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Monday, April 26, 2010

And the award goes to ... Rosmah - Anil Netto

In case you missed it during the thick of the Hulu Selangor by-election campaign, Rosmah has clinched the inaugural “International Peace and Harmony Award” in recognition of her “extensive charitable work and to celebrate the important links between Malaysia and the US”.

The award was presented at a dinner in New York hosted by the United States Sports Academy and the Business Council for International Understanding.

Rosmah and Najib joined in with American celebrities in a rendition of “We are the world”. Among those attending the gala event at St Regis Hotel on 16 April were Jamie Foxx, Robert de Niro and Paris Hilton’s parents.
Check out reports here, here, and here.

Rosmah is involved in many groups such as the Welfare Association of Ministers’ Wives (Bakti), Girl Guides Association, Children in Hope Foundation, Malaysian Nature Society (Pencinta), Society of the Orthopedically Handicapped Malaysia, Malaysia Aids Council and Thalasemia Association

Call to revive DAP Indian bureaus nationwide

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today

BUKIT MERTAJAM: A group of Indian DAP members have called for the revival of the party’s Indian bureau at national and state levels.

Bagan Luar DAP branch chief G Asoghan said the members felt that by reactivating the bureaus, the party could forge closer ties with the working-class Indians, who make up the bulk of the community's votes in the country.

He also said that by reviving the bureau, the DAP and Pakatan Rakyat could re-energise its policies and strategies to reach out to the Indians.

The resolution was passed unanimously by some 70 people at the end of a dialogue session between grassroots members and party Indian leaders at the service centre of Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng.

Present at the session were Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy and Bagan Dalam state assemblyman A Tanasekaran, DAP vice-chairman and Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, and Bukit Mertajam parliamentary Indian affairs bureau head K Gunabalan.

The meeting also unanimously passed another resolution calling on all Pakatan state executive councillors in Penang, Kedah and Selangor to appoint a qualified Indian, preferably a Pakatan member with the grassroots touch, as a personal assistant to take charge of Indian affairs.

The members argued that all Pakatan excos should accept responsibility that each of them had a duty to take care of the rights, benefits and interests of the community.

“An Indian aide can help each Pakatan exco handle Indian affairs,” he said.

At present, they claimed non-Indian Pakatan excos, state representatives and MPs have been pushing the buck to Indian excos such Ramasamy, S Manikumar (Kedah) and A Xavier Jayakumar (Selangor) to resolve Indian issues.

“Members despised this mandore politics. They have demanded for an end to mandorism ala BN in Pakatan.

“Members argued that Pakatan leaders should walk their talk of being a multiracial coalition representing all communities.

“They should not assign only Indian leaders to handle Indian affairs,” Asoghan told FMT.

'Self-denial politically dangerous'

Kulasegaran said he had acknowledged at the meeting of the shortcomings of Pakatan state governments and elected representatives.

He said he understood that the expectations of the Indian community were high and that Pakatan had its limitations.

“But despite the limitations, has Pakatan delivered to the Indian community?” he asked.

He said he would prefer to call “a spade a spade” rather than sweep things under the carpet.

“It’s politically dangerous to be in self-denial,” said Kulasegaran, who is also a lawyer.

He added that the Pakatan governments could have done more to provide jobs in the civil service, especially in local councils and state-controlled statutory bodies, and creating business opportunities for Indians.

He admitted that Pakatan governments should have implemented permanent policies to resolve the landless status of many Hindu temples and Tamil schools.

Kulasegaram also acknowledged that since achieving an unprecedented electoral success in the 2008 general election, the party's Indian elected representatives, especially the newcomers, have discarded the Indian bureaus and the members.

“We cannot disregard the contributions and sacrifices made by long-serving Indian grassroots leaders and members.

“Elected representatives should mobilise these members and strengthen the Indian political standings within the party,” said Kulasegaran.

Hulu S'gor: Lessons to be learnt

By R Mutharasan - Free Malaysia Today

COMMENT Although it was the 10th by-election in a row for the country, the Hulu Selangor contest, in every sense of the word, was the most exciting. Everyone knew that the outcome would have far reaching consequences on our political parties and its leaders. Umno-BN has also proven a point - that in a by-election, come what may, they would stick to their age-old tradition of giving the seat back to the same component party.

They have also broken new ground by demonstrating that they can still win a Malay-majority constituency by putting an unknown Indian candidate under their banner against a popular and formidable Malay candidate.

Looking back, credit must be given to Umno and BN for their sheer political experience in devising a detailed but focused strategy to cover every issue faced by the different communities and at the same time presenting solutions to the local problems besieging the voters.

Malay support

Even before the Hulu Selangor by-election, Umno had already started a concerted campaign on the ground that the Malay community will lose their rights and privileges by supporting Pakatan Rakyat.

A clear example for this approach is Umno's tacit approval for Perkasa, an organisation founded by political maverick and Kelantan’s independent MP Ibrahim Ali to protect Malay rights and privileges.

This, and the branding of PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim and the candidate Zaid Ibrahim as traitors may have worked on the minds of a small section of the Malay voters.

By exposing and attacking Zaid’s lifstyle right from day one, Umno-BN caught Pakatan leaders by surprise as they were put on the defensive. This exposure may also have worked on some pro-Islamic voters.

Even though PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat campaigned during the last two days of the by-election in favour of Zaid, the damage was already done.

PKR's decision to field a Kelantan-born candidate in Hulu Selangor was another factor on which Umno-BN was able to capitalise on - that he is not a local.

Although BN candidate P Kamalanathan is not a local as well, the Malay community knew that historically MIC candidates were never chosen based on their locality as in the case of Umno candidates.

When it came to the local Felda settlers, the majority of whom were Malays, even though their plight was overlooked for a long time, the government moved in quickly to pay hefty initial sums to the families. This also worked in favour of BN.

While Pakatan leaders were concentrating on large political gatherings with fiery speeches, the BN component parties were working on smaller groups who were actually voters.

Although such gatherings are important for Pakatan to convey their struggle and stand on various current issues, the crowd however is made up largely of supporters and not voters.

In future elections, Pakatan should identify and focus on problematic areas and smaller groups who are actually voters.

Indian support

BN’s victory in Hulu Selangor cannot be attributed to MIC or its president S Samy vellu. It is Umno which single-handedly carried out the campaign right from choosing the candidate.

The government's master stroke on Indian voters came when they presented a solution to Maika Holdings Bhd through the respected G Gnanalingam, who is seen as a neutral business tycoon who has the means to carry out the corporate restructuring of Maika.

Although many believe that the proposal was more political, to the Indian voters, especially Maika shareholders, it reflected the government’s political will to finally look into their woes to find some amicable solutions.

Other branches of the BN government also came into Hulu Selangor with a helping hand for the Indians.

In Nigel Gardner estate for example, the problems faced by some Indian families with regard to their IC and birth certificates were solved within two or three days and the respective documents were handed to them personally.

In another area, a Tamil school without electricity for ages was given connection by TNB within 24 hours.

MIC leaders, other than its president, also did their best to sway the Indian voters by enticing them with dinners, cultural shows and hand outs.

For most part of the campaign, Samy Vellu was not prominently shown with other Umno and BN leaders and this approach also had an impact on the Indian voters as they were able to directly link themselves with Umno and BN rather than through the services of MIC.

The BN leadership should pressure Samy Vellu to leave the party now, so that in the next two years they could work with the new leadership of MIC in formulating strategies and plans to woo the Indian voters to support BN in the next general election.

Pakatan, on the other hand, must also devise a strategy for the Indians

Although they may have obtained about 50% of the support from Indian voters in Hulu Selangor, the time has come for Pakatan to devise a strategy for the Indian community as they cannot take the community’s support for granted.

Pakatan cannot always think that the Indians voted wholeheartedly for the opposition in the 2008 general election. It was more of protest votes.

In view of this, Pakatan must look at a fresh and new approach. There must be a coordinated and concerted effort to address this issue.

Remember Ijok?

Last but not least, the Hulu Selangor by-election brings back memories of the Ijok by-election in 2007.

In that by-election, PKR candidate Khalid Ibrahim lost to MIC's K Parthiban by 1,850 votes.

The following year, Khalid won the same seat with a 1,920 majority and went on to become Selangor menteri besar.

