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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pakistan says rebel blamed in Iran attack is in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan denied Wednesday that it is harboring a Sunni rebel leader accused of orchestrating a suicide attack in neighboring Iran.

Images from Iranian TV show debris and carnage from Sunday's suicide bombing.

Images from Iranian TV show debris and carnage from Sunday's suicide bombing.

Tehran has vowed "a crushing response" to the Sunni rebel group Jundallah for Sunday's suicide bombing in Sistan-Baluchestan province that killed 42 people. Iran has accused the United States and Pakistan of having links to Jundallah.

Iran has demanded Pakistan hand over Jundallah leader Abdul Malik Rigi, whom Tehran blames for plotting the attack. But Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Wednesday that Rigi is in neighboring Afghanistan.

Iran's government-funded Press TV said Jundallah has claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed several key leaders of the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Major Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Corps commander, said Monday that investigators have found documents connecting Rigi to security forces of the United States and Pakistan. Rigi's actions have "without a doubt been supported by these organizations," he said.

A U.S. State Department spokesman has called the accusations "completely false."

Iran summoned Pakistan's ambassador to its foreign ministry. There, he was told to urge his government to arrest the people behind the attack.

"We have heard that some of the government agents in Pakistan actually collaborate with the supporters of this savage act of terrorism, and we see it as very much within our rights to demand that they turn those criminals over to our nation," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari called on his Iranian counterpart, Ahmadinejad, on Monday to offer condolences and reaffirm his country's commitment to fighting extremism in the region, said a source inside the president's office.

Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said some Jundallah supporters already have been turned over to Iran.

"We have a good relationship with Iran and are committed in the fight against extremists. Why would we do anything that would damage and jeopardize our relationship?" he asked.

Iran observed a three-day mourning period to remember the people killed in the attack. A man carrying explosives blew himself up Sunday as participants headed to a conference between Shia and Sunni groups.

In the past, the predominantly Shiite central government in Tehran has accused Jundallah of fomenting unrest in the province. Iran has alleged that the United States and Saudi Arabia are funding the group. Jundallah says it is fighting for the rights of Sunni Muslims in the country.

World failing to dent heroin trade, U.N. warns

(CNN) -- Afghan opium kills 100,000 people every year worldwide -- more than any other drug -- and the opiate heroin kills five times as many people in NATO countries each year than the eight-year total of NATO troops killed in Afghan combat, the United Nations said Wednesday.

An Afghan police officer digs up a field of opium poppies in April.

An Afghan police officer digs up a field of opium poppies in April.

About 15 million people around the world use heroin, opium or morphine, fueling a $65 billion market for the drug and also fueling terrorism and insurgencies: The Taliban raised $450 million to $600 million over the past four years by "taxing" opium farmers and traffickers, Antonio Maria Costa, head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, said in a report.

Not all the money is going into the pockets of rebels or drug dealers; some Afghan officials are making money off the trade as well, he said.

"The Afghan drug economy generates several hundred million dollars per year into evil hands: some with black turbans, some with white collars," Costa said.

The latter reference is "to officials in the Afghan administration, federal government of Kabul or the provinces or the army or the police," Costa told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

And the problem is spreading, he added.

Drug money is funding insurgencies in Central Asia, which has huge energy reserves, Costa said.

"The Silk Route, turned into a heroin route, is carving out a path of death and violence through one of the world's most strategic yet volatile regions," he said.

Authorities are seizing too little heroin, intercepting only about 20 percent of opiate traffic around the world, according to the U.N. report, "Addiction, Crime and Insurgency: the Transnational Threat of Afghan Opium."

It comes on the heels of a U.N. warning last month that two years' worth of opium is effectively "missing," probably stockpiled by the Taliban and criminal gangs.

More than 12,000 tons of opium, which can be consumed as a narcotic itself or turned into heroin, is unaccounted for, the United Nations estimated in September.

It is not clear who has it or why, but the United Nations speculates that criminals could be holding it as a hedge against falling prices or that insurgents or terrorists could be stockpiling it to fund attacks.

The latest report claims to be the first systematic attempt to track where Afghan opium ends up.

Europe and Russia together consume just under half of the heroin coming out of Afghanistan, the United Nations concluded, and Iran is by far the single largest consumer of Afghan opium.

Afghanistan is also probably supplying an increasing share of the heroin in China -- perhaps as much as a quarter, the report said.

Afghanistan is by far the world's largest producer of opium, although Laos, Myanmar and Latin America produce small quantities, it said.

The United Nations found that Afghanistan may be supplying more heroin to the United States and Canada than had been suspected.

The two North American countries consume more than twice as much heroin as Latin America produces. That means either that more Afghan heroin is making its way to North America than had been known or that Mexico and Columbia are producing more than was realized, the United Nations said.

The report confirmed an estimate that $400 million in drug profits goes to the Taliban, Costa said.

The Taliban "are deeply involved" in processing, in protecting farmers and in exporting, he said.

The solution "is very clear," he said. "We need a much greater effort and commitment by governments to prevent drug addiction, to take care of drug addicts ... to reduce demand."

But the popular will for change needs to increase, he said, noting that the Security Council in 2006 and 2007 passed resolutions inviting member states to give the names of drug traffickers to authorities so that their ability to travel can be curtailed and their assets seized.

"So far, much to my dismay, not a single name was provided to the Security Council," he said.

The report offered little new in the way of possible solutions, said Ethan Nadelmann, founding executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which promotes alternatives to the war on drugs.

"It's very good at describing a problem," he said. "But it truly is devoid of any kind of pragmatic solution, and it essentially suggests that the answer is to keep doing more of what's failed us in the past."

So long as there is a global demand for opium, there will be a supply, he said.

"If Afghanistan were suddenly wiped out as a producer of opium -- by bad weather or a blight or eradication efforts -- other parts of the world would simply emerge as new producers, "creating all sorts of new problems," he said.

And Afghanistan itself would not be helped either, he said.

"You would see in Afghanistan millions of people probably flocking to the cities unable to make a living and probably turning more to the Taliban than they are now," he said.

He listed three possible options. The first, global legalization and control, "is not happening, not any time soon," he said.

The second option is to increase drug treatment for addicts who want it and to provide legal access to the drug, as Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, England, Spain and Canada have done, he said.

"In all of these places, there are small, growing programs of heroin maintenance that allow addicts to obtain pharmaceutical-grade heroin from legal sources rather than from the black market," he said.

But Nadelmann added that more people died of opiate overdose last year involving pharmaceutical opiates than died from illegal heroin.

A third possibility, he said, would be to view Afghanistan as essentially a red-light zone of global opium production and to think about the solution as a vice-control challenge, "which means acknowledge that Afghanistan is going to continue to be the world's supplier of illegal opium for the foreseeable future and then focus on manipulating and regulating the market participants, even though it is still illegal."

He added, "That, I think, is in some respects the de facto strategy, even though it cannot be stated openly, for political reasons.

UK unhappy over Malaysians

(The Sun Daily) - The British government is unimpressed with steps taken by Malaysia to address the large number of Malaysians who overstay in Britain, and may eventually impose entry visas.

Last year, Britain announced it will impose visa requirements on Malaysia and 10 other countries deemed as high risk in terms of their nationals who work or stay in Britain illegally.

The other countries are Bolivia, Bostwana, Brazil, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Trinidad & Tobago, and Venezuela.

However, a visit by then foreign minister Datuk Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim won Malaysia a reprieve.

But as far as the British government is concerned, Malaysia is on probation until 2011, and by the look of things, it could lose the current six-month visa-free facility extended to social visitors, no thanks to the 20,000 Malaysians who stay in Britain illegally.

The British view the overwhelming number of Malaysian overstayers as a lack of enforcement at the point of departure in Kuala Lumpur by Malaysian immigration authorities.

Malaysia’s Deputy High Commissioner to Britain, Datuk Rustam Yahaya, said the UK wants Malaysia to show it is serious in ensuring only bona fide visitors go to London.

"The UK reserves the right to review the visa waiver periodically and from the feedback I have been receiving, they are not impressed," he said when met in London recently.

"With so many Malaysians overstaying, the prognosis is not good."

Rustam said that of the 20,000 Malaysians who have been declared illegal by overstaying or entering the country on false declarations, 98% are from the Chinese community and the rest are Indians and other ethnic groups and a small number of Malays.

