at the end of the five-day Umno General Assembly.

Najib told the delegates earlier that he would try and bring Dr Mahathir and Abdullah together and consult both of them on party and national issues.

But while party members loved the idea of Dr Mahathir returning to Umno and the prospect of the two former party presidents putting their differences aside, not everyone was elated over today’s sideshow.

Abdullah’s supporters in Putra World Trade Centre burnt the lines, telegraphing their dismay that he had to share the same billing with his most trenchant critic on what should have been his special day.

They acknowledged that the move to get Dr Mahathir and his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Ali, to attend the party assembly was good but questioned their dramatic entrance midway through Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s speech.

Rapturous applause greeted Dr Mahathir and his wife as they made their way to the VIP seats in the balcony overlooking Dewan Merdeka.

A beaming Muhyiddin, a strong supporter of the Dr Mahathir, paused for a couple of minutes before saying that he hoped that the former prime minister’s presence indicated a willingness to rejoin Umno.

Dr Mahathir’s entry into the hall caught many by surprise, including Abdullah.

A supreme council member said: “This was arranged for maximum effect but the people behind this plan should have taken into account Pak Lah’s feelings. Was there a need to humiliate him like this? Today we needed to give him a proper send-off for his service as the president and for doing the gracious thing and giving way to Najib.”

All said, Najib and Muhyiddin were probably looking foremost at trying to give the party they are inheriting a boost.

They know that there is considerable affection for Dr Mahathir in the party and must have figured that getting him to bury the hatchet with Abdullah would infuse Umno with a feel-good factor before three important by-elections on April 7.

Dr Mahathir has been a harsh critic of Abdullah since 2005, accusing him of allowing his family members and his close advisors to run the country.

Much of his anger towards Abdullah stems from the belief that his successor did not consult him on government policies and went out of his way to undermine his legacy.

In the run-up to the general election in 2008, Dr Mahathir urged Malaysians to vote for the opposition and in May last year he quit Umno, saying that he had lost confidence in Abdullah’s leadership.

He was invited to attend the opening of the party assembly on Thursday but did not show up in protest against Umno Youth voting Khairy Jamaluddin as the Youth chief, instead of his son Datuk Mukhriz.

In his speech at the opening of the assembly, Abdullah acknowledged his debt of gratitude to Dr Mahathir for appointing him as the deputy prime minister in 1999 and then prime minister in October 2003.

Today, in his final address, he did not mention Dr Mahathir by name but said that he forgave all those who bore ill-feelings against him.

Dr Mahathir showed little emotion throughout Abdullah’s speech but was visibly pleased when Najib acknowledged his presence and urged him to rejoin the party.

Najib also told party delegates that he planned to get Dr Mahathir and Abdullah to sit down with him and discuss party and national issues.

This suggestion brought the house down.

The first meeting may be awkward but once the ice was broken, there could be free-flowing discussion between them in follow-up discussion, he suggested.

Najib’s move to bring Dr Mahathir back into fold and consult him on policy matters is understandable.

Not many people in Malaysia relish the idea of crossing swords with the battle-hardened former prime minister.

At the closing of the assembly, Dr Mahathir and his wife made their way down from the balcony to the main stage where they exchanged greetings with senior Umno officials.

All eyes were on him as he made his way to the centre of the stage. Abdullah shook his hand and whispered something into his ear.

There will be one photograph on the front page of all the newspapers tomorrow. It will show Muhyiddin, Najib, Dr Mahathir and Abdullah with their hands raised in unison.

A definite PR coup. But not everyone in PWTC was united in their belief that Dr Mahathir would let bygones be bygones and stop attacking Abdullah or his son-in-law.

‘Irrelevant parties’ cannot display party flags at by-elections

By Looi Su-Chern and Sira Habibu, The Star

Sungai Petani: DAP and other irrelevant parties in Pakatan Rakyat are barred from displaying party materials during the tri by-elections in Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai.

Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said that as Pakatan Rakyat was a loose coalition which was not legally recognised, its component parties were not allowed to display party flags, banners and logos during the campaign period.

“We also do not allow irrelevant parties to apply for ceramah permit.

For example, in Bukit Selambau, we only allow PKR to apply for ceramah permits and display party materials. In Bukit Gantang only PAS flags can be displayed, he said.

However, Barisan Nasional component parties were free to display their respective party flags as it was a legally recognised coalition, he added.

He said this after visiting the nomination centre in SM Teknik 1 here on Saturday.

Declaring that Bukit Selambau was now under police jurisdiction, Wan Ahmad said loud music, blasting radios and loud speakers were not allowed when candidates parade with their supporters to the nomination centre.

Bukit Selambau: Calon bebas tarik diri, sokong KeADILan

(Hrkh) - Seorang peniaga yang sudah menyatakan hasratnya bertanding sebagai calon Bebas dalam pilihan raya kecil Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Bukit Selambau menarik diri sehari sebelum hari penamaan calon.

Mohd Reduan Md Isa, 52, berkata beliau membuat pengumuman untuk bertanding pada tiga minggu lalu, tetapi kemudiannya menukar fikiran selepas berbincang dengan penasihat Parti Keadilan Rakyat (KeADILan), Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, baru-baru ini.

"Masa saya umumkan bertanding misi saya ialah untuk membela rakyat dan menerusi perbincangan dengan Anwar Ibrahim baru-baru ini, saya dapati misi kami sama iaitu untuk membawa perubahan dan oleh kerana itu saya tidak bertanding untuk memberi sokongan pada calon KeADILan," katanya kepada pemberita di bilik gerakan KeADILan di sini, hari ini.