The Hulu Selangor by-election should serve as a lesson for Pakatan, especially PKR, should it be serious about wanting to form the next federal government.

The quaint and tranquil world of Chengdu's tea culture

You’ve done the panda reserve and tasted the legendary spicy Sichuan cuisine, so what’s next? Why not visit one of the many teahouses featuring the centuries old Chengdu teahouse culture that local residents enjoy on a daily basis.
Chengdu teahouses are both indoor and outdoor and are open year round in spite of the chilly winters. The ambience of the teahouse is just as important as the quality of the tea. CNNGo visited numerous teahouses that dot the city and unearthed the most interesting, eye catching and fun of the bunch.
A stroll through Wenshu Monastery area is home to a hidden gem of a teahouse. The Lao Dianying (Old Film) Tea Garden is located on Bai Yun Temple St in the heart of Wenshu Yuan. Wenshu Monastery is the largest and best preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu and is home to the Buddhist Association of Chengdu and Sichuan Province.

The Lao Dianying Tea Garden is set in a quiet, lush courtyard. Visitors read books and newspapers, play mahjong and cards and talk amongst themselves. Even a rainy overcast day doesn’t stop the tea drinking faithful from coming out and enjoying their favorite tea while listening to the pitter patter of the rain on the roof of the tea house.

Which glass of this Zhu Ye Qing (Bamboo Green Tea) tastes the best? If you guessed the middle, you would be right. The key to a fragrant tea is to make sure that the water level does not get too low or else the bitterness will be concentrated at the bottom. It is good etiquette to pour more water into a friend’s glass before the water level gets too low. Green tea is at its best when water that is approximately 85 degrees Celsius is used -- not boiling water like other Chinese teas like Iron Buddha and Pu’Er.

For a truly unique Chengdu experience, march down to People’s Park (Renmin Gong Yuan). While there are various outdoor teahouses in the park, our favorite by far is the He Ming Teahouse. Enter the park from the main entrance and hang a left when you see the bronze kettle opposite the photo stand.

The Liu sisters, originally from Yibin in Southern Sichuan province, discuss their family issues over a cup of tea overlooking the largest pond in People’s Park. The sisters have been coming to the park for tea at least twice a week for the last 30 years and their children and grandchildren frequent the park as well.

 Didn’t you know tea is best enjoyed with clean ears? Professional ear cleaners roam People’s Park and offer to scrape out your ears for a decent price. They use metal tweezers and feathered sticks as well as tongs that they vibrate to get the wax out of your ears. You would be surprised by the amount of wax that they can extract, and yes, the cleaners will hand over your ear wax so you can take it home as a souvenir.

The Milliga family from California enjoyed another of Chengdu’s teahouse favorites, a relaxing massage right at their table. While the Milligas enjoyed their tea and massages, surprisingly, none of them took up an offer for ear cleaning.

The Shun Xing Ancient Teahouse in the Sha Wan International Exhibition Centre (3rd floor) is one of the most famous and elegant teahouses in Chengdu. However, a visit to Shun Xing isn’t only about tea, it is also an art gallery, restaurant, opera theatre and a folk culture museum.
Shun Xing’s tea offerings run the gamut from local Sichuan teas to the finest teas in all of China. The tea menu is printed on bamboo and prices reflect the quality of the teas available. Sichuan tea is synonymous with green teas, so stick to such teas as Zhu Ye Qing, Su Mao Feng, and Hua Mao Feng.

Although the teahouse is housed in a modern building, careful attention to detail has been made to recreate an authentic Chengdu teahouse. The wood carvings, artwork, lighting and flooring are all reflections of traditional Sichuan teahouse design.

Shun Xing is also a cultural and culinary destination in itself. With its exquisite western Sichuan interior design, artwork and cultural and historical artefacts on display, it’s best to stroll through the displays of this fine establishment just as Chengdu people live life… at a leisurely pace.

Chengdu Accommodation

Chengdu is a backpacker’s paradise as well as the business gateway to Western China. There are numerous high quality hostels, mid-priced hotels and five star business hotels as well.

Cheap hostel beds: Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel: No.211 North Section 4, First Ring Rd. Chengdu

Mid-Priced Hotel: Ibis Chengdu Yongfeng, No 1 Section 4, Southern Second Ring Road, Chengdu

Splurge: Shangri-La Hotel Chengdu No.9 East Binjiang Road, Jinjiang District, Chengdu

A Pakatan-Hindraf pact is imperative - Malaysiakini

COMMENT With Indian votes showing signs of drifting back to Barisan Nasional, it becomes more imperative than before for Pakatan Rakyat to work out an accommodation with Hindraf, the group responsible for detaching Indian voter support for the BN at the last general election.

A heavy defeat for Pakatan in the by-election for the Bagan Pinang state seat in Negri Sembilan last October was an indication that Indian voters could be induced to return to BN.

A complete analysis of voting patterns in yesterday's poll for the Hulu Selangor seat is yet to be done, but it's already safe to say that what Bagan Pinang semaphored Hulu Selangor has reinforced – the Indian vote, in the estates especially, is drifting back to BN.

NONEWhat with a settlement of the long festering Maika Holdings issue in the offing, the return of the Indian rural vote, a reliable bloc since independence for the ruling coalition, to its allegiance of old appears certain to happen.

PKR ought to lead Pakatan in going some distance in preventing this.

Last November, Zaid Ibrahim, in the process of collating the Common Policy Framework for Pakatan, met up with P Waythamoorthy of Hindraf in Singapore to come to grips with the basic demands of the group.

An informal understanding was reached but this has been blurred by the continued stridency of Waythamoorthy's elder brother, P Uthayakumar, whose derogatory sniping at all and sundry for supposed failure to make good on promises to the Indian community makes it almost impossible to induce him to become a partner in the delicate negotiations that an accommodation would entail.

This is a vexed matter, made so by the unilateralism of Uthayakumar and the perception among Pakatan leaders that the man is unappeasable.

Certainly, it doesn't help that Uthayakumar plans to contest in the next general election in the Prai state seat and in the Batu Kawan parliamentary one in Penang under the emblem of the Human Rights Party which is his creation.

Both seats have a significant Indian voter presence, enough to give Uthayakumar's quixotic quest a tincture of realism.

Emerging sodality

Of course, there are some like the victorious candidate in the Hulu Selangor poll, P Kamalanathan, who claim that Hindraf is a one-election wonder and that its influence has waned.

This is conjecture. Even if Kamalanathan succeeded in outpolling Zaid Ibrahim among Indian voters in Hulu Selangor it won't validate this theory.

indian crowd malaysia 291107The issues that are sources of discontent among Indians – their general poverty and lack of economic opportunity – are not peculiar to them alone; the Dayaks of Sarawak and the Kadazan of Sabah are similarly placed.

In fact recent attempts at a sodality of the discontented, taken to include – together with the Indians, Dayaks and Kadazan – the Orang Asli, under the rubric of a 'third force', has gained credence.

Prescient manoeuvring by Pakatan can bring this emerging sodality to coalesce under its wing and strengthen its claim to be a credible political vehicle for the fulfillment of the legitimate aspirations of the poor in Malaysia.

There is time yet before the next general election, which is anticipated for the middle of next year, to induce Uthayakumar to abandon his general election plans and work out an accommodation with Hindraf.

After having witnessed the way the Indian poor voted in the Bagan Pinang and Hulu Selangor by-elections, it would be unwise for PKR, and the coalition it leads, Pakatan, to do nothing to forestall the drift back of the Indian voter to BN.

TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for close on four decades. He likes the occupation because it puts him in contact with the eminent without being under the necessity to admire them.

HELLO Pakatan, it was also bribery & corruption in GE12

Of course the commentors now run down the Malaysian Indians ie the poor and poverty stricken how they were bought over as they could have created the swing for a Pakatan victory. Looking at some of the comments, it really makes me wonder what kind and how politically immature these people are and can only blow their hot air without any actual analysis.

By R. Shan (Human Being)

It is rather surprising that Pakatan is sounding like an old record that bribery and corruption paved the way for an unknown Mr Kamalanathan further being an Indian to wrestle and defeat the infamous Datuk Zaid Ibrahim in the recent election when the bulk of the Chinese votes more or less voted for Pakatan?

Isn’t bribery and corruption part and parcel of the UMNO machinery? Who are you trying to fool?

