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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sri Lanka's Fonseka mulls options - AL Jazeera

Fonseka stepped down from his post on Monday
after differences with Rajapaksa [AFP]

Sri Lanka's top general has said he will announce a decision on entering politics within two to three days, amid speculation he may run for the presidency.

Sarath Fonseka's comments came after he officially stepped down from his post on Monday following differences with Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country's president.

Fonseka, widely credited for leading the military to victory in its 25-year war with the Tamil Tiger rebels, announced his resignation last week as chief of defence staff, attributed to his "loss of trust" in Rajapaksa's administration.

"Today I'm bidding farewell to the uniform," Fonseka said after signing an official document quitting as Sri Lanka's top military officer.

Asked about a possible move into politics, he told reporters: "I expect to announce my future steps in two or three days. I will be serving the country in the future."

Replacement

Who is Sarath Fonseka?

A soldier since 1970, Sarath Fonseka led the military to victory over the Tamil Tigers in May this year

He resigned from his defence chief post last week, accusing the president of "sidelining him" despite his contribution to the war effort

His military strategy, though victorious, prompted allegations of human rights abuses and high civilian casualties

On a visit to the US this month, there was speculation that US officials would question him over alleged war crimes, but that did not happen

Fonseka was wounded several times on the frontline and nearly killed in 2006 by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber

Also on Monday, Sri Lanka's president promoted his air force commander to be the country's top military officer to replace Fonseka.

Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetileke was made the new chief of defence staff in addition to his duties as head of the air force, according to an official from Rajapaksa's office.

On Sunday, Rajapaksa postponed an expected announcement of the schedules for early presidential and parliamentary elections due in April without giving a reason.

Political analysts say Fonseka, who spent 39 years in the army, could split Rajapaksa's voter base by attracting those happy with the victory in the war.

That could be unwelcome news for potential investors as some opposition parties in the country are considered less "pro-business" than Rajapaksa's coalition.

Fonseka was granted a near free rein with nearly unbridled power as he headed the war effort with his former colleague, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the defence secretary and the president's brother.

They defeated the Tami Tigers in a 34-month campaign criticised by human rights groups as unnecessarily brutal and costly in civilian casualties.

Photo Gallery: Police Report & PC on Murder in Air Molek Prison. JB.

A 22-year-old J Saravanan was found dead in his cell at the Air Molek prison in Johor.

According to the authorities, J Saravanan hanged himself using a pillow cover tied to a bar of his cell door.

However, his family, refused to believe that Saravanan would have taken his own life and suspect foul play.

HRP Johor Chief Y.Mohan said deceased uncle Selvaraj and his brother Chandran went to the mortuary around noon. “They saw the body covered with bruises and blue-black marks. So the family thinks that Saravanan could have been beaten and this could have led to his death.

Y.Mohan also said that the uncles were barred from taking photographs of the injuries by a doctor, who told them that it was against procedures.

Human Rights Party (HRP) Johor Chief Y.Mohan and also HRP Johor Secretary S.Mayilvaganam accompanied Selvaraj on lodging the police report.

Selvaraj had also mentioned the bruises in his police report.

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THE STATE OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN SINGAPORE

Azmin may face probe after fresh complaint over shares

By Adib Zalkapli - The Malaysian Insider

Annuar claims to have documents proving Azmin’s involvement. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — A former aide to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today produced documents which he claimed proves PKR vice-president Azmin Ali had acquired shares worth at least RM2 million while working for the former finance minister in 1992.

Azmin had last week denied accusations that he and his wife had acquired RM8.5 million in shares when he was a senior aide in Anwar’s office.

But Anuar Shaari, an ex-aide to Anwar, lodged a police report today to back the claims, which have been stepped up in recent days by Umno in an attack described as baseless lies by Azmin.

Anuar claimed in his police report that there were irregularities in Azmin’s alleged purchase of shares made between 1992 and 1994.

Anuar ,who served as private secretary to Anwar when the latter was the finance minister, said he made the report in the interest of truth.

“I will hand over to the police original document pertaining to the share ownership that have been talked about,” Anuar told reporters when met outside the police’s commercial crime investigations department here.

Anuar was accompanied by officials from Umno Youth and right-wing Malay NGO, Pewaris.

“I believe that supporters of Azmin, Shamsidar, Anwar and Wan Azizah are interested in the truth, too,” said Anuar, claiming that the total transactions amount to RM2 million and were mostly made under the name of Azmin’s wife, Shamsidar Taharin.

He said Anwar, too, should be implicated as the transactions were made between 1992 and 1994 when Azmin was serving as an aide to the former deputy prime minister.

“The documents in my possession look genuine,” said Anuar.

“I hope investigation will be conducted swiftly,” he added.

Azmin was accused of owning shares worth RM8.5 million by former MIC Youth leader, SA Vigneswaran.

The Gombak MP says he will take legal action against Vigneswaran for allegedly spreading malicious lies to tarnish his name and reputation.

Azmin had dismissed the allegation as baseless and a continuance of personal attacks against him that started in 1998, soon after the sacking of Anwar from the government.

PI Bala claims second SD made under threat to family

KUAL LUMPUR, Nov 17 — Missing private investigator P. Balasubramaniam is now saying he rescinded a statutory declaration (SD) linking Datuk Seri Najib Razak to a murdered Mongolian model after his family was threatened within a day of his statement in July 2008.

Bala also related in an interview carried by the Malaysia-Today.net news portal today that he left the country for Singapore the same day of his second SD and later for Bangkok.

He stressed that he signed the second SD without even reading it.

The former policeman also claimed he was given the equivalent of RM20,000 in Hong Kong dollars for expenses as he and his family were due to go to the Chinese city. However, they switched destinations to Chennai.

In the second part of an interview filed under the column of fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, Bala said the entire process of repudiating the first SD was coordinated by a businessman named Deepak, whom Raja Petra claims is a close associate of Najib’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

The first part of the interview was carried last week and included an 88-second video clip. Bala’s confession came about as he was a witness in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder trial by virtue of being a private detective hired to keep watch over her by political strategist Abdul Razak Baginda, who was acquitted of plotting his former lover’s death.

“I was concerned for the safety of my family. Deepak had informed me he wanted me to retract my first statutory declaration and then to immediately leave the country with my family,” said Bala in reply to questions in the interview.

“I was in a state of shock as to what was happening. I had anticipated that I would be arrested and interrogated after releasing my first statutory declaration but I did not anticipate my family would be threatened so I was not prepared for this.

“As this VIP Datuk was also involved, I realised the situation was very serious,” he said without naming the person.

Bala then related how he went home and explained to his wife that they were leaving Malaysia immediately, instructing her to apply for passports for their children and to renew her own passport.

He added he arranged for them to also take their luggage along so that they could leave soon after the passports were issued.

Bala then followed a police officer friend, who was suspended from duty, to the Hilton KL to meet Deepak and the businessman’s brother, Dinesh, were he told them he preferred going to Chennai rather than Hong Kong.

“Deepak agreed to this. He then tried to arrange a private jet for us. This had to be cancelled when it was realised we would have to go through immigration at the airport.

“Deepak then suggested we go through Singapore by road, and then fly to Bangkok en route to Chennai. I agreed,” he added.

Bala said the conversation then turned to the seriousness of the first SD and that he had to retract it or “otherwise they could not guarantee anything if the deal failed”.

He also claimed that Deepak bragged about being close to Rosmah as she frequented the businessman’s carpet shop in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur.

Bala said at 7.45am on July 3, someone delivered a draft copy of the second statutory declaration to the hotel, which Deepak picked up.

He said he was then asked sign the new statutory declaration in front of a Malay man who was said to be a commissioner for oaths and who attested his signature. Once this was done, Deepak left in a separate car.

“I was never given an opportunity to read the contents of this statutory (declaration),” Bala stressed.

Bala explained he and Dinesh then went to the Prince Hotel in Kuala Lumpur where they met with Deepak again, who introduced him to “Mr Arunampalam”, a lawyer.

“This lawyer spoke to me and told me to just keep quiet in the press conference arranged for us in the main lobby. He told me not to talk to any of the reporters under any circumstances and that he would do all the talking,” he added.