Beliau menafikan dakwaan kononnya mendapat inisiatif daripada pihak tertentu untuk menarik diri.

Bekas Ahli Jawatankuasa PKR Bahagian Merbok itu, berkata beliau akan memberikan sokongan kepada calon KeADILan, S Manikumar yang akan bertanding.

Sementara itu Bernama melaporkan, Pengerusi Perhubungan KeADILan Kedah, Ahmad Kasim berharap lebih ramai calon Bebas menarik diri dan memberi laluan kepada KeADILan dan Barisan Nasional (BN) bertanding bagi satu lawan satu.

"Jika calon bebas itu mempunyai latar belakang daripada KeADILan, maka calon itu akan menarik sedikit sebanyak pengundi KeADILan. Jadi kalau ramai yang jadi calon Bebas daripada KeADILan, maka rugilah kita," katanya.

Setakat ini, 10 calon bebas sudah membayar deposit untuk bertanding pada pilihan raya kecil itu.

Mengenai hari penamaan calon esok, beliau menganggarkan kira-kira 10,000 penyokong KeADILan akan memberikan sokongan kepada calon mereka iaitu Manikumar.

Pilihan raya kecil DUN Bukit Selambau diadakan berikutan peletakan jawatan V Arumugam daripada KeADILan pada 8 Februari lalu.

Kemelut Perak: Sultan Perak mampu selesaikan!

(Hrkh) - Kemelut politik yang melanda kerajaan Negeri Perak hanya dapat diselesaikan dengan tindakan Sultan Perak menarik semula pelantikan Dato' Dr Zambry Kadir atas alasan salah pertimbangan.

Menurut Naib Presiden PAS, Dato' Paduka Husam Musa berkata perkara ini pernah berlaku di Sabah pada 1985 apabila Tuan Yang Terutama Tun Adnan Robert menarik balik pelantikan Tun Datu Mustapha selaku Ketua Menteri Sabah.

"Isu di Perak hanya dapat diselesaikan dengan tindakan Sultan Perak menarik balik pelantikan Dato' Dr Zambry Kadir atas alasan salah pertimbangan atau salah kira.

"Perkara ini pernah berlaku di Sabah pada 1985 apabila TYT Tun Adnan Robert menarik balik perlantikan Tun Datu Mustapha selaku Ketua Menteri Sabah atas alasan beliau ditekan oleh beberapa orang yang menceroboh masuk ke kediaman rasmi beliau,"ujarnya dalam satu Forum anjuran Gabungan Mahasiswa Bersatu Perak di Surau An-Nur Bandar Baru Bangi baru-baru ini.

Panelis program terdiri dari barisan ahli akademik,NGO,ahli politik dan mahasiswa iaitu Naib Presiden PAS, Dato' Paduka Husam Musa, Pensyarah Kuliyyah Undang-undang Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia, Profesor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, Presiden Gabungan Mahasiswa Bersatu Perak, Mohd Hafez Sabri dan Pensyarah sains Politik Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Prof Madya Dr Nizamuddin Sulaiman yang bertindak sebagai perantara forum tersebut.

Sementara itu, Dr Aziz Bari berpendapat bahawa institusi raja tidak boleh sekadar bersifat simbolik.

"Institusi Raja jangan hanya bersifat simbolik yang hanya membuka sidang Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) dan Parlimen semata-mata.

"Ia membawa maksud kerja raja hanya buka persidangan parlimen, gambar raja terpapar di merata-rata tempat supaya tindak tanduk kerajaan tidak bersifat partisme, yang menyampaikan pingat itu bukan orang politik tetapi raja," katanya.

Tetapi yang menjadi masalahnya ialah bagaimana hendak membataskan kuasa raja kerana kebanyakan kuasa raja adalah bersifat ceremonial atau upacara," tegasnya.

Sejak awal lagi, kawasan program telah dipenuhi peserta yang rata-ratanya dari kalangan mereka di kalangan penduduk setempat,anak-anak perak di perantauan,mahasiswa dan anak muda yang ingin mengetahui kisah sebenar yang sedang berlaku terhadap kerajaan negeri perak.

Berucap sama menyampaikan pandangan, Mohd Hafez Sabri yang menyatakan bahawa arus kebangkitan anak-anak muda kini lebih cenderung kepada Pakatan Rakyat kerana inginkan perubahan terhadap politik baru di Malaysia.

"Gelombang kebangkitan anak muda kini banyak berpihak kepada pakatan rakyat,ini kerana mereka mahukan perubahan politik baru Malaysia yang bersih dan adil dalam memenuhi kehendak rakyat,dan menurut kajian kebanyakan generasi muda kini sudah 'muak' dengan Umno-BN, kerana mengamalkan politik kotor dalam parti mereka," katanya.

Imported laws from India during the 19th century

Our legal system is in need of reforms, points out Hamid Ibrahim. Our major criminal laws were imported from India, but while the laws in India and elsewhere have been reformed, ours are ripe for change.

Malaysia’s first Lord President (now known as Chief Justice) was invited by the A.I.R.and His Lordship delivered the V.V. Chitaley Memorial Lectures at the University of Nagpur on 7-8 February1980. Among other things, Tun Dr. Mohamed Suffian said and I quote:

Part I - Imported Laws: Laws imported from India during 19th Century.

