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Friday, February 26, 2010

Afghan flag raised over war-torn Taliban stronghold

The Afghan national flag is raised during a ceremony in Marjah, Afghanistan, on Thursday.
The Afghan national flag is raised during a ceremony in Marjah, Afghanistan, on Thursday.

Marjah, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Authorities raised the Afghan flag over the battle-scarred enclave of Marjah on Thursday, a ceremony symbolizing the presence of the Afghan government in the Taliban stronghold.

The red, black and green banner was hoisted over an area where U.S. and other troops have been fighting the Taliban in Operation Moshtarak -- the biggest offensive of the war.

A few hundred people watched the event, attended by Helmand Gov. Gulab Mangal, other provincial and local officials, and military officials.

"I think we're feeling pretty good about the control of the populated areas, the infrastructure," said Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commander of U.S. Marines in southern Afghanistan.

About 15,000 NATO-led and Afghan forces hope to oust the Taliban and restore Afghan government control to the region in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. They are working to persuade citizens to turn their allegiance away from the militants and toward the Afghan government.

Viewing the ceremony with hope, curiosity and skepticism, one local in the crowd said he doesn't trust the Afghan government or its security forces.

Asked if he thought change will come, Abdul Qader accused the Afghan government of corruption.

"If the foreigners do it, things will change. If the Afghans are in charge, there is no way."

Another citizen, Mohammad Sardar, said the Taliban brought the people security, but not proper services such as schools and roads. He said that while he still fears foreign forces, he hopes they can bring about change.

Qader said the foreigners won't be able to get rid of the Taliban completely, but the militants "will put their heads down and fade away on the condition that help is brought, roads are built and security is achieved."

The event took place as NATO's International Security Assistance Force reported trends that show security is improving and signs of stability are emerging in the region.

The offensive has been under way for 13 days and is expected to continue for at least another two to three weeks. Nicholson said there is still "some fighting to do -- potentially in some areas that we haven't gotten into."

ISAF said in a news release Thursday that security is improving and signs of stability have been emerging despite "occasional" clashes between militants and soldiers.

Haji Zahir, deputy district governor of Nad Ali, told 200 people in Marjah at a shura, or community council, that security conditions have improved and that more Afghan National Police were to be posted there, ISAF said.

He "promised to ensure the opening of shops and clinics, and personally oversaw the distribution of rice, beans, cooking oil and sugar to the gathering."

The NATO-led command said new shops have opened at Marjah bazaars, with telephones, computers and other electronics available.

It said there has been a "significant increase in the number of local residents returning to the area" and "a decrease in the number of residents registering as internally displaced persons."

Home Minister declines to meet police shooting victim - Malaysiakini

A 30-member delegation left Putrajaya disappointed today after Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein declined to accept their memo in person regarding the police shooting of unemployed single mom Norizan Salleh.

norizan kdn03Arriving at the Home Ministry around 11.30am, the group, made up of representatives Lawyers for Liberty and Pakatan Rakyat were met by Hishammuddin's senior private secretary Azmi Zakaria in the lobby to receive the memorandum on behalf of the minister.

However a commotion erupted when Norizan's lawyer N Surendren and the Pakatan representatives insisted on meeting the minister in person.

“If we deliver this to you, you will not take action. We want to hand this to the minister,” declared Surendran.

Apparently annoyed by the remark, the Home Ministry's representative walked away.

Meanwhile, Teratai state assemblyperson Janice Lee said they were treated like nobodies although the victim was already in their building.

Norizan expressed her disappointment that she could not meet the Home Minister in person.

"I still hope to meet him and get explanation from him," she said.

Police had classified the incident as an accident and refused to meet Norizan's medical expenses.

"I do not know how to pay the RM18,000 medical bill," she, adding "I do not even know how to support myself."

PKR information chief Lateefa Koya, wondered why the minister did not take the opportunity to meet the victim himself, so that he could see what she went through.

NONENorizan, who was shot five times and beaten up by police after they stopped a car she was in on the MRR2, is claiming that attack on her was without reason and wrongful.

Earlier Norizan and her supporters had submitted similar memorandums to Bukit Aman on Feb 5 and the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) on Feb 11.

Kapar MP S Manickavasagam said they will send the memorandum to Parliament when it sits on March 15.

"He cannot run if it is sent to the parliament," he said.

Among those present to lend support were Selangor exco Rodziah Ismail, Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, PAS Women's Wing Secretary Kartini Ahmad, Selangor Pakatan Rakyat elected Representative Officer (SELPRO) secretary Ng Yap Hwa.

Anwar says the worst is not over for economy

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (picture) said today that prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is “premature” in declaring the worst is over after the economy grew by 4.5 per cent for the fourth quarter of 2009.

The Opposition Leader and former Finance Minister said that the announcement is “irresponsible” because the growth is largely a result of pump priming and the government’s stimulus package spending.

“The latest declaration by the Prime Minister that the worst is over when the country’s GDP grew at 4.5 per cent in the last quarter of 2009 is not only premature but irresponsible.

“It is clear that the supposedly stronger growth was due to the massive pump priming by the government over the last year. Propping up the sagging economy is at best a stop gap measure. Pump priming by definition cannot be permanent. I am deeply concerned that the continuous reliance on massive spending will take us down the road to economic serfdom. And that may not be too distant in the future.

“Since 1998, the Barisan Nasional government has implemented only one economic policy ie increasing public expenditure (most of the time unnecessarily through massive projects that were subjected to leakages and inflated costs) to make up for the dramatic decrease in private spending.,” he said in a press statement.

Najib had acknowledged that the positive growth in Q4 was helped largely by the government’s push to pump some RM1 billion a month into the economy which resulted in the country’s economic performance faring better than expected.

“Over 113,000 projects under the two stimulus packages have and are being implemented, involving a total value of RM17 billion. Out of that, the government has made a payment of RM13.9 billion. Therefore on average, the government has pumped approximately RM1 billion per month into the market from January 2009,” said Najib last week when announcing the country economic performance for 2009.

Najib had set a target for his administration of growing the economy this year by five per cent which he said could be achieved barring unforeseen circumstances.

However Anwar said today that the five per cent growth prediction is “disingenuous” as the country is still lagging behind in the region.

“Trumpeting a 5 per cent growth for 2010 is disingenuous at best. What the Prime Minister does not say to the people is that even if our economy grows by 5 per cent, Malaysia will continue to fall behind Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and even Vietnam in 2010.

“The latest economic forecast by IMF published in October 2009 shows that in 2010, Malaysia is expected to perform the worst among all these countries even as the world economy shows signs of recovery. Vietnam is expected to double our growth rate while the rest will outpace Malaysia by an average of 50 per cent,” he said.

Anwar also stressed that private investment had dropped significantly in the past decade to contribute only 28 per cent of the country’s GDP.

“The data on private investment trending since 1991 should serve as a reminder of the path to economic damnation that BN has dragged us into. While private investments grew at the compound annual growth rate of 16.2 per cent between 1991 and 1997, this has dropped severely to a marginal growth of 1 per cent between 1998 and 2008.

“Translating this into private investments in real terms, between 2005 and 2008, private investments into our economy stagnated at RM20.3 billion each year. This is even lower than the private investments figure in 1991, nearly 20 years ago.

“While Barisan Nasional remains clueless about rejuvenating the economy for the long term, private investments have plunged from the pre-1997 days when it constituted 40 per cent of the gross domestic products (in real terms), to an average of 28 per cent in the last decade,” he said.

Anwar said that the current economic stagnation is due to Barisan Nasional’s “mismanagement and corruption.”

“The Barisan Nasional government must own up to the fact that our economy is the way it is because of the years of mismanagement and corruption perpetrated by the powers that be.

“The future wealth of our country can only be guaranteed by a government that is accountable to the people where transparency and good governance are absolutely essential. That is why Pakatan Rakyat will remain relentless in the pursuit to offer the people an efficiently managed economy that will sustain the livelihood of future generations,” he said.

Ex-PKR man Zahrain defends govt’s Washington talk

By Debra Chong - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Newly-independent MP Datuk Zahrain Hashim (picture) today backed the federal government which has come under attack over a recent seminar organised by a lobby group in Washington DC two days ago.

