More than 6,200 soldiers died and nearly 30,000 were wounded in the last three years of fighting in Sri Lanka, the government has revealed.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the defence secretary, announced the figures - which cover the phase of fighting against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) since August 2006 - on state television.
"We made huge sacrifices for this victory," he said on Thursday.
The government has not announced the civilian toll, which is expected to be higher.
The government has said that at least 15,000 LTTE fighters died in the conflict, but these figures are yet to be confirmed.
The government has been criticised for its handling of the conflict, for the treatment of internally displaced people and for preventing aid groups access to the conflict zone.
It said on Friday that the 280,000 Tamil civilians who fled the fighting and who are now being held in camps will be rehoused within six months.
Rajapaksa also promised to give a copy of the LTTE leader's death certificate to Indian authorities. Velupillai Prabhakaran was wanted over the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, a former Indian prime minister.
"The government of Sri Lanka ... outlined a 180-day plan to resettle the bulk of IDPs [internally displaced persons] to their original places of habitation," they said in a joint statement.
Residents of the capital, Colombo, are expected to march to parliament later on Friday in support of the government's victory.
Ban has described the situation in Sri Lanka and the plight of those forced out of their homes as of "grave and growing concern".
The high-profile visit comes as UN and relief aid groups complain their access to the displaced camps - which the government calls "welfare villages" - has been restricted.
The Tigers had said the government planned to hold the displaced there indefinitely in what it dubbed "concentration camps".
The government says remaining pockets of Tamil Tiger fighters need to be removed and infrastructure rebuilt before civilians can return.
"The Tamil people are hesitant to believe there is the political will to provide aid services," she said.
Ban has also made it clear that he wants to see swift progress not only on immediate humanitarian aid and reconstruction, but also on reconciliation with the Tamil minority, which make up 12.6 per cent of Sri Lanka's population of 20 million.
"Progress on all three fronts must be in parallel, and it must begin now," Ban has said, adding that any serious allegations of war crimes "should be properly investigated".
On Monday, the president declared the country "liberated" from the separatist fighters after the last pocket of territory held by them was taken.
Friday, May 22, 2009
After the Court of Appeal unanimously overturned a High Court judgment and ruled that Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir was the rightful mentri besar of Perak, both sides had much to say.
The Malaysian Insider examines some of the more colourful quotes.
- Pakatan Rakyat defector Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi said that his decision to back Barisan Nasional (BN) was justified. “They kicked me out, saying that I had resigned my seat. So I had to find a government that will support me, ‘‘ said the Behrang assemblyman.
He urged the public to accept the court’s ruling. “If they respect the rule of law, then the government will definitely be stable,‘‘ said the lawmaker, who is eminently qualified to speak about the law and dispense advise.
He and his fellow defector Osman Jailu know a thing or two about the inside of a courtroom, having been charged with corruption last year. Jamaluddin has always tried to paint himself as the wronged party, the lawmaker who had little choice but to defect because he was on the verge of being kicked out. The lawmaker who had lost confidence in Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin who seemed to be under the thumb of the DAP.
But his disappearance for several days prior to the defection, his sheepish demeanour after resurfacing in Putrajaya and absence of remorse for deceiving his constituents exposed him for what he is – a politician driven by self-interest and little else.
His comment after the Court of Appeal decision (saying that he was vindicated by the ruling) only confirms that self-preservation was his only motivation for defecting.
- Lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah was stunned after hearing the unanimous decision. He offered this gem dripping with sarcasm: “We have extraordinary judges with extraordinary ability.’’
It is a rare day anywhere when a losing party walks out of court with a pearly smile and magnanimity. In Malaysia, it is almost never heard of, no thanks to the cloud of suspicion which has hung over the judiciary since the sacking of the judges in 1988.
Judge-fixing, elevation of less competent judges, suspect judgments and the tawdry V. K. Lingam video clip affair have all combined to strip this important institution of the one ingredient it needs so badly to function – credibility.
So even before Justices Ab Rauf Shariff, Zainun Ali and Ahmad Maarop delivered their judgment today, the cynics already wrote off Nizar’s chances of getting a good hearing. The cynics argued that High Court Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim’s decision in favour of Nizar was a one-off, an aberration.
How did we get to this point where public trust in institutions has reached abysmal levels? How did we get to the point where even the man on the street thinks nothing of mocking the “Hakim’’?
Maybe we just had too many days like today.
The Court of Appeal today decided that when Nizar was granted an audience by the Sultan of Perak, he had lost the confidence of the majority of the assembly, and the Malay Ruler was spot on in asking him to step down.
The court added that there was no express provision for a vote of confidence to be taken in the state assembly. The Justices appeared to rely on a statement made by Justice Abdul Kadir Sulaiman in the Amir Kahar case (1995).
“The evidence that a chief minister ceases to command the confidence of the majority members of the Assembly …is not only available from the votes taken in the Assembly. There is nothing in the Constitution which can be construed as requiring that the test of confidence must be by a vote taken in the Assembly itself. That fact can be evidenced by other extraneous sources…’’
This paragraph was relied on by the Justices to support their decision that there was no necessity to go to the assembly to test whether Nizar commanded the confidence of the majority of the assembly. In this instance, the Sultan acting on evidence by other extraneous sources, was right to reach the conclusion that Nizar had lost the confidence of the assembly.
The big problem with relying on this statement by Abdul Kadir Sulaiman is that it was a comment made in passing. It formed the obiter dicta in the case, or a remark by the judge which does not form part of the court’s decision. The obiter dicta are not the subject of the judicial decision.
Perhaps that is the reason why Sulaiman Abdullah noted that Malaysia has “extraordinary judges with extraordinary ability.’’
- BN’s lawyer Datuk Hafarizam Harun was jubilant after the Court of Appeal decision, declaring: “the right to choose the mentri besar and prime minister is the ultimate right of the sultan.’’
Wow! That is a powerful statement with serious consequences for a parliamentary democracy. So does the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong have the power to choose who should lead Malaysia?
Can the Agong after learning that several BN lawmakers have crossed over to the Pakatan Rakyat ask Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to stand down?
Is Malaysia a constitutional monarchy or an absolute monarchy? The Court of Appeal’s decision today tilts Malaysia towards the latter, towards a return to more feudalistic days.
The decision vests the Malay Rulers more power than what is outlined in the Federal Constitution.
Several weeks ago, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said: “I don’t think anyone wants a return to feudalism. Going back to feudalism will be a big mistake. The system we have has worked very well for us until the present case in Perak.”
Our Justice in Malaysia is death.
By Admin NEM
The appellate court today allowed an appeal by Barisan Nasional's Zambry Abd Kadir to reverse the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision that declared Pakatan Rakyat leader Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful menteri besar of Perak.
In the process, the court ruled that Zambry was the legitimate menteri besar.
Justice Md Raus Sharif - who led a three-member bench - said this was an unanimous decision by the Court of Appeal.
The other judges in the panel were Justices Zainun Ali and Ahmad Maarop.
"The learned High Court judge had failed to properly and adequately appreciate the entire evidence before him, and that rendered the decision as wrong," said Md Raus.
In his five-minute oral judgment, the judge also held that the Perak sultan was right in appointing Zambry as the new menteri besar under Article 16(2) of the Perak constitution after being satisfied that Zambry had the command of the majority of the state legislative assembly.
"We hold the view that the granting or the withholding of the request for the dissolution of the state legislative assembly is the royal prerogative.
