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Friday, August 28, 2009

Kidnapped girl found after 18 years

Jaycee Dugard was 11-years-old when she was abducted as she walked to a bus stop near her home

(Al Jazeera)A girl from California who was abducted 18 years ago at the age of 11 has been found alive, US police have said.

Jaycee Dugard had been missing since she was abducted in 1991 near her home in South Lake Tahoe, east of the city of San Francisco, by two people in a grey sedan.

According to police during her years in captivity her kidnapper had fathered two children with her and kept all three living in tents and sheds behind his house.

"It's a pretty spectacular story just to find someone like that. Someone we assumed was dead," said Bill Clark, the chief assistant district attorney for El Dorado County, east of the state capital of Sacramento.

Dugard's alleged kidnapper - Phillip Craig Garrido - a registered sex offender in California who had previously been jailed for rape and kidnapping, and Nancy Garrido, were both in custody after being arrested on Wednesday, police said.

Suspicions raised

Detectives said suspicions were first raised after Garrido tried to enter a nearby university campus to pass out leaflets with his two daughters.

"Just total shock you know, after 18 years"

Carl Probyn,

His interaction with the two young girls - aged 11 and 15 - raised suspicion and police looked into his background.

The next day, during a visit to his parole officer, Garrido brought his wife, the two girls and another woman named Allissa - who later proved to be Dugard.

Fred Kollar, the El Dorado County Undersheriff told Reuters news agency that Dugard was healthy, but said that "living in a backyard the last 18 years must take its toll".

"None of the children had ever been to school, none had been to a doctor, they were kept in complete isolation in this compound, if you will, at the house."

'Total shock'

Dugard was walking to a bus stop near her home when she was kidnapped.

Carl Probyn, the girl's stepfather, told local television that "we both cried for about 10 minutes" after he and her mother were informed by the authorities that she had been found alive.

"Just total shock you know, after 18 years. When my wife called me and basically said 'are you sitting down?' I said 'yeah' and she goes 'they found Jaycee'. And she paused for 10 seconds, and she goes 'she's alive'."

Amid the continuing investigation, Dugard has been reunited with her mother at a secret location near San Francisco.

Press statement – HINDRAF to seek audience with PM Najib Abdul Razak

On April 10, 2009, HINDRAF as a gesture of goodwill took a stance to provide a 100 days performance benckmark for the new administration under Najib Abdul Razak to address and redress the issues facing the Malaysian Indians.

The 100 days is up and HINDRAF on August 27, 2009 at 2.00pm will be submitting a memorandum in his office similar to what we did under Ahmad Badawi’s administration two years ago.

HINDRAF, in good faith wishes that that the Najib administration will not shun us away as what had been done by the previous administration but rather embrace and grant us an opportunity whereby we will be able to raise our 18 point demand to seek amicable and workable solutions for the systematically marginalized and discriminated Malaysian Indians.

We hope that the Najib administration that have been highlighting the One Malaysia concept will live up to it and listen to the grievances brought forward by HINDRAF on the discrimination and marginalization Malaysian Indians through uneven and discriminative policies to participate for the betterment of the nation.

Thank you.


HINDRAF Chairman

Kampung Buah Pala - Can UMNO help?

Hindraf submits memo seeking audience with PM

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani

PUTRAJAYA, A 12 member group led by Hindraf national coordinator, S. Jayathas, submitted a memorandum at the prime minister’s office.

The memorandum asked for a meeting with the prime minister in two weeks time in order to discuss on Hindraf’s 18 point demands.

The Hindu activist group handed in their first memorandum to the former prime minister Tun Abdullah Badawi two years ago but did not receive any response.

In a press statement, Hindaf Chairman P. Waythamoorthy said that he hopes that Datuk Seri Najib Razak would not ignore them like the previous administration.

“Hindraf, in good faith, wishes that the Najib administration will grant us an opportunity whereby we will be able to raise our 18 point demands to seek amicable and workable solutions for the systematically marginalized and discriminated Malaysian Indians,” he said.

Waythamoorthy hopes that Najib will fulfill the 1 Malaysia promise and listen to the “grievances brought forward by Hindraf.”

Jayathas also pointed out that 1 Malaysia was about equality for all races.

“Until now there is no implementation of the 18 point demand. The Prime Minister says 1 Malaysia and we believe that if it is truly 1 Malaysia, then everybody will be treated equally. One Malaysia is equal rights but what is happening now is just lip service and hearsay.

“We are not asking for more than the rights of other people but what we are asking is for equal rights,” Jayathas told The Malaysian Insider.

Dr Oh Ei Sun, political secretary to the prime minister, was present to receive the memorandum and told Jayathas that he would convey the message to Najib.

“In this month of Ramadan, Islam says that everybody is equal. I hope the prime minister will practice this in the beautiful month of Ramadan,” Jayathas said.

Hindraf’s 18 point demands include the call for all 523 Tamil schools in Malaysia to be fully aided by the government and an end to “racism, Islamic extremism and Malay privileges.”



The coroner court had postponed it’s judgement on Inquest of TV Drama Actress cum Secreatry to Maika Holdings CEO Sujatha Krishnan . Initially , Jalan Duta Magistrate court was expected to deliver it’s judgement on Aug 26. The coroner now have set Sept 10 as new date of judgement.

High Court Judge Dato T S Nathan allowed with cost Kapar MP’s application for interrogatories on Aug 17, 2009. The court ordered former Sentul OCPD ACP K Kumaran to answer series of questions that Manikavasagam demanded.

It could be better of Coroner could postpone his judgement until it evaluate K Kumaran’s reply.

No bridge, so no food for Penans

(The Star) MIRI: The food shortage problem in central Sarawak has been worsened after a timber company dismantled an iron bridge that links up to 3,000 people living inside the remote areas.

Efforts to send food aid to the Penans have now been seriously hampered.

Yesterday, more than 1,600 packets of rice weighing 16,000kg were despatched by donors through the Catholic Church.

However, the food supply is stuck at the Sungai Asap settlement, about 50km from the Bakun Dam, as timber lorries used to deliver the food cannot cross the Sungai Linau after the dismantling of the bridge.

The timber concession area was earmarked for flooding this October to create a reservoir for the dam.

Reverend Father Sylvester Ding, aid collection co-ordinator, said it would take a long time to carry food aid across the river by boat.

“We are in a dilemma as to how to send the food to Lusong Laku settlement and SRK Lusong Laku where the food shortage is most acute.

“We have no choice but to seek help from the locals to transport the food across the river.

“We will also try to reach five other settlements near the Indonesian border by other routes. We hope the weather will be favourable, as it has been a few weeks since supply reached those in need,” he said.

The Star journalist who joined the food aid mission saw a truck laden with food items stranded at the Sungai Asap settlement.

On Aug 7, the timber company clarified that the iron bridge was only built in March, and that the Penans in the area had been able to travel to Bintulu or Kapit before the bridge was built.

The company spokesman also said it was untrue the natives in the interior would be cut off without the bridge, adding that the company had helped the local communities in various ways, such as helping them build longhouses or provide jobs.

The spokesman was responding to an earlier story in Sunday Star saying that the timber company planned to dismantle the bridge as it was pulling out of the area after completing its logging activities.

The decision was reported to have caused an uproar among the natives.

Jawapan Saya

By Zaid Ibrahim,

Sejak saya mula “blogging” dua bulan dahulu, komen yang paling banyak dan hangat saya terima ialah mengenai tulisan saya yang paling mutakhir sekali. Saya mengutarakan pendapat dalam tiga hal. Pertama, mengenai arahan Exco Kerajaan Negeri Selangor Hassan Ali dari PAS mengenai usaha menangkap mereka yang minum arak dan sesiapa sahaja yang terlibat dengan penjualan arak di Selangor itu sebagai satu tindakan yang tidak wajar. Kedua, pendapat saya supaya Pemuda PAS tak perlu melarang atau mendesak pembatalan konsert Michael Learns To Rock di Genting. Ketiga dan akhir sekali, mengenai hukuman rotan terhadap Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno kerana minum beer. Saya tidak bercadang mengulangi pendirian saya yang ditulis sebelum ini selain dari menjawab beberapa komen yang pedas dan hangat tetapi sayangnya tidak berasas dan menyeleweng dari isu sebenar.

Menegenai cadangan Hassan Ali itu, saya mengatakan arahannya sukar dilaksanakan kerana melibatkan banyak isu, termasuklah kuasa Raja dan polis. Juga ianya tidak sepatut dibuat pada hari orang mengundi di Permatang Pasir kerana hal-hal kontroversi boleh merugikan Pakatan Rakyat dan PAS. Saya lebih memikirkan masa depan PAS kerana sekarang ini sudah mula diterima oleh orang Islam dan bukan Islam. Jadi dalam soal mentadbir kita mesti teliti, berhati-hati dan berhemah. Jangan menampakkan diri kita ini ekstrem. Itulah cara kita menjaga hati rakyat; terutama yang lain kepercayaan dari kita. Tetapi kalau cadangan Hassan Ali ini dipersetujui oleh pihak-pihak yang bertanggung jawab, dan juga memberi keuntungan kapada PAS, buat sajalah. Adalah tidak adil bagi sesetengah pembaca membuat tuduhan yang menghina saya secara peribadi dalam soal ini. Soal tunduk kepada tekanan orang bukan Islam tidak timbul sama sekali.

