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Saturday, March 6, 2010

PKR sacks Kulim Bandar Baru MP Zulkifli - Malaysiakini

The PKR supreme council today has decided to boot out Zulkifli Noordin, the Kulim Bandar Baru MP who has been a thorn in the flesh of the fledging party.

The decision was made after a three-hour meeting which started at 2.30pm at the party headquarters in Tropicana, Kuala Lumpur.

At a press conference following the supreme council meeting, party secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution said that the decision to sack Zulkifli was unanimous.

By sacking Zulkifli, the party has opted to cut off the wound which has been left festering for over a year.

NONEIn so doing, PKR lost another MP following the defections of Bayan Baru MP Zahrain Hashim, Tan Tee Beng (Nibong Tebal) and Mohsin Samsuri (Bagan Serai), resulting in PKR trailing behind opposition ally DAP with 27 MPs in Parliament.

All three have declared themselves Independent, and Zulkifli (left) is also expected to join their ranks in Parliament.

The supreme council has requested Zulkifli to vacate his parliamentary seat "with immediate effect" but he is unlikely to do so.

However, Saifuddin said he is allowed to appeal the decision within 14 days.

Asked if he does not want to vacate the seat, Saifuddin stressed that PKR members subscribe to an oath to serve the people.

"We feel he has violated the oath with his actions," he said.

Questioned if Zulkifli wants to be an independent MP, the party secretary-general said it would be up to him.

"He is elected under the PKR ticket and he should resign."

Two charges

Yesterday, Saifuddin said the party disciplinary board, which was tasked to probe two charges against the errant party leader, had completed its investigation.

According to the party constitution, Zulkifli could be given a stern warning, suspended or sacked from the party.

The disciplinary board probed Zulkifli over a police report he had lodged against PAS Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and for his scathing criticism of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

The Kulim Baru MP had however claimed that he was brought before the board for his opposition to the party's stance on the 'Allah' issue.

Zulkifli, an ordinary PKR member, had walked out of the disciplinary board in protest against the presence of non-Muslim members on the panel.

It is learnt that the board recommended that Zulkifli be kicked out from the party.

Call to set up a Pakatan shadow cabinet

GEORGE TOWN: Pakatan Rakyat should form and operate a shadow cabinet if the coalition was serious to grab federal power in the next general election, an academician said today.

Dr Sivamurugan Pandian from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) said the shadow cabinet would also exhibit Pakatan's credentials as a government-in-waiting.

By putting a shadow cabinet into practice, he said Pakatan could conduct a probation test run on the capability and ability of its parliamentarians in handling ministerial positions in future.

He said it would generate interest among Pakatan parliamentarians on particular ministerial duties and functions.

He added that Pakatan could breed and develop knowledgeable and skilled parliamentarians to assume ministerial roles in future.

“If Pakatan is serious to take over Putrajaya, it should form its shadow cabinet immediately,” said Sivamurugan, the deputy dean of USM School of Social Sciences.

He suggested that Pakatan’s shadow cabinet perform according to the coalition’s common policy framework (CPF).

By demonstrating its political conviction to implement the CPF, he said Pakatan could boost public confidence to effect a change in the federal government in the next general election.

“The shadow cabinet can show to the public that Pakatan was not merely keen on opposition politicking. It can practically demonstrate a government-in-waiting,” he said.

Moreover, he said Pakatan’s CPF-based shadow cabinet would provide a sharp contrast to Umno-led Barisan Nasional style of governance.

Thus, he said it could provide a firm check and balance to the current BN Putrajaya administration.

This, he said, would provide the public the chance to measure and make a comparative study on the feasibility and viability of two different styles of political governance.

Sivamurugan said the voters would know which government was the best to protect and enhance their interests, rights and benefits.

“The people could gauge the difference between BN and Pakatan. A shadow cabinet would contribute to a healthy growth of the nation’s parliamentary democracy.''

Sivamurugan cautioned Pakatan leaders not to let slip the opportunity to promote and market the coalition as the alternative government, given that BN had been slowly and steadily regaining lost electoral grounds, especially in rural Malay areas.

He said Pakatan should utilise the next few years to show evidence that it was ready to take over Putrajaya.

“Pakatan must demonstrate that it had enough talents to administer the federal government.”

The Joke of 1Malaysia

Vatican choir singer involved in gay liaisons scandal

In addition to working for the government, the official involved in the scandal served as a papal usher for the Vatican.
In addition to working for the government, the official involved in the scandal served as a papal usher for the Vatican.

Rome, Italy (CNN) -- A Nigerian man who sang in a Vatican choir arranged gay liaisons for an Italian government official who served in the unpaid role of papal usher, according to transcripts of wiretaps collected by Italian authorities.

The wiretaps were gathered as part of an investigation into how public-works contracts were awarded.

The purported conversations were between Angelo Balducci, who oversaw the Italian government's awarding of construction contracts -- including work on the airport at Perugia -- and Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a 39-year-old Nigerian singer. They were recorded between April 14, 2008, and January 20, 2010.

In addition to working for the government, Balducci served as a "gentleman of his holiness," also known as a papal usher or "Vatican gentleman." The main responsibility of the ceremonial position is to welcome heads of state to the Vatican and escort them to see the Pope.

Balducci is one of three public officials who, along with a businessman, have been jailed on charges related to corruption in the public works department. The public officials are alleged to have awarded contracts to businessmen who offered them favors, money, sex, and/or house remodeling in exchange. The suspects, who deny the charges, are in "cautionary custody" though they have not been charged or indicted.

The Italian news media have nicknamed the scandal "grande opere," which translates as "big works." The transcripts of the wiretaps were made public on Wednesday and widely disseminated in the media.

Balducci's lawyer, Franco Coppi, lambasted investigators' handling of his client.

"It is shameful that things unrelated to the investigation are published," Coppi told reporters Wednesday outside the Rome prison where Balducci was confined. "We are thinking about taking legal action. During the interrogations, we did not discuss private matters."

Ehiem told the Italian weekly magazine Panorama in an interview published Friday that he provided Balducci with men from Italy and abroad, including rugby players, actors, models and seminarians.

Ehiem also told Panorama that he arranged for Balducci to meet escorts at Ehiem's house when the government official was in Rome and in Paris, France; Naples, Italy; and other cities when he was traveling.

"For Balducci, a 26- or 27-year-old man was too young," Ehiem told the magazine. "He preferred older men, above 40 years old."

According to the wiretap transcripts, in a conversation dated April 22, 2008, Ehiem says, "I called you ... because there are ... if you are free ... three or four situations that can be good ... very, very good ..."

Balducci: "...Hmmm!"

Ehiem: "Two black, Cuban men ... really tall, tall, tall ... so ... if you are free ... we can try to organize right away ... that is, I saw both of them, Angelo ... believe me that ... they could be two excellent options."

In another conversation, dated August 21, 2008, Ehiem says: "Look, if you want I can have them come one after the other ... it is possible ... if you have some free time ... I can arrange for the two of them."

Balducci: "Which are the better ones?"

