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Thursday, June 24, 2010

UN blasts razing of Jerusalem homes

Ban Ki-moon said Israel's Silwan plan is 'contrary to international law' [EPA]
The UN secretary general has criticised municipal authorities in Israel for pressing ahead with a plan to raze Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, calling it illegal.
Ban Ki-moon's office said on Wednesday that he was "concerned about the decision by the Jerusalem municipality to advance planning for house demolitions and further settlement activity in the area of Silwan".
"The planned moves are contrary to international law, and to the wishes of Palestinian residents," the statement said.
Israeli municipal authorities moved ahead on Monday with plans to demolish 20 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, risking more US-Israeli friction and international criticism following its recent deadly raid on a flotilla trying to take humanitarian goods into Gaza.
Ban reminded Israel "of its responsibility to ensure provocative steps are not taken which would heighten tensions in the city".
'Unhelpful moves'
"The current moves are unhelpful, coming at a time when the goal must be to build trust to support political negotiations."



Ban's statement appeared to confirm that the Jerusalem city planning board's decision will lead to renewed international pressure on Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu bowed to calls to ease a Gaza blockade in the wake of the raid on the aid flotilla that killed nine people.
The UN chief's comments came on the same day that the head of the world body's Palestinian refugee agency said that the fine print of Israel's pledge to ease its Gaza blockade raised questions about how effective it would prove to be.
Israel's rules previously banned any import into Gaza that was not explicitly permitted. It now says it will let in all goods except those on a list that could be used for military purposes, including cement and steel rods.

'Absurd and illegal'
Filippo Grandi, commissioner general of the refugee agency known as UNRWA, called the blockade "absurd, counterproductive and illegal" and cited elements in Israel's plan to ease the siege that left unclear how it would be fully implemented.
Municipal authorities have moved to demolish 20 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem [EPA]

"They're talking about items that will be allowed for certain times and not other times, depending on who the consignee is. So it's still very complicated," he told reporters in Beirut.
"We have seen some broad statements of how they will do it but the devil is in the detail. We have to see how this will be done and we haven't seen it yet.
"We've seen many times declarations and statements," Grandi added. "But now we want to see facts ... Believe me, it's very urgent, because the conditions are very bad on the ground."
Human rights groups and other critics see the blockade as collective punishment of Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians.
Palestinians, UNRWA officials and rights advocates say there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but Israel denies this.
Israel imposed the blockade in 2007 to try to weaken the Hamas faction which seized control of Gaza from Fatah forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

S'wak BN meet to undertake four 'arduous' tasks

The Sarawak BN meet, scheduled for this weekend in Kuching, has reportedly set up four arduous tasks for itself as a decision is about to be made on whether to go for snap polls.

"These tasks are to consider four major themes for the forthcoming state elections," confirmed a key Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) polls strategist last night.

The first of these tasks is to strategise on the polls theme that Sarawak needs to be administered by homegrown parties and "not those imported from Peninsular Malaysia".

sibu by election polling day 160510This follows the growing perception that the Chinese for example, given a choice between George Chan and Lim Kit Siang, would opt for the latter, concedes the strategist. Lim has made steady inroads in Sarawak with his DAP. His running mate, Karpal Singh, is also a household name among Sarawak Chinese.

Chan meanwhile is bogged down by accusations that he has overstayed his welcome at the old guards-ridden Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) as party leader despite solemn promises that he would step down at the end of 2008. He has a daughter married to a son of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

NONEChan (right) himself is telling the party faithful - in keeping with the state BN theme - that "the opposition is out to destroy the BN parties and create chaos in the state". This is seen as an excuse for him to stay on and break his promise to quit his party post. He has pledged to "finish off the opposition" in Sarawak for good.

"The people of Sarawak don't need change and renewal as proposed by the opposition," said Sibuti MP Ahmad Lai Bujang, likewise among those who test marketed the theme recently in Miri. "The people have been enjoying change and development under the BN state government."

Taib an 'extraordinary CEO'

Ahmad's take is that the opposition parties need not come to Sarawak because the states under their administration are going nowhere under their direction. This is a claim Sarawak BN intends to flog with a vengeance in the next state elections, according to him, invoking visions of a dog-eat-dog fight ahead.

According to a PBB strategist, the second task is to come up with ways to convince the electorate - the urban and Chinese in particular - that Taib is an extraordinary chief executive officer.

NONEHence, now is not the time to change the state government "as the global, regional and national economic situation is still uncertain", goes the disingenuous polls theme.

The third task, admits the PBB strategist, is to re-invent the "politics of development" theme which Taib has been flogging, amidst increasing disbelief and cynicism, for the last three decades and more.

While the strategist doesn't admit it, the theme has run out of currency in the face of re-current reports detailing Taib's massive abuse of public office for private gain and personal profit as large numbers in Sarawak keeping slipping below the poverty line.

The picture of grinding poverty and Taib's personal family fortune are not the only concerns besetting the politics of development and making it that much more difficult to re-invent it.

The meet would have to consider opposition charges that there's an incredible and ever-growing chasm in Sarawak between the super-duper rich like Taib and the rest of the herd.

Succession: Jabu as seat warmer


The final task, concedes the PBB strategist, is to convince the electorate that Taib has no plans to set up a dynastic line of succession in Sarawak.

taib and rahman yaakub hugging happy 110108His maternal uncle, Abdul Rahman Ya'kub (right in photo) was chief minister before him but for only 10 years after SUPP apparently prevailed on then prime minister Hussein Onn to remove him. Ever since then, Taib has been wary of offending SUPP.

Rahman's plan, disclosed by PBB key insiders, is to install his daughter and Tanjung Manis MP Norah Abdul Rahman (below) as chief minister after Taib's current deputy Alfred Jabu as interim chief minister. It remains to be seen whether Norah contests in a state seat soon, or more likely, contests "unopposed" in a by-election just before Jabu steps down as chief minister.

The state BN meet itself this weekend may be delayed if the ailing Taib, still in uncertain remission from a bout with colon cancer, begs off for a little while longer. His PBB has been going through a five-day grueling retreat which ends tomorrow and this appears to have taken a toll on his energy, health and spirits, according to insiders.

TNONEhe snap polls theory has taken credence after Taib had a hurried unscheduled meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak last week.

Najib, it is reliably learnt, confirmed that he would loathe to go for an early general election. The news from Najib was Taib's worst nightmares coming true.

The Sarawak chief minister, who has to call state polls by the middle of next year at the very latest, had hoped to seek refuge in a general election to protect himself better from a widely anticipated mauling at the hands of the increasingly better-organised opposition.

If the state election were to be held today, the BN is expected to lose 20 to 24 seats, according to forecasts made by Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) rebels in the wake of a parliamentary by-election in Sibu on May 16.

Panic mode since Sibu defeat


Taib went into panic mode after Sibu when SUPP wrested defeat from the jaws of victory after 28 years.

azlanThe Sarawak strongman, who has been in office an unprecedented 30-odd years, saw the face of an opposition that he had never seen before on the campaign trail and was visibly taken aback in public appearances.

He has been throwing tantrums ever since then at his office, according to some consultants who had made arrangements recently for some top company bigwigs to meet him. The visitors, some of whom have met him before, found him in a foul mood and pre-occupied during the meeting.

"We are preparing for snap state elections," goes a text message from Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian, tipped to be the next opposition chief minister. "We anticipate state elections in September or October in the wake of the Taib/Najib meet last week."

Baru, a land rights activist and lawyer, would be watching keenly to see whether the state BN "moves on the ground in significant numbers after the PBB retreat and the state BN meet".
The Sarawak BN meet, scheduled for this weekend in Kuching, has reportedly set up four arduous tasks for itself as a decision is about to be made on whether to go for snap polls.

"These tasks are to consider four major themes for the forthcoming state elections," confirmed a key Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) polls strategist last night.

The first of these tasks is to strategise on the polls theme that Sarawak needs to be administered by homegrown parties and "not those imported from Peninsular Malaysia".

sibu by election polling day 160510This follows the growing perception that the Chinese for example, given a choice between George Chan and Lim Kit Siang, would opt for the latter, concedes the strategist. Lim has made steady inroads in Sarawak with his DAP. His running mate, Karpal Singh, is also a household name among Sarawak Chinese.

Chan meanwhile is bogged down by accusations that he has overstayed his welcome at the old guards-ridden Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) as party leader despite solemn promises that he would step down at the end of 2008. He has a daughter married to a son of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

NONEChan (right) himself is telling the party faithful - in keeping with the state BN theme - that "the opposition is out to destroy the BN parties and create chaos in the state". This is seen as an excuse for him to stay on and break his promise to quit his party post. He has pledged to "finish off the opposition" in Sarawak for good.

