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Monday, August 3, 2009

Uncertainty grips Kg Buah Pala

2031: The villagers held a candlelight vigil and have now ended their gathering. Guan Eng was not in.

“We heard on the eight o’clock news that they are definitely coming in tomorrow to demolish,” said a worried villager.

2021: About 50 villagers, many of them children, are now gathered outside the Chief Minister’s residence. This has upset the Chief Minister’s people, who believe they have been trying hard to resolve the crisis and that certain quarters are making use of the villagers for their own ends.
The villagers, meanwhile, are desperate as the Cooperative has said it will carry out demolition tomorrow.

1700: Radio news announces that the developer has “rescheduled” its demolition to tomorrow to “allow residents more time to leave”.

But the residents appear to be standing firm and they are not going anywhere. Between 50 and 100 activists and residents – some of them sitting in the porches of houses and under a canopy near the main lane cutting through the village – are keeping watch at the village. Others have called it a day.

One villager told me they had never been offered RM200,000 each as compensation. “All that was talk – we have never seen anything in writing to that effect,” he said. What they were offered earlier was an apartment worth RM75,000, along with a temporary monthly rental, or RM90,000 cash.

They residents are also worried that the proposed double-storey terrace houses which the state is said to be trying to arrange as compensation could turn out to be small cluster ‘matchbox’ houses that would be too small for their extended families. It is not uncommon for each house here to be shared by several families.

Meanwhile, many are still waiting for the final outcome of the state investigative committee’s probe into the Kampong Buah Pala land transfer. What are the political interests (if any) and developer connections behind Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd? Who is the contractor for the Oasis project likely to be? And in particular, who is the main shareholder – Mohamad Faridz Karim of Balik Pulau, who has close to an 80 per cent interest in Nusmetro’s parent company, Asia Link-up Sdn Bhd?

1142: About a hundred demonstrators from Hindraf, MIC and PSM are at Komtar now. They have just handed over a memo for the chief minister.

USM students at Kg Buah Pala

Nik Aziz minta Najib buat benda sama

Crowd gathers, no sign of demolition - Malaysiakini

Some 300 people have gathered in support of the Kampung Buah Pala villagers in Penang after the deadline for the villagers to vacate the land expired yesterday.

Among those present are members of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), MIC, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) and non-government organisation Jerit.

Until now, there is no sign that the village would be demolished.

According to journalists on the ground, "There are no bulldozers, policemen or local council officers at the site."

Luxury condominium project

The villagers face eviction to pave the way for luxury condominium project, called the Oasis, to be built by Nusmetro Venture.

The developer has given the villagers until today to move out before their 20-odd houses are demolished to make way for the project.

However, the Penang government - which has come under intense pressure over the issue - last week revoked the development order and it is unclear whether the developer will proceed to evict the villagers tomorrow.

Yesterday, the Penang Government Officers Cooperative, the sole owner of the Kampung Buah Pala land, remained adamant that the houses would be demolished today.

Cooperative chairperson Abdul Razak Mansor said Nusmetro had been instructed to obey the Federal Court decision, which has granted ownership of the land to the cooperative.

"We are not cruel, but our decision to demolish the village still stands because the court has decided the land is ours," he said.

Sudanese lawyer calls woman's flogging punishment 'degrading'

(CNN) -- The lawyer for the woman who faces 40 lashes for wearing clothes that Sudan deemed indecent called the law "degrading."

Lubna al-Hussein was told she had trousers considered too tight and a blouse too transparent.

Lubna al-Hussein was told she had trousers considered too tight and a blouse too transparent.

"They ought to stop it," Nabil Adib said on Thursday. "It is quite unnecessary and degrading. It is harassment."

Lubna Al Hussein -- who writes for a newspaper and, until recently, worked for the media department of the U.N. mission in Sudan -- was arrested, along with 18 other women on July 3.

At the time of her arrest, she said, she was wearing pants, a blouse and a hijab or headscarf.