Ehiem: "The better ones are the ones I just told you about ... one from Bologna and the other one from Rome."

Balducci: "All right, then let's do it for 3:30."

Ehiem: "OK."

Ehiem said an escort friend introduced him to the Italian businessman more than a decade ago. "He asked me to do it with him, but I like women and just the thought grossed me out," Ehiem said.

"He asked me if I could procure him other men. He told me that he was married and that it had to be done in great secrecy. I told him that there was the Internet. But he asked me to take care of it because he couldn't do it from his home."

He added, "Sometimes he would ask for two meetings a day."

Ehiem told Panorama he was trying to support his family in Nigeria, and that Balducci sometimes paid him 50 or 100 euros, but "never more than 1,000 to 1,500 per year."

Neither Balducci nor his attorney has commented on Eheim's interview with Panorama.

A Vatican source who asked not to be identified said Ehiem had been dismissed from his choir duties. Asked about Balducci, the source said, "It is obvious that, while in prison, he cannot exercise his duties as a papal gentleman." But, the source noted, Balducci has not been convicted of any charge.

"If he is convicted, then we will look into it," the source said.

Khalid: Most painful was the cow episode

HINDRAF-Press Release- BRIEFING AT THE HOUSE OF COMMONS LONDON

PRESS RELEASE – HINDRAF & East Malaysia natives at House of Common UK on

March 9, 2010

A forum have been organized to raise awareness before the House of Common in UK parliamentary by HINDRAF in partnership with Monitoring Group (UK) to address the marginalization and discrimination faced by Malaysian Indians as well as the indigenous natives in East Malaysia under the patronage of Mr Virendra Sharma, a member of Parliament in United Kingdom.

The purpose of this forum is to continue to highlight and enhance the awareness to the international arena on widespread discrimination on human rights that prevails in Malaysia on UMNO’s totalitarianism led Malaysian government against its own citizen.

Amongst the discussion will be issues related to human rights violations, human liberty, equal opportunity that have been deprived or suppressed for certain segment of Malaysian society to exercise their basic rights and freedoms to which all human races is entitled to.

The objective of this forum is to underline and emphasize to the international community that a human rights issue is transculent beyond any comminity and should not be solely based on the relations or community of people similar to a bourgeois system but one that the humanity race will prosper with a just and equitable purpose for the human race.

The international world has witnessed apartheid in South Africa, yet aparthied is practised against Malaysian citizens through unfair and unjust policies of the UMNO totalitarianism along with their coalition partners. The international community can participate to ameliorate the grievances of the destitude Malaysians in Malaysia when they start voicing out for the voiceless in Malaysia as they are also a part of the human race that we all try to create.

HINDRAF with its international partners will continue and pursue their objectives in pursing such goals to ensure that humanity is paramount besides petty politics that eradicate and subject the human race to such marginalization and discrimination that is prevalent for the Malaysian Indians similar to one that is faced by the natives of Malaysia.

The event will include guest speakers from HINDRAF, East Malaysia representatives and other independent experts on the marginalized and discriminated state of several segments of the Malaysian society.

Thank you.

R. Shan

HINDRAF International Coordinator

NEW YORK

HINDRAF to bring up ‘ethnic cleansing’ in briefing at House of Commons in London

HINDRAF to bring up ‘ethnic cleansing’ (Malaysiakini) Joe Fernandez

‘Ethnic cleansing’ in Malaysia is on the agenda of two briefings in London on Tuesday (Mar 9).

The first briefing in the afternoon will be at the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission and the second at the House of Commons.

Both briefings were arranged by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi and The Monitoring Group (TMG), a UK-based human rights organisation.

Makkal Sakthi – people power in Tamil – is the motto of the Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf), a human rights and equal rights movement.

Hindraf will be joined at the briefings by activists from Sabah and Sarawak under the aegis of the Common Interest Group Malaysia (Cigma).

Cigma is an apolitical ad hoc movement in Sabah and Sarawak pledged to uphold and ensure compliance with the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.

Hindraf’s definition of ‘ethnic cleansing’

“Ethnic cleansing is not a misplaced term in Malaysia if we consider that the Indian community has been gradually whittled down in numbers in various spheres,” explained Hindraf chair-in-exile Waythamoorthy Ponnusamy in a telephone call to Malaysiakini last night from London.

For Hindraf, ethnic cleansing does not necessarily have to mean that killings or genocide have to take place.

Where Indian participation is mere tokenism or virtually nil – that’s a form of ethnic cleansing, according to Waythamoorthy.

As examples, he cited the Malaysian civil service, the teaching service, diplomatic service, the plantation sector, government-linked corporations, government scholarships, public universities, the armed forces, police and the judiciary.

NONE“All these are the result of the Umno government unilaterally extending special privileges to virtually every sector in Malaysia,” said Waythamoorthy (right).

“Special privileges were merely meant to ensure reasonable Malay and native participation in four sectors.”

He cited the special privileges “in its original form” as employment in the civil service, intake into public universities, government scholarships and opportunities from the government to do business.

Hindraf will also be including its latest annual report, ‘Human Rights Violations in Malaysia’, as part of its presentation in London.

“We have already touched on some of these violations in various press statements,” said Waythamoorthy in dispelling the notion that he had something dramatically new against the Malaysian authorities.

Highlights of the Hindraf report include temple demolishings, denial of Tamil schooling and Tamil language rights in insidious ways, forcible removal of people from their land, police brutality, deaths in police custody, the shoot-to-kill policy of the police and the issue of statelessness.

Also included would be Waythamoorthy’s continuing dilemma over the cancellation of his international passport by the Malaysian authorities.

The Malaysian authorities have also allegedly refused to issue him a new passport, explain themselves, apologise, make suitable amends and compensate him.

“The passport issue will also be taken up separately at the World Court through United Nations officials,” disclosed Waythamoorthy.

The Hindraf chair explained that London will be a big step forward in Hindraf’s international lobbying to seek justice for the Indian community in Malaysia “and end their continued marginalisation from the mainstream”.

“All we are seeking are our legitimate rights under the federal constitution and our place in the Malaysian sun,” stressed Waythamoorthy.

Malaysia Agreement to be brought up

Cigma chair Jeffrey Kitingan may not be able to make it in time for the March 9 briefings in London.

“Cigma will be represented in London by several others from Sabah and Sarawak. There will also be quite a number of Malaysians in Britain turning up,” said a spokesman in Kota Kinabalu. “We will issue a statement in due course on the papers presented and the issues raised.”

He added that the papers from Sabah and Sarawak are still being finalised but hinted that the Malaysian Government’s non-compliance of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement tops the agenda for the London meet.