"The people of Sarawak don't need change and renewal as proposed by the opposition," said Sibuti MP Ahmad Lai Bujang, likewise among those who test marketed the theme recently in Miri. "The people have been enjoying change and development under the BN state government."

Taib an 'extraordinary CEO'

Ahmad's take is that the opposition parties need not come to Sarawak because the states under their administration are going nowhere under their direction. This is a claim Sarawak BN intends to flog with a vengeance in the next state elections, according to him, invoking visions of a dog-eat-dog fight ahead.

According to a PBB strategist, the second task is to come up with ways to convince the electorate - the urban and Chinese in particular - that Taib is an extraordinary chief executive officer.

NONEHence, now is not the time to change the state government "as the global, regional and national economic situation is still uncertain", goes the disingenuous polls theme.

The third task, admits the PBB strategist, is to re-invent the "politics of development" theme which Taib has been flogging, amidst increasing disbelief and cynicism, for the last three decades and more.

While the strategist doesn't admit it, the theme has run out of currency in the face of re-current reports detailing Taib's massive abuse of public office for private gain and personal profit as large numbers in Sarawak keeping slipping below the poverty line.

The picture of grinding poverty and Taib's personal family fortune are not the only concerns besetting the politics of development and making it that much more difficult to re-invent it.

The meet would have to consider opposition charges that there's an incredible and ever-growing chasm in Sarawak between the super-duper rich like Taib and the rest of the herd.

Succession: Jabu as seat warmer


The final task, concedes the PBB strategist, is to convince the electorate that Taib has no plans to set up a dynastic line of succession in Sarawak.

taib and rahman yaakub hugging happy 110108His maternal uncle, Abdul Rahman Ya'kub (right in photo) was chief minister before him but for only 10 years after SUPP apparently prevailed on then prime minister Hussein Onn to remove him. Ever since then, Taib has been wary of offending SUPP.

Rahman's plan, disclosed by PBB key insiders, is to install his daughter and Tanjung Manis MP Norah Abdul Rahman (below) as chief minister after Taib's current deputy Alfred Jabu as interim chief minister. It remains to be seen whether Norah contests in a state seat soon, or more likely, contests "unopposed" in a by-election just before Jabu steps down as chief minister.

The state BN meet itself this weekend may be delayed if the ailing Taib, still in uncertain remission from a bout with colon cancer, begs off for a little while longer. His PBB has been going through a five-day grueling retreat which ends tomorrow and this appears to have taken a toll on his energy, health and spirits, according to insiders.

TNONEhe snap polls theory has taken credence after Taib had a hurried unscheduled meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak last week.

Najib, it is reliably learnt, confirmed that he would loathe to go for an early general election. The news from Najib was Taib's worst nightmares coming true.

The Sarawak chief minister, who has to call state polls by the middle of next year at the very latest, had hoped to seek refuge in a general election to protect himself better from a widely anticipated mauling at the hands of the increasingly better-organised opposition.

If the state election were to be held today, the BN is expected to lose 20 to 24 seats, according to forecasts made by Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) rebels in the wake of a parliamentary by-election in Sibu on May 16.

Panic mode since Sibu defeat


Taib went into panic mode after Sibu when SUPP wrested defeat from the jaws of victory after 28 years.

azlanThe Sarawak strongman, who has been in office an unprecedented 30-odd years, saw the face of an opposition that he had never seen before on the campaign trail and was visibly taken aback in public appearances.

He has been throwing tantrums ever since then at his office, according to some consultants who had made arrangements recently for some top company bigwigs to meet him. The visitors, some of whom have met him before, found him in a foul mood and pre-occupied during the meeting.

"We are preparing for snap state elections," goes a text message from Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian, tipped to be the next opposition chief minister. "We anticipate state elections in September or October in the wake of the Taib/Najib meet last week."

Baru, a land rights activist and lawyer, would be watching keenly to see whether the state BN "moves on the ground in significant numbers after the PBB retreat and the state BN meet".
The Sarawak BN meet, scheduled for this weekend in Kuching, has reportedly set up four arduous tasks for itself as a decision is about to be made on whether to go for snap polls.

"These tasks are to consider four major themes for the forthcoming state elections," confirmed a key Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) polls strategist last night.

The first of these tasks is to strategise on the polls theme that Sarawak needs to be administered by homegrown parties and "not those imported from Peninsular Malaysia".

sibu by election polling day 160510This follows the growing perception that the Chinese for example, given a choice between George Chan and Lim Kit Siang, would opt for the latter, concedes the strategist. Lim has made steady inroads in Sarawak with his DAP. His running mate, Karpal Singh, is also a household name among Sarawak Chinese.

Chan meanwhile is bogged down by accusations that he has overstayed his welcome at the old guards-ridden Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) as party leader despite solemn promises that he would step down at the end of 2008. He has a daughter married to a son of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

NONEChan (right) himself is telling the party faithful - in keeping with the state BN theme - that "the opposition is out to destroy the BN parties and create chaos in the state". This is seen as an excuse for him to stay on and break his promise to quit his party post. He has pledged to "finish off the opposition" in Sarawak for good.

"The people of Sarawak don't need change and renewal as proposed by the opposition," said Sibuti MP Ahmad Lai Bujang, likewise among those who test marketed the theme recently in Miri. "The people have been enjoying change and development under the BN state government."

Taib an 'extraordinary CEO'

Ahmad's take is that the opposition parties need not come to Sarawak because the states under their administration are going nowhere under their direction. This is a claim Sarawak BN intends to flog with a vengeance in the next state elections, according to him, invoking visions of a dog-eat-dog fight ahead.

According to a PBB strategist, the second task is to come up with ways to convince the electorate - the urban and Chinese in particular - that Taib is an extraordinary chief executive officer.

NONEHence, now is not the time to change the state government "as the global, regional and national economic situation is still uncertain", goes the disingenuous polls theme.

The third task, admits the PBB strategist, is to re-invent the "politics of development" theme which Taib has been flogging, amidst increasing disbelief and cynicism, for the last three decades and more.

While the strategist doesn't admit it, the theme has run out of currency in the face of re-current reports detailing Taib's massive abuse of public office for private gain and personal profit as large numbers in Sarawak keeping slipping below the poverty line.

The picture of grinding poverty and Taib's personal family fortune are not the only concerns besetting the politics of development and making it that much more difficult to re-invent it.

The meet would have to consider opposition charges that there's an incredible and ever-growing chasm in Sarawak between the super-duper rich like Taib and the rest of the herd.

Succession: Jabu as seat warmer


The final task, concedes the PBB strategist, is to convince the electorate that Taib has no plans to set up a dynastic line of succession in Sarawak.

taib and rahman yaakub hugging happy 110108His maternal uncle, Abdul Rahman Ya'kub (right in photo) was chief minister before him but for only 10 years after SUPP apparently prevailed on then prime minister Hussein Onn to remove him. Ever since then, Taib has been wary of offending SUPP.

Rahman's plan, disclosed by PBB key insiders, is to install his daughter and Tanjung Manis MP Norah Abdul Rahman (below) as chief minister after Taib's current deputy Alfred Jabu as interim chief minister. It remains to be seen whether Norah contests in a state seat soon, or more likely, contests "unopposed" in a by-election just before Jabu steps down as chief minister.

The state BN meet itself this weekend may be delayed if the ailing Taib, still in uncertain remission from a bout with colon cancer, begs off for a little while longer. His PBB has been going through a five-day grueling retreat which ends tomorrow and this appears to have taken a toll on his energy, health and spirits, according to insiders.

TNONEhe snap polls theory has taken credence after Taib had a hurried unscheduled meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak last week.

Najib, it is reliably learnt, confirmed that he would loathe to go for an early general election. The news from Najib was Taib's worst nightmares coming true.

The Sarawak chief minister, who has to call state polls by the middle of next year at the very latest, had hoped to seek refuge in a general election to protect himself better from a widely anticipated mauling at the hands of the increasingly better-organised opposition.

If the state election were to be held today, the BN is expected to lose 20 to 24 seats, according to forecasts made by Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) rebels in the wake of a parliamentary by-election in Sibu on May 16.

Panic mode since Sibu defeat


Taib went into panic mode after Sibu when SUPP wrested defeat from the jaws of victory after 28 years.

azlanThe Sarawak strongman, who has been in office an unprecedented 30-odd years, saw the face of an opposition that he had never seen before on the campaign trail and was visibly taken aback in public appearances.