The federal lawmaker for Bayan Baru, who quit PKR earlier this month, was part of a Malaysian government delegation present in the US capital for a “Governance and Rule of Law” seminar organised by an American lobby group, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) with the support of Malaysian Ambassador Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis.

“The main aim of the delegation was to inform them about the shift in foreign policy of the Malaysian government towards the USA and I think YB Nazri and the ambassador JJ did a good job contrary to what was said in Malaysia Today,” Zahrain said, referring to an account of the seminar posted fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin’s Malaysia Today website.

“I bear witness. The main agenda was the trade issue,” the former PKR Penang chief told The Malaysian Insider today in a text message.

“Questions on Anwar trial, Allah issue and caning of three Muslim women were raised but the minister handled it well by emphasising on the rule of law, which I think was accepted by most of the audience,” added Zahrain, who said he was still in Washington DC

A panel of three were billed to speak but only Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz showed up. Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad failed to make the event.

The DAP’s Lim Kit Siang yesterday slammed the closed-door seminar as a waste of public funds to influence public opinion in the US over issues like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy prosecution.

Lim also claimed that the crowd at the seminar was dismal, saying “one account put it as about 40 people”.

“Has the Malaysian government achieved its purpose in the CSIS seminar, in convincing Washington opinion about the justice, propriety and justification for the Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy II prosecution and persecution?” the DAP parliamentary opposition leader quizzed.

“From all accounts, the answer must be an unequivocal ‘No’. The ‘strangest’ cloak-and-dagger CSIS seminar in Washington is not a coup for the new Malaysian ambassador to Washington, Jamaluddin Jarjis but a major blot on his record book,” Lim added.

“I agree with the former United States Ambassador to Malaysia, John R Mallot, who had described the seminar as the ‘strangest’ he had attended in Washington DC.

“The last-minute conversion of the CSIS seminar into an ‘off-the-record’ session gave it a cloak-and-dagger character that what Nazri said in his speech and Q & A cannot stand public and international scrutiny. Mallot said that it was ‘unusual’ for the session to be off-the-record, which is ‘very rare for a Washington think-tank’,” said the Ipoh-Timur MP.

CSIS had earlier sent out invitations to the media and said the seminar would be on-the-record and open for coverage but changed its stand at the last minute.

Nazri’s speech and the subsequent question-and-answer session were also cut short.

Among other federal lawmakers who had attended the talk were Wee Choo Keong (PKR-Wangsa Maju) and Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (Umno-Pasir Salak) but they did not reply when contacted by The Malaysian Insider.

Najib’s Samy Vellu problem

By Baradan Kuppusamy - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — One of the challenges that the Barisan Nasional (BN), in particular Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is grappling with is how to give MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu his marching orders.

The fleeing of the Indian vote to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties in 2008 had caused considerable damage to BN and had given the opposition that extra edge to win 82 parliamentary constituencies and five state governments.

Getting at least some of those votes back is important for BN to retain the federal government and that is why Najib remains on a charm offensive — both in tangible and symbolic terms — to woo Indian voters.

The problem for BN is that the man whose arrogance contributed to grassroots anger along with socio-economic neglect by the BN government, is refusing to exit.

Samy Vellu MIC legally remains as president until 2012 and although he has said the current term is his last few people believe it.

He has also refused to set a firm date to leave the scene nor allow his anointed successor deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel to take charge of the party, clean up the mess that is the MIED, the party’s education arm nor give the space for Palanivel to travel the country and meet party grassroots and give new hope.

The party is greatly confused by Samy Vellu’s refusal to quit and utterly exhausted and dispirited by the massive losses they suffered in 2008.

Samy Vellu’s rebranding and reinventing campaigns have all failed to either lift the party or excite the grassroots.

The irony is that without much help from the MIC the Indian community is excited, but with Najib.

“We have never been beaten like this and we need a new leader and new hope to rise again, if at all,” a senior MIC leader told The Malaysian Insider.

By refusing to leave, Samy Vellu is also testing Najib’s patience and giving rise to demands in Umno and BN to take “tough” action against him.

The demand is on for Najib to wave the red card and give the ultimatum to Samy Vellu — retire with honour or face the ignominy of being forced out.

But Samy Vellu is not biting and is not one to walk away if challenged.

The fear in MIC and elsewhere is that he might hunker down and fight.

He has threatened before bring down other leaders during the Telecom Malaysia/Maika Holdings scandal when he was accused of “hijacking” Telekom Malaysia shares.

The ACA then cleared him of corruption in the matter but many remain sceptical about that investigation.

That’s why — to avoid bloody scenes — those some leaders in the MIC are counselling caution and arguing for space and time for Samy Vellu to settle matters and leave the scene in good time.

“He has announced the current term is his last, he has announced Palanivel is his successor and he has also announced he is setting matters right before leaving,” said former MIC vice-president Tan Sri K. S. Nijhar.

“I think we must take his word for it. He knows what’s good for the MIC and the Indian community and the Barisan, “he told The Malaysian Insider.

“I am confident he will give enough time to Palanivel to prepare the MIC for the next general election. He knows it himself, “said Nijhar who was recalled by Samy Vellu to clean up the MIED and put it in order.

“He will not leave Palanivel and the MIC in a lurch,” Nijhar said.

However other MIC leaders do not buy this “Samy Vellu will do the right thing” argument. They want the government and especially Najib to give Samy Vellu a “leave or else” ultimatum.

Najib has been idle and has tried persuading Samy Vellu to give it up.

His speech at the MIC general assembly on Oct 10 last year was a powerful speech urging change in the MIC and the need for new leaders to take over.

Palanivel, then Samy Vellu’s candidate against Datuk S. Subramanian, almost lost the deputy presidency in a three cornered fight.

Najib had indirectly backed Subramanian seeing Palanivel as unable to persuade Samy Vellu to retire or willing to go against the longtime president.

Najib has to change tact, MIC insiders said.

The problem is also partly Samy Vellu’s fears of insecurity.

“He wants to stay on ... he can’t simply give it up because he fears what happens next,” said a MIC leader who declined to be named. “He has to be pushed out or he will never leave,” he said citing how Tun Abdul Razak persuaded Tun V T Sambanthan to retire in 1973.

Sambanthan was made minister for National Unity and treated as an independence hero before he gave up the presidency to his longtime deputy Tan Sri V. Manicavasagam.

It is ironic that three decades later his son Najib has the same problem on his hands — how to persuade Samy Vellu to give it up.

Unlike his ally Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Samy Vellu is not prepared for retirement.

Dr Mahathir once said he told long serving Cabinet ministers to retire with him in 2003 but at that time Samy Vellu said he had “many long years of service” ahead of him.

Five years later he lost as MP and as Works Minister and has trouble giving up the MIC presidency. The reason, say people close to him, is because he does not know any other life except MIC politics.

“He has nothing to go to,” said a former aide as an explanation. “He needs persuading.”

Najib and Samy has had heart-to-heart talks in recent months; political insiders said the subject of retirement and giving a firm date was mentioned

Samy Vellu has been offered a high-level post as ambassador and liaison between Malaysia and India, the sources said. “It is a Ministerial-level post,” they said adding a Tunship is also in the offing.

But there is a deadline — June 2010.

Samy Vellu however told a recent party CWC meeting that he will stay until 2012 and finish his term. They were shocked.

In the meantime numerous reports were lodged with the MACC not only by his former MIED CEO Chitrakalla Vasu, a woman he virtually adored once and gave a free hand to run MIED.

They simply hate each other now, MIC insiders said.

A MIC branch chairman has also lodge a report alleging MIED money was misused and that fraud and theft had taken place.

The MACC, sources said, is actively pursuing these leads and other allegations including one related with the Works Ministry.

The MACC this month questioned Samy Vellu and his son Vel Paari along with other key former allies Tan Sri M. Mahalingam and Tan Sri K. Kumaran in connection with MIED issues.

Samy Vellu had to go to the MACC in Putra Jaya to answer questions the first time ever, said a Samy Vellu loyalist. “It was a big and blow to his ego,” he said.

