Monday, April 20, 2009
KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is prepared to lead Barisan Nasional’s (BN) machinery for the Penanti by-election as his supporters continue to pile pressure on Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak to abandon his idea of skipping the expected vote in Penang.
The former prime minister believes he can defeat PKR in the stronghold of his arch-enemy Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Penanti lies within Anwar’s Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency.
And this message has been communicated by Dr Mahathir’s supporters to various BN leaders.
Yesterday, Dr Mahathir urged Najib to call off the idea of skipping the Penanti vote just a day after the new prime minister floated the idea.
Dr Mahathir argued that to concede defeat to the opposition would be a sign of weakness.
But The Malaysian Insider understands that so far, Najib and most BN leaders still think that it is counter-productive to contest the by-election in Penang.
Last week, PKR’s Fairus Khairuddin, who also resigned as Penang’s deputy chief minister amid graft allegations, resigned as Penanti assemblyman and paved the way for a by-election.
With even some in the PR camp concerned with election fatigue – Penanti will be the fifth poll since last year’s general elections – Najib began attacking the opposition for what he claimed was a waste of money in abusing the polls process for political mileage.
But PR leaders have hit back by accusing BN of cowardice.
Dr Mahathir’s remarks suggest that he fears BN and Umno may be stuck with that tag if they skipped the by-elections.
The Malaysian Insider understands that Dr Mahathir believes Anwar should not be given a free victory anywhere in the country.
The act of giving a walkover to Anwar, he feels, will have a demoralising effect on the Umno troops.
Dr Mahathir’s public remarks have, however, placed Najib in a predicament.
Accede to Dr Mahathir and he runs the risk of being labelled as being under the thumb of the former PM.
If he stands his ground, he risks getting the same kind of treatment Tun Abdullah Badawi received from Dr Mahathir, who contributed to his downfall through his unrelenting attacks on the administration.
It is understood, however, that the BN leaders are behind the Prime Minister on this issue.
RPK’s website has been defaced and hacked. Arrested, fined, and pressed to reveal sources of information. Raja has also been jailed for libel, sedition, even “insulting Islam.”
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Johny Mercado, The Negros Chronicle
Did Kuala Lumpur clone Manila, Davao or Cebu? Or was it the other way around? They field policemen who moonlight as executioners.
Malaysia’s High Court sentenced Inspector Aziah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Umar Azhar to hang. They were from an elite unit guarding the Prime Minister. They shot Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, then blew up the 28-year old’s corpse with C-4 military explosives.
Their “no-body-no-case” defense flopped.
Prime Minister Najib Razak denies links with this interpreter and mother of two. Altantuya spoke Russian, English, Mandarin and Japanese. She also had an affair with one of Najib’s closest aides: Abdul Razak Baginda.
The court cleared Baginda. But suspicions, from graft to blackmail, persist. Would two cops act as a death squad on their own?
“Where are the bodies of Salvador “Bubby Dacer” and Emmanuel Corbito?” lawyers for Senator Panfilo Lacson ask: “No body, no case.”
PR man Dacer and driver were also kidnapped by the “elite” Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force team. Both were interrogated, strangled and, like Altantuya, their bodies were burned. UP forensic pathologists identified remains from dental plates, rings, etc. Not me, insists Lacson who led PAOCTF then. Don’t look at me, says Lacson’s chief, the mustachioed President Joseph Estrada. Erap denies he is Bigote – alleged mastermind.
Did PAOCTF’s Michael Ray Aquino and Cezar Mangcao track down Dacer on their own? Just like Insp.Hadri and Cpl. Azhar? Both are in a US federal prison and await extradition. On return, will they sing – or retract? PAOCTF agents seized, then destroyed, documents with Dacer. Were they about the multi-million BMW stock scandal? Probers itch to know. That scam rocked Estrada’s regime.
Licensing laws gag the Malaysian press. Economic pressures are more insidious.“The Malaysian government is the indirect or direct owner of almost all local media,” International Press Institute notes. Thus, Kuala Lumpur mainstream media insists the gallows sentence puts an “end to conspiracy theories.” It won’t.
Across Johore causeway, Singapore newspapers covered the 159-day trial.They’ve reported what Kuala Lumpur censors haven’t firewalled completely: internet and blogs. The most outspoken is 59-year old Columnist Raja Petra Kamarudin. On his website “Malaysia Today,” RPK claims the prime minister and wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, are involved in the Mongolian slay.
Najib admits contacting the lawyer defending his aide. “That’s not interference.”
RPK’s website has been defaced and hacked. Arrested, fined, and pressed to reveal sources of information. Raja has also been jailed for libel, sedition, even “insulting Islam.”
This parrots the March 26 resolution sponsored by Pakistan, Belarus, Venezuela, Egypt and Saudi Arabia at the UN. On surface, it bans “defamation of religion.” In effect, it means blasphemy, notes the Economist. “This is defined as voicing dissent from the official reading of Islam.”
That’s bigotry. And it’d suppress liberty of expression. But that shouldn’t distract from crimes like death squads.
A special tribunal found former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori unleashed esquadrones de la muerte. His“Colina Unit” committed at least 50 murders, when the state crushed the fanatical “Shining Path” rebels. It sentenced Fujimori to 25 years in prison Shouldn’t that jolt mayor Rodrigo Duterte? In Davao, death squads racked up 814 murders, in over a decade. Not a case has been solved.
That’s the same message for Mayor Tomas Osmena, now in Texas for bladder cancer operation.
There’ve been 184 killings in Cebu since Osmena and police chief Pablo Labra unleashed vigilantes. Not a case has been solved either. Whether in Kuala Lumpur, Davao, Cebu or Lima, there’s a human being behind each killing statistic. Read the record.
“Azilah ( gave) me an M5 weapon and silencer ordering “shoot to kill” the Chinese woman,” testified Cpl. Azhar. He didn’t know who she was. She surrendered her jewellery and pleaded not to kill her. She was expecting, she said. “Azilah wrestled the woman to the ground and I fired towards the left side of her head…. Azilah noticed movements in the arm. He ordered me to fire. I then emptied the weapon. With Azilah’s help I put the bag over the head to prevent blood from spilling.
In the woods…I attached the explosives to the victim’s head while Azilah attached explosives on the victim’s legs up to the abdomen…After detonation, I pulled the excess wire into the jeep, left the scene and headed towards the (Special Operations Office) in Bukit Aman where I received 430 ringgits.”
Such impunity can stand only with official tolerance.. It’s cloned here. . “After our ‘work’, we’d meet at Mits KTV bar, on Bacalso highway, near St. Francis Funeral Home,” a Cebu vigilante explained. “That’s where we got paid for our work.” In Davao, “the men who gun down or, and this is becoming more common, knife children in the streets, almost never cover their faces,” writes UN Special Raportteur Philp Alston.RPK rejected a name-your-price offer to stop writing about Najib and the Mongolian. All Malays, Chinese and Indians who support party in power for gain…are “scum of the earth,” he wrote. “Nothing can justify prostituting yourself.”
by M. Bakri Musa
Book Review: Saya Pun Melayu (I Am Also A Malay)
Foreword by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
ZI Publications Sdn Bhd, Petaling Jaya, 2009. 312 pages. RM 35.00
The Annual UMNO General Assembly is also the season for the release of new books on local politics written in Malay. It must be a profitable venue and time, for the number of new titles keeps growing each year.
Foreigners may mistake this to reflect a healthy intellectual discourse, or at least a vigorous political debate. The reality however, is far different. With such titillating titles as “50 Dalil Mengapa XYZ Tidak Layak …” (Fifty Reason s Why XYZ Is Unfit For … ) and the promiscuous use of “half-past six English,” this “genre” poisons the political atmosphere, quite apart from degrading our national language.
As for content, these books are nothing more than warong kopi (coffee shop) gossips transcribed. Observers and political scientists hoping to gain an insight on Malaysian politics would do well to avoid these books. And they have. These books will never be cited in reputable publications or quoted by respected commentators.
Enter Zaid Ibrahim’s Saya Pun Melayu (I Am Also A Malay). It too was released to coincide with the recent UMNO General Assembly. There the similarity ends. This gem of a diamond sparkles with insights and wisdom. Like a diamond, this book too has innumerable multifaceted sharp edges that cut through rock-headed politicians. I would be insulting Zaid if I were to compare his thoughtful and well written book to the thrash that littered the hallways of Dewan Merdeka, where the recent Assembly took place.
Greater Impact Than The Malay Dilemma
A more appropriate comparison would be Mahathir’s The Malay Dilemma, written some 40 years ago and also at a time when UMNO and Malays were going through a critical crisis. This book will have an even greater impact than The Malay Dilemma.
Like Mahathir’s, the first run of this book quickly sold out, but unlike Mahathir’s, this book has not been banned. This is not due to any greater enlightenment on the part of the authorities today, rather a tribute to Zaid’s skillful and subtle approach. Whereas Mahathir is frontal and polemical, meant more to shock if not insult readers, Zaid, ever the accomplished corporate lawyer, takes a softer and polite approach. In contrast to Mahathir’s anger and indignant rhetoric, Zaid is more sorrowful and disappointment over UMNO’s current malaise. Zaid persuades us with his rational arguments; Mahathir barrages us with his accusations. Mahathir caters to our baser emotions and sense of victimization; Zaid to our intellect and pristine values of our culture.
Our culture goes for Zaid’s halus ways, of subtleties and obliqueness. Thus he is devastatingly effective, as for example in upbraiding his former cabinet colleagues who are lawyers. Rais Yatim, Syed Hamid Albar, Hishammuddin Hussein, and Azalina Othman, among others, are chastised for failing to live up to their professional ethics and obligations as shown by their disrespect for the due process of law and basic human rights. In Malay, Zaid’s polite criticisms are very damning. It would be difficult to maintain this tone with this style had the book been written in English. The translator should ponder this point.