He has been throwing tantrums ever since then at his office, according to some consultants who had made arrangements recently for some top company bigwigs to meet him. The visitors, some of whom have met him before, found him in a foul mood and pre-occupied during the meeting.

"We are preparing for snap state elections," goes a text message from Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian, tipped to be the next opposition chief minister. "We anticipate state elections in September or October in the wake of the Taib/Najib meet last week."

Baru, a land rights activist and lawyer, would be watching keenly to see whether the state BN "moves on the ground in significant numbers after the PBB retreat and the state BN meet".
The Sarawak BN meet, scheduled for this weekend in Kuching, has reportedly set up four arduous tasks for itself as a decision is about to be made on whether to go for snap polls.

"These tasks are to consider four major themes for the forthcoming state elections," confirmed a key Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) polls strategist last night.

The first of these tasks is to strategise on the polls theme that Sarawak needs to be administered by homegrown parties and "not those imported from Peninsular Malaysia".

sibu by election polling day 160510This follows the growing perception that the Chinese for example, given a choice between George Chan and Lim Kit Siang, would opt for the latter, concedes the strategist. Lim has made steady inroads in Sarawak with his DAP. His running mate, Karpal Singh, is also a household name among Sarawak Chinese.

Chan meanwhile is bogged down by accusations that he has overstayed his welcome at the old guards-ridden Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) as party leader despite solemn promises that he would step down at the end of 2008. He has a daughter married to a son of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

NONEChan (right) himself is telling the party faithful - in keeping with the state BN theme - that "the opposition is out to destroy the BN parties and create chaos in the state". This is seen as an excuse for him to stay on and break his promise to quit his party post. He has pledged to "finish off the opposition" in Sarawak for good.

"The people of Sarawak don't need change and renewal as proposed by the opposition," said Sibuti MP Ahmad Lai Bujang, likewise among those who test marketed the theme recently in Miri. "The people have been enjoying change and development under the BN state government."

Taib an 'extraordinary CEO'

Ahmad's take is that the opposition parties need not come to Sarawak because the states under their administration are going nowhere under their direction. This is a claim Sarawak BN intends to flog with a vengeance in the next state elections, according to him, invoking visions of a dog-eat-dog fight ahead.

According to a PBB strategist, the second task is to come up with ways to convince the electorate - the urban and Chinese in particular - that Taib is an extraordinary chief executive officer.

NONEHence, now is not the time to change the state government "as the global, regional and national economic situation is still uncertain", goes the disingenuous polls theme.

The third task, admits the PBB strategist, is to re-invent the "politics of development" theme which Taib has been flogging, amidst increasing disbelief and cynicism, for the last three decades and more.

While the strategist doesn't admit it, the theme has run out of currency in the face of re-current reports detailing Taib's massive abuse of public office for private gain and personal profit as large numbers in Sarawak keeping slipping below the poverty line.

The picture of grinding poverty and Taib's personal family fortune are not the only concerns besetting the politics of development and making it that much more difficult to re-invent it.

The meet would have to consider opposition charges that there's an incredible and ever-growing chasm in Sarawak between the super-duper rich like Taib and the rest of the herd.

Succession: Jabu as seat warmer


The final task, concedes the PBB strategist, is to convince the electorate that Taib has no plans to set up a dynastic line of succession in Sarawak.

taib and rahman yaakub hugging happy 110108His maternal uncle, Abdul Rahman Ya'kub (right in photo) was chief minister before him but for only 10 years after SUPP apparently prevailed on then prime minister Hussein Onn to remove him. Ever since then, Taib has been wary of offending SUPP.

Rahman's plan, disclosed by PBB key insiders, is to install his daughter and Tanjung Manis MP Norah Abdul Rahman (below) as chief minister after Taib's current deputy Alfred Jabu as interim chief minister. It remains to be seen whether Norah contests in a state seat soon, or more likely, contests "unopposed" in a by-election just before Jabu steps down as chief minister.

The state BN meet itself this weekend may be delayed if the ailing Taib, still in uncertain remission from a bout with colon cancer, begs off for a little while longer. His PBB has been going through a five-day grueling retreat which ends tomorrow and this appears to have taken a toll on his energy, health and spirits, according to insiders.

TNONEhe snap polls theory has taken credence after Taib had a hurried unscheduled meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak last week.

Najib, it is reliably learnt, confirmed that he would loathe to go for an early general election. The news from Najib was Taib's worst nightmares coming true.

The Sarawak chief minister, who has to call state polls by the middle of next year at the very latest, had hoped to seek refuge in a general election to protect himself better from a widely anticipated mauling at the hands of the increasingly better-organised opposition.

If the state election were to be held today, the BN is expected to lose 20 to 24 seats, according to forecasts made by Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) rebels in the wake of a parliamentary by-election in Sibu on May 16.

Panic mode since Sibu defeat


Taib went into panic mode after Sibu when SUPP wrested defeat from the jaws of victory after 28 years.

azlanThe Sarawak strongman, who has been in office an unprecedented 30-odd years, saw the face of an opposition that he had never seen before on the campaign trail and was visibly taken aback in public appearances.

He has been throwing tantrums ever since then at his office, according to some consultants who had made arrangements recently for some top company bigwigs to meet him. The visitors, some of whom have met him before, found him in a foul mood and pre-occupied during the meeting.

"We are preparing for snap state elections," goes a text message from Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian, tipped to be the next opposition chief minister. "We anticipate state elections in September or October in the wake of the Taib/Najib meet last week."

Baru, a land rights activist and lawyer, would be watching keenly to see whether the state BN "moves on the ground in significant numbers after the PBB retreat and the state BN meet".

Cleric maintains Wahhabi-JI links claim

KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — Government Islamic cleric Zamihan Mat Zin today maintained his allegation that the Wahhabi teachings have contributed to terrorist activities, in a repeat of what he said in a controversial security briefing recently.

The deputy director of the government’s Islamic training institute, ILIM, however denied naming former Perlis Mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, his successor Dr Juanda Jaya, former Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang as having terrorist links.

“My presentation was focussed on extremism in public institution of higher learning. I did not mention their names, I did not accuse Jemmah Islah Malaysia (JIM) of involvement in terrorist activities,” Zamihan told The Malaysian Insider.

“But I did say terrorism is a result of extreme teachings of Wahhabism. If they are not involved they should not have overreacted,” he said.

Wahhabism known locally as Sunnah Perlis, advocates purging Islam of practices that did not exist during the time of Prophet Mohamad.

Zamihan said his experience in rehabilitation of ISA detainees allegedly involved in Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) showed that they were recruited through Wahhabism.

“The detainees, Yazid Sufaat, Dr Abdullah Daud, they know me. My field work showed that they joined JI after being influenced by Wahhabi teachings,” he said.

Yazid, who was known for his ties with al-Qaeda, was released in late 2008 while Abdullah, a former UTM lecturer, was released from detention last year.

Zamihan said the only time Asri’s name was mentioned during the briefing was when the book Bid’ah: Istilah yang disalahfahami (Innovation: The misunderstood term) was discussed with the participants.

He claimed that the book’s content is consistent with Wahhabi teachings.

“He wrote the book. He should be opened to criticism,” said Zamihan.

“And I said if the Wahhabis want to form an Islamic state according to their interpretation, we have to stop them,” he added.

Zamihan said he was not trying to influence the authorities through the briefing.

“I was only invited to give the briefing and I willingly did so,” he added.

Zamihan said the briefing was also attended by Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar, Minister of Higher Education Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin and more than 100 public universities senior officials.

The briefing was held following reports of JI recruitment drive in local universities.

Early this year, police arrested 10 men, claiming they were members of JI and were allegedly plotting to blow up non-Muslims houses of worship.

All of them have been deported, except a Malaysian, who has been banished to Petaling Jaya.

Reveal PM Lee's terms, 'worried' Azmin urges Najib

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged to disclose to Parliament the details of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's “specific proposal” on the land swap deal before the two nations ink an agreement.

Responding to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's statement that Malaysia will conclude its deal with Singapore by September, PKR vice-president Azmin Ali said it was odd that Singapore agreed with Malaysia on several contentious issues if they (Singapore) were not getting what they want.

“We are concerned as to how an issue which has been dragging on for so long, could be suddenly resolved within three months. It is very worrying,” he added.

It was reported that Najib and Lee had a 45-minute meeting here and agreed to conclude a deal over Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd’s land in Singapore within three months.

