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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Siri laporan polis

Dad: Son 'beaten like a cow,' framed of engine theft

(Malaysiakini) The father of Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) sergeant N Tharmendran today alleged that his son was tortured into confessing to the theft of two jet engines while under remand.

“They beat him like a cow,” said N Nagarajah, 71, after lodging a police report on the matter at the Brickfields police headquarters today.

Nagarajah was accompanied by human rights lawyer N Surendran and three PR members of parliament - DAP's M Manogaran (Teluk Intan) and PKR's S Manikavasagam (Kapar) and Low Gwo Burne (Kelana Jaya).

Nagarajah (left) claimed that two RMAF officers, a Major Azam and a Major Ismail, had beaten and mistreated his son over a period of nearly three weeks from July 2 to 17 last year.

He claimed that Major Ismail made Tharmendran wear a crash helmet, which he then proceeded to hit repeatedly using alternatly a golf club and a cricket bat.

Nagarajah said Major Ismail told his son that he had written the names of all those he had tortured , including Tharmendaran's on the crash helmet

Nagarajah also claimed that his son was stripped to his underwear in a room where the air-conditioning was going full-blast, and that he was not allowed to sleep, with regular interrogations after midnight.

“All the time, they kept asking him to confess he had stolen the two F5E fighter jet engines from Sg Besi TUDM Base.

“Major Ismail also threatened to shoot my son and (co-accused) Rajandran Prasad,” he said in his report.

Nagarajah also alleged that the officers had told Tharmendran, who is currently under remand at the Sungai Buloh prison, to also confess to stealing other airplane spare parts and air force property.

Surendran, acting as lead counsel for Tharmendran and his family, claimed the Attorney-General was fully aware of the torture and yet proceeded to charge him with the theft of the jet engines.

“The fact that he was tortured to confess suggests that he is not guilty. Why is it that an armed forces personnel can be tortured severely on a military base?,” he asked.

'No chance to give his side of story'

Surendran added that the RM150,000 bail set by the Sessions Court is highly questionable as Tharmendran has not had a chance to give his side of the story since the incident made headlines last year.

Manogaran (right) said they will demand for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the case, and at the same time present a memorandum to the Inspector-General of Police and raise it in Parliament next week.

“Only through a royal commission can we have a fair investigation. We need to know how many are involved, who is involved, how long it has been going on, who is buying and how much is it all worth.

“Does it go all the way up to the generals? If they can sell spare parts, they can sell information too,” Manogaran said.

Tharmendran and businessman Rajandran were both charged in the Sessions Court in January this year in relation to the stolen jet engines.

Tharmendran was charged with stealing and abetting in the crime while Rajandran faces a charge of handling stolen properties. Both were also charged with conspiring to steal the engines.

Tharmendran was also charged with conspiring in the theft of the two engines with senior serviceman Mohamad Shukri Mohamad Yusop at the material processing shed (Matra 1) of the RMAF base in Sungai Besi.

Tharmendran's and Rajandran's trial has been set for July 19 at the Petaling Jaya sessions court.

'Controversies pile up, BN seeks terrorists' help'

By Rahmah Ghazali - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Like the Hollywood production “Wag the Dog” on the art of spin-doctoring, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim today accused Barisan Nasional's propagandists of penning a similar script.

BN's plot, according to the former deputy premier, centres around terrorists.

Anwar believes that the recent revelation by the government and Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan that terror networks exist in Malaysia was just “propaganda”.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament, he claimed that BN wanted to deflect public attention from controversies such as sports betting, Apco Worldwide and others.

"The issue (terror networks) was not even debated in Parliament but they are tyring to frighten the people by saying that terrorist links exist in the country.

"... where is the evidence? Where is the activity based? If it's true, then why were the terrorists deported without any charges?" he asked.

'Raise it in Parliament'

Musa and the Home Ministry had also revealed that terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah (JI) was courting students from local educational institutions.

Commenting on this, Anwar said the matter should be debated in Parliament during the current sitting.

"Let us scrutinise the evidence. If it's true, we would support he government. We are not bi-partisan when it comes to national security.

"But if this issue is being used to frighten and threaten people and if it is just a part of their propaganda, we would oppose it," he stressed.

'Musa should have kept it under wraps'

Meanwhile, PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar, who was also present at the press conference, said the police chief should have kept such a serious matter under wraps.

"If it concerns national security, why is there a need to announce it to the media and public? He should have just used the legal means available (to tackle the problem). I think that this was just an attempt to protect Umno and BN's political interests,” he added.

On the same note, Mahfuz questioned if Musa's announcement was actually an attempt to remain as police chief despite his contract expiring later this year.

"Is he trying to show to the prime minister that he is needed to protect Umno and BN's political interests?" he asked.

Anwar has not seen exco's 'sex video'

By Rahmah Ghazali - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Anwar Ibrahim today lashed out at his former comrade Bayan Baru MP Zahrain Mohd Hashim for accusing the opposition leader of covering up a sex scandal involving PKR leader Elizabeth Wong.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament, Anwar claimed that Zahrain, an ex-PKR MP, has been hired to assassinate his character.

"Do you think it is a serious allegation? If it's serious, then (Zahrain) should release the video. I didn't watch it. I don't know if he watches pornographic videos, I don't know what he does," he said.

Yesterday, Zahrain told the Dewan Rakyat that Anwar had promised to reveal the video involving the Selangor exco, including of her allegedly performing oral sex.

He also claimed that Anwar had instructed sacked PKR MP Zulkifi Noordin to attack Wong in order to pressure her to quit, but had later changed his tune.

'This is gutter politics'

However, Anwar dismissed the issue as “hearsay” and criticised Zahrain for indulging in gutter politics.

"This is only hearsay, I don't have (such a video). If I have it, I will release it and that is my decision. Only then, we will take action (against Wong).

"But there is not a shred of evidence. What do you expect me to do? (Zahrain) has a political agenda, (he shouldn't) resort to this... it is unethical, immoral and unacceptable," he said.

In another development, Anwar said the defection-weary PKR is open to the idea of having its elected representatives ink a contract like those in DAP.

The DAP contract stipulates that those who quit the party or jump ship must pay RM5 million in compensation.

"We have not done it but it is an option. We will study it. (Perhaps) that's why it is easier for them (PKR reps) to 'lompat' (defect)," said Anwar, with a laugh.

PAS heading for ‘big tussle’ next year

By Zainal Epi - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The just-concluded PAS assembly (muktamar) has one clear message: next year’s party election will be hotly contested.

The reason is simple – the young liberals who are loyal to PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim will once again attempt to take over the leadership and re-chart the party’s future.

The setting up of a non-Muslim supporters wing did not go down well with these young liberals who fear it will not only dilute PAS’ influence but also weaken PKR.

The new wing will register non-Muslims regardless of their political inclinations and ideologies.

The party leadership had intended to “fish” Chinese from the MCA and Indians from the MIC – the two Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties that are currently facing a credibility crisis.

The wing offers a new platform for disgruntled members of the two parties to contest against BN in the next general election under the PAS banner.

However, the strategy seems to have backfired as PKR, plagued with internal problems, is not too happy with PAS’ move.

The Indians in PKR feel they have been treated unfairly and have even threatened to leave the party if their voices are not heard.

The Chinese members, though strongly supportive of the party, are said to be looking at alternative platforms to “free” themselves of the hold the Malay leaders have on the party.

'Head-on collision'

Now with PAS offering an avenue, there is no denying that these “disgruntled” people would seize the opportunity without having to join any party in BN and being tagged as “traitors”.

Given this new development and the threat posed by the new wing to Pakatan Rakyat, the young liberals in PAS are said to be drawing up strategies to sway the party’s direction.

Moreover, the muktamar did not harp on pursuing its objective of setting up an Islamic state, probably because such a commitment might drive away potential non-Muslim supporters.

Thus, next year’s party election may see a replay of a “head-on collision” between the young liberals and the old party stalwarts or the fundamentalists.

In reality, both the groups have the same objectives but their approaches and priorities are different.

For the fundamentalists, their ultimate aim is to have a PAS leader as prime minister while the young liberals want Anwar as the premier.

For the fundamentalists, PAS must be the dominant party in any pacts or alliances forged and must never play second-fiddle to any partner, while for the liberals, their main aim is to bring down the BN government.

'Seeds of distrust'

Come next year, the troubles in PAS are expected to surface, given that the liberals do not want to see seats contested by DAP and PKR in the next general election being also contested by non-Muslims under the PAS flag.

Although PAS secretary-general Mustapa Ali said discussions were being held on this issue to prevent it from happening, members on the ground are doubtful.

A member, when met at the muktamar on Saturday, said it would be difficult to dismiss the demands of the non-Muslim wing for electoral seats.

“If their demands are dismissed, it would sow the seeds of distrust in the new wing towards the leadership. When this occurs, what will happen to the wing then?” he asked.