Thus even long before the arrival of colonists from Europe, Malaysia had been used to importing and accepting ideas from India, and it was painless for us to import, receive and accept legal concepts exported to us by the British via your country. These imports entered first the three British colonies on the sea and slowly seeped through to the Malaysia States on the peninsula after 1874, when the Treaty of Pangkor was signed with the Sultan of Perak, under which his state agreed to receive a British agent, the first Malay state to do so.

As earlier stated, during the period 1833 to 1867, the colony of the Straits Settlements was governed from India and during that period certain Acts of the Governor-General of India were applied to the Colony as part of India by virtue of statute 3 and 4 William IV c. 85. Examples are Acts on Wills, Slavery, Merchant Shipping, Parsee Marriage and Divorce, Supreme Court, Judicial Officers, Lunatics, and so on.


Indian Code of Criminal Procedure

But the most important of these laws is the Indian Criminal Procedure Code which was first introduced to our part of the world by Indian Act XVI of 1852 introduced into the Straits Settlements. Strangely enough, it was abolished and replaced 18 years later by English criminal procedure by the Criminal Procedure Ordinance V of 1870. However, this was found impracticable, and 1873 saw the passage of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance, which marked the final abandonment of English in favour of Indian criminal procedure. You probably know that your code was exported as far as to Queensland in Australia and to New Zealand. It would appear that it was exported to the Malay states probably in 1902.

Today criminal procedure in our courts in Malaysia and also in Singapore is still very much based on yours, and you will certainly feel at home in our criminal courts hearing authorities citied from A.I.R. and frequent references made to Sohoni.


The Indian Penal Code


The great Indian penal Code was first introduced into the Straits Settlements in 1870, and from there it too spread to the Malay States, so that today it applies throughout Malaysia, and in our courts Indian judgments on the Penal Code are read and cited with respect, and the names of Gour, Ratanlal, and others are familiar to generations of Malaysian and Singapore lawyers.


The Indian Evidence Act

Your Evidence Act was first introduced to the S.S. in 1893 and it too spread to the Malay States, and today it applies throughout Malaysia as well as Singapore, and here Woodroffe and Ameer Ali, and Sarkar on Evidence, are the favourite authorities.

Still very much ours are, however, your Contract Act, your law on Specific Relief, your law on Land Acquisition and last but not least, our Constitution. In Contract matters, the great book that we use is Pollock and Mulla; in land acquisition cases Om Prakash Agarwalla; and in constitutional matters Basu and Seervai. I shall say more about the constitution later.

Attorney General

In India, the Attorney-General is appointed from amongst practising members of the profession and not a member of cabinet.

In Malaysia, the provisions relating to the A-G are slightly different. Our constitution allows the appointment of an Attorney-General from amongst members of Parliament in which case he will be a member of Cabinet, as is the present position, or from amongst members of the Judicial and Legal Service in which case he will not be a member of Cabinet unless he resigns to go into politics. Or he may be appointed from amongst practising members of the Bar, in which case he may remain outside the Cabinet or, if he decides to go into politics, enter Cabinet.

The first two A-Gs. After independence were expatriate officers who had joined the Judicial and Legal Service before independence and none of them was a member of Cabinet. The next A-G was a local man, a member of the Service; within a few years he retired from the Service and entered Cabinet as Minister of Law and Attorney-General. His successor, the present incumbent, was appointed from amongst members of parliament and is a member of Cabinet.

I understand that there was some discussion in India of the question whether or not the A-G should be a politically committed man, in tune with the philosophy of the ruling party, and that the prevailing view is that he should be an uncommitted lawyer, who is able to give Government the best available professional advice.

There are of course two views about this.

Our experience in Malaysia is this: the first expatriate A-G after independence was not considered a successful A-G - he was a brilliant lawyer but not too sympathetic to the policy and aspirations of Government who found him rigid and unbending. His successor, also an expatriate, was flexible but not an outstanding lawyer. His local successor was ready to please and to find ways and means for most things that Government wishes to do.

I am of the opinion that the position of our A-G is more difficult than that of yours - because under the constitution he is also Public Prosecutor, with “power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Muslim court, a native court or a court-martial”.(Art. 145 (3)).

It has frequently been said that in deciding whether or not to prosecute, the A-G should have no regard to personal or party considerations. In the vast majority of cases, he has no trouble following this principle. Many then thought that the PM should have kept in the background and not allowed his name to be associated with the decision-making process, though it was realised that it was difficult for him to do so, as the Anti-Corruption Agency was then within his portfolio. Since then the Agency, has been transferred to the portfolio of the Minister of Law and Attorney-General, where it should have been all the time.

It seems to me that whether or not the A-G should be a politician and member of Cabinet or whether he should be a professional depends on the country concerned, and that in the conditions prevailing in Malaysia he should be a member of Cabinet, and in tune with the aspirations and policy of the ruling party, but that at the same time he should remember that though a politician, he is also a professional man, a lawyer who knows the limits of legislative and executive, especially the executive, should they exceed these limits.

Parliament makes the law, but the A-G knows more than anybody else that it is judges who say what the law means and evolve the law case by case. He knows the mood of the courts and the attitude that is likely to be taken by judges in a given case. While he should welcome arguments with his ministerial colleagues, from time to time he should stand firm and give way and expose government to embarrassment in the courts.

In Malaysia, the prosecution process begins with a report to the police who are then obliged to open a file known as an Investigation Paper (IP), record statements from relevant witnesses and collect necessary exhibits. When the investigation has been completed, the IP is submitted to a Deputy Public Prosecutor, of whom there are one or more in important centres. The DPP advises the Police on such further investigation as is necessary and finally advises on the charge, witness and exhibits. Prosecutions in subordinate courts are conducted by police officers, unless the DPP himself prefers to do so in an important or difficult case. He appears personally in the High and Federal Courts. In an important case or appeal in the superior courts the Solicitor-General himself appears; the Attorney-General with his many meeting commitments seldom appears in court.”