"On the facts of this case, the request for the dissolution of the state legislative assembly was made under Article 16(6) of the Perak constitution and not under Article 36 of the constitution," said Md Raus.
Sultan was right
He also said that the sultan was right in making enquiry to satisfy himself that the respondent (Nizar) had ceased to command the majority confidence.
"There is no mandatory or expressed requirement in the Perak constitution that provides that there must be a motion of no-confidence to be tabled against the respondent before deciding that he had ceased to command the majority confidence of the state legislative assembly," he said.
The courtroom was silent when the judgment was read out.
Nizar was represented by a team of eight lawyers led by Sulaiman Abdullah while senior lawyer Cecil Abraham appeared for Zambry.
Both Nizar and Zambry were not present.
Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail - who stood as an intervener - was also present.
Lawyers Mohd Hafarizam Harun, Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin and M Reza Hassan held a watching brief for BN.
On May 11, Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim proclaimed Nizar as the rightful menteri besar.
He ruled that the Perak sultan could not dismiss the menteri besar.
Counsel: We'll appeal
Zambry had appealed against that decision. Nizar's lawyers told the court today that they will be appealing to the Federal Court.
Meanwhile, Nizar's counsel Sulaiman (right) said he has been instructed by his client to seek leave from the Federal Court to appeal the decision.
"We hope to get a written judgment from the appellate court as soon as possible," he said.
Md Raus said he cannot write the judgment within one night but would be able to do it within a week.
He also dismissed Nizar's application to set aside the stay order granted by the Court of Appeal on May 12, a day after the High Court judgment.
In an immediate reaction, Zambry who was attending a function in Slim River, Perak, said he was glad that the decision was in his favour. "Truth has prevailed," he added.
'No reasoned grounds of judgment'
However, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang described the decision as "shocking and a travesty of justice."
He described the five-minute oral delivery by judge Md Raus as "not a judgment, but findings of the Court of Appeal".
"There was no reasoned grounds of judgment but mere findings of the Court of Appeal in an unanimous decision, i.e. 3-0."
He also warned that it would compound the problems of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
"The right decision was to call for a statewide elections. The decision (by the Court of Appeal) and Najib's seizure (of the state) has angered many people.
"People will remember and this would bring to BN's downfall," he said.
Vexed supporters shout 'reformasi'
Former Pakatan Perak exco member Nga Kor Ming said this showed that the judiciary had been pressured in making a decision favourable to BN.
"I would like to commend and hail the brave (High Court) judge Justice Abdul Aziz for his decision in favouring us.
"This will not be the end of the matter as the people will remember," he added.
Umno lawyer Mohd Hafarizam Harun described the court's decision as a 'moral victory' for the ruling coalition.
Some 200 vexed Pakatan supporters later began to chant 'Reformasi' and 'Hidup Nizar' inside the sprawling court complex.
HINDRAF calls upon the government to drop all charges against the HINDRAF supporters who were involved in the peaceful rally that took place before the British High Commission and those arrested in Batu Caves.
HINDRAF rally was one of peaceful nature and those HINDRAF supporters were made as pawns for the government’s selective prosecution. Those HINDRAF supporters and their family had suffered enough for showing their support in addressing the grievance of the Malaysian Indians.
The HINDRAF rally of November 25, 2007 was one for just and fair cause and within the sphere of the federal constitution that is embedded in Article 10 (1) that guarantees the freedom of speech, the right to assemble peacefully and the right to form associations to every Malaysian citizen.
The government must recognize and acknowledge that in using fear and intimidation against genuine struggles that are peaceful in nature will only further alienate the people from the government. The HINDRAF supporters who were charged were law abiding citizens exercising their birth right for a genuine cause.
HINDRAF’s paramount importance is to its people and their grievances and subjecting these HINDRAF supporters for the selective prosecution will only further agitate the public.
As such, the government should heed the call of HINDRAF and drop all those pending charges against them as soon as possible.
HINDRAF – CHAIRMAN
The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — PAS took a swipe at Umno today following the death of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) party’s Manek Urai assemblyman by suggesting the Barisan Nasional (BN) skip the impending by-election.
The PR party’s election director Datuk Mustafa Ali said today he hoped Umno would also do like what it is doing for the Penanti by-election in Penang by also skipping the vote.
“I suggest Umno does not contest. If they do I think they will lose,” he said.
Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said BN would not contest the Penanti by-election as it does not want to play to PR’s tune since the vote is being forced by a resignation.
But this has been criticised by some Umno leaders, including former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, because it gives a free ride to PR.
PR leaders have also labelled Umno cowards for staying out of the contest.
The Manek Urai by-election will also be an uphill battle for Umno if it chooses to contest the seat.
Manek Urai assemblyman Ismail Yaacob, a five-term Kelantan PAS lawmaker, died this morning at the Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital in Kota Bahru, paving the way for the seventh by-election since March last year. He was 60.
He died at 6am after succumbing to a long illness.
Ismail, who first won the seat in 1986, defeated Barisan Nasional’s Mohamed Zulkifli Omar by 1,352 votes in last year’s general election.
The Manek Urai constituency in central Kelantan is almost an exclusively Malay constituency with 99.3 per cent Malay voters. Ismail has represented the seat in all elections except in 2004.
It is one of the four state seats in the Kuala Krai parliamentary constituency, the others being Dabung, Guchil and Mengkembang.
Ismail was also elected the Kuala Krai PAS deputy chief at its annual general meeting recently.
Ismail said in an interview in 1998 that he won his first election in 1986 due to two factors – being in the “right” party (PAS) and his character.
Ismail, who leaves behind 11 children, was the son of a penghulu or village chief in the area, and over the years has helped to improve facilities in his rural constituency.
He also said politics was “in his blood”.
PAS, helmed in Kelantan by Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, retained Kelantan in the general election last year by winning 38 seats. The BN won six seats and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), one.
The last by-election in Kelantan was held in the Pengkalan Pasir state constituency in Pasir Mas in December 2005 following the death of PAS state assemblyman Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Jaafar on Oct 31 of that year.
The three-cornered by-election was won by Hanafi Mamat of the BN with a majority of 134 votes. He beat Hanifah Ahmad of PAS and independent candidate Datuk Ibrahim Ali.
Bernama reports that Kelantan State Assembly Speaker Mohd Nassuruddin Daud will notify the Election Commission of the vacant state seat on Monday.
He said that today and tomorrow were the weekend holidays in Kelantan and tomorrow and Sunday the weekend holidays in Kuala Lumpur.
"We will notify the EC of the vacancy on Monday," Mohd Nassuruddin told reporters after paying his last respects to Ismail.
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — The police will not charge those arrested — including five lawyers — at a candle-light vigil last week, ending further embarrassment to themselves as rights groups blasted the crackdown.
They said there was no need to extend their bail as the police would not be pursuing the case anymore.
Earlier today, a large group of lawyers gathered outside the Brickfields police station in support of their five colleagues who were held while trying to provide legal assistance to 14 activists who had been arrested for attending the candle-light vigil.
Also outside the police station this morning were more than a dozen activists in black T-shirts including Bersih spokesman Wong Chin Huat.
While the morning starting out calmly, the situation later almost turned into a repeat of last week's fiasco when the police ordered the crowd to disperse and threatened to make arrests if people ignored the warning.
The police said the crowd had no permit to gather and they would be arrested for illegal assembly if they did not disperse. A light strike force was already on standby at this point.
After three warnings, the police started moving in to make arrests but at this point the crowd had already moved away from the police station entrance. No arrests were made.