There are 50,000 Malaysians in the UK.

He said that by 2011, the UK will review Malaysia’s status and impose the requirements, which would involve applying for a six-month visa and paying £200 (RM1,114) an application and even providing fingerprints.

The criteria for Malaysia passing the Visa Waiver Test include how far the Malaysian authorities cooperate in ensuring illegals or people with suspect intentions do not leave for the UK.

Officials from the UK Border Agency were tightlipped but said it would make things easier if immigration officers at KLIA or the LCCT are more vigilant against passengers flying to London, as despite getting the reprieve, an average of two Malaysians are deported every week.

This would also mean that passengers travelling to the UK from Kuala Lumpur may not be able to use the Autogate express passport checks facility.

"If you are going to stay in London for a month but have only £100 on you, something is fishy," said an official.

A statement issued through the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on Monday adds: "The UK keeps under continual review the list of those countries who enjoy a waiver of the requirement for a visitor visa.

"Following the formal ministerial review (Visa Waiver Test) which concluded in early 2009, we are working closely with the Malaysian government on migration matters and will monitor the effectiveness of their actions."

Westminster City Chinese community liaison officer David Tan said it also does not help bona fide Malaysian visitors that many of their countrymen in the UK are also involved in credit card fraud, trafficking in women, and vice.

He said many overstayers work in restaurants in Leicester Square’s Chinatown.

"If you walk into a kitchen in Chinatown and cannot find a Malaysian who had overstayed, I will be very surprised," said Tan, a Malaysian.

A Wisma Putra statement said Malaysia will continue to assure the UK Government on the high level of security at all international airports to prevent Malaysia from becoming a transit point for illegal migrants into the UK.

It said Malaysia will conduct publicity campaigns to bring awareness so as not to breach UK immigration rules.

Come out and face the defamation suits, Raja Petra urged

(The Star) - PETALING JAYA: Raja Petra Kamaruddin has been urged to come out of hiding to face three defamation suits against him.

Making the call, MIC disciplinary board chairman Tan Sri K. S. Nijhar said Raja Petra needed to be present in court to answer all the charges against him.

“He is not being fair to those he had attacked as they need an opportunity to defend themselves,” said Nijhar.

Raja Petra is currently facing three counts of defamation suits.

He is alleged to have defamed Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and two army officers Lt-Kol Norhayati Hassan and her husband Lt-Kol Abdul Aziz Buyong in June last year.

“Having made many allegations, the truth should come out and be subjected to cross examination in court,” said Nijhar.

When pointed out that Raja Petra had claimed that he was concern about his safety should he come out of hiding, Nijhar said he could work with the courts or other authorities to come to an understanding to ensure his safety.

“Even Chin Peng (former Communist Party of Malaya secretary-general) was able to attend talks with the Prime Minister (first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra) and not worry about his safety,” Nijhar added.

Raja Petra has two arrest warrants issued against him after failing to appear before the court for his criminal defamation trial and police are still trying to locate him.

HINDRAF Press Statement

HINDRAF – Will Najib announce in the open special allocations for the marginalized and discriminated Malaysian Indians in his 2010 budget release.

The current Prime Minister in his statement recently admitted that Malaysian Indians have contributed immensely to the development of the country and are currently in the backwaters of the country. He also admitted that special attention needs to be given to the Malaysian Indians to bring them into the mainstream of the nation's development.

In the 2009 Budget, the then Prime Minister Datuk Ahmad Badawi initiated an action plan with the nation’s mission focusing first on ensuring the well being of Malaysians, development of quality Human Capital and strengthening of the nation’s resilience.

However Badawi’s plan was only a lip service to appease the nation without any real action to enhance the nation's resilience - with their continued suppression of the public aginst Article 5, 8, 10 & 13 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution - particularly against the Malaysian Indians.

The current Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato Seri Mohd. Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak has taken several approaches to appease the Malaysian Indians. Yet this all could be just more political charade to hoodwink the nation about the efforts to uplift the Malaysian Indians.

If the current Prime Minister is serious and is concerned about addressing the grievances of the Malaysian Indians, then he should come out in the open. He should announce bold and specific measures to uplift the Malaysian Indian from the systematic marginalization and discrimination they face and then ensure their implementation .

The failure by the Prime Minister to address this issue clearly will only lend further credence to the hypocritical and deceptive policies that has been the norm of the UMNO led government for the last 52 years.

Thank you.

P. Waythamoorthy

HINDRAF – CHAIRMAN

Pornthip willing to conduct post mortem on Teoh

(The Star) - SHAH ALAM: Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand is willing to conduct a post mortem on Teoh Beng Hock if his remains were to be exhumed.

She told coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas she would be able to come up with a more concise and detailed analysis if she could examine Teoh’s remains.

To a question by counsel holding a watching brief for Teoh’s family, Gobind Singh Deo, Dr Pornthip said she would still be able to conduct the post mortem in spite of the deceased having been buried almost four months ago.

Asked whether the exhumation of Teoh’s remains for the purpose of the second post mortem would put her at a disadvantage, she said no.

She admitted that there would be “limitations” due to decomposition if a second postmortem was delayed.

However, she reiterated that she could still do so at this stage.

Meanwhile, counsel for the government – Tan Hock Chuan – ruffled Dr Pornthip’s feathers yesterday when he suggested she did not have the locus standi to arrive at her opinion.

“Since you did not conduct the post mortem or inspect the body or go to the scene of the incident and you are not furnished with all the reports and photos, is it appropriate to form an opinion on mathematical terms that suicide is 20% and homicide 80%?” asked Tan.

Dr Pornthip replied that she only based her opinion on the evidence provided.

She said she did not take sides and that her work involved taking care of the rights of the people, especially the dead.

When Tan rephrased his question to suggest that the limitations she faced could not have helped her arrive at her conclusion that it was 80% homicide and 20% suicide, Dr Pornthip replied: “It is my field, my work and I believe in that. It is more scientific.”

Dr Pornthip also said she did not agree with some of Universiti Malaya Medical Centre’s Dr Prashant Samberkar’s opinions, in particular that Teoh’s death could have been a suicide.

However, she said, she did not want to criticise the opinion of the other forensic pathologists.

She added that she wanted the press to know that her opinion was based on her years of experience and not aimed at contradicting the police or other medical professionals.

The inquest was adjourned to Nov 9.

Ong, Dr Chua hammer out truce with nudge from Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — An end may be in sight in the MCA crisis with the recent intervention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Najib met Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek yesterday to thrash out a solution for the deadlock in MCA.

The result was an agreement between the two men to bury their differences.

It is understood that the two rivals had been in communication since last week’s party central committee meeting where Ong refused to quit as MCA president.

Yesterday the two men were asked to meet the PM.

Najib, who is also Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, was unhappy that the coalition’s second biggest party was in disarray.

He told the two men that BN needed a strong and stable MCA if it was to take advantage of any weakness in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to regain non-Malay votes lost in Election 2008.

Another EGM and fresh elections will just make it worse, the PM told the two men.

Under the truce between the two men, Ong and Dr Chua agreed to find ways to stabilise the party, with the two of them at the helm, without bringing the party to the brink.

It was agreed that Dr Chua’s supporters would be appointed to key positions in the party’s state and national leadership to reflect the deputy president’s relative support.

However, the two men may find it hard to convince their respective supporters and the public that they can hold a truce.

They will also find a way to deal with the position of Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He was appointed the MCA’s new No. 2 last week by a central committee that also asked for Ong’s resignation.

A number of other senior party leaders have also made strong remarks and hurled accusations at both Ong and Dr Chua.

Any public show of affection or unity would likely be farcical and draw even more scorn for the BN party, which only has by some estimates less than 30 per cent backing from Chinese voters.

The current MCA crisis had started soon after party elections last October.

Ong won the presidency convincingly but against the odds Dr Chua won the No. 2 job after he was forced to resign from his Cabinet position and party posts earlier in the year because of secretly filmed footage of him having sex with his mistress was leaked.

The party president had an uneasy relationship with Dr Chua and set out to isolate him. Dr Chua was not given any prominent appointments and was not even made state chairman in Johor.

Things came to a head when Ong decided to push for Dr Chua to be sacked from the party. His excuse was that the sex recording had tarnished the party.

The presidential council agreed to sack Dr Chua. Later, following a surge of public discontent, the central committee reduced it to a suspension of Dr Chua’s membership.

