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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

IGP quit row: China Press threatened with suspension - Malaysiakini

The editor-in-chief of China Press has been told to resign over a report which claimed that inspector-general of police Musa Hassan had tendered his resignation, veteran MP Lim Kit Siang claimed today.

Should the editor refuse, the popular Chinese daily will face three to six months' suspension.

pakatan walk out parliament 160310The DAP supremo said this at a conference in Parliament lobby this morning after leading a walkout from Dewan Rakyat by Pakatan Rakyat members of parliament.

This was in protest of deputy speaker Ronald Kiandee's decision against allowing a debate on a motion by the Home Ministry.

Hishammuddin denies claim

In an immediate response to Lim's allegation, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein denied that the China Press editor has been told to resign.

He told a press conference in the Parliament lobby that the ministry has only issued a show-cause letter, and that the newspaper has submitted a repy.

""As far as I know the editor has not been asked to resign. They (Pakatan MPs) will sensationalise and politicise any issue... It's not at all related to the motion that was brought today," he said.

"I took notice that not all the PR (Pakatan) MPs joined in the walkout. Even they (sic) don't agree with it."

In 2006, China Press was faced with possible suspension following its report over the nude-squat scandal, in which it mistakenly claimed that the individual concerned was a Chinese national.

The scandal, sometimes referred to as Squatgate, triggered a diplomatic tiff between Malaysia and China.

The powerful Internal Security Ministry was reportedly appeased only after two of China Press' top editors were axed over the matter.

BN, PR trade barbs over 1 Malaysia, Middle Malaysia

By Clara Chooi and Shazwan Mustafa Kamal - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — The Prime Minister and opposition lawmakers traded insults this morning in Parliament over the 1 Malaysia and Middle Malaysia slogans, setting the tone for heated debates ahead and suggesting the political mercury will continue to rise in the rivalry between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

Datuk Seri Najib Razak fired the first salvo when he smirked at the DAP’s Middle Malaysia concept which was introduced during the DAP national conference in Ipoh recently, and said it was mere rebranding of the party’s old concept of “Malaysian Malaysia”.

“Malaysian Malaysia was a failure. When something fails, what else should be done than to rebrand it,” he said with a smile.

He added that the introduction of Middle Malaysia was merely a knee-jerk response from the Opposition to his 1 Malaysia.

“I feel this effort to introduce Middle Malaysia was just a reaction to 1 Malaysia. Just as 1 Malaysia was gaining popularity, suddenly there was this effort to create another concept, on the name of Middle Malaysia.

“But we all know that it is just a rebranding of Malaysian Malaysia,” he said.

Amid heckling from the Opposition backbenchers, Najib soldiered on and said, “Middle Malaysia is not even based on the foundation of the Constitution or the country’s history.”

He argued that 1 Malaysia, on the other hand, with its slogan of “people first, performance now” was a concept that could be accepted by all.

“Middle Malaysia is just the Opposition’s method of sloganeering and coming up with mere rhetoric but 1 Malaysia comes together with action, people first, performance now,” said Najib.

The 1 Malaysia issue cropped up when Najib was asked by Alexander Nanta Linggi (BN-Kapit) to explain the success of the concept in uniting the people of Malaysia.

Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) then calmly told the House that Najib’s 1 Malaysia concept was a copycat one and added that before the Prime Minister dared to preach about national unity and performance for the people, he needed to first “clean himself”.

Amid escalating protests from BN backbenchers, Karpal Singh said that Najib’s administration was tainted by several things — the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Sharibuu, his apparent link to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy accuser Saiful Bukhari Azlan and Najib’s former special officer Datuk Nasir Safar.

“Najib has been linked to all these events. He needs to clean himself from these first,” Karpal said.

He added that Nasir, as an aide to Najib, had not shown the spirit of 1 Malaysia when he made racist comments recently.

“Nasir said that the Indians came to this country as beggars... and the Chinese, as prostitutes,” he said, to sarcastic shouts of “1 Malaysia” from the Opposition bench.

Najib refused to respond to Karpal Singh’s jibes about Altantuya and Saiful but pointed out that Nasir had been terminated since he made his racist remarks.

“If there are any individuals whose views are not in line with the Government’s on tolerance and national unity, then due action will be taken,” he said.

Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor) then stood up to complain about how the House had unfairly rejected one of the questions he had submitted on 1 Malaysia.

“How do you show the spirit of 1 Malaysia when my question is rejected without due consideration?” he asked.

Lim said that his question was directed at the Home Minister.

“I want the Home Minister to explain what action he plans to take against Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian for not acting in accordance with Najib’s 1 Malaysia when they printed biased and racist news in order to paint the Penang state government and its Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, as anti-Malay,” he said.

PKR plagued with corrupt culture

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian insider

PETALING JAYA, March 16 — A penchant for corrupt practises and desire for top posts is plaguing PKR as disgruntled members demand a bountiful payback for supporting the party to historic wins in Election 2008.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim warned that Umno’s culture for largesse is entrenched in PKR and the party’s reform agenda is being hamstrung by their own members.

“Please, this is a culture of 50 years which cannot be changed in 700 days.” said Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, when asked why PKR members were still insisting on handouts and behaving no better than political rivals Umno.

The mentri besar said changing the old mind set would take time.

He acknowledged there were those who joined the party so they could use it as their own platform and some were disgruntled because he was not giving them land and approving their projects.

“I have taken a stand that we cannot give preference for contracts and allocations to our members.” he said, while explaining that a difference must be drawn between state administration and political parties.

Khalid points out it was for good reason that voters in Selangor gave their mandate to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in the general elections two years ago.

“They wanted change. A democratic, efficient administration and we are delivering.”

Two days ago, while concluding the PKR Kuala Selangor division Annual General Meeting (AGM) Khalid told his members that the party could not accept those who joined for ‘benefits’.

He reiterated that PKR stood for reform and his administration wanted to break away from Barisan Nasional’s (BN) old politics.

“In the past, they could do what they wanted and give contracts to those who they wished. But we will ensure that all will get an opportunity and no one will be left behind.”

However on the ground, Khalid’s noble intentions and prudent fiscal policies are being criticised by those who expect payback for their loyalty to the party.

“When we were the opposition (in Selangor) I had to use my own money to fund party activities but now that we’re the government, I’m still using my own money.” said a grassroots’ disgruntled party leader who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He added while the public may be happy with the mentri besar reform policies, there are grassroots members who are unhappy with his tight grip on the purse strings.

This was demonstrated during the AGM on Sunday, when disgruntled members attempted to halt the meeting (AGM) after claiming it was unconstitutional. The meeting continued after it was put to a vote.

In January, 11 division committee members, including the Youth and Wanita chiefs, resigned after claiming they have lost confidence in Khalid’s leadership.

Slow and steady wins the day in Kedah

This year's padi harvest was hit by a blight. – Pictures by Choo Choy May

By Sheridan Mahavera - The Malaysian Insider

ALOR STAR, March 16 — It is tempting to compare the growth of Kedah’s economy with what it is best known for, agriculture.

Still, it is not that wrong a comparison. Whether it is oil palm, livestock, fruits or padi, farming is something where the fruits of one’s labour cannot be rushed.

It must be slowly and affectionately cultivated.

Properly managed and notwithstanding unseasonal rains and droughts, the yields gradually increase year upon year.

There is none of the tempestuous cycles of sectors like property, manufacturing and information-technology.

A steady economy means no unpleasant price hikes — Pictures by Choo Choy May

Yet the growth trajectory has neither highs nor lows or booms and busts.

Ch’ng Chuwn Leong, secretary of the Central Kedah Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CKCCCI), says, “Growth in Kedah has always been steady. We have never had fast growth … that’s why Kedah always experiences growth although it may be slow. I feel that it’s the type of growth that Kedahans prefer as well.”

It partly explains why almost all of the little factories in the Sungai Petani and Kulim area are still chugging along and retrenchments and pay cuts are uncommon. Orders may be lower than usual, Ch’ng says, but the plants themselves are not going under.

The padi industry and support services it depends on such as mills and machinery operators are also optimistic despite a bad harvest season this February.

Though yields are down due to hot weather and pests, the price of padi is still high at RM1,100 per tonne.

Unlike Penang, where all the headline-grabbing multi-national companies (MNCs) go to set up shop, Kedah’s factories are mostly started by and owned by locals.

Some notable exceptions are the Sharp Roxy and Philips factories in Sungai Petani. Almost all set up operations between 1986 and 1997, a period which Ch’ng says was Sungai Petani’s boom years.

“Many of the MNCs in the northern region have moved off their assembly operations to Vietnam, China and Thailand. But they still keep their facilities in Malaysia to do R&D (research and development) and D&D (design and development).

“Because most of the factories are not MNCs, we’ve not been directly hit by the recession unlike other states. We have been affected but not as badly,” says Ch’ng.

Ch’ng Chuwn Leong of the Central Kedah Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry. — Pictures by Choo Choy May

And since the price of commodities have been somewhat stable, says Lim Keng Thean of the Kedah Hawkers Association, other businesses haven’t been adversely affected.