Brickfields OCPD Wan Bari Wan Abdul Khalid, speaking at a press conference later, said it was not necessary for the crowd to gather as those arrested last week had been informed that they need not return to the police station.
He said the police had already contacted the lawyer representing all of those arrested yesterday evening informing them of the police's decision not to pursue the case anymore. "That is why we told the crowd to disperse. It is wrong for them to do that," he said.
Human rights lawyer Latheefa Koya, however, claimed the lawyers were not informed of the police decision.
"If we were informed, you won't have the Bar Council vice-president Lim Chee Wee present at the police station," she told The Malaysian Insider.
Earlier, Lim reiterated calls for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to prevent similar incidents in the future.
By M. Mageswari, The Star
Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamaraudin failed, again, to appear for his sedition trial at the Sessions Court here on Friday.
DPP Shah Rizal Abdul Manan told judge Aslam Zainuddin that the arrest warrant issued on April 23, when he also did not turn up in court, had yet to be executed on him.
He also said a notice for the editor’s wife Marina Lee Abdullah to summon her to explain Raja Petra’s absence at the sedition trial was also not executed.
Raja Petra’s lead counsel J. Chandra applied to the court to adjourn sine die (idefineitely) for the case until the police succeeded in arresting his client.
However, the judge set July 17 for mention saying it would be decided by the trial judge Rozina Ayob.
On April 23, the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court had issued a warrant of arrest against Raja Petra Kamarudin after he failed to turn up for his sedition trial.
Judge Rozina Ayob issued the order after lead prosecutor DPP Shahidani Abd Aziz applied for the arrest warrant against the news portal editor for his absence.
DPP Shahidani had said the prosecution had no choice but to get the order to proceed with the trial.
Rozina also issued a show cause notice for Raja Petra’s wife, Marina Lee Abdullah, as his bailor for failing to inform the court about Raja Petra’s non-attendance.
Raja Petra's lawyer J. Chandra informed judge Rozina Ayob that his client did not turn up in court on the grounds he was on a self-imposed exile from the state for “reasons that are well known.”
Chandra then went out to explain that for over a month now, Raja Petra, 58, has posted articles or comments on issues in relation to the Selangor royal house that have angered some members of his own family who have demanded an apology.
Raja Petra explained why he did not turn up at the court in Malaysia Today, “my family then gave me an ultimatum. I was to either make that public apology or else my family would insert an advertisement in the mainstream newspapers practically distancing itself from me, which could be interpreted as disowning me ....
“I went into exile outside Selangor ... . It has to be noted that this has always been the punishment for any member of the Selangor Royal Family who is considered durhaka (traitorous) since the beginning of the Selangor Sultanate more than 250 years ago.”
He also wrote that another reason why he did not attend court was the he did not expect to get a fair trial.
In court on April 23, his lawyer Chandra added, “You have to bear in mind that he is a member of royalty and this self-imposed exile is a punishment he has handed out to himself.”
Rozina said Raja Petra had never produced a written order over the matter.
To this, Chandra said his client would appear in court “when the times permitted and the matter resolved”.
DPP Shahidani Aziz then asked for a warrant of arrest to be issued against Raja Petra and a showcause notice for his wife and bailor Marina.
The judge granted both and set May 22 for mention.
Speaking to reporters later on April 23, his lawyer Gobind Singh Deo had said the defence had been unable to contact Raja Petra for some time and his last conversation with him was during a habeas corpus appeal against the editor at the Federal Court.
Raja Petra, a former Internal Security Act detainee, had on May 6 2008 claimed trial to publishing a seditious article on his Malaysia Today news portal on April 25 of that same year.
He is accused of publishing the article Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell on the website www.malaysia-today.net. The charge under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a maximum fine of RM5,000 or three years' jail or both upon conviction.
Hishammuddin should send the OCPDs of Brickfields and Ampang Jaya to a human rights sensitization course
By Lim Kit Siang
Malaysians are shocked by the outrageous conduct of the OCPDs of Brickfields and Ampang Jaya, Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Talib and Abd Jalil Hassan, whose boorish conduct are caught on video, serving as prime examples of police officers who have no notion or respect for human rights or even civil behaviour.
Both of them have brought shame not only to the country, but also to the Royal Malaysian Police Force, in their unprofessional conduct and excessive display of police power – showing utter contempt for elected representatives of the people and ordinary members of the public.
When police officers could summon massive police reinforcements to deal with a small and peaceful group of civic-minded Malaysians lighting candles to send their message of protest to the authorities over the unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak, something is very wrong with the training of police officers. In fact, something is very wrong with the direction the country is heading.
In not charging the five lawyers and 15 others arrested in connection with a candlelight vigil in Kuala Lumpur on May 7, the Police should have won back some goodwill for their disgraceful detention of the 20 – but all such goodwill had been undone with further spate of arrests of 27 persons for peaceful candlelight vigils, including DAP MP for Serdang Teo Nie Ching and DAP Selangor Assemblywoman (Teratai) Jenice Lee, and the remand this morning of 16 of them for two days.
I am prepared to send the videos of such disgraceful and unacceptable conduct by the OCPDs of Brickfields and Ampang Jaya to the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, and Malaysians want to know whether the Home Minister finds such conduct by the OCPDs of the two police districts in Federal capital acceptable or excusable.
Hishammuddin should send the OCPDs of Brickfields and Ampang Jaya to a human rights sensitization course or the Home Minister himself should undergo such a course first.
By Lim Kit Siang
If the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is serious about his slogan of 1Malaysia, then the time has come for the government to be colour-blind and end ethnic profiling for scholarships.
The Barisan Nasional government had promised that there would not be a recurrence this year of the perennial problem of Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships selection creating grave injustices and public alienation but this is not the case.
I am very disappointed that after the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, there had been no announcement whatsoever about the solution to this year’s nation-wide uproar at the unjust PSD scholarship awards, and the MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat had been particularly quiet after various statements about a solution for the aggrieved students who failed to get scholarships despite clear merit in their results.
May be Ong is preoccupied with the RM12 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, on the breach of his repeated promise to make public the PricewaterhouseCooper audit report on it. However, many are saying that the gross wastage of public funds and mega financial scandals are interconnected with issues of PSD scholarships and government services, as for example the RM12 billion squandered on PKFZ would have amply provided scholarships to all the over 8,000 applicants who applied for PSD foreign degree scholarships this year.
Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is talking about limiting the number of subjects a SPM candidate can take, but this is a very ad hoc and limited approach which does not go to the root cause of the problem of a fair, just, efficient and transparent PSD scholarship selection system.
Limiting the number of SPM subjects will not end the annual ruckus over the PSD scholarship awards unless there is a total revamp of the system to make it fair, just, efficient and transparent where meritocracy is given top priority, coupled with a needs-based programme.
The purpose of this roundtable is to kickstart a national debate on the need for a total revamp of the PSD scholarship selection system, whether scholarships should be awarded only at the SPTM level, a flexible programme to allow for change of courses, and the loopholes and weaknesses evident in the present system.
There is also a need to have an effective and transparent system so that Malaysians can monitor the PSD and the implementation of the various ministerial policy pronouncements.
For instance, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had announced in Parliament the PSD scholarship ratio of 55:45 for bumiputras to non-bumiputras for foreign degrees, that all top-scorers with 13A1s and 14A1s will automatically get scholarships as it is otherwise a great injustice, and that there is no quota for the PSD scholarships for local universities.
As these ministerial policy pronouncements are not translated into practice, there must be a transparent system of PSD scholarship selection so that Malaysians can monitor it.