Given the fear that PAS would jeopardise the present good relationship with DAP and PKR by giving in to the demands of the new wing (to contest in seats held by its two partners), the liberals are left with one option – unseat the fundamentalists and steer the party away from a damaging internal warfare before the next general election.

Swiss shock kings of Europe

Gelson Fernandes of Switzerland celebrates scoring

Switzerland pulled off the biggest shock so far at this FIFA World Cup™ as Gelson Fernandes's strike against the run of play earned them a 1-0 win against European champions and joint-tournament favourites Spain. Vicente del Bosque's team predictably dominated possession but were hit on the break seven minutes into the second half as the Swiss recorded a first win over Spain in 19 attempts.

Stylish Spain had all of the ball in the early stages in Durban, painting pretty patterns around the pitch with astounding ease as the Switzerland chased and harried. The Swiss hardly got a sniff of the ball in the first quarter-hour but were not unduly troubled either as Spain failed to turn their elegant control and ball play into concrete attempts on goal. Their first chance of any real substance came after 25 minutes. After coming forward for a free-kick, centre-back Gerard Pique remained in an advanced position and collected a brilliant through-ball from the lively Andres Iniesta, back from injury in time to make the starting XI. Turning his man with the acumen of a seasoned striker, the tall defender was only denied at the last by the legs of Diego Benaglio, who came roaring bravely off his line.

The Swiss had their only notable attempt of the first period just seconds later, with Reto Ziegler’s free-kick from 20 yards hardly troubling Iker Casillas, the Real Madrid man diving to his left to keep out the tame strike. The UEFA EURO 2008 winners soon shifted the focus back to the other end of the pitch and on the half-hour mark Silva's looping ball from midfield picked out Iniesta racing toward goal. The Barcelona man was pulled back by Stephane Grichting on the edge of the box but Pique slammed the free-kick harmlessly into the Swiss wall. As the opening stanza ground to a halt, Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld was forced to replace influential centre-back Philippe Senderos, who limped off early in a match in his second consecutive FIFA World Cup.

A similar trend developed in the second half, with Spain dictating the patterns but stuttering in front of goal. Their profligacy was punished in the 52nd minute when a long, hopeful ball hoofed up the field was collected by Eren Derdiyok. The outrushing Casillas saved at his feet but the ball ricocheted to Fernandes who slid home from close range. It was only the second shot on goal for the Swiss, who celebrated the unlikely lead with a combination of shock and delight. The Spanish fans were stunned into the silence, but their favourites continued to press in search of that elusive goal. Villa went close on the hour, two minutes before Spain boss Del Bosque added a bit of firepower, bringing Fernando Torres and Jesus Navas off the bench. With their supporters back on their feet again, Iniesta's curler beat Benaglio but drifted the wrong side of the post.

Liverpool man Torres began to torment the defence with his running and pace, leading directly to a vicious strike from Xabi Alonso in the 71st minute which rattled the crossbar and left it shaking. Shortly after Navas saw a chance from close-in well saved by Benaglio as Spanish pressure mounted. The Swiss were dangerous on the break, however, and Derdiyok hit the post with a quarter-hour to go after the Spaniards committed too many men forward. Seconds later Spain lost Iniesta, who limped off after a rough challenge; he may have aggravated the muscle injury that made him a doubt before the game. In his absence, Spain endured only further frustration and they will need to rebound against Honduras at Ellis Park on 21 June. The Swiss take on Chile, the other Group H winners, earlier that same day in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Forlan silences South Africa

Diego Forlan (C) of Uruguay celebrates after scoring the opening goal with team mate Jorge Fucile and Alvaro Pereira

Diego Forlan silenced the crowd for the first time during South Africa 2010 with a wonder strike worthy of any stage, and was also on target from the spot as Uruguay took a step closer to the last 16 with a 3-0 win over the hosts. Alvaro Pereira sealed a comfortable victory for the South Americans with a stoppage-time tap-in.

South Africa, who had not beaten Uruguay in their previous two meetings, headed into this game in Pretoria knowing the hopes of the Rainbow Nation rested upon their shoulders, with both sides having picked up a point in their opening outings in Group A. Carlos Alberto Parreira brought in Tsepo Masilela for Lucas Thwala in the hosts' starting line-up, while Uruguay opted to make two changes, with Edinson Cavani and Jorge Fucile coming in for Mauricio Victorino and Ignacio Gonzalez.

Pretoria had been a lucky place for Bafana Bafana, who had not yet lost at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, but it was Uruguay who started the brighter. In the 23rd minute, Luis Suarez teased his way past Bongani Khumalo before stinging the palms of Itumelenge Khune. It was a clear warning of what was to come and, within 60 seconds, the South Americans were ahead through Forlan. Khune had clearly not been expecting the Atletico Madrid forward to unleash a shot from 30 yards out, and stood rooted to the spot as his stunning drive, taking a slight deflection off the back of Aaron Mokoena, dipped over his head and into the back of the net.

The second half started as the first had finished, with Oscar Tabarez's side threatening to add to their lead. Cavani was first denied an opportunity to strike at goal thanks to some smart defending by Masilela, Diego Lugano might have been wheeling off in celebration had he made any kind of decent connection with Forlan's inviting corner-kick, and, in the 67th minute, the lively Pareira was guilty of scuffing a gilt-edged chance wide.

Bafana Bafana were still being frustrated in their search for an equalising goal, but when the chances did present themselves, they failed to profit. Katlego Mphela could not direct a header from Siboniso Gaxa's cross, Steven Pienaar's attempted shot was blocked, and Teko Modise's 68th-minute shot, South Africa's first on target, was easily smothered. The host nation's hopes of making it to the last 16 for the first time in their FIFA World Cup history received a hammer blow in the 76th minute when Khune was adjudged to have brought down Suarez, prompting referee Massimo Busacca to point to the spot, before flashing a red card at the South African keeper. Forlan stepped up to take the resulting penalty and made no mistake in smashing the ball past the deputising Moneeb Josephs.

Mphela and Siphiwe Tshabalala both had chances to reduce the deficit in the closing stages but, in the end, there was little the hosts could do to deny Uruguay a deserved and vital three points. Indeed, the South Americans added insult to injury in stoppage time with Pereira given the space to tap in Suarez's inviting cross.

Beausejour ends Chile wait

Jean Beausejour of Chile (R) celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate Matias Fernandez

Chile ended a wait of almost half a century for a victory on the world stage by defeating Honduras 1-0 in their opening Group H game in Nelspruit.

If there was a touch of fortune about Jean Beausejour's 34th-minute winner – Roger Espinoza's attempted clearance striking him as the pair slid in to meet a cross – it was the least Chile deserved for an impressive attacking display that had Honduras on the ropes for much of the 90 minutes at the Mbombela Stadium. For Chile, it was a victory exactly 48 years in the making – the South Americans had not won a FIFA World Cup™ match since defeating Yugoslavia in the match for third place on home soil on this very day in 1962. Moreover, they had never won outside their home continent but they showed here just why they were strong enough to finish second in South American qualifying.

Facing a Honduran side making their first finals appearance since 1982, Marcelo Bielsa's men hit the ground running, dominating possession in the opening half-hour and pinning Honduras back. Matias Fernandez sent a free-kick dipping on to the roof of Noel Valladares' net after just three minutes and La Roja's quick passing soon led to several half-chances. Arturo Vidal drove in a long-range shot that Valladares required two attempts to hold, then sent a header over the crossbar from a corner. In between Chile opened up the Honduran back line with one swift passing exchange only for Jorge Valdivia to overhit his final ball to Beasejour.

Bielsa's men gained their reward for an impressive start after 34 minutes. It was a nicely worked goal, if fortuitous in the final execution. Chile's pinball passing created a gap for Mauricio Isla to break clear on the right side of the penalty box and fire in a low cross to the near post. Although Espinoza got a stretched leg to the ball first, it bounced up against Beausejour and deflected into the net. Chile kept coming forward, with Sanchez driving in a shot that struck the hand of Maynor Figueroa. There were few glimmers of hope for Reinaldo Rueda's Honduras at the other end. Ramon Nunez finally called Chile custodian Claudio Bravo into action on the stroke of half-time, dipping in a free-kick that the goalkeeper tipped over.

The attacks kept flowing toward Honduras's goal in the second period. Sanchez should have added a second just after the hour when Valvidia played him in down the right, only for the Udinese winger to drag his shot wide of the far post. Valladares then made a superb diving save to keep out Waldo Ponce's close-range header, stretching out his right hand to block the ball when the defender looked certain to bury Vidal's header across goal. Next it was Figueroa's turn to rescue his side with a goal-saving challenge on Mauricio Isla. When Valdivia did find the net he was offside but one goal would be enough for the inventive Chileans.

Lawyers to claim airman ‘tortured’ over stolen jet engines

A Northrop F5-E Tiger is shown.
 
KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — Lawyers for the family of Sergeant N. Tharmendran, charged with stealing two jet engines, said they are going to “open a can worms” when they file a police report on behalf of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) airman today over his treatment in remand.
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Lawyer N. Surendran told The Malaysian Insider that his client has been made a “scapegoat” when he was charged with abetting the theft of the RMAF F5-E jet engines earlier this year and then remanded in Sungai Buloh prison.

“He is just a low-ranking air force personnel and we believe he was charged to protect others.” Surendran told The Malaysian Insider.

The RMAF discovered that the jet engines and their maintenance records were missing on May 22, 2008 and a police report was lodged on Aug 4 the same year.

The engines, purchased in 1972 at a cost of RM303,570 and not RM50 million as initially reported when the story broke, are now reportedly in Uruguay.

The theft was a major embarrassment to the government, followed by reports later that the country’s first submarine — the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman — could not dive in tropical waters. The Perdana Menteri-class submarine is one of two bought under a multi-billion ringgit deal.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had vowed that there would be no cover-up over the engines’ theft, which took place when he was defence minister, while current Defence Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi had said it was an inside job.

Surendran said his client was “made to confess” to the theft and they would reveal exactly what he was “subjected to” after his family lodges a police report at the Brickfields District Police Headquarters this morning.

The 42-year-old air force sergeant and company director K. Rajandran Prasad were jointly charged in the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court on Jan 6 in connection with the missing F5 jet engines.

Unlike his co-accused, Tharmendran was not able to raise the RM150,000 bail set by the Sessions Court and has been in prison for the last six months.

Surendran had filed an appeal at the High Court to reduce the bail amount but no date has been scheduled yet.

“At the most, bail for theft is usually fixed at between RM10,000 and RM20,000, not RM150,000 which is excessive.”

But he claims the prosecution had refused to relent and had argued for the high bail amount to be maintained when the case was last mentioned on March 29.

The prosecution reportedly used “national security” as the basis for their argument.

“This is a miscarriage of justice and raises the question of whether there is a deliberate attempt to keep my client in jail to keep him from revealing what he knows,” the lawyer said.

Tharmendran is accused of stealing the engines in Dec 2007 at the Subang RMAF air base.

He was also charged with conspiring in the theft with senior airman Mohamad Shukri Mohamad Yusop at the material processing shed at the Sungai Besi RMAF base.

He was arrested on Sept 1 last year, and if convicted, faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine.

Rajandran is accused of disposing off the engines on April 30, 2008.

Their trial has been scheduled for five days between July 19 and July 23.

PAS heading for ‘big tussle’ next year

By Zainal Epi - Free Malaysia Today,

KUALA LUMPUR: The just-concluded PAS assembly (muktamar) has one clear message: next year’s party election will be hotly contested.
The reason is simple – the young liberals who are loyal to PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim will once again attempt to take over the leadership and re-chart the party’s future.
The setting up of a non-Muslim supporters wing did not go down well with these young liberals who fear it will not only dilute PAS’ influence but also weaken PKR.
The new wing will register non-Muslims regardless of their political inclinations and ideologies.
The party leadership had intended to “fish” Chinese from the MCA and Indians from the MIC – the two Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties that are currently facing a credibility crisis.
The wing offers a new platform for disgruntled members of the two parties to contest against BN in the next general election under the PAS banner.
However, the strategy seems to have backfired as PKR, plagued with internal problems, is not too happy with PAS’ move.
The Indians in PKR feel they have been treated unfairly and have even threatened to leave the party if their voices are not heard.
The Chinese members, though strongly supportive of the party, are said to be looking at alternative platforms to “free” themselves of the hold the Malay leaders have on the party.
'Head-on collision'
Now with PAS offering an avenue, there is no denying that these “disgruntled” people would seize the opportunity without having to join any party in BN and being tagged as “traitors”.
Given this new development and the threat posed by the new wing to Pakatan Rakyat, the young liberals in PAS are said to be drawing up strategies to sway the party’s direction.
Moreover, the muktamar did not harp on pursuing its objective of setting up an Islamic state, probably because such a commitment might drive away potential non-Muslim supporters.
Thus, next year’s party election may see a replay of a “head-on collision” between the young liberals and the old party stalwarts or the fundamentalists.
In reality, both the groups have the same objectives but their approaches and priorities are different.
For the fundamentalists, their ultimate aim is to have a PAS leader as prime minister while the young liberals want Anwar as the premier.
For the fundamentalists, PAS must be the dominant party in any pacts or alliances forged and must never play second-fiddle to any partner, while for the liberals, their main aim is to bring down the BN government.
'Seeds of distrust'
Come next year, the troubles in PAS are expected to surface, given that the liberals do not want to see seats contested by DAP and PKR in the next general election being also contested by non-Muslims under the PAS flag.
Although PAS secretary-general Mustapa Ali said discussions were being held on this issue to prevent it from happening, members on the ground are doubtful.
A member, when met at the muktamar on Saturday, said it would be difficult to dismiss the demands of the non-Muslim wing for electoral seats.
“If their demands are dismissed, it would sow the seeds of distrust in the new wing towards the leadership. When this occurs, what will happen to the wing then?” he asked.
Given the fear that PAS would jeopardise the present good relationship with DAP and PKR by giving in to the demands of the new wing (to contest in seats held by its two partners), the liberals are left with one option – unseat the fundamentalists and steer the party away from a damaging internal warfare before the next general election.

Exclusive – Taibs’ Foreign Property Portfolio


Canadian properties worth in excess of a hundred million dollars      
Multi-million dollar complex
Multi-million dollar complex
Twin glass towers and a swish shopping complex at Preston Square in downtown Ottawa form just part of an enormous foreign property portfolio controlled in Canada by the family of Sarawak Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, according to our exclusive investigations. 
These buildings alone are worth at least one hundred million dollars and generate a healthy rental income from some of Canada’s top corporations, including Xerox, Adobe and Sun Life, who rent office space and retail outlets.  Numerous Canadian Government Ministries are also listed at the building.        
Preston Square Ottawa – office space and shops
The Preston Square development lies at the centre of the major Canadian property empire run by the developer Sakto, which was founded in the early 1980s by Taib’s college-aged son Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, his daughter Jamilah and his brother Onn Mahmud.  It continues to be managed as a ‘family business’ by his now son-in-law, a Canadian, Sean Murray.      
Commercial Skyscraper – Ottawa’s ‘Xerox Tower’ Complex. Sun Life and Adobe are some of the companies to rent space in this prestige property in Ottawa
Taxpayers in Sarawak are entitled to ask how the Chief Minister’s modest 20,000 Malaysian Ringgit a month official salary has managed to help generate a property empire worth so much.  It is also well known that the Taib family own further considerable assets in Malaysia and elsewhere.       
Dozens more buildings in Canada alone      
Adjacent to the Preston Square commercial complex, Sarawak Report has  further identified a luxury, multi-story residential building, also constructed by the Taibs and let for rent since 2006.  The family have named the building The Adelaide, an Australian city popular with Taib Mahmud and his late wife Laila.       
Luxury Living - The Adelaide (left)
Sakto publicity boasts that these  ”stylish urban rentals are lavishly equipped” with ”all the elements of contemporary flair” and assure clients that ”all units share the ease of abundant parking and the beauty of Preston’s Square manicured setting”.         
Arrogant Admission
We bring these revelations in the wake of the elderly Chief Minister’s admission last week that the Bumi remain ”poor and in difficulty”.  In this way, he explained, they can be relied upon to stay ”humble” and continue to vote for Barisan National (BN) at the next election.  Many in Sarawak have questioned why the Chief Minister has done so little to improve the lives of his people during his thirty years in power and where the profits of decades of timber and oil extraction have been spent.  Sarawak is Malaysia’s richest state in terms of natural resources and yet remains home to some of its poorest people.
 Exclusive revelations show Canadian Government and top corporations rent from the Taibs
Top rents
Sakto Development Corporation was set up in August 1983, according to official Ontario records, two years after Taib Mahmud took power.  The Directors were Taib’s brother, Onn Mahmud, Taib’s son Mahmud Abu Bekir (aged just 20) and Taib’s daughter Jamilah, both still students.  Three months later Onn also established Richfold Investment Limited in Hong Kong.  He did so on the same day that another company, Regent Star Company Limited, was incorporated with a mutual director, Kin Kwok Shea, at the same office address.  It was Regent Star Company which was identified by the Japanese Tax Authorities in 2007 as having received 32 million Malaysian Ringgit in kickbacks from Japanese timber exporters over the preceding seven years covered by their investigation. The   Japanese shipping cartel is known to have been making such payments since the early 1980s, amounting to a total of hundreds of millions of ringgit.
Impressive Investments
Sakto publicity claimed the company invested heavily in its first year(1983), “acquiring over 400 residential units” according to its previous website.
One of the Taib residential properties
Financial records also show that the company invested over $7 million Canadian Dollars during the first twelve months of its activities, $4.5 million of which was raised from its shareholders. In Canada shareholders are allowed to remain anonymous.  By the end of its first decade (in 1993) Sakto’s Financial Report shows the company had assets of just under $40 million Canadian Dollars.  Those acquisitions were backed by over $25 million in interest-free shareholder loans, for which “repayment terms had not been established”.  Additionally, Sakto had received a further $3 million in non-interest bearing loans, $1.5 million of which was “payable to a company related to a shareholder”.   Among the developments Sakto invested in was the construction of what the company described as a “Class A Office Tower”, completed on schedule and within budget in November 1989.  Known as 333 Preston Street, this building houses the company’s current headquarters.  In all but one of those years the company was declaring a loss and not paying taxes.
Sakto Financial Report 1993
Aquired in 2000 - Government Offices
During the 1990s, the company claims it ”continued shaping [its] property portfolio through acquisitions and disposals of various assets” and since 2000 it has been involved in some of Ottawa’s biggest property deals.  These  included the news making purchase of over a quarter of a million square feet of commercial space in the flourishing high-tech business district of Kanata and other buildings for over $31 million Canadian Dollars.   Much of this property was later sold on to a ’nominee’ company,  however Sakto continues to lease and manage the buildings, apparently on behalf of the new purchasers.     
Getting Bigger – Commercial Plaza Expansion
The company has recently completed the building of a second phase of its Preston Street Commerce Plaza complex, which includes a second 16 story tower block and a large commercial centre.  The Sakto website boasts that the centre represents “the very definition of Class A business space”.     
Uncle Onn Mahmud (Taib's brother) Directed the company with Jamilah until 2004
Sean Murray, the current Director of Sakto, is a Canadian of Irish Catholic extraction.  Records show he became involved in Sakto’s affairs in 1987, having reportedly met Jamilah Taib at University.  After marrying Jamilah, a process that involved his conversion to Islam, Sean Murray took over as a Director of a number of the Taib property interests, however there is no indication that he has become an actual shareholder.  Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib ceased to be listed as a Director of Sakto some years ago, however Onn Mahmud, Taib’s brother only resigned as a Director in 2004. 
Aged 23 Jamilah Taib became Director of Sakto Development Corporation (between studies) then President
     