(See Hamid Ibrahim’s commentary in the Criminal Procedure (2nd Edn) published By Sweet & Maxwell Asia in 1998 – at pages 914-942)

The Lord President continued his speech:

"Ideas imported from India"


… Before I elaborate on these legal imports, I think you might be interested to hear that long before the British advent there had been other imports equally enduring from India and that was in the area of ideas and religion.

In religion the original inhabitants of South-East Asia were animist: that is, they believed in the widespread existence of spirits which dwelt in trees, stones, animals and other objects. These spirits affected their everyday lives, and the people believed they had to ensure that the spirit of the forest would be placated before a hunter set off on his trapping, and the spirit of the sea would be pacified before the fisherman sailed away on a fishing expedition.

Traders in South India started sailing to the islands in South-East Asia in the first century after Christ and they continued for hundred of years. They went to Malaya, Sumatra, Java and Borneo, and established themselves and took Indian culture and Indian art with them. Some of the rulers gradually forsook animism and were converted to Hinduism and their states became Hindu states, and Hindu empires were established in these islands.

Advent of Islam

Towards the end of the 13th century, Islam also came to Malaysia – again like the other great religions, from India, this time South India, and not direct from Arabia its country of origin.”


It is clear from the above that the three Major Criminal Laws, e.g. the Evidence Act , The Code of Criminal Procedure and the Penal Code were imported from India during the 19th century . Today we are in the 2lst Century. In this 100-over-year period, the laws have been changed/reformed in the United Kingdom, Australia, USA and the Republic of India. Therefore, the time is more than ripe for a Law Reform Commission to be formed to look into these three major outdated criminal laws with a view to updating them.

Almost all democratic countries have set up Law Reform Commissions, whose function it is to look into in detail each and every old statute and to improve and reform where necessary in accordance with the century we live in.

Hamid Ibrahim is Director of the Denning’s Research Centre in KL

The ball is now at Khairy’s feet

No, Khairy did not win because he bribed the delegates. He won because the Mahathir-Najib forces fielded two candidates and this resulted in split votes.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

First, let us see what the delegates to the recent Umno General Assembly want.

Musa Sheikh Fadzir, Bukit Mertajam, Penang

“People always say don’t play money politics. But this is a political organisation. If we don’t have money, how are we supposed to come to this AGM in Kuala Lumpur? Those days, an application for a taxi permit would require the endorsement of an Umno branch or division chief. If the branches and divisions are strong, then Umno will be strong again.”

Hasnoor Sidang Hussin, Bukit Katil, Malacca

“High-ranking appointments in government-linked companies and higher learning institutions should be reserved for Umno members. So, just like the president said about returning Umno to its roots, let’s bring Umno back to its glory days where we controlled everything.”

He also urged the government to ensure that only Umno loyalists be appointed to senior positions in public universities. “Please make sure the faculty members are all Umno men, and the same goes for other civil servants.”

Johor Umno Wanita chief Halimah Sadique

“They have questioned the social contract, Malay rights and Malay rulers’ privileges, and the lies do not stop there.”

Kelantan delegate Mohd Affendi Yusof

“Umno has been very lenient and patient towards Pakatan’s antics. In Islam, there is no forgiveness for those who commit treason against the sultan. The sultan is considered as God’s representative on earth.”

“Now is not the time for Umno to be soft and patient. It is time the party uses force to crush Pakatan Rakyat. We cannot be soft anymore. We must use force. And we will use it immediately after the annual general assembly ends.”

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

The recently concluded Umno General Assembly was an event full of contradictions. The rhetoric that emitted from the PWTC did not give any indication that Umno was standing on a platform of change. The message that was sent to Malaysians was that Umno is going to come down harder on its critics and the days ahead will see an Umno that is going to rule this country with an iron first.

Sure, Umno will change. But it will be for the worse, not for the better. Umno is like a trapped animal and trapped animals are known to hit back ruthlessly out of sheer desperation. And Umno is one desperate animal.

Khairy Jamaluddin was booed, yet again, three days in a row. Even Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad hit out at him and initially refused to attend the assembly because he does not want to give his blessings to a corrupt Umno by gracing its general assembly. Eventually, however, they managed to persuade him to attend. Umno just could not afford Tun Dr Mahathir boycotting the general assembly with three by-elections around the corner.

Khairy cheated, they screamed. He played money politics, they allege. In short, what they are saying is Khairy bought the votes by paying off the more than 700 Umno Youth delegates. According to the allegation, Khairy paid RM5,000 per vote plus a cell phone to buy his win. Basically, what they are saying is Khairy paid more than what his rivals paid, which was merely RM2,000 per vote.

I don’t know whether Khairy did pay RM5,000 per vote or not. That, to me, is not the issue because the truth of the matter is everyone paid, even Hishammuddin Hussein who paid RM2,000 per vote to the 2,500 or so delegates to win his Vice Presidency. If not for the RM2,000 per vote do you think that wimp would have won? No one is exempted from the crime of vote buying, except maybe Shahrir Samad. And that is why he is resigning, because he is clean.