Najib said Lee had "come up with a specific proposal on the land swap offer" and Malaysia will be looking “into it in great detail”.

Najib, however, did not reveal the content of the proposal.

Joint company to be formed

Last month, the two countries agreed to relocate the 78-year-old KTMB’s Tanjung Pagar railway station to Woodlands and jointly develop KTMB land in Singapore to maximise its full potential.

Both leaders agreed to form a Malaysia-Singapore joint company, known as M-S Pte Ltd, before Dec 31 this year to develop the land vacated by KTMB.

The company will be set up by Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Singapore government's investment arm, Temasek Holdings Ltd, with each holding 60% and 40% equity respectively.

KTMB land in Tanjung Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands and three additional pieces of land in Bukit Timah, totalling 271 hectares, will be vested in the company for joint development.

The developed KTMB land could in turn be swapped, on the basis of equivalent value of pieces of land in Marina South and Ophir Rochor in Singapore.

Don't repeat oil blocks fiasco

Posing several questions, Azmin said: “We want to know if the deal is done, and if so what is the contents of the agreement? What are we actually surrendering and why the hurry to agree?”

“We need to know the details of the what transpired because we don’t want a repeat of the oil block incident where we lost blocks L and M in Sarawak to Brunei,” he added.

He said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim had also called for the Malaysia-Singapore agreement to be brought to parliament and discussed before signing any deal.

Citing a previous instance when former finance minister Daim Zainuddin undertook secret discussions with Singapore without the knowledge of many ministries, Azmin said this should not be repeated.

PAS and DAP have faith in PKR

By Stephanie Sta Maria - Free Malaysia Today,


KUALA LUMPUR: The internal turbulence that has struck PKR in the last six months may have sent ripples of concern through its two comrade parties but has done little to cloud their faith in a Pakatan Rakyat-led future.
Both DAP and PAS stood by PKR in a silent but stoic show of solidarity while it reeled from a series of defections and a bitter by-election loss. And as PKR heads towards party elections in December, they voiced faith that it would emerge stronger and better.
In a recent interview with FMT, however, PKR supreme council member, Zaid Ibrahim, provided a critical analysis of the party's flaws. Topping the list was the lack of credible leaders and Anwar Ibrahim's non-presidential role. [read: Zaid's way forward for PKR]
DAP or PAS continued to maintain a respectful stance while responding to this analysis and were careful not to breach the fine line between observation and outright criticism.
DAP chairman Karpal Singh was in fact puzzled as to why his opinion was being sought on the private matters of another party.
“It's not for us to comment on PKR,” he said. “Yes, we are concerned about its recent troubles but we have never doubted its core leadership, which is still very strong.”
“The defections have served the purpose of weeding out the bad apples, so it's not entirely bad. As for Anwar, I'm sure he has his own reasons for not assuming the role of president and we must respect that.”
'PKR facing confidence issue'
PAS' Dzulkefly Ahmad mirrored Karpal's stand by explaining that PAS preferred to leave the management and commitment of strengthening PKR to its own leadership.
“If the tables were turned, I wouldn't want PKR to tell PAS what to do,” he laughed. “PAS is not at all worried about PKR. But having said that, we definitely want to see all our component parties solid and ready for the next election.”
His colleague, Khalid Samad (photo), meanwhile, contemplated the fairness of comparing PKR to its Pakatan counterparts.
“PKR is under a lot more pressure than PAS and DAP simply because Barisan realises its crucial role within Pakatan,” he noted. “BN is creating huge problems for PKR and despite that, it is doing extremely well. That should not be overlooked in the greater scheme of things.”
DAP Selangor vice-chairman, Charles Santiago, was more blunt in his assessment of PKR. He opined that PKR is facing a “confidence issue” among its supporters.
“Many people are unhappy that their vote has been repaid by defections,” he said. “PKR has to move quickly to restore this confidence, especially among the rural and urban poor. A good start would be for it to be vocal about the Selangor government's performance and delivery.”
Charles also joined Zaid's call for Anwar to step up to the presidential plate.
“He should have been party president a long time ago. I don't know what he's waiting for. DAP has always agreed that Anwar is of great importance in leading Pakatan forward.”
PAS strength a matter of perspection
In his analysis, Zaid had remarked that PAS, unlike PKR, was better trained and prepared for external attacks hence the zero defections. Both Khalid and Dzulkefly only partially agreed with him.
“You can't tell how strong PAS is until it's time for us to display our strength,” Khalid stated. “And like I mentioned earlier, PAS is not under as much pressure because Kelantan isn't a sore a point as Selangor is for BN.”
“Whether we are strong or not is a matter of perception as we can just as easily find ourselves under a similar attack. For now, it is a good image to have and I hope we can live up to it when it is most important.”
Dzulkefly, on the other hand, highlighted the fact that PAS is 50 years old and has been through its own share of turmoil. He went on to defend PKR with the reminder that it is still a very young party.
“Back then, PKR had to choose the best from a very small pool,” he said. “Now that pool has expanded and I'm confident that it will field better candidates the next time round.”
“But this is a lesson for all of us. All three parties could benefit from a better candidate screening process. Eligibility is one thing, readiness to take up the challenge is quite another. There is a lot of risk involved in being an MP and many candidates don't fully realise that.”
DAP and PAS anticipate PKR's party elections to produce a more credible leadership to further solidify the Pakatan coalition and set it on an unstoppable course towards the next general election.
“PKR has been through the worst of times,” Khalid added. “And it can only get better from hereon. BN has constantly highlighted the questionable quality of PKR candidates. It's time PKR fought back and where better to start than its party elections.”

Maika: A story of shattered dreams

B Nantha Kumar and G Vinod - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: G-Team Resources today extended to July 13, its deadline for Maika shareholders to submit their forms to redeem their share cash value.

However, most shareholders who spoke to FMT said the heartache of this entire episode runs deeper than just getting their money back, albeit lesser than what they invested.

“It is the suffering we have had to endure the past 28 years,” said an emotional P Maniam. “I bought the shares for RM1,000 in 1984, which was a big sum for me as I was merely an odd-job worker.”

“As far as I remember, I received dividends twice. After that, only the yearly prospectus was sent to my home,” said the 58-year-old senior citizen from Sungei Way.

He also recollected attending the infamous Maika AGM in 2007.

“There were many youths there claiming to be proxies of their parents. However, when we raised questions during the AGM, we were beaten up by the youths,” said Maniam.

“Worse still, the police who were present just stood there and did nothing,” he added.

Maniam said his father-in-law who also purchased Maika shares is now deceased and his children are left to pursue whatever balance is left of his investment.

“If there are still any Indian Malaysians wanting to vote for MIC, they are fools,” said Maniam, who proclaimed himself a staunch DAP supporter.

Another disgruntled shareholder, M Tanasegaran, 51, said he made an investment after being persuaded by a friend, a bank manager.

“He told me it will provide good returns later on. However, I only got a dividend of RM100 for several years after investing RM2,000,” said Tanasegaran.

When asked whether he had attended any of the firm's AGMs, he said he only attended the first three.

“Everytime you raised a question, you got pummeled physically by certain people. Why take the risk?” said a visibly upset Tanasegaran.

B Pathmavathy, another shareholder, said she decided to take up the current offer as she feels there are no better options left for her.

“I have just undergone a bypass surgery at the National Heart Institute and I require additional funds to pay for my follow-ups,” said Pathmavathy, who invested RM500 years ago.

One-stop centres

A staff member of the Maika team processing the share certificates told FMT that they were doing their best

to make things easy for aged shareholders to sell off their stocks.

“As shareholders, they are the boss and we would like to make things easier for them,” said the staff who wished to remain anonymous.

“All they have to do is to bring their orginal share certificates to make their claims. If they have lost them, they just have let us know of their old identification number.

“Later they have to produce a signed a letter from the Commissioner for Oaths to back their claims.”

The staff also said that they have set up various one-stop centres in Perak, Penang, Malacca, Johor, Negri Sembilan and Kuala Lumpur.

“Several CIMB branches in KL, Penang, Pahang and Negri Sembilan are also assisting us on this matter.”

When asked when the shareholders will receive their cash payment, he said they will receive it once the G-Team has owned 51% of the shares.

“Right now we have 47% of the shares in our hands. Once we achieve 51%, we will make the payouts within 21 days via bank drafts or we will deposit it in their CIMB bank account,” he said.

G Team Resources said that it had sent out letters to all 66,000 Maika shareholders, informing them of the buy-over.