Police accused Hussein of wearing trousers that were too tight and a blouse that was too sheer, she said.

A hearing on the case has been scheduled for Tuesday. Adib, the lawyer, seemed confident that the court would drop the case.

The indecent clothing charge has only one punishment under Sudanese law -- 40 lashes in public, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

"These things have their ups and downs," Adib said. "These laws have generally relaxed as a matter of policy. But they are still sometimes enforced."

The Arabic Network humans rights organization said the threat of flogging was retaliation for Hussein writing critically about the Sudanese regime. However, Adib does not think his client was targeted.

"There are round-ups that they do and it is indiscriminate," he said. "I don't think she was targeted specifically. They attack public and private parties and groups. They are called 'morality police' and she was just a victim of a round-up."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called flogging "against the international human rights standards." He said he would take every effort to protect his staff member.

However, Hussein resigned from her position with the United Nations to avoid the immunity she would have received, Adib said.

Hussein said she will stand firm that she did nothing wrong.

Dr M: Anwar started street demo culture

(The Star) - Street demonstrations are not part of Malaysian culture, but something that was introduced by PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said there were other ways to uphold one’s causes.

“Holding a street demonstration is not our culture. It is a culture of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“He is the one who introduced street demonstration,” he told reporters here yesterday.

On the Government’s promise to review the ISA, Dr Mahathir said any amendment to the law should be tailored to the current situation.

“All laws, if need be, should be reviewed and designed according to the current situation. This is because things around us keep changing and it is not suitable if we are still using laws of the 18th century.

“It should be applicable for the present situation,” he added.

Enough of Pledges! We Need Actions!

Najib must act more as a chief executive and less a sultan satisfied merely with issuing endless titahs (edicts). Malaysia has enough sultans already with the nine that it has; there is little need to add to the roster.

CORRIDORS OF POWER

M. Bakri Musa

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s pledge to improve six key areas (crime, corruption and poverty reductions as well as education, infrastructure, and public transportation) would have met widespread applause if only he had indicated just a wee bit more on how he would go about achieving those lofty goals. Malaysians are rightly fed up with highly optimistic targets and stirring slogans; what we desperately need are leaders who could execute things and get us there.

Najib refers to those objectives as national “Key Results Areas” (KRAs). If he is not diligent and imaginative in the execution, Najib’s KRA could very well end up as KeRA (monkey). Kera would then join up with Najib’s earlier glokal Malay to be the next laughing stock of the nation.

The very manner in which Najib made the announcement does not give us much confidence. He made it at a huge gathering of civil servants and on a working day. Thus during that entire morning work at the various government offices was at a standstill.

More than likely the afternoon too was a washout, with those officers busy rehashing the speech. With their superiors absent, the subordinates would even be more sluggish than usual. I pity members of the public who had urgent businesses with the government on that day.

Najib has acquired one of the many bad habits of his predecessor. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi used to convene his ministry officials for a monthly lecture a la school assembly. And just like a headmaster, Abdullah would stand on the podium sermonising in his soporiferous monotone voice, putting everyone to sleep. That is, if he himself had not dozed off first. Of course work at the ministry would come to a screeching halt.

The Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Sidek Hassan has not thought of advising Najib to use other more effective and cheaper ways to communicate, like newsletters or even taping the message onto a CD and then distributing it. Perhaps Sidek is in awe of Najib, imagining him to be the civil service’s Steve Jobs. Apple’s Jobs used to gather his employees in a huge hall at the launch of a new product or to make significant announcements.

If only Najib has a fraction of Job’s charisma and executive ability, perhaps such large gatherings could be excused and defended as a means of rallying and inspiring the troops. Having seen the videotape of the assembly however, it was more a torture session, torture for those civil servants to remain awake!

Najib deludes himself if he thinks that simply assigning a responsible minister would solve the problem of execution. None of the six ministers he has selected had excelled themselves or impressed us with their executive talent. Tan Sri Muhyuddin Yassin, for education, has not “wowed” us with his flip flopping on the policy of teaching science and mathematics in school. As for Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, responsible for crime reduction, his previous tenure in Education did not enthrall us with his competence.