Supporters of Dr Chua then pushed for an EGM.

At the Oct 10 EGM, Ong lost a confidence vote while Dr Chua had his membership reinstated.

The results suggested there was a move by a third force to remove both men and benefit Liow.

Ong then went back on his word and refused to resign, pointing out that the party constitution requires at least a two-thirds majority of delegates at an EGM to force his resignation.

Dr Chua is using the same requirement in an application to the Registrar of Societies to be reinstated as deputy president.

Dr Chua has told the Registrar that since his membership had been restored, it was status quo and that meant he was still the deputy president.

If the Registrar agrees, that means Liow’s appointment will be voided.

And if Ong keeps his word there will be wholesale changes in the party to reflect Dr Chua’s support.

Lingam tapes: Case closed

(NST) - KUALA LUMPUR: Legal action will not be taken against prominent lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam for lack of evidence and testimony in the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam tapes.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told Parliament the findings of the probe were not substantial enough to initiate legal proceedings. In a written reply to Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, he said there were several factors tied to the issue that had thwarted efforts to move ahead with the case.

He said no evidence was found to prove abuse of power in judicial appointments as presented in the then Anti-Corruption Agency’s investigation report on the issue.

“Hence, the Attorney-General’s Chambers ruled that there would be no further action (in the matter. Najib said investigations commissioned under the Official Secrets Act 1972 could not identify any wrongdoing by anyone in the handling of documents related to appointments of High Court judges. Investigations into former chief justice Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin’s New Zealand holiday were also hampered as a key witness could not be found, he added.

On alleged false claims for a hotel stay by former chief justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, Najib said there was insufficient evidence to back up the allegation.

“The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s Legal and Prosecution division director decided not to pursue the investigation. The investigation papers were not referred to the attorney-general.”

Najib explained that no action could be taken against Lingam based on the findings of four separate investigations scrutinised by the commission. The investigations were carried out under:
section 15 of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 (before it was abolished) on alleged abuse of power in judicial appointments;

the Official Secrets Act 1972 on wrongdoings in the handling of documents related to High Court judicial appointments;

paragraph 4(a) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1961 (before it was abolished) on Eusoff’s New Zealand vacation; and,

paragraph 11(c) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 (before it was abolished) on alleged false claims for a hotel stay by Ahmad Fairuz.

The inquiry, which began on Jan 14, was set up to look into a 14-minute video clip which the commission said showed Lingam in conversation with Ahmad

Fairuz over judicial appointments. The commission found, among other things, that:

• The video clip was authentic;
• Lingam was in conversation with Ahmad Fairuz over judicial appointments;
• There was direct influence by Lingam in the elevation of judges, in particular in the appointment of Ahmad Fairuz as president of the Court of Appeal, with the possible aim of his further appointment as chief justice; and;
• Lingam had asked tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to involve themselves actively in the appointment of judges,
in particular the appointment of Ahmad Fairuz as the Chief Judge of Malaya and subsequently, president of the Court of Appeal.

The commission identified six people to be investigated under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1961, the Sedition Act 1961, the Legal Profession Act 1976, the Official Secrets Act 1972 and the Penal Code.

They are former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Lingam, Tan, Umno secretarygeneral Tengku Adnan, Eusoff Chin and Ahmad Fairuz.

Tian Chua found guilty of biting PC

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — Batu MP Tian Chua was today found guilty by the magistrate's court of biting a police constable and preventing the officer from discharging his duty in December 2007.

Chua, 46, whose full name is Chua Tian Chang, committed the offence against PC Rosyaidi Anuar, 21, in front of Parliament House in the incident on Dec 11, 2007.

Chua, the PKR strategic director, was charged under Section 332 of the Penal Code and could be jailed up to three years or fined or both.

Should the jail term exceed a year or if the fine exceeds RM2,000, he will be disqualified from holding his parliamentary seat after exhausting all avenues of appeal.

Chua (picture) committed the offence during a Bersih gathering to protest against constitutional amendments extending the retirement age of Election Commission members from 65 to 66.

Magistrate Mohd Faizi Che Abu will deliver the sentence later today after hearing mitigation from counsel.

He found Chua not to be a credible witness as his defence was a mere denial.

In an immediate response, Chua said the judgment was not fair as the judge and prosecution had relied on the evidence of the constable and based it on circumstantial evidence.

"It did not prove the biting took place," the MP said.

PAS revives non-Muslim wing plans

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — PAS is reviving plans to make its non-Muslim supporters’ club a wing with its own constitution, amid reports of a new Indian party drawing away its supporters.

PAS Supporters' Club (PSC) president Hu Pang Chow said many of its members are believed to have joined the Makkal Sakti party, which is widely believed to be backed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The PSC was set up in 2004 with 100 non-Muslim members, but claimed membership of almost 50,000 soon after the opposition made big gains in last year's general election.

However, the slow process of turning the club into a full wing and Najib's earnest promises to help the Indian community have led to many members leaving.

The fight for Indian support also reflects how members of the minority community, once solid supporters of the MIC, are now open to backing other parties after judging that the MIC had failed to protect their interests.

Makkal Sakti president R.S. Thanenthirran declined to reveal how many PSC members had defected to his party since it was formed in May.

But he said the 60,000-strong party will “continue to champion the marginalised and this will naturally become an attraction to many”.

“I will not be surprised if more people throw their support behind those that can deliver,” he told The Straits Times.

The idea of turning the PSC into an official wing of PAS was mooted last year, but some within the club feel that the process is taking too long, said Hu.

“They will turn to parties that they feel can do something for them,” Hu said.

The plan to absorb the club fully into PAS was given fresh impetus after many Indian voters turned away from voting for PAS in the recent Bagan Pinang by-election, awarding the Umno candidate a big victory, party insiders say.

Members of the PSC, unlike ordinary members of the Islamist party, do not have voting rights in the party elections held every two years.

PAS currently has three wings — the ulama, women and youth wings, and a committee has been set up by the Islamist party to decide on formalising the PSC.

Hu said one way to make it more attractive to non-Muslims would be for its members to be allowed to run in general elections or by-elections.

But when asked if these members would be given the right to vote during PAS elections, he said that remains unclear.

PAS National Unity Committee chief Mujahid Rawa, who is in charge of the club and its absorption into the party, said however that he is confident the PSC will be turned into a wing by the end of the year.

“I would not say it will be a fully fledged wing but it will stand on its own, have a clear structure and its own constitution,” he told The Straits Times.

One sticking point is the constitutional constraint that only Muslims are allowed to be members of PAS.

But Mujahid said: “It's quite complicated but the committee has come up with something.”

He declined to elaborate.

Political analyst James Chin, of Monash University Malaysia Campus, said of the plan to turn the club into a new PAS wing: “It will happen. PAS has every incentive to do it, otherwise it will lose support.” — The Straits Times

The deal about judicial KPIs

By Ding Jo-Ann
thenutgraph.com

Zaki
Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi

THE setting of key performance indicators (KPIs) for judges is being touted as the mechanism that will turn Malaysia's beleaguered judiciary into an efficient, justice-dispensing system. Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi has made improving judicial efficiency his personal mission. "I want to ensure that justice is produced fast. Clear the backlog. If I can do this, then I would be very happy," he reportedly said shortly after taking office in October 2008.

Superficially, this seems to be cause for celebration. Judges having measurable monthly targets should theoretically result in greater efficiency. But do KPIs for judges make sense? Can the dispensation of justice be measured in this way? Is this a long-term solution that will restore the judiciary's reputation, or is it just a cosmetic fix that is wreaking havoc on lawyers, their clients and the administration of justice?

Rushing out justice

Although KPIs look good on paper, the stories on the ground suggest that some judges are so obsessed with meeting their KPIs that they are willing to sacrifice being fair and thorough, resulting in justice being compromised.

"A judge told me my case had to be finished because of the KPI," says one lawyer. "We had fixed specific trial dates months ago because my client, who was overseas, could only attend on those dates. [But] a few days before the trial, the judge [suddenly] insisted the witness attend one day earlier."

ticking stopwatch

When told that the witness could not be present on the new date, the judge said: "I don't care. We have to proceed on this date. Get another witness. If not, too bad, we continue with the case."

This lawyer and several others The Nut Graph spoke to declined to be named so as not to jeopardise ongoing cases should the judges involved hear of their complaints.

