(Malaysiakini) Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim will seek an audience with the Johor's ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar regarding the datukship that was stripped from Chua Jui Meng.
According to Anwar's tweet this morning, he was surprised at the revocation of the title but claimed that Chua had taken the news calmly and is resilient.
Yesterday the MCA-turned-PKR man Chua received a call from the Johor Royal Council secretary Abdul Rahim Ramli asking for him toreturnall his medals.
Chua who now sits on the PKR supreme council was conferred the two awards by the late sultan of Johor, Sultan Mahmud Iskandar.
They were the 'Dato Paduka Makhota Johor' and the 'Seri Paduka Mahkota Johor'.
But the reasons for the revocation were not communicated to Chua - all he was told was that the palace was not obliged to reveal its reasons.
When contacted today, Chua said that he had yet to receive any official letter for the return of the medals and they are still in his possession.
"I could not return the medals because I am not in Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps the letter will reach me today. I don't know." he said that he will check if the letter had arrived, when he returns home from Langkawi later today.
No qualms in returning medals
Chua said that he had no qualms over returning the medals as it is the palace's prerogative.
"But I want to know why and what I have done, that the palace revoked my titles and wants the medals back so urgently," he added.
Chua, formerly an MCA vice-president was the health minister from 1995 to 2004.
He left the party after an unsuccessful second attempt for the president's post in the 2008 party election. He joined PKR in 2009.
The Johor palace will be hold a press conference later this afternoon to clarify this matter.
SHAH ALAM, June 11 — (The Malaysian Insider) Selangor is considering sending a delegation to Bangkok to get Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand to reconsider her decision not to testify at the Teoh Beng Hock inquest in person, should the Coroner’s Court reject their application to allow her testimony via video conferencing.
“We may send our lawyers and members of Teoh’s family to appeal to her directly,” Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu told The Malaysian Insider.
The renowned Thai pathologist, who was hired by the state as an expert witness, had earlier testified that Teoh’s death was “80 per cent homicide”, based on pictures of the scene and injuries on his body.
However, she later declined to return to Malaysia to give further evidence, citing “political pressure”, but relented to testifying and being cross-examined via video conferencing.
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“She is an important witness and we believe her testimony is crucial,” said Liu.
Teoh, the 30-year-old political aide to state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead at Plaza Masalam here on July 16 last year.
He had been hauled up for questioning by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) at their Selangor headquarters on the 14th floor of the building the day before.
He was questioned overnight over graft allegations but the MACC maintains Teoh had already been released from their custody before he was found dead.
The police later concluded that he had committed suicide.
However, the inquest was called to investigate if there was any foul play surrounding his death following widespread disbelief and anger over the “official findings”.
The coroner in the inquest was scheduled to hear an application by the state to allow Dr Pornthip to testify via video conferencing today.
However, lawyer Gobind Singh Deo today said the case has been rescheduled to June 15.
Should the coroner rule in their favour, the state has made arrangements for the video conferencing to be held here at i-City in Section 7.
PAS MUKTAMAR KOTA BARU: They may wear turbans, skull caps and flowing robes which make them stand out in an urbanised setting. However, one should not underestimate these PAS members just because they do not sport the modern look.
Beneath this dour exterior are cunning political animals armed with the belief that Islamic tenets, and not race, are the cure to many of the world's social and economic ills.
After decades in the rural wilderness, PAS has today emerged as a political force to be reckoned with, and based on its latest "muktamar" (assembly) proceedings, it is likely to be around for years to come.
The party has rubbished former Umno secretary-general Sanusi Junid's infamous quip that "as long there is a padi field, there is PAS”.
The PAS of 2010 is one which has successfully forged technocrats, ulamas (clerics) and blue-collar workers into a dedicated political force, united in Islam.
But will PAS ever consider working with its arch rival Umno in a “national unity” government? Rumours had it that there is a movement within the party which is willing to try out this formula.
But based on the progress of the muktamar assemblies of its Youth, Ulama and Muslimat (women) in Kelantan, the idea is not catching on.
'Pakatan the way forward'
The revered PAS spiritual adviser Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat has set the tone, saying PAS message of “Islam for all” is adequate for the party to progress towards the13th general election.
He is confident that the people's mood is with Pakatan Rakyat, the loosely-formed alliance with PKR and DAP.
Umno, the architect of Barisan Nasional, is hoping that PKR may be distracted with its spate of defections and the sodomy trial of supremo Anwar Ibrahim, but PAS thinks otherwise.
In Nik Aziz's view, Pakatan is the way forward and if PAS keeps its discipline and adjusts to the political landscape, the alliance would be occupying Putrajaya by the next election.
However, as seasoned political pundicts would say, in "politics, there are no black or white definitions, only grey".
A greying PAS leadership, however, has to sincerely address the voices of discontent among its grassroots members and the young, particularly those who have grouses about governance and policy issues in Pakatan-ruled states.
It also have to come clean on speculations that the so-called movement within its ranks is game for a national unity government.
Still about politics
PAS, although branded more an Islamic movement than a political entity, is essentially still about politics. Like any other party, it has different schools of thoughts.
At this muktamar, PAS must convince all that it is on the right track while trying to appease its grassroots members, many of whom feel they have been deprived of their rights to take part in governance and policy-making decisions in the Pakatan states of Kedah, Penang and Selangor.
Nik Aziz is convinced that the formula of Islam for all can now be translated for the entire country and not only for Kelantan, where non-Muslims comprise fewer than 10% of its population.
PAS must sincerely address the simmerings beneath or it may go the way of other political parties in the country where decades of discontent eventually erupted like a volcano.
Already one shot was fired by a Terengganu ulama delegate who asked why the photograph of deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa was not featured in the banners adorning Kelantan to mark the annual muktamar here.
Its Youth wing, meanwhile, has raised a hot issue: it wants Pakatan governments to ban all forms of gambling. Would states such as Selangor and Penang, with their big non-Muslim population base, feel comfortable?
One striking change in this muktamar is the stance of the ulama leadership, led by ailing Terengganu leader Harun Taib. To the surprise of many observers, the ulamas have been liberal in their thinking.
Gone are the hardline statements about the totality of Islam; instead, the PAS leadership wants to engage non-Muslims in its discourse. They are even holding Mandarin and Tamil language classes for its ulama so that they can convince non-Muslims about the goodwill of Islam.
In other words, Islam for all is shaping up to be the battle cry for the Islamist party.
However, at the same time, PAS needs to convince its critics that it can also implement its vision as ultimately "actions speak louder than words".
COMMENT Many business associations will hail Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and CEO of Pemudah Idris Jala for his frank and sincere comments on the economic situation of Malaysia.
He noted that Malaysia is one of the world's highest subsidised countries with 4.7 percent of GDP compared to Indonesia 2.7 percent, Philippines 0.2 percent and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries at 1.5 percent at an average.
On the other hand the government's debt reached a record of RM362 billion in 2009.
The agreed formula should focus on growing the economy (thereby increasing revenue/GDP) government cost cutting measures and gradually reduce the subsidies over a period of time.
As a step in right direction, the government must initiate measures to improve the business environment in order to attract FDI’s and boost the domestic investment.
This is critical as during the period 2000 to 2008, the amount of FDI grew by average of 3.9 percent as against an average growth rate of 14.8 percent inflows into the region.
Another indicator is the declining share of private investment to GDP from 34.9 percent of GDP in 1997 to 10.9 percent in 2008.
The private sector participation as engine of growth has dwindled to below 10 percent of GDP from 30 percent of GDP at its highest.
There was further erosion of economic competitiveness when the outflow of capital in 2008 was RM117 billion and another RM54 billion for the first half of 2009.
What does the above statistics reveal?
They clearly state that that there are structural problems in the economy that must be addressed urgently in an accountable and transparent manner.
MIBA has raised several issues as relevant factors that need to be considered.
NEP is inconsistent
NEP framework of 1970 – 2009 is inconsistent with knowledge-led growth and focuses on redistribution of income and not enough on generation of income.
The real cost of NEP that has drained the federal government's financial resources comes in the form of inflated government contract project cost overruns, agriculture subsidy schemes cost of making opportunities in business entrepreneurship, education and scholarship to substandard applicants, concession discounts and pink slips and property ownership.