Mengenai konsert itu, saya cuma mencadangkan kepada Pemuda PAS supaya berikhtiar memikirkan masalah negara yang jauh lebih serius seperti rasuah, penyalahgunaan kuasa dan sebagainya. Ini semua punca keruntuhan masyarakat dan tamadun. Pemuda PAS boleh berusaha secara proaktif membela nasib orang miskin dan kurang upaya. Mereka sepatutnya memberi tumpuan kepada isu pengangguran orang muda yang sekian hari makin bertambah. Soal kesan muzik Barat kepada anak muda kita, carilah pendekatan yang lain yang tidak perlu sampai melarang orang lain yang nak tonton. Disiplin diri kan lebih baik kalau diajar dan dilatih terlebih dahulu. Manusia mana pun tak suka dipaksa. Lagi pun lagu-lagu pop boleh dibeli atau diperolehi dimana-mana, dan Michael Learns To Rock ialah kugiran tahun 90-an yang sesuai kepada orang yang lebih dewasa yang sudah pasti lebih tahu menjaga moral dan nilai hidup mereka.

Dalam soal rotan wanita yang minum beer itu, banyak komen saya terima. Kesemuanya penuh emosi tetapi jelas banyak yang tidak memahami isu sebenar. Sebagai contoh, pertubuhan NGO yang menggelar diri mereka Pembela Islam telah dengan bongkaknya memberi amaran kepada Peguam Negara dan Kerajaan Pusat supaya tidak masuk campur dalam soal Mahkamah Syariah. Mereka juga marah-marah kepada pihak yang tidak setuju dengan hukuman itu dengan menuduh orang yang berbeza pandangan dengan mereka sebagai orang yang tidak menghormati Islam. Pada masa yang sama, mereka konon nya merujuk kepada undang-undang dan Perlembagaan Persekutuan sebagai asas hujah mereka itu. Jadi saya terpaksa memperjelaskan isu ini sekali lagi. Ingat ya, saya menyentuh mengenai undang-undang yang ada di negara kita.

Undang-undang Syariah adalah undang-undang negeri, iaitu digubal oleh Dewan Undangan Negeri. Mengikut Perkara 75 Perlembagaan Persekutuan, undang-undang negeri, termasuk enakmen agama Islam, mestilah tidak bercanggah dengan undang undang Persekutuan dan Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Kalau bercanggah, maka ia tidak sah. Jadi bila kita katakan hukuman rotan Mahkamah Syariah Negeri Pahang itu tidak sah, ia adalah kerana undang-undang Persekutuan atau “Federal law” di Malaysia melarang wanita dirotan. Jadi hukuman rotan itu dalam kes khusus itu tidak sah. Ini bukan bererti kita menolak Islam atau undang-undang Islam. Undang-undang Syariah Negeri Pahang mestilah tak lari dan bercanggah dengan Muslim Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 dan juga Criminal Procedure Code (rujuk Seksyen 289). Oleh kerana ianya bercanggah, maka hukuman rotan terhadap wanita itu tidak sah. Saya harap Pembela dan penyokong mereka, terutamanya peguam-peguam di kalangan mereka, selalu membaca dan terus membaca supaya dapat mengeluarkan pandangan yang jujur, benar dan tepat.

Tidak semua tokoh Islam sependapat dalam semua perkara. Ini sememangnya hikmah dalam kebebasan bersuara dalam Islam sejak zaman-berzaman lagi; malah di kalangan imam-iman besar dahulu pun ada perbezaan pendapat. Dalam kes yang kita bincangkan ini, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf dan beberapa intelek serta ulama Islam juga berpendapat hukuman rotan tidak wajar untuk kesalahan minum arak. Kata mereka arak itu lebih banyak buruk dari baik nya. Jadi jauhkanlah diri dari arak. Ini bukan saya kata, ini kata mereka.

Malah, pada bulan Mei yang lalu, Mahkamah Persekutuan Syariah Pakistan yang terdiri daripada Ketua Hakim Besar Haziqul Khairi, Hakim Sallahudin Mirza dan Hakim Fida Mohamad telah membuat keputusan sebulat suara – setelah mendengar hujah dan pandangan ahli fikir dan ulama Islam – bahawa Al-Quran tidak menetapkan hukuman rotan kerana minum arak. Ketiga-tiga hakim itu memerintahkan kerajaan Pakistan supaya meminda undang-undang Syariah yang sedia ada. Untuk pengetahuan umum, undang-undang Syariah di Pakistan lebih keras dan tegas daripada undang-undang Syariah di negeri Pahang. Terpulanglah kepada ulama dan ahli fikir Islam di Malaysia untuk menilai dan menimbang perkara ini.

Apa pun hujah dan pandangan kita janganlah mudah menuduh orang yang berfikiran lain dari kita itu sebagai musuh Islam. Kita tahu Islam itu bermahzab dan banyak pula para imamnya. Jika Islam dijadikan seperti satu pasukan bolasepak yang kita sokong, termasuk membenci dan mencaci pasukan lawan, maka akan hancurlah Islam itu sendiri. Tak mungkin orang Melayu/Islam akan maju kalau pemikiran sempit dan jumud menjadi petunjuk. Islam menggalakkan kita mencari ilmu. Kalau kita sendiri menutup pintu ilmu dan merasakan diri sudah pandai, sukar untuk kita kembali ke zaman gemilang Islam seperti dahulu.

Kalau kita mahu nilai dan hukum Islam berjaya dilaksanakan, maka kita perlu kepada pemikir dan ulama Islam yang jujur, pintar dan berhemah, yang juga tahu bagaimana untuk menggubal undang-undang yang tidak bercanggah dengan undang undang Persekutuan. Ini bukan soal tunduk kepada sesiapa atau apa-apa; ia juga bukan soal nak tunjuk megah dan bongkak serta tak mahu bertolak ansur. Ia adalah soal hikmah untuk memastikan undang-undang Islam itu sah dipakai dan tidak dipertikaikan orang. Masa saya kecil-kecil dahulu pun, orang di kampung saya sudah diajar awal-awal lagi tentang sejarah dakwah Nabi Muhammad S.A.W. setelah mendapat wahyu di Makkah. Tiada paksaan sama sekali melainkan menyampaikan dakwah
dengan cara yang sopan, mulia dan terhormat walaupun berada di tengah-tengah masyarakat Jahiliah.

PM: Don’t let crisis affect BN

By Adib Zalkapli - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today warned MCA leaders not to let their internal crisis cause Barisan Nasional to lose its support.

"I have said that I have to uphold BN's principle that disciplinary matters are the discretion of the component party leaders," Najib told a press conference, saying that BN's position must be taken into consideration by the parties involved.

He said he would have to wait until the bickering parties in MCA are willing to accept a mediator to resolve the internal problems.

"Now both sides are adamant and refuse to budge," he said.

"But do not let it affect support for MCA and BN," said Najib.

MCA's crisis worsened on Tuesday when the party's disciplinary committee sacked deputy president Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek for tarnishing the party's image. He was involved in a sex video which was circulated in late 2007.

Dr Chua resigned from all party and government posts soon after the video surfaced.

The decision to sack the former health minister was seen as an attempt by president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat to strengthen his position in the party.

In retaliation to the sacking, another faction in MCA is now trying to call for an EGM to oust Ong.

The political costs of caning Kartika

Kartika’s controversial case has put the country in the spotlight. — Reuters pic

By Farish A. Noor

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — Malaysia has long tried to cultivate the image of being a moderate Muslim state that can serve as a model for others. Particularly in the wake of the attacks on the United States in September 2001, successive prime ministers have worked hard to ensure that Malaysia would remain on the list of moderate Muslim states that could serve as the bridge between the Western and Muslim worlds.

Today, that image stands to take a significant pounding, thanks to a relatively isolated incident that has managed to grab headlines worldwide: A Malay-Muslim woman by the name of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno is set to be caned for the offence of drinking alcohol in public. Kartika's case has bedevilled lawmakers of Malaysia for the simple reason that nobody seems to know what to do about it.

Kartika was found guilty of drinking beer in Pahang. The religious authorities in the state found her guilty of committing a syariah offence, and she was fined and sentenced to six strokes of the cane. Kartika herself pleaded guilty to the charges. But what baffles many observers is that the former model said she was prepared to be caned, and what is more, to be caned in public.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has asked if Malaysia would celebrate its independence day (on Aug 31) with the caning of a Muslim woman. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has himself asked Kartika to appeal against her sentence. Needless to say, the case has brought Malaysia to the world's attention for all the wrong reasons.

The problem that this case poses for Malaysia is complex. For a start, Kartika's case was handled by the Syariah Court of Pahang, raising the question of whether the federal government can intervene to save her.

Adding to the confusion is the problematic and complicated relationship between religion and politics in the country. The borderline between Islam and politics has grown increasingly blurred after three decades of state-driven Islamisation. The enfeebled ruling Umno is now trying its best to defend its own Islamic credentials in the face of the opposition PAS. At the same time, Umno would not like to gain the same reputation as the Taliban of Afghanistan.

PAS in turn is likewise split in its conscience, between moderates who wish to push the democratisation agenda and conservatives who want more Islamisation. Already in Selangor, where PAS came into power as part of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition, moral policing has been introduced by the conservative PAS leader Datuk Hasan Ali, who has called for religious functionaries to arrest Muslims who go against Islamic law.

PAS conservatives may feel that their electoral gains have given them the green light to further Islamise the country. They have thus called for a ban on the sale of alcohol and music concerts. But in the wider context of international politics, Malaysia is looking more and more like a parochial state where books are banned and people are whipped for doing things that would be regarded as perfectly normal elsewhere.