Another lawyer says that some judges are no longer giving sufficient time for proper legal research to be done for submissions after a trial is concluded. "After several days of trial, the judge wanted us to make legal submissions the very next day," the Kuala Lumpur lawyer said. "When we protested, the judge checked whether the KPIs had been met for that month. Upon confirming that it had, then only were we given more time."

The lawyer says that in the past, lawyers were given at least two weeks to consider the evidence and conduct further research to back up their submissions. She argues that as a result of the pressure to complete closing submissions in record-breaking time, decisions may not always be correct because they would not be based on research to rebut fresh evidence.

Worse, there have even been reports that criminal cases proceeded without the presence of the appointed defence counsel. Considering that drug-related cases at the High Court involves the possibility of the death penalty, the current efficiency drive can seriously compromise the more important need of ensuring a fair trial for the accused.

"We agree that matters should go on, without a doubt," says Penang lawyer Jagdeep Singh Deo. "But this must be balanced with the fact that [appointed] counsels should be allowed to be present when the case goes on."

Richard Wee
Richard Wee (pic courtesy of Richard Wee)

Jagdeep recounts that one particular drug-related case in Penang involving the death penalty went ahead even though the defence counsel could not be present. "It is quite ironic," he continues. "In a capital case, if the accused is not represented, ordinarily the court will assign counsel because to be fair, the accused must have counsel." But in the mad rush to meet KPIs in the particular case Jagdeep was recounting, justice could not have been done.

Lawyers also complain that each court is also now demanding priority when fixing trial dates. When lawyers cannot be present at two different courts at the same time, they are accused of taking on too many cases. Sometimes they are asked to hand over cases to their colleagues if trial dates clash.

Lawyer Richard Wee feels this could be unfair to clients. "If some lawyers take on too many cases that they cannot handle, I agree they must cut down but the judges cannot force us to drop cases that we have been handling for more than five years," he says in a phone interview.

"We must be given time, for example, if we are told, 'By 2010, no more adjournments will be granted on the basis that you have another case to handle', then we can inform our clients as well."

Speed vs quality

But not all lawyers think that chasing after KPIs has resulted in justice sometimes being aborted.

"Generally, I think the KPIs are quite good. They are moving the cases much faster and judges are accountable in situations where cases are being postponed unnecessarily," Khaizan Sharizad Abdul Razak says.

Wee, however, believes that there are problems with the implementation of the reforms.

"There is an unnecessary feeling of wanting to make everything fast at the expense of justice," he says. "The law should always cater for all. The courts should have the flexibility to slow down certain cases."

Seira
Seira Sacha (pic courtesy of Seira)

Lawyer Seira Sacha Abu Bakar argues that KPIs for judges don't work and other measures should be used to improve the judiciary. "Judges' competency must be looked at in terms of how they perform when hearing cases and in giving sound judgments... In their rush to commence and complete trials, there is a risk that judges may overlook some issues," she argues.

Cannot go back

Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan reveals to The Nut Graph that the Bar Council has been in talks with Zaki who assures them he's looking into all these "teething problems". Whatever happens next, Ragunath says, the system cannot go back to how it was before.

"This is a work in progress. We had a system that never worked previously. No one wanted to deal with the system and overhaul the system... We have not reached an ideal system but we can't go back to the old system which doesn't work. Changes have to take place," he says.

Wee concurs that Zaki is trying. He says Zaki replies promptly to e-mails and constantly meets with the Bar Council and the state bar committees. "Before him and [previous Chief Justice] Tun [Abdul] Hamid [Mohamad], we were never consulted."

Ragunath Kesavan
Ragunath Kesavan

But these efforts aside, Ragunath says that for the system to work, judges themselves must be able to speak out if the KPIs cannot be met for valid reasons. "We've been told that the [chief justice] will not interfere with the running of each court. Therefore, the judges should put their foot down if they feel they cannot comply with the KPIs. If they cannot finish a particularly complex case and need more time, they should be prepared to justify this and not just say, 'I have KPIs, I have to finish the case now'."

There's no doubt that everyone wants a more efficient judiciary. "We all want cases to be disposed off quickly, but this must be balanced with a proper hearing of the case," Seira argues. That, instead of just speed, is what lawyers are saying will ensure justice and fairness.

"It's a good thing to clear the backlog but there should be certain caveats to it...The discretion of the judges must be applied without having KPIs as a consideration," Jagdeep says. "The bigger consideration, the paramount consideration, is justice."

Bar Council presses on with its Lingam action

New Straits Times (used by permission)
By V. Anbalagan

KUALA LUMPUR: The Bar Council expressed disappointment that there would be no further development on the Lingam tape.

Its chairman Ragunath Kesavan said there was high expectation following the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

"We had expected some positive development after taking into consideration the nature of the complaints and the findings of the commission.

On investigations against former chief justice Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin's New Zealand trip that came to a halt as a key witness could not be located, Ragunath said the authorities should have sought public assistance.

"We do not know who the authorities were looking for," he said.

After the commission inquiry early last year, lawyers representing the council were allowed to participate in the proceedings which included questioning witnesses.

It also provided submissions to assist the five-man commission to come to conclusions on the terms of reference and recommendations.

After the report was released by the commission, the Bar Council instituted its own action against Lingam for professional misconduct.

The hearing, which is on going, is before the Advocates and Solicitors' Disciplinary Board.

"The proceedings against Lingam will continue despite the Attorney-General Chamber's decision not to institute criminal charges against him," Ragunath said.

Lingam, meanwhile, declined to comment on this latest development.

Mara college's expensive laptops - Anil Netto

Some might consider RM4,000 or RM5,000 for a laptop to be a bit pricey – but what do you think of RM42,320 for a laptop?

That’s what Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara Balik Pulau in Penang reportedly paid for Acer laptops.

See The Star report here.

It’s the same old story each time the Auditor-General’s report is out, isn’t it?

Somebody’s getting rich somewhere and it ain’t us. In fact, they often get rich at the expense of taxpayers.

And in the end, nobody is held accountable.

Kemungkinan besar Teoh dibunuh

Seorang pakar patologi dari Thailand, Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand membuat pendedahan yang mengejutkan dalam inkeus kematian Teoh Beng Hock pagi ini dengan menyatakan bahawa setiausaha politik itu mungkin telah dicekik sebelum jatuh dari tingkat 14 Plaza Masalam.

Katanya, terdapat tanda bulat pada leher Teoh yang menunjukkan dia 'dicekik'.

Menurutnya lagi, retakan pada tengkorak Teoh bukan satu kecederaan akibat terjatuh.

NONEManakala kecederaan pada lubang dubur Teoh, katanya, boleh disebabkan dicucuk dengan objek sebelum dia jatuh.

Ini, katanya, berdasarkan kepada gambar-gambar yang diambil di tempat Teoh ditemui jatuh.

Dr Pornthip membuat kesimpulan bahawa terdapat 80 peratus kemungkinan homisid dan 20 peratus kemungkinan bunuh diri.

Beliau juga tidak bersetuju dengan pandangan pakar-pakar forensik bahawa Teoh "jatuh dalam keadaan sedar" tetapi sebaliknya menegaskan bahawa mangsa mungkin tidak sedar.

Beliau memberi tiga sebab dalam membuat kesimpulan tersebut, iaitu:

1) Laporan bedah siasat menyatakan mangsa masih hidup ketika jatuh di tanah, tetapi beliau (Dr Pornthip) tidak menemui kecederaan untuk melindungi diri.

2) Beliau menemui luka-luka yang kelihatan berlaku sebelum mangsa jatuh.

3) Kecederaan pada bahagian dada adalah akibat impak awalan.

Beliau memberi keterangan sebagai saksi pakar di inkues tersebut yang diadakan untuk menentukan punca kematian Teoh.

Dr Pornthip adalah pengarah dan pengasas bersama Institut Pusat Sains Forensik Kementerian Keadilan Thailanad dan dianggap pakar dalam siasatan kes-kes pembunuhan yang rumit.

Teoh - setiausaha politik kepada exco Selangor, Ean Yong Hian Wah - ditemui mati selepas memberi keterangan kepada Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) di tingkat 14 Plaza Masalam berhubung dakwaan salahguna wang negeri pada 15 Julai lalu. [Baca berita penuh]

Sementara itu, Bernama melaporkan, Dr Porntip mempunyai 27 tahun pengalaman dalam bidang sains forensik.