These investigations, political Insiders say, are more like moves on the political chessboard — more to persuade the giant to call it a day then to nail him to the wall.

“It is unlikely they want to embarrass him but BN is fighting for its survival and it would help if he leaves... the sooner the better,” said a MIC leader.

“What is he going to achieve by staying on for another year or two that he could not do in 30 years as MIC president?” the MIC leader said.

“We are all mortals, Samy Vellu included,” he said.

Ku Li: Even Malays leaving Tanah Melayu

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is concerned that even Malays are getting disillusioned with the state of the nation and leaving the country.

“Something must be wrong in this so-called Malay Land (Tanah Melayu) when they (Malays) are leaving.” said the Kelantan prince during an interview with The Malaysian Insider.

The Umno veteran and Gua Musang MP said people, especially the young, are feeling uneasy over developments in the country and didn’t mince his words when he pointed out that there are signs of decline everywhere.

“There are many Malays in London who are professionals, making good money, who will not return because the environment is not right in Malaysia.”

He added that the negative publicity generated by the caning of three Muslim women and controversy surrounding the use of the word “Allah” is not helping the country.

While the caning may have been in accordance to Syariah laws, Razaleigh said it still negatively impacts the country when it makes headlines around the world for the wrong reasons.

“Investors and tourists are wondering what’s happening in Malaysia, at a time when we need investments, capital and jobs for our young who are also increasingly finding it difficult...”

He said even the non-Muslims are being hauled up for holding hands and cited a case where Islamic authorities barged into a room where a foreign couple was staying.

Razaleigh also decried that race relations are getting increasingly strained because of divisive policies.

He said the government can stage as many open houses as they like but there’s no warmth.

“Of course people will come if there’s free food but it’s not genuine.”

He pointed out that despite the recent assurances on the crime rate coming down, people are still insecure about their safety.

“Even my wife is afraid to go out. Why should we be afraid in our own country?”

He lamented the corruption in the country and how Air Force jet engines that weigh a ton can go “missing” or how the nation’s first submarine, which cost billions, could not initially dive.

“Now that it can dive, we’re not sure if it can come up again.” he said, adding that it may sound comical but it is alarming.

On the streets, he said, corruption have allowed drugs to flow in.

“Malaysia is only a small market compared to New York, but because people are corrupt they allow drugs to flow in.” he said, adding that young minds and lives are lost because of it.

“These are signs of decline which were never here before,” he concluded.

This is the time for truth - Free Malaysia Today

By Phlip Rodrigues

COMMENT We live in uncertain times. The economic outlook is bleak, the political scene murky, the social milieu hostile. The country seems to be drifting down a dangerous path and at a frightening pace. Everywhere we turn, there is little to cheer our flagging spirit.

It is times like this that we need clarity and direction. This is the time for truth!

This is the time to tell people the true story of foul deeds done, justice denied and veiled threats made.

Now is the time to reveal truth that is distorted, sanitised or buried and how certain unsavory acts go unpunished.

It is essential that the fourth estate be an active participant in the life of the nation.

As an influential voice, the Press, printed or online, must act as a watchdog for the citizens by keeping tabs on the affairs of the state. This is easier said than done, given the many restrictions placed in the way. But it is better to stay awake at all times than to fall asleep and let bad people do all the talking and acting.

To gain public trust is not the job of politicians alone. The Press too must fight hard for the common good. Providing accurate and objective articles is what will win the day. For this, news hound must set high ethical and professional standards.

In the past, people depended on the mainstream media for their daily dose of news.

They took as gospel truth whatever was published. They hardly questioned those in authority. Thus, public opinion was easily moulded by whoever held sway.

If there were dissenting views, there was no outlet for them.

But in recent years the alternative media has drastically altered the way people think and act. No longer is the newsstands a priority stop or a coffee-table necessity. The new-age readers have chosen not to digest the one-sided, crude attempts at manipulation served by the mainstream media.

In short, Malaysians now know that there is a better serving of real-time news on the net.

Today, a new power has been unleashed, one that can decide the course of a nation's life. Readers, young and old, have tasted it in 2008 and found it sweet. It pays to to convey the plain truth, however unpalatable or painful it may be. It pays to work for all that's good and fair. It pays to pull the wool away from, and not over, the eyes of the public.

Phlip Rodrigues is FreeMalaysiaToday's managing editor

Malaysian Economy: The Worst Is Yet To Come

PRESS RELEASE

MALAYSIAN ECONOMY: THE WORST IS YET TO COME

The latest declaration by the Prime Minister that “the worst is over” when the country’s GDP grew at 4.5% in the last quarter of 2009 is not only premature but irresponsible.

It is clear that the supposedly stronger growth was due to the massive pump priming by the government over the last year. Propping up the sagging economy is at best a stop gap measure. Pump priming by definition cannot be permanent. I am deeply concerned that the continuous reliance on massive spending will take us down the road to economic serfdom. And that may not be too distant in the future.

Since 1998, the Barisan Nasional government has implemented only one economic policy i.e. increasing public expenditure (most of the time unnecessarily through massive projects that were subjected to leakages and inflated costs) to make up for the dramatic decrease in private spending.

The data on private investment trending since 1991 should serve as a reminder of the path to economic damnation that BN has dragged us into. While private investments grew at the compound annual growth rate of 16.2% between 1991 and 1997, this has dropped severely to a marginal growth of 1% between 1998 and 2008.

Translating this into private investments in real terms, between 2005 and 2008, private investments into our economy stagnated at RM20.3 billion each year. This is even lower than the private investments figure in 1991, nearly 20 years ago.

While Barisan Nasional remains clueless about rejuvenating the economy for the long term, private investments have plunged from the pre-1997 days when it constituted 40% of the gross domestic products (in real terms), to an average of 28% in the last decade.

That is why Pakatan Rakyat will not jump too quickly to declare that the economy has recovered, because there are still structural problems with the economy that have to be addressed urgently if we do not want to continue to fall behind.

Trumpeting a 5% growth for 2010 is disingenuous at best. What the Prime Minister does not say to the people is that even if our economy grows by 5%, Malaysia will continue to fall behind Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and even Vietnam in 2010.

The latest economic forecast by IMF published in October 2009 shows that in 2010, Malaysia is expected to perform the worst among all these countries even as the world economy shows signs of recovery. Vietnam is expected to double our growth rate while the rest will outpace Malaysia by an average of 50%.

The Barisan Nasional government must own up to the fact that our economy is the way it is because of the years of mismanagement and corruption perpetrated by the powers that be.

The future wealth of our country can only be guaranteed by a government that is accountable to the people where transparency and good governance are absolutely essential.

That is why Pakatan Rakyat will remain relentless in the pursuit to offer the people an efficiently managed economy that will sustain the livelihood of future generations.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

Parliamentary Opposition Leader

26 February 2010

KENYATAN AKHBAR

EKONOMI MALAYSIA: RETAK MENANTI BELAH

Pengumuman terbaru oleh Perdana Menteri bahawa “senario ekonomi terburuk” negara telah berakhir kerana KDNK berkembang pada kadar 4.5% dalam suku terakhir 2009 bukan sahaja dikira terlalu awal tetapi juga tidak bertanggungjawab.

Apa yang jelas, pertumbuhan itu sebenarnya dipacu oleh perbelanjaan besar-besaran oleh kerajaan sejak setahun lepas. Suntikan pakej rangsangan, seperti yang diketahui oleh mana-mana ahli ekonomi, sebaiknya adalah langkah sementara dan tidak boleh dilakukan secara berterusan. Oleh sebab itulah, saya amat khuatir kerana kaedah pergantungan yang berterusan kepada perbelanjaan kerajaan secara besar-besaran seperti yang diamalkan Barisan Nasional, akan membawa kita ke kancah permasalahan ekonomi yang sangat serius. Saat apabila ekonomi negara yang kini retak akan terbelah dan berkecai sebenarnya sudah hampir tiba.