“Business for my members have gone down by 20-30 per cent but ‘boleh cari makan lagi’ (can make enough to survive). Some of my friends in logistics have also said business is down.

“Generally, the cost of doing business in Kedah in terms of materials, labour is not so high so we can generally survive,” says Lim, the association’s chairman.

Revenue from padi farming, which is the main crop in the state’s agricultural sector, is down for the first half of this year as many farmers say their yields were badly affected by a plague of brown plant hoppers (bena perang) — a pest that sucks fluids from the plants.

Agriculture officials, however, say that the drop in yields is mainly due to abnormally hot weather during the growing season of December to January. One official claims that lower-than-expected yields are normal during the off-season.

Muda Agricultural Development Authority official Fouzi Ali explains that the dry spell shortened the flowering period of the plants, turning them into dry husks.

“Pest infestations can be controlled. The bena perang can be eliminated if farmers closely watch their crops and spray pesticides early enough. Problem is many farmers don’t monitor their plots.”

Rice mills that buy and turn padi into rice also report a loss in profits, says Lim who owns a mill in Alor Star.

“This season a mill would probably only get half the rice it usually extracts from a tonne of padi. So the cost has outweighed profits,” says Lim.

Yet it is all not doom and gloom for padi as commonly perceived by those outside the industry.

Kedah Farmer’s Associations Board director Abdul Nasir Hassan says that off-season yields are usually lower than the main season, which is usually in the third quarter of the year.

The view that padi farming is about back-breaking toil for uncertain returns is a common myth, encouraged perhaps by the romantic notion of the village. Also unfounded is the Klang-Valley-centric view that rural areas are depressed in the recession.

Tilling a padi field used to take two months and a family of workers in the old days, says Lim.

Today, there are machines that do it in a day.

This mechanisation has partly fuelled the rise of the professionally-minded estate farmer.

The fact that it is a staple food for a majority of Malaysians means that demand will always out-strip supply. This makes it a strategic crop and industry that will continue to receive government aid, says Abdul Nasir.

“I have a friend who works 1,000 relung (267 ha). He is on the look out for more but there is just no more padi land for sale,” says Lim the rice mill owner.

“If today there is one farmer who wants to sell his field, there will be five people lining up to buy it. There is money in padi.”

It’s not difficult to get a sense of what Ch’ng means when he describes Kedahans as preferring to go slow instead of riding the roller-coaster of hot money, financial bubbles and too-good-to-be-true mega projects.

The state has had its share of the latter in the form of the Kerpan Tiger Prawn project, the Perwaja Steel plant in Gurun, the new Kuala Kedah marina and the (Padang Terap) safari.

Lim Keng Thean of the Kedah Hawkers Association.

Even with the hydrocarbon hub in Sungai Limau (SULIH), which is the next big thing, many are not holding their breaths.

Though the funds may be pouring in, political observers note that its fate is still uncertain because the Federal and State governments are from different parties.

In Malaysia’s feudal political landscape, funds and project approvals have been given and denied to state administrations based on calculations of political mileage.

Then there is also the trepidation felt about the changes in lifestyle that Sungai Limau residents need to make when and if SULIH is ready.

According to an Alor Star-based businessman familiar with past Kedah government projects, any benefits from development coming into the state will depend on the wisdom of state administrators.

“It’s about whether it will largely only benefit a small group of people linked to those in power or whether the gains will be more evenly spread.

“An administration that brings in little money but manages it well is better than one that brings in a lot but squanders it or gives it to special group of people,” says the businessman.

However, Ch’ng of CKCCCI believes that there is still money in Kedah and that investment and business has not left the state because of the recession or its remoteness.

“I think the recession just teaches us to manage our money better. I feel that it has it blessings because if growth was too high and fast, food and necessities would sky-rocket. Coffee would probably be RM5 and I don’t think Kedahans would like that.”

Ironically the things Kedah’s residents like about it — the laid-back atmosphere, its low cost of living, its beauty and its quaintness — would disappear if its growth rate were to soar.

“There’s always opportunity in Kedah. It’s just that we are not like scheme ‘cepat kaya’ where you make lots of money really fast and lose it even faster,” says Ch’ng.

Pakatan MPs stage walkout after debate denied

Pakatan Rakyat MPs staged a walkout, led by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (right) together with Lim Kit Siang (centre) and Nasaruddin Mat Isa (left).

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal and Clara Chooi - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — A majority of Pakatan Rakyat backbenchers staged a walkout from Parliament today after Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia refused to allow them to debate a motion tabled by the Home Affairs Minister ordering the Inspector-General of Police to protect the House from obstructions.

Pandikar told the Opposition that the motion was tabled by convention at the opening session of every Parliament sitting and it was not common practice for it to be debated.

Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor), however, rebutted this fact, adding that he had once debated a similar motion in the 1970s.

When Pandikar refused to give in despite loud protest from opposition MPs like DAP’s Chong Eng and PKR’s N. Gobalakrishnan, the group of angry MPs staged a walkout, led by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

According to Nga Kor Ming (DAP-Taiping), the motion, moved by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and supported by his deputy, was a traditional one introduced at the beginning of every new Parliament sitting.

“By disallowing the MPs to debate, the Speaker is setting a precedent and obstructing freedom of speech by the MPs,” he said.

The motion instructs the IGP to “take care that during the present session of this House, the passages through the streets leading to this House be kept free and opened and that no obstruction be permitted to hinder the passages of Members to and from this House that there be no annoyance therein and thereabouts; and that Setiausaha Dewan Rakyat do communicate this Order to the IGP.”

Tak Habis-habis dengan Darwinisme!

I think Batsman has gone off the bat with this Darwin business.

By AsamLaksa

This letter is in reply to “Darwin Again” by Batsman.

http://malaysia-today.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30639:darwin-again-&catid=18:letterssurat&Itemid=100129

I think Batsman has gone off the bat with this Darwin business. Look at it this way, his message is about the obsession on the concept of competition scaring away the Malays in Malaysia. However, Darwinism and ‘survival of the fittest’ do not apply in this aspect.

The trait that is most important for survival is not competitiveness or desire to dominate but adaptability and this is seen not just in the genetic variability but also in behaviour and mindset. So I do not get it why the author has to go on and on about Darwinism when there are no credible arguments using Darwinism to rebut his points. Perhaps the author does not really understand Darwinism and has trouble arguing against others who use Darwinism.

There’s a lot of talk about wanting the Malays to be more competitive and that it will be good for them. On the macro level, competition is good as it forces the group to develop. However on an individual level, there will be those who fail in the competition due to many reasons and many would be tragedies. In the context of ‘survival of the fittest’, those who are most adaptable will survive; however they may not be the most successful because the concept only goes as far as survival and thus not called ‘dominance of the fittest’.

Over-competitiveness is self destructive because the goal is blurred where one group is driven to kill/maim the other. It’s easy if your opponent is weak (not much of a competition) but when they are almost of equal strength, that’s when over-competitiveness and self destruction kicks in.

There is little basis to worry about over-competitiveness in Malaysian business because what matters is profit and profit-mindedness prevents self destructive impulses. It is when politics and religion or anything which is oblivious to reason gets into the picture that over-competitiveness becomes an issue. For example, adding an agenda to remove certain businesses held by a certain race or faith from a certain area even though these businesses can co-exist and profit at the same time.

I find it ridiculous to state that Darwinism “was placed on a pedestal by funny champions of science” and that “Darwinism has fossilised the same way some religions tend to be”. The biggest problem with this is that “champions of science” have left Darwinism on the wayside and moved on to the Theory of Evolution because Darwinism does not incorporate many later discoveries such as Mendellian inheritance and genetics.

The next amusing point from the above is the veiled contempt towards “some religions” which have fossilised; which ones? And the last paragraph shows incredulous ambiguity by calling for a new opposition platform which incorporates faith and religions; do these fossilised religions count too? Darwinism is only 200 years old and is already ‘fossilised’; is the author pointing out dogmas that are more fossilised being more than a thousand years old?

I would love to see Batsman justifying his statement that there are none or only very few studies on the impact of competition among humans in fields of economics, politics, social studies, etc. I’m sure all the philosophers and academics he likes to quote don’t always go “Kill or be killed!” The kill or be killed concept is an absolutist oversimplification. Such absolutist concept does not reflect the real picture and is never taken seriously by rational people though I must admit that absolutist concepts are highly favoured by religious nuts such as a strange desire for global religious dominance for fear of being in a killed or be killed fashion.

Oh, I must not fail to point out the author’s favourite anti-West rhetoric this time in the guise of US global domination and by understanding US international policy by watching Hollywood movies (Avatar anyone?). However there is one glaring misconception the author shows which is competition and dominance going hand in hand.

As with US global dominance and UMNO supremacy, domination actually discourages competition. The dominant party does not want competition and actively prevents it, sometimes violently suppressing it. I’m not surprised UMNO doesn’t encourage Malays to compete in the global environment because then the Malays will surpass UMNO’s ability and thus break UMNO’s social, political and economic dominance.