But it is understood that about 60,000 of the letters were returned as most shareholders were no longer living at the stated addresses.

Businessman G Gnanalingam offered to buy out Maika shares for RM100 million via G Team Resources in April, paving the way for a final solution to the long contentious problem plaguing the Indian community.

Stink from the Animal Farm

By Stanley Koh - Free Malaysia Today,

COMMENT The FIFA World Cup has hijacked the national focus, turning it away from the equally noisy field of politics.

Those of us who have managed to unglue our attention from the South African stadiums would have noticed that in the domestic arena, the promised political transformation is indeed taking place, Malaysian style.

Our politicians are becoming more creative with words. They are getting better at saying what they do not mean or using colourful strings of words without saying anything at all.

“The Barisan Nasional is strong and well accepted by the people,” said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak about a coalition that almost lost a general election and did lose eight of 11 by-elections.

Indeed, our political landscape is turning out to be a tribute to George Orwell’s Animal Farm—and not only because of the Doublespeak and other kinds of strange speaks that we hear. Among our politicians, we have frogs, insects, snakes and rats, to mention just a few.

Of course, political language is the expression of political thought. Thoughts are the forerunners of speech and actions. Thoughts corrupted by lust for wealth and power will produce corrupted speech, devoid of honesty, integrity or truth.

But this is Bolehland. Politicians, especially the BN elite, speak mostly to the gullible. They are not bothered about those who see through their deception because they believe—or have conditioned themselves to believe—that the doubters and sceptics do not make up a significant number.

Within the BN itself, any component party is free to use deceptive political rhetoric suited to its needs as long as the power formula is maintained.

For instance, Umno probably has no problem with MCA’s philosophy of the humble ant as long as the second largest component party is subservient and obedient and continues to play its robotic role without question, serving the U-Must-Not-Object queen ant.

Since MCA has decided to adopt the ant image, perhaps Umno deserves the honour of being the nation’s distinguished white ant.

From ants to cats: “It doesn’t matter what coloured cat it is, as long as it catches mice,” Najib remarked to emphasise the role of a smaller coalition within BN.

Political frogs and rats

Yet the ruling regime is still strong, its strength derived from Umno’s superior strength, which it acquired by hijacking the key pillars of democracy and imposing an assortment of draconian laws.

For all the weaknesses and failings of the farm house, many Malaysians are still not equipped with enough political education to comprehend what would constitute a positive and progressive Malaysian value system.

If that assumption is false, how does one explain why, for example, Malaysian voters support a lawmaker who turned into a lawbreaker guilty of bigamy?

Why do voters continue to support adulterers, murder suspects and political frogs and rats? Has money become so important to Malaysian voters that it can buy their belief in the sanctity of human rights, press freedom and other democratic principles as well as religious and traditional values?

Unless the awakening among Malaysians continues and spreads, the animal farm is not likely to get any less smelly. With clumsy slogans and a repertoire of hollow promises, the propaganda machine tirelessly spins illusions even David Copperfield may be incapable of.

Can Malaysians be able to transform the animal farm into a prosperous nation? Will the propaganda machine lose steam because nobody is listening anymore? Can this happen before the next general election? How much longer can Malaysians tolerate a culture of kleptomania that is fiercely protected by rent-seekers and mentally crippled cronies?

Only the future will provide the answers. But times have changed and are changing still. There are signs that Malaysians are increasingly reluctant to be treated like ants, or to be led by the nose like buffaloes, or to let sleeping dogs lie over incompetent and corrupted leadership.

Voters will deal with both humble ants and white ants in the next general election. The animal farm will have to be sprayed with pesticides to stop the rot. And the Prime Minister may not have to worry about politicians shooting themselves in the foot because many will be given the boot.

Stanley Koh was the former head of research at MCA. He now writes for FreeMalaysiaToday.

Sports Betting

Dr Rais said that the revenue from sports betting will be only used to finance the under privileged non-Muslims. Now all non-Muslims will be grateful to BN and we will vote BN.

By Krishna M Singh

Every mother’s son in UMNO, MCA, the newspapers and NGOs have had their say on why Sports betting should be legalized. Suddenly, the UMNOputras have started to champion the rights of the non-Malays,
especially the rights to the Chinese, to gamble. The Chinese should now be grateful and remember to vote BN.

Dr Rais even went on to say that the revenue from sports betting will be only used to finance the under privileged non-Muslims. Now all non-Muslims will be grateful to BN and we will vote BN.

The police have been out every time on raids and scoring success after success in catching those involved in illegal betting. Even VIPs are involved in running these syndicates, it seems. Vincent Tan’s newspaper carry these reports on their front pages.

Since I am also a mother’s son, I also want to have my say.

Legalizing sports betting will not stop illegal betting. We have legalized 4-D, Toto and horse race punting. Has it stopped illegal betting? If anyone wants to know the answer, ask the IGP or the Home Minister.

Since we want to recognize the rights of the Chinese to gamble, can we now start licensing gambling dens so that the Chinese can play mahjong and card games in their own town or neighbourhood without having to go to Genting Highlands? I also like to play gin rummy and I am always unable to find 4 friends to play with regularly.

We then should also have legalized jackpot machine shops in every nook and corner so that any citizen with rights to play on these machines can do so without any fear of being caught.

Operators of illegal dens, once legalized, do not have to bribe police to stop the raids. There will be less corruption.

Finally, instead of just making Vincent Tan, who is already rich beyond the dreams of many people, wealthier, why does the government not grant licences to more people so that the wealth is spread around? After all, the others also have a right to be rich and the government must recognize this right. And maybe this will really stop illegal betting.

Then send someone to Singapore to study how their Singapore Pools have been set up to regulate all gambling activities. Singapore has a well managed system.

All revenue from gambling activities should only be used for the education of the non-Muslims. Otherwise, there will be all kinds of leaks and wastages. We have enough creative people who can think of such devious
schemes.

Now that I have said my piece, I hope my mother will be happy and RIP.

A warning to Najib, a weapon for his foes and a disaster for Malaysia

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

News that French police had specifically zoomed in on documents related to Malaysia’s purchase of two Scorpene submarines when they raided the offices of arms-makers DCNS and Thales is unlikely to escape the notice of Prime Minister Najib Razak, his minders or his foes.

“It is a real warning not just for Najib but also his party Umno and Malaysians as a whole,” PKR vice president Sivarasa Rasiah told
Malaysia Chronicle.

“So far his administration has been trying to sweep the whole issue under the carpet and blaming the opposition for playing it up. But it is now clear that other people – the French authorities – also think there are grounds for a thorough and full probe.”

The real danger - not from France but within Umno

Najib was the defense minister who ordered the Scorpenes in 2002. He became prime minister in April 2009 and has moved to consolidate his grip on power. He has put his cousin Hishammuddin Hussein in charge of the powerful Home Ministry, which controls the police force, whilst national graft buster Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission answers directly to him.

Nevertheless, his hold on Umno – the dominant party in the ruling BN coalition – is still shaky and he faces increasing internal challenges from powerful factional leaders and warlords coveting his chair. So far, his immediate predecessor Abdullah Badawi has refrained from putting him down publicly but party pundits say that doesn't mean Abdullah and his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin are not monitoring closely.

However, Mahathir Mohamad, who ruled Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 and has himself been widely accused of gross corruption and abuse of power, has been very vocal. Although, he has not publicly attacked Najib yet, he has made it clear that he would not hesitate to topple an 'out-of-line' Najib.

“The danger doesn't come from the French but from rivals in Umno itself. It hinges on the question of when and how would Mahathir consider Najib as out-of-line. Does it carry the same meaning for him as for the rest of Malaysia or does it just mean not following his orders?” an Umno watcher told Malaysia Chronicle.

“Given Dr M's past record, he won't be ousting Najib so that he can end corruption in Umno or Malaysia. Dr M is just waiting for the opportunity to gain further political and financial advantage, and yes, don't be surprised, he may even try to make a comeback to the top post. But he will still cover up for Najib when it is convenient and politically expedient to do so.”

Why no public probe on Perimekar, Razak Baginda

Indeed, despite public uproar and numerous street protests, the Najib administration has done little to reveal crucial details of the exorbitant deal or to implement public audits to investigate the intensifying allegations of high-level government corruption.

Although Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has confirmed that a whopping sum of 114 million euros or RM570 million was paid as commission for the purchase, no effort has been made to probe impropriety or to confiscate the kickback which will have to be borne by taxpayers.