He claimed Deepak then told Arunampalam to answer not more than three questions from the reporters waiting downstairs and handed him a few copies of the second statutory declaration to distribute.

Bala said both Arunampalam and he took the lift down to the main lobby, where they met four or five reporters.

“Mr. Arunampalam talked to them and gave each of them a copy second statutory declaration. He told the reporters that I had been forced to sign the first statutory declaration under duress and that I now wanted to retract the contents,” he claimed, adding the lawyer refused to answer questions asked by the reporters.

Bala said the lawyer then drove him back to the Hilton KL and that he never saw the man again.

Asked if he had engaged the lawyer, Bala said, “No. I have never met this lawyer before. Deepak was the one who arranged for him to represent me at the press conference. I never told him what to say. All this was arranged by Deepak and not myself.”

He said he then went back to a hotel room where Deepak gave him RM20,000 worth of Hong Kong dollars for expenses.

“He told me he had arranged a tourist van to drive me and my family to Singapore where we were to catch a flight to Bangkok,” said Bala, who then went to pick up his family at the Pusat Bandar Damansara immigration office and left immediately for Singapore by road.

“The driver stopped at the Malaysian immigration at the causeway and we all had to get out of the van to present our passports at the counter. None of our passports were stamped,” he said, adding they then cleared Singapore immigration and headed for the Changi international airport.

He said he then changed some money to call Deepak about their Bangkok flight and was told the tickets were at the Silkair counter.

“We all caught the evening flight to Bangkok, which left Singapore at about 8.00pm,” Bala said.

The news portal is to publish more of the interview in the coming weeks.

There has been no official reaction from Najib and family over Bala’s claims but some pro-Umno bloggers have poured scorn over the latest allegations as an opposition smear campaign to unseat the prime minister.

Najib: We’ll respect court decision

By Lee Wei Lian - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak (picture) says that Umno will respect the High Court decision declaring the Kota Siputeh state seat in Kedah vacant and await the outcome of an expected appeal.

The seat was declared vacant yesterday after the court decided in favour of the state assembly Speaker that Datuk Abu Hassan Sarif was absent without leave for two consecutive state assemblies.

“We’ll respect the court’s decision. We’ll work according to the system. If we can appeal, we will appeal and take it from there. Whatever the court decides, we have to abide by it,” Najib told reporters today in a press conference at the BioMalaysia biotechnology convention here.

High Court judge Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin ruled yesterday that the Election Commission had encroached on the Speaker’s powers when it decided that Abu Hassan was still the state representative despite being told by the Speaker that the seat had been ruled vacant.

Umno lawyer Datuk Hafarizam Harun said he plans to file an appeal against the decision today.

If a by-election is held, it will be the eighth this year, of which Barisan Nasional has won only two, including the Bagan Pinang by-election last month.

Tauke Teng, Nudin Awang dan George Michael

By Sheih Kickdefella,

Bagi yang belum baca apa Rocky Bru tulis pagi ini, sila terlebih dahulu ke sana.

Bagi yang sudah baca apa yang Rocky Bru tulis, apa kata kita naik beca dan perlahan-lahan memahami istilah kronisme bersama Bakaq Haq.

Di dalam dunia junjungan kita Muhammad s.a.w tidak ada balak. Tetapi tidak pula saya dengar orang-orang alim bercerita bahawa junjungan kita menganugerahkan ladang kurma klon atau projek kambing dan unta Kerajaan Islam Madinah yang bernilai berjuta-juta dinar dan dirham kepada saudara maranya. Mungkin sebab tidak wujud projek-projek sedemikian.

Yang ada ialah pembahagian harta rampasan perang, hamba dan tawanan perang dan balu-balu korban perang.

Yang ada ialah pembahagian tugas untuk mengetuai bala tentera ke medan perang atau menyebarkan syiar Islam ke ‘hostile territories’. Tugas-tugas yang kalau diserah pada kita hari ini, tak ramai yang bersedia menerimanya.

Tiada siapa akan pertikaikan jika Ariffahmi di beri pangkat dan anugerah jika Nik Aziz sudah tiada. Seperti terangkatnya para Khalifah dari kalangan sahabat terdekat yang juga bapa mertua dan menantu Rasullullah s.a.w.

Tok Guru kita kata orang yang hendak menaja pemergiannya ke Mekah bersama Datin, Ariffahmi dan Nik Amalina dan Setiausaha Sulit Kanan Menteri Besar tidak pernah dapat projek daripada Kerajaan Negeri. Maklumat yang didedahkan oleh Rocky pagi ini menafikan hujah Tok Guru.

Satu Kelantan sudah tahu bahawa Nudin Awang adalah lelaki yang menaja Pakej Haji yang jumlah keseluruhannya hampir RM455,000 itu. Ramai yang melihat resit pembayaran yang Nudin tayang di sana dan di sini dengan penuh rasa rendah diri itu.

Ramai juga tahu, tiba-tiba Nudin kelam kabut dan cuba untuk meminta agensi pelancongan itu menukar nama pembayar bil itu.

Ramai juga tahu selepas bersetuju dengan pujukan Ariffahmi untuk ke Mekah, Tok Guru sendiri telah menalipon Nudin.

Ramai juga lihat Nudin datang ke satu majlis selepas panggilan itu dan berdiri dibelakang Tok Guru dengan bangganya sewaktu Tok Guru mempertahankan perlunya satu EGM dalam PAS.

Akhirnya ramai yang tidak mahu beritahu bahawa Teng Hu Ling adalah orang yang perlu dihubungi jika kita mahu bercakap dengan wakil Great Eastern Mills Berhad.

Ramai juga tidak mahu beritahu bahawa Great Eastern Mills Berhad di mana Nudin Bin Awang adalah Pengarah Syarikat telah menerima 10,000 ekar balak bernilai lebih RM20 juta daripada sebuah agensi kerajaan yang dipengerusikan oleh Nik Abdul Aziz Bin Nik Mat. Balak yang diterima oleh Great Eastern Mills Berhad di serahkan pula kepada SEAL Incoporated Berhad dan boleh di lihat di sini balak-balak itu.

Namun ada satu perkara yang ramai langsung tidak tahu ialah seorang lelaki bernama Abdul Ariffahmi Bin Abd Rahman, ahli UMNO cawangan Chakung di Bahagian Machang dengan nombor keahlian 0266057, yang ibu bapanya dan adik beradiknya melainkan seorang abangnya sahaja bukan ahli UMNO ialah orang yang menjemput Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz untuk ke Mekah.

UMNO Cawangan Chakung terletak di DUN Temangan. Ariifahmi adalah ahli biasa dan Ketua Cawangan ialah Sdr. Saidi Husin. Ketua Pemuda Cawangan ialah Sdr. Azman Ibrahim. Setelah berlaku selisih faham yang melibatkan masalah dalaman UMNO Machang, Cawangan ini di sisih. Akibatnya bermula tahun 2006, ramai ahli termasuklah Ketua Cawangannya sendiri telah memasuki PAS. kakitangan ibu pejabat UMNO Cawangan Chakung yang terletak di Taman Siti Aishah berdekatan Wakaf Bata di jalan lama Tanah Merah – Machang boleh memberikan tarikh Ariffahmi mendaftar menjadi ahli UMNO.

Saya tahu Ariffahmi akan menafikan hal ini dan mengatakan bahawa dia telah menjadi ahli UMNO secara tidak sukarela. Hal ini kita serahkan kepada UMNO Malaysia untuk menyelesaikannya dan kerana di celah-celah timbunan fail di mana-mana bangunan UMNO masih terselit sekeping borang lusuh yang diisi nama Abdul Ariffahmi. Cuma, janganlah salahkan UMNO semata-mata kerana nafsu kita cukup buas.

Dan ramai langsung tidak tahu bahawa pada 31 Julai 2009 sudah ada satu perancangan rapi di buat di Kampung Langgar, Kota Bharu yang menghasilkan ini, ini dan ini.

Naib Presiden PAS sekarang, YB Salahuddin Ayub juga boleh menjelaskan bahawa orang yang sama pernah merancang untuk menggulingkan Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang selepas PRU ke 12. Bagaimana saya tahu? Sebab saya duduk bersebelahan dengan YB Salahuddin dalam pertemuan yang dirancang oleh Abdul Ariffahmi di Hotel Perdana sebelum bangunan itu dirobohkan.