Malaysia's conservative Islamists, their religious convictions notwithstanding, do not seem to understand why the international community is upset with the idea of a woman being caned for drinking a pint. Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria, for instance, has wondered why a fuss should be made over a woman receiving six lashes when, in his opinion, she should be receiving 80 lashes.

It is this sense of disconnect that adds a surreal air to the goings-on in Malaysia today. The government is concerned that failure to enact Islamic law will compromise its standing in the eyes of conservative Muslims in the country. But to have Kartika caned would jeopardise the country's image internationally. Like it or not, Malaysia still depends on trade with the developed Western world, not Afghanistan.

This, then, is the dilemma that Malaysia faces at the moment, and there seems little consensus on how to proceed. Kartika's caning has been postponed for now. One thing, however, is certain: The costs of caning Kartika are simply too high. Should Malaysia cane her, it would have jumped one rung up the Islamisation ladder. After that, there may be no turning back. — Straits Times

Who is MB of Selangor? Hassan or Khalid?

By Haris Ibrahim,

Spoke to Selangor Exco member, X, about the Malaysiakini report yesterday of the press conference by Hassan Ali where he talked about the possibility in the future of action being taken against Muslims working in breweries in Selangor, suggesting that this would be implemented in three stages – awareness, education and enforcement.

I asked if this was indeed a policy that the Exco was going along with.

“Are you mad? Do you think we are all mad?”, X retorted.

“Hassan is doing his own thing.

He’s got it in his head that this is a sure way to please the 53% Muslim population in Selangor”, X explained.

I replied that given his move to get mosque officials to go out and nab Muslims drinking alcohol in the state, thus acknowledging that not all Muslims in the state necessarily see eye to eye with him on the issue of alcohol, surely he must realise that not all Muslims in the state would approve of what he is doing.

“Huh, even Hadi told him that he should not try and import the ways of Terengganu and Kelantan into Selangor as the Muslims in Selangor are not quite the same, but Hassan is not bothered”, came the response.

I ask ed if this latest move was no more than Hassan off on a frolic of his own, why were the other Exco members not speaking up to shout him down.

“Look, if the non-Muslim Exco members come out in opposition, they’re branded anti-Islam by Hassan’s goons out there. If the Muslim Exco members speak up, even worse. They’ll be condemned as sesat or murtad,”, X lamented.

Can’t Khalid do anything, I asked.

“Tricky situation, lah”, was the reply.

Can’t the top Pakatan leadership get him to toe the line, I shot back.


Is Hassan trying to destabilise the Selangor government, I probed.

“Looks that way. Seems like he’s working with UMNO again. We’ve suspected this for some time now”, X confessed.

And the Pakatan top leadership cannot do a thing about this, I asked.

The state government and the people are all being dictated to by this bozo, I suggested. Looked like Hassan was MB after all.


More was said. I’ll share the rest on another occasion.

After I left this meeting, I sent out the following sms to every Pakatan MP and ADUN in my phone directory.

“If pakatan do not rein in hassan ali, there will be a price to pay.”

Who wants 1Malaysia?

By Marion D'Cruz

I REALLY do not want 1Malaysia. The idea scares me. And I certainly do not want unity as suggested by the powers-that-be.

In fact, "unity" is really an extremely dated, superficial and abstract concept — a "nice" word that means nothing in real terms. "Unity in Diversity", "mutual trust and respect" — these are all terms that are being tossed around by a government that has thrived on sloganistic garbage for too long.

As a people, we are getting pretty smart. And we are surely smart enough to know that the slogans have never been translated into concrete action. And therefore one really wonders at why such words and terms are tossed around at all.

A few years ago there was a "Courtesy Campaign" — all over there were slogans, banners, ads. And since then we have, in fact, become a rude, surly people. We are not nice, we do not smile, we do not say thank you. Every time I let a car cut in in front of me in a traffic jam or something, I wait and look for some acknowledgement, but it very rarely comes.

No. I am not interested in 1Malaysia. I am tired of slogans. I just want simple truths. I want real hard work. I want some rigorous thinking. I want honesty and integrity. I want excellence in place of the mediocrity we thrive on.

I want to know why Teoh Beng Hock was called in for questioning at 5pm and questioned through the night for more than 10 hours. When did we become this insane? Why is this happening here in Malaysia? Is this part of a new strategy for "mutual trust and respect" to "renew Malaysia" for this great journey ahead? "People First. Performance Now"? Really? And I really want to know why Teoh Beng Hock was found dead. I also want to know what really happened to A Kugan?

Sudden Death, an improvisational performance held at the Annexe, Central Market, on 6 Aug
in memory of Teoh Beng Hock (Pic by Grey Yeoh)

And in this new 1Malaysia of mutual trust and respect, I want to know why we still have detention without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA). I want to know why my friend who was arrested in the ISA rally on 1 Aug 2009 was kept in the lockup two days after his arrest. The law says that once arrested, you must be either released or charged within 24 hours. But there was no charge, no release, no hearing during his first 24 hours of detention. This is against the law.

And I want to be able to explain to my very angry students why, even with their finest results, they could not get a place in local universities.

Why just 1?

I am not interested in 1Malaysia. I am instead interested in Many Malaysias. I am interested in the idea that it is our diversity that is our strength. Not even unity in diversity. Just diversity and inclusiveness. The idea that we are many stories, many ideas, many possibilities, many bodies, many interpretations, multiplicity — all converging and diverging as well. I am interested in the alternative possibilities, the alternative stories, the alternative histories.

But right now, even this is meaningless. Even this is mere rhetoric. Right now, I really just want to know what really happened to Teoh Beng Hock. The truth.

NGOs want anti-graft action at UN meeting

KUALA LUMPUR - Act effectively to stamp out corruption.

This was the forceful message to over 100 countries that are signatories to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the most comprehensive global legal instrument to prevent and fight corruption.

The push for 136 governments to adopt a transparent, accountable and effective system to monitor progress in achieving anti-corruption commitments was made by 239 non-governmental organisations from 73 countries.

In a statement, the NGOs have issued under the umbrella UNCAC Coalition - a network of civil society organisations supporting the UN Convention - they listed specific ways to monitor the way the convention is carried out as they urged countries to do more than pay lip service. The statement was submitted on Aug 25 to governments meeting at the United Nations in Vienna for a last round of negotiations prior to the UNCAC’s Third Conference of States Parties to be held in November.

Monitoring system

It calls for a monitoring system that is supported by a well-resourced secretariat; assisted by a group of independent experts; based on tested review methods, including peer review and country visits; participatory, involving civil society organisations and other stakeholders; transparent, resulting in published country reports with recommendations; carried out in coordination with regional review mechanisms; and funded from the regular UN budget or assessed contributions, supplemented as needed by voluntary contributions.

Though the governments involved have agreed on the review mechanism in 2006, its adoption has been hobbled by a small group of countries who opposed guarantees on transparency and civil society participation.

“Blocking the progress of monitoring is unacceptable if countries truly do want to implement standards and requirements to prevent, detect, investigate and sanction acts of corruption“, said Transparency International Conventions programme manager Gillian Dell.

Transparency International is among various groups that have signed the statement, including the International Federation of Journalists, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam International and Amnesty International.

Strange death in Kuala Kangsar police quarters

by Nathaniel Tan

pre-script: I’m having problems with my phone, so apologies to anyone trying to SMS or call :(

I’m not one to jump to premature conclusions, but it sure looks like a police station simply ain’t a particularly safe place for a Malaysian to be. What was this woman doing at the police quarters anyway? Well, like I said, no premature conclusions…

KUALA KANGSAR, Aug 27 (Bernama) — A 20-year-old woman, believed to have fallen from a three-storey police quarters at the Kuala Kangsar police headquarters, was found dead here Thursday.

Kuala Kangsar Police Chief Supt Abdul Ghafar Mohamad said the victim, Kwek Lee May from Taman Chandan Puteri, was found dead with serious injuries on her head and body at 8am Thursday.

Abdul Ghafar said her body was sent to the Kuala Kangsar Hospital for post-mortem.

He added that before the incident, the woman was seen lingering at the District office nearby and could have entered the police quarters later but nobody saw her entering the quarters until a number of residents saw her lying in a pool of blood.

Police have classified the case as suicide but investigations would go on to find the motive, he said.

U.S. Democrats Scramble On Health Reforms Post-Kennedy

The casket of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy is carried from the family complex by members of a United States military honor guard in Hyannisport, Massachusetts August 27, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar
By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Donna Smith

BOSTON/WASHINGTON, 28 Aug (Reuters) -- Democrats scrambled on Thursday to quickly fill the seat of Senator Edward Kennedy, to shore up President Barack Obama's faltering effort to rally Congress behind an overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.

Members of America's most storied political dynasty said a private farewell to the Kennedy patriarch at a Mass in their Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, compound before accompanying his body to Boston for public tributes on Friday at the John F. Kennedy presidential library and for the funeral on Saturday.

Apart from depriving Congress of its most effective champion of healthcare reform, Kennedy's death on Tuesday cost his Democratic party its essential 60th vote in the Senate, the number needed to beat Republican tactical blocking maneuvers.

Massachusetts law would leave the seat open for five months at which time a special election could be held. But, as he was dying, Kennedy asked state lawmakers to allow Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to name a temporary replacement.

Following Kennedy's death, Patrick and Senator John Kerry called on state legislators to act quickly on that request.

"It's a particularly timely request at a time when there are such profoundly important proposals pending in the Congress right now," Patrick told reporters.

Without Kennedy's vote and leadership, Democrats face the choice of trying to push through his vision of overhauling the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system or finding a compromise that will appeal to Republicans and conservative Democrats.