There must be a healthy competition in Malaysia in all sectors. Healthy competition meaning a competition based on ethics and reason. The Malays will have to throw away their irrational fears and insecurities on competition and embrace adaptability. I do not see an end to all subsidies as small start up capital is still needed. However, it must be only available to bona fide start ups. It costs less to provide start up capital to a multitude of small businesses than to rescue one failing large corporation, which is another form of subsidy giving.

Remember, the key is adaptability because the rest of the world is forever changing and opportunities will always arise. Now, that would really be a Malaysia Boleh, not the over-subsidised variant we’ve been getting so far.

GST For The Layperson

Malaysians are not ready to deal with the full brunt of a tax that would ultimately make end users ( consumers ) pay for the entire tax imposed on every purchase amounting to the initial 4% proposed

By TheBlackCactus

On 24th Of November, Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak had announced the introduction of Goods And Services Tax (also known as Value Added Tax) to replace the existing Sales And Services Tax (of 5%) in the near future. The date scheduled would be roughly in the third quarter of year 2011. It has faced stiff opposition upon tabling in Parliamentary sittings, stating that Malaysians are not ready to deal with the full brunt of a tax that would ultimately make end users (consumers) pay for the entire tax imposed on every purchase amounting to the initial 4% proposed (which will increase as it did in many other countries implementing this policy, see the variation of GST in the countries below).

The question remains whether the government and most importantly, the citizens of Malaysia, are prepared to embrace this new taxation system wholeheartedly when policy makers do not make it a point to educate the layperson the true nature of this policy and its mechanics. Though it was promised that this system would help bring in a total of RM1 billion in the first year of its implementation, many do not realize that there has been much outflight of capital due to

  • Widespread corruption ( a simple example that would strike a chord among readers would be the PKFZ scandal which cost taxpayers around RM 17 billion – equivalent of 17 years of GST ).
  • Wastages in expenditure of money in government coffers ( for building crooked bridges linking Singapore )

Malaysia has been stuck with fiscal deficits for more than a decade. The budget deficit is projected to have ballooned to a record high of more than 7% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year, although the Government is determined to bring that level down to 5.6% of GDP this year, and less than 4% of GDP by 2015. Apparently the Government’s revenues cannot keep pace with the growth of its operating and development expenditures over the 12 years.

Read more at:

GST For The Layperson ( Part 1 )

GST For The Layperson ( Part 2 )

GST For The Layperson ( Part 3 )

GST For The Layperson ( Part 4 / Finale )

March 8 - Two Years After

The real deal with Perkasa

thenutgraph.com

WHY interview Datuk Ibrahim Ali? Because his nationalistic non-governmental organisation (NGO) Pribumi Perkasa Negara (Perkasa) isn't a force to be dismissed lightly.

The independent Member of Parliament (MP) for Pasir Mas started Perkasa in reaction to political rhetoric about equality and meritocracy following the 2008 general election. Today, in Perkasa's ranks defending "threats" to the special position and privileges of Malay Malaysians are between 60,000 to 70,000 people whose applications are waiting to be processed. This is what Ibrahim tells The Nut Graph in a 9 March 2010 interview at his Kuala Lumpur office.

"I'm personally surprised at the support, and I didn't set any membership targets. It is beyond my expectations," he says. Asked who Perkasa's members are, he says the majority are ordinary Umno members. There are also "a few who are MPs and a few supreme council members" whose names he can't remember. Quite a number are retired top military personnel. Sizeable, too, are civil servants from the technical and clerical group. A handful are PAS and Parti Keadilan Rakyat members, he says.

Perkasa is established in all states and will next set up branches at the district level. Selangor Perkasa was launched in January 2010 by former prime minister and former Umno president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.


Perkasa logo
Ibrahim is Perkasa's pro-tem president, but the group, registered as an NGO under the Registrar of Societies, is to hold its first annual general meeting and elections on 27 March. This is to be officiated by no less than the sultan of Selangor.

In this first of a two-part interview, Ibrahim defends Perkasa's goals and the need for affirmative action for Malay Malaysians.

TNG: What is the best way for Perkasa to achieve its goals?

Our objective is to safeguard the Federal Constitution, in particular Article 153. This is already in place; even Parliament cannot amend it. And according to the Sedition Act, you cannot discuss it.

But now there are organisations, political leaders and parties who directly or indirectly erode this basic principle of Article 153. So we need to defend Malay [Malaysian] and native rights and we are not racist, because what we are doing is within the [constitutional] framework. We are protectors of 153. We will voice our opinion about anyone whose statements we interpret as affecting 153.

Secondly, we are a watchdog to the government. We observe whether policies are within the framework of the constitution. If they go beyond that, we will pressure the government.

What are some government policies you feel have eroded bumiputra privileges?

Scholarships, university intakes.

Liberalising the 27 services sub-sectors?

I've yet to see whether there is any improvement in the economy because of this. We disagree with people who say ethnic-based policies and affirmative action keeps foreign direct investment (FDI) away from the country.

We also disagree that we should do away with the subsidy mentality. When you say "subsidy", it reflects on the Malay [Malaysians]. The years of the New Economic Policy (NEP) from 1974 until 1990 saw the country at its best economic growth. All we want is for the NEP's objective for the economic cake to be 30% for bumiputera. Now, non-bumiputera control almost 40% to 50%. But the bumiputera share is still stagnant. You can't include government-linked companies (GLCs). They are not owned directly by Malay [Malaysians] but by the government.

In terms of individual stakes, you see only one Malay [Malaysian], Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, among the country's 10 richest men. So when you say there should be no more subsidy mentality, what are you really saying, because how did Tan Sri Robert Kuok become a billionaire? He was given a monopoly on sugar. There is an element of subsidy there, when you give someone a monopoly. And when the government subsidises sugar, there is no price difference for Chinese or Indian [Malaysians] who buy it. Everybody benefits. It's the same with petrol.

So I don't like Tan Sri Francis Yeoh's comment that there should be "brutal competition" in the economy. Why is he successful and not other Chinese [Malaysians]? There are a lot of Chinese [Malaysians] who need help, I don't deny that. But he was successful because he was given independent power producer (IPP) licences. And he can enter into agreements with Tenaga Nasional Bhd which are lopsided in his favour.

And then there's Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan, who monopolises Astro and 012 numbers. These big corporate people are telling us to give up subsidies and have brutal competition, but they are the ones who monopolise important economic sectors and also indirectly receive a lot of subsidies.

Then this is not a race issue, nor is it about erosion of Malay [Malaysian] privileges; this is more about class, or the capitalist system, or bad implementation of the NEP, isn't it?

Ya, betul lah, but if you look at the bigger picture, I'm saying that you cannot blame ethnic policies. In a free market economy, normally the money will go to certain big companies. When the government presents the budget in Parliament every year, you see billions of money meant for infrastructure development. Where does this money go to? It goes to these tycoons. So of course they can compete.

You cannot say that because NEP was mismanaged or there was corruption, we have to stop its objectives. It must continue, regardless the failures. The policy should continue until you see the distribution of wealth in accordance with the 30% target. Only then can you talk about a level playing field.

Now the government wants to turn our country from middle- to high-income. But what happens to the poor at the grassroots? If there are no more subsidies, how are they going to compete or to even survive? This is what Perkasa is talking about.

If free market capitalism is the order of the day, then there must always be affirmative action to follow through. So that's what we are fighting for. Not that we want to deprive other races. Affirmative action will also benefit other races. The NEP clearly stated that poverty eradication is regardless of race.

Really? Perkasa is supportive of affirmative action for all races?

Yes, yes! You should listen to my speeches. We discuss that. But people just accuse us. If I really did say racist things, if I did say "Fight only for the Malays, only this for the Malays, only that for the Malays", why is there no police report against me? We don't stop other groups from demanding things unless they go beyond Article 152 (on the Malay language as the national language) and 153.

Our politics is communal-based: Umno for the Malays, MCA for the Chinese, Hindraf for the Indians. They are also demanding all kinds of things. Why do they call us racist when we demand our rights? This is what I'm getting sick of. Only if we start questioning their citizenship, or if we really press the government to go for a one-school system and abolish vernacular schools ... ah, then you can say we are racist. But until now, I've never had one police report lodged against me.

What does Perkasa want the government to do about business monopolies?

We just voice our opinions. I met (National Economic Advisory Council chairperson) Tan Sri Amirsham A Aziz to present our memorandum. We fully understand globalisation, the need for the country to be competitive, the need to bring in foreign investment. But I told him, don't blame ethnic-based policies. It is a misunderstood policy. The reason FDI doesn't come to this country? Because the perception is that the country is full of corruption and bureaucracy.

Then if corruption is the bigger problem, why focus on race and privileges?

That's why I say don't blame ethnic policies. It is corruption and bureaucracy. Even foreign investors benefit from the NEP. For example, if German or Japanese investors come, with people like me, they can immediately start their business.