The commission was paid to an obscure firm Perimekar Sdn Bhd, which is controlled by Najib’s close associate Razak Baginda,

“Why is there no action? At the very least, Perimekar, Razak Baginda and the link to Najib must be investigated. It is ridiculous that nothing is done, even now when the current Defense Minister has again confirmed there was such a sum paid to Perimekar," PKR leader Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

"Because of Najib's questionable purchase, the government spent enormous amounts on this white elephant, yet the people are the ones who will be required to bear the hardship of the subsidy cuts that his administration is now proposing. We have to accept low salaries, reduced welfare and inflation.”

Fudging the numbers

Tian, who is the Member of Parliament for Batu, was in Paris last week along with a group of top Malaysian NGOs. They had sought a meeting with the French authorities and were given the updates on the case. The French authorities confirmed that their high-profile raid conducted earlier this month was directly related to the Malaysian deal.

On Tuesday, Ahmad Zahid gave Tian a written reply to his query in Parliament of the costs of the Scorpenes. The figure revealed by Ahmad surpassed public expectations and all estimates provided by various government officials in the past.

“In the past, they tried to fudge the number and play around with the exchange rates. At first, the sum of RM1.1 billion was bandied around and then US$1.1 billion. But what we see now is RM6.7 billion, even more than the previous ballpark figure of RM5 billion,” Tian said.

According to the Defense Minister, the total costs excluding annual maintenance came up to 1.34 billion euros or about RM6.7 billion before taking into account maintenance fees. The sum broke down down to 969 million euros for the two submarines, 219 million euros for missiles, 38 million euros for miscellaneous equipment and 114 million euros for commission paid to Perimekar.

Maintenance fees were initially agreed at RM600 million for six years or RM100 million per year. However, this was later increased to RM270 million per year.

FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS

1. FDI had proved useful for the creation of jobs in our country. But today things have changed. We no longer need to create low pay jobs as we no longer have the workers. These jobs go to the foreign workers. This does not benefit us much.

2. Besides the foreign investors bring in hardly any capital. They borrow locally from foreign banks operating here. During the tax holiday period they pay no tax. After the holiday is over they avoid paying tax through transfer pricing i.e. by selling their products to companies owned by them established in low-tax countries.

3. They also enjoy our subsidies for fuel and electricity.

4. FDI for investment in the stock market is much liked by the stock exchage as there would be more commission. But the foreign funds, especially pension funds invest in order to push up stock prices. The index would rise. The moment something happens, including falling share prices in New York or other cities, foreign investors would dump their holdings and pull put of the country (flight to quality). They would make huge capital gains but local investors who had followed them would be left holding the devalued shares. Huge amounts of market capital would be lost. This was what happened in the financial crisis of 1997-98.

5. We should be more selective with FDI. Where there is local capacity as in property development in designated corridors, and Government is willing to invest in infrastructures, there is no necessity to invite foreign investors. Certainly we should not encourage foreign developers to develop high cost projects which are not within reach of local buyers. Rather Government should help local investors to develop these specialised areas by building needed infrastructure.

6. If we wish to have FDI, it should be confined to industries which bring in technologies which can add high value to the products. The pay for the workers at different levels should be higher as such industries can afford higher pay. In fact we should phase out the industries dependent on cheap labour. Wherever possible, incentives such as tax exemptions should be given to industries owned by locals if they bring in technologies from abroad. Even the expansion of certain locally-owned industries should be given incentives by the Government. This is the strategy employed by Japan and Korea. By supporting local industries to grow big, they now have world class business with their own brand names.

Bumiputera-ness: Who decides?

By Singa Pura Pura | The Nut Graph,
Nazri Aziz
Nazri Aziz
MINISTER in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz’s recent assertion respecting the bumiputera-ness of Siamese Malaysians piques my interest to no end.
Who or what decides on the bumiputera-ness or the bumiputera-less-ness of a Malaysian citizen? Is it the Federal Constitution? Was it the Reid Commission? Is it the cabinet, or Parliament, or the Barisan Nasional? Is it Umno? Or Perkasa?
My great-grandparents were born in Penang in the 19th century. They were salted-fish traders. In World War II, their mansions in town were expropriated by the Japanese and turned into barracks. I know for a fact that their blood, sweat and tears oozed into their native soil of Malaya.
My grandparents and parents had nothing to do with China. They contributed to Malaya and Malaysia and all facets of Malaysian-ness. That they and I were/are not qualified to be bumiputera Malaysians is simply illogical. Anywhere else in the world, one’s citizenship would be the ultimate and consummate qualification of one’s citizenry.
Here I am, a full-blooded Malaysian, and yet, somehow, a designated non-Malay and non-bumiputera Malaysian. Is it possible that my children’s children will also end up like I have – a stipulated non-bumiputera 1Malaysian?
Singa Pura Pura

How Canada Made The G20 Happen

From www.theglobeandmail.com
By John Ibbitson and Tara Perkins

Paul Martin sat in Lawrence Summers’ spacious office in the Greek-columned U.S. Treasury building in Washington, searching in vain for a piece of paper. With none in sight, the two men grabbed a brown manila envelope, put it on the table between them, and began sketching the framework of a new world order.

It was April 27, 1999. For the past five years, the global economy had shuddered under a string of massive debt defaults – first in Mexico, and then in Southeast Asia and Russia.

In each case, Western leaders and bankers responded by prescribing harsh fixes, throwing one developing economy after another into recession.

As crisis followed crisis, Mr. Martin, then Canada’s finance minister, became convinced that major developing nations had to be given a voice – not just an ultimatum – when it came to discussing their place in the global economy. But in the capitals of Europe and the corridors of Washington, the answer was always the same: It’s our club, and there are no vacancies.

Or at least it was the same answer until that April day when Mr. Martin visited Mr. Summers, then Bill Clinton’s nominee for treasury secretary, to press his case. He argued that they couldn’t keep imposing solutions on developing countries. The G7 had to be expanded – at least at the finance-ministers’ level.

Mr. Summers quickly agreed. But that was the simple part. Much thornier was the issue of who would be admitted to the club.

With the manila envelope in hand, the two began jotting down countries. China, India, Brazil, Mexico – these were obvious choices. So was South Africa, the biggest economy on its continent. But who else?

“I felt very strongly that it had to be the regional powers,” recalls Mr. Martin. “Larry felt that, and then he also had geopolitical concerns. I would love to say we sat down and ran the numbers on whose GDP was bigger, but we didn’t. We both had a pretty good perspective on where things lay.

“ You didn’t have to have the statistics to know which country was pretty important. ”
— Paul Martin

Thailand was the nexus of the Asian banking crisis, but Indonesia was more influential in the region. Indonesia in; Thailand out. Chile was tempting, because it was democratic and well-run, but Argentina was a bigger player. Argentina got the seat. Saudi Arabia was strategically important and a good friend of the United States. The Saudis would get an invite.

So it went until they had compiled a working list of roughly 20 countries – literally, a back-of-the-envelope blueprint for what would become, today, the most powerful forum on economic and political matters in the world: the G20.

When the G20 convenes in Toronto on June 26, it will mark the culmination of a long, and unlikely story, one that began with an annual gathering of finance ministers and evolved into a semi-annual meeting of world leaders from 19 nations (yes, not 20 – see sidebar for the inside story). Collectively, they represent 70 per cent of the global population and 90 per cent of the global GDP.

The G20 enters its second decade with enormous potential but many unanswered questions. The world will watch as these leaders try to carry on the task of shepherding a fragile economic recovery: As a group, they have the power, but can they wield it?

Still, the meeting this month is only possible because a Canadian finance minister convinced leaders of the G7 consortium of developed nations to become a larger, more inclusive group. There has never been a proper accounting of how the G20 came to be: the struggles that led to its birth; the early failure of Paul Martin to convert it from a finance ministers’ club into a leaders’ forum; and then the sudden recognition, at the height of an economic crisis, that Mr. Martin’s idea was one whose time had come.

Present at the creation

In May of 1998, Mr. Martin hosted a dinner for Anwar Ibrahim, because he thought Malaysia’s finance minister had something vital to say. The soft- and plain-spoken man’s message galvanized the senior figures in Finance, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office who were in the room.

The lessons, rules and prescriptions that applied to many developed nations, he told them, were not necessarily applicable to the developing world. How could Malaysia raise taxes, as the International Monetary Fund was demanding, when the country had only just managed to create a tax system, and no one would be able to pay the taxes the West was demanding?