It was revealed in Parliament that in the past six years from 2003 to 2008, Petronas awarded 1,035 scholarships for foreign universities, made up of 87% or 901 scholarships for bumiputras and 13% or 134 scholarships for non-bumiputeras.
Petronas and all government-linked scholarships should follow the PSD example of a scholarship ratio of 55:45 for bumiputras to non-bumiputras to pave the way for the end of ethnic profiling for public scholarships if the Najib motto of “1Malaysia” is to be meaningful.
by Tunku Aziz
MAY 22 — Criticisms of the PDRM (Polis Di-Raja Malaysia) have lately turned ugly: they have been reduced to what amounts to a hate campaign. I believe this attitude is totally counterproductive because as citizens we deserve the police service we get. In other words, unless we are prepared to work with them, they will not succeed.
That said, PDRM must change with the times, and change what is known all over the world as the police culture of impunity. Police training must naturally cover traditional aspects of policing, but in today’s terms nothing is more important than for our police to understand the issue of human rights and the rights of the individual to police protection without regard to race or colour. Officers at every level of the service must subject themselves and their actions to the closest public scrutiny. Members of the public today are no longer mesmerised by the shiny little badges of rank that elbow for space on their very crowded epaulette.
Members of the Royal Malaysian Police belong to an honourable profession that, in our country, is more than two centuries old. The PDRM is older than the London Metropolitan Police (1829) and the New York City Police Department (1843). They are the inheritors of a long and proud tradition of service to the people of this country. And we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.
The Malaysian police service is like no other in the world. What little I know of police forces in some parts of the world suggests that in many respects, ours is as good as the best, but as the report of the Royal Commission on the Enhancement of the Management and Operation of PDRM has pointed out, there is a lot of room for improvement so as to bring the standards of policing in Malaysia in line with best international practices.
As a member of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the police service, I despair of the decision of the government to soft pedal on the most important recommendation in the whole report — the creation of an independent oversight body to help protect the police protect itself against unwarranted criticisms. The government, and the police, no less, must accept that no police force in the world has ever succeeded in policing itself, and PDRM is no different. I may be forgiven for concluding that the government has made, in a manner of speaking, a right royal “dog’s breakfast” of much of the report. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi pussyfooted around this recommendation, but let us see whether our self-proclaimed reforming crusader, the current prime minister, has the stomach to force this through.
I can understand why the senior ranks are suspicious of any suggestion that they perceive as “outside interference.” The Knapp Commission (1972) on the New York police had this to say: “Two principal characteristics emerge from this group loyalty: suspicion and loyalty directed at any outside interference with the department. This mixture of hostility and pride has created what the (Knapp) Commission has found to be the most serious roadblock to a rational attack on police corruption: a stubborn refusal at all levels of the department to acknowledge that a serious problem exists.” I spent a year in New York as Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General in 2006, and was able to follow developments in the New York Police Department, and nothing substantial has changed since that report was released in 1972. Let us move from New York to London.
Sir Robert Bunyard, a former Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, describes police culture as follows:
“The culture of police groups has always been particularly strong, partly because the police occupy a unique and ambiguous role in society but also because they feel the need to defend themselves against what is seen as a hostile world.” Not really very different from the way many police officers in PDRM have reacted to the royal commission report.
A common belief or notion, which appears to be deeply embedded in the police psyche, is that of impunity, forgetting that the powers given to them are purely for the purpose of enforcing the rule of law and maintaining public order. Many of them also sometimes forget that they are not above the law, are indeed creatures of the law, and it is their duty to uphold the law, and not subvert it, however great the temptation might be.
Effective policing depends on public support, and public support will be withheld or even withdrawn if there is no confidence in the integrity of the police as a whole. It is important for them to realise that they are an intrinsic part of the society which it is their duty to serve, and all of their actions must be directed towards the public good.
Their distinctive blue uniform sets off very complex emotions and reactions in different people. As police officers they are either respected or feared. Naturally, how they choose to be treated is entirely a matter for them to decide.
The important role they play in our criminal justice system cannot be overemphasised. It is all the more important that they maintain the highest ethical and moral standards, particularly in handling cases that could lead to a possible prosecution.
We often hear complaints about questionable methods used by the police when gathering evidence, methods that will not bear close examination. Nothing is more calculated to alienate the public than the belief, rightly or wrongly, that the police are careless about protecting citizens’ rights. Members of the public are becoming better educated and know their rights under the law. What all this means in practice is that the police must change from a perceived culture of impunity to one grounded in efficiency, transparency, honesty and accountability.
We do expect, I admit, rather a lot of our men and women in blue. We make demands on them that we would never dream of imposing on ourselves. They work under conditions which are far from ideal, often exposed to great hardship and danger, and yet do we ever stop to think about their welfare and that of their families?
I can tell you that nothing much has changed in 50 years as far as their accommodation, for example, is concerned. Instead of living in wooden barracks, they now live in crammed one- or two-bedroom concrete cubicles. Police families tend to be large, and the chances of living with dignity as a family unit are not part of their terms of employment. Domestic pressures under such living conditions defy the imagination, and it was for me, on official visits to many police stations in different states, a humbling experience to talk to police personnel and to see their patience and forbearance of an existence that is not in keeping with today’s minimum expectations.
The nature of police work is such that it would be totally dishonest and disingenuous for anyone to suggest that it is no different from all the other components of the civil service. It is different, dangerous and debilitating of mind and body. The police service should be treated as a separate and distinct service, and the officers, men and women should be paid a rate for the job that reflects the true nature of their work.
Police work is not every one’s idea of fun and games, and in fact I have often said that anyone determined to join the police should have his or her head examined. But for all that, thank God that there are thousands of them who have decided to devote their lives to the care of the citizens of this country so that we can go about our work or business knowing that they are there watching over our security and safety.
I have often heard it said that if the police are paid more, the armed forces might be upset. My remedy for that is for members of the armed forces to join the police and have a taste of police life.
(Much of the material has been drawn from my own speeches and writings. The comments remain as relevant today as when they were first made four years ago.)
Even before Wednesday, which was declared a national holiday following Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa's official announcement that the 26-year war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was over, a mood of celebration had emerged in the capital.
The lighting of firecrackers was well under way by Monday morning and continued with mounting intensity into the next two
At street corners and junctions, food stalls had come up overnight and well-wishers were inviting the crowds to partake of free sweets, bananas and kiribath - wedges of rice cooked in milk. Milk rice is a festive treat and served on special occasions, such as the Avurudu, or Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
The euphoria everywhere is palpable, but not everyone approves.
Gamini Chandrasoma is an ex-soldier who once worked as a clerk for General Sarath Fonseka, the army chief who is largely credited with the armed forces' triumph over the Tamil Tigers. From the tire-manufacturing factory where he now works as security supervisor, Chandrasoma has been listening to the firecrackers and cheers from the factory premises and outside and finds the exultation distasteful.
"I don't think we should get carried away with our victory," he said, speaking on the telephone from his factory in Ekala, a few kilometers outside Colombo. "There has been a lot of suffering on every side, over the years, and we should be observing this victory in a dignified, subdued way, without the fireworks."
Two policemen, Amal Bandara and Sampath Janaka, who were manning a crossroad in the Colombo suburb of Rajagiriya, said there was something very much of the "Big Match" spirit in the spectacle of schoolboys and young men waving flags, cheering and careering around in open-top vehicles (in cricket-mad Sri Lanka, the annual games between the top rival boys' schools are big events, as big as an international match).