Anyway, as I said, Khairy did not win because of the money -- even if the allegation that he paid RM5,000 per vote is true. He won because it was a three-corner fight. Khir Toyo is Najib’s boy. Can you remember ‘MB X’ that was revealed in the last episode of The Khairy Chronicles back in 2005-2006? If not then go read it again.

Many, at that time, pleaded with me to reveal who that ‘MB X’ who went to Najib’s house late one night to discuss contesting the Umno Youth post so that Khairy can be blocked from becoming the new Umno Youth Leader is. Being the cock-teaser that I am, I just smiled and told them to be patient and wait, and when Khairy wins the Umno Youth leader post I will reveal his name. I had expected the Umno general assembly to be held in 2007. I did not think they would drag it to 2009 like they did.

Anyway, ‘MB X’ is Khir Toyo and he was Najib’s nominee to contest the Umno Youth leader’s post so that Khairy can be denied that post. But something happened that was not part of the plan. And that something is they did not expect Mukhriz Mahathir to also contest the post.

Khir wanted Mukhriz to withdraw. Mukhriz, however, wanted Khir to withdraw instead. Both refused to give in so it became a three-corner fight. If it had been a straight fight then Khairy would have lost.

All Khairy needed was 40% of the votes. And he got slightly more than 40%. And since Khir and Mukhriz were both fishing in the same pond, the Mahathir-Najib pond, then their votes would be split almost equally and Khairy would win.

I am very surprised Tun Dr Mahathir and Najib could not see this. I am even more surprised that both Tun Dr Mahathir and Najib had no control over Khir and Mukhriz and were not able to tell one of them to withdraw so that it could be a straight fight -- whereby Khairy would be assured of losing.

No, Khairy did not win because he bribed the delegates. He won because the Mahathir-Najib forces fielded two candidates and this resulted in split votes. Khairy did not really win. The Mahathir-Najib forces lost because they applied the wrong strategy and shot themselves in the foot by fishing in the same pond, thereby splitting their votes and allowing Khairy, who had only 40% of the votes, to walk in.

Nevertheless, Khairy is now the Umno Youth Leader. In the past, Umno Youth was a party within a party. However, over time, Umno Youth became the wimp rather than wing of Umno. Will Khairy restore Umno Youth to what it once was before the time of Suhaimi Kamaruddin? That was in the days when Umno shuddered every time Umno Youth opened its mouth. It was a time when the tail wagged the dog.

Khairy has two choices. He can do what the delegates want -- make Umno Youth more radical, racist, intolerant of free speech, criticism and dissent, and whatnot. Or he can push for reforms and restore Umno’s lost fortunes. Will Khairy push for draconian laws such as the Internal Security Act, Sedition Act, University and University Colleges Act, Societies Act, Publication and Printing Presses Act, Official Secrets Act, and whatnot, to be repealed and replaced with the Bill of Rights, Freedom of Information Act, Anti-Discrimination Act, Race relations Act, etc.?

Time, of course, will tell. Khairy can either play to the gallery or, seriously and sincerely, push for reforms. The rhetoric during the recent Umno General Assembly is unsettling. Instead of moving forward, the Umno delegates want to turn the clock back and take us back to 1520 rather than move forward to 2020.

In the minds of the Umno delegates, Malaysia is a Malay country and the non-Malays are treasonous for questioning this. Questioning Islam, the Rulers, Malay rights and privileges, and so on, is an act of war that must be met with force. The Social Contact is supreme and all other considerations take back stage. The Rulers are appointed by God and questioning the Rulers is an act of treason and tantamount to questioning God Himself. And so on and so forth.

What fucking crap! How can we even stand by and do nothing and allow this to perpetuate? The ball is now at Khairy’s feet. I have said in an earlier article last month that I will support Khairy if he wins the Umno Youth leadership and pushes for change. If not then I will make it my life’s work to bring him down.

I shall start by requesting for a meeting between Khairy and the Bloggers. He can choose to say yes or he can choose to say no. The choice is his. I just want to see change and I don’t care a damn who I work with to bring about these changes as long as we see these changes. I will even work with Tun Dr Mahathir if need be to force changes, which I have done so since 2006.

I don’t like what I heard at the recent Umno General Assembly. The country is going to go backwards if Umno does what the delegates want it to do. The ball is now at Khairy’s feet. Will he propose reforms or will he follow the current just to protect his position?

Khairy wants to be Prime Minister by the age of 40. That is not too long away. I have no problems with that. I just want to know what kind of Prime Minister he is going to be. And what kind of Prime Minister he is going to be will all depend on what kind of Youth Leader he is going to be. So let’s hear what Khairy has to say about which direction he is going to take Umno Youth.

In the meantime, while we await Khairy’s response, read the following piece by The Economist which sums up in a nutshell my concerns about the future.

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

Ruling party chooses a new leader, but not a new direction - by The Economist

Party conferences are seldom thrilling but this week’s gathering of over 2,500 ruling-party faithful in Kuala Lumpur has the eyes of the nation upon it. For, as Umno goes, so goes the country.

Since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957, Umno’s chosen leader has always become the country’s leader. This year the torch is passing from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the prime minister, to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his deputy, who is standing uncontested as Umno leader and due to be sworn in as Malaysia’s sixth prime minister next week.

But his ascension to the top has its difficulties. A resurgent opposition is riding a wave of discontent as the country slides into recession. Some types of old-fashioned repression, like the decision to suspend two opposition newspapers, no longer work in a digital age. The party is widely seen as corrupt and self-serving. Its record on economic growth and maintaining order still attracts support from older Malaysians but counts for much less with younger voters. Everyone in Umno agrees that trouble lies ahead. Can it be averted?