The worst effect of the NEP regime is the prevalence of rampant corruption which has weakened and created ineffective institutions across all branches, namely legislative, judiciary and the executive.
High dependence on foreign labour
Foreign labour dependency has slowed down productivity, depressed wages impeding human capital and remittances overseas amounted to 1.5 percent of GDP each year.
It must be noted that 75 percent of Malaysian workforce are low skilled and 25 percent of our highly skilled workers migrate – leading to a massive brain drain.
A huge civil service
Malaysia boasts of one of the largest bureaucracies in the world with about 1.3 million in 2009, and civil servants' remuneration amounting to RM 41 billion.
The following statistics indicate the magnitude of the bloated bureaucracy which suffers from “poor public delivery syndrome when you compare the number of civil servants to one million population.
For Malaysia it stands at 4.68, whereas our neighbours have a much smaller civil service - Thailand (2.06), S Korea (1.86), Philippine (1.81), Indonesia (1.79), Laos (1.24) and Cambodia (1.18).
The government needs to promote innovation creativity and high value activities by intensifying research and development.
Government Linked Companies with about 36 percent of the total capitalisation has to fulfill the Malay Agenda. This means priority of contracts and staff employment is skewed towards fulfilling the Malay Agenda.
Inspite of various GLCs transformation programmes to improve profitability, the GLCs are still recording massive losses.
This can be translated into shortfalls in collection of the corporate tax revenue for the government. Companies taken over by government trust agencies, PNB and GLCs have actually shown declining profit trends and losses after takeover. This is another dangerous trend as well managed companies just disappear from the commercial landscape.
To overcome all these, the government should work of strengthening the pillars of the 1Malaysia concept, highlighting unity in diversity, economic competitiveness and government for all.
We at MIBA also endorse gradual subsidy reduction over a period of time, and government's political will to focus on fighting corruption, removing wastage and improving public sector delivery efficiency as an overall strategy to improve the financial status of the country.
S Sivamoorthy is a Johor Baru-based tax consultant and an advisor to the Malaysian Indian Business Association.
KOTA KINABALU: Tawau MP Chua Soon Bui has called on the government to strive to curb cross-border crime in Sabah.
She urged the Home Ministry to implement "Biometric" checks at entry points so that foreign criminals are prevented from coming back with new identities and passports to Malaysia, especially through Sabah.
She made the comments when commending the Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Division (FCCID) for breaking up an SMS scam syndicate in Tawau that had allegedly raked in RM6.4 million in four years.
The FCCID team, led by its director Koh Hong Sun, had detained 26 members of the syndicate who were found to be operating from a condominium and house in Tawau, Sabah.
Chua said most of the syndicate members appeared to be foreigners from neighbouring countries and some of them might also be on the "wanted list" for similar scams in their own countries.
“It is high time the government conducted trans-border investigations to monitor and nab all the culprits involved as high-tech crimes are becoming rampant in Malaysia,” she said.
Chua, who is also a vice-president of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), noted that there were many incidents involving foreign immigrants in Tawau caught forging MyKads and Malaysian driving licences.
She also cited the recent case of 25 family members with questionable Malaysian identities from Sabah detained in Kangar, Perlis, for pick-pocketing.
Chua suggested the Home Ministry set up a special task force to tackle ICT crimes in Sabah. Such a task force, she said, would allow the public to make enquiries and give immediate and direct feedback on such crimes.
She said the Tawau SMS scam, which sent out 4,000 SMSes per day and hundred thousands over the past four years, was an eye-opener and hence a task force could create awareness to prevent more people from falling prey to such crime.
She expressed shock that as many as 2,656 victims had reported the SMS scam and one of the victims, a woman from Sabah, had lost RM1.2 million while another one RM300,000.
Chua believes that actual losses could be higher because many victims were too embarrassed to report their case.
ON the night of 29 May 2010, I was at Alexis Ampang in Kuala Lumpur for dinner and a performance by my colleague Shanon Shah. Curiously, after 10pm, the other patrons in the air-conditioned restaurant started lighting up. My friends, one of whom was a cancer survivor, complained to the restaurant. Didn’t the law stipulate that air-conditioned restaurants had to have smoke-free areas which were separate from smoking areas?
We were told, however, that Alexis Ampang’s policy was to allow smoking after 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. We were perplexed, but stayed on because we wanted to support Shanon’s performance.
A few days after that incident, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced that the government had decided to extend the ban on smoking to workplaces and offices with central air-conditioning. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be outraged. What, really, is the value of such government pronouncements if an earlier ban on smoking in public places had not even been effectively implemented? Not just Alexis
After finding out that I was going to write about its rather curious smoking policy, Alexis Ampang apologised, saying, “The management at Alexis will take immediate steps to address this matter.” But what had stopped Alexis from “taking immediate steps” to follow the law in the interest of public health even before my friends and I turned up and complained?
To be certain, it’s not just Alexis that breaks the law about smoking with apparent impunity. On the night of 6 June, I experienced the same smoke-filled environment in No Black Tie, another reputable and well-known jazz club and restaurant. It wasn’t the first time and I doubt it will be the last time.
Our favourite Nyonya restaurant near our office also allows smoking in the air-conditioned area. And I remember shopping in Low Yat Plaza some years ago, after the earlier ban had been announced, and watching vendors and retailers puff away with no fear of being penalised for the public health hazard they posed.
Indeed, the Malaysian government has increased the number of smoke-free public areas over the years, says Mary Assunta, a senior policy adviser for the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance.
But really, what is the value of these government pronouncements if it’s clear that there will be no or scant enforcement? After all, if there was enforcement, the likes of Alexis Ampang and No Black Tie would not be violating a government ban so blatantly; in Alexis’s case, so creatively, since there is no such thing as smoking being allowed after a certain time in a public space where smoking is banned.
“Health hazards from tobacco smoke are the same before 10pm and after 10pm,” Mary notes. Serious or not?
(Pic by ilco / sxc.hu)
So, is the government serious or not about ensuring public health? If it is, why is enforcement so lacking?
Enforcing the law is not impossible when it comes to banning smoking in public places. Try smoking in any British pub and see if you don’t get thrown out. Closer to the region, both Singapore and Thailand have a good track record for implementing smoke-free areas in public places. If other countries can do it, what’s stopping us?
It’s not impossible. All it takes is political will and clever strategies. Former Department of Environment director general Datuk Abu Bakar Jaafar once explained the strategy of enforcement to me. It would be impossible for government agencies to be everywhere all the time, he said.
But what the enforcers can do is nab violators with whatever resources they have, and to publicise these enforcement activities as frequently as possible. The fear of getting caught will alone be enough for people to follow the law.
Clearly, there isn’t enough fear of getting penalised when it comes to smoking in public spaces in Malaysia. And there isn’t enough fear because there isn’t enough enforcement.
It’s not just government enforcement that is lax. By international conventions, the Malaysian government has demonstrated how half-hearted it is about protecting public health from tobacco smoke, according to Mary.
Malaysia is actually in violation of Article 8 of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which stipulates 100% smoke-free public and work places, adds Mary, who is also a board director for the Western Pacific Region of the Framework Convention Alliance. Malaysia ratified the FCTC in September 2005.
“However, the hospitality and the tobacco industries have managed to successfully lobby the Health Ministry to maintain smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants,” Mary says. “The tobacco industry persuaded restaurants to have ‘courtesy of choice’ by allowing smoking sections.”
And despite the overwhelming evidence and best practice that separating smoking from non-smoking sections does not work, she notes that the ministry would not be convinced about having 100% smoke-free public and work places.
Hence, in Malaysia, the law does not completely ban smoking in an air-conditioned restaurant. It is still allowed confined to a separated area. But if even this compromise position cannot be enforced by our government, what is the point of increasing the number of non-smoking public areas? Not just smoking
(Pic by sasicd / sxc.hu)
Obviously, government malaise isn’t only apparent when it comes to smoking regulations. It’s a traffic violation to speak on one’s handphone without a hands-free kit. But how frequently have we all seen motorists turning a corner with one hand on the wheel with the other clutching a mobile phone?