Kennedy had said providing health insurance to all Americans was "the cause of my life" and his absence as he battled brain cancer may have contributed to the fractious nature of public debate on healthcare in August.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch has often expressed regret about Kennedy's absence, saying he would have been able to hammer out a bipartisan healthcare deal.

Congress will return in September to work on a healthcare overhaul plan criticized by many for being too costly, for cutting Medicare for the elderly, and for what some see as pushing the U.S. into government-run healthcare.

"I think there is going to be a real rallying among Democrats 'to do this one for Teddy.' This was his life work," said Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at the Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, on health care reform.

"At the same time there is nobody in the caucus who would have been better at solving our internal disagreements."

John Rother of AARP, an influential group representing older Americans, said: "It probably will result in the Democrats being rededicated, but who knows what the impact will be on the public and Republicans."

The drive to name an interim senator faces criticism from state Republicans, who note that Democrats in 2004 changed the law to head off a chance for then-Governor Mitt Romney to name a Republican to succeed Kerry, who was running for president.


At the seaside family compound in Hyannis Port, the senator's wife Victoria, grandchildren and Kennedy cousins including Caroline Kennedy and Maria Shriver watched as a military honor guard wheeled out the flag-draped casket and placed it in a black hearse.

Crowds lined the route of a motorcade carrying 85 family members as it looped through Boston on its way to the John F. Kennedy Library, where the body now lies in repose.

Members of the Kennedy family greeted some of the thousands of people waiting in line outside the library to pay their respects. "The whole family is touched by this demonstration," said Robert Kennedy, son of Bobby Kennedy.

Many were in tears as they passed the casket. "I just hope the healthcare legislation passes soon because that will be the Senator's living legacy," said Toby Cohen Kaminkow, who helped work on Kennedy campaigns, as she blinked back tears.

Attorney Maria Krokidas, 60, recalled being an intern in Kennedy's office as a college student in 1969. "He's the guy who has always been there for every client and individual, no matter how small," she said.

Obama will give a eulogy at the funeral at a basilica in Boston on Saturday. Three of the four living ex-U.S. presidents -- Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- were expected to attend, but a spokesman for George H.W. Bush, 85, said he would not be going. Because of his age it was "a little tough" for him to travel, although he had spoken by telephone with Kennedy's widow, spokesman Jim Appleby said.

Kennedy will be buried later that day at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington near his brothers President John Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy.

(Additional reporting by Ed Stoddard in Dallas, Ross Kerber in Boston)

Idris Jala... What now National KPIs?

By Jeff Ooi,

It's a mouthful of alphabet soup. But tell me, what's the Key Performance Indicator for all these?

  • Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is to lose its CEO and managing director Idris Jala as he has been appointed a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Academically, he will be sworn-in as Senator later.
  • Idris will be a minister without a portfolio in the PM’s Department.
  • Idris will complement, support and report to Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of National Unity and Performance Management.

Now, will that invalidate what backdoor Minister Dr Koh Tsu Koon was slated for, as the original KPI minister? Another round of alphabet soup:

  • Tsu Koon will be the chairman of the board of Pemandu (Performance Management and Delivery Unit), which includes the Chief Secretary to the Government and other senior officers. Pemandu is the organisation that oversees the implementation of the Key Performance Index initiatives.
  • Tsu Koon will continue with his task of formulating and executing the overall policy and strategy on performance management and organisational transformation with special focus on National Key Results Area (N-KRA).

So, what will Tsu Koon and Idris be doing -- one and together, alphabet soup or otherwise?

  • Idris will report to Tsu Koon on matters relating to KPIs and directly to the Prime Minister on other duties assigned to him as a minister.
  • Idris will also assume the deputy chairmanship of the Pemandu Board, to be responsible for specific N-KRAs and National KPIs (N-KPIs) and advise on Ministerial-KRAs (M-KRAs) and M-KPIs.
  • Idris will be the CEO of Pemandu.

In another words, Idris is the driver at Pemandu.

If BN bureaucracy sets in, and it's sure to set in with or without Najib, it's going to be KPIs driven by Management by Bureaucratic Lethargy.

Child bride's nightmare after divorce

SANA'A, Yemen (CNN) -- It is midday and girls are flooding out of school, but Nujood Ali is not among them.

Nujood Ali today is angry and skips school but is still relieved her defiance paid off.

Nujood Ali today is angry and skips school but is still relieved her defiance paid off.

We find her at the family's two-room house in an impoverished suburb of the city where Nujood is angry, combative and yelling. Tension surrounds the home like a noose.

After much arguing with family members, Nujood finally grabs her veil and agrees to sit down with CNN. Her presence is grudging, although CNN had got permission in advance to see how the girl who rocked a nation by demanding a divorce was shaping up.

Nujood is very different from the girl we first met nearly two years ago. Then, there was no doubt the 10-year-old was every inch a child. She was the very portrait of innocence: A shy smile, a playful nature and a whimsical giggle.

That picture was very much at odds with the brutal story of abuse she endured as a child bride who fought for a divorce and is now still fighting. Video Watch as Nujood remains defiant »

Nujood says she remains relieved and gratified that her act of defiance -- which led to appearances at awards shows and on TV -- had paid off.

The story was supposed to end with the divorce and an innocent but determined girl allowed to fully embrace the childhood she fought so hard to keep.

Instead, there has been no fairytale ending for Nujood.

There was, though, a stunning transformation. Nujood went from being a victim and child bride to a portrait of courage and triumph. Her inspirational story was told and re-told around the world, but at home all was not well.

In the fall of 2008 Nujood was recognized as Glamour Magazine's Woman of the Year, alongside some of the world's most impressive women. She even attended the ceremony in New York and was applauded by women from Hillary Clinton to Nicole Kidman.

There is a tell-all book which is to be published in more than 20 languages, and the author says Nujood will receive a good portion of the royalties.

Nujood's strength was celebrated by complete strangers. But what did all the fame do for the one person it was meant to transform?

"There is no change at all since going on television. I hoped there was someone to help us, but we didn't find anyone to help us. It hasn't changed a thing. They said they were going to help me and no one has helped me. I wish I had never spoken to the media," Nujood says bitterly.

There was never going to be a fortune. Generous people have donated thousands so Nujood could go to a private school, but she refuses to attend, according to Shada Nasser, the human rights lawyer who took on the child's divorce case.

"I know Nujood was absent from the school. I spoke with her father and her family. And I ask them to control her and ask her to go every day to school. But they said, 'You know we don't have the money for the transportation. Don't have the money for the food,' " says Nasser.

She believes Nujood is being victimized by her own family because they believe Nujood's fame should bring them fortune.

Nujood's parents say they've received nothing, and in the meantime Nujood stews wondering out loud how everything turned out this way.

"I was happy I got divorced but I'm sad about the way it turned out after I went on television," she said adding that she feels like an outcast even among her family and friends.

Nujood was pulled out of school in early 2008 and married off by her own parents to a man she says was old and ugly. And yet, as a wife, Nujood was spared nothing.

"I didn't want to sleep with him but he forced me to, he hit me, insulted me" said Nujood. She said being married and living as a wife at such a young age was sheer torture.

Nujood described how she was beaten and raped and how, after just a few weeks of marriage, she turned to her family to try to escape the arrangement. But her parents told her they could not protect her, that she belonged to her husband now and had to accept her fate.

CNN tried to obtain comment from Nujood's husband and his family but they declined.

Nujood's parents, like many others in Yemen, struck a social bargain. More than half of all young Yemeni girls are married off before the age of 18, many times to older men, some with more than one wife.

It means the girls are no longer a financial or moral burden to their parents. But Nujood's parents say they did not expect Nujood's new husband to demand sex from his child bride.

To escape, Nujood hailed a taxi -- for the first time in her life -- to get across town to the central courthouse where she sat on a bench and demanded to see a judge.

After several hours, a judge finally went to see her. "And he asked me, 'what do you want' and I said 'I want a divorce' and he said 'you're married?' And I said 'yes.'" says Nujood.

Nujood's father and husband were arrested until the divorce hearing, and Nujood was put in the care of Nasser.

Indeed, it seems the judge had heard enough of the abuse to agree with Nujood that she should get her divorce.

But based on the principles of Shariah law, her husband was compensated, not prosecuted. Nujood was ordered to pay him more than $200 -- a huge amount in a country where the United Nations Development Programme says 15.7 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day.

Khadije Al Salame is working to help Nujood get her life back. Now a Yemeni diplomat, 30 years ago she too was a child bride. But when she left her husband, she did not have to endure the publicity that now haunts Nujood.

She said: "It's good to talk about Nujood and to have her story come out, but the problem is it's too much pressure on her.

"She doesn't understand what's going on. She's a little girl and we have to understand as a media people that we should leave her alone now. If we really love Nujood then we should just let her go to school and continue with her life, because education is the most important thing for her."

To get her divorce, Nujood showed a character and strength not easily expressed by women in Yemen, let alone a 10-year-old child bride. But she will need to muster all that strength and more if she's to finally reclaim her life.

Nujood told us she thought the divorce would be the end of her struggle and she's still angry that it turned out to be just the beginning.

MCA crisis: PM won't step in unless invited

Soi Lek expelled

Kg.Buah Pala.. whats up?