Then there is Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, responsible for infrastructure development. This poor soul has yet to explain the rapidly ballooning boondoggle that is the Port Klang Free Zone development scandal.

I would have been more impressed had Najib in assigning the areas of responsibility also indicated the price for non-performance. Would Hishammuddin be relieved of his Cabinet post should he fail to reduce the crime rate? Heads must role when there is a major lapse. That is the only way to make people accountable and take their responsibilities seriously. If there is no price to pay for failure, there is little incentive to perform, much less excel.

Take crime reduction; Najib is needlessly reinventing the wheel. All he has to do is revisit the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Police of four years ago. Along the same vein, if during the tenure of the present police chief Tan Sri Musa Hassan the crime rates have soared, that is compelling enough reason not to renew his contract.

My hunch is that Najib will renew Musa’s contracts, thus making a mockery of the commitment to crime reduction. Najib would do more for crime reduction by firing the glaringly ineffective and incompetent Musa Hassan. Otherwise all those lofty goals would merely be cakap kosong (empty talk), KRA morphing into KeRA.

Likewise in his battle to curb corruption, Najib would do well to get rid of the present director of MACC, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan. His agency’s record in the two latest high-profile cases is abysmal. Then there is the tragic death of one of its “friendly” witnesses.

Simply upgrading or renaming the old Anti-Corruption Agency to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission would not combat corruption if you are still stuck with the same personnel, procedures, and mindset.

A Better Approach

A more effective approach would have been for Najib to gather his assigned ministers and the relevant senior officers to a private meeting where he would lay out his goals and inquire from them the steps and initiatives they would recommend in reaching those goals.

Those meetings would be working sessions, dispensing with time-wasting unnecessary protocols. Everyone would literally roll up their sleeves. That is not the time to be in your three-piece suit. There is much heavy lifting to be done, with ideas critically examined, resources allocated, and markers put in place.

Such meetings would not only be cheap they would also not disrupt the normal workings of the various departments, especially if they are held outside regular office hours. Those meetings would be the time to monitor progress, get feedback, and modify strategies accordingly.

Najib’s meetings thus far have been heavy on press coverage and laudatory comments especially in the mainstream media. This is not the time for premature accolades; there will be plenty of time for that later when those objectives are achieved. Meanwhile we should all be critical lest these leaders get carried away with premature and unmerited applause.

Like his predecessor Abdullah, Najib is satisfied merely with making highly publicised public pronouncements instead of attending to the necessary nitty-gritty of governance. It is attention to such practical and mundane details on which the success or failure of a policy would depend.

Najib must act more as a chief executive and less a sultan satisfied merely with issuing endless titahs (edicts). Malaysia has enough sultans already with the nine that it has; there is little need to add to the roster.

Yes, please sue

Image

Yes, please sue. And please show us how the Minister of the Federal Territory computed these losses of RM100 million to RM200 million. And show us your tax records for the last three years to prove that these amounts are legitimate and not bullshit figures.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

So who's liable for the RM100 million?
Rocky’s Bru

A question for Lawyers. Before anyone attempts to answer the Q, know the background: Raja Nong Chik told a press conference yesterday that the City could have lost RM100 m - RM200 m as a result of Saturday's anti-ISA demo.

The FT Minister's estimate is bound to raise eyebrows and draw scoffs. But what if it's true?

Can anyone then be held responsible/accountable for the losses and damages?

In this age of transparency and good governance, shouldn't someone claim responsibility?

A lawyer friend of a friend of a friend said the Gerak Mansuh ISA, as the organiser of the demo, is liable. Meaning, I was told, that those who claim to have suffered losses and damages (which may include Sogo and Semua House, which had to close for business on that day; traders and hawkers; the LRT and bus operators; restaurants, etc) could actually sue the NGO.