It also wasn’t too long ago that the government made it an offence for passengers in the backseat who didn’t buckle up. Yet, just how effective has that ruling been?
The fear of getting caught for violating laws made for the public good is thinner than mountain air, that’s for certain.
And the reason for this? We have a government that occasionally announces good measures, but whose actions are often disconnected from its policy announcements. And all the announcements end up being nothing more than candy floss: sweet, but low in nutritional value – and oh, so transient.
PUTRAJAYA: A businessman was awarded RM3.3mil in general and exemplary damages after the High Court ruled that the extension of his detention under the Internal Security Act was unlawful and unconstitutional.
Justice Mohd Hishamuddin Mohd Yunus said the court also took into consideration the cost of injury to Badrul Zaman P.S. Mohamed’s reputation as a businessman.
The businessman, in his suit, said he was not challenging the validity of his initial detention order under Section 8(1) of the Internal Security Act (ISA) on Sept 12, 1991 – where he was detained for two years.
However, he was challenging the extension of his detention order issued by the deputy minister for another two years effective Sept 14, 1993.
Justice Mohd Hishamuddin said an award of RM20,000 per day would be fair and just as Badrul Zaman had been deprived of his liberty during the detention.
The judge added that taking into account 300 days of detention, Badrul Zaman should be paid RM6mil but the court decided to give a 50% reduction to the defendants – the Kamunting Detention Centre superintendent, the Deputy Home Minister and the Government.
Justice Mohd Hishamuddin, now an Appeals Court judge, also awarded exemplary damages of RM300,000 for two reasons – the detention was unlawful and unconstitutional and the detention order was extended after the initial two-year period of preventive detention.
“I think it’s a harsh and oppressive act on the part of the deputy minister,” said the judge who also awarded costs to the plaintiff.
Badrul Zaman said he was happy with the decision after waiting for nearly 16 years to get justice and clear his reputation.
In 1994, the Penang High Court granted his application for a writ of habeas corpus and set him free after ruling that the extended detention was unlawful and unconstitutional on the grounds that there was non-compliance of the provisions of the ISA.
Senior Federal Counsel Isnan Ishak said he would refer to the Attorney-General’s Office regarding the intention to appeal.
Rasanya tak terlambat untuk cheGuBard mengucapkan salam selamat sempena Hari Keputeraan Tuanku DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yg Di Pertuan Agong pada 4 Jun lepas. Alhamdulillah rakyat telah dikurniakan cuti untuk beristirehat bersama keluarga dari kesibukan tugasan semasa sekurang - kurangnya sehari berkat Hari Keputeraan Tuanku.
Sempena hari Keputeraan juga telah terkunia bukan sedikit pingat - pingat kepada perbagai jenis manusia dari dalam dan luar negara yang hidup dan tak dilupa telah meninggal dunia dengan membawa perbagai gelaran kurniaan raja. Harapnya kurniaan pingat ini hendaknya atas jasa mereka ke atas negara ini bukanlah kerana kedudukan mereka atau lobi pemimpin tertentu regim parti penguasa. Agar nanti apabila dia bertukar parti tidak ditarik semula pingatnya seperti Chua Jui Meng mantan memanda Menteri. sila klik sini
Sempena Hari Keputeraan Tuanku cheGuBard selaku anak muda yang berdiri atas nama sebuah perkumpulan Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) dengan ini menyatakan taat setia kepada Tuanku dan institusi beraja dalam negara berdasarkan perlembagaan negara.
Cuma selaku anak muda tidak dapat diselindungkan kekhuatiran memikirkan bagaimana untuk memastikan terus institusi beraja kebanggaan orang Melayu dan seluruh rakyat Malaysia ini dapat terus berkekalan.
Ketika Tuanku dilantik bukan sedikit harapan khususnya anak muda Malaysia terhadap Tuanku selaku pewaris yang agak muda dan berpendidikan dalam mereformasikan institusi beraja dan memberikan nafas baru membentuk persepsi yang lebih menyakinkan dikalangan anak muda. Sudah tercapai atau tidak mungkin tuanku sendiri ada jawapanya.
Intai dan pelajarilah institusi beraja di banyak negara bagaimana peranan dimainkan. Ada yang sudah umpama muzium dan alat keraian seperti kebanyakan negara Eropah termasuk England tetapi ada juga yang terus kekal dihormati seperti di Thailand.
Mainkanlah peranan sewajarnya di tengah masyarakat yang makin kalut dan kusut. Tuanku sewajarnya jangan takut gunakan kuasa demi kepentingan rakyat. Janganlah hendaknya ada sedikit rasa gusar terhadap regim penguasa.
Dalam perkara Islam dan Melayu setakat ini cheGuBard dan SAMM bersetuju peranan terus dimainkan oleh Raja Melayu sebagai ketua agama dan adat istiadat Melayu. Namun khuatir juga sejak kebelakangan ini banyak sangat penggunaan nama istana diselewengkan dalam perkara ini. Mutaakhir ini, malah banyak 'kenyataan' dan 'titah' juga mula diselewengkan.
Ini bukan zaman Melaka, dunia berkembang pesat sewajarnya isi kandung dalamnya juga harus transform secepat perkembangan dunia jika tidak mahu ketinggalan. Rakyat tidak lagi boleh lagi dipaksa akur membuta tuli. cheGuBard mencadangkan demi mempertingkatkan martabat dan terus mendapat penghormatan selaku Ketua Penguasa dalam perihal agama dan adat istiadat maka Raja Melayu itu sendiri harus diperkasakan lagi. Sesiapa juga yang menjadi Ketua Penguasa Agama seharusnya tahu dan mahir dalam bidang tersebut juga. Tiba masanya Majlis Raja - Raja mensyaratkan agar semua tuanku - tuanku Ketua Agama seharusnya sekurang - kurangnya punya Diploma Pentadbiran dan syariah Islam agar mampu memainkan peranan yang lebih efisyen. Tidaklah hanya menerima nasihat dari seorang dua yang punya kepentingan tertentu. Percayalah dengan ini Institusi ini akan lebih dihormati.
Ingat Institusi ini bukan punya orang Melayu. Institusi beraja ini seharusnya juga dihormati oleh semua bangsa atau keturunan yang diamnya dalam tanah jajahan ini. Untuk itu ruang perbincangan dan pemahaman sewajarnya harus juga sampai kepada semua rakyat.
Sekian sahaja dan sekali lagi cheGuBard ucapkan Selamat Hari Keputeraan moga Tuanku dirahmatiNya dan dibebaskan minda serta roh demi menjalankan tanggung jawab demi memastikan keadilan dan kemakmuran dalam negara.
Re: HRP appointment to meet UN’s Working Group against Arbitrary Detentions(WGAD) visit to Malaysia
We welcome the United Nations Group against Arbitrary detentions (WGAD) which is finally visiting Malaysian detention centres without trial after our numerous petitions and International campaigns since the years 2008 and 2009 (See Utusan Malaysia 9/6/2010 at page 9).
In fact it was only on Hindraf’s intense campaigns and the continuous unwavering and over whelming support of the Hindraf Makkal Sakthi people power that procured supporters the Hindraf lawyers release from Internal Security Act (ISA) detentions without trial and conviction and that too after 514 days of imprisonment. If not for this Hindraf commitment WGAD would probably on this visit be visiting these three lawyers in Kamunting prison.
We would like to meet this WGAD group during their 12 day working visit in Malaysia to also visit Hindraf lawyers Mr. P. Uthayakumar, Manoharan Malayalam and R. Kengadharan at our aforesaid office address and visit our HRP lock up cum ISA gallery and record their ISA experiences in particular on the false charges of having links with LTTE terrorists merely to justify their said arrest and detention under the ISA.
And in order for us to give our input on the Simpang Renggam detention centre without trial of up to 60% merely suspected criminal ethnic Indians for up to even even six years when they form a mere 8% of the Malaysian population ie 7,500% disproportionately represented.