I told Amirsham, we accept the democratic capitalist system. Like it or not, there'll be people like Francis Yeoh, Syed Mokhtar, and the country also needs people like them. They can continue with what they're doing. But they must not belittle affirmative action policies by saying "no more subsidies" and other sweeping statements. We're just asking the government to consider that the majority should drive the national agenda. That is the meaning of democracy.

Islamic Finance Should Be Transparent To Ensure Predictabiltiy, Says Raja Nazrin

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 -- Islamic finance should be transparent as possible as it ensures predictability and confidence in the processes.

"While there may inevitably be some element of complexity when devising management products, it was important that there is clear and direct relations between products and the underlying assets.

"We must ensure that we are inclusive. Engagement of stake holders especially consumers and financial institutions are the keys to unlocking the potential within Islamic finance," said the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah here Tuesday.

In his keynote address presented at the forum on "Contribution of Islamic Finance Post Global Financial Crisis", Raja Nazrin said there should be a high level of innovation in Islamic finance as opposed to limitations.

The one-day forum, organised by the Securities Commission and the Oxford Centre For Islamic Studies, provides an international platform for debate, dialogue and study on contemporary issues and challenges faced in bringing Islamic finance to the mainstream.

He also said merely lecturing the world on the merits of Islamic finance was not sufficient to make it competitive and attractive but there should be strategic and complimentary approaches.

"For all its successors, Islamic finance still accounts for less than one per cent of global financial instrument.

"Muslims make up over 20 per cent of the world's population, but even in Muslim majority countries the assets of conventional banks far outstrip those of Islamic ones.

"It will take careful and astute initiative before Islamic finance can begin to actually make such a contribution," said Raja Nazrin.

Rawang villagers gather bravely against TNB to prevent high tension cables over their homes

By Nathaniel tan,

Tomorrow, some very brave villagers from Kg. Terentang in Rawang are going to face down TNB and possible hordes of police.

These villagers are only trying to protect themselves by preventing the building of high tension electric cables from being built over their homes.

Imagine if someone wanted to build one of those above your house? >:( All they want is to be left in peace so they can contribute to society in safety as they have for generations in their village.

If you’d like to show solidarity, the gathering will be at 7am, 17th March 2010 (Wednesday), at S.R.J.K(C) San Yuk, Kg Sg Terentang, Rawang. YB Gan Pei Nei – one of the best YBs I know – will be there, leading the way.

Handcuffed and beaten at anniversary rally



MCA president takes relection bid to the people

Anti-sodomy group seeks Anwars guidance

Agong: Lies, distortion in new media

HRP’s reply to Malaysiakini.com (15/3/2010)

P3070001

Premesh Chandran

CEO, Malaysiakini.com

We refer to your e-mail that we received on 11/3/2010. You may have forgotten but we go a long way. We have been one of Malaysiakini’s earliest contacts during your humble beginnings during the Reformasi movement in 1999. We still recall your pioneer reporter Ajinder Kaur who had telephoned us and we had asked Malaysiakini who? Today you are without doubt the number one Malaysian news-portal.

We have never doubted and have always acknowledged Malaysiakini’s coverage during our lean and trying times. For example the reporting of the truth about the Kg. Medan “ethnic cleansing” case in 2001 which no other media, including the three Tamil newspapers did not cover at that time. We also acknowledge that some critical Indian problems have been covered by Malaysiakini.com over the years.

Having said that , please allow me to comment on the various points you had raised in your email.

About your denial of the claim of Malaysiakini being the voice for the underdog and of the voiceless.

This was in fact stated by Mr. Stephen Gan, in an interview to The Sun some time ago. In any case that is a highly desirable and valuable role for Malaysiakini to play and we would like to see Malaysiakini play that role.

.

About your point of Malaysiakini not showing any ethnic bias but that it is driven solely by its charter to promote freedom of speech, justice and democracy and that it does not black out news on Indian issues:

The story of the killing of P.Gunasekaran in police custody contains in it as much if not more injustice than the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock, both of which happened on the same day. There was not a single mention of P.Guna’s killing in your news portal on that day. While for the death of Teoh Beng Hock, just on that day you carried 11 articles, not to mention the total number of articles that you have carried since, on the subject. What may be your reason for this gross imbalance in the reporting. Is Guansekaran’s killing less of an injustice than the death of Teoh Beng Hock? Is it less worthy a cause or unworthy a cause to even give it one report.

A similar scenario happened when last month, Muruges (28) was shot dead from the back by the Malaysian police in broad daylight before his brother’s eyes despite his brother pleading with the police not to shoot as he had already thrown his parang down and was actually walking back to his house. There was again zero coverage by Malaysiakini on this tragic and unnecessary killing. Is this event not significant enough a travesty of justice for it to be reported. Do events like these not fall within your charter of promoting justice. The three Tamil press carried the news as their headlines which made the Home Minister scurry to meet and pacify the murdered victim’s family – not that, that reduces the heinousness of the Police crime.

What we quote in these examples is but the tip of the iceberg. We cannot accept your assurance that you report events without a color bias. Just take a look at the extent of the problem of the oppression of the Indian poor by visiting our website. Yet none of that intensity comes through in the reporting in your news portal whose charter is not really very different from ours. Not even a little of that intensity can be seen on your site.

Because you do not carry reports of these extrajudicial killings and other critical problems afflicting the Indian poor you are contributing inadvertently to the continuation of these injustices. We do not know how many more extra judicial deaths there are going to be because of this general silence, even in the alternative media.

When the Catholic Church was burnt down at the end of last year Malaysiakini published 23 news reports, comments and articles (rightly) in just one day. But when the Hindu temple in Taiping was burnt down during the racial disturbances in June 2009, there was zero coverage by Malaysiakini.

There is no history of Malaysiakini doing eleven stories and/or 23 stories in any one day where the victim was an Indian poor or the event related to the Indian poor.

Concerning the critical problems of the Indian poor – yes, we agree that your good selves have given coverage on Tamil schools, bonded labor, temple demolishment and deaths in custody. But we once again repeat our humble opinion that your said coverage does not go according to the gravity of the injustices involved. For example, just last week there was a report in the Tamil Papers that 42% or an estimated 10,000 standard one pupils in Tamil schools cannot read or write at all because their parents could not afford to pay for the private kindergartens. We are looking at the far reaching consequences of this to the development of a significant section of Malaysian society. Is that not newsworthy? Is there no injustice in all of this? Or is it just that it does not play enough to the gallery. Where really is Malaysiakini on issues of injustices such as these?

Your editorial principle is not entirely based on Justice and Democracy we are sorry to say, but also on the appeal to the gallery.

The only space you had where the critical problems of the Indian poor were reported regularly was when you had a link to the HRP website. 99% of our reporting was just on that. Now that you have terminated that link, even that little is lost and effectively you have returned to the blacked out state as far these Indian issues are concerned.

Based on this pattern of reporting we cannot but come to the sorry conclusion that there is a definite element of ethnic bias in Malaysiakini. In this sense Malaysiakini is essentially an enterprise not unlike NST or Utusan that plays to their political overlords and to the gallery to sell their papers, than a portal that promotes freedom of speech, justice and democracy on its own merit. Malaysiakini in effect, though maybe not in intent, is blacking out the reporting of critical issues relating to the Indian poor.

Then on your claim that our attack on Malaysiakini is non-sensical:

With due respect, we have written to your good selves on numerous occasions earlier and brought to your attention and continue to do so, what we consider to be the abandonment of your principle of Independence and promotion of Democracy and Justice. The Editors of Malaysiakini are on our regular mailing list and there have been several mails in the recent past voicing out our concerns on the direction that Malaysiakini has been taking, that have reached your editors, but there has been no response. So, what are we to make of that?

In some cases where we sent in letters to be published in your portal, you have chosen not to publish those letters, the last one being “Who speaks for the Indians” . This was despite having e-mailed and faxed the letter and having received confirmation of receipt of the letter by your office,

So your claim of that we have launched a non-sensical attack now, is unbecoming of a news portal that claims to promote freedom of speech.

About your point on the Independence of Malaysiakini:

In reply to paragraphs 2 and 3 of your letter, if your “editorial direction on headlines” is such, we beg to differ. We cannot understand how “MIC” an insignificant acronym even in our Lexicon can be selected to be included in your headlines of the report of that event, when there was no occasion to invoke MIC or any other political party, other than out of mischievous intent. It is public knowledge that we disallowed MIC from participating in the event because we do not want to be manipulated either by them or by our detractors who may want to malign us. So, do not blame us for seeing mischief in the choice of your words for the headlines.

Relating to the same event of the 7th of March you posted a whole video titled’ “Uthaya Mandore of the highest order” which we consider to be a totally unbalanced report along with the written article on that event. There

was a very definite slant to that whole episode – only someone who is blind, cannot see that. So, whither independence?