Abdul Ariffahmi mendakwa bahawa Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz mahu Ustaz Hadi berundur dan digantikan dengan anak didiknya YB Husam Musa sebagai Presiden PAS. Ariffahmi mengarahkan supaya YB Salahuddin yang ketika itu Ketua Dewan Pemuda untuk menggunakan jentera pemuda menggulingkan Ustaz Hadi. YB Salahuddin hanya diam. Benarkah ini kehendak Nik Aziz atau ini lagi satu projek Ariffahmi.

Setelah dua tiga pertemuan saya dan YB Salahuddin bersetuju bahawa Ariffahmi sudah hilang akal dan idea itu bukan sahaja bertujuan untuk membunuh karier politik YB Husam tetapi juga berupaya memporak perandakan PAS.

Melihat perancangannya itu gagal sama seperti semua projek-projek yang diamanahkan kepadanya iaitu projek loji air Kampung Puteh dan Bandar Baru Tunjung, Ariffahmi berpaling kepada seorang rakan karib saya yang saya panggil di zaman persekolahan sebagai George Michael.

Kemudiannya George Michael mengerjakan umrah dengan Tuan Guru Nik Aziz dan Ariffahmi yang menghadiri tugas rasmi di Kuwait mengarahkan PMBK membayarnya untuk menyertai George Michael dan Tok Guru di Jeddah.

Pulang ke Kota Bharu, Tok Guru tak kering gusi memuji George Michael dan nyaris-nyaris meluluskan satu projek strategik kepada George Michael. Akhirnya, atas usaha orang-orang yang kenal George Michael, berjaya menyekat pemberian projek kepada George Michael tanpa perlu mendedahkan latar belakang siapa sebenarnya George Michael. Cuma malangnya Ariffahmi sudah menyerahkan kepada George Michael salinan asal fail tebal berhubung kajian projek strategik dan terperinci oleh konsultan yang dilantik dengan yuran hampir sejuta ringgit itu untuk tugas berat dan penting itu. Pihak PKINK, pemilik fail tersebut telah enggan menyerahkan fail itu walau diminta oleh Arrifahmi menyebabkan Ariffahmi mengarahkan Pejabat Menteri Besar memohon fail tersebut. Apabila fail tersebut tiba di Pejabat Menteri Besar, Ariffahmi telah mengambilnya.

Semenjak insiden melibatkan George Michael itu, kegusaran mula wujud di atas kewarasan Ariffahmi. Mengapa dia sanggup menyeberang begitu jauh sekali?

Defending a Victorian-era law

By Ding Jo-Ann
thenutgraph.com


A Victorian wedding portrait (Source: Wiki commons)

JANAGI and Rajoo were married. After Rajoo left Janagi, Janagi approached Maniam to live with him. Displeased that Janagi was living with another man, Rajoo charged Maniam for "enticing away" Janagi to have "illicit intercourse" with her. The court decided that since it was Janagi "who sought [Maniam] out", it was she who had "seduced" him. Maniam went free.

Hurbajan was not as fortunate. He moved away with another man's wife shortly after her marriage, but was arrested a few months later. Hurbajan was found guilty of "enticing" away another man's wife. He was thrown in jail for four months and fined.

Although these events read like a bad Victorian-age romance novel, they actually occurred in 1950s Malaysia. The same law that was used then was recently utilised by businessperson Ryan Chong to prosecute Choy Khin Ming, whom Chong says enticed away his wife, TV personality Daphne Iking.

"Seriously?" asked some Malaysians when the case first came to light. "Does such a law even exist?" Indeed, the law does exist in Section 498 of the Penal Code and can still be legally used against individuals today, as Choy recently found out.

Archaic law

Women's groups say the offending law should be done away with altogether as it is flawed and originates from an environment that no longer exists in modern society.


Ng
"Section 498 was inherited from the British colonialists," says feminist writer Ng Tze Yeng, who has researched the origins of the old law. "It duplicates Section 498 of the 1860 Indian Penal Code imposed by the British, and reflects the prejudices of the colonial officers at the time."

Ng explains the rationale behind the law, which ignores a woman's choice in her own relationships. "It was drafted when women were looked upon as the property of their husbands. Women were seen as passive agents with mere reproductive duties, with no self agency or a rational mind of their own."

Ng says the British colonialists sought to inculcate their own values — in this case, that a woman should be subjugated to her husband — by enacting laws to regulate people's bodies and relationships. Hence, the existence of Section 498.

"Isn't it time for us in the 21st century to be rid of the prejudices that formed this archaic law in the 19th century?" argues Ng.

Women's consent

Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) president Meera Samanther says that if a woman consents to a relationship, then there is no cause for the law to intervene.

Section 498 doesn't recognise that the woman herself may have consented, Meera says. "If there is concern that the woman is detained against her own will, there are other provisions in the Penal Code such as kidnapping and wrongful detention that can apply."

Meera observes that as a woman is capable of making her own decisions, charging someone for "enticing" her away makes a mockery of the woman's autonomy and choice.


Meera
"In Malaysia [today], we have women ministers and university chancellors; women running corporations, heading banks and making household decisions. If we and the state can entrust women in such high positions to make important decisions, why doesn't the state believe that women can make decisions governing themselves? Why is the element of control [over women's bodies] still in existence, and whose purpose does it actually serve?" asks Meera.

Clinical psychologist and WAO member Vizla Kumaresan says in an interview with The Fairly Current Show that the state shouldn't interfere in private matters between a husband and wife.

Meera agrees: "Consensual intimate relationships between two adults should not be the state's concern. If two adults believe their marriage needs to be preserved, then they should work on it and seek counselling. It is not for the state to criminalise acts that may be perceived to be the cause of a broken relationship.

"There are civil law provisions for the aggrieved party to pursue their cause of action. They can seek divorce, custody and maintenance."

No removal

Despite the objections, it looks like the law is here to stay for now. Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein recently announced that there were no plans to repeal the law, saying it was used very infrequently.

In her interview with The Fairly Current Show, Vizla says that is not the point. "It doesn't matter if the law is used once, twice or 100 times. The bottom line is that it discriminates against women, and it's a bad law and should be repealed."

"If they say the law is not used, then why have it in the first place?" Meera adds. She says since the Iking case has received so much publicity, there would be other cases in the pipeline as other men may want to resort to the same law.


Vizla (Courtesy of The Fairly Current
Show
)
Several attempts to reach Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and the ministry's secretary-general Tan Sri Faizah Mohd Tahir for comments proved futile.

Missed opportunity

The government, in fact, had a chance to abolish Section 498 when it appointed a Parliamentary select committee to review the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code.

A memorandum by the Joint Action Group (JAG) Against Violence Against Women called for the abolishment of Section 498 in 2005. The memorandum said the law "demeans and violates women's dignity, reinforcing the idea that women are incapable of making sound decisions and that they cannot protect and take care of themselves."

The select committee, however, did not take on JAG's demands. When asked why the recommendation was not made to Parliament, select committee member and Seputeh Member of Parliament (MP) Teresa Kok says it "did not strike their mind at that time."

"Our main focus was the lock-up procedure and also on rape. There were just too many presentations. A lot of our discussion was mainly surrounding rape and incest — we have already amended the Penal Code [on those issues]," says Kok in a phone interview.

She added that the nude squat incident had just occurred at the time, and so the committee was focused on reviewing lock-up procedures.

Kok, from the DAP, however supports calls for the abolishment of Section 498. "This law is archaic. Why can't the government look into it?" she says.


Kok
But she admits that getting the government to amend the law will not be easy. "The public needs to lobby their MPs, including male MPs, to look into this."

Meera adds that Section 498 also infringes Malaysia's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), which Malaysia signed in 1995. She says Article 5 of Cedaw mandates the removal of stereotypical notions of women and men based on the inferiority or superiority of either sex, which is precisely what Section 498 reinforces.

"If Section 498 is not repealed, it will certainly be raised by the Cedaw committee at Malaysia's next review," she says.