In the latest instance even three teenagers aged between 15 and 17 have been detained at Simpang Renggam in gross violations of Article 37 of the UN Convention on the rights of the child and Section 42 of the Child Act 201when international laws require especially children to be rehabilated instead of being punished. In fact it is in prisons like Simpang Renggam that children and juveniles and delinquents get exposed to the real word of crime.
Sri Murugan Centre (SMC) started in mid 1980s as a novel idea by it’s founder Thambirajah to help ensure education especially for the Indian poor. SMC always had a set of very dedicated teachers, good study programmes and most importantly in monitoring the students.
Every year at the annual Kalvi Yathirai (education pilgrimage) thousands of students and their parents flock at Batu Caves.
Good. But what happens after SMC produces top and achieving students? And what happens to the other top and high achieving students?
Like Remavathy, the sixth best students in Malaysia who scored 13 As1 in SPM (O Level) was denied a government PSD scholarship.
Only one overseas government PSD (Public service Department) scholarship awarded to do medicine for the deserving 2 millions Indians.
Only one medical seat is made available at the University of Malaya against a 2 million Indian population in Malaysia (2004).
If only SMC as the premier Indian socially conscious organisation in living up to it’s original ideas had also taken up the battle in getting UMNO to grant equal educational opportunities to all, especially the poor average and above average Indian students, SMC would have made a historical impact, especially when led by the country’s top historians taken off the mainstream simply because he is Indian.
Regretfully SMC today has abdicated from it’s duty to also demand and secure Public Universities, Matriculation JPA, Petronas, Shell, Mara, Khazanah, Tenaga, Telekom, 13 state Yayasan and scores of others scholarships for all needy Indian students as granted to all Malay muslim needy students.
Instead just because UMNO prime Minister Najib Razak dishes out some peanut grants to SMC annually, they are prepared to abandon and abdicate their true duties to the top and high achieving Indian students denied their very basic right to education.
To add insult to injury the SMC top leadership is aiding and abetting UMNO in directly discriminating these up to 13As top and high achieving students.
This coming Sunday UMNO Prime Minister Najib Razak is coming to Brickfields SMC to do damage control for excluding an estimated 2,237 top and high achieving Indian students their very basic and fundamental higher education rights (MN 10/6/10 at page 16). UMNO Najib Razak like all the previous UMNO tuans will create the illusions that the top and high achieving Indian students are being taken care of by dishing out some peanuts and certificates of recognition. SMC gets to play to the Tamil newspapers, TV and Radio gallery. They all get that feel good feeling a la NTV7. And maybe a few DBKL Bill board contracts? But at what cost?
The aforesaid Remavathy Andrew and scores of other top students have previously been recognized by the UMNO tuans but when coming to the crux of the matter, ie., University and Matriculation, in the courses of their choice, Petronas, Shell, Mara, Khazanah, Tenaga, Telekom, 13 state Yayasan and scores of others scholarships hundreds of thousands of deserving Indian students are blatantly denied their rightful and basic right to education in over the last 41 years or so.
And the SMC top leadership selfishly aid and abet these UMNO tuans in exchange for some mere UMNO peanuts, after all the good work SMC has done for decades.
The leadership should stop cheating themselves.
SMC produces thousands of students nationwide every year. But where do they go after excelling in SPM and STPM?
KUALA LUMPUR: The central working committee of MIC, which meets next Thursday, will discuss the appeals submitted by three sacked CWC members, party secretary-general Datuk T. Rajagopalu said.
He said CWC members would decide if they should deliberate on the matter right away.
MIC had witnessed a spate of events since the last CWC meeting on May 13, beginning with the May 17 announcement by president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu of his retirement timetable.
Samy Vellu's promised exit, before or by September next year, met with some resistance resulting in the expulsion of four officials, the sacking of party secretary-general S. Murugessan and the May 30 rally of Gerakan Anti-Samy Vellu (GAS).
Since their expulsion, elected CWC members K.P. Samy and G. Kumar Aamaan as well as deputy Youth chief V. Mugilan had submitted their appeals to the CWC.
Rajagopalu said yesterday the appeal process would have to be sorted out should the CWC decide to deal with the appeal at the meeting, including determining methods of voting and if the party president and deputy president should be present.
The president is empowered by the constitution to expel members in consultation with the deputy president. If they are absent, senior vice-president Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam would chair the CWC meeting and hearing of the appeal.
Subramaniam said on Tuesday the expelled leaders would receive a fair hearing.
K.P. Samy said he would leave it to the CWC to decide on his fate.
"It now depends on the CWC members, from the vice-presidents to the rest of the CWCs.
"But the party president and his deputy cannot be involved in this because the president had said the three would be reinstated if they promise to stop the GAS rallies.
"Some of the president's key people have told me to tone down while waiting for my appeal to be heard.
"You need critics to put you in the right path. But he, Samy Vellu, is surrounding himself with opportunists."
FULL REPORT KUALA LUMPUR: The 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) will maintain the 30 percent Bumiputera corporate equity target, which is seen as a move to pacify Malay voters in light of the stiff opposition towards Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's New Economic Model.
Slapped with the highest budget deficit in decades, at 7% of the GDP, the country's sixth premier was forced to bow to market demands and run the risk of alienating Malay voters, the country's majority race.
His attempts to convince the Malays that the time has come for them to learn how to play on a level field had caused alarm and concern among certain quarters.
The prime minister had unveiled his first, and the nation's 10th economic blueprint in Parliament this morning.
On subsidies, he said price controls and subsidies need to be reduced in stages to eliminate market distortions and abuses.
However, he reiterated that any reduction will only be undertaken after taking into consideration the people's feedback.
"I wish to give the assurance that the lower-income group and those who are most vulnerable will continue to be given assistance to mitigate the impact of any subsidy reduction on their cost of living," he added.
Raising the per-capita income
The 10MP will develop a Bumiputera commercial and industrial community and create stronger and more competitive industry champions.
The focus will also be on broadening wealth ownership to ensure sustainability and promoting Bumiputera representation in high-paying jobs through enhanced capability building and demand-side incentives.
The 10MP will also underline Najib's effort to continue his predecessors' endeavours to make Malaysia a developed nation by 2020.
To do this, the son of second premier Abdul Razak, aims to cut fiscal deficit to 2.8% of the GDP by 2015 through the unpopular subsidy removals.
An innovative and productivity-oriented economy, through augmented human capital development, will be one of the main thrusts of the new framework.
It also plans to tackle the country's worsening brain drain crisis by beefing up efforts to retain local talents through high-wage appeal while simplifying hiring methods to attract foreign talents.
As such, the plan will try and raise the nation's per capita income to RM38,845 (US$12,139) by 2015 through an annual 6 percent growth.
These objectives have been listed under the 10MP's 10-point strategy, which has recognised 12 key economic areas to achieve its targets.
The 10MP also revealed measures to transform the nation into a high-income economy through a development expenditure allocation of RM230 billion for the next five years.
From the total, 55 percent was allocated for the economic sector, 30 percent for the social sector, 10 percent for security and 5 per cent for administration.
Najib said the 10MP plan was vital to continue the vision and objective of the nation and if vigorously and consistently implemented, would see Malaysia through the challenging times and enable the nation to be a high-income and developed nation by 2020.
Three more pillars have been erected to drive the plan through, namely with the introduction of the 1Malaysia concept of "People First, Performance Now"; Government Transformation Plan (GTP) and New Economic Model (NEM), he said.
Najib, who appears to be bitten by the World Cup bug as well, stressed on the importance of collective effort, likening it to a soccer team.
"For a football team to succeed, all players in the team, irrespective of their position, need to work together and play as a team. If they don't, they are unlikely to win, worse, they may lose badly.
"Each player, whether it is the goalkeeper, defender, midfielder or striker, is equally important. However great the footballers are as individual players, victory can only be achieved as a team. Each individual team member is a valuable asset and everyone's potential must be optimised to achieve success," he said.
"Even if the team has the best strikers in the world, such as Rooney, Messi or Ronaldo, the team would still lose if it had weak defenders or goalkeeper, as the number of goals scored would be
more than offset by the number of goals conceded.
"Therefore, to succeed, we must form a 1Malaysia team, that is united and aligned in purpose and vision, to achieve the best for Malaysia, through our collective best efforts," he added.
KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Rakyat leaders were not impressed with the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) unveiled by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in Parliament today.
Many of them felt that the economic blueprint was merely a rehash of previous plans, while some panned the objectives as being too far-fetched.
DAP's chief economist Tony Pua said maintaining the 30 percent Bumiputera equity target was an extension of the race-based affirmative action under the New Economic Policy (NEP).
This, he pointed out, contradicted Najib's pledge to open up the market.
"Whether on the micro or macro levels, 30 percent of private and corporate wealth are allocated for the Bumiputera; and all the policies put in place are trying to achieve this target.
“To me, this is just an extension of the NEP and there's no difference in what the 10MP tries to achieve compared to the 9MP," he told reporters.
The racial quota was maintained as part of the Najib administration's effort to enhance Bumiputera economic participation under the 10MP. It is also being viewed as a move to pacify Malay voters in light of the stiff opposition towards the prime minister's New Economic Model (NEM).
Meanwhile, PAS central working committee member and Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said maintaining the quota system contradicted of the 10MP's main thrusts, creation of a more inclusive economy.
"He had contradicted himself when he talked about the Bumiputra Commercial and Industrialised Committee, he must have been thinking of Perkasa and other ultra-Umno leaders.
"Those things are virtually exclusive. You can still adopt affirmative action, but only when you're dealing with the poor," he said.
Najib has set up a high-level committee, which he will chair, to monitor and ensure Bumiputera participation in the business sector.
In a tweet posting, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said although the 30 percent target has been maintained, it will focus more on merits and not favouritism.
Who's benefiting from mega projects ?
As much as RM230 billion has been allocated for the five-year plan that aims to turn the nation into a high-income economy by 2015.
The lion's share, a whopping 55 percent, will be injected into the economic sector, 30 percent for the social sector, 10 percent for security and 5 percent for administration.
Najib also announced various construction expenditures for business-conducive enterprises.
Commenting on this, Pua expressed concerned because "mega projects" like the construction of the giant Martrade Expo Centre and the relocation of the Sg Besi military airport will be given directly to favoured companies.
"This is contrary to the NEM. We ask for free competition but a lot of the projects will go to government agencies and will be awarded directly without the open tender process.
"We are worried that this private-public programmes will be a repeat of the 1980s and 1990s where government cronies will get the projects," he said.
10MP objectives unrealistic
Also uimpressed with Najib's first economic plan, DAP's Klang MP Charles Santiago said the premier had set unrealistic goals, such as the 6 percent annual growth target and slashing deficit to 2.8 percent by 2015.
Santiago, an economics graduate, argued that poor foreign direct investments and the braindrain crisis will not help Malaysia achieve these targets.
"So how do we achieve them? The answer to that is, cut subsidies and implement the goods and services tax," he said.
Santiago also pointed out that the education policy under the 10MP- which will see public-private cooperation- will only widen the gap between the social classes.
"This is to bring private money into the school system..,when you do that, you will create a hierarchy in the school structure.
"So you have the richer students going to these schools and the national schools will become ghetto schools," he said, adding that this issue must be addressed.
MIC: Indians will benefit
In a related development, MIC is confident that the Indian community will benefit from the 10MP and the party has vowed to follow-up with an action plan.
Party president S Samy Vellu said MIC will follow-up on the new initiatives proposed for the Indian community to ensure they benefited the target groups.
He said the party was thankful to the government for allocating an additional RM70 million for the redevelopment of Tamil schools throughout the country.
Last year, the government set aside RM100 million for Tamil schools under the two economic stimulus packages, he said
“We will monitor the implementation of the new initiatives under the 10MP, and ensure the specific targets are met for the Indian community,” he said in a statement today.
Among the initiatives include an 87 percent increase in the setting up of pre-schools in all partially aided schools, including Tamil schools; government to absorb payment of electricity and water bills up to RM2,000 for each partially aided schools; and additional allocation for Indian small businessmen through Tekun Nasional.
Other initiatives include increasing the income and standard of living for the bottom 40 percent households through various initiatives and the construction of 78,000 affordable homes for the poor.
The MIC chief said the many of the party’s recommendations have been taken into consideration by the government in the 10MP.
Meanwhile, Human Resources Minister and MIC vice-president Dr S Subramaniam said the 10MP will benefit the Indian community as more opportunities will be provided for them.
“There will be opportunities in skills training, entrepreneurship and better educational prospect in the 10MP,” he said in a statement.
Subramaniam said the estate workers too will enjoy the benefits of the 10MP, including a better standard of living, housing and programmes for the youths.
He said the move to give opportunity for children from poor families to stay and study at the ‘1Asrama” or 1Hostel in the 10MP will further boost the 1Malaysia concept.
The minister hoped that the squatters issue plaguing the Indian community in urban areas will be addressed through the special housing initiative and the allocation of RM48 million to alleviate poverty.
He also said MIC will aggressively register the poor and hardcore Indians with the “e-Kasih” portal to ensure they received government assistance, especially under the 10MP.
“It is a good plan (10MP) and we will continue to monitor its implementation. It is time to get to work,” he added.
VIDEO INSIDE PETALING JAYA: Sacked MIC deputy youth chief V Mugilan today continued with his attacks on party president S Samy Vellu by making fresh claims that the latter had misappropriated the Indian community's funds since 1982.
“I have the evidence to prove that he started his hanky panky from 1982,” said Mugilan who claimed he received an anonymous parcel on June 7 which contained the evidence.
“I received two detailed documents. One is a 1982 bank transfer note which indicates US$815,900 was transferred via telegraph to S Samy Vellu.
“The other is a copy of an MACC report, which alleged Samy Vellu in his capacity as chairman of Maju Institute of Education Development (MIED) had misappropriated RM800,000,” said Mugilan.
He showed reporters the MACC report, filed under Complaint No: 0050/2010, which was taken down by an officer named Barbara Anak Panit in February 2010.
“Why is the MACC is pussy-footing over its investigation into this report? I urge the anti-graft body to hasten its investigations,” he told reporters at a press conference today.
Mugilan alleged that Samy Vellu had even purchased a watch worth RM113,000 using MIED funds.
“This a serious matter and I urge the government to set up a special Cabinet-level committee to get to the bottom of the matter. I will be making a police report after consulting my lawyers,” he said.
In another development, Mugilan said that he will be filing a RM2 million suit against Tamil Nesan for labelling him “anti-MIC”.
“Kumar is also suing the daily for a similar sum for tarnishing his name,” he said, referring to former central working committee member G Kumar Aamaan who was present by his side.
Today, again, I am not going to write a long cheong hei article. Today is just about Chua Jui Meng getting his two datukships withdrawn by the Johor Palace while another Johor man, Chua Soi Lek, is still a Datuk Seri. One, of course, joined the opposition while the other is the President of MCA. And it takes no genius to figure this one out.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Malaysiakini published the article below about Chua Jui Meng’s two datukships being withdrawn by the Johor Palace. The other Chua however, Chua Soi Lek, the MCA President, did not suffer the same fate. He did not even suffer this fate when he first got caught on video in a compromising position and admitted that the man in the video is him instead of just saying, “It sounds like me, looks like me, but he’s too ugly to be me.”
I am yet to find out what Chua Jui Meng’s crime is to warrant his datukships getting withdrawn. It must have been a very serious crime though, and we shall soon find out I suppose.
In the past, datuks who were sent to jail for fraud, embezzlement, corruption, murder, and many more such serious crimes never had their datukships withdrawn. Going by these ‘standards’, Chua Jui Meng’s crime must be more serious than fraud, embezzlement, corruption, murder, and whatnot. It can’t be just because he resigned from MCA and joined PKR unless that is considered more serious than fraud, embezzlement, corruption, murder, etc.
I hope and pray that what Chua Jui Meng committed is a most foul crime indeed -- more serious than fraud, embezzlement, corruption, murder, or whatever. If not, that will not bode well for the palace.
As it is, it is so difficult to defend the institution of the monarchy. It is a hard enough job to convince many Malaysians that Malaysia should retain the monarchy and not be turned into a republic after what happened in Perak and the role the palace was perceived to have played in the ouster of the Pakatan Rakyat state government.