Society Family
A number of Sean Murray’s family members are now employed at Sakto, which they describe as a family business. Some of Canada’s biggest commercial names rent space at their commercial and office properties, as well as numerous  Canadian Government Ministries.   Now prominent members
Major Shopping Mall – includes Chapters Bookstore

of Ottawa’s social elite, Sean Murray and Jamilah Taib are frequently photographed at society occasions and listed as  donors to the city’s National Gallery of Canada.  Functions at their lavish Rockcliffe mansion have included fundraisers for the top Canadian school, Ashbury College and for multiple Irish charities, including the Catholic St Patrick’s Home and the Ireland Fund of Canada.
The couple drew considerable attention when they recently moved into their new house, recorded as being the second most expensive private home in Ottawa and costing them over $9.6 million Canadian Dollars. Guests have been known to joke that it is so vast that different wings must have different post codes.     
Sean and Jamilah - Ottawa's Golden Couple
Political Connections
 


The couple, separately and through Sakto, have also been regular donors to the Ontario Liberal Party.  This has included contributions totalling $6,000 to Premiere Dalton Mcguinty’s  campaign budget in 2003.  In 2007 it was announced that eleven Ontario Ministries were relocating into Sakto’s Preston Square building.  ”Bringing together 11 ministries at Preston Square, in the heart of our community, will make our government more accessible to the people of Ottawa and more cost-effective”, explained Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre.  The offices were officially opened by Dalton Mcguinty himself in April 2008.   
Pink Palace – Jamilah’s ‘tacky’ Ottawa Mansion
From trees to tower blocks    
Sarawak Report’s exclusive revelations are likely to draw fierce criticism from Canadian environmentalists and human rights campaigners, who have highlighted the devastation caused by unsustainable logging in Sarawak.  Over US$25 billion worth of timber has been exported from the state as a result of the rampant, unsustainable logging promoted by Taib Mahmud and the former Chief Minister, who was his uncle.  Less than 3% of the original rainforest remains and many of its indigenous peoples are now destitute as a direct result.
High-Tech - another Sakto acquisition


What is now clear is that Sakto’s position as one of Canada’s top development companies is closely linked to the Taib family’s questionable wealth and to tropical rainforest devastation.  Canada’s booming property market of past years has exponentially increased the value of those investments, leaving the Taibs (but not the people of Sarawak) even more fabulously wealthy than before.

 

By Stephanie Sta Maria KUALA LUMPUR: The government's decision to eventually scrap the Public Service Department's (PSD) overseas scholarships has received the thumbs-down from previous scholarship recipients. The scholars, who all attributed their current professional standing to their respective PSD scholarships, unequivocally called for the country's brightest students to continue being given the opportunity to study abroad. Kamila Mohd Kamil, 25, who was granted a full scholarship to study Pharmacy in the University of South Australia, said that her four years there provided her invaluable exposure to the “real world”. “Being around people from various cultures gave me a different perspective of my profession,” she said. “And working in a multicultural environment further enhanced my ability to serve Malaysia's multiracial society. I daresay I wouldn't be where I am today if not for that scholarship.” Mazleen Abdul Rahman, 31, echoed Kamila's sentiments. The dentist, who spent five years in Canada's Dalhousie University, believed that studying in a local university would have restricted her professional growth. “I'm not criticising local institutions,” she clarified. “But international universities place critical thinking and experiential learning above textbook-style education, which is the preference of many local universities.” Mazleen added that international universities also had an edge over local ones with regard to practical training. “Patients were lining up to be treated during our practical,” she recalled. “But my friends who were studying dentistry locally complained that their universities were struggling to find patients who were willing to be treated by students.” Strong sense of maturity For Shaiful Azrin Zakaria, 25, whose parents are both retired, a PSD scholarship was the only means of pursuing his architectural ambition in Australia. He returned five years later, not only with a Masters in Architecture but also a strong sense of maturity. “I would have missed out on so much had I not gone abroad,” he said. “The level of competitiveness is so much higher there and you have no choice but to push yourself harder to stand out from the crowd. This really boosted my self-confidence and independence.” Shaiful Azrin suggested that the government tighten the qualification criteria instead of scrapping the overseas scholarships. “My application process was very tough and there were very few Malaysians pursuing architecture in my university,” he said. “But towards the end of my studies, that number had ballooned considerably and it seemed that it was no longer difficult to win a PSD scholarship.” Andreen Lee, 32, meanwhile, can't help but feel a twinge of wistfulness when hearing of these accounts. Her hopes of studying abroad died with the birth of the Asian financial crisis, when her entire class was told to continue their studies at local private or public universities. When asked what she believed she missed out on, she ticked off studying Engineering at the best university abroad, gaining exposure to a wider range of learning opportunities and enjoying a larger network with other students. “Local education has limited resources,” she said. “There is also discrimination in the job market between local and international graduates. I had to work harder to prove my capabilities as a local graduate during both job interviews and job performance. The scholarship was priceless in that it provided much-needed financial assistance but I wish it could have seen me all the way through.” Incomparable experience Parents of current and former scholars have also come out in support of continuing the practice of sending PSD scholars abroad. A parent, who only wanted to be known as Lee, said that as a former army personnel and the sole breadwinner, he pinned his hopes on a government scholarship to see his five children through university. Two of them were PSD scholars. “All my children are successful, in many ways because of the scholarship,” he said. “If the government scraps overseas scholarships, many deserving students will be deprived of a good education and the country of more productive citizens.” “There are many like me who served in the army during the communist insurgency. We risked our lives because we believed that the government would not forsake us and our family. I urge the government to come up with a more pragmatic approach to help these students.” Albert Teo, whose son is completing his final year of medicine on a PSD scholarship, was loud in his praise of an international education. A foreign student himself, he said that the benefits of that experience was incomparable to a local one. “Venturing outside the confines of your backyard prepares you for a better future,” he said. “My son studied in Ireland for two years before returning to continue his final years in Penang. I have seen the positive changes in his character as a result of those years abroad. The government cannot afford to scrimp on education. Instead of building structures, it should focus on building people.”