The book is in three parts. The first is the author’s reflection on and prescription for our nation’s current predicaments. Zaid tackles such “hot” issues as Ketuanan Melayu (Malay hegemony), the rule of law, and the role of the monarchy in a democracy. It also includes his very brief tenure as Abdullah Badawi’s Law Minister.
The second is a brief memoir of sorts where he traced his humble origin in a village deep in Ulu Kelantan to become a highly successful corporate attorney who created the nation’s largest law firm. It also includes his tenure in UMNO politics and his current philanthropic works, where he has been recognized by Forbes magazines as Asia’s Inaugural Heroes of Philanthropy. The last part contains short profiles of Malaysians he admires (which includes former Chief Justice Salleh Abbas), his hopes on the future of Malays, and the current state of Malay, specifically UMNO, politics.
UMNO No Longer Represents Malays
One could be readily excused in assuming that those rent-seeking, keris-brandishing, and race-taunting types that infest UMNO represent the best if not the essence of the Malay race. Or that the angry menacing Mat Rempits, the jungle version of Hell’s Angels so eagerly being embraced by UMNO Youth, are the future of Malays.
Zaid’s ideas and approaches are the antithesis of UMNO’s. In deliberately choosing the simple title, Zaid is emphasizing that his is also a legitimate if not the prevailing viewpoint. To me, Zaid represents more of the essence of Malayness while those corrupt pseudo modernized UMNO types just happen to be Malays. They are the ones who soil our culture and give it a bad odor.
Zaid writes teasingly that he has already set a record of sorts by being the shortest serving cabinet minister! Here is another observation also worthy of the record books. He is the only minister whose reputation is enhanced on leaving office! Not to belittle Zaid’s own fine personal qualities and considerable achievements, that says a lot on the caliber of people leading Malaysia today!
Zaid takes to task UMNO leaders for presuming to speak on behalf of all Malays. It is clear now that they do not. In the chapter “Masa Depan Melayu” (The Future of Malays) in Part III, Zaid suggests that Malays must be outward looking, willing to learn from others, and not be obsessed with empty slogans like Ketuanan Melayu. The road to Ketuanan Melayu, he writes, is not by shouting your lungs out at every gathering, rather through diligence, hard work, and most of all, superior education.
Zaid relates his experience as a university student leader on a three-month trip to America visiting the top campuses (“Memburu Cita Cita, (Pursuing You Dreams) Chapter 8 Part II). This was in the 1970s, the height of the anti-Vietnam protests. He was struck that even though America was at war its government was still tolerant of dissent.
Decades later as Abdullah’s Law Minister, he was appalled when the government he was a part of detained dissenters like Raja Petra and Teresa Kok under the ISA. Not surprisingly, Zaid’s departure from the cabinet soon followed.
I have met many Malaysians who have lived for many years in America and yet miss this important aspect of American exceptionalism. Their America is the shopping malls, porno shops, and blighted downtowns.
Zaid’s ideas and observations resonate with me, as well as many Malaysians. Hear is the voice of a successful Malay professional and a member of the political elite. That he now quits UMNO is a loss for it but a gain for Malaysia. Another blessing is that he is now free to pursue his philanthropic works as well as his involvement in NGOs. And being an effective critic of the government!
To me the most valuable part of the book is his brief memoir (Part II). Zaid clearly subscribes early to the values he writes about. His divorced father took him away from the village to live with him in Kota Baru where he could attend an English school (Sultan Ismail College). When he reached secondary level he felt the urge to leave, to see the greater world beyond.
He chose English College in Johor Baru, at the very opposite end of the peninsula. The school however accepts new students only if their families were transferred there. So he wrote to the principal stating that indeed he had a “family” (his distant cousin) transferred to the Army base there. His father willingly signed the letter for him and supported his decision.
Unlike in Kota Baru where his classmates were almost exclusively Malays, down there he had an environment more reflective of Malaysia. From there he went on to Sekolah Tun Razak in Ipoh for his Form Six, where he excelled in debates, and then to UiTM for his law studies.
Except for about seven months in London at one of the Inns to qualify for the Bar, and the earlier trip to America, Zaid spent his formative years in Malaysia. It is remarkable that he could have such an open and receptive attitude. We have many who spent years at the best British universities only to return quickly to their old kampong mentality upon coming home.
Zaid has what the Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck refers to as a “growth mindset,” in contrast to a “fixed mindset.” Those with the growth mindset believe that their fate is dependent on how adaptive they are in seizing opportunities, and on their ability to grow and gain from their experiences. They do not believe that their fate is dependent on what nature had bestowed upon them, the benevolence of some remote emperor, or what had been written in the book of life. The “fixed mindset” view their talent and ability as fixed, and that their lot in life is ultimately tied to their innate nature, especially their intelligence and ‘giftedness.’
Zaid is always learning from others and improving on what they had done. He writes of his early experience articling in a prestigious law firm where he was offered a position. That was definitely a career coup, a young lawyer’s dream. What soured it were the whisperings among his colleagues that he was offered simply because the firm wanted to increase its Malay representation. After much soul searching, Zaid declined the offer. That must have shocked those senior partners. Another “dumb” Malay refusing to seize opportunities, they must have thought!
Zaid too must have questioned himself a thousand times in the years following that tough decision, especially when he had difficulty trying to borrow from MARA (a measly RM25,000.00) to start his own firm. In the end, he created ZICO, a law firm that easily bested the one where he articled. Not only is it the largest, it is also one of the few that could handle the complex needs of multinational corporations, and the first to venture abroad.
That is where a growth mindset could lead you.
Going back to MARA, an institution I am a never a fan of, Zaid relates an incident visiting his alma mater soon after being appointed Law Minister. He wanted to spend a few minutes to give the students a “pep talk.” On the appointed day, he was surprised by the overflowing crowd. Then as is typical, the Vice Chancellor, one Ibrahim Abu Shah (a “Dato’ Seri Prof. Dr.” no less!) hogged all the allotted time, pouring embarrassingly effusive praises on Zaid. He was left with a scant few minutes!
A few months later, after Zaid resigned as a minister and gave his talk at the Asean Law Forum where he challenged the wisdom of Ketuanan Melayu, that same Ibrahim called Zaid a traitor to our race! As Zaid says, our intellectuals are also now speaking like politicians. Zaid may not realize this; they do so because they are essentially politicians who happen to wear academic robes. Scholars and intellectuals they are not.
I wish all Malaysians would read this book. Our policy makers would benefit more from reading this instead of the World Bank’s dense treatises on rural poverty. The tribulations of his childhood that Zaid so well described are still very much the reality today for a vast number of young Malays. Zaid was fortunate in that his father saw the value of a good education. Many parents are trapped between needing their children to work to lessen the family’s burden and going to school. If our government were to adopt programs like Mexico’s Progresa where parents are being paid for keeping their children in school, then we would help those parents make the right decision that would benefit them and the nation in the long term.
If UMNO members and leaders were to read this volume they might just be disabused of their delusion of Ketuanan Melayu and ethnocentric mindset. On the other hand they might not like it when they realize their own stupidities. For young Malays, Zaid is an aspiration, of what is within their grasp if only they could see through the fraud of Ketuanan Melayu that is being perpetrated upon them. For non-Malays, this book might just erase some of their negative stereotypes of Malays they harbor.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book not only because of the remarkable personal story but also for the style of writing. Malays writers writing in Malay (and often also in English) tend to use non-declarative sentences. Thus instead of saying, “I like vanilla ice cream!” they would write, “On matters of ice cream taste, I like vanilla!” The latter takes nearly twice as many words, and the reader also has to shift gears. Very irritating!
This book is a valuable contribution to the political discourse, and it comes at a time when it is badly needed. Rest assured that this book will be talked about for years.
By Chua Sue-Ann
KUALA LUMPUR, 20 April 2009: Not unlike a chess match, Barisan Nasional (BN) now appears to have two more major moves against Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in order to assert its claim [on] the embattled Perak state legislative assembly and government.
The tussle for power will continue going into the state legislative assembly meeting scheduled for 7 May after an arduous journey for both sides, from the Perak palace to the courts.
The Federal Court last week opened the doors to Perak Menteri Besar Datuk [now Datuk Seri] Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and his executive councillors (excos) to enter the assembly, after it lifted their suspensions ordered by Speaker V Sivakumar.
If it comes to be, BN would likely move quickly to push a confidence vote for Zambry as menteri besar to grant legitimacy to the BN state government after it regained control of the state with the support of three former PR representatives.
Perak flew into a political deadlock after the three — Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (Behrang), Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu (Changkat Jering) and Hee Yit Foong (Jelapang) — quit their respective parties to be BN-friendly independents.
Read more here.
Sources close to the menteri besar's office told the New Straits Times yesterday that state assembly secretary Abdullah Antong had even a 30-minute meeting at the speaker's office on Friday, before the notices were sent out to all 59 state assemblymen.
A source said: "It was a blatant lie when he claimed to have only known about it from several state assemblymen and newspapers. He was properly informed of the sitting and the meeting (on Friday) was granted by none other than Sivakumar himself."
The source also revealed that documented evidence of the ruler's consent and assurance that all processes and procedures had been adhered to were also explained at length to Sivakumar.
"It was even pointed out to him that the sitting must be carried out in a dignified and honourable way, befitting the institution," he said, adding that the meeting was carried out in a cordial manner.
"All the necessary procedures were followed, the ruler's consent was obtained, notices were sent out and the speaker was duly notified of the proposed sitting.
"Why is he denying all this by issuing a statement to that effect?" asked the source.
Sivakumar, at a press conference at his office at the state secretariat building here on Saturday, said he had suspended Abdullah for issuing the notices without his knowledge or consent.