I always argue that we should not abolish the monarchy just because of the misconduct of some of the Rulers. In that same spirit we can’t abolish the police force just because many police personnel commit crimes and are more a problem than the criminals they are supposed to protect us against. But it is becoming harder and harder for me to use this argument in the defence of the monarchy.
Let me again say what I have already said many times in the past. The future of the monarchy lies in the hands of the Rulers themselves. The conduct of the Rulers over this generation will determine whether the next generation calls for the end of the monarchy. I will not be around by then so it really would not concern me the least. So whether this generation of Rulers want to see their sons succeed the throne is entirely up to them. If not there may no longer be any throne to hand over.
The Johor palace has revoked two awards conferred upon MCA-turned-PKR man Chua Jui Meng. One carries the title 'Datuk, the other 'Datuk Seri'.
Chua - who now sits on the PKR supreme council - said Johor Royal Council Secretary Datuk Abdul Rahim Ramli had called him twice asking for him to return all his medals today.
(Abdul Rahim) told me that my two datuk-ships have been revoked," Chua, who was Health Minister from 1995 till 2004, told Malaysiakini.
Chua had been conferred the awards by the late Johor Sultan, Sultan Mahmud Iskandar.
They were the 'Dato Paduka Makhota Johor' and the 'Seri Paduka Mahkota Johor". Chua said Abdul Rahim refused to tell him the reason for the revocation stating that the palace was not obliged to reveal its reasons.
Chua was formerly an MCA vice-president. He left the party after an unsuccessful attempt at the president's post in the 2008 party election. He joined PKR in 2009.
He, however, will still retain his 'Datuk' honorific as he had also been conferred state awards in 2002 and 2003 by both Pahang and Selangor respectively which carry the title. -- Malaysiakini
KUALA LUMPUR: One of the parents present at the ruckus in Parliament's open senate lounge yesterday has claimed that a Barisan Nasional MP called them “keling”.
According to DAP's Sungkai assemblyman A Sivanesan, the parent told him that one of the three BN MPs at the lobby had remarked: “Keling semua ini buat apa kat sini, bilik dah gelap ni, apa mereka mahu” (what are they doing here, the room has become dark, what do they want).
Sivanesan said the parents had come to Parliament with the hope of drawing Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s attention to the situation of numerous outstanding Indian students without scholarships.
“What transpired was embarrassing to the Indian community. The parents came to Parliament to show that they were not stupid or afraid.
“Their children have studied hard and excelled but instead of listening, we had these BN MPs humiliating and cursing them..,” he said.
Sivanesan said every year, a few hundred Indian students are “discriminated” against by the government in scholarship allocation.
He said the government should understand that the Indians were no longer interested in working as rubber tappers.
During the meeting between Pakatan Rakyat representatives and the some 100 disgruntled parents, Sivanesan said BN backbenchers Bung Mokhtar Radin (Kinatabatangan), Idris Haron (Batu) and Lenggong MP Shamsul Anuar had stormed in, and shouted: “Ini himpunan haram, keluar dari sini.’ (This is an illegal gathering. Get out!).
Motion filed against DAP MP
Sivanesan also revealed that Bung Mokhtar has filed a motion to refer DAP's Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran to the Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee over the incident.
If found guilty, Kulasegaran could be slapped with a six-month suspension.
Contacted later, the Ipoh Barat MP said he was unperturbed by the move and took a dig at Bung Mokhtar saying, “I did things in the open. I did not marry secretly.”
This was an obvious referrence to the legal tussle surrounding Bung Mokhtar 's marriage to actress Zizie Ezette.
After days of repeatedly denying the marriage, the Kinabatangan MP admitted that he and the 31-year-old starlet are husband and wife.
One aspect of our prophet’s leadership deserves emphasis. Even though he was painfully aware of his burden of spreading Allah’s message and thus the righteousness of his mission, yet he demonstrated remarkable restrain. Thus he was willing to delay his pilgrimage, dear to all Muslims, for a year if that would avoid an unnecessary war. He was keen to heal, not create new or open old wounds. Contrast that to today’s Malaysian leaders, Muslims and non-Muslims, who are so consumed with the righteousness of their cause that they are prepared to create havoc, sacrifice lives, and even destroy the nation if that is what it takes for them to gain power.
M. Bakri Musa
Chapter 3: Lessons From The Past
The Relevant Lessons of Early Islam
Much can be learned from the travails of the early Muslims. It helps considerably of course if God is on your side. That aside, there is much that we can emulate from the experiences and wisdom of the early Muslims.
First is the character of the prophet (pbuh) himself. Forgetting for a moment that he was Allah’s chosen Rasul (messenger), there are many attributes of the man that are noteworthy. His style of leadership was one of personal example. Long before Allah chose him, he already had a reputation for honesty and trustworthiness, as attested by his title Al-Ameen. Further, he had significant worldly achievements before he became Allah’s messenger. He was a successful trader, bringing bountiful profits to his employer. So impressed was her with his performance that she took the most unusual step of asking him to marry her. In a society where a woman’s status is only slightly higher than that of a camel, this was an unusual gesture on Khatijah’s part. Even more significant, Muhammad (pbuh) was not threatened by her audacity, a reflection of his conviction that women shared equal standing with men: a revolutionary concept at the time. He married her and she later became his most ardent and important supporter.
Unlike our prophet, all too often today’s Malaysian leaders have not demonstrated excellence in any endeavor. They may have dabbled in many fields but have left no significant mark; they are busy padding their resumes rather than achieving anything of significance. We have plenty of lawyers in Mahathir’s cabinet but I would not trust any of them to handle my traffic ticket. A few are former executives, but the companies they ran were monopolies; no particular managerial talent is required to run such enterprises. As for the academics in the cabinet, their scholarly achievements are such that they would have a tough time gaining tenure elsewhere.
The second point is that Muhammad (pbuh), in the hip-hop language of today, not only “talk the talk but also walk the walk.” His commitment to equality was not mere lip service; he demonstrated it in the most dramatic ways. He abhorred slavery; and demonstrated this by freeing those slaves who became Muslims. Indeed some of his trusted companions and brilliant lieutenants were former slaves. He not only preached tolerance, but also personified forbearance and charity. Thus when his daughters married non-Muslims he did not disown them nor did he chastise their husbands or proclaim that they and their children would rot in hell. Yet today many supposedly devout Muslims willingly disown their own kin for much lesser sins.
Muhammad (pbuh) was no autocratic leader. In battles he consulted his lieutenants liberally; he did not embark on a course of action unless he could carry his followers with him. He knew that once his followers were committed, there would be no limit to their achievements. The near disaster they experienced at Uhud was in part attributable to the fact that many of the Muslims were fighting for the wrong reason – the spoils of war rather than for the cause.
We see this same phenomenon in UMNO today. Because it is the ruling party with many “goodies” in the form of public contracts and patronages to dispense, UMNO attracts many for the wrong reasons. Many members and leaders are fighting not for the party but for the bounties afforded by the party. The lowliest positions are keenly contested not because of the opportunity to advance the cause but for the accompanying government contracts and largess they would bring. The opposition Islamic Party PAS on the other hand, with no comparable rewards to distribute, attracts only the most committed. The crucial test for PAS is when it gains control of a few more jurisdictions, and then the fight will surely begin.
Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, in the second volume of his memoir, related similar experiences with his ruling People’s Action Party (PAP). As it has been in power for a long time, it attracted political climbers and opportunists rather than true believers.
To his credit, Lee recognized this very early and took immediate drastic measures. He stepped up recruitments from other than the usual sources instead of merely waiting passively for new members. Today, Singapore’s second tier of leaders includes some of its best and brightest who has been successfully recruited laterally, instead of depending exclusively on the rank and file.
In striking contrast, Malaysia’s young leaders are an uninspiring bunch. Indeed Prime Minister Mahathir lamented that he is trapped in his position. If he were to retire now (2002), there would be a mad and unseemly struggle for power.