Pakar Thai itu tiba di mahkamah pada jam 8.50 pagi. Beliau turut mengadakan tayangan slaid bagi membantu mahkamah memahami keterangannya.

"Dari gambar post-mortem, saya dapati ada kesan lebam di bahagian kanan leher, yang kami (pakar patologi) panggil 'handle bruise', dan kecederaan ini selaras dengan kecederaan disebabkan cekekan," kata Dr Porntip yang telah mengendali lebih 10,000 bedah siasat.

Beliau berkata kecederaan itu tidak dinyatakan dalam laporan autopsi disediakan oleh Dr Khairul Azman dan Dr Prashant, yang telah diberikan kepadanya untuk diperiksa.

"Saya juga dapati kecederaan tusukan di bahagian dubur yang boleh disebabkan perbuatan memasukkan objek dalam bahagian berkenaan. Saya tidak pernah melihat kecederaan seumpama itu dalam kes jatuh dari tempat tinggi," kata beliau, sambil menunjuk kepada gambar-gambar bedah siasat yang dipaparkan pada slaid.

Dr Pornthip berkata beliau juga mendapati kesan melelas di paha bahagian atas Teoh yang mungkin disebabkan disebat.

"Satu lagi kecederaan yang saya temui ialah keretakan tempurung kepala, yang mungkin disebabkan oleh hentakan tumpul yang tepat kepada tempurung kepala sebelum jatuh," kata Dr Porntip, saksi ke-30 di inkues itu.

Beliau berkata kemungkinan Teoh tidak sedarkan diri bila ia jatuh dari tingkat lima, berdasarkan tiadanya kecederaan reaksi pada badan, dan menambah luka-luka kelihatan seperti kecederaan sebelum jatuh, dan kecederaan dada yang teruk adalah akibat impak primari di lantai.

Ditanya oleh peguam Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, bagi pihak kerajaan Selangor, tentang kes melelas di bahagian bawah kasut Teoh, pakar itu berkata: "Kelihatan seperti badannya telah diheret.

"Dalam kes-kes jatuh biasa dari tempat tinggi, kasut tidak meninggalkan kesan melelas seperti ini," jelas beliau.

Ditanya oleh koroner Azmil Muntapha Abas sama ada permukaaan lantai mungkin menyebabkan kesan heretan, Dr Porntip menjawab: "Permukaan keras dan kasar".

"Bagaimanapun, pasukan forensik saya tidak menemui sesuatu yang boleh menyebabkan kesan ini bila mereka memeriksa tingkat 14 (pejabat MACC) pada kali terakhir," katanya.

Lim Guan Eng and his pussy cats

Anwar: Pakatan Rakyat tidak berpecah

Single parent Indian mother, 5 children, 4 denied birth certificate homeless now.

Single parent Indian mother, 5 children, 4 denied berth certificate homeless now.

M. Suppama (44) is living in poverty with five children, four of whom have been denied even their birth certificates (by the UMNO controlled Malaysian government. (Malaysia Nanban 10/10/2009 at page 18). Three of her four children have been denied entry into even Primary school because they do not have a birth certificate. Her eldest son Linggeswaran works at a petrol station. Her eldest daughter Manimegalai (14) had to stop school at standard 4 as Suppama could not afford to pay for the bus fare the. Tamarai Lalitha (11) and Kogilavani (9) have also been denied their birth certificates by UMNO. This family has no water or electricity supply in their house. As they have not paid their rentals for a few months they have been told to vacate their house. This family does not know what to do next. They are expecting the existing poor working class Malaysian Indians to help them out financially.

If only the UMNO controlled Malaysian government grant them an opportunity in the Felda, Risda, Fama, Felcra, Agropolitan or the various such state land schemes or the various land schemes for lifestock, fish, chicken breeding etc, this Indian family’s mysery would certainly be alleviated. But just because they are Indians and not Malay muslims UMNO denied them the opportunity to escape from the clutches of poverty and neither does PKR, DAP or PAS care! This is how racist Prime Minister Najib can be under his supposed One Malaysia policy.

Posted by P. Uthayakumar.

poor

Kapitan Lim Guan Eng and his DCM II Indian mandore


The “DCM II” of Penang, the Indian mandore of Kapitan Lim Guan Eng said (cakap kosong) at his Deepavali lunch that the state had allocated land for the relocation of SJK (T) Ladang Batu Kawan and SJK (T) Azad which were now sited on private land.

“We will soon help acquire land to relocate SJK (T) Ladang Valdor and later look into land woes faced by SJK (T) Sungai Bakap and SJK (T) Rajaji.

He also said he was trying to help three Indian students from Kampong Buah Pala to obtain scholarships to further their studies in local institutions of higher learning (Sunday Star 18/10/2009 at page N18)

This is the exact piecemeal paper politics UMNO has been playing for the past 52 years since independence through their Indian mandores from the MIC. The latest example is the piecemeal paper politics by the UMNO Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir who on the eve of Deepavali announced (cakap kosong) that 800 hectres of land, the proceeds of which are to be for poor Indians students. (The Star 16/10/2009 at page N24). The only difference is that the UMNO Menteri Besar made the announcement on the eve of Deepavali but Kapitan Lim Guan Eng’s DCM II Indian mandore made the announcement on Deepavali day itself. Both statements are “cakap kosong” without anything at all in writing as usual. This announcement will never take off and will be forgotten in due course. But in the meantime both UMNO and DAP/PKR would have made their political capital by having played politics.

Kapitan Lim Guan Eng should instead of making piecemeal paper politics “cakap kosong” announcements and pronouncements should forward to us (HRP) as guardians of especially the working class Indians and also the Pulau Pinang Indians in writing an official letter under the Chief Minister’s letterhead (and not through his Indian mandore) that all 28 Tamil schools in Penang have been issued land titles for their respective school buildings and a further adjoining land of ten (10) acres each for their future development, school field (which most Tamil schools do not have) and an assembly hall which would also double up as the local Indian community hall cum centre which would also generate extra income for these schools. This could be done by the stroke of Kapitan Lim Guan Eng’s pen by virtue of section 76 of the National Land Code by compulsorily acquiring these Tamil school land and restoring them with the respective Tamil school. Then and only then are we on and DAP and PR would be seen to be different from UMNO.

Why should these five Tamil schools be relocated in the first place. By doing this it’s historical and heritage value would also be wiped out forever. Why are Malay and Chinese schools in Penang not relocated in the same way as these Tamil Schools? Why does DAP and PR pick on the Tamil schools? Because they are soft targets? Because they do not have the political and economical clout?

Any why “try to help three Indian students” to obtain scholarships. This Kapitan Lim Guan Eng and his Indian DCM II mandore must ensure that scholarships are awarded by Yayasan Pulau Pinang for all the hundreds of deserving Indian students in Penang and not for just merely “only the three students”. And that too merely “try to help”?

It is plain and obvious that DAP, PKR and PAS are merely continuing UMNO’s 52 year old piecemeal paper politics, racist policies and the politics of hoodwinking even the poor underprivileged and working class Indians in Penang. This Kapiatan has conveniently forgotten that it was these Penang working class Indians who were in turn instrumental in bringing him (this Kapitan) to the office of the Chief Minister. It is plain and obvious as it stands that both UMNO and BN and also DAP, PKR and DAP are only interested in the Indian votes but not their critical Indians problems. The Indians out of no choice (as 90% of them have lost hope and could no longer vote for UMNO,B.N) would be left with no or very little other choice or alternative but be forced to vote for DAP, PKR and PAS.

We now have the alternative – The Indian political empowerment strategy.

kapitan

Pressure mounts to exhume Teoh for second autopsy

By Debra Chong - The Malaysian Insider

SHAH ALAM, Oct 21 – Fresh evidence surrounding Teoh Beng Hock’s death may just be the impetus needed by his family to ask for a second autopsy before the inquest is over.

Lawyer for the Teohs, Gobind Singh Deo, said there were strong reasons for a second medical examination and analysis of Teoh’s body, noting today’s revelation that the 30-year-old may have been strangled just before dying.

“There are grounds to consider a second post-mortem,” he told reporters just after today’s inquest, indicating he would advise them to apply to the coroner’s court for one.