Re : Peaceful assembly @ PKR HQ on Indians neglected in P.R ruled states by PKR, DAP & PAS leaders and their 82 MPs’

HUMAN RIGHTS PARTY MALAYSIA

NO.6, Jalan Abdullah, Off Jalan Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tel: 03-2282 5241 Fax: 03-2282 5245 Website: www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com

Media Event (7/3/2010)

Re : Peaceful assembly @ PKR HQ on Indians neglected in P.R ruled states by PKR, DAP & PAS leaders and their 82 MPs’

Date : Sunday 7/3/2010

Time : 11.30 a.m

Venue : PKR HQ, Merchant Square, Jalan Tropicana Selatan 1 Petaling Jaya

Note : Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, Selangor and Kedah Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and Dato’ Seri Azizan and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has refused to even reply to our official letter dated 19/2/2010 to amicably resolve critical Indian problems beginning with the granting of state government land titles to all the 98, 58 and 28 Tamil schools respectively in Selangor, Kedah and Penang all in one go but instead rules by mandorism

http://www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com/2010/02/23/hindraf-hrp-peaceful-rally-pkr-hq-on-2nd-anniversary-pkr-dap-pas-rule/

Thank you,

Yours faithfully,

S. Jayathas

Information Chief

012-6362287

HRP/HINDRAF Service Booth at Singamuha Kaliamman Temple, Teluk Bahang,Penang

Penang restores local council vote

Lim says his administration has contacted the EC to restore local council elections in Penang. — file pic

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

PENANG, March 6 — Penang has decided to ask the Election Commission (EC) to conduct local government elections for two municipalities in the state this year, sticking to its campaign promise to restore the third vote just days shy of its electoral victory two years ago.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today the local election will involve two municipal councils: the Municipal Council of Penang Island (MPPP) and Municipal Council of Seberang Perai (MPSP).

If held, the elections will be the first in the country in more than 40 years since the federal government banned them in 1965.

“The executive council decided this week we will go ahead with the local government election,” Lim told The Malaysian Insider, adding the government has sent a letter to the EC on March 4 asking them to conduct the polls.

“We want to restore the democratic power to the people,” he added, pointing out that Penang was the first state government to move in this direction.

However, he declined to elaborate further, saying that he would rather wait for the EC to respond to his letter. “I don’t want to colour future discussion with the EC. After all, it has been 45 years, so we can wait a bit longer.”

“It was a unanimous decision by the state executive council,” Lim said, when asked if PAS and PKR were consulted or had any objections to the move. He added opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was aware of the move.

In the letter addressed to EC chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, Lim said the state it was asking the commission to conduct the local government elections under Article 113 (4) of the Federal Constitution.

The Article reads that federal and state laws can confer power to the EC to conduct any other elections apart from those in Schedule (1). Lim’s letter said the federal laws that allow the state government to be a competent authority include Local Government Elections Act 1960 and the Local Government Act 1976.

The chief minister also hoped for a meeting soon to get the EC’s views on the local government elections, which it hoped would be held soon.

The DAP secretary-general had proposed the third vote campaign in 2007, a year before then-prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called for elections on March 8, 2008. But the federal government had refused the proposal to restore the elections.

He also pushed for it in the Common Policy Framework of the Pakatan Rakyat unveiled last December, but the coalition pact opted to go for the phrase “strengthening local government democracy”. Pakatan now comprises PKR, DAP and PAS.

It is understood the main fear of the allies was losing to the ruling Barisan Nasional federal government if such elections were held. There was also a fear that non-Malays would swamp Malays in the vote, particularly in urban areas, but several Pakatan strategists had pointed out that there have been shifts in population demographics.

Al-Islam apologises

The Al-Islam report which triggered the controversy.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — The Al-Islam magazine has openly apologised to the Roman Catholic Church and Christians for a May 2009 special report, which involved the desecration of a religious rite, saying they had “unintentionally hurt the feelings of Christians especially Catholics”.

The apology posted on the website of its publisher, Utusan Karya, came after Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said he would not prosecute the reporters as it was “not in interest of justice”, while the Roman Catholic Church said it would be satisfied with an apology.

The controversy began after the magazine published a report,“Tinjauan Al-Islam Dalam Gereja: Mencari Kesahihan Ramaja Melayu Murtad”, in its May 2009 edition that contained pictures of a spat-out communion wafer. Catholics believe that during the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the host is transubstantiated and becomes the body of Christ.

The monthly magazine explained in a three-paragraph statement that the report was to investigate allegations of apostasy and the actions of its journalists were never intended to deride the Christian faith, let alone desecrate their house of worship.

It stated that the two Al-Islam journalists who wrote the article also apologised for unintentionally hurting the feelings of Christians in the pursuit of their duty and hoped the incident would not recur. The magazine also said the apology will be published in its April 2010 edition, available by middle March.

It is understood that the publisher, which is a subsidiary of the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia, had wanted to issue the apology earlier but it was held up by legal considerations.

Penang local vote applauded, might face EC hurdle

By Debra Chong - The Malaysian Insider

Ragunath responded positively to news of Penang’s planned third vote. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — Penang’s decision to conduct local government elections for two municipalities after a 45-year hiatus has received good response, but some warned the Election Commission (EC) might refuse to comply.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed today the state government has written to the EC to conduct local government elections for the Municipal Council of Penang Island (MPPP) and Municipal Council of Seberang Perai (MPSP).

Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan applauded the announcement, saying it was among the promises made by the fledgling DAP-PKR-PAS alliance when it came to power two years ago.

“Good! It shows the process of consultation with the public and that it is reaching out to the grassroots,” Ragunath told The Malaysian Insider in an immediate comment.

But he stressed that holding an official election must be decided by the federal government because of the “loophole” in the existing federal laws concerning polls.

“Without an amendment, I don’t think you can have local elections. I don’t think the EC is going to comply,” he said, referring to the letter written by Lim two days ago to the body empowered to carry out the election process.

Ragunath noted that the current practice of appointing local councillors was already within the state’s powers and that it could still carry out an informal election without the EC’s involvement.

“Like now, the state appoints the local councillors anyway,” he highlighted.

“You can do it like what Perak did and hold it on an informal basis. There’s no necessity for the EC to get involved,” he explained, referring to the toppled Perak Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government, which had provided for villagers to choose their own village heads.

Penang activist and Aliran member, Anil Netto congratulated the Penang government in his weblog, www.anilnetto.com, saying it was a long-awaited move that came two days before PR’s second anniversary as the state government.

“It not only attempts to fulfil the Pakatan’s general election pledge but shows that the administration has listened to sentiment on the ground from civil society and public opinion that is strongly in favour of the restoration of local democracy,” he wrote.

He noted that Penang had asked the EC to conduct the elections, saying “in doing so, the Penang government has effectively lobbed the ball into the Election Commission’s court”.

“Now, don’t hold your breath for the Commission to respond positively. My guess is that the Commission will give all kinds of reasons for not holding the elections (though I hope I am proven wrong),” Netto said.

He also urged the state government not to be disheartened if the EC does not respond positively to the request to conduct the polls.

“A less than enthusiastic response from the Commission shouldn’t stop the Penang government from pressing ahead creatively.

“If the Penang government is serious about restoring local election, then there are all kinds of ways and means that some people have already suggested to maximise public participation in the selection of local councillors. These ways should be used as a prelude to the full restoration of local government elections,” Netto added.