One aspect of our prophet’s leadership deserves emphasis. Even though he was painfully aware of his burden of spreading Allah’s message and thus the righteousness of his mission, yet he demonstrated remarkable restrain. Thus he was willing to delay his pilgrimage, dear to all Muslims, for a year if that would avoid an unnecessary war. He was keen to heal, not create new or open old wounds. Contrast that to today’s Malaysian leaders, Muslims and non-Muslims, who are so consumed with the righteousness of their cause that they are prepared to create havoc, sacrifice lives, and even destroy the nation if that is what it takes for them to gain power.
PAS leaders in their zeal for spreading the truth as they see it are oblivious of the dangerous polarization of the ummah (community) that they cause. They brazenly declare that those who vote against PAS are surely punching their ticket to hell. Such righteousness! Such certitude! That their listeners believe in such nonsense is reflective of the stupidity of both leaders and followers. Such crude preaching perverts the true message of Islam. To PAS and UMNO leaders, it matters not that their actions would create permanent deep fissures among Malays as long as they could capture votes. They are political animals to the core rather than true leaders who will lead the nation to greater heights.
Malaysian leaders would do well to emulate our prophet (pbuh). It was not simply that he was preaching the message of Allah that accounted for Islam’s phenomenal success; it was also the sheer power of his personality and sense of leadership that attracted many committed followers.
To his great tribute, Muhammad (pbuh) strongly discouraged a personality cult built around him. Imagine had he done so or in any way aggrandized himself. Muslims today would be busy adoring and worshipping the man instead of his message. Muslim homes would be decorated with ornately framed portraits of the prophet, his family and companions. Mosques and monuments would be named after him. Muslim babies would be carrying amulets and other artifacts of him for good luck charms and symbols. Young Muslim radicals would be waving little green books and chanting “The Thoughts of Chairman Muhammad.”
In his wisdom the prophet (pbuh) clearly distinguished between the divine revelations he received, and his own preaching. With the former he made sure that they were immediately and accurately memorized and transcribed by his followers. But he specifically forbade them from recording his own words lest later Muslims would confuse the two messages. Because the prophet did not focus on himself but on Allah’s message, the faith remains true to its original divine mission.
I look askance at today’s leaders, especially in the Muslim world, where every home is adorned with portraits of the “beloved” leader. Every room and street in Baghdad is plastered with pictures of Saddam Hussein in various forms: farmer, soldier (highly decorated of course), and preacher. Iranians can hardly escape the scowling stare of Ayotallah Khomeini from every public wall.
Because he attracted such capable and distinguished personalities as his companions, Muhammad (pbuh) did not see fit to arrange for a formal succession mechanism. Rightly so, after all he was chosen by Allah to be His Last Messenger, and thus by definition, there cannot be a successor. Nevertheless in the ordinary workings of mortals, there must be a system for an orderly transition of leadership and smooth transfer of power.
Fortunately his closest companions were men of integrity and honor. They learned well the lessons of Islam. Between them they were able to agree on a caliph, the successor to lead the faithful. The first was Abu Bakar, followed by Omar, Uthman, and lastly, Ali, the prophet’s son-in-law. Their leadership was exemplary. Abu Bakar created a much-needed sense of stability and continuity. Uthman collated the revelations into the Holy Koran, a complete message for mankind for all ages and at all times. Omar was a legendary administrator known for his fabled walkabout brand of management where he would disguise himself as an ordinary citizen and wander the streets to determine how his subjects were actually doing, instead of relying on reports from his subordinates. His kind-heartedness and concern for the ordinary citizens were the stuff of legends. Such achievements notwithstanding, three of the four Caliphs ended being assassinated by fellow Muslims. There are reports that Abu Bakar’s brief tenure was because he was poisoned.
Muhammad (pbuh) was the personification of tolerance. Muslims today do not quite grasp this unique and enduring quality of our prophet. Much of the split in the Muslim world today is the result of differences in interpretations and not on matters of basic principles. The schism between the two major sects, Sunni and Shi’i, is over who should succeed the prophet, that is, differences over personnel, not principle.
One of the disheartening aspects of public discourse in Malaysia today is precisely this lack of tolerance of divergent opinions. Those who dare disagree are quickly labeled deviant, subversive, or worse, infidels destined for hell. Malaysians emphasize differences rather than commonalities.
Muslims are urged to emulate the ways of the holy prophet (pbuh). We cannot hope to aspire for his qualities of miracles; those are properly the exclusive gift of Almighty Allah. But we can emulate his other human attributes.
Earlier I alluded to his legendary tolerance. When his uncle Abu Talib died without embracing Islam, the prophet did not forsake him or condemn him to eternal hell. His uncle may not have been a Muslim but he was still worthy of Muhammad’s love and respect.
When one sees the deep schism among Muslims today, it is easy to forget that the essence of the faith is rather simple and agreed to by all. Islam’s tenets are its five pillars: belief in Allah and Mohammad as his Last Messenger, and in the Day of Judgment; praying five times a day; fasting during Ramadan; giving tithe; and if conditions permit, a pilgrimage to Mecca. Everything else are frills, ornaments that will vary with times and cultures. If we can tolerate these variations then we would be able to get along better with our fellow Muslims, and in turn, with non-Muslims.
Just as in a building, these pillars may be displayed differently. A functional builder shows the structural pillars boldly to glorify their massive strengths and advertise their supporting functions, as we see in modern warehouse-like offices. A more esthetic architect may want them camouflaged as Grecian or Roman columns. A post-modernist designer would hide or blend them into the walls.
So it is with Islam. Some Muslims display their faith exuberantly, others more subdued but no less pious. Living in America, I am blessed with the opportunity to learn from fellow Muslims from all over the world. From the conservative Wahabis I value the anchoring stability of traditions and rituals; from the liberal Ismailis, pragmatic accommodation. They both enrich my understanding of the faith.
Our prophet (pbuh) implicitly recognized this diversity when he declared, “Differences of opinion within my community is a sign of the bounty of Allah.” It pains me immensely to see Muslims polarized and divided over mere interpretations. We should have a Jeffersonian generosity: every difference in opinion is not a difference of principle.
Islam spreads because people recognize implicitly the value and truth of this divine message. Ancient Malays readily accepted Islam despite its foreign origin because of its evident truth. Yet today we frequently hear the refrain that globalization and free enterprise are not suited for Malaysia because they originated with the Anglo Saxons and thus alien to our ways. If the ideas work, embrace them; if not, discard. The world readily accepted the Arabic numeral system without caring who invented it.
I find this insular attitude among Muslim leaders and scholars of denigrating and dismissing the works and contributions of non-Muslims dangerous and a major obstacle to the modernization of Islam. Islam is too important to be left to the religious scholars alone. We would be abrogating our responsibility as Muslims if we suspend our critical judgment and blindly accept the pronouncements of our ulama. A passage in the Qur’an reminds us that on the Day of Judgment we will be judged by our own deeds. We cannot excuse ourselves by saying that we followed the teachings of this alim (singular for ulama) or that scholar.
It is instructive that one of the significant advances in medical education in the 20th century was started not by educators or even doctors, but an insurance salesman, Abraham Flexner. Prior to 1911 medical education in America was a haphazard affair. A medical college was less a place to train doctors but more a moneymaking enterprise. And the product showed. In 1911 Flexner, appalled at how future doctors were being trained, produced his famous report that later became the basis for revamping medial education in America. Today American medical schools are unanimously regarded as the best. Had the medical establishment simply dismissed Flexner because of his lack of medical or educational training, American medical schools would have remained third rate.
In the final analysis it is the merit of the idea that matters, not where or from whom it originated.
Walaupun menjadi pemangkin kepada pembangunan Malaysia, tetapi Lembah Klang – dan Selangor yang menjadi sebahagian daripadanya – tidak langsung disebut dalam Rancangan Malaysia ke-10 yang dibentangkan hari ini, kata Menteri Besar Selangor, Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.
Katanya, Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hanya menyebut rangsangan ekonomi ditumpukan kepada ‘Greater Kuala Lumpur’ yang merupakan sebahagian kecil Lembah Klang.
“Selangor yang merupakan sebahagian daripada bandar gabungan Lembah Klang adalah kawasan tengah industri dan perdagangan di negara ini.