Really?

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

Rocky has touched on a very important and relevant issue. As what he asked:

Can anyone then be held responsible/accountable for the losses and damages?

In this age of transparency and good governance, shouldn't someone claim responsibility?


I hope to see the owners of businesses who suffered losses launch legal action against the people behind Saturday’s march. The organisers are not that difficult to identify because they are not ‘underground’. In fact, they are very open and have many times held press conference, made statements, and issued press releases. So it is well documented as to who these people are.

Once the lawyers launch a civil suit on behalf of all the business owners, then the case can be rushed through the courts and the courts can come out with its quick decision and start assessing the damages the organisers will have to pay the business owners.

Of course, in their statement of claim, they will have to include all their statement of accounts to prove what their losses are. They will have to convince the court that on a normal Saturday afternoon they would be assured of a certain sales figure. And the profit on these sales would also have to be shown.

In other words, they would have to prove their losses by way of accounts and documentation. They cannot just claim they lost between RM100 million to RM200 million. They would have to prove this amount. And it can only be proven through historical records, meaning their accounts.

What profit do they normally make on their sales? For sake of argument, say it is 10%. This means they would need to sell RM1 billion to RM2 billion to make RM100 million to RM200 million.

A good way to prove these losses would be to show the court their tax payments for the last three years or so. The businesses that suffered losses would have to show what their declared sales figures were for the last three years or so according to the tax records submitted to the tax department. This would help prove that on one afternoon of two to three hours their sales were RM1 billion to RM2 billion.

In a full day that would be RM2 billion to RM4 billion -- since half a day it is RM1 billion to RM2 billion. Over a year that would come to RM700 billion to RM1,400 billion.

Okay, let’s round it off and take the average of the two. Based on the losses these business suffered on one Saturday afternoon of about two to three hours, their annual sales would have come to approximately RM1,000 billion.

Petronas earns only RM40 billion a year. Half of that is from Terengganu -- RM20 billion. Terengganu gets 5% of that RM20 billion or about RM1 billion a year in the form of royalty. It used to be only RM800 million but since the price of petroleum increased the royalty also increased to RM1 billion a year.

I don’t know whether this is correct because Petronas does not need to show us its accounts. But simple arithmetic tells us that if 5% translates to RM1 billion and if Terengganu produces 50% of the oil and gas, then it would have to be RM1 billion multiplied by 20 multiplied by 2. That comes to RM40 billion.

The largest income earner in this country earns RM40 billion a year. A few shops along one street in Kuala Lumpur earn RM1,000 billion a year. Hey, how not to earn RM1,000 billion if two to three hours of business comes to RM1 billion to RM2 billion? And how not to earn RM1 billion to RM2 billion in just two to three hours if you lose RM100 million to RM200 million in that same period?

Yes, please sue. And please show us how the Minister of the Federal Territory computed these losses of RM100 million to RM200 million. And show us your tax records for the last three years to prove that these amounts are legitimate and not bullshit figures.

I just hope your tax records tally with what you claim or else the tax people are going to grab you by the balls and squeeze hard. The penalty for tax evasion is ten times what you evaded. That is going to come to tens of billions in penalties.

See you in court, soon, I hope.

Hidup Rakyat! Mansuhkan ISA! Mampoi BN!

By Harris Ibrahim,

Malaysianinsider reports that, following upon the anti-ISA rally on Saturday, Minister Nazri Aziz said that ‘As long as Barisan Nasional is leading the government, the ISA will not be abolished’.

Well, Nazri, some 5,000 of those who rallied and who were able to make their way to the PAS headquarters at Jalan Raja Laut had this to say to you and your colleagues :

at pas hq1

Hidup Rakyat! Mansuhkan ISA! Mampoi BN!

Again and again they chanted this, even as the call came from the Pakatan leaders assembled just outside the PAS HQ for the rally participants to disperse.

at pas hq2

Hidup Rakyat! Mansuhkan ISA! Mampoi BN!