He appointed Mohd Misbahul Munir Marduki as state legislative assembly secretary until further notice.
It was the second time that he has suspended Abdullah.
Last month, Sivakumar had suspended Abdullah for allegedly failing to act impartially over Sivakumar's calling of an emergency sitting, which was forced to be held under a tree on March 3.
However, State Secretary Datuk abdul Rahman Hashim said Abdullah's suspension was invalid.
He said the post of state assembly secretary was under the Administrative and Diplomatic Service and, as such, disciplinary action could only be taken by the service.
Kebelakangan ini terpampang di muka hadapan media Umno-BN yang berkemungkinan tidak akan bertanding dalam pilihanraya kecil DUN Penanti.
Alasan yang diberi Datuk Sri Najib kononnya pemilihan ini akan membazirkan duit rakyat. Gesaan agar jangan membazir tidak terbatas dalam pilihanraya sahaja, seharusnya ianya juga mengambil kira kaedah kempen, sogokan wang dan cambahan projek serta pesta. Amalan rasuah, komisyen, pesta-pestaan masih ketara dalam amalan pimpinan negara. Ini wajib dihentikan segera.
Isu Mohammad Fairus dan Penanti dijelaskan sendiri oleh beliau dalam kenyataannya. Inshaallah kita akan pastikan wakil yang dipilih nanti mampu menggalas tanggungjawab termasuk kekuatan menangani masalah masyarakat Melayu dan rakyat miskin lainnya. Maka seandainya Datuk Sri Najib jujur dengan perakuannya, Umno wajar mengiktiraf hasrat rakyat Penanti dengan tidak mengemukakan calun.
Saya tidak menolak betapa pentingnya usaha membawa negara ini keluar dari kegawatan. Namun sikap hipokrit bukanlah caranya memulihkan ekonomi negara. Saya tertanya-tanya — apakah dengan memberikan komisyen berjumlah RM 510 juta kepada Perimekar Sdn. Bhd. untuk pembelian kapal selam Scorpene dan pemberian tender secara tertutup projek jalur lebar berdaya laju bernilai RM 11.31 bilion tidak membazirkan wang rakyat?
Then when the Health Ministry director-general announced his support of the first post-mortem report based on, among other factors, the first pathologist's 26 years of working experience, I was reminded of a similar incident I experienced first-hand 11 years ago.
On Aug 8, 1998, Tualang Puteh, a 40-year-old Jahai Orang Asli had gone to harvest petai beans in the forest about two hours' walk away from his village of Kampung Sungai Manok in Jeli, Kelantan.
He went alone as he usually preferred, much in keeping with his namesake - the tualang or 'bee-hive' tree - which towers solitarily over the surrounding bushland, its branchless-trunk keeping marauders away from the bee hives under its canopy.
Besides, his wife was nursing their week-old baby and could not accompany him. The money he hoped to get from the sale of the petai was needed to buy basic essentials for his family's survival.
When he did not return that evening, his village-folk got worried and searched for him. When there was still no sign of him a couple of days later, a missing person report was made and a search party put together to locate Tualang.
His badly decomposed body was found eight days later with its head severed and an arm missing. The press reported that the search team, led by the Jeli police chief, found bite marks on the body and pug marks of a tiger near where the body was found.
The body was in fact found about 300 metres from where Tualang's belongings were scattered about. He had apparently climbed and fallen from a tree, on which there were scratch marks on the trunk like those made by a tiger. Incidentally, the Orang Asli had also reported sightings of a tiger in the area prior to this incident.
To everyone in the search team, which also included Jahai villagers and rangers from the Wildlife Department, it was clear as to what happened to Tualang. He had encountered a tiger, tried to climb a tree to escape it, but somehow fell to the ground, and was attacked by the tiger.
His body was dragged some distance away, consistent with what tiger's normally do with their prey (usually to the water's edge). The injury to the back of the neck was also a classic attack strategy of the tiger.
The body was then subjected to a post-mortem in Kota Baru Hospital. Contrary to all the field and circumstantial evidence, the pathologist, brought in from the Kuala Terengganu Hospital for the task, came to the conclusion that Tualang was not killed by a tiger as "there were no bite marks on the body".
"It was not a natural death and neither was it caused by an attack by a tiger," proclaimed the pathologist.
Instead, he suspected foul play and criminal intent as there was "brain injury caused by a blunt object hitting the victim's head".
The Kelantan police chief, who was not part of the search party, chose to accept the pathologist's findings which were contrary to those of even his own men on the ground. The case was then reclassified as a criminal one where foul play was suspected.
A police officer whom I later spoke to in Jeli even suggested that Tualang could have been killed by "one of his own kind".
This was hard to swallow, given that the Jahai are a peaceful people and would find ways to avoid a potential conflict at all costs. Even the officer in charge of the Department of Orang Asli Affairs in Jeli intimated to me that the Jahais concerned were highly unlikely to have caused injury to another of them, let alone cause his death.
Nevertheless, as a result of Tualang's death now being classified as unnatural and with criminal intent, his widow and young children did not receive any welfare aid, as was the usual immediate practice when non-Orang Asli tiger victims met this fate.
This also led to the unwillingness of the government agencies responsible to acknowledge that a man-eating tiger was in the area. That is, until others became victims of tiger attacks in the area in the years that followed.
And all this because some hot-shot pathologist thought he knew all there was to know about tiger kills and about criminal deaths caused by blunt objects as indicated by signs on highly-decomposed bodies.
It may not come as a surprise to you to know that the pathologist from Kuala Terengganu Hospital who did the post-mortem on Tualang in Kota Baru in 1998 was none other than Dr Abdul Karim Tajuddin, the first pathologist in the Kugan case.
As a result of his findings, a great injustice was done to Tualang's family and his people.
The higher-ups in the Health Ministry may stand by his 26 years of experience but for me it looks like a case of simple calendar seniority being faultily equated with experience and competence. It appears that his defenders in the establishment do not know the difference between the two.
Perhaps it is time for the Health Ministry to conduct a post-mortem on itself.
COLIN NICHOLAS is coordinator of the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns
2. Newspapers of April 15 reports on an UMNO Youth leader in Johor Baru requesting that the bridge be built for various reasons.
3. When the previous Prime Minister stated that the people of Johore did not want the crooked bridge or any bridge, no one said anything, much less protest.
5. There was for a very short while complaints regarding the Custom, Immigration and Quarantine complex. No one explained that the inconvenience was due to the complex being designed to complement the proposed bridge but when the bridge was cancelled a temporary road was built to join the complex with the causeway. This caused a misfit as the two could not be properly linked together. Hence the inconvenience. In addition the traffic problems near the causeway remained unsolved.
6. Does the Government need to ask Singapore for permission to build the now desirable crooked bridge? Is Malaysia free to do things in its own territory? Are we really independent? I wonder.
He told Bernama today that he would be meeting the management of private TV and radio stations soon to bring about changes as they had failed to deliver the government’s aspirations resulting in the BN’s poor performance at the general election last year.
That’s why you think BN did badly last year?
Nothing to do with, oh I don’t know, racism, chronic corruption, a murder scandal, and all round ineptitude? Can’t be, right? :P
While eminently stupid in and of itself, this statement bears another glaring display of arrogance, abuse of power and twistedness.
Why can’t these idiots seem to understand - the government DOES NOT EQUAL BN.
The way Rais is talking, you would think that it is the *duty* of publicly owned radio/TV stations to make the government look good *in order to* keep BN in power.
This is bullshit.
It is fair to expect public radio/TV stations to assist the government in its duties, to explain policies and facilitate good governance, but it is *not* the role of the media to make any political party smell like roses.
In fact, the duty of the media is almost the exact opposite. It is to exercise its role as check and balance, to mercilessly decry corruption, abuse of power and management, and by holding politicians to scathing standards.
So, Najib talks about free media, Rais says media should kiss BN’s ass. Which one is which now?
Speaking of hypocrisy, same article:
Meanwhile in a related matter, the decision by RTM to change the time of its news programming has come under fire from several quarters, especially from the viewers of the Mandarin and Tamil news broadcast.
Under the revamped schedule effective tomorrow, Mandarin news will be aired at 6.30pm instead of the popular slot of 8pm. As for the Tamil news broadcast, the 30-minute bulletin will now be at 6pm instead of 7.30pm. National prime news in Bahasa Malaysia will be aired on TV1 at 8pm.
Hmmm, doesn’t sound very 1Malaysia does it?
Party information chief Datuk M. Saravanan said: "If the BN leadership feels that the by-election is a political ploy by the opposition especially Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and a waste of public funds, then we would follow the decision whatever it might be.
"But as an individual I want to state that I hope the BN will contest the seat. This is because we don't want to forsake traditional BN supporters in the constituency. We have to be fair to our voters who have been supporting us all this while," he told reporters after opening the Kuala Lumpur Silamban Association annual general meeting here Sunday.
He said that PKR was clearly using by-elections as a political gimmick to maintain the momentum of the March 2008 general election which saw the opposition wresting power in Selangor, Perak, Pulau Pinang and Kedah and denying BN of two-thirds majority in Parliament.
Since then, there have been five by-elections, namely for the Permatang Pauh, Kuala Terengganu and Bukit Gantang parliamentary seats and the Bukit Selambau (Kedah) and Batang Ai (Sarawak) state seats.
The Kuala Terengganu, Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai by-elections were held following the death of the respective representatives while Permatang Pauh and Bukit Selambau were due to resignations.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who is BN chairman said the coalition would seek a consensus from all component parties whether it would contest the Penanti seat since it felt that the by-election was PKR's political ploy to keep its momentum in the eyes of voters.