“Selangor mempunyai penduduk berjumlah lima juta serta menyumbang kutipan cukai paling tinggi, jadi ia sepatutnya layak dimasukkan dalam pelan pembangunan kerajaan,” kata Abdul Khalid dalam satu kenyataan.
Katanya, semakin Malaysia dan negara lain di dunia beralih kepada ekonomi berasaskan pengetahuan atau K-Ekonomi, maka tidak wajar jika pentadbiran Najib mengabaikan Selangor yang menempatkan paling banyak bilangan universiti dan pusat pengajian tinggi.
“Adakah pentadbiran Najib sengaja mengabaikan fakta bahawa Selangor merekodkan jumlah projek industri paling banyak pada 2009 dan 2008, selain menjadi negeri paling banyak mencipta peluang pekerjaan serta mencatatkan jumlah pelaburan tertinggi di Semenanjung?
“Jika Perdana Menteri melihat kepada sektor yang disasarkan pembangunannya – iaitu sektor pendidikan, pelancongan, kesihatan – kesemua sektor ini adalah berpusat di Lembah Klang.
“Begitu juga dengan sektor industri , incubation serta Perusahaan Kecil dan Sederhana (SMIs) yang semuanya tertumpu di Lembah Klang,” tambahnya.
Menurut menteri besar Selangor, ini adalah contoh klasik “kuman di seberang nampak, gajah depan mata tak nampak’.
“Pentadbiran Najib hilang fokus terhadap matlamat RMK-10. Adakah keputusan mengabaikan Selangor dalam fokus pembangunan ini disebabkan politik?
“Jika ya, keputusan ini telah membelakangkan kepentingan rakyat.
“Kami menegaskan dalam memperkatakan usaha mentransformasi ekonomi Malaysia, dua perkara penting perlu diberi perhatian;
1. Penilaian semula saiz sektor awam
2. Meliberalisasi saluran komunikasi
“Saya tidak pasti pentadbiran Najib cukup berani untuk memberi tumpuan kepada isu-isu ini,” tambahnya
(Asia Sentinel) Two of the country's biggest industrialists seek investment in badly needed power
Recent moves by two of India's biggest private interests – Lakshmi Mittal's ArcelorMittal and Reliance Power, controlled by Anil Ambani -- highlight the opportunities in the country's lagging power sector. Neither India's government nor industry has been unable to build fast enough to provide power for the fast-growing economy.
In an effort to solve acute power deficits, which now range between 10 and 13 percent annually, New Delhi has set a target to generate 78,000 megawatts of new capacity in the 11th five year plan which ends in 2012, and another 100,000 MW in the 12th five year plan, which ends in 2017. About 70 percent of India's electricity is generated from over 80 coal-fired thermal plants.
There is little help coming from overseas. Although laws were changed in 2003 to allow 100 percent foreign direct investment in the power sector, the response from overseas investors has been discouraging given myriad regulatory, land acquisition, leasing and other problems.
To meet the shortfall, ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steel producer, has been looking for ways to convert the captive power for its multiple steel plant projects into commercial sales, giving the group the potential to become one of the country's most important independent power producers. ArcelorMittal could then challenge top private companies such as Tatas, Essar and Reliance, given the steel producer's financial clout.
Similarly, with more than 35,000 MW of new capacity under various stages of implementation, Reliance Power, controlled by Anil Ambani, could well challenge the state-owned NTPC to become India's largest independent power producer.
In an interview with Asia Sentinel, Anil Ambani, who recently declared at least a temporary truce with his elder brother Mukeshi following a protracted legal battle over gas pricing, said that "Huge untapped demand for power exists in our country with big potential for gas-based units due to new discoveries. Despite some uncertainties in policy, R-Power is bullish about India's power sector over the longer run.''
R-Power's plans include 25,000 MW of coal-fired and hydro projects and 12,000 MW gas-fired plants, Ambani said.
"The key ingredients of our emerging power portfolio are in place: land has been acquired, we have access to captive coal mines for raw material, government clearances are in place, construction work has begun for all major projects."
R-Power has been successful in obtaining three of four Ultra Mega Power Projects, as they known, of 4000 MW each, in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. Tata Power has won the remaining one, in Gujarat.
The 7,500 MW Dadri project in Uttar Pradesh is projected to be one of the world's largest gas-fired power plants at a single location. R-Power is also doing a gas-fired 4,000 MW project in Maharashtra as well. Financing for the Madhya Pradesh project is completed while the others are expected soon, Ambani said. R-Power raised nearly US$3 billion in early 2008 via a direct public offering.
R-Power Gas Plans
With the Supreme Court now having cleaned up the epic gas supply dispute between competing interests owned by Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Mukesh's
Reliance Industries Ltd expects to now quickly ramp up gas production from its Krishna-Godavari plant to 120 mscmd of gas, raising overall gas output to 300-400 mscmd in the country, Ambani said.
"The large natural gas finds will contribute towards economic growth and development of India,"he added. Reports suggest that RIL could buy equity stakes in gas-fired plants run by the umbrella group Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), to build business synergies.
Ambanis Patch Up
There have been positive reactions to the Ambani brothers agreeing to bury their differences and establish an "overall environment of harmony, co-operation and collaboration between the two groups." Some observers say that Anil has bought peace with Mukesh as R-Power will need RIL's financial and political clout to see through the massive investments in the power sector that will yield returns only after a gestation period.
The two brothers will also need to complement each other's strengths to ensure that resources at their command find the right buyers, price and investors and not farmed out to competitors such as NTPC.
Mittal Power Moves
A spokesperson for ArcelorMittal said the company is looking to build captive power plants and mines to serve its proposed steel producing facilities.
"Such power plants are expected to be built in Jharkhand, Orissa and Karnataka, based on thermal coal linkages and gas-based plants at a later stage," the spokesman told local media. ArcelorMittal has committed to massive steel projects in Orissa, Jharkhand, both in east India and Karnataka in the south.
So far the Mittal Group has a minor presence in the power sector through LNM India Internet Ventures, which holds nearly 9 percent (value Rs5 billion) of Indiabulls Power, which is developing TPPs with 6,600 MW capacity.
Electricity generation will be Mittal's second big move in India in the energy sector --- ArcelorMittal holds 49 percent of the equity in HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd (HMEL) that is setting up the US$4-billion refinery in Bhatinda, Punjab, which commenced operation in 1998.
In June 2007, Mittal matched the state-run fuel marketing firm Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) equity. The 9 million ton joint venture refinery is scheduled to be completed in 2011. HMEL has announced that it intends to export the refined fuel to Pakistan.
Mittal Enhances India Presence
Last week, ArcelorMittal signed a MoU with the Karnataka government to spend nearly US$6.5 billion to build a 6 million-ton-a-year steel plant in the state, including a 750 MW power plant. The company is in talks with the State Power Corporation to supply power to the region.
ArcelorMittal's Orissa and Jharkhand steel projects, with combined investment of US$20 billion, face local problems including land acquisition issues and allocation of mining leases. With Karnataka plans taking a formal shape, the company is hoping for better.
"Once we have seen progress in Karnataka ahead of other (states), we will start here first and then wait and see what is happening in other states," Mittal told local media.
Foreign Investment In Power
The Hong Kong-based CLP Holdings Ltd and US-based AES Corp are the two main foreign stakeholders in India's power generation sector. However, the moves by ArcelorMittal follow recent interest by foreign players in India's power sector despite the drawbacks.
Last month, Singapore's Sembcorp signed onto a 1,320MW power project in Andhra Pradesh along side Gayatri Projects, a Hyderabad-based infrastructure firm. Sembcorp will initially invest Rs 10.5 billion.
"This is an indication of growing interest of FDI coming to the power generation sector," said power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who added that he personally saw to it that Sembcorp investment went through.
The Hinduja Group also has plans to invest US$12 billion on power projects in India to develop 10,000 MW Capacity. The Hindujas are looking at options in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. A 1,040MW power plant is already in place in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh that took 13 years to complete.
Lamenting India's need to streamline approvals to attract investors, co-chairman Gopichand Hinduja recently said in Mumbai, "To make infrastructure more appealing to foreign and domestic investors, there should be accountability at every level of the project, and a responsibility to stick to timelines."