Najib talks of “massive changes”. But Malaysians have heard it all before, most recently in March 2008, after Umno’s dreadful showing in a parliamentary election. The spasm of introspection soon turned into a blame game and Abdullah was forced to say he would resign. The ensuing scramble for positions in Umno has done little to change a widespread view that the party has been in power too long. The only person willing to stand against Najib, the consummate insider, was Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a veteran outsider. Such a contest might have produced a debate about the party’s direction. Instead, Tengku Razaleigh’s candidacy was quashed by party chiefs.

The underlying problem — for Umno and Malaysia — is, to use the favoured euphemism, “money politics”, meaning backhanders paid for public-sector contracts or, where Umno is concerned, seats at the high table. On March 17 the party’s disciplinary board said it had found 15 members guilty of money politics. They included Datuk Ali Rustam, chief minister of Malacca, who was campaigning to become deputy party leader. He was duly disqualified. Ali did not, however, step down as chief minister, nor is he facing criminal charges. Such episodes make talk of reform ring hollow. For all his fumbling, Abdullah seemed to recognise this. It is unclear whether anyone in the new ruling circle does.

MACC: Chucking Out The Wine And The Bottle

by Tunku Aziz
MySinChew
2009-03-27

It is not for want of trying but, for the life of me, I find it difficult to take the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s self-trumpeted independence seriously. Since its much hyped up launch just weeks ago, its chief commissioner, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan, has managed to put his mouth into overdrive while shifting his brains into reverse on at least two occasions. The F1 television advertisement has obviously got through to me at last.

The first was when he claimed that there was “good and strong evidence” against the Pakatan Rakyat menteri besar of Selangor, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim even before the MACC investigation into the “car and cows” saga had got into first gear.

More recently, he was again at his favourite game of shooting his mouth and, not content with that, he succeeded in shooting himself in the foot as well when he declared, to the chagrin and utter disbelief of us all, that there were “elements of misuse of power” in the case involving the Perak assembly speaker, V.Sivakumar. This was over the suspension of the “other” menteri besar Datuk Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six assembly men.

What are we to make of the MACC, Malaysia’s last great stab at corruption, when its chief commissioner is obviously intent, by his behaviour, on destroying any residual trace of public confidence in an organisation whose very creation has only been accepted tentatively and with a large dose of scepticism?

I am by nature, so I am told, a charitable man. However, I must admit to an irresistible temptation to go the whole hog and describe him as either a knave or a fool; or perhaps a bit of both for committing one gaffe after another in double quick succession. He will be remembered as the chief commissioner with a special talent for hastening, without even trying, the demise of the unloved MACC. Perhaps Ahmad Said is doing the country a great favour, and we should, on reflection, just say nothing and let him carry on regardless.

I am told that when I referred to the rebranding of the much reviled Anti-Corruption Agency as akin to decanting old wine into a new bottle in my first column in the Sin Chew Daily a few weeks ago, I had trodden on a few sensitive toes of folks who work in the cloistered world of Putrajaya. I am rather glad to know that even though the commissioners are generally thought to be disdainful of public opinion, they at least have sensitive toes. How useful sensitive toes are in the fight against corruption I am not able to say.

My point about the old wine seems to have been borne out by recent events involving our new-look commissioners. These self-same functionaries who developed “second guessing” into a fine art form under Mahathir’s special guidance on integrity cannot, in all seriousness, be expected to change their work practices which have become almost second nature to them.

The MACC will not be effective until all of Mahathir’s former hatchet men in the ACA of unhappy memory, and that effectively includes all the senior men and women, have been turfed out of that organisation and replaced with carefully selected officers from other law enforcement agencies as well as other professionally qualified men and women who have the right aptitude and attitude to the mission of fighting corruption. Remember, we are not talking about rocket science, just basic honesty and high ethical standards of behaviour.

Otherwise, the same corked wine will be served again and again to us, the unsuspecting public. These officers-turned-commissioners overnight have in one way or another blotted their copy book and they jolly well know it. They should be put out to grass where they can do no serious damage. In all fairness, the MACC should be given a chance to develop a life of its own minus of all the skeletons in the closet and the influence of those who operated under a regime with vastly different value systems as compared to today’s.

The current flurry of anti-corruption activity appears to be motivated solely by publicity seeking rather than by a clear practical strategy of identifying and isolating the disease rather than trying to treat the symptoms. I should like to suggest to the MACC that they start by looking into the corridors of power. Get all cabinet ministers and their deputies to account for their assets, including those of their spouses.

To be rich is not a crime as long as you can account for your wealth. A person elected or appointed to high public office must be prepared to subject himself to the closest public scrutiny. It would be helpful for the MACC commissioners to possess the uncanny intuitive powers of Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery behind the wealth of individual ministers and other elected officials, but even without those abilities, it would be quite easy to conclude with a reasonable degree of certainty where all the wealth has come from. As Mr. Holmes would have said in a case as plainly as this, “It is elementary, my dear Watson.”

Our elected leaders generally enter politics with shallow pockets, but in next to no time, they become the nation’s glitterati, the nouveau riche determined to flaunt their high net worth for the entire world to see, with more than the occasional shopping trips to Milan, Rome and London for the little woman behind every great man.

Once they have dealt with our elected leaders, the MACC should move down to the next level comprising both the incumbents as well as the retired senior members of all law enforcement agencies, judges and the attorney(s)-general. Do this in a systematic way, without fear or favour, and we will soon put the fear of the Almighty in the country’s corrupt elites. This is how it is done in Hong Kong and Singapore. If we can confront corruption decisively on this level, we could even consider some form of conditional amnesty, on a case by case, for those not involved in “grand” corruption and who are willing to come clean and tell all, a full confession, no less.