The Election Commission (EC) will meet on Wednesday to determine whether the Penanti seat is vacant after former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin announced on Thursday that he was quitting the state assembly seat.
EC Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof has said the Commission would announce on Friday the status of the seat and the date for the by-election if a vacancy occurred.
If this lady is as tough as her namesake, its going to a be hell of a problem for the husband. The story, as written published below, may not tell the whole picture, and to be fair, we have to wait till more details come out.
But while the case is going on, I wonder what happened to the initiative to streamline the conversion processes as proposed by PM Badawi last time. Then, MCA, ABIM, IKIM, and other groups were making noise of the illegal conversions issues that caused lot of unhappiness and distrust among the communities in the country. And some people wonder why certain community can be ungrateful or unappreciative or whatever.
This kind of problem won’t end without proper guidelines and perhaps a monitoring body for the non-Muslims to ensure their rights are actually protected, and not exist merely as words in the constitution. We had the Subashini case which still reverberates in our minds. Granted there were few cases where the conversion was reversed - like the Chinese lady, Tan Eng Huan who married an Iranian (I think) out love, but never practised anything remotely close to Islam. A lady was buried as Buddhist after it was proven that she never did practise Islam, in Perlis. There was another case in Kota Bahru and one more in Malacca, if I’m not mistaken where the families of the convert got back their properties. Some may be deemed convert just because their MyKad said so! Or do anyone remember case of Elangesvaran?
The case of Indira Gandhi was first highlighted via a Hindu Sangam press statement as below, with specific mention of abuse:
PRESS STATEMENT :
APPEAL TO RAJA NAZRIN - DO WE NEED TO CONVERT BREASTFED 11 MONTH OLD BABY ?
At a time when we are welcoming “ONE MALAYSIA” concept we still have Ulamas who convert a 11 month old baby named Prasanna Thiksha to Ummu Abima bte Mohd Ridzuan. This baby was grabbed by a wife beating husband and both the husband Pathmanathan and the baby were converted in the state of Perak at Ipoh, Pasir Putih. The baby is still being breastfed.
A police report was made, but, as usual it does not “interfere” when it comes to one particular religion.
The mother a kindergarten teacher Indra Gandhi had to protect her other two children. The husband was able to snatch the Birth Certificates of the two Children and the wife now lives in fear because she is wondering whether the Birth Certificates can be used to convert the other two children.
Is this the “ONE MALAYSIA” vision we are going to encounter in the years to come? The Malaysia Hindu Sangam is most disturbed with this turn of events because the Judiciary in Malaysia has most often been “blind” to issues on Islam. We now have to channel our appeal to the Royalty because the head of the religion is the Ruler.
It is with good intentions that we appeal to the lovable Prince of Perak HRH Raja Nazrin ibni Sultan Raja Azlan Shah to intervene and solve this problem in a mutual humane way with harmony, peace and justice for all.
Datuk A. Vaithilingam
Malaysia Hindu Sangam
So, for now, just like Saravanan (the ex-husband of Subashini), this fellow is also looking like a coward who brings shame to the religion he claims to converted to. He had no guts to go through the divorce process and took the back door way.
Press Statement : Cabinet Intervenes On Complaints on Child Conversion
15 APRIL 2009
Early this month a father forcefully converted his eleven month old baby by grabbing the baby from the mother after assaulting her. This happened at Pasir Puteh, Ipoh. Last week the father Pathmanathan alias Mohd Ridzuan B Abdullah has obtained a Syariah court order to send the other two children whom he claimed to have converted to Islam by using their Birth Certificates to be sent to him.
After bringing this matter up to the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Hj Muhiyuddin and Cabinet Ministers Tan Sri Koh Tsu Khoon and Datuk Dr.S.Subramaniam, this matter was brought to the cabinet meeting today and it was viewed with great concern.
Tan Sri Muhiyuddin informed me that 3 Minsters led by Tan Sri Koh Tsu Khoon, Major General Datuk Jamil Khir and Datuk Dr S.Subramaniam have been asked to immediately look into the matter.
Tan Sri Koh Tsu Khoon has requested the Malaysia Hindu Sangam and all others concerned to provide all the information so that a quick solution can be worked out. He also said that the Prime Minister has taken a serious view of this matter.
In the meantime Malaysia Hindu Sangam appeals to all concerned to be calm and assist in finding a just solution to this issue.
Malaysia Hindu Sangam.
I hope the ministers concerned can indeed come out with some statement, instead of we have to rely on MHS. This will go a long way to reestablish some trust in the system. It will be good indeed if the DPM or PM mention something so that can reassure the families and community at large.
So, will Indira Gandhi plea be heard?
Her three young children were forcefully converted to Islam by her estranged husband. And M Indira Ghandi is taking her plight straight to the doorstep of Sri Perdana.
Calling on newly minted Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to explain the matter, the 35-year-old kindergarten teacher said: “He talks about an united Malaysia. But what does this mean when only the Muslims have rights.”
“I am not anti-Islam and I am not saying that they (Muslims) are doing wrong things but why do non-Muslims have to suffer like this?” she asked as tears welled up in her eyes.
Indira’s marriage is now is a limbo as her husband K Patmanathan, 40, had converted without her knowledge on March 11.
She claimed that her husband, who has since assumed the name Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, had also converted their children, aged one to 12, on April 12 without their presence and using only their birth certificates.
“He took my baby (their youngest child) from me and ran away… I have not seen her ever since and I don’t know how she’s doing,” lamented Indira.
As for her marriage, the teacher, who also claimed to have been physically abused, said the couple were married for 16 years and had been facing problems for a long time. “It started so many years back that I can no longer keep track of when it started.”
“Recently he asked for a divorce and I thought to myself that since that was what he wanted I consented but he did not want to start the process and demanded that I do so.
“So I went to a marriage tribunal and filed for counselling in Ipoh but he never attended any of the counselling sessions,” she said. [so, there will be some records here]
Indira claimed that after one particular explosive argument, which also involved her mother and sisters, her husband had fled with their youngest daughter Prasana Diksa.
“When we went to the police station and lodged a report, no immediate action was taken by the police although my baby was still very young and needed to be breast-fed,” she said.
Since that incident, Indira has filed six police reports, with one alleging that she feared for her life because her husband had threatened her.
Indira said the police managed to locate her husband later but only to discover that he had converted the children.
The couple’s two other children Tevi Darsiny, 12 and Karan Dinesh, 11 are currently living with Indira, who has taken refuge with a relative fearing that Islamic officials would take the kids away.
“I was neither told nor asked about it (the conversion)… I don’t know what to do,” she lamented.
According to Indira, her husband had called her last Wednesday and promised to return her youngest child.
“He asked me to come to the Islamic Department (Jais) in Ipoh and take my baby because he could not care for her but he didn’t show up.
“Instead there was a man waiting there to serve me papers from the Syariah Court granting custody of my other children to him,” she said.
However, she refused to accept the papers as she believed that Syariah laws had no jurisdiction over her.
As for her husband’s conversion, Indira said he had spoken about his interest in Islam but she claimed this was related to monetary gains.
“I have no idea what his intentions are… but he mentioned once before that we will get RM5,000 each if we ‘nikah’ (marry according to Islamic rights) and money would also be given on a monthly basis to each of our children for education purposes.
“Over the past couple of days he keeps calling me and asks me to convert to Islam. He tells me that I should convert first and then we, as in the whole family, can opt out later back into Hinduism,” she said, adding that she wanted to remain a Hindu.
‘I love my wife very much’
Contacted later, her husband dismissed Indira’s allegations as absurd, saying he converted because he was passionate about Islam which he had discovered during his business trips.
Denying that he had physically abused her, Mohd Ridzuan said: “I don’t want to say anything but I love my wife very much… right now I only want her back.”
Asked why he had converted the children without informing his wife, he replied: “You see all the children must follow the father’s religion no matter whether he is a Hindu, Christian or Muslim.”
“This is not a political issues, this is my family matter and I don’t want to shame my wife,” said the businessman who has filed for custody of the children with the Syariah Court.
Meanwhile, Indira has sought the help of several legal adviders, non-Muslim organisations and the public.
“This is not only my case, many people are suffering because of this. We are filing for the custody of my children because they don’t want to go to their father, and they (the other party) are totally rejecting this.
“But the question is even if I can get back my children, will they be Hindu again? Why does it only take a day to convert my children but it is so difficult to return to their old religion?” she asked.
“Don’t I have say in it, when I was the one who carried them for nine months… aren’t they my children too? So what is my right and my children’s rights?
“The government say this is a country where it is free to practice your own religion but what is the right of a non-Muslim in this situation?” she added.
Well, in any case, Indira better make plan to migrate.
(Al Jazeera) At least 28 civilians have been killed in the latest fighting between the Sri Lankan military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a health official said.
More than 160 others are being treated for wounds after being caught in the crossfire in the northeast of the island, an official at the only makeshift hospital in the conflict zone said.
The defence ministry reported that soldiers had killed eight Tamil Tiger fighters, but the statement made no mention of civilian casualties.
Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a military spokesman speaking to Al Jazeera on Sunday, denied that fighting was going on in the "no-fire zone".
"There is no fighting going on in these areas. This is a 25km safety zone which the government has earmarked for the safety of the civilians.
"Even though we know the locations of their [LTTE's] guns and various equipment, we don't enter this location because we are concerned about the civilians."
Aid groups say more than 100,000 civilians are trapped between the army and Tamil Tiger fighters in the narrow coastal "no-fire zone".
The United Nations have accused the military of shelling the area, and the Tamil Tigers of preventing civilians leaving, effectively using them as human shields.
S. Pasupathi from the World Tamil Relief Fund told Al Jazeera that government forces he was certain that the military had fired artillery into the area.
"From independent sources, NGOs working within the safety zone, we're getting news there has been a massive amount of shelling in the area.