“I have to discuss with them in more detail to move for an exhumation,” he said.

Gobind also said that the family had previously refused a second, independent autopsy to be carried out but did not comment on their reason for it.

But he stressed that the final decision lay in the coroner’s hands.

“Ultimately, the matter is before the coroner. It is now up to the coroner to decide if he has enough evidence to conclude or whether he feels it necessary for a second post-mortem,” the lawyer added.

Magistrate Azmil Muntapha Abas is acting as coroner in Teoh’s inquest. He had earlier indicated that it may be too late to dig up Teoh’s body for a second opinion.

Dr Porntip Rojanasunan bidding goodbye to reporters at the end of today's session on the Teoh Beng Hock inquest. – Picture by Jack Ooi

Thailand’s foremost forensic pathologist, Dr Porntip Rojanasunan, gave her expert opinion today on the mystery surrounding the 30-year-old political secretary’s death on July 16.

In her sworn testimony, she told the coroner’s court that Teoh had died as a result of falling from a high place, which supports the findings from the two pathologists who autopsied Teoh.

But Dr Rojanasunan suggested that Teoh could not have fallen to death on his own will because there was strong evidence indicating he had been strangled until he passed out.

The head of the Thai government’s Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) in Bangkok, who had flown here specially for the inquest, said she was willing to carry out another autopsy on Teoh.

Dr Rojanasunan, who had been engaged by the Selangor state government, had earlier noted that the investigation into his death was not complete.

She said that she may be able to provide a more detailed and concrete analysis if she were given the opportunity to check Teoh’s body personally.

The pathologist had not taken part in the first autopsy nor did she inspect the scene where Teoh’s body was found.

Asked if she would be at a disadvantage if she had to perform the autopsy on an exhumed body, Dr Rojanasunan said “no”, but stressed there would be more limits to what she could expect to find the longer it is put off.

She said that carrying out a post-mortem examination even four months after death would still be viable.

However, she wanted it known that she was only involved to give her expert opinion on the subject and not to expose the authorities to ridicule.

The inquest will continue on Nov 9 at 11am.

Shift of Indian votes: Dire warning for Pakatan

R Mutharasan

The majority of Indian votes shifting to Barisan Nasional in the recent Bagan Pinang by-election has led to an interesting question – will this be a permanent trend in future by-elections and the next the general election or is Bagan Pinang a case in isolation?

The results of Bagan Pinang is not surprising, but what is shocking is the majority Isa Samad was able to achieve despite Pakatan Rakyat, namely PAS, mounting a credible challenge.

Although there are many reasons for Isa’s performance, one key factor that contributed to the increase in the majority is the shift of Indian votes for BN.

Retaining a seat by more than 5,000 votes that was lost in 2008 by just 2,000 over votes clearly indicates that it is going to be anything but easy for Pakatan to overthrow BN in the next general election.

However, at the same time it looks like too many things are being read concerning the victory of BN in Bagan Pinang without realising the advantages BN had.

The first and foremost was Isa’s popularity with the Indian voters, who saw no reason to cast their ballots against him.

His previous acquaintances and political connections with key Indian leaders from the state and the local Indian community also helped him penetrate into the Indian vote bank.

Najib’s winning strategies

At the same time, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s concerted and well-planned strategies to win over the hearts and minds of the Indian community and to convince them that the BN leadership is seriously considering their plight, also helped in the shift of Indian votes in Bagan Pinang towards BN.

Some may claim that this is a mere lip-service by BN, but there is no doubt that since taking over the leadership of BN, Najib has given the impression that he has drawn up a specific agenda to help and uplift the Indian community.

The opposition parties and the political pundits know that Umno is in a desperate situation now to retain its political supremacy and hence is making concessions and compromises to achieve its goal when it comes to dealing with non-Malay voters. For example, since taking office Najib has changed one major BN policy and that is dealing directly with Indian NGOs and other Indian political factions instead of always following the age-old tradition of using MIC as the channel to reach the Indian community.

Najib did not stop at that. He took a walk along Jalan Tun Sambanthan (commonly known as Brickfields) to personally mingle with the Indian community who frequent the area for their varied activities.

Next, he visited the Batu Caves temple and in his speech promised to return there for Thaipusam, a tradition followed by his father and former prime ministers but discontinued by Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Najib’s visit to the Batu Caves temple is also seen by the Indian community as a sort of redemption for the police brutality committed during the Hindraf rally in 2007 where the temple premises became one of the venues for the epochal public rally.

Najib also personally presented a grant of RM1 million to the Sri Murugan Centre headed by M Thambirajah, an NGO which for years has been helping poor Indian students excel in public examinations by running tuition centres all over the country. Then there was the special allocation of Amanah Saham unit trusts for the Indian community.

The final and most striking gesture was the launching of the Malaysian Makkal Sakti Party (MMSP) headed by former Hindraf coordinator RS Thanenthiran.

This move which took place just one day ahead of the Bagan Pinang by-election had a profound effect on the minds of the Indian community in Bagan Pinang and elsewhere.

It must also be pointed out that Najib went ahead to launch MMSP despite public opposition from MIC. There were also speculations that the MIC leadership had privately coerced Najib not to launch MMSP as it was seen as an alternative political force to MIC and therefore he should not endorse it.

Najib’s launch of MMSP changed the mindset of the Indian community on two fronts. The first was that the prime minister himself was launching a new Indian-based political party comprising former members and leaders of Hindraf, a movement which was banned by Najib’s predecessor Abdullah.

Although the ban on the movement still remains, launching a party comprising former leaders of Hindraf and approving a name for the party which was once the slogan or mantra of Hindraf sent a message to the Indian community that the new BN government does not harbour any animosity towards Hindraf.

Next, by officially launching MMSP, Najib also drove home a clear message to the Indian community that the BN government will not deal with MIC alone when it comes to Indian political issues. At the launch, he also declared that he is not the prime minister for only those from BN parties but for all Malaysians.

At the same time, the some sections of the Indian community also realised that what Najib was doing was merely encouraging the division of the Indian community further into smaller political factions, thereby weakening them for Umno-BN’s own political mileage.

Again this is not Najib’s fault but that of MIC which always kept many young and active Indians outside the party which resulted in them joining other parties like IPF, PKR, PPP, Gerakan and DAP. To put it another way, the Indians were already politically divided when MMSP was launched.

Some have been also alleging that a splinter group from Hindraf headed by Thanenthran has hijacked the name ‘Makkal Sakti’ and has joined BN for their own personal political motives and agenda.

However, despite all these developments, the fact remains that the prime minister is prepared to go down to the ground to deal with Indian political issues and is prepared to listen and recognise other political factions like MMSP. This gesture caught the attention of the Indian community and impressed them.

Kampung Buah Pala

On the contrary, Pakatan despite capturing five key states that house more than 50 percent of the total Indian population in the country did not have a specific agenda for the Indian community or a well-thought out strategy to woo the Indian voters although they had done many good deeds by helping Tamil schools and Hindu temples. Pakatan parties also failed to convince the Indians that they were with them during their troubled times.

In this respect, the manner in which the Penang state government and the Pakatan leadership handled the Kampung Buah Pala issue remains a thorn in the flesh between Pakatan and the Indian community. In Kampung Buah Pala, the DAP-led Pakatan government in Penang had a golden opportunity to correct a grave injustice done by the BN government to the Indian community but they failed to capitalise on this.

Although everyone knows that it was the Gerakan-BN government that sold the land to outsiders for a paltry sum, the Indian community was looking forward to the new Penang state government and the Pakatan leadership to find a solution to the problem, rathe than merely point fingers. Until today, the state government is unable to correct the impression that it was the new government that gave the green light for the development in Kampung Buah Pala.

Pakatan could have also done so many things to cool down tensions as result of the Kampung Buah Pala issue but they failed miserably.

For example, they could have reached out to Indian NGOs and other Indian political factions to explain to them the real situation in Kampung Buah Pala and the efforts taken by the Penang state government in solving the problems faced by the residents.

However, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s announcement that the residents will not be allowed legal representation during their meetings with the state government and that outsiders will not be allowed to be involved in the problem, gravely disappointed and irked the Indian community.

Even former Hindraf leader and Human Rights Party chief P Uthayakumar was not entertained by the Penang government concerning this matter. The Indian community saw this as arrogance on the part of the state government and realised that the new leaders were no better than the previous ones when dealing with Indian problems.