They must be prepared to implicate those who have been involved in corrupt practices. In return, they will be treated and given protection as whistle blowers. Depending on the degree of their cooperation, they will be allowed to keep a percentage of their ill-gotten gains and given immunity from prosecution. This will have to be a conscious political decision with the sole object of undermining corruption to an extent that it will be regarded for all time as “a high risk, low return enterprise” and, therefore, simply not worth the effort.

The MACC can learn a great deal about corruption and how to get to the bottom of it all from this exercise. It is worth a try; it can open the way forward in the fight against systemic corruption that at present seems to be in favour of the opponent in the opposite corner with deep pockets. Let us start all over again, with a clean slate and show no mercy to the corrupt thereafter. This prescription is perhaps what the doctor recommends for that morally debilitating UMNO disease euphemistically referred to as “Money Politics.”

Samy Vellu Invites Independent Candidates To Join BN

SUNGAI PETANI, March 28 (Bernama) -- MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu today invited independent candidates in the Bukit Selambau by-election to withdraw from contesting and join Barisan Nasional (BN) if they are really keen to serve the people.

He said the independent candidates would not be able to solve the people's problems and bring development to the area as they were not working together with the government.


"Only the BN candidate can help fulfil the government's promises to the people," he said after handing over a cheque for RM450,000 from Tekun Nasional to assist nine youths in Bukit Selambau under the Young Indians Entrepreneur Development Scheme, here, today.

However, he added, the emergence of too many independent candidates in this by-election had driven BN to work harder.

He said BN candidate Datuk S. Ganesan's advantage as a lawyer and economist

would enable him to solve the problems faced by the people regardless of race and religion.

On BN's preparation for the by-election, Samy Vellu said it was now in the third phase where it was focusing on wooing the Malay and Chinese voters via door-to-door campaigning.

"In the first phase, we were observing closely the voters' thinking; whether they accepted us or not, and we have succeeded because when we went to their houses and asked them about their problems, these were noted down."

He said the second phase was about solving the problems.

"In the third phase, which is door-door campaigning, our election machinery has so far met with 9,700 Indian voters in Bukit Selambau and we are now concentrating on the Malay and Chinese voters," he added.

Don't stir up emotions, EC tells political leaders

TAIPING, 28 March 2009: The Election Commission (EC) today urged political leaders not to stir up emotions of their supporters during the nomination process tomorrow.

EC chairperson Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said all sides needed to ensure the process proceed in harmony without untoward incidents like what happened during the Permatang Pauh parliamentary and Ijok state seat by-elections.

"Tomorrow is just the nomination day, so don't do something that can cause disturbance and become too emotional. Usually, the supporters easily become emotional when listening to speeches by their leaders especially in the present political situation.

"We also advise leaders of parties contesting not to bring too many supporters so that we can monitor them better.

"The incidents in Permatang Pauh and Ijok serve as a lesson and make us and the police more prepared," he told reporters after visiting the nomination centre for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election at the Taiping Municipal Hall.

Nominations for Bukit Gantang are being held on the same day as those of the Bukit Selambau and Batang Air state by-elections. Polling is on 7 April.

Aziz said the EC, with the cooperation from the police, would ensure a buffer zone of at least 60 metres between rival supporters and they were not allowed to bring items that could be used as weapons such as umbrellas, steel and glass bottles.

They also should not shout or provoke each other, he said.

He said the supporters were permitted to bring along their party symbols before the nomination but after the candidates were announced, only the symbols of contesting parties were allowed.

It meant, if the contestants were from Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS for Bukit Gantang, the symbols of PKR, DAP and parties supporting BN but not members of BN were banned, he said.

"BN component parties are allowed to show their symbols because BN has registered with the Registrar of Societies while Pakatan Rakyat comprising Pas, PKR and DAP has not," he said.

In Bukit Gantang, Aziz said about 20,000 people were expected to turn up to support their candidates but the EC would only allow 70 representatives from each contestant to enter the compound during the nomination process from 9am to 11am.

He said candidates from BN and PAS and an independent known as Kamarul Ramizu Idris had paid the RM10,000 election and RM5,000 campaign material deposits.

Batang Ai: Taib “the Glue” to lead 5,000 BN supporters

Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Taib Mahmud is expected to lead some 5,000 BN supporters to the nomination centre at the Lubok Antu Mini Stadium this morning, reports the Borneo Post.

Among the BN big guns expected to join him in the show of support for their candidate, Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, are Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal, Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Parti Rakyat Sarawak president James Masing.

On the opposing side, Khalid Ibrahim and other PKR leaders will accompany their candidate, Jawah Gerang.

Meanwhile, James Masing has praised Taib sky-high, referring to the chief minister as the “glue” that binds the Sarawak BN coalition together. For an ‘entertaining’ read, click here.

Masing gets ‘extra points’ for sycophantic comments such as these:

Pehin Sri, in spite of all the half truths and half lies, and some criticisms that are down right lies, you have carried the burden of leadership with pride and you have kept the coalition going despite the challenges you were and are made to face.

Some of these challenges are man-made - and I was one of those who made them at one stage - while others are natural disasters.

To avoid the dangers of these political pitfalls and come out shining is not an easy task. You have done it, sir, with flying colours.