Lawyers want BNM to reveal crash insurance revamp

By Debra Chong - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — The Bar Council has demanded for Bank Negara Malaysia to reveal details of a proposed revamp to the basic scheme for third parties to claim insurance payment in cases of bodily injuries and/or death in motor accidents.

The peninsula-based lawyers’ group said the scheme is estimated to cost RM500 million to set up but there have not been any details from Bank Negara, which oversees the local insurance industry.

The council said it was worried because the central bank has not consulted it or the public despite the possibility that the new scheme could take effect as early as July 1.

Missed opportunity

It was a real opportunity for Malaysia to transform itself from a one-party state, which blurs the line between party and government and treats legitimate political dissent and opponents as enemies of the state, to a genuine two-party system, which provides for level playing fields for both sides of the divide based on rule of law.

By LIEW CHIN TONG, DAP MP for Bukit Bendera/Sinchiew Daily

A de facto two-party system emerged from the polling boxes on March 8 two years ago. The one-party state, however, refused to make way. Thus, Malaysia missed the opportunity to evolve into a real, normal democracy.

Malaysians defied threats and overcame fear to vote for the opposition in Election 2008. About 51 percent of voters in Peninsula voted for change, while nationally the opposition received 49 percent of the votes.

At the press conference held in the wee hours of March 9, the then-prime minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, acknowledged the electoral results, thus putting to rest the fear of unrest.

It was a real opportunity for Malaysia to transform itself from a one-party state, which blurs the line between party and government and treats legitimate political dissent and opponents as enemies of the state, to a genuine two-party system, which provides for level playing fields for both sides of the divide based on rule of law.

However, the hawks have never accepted the results.

No better contrast illustrates the struggle between the possible normal democracy and the archaic one-party state than the events that unfolded around Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in mid-July 2008, four months after the electoral tsunami.

On July 14, the city of Kuala Lumpur was locked down by a massive operation involving 1,600 policemen who were trying to prevent a mass demonstration, as they attempted to arrest Anwar.

On July 15, at the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Anwar debated the then-minister of information, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek (now Youth and Sports Minister) on a fuel price hike, a major preoccupation of the Malaysian public since a shocking 40 percent increase on June 4. It was the first time in a decade that Anwar appeared on national television a positive figure and not as a vilified object.

On July 16, Anwar was ambushed and arrested by armed police commandos in balaclavas near his residence, despite assuring his willingness to co-operate with the police.

This was how the one-party entity treated democracy; instead of treating the opposition as a check-and-balance necessity, it went all out to destroy any form of opposition.

For Anwar, one day he was the premier-in-waiting debating a government minister; the next day, the most dangerous criminal in town.

Shabery’s less than satisfactory performance during the television debate nailed it all. The debate was perhaps the last night of UMNO’s doves, if there was ever one.

UMNO didn’t know how to deal with the new milieu. From the initial clumsiness trying to figure out which way to react to the new scenario, hardliners in UMNO ascended quickly, especially after Abdullah’s disastrous decision to hike fuel prices at once.

An allegation of sodomy by one Saiful Bukhari against Anwar on June 28 has to be seen in this historical context. Political competition has taken an ugly turn ever since. If the leader of the opposition can be persecuted in this manner, what does that say to all other Malaysians?

On Sept 12, the Member of Parliament for Seputeh and Senior Exco for Selangor, Teresa Kok; Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng; and blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin were dramatically arrested under the draconian Internal Security Act.

Since then, it was a spiral downhill, ranging from the controversial Perak coup, the Teoh Beng Hock custodial death, the "Allah" issue, to the recent crossovers from Parti Keadilan Rakyat. These incidents can mostly be traced to UMNO’s thirst to restore its one-party dominance by all means, regardless of legality and legitimacy.

Malaysia, stuck in a time warp, continues to long for change. The nation missed its chance provided by Election 2008 to remake itself into a genuine and normal democracy.

UMNO's End Game

By Khoo Kay Peng

Prime Minister Najib Razak will not be attending the disputed MCA annual general meeting this Sunday. Najib's absence is going to be read as a lost of support for incumbent MCA President Ong Tee Keat.

The presence of UMNO President to launch the annual general assembly of Barisan component parties is the clearest sign of UMNO's superiority over other parties. Previous presidents who did not enjoy the support of UMNO president/prime minister were quickly removed from the party.

Dr Lim Chong Eu was strong enough to defeat Tan Cheng Lock for the MCA presidency but his dispute with UMNO president Tunku Abdul Rahman over seats allocation was quickly manipulated by his party leaders to push him out of MCA.

Sadly, history is going to repeat itself again here. Ong is not expected to be able to launch a strong challenge to defend his post if the delegates want a closer relationship with UMNO. It is customary for parties in the coalition to compete for the attention and goodwill of UMNO.

However, it is unlikely for Ong to follow the footsteps of Dr Lim in forming an opposition party, the United Democratic Party (a backbone for the formation of Parti Gerakan) after a two-year hiatus from politics.

In an equal partnership, there should have been a rotating coalition chairmanship. No other leader from a non-UMNO party has ever led Barisan.

Hence, a leadership change in MCA will not help the party to resolve its own political crisis or to recapture the support of Chinese community.

MCA's main problem is the prevailing ugly elitist and discriminative politics in Malaysia. This brand of elitist politics is merely manipulating and abusing race and religion to benefit their own kind.

MCA's decline is irreversible and imminent if UMNO is allowed to perpetuate its brand of elitist politics unchecked and unchallenged.

UMNO is not going to and cannot leave its "ketuanan Melayu" (Malay supremacy) politics behind. UMNO's survival depends on its ability to convince the Malays that they are the princes of the land and the party's its protector.

Post-Mahathir, its leadership is also trying to mend its rift and rebuild its alliance with the monarch, another useful symbol for Malay supremacy.

Events in the last months suggested that UMNO may have unleashed all possibilities to strengthen its ethnoreligious credentials hoping to shore up its Malay support base. It hopes to unite the Malay under the pretence to protect the Malay special status, its symbol of supremacy - the monarchy, Islam as an exclusive religion and the sacred Malay social status in Malaysia.

However, the more UMNO pushes its Malay-Islam agenda the more doubts it is going to cast on Najib's 1Malaysia agenda. Compared to Vision 2020, Mahathir was smart enough to create a time frame for equality which was way beyond his tenure so that Malaysians of all races remain hopeful as long as we have not touched the finishing line.

1Malaysia to the skeptics is a mere slogan. The cynics see it as a ploy. The pragmatists know that it will not and cannot be achieved. The moment there is equality for all it marks an end for UMNO.

Racial equality and the realisation of a truly Bangsa Malaysia is an end game for UMNO. UMNO becomes irrelevant once it is no longer needed to defend Malay supremacy which is a disguise of its elitist interests. Najib and all UMNO leaders would definitely want UMNO to remain for the next 500 years.

Hence, Perkasa was expedited. Perkasa will say and do whatever UMNO cannot or would not say in order not to lose its 1Malaysia mask.

From Dr Mahathir to Najib, the believers of Vision 2020 and 1Malaysia should know by now that they have been conned.