The Villagers are still going up and down to seek for help, What other options do they have? it is clear from the offer letter that they are being cheated by the Developer and washed hand by the state government, who the hell said that these people are squatters? Dont you understand that they are the righful occupants here! Have you guys seen all the documents posted in this Blog? Have you take the time to go through one by one before saying anything negative outside? Rayer is Busy commenting on Tamaraj and the rest of the committee members but did he know the current situation and the sufferings villagers going through? Every one is under pressure and no one is willing to live in the streets or in a rented apartments, where do we rare 100 over cows? 50 over goats and 50 over chickens for living? Whatever they do, how hard they are trying to save the village, all that they get is bad names. Sugumaran, the committee chairman has been labelled as traitor by some irresponsible people. There are many commented badly about the whole thing, including the involvement of Hindraf and few others, to all of them, come down to the village and judge it for yourself! No options given to the Villagers, they have No Say, the state government is not there to listen to their problems, they are only worried about the development project. Some blame that the villagers should not have consulted UMNO regarding this matter, those who think that is a wrong option, please come over here and solve this issues for us! Or else just comment on the new tamil movies in cinema or go n fly kite near selayang park! The villagers are swimming in all directions, they are yet to see the shore, they can't stop, or they will drown! Those who are confident that they will be given a 2 storey house, please come over here and get the confirmation from the State Government, or else you and the State Government Shut Up! Dont bother the Villagers, this is their land and the land of their grandfather which has been given to them for their sweat and hardwork to build this state as early as 1930's by the Brown Family! Hindraf is not poisoning the mind of the Villagers, and the villagers are not chicken to eat any feed thrown to them by the State Government, you stole their land and you throw potatos to them? Maybe some chickens outside there who do not have the bravery to fight for their rights will say things like" Take whatever that has been given to you" but the fact is, Nothing is given and will be given! Read more on the Untold History Of Buah Pala.


Why Buah Pala villagers went to UMNO?

Since the day the problem started in Kg.Buah Pala, the villagers met various authorities, Political Party ,Agencies, Ministers, and name it, anything and anyone.Everyone turn them down, they are the victim of political agenda, and they are the victim of all the possible games in the money game, they begged to the their assemblyman who promised to save them but turned them down, they went to the Deputy Chief Minister2, they promised as long as he is in the Position, he will make sure Kg.Buah Pala is Preserved as an Indian Heritage Village and exist forever, according to the Assemblyman from Pakatan Rakyat, they will try to get annual allocation from the State Government for the cultural functions in the village, after venturing in all the sources and seeking on everyone's favor and begging from politicians to the officers, to the businessman without going to UMNO, the villagers lost leads, they are helpless and they reached a dead end! Now, the only source they have not ventured is UMNO! with the pressure and without assuarance, there is only one path left, at the last moment, the villagers turn to them as a last resort. They have no way out, just imagine if you have fallen into a pit in the dark, you will try to grab anything that you can feel in your hands and try to come out from there, even if it is a snake, you will grab it thinking it is a rope. A sickness without remedy, you will visit the first doctor, if still not cured, you will go to the second one, then still no remedy, you go to all the medical centres and will meet all the best specialist in the world to cure your sickness until you recover or until you run dry financially. That's what happened in the case of Buah Pala, people outside there, some does not even know where Kg.Buah Pala is, commenting on this issue and blaming the villagers for meeting the UMNO leaders. Who else will help them? Those who are complaining and blaming the villagers from seeking the assistance from UMNO please come forward, I will pay your expenses for travelling, come here to the village and solve the problem, most of you dont even know the details about the contracts and agreement and still arguing that it is a valid one. Even if Buah Pala falls, no one has the right to complaint about the villagers, Hindraf, Good people who dont comment but were here in the field for the people or anyone for that matter! You have no rights! You words and comments cant reach here to help this villagers, you are lazy to be here to observe the real situation in the Village, you are in a comfort zones, with heavy food and scared of Rain and Shine, you are pretending to care about the people and find it interesting to comment on issues. Kg.Buah Pala residents are smart and they know what they are doing,so, ill wishers, get the hell out of this topic. We dont need instigators like you and we are working hard to save the village and the people... genuinely!


Unrecorded History of Kg.Buah Pala

Mr.Thiraviyam(84), came to Malaya when he was 8 years old, Born in the year 1925 he was brought here by his father who came earlier (around 1910) to work for the british traders. In 1933 his father came back to India for a 6months holiday and brought him here. Kg.Buah Pala and the surrounding area was filled with thick jungle with no road facilities.Coconut and fruits are the two main commodities at that time, there were about 60-70 Indian labourers working as toddy collectors for the englishmen who owns the estate here. The labourers were working and staying in these estate and were given permission from Mr.Brown to build their huts in the place where Kg.Buah Pala is situated now. I got to know a british man and his wife by the name of Mr.Brown and Mrs.Brown who was the owner of these estates. Mr.Brown had told Mr.Thirayiyam who is well verse in english that he is a rich man from British and had helped funding the government during wars and this land is given to him complementary from the British Government for his contribution to the Empire. Mr.Brown came here as an English trader before becoming the estate owner adn involving into agriculture and plantation. Gelugor was a jungle and the natives here was a very shy people and wears only a mat kind of clothing made from the beetle nut palm, and will hide behind trees when they see strangers and outsiders,especially the women who are semi-naked all the time. Mr.Brown's estate is huge and the workers work from 7am upto 3pm only, they will continue with their own activities, such as farming and raring goats and cattle. Mr.Thiraviyam built the house that he is staying currently on his own, which was only a small hut and he expand it gradually. He built the house that existed now. Brown gave me this land, they (Mr.&Mrs.Brown) use to come and visit me, and "Brown can speak in Tamil abit" added Mr.Thiraviyam. Mr.Brown informed me that he is leaving to his country and mentioned that Malaya is on its own and independent now. Present USM Campus was a Military Camp consist of British and Indian Army together with some small Arm Force Groups. The land was given to the Army by Mr.Brown too. Mr.Thiraviyam recalled a bomb blast right in from the current USM campus on 8th Dec 1941. He went and saw the damages made from the blast and said, there was a hole as deep as his height. He was about 17 years at that time which is the era of Japanese invasion. The first aeroplane arrived on that day and one after another the following days. Soon after the bomb blast a van belongs to the British Army warn the public on not to be panick and the japanese only fighting with the British Army and not against the civilians, they advised the people to gather in a group and wave a white cloth to the Japanese aeroplanes to show that they are civilians, the japanese planes did not attacked them, while saying this, he laughed mildly while saying that they were all wearing a white vesti(Indian Traditional Costume) and they have no choice to wave it. The current Panang airport is the Military airfield and USM was the Military Camp fro British and Indian Army.

During the war they did not fear and was not under pressure as what he is going through now with the invasion by Nusmetro and the demolition threats! He is 84 years old and had helped in solving many village issues which was not published or said. He believe in helping people without expecting anything in return, as a Christian, he saved a small Hindu temple about 10 years ago, another person who present during our conversation, Mr.Siva quoted, he went all the way to Komtar by bicycle and discussed the matter to a Lady officer who had cancelled the demolotion process. This is one part of a wonderful life story that I heard from Mr.Thiraviyam and he said, he is fighting for the happiness and peace that he had enjoyed in this village for his grandchildren. Will they enjoy the same life anymore?

It's in the hand of LimGuan Eng to put a tiny signature in the development project now.


Now, let's get to the jugular


The MACC said it tak layan (will not entertain) 'poison pen' letters. It will only investigate signed letters. Well, below is a signed letter plus a detail report implicating the IGP and AG in a crime. They helped a Chinese underworld syndicate boss escape the long arm of the law. Even the Deputy Home Minister said the IGP and AG are involved in this conspiracy. And this is the Deputy Minister's letter to the Prime Minister. Is this enough for you to now launch an investigation, MACC?


Raja Petra Kamarudin


RPK to Shariah lawyers: don’t mess with us


So, there we have it. RM5,000 fine or imprisonment of 3 years and 6 lashes for consuming alcohol. And RM4,000 fine or imprisonment of 2 years and 6 lashes for forcing one's wife to be a prostitute!


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Shariah lawyers to critics: Don't mess with court decisions

Malaysian Mirror

Do not harass or put pressure on those who are trying to enforce Islamic laws, the Malaysian Syariah Lawyers’ Association (PGSM) advised critics.

In a statement jointly issued with Pembela, an umbrella body of several Muslim NGOs, the association said everyone should adhere to and respect the decisions made by the syariah courts.

Read the news item here:


I don’t know what these Shariah lawyers are so upset about. Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno has agreed to be caned. In fact, she said she wants to be caned because she is ashamed of her actions and regrets what she did.

The police then came to her house to arrest her and took her off to prison. Half an hour later they sent her home.

This upset Katika who then went to the police station to make a police report. She said she wants to cover herself in case she is accused of trying to evade the caning sentence.

Kartika was arrested in Pahang, the home state of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. The Pahang state government is under Umno and Barisan Nasional, not under PAS or Pakatan Rakyat.

Najib, however, has asked Kartika to appeal the caning sentence. But Kartika refuses. She wants to be caned.

The 14 days grace period for Kartika to appeal her caning sentence has now expired. This means she can no longer appeal the sentence and, therefore, it should be carried out immediately. But the government does not want to cane her. They said they would only do it after the month of Ramadhan is over.

Why after Ramadhan? Why not now? There is no Islamic law and no verse in the Quran that says no sentence should be carried out during the month of Ramadhan.

Will the government now drop the caning sentence? And will they cite the ‘pressure’ as the excuse for dropping the caning sentence?

I, for one, would like to see the sentence carried out. This will open the floodgates for an eventual full clampdown on liquor.