Sejak 1998, kerajaan Barisan Nasional hanya tahu satu dasar ekonomi sahaja, iaitu menaikkan perbelanjaan kerajaan (melalui projek-projek besar yang tidak diperlukan dan membazir kerana melibatkan kepentingan kroni) untuk menutup kegagalannya menarik pelaburan individu dan swasta yang telah jatuh merudum.

Data pelaburan individu dan swasta sejak 1991 menjadi peringatan bagaimana Barisan Nasional telah mengheret negara ke lembah kehancuran ekonomi. Kalau sebelumnya di antara tahun 1991 hingga 1997 pelaburan individu dan swasta meningkat setiap tahun pada kadar 16.2%, selepas 1998 hinggalah kini kadar ini hanya menokok 1% secara purata sejak 11 tahun lepas.

Mengambil kira kesan inflasi, maknanya di antara tahun 2005 sehingga 2008, pelaburan individu dan swasta kekal tidak berkembang pada tahap RM20.3 billion setiap tahun. Jumlah ini adalah lebih rendah dari jumlah pelaburan individu dan swasta semasa saya mula-mula menjadi Menteri Kewangan dalam tahun 1991, iaitu hampir 20 tahun lalu.

Pada ketika Barisan Nasional terus hilang punca untuk menghidupkan kembali ekonomi bagi jangka masa panjang, kadar pelaburan individu dan swasta menjunam berbanding dengan tahapnya sebelum tahun 1997. Pada ketika itu, pelaburan individu dan swasta menyumbang 40% kepada KDNK. Malangnya sejak sedekad yang lalu, sumbangan pelaburan individu dan swasta terus merosot secara puratanya kepada kadar 28% sahaja daripada KDNK.

Oleh sebab itu, Pakatan Rakyat tidak akan membuat pengisytiharan yang cuai seperti Perdana Menteri bahawa ekonomi kita sudah pulih, kerana masih terlalu banyak masalah pokok yang perlu diselesaikan dengan segera sekiranya kita tidak mahu Malaysia terus tertinggal di belakang.

Tindakan Perdana Menteri merwar-warkan anggaran pertumbuhan 5% bagi 2010 sebagai sangat baik sebenarnya kurang berhemah. Apa yang tidak diwar-warkan oleh Perdana Menteri disebalik anggaran pertumbuhan 5% itu adalah hakikat bahawa pada kadar tersebut, Malaysia ditinggalkan jauh oleh negara-negara seperti Korea Selatan, Singapura, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Filipina malahan juga Vietnam dalam tahun 2010 kelak. Malaysia pada suatu ketika adalah setanding dengan Korea Selatan dan Singapura dan jauh lebih maju dari negara-negara yang lain.

Anggaran terbaru yang dikeluarkan oleh IMF pada Oktober 2009 menunjukkan bagi tahun 2010, Malaysia dijangkakan akan tumbuh pada kadar yang paling lembap berbanding kumpulan negara-negara tadi, walaupun ekonomi dunia dijangka akan mula pulih. Vietnam dijangka akan tumbuh pada kadar 2 kali ganda lebih baik dari Malaysia dan negara-negara lain akan berkembang pada kadar yang secara puratanya 50% lebih pesat dari Malaysia.

Kerajaan Barisan Nasional perlulah bertanggungjawab dan menerima hakikat bahawa ekonomi kita tersangkut di dalam perangkap seperti yang diumumkan Menteri Kewangan Kedua suatu masa dahulu; adalah disebabkan oleh salahguna kuasa dan rasuah oleh mereka yang berkuasa sejak sekian lama.

Kemakmuran negara pada masa hadapan hanya boleh dijamin oleh sebuah kerajaan yang memikul amanah yang diberikan oleh rakyat dengan rasa tanggungjawab yang tinggi. Maka, persoalan ketelusan dan amalan pentadbiran yang baik adalah prasyarat untuk memulihkan ekonomi negara.

Oleh sebab itu, Pakatan Rakyat akan terus bekerja keras untuk menawarkan kepada rakyat pentadbiran ekonomi yang telus, tulus dan berkembang secara sihat bagi jangkamasa yang panjang demi generasi akan datang.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

Ketua Pembangkang

26 Februari 2010

Raising Malaysia’s Hackles

An angry youth protest highlights the Malaysian authorities’ insecurities over international criticism.

Opinion Asia | The Wall Street Journal

The prosecution of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is proceeding apace, but that doesn’t mean international pressure is useless. Witness the government’s reaction to recent international criticism.

A bipartisan group of 56 Australian parliamentarians sent a letter earlier this month to the Malaysian High Commissioner in Canberra, saying the fact that a leading opposition voice has been charged with sodomy a second time “raises serious concerns,” and urging the authorities to drop the charges. The letter cited an op-ed in this newspaper by Munawar A. Anees, who claims he was tortured by the police and forced to confess to sodomy with Mr. Anwar before the first trial in 1998. And it echoes statements by American and Canadian politicians also worried about the impartiality of Malaysia’s rule of law.

The reaction was swift. Some 500 members of the ruling coalition’s youth wing and sympathizers protested in Kuala Lumpur last week, calling the letter a “trampling” on “sovereignty.” Youth leader Khairy Jalamuddin told us in a telephone interview that the trial is a judicial process, not a political one.

Yet the Malaysian response, far from being a deterrent, only shows how sensitive the country is to international pressure. The letter’s coordinator, Labor MP Michael Danby, says Malaysia is one of Southeast Asia’s relative success stories and any threat to its fledgling pluralistic democracy should not be lightly disregarded. “You wouldn’t want us to be quiet on Aung San Suu Kyi, neither should we be quiet on what’s happening to Anwar Ibrahim,” he says.

International attention may not change the course of Mr. Anwar’s trial, but at the very least, it reminds Malaysia’s elites that their actions won’t go unnoticed—or, perhaps, without consequences.

Speak Out for Anwar Ibrahim’s Sake

By Paul Martin, former prime minister of Canada.

The Globe and Mail

Anwar Ibrahim is a former deputy prime minister of Malaysia. After having differences of opinion with prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, he was removed from office, charged with sodomy and corruption – charges condemned worldwide as an attempt to remove him from politics – and imprisoned for six years. After his release in 2004, he became the leader of a coalition of opposition parties that is successfully challenging the ruling coalition’s power. Mr. Anwar has now been charged again with sodomy, a charge that has again been condemned worldwide.

I have known Mr. Anwar well since the period when we each served as finance ministers for our respective countries. He is deeply committed to democracy, justice and the rule of law. And I have watched with horror how he has been treated in Malaysia because of that commitment. His initial imprisonment was seen worldwide as politically motivated. Amnesty International regarded him as a prisoner of conscience, jailed for the non-violent expression of his political opinion. After his release in 2004, he redoubled his campaign, attracting thousands to his public rallies, with the result that the historic 2008 election returned an unprecedented number of opposition candidates to Parliament. He now poses a threat to the government in the next national elections, expected in 2013 – the real reason for the latest charge.

His trial, which began Feb. 2, is widely seen as not meeting international standards for a fair trial. The former Anwar political aide who is making the sodomy accusation was reportedly seen with leading ruling coalition figures prior to the filing of the charge; Mr. Anwar’s lawyers have been denied access to vital prosecution documents; and the trial has been transferred to a higher court whose judges are seen as linked to the ruling coalition’s main party. It is small wonder that Michael Danby, chair of Australia’s parliamentary subcommittee on foreign affairs, has charged that Malaysia’s legal system is being manipulated to drive Mr. Anwar out of politics. Mr. Danby has said that Asian democrats were “flabbergasted” by the charges and that “everyone in Malaysia, and everyone in the international legal community, knows that Anwar is innocent of these charges.”

The presence of so many foreign embassies attending Mr. Anwar’s show trial is a clear expression of international concern. This is an issue on which the world must speak out.

If his country is to take its place among the progressive nations of the world, it is crucial that the politically motivated charge against Mr. Anwar be dropped and that he be free to pursue his vision of a democratic Malaysia, properly respectful of human rights and international law.

Muslims Must Strengthen Unity To Maintain Distinction

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 26 (Bernama) -- Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Syah on Saturday said Muslims must strengthen their brotherhood and enhance their achievements to continue being a community of distinction.