MCA should wake up from its slumber. It is time for its leadership to sober up. MCA under the leadership of Ong, Chua or Liow is not going to help save the party if it wants to continue to be 'henpecked' by UMNO.

My advice to Ong is to issue a full disclosure on what has happened to the PKFZ investigation. His days as the MCA president may be numbered but the people will remember him as a fallen angel if he can walk his talk on his intention to make those who were responsible for the fiasco be brought to face justice.

My previous articles in The Star supporting his intention to conduct a thorough investigation on PKFZ had led to people speculating that I had joined his team of advisers. I had hoped that it was true because I would have advised him to stand up against those who had colluded to sweep this scandal under the carpet and to demand for an equal partnership in Barisan.

MCA leadership has proven that it is part of the greedy and dangerous elitist politics and not fighting to end it.

What good can it do if it can't contribute to end racism, corruption, mismanagement and power arrogance?

Psst! Pemuda UMNO.. Banner dah dinaikkan dah ni..

Gelangang telah kami sediakan, gelanggang terbuka yang akan dihadiri ribuan Melayu yang mencari jawapan bagaimana mereka dipinggirkan..

By Anak Sungai Derhaka

100 keping Banner kami dah naikkan di simpang-simpang jalan .. dari Pulau hingga ke Seberang Perai di Tanah Besar..

50,000 keping Handbill pun dah diedarkan kehampir seluruh Masjid-Masjid di Pulau Pinang dan juga Seberang Perai..

SMS dan e-mail juga telah dikirim, YB Sim pun dah update dalam facebook nya..

Permit perhimpunan pun dah dipohon dan juga telah diluluskan oleh pihak Polis..

Kebenaran menggunakan Tapak Ekspo Seberang Jaya pun dah diperolehi segala persiapan akan kami uruskan esok malam..

Anil Netto dan Wartawan Rasmi Laman Reformasi juga telah bersedia untuk membuat liputan secara live..

Sound System terbaik di Pulau Pinang pun dah bersedia dan akan dipasang pada petang Ahad ni bersama dengan 2 screen untuk projector..

Unit Amal, Unit Ehsan, Team Amal dan UKP (Unit Keselamatan Parlimen) telah dikerahkan untuk membantu melancarkan program..

Semua itu kami buat untuk menyambut kehadiran kehadiran Pejuang-Pejuang Bangsa Melayu yang sangat prihatin dengan nasib masyarakat Melayu Pulau Pinang ini..

Kami lakukan untuk menyambut Ketua Pemuda UMNO Norman Zahalan yang telah mengoyak surat jemputan kami hari itu dan menuduh Pemuda Pakatan Rakyat Pulau Pinang seperti 'kuda tunggangan' Ketua Menteri..

Kami lakukan juga untuk menyambut Rizal Faris Mohideen Yang DiPertua DPMM Pulau Pinang yang telah mengatakan dia tidak mahu melayan cabaran dari 'ikan bilis' macam kami ini..

Juga kami telah sediakan kerusi yang empuk buat Jais Abdul Karim Presiden Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung biar dia selesa bila berbicara.. walaupun katanya dia hanya mahu berdebat dengan Guan Eng Ketua Menteri kami..

Gelangang telah kami sediakan, gelanggang terbuka yang akan dihadiri ribuan Melayu yang mencari jawapan bagaimana mereka dipinggirkan..

Gelanggang buat korang bertiga menunjukkan kepada Rakyat Pulau Pinang, orang-orang Melayu khasnya betapa gigihnya korang memperjuangkan Nasib Melayu Pulau Pinang..

Segalanya kami sediakan sebaik mungkin dengan peruntukan yang terhad..

Tiada apa yang perlu anda bertiga bawa kecuali otak yang telah terpahat dengan hujjah yang membuktikan bahawa Melayu Pulau Pinang memang dipinggirkan dan juga telur korang.. itupun kalau anda bertiga mempunyai telur…

Gelanggang untuk DEBAT PERDANA 2010 yang akan berlangsung pada 7 Mac 2010 ini..

Darwin Was Not Thorough Enough

By batsman

If Darwin’s Theory of Evolution can be summarized as “Survival of the Fittest”, then he was either not thorough enough or his theory has been perverted as usual by those who follow. This is a common phenomenon. Small minded people who follow great thinkers often pervert the original for convenience or for selfish motives.

Thus according to Ku Li, UMNO Baru which follows UMNO steals oil royalties from the poor Malays of the East Coast states. In my opinion, they actually do this in the name of Ketuanan Melayu, but others may disagree.

But getting back to Darwin - it is also very common for lazy people who do not bother to read or understand the original to try and simplify it in simple slogans which are wholly inadequate. Such people often cover up their inadequacies by championing the original (which they fail to understand) in extremely loud, domineering and chauvinistic ways. These people turn into bullies, but unsurprisingly, when exposed, they also too often turn into cowards.

A second class of people are the stupid ones who try to cover their weakness by following the same tactic of loudly and in a bullying way, championing the original in the hope that some of the genius of the original will by some miracle rub off onto them by their show of loyalty.

As Lord Bertrand Russell says, “A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says is never accurate for he unconsciously translates what he hears into something that he can understand.”

Natural selection can create many types of designs. Nature itself is a myriad of designs each of which tries to fit its natural environment as best it can. Some designs favour strength and competitiveness. These attributes will lead to domination not survival.

The dinosaurs were extremely competitive and their strength in competitiveness led them to dominate the ancient earth. But however competitive they were, they did not survive the extremes nature was able to throw at them. Still, they dominated the earth for hundreds of millions of years.

This achievement is more than man himself has yet to achieve. It appears that man is even more competitive than the dinosaurs. Man even has specialized theories of competition to guide his thoughts and decisions, yet in the short space of time man has been on earth, he has managed to place nature itself in trouble and his own survival is not all that assured.

Compared to man’s time on earth, the British Empire claimed to be one on which the sun never sets. Yet its competitiveness and domination lasted only just around 300 years – a pathetically short time period compared to man’s own pre-history and even to his history.

Compared to the British Empire, the US superpower has been dominant for even less time. It claims to be the champion of competitiveness and its supreme competitiveness has given it supreme domination over the whole world. The question is – will it last as long as the British Empire did?

Everyone has his own opinion on this and I don’t want to waste more time on it. My point is that competitiveness leads to domination not survival. So when people summarise Darwin into simple slogans that suggest success in competition leads to being the fittest which in turn leads to success in survival, I very much question that.

As far as the Malaysian situation is concerned, Darwin’s Theory is therefore not an adequate model. Before one can achieve domination, one has to achieve survival. This can be done by being adaptable. However, having achieved survival by being adaptable and going on to domination by being competitive, one faces the challenges of trying to survive again, since domination creates the conditions for extinction. This is the Way of the Tao. The Tao teaches one to be patient, to live and let live and not to interfere with the ways of others.

So I submit Darwin has to be tempered with the Way of the Tao. Unfortunately some Malaysians seem to have forgotten their own culture and seek only purely western ways of interference and domination in the manner of a world class bully. They need someone of a different background to remind them of their own culture. What a tragedy. Heeheehee.