"Local NGOs are working there, the Tamil Angels are working there. Authorities say they are biased but then why aren't they allowing independent observers to go there and view themselves? That alone proves that something must be seriously wrong," Pasupathi said.
But Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka's secretary of foreign affairs, told Al Jazeera that the government had given strict instructions to the military not to shell the "no-fire zone".
"We have no need to shell this area for a simple reason: the fruit is about to fall into our hands after 25 years of fighting. So why should we create sympathisers for the other side by shelling this area?
"When the LTTE, which has built up fortifications by using civilians, fire at government troops, they respond. And of course bullets don't distinguish between civilians and combatants They do cause injuries among civilians," Kohona said.
Al Jazeera's David Chater, reporting from a camp for internally displaced people set up by the government in Vavuniya, said he had been told stories apparently supporting claims that Tamil Tigers are holding civilians trapped.
"One man said he had been hiding in the jungle with his four daughters trying to escape the Tamil Tigers, fearing they would take his daughters as child soldiers.
"Another man told me that the Tamil Tigers prevented him from leaving and put him in prison for two months before he managed to escape.
"So there does seem to be some veracity to the Sri Lankan government's claims that the Tamil Tigers are deliberately using the civilian population in the no-fire zone to stall the final advance," Chater said.
The LTTE has denied accusations of keeping civilians in the "no-fire zone" against their will.
The United Nations says at least 4,500 civilians have been killed in the last three months of fighting, and another 12,000 injured.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom said it was gravely concerned about the fighting and had sent an envoy to the United Nations for urgent talks.
"The UN are making progress with the government of Sri Lanka towards an agreement to get support to civilians in the conflict zone and on efforts to get agreement from the LTTE to allow civilians to leave," he said in a statement.
"The prime minister's special representative, Des Browne, is travelling to New York to consult urgently with the UN."
In Paris, at least 11,000 Tamils demonstrated on Saturday to demand a ceasefire in Sri Lanka.
Several demonstrators wore T-shirts reading "Stop the Tamil genocide" and waved the red flag of the Tamil Tigers.
KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has urged Barisan Nasional (BN) to drop the idea of not contesting the Penanti by-election in Penang.
To do so, he said, would be to concede defeat to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
The former PM does not seem to be on the same page as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who floated the idea yesterday of not contesting the polls.
“If it was in an Umno area, I am sure that we will contest. However, since it is in an Opposition area, we do not want to contest.
“But if we wait to contest only in Umno areas, then there would not be any Umno’s areas and we would not have to contest anywhere,” he said in Raub, Pahang today.
Najib had argued that contesting elections he claimed were unnecessary was a waste of public funds.
His idea appeared to have gained traction with many BN leaders voicing their support and accusing Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of using elections for political purposes.
Since last year’s landmark general elections, BN has lost four out of five by-elections held so far to Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
The latest defeats, in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau, were particularly galling for BN as it came soon after Najib took over as PM from Tun Abdullah Badawi, the man who has been singled out for blame for the coalition’s poor performances.
Today, Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof was quoted by Sin Chew Daily as saying he was seeking a meeting with both BN and PR to urge them not to contest the polls.
The EC chairman echoed Najib’s call, but he did not cite any legal or constitutional provisions which would allow the vote to be called off.
Dr Mahathir’s latest remarks will be the latest test for Najib’s fledgling leadership of BN as the PM will want to assert his leadership.
The Penanti state seat has fallen vacant due to the resignation of Fairus Khairuddin, who also resigned recently as the state’s deputy chief minister amid graft allegations.
Penanti is a state seat which falls within Anwar’s Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency.
Yesterday, Anwar also welcomed Najib’s suggestion, saying he was happy if BN did not contest the vote.
Dr Mahathir said that when he was prime minister, Umno never withdrew from any election, including in Kelantan, a PAS stronghold.
“Winning or losing is a separate matter but if we do not contest then the other party has already won,” he said.
“History has proven that Umno can face giant powers, including the British in our struggle for independence.
“The fighting spirit of those days should be a lesson to present and future generations.”
APRIL 19 – By now I believe many have heard ad nauseam Umno’s version of the true nature of the Federal Court’s decisions on April 16, 2009. This version proclaims that Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six exco members can now enter the Perak Assembly without any hassle.
Out of desperation, Umno may say anything except the truth. What are the core truths of the Federal Court’s decisions? Let us share the truths which have been conveniently buried by Umno.
The truth is that out of 10 court orders sought by Zambry and his six exco members, only two orders were granted by the Federal Court. I dare to say that these two orders are ineffective and inconsequential in nature. They are not, in any manner, capable of reining in the speaker’s power.
They merely declared that V. Sivakumar’s decisions on Feb 18, 2009 was null and void. I strongly believe that these orders will be met by the following response by Sivakumar : “So what” ?
The truth is that the Federal Court did not grant the other eight orders prayed for by Zambry and his six exco members in their summons against Sivakumar. These eight orders have been hidden from the public knowledge.
The truth is that, despite the fact the court invalidated the decision of Sivakumar in suspending Zambry and his six exco members from attending the Assembly for a period of 18 months and 12 months, respectively, the Federal Court also at one fell swoop refused to grant a declaratory order allowing Zambry and the six exco members to attend and participate in all of the proceedings in the Assembly.
Without this crucial court’s order, one fails to understand the basis on which Zambry’s lawyers have formed an opinion that Zambry et al could enter the Assembly without any legal impediments blocking their entry.
The truth is that Umno miserably failed to state that the Federal Court also declined to grant an order declaring that the act of Sivakumar in suspending and prohibiting Zambry and his six exco members from attending the Assembly was contrary to law.
The truth is that the Federal Court rejected a declaratory relief which says that the Perak State Assembly was not bound by Sivakumar’s decision in suspending Zambry and his six exco members.
The truth is that, by not granting all the 10 orders sought by Zambry et al, the Federal Court implicitly acknowledged the doctrine of trias politica ( the French term of separation of powers ) that is the Speaker is still the final arbiter as far as the internal affairs of the State Legislative Assembly are concerned.
Whatever grouse we may have against the Federal Court judges , the fact that only two inconsequential orders were granted by the court demonstrates that the court still exercised “judicial self-restrain” in questioning any decision of the another branch of the government’s arms i.e the legislative body.
In the circumstances, the court deserves a bit of respect for at least exhibiting judicial minimalism when confronted with the issue of questioning the speaker’s powers.
The decision would, of course, be for the court to follow, thus creating certainty, the stare decisis ( the past judicial precedents ).
There are at least five judgments of the Malaysian courts, given by judges of impeccable integrity, which in unison held that any decision by the speaker or legislative body would not be amenable to judicial intervention.
The truth is that, notwithstanding Umno’s attempts to have the sitting under the tree declared invalid by the court, this too was also not entertained by the latter.
Thus no declaration has been made to date by the court that such a sitting was invalid. It follows therefore that the sitting was valid until proven otherwise..
The truth is that Nizar’s suit against Zambry has nothing to do with Zambry’s suit against Sivakumar. The two suits are poles apart.
Thus a suggestion by Umno’s lawyer, Datuk Hafarizam, that Nizar should consider withdrawing his suit against Zambry, was clearly a preposterous proposition unsupported by any legal foundation.
Lastly, the truth is that by filing the suit against the speaker, Zambry and his six exco members have allegedly infringed section 10 of the Legislative Assembly ( Privileges ) Enactment of Perak 1959 in that they had given evidence outside the Assembly in respect of the contents of documents laid before the Assembly or any committee without special leave of the Assembly.
Whether such an act by Zambry etl was tantamount to abuse of their privileges and whether such an abuse may attract a new sanction by the speaker remains to be seen.
by Undergraduate of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman
I am a Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman student at the Kuala Lumpur campus in Setapak. I am writing this email to you to highlight to you on the rampant acts of crime happening in areas highly populated by students such as Taman Bunga Raya, which is located beside the Tunku Abdul Rahman College campus and the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman campus.
On Friday, 17 April 2009, 2 of my coursemates (1 male & 1 female) became victims of snatched theft and assault. Both of them were on their way to buy their breakfast at Taman Bunga Raya when four men on two motorcycles tried to rob the female student of her handphone but failed.
However, the robbers returned and attacked the female student with a parang. She sufferred injuries on her head, shoulder and finger. Luckily, there was a Good Samaritan that help to admit her at the Tawakal Hospital in Jalan Pahang. She required some 20 stitches as a result of her injuries.
Meanwhile, the robbers successfully snatched the handphone and wallet of the male student.
The crime rate in areas such as Taman Bunga Raya, Taman Desa Setapak and also around the Wangsa Maju LRT station is increasing drasitcally with these criminals targetting residents here who are mainly students college and university not only for their money or valuable belongings, but also assaulting these innocent victims. This is not the only case that happened as every now and then, we heard of snatch thefts happening in these areas.
Surely, the incident when a Tunku Abdul Rahman College student was robbed, assaulted and killed near the Wangsa Maju LRT station some 3 years ago is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Despite the promises by the authorities to curb crime in the area, the situation seems to be not improving at all.
I am concerned that the safety of the residents in these areas are at stake. I hope YB can highlight this issue to the relevant authorities or bring up the matter in Parliament with the hope that the problem is solved once and for all for the benefit of everyone.
[Marina Mahathir’s blog drew my attention to the Sunday Star reporter Shahanaaz Habib’s interview with former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Khir Toyo on the can of worms opened up by the Selangor Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) hearings on the financial scandals of Balkis (the former Selangor Elected Representatives Wives Welfare Association) and that the interview online has more in it than the one in the print version.
Marina is right, there is indeed more in the online interview with Khir who described himself as: “I’m actually a very simple man”. It is a must read (below)
Malaysians would be assured of a better future for themselves and future generations if they could be spared of such “simple men” and their ilk!