“It was simple stuff, but it made you realize that you really need to understand these people and have them at the table and understand what is going on in their economy,” remembers Terrie O’Leary, who was Mr. Martin’s chief of staff at the time. Creating that kind of understanding became, for Mr. Martin, a crusade.

Meanwhile, contagion was spreading throughout global markets. The shocks of the Mexican peso crisis sucked Argentina and Brazil into its wake. The Asian financial crisis stretched from Thailand to South Korea. And Russia’s ruble crisis threatened to disrupt the increasingly intertwined economies of Europe and the United States.

“It was clear that the plain, ordinary regulatory apparatus that we had internationally was not working very well,” recalls David Dodge, who was Mr. Martin’s deputy at Finance, and later governor of the Bank of Canada.

Yet change, at first, was tentative. At meetings of the G8 (which is what the G7, a gathering of finance ministers, becomes when it’s a meeting of leaders and Russia joins in), developing-world leaders were invited to attend as guests.

Along with Mr. Martin, Gordon Brown, then Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, was a strong proponent of giving the emerging nations a voice. There were two obvious ways: Reform the International Monetary Fund, and expand the G7/G8. They decided to split the jobs.

The British would concentrate on the notoriously unwieldy IMF. “It was too formal, there were too many people,” recalls Gordon Thiessen, who was Governor of the Bank of Canada through the currency crisis and the forming of the G20. At a typical IMF meeting, “There must have been 500 people in the room. …There used to be little wars about who was going to get chairs.”

Canada, meanwhile, would train its efforts on the G7/G8.

“What you had was really very Eurocentric … and it didn’t make a lot of sense,” says Robert Rubin, who was Mr. Clinton’s treasury secretary before Mr. Summers. Five of the eight members were European: Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy and Russia, balanced by the United States, Japan and Canada.

Negotiations over the G20 pitted the Anglosphere nations against the Continent. The Germans and the French, in particular, feared that additional members would dilute their influence on the world stage.

“The French were so annoyed,” recalls Ian Bennett, now president of the Royal Canadian Mint, but then an associate deputy minister, who did much of the legwork in establishing the forum. “They hated it.”

But deteriorating economic conditions overpowered the dissent. On Sept. 25, 1999, just five months after Mr. Martin and Mr. Summers sketched out their vision of an expanded group of finance ministers, the G20 was officially unveiled – with Mr. Martin as the inaugural chair.

Mr. Rubin argues that the Americans were as committed to the idea of the G20 as Canada was, though he describes Mr. Martin as a “very strong voice.” But there was an important reason for handing the reins to Canada: The U.S. didn’t want to be seen as dictating to the Europeans.

“There was a sense that this would be better if it wasn’t a completely American initiative,” says Mr. Thiessen. “So Paul became the guy who was front and centre, and Canada more generally, in organizing this.”

Canada, of course, had its own stake: This nation entered the G7 in 1976 more or less by accident – the Europeans wanted to add Italy, and the Americans agreed on the condition that Canada be admitted as well. But by the late 1990s, if any country was bumped out to make way for China or India, Canada could be among the first to go. With the G20, the country was firmly anchored, and Canada’s role in helping forge it gave it special prominence.

But along with that status, Mr. Martin also inherited the sensitive, and often tortuous, task of helping guide the final selection of inductees. There were howls from some countries that were not invited, especially, of course, in Europe.

“If you give more to some people, somebody has to give something up,” explains Mr. Rubin. “But that didn’t sit so well, in particular with some of the smaller countries.”

Jim Peterson, who was then a secretary of state under Mr. Martin, recalls walking into the finance minister’s office and hearing him yell down the telephone: “Once and for all, Holland is not getting on the G20, and that’s all there is to it!”

Breakthrough in Montreal

To placate the chagrined Europeans, the first meeting of the G20 finance ministers took place in Berlin in December, 1999. The ministers talked about exchange rates, the impact of government debt on national economies, and the mixed promise of globalization, but things went badly – Germans and Canadians struggled over who was really in control, and the meeting was awkward and inconclusive.

Part of the problem was that the new arrivals had been accustomed to sending large delegations to international gatherings, with outcomes scripted in advance. But Mr. Martin wanted a more informal and effective environment, in which only finance ministers, deputy finance ministers and governors of central banks would be allowed in the room.

When it came Canada’s turn to host the G20 ministers in Montreal in 2000, Mr. Martin hatched a scheme. First, he phoned each of his Western counterparts with a blunt message: This would not be a meeting of the G7 ministers and some guests. Everyone would have an equal seat at the table: “We’re now the G20, period,” he repeated over and over. “There is no G7 at this meeting.”

Then he called Mr. Summers and South Africa’s finance minister, Trevor Manuel, to warn them he was going to talk about agriculture. Africa and the U.S. were (and still are) at odds over agricultural exports. The Americans wanted the Africans to drop tariff barriers to their manufactured goods, yet refused to drop tariffs against African agricultural imports.

“I said: ‘Guys, I’m going to raise the issue of agriculture,’” Mr. Martin recalls. “’I would like you guys to really have at each other.’ And they did, magnificently. Manuel was terrific, and so was Larry, and that really set the tone. All of a sudden there were no-holds-barred discussions.”

Mr. Summers, who is now Barack Obama’s Director of the National Economic Council, remembers that debate. “Paul really did force, as chair, the acknowledgment of elephants in rooms,” he says. “He was very good that way.”

“ That was Paul Martin’s great success. ”
— Gordon Thiessen, former Governor of the Bank of Canada

“We actually had … debates going across the table. It was one of the best international meetings I was ever at.”

Canada further strengthened its role by hosting the third meeting in November of 2001. India had been supposed to play host, but in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, no one wanted to fly that far; the Americans refused to go overseas at all. So the club met in Ottawa, where the ministers developed an action plan to combat the financing of terrorist organizations – something the smaller group of developed countries could never have done on their own. The G20’s legitimacy grew.

Gradually, the G8 leaders began to concede, at least implicitly, that their own small club was becoming unfashionable. At Evian in 2003, French President Jacques Chirac invited 11 Third World nations to discuss development.

James Wolfensohn, who was then the head of the World Bank, was there, and recalls a moment that presaged a changing of the guard, involving Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva of Brazil.

“President Lula, in a very charming way, said: ‘Listen, you guys, it’s very good of you to invite us here. But maybe you should hold next year’s meeting in Rio, so that you can get used to the fact that in five or 10 years time, four or five of you are not going to be here.’”

‘I go to too many meetings already’

By 2004, when Mr. Martin became prime minister, he wanted the G20 to become more than a forum for finance ministers to co-ordinate support for the global economy. He wanted to expand it, on the model of the G8, to include the leaders of developing countries. The new gathering would supplement, not replace, the G8. It could meet regularly or on an ad-hoc basis. It could be based on the G20, or there could be additions or deletions.

Countries outside the G8, not surprisingly, were eager from the start. On Dec. 11, 2003, the day before he was sworn in as prime minister, Mr. Martin met in Ottawa with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. In January, 2005, Mr. Martin visited India to discuss the idea with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had complained publicly about being invited to attend G8 meetings like a supplicant before his betters. Brazil’s Mr. da Silva had echoed the protest.

But within the G8, it was another story. Its supporters pointed out that the club had been doing a pretty good job of containing inflation, managing exchange rates and essentially guiding the global economy for more than two decades.

Mr. Martin recalls that when he dined with Junichiro Koizumi in Tokyo two days prior to his India visit, the Japanese prime minister’s view was, “Okay, I will go along with this, but let’s do it for one meeting and we’ll see if it works.”

The British were onside, but the French preferred a G13 that would include only China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

Mr. Martin pointed out that this would leave the Muslim world outside the door.

As for the Americans? “I go to too many meetings already,” George W. Bush reportedly told Mr. Martin, though Mr. Martin himself doesn’t recall that statement.

Indeed, even Mr. Martin felt jet-lagged, shuttling between APEC and the G8 and the UN General Assembly and the Commonwealth and the various hemispheric forums. But Mr. Wolfensohn, the former World Bank head, maintains that “meeting fatigue” was a red herring. The G8 members, apart from Britain’s Gordon Brown, simply didn’t want to let anyone else in.

“They didn’t mind getting advice from 20 finance ministers,” he says, “but if you broadened that to include 20 leaders, that was a different proposition.”

With Mr. Martin himself increasingly distracted by domestic political alarms, hopes for a G20 leaders’ forum withered. But after his defeat at the hands of Stephen Harper in January of 2006, Mr. Martin revived the campaign, relentlessly raising the subject in speeches and in foreign meetings. To some, he was becoming tiresome.