He said that they would not be able to become a model community and would instead be despised and belittled if they did not follow the Islamic teachings.

"History has shown that the supremacy of the Islamic civilisation in the past was finally ended because there were followers who did not fully practise the Islamic teachings.

"What's more saddening is the disunity, friction and disputes that have occurred among the Muslims themselves," he said at the national-level Maulidur Rasul celebration at Masjid Putra here.

Present were the Sultanah of Kedah, Tuanku Hajah Haminah Hamidun, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his wife, Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman.

Tuanku Abdul Halim said Muslims must learn from past incidents and return to the teaching of Prophet Muhammad in their daily lives to become truly good Muslims.

He said this year's Maulidur Rasul theme, "Memantap Ukhuwah Meperkasa Ummah" (Strengthening the Brotherhood, Empowering the Community), required Muslims to follow the brotherhood displayed by Prophet Muhammad and use Islamic teachings to develop the community.

"In moving forward, Muslims must always be prepared and equip themselves with various skills and information to keep up with the times.

"Complacency and fear to compete must be discarded and replaced with positive values that can build the inner strength of the true Muslim," he added.

He said the Quran and the Sunnah must be used as a guide to build inner strength towards developing a sustainable and successful Muslim community.

Are schools equipped for special children? - Anil Netto

While the government is pumping money into 20 so-called “high performance schools”, what about children with special learning needs?

Are our schools equipped to educate children with dyslexia, autism, ADHD and emotional problems?

Have a look at these letters to the press:

Limited facilities for dyslexic children

Educate teachers on special children

Check out what happens when a child with emotional problems is given expert attention in school. Go here.

Lagi laporan polis ke atas Gunasegaram

Home Minister declines to meet police shooting victim

Suhakam: Raja Azman injuries self-inflicted

No PTPN loans for the Indian medical students in Russia, Ukraine, India, Indonesia, Romania, etc or even at MIC’s AIMST University and all the private

Despite Malaysia suffering from a shortage of about 50% of medical doctors (UM 8/10/09 at page 24) UMNO refuses to grant PTPTN loans to the aforesaid minority Malaysian Indian students just to keep the number of Indian doctors down in Malaysia. UMNO in turn has “imported” muslim doctors from Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. UMNO rather let the foreign exchange flow out of the country, why don’t the government give the PTPTN loans to these private Indian students? This is how racist, religious extremist and supremacist the UMNO regime still is but in One Malay-sia!

P. Uthayakumar

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RM 6.76 Billion investments in Selangor in 278 projects. But Indians still marginalized under PKR led Selangor govt.

From the 278 projects, 182 are new projects, says Teresa Kok the Exco Member for Investments Industries and Trade (Sinar 25/2/10 at page S3). 59.2% are foreign investors and 40.8% are local investors. Of the local investors we estimate a mere 1% of these investors to be Indians. Why is it difficult to be more transparent and provide more details on who are the local investors?

But despite this wealth and Selangor being the richest state in Malaysia , nothing or very little has been done for the Selangor Indians.

For example the immediate past UMNO Menteri Besar of Selangor Khir Toyo just before the March 8th 2008 General Elections had announced that in Selangor alone there are an estimated 50,000 Indian children without birth certificates. Is the present menteri besar aware of this?

In these two years of PKR led P.R state government in Selangor a department could have been set up at the state Secretariat with a Director, ten Executives, 20 managers and 100 staff to identify, process, liaise, follow up with the National Registration Department officials get and ensure that all these 50,000 Indian children get their birth certificates so that they can go to school, get study loans and scholarships, legally get married, open up businesses, buy a car, motorcycle, lorry and licences to earn a living, open bank accounts, etc. All this is now not possible simply because UMNO has denied these third, forth and even fifth generation Indian children their lawful and legimate elementary birth certificates. This kind of atrocities does not happen in any other part of the world.

But what has this PKR led P.R Selangor State government done to undo the injustices of the previous UMNO regime? Why is Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR a non starter in so far as the Indian problems concerned.

Why is it that this Investments, Industries and Trade portfolio not given to an Indian Adun? Why is lawyer M. Manoharan not qualified to hold that post, and why does PKR, DAP and also PAS follow UMNO’s footsteps and give the Labour, Estate Workers and Welfare Exco post to their head hung low Indian Exco mandores? If that is the case, why not appoint a malay to be the exco for paddy fields, and a chinese to be the exco for tin mines?

Thinking out of the box, why not two Indian Exco posts for Indians?

Why are key Exco positions grabbed by the Malay and Chinese in PKR, DAP and PAS, which otherwise claim to be multi racial?

What then is the difference between UMNO and PKR, DAP and PAS?

Admin

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PKR Kedah MP mandores lies- No land title for Henrita hindu temple

After reading this morning’s Malaysia Nanban (11/02/2010 at page 4), we called the Padang Serai reporter Mr. M. S. Maniam who honestly confirmed that he personally did not see the land title to the said Hindu temple but was told so by the said Kedah PKR MP mandore.

We politely told him that the sub headlines reads “ Henreta Estate temple gets land title. The reporter promised to get back to us with the telephone number of the temple Vice President Mr Thesigam for our verification but has not done so.

Hundreds if not thousands of such Hindu temples are falsely given the impression especially through the Tamil papers that their Hindu temples have been given titles, but in reality they have not. They know the truth only when the bulldozers come to tear down their temples. But then it would be too late.

P. Uthayakumar

24-02-2010-pkr-kedah-mp-mandores-lies

Yayasan Basmi Kemiskinan (Melayu) gets 2,139 acres land from Selangor. Zero for Indians poor.

The Permodalan Yayasan Basmi Kemiskinan (melayu) (PYBK) gets 866 hectres (2,139 acres) of land to be developed. PYBK has also mortgaged to the Bank land worth more than RM 100 Million (NST 25/2/2010 at page 4). That indicates the value of land allocated.

But the present PKR led Pakatan Rakyat Selangor State government has allocated zero acres of land to the poor and underprivileged Indians in Selangor.

This PKR led state government for a start can grant 1,000 acres of land to 1,000 handcore poor and underprivileged Indians in Selangor and help them set up the modern hydrophonic and cattle and goat farming. This will help alienate hardcore poverty for at least 1,000 hardcore poor Indians in Selangor.

Why not? Why has this not been done?

If not, what then is the difference between UMNO and PKR and P.R.?

S. Jayathas

yayasan-basmi-1

yayasan-basmi-2

DAP Councillor: Flats for poor (Indians) sold to senior MBPJ senior officers.

Poor Indians from Selangor in particular Kampong Lindungan, Lembah Subang and Shah Alam have been denied the low cost flats due to them (Refer NST, Star 25/02/2010 at page S2 and M2). The poor Indians of Kg Lindungan (Kg Medan) for instance have been waiting for 16 long years for a low cost flats and are now told to relocate for the third time from two previous longhouses. Thousands of poor Indians in Selangor are homeless. And now the bombshell is dropped that Senior Petaling Jaya City Council Officers have bought the low cost flats meant in particular the poor Indians.

What has the PKR led Selangor government done for the poor and homeless Indians in Selangor in their two years of rulling Selangor. Time is ticking. PKR and PR only has another two years before the next general elections

Admin

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Woman Paid A$7,000 For Lover's Body To Be Returned To Malaysia, Court Told

MELBOURNE, Feb 25 (Bernama) -- Nita Iskander, the lover of slain Malaysian Consulate driver Mohd Shah Saemin, had paid about A$7,000 (RM17,500) to send his body back to Malaysia, a court in Sydney was told Thursday.

Nita's barrister James Trevallion told Newton Local Court Magistrate Margaret Quinn that Nita had planned to attend Shah's burial in Malaysia, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) said.


Earlier, a member of the homicide squad gave evidence that the Indonesian-born woman had made telephone inquiries about leaving Australia before and after her husband's arrest over the murder of Shah -- and had kept the most recent plans from investigators.

Nita, 46, is also alleged to have misled detectives about the whereabouts of her husband and son at the time of the murder.

"(There were) a number of different versions supplied as to the whereabouts of her husband and her son at the time of the murder," Detective Senior Constable Sharon Neil told the court.