A few minutes earlier, an open truck loaded with a particularly high-spirited group of youths had passed by: the "chief guest" among the crew was a well-padded dummy of the late Tiger leader Prabhakaran, complete with glasses and heavy moustache, "Tiger-striped" camouflage uniform and boots, and gripping a black water pistol in one plaster-of-Paris hand.
Bandara and Janaka, who both belong to the majority Sinhalese community, said the tension seemed to be finally gone, and that it would be a relief to get back full-time to regular police duties after being on high alert ever since joining the force. Both men are in their early twenties. They said the fear of bomb blasts was already receding.
"We would like to get back to our normal police work," Bandara said. "It's good to think there might not be any suicide bombers any more around the corner. We hope things will be normal - and cheerful."
On the other side of the road, at a saivara kade, a traditional middle-class restaurant that serves Indian-style food, Ranjan Kumar, a Tamil, said he was "overjoyed" that the war was over and the Tamil Tigers finally defeated. "There was never any question that the Tigers were a good thing for our community," he said. "We all felt the sooner they were out of the picture the better for everyone. I was waiting for this day."
At another Indian food restaurant, The Roti House, also in the suburb of Rajagiriya, a beaming Mr K Mahendran said he was no longer fearful of being harassed by the police for being a Tamil. "I was taken in by the police on two occasions, simply because I am Tamil, and even though I had all my documents in order, including my ID. I don't expect that humiliation to happen again, now that the war with the Tigers is over."
More cautious about expressing emotion over the historic moment was Neil Heenatigoda, the Sinhalese owner of a grocery shop two doors further down the road.
"It is a tragedy for the country that the Tamil Tigers did not realize sooner that theirs was a lost cause," he said. "There's been too much blood shed on both sides for us to make a big noise over this victory.
"As a Sinhalese, I feel it is important to reassure the Tamils of this country that we were waging a war on terrorists who used violence, and not on the Tamil community. I do feel the Sinhalese are basically a peaceable people, and we don't harbor grudges. The Tamil people should not feel threatened. In Colombo, the Sinhalese and the Tamils and all communities live side by side very happily."
Sasidaran Kandasamy, a 25-year-old web designer who works for a leading financial institution in Rajagiriya, said that as a Tamil he was "happy that it is all over". However, he wished the "celebrations" had been a tad more "sober".
"My family panics when we see mob reactions," he said. "Celebrations on a big scale can be scary because the mood can very easily tilt in another direction."
Kandasamy, whose father is Sri Lankan Tamil and his mother Indian Tamil, was one-year-old when the 1983 riots broke out. Tamils were killed and their homes looted and torched. The Kandasamys were among the many Tamil families that took flight. His father sent the rest of the family to India, while he stayed behind to sell his burnt-to-the-ground property, at a huge loss. He joined his family eventually, and six years later brought them all back to Sri Lanka.
"My father always gets worried when he hears crowds in the street shouting and getting excited. He has bad memories of '83. He knows that high spirits can turn dangerous."
But the younger Kandasamy sees 1983 as an exceptional case. He believes that Tamils living in Colombo are relatively safe, and that the city is a good example of communities living in harmony. "We do live and work together very well, I think," he said.
Kandasamy's colleague, Mario de Kauwe, is also a web designer. De Kauwe, who belongs to the minority Burgher community that traces its ancestry to the Portuguese and Dutch settlers who once occupied Sri Lanka, says the sooner the notion of minorities disappears the better.
"We have to start seeing ourselves as Sri Lankans and not as Sinhalese, Tamil, Malay, Muslim or Burgher. That was the way we were in school. All one family. Cultural or religious differences never entered our minds."
Kandasamy remarks that it had been a pleasant day, even though he and De Kauwe had to spend their national holiday in the office.
"It's quieter today than it was yesterday, and that's nice. The country has been through a kind of hell for 26 years, and now we want peace. We must let go of the past. It's now and the future that matters."
R Stephen Prins, who was born and educated in Sri Lanka, has worked for newspapers and magazines in his homeland and overseas. After 22 years in Hong Kong, attached to various publishing houses, he has returned to Sri Lanka, where he now works as a freelancer..
SINGAPORE, 22 May 2009: Malaysia has proposed to Singapore that a new bridge be built to link the eastern side of Johor to the island republic.
The new bridge will help to further facilitate the movement of people and goods and services between both countries, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said at a joint media conference with his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong here today.
Najib, who is here since yesterday for a two-day official visit to the city-state, said the new bridge would also help to develop the eastern side of Johor such as areas in Pengerang, including Desaru, which were still less developed and had huge economic potential.
He said the current linkages, such as the Johor Causeway, were having a high volume of traffic and had affected the smooth movement of people and goods between both the neighbouring countries.
Both sides agreed to look at the proposal in the medium and long term and also agreed to commission a study to look at the bridge viability, Najib said, adding that the new bridge proposal was one of the outcomes of their bilateral meeting to further enhance the close cooperation between Malaysia and Singapore.
Currently, the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia is connected to Singapore by the ageing Johor Causeway and the Second Link crossing in Tuas.
In 2006, Malaysia dropped a plan to build a second bridge replacing the Johor Causeway after it hit a dead-end following some disagreement between the two neighbours.
Lee also suggested that the Johor Causeway be broadened and the rail link connecting both sides of the causeway be improved to further ease traffic movement.
Earlier, upon his arrival at the Istana, Najib inspected a military guard-of-honour before proceeding straight to a four-eyed meeting with Lee.
The two leaders later joined the bilateral meeting involving the top official delegations from both sides.— Bernama
Just when Umno is dreading more by-elections, another one is in the pipeline with the passing of the Manek Urai state assembly member Ismail Yaacob, who passed away at dawn today after a long illness.
In the 2008 general election, Pas retained control of Kelantan, winning 38 of the 45 state assembly seats. Ismail won his seat with a 5,746-4,394 margin.
What do you think? Will Umno want to put up a candidate? I have a feeling it will have to contest, whether it likes it or not, as staying out in two by-elections in a row will raise all kinds of questions.
First of all, Al-Fatihah to Ismail Yaacob, Kelantan ADUN :( Takziah kepada keluarga…
Secondly, Jenice Lee’s two day remand is horrifying. Maybe more on that later.
Right now, I wanted to note that Muhyiddin could probably win an award for stupidest idea ever. The Star:
Students sitting for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination may not be allowed to take as many subjects as they like in future to make the scholarship selection process fairer.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Government might limit the number of subjects taken by students in the SPM for fairer Public Service Department (PSD) scholarship selection.
So this is his solution to the JPA scholarship crisis? By keeping people from achieving their full potential??
It’s almost like making people dumber to ‘level’ the playing field, which in turn, is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
Worst of all, it does not solve the problem one teeny, little screwed up bit - except of course, on their damned political front. That problem = qualified students are not getting scholarships.
This way, the government only *looks* like it is solving the problem (since the max number of A’s are reduced), whereas in reality, the more qualified students are still not getting the aid they deserve.
KOTA KINABALU, May 22 (Bernama) -- The Puteri Umno movement wants the proposal to impose stiffer punishments on road thugs or "Mat Rempit" to be carried out soon to address the menace.
Its chief, Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, said the proposal should be carried out without further delay with the problem on road thugs becoming more serious.
"The relevant authorities should have amended the law a long time ago because today, these road thugs have become out of control.
"If they (road thugs) have no moral conscience of their own, then they have to be taught with a stiffer punishment," she added.