Q&A: Anwar Ibrahim discusses trial, Muslim issues

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is on trial in Kuala Lumpur on sodomy charges for a second time, speaks to journalist Wajahat Ali about the controversy and discusses the country's ethnic and religious conflicts as well as issues facing the Muslim world.

By Wajahat Ali for CNN

Wajahat Ali: Dr. Ibrahim, you are currently facing controversial, criminal charges of sodomy in Kuala Lumpur alleged by an ex-aide. The trial is under way as we speak, and the Malaysian press has dubbed this event "Sodomy 2" since you were convicted on similar charges in 1998 (which were overturned by the Supreme Court in 2004). You also served six years in solitary confinement after being convicted in '98 for corruption. First, if there was no truth to these allegations then why would the aide under oath swear and testify in graphic detail to such a sordid event and also be subjected to such humiliation, considering sodomy is both illegal and highly disfavored in Malaysia? Second, if these allegations are "trumped up" (by the ruling coalition) and a sham, as you and your followers have said, why?

Anwar Ibrahim: The government today is in survival mode. Sensing its own protracted demise, and bereft of ideas that would enable it to regain popular support, its strategy is to tear down the opposition no matter what the cost. Since our unprecedented victory in the March 2008 polls, there have been relentless attacks to destabilize our state governments, to threaten and intimidate our elected officials and to undermine public confidence in our ability to govern. You name it and it's been hurled at us.... The charges leveled against me have to be seen in this broader context. The fact that the same plot that was hatched in 1998 is being repeated reflects a certain bankruptcy and lack of creativity on their part. They must still believe some segment of the Malay-Muslim electorate, who will likely determine the outcome of the next General Election, will be alienated by these charges. I doubt that is the case. There is polling to prove it and when we go around the country now the crowds of people number sometimes in the tens of thousands. The Malaysian people are much smarter and more aware today and will not easily be fooled.

As for the swearing of oaths in courts and in mosques -- these are theatrics that ignore due process and legal principles. In a normal court of law, a verdict would rest on objective, incontrovertible evidence. But in Malaysia, show trials are being used to defame and discredit those who have fallen out of the favor of the establishment. This gives us all the more resolve to fight for reform.

(The Malaysian government has rejected allegations of wrongdoing and all claims that it has tried to silence Anwar and his political party. The Government has also denied any involvement in the sodomy cases against Anwar.)

Wajahat Ali: Malaysia promotes itself as a peaceful, democratic, multi-ethnic, Muslim country. On December 31, a court ruled that non-Muslims, namely Christians, were finally allowed to use the word "Allah" as a term for God, which quickly prompted a government appeal. Following the ruling, nearly 11 churches have been attacked, Christians have been harassed, and even a Sikh temple and several mosques were vandalized. Both the government's appeal and the conduct of several Malays seem to suggest discrimination towards their non-Muslim neighbors. Many in America assume this is due to an innate Muslim antagonism and elitism towards the "other." How would you explain this current phenomenon, and why is the term "Allah" only reserved for Muslims?

Anwar Ibrahim: The handling of the Allah issue sent the wrong message to people around the world about Islam. In the current climate of xenophobia in Europe and the U.S., how can we as Muslims say we are any better when we treat our non-Muslim citizens with disrespect and disdain? It is odd that this issue seems relevant only in Malaysia and not in the Middle East or even Indonesia.

Dialogue and engagement are essential. The mainstream media all controlled by the ruling coalition should present all viewpoints and not just the most extreme views supported by the government. Sensitive issues that touch on religious and ethnic sentiments should be handled delicately. Instead the government allowed the case to be dragged through the courts, sanctioned incendiary public demonstrations and only after the situation exploded in violence did its leaders start to make more measured statements and call for calm. I find this deplorable.

In Malaysia such posturing by Muslim leaders has much more to do with politics than religion and ideology. The ruling government hopes that by taking a hard line it will curry some favor with an increasingly radical right wing upon which its party is increasingly based. The recent caning of individuals for illicit sexual relations is likewise part of an effort to boost the perceived Islamic credentials of the government and portray the opposition as soft on morals and subservient to international pressure.

I understand there are broader concerns about the ability of contemporary Islamic societies to deal with issues of pluralism and diversity. Malaysia's handling of this issue is certainly not helping to abate these fears. But there is a silver lining. We have used this incident as an opportunity to launch a series of interfaith dialogues around the country. And I am very encouraged by statements from Pan Islamic Party of Malaysia, PAS, which has come out strongly in support of the rights of all Malaysian citizens under the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of conscience and religion.

Wajahat Ali: Following on that question, is there space for Muslims and non-Muslims to live harmoniously in Malaysia? If your party had power, how would it handle the current situation and subsequently implement changes that would minimize ethnic and religious conflicts in the future?

Anwar Ibrahim: Southeast Asian Islam is known for its inclusivistic approach. The religion came to this region via traders from Arabia and by Sufi masters who integrated with the existing cultural and social landscape. While Islam gradually became the dominant civilization this was not done at the expense of the other groups. In fact I recall back in the '90s we convened the first-ever conference on Islam and Confucianism that led to the founding of an entire department at the University of Malaya on this topic. This in my mind represents the vast potential of our multi-ethnic society.

The religious tensions currently on display are a recent phenomenon in that they are largely the result of a political conflict rather than deep-seated religious antagonisms. This is not to ignore the challenges Malaysia faces as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. But for the most part these tensions can be alleviated through efforts to promote greater integration and interaction within the society. Politicians unfortunately have found it expedient to exacerbate ethnic and religious tensions as a means of prolonging a political system that benefits the few at the expense of the many. We see deliberate attempts to provoke religious tensions to give a pretext to clamp down on civil liberties and justify the continuation of the same old race-based policies of the past.

The antidote for this behavior is to restore credibility to the institutions of civil society. The media should be free, politicians must be held accountable through free and fair elections and the judiciary must be able to operate without interference from politicians. Economics also factor importantly into the equation. Income inequality in Malaysia is among the worst in the world. Despite decades of an affirmative action policy designed to uplift the poor and marginalized Malays, in Malaysia the rich get richer while the poor stay poor -- and that includes poor Malays, Chinese and Indians.

We need to revisit the design of economic policy and how the country allocates welfare and resources. Affirmative action remains essential to ensure that the poor marginalized are not forgotten. But there is no reason to exclude poor Chinese and Indians from the policy, as has been the case for so long. Endemic corruption has led to the enrichment of a few well-connected businessmen and politicians but the vast majority of their wealth never trickles down.

If we can overcome some of the most basic shortcomings in governance and accountability I am quite confident that Malaysia will be on a better footing when it comes to building a peaceful society.

Wajahat Ali: U.S. President Barack Obama was embraced with rapturous applause, standing ovations, and stunning poll numbers by Muslim communities worldwide last year when he gave his historic speech in Cairo. A year later, there has been a significant dip in his polls numbers both domestically and abroad. How confident do Muslims feel about him and America as a "true partner" in 2010 when compared to Bush's administration? What will Obama have to do to regain Muslim trust and achieve a true conciliation between America and Muslims around the world?