I agree with Marina when she asked: “I'm just wondering why the MACC hasn't pulled him up for questioning yet. Or do they actually find his explanations plausible?”
Can we have an answer from the MACC Chief Commissioner, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan, if he can spare a moment from his preoccupation with “car and cows”?
Shahanaaz deserves credit for a most extraordinarily insightful and revealing interview. I don't think there has been another interview in the history of Malaysian journalism which has been so self-incriminating as well as exposing the hypocrisy, shallowness and pomposity of the person interviewed. Shabas. ]
Sunday April 19, 2009
Khir has his say on allegations
By SHAHANAAZ HABIB
Former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo has come under a lot fire recently for purportedly misusing the state agencies’ funds for costly trips, family holidays and personal gain - something he vehemently denies.
Pakatan Rakyat which wrested the state in the March 8 2008 general election has set up a Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) to probe the financial dealings of Balkis (the former Selangor Elected Representatives Wives Welfare Association headed by Dr Khir’s wife), to see if there was any wrongdoing or element of criminal breach of trust in the charity organisation.
Last month, the bosses of Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd (PNSB), Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd (KDEB) and PKNS and others testified at the Selcat hearing and some of their disclosures were shocking - that RM1.7mil was paid for DisneyWorld and DisneyLand “technical” trips, RM200,000 for a Jogjakarta trip and that they paid the air tickets for Dr Khir’s maid to go on the trips and that they got instructions from the (then) Mentri Besar to sponsor Balkis events.
Denying any wrongdoing, Dr Khir who chose not to attend the Selcat inquiry, gives his side of the story. He also says that he will never forgive Pakatan Rakyat until he dies for smearing his reputation.
Q: It has been a year since the general election with Selangor having fallen to Pakatan Rakyat, how do you see the whole political scenario?
A: I think there are mixed feelings among the public. Some believe Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is doing quite well but some do not. This is based on perception. PR managed to give a good perception about themselves to the public. The low income group are happy because a lot of goodies have been given to them but the business or corporate community in Selangor are not happy because they obviously see the economy shrinking. That is so apparent. Lately the urban areas are beginning to see that the local authorities have failed to improve their basic services.
Q: You contested the Umno Youth Chief post and came in second. What do you think of Khairy Jamaluddin as the new Youth Chief and Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir as deputy minister?
A: Khairy has won and I think he needs to work hard. Without his father-in-law (Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi), I think he needs to work even harder. But first he needs to clear the perception about him. I think the Malaysian public still cannot accept him as Youth chief.
As for Mukhriz - it’s simple. There must be ‘keturunan’ (lineage). His father (former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad) was there (in the seat of power) so his child too must be there. That’s Malaysian politics for you. It’s happened before and it’s happened again. It’s a normal thing.
Q: Some say you are arrogant because you used the broom award to shame departments, boasted before the March 8 general elections that there will be zero opposition in Selangor and in a forum after the election you challenged the new PR government to investigate you from head to toe.
A: The broom award was decided by the state government officers and personally I think it was good because that department (that was shamed for non-performance by winning the broom award) got number one placing for performance the following year. The broom award was just to change the mind set.
As for the zero opposition, as Mentri Besar and state Barisan Nasional chairman if I say we are weak, all my people will be disheartened and dispirited. As a general, even if you lose the war, you must still say that you have not. That’s the way to handle perception, feelings and the spirit of our ‘soldiers’. Psychologically everyone does that from Mussolin to Sukarno. How can you lead and say we are going to lose. We will not say that we are not going to lose even if we think we are. It’s a strategy.
As for the forum, some people were saying I am corrupt and they will boo me if I say that I am not. The situation at that time was very wild. So I said what I said to keep their mouths shut. Actually, I am not arrogant but I have my own character in politics.
Q: You have been at the centre of a lot of controversy lately. How have you been responding?
A: It’s all politically motivated. Pakatan Rakyat is trying to hide their own wrongdoings. The present MB (Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim) also has a case, one of the exco member also has a case. They are trying to cover up all these things.
For example, the Balkis issue. I am not even a member and Balkis has already been dissolved and the dissolution has been approved by ROS. I was investigated by the police over the Balkis issue and the police found no wrongdoing but still Pakatan is harping on it. But I am not worried. As for the trips (which has now become controversial), as far as I am concerned I paid for my own children.
Q: Why did you not go to the Selcat inquiry to defend yourself?
A: My lawyer advised me not to go. It is a one-sided hearing. Selcat called me on Balkis issue but I am not a Balkis member so there is no locus standi for me to talk. I cannot clear my name because it is a structured hearing. Selcat is made up of my political opponents. The only two Barisan members in it went for the hearing the first day and stayed away after that. And Selcat wants me - their enemy - to appear before them? If you and I are fighting, would you have something good to say about me? If I go to Selcat, it is like I serah diri (surrender) before my political enemy. They are not interested in the truth. They are just trying to look for kesalahan orang (find fault). If they are after the truth, they would have had professionals not politicians conducting the hearing. If it was conducted by ex-judges and non-partisan ex-top civil servants, then I would have gone. But in this case, tell me why should I go to the lion’s den? Besides, Selcat did not get the approval from the AG to set it up.
Q: But this comes under the Selangor state government and assembly, surely they don’t need the A-G’s approval to set up Selcat?
A: I checked with my lawyer. Any law that involves enforcement must be done by the Federal government first of all. They have said they want to jail people and stated that they can jail up to two years and fine RM2,000. Who is going to jail the person? Does the state have the authority to do this? Surely this comes under the police. Selangor has a Public Accounts Committee - why can’t use that mechanism? But they formed Selcat just to pick on people.
Q: You say there is no locus standi for you to attend an inquiry on Balkis but some of the money in question came from PNSB of which you were the chairman?
A: This falls under the Registrar of Societies. For example I am an Umno member and if I donate money to say MIC do I have the right to ask questions about the money of MIC and ask details about the MIC management? I can’t. This is a donation from a private company to Balkis. That’s why there is no locus standi. In fact even the state government doesn’t have the right to ask these questions because they are not members. I have checked with my lawyer. They can’t.
Q: But (former Selangor MB) Tan Sri Mat Taib’s wife, Puan Sri Asbi (Rohani Asnan) who was Balkis president (until 1997) attended the Selcat hearing?
A: That is up to her. I asked the lawyer’s opinion and (he advised me against it) and so I wrote a letter to Selcat explaining why I was not coming. Because I am not a Balkis member so how can they can ask me about Balkis issues.
Q: What was the purpose of the Dec 17-24 2007 DisneyWorld, Miami Beach and Honolulu trip?
A: It was a technical visit. It was for investment purposes, river management, canal city and the theme park. We wanted to make a second Klang Valley in Selangor - an RM1bil canal city from Sungai Kuala Langat to Sungai Klang which is about 16km. There was to be an artificial beach, a river fishing area, boating, a garden in the middle and cycling lane and walkways. The water level would be maintained throughout the year. You should have a look at the canal city plan. It is very nice. So the trip was to visit water feature development areas so that we know how to do it technically in Selangor and translate the concept to reality. That is why we had in our delegation the Yang Di-Pertua (YDP) of Kuala Langat, of Sepang, the DO Sepang, the DO Kuala Langat, town planners and technical officers. They want to see with their own eyes what it looks like, only then can they execute. My trips are always multi-purpose. We meet the business community there to try and get more investments.
Q: Why didn’t (PNSB CEO) Datin Khairiyah (Abu Hassan) say that? When Selcat asked the purpose of trip, she said it was to study the theme park and did not mention river management?
A: She made a mistake. She has to look through the minutes of PNSB again. The trip was partly to study the theme park and partly to study river management and canal city project. I am very sure about that. I am the one attending the programme so I know this.
Q: Datin Khairiyah said your delegation did not meet anyone from the Disney World management team?
A: The arrangement was done by the PNSB management. On the itinerary, there was supposed to be a meeting with them but I don’t know why they cancelled it. You cannot blame me for it.
Q: You said you do not know why they cancelled a meeting with the Theme Park management?
A: Yes. I don’t know. The PNSB management should know. They sent a Recce team there earlier and everything should have been okay.
Q: It cost RM366,000 to send the Recce team ahead and yet they could not organise a meeting with the Disney World Theme Park? Are you saying the PNSB officers are not competent?
A: The Recce team was decided by management not by board.
Q: Why couldn’t they just call or e-mail to fix an appointment? Why do they have to go all the way there to fix the programme?
A: All this was decided by the management. I am the chairman (of the board) and they are the ones who set the programme and I just go for it. In fact sometimes the programme just comes to my table where to meet etc and I just follow. I did not ask for this and that. The PNSB management decided and I just followed.
Q: The Canal Development project between Sungai Kuala Langat and the Klang River is not something new. It was already proposed in 2006 and universities like UKM and Uniten have already had papers on it and discussions on the concept.
A: Yes, but after one year, the officers still did not understand the technical things about how to manage river development and all that. They wanted to have a look at what it is. That’s why I brought the technical team to study and look in detail water feature developments. A year ago we had already completed the concept of the canal city, only after this (concept paper) was completed that we go and visit.
Q: Why go to Miami Beach and Honolulu and not Venice Italy which is known for its canals?
A: PNSB suggested this to us. I don’t choose. I just follow. In fact, I had to put it off a few times because I had no time. We wanted to learn about water-feature development. We were planning an artificial beach in the Canal City so we went to these beaches (Miami and Hawaii) to learn how to develop these areas - like how many feet development should it be from the water and how to maintain the sand. In Malaysia, we tend to develop right to the water front, when in fact you must leave at least a 20 to 30 feet distance from the water. We also don’t want development projects to cause river banks to collapse (due to a lack of technical planning in developing the area around it). The technical department didn’t approve the project because they couldn’t understand the concept and couldn’t visualise it, so we said ‘then okay let’s go and learn from them’ (the experts).