It is an irony that while Umno-BN are courting former Hindraf leaders like Thanenthran, Pakatan parties which were the real and immediate beneficiaries of Hindraf’s struggle were shunning other Hindraf leaders like Uthayakumar.

The Pakatan leadership should have accommodated people like Uthayakumar and other Indian political factions and NGOs in the Kampung Buah Pala issue, however unreasonable their demands might have been. That might have helped them find a common, acceptable solution or at least would have cooled down matters and allowed outside factions to understand the difficulties behind the Kampung Buah Pala issue.

Naturally, because of the Kampung Buah Pala issue, the Hindraf faction led by Uthayakumar abstained from the Bagan Pinang by-election and that indirectly helped BN.

Finally, there was also no statements from Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim on the Kampung Buah Pala issue either.

The mainstream media and the Tamil media were highlighting the promises Anwar had made some time ago to help the Indians affected by the Kampung Buah Pala issue but there was no response from him. This also disappointed the Indian community.

All is not lost

Pakatan must realise that just as MIC alone cannot deal with all the Indian issues through BN, Pakatan also cannot deal with all the Indian problems in their states simply through Indian leaders and members from PKR, DAP or the PAS supporters club. They need the cooperation, understanding and feedback from other Indian NGOs and Indian political factions.

DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has rightly pointed out that Pakatan should go back to the drawing board to evaluate its performances and failures. PAS also admitted that they lost Bagan Pinang because they could not get the non-Malay votes.

The continued spat between PAS and DAP in Selangor, Kedah and elsewhere is also weakening Pakatan and contributing to their downfall.

The voters’ confidence in the alternative coalition is diminishing day by day due to Umno-BN’s aggressive overtures and their continued push for change.

However, all is not lost. Pakatan could still correct the situation and prove that as far as Indian votes are concerned, Bagan Pinang is a case in isolation.

To achieve that, the Pakatan leadership must be prepared to come down to the ground to understand the mindset of the Indian community and their feelings towards various issues affecting them.

Pakatan must also be prepared to court and embrace the Indian NGOs and other political factions within the Indian community. They must strategise fresh approaches and mechanisms to increase support from the Indian community and draw up specific agendas for the Indian community in the states ruled by them.

If Pakatan is not pro-active in addressing these issues then the trend set in motion in Bagan Pinang could continue in future by-elections and the next general election.

Snatch thief shot dead while attacking cops

JOHOR BARU, Oct 21 – The police shot dead a snatch thief who tried to attack two policemen with a meat cleaver in Taman Johor Jaya here early today.

The 20-year-old assailant who was earlier riding pillion on a motorcycle, died on the spot. His accomplice escaped in the machine in the incident at Jalan Dedap 9.

Johor CID chief Datuk Amer Awal said that two policemen on a motorcycle spotted two youths behaving suspiciously on a machine and ordered them to stop.

In the incident which occurred just after midnight, he said the duo defied the police and sped away on the motorcycle.

Amer said that in a 15km chase that ensued, the policemen overtook the youths and warned them to surrender.

However, one of the youths, who was armed with a meat chopper, tried to attack the policemen who shot him and killed him.

Amer said that since August, the police had received 25 reports of snatch theft in the Jalan Dedap area, adding that thieves rode on motorcycles to prey on unsuspecting victims.

Meanwhile, the police have detained four men in connection with the theft of cars and motorcycles in the city. The suspects, aged between 19 and 34, were picked up in Taman Bukit Kempas and Kangkar Pulai here last Friday.

During the arrests, the police recovered a multi-purpose vehicle, three cars and a motorcycle which were reported stolen. Also seized from the suspects were motorcycle components, three “samurai” swords, imitation gun and a pair of handcuffs. – Bernama

Allow me to respond to Kadir Jasin

Image

I have said this before and I will say it again. Sabah and Sarawak control 56 parliament seats out of a total of 222 seats in parliament. If you want to form the federal government you must first win a sizeable number of seats from Sabah and Sarawak. If not, then dream on.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Today, A. Kadir Jasin’s article called ‘Zaid, The Hurricane Hattie Of PR’ confirms quite a bit of what I have said in the past, which were pooh-poohed as unfounded rumours and lies. I would like to address some of the points in his article (marked in italics) and bring you back to the points I had made over these many years, which now appears to have been confirmed by Kadir Jasin.

I just love it when I can say: I told you so

He was among the intermediaries used by Umno to reacquire and appropriate its vast assets taken over by the Public Trustee when the party was deregistered in 1988.

I was with the late Datuk Bakar Daud of Kuala Terengganu at the height of this crisis. He lamented that Umno Bahagian Kuala Terengganu was heavily in debt with the bank and was about to lose their Gong Kapas building. The other seven Umno divisions in Terengganu were also facing the same problem.

I went to meet Ahmad Sebi Abu Bakar to inform him of Umno Terengganu’s dilemma and the financial crisis the eight divisions were facing because all their assets had been frozen by the Registrar of Societies and the Public Trustee.

It is not just Umno Terengganu, Ahmad Sebi replied, but Umno all over Malaysia. Even the Umno headquarters building may face auctioning if they can’t solve the problem of Umno’s frozen assets.

It had been the practice that all assets of Umno were registered in the name of Umno. But now that Umno had been deregistered, all these assets had been frozen. The liabilities, however, were not frozen. And since all debts were personally guaranteed by the division heads, treasurers, secretaries, etc., the banks were chasing these people in their personal capacity. Letters of demand were being sent to the guarantors, not to Umno, which no longer legally existed.

Invariably, a huge team of lawyers was engaged to unravel the massive and extremely complicating financial mess. And, as Kadir Jasin, said, Zaid Ibrahim was one of these lawyers, although he was not even an Umno member yet at that time, according to Kadir Jasin.

And I am sure every lawyer who acted for Umno would have made a lot of money, not only Zaid. But Umno was desperate. They would not mind paying whatever it cost to get them out of the mess they were in. I would have whacked Umno for 30% of the assets if I were a lawyer and had been asked to solve Umno’s financial mess.

You paid a lawyer to get a job done. He did it. And you paid the agreed fees. Why now bangkit (resurrect) all this as if you were cheated? Kadir Jasin is making it look like there was some hanky-panky involved here. Even if Zaid did get rich solving Umno’s problems, good for him. That is the kind of man I would want as our leader, someone who knows how to get rich because he happens to be smart and not because he happens to have come out from the right pussy and receives a Bumiputera status because of that.

But that is not the issue. What is would be that Umno learned its lesson. So the new party called Umno Baru did not repeat the mistake of the old party by registering all its assets in the name of the party. Instead, the assets were registered in the name of the President, Deputy President and Treasurer as trustees of the party.

What we should focus on now is where are those assets? We are talking about billions here, and they were registered in the name of trustees, not in the name of the party. Can Kadir Jasin please address this and raise the right questions as to where those assets currently are?

And other than the trustees, what about the proxies? Umno used proxies to park its business interests. Are these interests still in the name of these proxies? And if so where is the money? Remember, PLUS, MAS, TV3, NST, Utusan, DRB-Hicom, etc., etc. etc.? What role did these proxies like Tan Sri Yahya Ahmad, Halim Saad, Shamsudin Abu Hassan, and many, many more play?

The lawyer’s job was to unravel the mess. The assets belonged to the old Umno. Then they were transferred to the new Umno. But the new Umno appointed trustees and proxies to hold these assets to avoid history repeating itself in case the new Umno also gets deregistered for any reason. But did the pagar eat the padi?

Yes, Kadir Jasin, let’s talk about that now.

But he disappointed the Umno higher-ups very early in his career when he failed to deliver his party-endorsed speech on the Ruler and the Constitution during the 1992 Umno General Assembly at the height of the 2nd Constitutional crisis. He chickened out less than 10 minutes into his speech.

Ah, my favourite subject, the Constitutional Crisis. Let us see what Kadir Jasin wrote: when he (Zaid) failed to deliver his party-endorsed speech on the Ruler and the Constitution during the 1992 Umno General Assembly at the height of the 2nd Constitutional crisis.

Zaid is Kelantanese, as Kadir Jasin reminds us, and the Kelantanese love their Sultan. Go stand in the middle of Kota Bharu and shout obscenities at the Sultan and see what will happen to you.