She said this in response to a call by Bukit Aman Traffic police chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Yusof for the government to amend Section 42 (1) of the Road Transport Act to make jail sentences mandatory so that offenders will automatically be sent to prison.
Rosnah, who is Deputy Health Minister, hoped that concerted efforts would also be carried out by the relevant ministries and agencies to curb the problem on road thugs.
She said parents should also play their role, if the problem is to be addressed effectively.
Yesterday the Court Of Appeal heard the arguments of all sides in this appeal. Later today at 3.30pm the Court of Appeal will deliver its decision on Zambry’s appeal.
It’s my personal and firm view that the decision of the Court will not bring about a finality of the on going constitutional crisis in Perak. I have said it before, that Courts are and cannot be the deciders or arbitrators of who should be the rightful MB of Perak. Politics is best left to politicians! The people elected assemblyman and it is they who should decide as who is best to lead the state.
Whatever the decision of the Court today it will just drag the political crisis further without any definite conclusion.
The whole issue is whether the 3 assemblyman ( Cangkat Jaring, Behrang and Jelapang) have resigned? According to the Speaker V.SivaKumar they have resigned or have become independents as according to Barisan National?
One school of thought says if the Perak State Assembly cannot be allowed to be dissolved then at least ask or demand the 3 assemblyman to “officially” resign their seats and by-elections be called. This may in one way settle the issue as to whether the voters in the 3 constituencies voted for a PR or BN Government.
Finally the man who singularly executed the collapse of the PR government in Perak in early February2009 is none other then Prime Minister (PM) Najib. He should realize that the political crisis has failed to enhance his image as the PM of Malaysia. Is he PM for all or only for Barisan National(BN)? PM Najib should rise above politics, over the impasse now and demand for the dissolution of the State Assembly of Perak. Failing which the present stalemate will eventually result in his own down fall.
By Edward Cheah and Lee Wei Lian
PUTRAJAYA, MAY 21 — Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin says he will continue to push for fresh elections in Perak as the best way to solve the constitutional impasse regardless of tomorrow’s Court of Appeal decision over who should rightly be the mentri besar.
“I’m not going to rely on the court’s decision. It is only a legal process, the solution is to give the people the right to choose a new government,” Nizar told reporters outside the courtroom here today.
Nizar and other Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders attended today a Court of Appeal hearing on Datuk Zambry Abd Kadir’s appeal against last week’s high court decision ruling Nizar the rightful MB.
The constitutional crisis has dragged on since BN’s power grab in February.
There is growing support for fresh polls, even among BN leaders, for fresh polls as a way to resolve the conflict.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has suggested BN were ready for talks with PR leaders to find a solution.
DAP Perak Chief Ngeh Koo Ham echoed Nizar and told The Malaysian Insider that the best way out of the political mess was to dissolve the state assembly.
“The court isn’t the place to solve the Perak crisis and whatever the outcome the crisis in Perak will drag on and whoever loses will appeal,” stressed Ngeh.
Ngeh went on to say that Pakatan Rakyat was more concerned with how to find a solution.
The Court of Appeal will give its decision tomorrow afternoon.
KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 - Maverick politician Datuk Zaid Ibrahim began blogging today, challenging Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to articulate his economic reforms in the upcoming Umno special assembly or in Malay-language newspapers rather than in the English media.
Writing in his myzaidibrahim.wordpress.com blog, the former law minister also cautioned the Prime Minister to watch out for his Umno warlords whom he said were fair-weather and have vested interests
"I want to see Dato Seri Najib make this speech and elaborate further about reforms in Bumiputera policies at the Umno special assembly, for example," wrote Zaid, referring to economic reforms Najib told the Singapore Straits Times on the eve of his official visit today.Zaid, who quit the Abdullah administration over ISA arrests last year, had earlier this year asked the King not to appoint Najib to replace Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as prime minister.
Najib took office on April 3 while Zaid has said he is considering his next political move.
"It is time he drafts a new map for the future direction of Malaysia and Malaysians. And also a new map for Umno," added Zaid, who once headed Malaysia's largest law partnership named after him.
He noted new prime ministers had always made progressive and liberal announcements, citing former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah but faltered in implementation.
He said he was not confident of Najib's success to push reforms especially those announced in English newspapers, asking the prime minister to disclose them in Malay-language papers like Utusan Malaysia.
Zaid also hoped Najib was not being overconfident that all Umno warlords are his friends, cautioning him to be careful as "I want to see his reforms succeed."
"He will soon feel the pressure and threays. They are toxic and fierce.
"If Dato Seri Najib is the main warlord now, he should look over his shoulders for his political security," he wrote.
Zaid said Najib should not be afraid that Malays would be angry over economic reforms, adding equitable changes that prioritise those who are in need will not upset anyone especially the Malays.
"The angry are those who benefit and get their pay due to their links to politics and people in power.
"What we want is a PM who is not afraid of old issues and premises that are used to keep the status quo. Those who don't want changes like to frighten as that is they way to keep their influence and power," Zaid said.
In his initial post to start the blog, he noted that many people have said Dr Mahathir is the most popular blogger around.
"That may be true. But we all can be popular. We just have to remember that we use our popularity for the good of all," he added, thanking a few people and services provider Greenpacket for helping him start blogging.
By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider
PUTRAJAYA, May 21 — By his own admission, Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin knew he had lost the majority in the legislature when he asked the Perak Sultan to dissolve the state assembly on February 4, the Attorney-General said today.
Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail told the Court of Appeal here that even if the three independents who had thrown their support behind Barisan Nasional (BN) were excluded Nizar would have lost any vote of confidence.
Although both Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and BN would have an equal number of 28 lawmakers in the assembly, Speaker V.Sivakumar would not have been able to vote, he said.
Gani was making his submission today in the appeal brought by BN’s Datuk Zambry Abd Kadir against a recent Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling declaring PR’s Nizar as the rightful mentri besar of Perak.
The Attorney General who is acting as case intervener also defended the role of the state legal advisor who had been accused of acting in favour of Zambry.
He said the state legal advisor was a government servant who is neutral but caught between “two elephants,” referring to Nizar and the Sultan.
He added the situation could have been avoided if Nizar had called for a sitting instead of going to the Sultan to seek fresh elections, which was rejected.
He said Nizar should have done the honourable thing and resigned rather than letting the state go into disarray.
He also defended the move by the Sultan to ask Nizar to resign adding it was against democracy to allow for a minority government.
Earlier Datuk Cecil Abraham, acting for Zambry, also argued it was not necessary for the Perak ruler to wait for an outcome of a motion of no confidence to determine if Nizar had lost the support of his fellow lawmakers in the state assembly.
He said the rulers could use other means, which in this case was the interviewing of the three independents along with the 28 BN assemblyman on February 5 to determine which leader had the support of the majority.
He added that Nizar’s claim of using Article 36 of the Perak Constitution to seek the dissolution a day earlier could not be supported by evidence.
If they can’t get a three-zero verdict, then it must at least be a two-one verdict with Zainun ruling in favour of the opposition. Then the government would be seen as doing the ‘right’ and ‘fair’ thing and the opposition would no longer have any grounds to complain.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is an expert at this game. That is why he is called the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics. Politics is a game of perception. It does not matter what you really are. It is what people perceive you to be that matters. And no one can play this game better than the Tun. Does this sound like I am singing his praises? You can bet your sweet ninny I am. And I make no apologies for that. After all, credit should be given where credit is due.