Of course the commentors now run down the Malaysian Indians ie the poor and poverty stricken how they were bought over as they could have created the swing for a Pakatan victory. Looking at some of the comments, it really makes me wonder what kind and how politically immature these people are and can only blow their hot air without any actual analysis. Memories do serve us all short to understand the mechanism of politics.

The same bribery and corruption was there in GE12, but the Malaysian Indians created the swing through the involvement of HINDRAF as an impetus on the marginalization & discrimination state of the Indians with humnaity as the concern, where the bribe and corruption did not stop them to vote for the opposition. Don’t these people see this or is it the type of people that are inbred for the politics of Pakatan.

Pakatan, if you win, you claim it is multiracial, if you lose you blame the Indians who were bribed and corrupted like in Bagan Pinang. If such is the case, then you do accept that the Malaysian Indians are the kingmakers how the election goes.

Now, your ardent commentors & followers in their armchair position throw all kind of accusations against the Malaysian Indians for the loss in Hulu Selangor. But let me ask you this. What have they fought for? Are they asking for preference? Are they asking to be treated differently from the rest of the Malaysians? No, they are asking what you can do that is different from UMNO with their lackey MIC.

Pakatan had their chances and choices, but they would rather label the very cause that started the uprise HINDRAF as racist and play politics as opposed to BN who sat silently and watched how Pakatan was burning their own bridges with HINDRAF.

To date, with all the criticism that HINDRAF lays at the path of UMNO after the election, have you seen them chastize HINDRAF as much as Pakatan has or it's ardent commentors and bloggers? The self destruction of PAKATAN is obvious when they are not able to engage HINDRAF. And this UMNO has learnt that as long as there is a battle between PAKATAN and HINDRAF, UMNO can make it's own route for the Indians as seen in how quickly MMSP was formed against the will of MIC. Of course, MMSP is nothing but an instrument of UMNO.

Kamalanathan did not win because UMNO is strong, but because PAKATAN is playing politics with the people like what BN has been doing for the last 52 years before their realization after the last election. The realization was created by HINDRAF without bribery and corruption and solely on a humanity pursuit, and BN had taken steps to address these problems and that is why they are by-passing MIC to approach the people directly.

With Pakatan, they seem to be folded in a battle with HINDRAF who can be a formidable ally as they need to realize that HINDRAF has stood aloof beyond politics on the stand that they have taken whether it is UMNO or PAKATAN.

The aloofness of HINDRAF is somewhat misintepreted or manipulated. Before GE12, UMNO with various accusations. Then after GE12, and in particular after the Kg Buah Pala issue, it was the turn of PAKATAN. UMNO has died down, but PAKATAN keeps harping on the racism of HINDRAF.

It is funny. With all the racial criticism of HINDRAF, the PAKATAN fans blame the Malaysian Indians for the loss in Hulu Selangor. What they fail to realize is that the humanity aspect that HINDRAF pursues is not the summer soldiers and sunshine patriots that they seek but a permanent solution that PAKATAN can offer for a humane will for this society that has been sidelined and kicked around for everyone’s personal political will.

Sure, bludgeon me. But I alone cannot make the difference, but we need a community to seek what is the truth and reality on the ground for the humanity that we seek without any political interference or influence for the betterment of the future generation.

HINDRAF is a stampede for humanity

As social activists, Hindraf started fighting against police custodial deaths under PoliceWatch, then the conversion matter of Moorthy and against temple demolitions under the name of Hindraf, and now on a more broad-based human rights violations and marginalisation of minorities under the Human Rights Party. As it is rights based, naturally it is open to all races.

By Hang Tuah

Hindraf is fighting for the poor Indians, not the urban, educated, middle class or rich Indians and similar ones in other races but the bottom 30% who live in small towns, rural areas, those who do not have access to piped
water, education, sometimes electricity, who earn RM 13 a day when even the migrants earn RM 22 per day, those indiscriminately shot at and brutalised in police custody.

It is these Malaysians that Hindraf fight for when the other communities contemptuously shun them as the societal sore even when they are Malaysians!

As it grows and more resources are available, with more non-Indian participation in their effort, Hindraf will broaden its campaign to include all races in their fight against discrimination and marginalization of policies driven by political parties. As of now it restricts itself to only those Malays and Chinese who approaches Hindraf for assistance when they have been shunned by everyone else, including their own race.

Recently, this included a Malay alleged drug addict who died in police custody, and HINDRAF bought a coffin for him when his family could not afford it, as well as the more recent case of Norizan who was shot five times by the police.

Hindraf has given up on the urban English-educated Indians who yearn to be 'whiteys', with the typical know how attitude but continue to ignore and disassociate themselves from their poorer and marginalised Malaysian
Indians cousins. There are over 10,000 professional Indians but only a few care for the plight of the poor Indians. These English speaking 'professional Indians' prefer to be multi-racial in outlook and socialise with Chinese and Malays, groveling for inclusion and acceptance, not realising that in this racist-centric nation, their own Malay and Chinese 'multi-racial' friends have only contempt and disregard for all Indians! Just look at the comments in the cyber world; never an intelligent or a factual argument on the struggle but one that depicts and castigate them with sneers and sarcasm.

Hindraf struggles for policy change in a macro aspect not on an individual micro sense, but which would eventually benefit all communities not just Indians. A policy change benefits all across the board, regardless of race or religion.

Hindraf initiated or shall I say opened the eyes of many, of the desperation of the Malaysian Indians, by action. Not some cyberworld and passive position that many take today. It wholeheartedly supported Pakatan during the GE12 and all it got back for the society it represented was broken promises. Not once since coming to power has PR conferred with Hindraf on policies. Except for the meetings between Waythamoorthy and Zaid outside Malaysia, until today there is no contact with Hindraf, all their letters and petitions have been spurned!

Hindraf does not trust UMNO or PR. Hindraf warns all Malaysians not to trust politicians on either side. These politicians have no intention to resolve the rakyats’ woes, but to ensure that they are in pole position for themselves but never for the poor or the poverty stricken. They just want your support, your votes.

Everyone wants Hindraf to join PR and fight for 'The Cause', but no one wants to hear Hindraf's demands. They simply want Hindraf's interests to be subsumed to Pakatan's greater interests for the political front. HINDRAF can’t do that and will not bow to any force as it is only submissive for a humane cause. The reality today in the current state at least within the major three races, Malay, Chinese and Indian is so transparent, and if the Malays who are politically favoured and those Chinese who are economically well placed, or the elite Indians, cannot understand or fail to recognize the depleted state of the Malaysian Indians, then it is them that are a lesser

Hindraf feels Anwar has done all that he can and there is not much more he can achieve. Perhaps just a few more seats. That's about all. We need something more to change the government. Hindraf is also embarking on raising Dayak consciousness and Dayak nationalism, and forming a formidable front in East Malaysia.

Hindraf's demands have to be placed upfront as this is the society that has deteriorated so far in every aspect as the rest Malaysians stood by and watched it happen. We have already seen that PR has no intention to resolve Hindraf's demands even when they have the power to do so. PR has no idea on what to do in East Malaysia too, we are told; no stated policies, another ping pong game for their political needs.

What more if PR goes to Putrajaya. When they can't do a simple thing in the states in West Malaysia that they already govern, how are they to address the poor and poverty concerns of the Malaysian Indians?
Hindraf is convinced that the Chinese and to a lesser extent the Malays, will not sway unless the Indians walk first and create the stampede! The Chinese will not be seen caught voting against the establishment as they have too much at stake as much as the Malay politically, but they will do it if the Indians starts this as the poor and
marginalized poor Indians have nothing to lose in their desperation and despair to seek a better future for themselves in a so-called multi-racial motherland Malaysia in namesake.