Q: Why was the delegation so big? Why not bring only 10 or so people?
A: I don’t remember how many came along. When we went, developers came along too. They too want to learn about the river development and canal city development. On my part, I brought along two District Officers, Town Planner, YDP, the state secretary and the PNSB board of directors. The developers, of course, paid their own way.
Q: And why not just bring the experts down to Selangor to train the officers?
A: The thing is the technical group here do not understand the concept. They want to have a look at such projects themselves so that is why we brought them there. Besides, bringing consultants and experts down would be more expensive. The canal project is about RM1bil and foreign consultants and experts would cost about 18% of that. And that does not even include the cost of flying them down. Another thing too is that we also need to expose our officers because they are the ones who are going to approve the project. These departments need to see the project otherwise they won’t approve.
Q: Are the trips to reward the officers?
A: No. There must be a purpose to the trips. We bring officers in charge of the Kuala Langat and the Klang River area. And now because of that, they are better and better because they have more knowledge. Otherwise the officers do not know how to do it. If you talk about the barrage, the officers cannot visualise what it is like. They need to go there and learn. That is the problem with our officers these days. If we don’t give them the exposure, they don’t know. You should have a look at the canal city plan. The concept is the first in Malaysia on how to combine water, humans and development. We had the concept already in 2006 and now the trips are how do to translate that to reality. That’s why we brought YDPs, District Officers, the town planner, the state secretary and the PNSB board of directors. We can have sand, the canal and development.
Q: So the officers are sufficiently knowledgable now?
A: We have had discussions with MTES (Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Selangor). In fact, because of their exposure, many regulations in development have been changed. Instead of having the river running along behind the house near the kitchen area, the front of the house is built to face the river. We managed to change so many concepts. It’s good exposure.
Q: Why did you not ask the officers who went on the trip to go to Selcat to give their side of the story?
A: Selcat did not call them. That’s why I think it’s all political motivated. They could have called the state secretary or the others who went on the trip. But the hearing was very structured. The questions were very structured. They didn’t want to find out who is right or wrong. All they wanted was a one-sided story. The purpose is just to tarnish my name. That’s all.
Q: How come PNSB paid RM110,000 for your presidential suite in Honolulu?
A: I am not sure. It was all organised by them. And I didn’t ask. I didn’t even get to enjoy the suite or the facilities. I just used it for sleeping. I returned from the programme at midnight and by 8am I am up.
Q: People are shocked by the RM1.7mil spent for the Disney trips?
A: That was decided by the management. I am actually a very simple man. I do not ask for these kind of things. Maybe they said as a chairman, that is my entitlement and they did that.
Q: You say you are a simple man but people would disagree because you fly first class and stay at expensive presidential suites?
A: You must remember when I was the (PNSB) chairman. I have my entitlement. If I were to reduce my entitlement to what an officer gets then what is the officer going to reduce to? I am the chairman. There is the deputy chairman, board of directors, government officers going along. If I fly business class (not first class), then what happens to my state secretary? He will complain. If I am travelling alone it is easier. But I am travelling with a group of people and if I downgrade myself - it’s a problem for the others. But I never ask (for the pricey presidential suites or first class flights). Whatever they provide, I go along with. I just tell them to give me a full itinerary on these trips. I want a full programme with investors and companies.
Q: But isn’t the RM1.7mil spent on the Disney trips wasteful?
A: No. The trip has so many purpose. Look at the effect, the officers got good exposure. And we get to bring investments to the state. Usually when I go on these trips, my programme is packed from morning to midnight to visit companies, factories, business associates, governors. That’s how we have increased the state’s investments from RM4bil a year to more than RM6 to RM7 bil a year. The RM1.7mil spent used proper channels and we got RM50bil investment (over the last eight years). If we spend RM5 mil for trips but it brings in RM50bil worth of investment, what’s wrong with that? Just look at Selangor now. The RM11.8bil last year was the result of my investment not Pakatan’s. They just try to take credit for it. But now investments have dwindled to RM6bil. I worry that it’s going to wind down to RM4bil. And we used to get RM17mil from sand mining but when PKR took over the state, they got only RM3mil. And they promised the people that they could collect RM250mil for sand mining. As far as I am concerned all the trips I made bring a lot of development to Selangor and introduced new concepts. The ideas come from these trips. I stopped over in Dubai for few days because I got the Sepang Gold Coast idea from Dubai’s The Palm development. I don’t know why the state cancelled the River Canal City project. They should proceed because it can spur the economy.
Q: During the technical trip you went to Kennedy Space Center and visited Disneyworld?
A: Selcat should get every information and see the real itinerary of our visit. I am not crazy to use government money for leisure trips. Sometimes on a technical trip, we have meetings after meetings for six hours or the whole day and if there is a break in between, we can fit in some leisure time too. Why not? I am a workaholic and when officers accompany on these trips they get angry because it is one meeting at 8am, followed by another at 10am, another business lunch, followed by more meetings and at night official dinners. Every one of my trips so far is like that. You can ask my state secretary or officers to confirm this.
Q: Why did your family and maid go along on these ‘technical’ trips?
A: When I move around, I do bring my family but all that is paid by me.
Q: But PNSB said they paid the flight for your children and maid for the trips?
A: As far as I am concerned I paid for my maid and children. I don’t know why she (Datin Khairiyah) would say they paid. Maybe she is against me. And why would the management pay? I paid for the flights. So why did the PNSB management pay again? Look, I am the chairman. I am not the management so I wouldn’t know if they paid for it again or not. But the management should take responsibility for that. They shouldn’t pay my personal expenses or flight tickets for my maid and children. If they pay for my family and don’t inform me, how am I supposed to know they did that (because I am not part of that decision making process).
Q: So you are denying that state funds were used for the maid?
A: I checked and the answer is ‘no’.
Q: What was the purpose of RM201,000 Jogjakarta trip?
A: The trip was to study the batik industry and also river management. There was a garbage problem at Kuala Selangor where there is the fireflies (attraction) and we wanted to see how to take care of that. Their (Jogjakarta) river management is very good. It was JPS (the Irrigation and Drainage Department) that asked us to go for the trip.
Q: On that Jogjakarta trip, Malaysia paid RM10,000 to Indonesian dancers to welcome the Malaysian delegation. Isn’t that odd?
A: You shouldn’t ask me. I was there as a guest . I don’t know the details. I am the Mentri Besar and I don’t ask all that. I didn’t know RM10,000 was paid for the welcoming ceremony. All that was decided by management. That trip, the itinerary was all decided by the management. I am the chairman so I am in the board. The board meets only about three to four times a year but it is the management (of which I am not a part of) that runs the company. They meet almost monthly. I attend their meeting only three to four times a year.
Q: Your former chief secretary Norzatun Ain Mohd Kassim told the Selcat inquiry that you asked her to write a letter from your office on behalf Balkis to seek an AP bring in RM40,000 worth of imported Indonesian batik which was being held at Port Klang but this was finally rejected by MITI because it had to protect the local batik industry. But doesn’t this shows a misuse of your office?
A: I can assure you there was no letter from me to Miti. In any case the AP was not approved, so it is a non issue.
Q: PNSB’s Datin Khairiyah said PNSB paid RM14,900 for business class flight tickets to Melbourne for your wife to visit your son who is studying there?
A: No. I have checked that up already. I am very sure that my wife’s ticket was paid by me for that trip.
Q: Then why would she say PNSB paid? And why did Datin Khairiyah accompany your wife?
A: I don’t why. She didn’t tell me. You should ask Datin (Khairiyah) why she went along. She can’t say there was an instruction from my wife because who is my wife to give such instructions.
Q: The Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd (KDEB) said it spent RM550,000 sponsoring four Balkis dinners at Sunway Lagoon on July 24, Aug 2, 3, 4, 2007 while PNSB too donated another RM300,000 for them?
A: It was for fund raising and we got RM6mil for charity.
Q: Logically speaking why have four charity dinners held almost consecutively which cost a lot of money instead of just one?
A: They had too many people coming for it so they had to break it up in smaller groups. If they do it at such a grand scale, it would cost even more so it was better to split it up and have small programmes with different guests.
Q: There was a Balkis event where KDEB paid RM25,000 for chocolates which were to be given as souvenirs while buying imported chocolates would have cost less?
A: You can’t ask me all these details. I wouldn’t know. All this was decided by the management. For example, Tan Sri Khalid (Ibrahim) he wouldn’t know how much the chocolates cost. He wouldn’t have time for that.
Q: KDEB also paid RM17,000 for tickets for Balkis to go to China to buy artificial flowers and caps there when the company has a branch in Kepong. Why waste money when the ordering could have been done in Kepong?
A: I really don’t know. But it must have been approved by the KDEB management. It might be cheaper to fly there and order it from there. You know how cheap things are in China. What costs 10 sen there costs RM10 here. I know my wife very well. She is very careful about accounting. She’s far-sighted and always thinking about how to save money. Perhaps that’s why she bought so many flowers and caps for the welfare programmes one shot - to save money And she gets really frustrated when the public thinks otherwise.
Q: PNSB said they had to give Balkis about RM1mil each year?
A: Yes, that was a decision by PNSB. The 1mil is for charity. Balkis uses the money to help the needy. During Chinese New Year, they give RM100 to 1,000 poor Chinese, for Hari Raya they give money out to poor Malays and during Deepavali, it goes to poor Indians. And we don’t ask the people to sign invoices to show that they got the money. Balkis does many welfare programmes. They buy wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs for the disabled and fund dialysis treatment for the needy.