Further, your Editors had decided unilaterally to terminate the link of Malaysiakini website to the HRP website purportedly because we were crowding out other blog postings. We were posting too many we were told. If we apply the same reasoning to the other blogs that you post in your “ Tops in Blogs” section we see on several days seven to eight blog postings in a row from Anwar Ibrahim, from Lim Kit Siang and from Charles Santiago. Why do you single us out. The reasoning does not suggest impartiality to us. To us it looks like you are losing your independence to the PR parties totally. Many of those blogs we posted have also taken a critical view of PR and their Mandores in their continuing neglect of the critical problems of the Indian poor. But this is our basic political position and it is no secret . So, we can only come to the conclusion that you terminated the link because it hurt some of your benefactors.

With no disrespect, if “too many posts” was indeed a problem then a solution could have been found – a way to reduce the number of postings could have been worked out, as opposed to the unilateral barring and blacking out of the link in a wily nily manner. There are several ways of doing this. Our Mr.Jeevan had suggested one way in an email to Mr.Stephen Gan but all we have got back up to now is silence.

Your Independence should not only be independence “in proclamation” but should also be independence “in substance”. You judge, whether we can be faulted if we do not see that substance.

Then with regards to your point about limited resources;

On the issue of the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock you had resources enough to pen eleven (11) articles in just one day but none whatsoever for the killing of P. Gunasegaran who was murdered at the Sentul police station on that day. Come on Mr. Premesh, you can do better than that.

It is not that you do not have the resources, it is just that you have allocated the resources in such a way The critical issues of the Indian poor are not significant, not as significant as the other issues relating to the other ethnic groups, because the Indian poor are a powerless minority. And that, exactly,is our point. The fact that the event relates to the underlying injustice in our system does not seem to inspire coverage, in spite of your mission statement claim that Malaysiakini promotes the cause of justice.

If that was not the reason, maybe you wish to clarify.

Over the past five years we have had long chats with your Mr. Kabilan, Andrew Ong, Anand, Indra and Pragalath, the last chat repeating and reaffirming our grouses on the critical Indian problems was with you Mr Premesh at the old Sri Paandi, Bangsar last year which lasted over an hour. But all these chat seem not to matter.

Our finding after years of analysis is that the current Indian problems have reached a critical stage because of UMNO’s policy of exclusion of the poor and underprivileged Indians from the national mainstream development of Malaysian society. What has aided that, is the continuation of similar policies in the PKR, DAP, PAS in the PR ruled States. Almost all NGOs’, civil society and the print and electronic media including Malaysiakini are contributing to this outcome knowingly in many cases and maybe unknowingly in a few cases.

In conclusion we are a political party which chooses not to play to the gallery. We are not desperate politicians to maintain selective silence and allow injustices to prevail. We will continue speaking without fear or favor and this attracts labels of sectarianism. But we are not sectarian, rather we are victims of sectarianism. We as political activists will continue championing justice for the victims of this sectarianism. which we hope to achieve through our struggles.

If Malaysiakini takes the position of “press worthiness” i.e. what appeals to

the majoritarian gallery – the 92% Malay Muslim, Chinese sections of our society we beg to part ways with that version of Justice. If Malaysiakini takes the position of Universal Justice, then there is plenty of room for us to work synergistically together to promote that Justice.

And finally, the last thing we want is the emergence of Main Stream Media 2.

We would like to also discuss these issues in person with you and Stephen

and come to a shared perception on these various issues and turn the

relationship around to be a more productive one. I will call to set up that

meeting shortly.

Thank You

S. Jayathas

Information Chief, HRP.

Malaysiakini’s letter to HRP 11/3/2010

Dear Jayathas,

Re: Mischievous Malaysiakini.com & Steven Gan

This email and corresponding post in your website has been brought to my attention. I will respond to the comments made here and since as a human rights party, you respect freedom of speech and respect the right of reply, I understand that you will post this email out to your group and post it on your website as a clarification from Malaysiakini.

Firstly, you suggest that we are being “mischievous” with our renaming of a Bernama story headline. Please note that rewording the headline is a common practice and we do it to many Bernama stories, in line with our own editorial direction on headlines. Such changes in headlines is only wrong, if the headline misrepresents the story. Is this case, our headline is an accurate for the accompanying story.

Secondly, Malaysiakini has not claimed to be the “voice of the voiceless and the underdogs”. From day one, our sole claim as been one of “independence”, which in the Malaysian context, given that most traditional media is owned by one political party of the other, means that we are not owned or take direction from any political force, or individual. All editorial decisions are made by the editorial desk through daily discussions among the editors headed by the Editor-in-Chief Steven Gan. Even as CEO, I am not involved, nor do I interfere with day to day editorial decisions.

Our mission statement speaks of using the Internet to promote freedom of speech, justice and democracy. As such we do our best to cover stories that does involve human rights, abuse of power, injustice and politics. Nevertheless, there are stories that we miss or cannot report on due to our very limited resources. HRP can certainly bring issues to our attention and we will do our best to cover such issues. Do keep in mind that we are not a human rights advocacy organisations or media. We report on human rights abuses as part and parcel of our daily coverage. More detailed coverage of human rights, readers can visit sites of human rights organisations in Malaysia.

We do not classify our coverage by which ethnic group it affects. Nevertheless, your allegation that “problematic Indian issues are blacked out” cannot be substantiated by an analysis of our coverage over the last 10 years. We have given coverage on Tamil schools, bonded labour, wages, conditions and wages of plantation workers, temple demolitions and deaths in custody. If there is any issue that we have failed to cover, do let us know.

For every “Indian” story we miss, there is the same claim among Chinese New Villagers, Trade Unionists, Women’s organisations, Migrant Labour organisations, Islamic groups, Indigenous people, local communities, consumers and just about every other group in Malaysia.

Please keep in mind that the editorial team, made up of people of all ethnic groups meet on a daily basis to decide what stories to cover. There is no one person who dictates editorial coverage.

You also claim that Malaysiakini removed the links to HRP contents in our “Top in Blogs” section “under PKR’s pressure” Can you substantiate this allegation?

Malaysiakini does not take direction from any political party. Neither has PKR tried to intervene in our editorial decisions. When PKR has been unhappy with our coverage, they have written formally to Malaysiakini. (http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/116187) just as others have similarly done so.

The Top in Blogs section is meant to highlight a variety of interesting articles in blogs. Malaysiakini did explain that having linked to your site, we found HRP doing too many posts, crowding out other posts in the Top In Blogs section. We have suggested that either you limit the number of posts, or give us another appropriate blog to point to. You are fully aware of this, and yet you have chosen to make an unsubstantiated allegation against us.

We accept that Malaysiakini is not above criticism. Even when we disagree, these opinions are still published on Malaysiakini, most recently Zul Nordin’s claim that we are “anti-Islam” and Ibrahim Ali’s claim that we are not responsible with what we publish. In fact, we are often our harshest critics, asking ourselves where we are making mistakes, and how we can improve.

To conclude, Malaysiakini is just down the road from the HRP office. You know many of our reporters, as you know Steven and myself. Most of you have visited our offices for interviews etc. The fact that you have launched this attack against us, I find non-sensical and unbecoming of a political party. I suggest that in future, if you have a problem with our coverage, you are free to make comments in the comments section of the story. You can also write a letter to the editor.

I hope to see better from HRP.

Premesh Chandran

CEO Malaysiakini.com

UMNO & PKR: Tamil school to be built in town drama

A newsreport is published to give the wayang kulit impression that the SJKT Ladang Sabak Bernam will be moved from the plantation to the Sabak Bernam town (BH 15/3/2010 page 7). But the title to the Tamil school land in Sabak Bernam is not issued or a black and white letter from the Selangor state government confirming that the title would be issued was never given to the school. Building of a (Tamil) school is a basic necessity in any part of the world. But only for Malaysia it becomes a news item for the political benefit of UMNO and also the PKR, DAP, MIC and PAS mandores. How come we never read news items of any Malay, Chinese, Orang asli, Kadazan or Iban to be built?Because it is a basic necessity and not a big deal let alone press worthy in the Malay, Chinese and English press. Whereas for the opening ceremony of a Malay or Chinese school the answer is a big yes.

Admin

15 March Sabak Bernam Tamil school

UMNO’s MIC mandores’ degressive achievement – Tamil school in cabins

This is just one of the scores of Tamil schools in portable cabins.

Pray tell us of one Malay, Islamic, Chinese, Orang Asli, Kadazan or Iban school in a portable cabin in Malay-sia.

Only Tamil schools because they are soft targets with little or no political or economic clout.

Even the supposedly “multiracial” Opposition PKR, DAP and PAS top leaders and including their 11 Indian MP mandores won’t bother championing these Indian problems, as it is subsumed, then ignored and neglected under the term multiracialness. This is a useful way to ignore Indian issues.

Our way forward is the Indian political empowerment strategy.

P. Uthayakumar

Courtesy of UMNO: no water in Hindu cemetary

Courtesy of UMNO: no water in Hindu cemetary

Have we ever heard of no water in a Muslim, Chinese or Christian cemetery? No! But why is there no water supply in this Sungkai Hindu cemetery (refer MN 13/3/10 at page 18), and hundreds of other hindu cemeteries being in wasteland like conditions and no where near the condition of a Muslim, Christian or Chinese cemetery? In any country expect it is the duty of the local government (Majlis Perbandaran) who are collect Quit Rent and other Taxes to maintain these cemeteries and burial grounds. We have already paid the money to maintain these public facilities and infrastructure. But in Malay-sia, UMNOs’ Muslim, religious extremism and supremacy reigns supreme and Indians are neglected.