Anyway, the point here is that there was an orchestrated move by Umno to whack the Monarchy good and proper. Kadir Jasin confirms this. And Umno has the gall to accuse the opposition of not showing respect to the Sultan?

For your information, the opposition was against the 1992 amendments that eroded the role of the Constitutional Monarchy. The Rulers may have their shortcomings but at least with Parliament, the Judiciary and the Monarchy, Malaysia would have four branches of government. Now we only have one, the Executive. And one branch means we have a dictatorship.

The opposition was more concerned with the institution of the Monarchy rather than the Rulers as individuals. The Rulers may have their failings, as do many Members of Parliament and Judges as well. But we can’t remove these three Institutions just because the people in the institutions fail us. Instead, we remove the people and replace them so that the institutions can do the job they were set up to do.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is, Kadir Jasin admits that Umno was behind the move to whack the Rulers. So Umno can stop screaming about the opposition being kurang ajar towards the Rulers.

When he was in Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s cabinet, his mission to reform Umno and the Judiciary put him at odds with fellow ministers and Umno leaders.

So now Kadir Jasin admits that Zaid’s mission was to reform Umno and the Judiciary. And because of that he was at odds with his fellow ministers and Umno leaders: meaning the other ministers and Umno leaders were against reforms.

I don’t know whether Kadir Jasin realises this or not but he has just given Zaid a reformist’s image and the ministers and Umno leaders as anti-reforms. Did Kadir Jasin not realise that in one swoop he has painted Zaid in a positive light and the ministers and Umno leaders in a very negative light?

Having publicly urged the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not to appoint Mohd Najib Abdul Razak as Prime Minister, the only honourable thing for him to do was leave Umno when the former was made PM and became Umno President.

And Zaid was against Najib talking over as Prime Minister, says Kadir Jasin. And Zaid did the honourable thing and resign, says Kadir Jasin. I don’t think I need to say more to this.

In a recent interview with Malaysiakini, he spoke confidently about the alliance’s so-called Common Policy Framework (CPF) as if he was the spokesman.

But that is just it. Zaid IS in charge of getting Pakatan Rakyat registered plus to explore a common platform for this to happen. So what’s the beef?

He is supposed to be on a six-month hiatus from politics yet he gave a lengthy interview to talk about a very important development in the PR in the very state that he was forbidden from going -- Sabah.

I have said this before and I will say it again. Sabah and Sarawak control 56 parliament seats out of a total of 222 seats in parliament. If you want to form the federal government you must first win a sizeable number of seats from Sabah and Sarawak. If not, then dream on.

Zaid knows this even if the rest of Pakatan Rakyat still has its head buried in the sand. Zaid went to Sabah because many from amongst the opposition and civil society movements told him to go. One or two leaders at the top may have other ideas. But as far as the people, the voters, are concerned, you listen to us and not to the party leaders.

Let me make this clear. The dog wags the tail, not the tail wags the dog. Pakatan Rakyat must do what we say. We call the shots. The people are the boss.

If Pakatan Rakyat wants our support and our votes then they should listen to what we say. And we don’t want internal bickering, and inter-party and intra-party fighting.

Some Pakatan Rakyat leaders are acting like spoiled brats and immature school children. They allow petty things and their overblown egos stand in the way of the bigger picture.

Kadir Jasin may not know this, but it was we, the voters, who sent Zaid a very strong message. And the message was if he does not go to Sabah then we are going to kick his arse. My wife, in fact, told Zaid: don’t fuck with us. You do that and we are going to whack you.

Zaid had no choice. It is not what the PKR leadership wants that counts. It is what we, the voters want that matters. And we wanted him to go to Sabah. I even told Zaid to send Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan my love and kisses. Zaid replied, love yes, but no kisses, especially not in front of so many people.

So Kadir Jasin, that is my response to your piece today.

Two suspected robbers arrested

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 – Police today arrested two men suspected to be members of a gang involved in robberies and the rape of a teenager.

One of them was injured in the left thigh following a shootout with the police at the 15th Mile in Rawang late last night while his accomplice was arrested when he tried to escape from a police raid outside an apartment in Seri Gombak near Batu Caves at about 5 this morning.

Kuala Lumpur Deputy Police Chief Datuk Abdul Samah Mat said in the first incident, a police patrol came across a Proton Wira which was driven in a suspicious manner by a man who had six criminal records, adding that the man sped off after being asked to stop by the police.

“He tried to escape and fired a shot at the police before police returned fire and hit his thigh,” he told reporters here, today.

Police seized a Walter P99 pistol from the suspect. The pistol was stolen from a policeman at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital last week and the car was reportedly stolen in Ipoh, he added.

On inspecting the car, police found 11 bullets, a handcuff, tool for smoking marijuana, pliers, an axe, a machete and a computerised police radio, said Abdul Samah.

He said the second suspect tried to escape in a Perodua Myvi car outside an apartment in Seri Gombak after he realised the presence of the police nearby.

“The suspect hit a policeman with his car before trying to escape but police had fired several shots at the car causing the vehicle to crash into a drain,” he said.

He said police found a police jacket, an axe, a toy motorcycle, 83 pieces of U-mobile starter packs, various foreign currencies and RM250 in cash in the car.

Police investigation revealed that both suspects had robbed a driving school, a money changer and a furniture shop in the area on Oct 19 while in March they had raped a 17-year old teenager, he said.

He said both suspects from Segambut were treated at Selayang Hospital and they would be charged under Section 4 of the Firearms Act (Increased Penalties) 1971 which provided for life imprisonment and six strokes of the cane upon conviction. – Bernama

Zul Noordin wants constitution amended to clarify country’s status

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 – The government has been urged to amend several articles in the Federal Constitution to clarify certain issues including the status of the country which adopts a dual-system (a hybrid legal system) and not a secular state as claimed by some quarters.

The amendments to the constitution were also necessary to draw up the differing line between the constitution as the main federal law and the implementation of Islamic law and syariah.

The call was among the 24 lists of private members’ bills submitted by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bandar Baru Kulim, Zulkifli Noordin, listed in the Meeting Procedures of the Dewan Rakyat which is currently in session.

Zulkifli said Article 3 of the Federal Constitution must be amended to ensure that the facts on the position of Islam were not manipulated and misinterpreted by certain groups to give the impression that Malaysia was a secular state.

The controversial PKR MP had proposed that the words “Islam is the religion for the Federation, including in terms of the law and syariah” be included to remove any doubt on the status of the country.

“The fact is that Malaysia is not a secular state, but a nation that puts Islam as the religion for the federation, thus the amendments to Article 3 of the Federal Constitution, as suggested, will clarify the position with regard to the status of the country without any doubt,” he said.

He said Article 4 of the Federal Constitution must be amended to add in the words “the Constitution is the primary law of the Federation and except for the Islamic law and syariah, any other law that is passed and that contradicts it must be void for as long as it is contradictory”.

“The House must take cognisance that in many instances the Islamic syariah law has become void or cannot be enforced because Article 4 of the Federal Constitution places the country’s law above other laws and regulations.

“These include Islamic and syariah law such as the ban on the use of the turban in national schools, the wearing of the purdah and jilbab in government departments, the enforcement of the syariah law such as for ‘khalwat’ (close proximity), zina (adultery), ‘qazaf’ which contradicts the syariah law and others,” he said.

Also suggested for amendment was Article 11 (1) of the Federal Constitution on the question of changing the religion for Muslims.

In this matter, Zulkifli proposed the inclusion of the words “including changing his/her religion except for Muslims which must comply with the Islamic law and syariah. For the followers of Islam, the question of converting into or abandoning Islam must be determined by the Syariah Court which has absolute power over it”.

In addition, Zulkifli also submitted a private member’s bill to urge the government to enforce a law or to prohibit or impose conditions on the sale of liquor and condoms at convenience stores, including 7-Eleven and KK Mart.

“There have been many cases where Malay teenagers and youths who are Muslims who have abused the sale of liquor and alcoholic drinks and the availability of condoms at convenience stores for immoral activities,” he said.

In a separate proposal, Zulkifli urged the Home Ministry to initiate investigation immediately on Sisters In Islam (SIS) because it was feared that its activities were contradictory to Islamic syariah.

He called on the ministry to investigate how the organisation was allowed to use the label Islam whereas its registered name did not state so. – Bernama