More on the Botanic Garden mess - Anil Netto

A total of RM5 million in federal funds has been approved for projects at the Penang Botanic Garden. But would you accept such funds if this was the result?


Photos by three concerned Botanic Garden lovers – Click icon on bottom right to expand to full-screen slideshow mode

These are the projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan:

  • Vendor/hawker centre
  • Bambuseteum
  • Eco-stream walk
  • Administrative and visitors’ centre
  • Garden mall

The Penang State Development Office (SDO), which comes under the Implementation Coordination Unit of the Prime Minister’s Deparment (ICU JPM), had given the Jabatan Pengairan and Saliran Pulau Pinang (tasked with implementing the projects) until 31 October to resolve outstanding issues. Otherwise, it was going to take back the RM5 million federal allocation for the Garden. That was the reason for the rush we saw around the end of October to push through these projects – never mind that some of them appear worrying.

From what I hear, part of the problem is the project briefs were not submitted for review by the Garden Management Committee, chaired by the state exco member for tourism. Instead, each project appeared to be drawn up independently by the respective consultants and did not integrate with the other projects and the overall Garden environment. It appeared that the various consultants may not have been aware of the Committee’s overall master-plan and its long-term plans for the Garden.

Let’s take a quick look at each project. A couple of people who care for the Garden have helped me to identify the major concerns:

Bambuseteum

  • Have the land preparation and physical layout alone depleted all the funds?
  • Any funds left for the exhibition structures and facilities?
  • Any funds left for sourcing locally available and endemic bamboo species, let alone exotic species?
  • Did the Jabatan heed the advice of the local expert engaged by NGOs?

Eco-stream walk

  • Did this project, conceived by engineers, receive botanic and ecological feedback?
  • The paved walkway, instead of being laid along the banks of the stream, follows the existing road.
  • Was the realignment of the walkway made on an ad hoc basis?
  • Are there funds left for the planned second bridge and the soft-landscaping of the entire project?
  • Was the missing second bridge included in the specifications? If so, has the RM1 million payment already been made despite the bridge being missing?

Administrative and visitors’ centre

  • The site, re-acquired from the federal government, was originally meant for the Federation School for the Deaf under Social Welfare Ministry. But because of a landslip at the site, the federal government found an alternative site for the school.
  • Does the project brief mention this history?
  • The geotech report done on the pavillion was apparently against any construction on the hilltop but construction work on a hill-top temple is nearing completion. Apparently, the implementing agency was only aware of the problem after a public outcry, and an expert has been engaged to re-do the geotech study. In the meantime, work on both projects continues.
  • The newspaper cutting (photo above) shows damage to the Warden Retention Home, following a landslip at the same site 47 years ago.

Garden mall

  • Originally conceptualised as the show-piece entry to the Garden proper and to the nearby Quarry Garden/Park.
  • Meant to be a pedestrian mall with water features and other attractions (in accordance with a policy of barring traffic within the Garden).
  • Supposed to complement the adjacent Formal Garden and encompass the grounds now occupied by the Rifle Club and Shooting Range (supposed to be relocated).
  • But this mall could end up marring the landscape.
  • Apparently, no effort to blend the project with the Formal Garden.
  • Can it really be a pedestrian mall when the concrete/paved spaces and roadway could turn out to be massive with even more car park space?

Part of the problem is that some of us have a strange urge to pour concrete and tar on any open green space we can find – even the Penang Botanic Garden, which has stood the test of time. These folks cannot bear to see such open green spaces lying untouched.

To compound the matter, the Garden has been under the care of civil servants, some of whom may not have the necessary expertise. Without such expertise, these civil servants may then take the easy way out by contracting out maintenance and development projects.

Since Chong Eu’s days, the Garden was managed by the Garden Management Committee under a state enactment. But, according to a source, the legality of the Committee was questioned following a reorganisation of the civil service, as the Pengarah of Jabatan Taman Botani reports to the State Secretary, and not to the state exco for tourism. So the Committee now serves only in an advisory role. (Submissions for the Ninth Malaysia Plan were prepared by the former Pengarah, who has since retired.)

The lack of expertise and coordination, the eagerness to accept federal funds at all costs, and the administrative tangle have combined to create this mess.

No matter who is reponsible, many Penangites won’t be too pleased or impressed with the mess in their precious Garden.

Keinginan melihat 'bersih' dibawah Najib umpama mimpi

Membaca blog YB Wee Choo Keong yang dalam perbahasan belanjawan di Parlimen secara jelas membangkitkan nama setiausaha politik, Perdana Menteri Malaysia. Nama ini dikaitkan dalam ucapan Wee sebagai MR Political Toll yang dikatakan mengutip keuntungan dengan menggunakan kedudukan sebagai setiausaha politik Menteri Kewangan.

Beliau dikaitakan dengan agihan projek dan tender DBKL juga. Ucapan Wee ini perlu diberikan perhatian khusus. Dalam rang undang - undang kewujudan SPRM tidak memerlukan laporan rasmi, jika SPRM masih bernyawa sudah tentu pembongkaran seserius ini perlu diambil perhatian. Namun cheGuBard yakin SPRM telah lama mati menjadi bangkai.

Nama setiausaha Najib ini bukan kali pertama terkait dengan rasuah. sila klik sini

Berikut ialah contoh aduan mengenai rasuah politik yang melibatkan setiausaha Najib ini. Siasatan dijalankan dan berdasarkan beberapa maklumat dalaman sah memang boleh disabitkan, namun mungkin oleh kerana dia setiausaha Najib maka ia 'kebal'.....

Nampaknya untuk melihat 'bersih' dibawah Najib ia umpama mimpi yang tidak akan kunjung tiba....

Anwar Tak Tahu Ekonomi - Tun Mahathir

Fears grow over Iran nuclear sites

IAEA inspectors said Iran had reduced the number of centrifuges enriching uranium at its Natanz site [EPA]

Iran's belated revelation of a second uranium enrichment site has raised concerns about possible further secret nuclear sites in the country.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) raised its fears in a report obtained by several news agencies on Monday.

The UN nuclear watchdog's report said Iran had claimed that work on the second bunkered site near Qom had started in 2007.

However, the IAEA says it has evidence the project began in 2002, was paused in 2004 and resumed in 2006.

"The agency has indicated [to Iran] that its declaration of the new facility reduces the level of confidence in the absence of other nuclear facilities under construction and gives rise to questions about whether there were any other nuclear facilities not declared to the agency," the report said.

The report is the first official document since IAEA experts inspected the Qom site last month.

The report said that the plant "corresponds to the design information provided by Iran" but that "Iran's explanation about the purpose of the facility and the chronology of its design and construction requires further clarification".

Tunnel entrances

Iran revealed to the IAEA in September that it had been building a second uranium enrichment plant inside a mountain near Qom.

The inspectors said the plant could go live as early as 2011.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Paul Brannan, a senior research analyst with the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, said: "The satellite imagery that the IAEA is looking at indicates that the tunnel entrances associated with the facility were built back in 2002.

"The satellite imagery analysis that we have done tends to support the notion that the tunnel entrances back in 2002 may not yet have been associated with the enrichment plan.

"The atomic energy organisation of Iran may have made the decision to build the enrichment plant and then may have sited it at the Qom facility.

"But nevertheless it looks like the satellite imagery shows that the construction would have begun before June 2007, which would put it at the first half of 2007 at the earliest, so that doesn't quite jibe with what Iran was telling the IAEA."

'Complete compliance'

Alireza Ronaghi, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tehran, said: "Iran plans to prove that its nuclear programme is unstoppable.

"The main concern in Tehran is that the IAEA is apparently mixing up its legal duties and technical duties with the political duties"

Alireza Ronaghi,
correspondent

"That's why they have built this strike-proof (that's what Iran calls it) nuclear plant under the mountains near Qom to prove that Iran will never stop its nuclear programme.

"And that's a concern big enough for some of the world powers who are dealing with Iran now.

"The main concern in Tehran is that the IAEA is apparently mixing up its legal duties and technical duties with the political duties that have been imposed on it by some world powers in the [UN] Security Council.

"I have received very early reaction [to the IAEA report] from an official close to the nuclear talks in Iran.