P.Uthayakumar

Four Wedding One Malaysia-style but for sharing the Economic cake No One Malaysia-Style

Again and again this One Malay-sia PM Najib doing wayang kulit to cheat the Indains.

The Star (14/3/10 page 2), Four weddings, 1 Malaysia-style, couples share special day with Prime Minister Najib Razak while they share the wedding reception cake. But the same Najib would not share the economic cake with the Indians.

This is Prime Minister Najib Razak One Malay-sia ala UMNO regime.

S.JAYATHAS

HRP Information Chief

UMNO denies 11 & 12 As’ Indian SPM students JPA scholarships, matriculation courses, universities places

UMNO denies 11 & 12 As’ Indian SPM students JPA scholarships, matriculation courses, universities places

Year in and year out even 11 and 12 As’ deserving bright Indian students are denied places in universities, matriculation colleges, Higher Education JPA scholarships for foreign and local Universities etc.

This has been a yearly phenomenan which UMNO has refused to solve year in and year out. Soon we will read reports of a 12As’ student denied JPA scholarship etc.

Under the UMNO KDNs’ instructions especially the Tamil newspapers will carry news of happy and smiling faces of top scoring Indian students. But where do they go after this. Rot as some clerical clerk or factory staff?

Why does UMNO keep out this part of not realising the country’s full potential? Indians are not part of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s One Malay-sia?

P.Uthayakumar

Dead Newborn Abandoned Near Surau In Bukit Tinggi, Klang

KLANG, March 15 (Bernama) -- The body a newly born boy was found abandoned on a plot of grass nearby the surau of a petrol station in Bandar Bukit Tinggi here Monday.

Klang police chief ACP Mohamad Mat Yusop said the fair skinned infant was wrapped in a white towel and placed in a black plastic bag.

He said a worker at the petrol station stumbled upon the dead boy at 6.30am and alerted the police about 30 minutes later.

"The baby must have been born in the past 24 hours as its umbilical cord was still bleeding. The baby is also believed to have died before its body was dumped at the scene as it had been cleaned up and there were no signs of injuries," he told Bernama.

He added that there were no CCTV systems installed in the area and that the body had been sent to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital here for a post-mortem.

-- BERNAMA

Pakatan flays government over GST delay

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal and Clara Chooi - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) today slammed the Barisan Nasional (BN) government for its delay in implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as it only increases cost and risks to the country’s business community.

PR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that the delay in the GST implementation proved the ineffectiveness of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration.

“In light of the problems created by the economic crisis, any plans for the Malaysian economy has to be well-thought, well-researched, planned and executed.

“The major problem here is the example of the failure of the current leadership to implement a major economic initiative,” he said in a press conference after the PR pre-council meeting in Parliament here.

The GST Bill was to be tabled at this month’s Parliament sitting, but was delayed amid mounting objections from the public as well as from segments of Umno.

A mass rally was supposed to have taken place today outside Parliament House as part of a nationwide campaign against GST, which was put off after the government announced a delay over the weekend.

The protest has since been cancelled. Government leaders were forced today to defend the decision to put off the implementation of the unpopular GST.

Najib’s administration has been hit by a number of apparent policy U-turns, the latest being the delay in introducing GST.

The government was also forced to call off a complicated two-tier fuel subsidy system and last December it retracted an unpopular five per cent real property gains tax (RPGT), proposed in Budget 2010, for properties sold after five years.

Last Friday, Najib told his Umno party’s information chiefs to support his reforms, amid signs that some of his administration’s moves to free up the economy and reverse the budget deficit have been bogged down by a lack of public support.

Najib vowed last year to reform public finances in order to cut the budget deficit to 5.6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010 from 7.4 per cent in 2009 and pledged to tackle a subsidy regime that accounted for 15 per cent of all federal government spending in 2009.

In a joint statement by Anwar, PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa and DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang released during the press conference here, it was pointed out that the government had been sending mixed signals to the public on the issue of GST.

“Each time it announces its decision to roll out GST, companies have to spend in order to prepare for the implementation, only to be told that the implementation is put off until further announcement,” it said.

The leaders also claimed that the “flip-flopping” way of rolling out a new fiscal initiative, especially one that involved drastic changes to systems in the business community, only increases costs and risk to the community.

“They have spent considerably since the last one year and now they have to put all the preparations to shelf, yet again.

“This is bad for the country,” the PR leaders said. Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was also present at the press conference, said that this was not the first time the government had backtracked on its proposals.

He cited the example of how the government had scrapped the Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) last year.

“In terms of economic policy making, does this serve a purpose or not? I think that (Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad) Husni (Hanadzlah) should answer that question.

“There is no proper mechanism here, there is absolutely no certainty for foreign investors when the decision-making process is done in an ad hoc and arbitrary manner.

“This is a triple flip-flop,” he said.

Kit Siang concurred with Guan Eng and added that Najib was even more of a “flip-flop Prime Minister” than former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was in his first year in office.

Is Malaysia heading to an early election?

The government led by Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been receiving alot of heat on several U-turns in policies recently. - Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — The country’s recent pullback on fiscal reforms has fuelled talk that the government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is gearing up for snap polls even though the next general election is not due until 2013.

Following are questions and answers on the possible timing and the political and economic implications of an early general election in the country.


Why are early polls likely?

The end of fuel subsidy reforms as well as a delay in tabling a Goods and Services Tax Bill in Parliament indicate a reluctance by the government to impose measures that would have an impact on poorer Malay voters, a critical vote bank for the Umno, backbone of the ruling coalition. This in turn signals a government that may be making preparations for early polls.

Should investors worry?

To some extent. The last elections turned unpredictable in 2008, when the opposition alliance, now led by former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, scored the country’s biggest-ever election upset. It ended the government’s two-thirds parliamentary majority, and the opposition wound up controlling five of 13 states. That election result triggered a stock market sell-off.

Recent moves to halt fiscal consolidation imply the government thinks it can narrow its budget gap, which stood at a 20-year high of 7.4 per cent of GDP in 2009, purely on the back of increased economic activity and higher oil prices.

Longer term, failure to implement fiscal reform leaves the country, Asia’s third-most trade dependent economy, vulnerable to external economic and commodity price shocks. State oil company Petronas provides almost half of all government revenues.

When could the polls be held?

The most probable timing now seems to be during 2011, for several reasons:

  • The government normally calls for polls only when economic growth is in positive territory. Najib is aiming for GDP growth of at least five per cent this year after the economy contracted 1.7 per cent in 2009. The government would need at least until the first quarter of next year for the recovery to reach ordinary voters.
  • Many of the reform pledges that Najib has made, covering six core areas from fighting graft to improving urban transportation, have deadlines at the end of this year.
  • Elections in Sarawak. The state is Barisan Nasional’s (BN) stronghold that provides the government with 30 of its 137 Parliament seats. Sarawak is the sole state in the country that holds state elections separately from national polls. It must hold polls by June 2011.
  • If the government held the next Sarawak state election concurrently with federal polls it would stretch the opposition’s meagre campaign resources even more thinly.
  • Alternatively, the government could call for state elections in Sarawak either late this year or early next year, in the hope that a strong showing would bolster confidence ahead of national polls that would follow soon after.
  • But even if the government scores a landslide win in Sarawak, it may not be willing to take a risk in far more politicised mainland Malaysia where the PAS is making inroads into its Malay voter base.
  • Petrol price hikes in 2006 helped the opposition DAP to an unprecedented six state seats in Sarawak polls that year.
  • “I believe the Sarawak polls will be held separately before the next general election because Sarawak is usually taken as a rough barometer before the national polls are held,” said Shaharuddin Badaruddin, associate professor at Universiti Teknologi Mara.
  • Calling for an election later than next year also poses a risk for the government due to the possibility of a rise in religious and racial tensions. Ethnic Chinese and Indian voters have shown no sign of returning to BN since 2008.

What are the indications of imminent polls?

  • The following indicators will provide a rough early warning that polls are coming in the next three to six months. None have taken place so far:
  • BN component party leaders and state leaders from the Umno, the lynchpin of the 12-party ruling coalition, will be summoned by Najib to finalise their proposed list of election candidates.
  • The Election Commission will also indicate looming polls with a step up in its own logistical preparations and a finalising of the electoral rolls.
  • A run-up in the stock market. In the past, government-linked funds were asked to prop up the stock market several months ahead of elections to create a feel-good factor for the economy, though the extent of such rallies varies.
  • What would be the outcome of the polls?
  • While the Opposition has never been stronger in the wake of what locals dubbed the 2008 “political tsunami”, the odds are still loaded in favour of BN.

The Anwar-led opposition has won seven out of nine by-elections held since the 2008 elections and most of Umno’s partners in BN are either paralysed following the drubbing they received in 2008 or plagued by infighting.