“With this obsession over the [G20], he’s starting to turn into the tedious drunk at the global village tavern, rattling on about the glory days when he and Larry Summers saved the world economy from near-ruin,” an Ottawa Citizen columnist wrote on Nov. 1, 2008. “He needs to give [it] a rest.”

Two weeks later, the G20 summit was born.

Riders on the storm

November, 2008: Investment banks were failing or being bailed out throughout the United States and Europe. Markets were in free fall and home foreclosures skyrocketing. Credit was paralyzed because no bank trusted the survival odds of any other bank. Businesses couldn’t get loans. The world was in clear and present danger of plunging into a depression that could rival the Great one.

George W. Bush was the lamest of lame-duck presidents, marking time until the inauguration of Barack Obama, yet he had to act if the American economy were to be rescued and the global one preserved. He needed to convene a meeting of world leaders, to co-ordinate a global response to the crisis. But who should he invite? Luckily, a ready-made solution was sitting on the shelf: Paul Martin’s G20.

“If you didn’t have that model, it probably would have been very difficult,” Robert Rubin believes. “Because you needed to get [world leaders] together very quickly.”

The first expanded G20 summit – one that gathered political leaders, not merely finance ministers – convened in Washington on Nov. 15, 2008, leading to agreement on “closer macroeconomic co-operation” – which meant that every country in the G20 would pump billions (in some cases, hundreds of billions) of dollars into their economies, while guaranteeing the solvency of their banks.

It worked. There was no new Great Depression, and some countries – the big emerging ones, especially – even managed to avoid a recession. The meeting was so successful that G20 leaders convened again in London and in Pittsburgh in 2009. In Pittsburgh, the leaders “designated the G20 to be the premier forum for our international economic cooperation,” Bye-bye, G8.

Not overnight, of course. While many, including Mr. Manuel, who is still a minister in the South African government, believe that “the club is fading,” others still question the G20’s legitimacy. After all, none of the world’s other nations authorized it to speak for them. Yet no other organization properly recognizes the emerging economies that are, in many cases, larger and healthier on some levels than those of the old powers. Mr. Wolfensohn predicts the G20 will grow in strength with every passing year.

Of course, with this increase in influence, there’s also an increasing struggle for power within the group itself. Observers expect some fault lines to sharpen in Toronto next week.

Nevertheless, Mr. Summers’ voice is tinged with pride when he recalls the day George W. Bush called the leaders of the G20 to Washington: “I showed my wife and my kids – I still had a G20 windbreaker and a little G20 carrying case from Paul’s meeting in Montreal,” he recalls.“And I said: ‘I was part of starting this, along with Paul Martin, and look what’s happened to it now.’”

John Ibbitson is The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau chief. Tara Perkins is the Financial Services reporter for Report on Business.

Cadangan Pembangunan Semula KG Baru Perlu Pandangan MAS Dan Penduduk

KENYATAAN AKHBAR

23 JUN 2010

Cadangan pembangunan semula Kampung Baru yang akan dikemukakan oleh Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim adalah altenatif yang baik kepada penduduk untuk menikmati pembangunan dan pada masa sama kekal sebagai pemilik tanah.

Cadangan tersebut mengambil kira semua isu yang terlibat terutama hak milik kekal orang Melayu, masalah pembahagian tanah, serta membina pembangunan yang setaraf dengan kawasan yang berdekatan.

Cadangan tersebut, yang dibuat 15 tahun lalu atas permintaan Kerajaan Pusat ketika itu, akan dibentangkan semula pada forum dengan penduduk pada tarikh yang akan ditetapkan nanti.

Penduduk Kampung Baru dan wakil mereka termasuklah Lembaga Pentadbiran Petempatan Pertanian Melayu (MAS) boleh memberi memberi maklum balas dan pandangan mereka terhadap cadangan pembangunan tersebut.

Perlu dinyatakan disini sebarang laporan yang menyatakan bahawa Menteri Besar tidak akan mengambil kira pandangan MAS dalam isu pembangunan Kampung Baru adalah tidak benar sama sekali.

Perbincangan akan diadakan dengan Ahli Parlimen Titiwangsa, Dr Lo’ Lo Ghazali untuk menetapkan tarikh bagi diadakan perjumpaan dengan penduduk Kampung Baru untuk membolehkan cadangan ini dibentangkan kepada mereka.

Pelbagai pihak yang terlibat dengan pembangunan ini akan dijemput termasuk PKNS sebagai pemaju yang mewakili kerajaan negeri.

“Walaupun Kampung Baru bukan di bawah Selangor tetapi kampung itu mempunyai kaitan rapat dengan sejarah Selangor.

“Sebagai Menteri Besar Selangor , saya tidak boleh berdiam diri atau menutup mata ketika penduduk Kampung Baru memerlukan bantuan dan berada di persimpangan untuk membuat keputusan,” kata Menteri Besar.

Cadangan pembangunan itu akan mengutamakan prinsip pentadbiran Kerajaan Selangor yang mengutamakan ketelusan dan kebertanggungjawaban.

SEKRETARIAT AKHBAR

PEJABAT MENTERI BESAR SELANGOR

Germany edge Ghana, both advance

Mesut Oezil (C) of Germany celebrates scoring

A second-half Mesut Ozil volley proved enough for Germany to edge Ghana in a riveting, chance-rich contest at Soccer City, where the result proved enough to send both teams into the Round of 16. Joachim Low’s side finished as Group D winners to book a date with arch-rivals England, while Milovan Rajevac’s charges will now meet USA, after benefiting from Australia’s 2-1 defeat of Serbia to go through on goal difference.

It was evident from the outset that both teams were intent on playing adventurous football, and the chances were swift in arriving for Germany. The first fell to Cacau. Racing into the right side of the Ghanaian box, the Brazil-born 29-year-old struck the ball firmly but straight into the arms of a grateful Richard Kingson, who did well to gather Thomas Muller's cross moments later.

On six minutes a headed clearance dropped to Lukas Podolski, whose first-time strike was deflected wide for a corner, which came to nothing. Almost immediately, the same player sprinted down the left and cut the ball back. Jonathan Mensah, under pressure from Cacau, almost turned it into his own net, but was spared by the diving Kingson.

Ghana had their first chance on 13 minutes. Kwadwo Asamoah broke into the Germany box and unselfishly laid the ball back for Asamoah Gyan, whose effort was blocked by Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Midway through the half, Ozil deceived the offside trap and went clean through on goal. The Germany No8 looked odds-on to score, but Kingson spread himself masterfully and made a block with his legs. Ten minutes later it was his outstretched hands that came to Ghana’s rescue, repelling a Cacau drive from ten yards.

Andre Ayew expertly crafted a chance on the half-hour mark, a sublime feint allowing him to leave Jerome Boateng in his wake and cross for Gyan, who could not get enough power on his close-range header to trouble Manuel Neuer.

The final opportunity of the opening 45 fell to Gyan, who out-jumped his marker but was unable to keep his header down. The referee's whistle, which could barely be heard amid immense noise inside Soccer City, soon brought a riveting opening period to a close.

The Germans emerged following a Low team-talk fixated on breaking the deadlock. However, despite being camped inside the Ghanaian half and dominating possession, they were unable to test Kingson in the opening five minutes.

The Black Stars, by contrast, required just one attack to force Neuer into action. Gyan sent Kwadwo Asamoah through on goal, but his shot was expertly saved by the sprawling German No1.

The three-time world champions made their adversaries pay on the hour mark. Muller collected the ball on the right flank and played it square to Ozil, who was centrally-positioned, two yards outside the area. The Werder Bremen playmaker touched the ball into the path of his left boot, and casually volleyed it past Kingson and just inside his right-hand post.

Ghana, undeterred, refused to accept defeat. Gyan headed into the side-netting on 64 minutes, before back-heeling the ball into the path of Ayew, whose goal-bound shot was crucially blocked by Philipp Lahm.

The Europeans played more conservatively thereafter, and their ball retention kept Ghanaian opportunities at a minimum. Sulley Muntari had a half-chance for the west Africans, but his speculative shot from 25 yards flew over the bar.

Sami Khedira, Ozil and Podolski, so adept at finding white shirts with their passes, managed to play the clock down until the final whistle sparked German celebrations. Seconds later, upon hearing of Australia's reverse of Serbia, Ghanaian arms were also flung jubilantly in the Johannesburg air.

Germany will now collide with England in Mangaung/Bloemfontein for a place in the quarter-finals on Sunday, while Ghana will face USA in Rustenburg on Saturday.