Anwar Ibrahim: When he won I shared in the optimism expressed by many that his presidency would usher in a new chapter in relations between America and the Muslim world. I did not expect he alone to solve all the problems. After all he is not the Caliph. He is the President of the United States, and therefore bound by significant constraints. But he is certainly better than his predecessor and we appreciated his Cairo speech, which was a historic and bold statement of friendship between two civilizations.

His pronouncements -- such as closing Guantanamo, an end to settlement activity in the West Bank and pushing for a two state-solution, withdrawing from Iraq and searching for diplomatic solutions to dealing with Iran -- are the right statements. Unfortunately he has yet to deliver on major initiatives. At this point, few see much difference between his foreign policy and that of the Bush administration. I remain optimistic for now -- it is too soon to offer a final verdict.

I believe Muslims are willing to give whoever sits in the White House a chance. Muslims respect America as a democracy and want to see its policies as fair, just and consistent. For there to be a real watershed in the Obama administration's approach he will have to be seen to be acting fairly in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and show more compassion (when) it comes to dealing with Afghanistan, where thousands of innocent people are still being killed. Otherwise I fear the good will he has built will be forgotten.

Wajahat Ali: Why does the Israeli occupation of Palestine overwhelmingly dominate the emotions and anger of Muslims worldwide when Muslims are also suffering tremendously in Iraq, Africa, Russia, Afghanistan and so forth? Can Muslims move "beyond" the Palestine issue?

Anwar Ibrahim: It is often forgotten that Jerusalem holds a special, symbolic meaning for Muslims as the site of the Prophet Muhammad's ascent to heaven. In fact, Muslims living during the Prophet's time prayed towards Jerusalem until instructions were later given to switch the direction of the prayer to Mecca. This makes Jerusalem and access to the holy sites very relevant to Muslims around the world.

Certainly there is deep anger over the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. The enduring conflicts in other countries, the imposition of dictatorial regimes and the legacy of colonialism and rampant poverty are all factors which affect the relationship. But the Arab-Israeli conflict has come to symbolize the entire grouse of the Muslim world with the interference of foreign powers in our affairs.

Our frustration with the United States stems entirely from its lopsided handling of the conflict. Consider the result of Palestinian elections which were held democratically and brought Hamas into power. America punished Palestinians for voting (with) their conscience. Or consider (Israel's) blockade on Gaza -- another example of collective punishment being used to force a different political outcome. If America is seen to be inconsistent in applying principles of freedom, justice and self-determination in Palestine then Muslims elsewhere are going to have a hard time believing the rhetoric is real.

And the failure to achieve a meaningful peace gives authoritarian Muslim governments an easy opportunity to score political mileage out of the Palestinians' plight. Stoking the flames of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism is a good distraction from the stench in their own backyard, namely rampant corruption, denial of basic human rights, abuse of power and the suppression of civil society.

Wajahat Ali: Do you think it's time for Muslims to readjust their grievances and sources of victimization?

Anwar Ibrahim: When Abu Ghraib happened it was rightly condemned as a terrible injustice and came to symbolize what was wrong about the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. But Muslims have to be consistent. The lack of due process, gruesome prison conditions and corruption in law enforcement agencies are very serious problems in Muslim countries that must also be condemned. So when many Muslim governments attacked the U.S. they were being hypocritical.

Muslims have expressed clear views on this matter. The (Gallup) Muslim World Poll demonstrated that the vast majority of Muslims prefer governments that are more democratic, more accountable and more humane than the ones that exist today. Which means many would be quite supportive of a change in the corrupt and authoritarian governments that exist throughout the Middle East. The frustration that many Muslims have with the West is that America often preaches one thing about democracy but turns a blind eye to some of the worst dictators. So they are squeezed on both sides -- their own governments and the so-called savior from the West.

I think oppression and injustice has to be condemned whenever and wherever it exists and Muslims should be at the forefront of this call for justice. Otherwise what is it that we hope to tell the world about our values and ethics?

Wajahat Ali: Do you believe that democracy and Islam are capable of coexistence, especially as a functional system of government in the modern age? Judging by the track record over the past century, it seems Islam and politics make volatile bed fellows.

Anwar Ibrahim: The experience of democracy in the Muslim world has not been entirely negative as the question suggests. Independence movements were often based on political parties which organized around principles of freedom and justice. Freedom fighters didn't expel their colonial master only to want to replace them with ruthless dictators. On the contrary -- there were vibrant democracies emerging in places like Indonesia, Iran and even Iraq in the 1950s. The great betrayal happened later, when secular autocrats who, in the name of nationalism, socialism or modernity, hijacked the governments and imposed a level cruelty worse than what existed under colonialism. But let us be clear -- these were secular movements which used religion only to buy legitimacy from the people.

It is therefore quite historic to see democracy re-emerging in places like Indonesia and Turkey. The peaceful transformation of Indonesia to the world's largest Muslim democracy is one of the most important developments in the world. Likewise, Turkey has taken its place as a vibrant democracy. And what is more interesting is that in Indonesia in recent elections the more conservative Islamic parties were allowed to campaign openly -- and they were handed defeat. This did not require locking them up in prison. On the contrary it was the people themselves who opted for a system that was inclusive, democratic and at the same time cognizant of the country's religious and cultural heritage.

Wajahat Ali: You're an active presence in new media with a popular Facebook profile and a steady stream of tweets from your Twitter account. In fact, you and many of your supporters have been tweeting throughout the trial. Last year, Iranians successfully used Twitter to educate the world about the daily protests against the government crackdowns following the controversial election results. First, what do you hope to achieve by tweeting throughout your trial? Secondly, do you believe new media and the Internet is the transformative vehicle and tool for Muslims in the 21st century to reclaim both their political and religious voices, which have been silenced or hijacked by those claiming legitimacy and power?

Anwar Ibrahim: New media has been a cornerstone of the opposition's communications strategy. The mainstream press in Malaysia is completely controlled by the government, but the Internet has remained free. An attempt last year to introduce an Internet filter was quickly shot down, not surprisingly, by an overwhelming response of Internet users in Malaysia.

The coverage of my trial has been quite favorable in the international media but locally you would be surprised how vicious and despicable the manipulation of facts has already become. We need to be active online and develop innovative ways of reaching out to online and offline constituencies to compensate for this information deficit.

And we also realize there is a new generation of Malaysians who were too young to remember the Reformasi movement that started a decade ago. Reaching out to them will happen in large part through technology.

I never believed technology is a panacea. But it is certainly changing the course of politics and policy around the world. The president of the United States ran an effective online campaign and continues to do so while in office, but so too have extremist groups. Opposition parties in Malaysia are actively courting voters online. Who ultimately benefits from technology will depend on two things -- the execution of a coherent strategy and the quality of the message. Information tends to travel quickly by whatever means if there is a demand for the content.