Anwar is battling charges of sodomy in court, in what he says is a repeat of a political conspiracy that saw him jailed for six years after his sacking as deputy prime minister in 1998.

The government insists he will get a fair trial. One risk is that a guilty verdict could energise and embolden the opposition. Alternatively it could drive a wedge between the reformers, ethnic Chinese and Islamists that comprise his alliance.

Umno has 78 parliamentary seats. Adding in allied MPs from its stronghold states of Sabah and Sarawak, its total rises to 117 seats, enough for a simple majority in the 222-seat Parliament even if all the coalition’s ethnic Chinese and Indian parties fail to win anything.

Najib however needs a two-thirds majority if he is to legitimise his rule and avoid a leadership challenge, a fate that befell his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who presided over the 2008 election losses. — Reuters

Government defends GST delay, scoffs at PR’s victory claims

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid and Shazwan Mustafa Kamal - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — Government leaders defended today the decision to put off the implementation of the unpopular Goods and Services Tax (GST), and dismissed Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) claims that the delay was a victory for the federal opposition.

The GST Bill was to be tabled at this month’s Parliament sitting, but was delayed amid mounting objections from the public as well as from segments of Umno.

A mass rally was supposed to have taken place today outside Parliament House as part of a nationwide campaign against GST, which was put off after the government announced a delay over the weekend. The protest has since been cancelled.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (picture) laughed off claims by the opposition that the GST delay was a victory for them, arguing instead that that the postponement, meant to gauge public feedback, was accepted by voters.

“Well, they can say whatever they want. They can say it’s a victory but the reality is when the announcement was made, the move was well-received by many.

“So it’s their job to gain political mileage in anything that we do. It’s nothing new,” he told a press conference in Parliament today.

As Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak prepares to enter his second year at the helm of government, his administration has been hit by a number of apparent policy U-turns, the latest being the delay in the introduction of the controversial but unpopular GST.

The government was also forced to call off a complicated two-tier fuel subsidy system and last December it retracted an unpopular five per cent real property gains tax (RPGT), proposed in Budget 2010, for properties sold after five years.

Last Friday, Najib told his Umno party’s information chiefs to support his reforms, amid signs that some of his administration’s moves to free up the economy and reverse the budget deficit have been bogged down by a lack of public support.

Market analysts have also expressed disappointment with the government for putting off the GST.

Najib vowed last year to reform public finances in order to cut the budget deficit to 5.6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010 from 7.4 percent in 2009 and pledged to tackle a subsidy regime that accounted for 15 percent of all federal government spending in 2009.

Savings from food and fuel subsidies amounted to RM3.6 billion this year alone under Najib’s budget plans announced in October last year.

A return to economic growth this year, seen at 5 per cent versus a 1.7 per cent contraction in 2009, has reduced pressure on the government to push through with reforms.

Despite initial zeal to rush the tabling of the GST bill during the March-April sitting, the government had decided to delay it after it conceded that it needed more feedback from all stakeholders.

The opposition, who have been campaigning against its implementation, has claimed “victory”.

PR leaders claimed the GST would only benefit businesses as consumers would be forced to pay the lion’s share.

Like Hishammuddin, Deputy International Trade Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir also laughed off PR’s victory claim, saying the opposition often don’t “have anything good to say about what the government does.”

“When we are looking into details, then they say we are having second thoughts, but when we rush into things they say we’re doing it too fast,” he told reporters in Parliament.

“Which is it? It seems to me they don’t have anything good to say about what the government does,” said the deputy minister.

Mukhriz backed the delay by pointing out that the government could now get proper public feedback.

“I still feel that it’s (GST) one of the important methods that should be introduced by the government in terms of how to increase revenue,” he said.

The new tax system is expected to increase revenue by an extra RM1 billion from the existing estimates of RM12 billion garnered from the current sales tax scheme, according to Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.

Hishammuddin confirms IGP to be replaced

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — Tan Sri Musa Hassan (picture, left) will be replaced as the Inspector-General of Police when his contract expires in September.

While refusing to disclose details, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (picture, centre) said today that a transition process was already in place, with details to be decided by the government.

“I already know who is going to replace the IGP. I already know who is going to replace the director of the commercial crime division. I already know those who will take over, so there is no need for us to speculate and report news without basis,” said Hishammuddin in Parliament today.

Last Saturday, Musa was forced to deny a report in local Chinese daily China Press that he had resigned as Inspector-General of Police.

Quoting unnamed sources, China Press had reported that Musa submitted his resignation letter to the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammudin Hussein, and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The 59-year-old Musa’s contract as IGP expires in September.

Musa also appeared to suggest that the newspaper obtained the information about his purported resignation from underworld criminal figures.

The report of his resignation came a day after suspended police Commissoner Datuk Ramli Yusoff was acquitted of three corruption charges by the Sessions Court here.

Ramli’s acquittal had sparked intense speculation surrounding his future because his relationship with Musa is understood to have been soured by events leading up to his prosecution.

A number of uncorroborated reports had also emerged on the Internet in recent years alleging the involvement of the criminal underworld in events leading to Ramli being charged for corruption.

In an interview with The Malaysian Insider which was published today, Ramli, who was the third most senior police officer until his suspension, said he would report for duty soon.

He also lashed out at being treated badly by his colleagues.

Ramli pointed out that Musa had once served directly under him for six years.

Ramli was deputy director of the CID at the time while Musa was head of prosecution.

“At one time, I treated him like my own brother. I never expected this sort of treatment.”

Ramli’s comments will have added to the speculation swirling around Musa.

Last Saturday’s China Press report had claimed Musa would retire on Police Day on March 25 and that he would be succeeded by his deputy, Tan Sri Ismail Omar.

Hishammuddin’s ministry subsequently issued a show cause letter to the newspaper under Section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (Act 301).

Under the law, action can be taken against those responsible for publishing false news including the printer, publisher, editor and the writer.

Today, the Home Minister said that representatives from China Press had been called by the ministry to provide an explanation.

He said that while the ministry will listen to their explanations, if found to be unsatisfactory, action will be taken against the newspaper.

Hishammuddin went on to clarify that the reshuffling process did not involve the IGP alone, but also other top-ranking officials within the police force.

“In this matter it does not only involve the IGP alone but four other directors out of the seven divisions of PDRM [who] will retire this year. In fact one of the directors is already on leave, three or six months prior to leaving the service.”

“So the transition is happening and this is an opportunity for us to look at a new chapter in the history of the police.”

Ides of March jottings

As what Malaysia Today said earlier: bye-bye, Musa, unhappy retirement -- because I am sure your retirement is not as happy as you would have liked it to be now that Ramli Yusuff is off the hook and you still can’t extradite RPK even though you promised the court it would happen by October 2009.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Exactly 2,054 years ago, the Ides of March changed the course of history. (Ides of March means 15th of March, to those Umno goons who never read Shakespeare.) On the Ides of March, Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated and Marcus Antonius a.k.a. Mark Antony, Caesar’s cousin, took over as the Head Honcho of Rome.

One of the fringe benefits of becoming the Head Honcho of Rome was the pleasure of the company of Cleopatra, Caesar’s plaything, whom Mark Antony inherited. Unfortunately, Mark Antony and Cleopatra both committed suicide nine years later when their combined forces was defeated by Octavian Augustus.

But that bit of information is only spice to an even more interesting story. The more significant aspect to this entire episode is that a Blogger had earlier been warned Caesar he was going to be assassinated. Okay, maybe it was a soothsayer and not a Blogger who had warned him. But in those days there was no Internet and Blogs to do the soothsaying work. So they had word-of-mouth soothsayers, who were just like the Bloggers of today.

“Beware the Ides of March!” said the soothsayer cum Blogger to Caesar.

Incidentally, just to digress a bit, back in July 2007, Malaysia Today also told Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to beware the Ides of March. The 15th of March 2008, the initial date that was set for the 12th General Election, would see the beginning of the end for Umno and Barisan Nasional, said Malaysia Today. They are going to lose five states and their two-thirds majority in Parliament.

15th March 2008 was the date the feng shui master said the 12th General Election should be held. But to prove Malaysia Today wrong and to prove that Malaysia Today always lies, they held the 12th General Election on 8th March instead of 15th March. After all, eight is a more auspicious day, according to the Chinese.

Okay, so it was not the 15th of March that they held the 12th General Election. Instead, it was the 8th of March. But Barisan Nasional still lost five states and its two-thirds majority in Parliament. So soothsayer Malaysia Today was still right on that point. It is just that the date was changed at the last minute, against the advice of the feng shui master who told Pak Lah to hold the elections on the 15th of March 2008.

Anyway, enough digressing; let’s get back to the Caesar story.

“Beware the Ides of March!” the soothsayer warned Caesar. On that day he was going to be stabbed in the back by his best friend. But Caesar ignored the warning and his best friend did stab him in the back as foretold. And Malaysia’s equivalent of Caesar, or at least he imagines himself as Malaysia’s equivalent of Caesar -- the man who sits at the top of Peace Hill lording over this country and controls the politicians, the Chinese underworld and everyone that walks in the corridors of power – also now knows what the Ides of March means and what it feels like to be stabbed in the back by his best friend.