"Iran says it has been in complete compliance with IAEA demands but will not recognise UN Security Council resolutions, and the mix up of the two, is something that worries the Iranian government very much."

The IAEA inspectors also found that Iran had recently reduced the number of centrifuges enriching uranium at its main Natanz site by 650 to 3,936, while slightly raising the total number of machines installed to 8,692.

Western diplomats and analysts said the slowdown was probably caused by technical glitches.

Media unimpressive in fight against corruption

I will sue Samy and Vell Paari

Indian youth killed in Air Molek prison - police report.

Police Report No: JBS/020804/09

Time: 2.23 p.m

Police Report by: Selvaraj a/l Kathiravel (48)

NRIC No: 610727-01-5915

No. 104, Block 9, 5 Floor,

Taman Melur Tampoi,

81200 Johor Bharu.

Dated:16/11/2009

Last night at about 10.30 p.m the Air Molek Prison authorities telephoned me to say that my nephew (my own sister’s son) Saravanan a/l Jeganathan (22) had died in the said prison at about 10.00 p.m by hanging himself. I do not believe this.

My nephew who is a Supermarket general worker was arrested on 16/10/2009 and detained at the Desa Cemerlang, Ulu Tiram police station up to 11/11/2009. From 11/11/2009 to 15/11/2009 ie within four days at the Air Molek Prison, he is now dead. How is this so?

Today at about 12.30 p.m myself and my brother Chandran saw the body of my nephew which was full of blue black marks on his back, (Spine area) legs and hand as if he was beaten with a rotan, hit and also punched. His right toe has bruises. The police and hospital personnel including Dr. Mohd Hasnah have refused to allow us to take photographs of these injuries. I now demand my right to take the photos before it disappears or any evidence of this murder is tampered with by the police, prison and hospital authorities..

I believe that my nephew was beaten up and killed by the Air Molek Prison personnell.

I want the police and/or prison personnel responsible to be prosecuted for murder forthwith and criminal action to be taken against the police and Johor Baru General Hospital doctor and personnell for trying to cover up this murder.


……………………..

Selvaraj a/l Kathiravel

NRIC No: 610727-01-5915

Part 2: Bala’s prison without bars

Bala is made to sign the 2nd SD and is bundled out of the country. From thereon they keep him on a tight leash and he no longer has control over what he can say or do. He discovers he has just entered a life of imprisonment; although without the normal bars and padlocks but still a prison nevertheless.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Q 23. What happened next?

A. Deepak gave instructions to Dinesh to book a room at the Hilton Hotel KL Sentral. I left with ASP Suresh to my house in Rawang to see my wife and explain to her what was happening. I was concerned for the safety of my family. Deepak had informed me he wanted me to retract my 1st statutory declaration and then to immediately leave the country with my family. I was in a state of shock as to what was happening. I had anticipated that I would be arrested and interrogated after releasing my 1st statutory declaration but I did not anticipate my family would be threatened so I was not prepared for this. As this VIP Datuk was also involved, I realised the situation was very serious.

Q 24. What time did you arrive home after leaving The Curve?

A. ASP Suresh and I arrived at my house at about 2.00 am that morning. I explained everything to my wife and told her we had to pack up and leave Malaysia that very day, as I had been instructed. I also told her to get ready to go to the immigration department that morning to apply for my children’s passports and to renew hers. I had arranged with a friend of mine called Christopher to pick them all up at 8.30 am and to drive them to the Pusat Damansara immigration department that morning with all their luggage.

Q 25. Where did you go next?

A. ASP Suresh then drove me to the site at which he was burning wires where he organised his workers to do the loading onto some 3-ton trucks. We then left for the Hilton Hotel in KL Sentral.

Q 26. What time did you arrive at the Hilton Hotel?

A. We reached the Hotel about 3.00 am. ASP Suresh called Dinesh to find out the room number. Both Deepak and Dinesh met us in the lobby and we all went up to the room. I had been told earlier that my family and I would be sent to Hong Kong. I said I was not happy about being sent to Hong Kong and I would prefer to go to Chennai. Deepak agreed to this. He then tried to arrange a private jet for us. This had to be cancelled when it was realised we would have to go through immigration at the airport. Deepak then suggested we go through Singapore by road, then fly to Bangkok en route to Chennai. I agreed. They continued talking to me about the seriousness of my 1st statutory declaration and that I would have to retract it otherwise they could not guarantee anything if the deal failed. Eventually Dinesh left for home to take a nap.

Q 27. What else did you discuss while in the hotel room?

A. Deepak was telling me how he had become very good friends with Rosmah from the time she used to visit his shop in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. He wouldn’t let me sleep as he was talking all the time.

Q 28. Did anything else happen that morning?

A. Dinesh returned to the hotel looking refreshed. At about 7.45 am someone delivered a draft copy of the 2nd statutory declaration to the hotel. Deepak went down to the lobby to collect it after receiving a call on his hand phone. Sometime later a Commissioner for Oaths arrived. He was a Malay man. I was asked to sign this statutory declaration in front of this commissioner for oaths and he attested my signature. He asked me if I knew where his office was and I said I did not. He then told Deepak to make sure he showed me where his office was on the way to the Prince Hotel. I was never given an opportunity to read the contents of this statutory declaration.

Q 29. Did you know at this stage that you would be taken to the Prince Hotel?

A. Yes. Deepak had informed me that he would be organising a press conference at the Prince Hotel later that morning and that he would make sure a lawyer represented me. He told me not to worry and that I would not have to say anything, just leave it up to the lawyer to talk to the press.

Q 30. What time did you leave the Hilton Hotel?

A. About 8.45 am. Deepak, Dinesh and I left together. I went with Dinesh in his BMW while Deepak went on his own. Dinesh did not show me where the Commissioner for Oaths office was.

Q 31. What time did you reach the Prince Hotel?

A. We arrived at the Prince Hotel at about 9.15 am and drove up the ramp to the car park where we waited for further instructions from Deepak who was apparently downstairs by that time. Eventually Dinesh received a call on his hand phone and he escorted me to a lift which took us down to what looked like a type of lobby on an upper level.

Q 32. Did you meet anyone in this lobby area?

A. Yes. Deepak was waiting in this lobby with another Indian man. This Indian man was introduced to me as one Mr. Arunampalam, a lawyer. This lawyer spoke to me and told me to just keep quiet in the press conference arranged for us in the main lobby. He told me not to talk to any of the reporters under any circumstances and that he would do all the talking. Deepak then told Arunampalam to answer not more than 3 questions from the reporters waiting downstairs and handed him a few copies of the 2nd statutory declaration to distribute to the reporters.

Q 33. What happened next?

A. At about 10.00 am Mr. Arunampalam and myself took the lift down to the main lobby where we met about 4 or 5 reporters. Mr. Arunampalam talked to them and gave each of them a copy of the 2nd statutory declaration. He told the reporters that I had been forced to sign the 1st statutory declaration under duress and that I now wanted to retract the contents. He would not answer any of the questions the reporters asked him.

Q 34. Where were Deepak and Dinesh during the press conference?

A. I think they left the hotel as they did not join us in the press conference.

Q 35. What happened after the press conference?

A. Mr. Arunampalam then drove me back to the Hilton hotel in his own car. He dropped me off at the lower lobby and I never saw him again.

Q 36. Did you at any time engage Mr. Arunampalam as your lawyer to appear in the press conference?

A. No. I have never met this lawyer before. Deepak was the one who arranged for him to represent me at the press conference. I never told him what to say. All this was arranged by Deepak and not myself.

Q 37. What did you do once you had been dropped off at the Hilton Hotel?

A. I went back to the room and knocked on the door. Deepak and ASP Suresh were there. I waited in the room while Deepak was making phone calls to a Ms. Wong who I think was his secretary. She was apparently with my wife and children at the Pusat Damansara immigration centre helping my wife with the passport applications and renewal. During this period Deepak gave me RM20,000.00 in Hong Kong dollars for my expenditure. He told me he had arranged a tourist van to drive me and my family to Singapore where we were to catch a flight to Bangkok.

Q 38. What time did you leave the Hilton Hotel?