Bkt Gantang: Nizar gets a rousing reception in Taiping

dscn1731ab
Nizar receives a standing ovation in one of the largest Chinese restaurants in Taiping last night - Photo courtesy of Kinta Kid

taiping-8ab
A large crowd outside the restaurant follows the proceedings over a giant screen.

More pictures here.

We live in confusing times

ImageThe Malaysian Insider

MARCH 27 — On Tuesday, we read about the call for change and improvement by our leaders.

However, just a day or two before that, we also read about the suspension of Harakah and Suara Keadilan, the denial of media accreditation for the Umno General Assembly to The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini, the Nutgraph and three others, the breaking up with tear gas of the PKR rally in Bukit Selambau (and the arrest of 21 people) and, of course, the charging of Karpal Singh with sedition.

So why is there this terrible disconnect between what our politicians are saying and what is happening on the ground? Is this a case of over-zealous functionaries trying to second-guess the powers that be? If that is the case then it is easily remedied by immediately reversing these orders. However (as I suspect it is), if these orders have the approval of those at the top, then this is a case of a serious mismatch of word and deed.

This Jekyll and Hyde syndrome reflects an undignified sense of insecurity. Our leaders must make up their minds. Are they interested in upholding the rule of law and our democratic institutions or are they insistent on showing utter contempt for all that we hold dear just to protect the interests of a few? If only they would realise that they are more likely to win the popularity contest if they would instead show utter contempt for dishonesty and injustice and constancy in protecting the rule of law, the independence of our institutions and the freedoms of our people. If only they would realise that the whole world is watching us and that our platitudes on human rights (particularly at the universal periodic review that just took place) ring very hollow.

If this was a fairy tale it would be that of the “Emperor’s New Clothes”. Interestingly in that tale (as in any similar tale), what kept the emperor in denial was the presence of so-called loyal, sychophantic subjects who told the emperor only what he wanted to hear and shielded him from what was in fact the truth.

Another case of mismatch of word and deed is to be found in the case of Karpal Singh’s charge under the Sedition Act. For a start, those who formulated the charge may want to reconsider it in the light of the amendment to the Federal Constitution (pushed through Parliament when the Barisan Nasional had a two-thirds majority in the House) that set up the Special Court. Article 182(2) states that any proceedings by or against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Ruler of a state in his personal capacity shall be brought in the Special Court. Of course there is an argument that the acts of a Sultan in his official capacity are not acts done in his “personal capacity” but it has been suggested that official acts are included. The point is, Parliament, under the aegis of the Barisan Nasional, saw fit to remove the absolute immunity of the Rulers and allow for suits to be filed against them. It therefore follows that one can disagree with, and take legal action to challenge, some acts of the Ruler. Whether such a legal action falls within the ambit of Article 182(2) of the Federal Constitution is something for a court to decide if and when such legal action is instituted. In framing charges against Karpal Singh under the Sedition Act, the authorities appear to have overlooked this constitutional amendment and acted precipitately. I would argue that the particular section in the Sedition Act must be interpreted subject to the constitutional amendment.

Then there is the point of selective prosecution. Let us reflect. There are many who have commented on the Perak crisis from a legal and constitutional perspective and have discussed the actions of the Sultan. However, we must surely also recall the public discussion last year of the appointment of the Terengganu menteri besar that involved the palace. On March 19, 2008, the Attorney-General was reported to have said of our Yang di-Pertuan Agong that “His Majesty cannot interfere in the appointing of the menteri besar.” If one also recalls, it was reported that the palace’s candidate for menteri besar Datuk Ahmad Said, was initially stripped of his Umno membership and 22 assemblymen were going to boycott his swearing in as menteri besar in defiance of the palace. In fact these assemblymen were planning a protest walk from Seri Iman to Istana Tamu. Needless to say there were no prosecutions under the Sedition Act in any of these cases.

More recently, on Monday the Attorney-General put before the Federal Court for consideration four questions, every one of which involved in some way the powers of the Sultan of Perak in appointing the new menteri besar. One example is Question 2 which states : “Sekiranya jawapan kepada persoalan pertama adalah ya, persoalan seterusnya ialah sama ada perkara Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultan Perak tidak memberikan perkenan itu sah di sisi undang-undang.” Had the application succeeded it would have necessitated arguments on the very issues that Karpal Singh had commented on and for which he is being charged with sedition. Perhaps it is timely for a reconsideration of the charge against him in view of these inconsistences.

“Never do anything against conscience, even if the state demands it” — Albert Einstein

I have often wondered if there was not one man or woman somewhere in our great machinery of government including our parliamentarians, who felt at some point that their conscience did not permit them to carry out or support an act that was so plainly unjust, partisan and unfair. If there is, or are, resignation on principle sends a good message but those who can’t do this must at the very least make it clear that they will play no part whatsoever in acts that smack of abuse of power.

Our hope therefore ultimately lies with the people. Malaysians have changed dramatically; we are more vocal, we are not prepared to suffer in silence or to watch others suffer and most importantly we see clearly what is happening before us. We are bored with explanations or statements that insult our intelligence. We do not accept pronouncements by the authorities or those in power that lack substance. We do not “buy” the divisive rhetoric hurled at us. We are disgusted at the repressive conduct and attempts to muzzle dissent. There must be a “passive resistance” by the people against unjust actions. We have seen ordinary people producing extraordinary results when they stand firm against injustice, dishonesty and the destruction of our institutions. Indeed, what we have seen is an awakening of the will, wisdom and the collective conscience of the Malaysian people. And that is a formidable force that those in power ignore at their peril.