You see, today, the Ides of March, the Minister announced that IGP Musa Hassan is being sacked after all. And just a few days earlier it was denied. But now it is confirmed. Musa is going. And Musa knew the day the MACC raided his house and found RM1.5 million in cash that his days were numbered. And the MACC also knows about Musa’s bank accounts in Singapore and Australia where tens of millions more are hidden.

But Musa is clever; or so he thought he is. Malaysia Today had earlier revealed the story about the MACC raid and the millions in cash they discovered in his house as well as the many more millions stashed in his overseas bank accounts. But he does not want this to be quoted as the reason he is being asked to go. So he told the Chinese underworld to leak a story to the Chinese mainstream media that he had resigned. And the China Press believed this story since it came from reliable sources. So they ran the story.

Then Musa jumped and the Minister, his best friend, was forced to deny this story. Then they sent the China Press a show cause letter. This is to give the impression that the China Press lied -- Musa did not resign. Instead, Musa’s contract is just not being renewed. That is all.

Ah, but Musa was supposed to have his contract renewed for a fourth term until September 2011. That was what his best friend, the Minister, promised him. But then his best friend, the Minister, stabbed him in the back, just like what happened to Caesar on the Ides of March. And Musa’s best friend, the Minister, also chose the Ides of March to stab him in the back.

Poetic justice, don’t you think so?

Musa tried to make it appear like he is not being sacked. It is just that his contract is not being renewed after all, although at first it was supposed to be renewed until September 2011. Well, if it is not being renewed, then what does this mean? Does it mean he is not being sacked after all?

That is what Musa hopes it will look like. And that was Musa’s game plan, to make it appear like he is not being sacked.

So it is true, as Musa says. The leak that was made to the China Press did come from the Chinese underworld. But it was Musa himself who asked the Chinese underworld to leak this to the China Press. Musa did not lie. He just did not explain how the Chinese underworld got this information and why they leaked it to the China Press.

Clever or not? Not that clever, really, because Malaysia Today the soothsayer of the Ides of March knew what Musa was plotting at the top of Peace Hill. And Malaysia Today also knew that his best friend, the Minister, would stab him in the back on the Ides of March.

So what now Musa? Et tu Brute? Or rather, et tu Sham? And what now of your Cleopatra? Who is going to enjoy her once you are gone? Hurts don’t it? And I hope it hurts real bad.

A rose by any other name smells just as sweet, said Shakespeare. A sacking by any other name smells just as sweet, says Malaysia Today.

As what Malaysia Today said earlier: bye-bye, Musa, unhappy retirement -- because I am sure your retirement is not as happy as you would have liked it to be now that Ramli Yusuff is off the hook and you still can’t extradite RPK even though you promised the court it would happen by October 2009.

Okay, let’s move on to another subject. 80% of the people polled said they do not understand what 1Malaysia means (see the Bernama report below). So the government is going to ask BTN (Malaysia’s brainwashing agency) to conduct 500 seminars over the next one year to explain 1Malaysia to Malaysians.

Good luck, BTN. It is just like asking Paris Hilton to give talks on ‘say no to extra-marital sex’ to young girls. Yeah, right, the girls would say.

If you need to explain yourself then there is something terribly wrong, don’t you think so? A good policy should not need explaining. It should be self-explanatory. Even Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he does not understand what 1Malaysian means. Will Dr Mahathir be made to also attend the BTN courses?

I just love this.

Next issue. In His Majesty the Agong’s speech in Parliament today, he asked us to emulate Najib (see the second Bernama report below). I know for a fact that the Agong does not write his own speeches. They are written by the Prime Minister’s Department. In fact, even the Sultans’ speeches are written by the government.

So whom is Najib trying to fool?

I remember the late Sultan of Johor once reading his speech when he was the Agong. Halfway through his speech he muttered, “Who the hell wrote this?” (in Bahasa Malaysia, of course). And to everyone’s horror he threw the prepare text aside and rambled on off the cuff.

That sure was the funniest thing I ever saw, which proves that His Majesty’s speech is written by others and that he does not get to see it until he stands up to deliver the speech.

Yeah, right, emulate Najib. Even the devil would never dare emulate Najib.

Finally, read The Edge news item below with regards to Hamzah Zainuddin. It says in the report that Hamzah and Anwar Ibrahim were ‘best friends’. Actually, Hamzah was a Najib man since the days when Najib was the Umno Youth Leader and Hamzah was still just the Ipoh Youth Leader. That is how far back Najib’s and Hamzah’s relationship goes.

At that time Hamzah was the MD of Justera Sdn Bhd, a company wholly-owned by Cash Berhad, in turn a company owned by Syed Ibrahim, the man who committed suicide in his home in Kenny Hills a few years ago. Syed Ibrahim was the crony of Ahmad Sebi Abu Bakar, the MD of TV3, Daim Zainuddin’s nominee. Ahmad Sebi was the man who engineered the take-over of Sports Toto together with Vincent Tan and which was approved by Daim, who was the then Finance Minister.

Hamzah wanted the contract to build the new UIA (International Islamic University) campus. But Justera had so many abandoned projects in Perak and Kedah. So the tender committee refused to consider Justera. And this made Hamzah very angry. He accused Anwar, the UIA President, of not helping him.

Hamzah then asked his second wife to phone Anwar and to try and lobby for the project. The second wife even offered to open her legs for Anwar if he would consider giving the UIA contract to Justera. But Anwar was not interested in her pussy and he still said no.

And that made Hamzah even angrier. So he made this allegation that Anwar was trying to get his second wife into bed whereas it was the other way around.

So that, dear readers, is the real story of Hamzah Zainuddin’s second wife and the phone call to Anwar and all that talk of sex and whatnot.

And how do I know all this? Well, Hamzah’s first wife came to see me to discuss what to do about her problem. You see; Hamzah had abandoned his first wife, whom I know quite well, after he married his second wife (now, now, perish all those dirty thoughts please; she is just a friend). So I told Hamzah's first wife to sue him.

And she did. She claimed 50% of his property and the Shariah court awarded her RM10 million. She was still not happy, though. She told me that Hamzah is worth more than RM20 million but she is not able to trace all his money. All she could trace was RM20 million and she got half of that.

Oh, and how did Hamzah make so much money? Simple, he was the then Chairman of FELCRA. And do you know how much contracts FELCRA dishes out? And guess how much ‘commission’ the FELCRA Chairman gets?

Hold on! Was not FELCRA under Najib? Hmm…interesting.

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(Bernama) -- The Information Department finds Malaysians overall know about the 1Malaysia concept but have yet to have a full grasp of it, said Director-General of Information Datuk Abdullah Morad.

He said, according to a survey carried out by the department recently, 80 per cent of the people interviewed knew about the concept but were not able to explain what it really stood for.

"As such, this year we will continue with efforts to explain the 1Malaysia concept and how people from all walks of life can appreciate it more deeply," he told reporters after attending a community programme organised by Komuniti Bestari Kampung Pulau Melayu here today.

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Emulate Najib, meet people, Agong tells leaders

(Bernama) – Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin today called on leaders in the country to emulate Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and go down to the ground to meet the people to understand their problems.

He said that since taking over the helm of the government, Najib had succeeded in implementing various programmes to enhance the well-being of the people.

“We congratulate the prime minister and his cabinet because for the past 11 months, Our government under the leadership of the prime minister has succeeded in implementing various programmes for the well-being of the people.

“The leaders should emulate the prime minister and go down to the ground to mingle with the people to better understand their problems and foster closer relations with the people at all levels,” he said when opening the third session of the 12th Parliament here.

Present was the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tuanku Nur Zahirah.

This is the first time that Tuanku Mizan is delivering his speech since Najib became the country’s sixth prime minister on April 3 last year.

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April 26 hearing to strike out Hamzah's defence in Anwar defamation suit

(The Edge) - The High Court on April 26 will hear opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's application to strike out the defence of Plantation Industries and Commodities deputy minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin in the former's defamation suit.

Deputy registrar Fatimah Rubiah Ali fixed the new date during a mention of the suit in chambers here today.

Anwar's lawyer Sankara Nair told reporters that the application would be heard before Judicial Commissioner Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham.

According to Sankara, Anwar was seeking to strike out Hamzah's defence after the latter was late in filing further particulars requested by Anwar.

In his suit filed in August 2008, Anwar was seeking RM10 million in damages from Hamzah following the latter's allegations that Anwar had harassed Hamzah's wife in 1998.

Chinese daily newspaper Kwong Wah Jit Poh had on Aug 19, 2008 quoted Hamzah as saying Anwar had wanted to "harass (kacau)" his wife despite the two men purportedly being "best friends".

Hamzah, who is Larut member of parliament, allegedly had made the remarks when campaigning during the Permatang Pauh by-election in August 2008, which Anwar subsequently won.