A. At about 1.00 pm Deepak received a phone call from Ms. Wong informing him the passports had all been done and so I left the Hilton Hotel in the van with an Indian driver. This van then drove me to the Pusat Damansara immigration centre. The driver was talking to Ms. Wong during the journey and was receiving instructions where to meet my wife and children. When we arrived at the Pusat Damansara immigration centre, I met my wife and children and we loaded all the luggage into the van and proceeded on our journey to Singapore.

Q 39. What happened when you arrived in Singapore?

A. The driver stopped at the Malaysian immigration at the causeway and we all had to get out of the van to present our passports at the counter. None of our passports were stamped. We then proceeded across the causeway to Singapore immigration who did stamp our passports. After clearing immigration, we were driven straight to Changi Airport.

Q 40. What happened at Changi Airport?

A. I changed some money to get Singapore coins so I could call Deepak to find out about our flight to Bangkok. Deepak told me our tickets were waiting for us at the Silkair counter. I proceeded to this ticket counter and collected our tickets. We all caught the evening flight to Bangkok which left Singapore at about 8.00 pm.

Najib and the Murdered Mongolian

The Malaysian murder case that won't die

In the 90-second video, Balasubramaniam said he had met with businessman Deepak Jaikshnan, the director of a carpet firm, in a bak ku teh (pork rib soup) restaurant in the Rawang suburb where he lived, in which the businessman offered him the money. In an accompanying story in Malaysia Today, Raja Petra displayed photocopies of 50,000 ringgit checks on Public Bank of Malaysia made out by Deepak Jaikshnan.

Asia Sentinel

A Malaysian private investigator in hiding for more than a year after recanting a sensational statement connecting Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to the murder of a Mongolian translator has surfaced to reaffirm his allegations and to say he had been offered a 5 million Malaysian ringgit ($1.49 million) bribe to disappear by a businessman said to be connected to Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor.

The attractive translator, Altantuya Shaariibuu, was murdered by two of Najib’s elite bodyguards in October 2006 in a particularly gruesome fashion. After she was shot twice in the head, her body was blown up with C-4 plastic explosives. Any indication that she and two friends had entered Malaysia disappeared from the immigration department’s records.

The statement by the private detective, P Balasubramaniam, in a YouTube video, appeared on Malaysia Today, the Web site run by Malaysian journalist Raja Petra Kamarudin, who promised far more startling episodes in the near future. As many as five segments, accounting for 20 minutes of revelations, remain to be aired, he said in an e-mail message to Asia Sentinel.

Balasubramaniam said in his original statutory declaration that he had been hired by Abdul Razak Baginda, one of Najib’s closest friends, to protect him from the wrath of Altantuya after he had jilted her. Razak Baginda was originally charged with the murder along with Najib’s bodyguards, but was acquitted without having to put on a defense.

In the 90-second video, Balasubramaniam said he had met with businessman Deepak Jaikshnan, the director of a carpet firm, in a bak ku teh (pork rib soup) restaurant in the Rawang suburb where he lived, in which the businessman offered him the money. In an accompanying story in Malaysia Today, Raja Petra displayed photocopies of 50,000 ringgit checks on Public Bank of Malaysia made out by Deepak Jaikshnan. Although no indication was given of where Balasubramaniam is now, other sources say he may be in India. In the videotape, he was said to be in the company of three Malaysian lawyers.

Almost immediately on giving his original statement tying Najib to Altantuya in the company of his lawyer and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the private investigator was hustled to a Kuala Lumpur police station where he wholly and completely recanted the statement, saying he had been coerced into making it by Anwar and others. Then he and his family disappeared. He had not been heard from since.

In his original statement, Balasubramaniam said he was making it because of his “disappointment at the standard of investigations conducted by the authorities into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu.” He wrote that he wanted the “relevant authorities to reopen their investigations into this case immediately so that any fresh evidence may be presented to the court prior to submissions at the end of the prosecutions [sic] case.”

According to letters found after Altantuya was murdered, she was attempting to blackmail the married Razak Baginda for $500,000 after he had broken off their affair after spending thousands of dollars on her. The two bodyguards, Cpl. Sirul Azhar Umar and his boss, Chief Insp. Azilah Hadri, were convicted of the murder and have been sentenced to hang. They are currently appealing the sentence. Sirul confessed to the murder, although the confession was never allowed into evidence in the trial, and said the two had been offered 100,000 ringgit to kill the woman.

The marathon trial was notable for the extensive lengths the defense, prosecution and judge all went to in a bid to keep Najib’s name out of it. Although Razak Baginda, in a cautioned statement, said he had gone to Musa Safri, Najib’s chief of staff, to ask for help in keeping Altantuya away from him, neither Musa Safri nor Najib was ever called to give evidence or appear in court. Razak Baginda almost immediately left the country for England after his acquittal. The two bodyguards have rarely been seen in public. When they are produced, their heads are usually covered, leading cynics to speculate that when it comes time to hang them, some other luckless criminals might be forced to substitute for them.

The private investigator said in 2008 that he had extensive conversations with Razak Baginda in the days leading up to Altantuya’s death in which he was told she had been introduced to Razak Baginda at a diamond exhibition in Singapore and that she had been handed to him to look after because Najib “did not want her to harass him since he was now the deputy prime minister.”

It should be noted that on occasion, Malaysia Today has been spectacularly wrong. At one point the Web site said Rosmah Mansor had been present at Altantuya’s murder, although Sirul’s confession made no mention of her and no other evidence has emerged to indicate she had been in the jungle clearing where the translator died. But the Web site has also delivered sensational reports that have been verified.

In the story on the Web site on the same day the YouTube video appeared, Raja Petra recalled that he had been having lunch with Balasubramaniam when the private detective received a phone call from a supposed police supervisor named Suresh to tell him his family’s security was at stake. After he had repudiated his statement, according to Raja Petra, he was whisked to India and hidden. Balasubramaniam, Raja Petra wrote, had no choice but to accept the 50,000 ringgit a month and “retirement” in India or suffer the same fate as Altantuya.

“Little did they know that Bala was just biding his time, waiting for the right moment to strike back. And now he is striking back and has come out to reveal what really happened since the time he signed his first Statutory Declaration, followed by the second one the following day, 16 months ago,” Raja Petra wrote.

The Altantuya murder, with its long-rumored ties to Najib, has had the potential to blow up into one of Malaysia’s biggest scandals ever since the time the woman’s body was found near a suburb of Kuala Lumpur. In his original declaration, Balasubramaniam said he had been told by Razak Baginda that the woman wanted the $500,000 apparently as a commission owed to her from “a deal in Paris.” The document also purported to confirm long-reported rumors that Najib, Razak Baginda and Altantuya had been at a dinner in Paris at a time when a submarine contract was being negotiated. During the trial, a cousin of Altantuya’s said she had seen a picture of the three at dinner, but the prosecution and defense both refused to take the matter further.

That deal was the purchase by the Malaysian government of three submarines at a cost of $1 billion. According to testimony in the Malaysian Parliament, a company controlled by Razak Baginda received a 117 million euro “commission” for the purchase of the submarines from the French military. Interestingly, in late October the son of the late French President Francois Mitterrand and a former minister were convicted of taking bribes relating to the sale of a huge amount of arms to the government of Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos between 1993 and 1998 in defiance of a UN arms embargo. Some 42 persons were accused of selling weapons to the Angolans. Despite calls to have Paris look into the Malaysian submarine transactions for possible evidence of corruption, no action has been taken and it appears unlikely that it will be.

Tian Chua: Why inaction on Balasubramaniam?

(The Edge) - Batu MP Tian Chua said he was puzzled why the police and attorney-general had not acted on missing private investigator P Balasubramaniam's case in light of his recent allegations in connection with the Altantuya Shariibuu murder.

Having posed his questions earlier this year, Chua today again asked why Balasubramaniam had been allowed to cross the country's borders freely and why the lack of formal charges against him.

"I was told that the police had concluded the investigation and are awaiting further instructions from the attorney-general," he said at a press conference in the parliament lobby. Eight months on, the authorities were still silent on the matter, he added.

According to Chua, the police claimed that they were unaware of Balasubramaniam's whereabouts, even after a video recording of him in Bangkok surfaced earlier this year.