PM claims BN spent for people, not votes

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani - The Malaysian Insider,

PUTRAJAYA, April 26 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak acknowledged today his administration approved millions of ringgit in projects for Hulu Selangor, but denied that it was meant to buy the votes which secured Barisan Nasional (BN) a victory in yesterday's by-elections.
He said the projects were meant to solve the problems of voters in the constituency and not to buy their votes.
The prime minister was responding to a question at a press conference today where he was asked if BN's expenditure of "RM167 million," was considered vote buying.
The RM167 million figure was based on a report in Chinese-language daily Oriental Daily. The Malaysian Insider has separately estimated that BN had pledged and arranged for more than RM70 million in donations, projects and other aid for voters during the campaign.
Today, the BN chairman dismissed accusations by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) that BN had engaged in pork barrelled spending to "buy" the Hulu Selangor by-election.
Najib said today that BN did not buy votes but instead addressed the problems facing the residents of the constituents.
“We do not buy votes but solve the people’s problem. These are genuine problems which have not been addressed for some time.
“It is not like we went around and said that we will give this, no. It was on a basis that the people wanted these projects. These are genuine needs of the people, we are not buying votes,” he told reporters after attending the Malaysia Green Forum 2010 here.
The PM acknowledged BN had spent money but did not mention the amount used during the by-election campaign.
PR has claimed that their defeat was due to BN's deep coffers and that Najib was willing to dole out at least RM64million to entice voters during the by-election campaign.
Najib, however, accused PR of being hypocritical in its allegations.
“They should also ask themselves what they have done with the state government’s resources. Haven’t they been approving all kinds of things for the people during elections? They have been doing that so don’t point their fingers at Barisan Nasional. Please look at themselves,” he said.
MIC’s P. Kamalanathan won the hard-fought Hulu Selangor by-election in what will be seen as a boost for Najib’s administration, but failed to convincingly bury a strong PR.
The BN candidate received 24,997 votes to defeat PKR’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who got 23,272 votes. There were 731 spoilt votes, of the total of 48,935 votes cast. Voter turnout was 75.87 per cent. Both coalitions improved on their performance but BN took in 2,000 more votes this time, against Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) 200 extra votes.
Although the by-election was billed as a referendum on the government, Najib believes the “ultimate test” will be in the next national polls.
“The ultimate test will be the general elections. So far from what I have heard, I am very encouraged that there is an underlying support amongst the public. We hope to show more results and the people want to see the results.
We are committed to ensure that our execution and implementations will be showing the way in terms of delivering the results and what the people would like us to do,” he said.
Najib was delighted that BN was able to capture a seat in a state that they were considered as “handicapped.”
“I am happy with the results because it shows the trend is definitely moving towards Barisan Nasional. It is a good victory because we were fighting a battle in a state controlled by the opposition.
We were handicapped that sense. However the victory is a good victory because we can build on this victory and it has given our Barisan Nasional a lot of new spirit and hope for the future,” he said.
He added that BN’s victory must be a “sustainable victory.”
“It has to be a sustainable victory and we have will sustain our victory by understanding what needs to be done for the long haul so it cannot just be a one off victory but build on it and strengthened what needs to be done so that Barisan Nasional becomes the party for the future as well,” he said.
However Najib refused to comment on the governing coalition’s failure to recapture support from the Chinese community.
BN was only able to garner 28 per cent of the Chinese vote in Hulu Selangor yesterday, down from 37 per cent in Election 2008.

Beng Hock was conscious when he fell, says British expert

By Debra Chong - The Malaysian Insider

SHAH ALAM, April 26 — British forensic expert Dr Peter Vanezis told the coroner’s court here today that Teoh Beng Hock was fully conscious when he fell to his death from the MACC offices here last year, and that there was no evidence to suggest he was strangled.
Dr Vanezis said that while there was no obvious sign of restraint on the body, he pointed out that a person could be restrained without leaving marks.
The British forensic specialist, who gained fame as one of the investigators into Princess Diana's death, added that he was not able to say if Teoh was subjected to intimidation before he fell to his death.
He told the court that injuries to Teoh’s hands showed he tried to break the fall. Dr Vanezis added that Teoh’s injuries were consistent with a fall from the 14th floor of a building onto a 5th floor landing.
He told the inquiry into Teoh’s death that extensive injuries were found on Teoh’s neck but there was no fracture to neck bones.
Dr Vanezis was one of two foreign experts present at Teoh’s second autopsy late last year.
The coroner’s court is investigating the cause of DAP political aide Teoh’s death after his body was found last year in suspicious circumstances on the fifth floor landing of the building housing the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) offices here.
Before his body was found Teoh was being questioned by MACC officers investigating graft allegations against his boss in the state government.

Ex-Sabah Minister calls for review of 20-point agreement

By Queville To - Free Malaysia Today

KUNDASANG: Former Sabah Finance Minister Mohd Noor Mansoor has called for a review of the 20-points Agreement that led to the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

He said this was necessary as the Federal government has reneged on what was stipulated in the agreement, among others the Borneonisation of the state’s civil service, the Immigration control and political autonomy.

“Borneonisation means that Sabahans should be given priority in federal government departments and agencies, he said at a political talk organised here by the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) yesterday.

"Unfortunately a majority of the senior positions in these departments and agencies are being occupied by non-Sabahans.

“The Immigration Department too is under the control of the Federal government as the present director is a non-Sabahan," he said.

Sabah is no longer self-governing unlike in the past’, he said during the talk entitled “Current Issues, the 13th General Election and the Future of Sabah” held at a hotel here.

"Sabah has completely lost its autonomy. Important posts including that of the Chief Minister and the cabinet ministers have to be endorsed by Kuala Lumpur," he told his audience.

Citing the loss of Immigration control, he claimed that in some cases Sabahans were even required to travel all the way to the Putrajaya in Kuala Lumpur to get their identity card approved.

He further claimed that a student who scored 8As in the UPSR exam had to be referred to Kuala Lumpur for consideration before she could gain a place in Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM).

He said the loss of the state's rights began during the time of the late Tun Fuad Stephens when he requested for a review of the said 20-Point Agreement.

The former Berjaya Party strongman said that because of this (demand), Stephens was packed off to Australia as the Malaysian High Commissioner to Australia.

“The Chief Minister post (held by Stephens) was then given to Peter Lo and Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun was elected as the Minister of Special Affairs for Sabah,” recalled Mohd Noor who was the Finance Minister for Sabah from 1976 to 1985.

He said his call to review the 20-points Agreement should not be interpreted to mean that Sabah would pull out of the Federation, but was rather a call to correct the imbalances that exist between Sabah and Kuala Lumpur which he believed had transformed Sabah from a rich state to the poorest in the country.

A review of the 20-Point Agreement would help Sabah regain its past glory, he said.

Malays, Indians trickle back, Chinese stay away from BN

While any win above 3,000 votes for Pakatan Rakyat would have meant gains in non-Malay votes while preserving their slim Malay popularity. Instead, the 1,725 majority picked up by MIC’s compromise candidate P Kamalanathan neither proves that BN is back in favour nor PKR’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was soundly rejected.
By Chan Kok Leong, The Edge
By-elections are very different from a general election.

Although it is sometimes indicative of the sentiments, by-elections bear their own histories, with wants and needs that differ from place to place. It is not an accurate premonition of the general election to come.

In fact, it can be totally opposite of the local sentiments.

The Ijok by-election in April 2007 was a good example of how local needs took precedence and portrayed a warped view of what was in store in the next general election.

After picking a relative unknown from MIC K Parthiban by giving him a 1,850-vote majority, the same voters returned the favour to PKR candidate, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, who lost 11 months earlier, with a 1,920-vote majority in the 12th general election (GE).

Practicality ruled the day in Ijok as voters decided to accept any goodies that Barisan Nasional (BN) could dish out or promised to give for the remaining electoral months before shutting off Parthiban’s replacement from Umno Datuk Mohamed Sayuti Said in favour of Khalid.

With a little more than two years to go before the 13th GE, it looks like Hulu Selangor also chose to settle local governance issues and collect on old debts before deciding again on April 25.

Barring huge majorities for either coalition, it is hard to say that the popularity of either BN or Pakatan Rakyat has improved by much ever since the last general election.

For BN, a huge majority means a return to the 10,000-vote margins it used to enjoy prior to the 2008 GE. In 2004, MIC deputy president Datuk G Palanivel beat PAS’ Datuk Ismail Kamus by 14,483 votes.

While any win above 3,000 votes for Pakatan Rakyat would have meant gains in non-Malay votes while preserving their slim Malay popularity. Instead, the 1,725 majority picked up by MIC’s compromise candidate P Kamalanathan neither proves that BN is back in favour nor PKR’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was soundly rejected.

In the last GE, the combined majority enjoyed by BN in the three state seats — Hulu Bernam, Kuala Kubu Baru and Batang Kali — was 6,176 votes while parliamentary seat incumbent Datuk G Palanivel lost by 198 votes to PKR’s Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad.