In police facts tendered to the court, Nita allegedly admitted she was on the telephone with the victim when the attack took place.

AAP said Nita sat quietly in the dock as the matter was heard, listening as Trevallion detailed that she and the murder victim had been lovers.

It is alleged Nita's taxi driver husband Hazairin and their son killed Shah, 43, in a vicious attack outside his apartment in the suburb of Leichhardt in Sydney's inner west.

Nita, who worked as an accounts clerk at the Malaysian consulate in Sydney where Shah also worked as a driver, is charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder and hindering a police investigation.

Despite her alleged attempts to hide her knowledge of her spouse and son's involvement in the killing, Nita was granted bail and allowed to return to her now empty family home.

Hazairin, 55, was refused bail on Wednesday after being charged with Shah's murder while the couple's son was arrested by Singaporean officials after he fled Australia on Wednesday morning.

Trevallion said Nita's motivation to leave Australia was to travel to Malaysia for Shah's funeral.

In fact, he said, she paid about A$7,000 for his body to be returned to Malaysia for a traditional Muslim funeral.

His body is believed to have been flown out of Sydney this afternoon.

In granting Nita bail, the magistrate required that she surrender her passport, live at her Croydon Park home, report daily to police and not make attempts to leave the country.

She is also required to show she can surrender A$100,000 (RM250,000) if she fails to meet her bail conditions

Before leaving the court, police also asked that Nita return her keys to Shah's Leichhardt apartment and that she not go to the address.

She is due to face Sydney's Central Local Court on April 7, along with her husband.

The couple's son is expected to arrive back in Australia in the coming days.

Party members to decide Ku Li’s fate, says Najib

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said last night that he would leave it to party members to decide if action should be taken against Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for continuing his campaign against the federal government over Kelantan’s oil royalties claim.

“We have to hear what the party members have to say,” he told reporters after chairing the Umno supreme council meeting here.

Najib said his government’s refusal to pay oil royalties is in accordance with the law and was decided upon after consultation with various legal experts.

“The federal government is committed to give the Kelantanese people what they deserve,” he said in justifying his administration’s move to give a “compassionate payment” instead of royalties.

An example of this commitment he said was some RM7 billion worth of allocations that he said have been channelled to Kelantan.

“We did this despite the state being under opposition rule,” he said.

The prime minister refused to comment on a meeting between him and Tengku Razaleigh over the Kelantan oil royalty issue, saying it was nothing but an “old story.”

“There is nothing to talk about, it’s an old story,” he said.

His deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, claimed yesterday that Tengku Razaleigh had met with Najib to discuss the issue.

The Kelantan prince has been outspoken in backing the Kelantan’s PAS-lead state government’s claims and has said that the Najib administration had acted like a “Godfather” in refusing to pay oil royalties to the state.

His actions have caused discontent within Umno with Muhyiddin even questioning his loyalty to Umno over the matter.

Tengku Razaleigh and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have been campaigning hard to force the federal government to pay oil royalties as claimed by the state.

Tengku Razaleigh, who founded Petronas, had earlier this week rubbished attempts by the federal government to explain, through newspaper advertisements, its refusal to pay the Kelantan government oil royalties.

He said that even though all of the oil found in Malaysia was located more than three nautical miles offshore, Petronas had nevertheless been making oil payments to various states.

The federal government’s main argument is that oil and gas are extracted from waters that are beyond the three-nautical mile limit prescribed as territorial waters under Malaysia’s Emergency Ordinance (Essential Powers) No. 7 1969.

But the Kelantan Umno man has pointed out that by that argument, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak should also be deprived of a 5 per cent oil royalty.

Ku Li says federal government is acting like a ‘Godfather’

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (picture) says the federal government is behaving like a “Godfather” in refusing to pay oil royalties to Kelantan, in remarks suggesting the Kelantan prince and veteran Umno man is bent on continuing to speak out for his home state against the Najib administration.

He also pointed out in an interview with The Malaysian Insider that oil disputes had sparked the Iranian Islamic revolution in 1979 and warned the federal government against denying the wishes of the public by depriving states of oil royalties.

“Ayatollah Khomeini was 91, when he led the uprising against the Shah over 30 years ago,” said the Gua Musang MP, who added the revolution was not only because the Iranian monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was a dictator but because he was misusing the country’s oil revenue.

The 72-year-old Kelantan prince, who is better known as Ku Li, was quick to dismiss any suggestions that he wanted to lead any kind of revolution in Malaysia.

But he continues to persist in his attacks against the federal government, and this has clearly caused some tension with his Umno colleagues.

Today, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin questioned Tengku Razaleigh’s loyalty to Umno and accused the Kelantan prince of trying to confuse the public over the oil royalty dispute.

He also defended the federal government’s refusal to pay oil royalties claimed by Kelantan, saying that it was in “accordance with law.”

In yesterday’s interview, Tengku Razaleigh said he was moving to establish a bi-partisan Federation Caucus in Parliament to examine ‘unhappy’ federal-state relations, including the dispute over oil royalties.

The federal government and the PAS-ruled Kelantan government are locked in a dispute over whether the state is entitled to five per cent royalty for oil extracted off its waters.

The Umno veteran has broken ranks with his party to weigh-in on the side of the state government by insisting Kelantan was entitled to the payments according to the Petroleum Development Act .

Tengku Razaleigh said the Federation of Malaya Agreement was signed in 1948 while Malaysia was formed in 1963, and a review was overdue.

“The Federal Government is behaving like a Godfather even though their power comes from the 13 states,” he said in likening Putrajaya’s heavy-handedness to that of the head of a criminal organization.

He added it was not only the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) led states that were unhappy with the Federal Government but also mentris besar of some Barisan Nasional (BN) states.

Despite his campaign against the federal government, Tengku Razaleigh said that Umno had nothing to fear because he is, and remains, a life member of the party.

“I am not a scheming fellow unlike some,” he said, adding a caucus was only a discussion group and a conduit for new ideas which is common in modern democracies.

He said the caucus would not be a voting bloc to oppose the government.

Muhyiddin questions Ku Li’s loyalty over oil dispute

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has questioned Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s loyalty to Umno and accused the Kelantan prince of trying to confuse the public over the oil royalty dispute.

He also defended the federal government’s refusal to pay oil royalty claimed by Kelantan, saying that it was in “accordance with law.”

“I know of the move taken by Tengku Razaleigh and some opposition leaders to make people believe what is not legally right. I think that is not the proper way to do it. This is not political but the constitutional and legal way of whatever Act enacted by Parliament,” the deputy prime minister told reporters today.

Muhyiddin (picture) also questioned the Umno veteran’s loyalty to the party.

“We are studying the situation. As everybody is aware of the statements and actions that he (Tengku Razaleigh) has taken. Even though they are his personal opinion but it is not in line with the decision made by the government and party leadership. So we must look at what will happen next and maybe he will realise in the end. This is not a question about bringing hardship to the people of Kelantan or anybody. We have given explanations based on facts.

“I have been informed that he has met the prime minister but what I do not understand is why he is still continuing with his actions. As if he is the only one fighting for the people of Kelantan and that we are not considerate. Actually leaders from Barisan Nasional have given explanations and will continue to do so,” he said.

Muhyiddin said that educated professionals from Kelantan understood the government’s position.

“Many of the people from Kelantan are lawyers and professionals and can analyse the matter. I have heard statements from the people of Kelantan, especially academicians and those with certificates, saying that the actions taken by the government do not go against the law,” he said.

He argued that the allocation of compassionate payments instead of oil royalties was in accordance with the law.

“The term is not royalty and that has been explained by the government and also through the advertisements for the general public’s knowledge which was well received. I think what we have done (in giving compassionate payment) is in accordance with the law.

“Since Kelantan requested for some help then we considered and agreed to give them compassionate payment. So this is all according to the Petroleum Development Act and whatever interpretation has been well explained by the adverts that we have put in,” he said.

The federal government had over the weekend taken out advertisements in Berita Minggu, Mingguan Malaysia and Sinar Harian, listing eight reasons to deny Kelantan its claim for oil royalties.