Balasubramaniam had alleged in a recent YouTube video that he had been asked to retract his first statutory allegation in exchange for RM5 million. He claimed that the police had acted as middlemen, setting him up with a man only known as Deepak, a carpet trader, and his younger brother Dinesh.

Deepak had offered him the sum of money in return for the retraction of his first statutory declaration, according to Balasubramaniam.

Nallakarupan ordered to furnish details to Anwar

(Bernama) - The High Court here yesterday ordered Malaysian Indian United Party (MIUP) president Datuk S Nallakarupan to furnish details concerning his allegation that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had received RM60 million from him and also from gaming company Magnum Corporation Bhd.

Judge Datin Zabariah Yusof made the decision after rejecting Nallakarupan's appeal to overturn an order by the High Court's assistant registrar on Aug 28 granting Anwar's application to get the details.

Zabariah, who made the decision in chambers, ordered Nallakarupan to furnish the details as sought by Anwar, that is who gave the monies, when and where they were given, within 14 days from tomorrow.

Bernama was told of this development in the case by counsel S N Nair and Wan Anuar Wan Syahadat, who are acting for Anwar.

Nallakarupan, who is represented by counsel S Murali, was sued by Anwar, who is also opposition leader and PKR adviser, over an article titled "Anwar terima RM60 juta" ("Anwar received RM60 million") that was published in Mingguan Malaysia and Sinar Harian in August 2008.

Anwar claimed that Nallakarupan had made a false allegation that he received that money.

Anwar is disappearing – Tay Tian Yan

NOV 16 – Who is the top leader of Pakatan Rakyat? Everyone knew it was Datuk Ser Anwar Ibrahim. Until now.

Only he could draw PKR, DAP and PAS together; only he had a wealth of administrative experience; only he could push ahead the two-line system, only he had a unique political charisma; only he ....

However, these things that could be done “only” by him are gradually fading.

So, where is Anwar today?

He is in the United States. And the next moment, he is in the Middle East, then Indonesia … he is always hurrying here, there, being seen in different countries.

He has an excellent international popularity and image and is seen as the representative of a moderate Islamic society, “Mr Democracy” of the developing countries, as well as a bridge of communication between Western countries and the Muslim community.

Such a role has turned him into an international favourite. Universities and think tanks of the Unites States, the ruling and opposition political parties in Europe, Arab governments and semi-official organisations, as well as non-governmental organisations in Asia and Africa, all like him.

But, while he is still famous to the world, his heat in domestic politics has started to cool down.

Some PKR members have quit the party while Selangor PKR has been rife with infighting, Sabah PKR is close to collapse and the party’s morale has been flagg.

Anwar seems quite helpless while all these are happening.

The three component parties are struggling and Pakatan Rakyat is gradually losing its direction. It has failed to capture the people’s passion and resist the offensive of BN. Anwar seems to have no strength to make a change.

Anwar has lost his focus. He should have focused on domestic politics, revive PKR and lead it towards development. However, he has not played the role well.

His failure to change the regime on Sept 16 is a blow to his credibility and, at the same time, it has affected his own psychological qualities. Obviously, his self-confidence and charm have greatly reduced.

Of course, the approaching sodomy case puts heavy pressure on him. If or when he is convicted, his political future will probably be put on hold abruptly. Even if he can win the case, it will consume a lot of his spirit and will.

At this very moment, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who was brought into the party by Anwar, has said that PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, instead of Anwar, should helm Pakatan Rakyat after its registration as a formal coalition.

Even though it is merely a suggestion, it is still a blow to Anwar. At the very least, the role of the “informal Pakatan Rakyat leader” that he used to enjoy before has now been questioned. Moreover, it comes from PKR itself instead of PAS or DAP.

Objectively speaking, Nik Aziz is not good enough to replace Anwar when taking into considering factors such as age, physical condition, qualifications and modern thinking.

But Anwar, who is gradually losing his fighting spirit and increasingly ensnared in legal suits, has indeed disappointed and worried many of his supporters.

So, who is the top leader of Pakatan Rakyat? The question may not seem so urgent at the moment but it demands immediate attention on whether Anwar can pick himself up and scale another peak. – mysinchew.com

Kota Siputeh seat vacant, says High Court

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — The High Court here has ordered the Election Commission to call a by-election for the Kota Siputeh state seat in Kedah.

The decision means Umno’s Datuk Abu Hasan Sarif can no longer occupy the seat after he twice went AWOL from the state legislative assembly meetings.

High Court judge Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin said the Election Commision (EC) had encroached over the power of the Speaker when it decided to keep Abu Hasan in the state seat despite being told there is a vacancy.

Alizatul stated that the applicant’s counsels had proven Abu Hassan was absent for two consecutive state sittings without the approval of the Speaker.

The state Speaker Datuk Dr Abd Isa Ismail had filed suit against Abu Hasan for pretending he was still a state lawmaker after he was expelled by the Kedah legislative assembly for being absent twice in a row without the Speaker’s leave during legislative meetings.

According to Article 51 of the state constitution, “if any member of the legislative assembly is absent from the assembly without leave of the Speaker for two consecutive meetings, his seat shall become vacant.”

Today’s High court decision will force the EC to hold a by-election within 60 days from today.

Earlier, Abu Hasan had to wait patiently for nearly three hours while his supporters were laughing and joking before Judge Alizatul read her decision.

Alizatul said that the EC had encroached on the power of the Speaker in its decision to keep Abu Hasan in the state seat despite being told there was a vacancy.

She also stated that it had been proven that Abu Hassan was absent for two consecutive state sittings without the approval from the Speaker. Abu Hasan was absent from two meetings, the first on April 19, and the other time on August 9 this year, but did not ask permission from the Speaker beforehand.

Abu Hasan had not denied that he was absent twice but he disputed the issue of leave.

Abd Isa was only informed three days after the absences when a clerk of the legislature called Abu Hasan to find out why he was absent, after which Abu Hassan submitted a medical certificate to back up his “sick” claim.

Alizatul explained that it was the Speaker’s discretion to accept the medical certificate and for the state’s rights and privileges committee to decide.

She also pointed out that according to Kedah’s constitution, the state sitting will only be dissolved only when it is proclaimed by the Sultan and since no proclamation was made then the two meetings were held continuously.

Senior federal lawyer from the Attorney General’s Chambers acting for the EC, Datuk Kamaludin Md Said, requested the judge to allow for a stay on the order because the by-election involves public funds and the commission needed time to mobilise.

However, Alizatul disagreed and decided that the court would hear the written application by the EC for the stay on the mandamus order.

Abu Hassan was visibly disappointed after the court decision.

“I respect the court’s decision and leave it to my lawyers to process my appeal according to the law,” he told reporters.

When asked if he was saddened by the verdict, he replied, “It is normal lah for a politician,”

Abu Hasan’s lawyer, Hafarizam Harun, also confirmed that he will be filing the application to the court of appeal tomorrow.

23-year land fraud under four Umno MBs exposed

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

SHAH ALAM, Nov 16 - The sheer scale of mismanagement in the failed Bukit Botak squatter development project in Selayang is amazing.

Some 2,300 families have been waiting 23 years while the plans of four successive Barisan Nasional mentri besars cost the state and the Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS) well over RM100 million to develop the public housing project for the squatters.

They are still waiting.

And documents, declassified by Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim today, further revealed that PKNS stood to lose a further RM136 million if the project had not been stopped.

The project in Selayang, initiated during the administration of Datuk Ahmad Razali Mohd Ali in 1986, was intended to provide homes for the squatters living in Bukit Botak in 81.34 hectares (201 acres) of land.

Under the administration of Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, Shah Alam Properties (SAP) were appointed as the development project manager and RM17 million was allocated, for development costs, including the provision of water, electricity and street lights for the project.

However, due to technical problems, the project was abandoned in 1992.

Subsequently, under Datuk Dr Abu Hassan Omar, the project was revived and Delpuri Sdn Bhd was chosen by the state government to complete the project.

However, documents disclosed by the state today indicates Delpuri, appointed in Nov 1996, was established just two months before and there were directors who had no experience in housing development while one was a former Hulu Selangor District officer.