Nevertheless, a string of by-election trends put together paint a very different picture.

Notwithstanding Permatang Pauh, Batang Ai and Bagan Pinang, where the presence of a local hero or postal votes overwhelmed the results, the other six by-elections showed a trend among non-Malay voters.

Other than in Kuala Terengganu, where the local MCA was helmed by the state’s sole Chinese assemblyman and executive councillor Toh Chin Yaw, the other five by-elections saw a continuing flight of non-Malay voters to the opposition. The biggest jump was among the Chinese, which saw at least 15% improvements for Pakatan Rakyat.

On the other hand, since the by-election in Bukit Gantang and Manek Urai, Malay voters have slowly begun to shift back to BN by around 3%-5%.

Using samplings from four Malay, Chinese and Indian-majority polling stations, Hulu Selangor backed the trend of Chinese voters pulling further away from BN while Malay voters are returning to the fold. Indian voters, however, showed a shift back to BN albeit slowly.

Malays back with BN
Malay voters from high-majority seats such as Gedangsa, Kg Gesir, Kg Sg Dusun and Kg Desa Maju showed much stronger performances compared to 2008’s results.

In all four polling stations, Kamalanathan improved on Palanivel’s showing. The highest percentage of improvement was in Kg Gesir which has 842 Malay voters. While Palanivel only had 246 votes, his successor picked up 607 tickets, a 146% improvement.

The other three polling stations showed smaller improvements — Gedangsa (865 to 957 votes), Kg Sg Dusun (987 to 1,115) and Kg Desa Maju (943 to 1,043).

The improvement could be due to the absence of swing voting which took place in 2008 and contributed to Palanivel’s defeat.

But without polling station data from 2008 GE, this cannot be confirmed.

What the four stations do show, is that BN continues to improve among Malay voters whether it is due to the new Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak or pressure group Perkasa’s emergence.

Promises made by the prime minister to partially settle some of their outstanding debts due to a botched development problem is another strong reason for voters here to pick BN.

Another reason for the Malay return to BN could be due to the fact that PKR and PAS are not held to be strong in Hulu Selangor. And the sluggishness of the PAS election machinery did not help PR.

Continuing flight of the Chinese
The trend among the Chinese continues from Bukit Gantang and PR has continued its improvement here.

In Kg Baru Kalumpang, Kg Baru Cina KKB, Kg Baru Rasa and Ulu Yam Lama, Zaid earned more votes with the highest improvement coming from 95%-Chinese Kg Baru Rasa.

Here, Zaid almost doubled his predecessor’s gains from 560 to 1,154 votes. Other polling stations showed improvements albeit smaller gains.

Despite the prime minister making his rounds around Ulu Yam, Assam Kumbang and the Rasa areas, his walkabouts did not help much.

The Chinese here, which are involved in the agriculture and small-medium-enterprises do not seem taken by his 1Malaysia or the New Economic Model (NEM). While the jury is still out about the NEM, the Chinese here are probably disinterested in the liberalisation of sectors which do not concern them.

Instead national issues concerning integrity and corruption coupled by the years of neglect under the previous BN governments are still issues they feel strong enough to continue to “punish” BN.

Indian coming home slowly
The biggest cheer of Hulu Selangor for BN comes from the Indians as despite the compromise candidacy of Kamalanathan, he has managed to improved on Palanivel’s performance.

One of the biggest factors for BN’s poor performance in the 12th GE was the sudden and drastic drop of Indian votes — culminating in many MIC leaders losing their seats.

But a little after two years, the Indians are either less angry with their old party or they have become disenchanted with PR’s overtures.

By-election Defeat for Malaysia’s Opposition

Image(Asia Sentinel) Najib's policies appear to be ratified by Malay voters 

Malaysia's opposition Pakatan Rakyat has been defeated in a northeastern Selangor by-election that had been billed as a referendum on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's economic and social policies.

Zaid Ibrahim, a one-time justice minister turned possible successor to the embattled Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, lost the seat to P Kalamanathan, a Malaysian Indian Congress functionary by a relatively healthy 1,725 votes.

The Hulu Selangor race appears to have been the hardest fought and perhaps most significant of the 10 by-elections since the opposition Pakatan Rakyat broke the national coalition's two-thirds hold on the Dewan Rakyat, or parliament in March 2008 national elections and it has raised speculation that Najib believes his strengthening coalition will be able to call national elections in 2011. Most of the previous by-elections took place in safe constituencies where the incumbent had either died or resigned. In Hulu Selangor, Zainal Abidin Ahmad, a Parti Keadilan Rakyat member of parliament, had died on March 25. 

While Kalamanathan's 1,725 margin reversed the previous defeat, however, UMNO officials predicted a 6,000 vote margin, perhaps out of bravado. In previous elections, the Barisan pulled victory margins of as much as 10,000 in the constituency. But a win is a win and probably an indication of a rising trend.

Kalamanathan, who was personally selected by Najib against the wishes of MIC head S. Samy Vellu, won 24,997 votes against Zaid's 23,272. The result reduces the opposition's membership in the Dewan Rakyat to 76 against the Barisan Nasional's 138. It was the second straight by-election win for the Barisan.

Voting was heavy early in the Hulu Selangor constituency, a variegated district to the northeast of Kuala Lumpur, with an eventual turnout of 75.8 percent, election officials said.  The contest for the seat, in which both sides have spent state funds heavily and often, and each accused the other of such offences as drinking beer and faking college credentials, was also viewed by analysts as a test of whether Najib has been able to rebuild the scandal-wracked Barisan and whether the Pakatan Rakyat's ability to rule the populous state it won in 2008 had found resonance with the voters.  Najib appeared three times in the constituency to urge voters to return to the Barisan.

The central lesson of the race appears to have been the division of the electorate along ethnic lines, with the Chinese, who make up 26 percent of the electorate, going solidly for the opposition and Malays and Indians swinging back to the Barisan Nasional, the national ruling coalition.  Zaid appeared to be leading initially as votes in the urban areas -- Chinese strongholds -- were counted first. However, as the ballots started to trickle in from rural Malay voters, the count swung back to Kalamanathan.

Najib, who came into the premiership a year ago dogged by scandal and with only a 44 percent approval rating, has now improved his numbers to 68 percent across the country. He has worked assiduously to heal the fractured racial divisions in Malaysia, especially with the Indian population, who make up about 8 percent of the electorate.  His 1Malaysia campaign, as it is known, is aided by a US$23 million contract with US public relations giant APCO.  The Chinese remain largely disaffected, turned off by factional political infighting and scandal in the Malaysian Chinese Association.

Najib has been aided by a recovering economy, with rising exports expected to push gross domestic product back to 4.5-5 percent in 2010. Some analysts express concern that employment is rising only marginally.  However,  his so-called New Economic Model, designed to replace the 40-year-old New Economic Policy of affirmative action for ethnic Malays, has stirred concern in the Malay community that they will be forced to give up subsidies and other privileges to the wealthier Chinese.

With Anwar caught in the coils of a long-drawn-out sexual abuse trial that has been nicknamed Sodomy II, Zaid, a highly respected lawyer who was appointed by former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as a minister in the prime minister's office to attempt to clean out Malaysia's scandal-wracked judiciary, was perhaps the opposition's best hope to lead if Anwar is convicted. As an UMNO cabinet official, Zaid stirred the outrage of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad by saying the government should apologize for his firing of the Lord President of the Supreme Court, Tun Salleh Abbas, in 1988.  After criticizing the arrests of three individuals - Democratic Action Party MP Teresa Kok, editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin and journalist Tan Hoon Cheng under the Internal Security Act in September of 2008, Zaid was forced to resign and he left the party soon after.

Lim Kit Siang, the head of the DAP, sought to put the best face on the defeat, telling his supporters that the loss was narrower than expected and that Zaid will live to fight again another day.  Nonetheless, the defeat still leaves the Pakatan Rakyat struggling to find a leader with the charisma to replace Anwar if he goes to jail in the long-drawn-out sexual abuse trial. Anwar spent six years in prison on similar charges after a 1998 trial that was universally condemned as concocted to drive him out of politics. 

Would MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers resign if Najib does not honour his Hulu Selangor by-election promise to issue RM3 million cheque today for building of new Rasa Chinese primary school?