Islam says you must not drink, sell, serve, keep, profit from, etc., liquor -- including working in any place that sells liquor, own shares in the company, hold directorships, and much more. It is not only forbidden to drink the stuff. It is also forbidden to associate with the stuff in any way whatsoever.

Once Kartika has been caned then the government can go after the workers, owners, shareholders, directors, government officers who approved the licences, etc. Tens of thousands of people will be hauled in and caned.

Genting, which is also in Pahang, Najib’s home state, would have to sack all their Muslim workers. So would Club Med and all those other hotels in Pahang. They would have to sack all their Muslim workers or else the managers and owners of these establishments would get arrested and caned.

Oh, and my favourite, MAS. MAS will have to discontinue serving beer and liquor onboard its flights or else it would have to sack all the Muslim staff and employ non-Muslims. The Muslim workers in the KLIA tax-free shops would also have to be replaced with non-Muslims. KLIA itself would have to sack all its Muslim workers or else the tax-free shops in KLIA would have to stop selling liquor, cigarettes, tobacco and whatnot.

I am all for it. Let’s see where we go from here. And please, Shariah lawyers, don’t mess with us.

Anyway, before I sign off, read what a Muslim lawyer wrote in his Blog:

If that is not shocking enough, consider section 177 of the Enakmen Pentadbiran Ugama Islam dan Adat Resam Melayu Pahang 1982 (the enactment under which Kartika is sentenced). Under this section, a person who forces or allows his wife to prostitute herself with the intention of earning an income from such prostitution is liable to be fined RM4,000 or imprisonment for 2 years or both and caning of not more than 6 lashes.

So, there we have it. RM5,000 fine or imprisonment of 3 years and 6 lashes for consuming alcohol. And RM4,000 fine or imprisonment of 2 years and 6 lashes for forcing one's wife to be a prostitute! Is there any wonder why Islam is viewed with ridicule and contempt?

Home Minister remains mum on IGP’s contract renewal

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani - The Malaysian Insider

PUTRAJAYA, August 27 - Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein refused to elaborate on the status of Tan Sri Musa Hassan’s contract renewal as Inspector-General of Police (IGP).

Musa reached his retirement age in 2007, but has continued to serve for another two years with his extension scheduled to expire in September.

It is understood that the Police Commission has recommended another extension for him.

Hishammuddin asked why Malaysians are only focusing on one individual.

“We have made a lot of decisions on many positions, so why focus on only one? You can take it on record that sort of thing is not a question of one individual. Why focus on that position? I extend and we appoint everyday, but we work as a team,” he said.

A parliamentary roundtable was held last month and resolved with the unanimous support of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers and NGO representatives who attended that Malaysia needs a new police chief for a safer Malaysia.

The roundtable also demanded that Musa should not be given a second renewal of his term of service as IGP in September after a previous two-year extension in 2007.

Hishammuddin stressed that he wants to concentrate on the bigger picture and not on individuals.

“I do not want to be caught up in the polemic of issues and individuals when we are moving as one family and one ministry looking at the bigger picture because if not we will get sidetracked. When the time comes, you will know,” he told reporters at the Home Ministry.

MACC should produce proof that Teoh Beng Hock had received RM112 “kickback” or it should withdraw and apologise for the allegation defaming the dead

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) bias and prejudice towards DAP and Pakatan rakyat must be deplored in the strongest possible terms.

The most recent evidence of such bias and prejudice was evident from the testimony of MACC investigator DSP Mohd Anuar Ismail at the Teoh Beng Hock inquest yesterday.

Although the coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas had ordered Anuar’s unfair and prejudicial testimony yesterday to be expunged, the damage had been done.

The Star online for instance carried the report with the heading “Officer claims Teoh was on the take” which is still accessible just minutes ago. The Sun headline today is: ”Testimony on alleged kickbacks expunged”.

Yes, the details of Anuar’s allegations have been alleged but the allegation proper remains, viz: Teoh was corrupt and guilty of “kickbacks”!

In alleging that Beng Hock was “on the take” and had received “kickbacks” MACC had not only defamed the dead but posthumously elevated Teoh’s role from being a witness to a suspect or even a person accused of corruption!

And what is the amount of this corruption money which Teoh is alleged to have received as kickback? An incredible and ridiculous sum of RM112!

MACC is not interested in the RM24 million Istana Khir Toyo or RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandals, but for an alleged RM112 “kickback”, MACC officers are prepared to work through the night and go without sleep.

No wonder public confidence in the efficiency, independence, integrity and professionalism of the MACC is plumbing new depths!

Has the MACC any incontrovertible evidence that Beng Hock was corrupt, being “on the take” and had received RM112 “kickback”?

If so, I challenge MACC to produce them, and if not, MACC should withdraw the RM112 allegation and publicly apologise for defaming the dead, and Anuar should be suspended from office immediately.

Anuar is not interested in helping to find out the truth about the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s mysterious death at the MACC headquarters on July 16 but to add one smear after another defamation on Teoh and Pakatan Rakyat in the MACC war against Pakatan Rakyat, betraying MACC’s statutory objective which was to declare war on corruption!

This is why Malaysians want a Royal Commission of Inquiry as they have so little confidence in an inquest to uncover the actual causes and circumstances of Teoh’s mysterious death at the MACC headquarters.

It is also clear from Anuar’s expunged testimony that the materials he depended upon are very similar to those which appeared on the black blog,, which carried postings of lies and falsehoods about MACC investigations and Teoh’s death, all with one purpose to accuse someone from DAP as having murdered Teoh.

I call on the MACC Chief Commissioner, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan to clarify whether MACC has ventured into the blogosphere in its war against Pakatan Rakyat and state categorically whether MACC has anything to do with this black blog of lies and falsehoods, whether!

If he does not know, has he caused a full investigation to be conducted whether MACC officers are implicated in this black blog?

Today’s press reported the statement by the Selangor Chief Police Officer Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar that the molotov cocktail attack on a MACC vehicle in Klang last week was not related to Teoh’s death.

Last Thursday, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz was very quick in making the insinuation that someone from DAP was implicated in the Molotov cocktail attack, saying that it gave some basis to the allegation by Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong that some DAP representatives had links to the underworld.

With the statement by Selangor CPO, Nazri should withdraw and apologise for his uncalled-for insinuation against the DAP for being implicated in the Molotov attack on the MACC vehicle in Klang.

Bad news for Mr KPI

By Anil Netto

Whichever way you look at it, Idris Jala’s appointment as “KPI” minister must be bad news for the other “KPI” minister, Koh Tsu Koon. A friend sent me a text message, with a pointed observation: “looks like ktk is surplus to requirements”, never mind that Idris is supposed to “report” to Tsu Koon on “KPI” issues.

The news comes as the Kg Buah Pala villagers stand on the brink of losing their village. No thanks to Mr KPI for allowing the land to be sold under his watch – and then remaining largely silent about what actually transpired back then while the villagers agonise ahead of demolition day.

So now we have two “KPI” ministers as the Cabinet bloats up again. “Performance now”, huh?

Perhaps one of the first “KPIs” Idris should look at is the 30 per cent target. (No, I’m not referring to the NEP.) To find out which 30 per cent I mean, read this piece I wrote after the Permatang Pasir by-election. Perhaps our country wouldn’t be in such a mess if this particular group achieves parity.

PENANG, Malaysia, Aug 26 (IPS) – Yet another by-election is over in Malaysia.

Tuesday night, a candidate from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance or PR) defeated a candidate from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in a semi-rural constituency on mainland Penang. That brought the by-election tally to 7-1 in favour of the PR since the last general election in March 2008.

These by-elections are important barometres of public opinion. The opposition Alliance is hoping the by-election momentum will catapult it to victory in the next general election after it deprived the BN, which has ruled the country for 52 years, of its coveted two-thirds majority in Parliament last year.

But there is one glaring statistic… Full article here.

Getting Rich in Malaysia Cronyism Capital Means Dayak Lose Home

By Yoolim Lee

Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) — After a stomach-churning takeoff from a 550-meter runway at Long Banga airstrip on the Malaysian side of the island of Borneo, the 19-seat plane soars over a green tropical wilderness. This is one of the world’s last remaining virgin rain forests.

About 30 minutes into the flight to the bustling oil town of Miri, the lush landscape changes, and neatly terraced fields of oil palms take the place of jungle. Twenty years ago, this was forestland. Now, those forests are lost forever.

The shift from rain forest to oil palm cultivation in Malaysia’s Sarawak state highlights the struggle taking place between forces favoring economic development, led by Sarawak state’s chief minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, and those who want to conserve the rain forest and the ways of life it supports.

During Taib’s 28-year rule, his government has handed out concessions for logging and supported the federal government’s megaprojects, including the largest hydropower site in the country and, most recently, oil palm plantations. The projects are rolling back the frontiers of Borneo’s rain forest, home to nomadic people and rare wildlife such as orangutans and proboscis monkeys.

At least four prominent Sarawak companies that have received contracts or concessions have ties to Taib or his family.

Transforming Malaysia

The government of Malaysia plans to transform the country into a developed nation by 2020 through a series of projects covering everything from electric power generation to education. The country’s gross domestic product, which has been growing at an average 6.7 percent annual pace since 1970, shrank 6.2 percent in the first quarter.

In Sarawak, Taib’s government is following its own development plans that call for doubling the state’s GDP to 150 billion ringgit ($42 billion) by 2020. Sarawak Energy Bhd., which is 65 percent owned by the state government, said in July 2007 it plans to build six power plants, including hydropower and coal-fired generators.