The squatters were required to pay for the cost of the houses and infrastructure to Delpuri, while the premium of the land was to be paid to the state government.

Delpuri was to provide either temporary homes or pay the squatters, who had to leave the area, RM300 a month until the project was completed.

The state government approved the transfer of a further 32.99 acres of land for Delpuri to build the temporary homes and apartment for the squatters.

As a sign of the commitment, the squatters were required to pay Delpuri a commitment fee of RM1,000 and 1,371 individuals were given titles between 2003 and 2005.

However, this project also stalled, after some initially development, and serious problems have been detected with Delpuri’s management.

Among them, the company had failed to hand over to the Gombak Land Office land premium amounting to RM597,193.50, collected from 200 squatters.

They had also failed to build the temporary homes and were inconsistent in distributing the RM300 subsidy.

In 2005, Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo instructed PKNS to complete the project, while Delpuri’s contract was terminated with no action taken again the company despite the losses to the squatters and the state government.

Instead, Delpuri Corporation was one of three contractors appointed by PKNS to carry out the work and was given the lion’s shared of the contract.

Despite the risk, PKNS was given no choice but to take over the project and had to spend RM48 million – for the contracts, professional fees, subsidies and other payments – and a further RM136 million if the project was not stopped.

Meanwhile, the state estimates that land in Bukit Botak is today worth almost RM40 million while the former squatters have collectively paid RM7.8 million to Delpuri but have yet to receive their homes.

While attempting to help the former squatters, the current state government has also discovered that land was given to individuals who were not entitled to it in the first place.

This includes individuals who were still minors, including one who was only eight years old in 1985.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim today said a task force led by executive councillor Iskandar Abdul Samad has been set up to investigate the wrongdoing and fraud involved in the allocations of land to former squatters and will ensure only those who are entitled actually get the land.

The task force also includes Gombak Land Office, legal advisors and representatives of the former squatters.

Pakatan blames Perak education centre for bridge tragedy

By Clara Chooi - The Malaysian Insider

IPOH, Nov 16 – The Pakatan Rakyat’s ad hoc taskforce has revealed the findings of its investigation into the Kuala Dipang bridge tragedy and is holding the Perak Education Department’s Co-Curriculum Centre responsible.

The taskforce also revealed the much-awaited names of two companies, one company which “contributed” the bridge to the centre and the other which was responsible for building the structure.

Taskforce members said in a press conference today that the centre should be held responsible for the tragedy since it had handled the construction of the bridge and the entire process had been defective, both procedurally and structurally.

The bridge, they claimed, was illegally built without the submission of any plans or application to the local authorities and it was also structurally weak and not built according to proper specifications.

When contacted, the centre’s director Mohd Idris Ramli told The Malaysian Insider he did not have the jurisdiction to reveal any information on the matter or to issue any press statements.

He said only state education director Mohd Radzi Abd Jabar was allowed to speak with the media.

Mohd Radzi however is out of town and could not be reached for comment.

During the press conference at the Perak PR headquarters here today, the taskforce members revealed their findings via a comprehensive report they had put together after their two-week investigation.

The report, they said, would be handed over to their lawyers and other relevant parties so that further action could be taken.

The taskforce’s investigation included interviews with the Kinta Selatan district council, the chief assistant district officer, district officer, Drainage and Irrigation Department director, district education department director, a visit to the site, a visit to the co-curriculum centre’s office in Pangkor Island, a soil test, a report from an independent consultant engineer and a public inquiry with parents, teachers and students, all of whom were involved either directly or indirectly in the incident.

Amongst the damning evidence they had uncovered was that it had been the bridge’s weak foundation that had caused it to collapse on the late night of Oct 26.

It also said that the companies involved were GS Synergy Sdn Bhd, which had donated the bridge to the co-curriculum centre and CWL Enterprise, which had constructed the bridge.

The Malaysian Insider understands that GS Synergy, a commercial trading company based in Bandar Sunway, had funded some RM40,000 to build the bridge for the co-curriculum centre.

The PR panel did not investigate why the company had contributed the bridge to the centre.

“It is outside our terms of reference in this investigation. What we set out to do by forming this taskforce was to determine the cause of the collapse and to identify those involved so that the relevant parties can take necessary action,” said the panel’s chairman, Tronoh assemblyman V. Sivakumar.

The Puchong-based CWL Enterprise, in the meantime, has two companies under its umbrella, one which deals with medical supplies and another involved in construction work. Both have branches in Ipoh.

The panel however said their report was not out to point fingers at either the bridge’s contributor or the contractor for there was no information as yet on whether any plan at all had been created or submitted.

“Perhaps the contractor may have built according to the plan and then they may not be at fault. But because, as far as we know, there was no plan at all, then we cannot point fingers,” said panel member Pasir Pinji assemblyman Thomas Su.

The responsibility of the entire matter however, said Sivakumar, still lies with the co-curriculum centre.

“They were the ones who handled the construction of the bridge,” he said.

He added that the centre had earlier already proposed to build such a bridge to the district education department but did not respond when they were quoted a large sum of RM110,000 for the construction.

“The district education department director himself did not know that the centre went ahead and built the bridge. He himself was not informed and only knew about it this Oct 16,” said Sivakumar.

Meanwhile, according to another member Teja assemblyman Chang Lih Kang, the taskforce’s findings via the consultant engineer they had employed, showed that to comply with basic criterion, a bridge should be able to at least support 10,000kg of weight.

The Kuala Dipang bridge, however, could only support less than 1,000kg, he said.

“A properly designed and constructed suspension bridge of this size should be able to take at least a 10-tonne load.

“But for this bridge, we estimate that if the number of children on the bridge exceeds 20, it would have collapsed, like the way it did in the incident,” said Chang.

During the tragedy, an estimated 22 students who were participants in the Education Ministry’s 1 Malaysia unity camp, had fallen into the swift waters of the Kampar river when the bridge that they were crossing collapsed suddenly at about 10.30pm.

Three girls subsequently drowned in the incident, triggering a public outcry over the safety of the bridge and the campsite, as well as who should be blamed for its collapse.

Chang said that ideally, the counter weight or the concrete anchor that was holding up both sides of the bridge needed to be at least five times bigger than the actual one, if it were to comply with proper safety requirements.

“Typically, whoever builds a bridge needs to ensure that the counter weight is heavy enough to support the bridge at its full capacity.

“They need to assume that the bridge is packed with people on its deck and see if the anchor can support such a weight,” said Chang.

Besides the technical and procedural aspects of the bridge, the PR panel also pointed out defects in how 1 Malaysia camp itself had been handled.

“For one thing, it was very dark at the campsite. Even during the rescue operations, hardly anything could be seen.

“Even the Bomba boats were not equipped with lights and they had to use torch light to conduct their search and rescue,” said Sivakumar.

Next, he said the camp itself had been organised in a hasty manner, which resulted in a situation where only 23 teachers were available to handle all 298 students in the camp.

“Furthermore, the teachers were not trained to handle such emergencies.

“There was also no safety personnel available for the children and not one single medical personnel. In fact, they did not even bring with them basic first aid,” he said.

He added that due to the lack of teachers, the students were not monitored properly when they were asked to cross the bridge.

“Initially, they were asked to cross six at a time. But during the time of the incident, less than a handful or teachers were present and did not supervise.

“That was why there was a two-way traffic on the bridge at the time and too many students were crossing at the same time,” he said.

Based on its report, the committee has urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the incident as there was clear evidence that some hanky-panky was involved in the construction of the bridge.

Besides that, the committee has also recommended for an end to be put on all 1 Malaysia camps until the safety issue is properly addressed, to take away any disclaimer clauses in the permission forms that parents are made to sign for the camps, close the co-curriculum centre’s premises in Kuala Dipang immediately, pay suitable compensation to the family of the three deceased and to bring to book all those responsible for the careless construction of the bridge.

Other recommendations include a suggestion to allow the PR to table an emergency motion on the tragedy in Parliament, ensure that parents were given detailed information on similar camps in the future, ensure that all such camps were fully equipped with good facilities like water and good lighting, and to ensure that the safety of camp participants were maintained at all times.