By Lim Kit Siang,

The 1,725-vote majority victory of the Barisan Nasional in the Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election yesterday is a pyrrhic victory for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak – so devastatingly costly both in political and monetary terms that they lay the seeds for the forthcoming defeat of the Barisan Nasional.

The Barisan Nasional has a bill of over RM100 million for its Hulu Selangor by-election campaign – RM60 million for various infrastructure projects and easily more than RM40 million for the Barisan Nasional election campaigners and the many rent-a-crowd outings for the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers.

After such outpourings of money politics, the 1,725-vote majority is actually more a defeat than a victory for Najib and the Barisan Nasional.

The UMNO target was to win Hulu Selangor with at least 6,000-vote majority and the Umno leadership was so confident of this huge victory that the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin went public on this Umno objective mid-day during Hulu Selangor polling yesterday.

The Umno leadership thought that it should not have any big problem, with the RM100 million war chest and the big guns led by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and former Prime Minister, spearheading the charge in the campaign in Hulu Selangor.

Umno leaders regarded the PKR win of the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat in the 2008 general election as a fluke-shot, which was why Najib talked about the Hulu Selangor seat being on “loan” to PKR.

In 2008, the three Barisan Nasional candidates in the three constituent State Assembly seats of Hulu Bernam, Batang Kali and Kuala Kubu Baru had polled a total majority of 6,176 votes, but at the Hulu Selangor parliamentary level, the BN candidate G. Palanivel lost the seat to the PKR candidate Datuk Zainal Abidin in a wafer-thin majority of 198 votes.

Palanivel secured 22,979 votes for the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat, which is 3,285 votes less than the total of 26,264 votes cast for the three BN state assembly seats in 2008.

Najib and Muhyiddin calculated that they should be able to restore this 6,176-vote majority BN won at the level of the three state assembly seats in 2008, but the Hulu Selangor by-election results proved them wrong.

In the event, BN’s P. Kamalanathan secured 24,997 votes which is 1,267 votes less than the total of 26,264 votes collectively polled by the three winning BN State Assembly candidates in 2008.

On the other hand, Pakatan Rakyat’s Zaid Ibrahim polled 23,272 votes yesterday which is more than the vote polled by PKR parliamentary candidate in 2008, i.e. 23,177.

Despite all the odds, PR is making headway while BN is clearly losing ground. The future belongs to Pakatan Rakyat.

Najib said the Hulu Selangor by-election is a test for the MCA leadership, which clearly had failed the test as MCA is the biggest loser in the Barisan Nasional in the Hulu Selangor by-election.

In the 2008 “political tsunami”, MCA secured some 37% of the Chinese votes cast in Hulu Selangor but this has fallen to 25 – 28% in the by-election yesterday.

The immediate question facing the MCA is whether the MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers would resign if Najib does not honour his Hulu Selangor by-election promise to issue a RM3 million cheque today for the building of new Rasa Chinese primary school?

On the eve of the Hulu Selangor by-election, Najib made the campaign promise in Rasa on a RM3 million approval for rebuilding Rasa Chinese Primary School declaring:

“If we win this by-election, you can come to Kuala Lumpur the next day to look for me. I will write a personal letter to approve the money and it will be transferred to the school board’s account. If we lose, don’t have to come.”

I commend the voters of Rasa for turning in a 82.4% support for Zaid Ibrahim.

Malaysians are waiting to see whether Najib would honour his pledge to sign the RM3 million approval allocation to Rasa Chinese primary school today and if not, what would be the response of the MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers as well as the MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek.

Genuine Obsessions With Fake Qualifications

By M. Bakri Musa

The kerfuffle over the college credentials of Kamalanathan a/l P. Pancanathan, the Barisan candidate in the recent Ulu Selangor by-election, reveals less of the man but more on our fascination with paper qualifications. This obsession with credentialism is an intellectually lazy way to judge someone; you let those papers and certificates do it for you.

Who cares if you have a doctorate from Oxford, for if you cannot speak and read our national language then you have no business to be in Parliament or the state Assembly, where bills are debated and businesses conducted in Malay. You cannot possibly be effective if you are not fluent in that language.

At the same time with Malaysia inextricably linked with the greater world and English being the global language, our legislators and others who presume to lead us should be equally facile in that language. Anything less and they would not be serving us – their clients – honestly and honorably.

I do not expect average citizens, least of all potential political candidates, to appreciate or acknowledge this reality. However, I do expect party leaders, both in Barisan and Pakatan, to be fully cognizant of this and to factor it heavily in their selection of candidates.

At one level it is amusing that we should still be obsessed with college degrees. With higher education now available to an increasingly larger segment of society, declaring that you are a college graduate would today elicit at best feigned interest, expressed in between yawns. The exception would be if you were to graduate from Oxbridge or an Ivy League. That would definitely draw some attention, at least initially, even in the most sophisticated circles.

If after a few minutes of conversation it turns out that your association with those august colleges was merely attending one of their culup (“quickie”) courses, then whatever impression you may have created initially would rapidly vanish. Actually you need not reveal whether you are a genuine product or not, the content of your conversation would be a sufficient differentiator. Less than a minute into Barack Obama’s and Sarah Palin’s speeches and you could readily tell who is the product of an Ivy League and who is from the local community college.

Both Obama and Palin attract huge crowds with their captivating oratory. In deciding who to vote for however, we should go beyond their academic pedigrees and flourishes of their speeches to seeing the clarity of their vision, weighing the substance of their ideas, and judging the effectiveness of their leadership.

At another level, despite our unabashed nationalism and pride in everything local as expressed in such jingoism as “Malaysia boleh!” there is still this obsession with everything foreign, especially university parchment papers. Again here, that says more on the state of our local universities than the regards we have of foreign ones.

I was not surprised that Kamalanathan could earn his Australian degree without ever setting foot on that continent, let alone on the campus. In these days of on-line courses and “distance learning,” there is nothing unusual about that. If anything those are significant improvements over the old correspondent courses.

The more significant – and disturbing – revelation is this. Although he attended the local Olympia College (its academic director confirmed that) to get his Australian degree via “twinning,” the college no longer has his academic records. I graduated over four decades ago, despite that I could still retrieve (if I am so inclined) from my alma mater my transcript, including my freshman English grades. Kamalanathan had his degree barely six years ago, and already his college has purged his academic records.

As mentioned, this controversy reveals more about local institutions than it does of foreign colleges.

Vetting Candidates

Higher education has not been spared the invasion and innovation of modern technology. At the criminal plane, with digital technology I could easily reproduce those impressive diplomas, complete with original signatures, intricate seals, and those fancy Latin phrases and dates. That makes it even more difficult to ascertain the veracity let alone quality behind those certificates.

At the legitimate level, modern technology has radically altered the manner of teaching and delivery of instructional materials. Today I can in the comfort of my living room listen to the same lectures given to those undergraduates at MIT. My continuing professional education is increasingly being delivered through “webinars,” CDs, and other multimedia modules.

With the greater appreciation and subsequent growth of “non-traditional learning,” the task of evaluating the quality of college credentials becomes even more complicated. The boundaries between blatant degree mills, virtual colleges, on-line courses, “external” degrees, and the traditional “board and mortar” campuses are becoming more difficult to ascertain.

In my profession where such decisions could have literally life and death consequences, we have gone beyond merely ascertaining the validity of those pieces of papers to contacting directly the issuing institutions and getting attestations on what those certificates actually signify. Failure to truthfully disclose could expose those institutions to both civil and criminal liabilities.

The problem with Kamalanathan could have been resolved had a non-governmental organization concerned with the conduct of honest election for example, queried that Australian university on whether he was a legitimate student. Indeed the problem would not have arisen at all had Barisan leaders verified the matter before selecting him. Had those leaders institutionalized the practice, they would have been spared the embarrassment of picking a disbarred lawyer as their election candidate, as had happened recently.

This vetting of candidates is tough and tricky. Even when everything seems clear and legitimate, we could still have difficulty detecting fraudulent applicants.

I was on the selection committee to fill a senior position at our hospital. On perusing the resumes of the short-listed applicants, one stood out – impressive undergraduate degree from a leading university and a prestigious MBA. She also stood out in the interview; articulate and well informed. When my turn came, I congratulated her on her MBA and then innocently inquired whether she had taken any classes from a certain star professor at her school, and if so, could she share her experience. I must have hit something for she became flustered and began fanning her suddenly reddened face with her hand.