In the early days of his premiership, Mahathir engaged the services of Saatchi & Saatchi. Those who had to pass Wisma Damansara every day to go to work probably noticed their office at that building on the hill. Their biggest client in Malaysia was Umno and the fees that Umno had to pay meant the firm could afford such affluence and opulence in a prime location in Kuala Lumpur. After all, it was not really Umno that was paying. The money came from the government coffer, which means the taxpayers were footing the bill. (Go here to read more about the company http://www.saatchi.com/worldwide/index.asp).
When it eventually leaked that Umno had engaged the services of Saatchi & Saatchi, and word had it that this was a Jewish-owned company, Umno had to disengage itself from this company and the new assignments were entrusted to Lim Kok Wing, the Malaysian genius of advertising and PR who, amongst others, conjured the Rakan Muda and many other programmes aimed at creating an impression the government was on the ball.
When Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as Prime Minister, he set up his own unit, infamously known as the Tingkat Empat or Fourth Floor team. They are supposed to have been the brains behind Pak Lah’s administration that would help guide him on what to do. But the problem was, the Fourth Floor bit off more than it could chew and it forgot the golden rule of Malaysian politics -- which is one just does not cross swords with the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics and hopes to get away with it.
Soon, Tingkat Empat became a four-letter word and Pak Lah was forced to downplay its role when members of his own Cabinet began to hit out at them. Pak Lah tried to defend them as best as he could but it was futile. Mahathir had already decided that they should be buried and buried they would be. Eventually, Pak Lah had to distance himself from his own advisers from the Fourth Floor and that meant he had to fly blind without the advantage of guidance from his team of advisors.
Najib realises the value of a good team of public relations wizards. So he too has his own ‘Fourth Floor’. But he is not using a bunch of young wet-behind-the-ears Oxbridge graduates the way Pak Lah did. Najib knows that Mahathir would never accept this, as his suspicion for such young punks has not diminished. Najib, just like Mahathir before that, has outsourced the services of a team of experts. And they have come up with a great plan on how to ensure that Umno not only wins the next general election, but wins back all the states it has lost plus its two-thirds majority in parliament as well.
Najib’s plan is a multi-prong. First he has to give the impression that he is bringing reforms to Malaysia. The New Economic Policy will be reviewed. Some liberalisation and relaxation of the rules will be introduced. Even the FIC may be closed down to give more confidence to investors and the Chinese business population that the government is really serious about abolishing the many rules and regulations that favour the Bumiputeras.
There will be a lot of window-dressing and some will be made to appear as more than just window-dressing. But what is going to be the thrust of the strategy will be the battle on the political front.
Pakatan Rakyat is seen to have made great inroads in the recent general election on 8 March 2008. Since then it has displayed impressive wins in four out of five by-elections, outdoing even how they performed on 8 March 2008. Najib cannot afford to allow Pakatan Rakyat to be seen as still on a winning streak. And Anwar Ibrahim, in particular, must be made to appear like he has lost the wind in his sails.
To steal Anwar’s thunder, Najib decided to refrain from contesting the Penanti by-election. It appears like Najib made this decision against the wishes of Mahathir. It would be good if people are thinking that because then it would also appear like Najib is in total control and no one is dictating what he should do, in particular Mahathir.
If they were to contest Penanti they would lose anyway, and lose worse than on 8 March 2008. But now, since Umno is not contesting that by-election, Umno will not have to lose. And if Umno did not lose then Anwar’s party did not win as well. This would be the first step -- deny Anwar the pleasure of victory. Who, after all, is going to be impressed with a walkover or menang tanpa tanding. Call Umno chicken or whatever. The bottom line is it did not lose Penanti and therefore Anwar’s party did not win as well.
The next issue would be Perak. They know Perak is a no-go. Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional are equally matched. Then we have the three so-called independents who vote with Barisan Nasional. But two of the three have corruption charges hanging over their heads. And if they are convicted, then there would be two by-elections, which Pakatan Rakyat will easily win -- and this would mean the opposition would now have a one-seat majority over Barisan Nasional in the Perak state government.
The alternative would be to drop the corruption charges against these two ‘independent’ state assemblymen. But that has already been predicted and would come as no surprise. Umno would be expected to do just that. So how would they explain that it was all done above board and that there is no manipulation?
Say what you like, if the charges are dropped, public perception would still be that they are guilty as hell and the only reason the charges were dropped is because Umno wants to avoid two by-elections, which they are going to lose badly. Anyway, even Mahathir is against Umno taking these two. So they will have to remain as independents without being allowed into Umno until the day they lose their case and get sent to jail.
The only viable option open to Najib is to dissolve the Perak state assembly and hold new state elections. But that must not be on the opposition’s terms. That must be on Umno’s terms. Zambry has to be declared the legitimate Menteri Besar of Perak and then he shall seek permission from the Sultan for the dissolution of the state assembly. They can’t afford for Nizar to be the one who requests the dissolution of the state assembly. That would hurt Najib’s and Umno’s image real bad.
At 3.00pm today, the Appeal Court will be delivering its decision as to who is the legitimate Menteri Besar of Perak. The Chief Justice, Tan Sri Dato' Seri Zaki Azmi, has been told to make sure the verdict is in favour of Umno.
Zaki, in turn, has instructed the President of the Court of Appeal, Tan Sri Dato' Seri Alauddin Dato' Mohd. Sheriff, to tell the three judges -- Justices Abdul Raus Sharif, Datuk Zainun Ali and Ahmad Maarop -- to deliver the ‘right’ verdict. If they can’t get a three-zero verdict, then it must at least be a two-one verdict with Zainun ruling in favour of the opposition. Then the government would be seen as doing the ‘right’ and ‘fair’ thing and the opposition would no longer have any grounds to complain.
After that, Zambry can go meet the Sultan and request the dissolution of the Perak State Assembly. But it will be Umno that does this, not Nizar or the opposition. And Umno does it although it can continue ruling Perak without dissolving the state assembly and calling for fresh state elections. How can you now say that Najib is not fair or is power crazy?
And this will prove that Najib is a rakyat’s Prime Minister and someone who knows how to do the right thing when required. Anwar and Pakatan Rakyat will lose the right to claim that it called for new state elections. The court, in fact, ruled that Barisan Nasional is the legitimate government. Barisan Nasional could have continued running the state until the next general elections. But instead it chose to dissolve the state assembly as the people wanted them to.
Sure, it will be very difficult for Barisan Nasional to win if new state elections are held. But what difference does it make anyway? They are still in a deadlock as it is. This way it would be seen like Barisan Nasional is not illegally holding on to power but is ‘gentleman’ enough to listen to the people even though the court has delivered its verdict that they are the legitimate government of Perak.
That, according to Najib’s team of PR consultants, is how they will take the wind out of Anwar’s sails and steal the thunder from him. As it is, Anwar and Pakatan Rakyat are losing momentum. And the only way to make them lose even more momentum would be to deny them those little battles that they could win easily enough. And if battles are unavoidable, then make sure it is on your terms and not on Anwar’s terms.
Perception is a very powerful tool. Mahathir knew this. Najib knows this as well. And he is fast learning how to become an expert at this game of perception just like his mentor before this was.
Five men were charged in the magistrates' court here today with discharging firearms, causing one death and injuring two others, in a robbery at a goldsmith shop in Seberang Jaya two months ago.
They are charged under Section 3 of the Firearms (Increase Penalty) Act 1971, to be read together with Section 34 of the Penal Code. The offence is punishable by death.
However, no plea was recorded.