By Stephanie Sta Maria - Free Malaysia Today
KUALA LUMPUR: The government's decision to eventually scrap the Public Service Department's (PSD) overseas scholarships has received the thumbs-down from previous scholarship recipients.
The scholars, who all attributed their current professional standing to their respective PSD scholarships, unequivocally called for the country's brightest students to continue being given the opportunity to study abroad.
Kamila Mohd Kamil, 25, who was granted a full scholarship to study Pharmacy in the University of South Australia, said that her four years there provided her invaluable exposure to the “real world”.
“Being around people from various cultures gave me a different perspective of my profession,” she said. “And working in a multicultural environment further enhanced my ability to serve Malaysia's multiracial society. I daresay I wouldn't be where I am today if not for that scholarship.”
Mazleen Abdul Rahman, 31, echoed Kamila's sentiments. The dentist, who spent five years in Canada's Dalhousie University, believed that studying in a local university would have restricted her professional growth.
“I'm not criticising local institutions,” she clarified. “But international universities place critical thinking and experiential learning above textbook-style education, which is the preference of many local universities.”
Mazleen added that international universities also had an edge over local ones with regard to practical training.
“Patients were lining up to be treated during our practical,” she recalled. “But my friends who were studying dentistry locally complained that their universities were struggling to find patients who were willing to be treated by students.”
Strong sense of maturity
For Shaiful Azrin Zakaria, 25, whose parents are both retired, a PSD scholarship was the only means of pursuing his architectural ambition in Australia. He returned five years later, not only with a Masters in Architecture but also a strong sense of maturity.
“I would have missed out on so much had I not gone abroad,” he said. “The level of competitiveness is so much higher there and you have no choice but to push yourself harder to stand out from the crowd. This really boosted my self-confidence and independence.”
Shaiful Azrin suggested that the government tighten the qualification criteria instead of scrapping the overseas scholarships.
“My application process was very tough and there were very few Malaysians pursuing architecture in my university,” he said. “But towards the end of my studies, that number had ballooned considerably and it seemed that it was no longer difficult to win a PSD scholarship.”
Andreen Lee, 32, meanwhile, can't help but feel a twinge of wistfulness when hearing of these accounts. Her hopes of studying abroad died with the birth of the Asian financial crisis, when her entire class was told to continue their studies at local private or public universities.
When asked what she believed she missed out on, she ticked off studying Engineering at the best university abroad, gaining exposure to a wider range of learning opportunities and enjoying a larger network with other students.
“Local education has limited resources,” she said. “There is also discrimination in the job market between local and international graduates. I had to work harder to prove my capabilities as a local graduate during both job interviews and job performance. The scholarship was priceless in that it provided much-needed financial assistance but I wish it could have seen me all the way through.”
Incomparable experience
Parents of current and former scholars have also come out in support of continuing the practice of sending PSD scholars abroad.
A parent, who only wanted to be known as Lee, said that as a former army personnel and the sole breadwinner, he pinned his hopes on a government scholarship to see his five children through university. Two of them were PSD scholars.
“All my children are successful, in many ways because of the scholarship,” he said. “If the government scraps overseas scholarships, many deserving students will be deprived of a good education and the country of more productive citizens.”
“There are many like me who served in the army during the communist insurgency. We risked our lives because we believed that the government would not forsake us and our family. I urge the government to come up with a more pragmatic approach to help these students.”
Albert Teo, whose son is completing his final year of medicine on a PSD scholarship, was loud in his praise of an international education. A foreign student himself, he said that the benefits of that experience was incomparable to a local one.
“Venturing outside the confines of your backyard prepares you for a better future,” he said. “My son studied in Ireland for two years before returning to continue his final years in Penang. I have seen the positive changes in his character as a result of those years abroad. The government cannot afford to scrimp on education. Instead of building structures, it should focus on building people.”

Gerakan leader wants Bumi status for all M'sians

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today,

ALOR STAR: A Gerakan Youth leader has called on the federal government to grant Bumiputera status to all Malaysians born in the country regardless of their ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Gerakan Kedah Youth leader Tan Keng Liang said many Malaysians, especially Chinese and Indians, have been in this country for a long time, some even for nearly 200 years.
He said many of these Malaysians have not even set foot in the countries of their origin nor have famility ties or contact with people there.
To them, he said, the only country they know is Malaysia.
In view of this, Tan said Putrajaya should seriously consider categorising all Malaysian-born citizens, especially those whose parents or grandparents were also Malaysians as Bumiputera.
“This is line with the much-lauded ‘1Malaysia’ concept,” he added in a statement.
Tan said such a move would also be in line with the government’s recent decision to grant the status to some 60,000 Malaysian Siamese.
Recognise Chinese and Indians' contributions
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz justified it by saying that the Siamese have lived in the country for a long time along the Thai border in Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis and Perak.
Tan said the government should also appreciate the enormous contributions made by the Chinese and Indians as well.
He said both communities have also sacrificed tremendously to liberate the country from British colonial rule.
“No one can deny their pivotal role in helping to secure the nation's independence in 1957 and their vast contributions to the country's progress.
“Thus the government should grant them Bumiputera status,” he said, adding that the move would eliminate racial discrimination as well.

Govt denies irregularities in Felda

By Sharon Tan, The Edge

KUALA LUMPUR: The government on Wednesday, June 16 refuted claims of irregularities in the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) although it admitted that its cash reserves had been reduced.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Mazlan said Felda had cash reserves of RM4.08 billion in 2004 but the figure had dropped to RM1.35 billion at the end of 2009.

"It has dropped by RM2.73 billion. Out of this, RM2.41 billion was used for socio-economic development, training, productivity incentives and infrastructure insurance.

"Another RM2 billion was used for replanting, revenue deposit and to support the cost of living for settlers. A total of RM603 million was spent on housing loans without interest while RM253 million was allocated as special funds to eradicate poverty in Sabah. Another RM662 million was spent on the purchase of the 50-storey Menara Felda in the Golden Triangle," Ahmad said at a press conference at parliament lobby on Wednesday.

He added that it cost Felda RM935 per square foot (psf) when it purchased Menara Felda in 2008 but its value has now appreciated to RM1,400 to RM1,500 psf.

An open letter purportedly by former deputy minister of land and cooperatives Datuk Tan Kee Kwong, who is now a PKR member, has been circulating in the past week alleging mismanagement of Felda funds, which he alleged had dropped from RM4.5 billion in 2004 to RM200 million.

The letter, which blames Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for the dwindling cash reserves, among other things, said that given the record crude palm oil price of the past few years, Felda's cash reserves should have increased to RM6 billion.

Ahmad said while Felda's cash reserves had dropped, its total assets had increased from RM9.17 billion in 2004 to RM15.37 billion last year.

"The cash reserves went down by RM2.73 billion while the assets have gone up by RM6.2 billion," he said.

Siamese not in the same boat as 'non-Bumis'

By Joe Fernandez - Free Malaysia Today,

COMMENT News that the 60,000 Siamese – or Thai – in Peninsular Malaysia are Bumiputera (indigenous), or sons of the soil, should surprise no one. This is as it should be.
Note that these Buddhist Malaysians refer to themselves as Siamese and not Thai, which is the present-day term for the people of Thailand, formerly known as Siam. The Siamese even have their own senator to represent them in the Malaysian Parliament.
All this is rooted in history. The entire Malay Peninsula, including Singapore, in reality the southern half of the Kra Peninsula, became part of the Thai Kingdom after the demise of the Hindu Kingdoms of Langkasuka, Pan Pan, Gangga Negara, Old Kedah and Kadaram. By the Burney Treaty of 1826, Siam lost most of the Malay Peninsula to the British except for Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu. Finally, Siam lost even these four states to the British by the Treaty of Bangkok in 1909.
The entry of the British colonialists, who were keen to mine the tin and plant rubber, changed the geo-political equation on the Malay Peninsula. The Siamese King sacrificed a good chunk of his territory to prevent European colonialists from eyeing the rest of his kingdom.
The Siamese considered the traders, refugees and fugitives from various ethnic groups that flooded into the Malay Peninsula, as squatters on Siamese land. Hence, the Siamese King in Bangkok demanded the “Bunga Mas dan Perak” (golden and silver flowers) in tribute once every three years. This was paid through the various sultans who presided over the affairs of the Muslim communities that resided along the numerous river banks. But at all times, they were reminded by the King in Bangkok that there were on his land and under his rule.
So, it would be in order by any standards to stress that the Siamese are even more Bumiputera than others who enjoy this status in Peninsular Malaysia. The only ones who are more Bumiputera than the Siamese are the Orang Asli.
The Portuguese, a throwback to the Portuguese occupation of the Malacca, are also accepted as Bumiputera like the Siamese.
Many Anglo-Indians, Indos (Dutch Indonesians), Eurasians and Indo-Burmese as well pass themselves off as Portuguese in order to qualify themselves as Bumiputera.
Exotic groups
The Baba-Nonya and the Malacca Chitty – the Indian version of the Baba-Nonya – are still to enjoy Bumiputera status. If the Portuguese can be accepted as Bumiputera by the federal government, the same status should be bestowed on these other two exotic groups from the defunct Malacca Empire.
Had the Siamese in Peninsular Malaysia referred to themselves as Thai, it probably would have been more difficult for them to claim Bumiputera status.
This is the dilemma confronting Malaysians of Indian and Chinese origin who are Bumiputera only in their hearts but not in reality.
So long as the Indians and Chinese call themselves by these terms, for that long will they be considered “foreigners” by the others who are considered Bumiputera. Even the passage of another 1,000 years will not alter the situation.
Ironically, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad told this writer in June 1981 at the Prime Minister’s Department that “the Malacca Portuguese would never be accepted as Bumiputera so long as they called themselves Portuguese”. No doubt there has been a welcome change of heart in government since then on the matter.
No such luck for Malaysians of Indian and Chinese origin.
So, they need to refer to themselves by a local umbrella term, perhaps New Malay or Melayu Baru, in Peninsular Malaysia. The New or Baru can be dropped after a certain specific period, say 50 years, and this period can be considered a final rite of passage.
Dual nationality
Malaysians of Indian and Chinese origin being considered Malays, however, need not mean a re-definition of the term Malay in the Federal Constitution.
Alternatively, the grant of Bumiputera status to Malaysians of Indian and Chinese origin can be done by administration on a case-by-case basis.
It’s often forgotten that the present Malays in Peninsular Malaysia are not really Malays at all but drawn from various ethnic groups in the Archipelago and classified under this umbrella term. They are the Minang, Yunan, Aceh, Riao, Champa, Mandailing, Jawa, Bugis, Rawa, Jambi, Batak, Banjar, and Kurinchi.
The Jawi Peranakan, settlers of Malayalee Muslim origin in the Straits Settlements, also comes under the Malay category along with Arabs, Tamil Muslims and other Indian sub-continental Muslims.
The Gerakan is not the first to raise the issue of Malaysians of Indian and Chinese origin being Bumiputera. Neither will they be the last. The debate will last as long as there are people in Malaysia who prefer or are forced to call themselves Indian or Chinese. They should re-think these labels once and for all in line with the 1Malaysia theme. The Malaysian Government’s input on this issue is important as well.
Indian is not a race but a nationality. How one could be Indian and Malaysian at the same time, unless one has dual nationality which is not allowed except for certain women, defies all comprehension. One can be Tamil and Malaysian at the same time for example, but not Indian and Malaysian in the same breath. Yet the Malaysian government insists that a large number of Malaysians describe themselves as Indian at the same time.
The same holds true for Malaysians of Chinese origin.