Q: KDEB, PNSB and PKNS all said that they became like a ‘tukang bayar’ because whenever there was a request from Balkis they felt obliged to pay.
A: They should have brought it to the board if they were unhappy. Balkis is a welfare organisation which does work for charity. These companies have put aside a certain amount for charity (under their Corporate Social Responsibility programme). And they can channel the money to any clubs or charity. They can sponsor sports, Balkis or give it to old folks homes. In fact, KDEB sponsors football programmes more than it does Balkis events. The companies decide where to give the money to. As far as I am concerned the money is not misused. And the money Balkis gets does go to the target group (welfare and they needy). That’s what is important.
Q: But this puts bodies like PNSB. KDEB, PKNS in a dilemma because you were after all their Mentri Besar (from 2000 until the March 8 general elections) so how can they say ‘no’ to Balkis. They had to accord Balkis, which is headed by your wife, special treatment?
A: Even if Balkis made a request, the management has the right to turn it down. They can’t be ‘segan’ (embarrassed). Where does the money go? If the money goes to charity, then it’s okay. What’s wrong if it goes to the poor, old and the needy. But if it goes to certain people’s pocket that’s a different matter. What the company donates goes to charity and not to individual’s pocket. Balkis does not benefit from it. Sometimes, the money is not enough and Balkis has to top it up with their own money.
Q: But did you make calls and give verbal instructions to these bodies to fund Balkis activities?
A: No I never made any instructions. It was all done through the board of directors and went through the proper procedures. I am very sure about that. For me, in the eight years, I never called a single officer up and asked them to do things without going it through meetings first. I discuss everything in the board and jot things down. I don’t like not to be responsible for what was decided so I would jot down every instruction. And I give instructions in the meeting not outside.
Q: But the bosses at PNSB and KDEB said they received many requests from you, verbal instructions to pay for Balkis?
A: No. Can they prove it? Which letters have I signed?
Q: They said the requests were verbal?
A: No. Never. You can check my phone bill. I never call. They are trying to save their own skin. I never call. Instructions must be written. I never use my office for my own personal gain. I never do that. Maybe some officer down the line just said “the MB said to do it”.
Q: PNSB, KDEB, PKNS are all saying ‘yes you did’ but you are saying ‘no I didn’t’. Who is telling the truth?
A: I never call. If you want to be sure you can check my phone bills throughout the years.
Q: So you are saying that they are all ganging up against you?
A: That’s the problem. They want to protect themselves. That’s why I can’t go to Selcat because Selcat is my enemy. It’s not transparent.
Q: If this is the case, aren’t you angry with them for doing this?
A: No, why should I be angry. I don’t even have any power anymore (as I lost the Mentri Besar post).
Q: It was also disclosed at the Selcat inquiry that PNSB had to pay the salaries of three workers who worked exclusively for Balkis?
A: They are actually PNSB staff. They were just loaned to Balkis to help out like once a week or something like that. They are not doing it full time.
Q: There was also this Chinese New Year event organised by Balkis that you went to officiate where your wife who is the Balkis president asked PNSB to sponsor a RM3,600 Summerman suit for you as a souvenir for officiating the function?
A: That is a token of appreciation. It was decided by the management. My wife would never make such a request. I am very sure of that. My wife doesn’t interfere at all. She doesn’t go to my office. When I officiate a function, I don’t have a clue what I would get as a souvenir. It is up to the management to decide what to give. And my wife is certainly not involved in the management of PNSB (so how can she influence a decision on gifts) Actually I appreciate books as a souvenir. For me that is best. If I attend a function and if they give me some other gift, it would be very rude to reject it. But I appreciate books most and I have my own library now.
Q: When say the Prime Minister and his wife comes for functions in the state, do you give out expensive gifts costing RM40,000 to RM60,000? There were reports that KDEB had paid RM65,000 for songket for dignitiaries at a Balkis function?
A: We have to give them something special from Selangor. Every state is doing that. That’s normal.
Q: Why did PNSB give you a Patek Philip watch worth RM159,000?
A: I told them they shouldn’t have done that and I turned it down immediately. It was too expensive a gift. I was quite surprised. I never asked for anything that’s why I returned the watch. I told them you better sell the watch back and get the money back.
Q: What is behind the RM338,000 Balkis organised Sporting event where RM131,000 was spent on tracksuits?
A: It was a Bakti programme. States take turns organising it every year. It is attended by the wives of the ministers and the Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister turn up with their wives. And we gave out a tee-shirt and a tracksuit. When Kedah hosted it, they gave the sports attire, so did Penang. And when it was Selangor’s turn, we too would give. It is after all once in 14 years. And there were four teams so that is why there were track suits in four colours.
Q: There was a report that Balkis received RM100,000 for a SPM programme?
A: These kids come from needy background and because of the Balkis programme some of them got all As.
Q: Have you spoken to your wife about the Balkis issue and what has she been saying?
A: She said everything has been done according to procedure and no money has spent for her own purpose. It was all done for the welfare programme to give the needy.
Q: When is she going to clear her name?
A: There is no need. If we answer, then someone will say something else and it will go on and on. Let God decide who is right.
Q: Why did you buy 12 units of the Al Marwa Tower in Mecca for RM25mil when PNSB had only given approval for the purchase of 5 units for RM8mil?
A: When I was in Mecca, there was this offer from this Mecca group for the apartments. So many people came and were fighting for it because it was in a prime area. It was on a first come first serve basis and we (PNSB) wanted to get five. Then one of the Indonesian companies withdrew and their seven units were offered to us and we took it. But settlement had be done in cash and within 14 days otherwise we would lose the deposit. At that time PNSB did not have enough money so instead of losing the deposit we got another buyer to buy it within 14 days. The apartment is in Mecca so only Muslims can buy it. For that reason too, the apartment units cannot be under the PNSB name because there are non-Muslim directors in PNSB. This is why as chairman I put it under my name. The name should be under whoever is the PNSB chairman and now that’s Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. I signed three times to transfer the name to his. In fact, I was the one who requested for the transfer of name for the apartment units. I had called state secretary and said ‘let’s settle this because the apartments do not belong to me and I don’t want it.” That’s the whole story.
Q: Was it a good investment?
A: Yes, very good. Now I think the five units which cost RM8mil in 2007 are now easily worth RM12mil easily. It’s very exclusive. It’s the only property near the Kaabah and just about 60m away from the Holy Mosque. You can see the Holy Mosque from the apartment. And we fought like hell to get the units.
Q: PR has raised questions on the transaction about whether it contravened the Exchange Control Act and Anti Money Laundering Act?
A: How can we transfer such a huge amount of money from here to Mecca without approval from Bank Negara? Come on lah. We are talking about RM25mil. So was I wrong to go after a good investment. The value has more than doubled now. I personally stood in the queue for four hours to get it. One Arab man offered me RM200,000 just to change the name of the booking to him but I refused. That’s why I am really frustrated and that’s why I won’t forgive Pakatan. I don’t get a single sen from it. It was for the state. The intention was for investment.
Q: There are lots of questions over the numerous technical trips you made overseas to US, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo which are costly?
A: As far as I am concerned all the trips have all been very successful. That’s why I bring a lot of officers to give them exposure. The trips are multi-purpose and bring in investment and give us ideas. I did nothing wrong so I have nothing to worry about. As for the personal trips, I made my own.
Q: Do you agree that the issue has smeared your reputation?
A: Yes, That’s why I won’t forgive them till I die, until Akhirat (the end of the world). The people will come to know the truth later on. The people are restless and fed up with this kind of gutter politics.
Q: Are you suing the state government?
A: I am looking into it.
Q: This issue has tarnished not just your image but also that of Umno?
A: That’s why I won’t forgive them. Maybe when they got into power, they forget that God is there. When you do something bad to people, one day God will do something bad to you. Wait and see. Time will decide.
Q: How are you going to repair your reputation?
A: I will go down to the people. I will talk to them about what Pakatan is doing to the country, to the state now. They bohong banyak (lie a lot). They said they were planning RM10bil for the Klang River development programme and I have waited more than 3 months and there is nothing. Don’t bluff the people. That is the whole reason they want to suspend me so that I will not raise the issue.
Q: Is your conscience clear?
A: Very clear. If they do this to me and expect me to keep quiet, they are talking to the wrong person. I will continue to speak up because I love Selangor very much. I will talk because I know what they are doing. Even if they suspend me from the state assembly, they can’t prevent me from talking to the public. I will keep talking. Because far as I am concerned my job is to advise and tegur (criticise).
Q: Do you think people will believe you?
A: I think so. I still got the number two spot in the Umno Youth Chief elections. As for the public, when I go around I still draw in crowds. For example when I went to campaign in the Bukit Gantang by-election, so many people came to my ceramah. This happens everywhere I go.
Some of the other allegations
1. Buying 12 units of Al-Marwa Tower in Mecca for RM25mil when PNSB only gave approval for the purchase of five units for RM8mil.
2. State companies made to pick up the tab for extravagant gifts to VVIP guests costing up to RM65,000.
3. A Balkis request that PNSB sponsor a RM3,600 Summerman suit to be given to Dr Khir as a souvenir for officiating a Balkis Chinese New Year function.
4. Using the MB’s office on behalf of Balkis to request for approval from MITI for an AP to bring in RM40,000 worth of Indonesian batik.
5. PNSB paid RM338,000 for a Balkis sporting event, including RM131,000 for tracksuits for participants.
6. KDEB paid RM25,000 for chocolates as souvenirs for a Balkis event when imported chocolates would have cost less.
7. Balkis getting RM1mil a year in donation from the state companies.
8. PNSB forking out RM100,000 for a Balkis sponsored SPM programme.
9. Expensive trips overseas including to Paris, Tokyo, Morocco and Hong Kong.