And if you think this was a PAS crowd, Nazri, I’d urge you to take a closer look at the photos here and the numerous other blogs that are carrying the news of yesterday’s people power gathering.

at pas hq3

Yes, Nazri, as long as BN is in government!

Get your boss to call for a fresh general election a month from now if you dare!

_________________________________________________

Nanda was going to take up an initial position at the Masjid Jamek station whlist several others and I were going to head to Sogo.

At 9.51am yesterday, got the following sms from Nanda : Cops assembled in the parking lot in front of central market

Nanda sent the following sms at 10.08am : Road in front of bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad blocked. SBs around with video cameras.Spotted some PAS people.

At 10.14am, Nanda sent the following : Cops n SB around asjid Jamek area. Spotted at least 1 truck.

Lil Hummingbird alerted me of the following at 10.18am : Heli flying overhead @ sogo

Nanda sms’d again at 10.58am : Arrest at Masjid Jamek. A guy. Cops asked him to open his bag n found t-shirts. I think its unit amal t-shirts

Lil Hummingbird sent this sms at 11.59am : People being arrested near sogo

At 1.23pm, Nanda sent the following : Pasar Seni more arrests. Masjid Jamek effectively dispersed I would say

Nanda sent this at 1.29pm : Reporters are saying they’ll also be moving to Sogo shortly. Masjid Jamek effectively shut down id say

Lil Hummingbird sent this sms at 1.38pm : Checking ID n contents of bags for related materials n arresting at Nat Mosque

This sms from Nanda at 1.39pm : Cops standing by in front of Masjid Jamek waiting for people to come out after prayers

Angel, Danny, Teh and I arrived at Sogo at almost 1.45pm. This is the state that we found awaiting us.

The first hint of things to come

The first hint of things to come

The early croowd at Sogo

The early croowd at Sogo

Nanda sent in this sms at 1.57pm : They charged they beat up they arrest. Tear gas fired

I called Norlaila of GMI, who I was to meet at Sogo. She told me that she had been arrested and was being held in a FRU truck in Cheras.

Not good.

Then a sudden flurry of activity on the side of Sogo where the side road linked to Raja Laut at the back.

This group of ladies started to make a beeline for somewhere

This group of ladies started to make a beeline for somewhere

distraction

distraction1

It only dawned on some of us later that this move by this group of ladies might have been intended to draw away attention to what was to be the first push by many of those at Sogo to begin the march to the Istana.

The rally, for those at Sogo, it seemed, had started.

People starting to mve down Jalan TAR

People starting to mve down Jalan TAR

first move starts1

first move starts2

first move starts3

The cops quickly moved in.

police reaction to first movepolice reaction to first move1

police reaction to first move2

police reaction to first move3

The first move to get to the palace was brought to a halt.

The rakyat's surge forward halted

The rakyat's surge forward halted

For a while, confusion seemed to set in.

brief confusion after first move halted

Then, suddenly, without any sound of gun fire, tear gas filled the stretch of Jalan TAR where we were.

Danny later said he suspected that this tergassing was probably done by a plant. Plausible.

Doesn’t matter how may times you’ve been hit by tear gas, you just never get used to it.

Your throat singes, and your eyes burn.

Ordinary folk started to share rock salt and water with the many who, it seems, came unprepared.

Najib, if you chance to read this, this is our version of 1Malaysia, something you and your cabinet will probably never, ever understand.

Then the brute force kicked in.

bully boys brought in first round

bully boys brought in first round1

bully boys brought in first round2

And then arrests.

first arrestfirst arrest1

And just as some of us started to feel as if, like Masjid Jamek, the crowd at Sogo, too, had been beaten by the cops, a second push to get to the istana took off.

Allah Akhbar rings through the air!

Allah Akhbar rings through the air!

Strangely, though, upon reaching Coliseum, they stopped and, after a while, started back in the direction of Sogo.

second move starts1walking back

Baffled, I asked a pakcik why. He replied that someone in the crowd had given instructions to do so.