Nazri’s not lying. He’s just not telling the truth, as always

In 2005, a few individuals, led by Dato Zaid Ibrahim, set in motion efforts to register an NGO called the Malaysian Civil Liberties Society (MCLS).
The objectives of MCLS : to champion the cause of civil liberties in the country.
After an inaugural meeting of intended members to approve the proposed constitution and to appoint a protem committee, an application, together with all the requisite support documents, was submitted to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) that very year.
Despite numerous trips to the ROS office, MCLS remains unregistered to this day.
The reality is that any proposed NGO or political party has little likelihood of being registered unless the same is perceived as pro-government, or BN or UMNO-friendly.
Remember how the Makkal Sakhti Party took only two weeks from the time of submitting the requisite papers to the ROS to secure registration?
How long has Uthaya’s Human Rights Party been waiting on their application to the ROS?
How many years did Parti Sosialis Malaysia wait before they finally secured registration?
Consider PERKASA.
Formed soon after the 12th GE, PERKASA held its first AGM on 27th March, this year, which would suggest that it was registered as a society some time last year, or even as early as 2008.
A day after BN lost the Sibu by-election, MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong blamed PERKASA for the rejection by the Chinese community in that by-election and called on the BN leadership to sever its ‘ambiguous relationship’ with PERKASA.
“If BN fails to make a strong stand in this respect, the public will only continue having the perception that BN is associated with Perkasa, and this will cause a huge damage to the coalition” , Malaysiakini reports Wee as saying.
If you ask me, Wee’s statement only makes sense if you substitute ‘BN’ with ‘UMNO’. Certainly, ‘BN leadership’ can only mean UMNO.
Nazri has now come out to say that PERKASA is not linked to the BN government.
“The organisation is an NGO and is in no way related to the Malaysian government” , Malaysiakini quoted Nazri in a report yesterday.
At first blush, it might appear that Nazri’s assertion is technically correct, until you substitute ‘Malaysian government’ with ‘UMNO government’, which is the reality today.
And then you begin to see through Nazri’s half-truths.
On 2nd April, this year, on Al-Jazeera, Najib defended PERKASA as being “not so extreme…They can shout about Malay rights as long as they are not extreme in their views…” ,  and then went on to confirm that PERKASA “…are by and large supportive of Umno and they believe that Umno is the only vehicle that can really, not only promote Malay interest but really hold this country together”.
Which would probably explain why, one month before, as reported by Malaysiakini, the UMNO government approved to ‘not so extreme’ PERKASA a permit to publish its own fortnightly newspaper, Suara Perkasa, so that they can ‘shout about Malay rights’.
Or why the Staronline reported on 18th February, this year, that the 500 people who protested outside the Australian High Commission the day before against interference by Australian MPs in the matter of Anwar’s  sodomy trial were led by Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, his deputy Datuk Razali Ibrahim, Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club deputy chairman Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin, Perkasa president and Pasir Mas MP Datuk Ibrahim Ali, Makkal Sakhthi’s R. Thanenthiran and MIC Youth chief T. Mohan. The PERKASA website has an account of its involvement with UMNO Youth at the protest.

Taking on the army

by Khairy Jamaluddin | The Nut Graph
I’VE always wanted to join the army. I remember telling my parents as a teenager that I wanted to be a soldier. Maybe it was initially a boys-with-guns thing, or later, a higher calling to serve the nation. There are also generals in my extended family – one was Chief of the Armed Forces. That heightened the appeal.
But after diving into active politics shortly after graduating, my GI Joe dreams were put on the back burner. I settled with the thought that I would perhaps live my commando fantasies through my sons.
Then a few months ago, I met General Shahrom, Commander of the 508 Regiment of the Malaysian Territorial Army or Rejimen Askar Wataniah. He had heard of my interest and wanted to get me involved in his Negeri Sembilan-based regiment. The deal was to use my public-figure endorsement to attract more participation, especially from youths. I wouldn’t have to do much beyond visiting the camp’s recruits to instill them with semangat.
Huddling with the platoon (All pics courtesy of Khairy Jamaluddin)
Huddling with the platoon (All pics courtesy of Khairy Jamaluddin)
In return, I would be bestowed an honorary commission, either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Major. I would receive an officer’s accompanying accoutrements, and be saluted by real but lower-ranking soldiers. Ours is a society obsessed with titles and ranks. Undoubtedly, an honorary military commission is another grace awarded to public figures who, mostly, don’t deserve it.
Not wanting to offend the commander, I asked, “Sir, if, God forbid, we were ever at war, would the army mobilise their honorary officers?” The answer was, of course, “No.”  I then said, “In which case, I don’t deserve to wear the uniform that you’re offering me.”  Instead, I asked the commander if I could join as an ordinary recruit and gradually move up the ranks like anyone else.
He said they had never had a sitting Member of Parliament (MP) join as an ordinary recruit, what more one with my “profile”.  I convinced him there was a first time for everything.
And so, after General Shahrom convinced an initially skeptical army top-brass that an MP had agreed unequivocally to be treated like any other recruit, I joined the reservist army on 26 April 2010. I reported to the 508 Regiment headquarters in Rasah as 6210405 – my Yang Berhormat-less military number.
Broken down
During the next month, 87 of us were broken down daily through a series of physical and mental challenges. For regular recruits, basic training lasts six months. For reservists, this is condensed into four weeks. While we miss out on a fair bit, the intensity is multiplied because of the shorter period.
As with any military boot camp, the first week is all about the parade square. From dawn till sunset, we were put through marching-in-formation drills, where we learnt the most fundamental lessons about discipline and working as a unit. If just one person stepped out of line or got his or her sequence wrong, the entire squad had to repeat the drill or get down for 20 knuckle push-ups on the boiling tar.
Drill sergeants don’t care about the midday sun or one’s thick, suffocating army-issue camouflage and woolen beret. They keep going even though one by one, recruits fall like dominoes. Some genuinely fainted. Others simulated blackouts. For the record, I did neither. Our breaks were all of five minutes to dash to the cookhouse, where the only drink available was boiling water.
At the shooting range
At the shooting range
Unsurprisingly, the first week saw the most dropouts. We lost around 10 recruits. One came back to camp a day after quitting. We later found out he returned because his army father gave him a beating worse than anything he would experience in the barracks.
After taking our stamina to the brink during the first week, classes on handling weapons, military tactics, and army laws and regulations were introduced. We were tested on everything. I hadn’t crammed for written exams in over a decade. Having to switch from extreme physical to mental exertion within just hours was annoying and challenging in equal measure.
Punishments were also generous. From the vomit-inducing side rolls across the parade square’s width, to more subtle but ultimately torturous penalties, we were made to pay for the slightest disciplinary breach. One night, we were subjected to the notorious “change parade”, where we had to run up and down from the square to our dorms to change outfits no less than seven times. The first two changes seemed fun. But on our seventh outfit – full battle dress unit camouflage – past midnight, the urge to just break ranks and quit was overwhelming.
Facing the odds
I also had the added misfortune of being, perhaps for the first time in recent memory, the oldest member of a group. Being 34 in politics is embryonic. As an army recruit its geriatric. The problem was not the training’s academic and tactical aspect, but the physical modules.
I had to keep up with largely 18-year-old kids at the prime of their growth spurts. In anticipation of being embarrassed by younger and fitter recruits, I trained beforehand and dropped 5kg. I would lose another five in camp.
By the time we entered our final week, which involved field exercises in the jungle, we were transforming into soldiers nicely. I no longer needed an alarm to wake up at 4:30am in order to be the first to use one of only four bathing cubicles. We became immune to mosquitoes and the absence of air-conditioning and iced beverages.
Everything up to that point was meant to prepare us for our field exercise. This exercise involved, among other fun and games: a 30km advance; digging a six-feet deep trench in the middle of the day; and carrying a 30kg backpack full of battle rations in addition to our M-16s, our surrogate spouses that we had with us at all times.
Digging a trench with Raj
With Rajasekar, digging a trench
During the exercise, we were paired off with field buddies with whom we would share a trench or tent. I was paired with 19-year-old Rajasekar, a happy-go-lucky odd-job worker from Semenyih. By day, he was an ox with boundless energy. By night, his snores made it clear he wasn’t built for sentry duty. As is the case with relationships forged in challenging circumstances, we continue to be friends.
What matters
Raja also happened to be one of two non-Malay Malaysians in the entire recruit squad. I was told that the ethnic profile for recruits at other Wataniah regiments in other states were similarly mono-ethnic. This, to me, was the programme’s greatest missed opportunity.  By not being able to attract more non-Malay Malaysians, the reservist programme is denied the opportunity to be an effective platform for national unity.
In the army, where one is deconstructed and trained to survive, it doesn’t matter what ethnicity the person in the trench with you is. What matters in battle is that you help each other live and defend your country.
On the day we passed out as Privates, I looked back at the month with obvious relief. No more drills and parades. No more forced marches and trench digging. No more memorising weapons specifications and cleaning a disassembled M-16. But I also looked back with satisfaction that a physical and mental threshold had been crossed.
More than the personal challenge that the army presents me, it is the fraternity borne of a rigorous, regimented environment and the sense of national service that excites all of us in the reserves. I now look forward to the next phase, whether the officers’ training or the airborne paratrooper course that I have applied to.
Still, I understand why Malaysia has no compulsory military service. Any attempt to build a public consensus to introduce it today would be near impossible. Besides, as attracted as I am to the virtues of military training, I still believe that the decision to enlist or volunteer is an extremely personal one.
Joining the reserves is clearly not for everyone. And I don’t mean that as a reflection on someone’s physical ability, mental resilience or patriotism. Those virtues, especially the last, can be manifested in many different and equally meaningful ways.
In the increasingly cynical world of postmodern Malaysian politics, honour is a diminishing virtue on both sides of the divide. In the army, honour – in particular, the soul-stirring honour of serving your nation – permeates in abundance.  For me, that’s the only reason I need to keep reporting back as 6210405.