Magistrate Arif Mohamad Shariff denied them bail and set July 23 to mention the case.
Jeganathan was represented by lawyer R.S.N. Rayer, while Ram was represented by counsel Jagdeep Singh Deo. The others were unrepresented. -- BERNAMA
PUTRAJAYA, 21 May 2009: The quota system in Umno will be scrapped if the proposal to abolish it is well received and accepted by delegates at the party's special assembly end of this year, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said.
He said a motion for tabling it at the special assembly was approved by the party's Technical Committee on Constitutional Amendments.
"Once approved, the appropriate amendments will be made to the party's constitution," he told a press conference after chairing the committee meeting today.
Hishammuddin said with the quota system scrapped, whoever felt that they were eligible could offer to contest for party posts.
"It is seen as a more transparent and gives more freedom for anyone to offer [him- or herself] for a post if he has the support of party members," he added.
Under the current quota system, those contesting for the party's president post are required to be nominated by at least 30% of the 191 Umno divisions; for the deputy president post (20%); vice-president post (10%) and 5% for those vying as members of the party's supreme council.
Hishammuddin said the meeting also discussed the proposal for all the party's divisional meetings be held simultaneously, and also on ways to facilitate registration of members and fee payment.
On his meeting with Terengganu Umno leaders last night, Hishammuddin, who is Terengganu Umno liaison chief, said they had all agreed to set aside their differences and give priority to party interests. — Bernama
By Deborah Loh
PUTRAJAYA, 21 May 2009: A chief minister or menteri besar (MB) cannot be removed even if the person fails a vote of no-confidence in the state legislative assembly, the Court of Appeal hearing the case to determine the rightful Perak MB was told today.
Lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah, who is representing Pakatan Rakyat (PR)'s embattled Perak MB Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, said this was his conclusion from the 1966 Stephen Kalong Ningkan case, which resulted in the Sarawak constitution being amended through emergency legislation to allow the state governor to remove the chief minister.
In the Ningkan case, the court had ruled that the only way to determine whether a chief minister had lost the majority confidence of assemblypersons was by way of a vote in the Council Negri.
But Sulaiman told the appeals court judges today that because the judgment did not resolve Sarawak's crisis since Ningkan refused to resign, the federal government had imposed emergency rule on the state so as to institute amendments that gave the governor powers to remove the chief minister. The amended provisions lapsed after six months.
Nizar speaking to a crowd of reporters after the appeals court postponed its judgment to the next day
Sulaiman said the fact that amendments were made through emergency legislature showed that the chief minister could not be constitutionally dismissed in the first place. That they had lapsed showed that there was no law existing to support dismissal of a chief minister or MB.
Sulaiman used this argument to support his submission as to why Perak ruler Sultan Azlan Shah could not ask Nizar to resign or deem the MB's post vacant if he refused to. He noted that the provisions in the Sarawak and Perak constitution on this point were similar.
"The [Sarawak] state constitution confers no power on the governor to dismiss or by any means to enforce the resignation of a chief minister even when it has been demonstrated that he has lost the confidence of the majority.
"Since Ningkan did not resign, his office could not be deemed vacated. Therefore, there was emergency rule in order to amend the Sarawak constitution so as to remove the chief minister," Sulaiman told the appeals court three-person bench.
Judges Abdul Raus Sharif, Datuk Zainun Ali and Ahmad Maarop were hearing the Barisan Nasional (BN)'s Perak MB Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir's appeal against the High Court's judgment on 11 May that Nizar was the lawful Perak MB.
Nizar's application to set aside the stay order granted to Zambry will be decided after the appeals court rules on Zambry's appeal against the High Court's ruling. The appeals court will deliver judgment at 3.30pm tomorrow.
The key issues of the case being heard by the Court of Appeal bench is the sultan's power to dismiss Nizar and to deem his office vacant if he refused to resign, and whether Nizar had to go before the assembly for a no-confidence vote to determine if he had the majority support.
Zambry's lawyers argued that High Court judge Datuk Abd Aziz Abd Rahim had erred in ruling that an assembly vote was the only way to determine if Nizar had lost the majority confidence.
Zambry's team said there was nothing expressly stated in Article 16 (6) of the Perak constitution that a vote in the assembly was the only way to determine support for the MB.
Article 16 (6) states: "If the menteri besar ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the member of the legislative assembly, then, unless at his request His Royal Highness dissolves the legislative assembly, he shall tender the resignation of the executive council."
Zambry (File pic)Zambry's lead counsel, Datuk Cecil Abraham, said that Article 16 (6) required Nizar to tender his resignation, as he was part of the executive council, and as he had fulfilled the criteria expressed in the provision, which is that he lost the majority confidence.
Case intervener Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail submitted that a deadlock of 28 PR and 28 BN assemblypersons was the same as the absence of majority support.
"A deadlock means he [Nizar] has no majority at 28-28. It is a self-admission that he does not have the majority," Abdul Gani said, adding that since the speaker was not allowed to vote, one could say that Nizar had already lost the majority confidence as the numbers would be at 27 for the PR and 28 for the BN.
Holding that a vote in the assembly was not the only way to determine majority support for the MB, Zambry's team contended that the sultan was entitled to ascertain where the majority confidence lay by other means.
The sultan had taken these means by interviewing the three independents who left the PR to support the BN, by granting an audience to then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and by meeting the 28 BN assemblypersons, all on 5 Feb before meeting Nizar a second time later the same day to reject his request for a dissolution.
Abraham said the sultan had to determine the circumstances at the time when Nizar had his first audience with him on 4 Feb and made his oral request for a dissolution.
Abraham said at the time when Nizar had his 4 Feb audience with the sultan, the three independents had already declared their support for the BN, even if Nizar did not acknowledge this.
"Nizar did not take into account evidence that the three assemblypersons had defected. He just ignored the fact that they defected," Abraham said.
To dissolve or not dissolve?
Sulaiman agreed that the sultan had the prerogative to use any means to decide whether to withhold consent to a dissolution request.
"But it is an impermissible jump to say, 'I find you to have lost the majority'. The sultan's prerogative is solely to decide whether to dissolve or not to dissolve [the state assembly]," Sulaiman said.
Nizar on the steps of the Putrajaya court complex. Flanking him are (left) Kuala Sepetang assemblyperson
Tai Sing Ng, and Nizar's wife Datin Seri Fatimah Taat
He contended that the sultan could not determine the majority confidence for the MB, as the correct avenue for that was a vote in the assembly. As such, Sulaiman deemed the number of assemblypersons on either side of the House as irrelevant to the case.
Both sides are also arguing on whether Nizar had correctly requested a dissolution using Article 36(2), which is a general provision for a request for dissolution. The article gives the sultan the power to summon the assembly, dissolve or prorogue it.
Nizar's lawyers argue that he rightfully submitted his dissolution request based on this article as he had not lost the majority confidence, but only that there was a hung assembly.
Zambry's lawyers, however, argue that Article 36(2) was the wrong basis to request dissolution and that Article 16(6) was the correct provision to make that request as they hold that Nizar had already lost the majority confidence.
Nizar's lawyers also contend, as did the High Court in its ruling, that there is a lacuna in 16(6) which did not address the issue of the MB's removal if he did not resign.
Sulaiman said that lacuna should not be filled by reading something into it "which is not there", such as giving the sultan, or the governor citing the Sarawak case, power to remove the MB.Abraham countered that 16(6) was "plain and clear" on the provision for the MB to resign or his office deemed vacant if he lost the majority confidence.