My immediate concern was whether this was the work of a plant.

I needn’t have worried.

As this group headed back in the direction of Sogo, another large group, seemingly appearing from nowhere, and also starting from Coliseum, also started to move in the direction of Sogo.

second group

At some point, the two groups merged.

mergermerger1

And from this merged group, leadership emerged.

YB Nasir Hashim leads the charge

YB Nasir Hashim leads the charge

Lil hummingbird sent this in at 2.18pm : Anil reports big time confusion for police now. Thousands instead of moving to Istana r now face to face with police at Jln TAR

The crowd continued in the direction of Sogo.

fm

What was going on? Wasn’t the istana the destination?

Word slowly filtered back.

Destination ‘Istana’ aborted.

The crowd had now reached the junction of Jalan TAR - Jalan Dang Wangi. Unit Amal proved once again to be invaluable in controlling the crowd

The crowd had now reached the junction of Jalan TAR - Jalan Dang Wangi. Unit Amal proved once again to be invaluable in controlling the crowd

The crowd now negotiated into that part of Jalan Dang Wangi that leads into Jalan Raja Laut, whilst the police there could only watch helplessly.

dang wangi - raja lautdang wangi - raja laut1

hp

hp1

The crowd was now feted to fiery speeches and were told that the rally would not be proceeding to the istana.

YB Salahuddin Ayub

YB Salahuddin Ayub

...followed by GMI's Syed Ibrahim

...followed by GMI's Syed Ibrahim

...and lastly YB Tian Chua

...and lastly YB Tian Chua

It was now about 2.30pm.

Amal unit boys readied the crowd to turn into Raja Laut in the direction of Dataran Merdeka.

final movefinal move1

to face sheer brute force.

bbw1bbw2

Without any prior warning to disperse, they went to work.

The chemical-laced water cannons were the first despatched out

The chemical-laced water cannons were the first despatched out

Even if you were not hit by the water, the remnants on the road emitted a nauseous odour

Even if you were not hit by the water, the remnants on the road emitted a nauseating odour

Then it was time to unleash the teargas.

ready to charge

Volley after volley was fired in the direction of the crowd

Volley after volley was fired in the direction of the crowd

teargas

teargas1

The crowd dispersed.

At 2.42pm, a commentator to this blog sms’d me : This is historic. Bersih’s not the record any more

I caught up with Danny. We’d heard that the order was out to arrest the Unit Amal boys.

We saw it first hand as we headed back to Sogo.

Arrested in Sogo

Arrested in Sogo

Also arrested in Sogo

Also arrested in Sogo

At 3.05pm Nanda sms’d this : In front of pejabat Agung PAS

Nanda again at 3.07pm : Anwar on his way.Road is blocked, bus also stuck

Danny and I caught up with Angel on Jalan TAR and decided to head out to the PAS HQ.

Nanda at 3.24 : Anwar, Hadi etc juz arived in front of PAS HQ

We reached the HQ about 3.30pm, just in time to catch the tailend of DSAI’s speech.

Lil Hummingbird sent this in at 3.25pm : Sivarasa just arrested at Sogo

____________________________________________

My estimate of the crowd at Sogo : 10,000 – 15,000

However, it was not so much the size of the crowd that got to me.

Firstly, the number of youth who turned up and were passionate about the issue. This was encouraging.

And contrary to what I had expected, this was not a predominantly PAS crowd. It was a good mix.

I spoke to some of the youth in the crowd.

This was one Malay youth’s response, which typified the views of the others I spoke to.

“Tak boleh buat tak tahu lagilah, bang. Kerajaan zalim. BN dah tak boleh caya, dah”.

This was a response from a young Chinese lady.

“If we don’t want the ISA, we have to fight, lah. Who else is going to fight for us?”.

There is hope yet for our nation.

Najib, call for fresh general elections next month if you dare!