The state government also wants to expand the acreage in Sarawak devoted to oil palms to 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres) by 2010, from 744,000 at the end of 2008, according to Sarawak’s Ministry of Land Development. Companies that formerly chopped down hardwood trees and exported the timber are now moving into palm plantations.

Lawsuits Filed

Meanwhile, many of the ethnic groups who have traditionally lived from the land in Sarawak — known as Dayaks — have filed lawsuits that aim to block some projects and seek better compensation.

Sarawak’s ambitions could be hindered by a lack of good governance, which would shut out overseas investors, says Steve Waygood, head of sustainable and responsible investment research at Aviva Investors in London, which manages more than $3 billion in sustainable assets.

“Even just the perception of corruption can lead to restricted inflows of capital from the global investment community into emerging markets such as Sarawak,” says Waygood, who wrote about reputational risk in a 2006 book, “Capital Market Campaigning” (Risk Books).

“The largest and most responsible financial institutions are very careful to avoid funding unsustainable developments,” he says.

Unilever, which buys 1.5 million tons of palm oil a year — 4 percent of the world’s supply — for use in products such as Dove soap and Flora margarine, announced in May that it would buy only from sustainable sources.

No Direct Purchases

“Unilever does not source any palm oil directly from Sarawak,” says Jan Kees Vis, Unilever’s director of sustainable agriculture. “We buy from plantation companies and traders located elsewhere.”

He says Unilever has committed by 2015 to buy all of its palm oil from sources certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a group representing palm oil producers, consumers and nongovernmental organizations that seeks to establish standards for sustainably produced palm oil. The Malaysian Palm Oil Association, a government-supported group of Malaysian plantation companies, is a member of the RSPO.

About 35 percent of the world’s cooking oil comes from palm — more than any other plant, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And 90 percent of the world’s palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Skittles and Soap

The oil is an ingredient used in everything from Skittles candy to Palmolive soap to some kinds of biodiesel fuel. Palm oil futures have climbed 45 percent this year as of Aug. 24 on concern that dry weather caused by El Nino may reduce output. Crude oil prices rose to a 10-month high of $74.24 a barrel, spurring demand for biodiesel.

Malaysia lost 6.6 percent of its forest cover from 1990 to 2005, or 1.49 million hectares, the most-recent data available from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization show. That’s an area equivalent to the state of Connecticut.

Neighboring Indonesia lost forestland at the fastest annual rate among the world’s 44 forest nations from 2000 to 2005, Amsterdam-based Greenpeace says.

“Palm oil is the new green gold after timber,” says Mark Bujang, executive director of the Borneo Resources Institute in Miri, a city of about 230,000 people in Sarawak. “It has become the most destructive force after three decades of unsustainable logging.”

While Malaysia’s palm oil exports have more than doubled to a record 46 billion ringgit in 2008 from 2006, according to the country’s central bank, the gain has come at a price.

Displaced People

Development projects and palm plantations have displaced thousands of people, some of whom have lived for centuries by fishing, hunting and farming in the jungle. Almost 200 lawsuits are pending in the Sarawak courts relating to claims by Dayak people on lands being used for oil palms and logging, according to Baru Bian, a land rights lawyer representing many of the claimants.

A handful of activists have been found dead under mysterious circumstances or disappeared, including Swiss environmental activist Bruno Manser, who vanished in the jungle in 2000.

Cutting down rain forests to cultivate palms in Sarawak has consequences far beyond Malaysia, says Janet Larsen, director of research at the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute.

The forests that are being destroyed help modulate the climate because they remove vast stores of carbon from the atmosphere. Chopping down the trees ends up releasing greenhouse gases.

‘Lungs of the Planet’

“These last remaining forests are the lungs of the planet,” Larsen says. “It affects us all.”

Chief Minister Taib, 73, has multiple roles in Sarawak. He’s also the state’s finance minister and its planning and resources management minister — a role that gives him the power to dispense land, forestry and palm oil concessions as well as the power to approve infrastructure projects.

Until last year, Taib held the additional role of chairman of the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corp., which fosters wood-based industries in the state.

Anwar Ibrahim, the former Malaysian finance minister who’s the head of the country’s opposition alliance, sees parallels between Taib’s rule and those of other long-standing leaders in Southeast Asia, such as former Indonesian President Suharto and former Philippine leader Ferdinand Marcos.

“It’s an authoritarian style of governance to protect their turf and their families,” says Anwar, who was fired as deputy prime minister by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998 and jailed on charges of having homosexual sex and abusing power. The sodomy conviction was overturned in 2004.

‘Driven by Greed’

Sim Kwang Yang, an opposition member of parliament for Sarawak’s capital city of Kuching from 1982 to 1995, agrees with Anwar’s assessment. “It is crony capitalism driven by greed without any regard for the people,” he says.

Taib’s adult children and his late wife, Lejla, together owned more than 29.3 percent of Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd., the state’s largest industrial group, with 40 companies involved in construction, property development, road maintenance, trading and financial services, according to the company’s 2008 annual report.

Local residents jokingly say that the company’s initials, CMS, stand for “Chief Minister and Sons.”

In total, CMS has won about 1.3 billion ringgit worth of projects from the state and the federal government since the beginning of 2005, according to the firm’s stock exchange filings.

Taib declined to comment for this article. In an interview he gave to Malaysia’s state news agency, Bernama, on Jan. 13, 2001, Taib said CMS’s ties to him had nothing to do with its winning government jobs.

‘Not Involved’ in Contracts

“I am not involved in the award of contracts,” he said. “No politician in Sarawak is involved in the award of contracts.”

He told Bernama he doesn’t ask for special treatment of his sons. “I never ask anybody to do any favors,” he said.

Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, the elder of Taib’s two sons, is CMS’s deputy chairman and owns 8.92 percent of the firm, according to the annual report. Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib, the younger son and CMS’s chairman until 2008, holds an 8.94 percent stake.

Taib’s two daughters and his son-in-law are also listed in the annual report as “substantial shareholders.”

Taib’s History

Taib, a Muslim who belongs to the Melanau group — one of about 27 different ethnic groups in Sarawak — entered politics at the age of 27 after graduating from the University of Adelaide in Australia with a law degree in 1960.

He held various ministerial positions in Sarawak and Malaysia before taking over in 1981 as the chief minister from his uncle, Abdul Rahman Yaakub. Rahman, now 81, ruled Sarawak for 11 years.

Taib, who has silver hair, appears almost daily on the front pages of Sarawak newspapers, sometimes sporting a goatee and a pair of rimless glasses, at the opening of new development projects or local events.

He lives in Sarawak’s capital city of Kuching, an urban area of about 600,000 people on the Sarawak River. Its picturesque waterfront is dotted with colonial buildings, the legacy of British adventurer James Brooke, who founded the Kingdom of Sarawak in 1841 and became known as the White Rajah. Brooke’s heirs ruled the kingdom until 1946, when Charles Vyner Brooke ceded his rights to the U.K. Sarawak joined the Federation of Malaysia on Sept. 16, 1963, along with other former British colonies.

Cousin’s Role

At Taib’s mansion, which overlooks the river, he receives guests in a living room decorated with gilt-edged European-style sofa sets, according to photos in the July to December 2006 newsletter of Naim Cendera Holdings Bhd., which changed its name to Naim Holdings Bhd. in March.

Naim is a property developer and contractor whose chairman is Taib’s cousin, Abdul Hamed Sepawi. He is also chairman of state power company Sarawak Energy and timber company Ta Ann Holdings Bhd., and is on the board of Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corp. and Sarawak Plantation Bhd.

Naim and CMS jointly built Kuching’s iconic waterfront building, the umbrella-roofed, nine-story Sarawak State Legislative Assembly complex. Naim has won more than 3.3 billion ringgit worth of contracts from the state and the federation since 2005, its stock exchange filings show.

Companies Respond

Ricky Kho, a spokesman for Naim, said the company declined to comment for this article. Naim’s deputy managing director, Sharifuddin Wahab, said in an interview with Bloomberg News in July 2007 that the chairman’s family ties weren’t why the company won government contracts.

“We have been able to execute our projects on time, we stick to the budget and the quality of what we hand over to the government is up to their expectations, if not more,” he said.

“Our teams have always acted professionally” when working with the government, whether on large or small projects, CMS’s group managing director, Richard Curtis, said in an e-mail. “CMS is governed by the strict listing regulations of the Malaysian stock exchange,” he said, adding that the chairman and the group managing director are both independent.

“The large projects carry with them an equally large risk, including a huge reputational risk, particularly for crucial projects by the government,” he said. “It is the government’s prerogative and discretion to award projects using a variety of approaches that includes open and closed tenders as well as directly negotiated processes, to the contractors and developers they feel will deliver the project as promised.”

Malaysia’s reputation as a place to conduct business has deteriorated in recent years, according to Transparency International, the Berlin-based advocacy group that publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index.

‘Monument of Corruption’

Transparency ranked the country 47th out of 180 in 2008, down from 43rd in 2007. Transparency also has singled out the Bakun Hydroelectric Dam, under construction on the Balui River in Sarawak, as a “monument of corruption.”

The index lacks fairness, says Ahmad Said Hamdan, chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, because it doesn’t take into consideration the size of the population of the countries in the ranking, for example.

“I’ve seen a lot of improvement in civil service in the past 10 years,” he says.

Dead Fish

Early this year, hundreds of dead fish started floating on the muddy river near the Bakun dam site. The fish were killed by siltation, which was triggered by uncontrolled logging upstream, Sarawak’s assistant minister of environment and public health, Abang Abdul Rauf Abang Zen, says. He says the Bakun dam has very strict environmental assessments and isn’t to blame for the siltation.