MELAYU KEMANA


1. Melayu menentang Malayan Union kerana rancangan British ini akan memberi hak kepada sesiapa sahaja menjadi rakyatnya.

2. Melayu pada masa itu takut jumlah rakyat bukan Melayu yang rata-rata lebih kaya dan lebih terpelajar akan menguasai bukan sahaja ekonomi tetapi juga politik Malayan Union. Dengan ini akan terlucutlah kuasa Melayu ke atas negeri-negeri Melayu.

3. Sebab itu apabila mereka tewaskan Malayan Union, persekutuan yang menggantinya secara rasmi dinamakan Pesekutuan Tanah Melayu. Dalam Persekutuan ini 80 peratus lebih rakyatnya terdiri daripada orang Melayu. Kelebihan yang tinggi ini meyakinkan mereka yang nasib mereka akan ditentukan oleh mereka.

4. Dalam Pilihanraya 1955 mereka bersedia untuk memberi kawasan-kawasan yang majoriti pengundinya Melayu kepada calon kaum-kaum lain daripada parti-parti rakan dalam Perikatan. Dengan undi yang ada pada mereka, mereka tentukan calon-calon bukan Melayu ini mendapat kemenangan. Tujuan korban ini ialah untuk meyakinkan penjajah British yang orang Melayu tidak akan menindas kaum lain apabila berkuasa.

5. Dengan ini British pun memberi kemerdekaan pada tahun 1957, iaitu hanya dua tahun selepas korban yang dibuat oleh orang Melayu.

6. Atas tuntutan Sir Tan Cheng Lok supaya ditambah rakyat bukan Melayu, Kerajaan pimpinan Tunku Abdul Rahman bersetuju untuk mengurangkan peratusan rakyat Melayu daripada 80 peratus kepada 60 peratus dengan memberi kerakyatan tanpa syarat kepada penduduk bukan Melayu. Satu kontrak sosial dibuat supaya pengurangan ini diimbangkan dengan agihan kekayaan yang lebih saksama kepada orang Melayu. Bagaimana ini hendak dicapai tidak pula dijelaskan.

7. Pemimpin Melayu berpendapat dengan 60 peratus daripada warga negara terdiri daripada Melayu, mereka masih menjadi majoriti dan masa depan mereka terjamin. Angka ini tidak banyak berubah apabila terbentuknya Malaysia.

8. Dalam sistem demokrasi memanglah majoriti akan berkuasa. Tetapi yang tidak diambilkira oleh kepimpinan Melayu ialah Melayu akan berpecah dan bermusuh sesama sendiri. Apabila ini berlaku kelebihan jumlah mereka tidak lagi akan menjadi mereka kaum majoriti dalam negara.

9. Perpecahan bermula apabila ulama-ulama UMNO memisahkan diri mereka untuk menubuh Parti PMIP (Pan-Malayan Islamic Party). Pada mulanya PMIP tidak berjaya menghakiskan sokongan kepada pertubuhan utama orang melayu iaitu UMNO.

10. Kemudian kerana rebutan kepimpinan dalam UMNO, parti serpihan Semangat 46 ditubuh.

11. Walaupun Semangat 46 dibubar dan diserap semula kedalam UMNO tetapi ramai yang tidak dapat terima percantuman semula ini. Dengan itu sedikit sebanyak UMNO Kehilangan penyokong.

12. Kemudian Timbalan Presiden UMNO terpaksa disingkir daripada UMNO dan ianya berjaya dengan cara-cara tertentu mengheret keluar ahli UMNO untuk menyertai satu lagi parti Melayu. Perbuatan ini berjaya membahagikan orang Melayu kepada tiga buah parti, iaitu UMNO, PAS dan PKR.

13. Dengan adanya tiga buah parti, orang Melayu yang dahulu menjadi majoriti warga negara dengan jumlah 60 peratus daripada seluruh rakyat Malaysia sudah berpecah dan terbahagi kepada tiga kumpulan. Tidak ada satu pun daripada kumpulan ini yang disokong oleh majoriti rakyat. Ketiga-tiga mendapat sokongan tidak lebih daripada 30 peratus rakyat negara. Dengan perkataan lain orang Melayu sudah jadi puak minoriti dalam negara.

14. Sebagai puak minoriti mereka tidak mungkin lagi menjadi kuasa utama dalam parti-parti campuran yang disertai oleh mereka.

15. Mungkin mereka diletak sebagai pemimpin tertinggi dalam Kerajaan-Kerajaan Pusat dan Negeri. Tetapi mereka terpaksa mengikut telunjuk rakan-rakan mereka.

16. Kita lihat di Perak umpamanya apabila Kerajaan yang diketuai oleh Melayu dijatuhkan, kaum tertentu menganggap bahawa sebuah Kerajaan milik kaum itu yang dijatuhkan.

17. Mungkin di peringkat pusat juga akan ada ketua kepimpinan yang terdiri daripada Melayu tetapi duduk dibawah telunjuk orang lain.

18. Dengan ini besar kemungkinan Melayu secara sebenar sudah menjadi puak minoriti yang tidak berkuasa di negara sendiri. Kalau mereka berpendapat mereka akan diberi layanan yang baik apabila sudah tidak sebenar berkuasa, lihatlah sahaja nasib kaum mereka yang sudah menjadi kaum minoriti di negara jiran.

19. Masa sudah tiba untuk orang Melayu memikir dengan mendalam akan nasib masa depan mereka. Bersatu teguh, bercerai roboh. Pilihlah yang mana satu.

20. Saya akan dituduh "chanuvinist" dan "racist" kerana menyuarakan pendapat saya ini. Saya sanggup dilabel dengan apa sahaja label. Niat saya ialah untuk memperingati kita semua sebelum nasi jadi bubur. Berpecah dan berebutlah. Akhirnya yang dikendong akan berciciran dan yang dikejar tidak tercapai.

Wahai Melayu,

Kemana kamu?

Malaysia in the Era of Globalization #19

By Bakri Musa

Chapter 3: Lessons From The Past

The European Reformation

The Reformation refers to the religious revolution that took place in Western Europe during the 16th century. The pivotal event occurred in October 31, 1517, when the German preacher, Martin Luther, publicly posted his Ninety-Five Theses challenging the authority and practices of the Catholic Church. Needless to say, the Pope was not amused. Luther’s aim was to reform the institution; instead his protest ended up splitting the church, hence the terms Reformation and Protestant.