“I… I,” she stuttered, “did not get my MBA from that Columbia!”

Her interview went rapidly downhill from there. At the end of the session, the committee went over her application carefully to see where we had slipped. Indeed her resume clearly stated, “1997 – MBA (Columbia),” and she had duly submitted a copy of her diploma in which it was equally clear that her Columbia was not the one in New York City. The mistake was obviously ours, in making the leap in assumption after perusing only her resume.

The sad part was that her undergraduate degree and her experiences were impressive enough and would have been sufficient for her to be the top choice. By needlessly embellishing her qualifications, she doomed her prospects. As can be further noted, this urge to inflate one’s resume is not confined only to the academically unsophisticated.

Then there is the other end of the spectrum. A while back an accomplished young Malaysian returned from an interview in Malaysia for a position with one of the GLCs without bothering to wait for the results. He decided after the encounter that he did not wish to risk his future to a company whose CEO and Board Chair could not tell the difference between the Stanford of Palo Alto and the local Stamford College.

I am less concerned with a two-bit politician trying to hoodwink simple villagers with his inflated resume. I am more perturbed that our top leaders too could easily be taken in. Within UMNO alone, there are quite a few senior leaders including chief ministers sporting the title “Dr.” They are not physicians, dentists or veterinarians, because for those professionals there are statutes governing the use of that title so as not to confuse the public. Not so for those with other doctorates, legitimate or otherwise.

There are many foreign degree mills, with three or four focusing almost exclusively to aspiring Malaysian politicians and corporate figures. The recipients are not even embarrassed; on the contrary they go out of their way to showcase their ‘achievements’ through paid self-congratulatory messages to celebrate their ‘graduation.’

One UMNO leader publicly bragged about having a doctorate from Preston University. When he pronounced it, he made sure that it sounded like Princeton, the Ivy League university in New Jersey, the academic home for Einstein and other luminaries. Meanwhile Preston, whose mailing address was somewhere in the prairies, offered degrees based on your “life experiences.” That ‘university’ had since left the Midwest after the state had a crackdown on diploma mills.

I would not have cared if this slimy character had managed to convince only the Mat Rempits and UMNO Putras of his pseudo academic prowess, but judging from the high praises he has been receiving from other top UMNO leaders, he has them duped too. That is the disturbing part.

Again as with the Kamalanathan controversy, this one tells us less of the “Preston PhD” character and more on our top UMNO leaders, and their genuine obsessions with fake qualifications.

Iran reportedly tests five new missiles

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard practice attacking a naval vessel
 during military exercises in the Persian Gulf. 
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard practice attacking a naval vessel during military exercises in the Persian Gulf
Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Iran said Sunday it fired five new types of locally-made coast-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles in the last stage of its "Great Prophet 5" military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf.

The missiles were fired simultaneously and struck a single target at the same time -- a feat the Revolutionary Guard Corps described to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting as "very important."

The military exercises on Sunday also included high-speed boats waging a "war" against a warship.

The maneuvers fell on the 31st anniversary of the elite force and were designed to demonstrate new weapons systems.

Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy chief of the Revolutionary Guard told Iranian media that the exercises were aimed at demonstrating Iran's "strength, will and national resolve to defend independence and territorial integrity."
Iran flexes military muscle with missile test

The U.S. military official noted there have been several Iranian exercises in the past, but this one received attention because the Revolutionary Guard Corps discussed it publicly in advance.

The U.S. Navy currently is operating several warships in the region, and commanders are often reminded not to let any encounters with Iranians inadvertently escalate.

Iran's missile development is being watched closely by the United States, which is pressing for tougher sanctions against the Islamic republic for its controversial nuclear program.

A swing in support of BN, says Najib

Free WiFi if PR takes Putrajaya promises Lim

Felda scenes Felda scenes

Hulu Selangor : Final Countdown and D- day lessons. What choice do we have ? Indian political empowerment strategy the way forward SOS.

As voters go to the polls in Hulu Selangor today the question the Indians yet again ask in the 53rd year of independence is “what choice do we have?”
Who do you vote for? You have the option of voting for the devil or the deep blue sea.
While in UMNO / B.N the Indians get a raw deal it is no deal in PKR, DAP and PAS / P.R. Even the odd Hulu Selangor seat that UMNO throws to the Indians is grabbed and snatched away by the PKR Malay again in the fourth by elections after Teluk Kemang, Ijok, and Lunas. All what both UMNO and also PKR, DAP and PAS wants from the Indians is their votes, not their problems or well being.
There is no other way. The Indian political empowerment strategy, the way forward is the one and only way forward.
The Indians faithfully voted for UMNO for 50 long years until the 25th November 2007 Hindraf Rally. UMNO is a forgone conclusion.
But neither PKR, Dap and PAS are not going to save the Indians and neither are they going to change. We have to save ourselves (SOS) and for our future generations to come. We will leave our mark behind for a better tomorrow and better future generation.
hrp flag New Colour Code

Hulu Selangor: 43 years wait for 19 Indian families land applications denied by UMNO and PKR.

Only a mere 0.4 hectres ( about just over one acre ) each was applied to be made into a farm house and a farm by these poor and uneducated Indians in Kerling, Hulu Selangor.
najib n muhyiddin Felda, Felcra, Risda, Fama, Mardi, Agropoliton is 99 % given to malay muslim in the 442,000 ten acre land ownership programmes (BH 25/2/2010 at page 4). But this had been excluded to 99 % of the poor, landless and working class Indians.
But even a Temporary Occupation License (TOL) was denied by even the now Hindraf people power supported and voted PKR led Selangor state government.
A piece of 0.8 hectre land that was divided for 19 individuals suddenly is now given away to one single individual by the PKR led Selangor state government
All what they want is a part of the land that their ancestors had worked on
( SH 14/4/2010 at page S 25 ).

Hulu Selangor 1 Hulu Selangor 2

US firms and investors no to Malaysia if NEM excludes Indians ?

umno-najib0 With HRP’s letter to U.S President Barack Obama dated 7/4/10 and published herein in this website on that very same day, we believe that the US firms and investments in Malaysia will be affected if UMNO continues to exclude the ethnic minority Malaysian Indians from the national mainstream development of Malaysia vis a vis the NEM.
Najib: NEM the way forward ( THE Star 16/4/2010 at page N4 ).
The US government will have it’s very own behind closed door ways of helping the Indians and we will keep working at lobbying the U.S government’s help to end UMNOs’ racism, religious extremism and supremacy in Malaysia.
Malaysia is for all Malaysians. And we the fourth, fifth and sixth generation Indians will continue asserting our rights as is enshrined in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution. ( Equality before the law ) and so as not to be excluded from the national mainstream development of Malaysia.
US firms and investors 
no to Malaysia

“ Multi Racial” PKR ? Focus on Malay votes. Racial UMNO files Indian candidate!

Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s main focus in Hulu Selangor is reaching out to the 35,200 Malay voters. ( NST 18/4/2010 at page 14 ). P.K.R. a multi racial party?
As per our commentary yesterday,( 17/4/2010 ) all eleven traditional Malay seats in all by elections since 2000 were given to Malay PKR and PAS candidates. Similarly all three traditional Chinese seats were given to DAP and PKR Chinese candidates. But when it comes to traditional Indian seats PKR grabs and snatches the same away from the Indians. But when we question these injustices PKR Supremo Anwar Ibrahim calls it the Hindraf racist agenda.
And all this in the name of PKR’s “ multi racialism ” !
Karunai Nithi @ Compassionate Justice.

Multi Racial

Giant killer reclaims 'safe seat' for BN

By FMT Team
FULL REPORT KUALA KUBU BARU: Barisan Nasional has managed to reclaim the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat after its candidate P Kamalanathan defeated PKR's Zaid Ibrahim.
The Election Commission announced that Kamalanathan had won the seat with a 1,725 vote-majority.
Kamalanathan garnered 24,997 votes while Zaid polled 23,272.
The victory will provide a boost for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who described the election as a referendum on his leadership and policies.

Najib, who is also the Selangor Umno chief, is bent on recapturing the state in the next general election. Selangor fell into the hands of Pakatan Rakyat in the 2008 polls.