In January, Tenaga Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s state- controlled power utility, and Sarawak Energy said they won approval from the national government to take over the operation of the hydropower project through a leasing agreement. Sarawak Energy also won preliminary approval to export about 1,600 megawatts of electricity from the 2,400-megawatt Bakun project, once it begins operating, to Peninsular Malaysia. The remaining power will go to Sarawak.

Taib announced a plan called New Concept in 1994. The aim was to bring together local people, with their customary rights to the land, and private shareholders, who would provide capital and expertise to create plantations. The plan called for companies to hold a 60 percent stake in the joint ventures, the state to own 10 percent and the remaining 30 percent to go to local communities in return for a 60-year lease on their land.

‘Emotional’ Disputes

That time period equals about two complete cycles of oil palm development. An oil palm typically matures in 3 years, reaches peak production from 5 to 7 years and continues to produce for about 25 years, says Nirgunan Tiruchelvam, a commodities analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in Singapore.

The policy has led to some disagreements. In his interview with Bernama in 2001, Taib said land acquisitions by the state have led to “emotional” disputes because some people seek too much compensation.

“We are not allowed to pay more than market value,” he told Bernama. He said people need to prove that they have traditionally lived in an area — for example, by providing an aerial photograph — in order for the state to grant them title to the land.

“If there are disputes, they go to the court,” Taib told Bernama.

Some local people say they received no compensation at all for their land. In Kampung Lebor, a village about a two-hour drive from Kuching, 160 families, members of the Iban group that was formerly headhunters, live in longhouses and survive by fishing and some farming. The Iban are Sarawak’s largest single group of Dayaks, who make up about half of the state’s 2.3 million population.

Land Overlap

In mid-1996, the state handed out parcels of land that overlapped with the community’s customary hunting and fishing areas to the Land Custody and Development Authority and Nirwana Muhibbah Bhd., a palm oil company in Kuching.

In mid-1997, the authority and the company cleared the land with bulldozers and planted oil palm seedlings, according to a copy of Kampung Lebor’s writ of summons filed to the High Court in Kuching.

Government ‘Cruel’

“The government is cruel,” says Jengga Jeli, 54, a father of five in Lebor. “Fruit trees have been cut down. It’s become harder to hunt and fish. Now we are forced to get meat and vegetables from the bazaar, and we are very poor.” Jengga’s village filed a lawsuit in 1998 against Nirwana, LCDA and the state government in a bid to get compensation.

The case was finally heard in 2006 and is now awaiting judgment, according to Baru Bian, who is representing the Iban in Kampung Lebor. Reginal Kevin Akeu, a lawyer at Abdul Rahim Sarkawi Razak Tready Fadillah & Co. Advocates, which is representing Nirwana and LCDA, declined to comment.

The cases show that the development projects, including plantations and dams, haven’t helped poverty among the local people, many of whom live without adequate electricity or schools, says Richard Leete, who served as the resident representative of the United Nations Development Program for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei from 2003 to 2008.

Poverty Remains

“This is the paradox of Sarawak — the great wealth it has, the natural resources in such abundance, and yet such an impoverishment and the real hardship these communities are suffering,” says Leete, who chronicled Malaysia’s progress since its independence from Britain in his book “Malaysia: From Kampung to Twin Towers” (Oxford Fajar, 2007). “There has no doubt been a lot of money politics,” he says.

In the rugged hills about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Kuching, some 160 Bidayuh families, known as the Land Dayaks, are clinging to their traditional habitat, while a dam is under construction nearby. They live by farming and fishing.

With only a primary school in the village, children have to go to boarding schools outside the jungle to get further education, crossing seven handmade bamboo bridges and trekking two hours over the hills when they return home.

The state has offered the Bidayuhs 7,500 ringgit per hectare, 80 ringgit per rubber tree and 60 ringgit per durian fruit tree in compensation for their native land, says Simo ak Sekam, 48, a resident of Kampung Rejoi, one of four villages in the area. In Rejoi, about half of 39 families have refused.

Bamboo Bridges

“We don’t want to move because we are happy here,” Simo says. “We feel very sad because our land will be covered with water. The young generations won’t know this land. They won’t see the bamboo bridges.”

The builder of the local reservoir is Naim Holdings — the company headed by Chief Minister Taib’s cousin. The government awarded Naim the 310.7 million-ringgit contract without putting it out for bids. Naim’s statement announcing the deal in July 2007 said it won the job on a “negotiated basis.”

One of the most threatened groups is the Penan, nomadic people who live deep in the jungle on the upper reaches of the Baram River. On a steamy equatorial morning in late October 2007, Long Kerong village leader Kelesau Naan and his wife, Uding Lidem, walked two hours to their rice-storing hut. Kelesau, who was in his late 70s and who had protested logging activity in their area, told Uding he’d go check on an animal trap he had set nearby. He never came back.

Skull and Bones Found

Two months later, his skull and several pieces of his bones, along with his necklace made of red, yellow and white beads, surfaced on the banks of the Segita River. Inspector Sumarno Lamundi at the regional police station says the investigation is ongoing.

It was just the latest tragedy among activists working for the Penan since the early 1990s, when rampant logging took place. At least two other Penan were found dead, including Abung Ipui, a pastor and an advocate for land rights for his village. His body was found in October 1994 with his stomach cut open.

Manser, the Swiss activist for the rights of the Penan, vanished without a trace from the Borneo rain forests in May 2000 and was officially declared missing in March 2005.

Kelesau’s death has made the Penan willing to stand up for their survival.

“We are scared of something terrible happening to us if we don’t resist,” says grim-faced Bilong Oyoi, 48, headman of Long Sait, a Penan settlement close to Long Kerong.

Penans’ Resistance

Bilong, who wears a traditional rattan hat decorated with hornbill feathers, says his group is setting up blockades to resist logging activities. They are also working with NGOs to get attention for their plight and filing lawsuits.

With the help of the Basel, Switzerland-based Bruno Manser Fund, an NGO set up by the late activist, Bilong and 76 other Penan sent a letter — which some signed using only thumb prints — to Gilles Pelisson, the chief executive officer of French hotel chain Accor SA.

The letter urged Accor to think twice about partnering with logging company Interhill Logging Sdn. to build a 388-room Novotel Interhill in Kuching. The Penan community says Interhill’s operations in Sarawak have a devastating effect on them. Accor responded by sending a fact-finding mission to Sarawak to investigate Interhill’s logging activities.

“If the worst-case scenario occurs and if no action plan is implemented, we will not continue with our partnership,” Helene Roques, Accor’s director for sustainable development in Paris, said in June. In mid-August, she said she expects “good results” by the end of September.

Rio Tinto Venture

No foreign investor has made a larger bet on Taib’s development plans than Rio Tinto Alcan, a unit of London-based mining company Rio Tinto Plc. A joint venture between Rio Tinto and CMS for a $2 billion aluminum smelter has been negotiating power purchase agreements with Sarawak Energy for more than 12 months, according to Julia Wilkins, a Rio Tinto Alcan spokeswoman in Brisbane, Australia.

CMS meets Rio Tinto’s requirements as a joint-venture partner, she says. “CMS is a main-board-listed company with its own board of directors,” she says. “It has a free float of shares in excess of the minimum market requirement. The chairman and the group managing director are both independent.”

Malaysia grants special economic advantages to the country’s Malay majority and the local people of Sabah and Sarawak states on Borneo, collectively referred to as Bumiputra — literally, sons of the soil.

Still, the country is leaving behind many of its ethnic minorities, says Colin Nicholas, a Malaysian activist of Eurasian descent who has written a book about the mainland’s oldest community, “The Orang Asli and the Contest for Resources” (IWGIA, 2000).

‘Completely Powerless’

One person trying to help the Dayaks is See Chee How, 45, a land rights lawyer who became an activist after meeting Sim, the former opposition member of parliament in Kuching.

In 1994, See witnessed an attack on Penan demonstrators who’d erected a roadblock to prevent logging trucks from driving through their land. A 6-year-old boy died after security forces used tear gas on the demonstrators, he says.

“They were completely powerless,” recalls the soft-spoken, crew-cut See, sporting a white T-shirt and a pair of jeans, in his office above a bustling market in Kuching. “They were depending on logging trucks to move around because their passageways had been destroyed by logging trails.” See now works with Baru Bian, 51, one of the first land rights lawyers representing the Dayaks in Sarawak.

Lawsuits and Votes

Nicholas says Sarawak’s people have to fight for their rights not only through lawsuits but by voting.

“The biggest problem we have with indigenous people’s rights is that we have the federal government and state government run and dictated by people who have no respect or interest for indigenous people,” he says. “We need a change of government.”

The prime minister’s office declined to comment.

Opposition leader Anwar says change is possible. His alliance won control of an unprecedented five states in Peninsular Malaysia in a March 2008 election. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s ruling coalition has lost at least four regional polls held this year.

“I think this is a turning point,” Anwar says.

Still, Taib’s coalition won 30 of Sarawak’s 31 seats in March 2008 parliamentary elections. That helped the ruling National Front coalition led by then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi retain a 58-seat majority, ahead of Anwar’s People’s Alliance. Sarawak is due to hold the next election by 2011.

Taib defended his government’s program to turn forestlands into oil palm plantations as a way of improving living standards for the Dayaks at a seminar on native land development in Miri on April 18, 2000.

“Land without development is a poverty trap,” he said, according to his Web site. Many Dayak people, who have seen their land transformed as a result of Taib’s policies and companies linked to him, say they are still waiting to see their share of wealth.