Luther was not the first, nor the only one to protest against the excesses of the Church. To understand why there was such widespread discontent among Christians then, an account of the behaviors and practices of the church establishment at the time is warranted.

The Church during Luther’s time was more than a pan-European religious institution. It was also the unchallenged social, political, and even economic power. Having wielded unchallenged authority for so long, it was inevitable that corruption, nepotism (or to put it in modern political term, cronyism), and other unsavory practices would emerge among Church leaders.

A few examples will illustrate the decadent state, both with personnel as well as practices. The clergy was less concerned with ministering to the spiritual needs of the faithful than being powerful potentates indulging in the material offerings of their followers. The masses and the educated disliked the clergy class, offended by both their lifestyles and theological practices. The clergy class reserved unto themselves the sole right to interpret the bible, written as it was in the ancient and dying language of Latin. Mere mortals need not partake in such intellectual and spiritual exercises. Suffice for them to listen to the Sunday sermons and pithy wisdom dispensed by the priests and bishops.

While the peasants were struggling, the Church continued to use its funds to build ever larger and grander churches in Rome and elsewhere. Egregious abuses of power by the clergy were rampant. One Cardinal John of Lorraine, for example, received his first religious appointment at the tender age of three! No less scandalous, his nephew received the archbishoporic of Rheims, a significant position, at age 14. Church properties and titles became possessions of great families to be dispensed at their pleasure. One prelate, Albert of Brandenburg, spent his time traveling in style, attended by his mistresses tactfully dressed in male costumes. Well, at least they were not the choirboys!

The Church was no less ingenious in raising funds. Apart from the standard solicitation of gold for church appointments and dispensing repentances for the princes and other aristocrats, it initiated other novel schemes of extracting wealth from the masses. One such practice is “indulgence,” where the clergy would dispense pardons for the presumed sins of the faithful (or their loved ones), all for a fee of course. We are familiar with the Catholic confessionals, where every Sunday the faithful would confess their sins to and receive repentance from the priest sitting behind the closed curtain. Presumably the slate would thus be swept clean, ready for the following week’s transgressions. The only problem was that there was no exchange of cash or coins, but this was soon corrected by the avarice of the clergy. Enter the “indulgence” box.

With the tinkling of every dropped coin into these boxes, supposedly the doors to heaven would open for the salvation of a designated soul, or so the faithful were told. It was a sophisticated theological rendition of the old “wishing well” idea. The concept was a resounding success, with the rich and poor rushing to deposit their gold coins to save the souls of their departed loved ones. I can imagine at the end of the day the bishop coming home with the boxful of glittering gold. If he had not been tempted before, he would certainly be by now. Besides, he could always blame the devil for tempting him!

As a revenue-generating scheme, the indulgence box was pure genius. It certainly beat taxes and tithes where you would be forced to cough up the money. With indulgence boxes, the faithful willingly parted with their gold. The ploy was even better and more lucrative than church-sponsored bingos! With bingo there are eager participants too, but there will only be a few winners; the majority will receive nothing. With indulgence boxes, perversely all the participants felt that they were winners as they parted with their hard-earned coins. One could not concoct a better scheme than that! No wonder it was so popular, especially with the clergy class.

The indulgence boxes epitomized the corruption and depravity of the church that so enraged Luther and others. When he nailed his Theses on that church door, he was frontally challenging the establishment. He enumerated the egregious abuses and outright fraud perpetrated by the priests, a long list eloquently spelled out in a common language understood by the masses, and not in some obscure fancy Latin. The results were electric: the masses overwhelmingly supported him. The Church in turn demanded that he retract his accusations or face excommunication. Or worse! Luther did not budge but became even more strident in his denunciations.

In truth Luther was not the first to be incensed by the excesses of the Church. Two centuries earlier, England’s John Wycliffe too rebelled against the tyranny of the clergy. For that, he and his followers were persecuted. John Huss of Bohemia amplified on Wycliffe’s ideas and ended up by being burned at the stake. The risks to reformers then, as now, were indeed severe.

To appreciate why Luther succeeded and did not end up being burned at the stake as others before him were, it is necessary to examine other parallel events occurring at the time. He was helped considerably by four converging trends. First, the excesses and abuses of the church had been going on for centuries and that sooner or later they had to end, to implode. Luther appeared when conditions were just ripe, resentments and anger had reached a critical stage. Second, there appeared throughout Europe universities that were outside the influence of the church. At such centers like Oxford there emerged the new movement of humanism that emphasizes the centrality of man and his ideas. This directly challenged the hegemony of the church that hitherto felt it had the final and sole authority to interpret everything.

Third was the ready availability of the printing press that enabled ideas to spread far and wide, and very quickly too. Luther took full advantage of this new medium to disseminate his ideas. With the masses now able to read and reading materials widely available, the clergy no longer had the monopoly on knowledge or information. Last, with the emergence of the political idea of nation-state, Luther was able to capitalize on the national sentiments of the Germanic people against those of Latin Europe, in particular, Rome. Luther was greatly helped when the local bishops shipped off the gold (after their have taken their generous portion) to Rome for building yet another monument there.

What are the relevant lessons from the Reformation? The first is that institutions and people with entrenched and unchallenged power will inevitably be corrupted; the greater the power, the worse the corruption. It matters not who these individuals are, for even the most pious are not immune. Second, the more entrenched the power, the more difficult it would be to eradicate the abuses without dismantling the whole structure. The European Reformation resulted not only in the formation of many breakaway Protestant sects but it also spawned a counter reformation within the Catholic Church.

Third, Luther had been through and excelled in the system; thus he had great credibility when he challenged the existing order. Fourth, he personified the very opposite qualities for which he criticized the Church. Where the clergymen were ostentatious, Luther was modest; while they hid behind their obtuse Latin, Luther used the language of the common folk. Being highly educated, Luther was facile with Latin but he chose to communicate in the language of the masses. Additionally he had a complete and viable alternative program ready. He had written not only his Ninety-Five Theses but also a whole set of sermons, hymns, and catechisms for his new church so that when he was expelled from the Catholic Church, he had a ready alternative. Luther did not have to scramble from scratch.

By far his most important strategy was to align his movement with the emerging new ideals. He shrewdly capitalized on the burgeoning nationalism, effectively exploiting the “us versus them” theme – the “them” being the distant church in Rome and the Italians. Similarly, he aligned himself with the growing humanist movement of the day. All these convergences helped him succeed.

When I compare Luther’s reformation with the Malaysian reformasi, (at the risk of flattering Anwar Ibrahim, its leader, by comparing him to Martin Luther!) a number of glaring differences emerge. Like the Catholic Church in the Middle Age, Malaysia’s ruling party is also burdened by corruption and cronyism, a consequence of being in power for so long. Like an overripe jackfruit that was still hanging, UMNO is ready to fall anytime. Unlike an overripe jackfruit which gives off a sweet smell, an overripe ripe gives off, well, an overripe smell!

Anwar however, is no Luther. For one, his reformasi forces aligned themselves with foreign elements rather than domestic ones. It was as if Luther was trying to co-opt the Italians for support instead of his own German followers. For another, reformasi activists did maximize the use of the new medium of the Internet to galvanize support and to discredit the ruling Barisan government as Malaysians generally were not quite savvy with this new medium. At least not yet then! [Note: Things changed materially by the time of the 2008 general elections with Internet penetration reaching a critical mass. No longer having control of information, the ruling coalition suffered its greatest loss.]

While Luther’s Theses was detailed, articulate, and down to earth, Anwar’s Permatang Pauh Declaration (its “Mission Statement”) was brief, pompous, and pretentious. Luther’s views were well known as he had articulated them well and often. He even put down details of his church services right down to the hymns and sermons. He wrote voluminously.

In striking contrast, reformasi and the political party it spawned, Keadilan was not quite ready for prime time. Undoubtedly, Anwar’s jailing took the momentum away from the movement. Without him, the party was fumbling with such pivotal issues as the role of religion in a plural society, inequities within and between races, and special privileges for Bumiputras.

But the most critical lesson is how to prevent the government and other institutions in Malaysia from degenerating into a medieval Catholic Church. Distressingly Malaysia today is acquiring many of the unsavory characteristics of the medieval church. Malaysian institutions are under tight government control. Additionally, the government is a significant player in the economy, controlling many major corporations. As a result corporate decisions are influenced less by market factors than by political calculations. The most glaring example is Malaysia Airlines, which stumbles from one major crisis to another. Despite that it continues to be led by less-than-competent political appointees. Current political leaders in Malaysia are control freaks, unable or unwilling to relent.

The differences between the medieval Catholic Church and the Malaysian political establishment today are merely quantitative, a matter of degree. Unchecked, Malaysia too will meet the same fate as the medieval Catholic Church.