However, the Hulu Selangor seat fell short of BN's targeted 6,000 vote-majority, indicating that the ruling coalition and its chairperson cannot rest on their laurels just as yet.

Prior to losing the “safe seat” in 2008, BN's then four-term MP and MIC deputy president G Palanivel had emerged victorious with thumping victories, surpassing the 10,000 mark.

In his last outing, Palanivel was defeated by PKR's Zainal Ahmad Abidin by a mere 198 votes, which also witnessed the number of protest votes greatly outnumbering the majority.
A by-election was called for the Hulu Selangor seat following Zainal's death on March 25.

Battle for Malay votes
Since the onset, observers had pointed out that BN's "morality" campaign against Zaid, branding him an alcoholic and gambler, would have an impact on Malay voters, who form the majority.

Kamalanathan was also portrayed as a down-to-earth candidate, with the media highlighting his proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia, whereas Zaid, a former law minister, was described as too high profile for the semi-urban constituency, littered with villages and estates.

More than an MIC man, the BN campaign promoted Kamalanathan as a 1Malaysia candidate and the underdog in what some observers had described as a battle between David and Goliath.

While Zaid managed to pull in a significant number of Chinese votes, it was not enough to offset the losses in the Malay-majority areas. Indian votes also appeared to be in favour of BN this time around.

On the other hand, Kamalanathan's victory would see MIC having an additional MP after the party was nearly annihilated in the 2008 general election.

Currently, MIC is represented by Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam (Segamat) and two deputy ministers SK Devamany (Cameron Highlands) and M Saravanan (Tapah).

In the run-up to the Hulu Selangor by-election, the BN leadership and MIC were embroiled in a tussle over who to field.

While MIC wanted Palanivel to run again, the BN leadership, however, insisted that a fresh face stood a better chance.

Following this, a consensus was reached on fielding Kamalanathan at the eleventh hour.

Meanwhile, Pakatan Rakyat supporters were in high spirits in the early stages of the vote count when Zaid was ahead by nearly 2,000 votes.

PAS operations director Jamaliddin Elias had predicted that the PKR candidate would win by more than 500 votes based on the turnout.

Whereas think-tank Zantrum Future Studies expected PKR to garner more than 52.3% support while BN will get 47.7%.

Zaid accepts verdict, blames 'vote buying'

By Stephanie Sta Maria and Rahmah Ghazali - Free Malaysia Today

FULL REPORT KUALA KUBU BARU: Addressing some 500 supporters at the mini stadium here, PKR candidate Zaid Ibrahim said he was defeated because “vote-buying was halal” in this country.
“This is a problem we need to overcome. (Prime Minister) Najib (Tun Razak) spent RM64 million to win this election and the EC (Election Commission) turned a blind eye,” he said.

The 56-year-old former law minister stressed that Malaysia has a political system which does not respect clean elections.

“In 2008, we made headway because Pak Lah (former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) allowed the opposition to win seats.

“But then they (Umno) kicked him out and now we are back at square one,” he said.

Stressing that he was not making excuses for his defeat, Zaid underscored the importance of pressing for clean and fair elections.

“I can accept my loss, but we were not given the satisfaction of knowing that it was a fair fight, and the rakyat has no confidence (in the system),” he said.

'Najib, think of your legacy'
The PKR supreme council member said the Hulu Selangor contest was the most “dirtiest and corrupt” by-election so far.

“I call on Najib to think about the legacy he is leaving behind,” he said, adding that BN cannot employ the same underhand tactics for long.
Speaking to reporters earlier, Zaid said the high number of votes for PKR signalled the fact that "we are getting there."
Asked if he felt dejected, he replied:"Of course, when you lose you cannot be happy, but the manner in which you lose is also important. I am okay."
On whether he expected to be defeated, the PKR candidate said: "Of course. In a contest, you would expect to win or lose."
Although the mood in the stadium was sombre, with some supporters even shedding tears, they nevertheless chanted their traditional "Reformasi" battle cries.

Meanwhile, PKR's Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah, who termed the contest as a “buy election”, said that she was proud of the party's accomplishment in the face of “misplaced voters and police hostility”.

“We have succeeded in embarrassing BN by denying (Deputy Prime Minister) Muhyiddin (Yassin) his 6,000 vote victory,” she said, referring to the deputy premier's statement this morning.

Nurul, who is the daughter of PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim, said the by-election has given the opposition party a good foundation for the next general election.

Next battle in Sibu
Earlier, PKR election director Fuziah Salleh pledged that the opposition party would continue its struggle.

“Just because we lost today, it does not mean that we would lose all the time. What is important is that we fight with dignity,” she said, appearing upset.

“We would continue fighting to show BN that this (setback) would not cripple us. We would give our best in the Sibu (by-election in Sarawak),” she added.

Meanwhile, PKR's director of strategies Tian Chua said losing in an election was nothing new for those who champion justice and reform.

“This is not the first time that we have lost. We would not give up the fight,” he added.

Among the Pakatan stalwarts present at the stadium are Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang.

'We have learnt a lesson'
The Selangor MB thanked Pakatan supporters for their courage in facing up to the ruling coalition.

“I have faced a defeat before in the Ijok (by-election) but it never killed my spirit, and I kept on  fighting.

“Now in Hulu Selangor, I have learnt a lesson -- it is very hard to fight against abuse of power and corruption. But we have to keep fighting,” he said.

Despite the defeat, Khalid pledged that the state government would ensure that the Felda settlers get their rights.

“They may have voted for BN out of fear, but when we deliver their rights, they would be with us. Hulu Selangor would not be abandoned, it would become the basis of our struggle,” he said.

Kamalanathan: Victory belongs to Najib and Co

By FMT Staff
FULL REPORT KUALA KUBU BARU: Barisan Nasional candidate P Kamalanathan has dedicated his victory in the Hulu Selangor by-election to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and the coalition's top leaders.
Speaking to reporters after the result was announced, the MIC information chief also vowed not to let down the voters.

“This victory is not mine. It belongs to Najib, (deputy prime minister) Muhyiddin Yassin, (MIC president S) Samy Vellu, MCA, Gerakan and all the friends of BN,” he said.

An elated Kamalanathan, 44, also said that he was touched that the people of Hulu Selangor had placed their faith in him.

“I would fulfill my responsibilities and all the election promises,” he added, pledging to work hard in order to serve his constituents.

Kamalanathan also said that he would make good on his promise to move to Hulu Selangor should he win.

“I would look into it as soon as I can. I would also meet all the voters whether they voted for me or not," he added.

The BN candidate said that he would work towards winning Chinese support, which favoured PKR, and those of the other races.

Najib: This means a lot to us
Meanwhile, Najib said Kamalanathan's victory meant a lot to the ruling coalition, especially since it signalled a shift in people's support compared to the 2008 general election.

“This shift has a great meaning because we were contesting in a state controlled by the opposition but we were able to recapture the constituency.

“With this win, we would work hard to fulfil the people's faith in us and meet their hopes and expectations,” he added.

The premier said the outcome also showed that the voters rejected the opposition's style of politics, which is riddled with “lies and slander”.

“The voters cannot accept these things. They can judge what is true,” he said.

Najib was also confident that Kamalanathan, whom he described as a credible individual, would be able to capture the hearts of the people here and execute his duties well.

Chinese votes for PKR
On the Chinese votes which favoured PKR, the BN chairman said the coalition would analyse this.

“I don't want to make quick conclusions even though we lost most ballot boxes in Chinese areas,” he said, adding that there was an increase in support from the community for BN.

“I believe there is a change but not completely. What is important is to ensure that this area remains with BN,” he said.

Asked if the by-election result was an endorsement of his leadership and reforms, Najib declined to take full credit, saying that it was too early to determine such factors.

“It is too early to say, but obviously, it is a combination of national and local factors. The victory is signifcant in the sense that it gives us a lot of encouragement.

“It's a good beginning for BN, a good beginning for the new direction and agenda we have for this nation and this means we are on the right track, the right trajectory,” he added.

When quizzed on Muhyiddin's 6,000 vote-majority target, Najib said he was confident that if BN kept its word, the majority would increase in the next general election.

“We realise this is an opposition state. In the past we controlled the state, we had two strengths, federal and state governments.

“So in this context, I'm satisfied with the results. I believe that if we can fulfil all the promises and solve the rakyat's problems, our majority would increase,” he added.