But Tengku Razaleigh and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have been campaigning hard to force the federal government to pay oil royalties claimed by the state.

Tengku Razaleigh, who is Petronas founder, had earlier this week rubbished attempts by the federal government to explain, through newspaper advertisements, its refusal to pay the Kelantan government oil royalties.

“The advertisement fails to point out that almost all the oil found in Malaysia is located more than three nautical miles offshore, and Petronas has nevertheless been making oil payments to the states,” said the Gua Musang MP.

The federal government’s main argument is that oil and gas are extracted from waters that are beyond the three-nautical mile limit prescribed as territorial waters under Malaysia’s Emergency Ordinance (Essential Powers) No. 7 1969.

“By the argument deployed in the advertisement, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak too are not entitled to the ‘cash payments’ of 5 per cent of profit from oil,” said Tengku Razaleigh earlier this week.

“The argument for depriving Kelantan of 5 per cent cash payments on the basis of its petroleum resources being found beyond three nautical miles is an insult to the intelligence,” he added.

The Gua Musang Umno chief said that the implication of the argument is that Terengganu has no right to receive the cash payment which was reinstated early last year.

Kit Siang mocks KL bid to shape US view of Sodomy II

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — The DAP’s Lim Kit Siang today called a seminar organised by a lobby group in Washington DC yesterday the “strangest cloak and dagger seminar” and advised against wasting public funds to influence public opinion in the US over issues like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy prosecution.

The “Governance and Rule of Law” seminar was organised by the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and sanctioned by Malaysian Ambassador Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis.

But the seminar turned farcical after it was declared off-the-record at the last minute, while only one of three scheduled speakers — Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz — turned up.

The other two speakers — Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad — failed to make the event.

CSIS had earlier sent out invitations to the media and said the seminar would be on-the-record and open for coverage.

Nazri’s speech and the subsequent question-and-answer session were also cut short.

“I agree with the former United States Ambassador to Malaysia, John R Mallot, who had described the seminar as the ‘strangest’ he had attended in Washington DC.

“The last-minute conversion of the CSIS seminar into an ‘off-the-record’ session gave it a cloak-and-dagger character that what Nazri said in his speech and Q & A cannot stand public and international scrutiny. Mallot said that it was ‘unusual’ for the session to be off-the-record, which is ‘very rare for a Washington think-tank’,” said Lim.

Lim also claimed that the crowd at the seminar was dismal, saying “one account put it as about 40 people”.

“Has the Malaysian government achieved its purpose in the CSIS seminar, in convincing Washington opinion about the justice, propriety and justification for the Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy II prosecution and persecution?

“From all accounts, the answer must be an unequivocal ‘No’. The ‘strangest’ cloak-and-dagger CSIS seminar in Washington is not a coup for the new Malaysian ambassador to Washington, Jamaluddin Jarjis but a major blot on his record book,” according to the DAP stalwart.

Lim said the only way for Malaysia to escape condemnation for Sodomy II would be to drop the charges against Anwar.

Nazri lied in Washington

Something happened in Washington that day. And they are not telling us what really happened. Then they lied and tried to wangle out of this very embarrassing situation by spinning untruths. But they did not know that Malaysia Today has eyes and ears all over the world. So we have now caught them with their pants down.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Read what Ernest Bower wrote in the Center for Strategic & International Studies website on 2 February 2010. Then study the invitation to the seminar held on Wednesday 24 February in Washington below that piece.

What happened? Ernest Bower had nothing nice to say about the Malaysian government in his 2 February piece. And then he suddenly did a U-turn on 24 February, just three weeks later.

Okay, look again at what the invitation to the 24 February seminar says. There were supposed to be THREE (3) speakers. Then only Nazri turns up while Gani Patail and Abdul Hamid Mohamed go MIA (missing in action, in case you did not know what it means). And note the part that says: The discussion will be on the record. Why did they suddenly announce that it is now OFF THE RECORD?

Nazri then explains that it was just a coincidence that he, Gani and Abdul Hamid happen to be in Washington at the same time. He then said he did not know where the two missing persons were.

In other words, Nazri is telling us that these two MIAs were not supposed to be part of or involved in the seminar. But the official invitation clearly mentions their names. So Nazri lied. And Ernest Bower also did not explain the sudden change of plan.

Something happened in Washington that day. And they are not telling us what really happened. Then they lied and tried to wangle out of this very embarrassing situation by spinning untruths. But they did not know that Malaysia Today has eyes and ears all over the world. So we have now caught them with their pants down.

Malaysia Today: 12 -- Malaysian Government: 0

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A Low Note for Malaysia: Start of the Anwar Trial Today

By Ernest Bower

Feb 2, 2010

For anyone watching Malaysian politics over the last five years, the message is clear: people want their political system to move on to represent a modern Malaysia and its more sophisticated electorate. Voters are fed up with the old ways and anachronistic political structures, as well as with some of the personalities that have become inextricably identified with those structures.

Yesterday saw the start of the second trial of Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy prime minister and leader of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat Party (PKR). It was a sad day for Malaysian politics because the fact of the trial itself is a result of the old politics of Malaysia panicking in the face of the inevitable—change. The most recent allegations against Anwar came amidst clear signals that voters were dissatisfied with governance and would no longer rubber stamp the ruling coalition at the ballot boxes. Whatever the mechanism was, the old system blinked and snapped him up on new charges of sodomy.

The trial can rightly be seen as part of a tragic last stand by those who fear change and reform. That group no longer seems to include Prime Minister Najib Razak. Recent statements and moves to begin serious reforms of his ruling party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), suggest that he has internalized the need for the party to change if it is to survive politically. The Anwar trial will not be helpful in that regard, because to enact real change, a viable opposition is a helpful, if not a necessary, condition. Najib has to convince a majority of the UMNO faithful that they must adapt to survive. That argument won’t come easy to a generation addicted to the politics of entitlement.

Even from a Machiavellian UMNO political perspective, prosecuting Anwar risks making him, once again, a political martyr and beacon for those seeking a new way. Left to his own devices, Anwar promised to be a strong opposition voice, but unlikely to wrest control of the political leadership of the country. He is leading an unlikely coalition of conservative Muslims, left-leaning Chinese, and vibrant reformers.

Most countries in Southeast Asia are in the process of working through historic political evolutions. Indonesia’s path to change is playing out most clearly—with the downfall of former president Soeharto and the breathtaking audacity of the introduction of democracy in the region’s largest country. Thailand is going through a less linear but no less dramatic change where forces are aligned similarly in some ways to those in Malaysia—one side wanting to preserve the status quo and others demanding new political structures and broader engagement. Vietnam is deep into its political cycle ahead of the January 2011 Communist Party Congress, with conservatives pushing hard on the reform-minded government of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung; and the Philippines has elections coming in May. Even Singapore is undergoing a quiet challenge to its postcolonial political structure dominated by the People’s Action Party (PAP), with indications that younger voters want new channels for political expression including, perhaps, an opposition that can speak freely and make the case for alternative approaches.

Putting the course of political evolution in Malaysia in a regional context, the country has a great opportunity to move ahead by implementing needed reforms, regaining full political stability, and concentrating on its competitiveness and economic growth.

However, victimizing Anwar is as counterproductive for Malaysia’s political progress as it is for the efforts of his political adversaries in UMNO to reform and regain political dominance. Therefore, this second Anwar trial is a sad and ironic benchmark in Malaysian political history.

Ernest Z. Bower is a senior adviser and director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

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CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES & CSIS SOUTHEAST ASIA PROGRAM

Pleased to present

SEMINAR ON GOVERNANCE & RULE OF LAW IN MALAYSIA & MALAYSIAN LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES

Featuring

1. The Honorable Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department

2. The Honorable Abdul Gani Patail, Attorney General of Malaysia

3. The Honorable Abdul Hamid Mohamed, Former Chief Justice of Malaysia & Chairman of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission

At CSIS Conference Room B1B, 1800 K Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday February 24, 2010

10:00 AM – 12: 00 PM

CSIS Malaysia is honored to invite you to a presentation and discussion with a panel of leading Malaysian officials with the responsibility for the legislative agenda, parliamentary affairs, governance, rule of law and anti-corruption initiatives in Malaysia.