Wajahat Ali is a playwright, journalist, attorney, humorist and consultant. He is a contributor to The Washington Post, The Guardian, Huffington Post, McSweeney's Quarterly Journal, Counterpunch and Chowk. He is an Associate Editor of the American Muslim online magazine Altmuslim.com and Contributing Editor of Illume Magazine. He also produces a blog: "Goatmilk: An Intellectual Playground" (goatmilk.wordpress.com).

Anwar owes the nation an apology

Anwar was the initiator of a string of "ship jumping" incidents. After the March 2008 general elections, Anwar and other Pakatan leaders kept foretelling the "916 administration change" while blatantly and secretly getting BN reps to hop over to their camp.

By TIANYA JIANKE/Translated by DOMINIC LOH/Sin Chew Daily

News of PKR elected reps quitting the party keep popping up in recent weeks. Malaysians begin to ask: "What has gone wrong with PKR?"

These reps were elected under the PKR banner but are now changing the course of their struggle. It is apt that PKR and these elected representatives should offer some reasonable explanations to the voters.

However, we have so far not seen any PKR leader openly apologise to the people for failing the public mandate. Instead, we have seen a handful of second or third-tiered leaders from PKR and other component parties of the opposition pact come out in an attempt to mitigate the impact caused by the latest wave of exodus.

Some pledge their loyalty to Anwar Ibrahim, while others count the charges of their ex-comrades who have now quit the party or jumped ship.

Out of some unknown reasons, Sin Chew Daily appears to have shown a great deal of leniency towards PKR in the recent incident. Sin Chew's many commentators should perhaps take cue from renowned Taiwanese critic Nan Fang Shuo.

Take a look at how Nan has slammed Ma ying-jeou and his team:" Whatever that happens to Taiwan doesn't seem to have too much to do with this guy.. They always have all sorts of excuses, and are always right. They have made a cheap "reform" slogan, which they make into a weapon to lash out at the dissidents, overlooking the fact that they themselves are the ones needing the reforms most. They try to act funny when nothing big happens, but if something happens, they would then try to act pitiful."

Whatever it is, at least Ma has openly bowed to the Taiwanese public and apologised.

Where is our Encik Anwar?

As a matter of fact, Anwar was the initiator of a string of "ship jumping" incidents. After the March 2008 general elections, Anwar and other Pakatan leaders kept foretelling the "916 administration change" while blatantly and secretly getting BN reps to hop over to their camp.

Anwar's predictions failed to materialise, but have instead expedited the outflow of foreign investments. Bursa Malaysia used to be a safe haven in the highly volatile global equity scene.

Foreign money keeps draining out of the country and so far 37% of foreign funds have exited our shores, making Malaysia the most severely battered by investment outflow in the region.

PKR leaders keep slamming their reps who have quit the party, but why did the party praise them so much when these people were being presented to the voters as candidates? Isn't this something to do with integrity?

At least Anwar and his party still owe the nation an apology.

Bumburing Calls On Health Ministry To Expedite Upgrading Work On Tuaran Hospital

TUARAN, March 5 (Bernama) — Former Sabah deputy chief minister Datuk Wilfred Bumburing has called on the Health Ministry to expedite the upgrading of the Tuaran hospital to cater for the health care needs of about 120,000 people living in the area.

He said the hospital was in dire need of upgrading and it was sad that a hospital for a large district like Tuaran, with a population of 120,000, had no bed at all.

“I was also told that the hospital had been downgraded to a clinic in the past. In my speech in Parliment last year to debate the 2010 budget I have outlined all the reasons and rationale as to why the construction of the hospital is most urgently needed,” he told reporters here on Friday.

However the member of Parliment for Tuaran denied DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang’s recent allegation that the BN government had not done anything to develop Tuaran.

Bumburing said the Health Ministry had assured him that the second phase construction of the hospital would start this year.

“While appreciating Kit Siang’s concern, I have to mention that we in the Barisan Nasional have carried our duty and responsibility in bringing up to the relevant authorities matters that are of urgent public interest,” he said.

On the construction of the Sungai Damit bridge, he said he had already submitted an application and had discussed the matter with the Minister of Rural Development, who had assured him that it would be looked at positively this year.

MCA dignity and humiliation plumbing new historic lows

Most pitiable and tragic to see MCA dignity and humiliation plumbing new historic lows in its 61-year history in the past 24 hours.

Whether the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will attend the 56th MCA Annual General Meeting scheduled for Sunday became the most strategic gambit in the MCA “Three Kingdom” power tussle when the Ong remnants in the rump MCA Central Committee after the resignation of two-thirds of its membership from the Chua and Liow factions insisted on proceeding with Sunday’s MCA AGM.

The spokesman for the “Ong” MCA faction announced after the rump MCA Central Committee meeting last evening that Najib would attend which was contradicted soon after by spokesmen from the “Liow” and “Chua” MCA factions that Najib would not attend!

As if it is not shameful and humiliating enough that Sunday’s 56th MCA AGM is being aborted in less than 72 hours of its scheduled meeting by directive and pressure from outside the MCA!

It would be understandable if the MCA “Three Kingdom” power tussle is over which faction could better champion the proclaimed objectives of the party or the proper implementation of announced government programmes like Najib’s 1Malaysia concept.

But this is not so. There has not been a murmur of criticism or protest at the most irresponsible and sustained anti-1Malaysia campaign launched by extremist forces in UMNO to play the “race and religion” card in Penang by falsely portraying Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and the Pakatan Rakyat Penang State Government as anti-Malay and anti-Islam.

Whether from the Ong, Chua or Liow MCA factions, nobody has dared to step forward to condemn the extremist, insensitive and seditious exploitation of the “race and religion” card in Penang by irresponsible Umno quarters trying to create racial and religious tensions in plural Malaysia – which is against everything that Najib’s 1Malaysia could mean or represent.

I am not interested in the protracted MCA “Three Kingdom” feud but Malaysians are entitled to ask what their power plays have to do with restoring Malaysia’s international competitiveness, economic welfare or even with Najib’s slogan of 1Malaysia.

Penang govt says 'yes' to local council elections

Congratulations to the Penang government for asking the Election Commission to hold local council elections in Penang!

It’s a long-awaited move, coming two days before the second anniversary of the Pakatan’s coming to power in Penang. It not only attempts to fulfil the Pakatan’s general election pledge but shows that the administration has listened to sentiment on the ground from civil society and public opinion that is strongly in favour of the restoration of local democracy.

It will also go a long way towards promoting greater accountability.

The state exco decided in a meeting on 3 March that local council elections should be restored and the following day, the Penang government wrote to the Election Commission asking for polls to be conducted. In doing so, the Penang government has effectively lobbed the ball into the Election Commission’s court.

Now, don’t hold your breath for the Commission to respond positively. My guess is that the Commission will give all kinds of reasons – legal or otherwise – for not holding the elections (though I hope I am proven wrong).

A less-than-enthusiastic response from the Commission shouldn’t stop the Penang government from pressing ahead creatively. If the Penang government is serious about restoring local election, then there are all kinds of ways and means that some people have already suggested to maximise public participation in the selection of local councillors. These ways should be used as a prelude to the full restoration of local government elections.