The discussion will be on the record. Please RSVP the SoutheastAsia@csis.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by Tuesday, February 23, 2010. If you have questions, please contact Mary Beth Whyel at (202) 775 3278.

AGENDA

10:00 AM: Welcome & Opening Remarks by Ernest Z. Bower, Senior Adviser & Director, CSIS Southeast Asia

10:05 AM: Introduction by the Honorable Dr. Jamaluddin Jarjis, Ambassador to the United States, Embassy of Malaysia

10:15 AM: Keynote RemarksThe Honorable Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office

10:30 AM: Introduction of Expert Panel

1. The Honorable Abdul Gani Patail, Attorney General of Malaysia

2. The Honorable Abdul Hamid Mohamed, Former Supreme Court Justice & Chairman of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission

11:15 AM: Question & Answer

11:55 AM: Closing Remarks

___________________________________________

Ernie Bower

Senior Adviser & Director - Southeast Asia

Center for Strategic & International Studies

Is this the entire story?

Okay, at this point we may be wondering why three women and four men? Why not three women and three men, or four women and four men? Did one woman escape the raid and that is why there are only three women and four men? Or was one woman having a threesome with two men?

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

By now you have probably read the official finding of Suhakam. (You can read below the full Bernama report about Suhakam visiting my son in prison and what the visit uncovered). And, of course, we can accept what Suhakam and Bernama say. Although both are government bodies, we can certainly accept their word without all sorts of suspicions.

Just to digress a bit, I remember when I was under ISA detention in 2001 and Suhakam visited me at the request of my family. A day before the Suhakam visit I was told about it. I was then coached on what to tell Suhakam. If I cooperated then I would be rewarded. My wife and children would be allowed to visit me. If I do not, then there would be no family visits.

Suhakam wanted to meet me alone but the police did not agree. They insisted that the Special Branch officers must be present during the meeting. And they recorded everything I told Suhakam.

So I cooperated and gave Suhakam a glowing report. They went home extremely pleased and announced that I am being very well treated and am even being given Kentucky to eat. I got to see my wife and children soon after that.

Now back to the story about Suhakam visiting my son. "He scolded an officer. So, he had broken the law. Normally, when you do that, you will be placed in a separate room or block until the investigation is completed," said Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam.

Now, since Suhakam did not offer any details about the ‘incident’, maybe I can help do that.

They gave my son some Maggi Mee and my son asked for some hot water. The prison guard asked why he wanted hot water and my son replied to eat his Maggi Mee of course. For answering back, the guard slapped my son and put him in solitary confinement.

My stupid son thought that the guard asked the question because he required a reply. He did not realise that it was a rhetorical question and not a question that required a reply. And because he answered back he had ‘broken the law’ and was subsequently punished.

Okay, the next ‘crime’ my son is supposed to have committed is as follows.

The guards raided the cell, which had about 30 prisoners, and they found a mobile phone in the cell. The guards then said my son must be the owner of that mobile phone and they assaulted him because he denied that he was the owner of the mobile phone.

So those are matters concerning the prison guards, the details which Suhakam did not explain in that Bernama report. Now let’s talk about the police.

Further to these incidences, the police visited my son in prison and asked him to withdraw his not guilty plea and instead plead guilty to the charges he is facing. He refused, so they beat him up.

They then made a second visit and again asked him to withdraw his not guilty plea. He again refused and they made their move to again beat him up. And that was when my son went berserk. So they put him under psychiatric observation and then put him in solitary confinement.

So Suhakam did not lie. They just did not give us the whole story. And that is quite normal when it comes to the Malaysian government.

For example, there is currently a lot of brouhaha about the three women and four men who were sentenced to canning for indulging in illicit sex. Yes, it is not just three women as how the newspapers are reporting. It is three women and four men who were canned.

Okay, at this point we may be wondering why three women and four men? Why not three women and three men, or four women and four men? Did one woman escape the raid and that is why there are only three women and four men? Or was one woman having a threesome with two men?

Hmm…now it is beginning to get very interesting. Threesome….hmm…….

Can you see how we are given the story but not the entire story? Most of us would be following the case more closely if they had explained why it was three women and four men, especially if the explanation had been what I think it is.

This is the problem with the Malaysian newspapers. They swallow hook, line and sinker what the government says and they are not able to ‘fill in the gaps’.

Let us look at another sex related issue. Dr Munawar and Anwar Ibrahim’s adopted brother, Sukma, were arrested, charged, put on trial, and found guilty of allowing Anwar to sodomise them. Yes, that’s right, both were accused of the crime of allowing Anwar to sodomise them and they were sent to jail.

But it was not rape. It was consensual sex. They are alleged to have consented to allowing Anwar to bugger them. That was why they were jailed. In that case, why was Anwar not also charged? Why were the screwee sent to jail while the screwer escaped punishment?

This was never explained and the newspapers, as usual, did not ask.

Then Anwar was charged for sodomising his wife’s driver, Azizan, allegedly many times over a certain period of time. Again, it was not rape but consensual sex. But this time the screwer was sent to jail while the screwee was spared -- the other way around. Why? They said it was sex between two consenting adults. Then why was one party punished while the other escaped punishment?

In the Dr Munawar and Sukma case, the receiver goes to jail but the giver is spared. In Azizan’s case, the giver goes to jail while the receiver is spared. So confusing and no explanation offered. And the newspapers don't bother to ask.

Now we are seeing the Saiful case being argued in court and he claims that Anwar had sex with him maybe a dozen or so times over a certain period of time. So, again, this is not rape. This is sex with consent. But only Anwar is facing trial. Why is Saiful not also facing trial?

Yes, questions and yet more questions. But no answers are forthcoming. And that is also the same in my son’s case. They tell us part of the story but the story is full of gaps. And they do not fill in those gaps. And that is the modus operandi of the Malaysian government.

In the past they could do this and get away with it. Nowadays it is not so easy. And that was why they arranged that seminar in Washington yesterday. But, as usual, it fell flat. They thought they could pull the wool over the eyes of the Americans like they do with Malaysians. But they could not and the mission failed miserably.

But I will talk more about this Washington fiasco in another column.

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Raja Azman Inflicted Injuries On Himself - Suhakam

(Bernama) -- Raja Azman, the son of fugitive blogger Raja Petra Raja Kamaruddin, inflicted injuries on himself at the Sungai Buloh prison but not in an attempt to commit suicide, according to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

Suhakam commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said today Raja Azman, 34, told him that he slashed his left arm and swallowed razor blades after learning that he would be placed in a separate block for violating prison rules.

"When I asked him why he had injured himself, he replied that he was not happy to be isolated at the Tawakal Block for an investigation. He was not tortured. No one inflicted any injuries on him, neither the prison wardens nor officers," he told reporters after having met with Raja Azman at the Sungai Buloh prison, near here.

Raja Azman is now at the prison ward. He has been remanded at the prison since May 19 last year pending his trial on four charges of housebreaking and theft. He had failed to post bail.

The Prisons Department lodged a report at the Batu Arang police station on Feb 8, the very day that Raja Azman was found injured.

Siva Subramaniam said he was informed by the prison authorities that they wanted to place Raja Azman in a separate block because he had violated prison rules.

"He scolded an officer. So, he had broken the law. Normally, when you do that, you will be placed in a separate room or block until the investigation is completed," he said.

Siva Subramaniam said the infliction of injuries was neither an attempt to commit suicide nor was it torture by anyone else.

Raja Azman was not mentally disturbed and was not physically abused, he said, adding that he had acted in a moment of anger.

He also said that the slash wound on his arm did not require any stitches but he was taken straightaway nevertheless to Sungai Buloh Hospital for a medical examination.

"He passed out two small razor blades on his own. He did not suffer any internal injury. He is now at the prison ward and will return to his block in a few days," he said.

Siva Subramaniam said Suhakam was generally satisfied with the handling of inmates at the prison.

He said he was also briefed by the prison director, Navander Singh, during the two-hour visit.