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Friday, July 9, 2010

Indian couple slain in 'honor killing'

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- Asha Saini and Yogesh Kumar were in love and wanted to get married. But Saini's family did not approve of Kumar: As a taxi driver, they said, he did not have the right kind of job. But more importantly for them, he was from a lower caste.

Despite their objections, Saini, 19, kept seeing Kumar, 20. To keep them apart, her father and uncle tortured and killed the couple, police say.

"We killed them because we were against their relationship. If someone comes to your house to meet your niece at midnight, what more do you do?" her uncle, Om Prakash, told reporters in televised remarks outside a police station in the Indian capital following his arrest.

The victims were one of five sets of couples killed in one week in India in June. Some have dubbed the cases "honor killings" because the families feel they have to act against their children -- usually their daughters -- to save the family's reputation.

Police say the family tried everything to discourage the relationship, including arranging Saini's engagement to another man.

In the end, investigators say the family turned to violence. A neighbor who lives next door to the crime scene said he heard the terrible screams in the night -- and also got a glimpse of what was causing them.
"We killed them because we were against their relationship. If someone comes to your house to meet your niece at midnight, what more do you do?"

"Big, thick sticks were being used. The girl was screaming, kill me but leave him," said Umesh Kumar, who is not related to Yogesh. "They were beating her so much, the blood was like a fountain coming out of her head."

Kumar said he tried to help but his phone wasn't working and none of the other neighbors would lend him a phone to call police. None of the others called the police themselves.

"It isn't our business anyway. They should have obeyed the parent's wishes. That is just the way it is," said another neighbor, who did not want to be named.

Authorities have charged Prakash and Saini's father, Suraj Kumar Saini, with murder. Neither has entered a plea, and court cases are pending.

"The most disturbing part of this case is that the girl and the boy were killed by the relative of the girl," said Delhi Deputy Commissioner of Police (Northwest District) Narendra Bundela.

In some villages, families can be ostracized if they cannot make their children obey local marital tradition. But the killings have emerged in big cities, like New Delhi, and are making headlines in the national press.

It is not clear if there has been an increase in these types of killings or a rise in reporting of them. India's Supreme Court is pressing the northern states where these killings are more frequent to take action and to specify what they are doing to curb the problem.

The Indian Cabinet met Thursday to discuss stricter punishment for those involved in "honor killings." A panel of ministers will now consider changes to criminal law that would make groups that order these killings liable for murder charges. The changes would attempt to rein in traditional village councils that sometimes hold summary trials and order punishment in cases of inter-caste marriages.

Dr. Ranjana Kumari, who heads the Center for Social Research in Delhi, said the cases were extreme examples of the clash of modern India versus the strict interpretation of ancient traditions.

The honor of a family traditionally resides in its daughters, and when the girl goes against their wishes, it is seen as the ultimate disrespect, Kumari said.

"Here the subordination for a girl is, even now, by and large almost total. What you wear, what you study, where you live, who you marry, everything has to be decided by the family," she said.

Renu, Kumar's 27-year-old sister, said he was her closest living relative since their parents died a few years ago.

"I lost everything. I am left alone," she said, as tears welled up in her eyes. "This pain will last a lifetime. Still I want justice. What has happened to my brother should happen to the killers also. They should hang."

The whirlwind journey of PI Bala

(Malaysiakini) On July 7, 2008, private eye P Balasubramaniam celebrated his wedding anniversary being interviewed by police officers for about six or seven hours at the Malaysian embassy in Bangkok.

NONELast Tuesday, he celebrated his anniversary being interviewed in a press conference under far more relaxed circumstances in London. The supporting cast and the location may have changed, but the focus remained the same.

Yet what has often been relegated to a footnote has been the tribulations of the man himself.

"Everybody's focusing on the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu and who's behind it," says Balasubramaniam's lawyer, Americk Sidhu.

"There's another issue here which is equally important, and that is the way Balasubramaniam was treated after he released his first statutory declaration on the July 3, 2008. He was immediately apprehended, bribed, cajoled, threatened and removed from Malaysia."

The video of Balasubramaniam's interview in Singapore last November by three of his lawyers gave lengthy details regarding his experience starting from July 3, 2008.

NONEAmong the chilling allegations made by Balasubramaniam were the words said to him by Nazim Abdul Razak (left), the younger brother of the prime minister, during a meeting near The Curve in Damansara on the night after he released his first statutory declaration (SD): "If you love your family, just follow what Deepak (Jaikishan) tells you to do."

This kicked off a whirlwind journey for Balasubramaniam that had him hurriedly retracting his first SD with a second SD, his children getting new passports, a van shipping him and his family straight to Singapore's Changi Airport where he boarded a plane to Bangkok - all within 24 hours.

Expenses paid by businessman

After the interview by, oddly enough, commercial crimes police officers, he would then fly with his family to Kathmandu, then New Delhi and finally settling in Chennai, India where he stayed for over a year, his expenses funded by the shadowy and politically well-connected businessman, Deepak Jaikishan.

Balasubramaniam now believes that the likelihood of him returning to Malaysia is slim.

"If I go back to Malaysia, I got a room in Kamunting waiting for me," he says. "I can't go back. They will silence me, or they will put me in Kamunting for nine to 10 years."

Balasubramaniam feels his only hope for a return to the normal life he enjoyed back home is with a change in government. "I don't want these corrupt Umnoputras to be in Malaysia. I need the government to change."

NONEIn the Singapore interview, Balasubramaniam claimed that "Deepak said I can come back to Malaysia after Najib becomes PM." This became untenable when Balasubramaniam insisted he wanted the truth of his testimony as a witness in the Altantuya murder case to be revealed.

Back in Malaysia

How he and his family had emerged from an imposed silence in Chennai to a public (and globe-trotting) reaffirmation of his first SD depended on one moment of providence.

"The turning point was Deepak giving back my passport (in February 2009)," Balasubramaniam told Malaysiakini after the Tuesday's press conference in London.

As his visa in India had expired, Balasubramaniam threatened to kick a fuss at the Malaysian High Commission in India. Deepak relented, and with his passport in hand, Balasubramaniam had a plan in mind.

On July 19, 2009, he called his lawyer, Americk Sidhu, who was in Wales, UK at the time. On Americk's advice, Balasubramaniam went to Kuala Lumpur on July 28 to meet the lawyer.

This he achieved through a long route - flying from Chennai to Bangkok to Hat Yai. Then a motorbike taxi took him through Bukit Kayu Hitam, one of Malaysia's many notoriously porous northern border checkpoints where one could zip through without immigration scrutiny.

He made his way to Kuala Lumpur where he called Dinesh Jaikishan, brother to Deepak, to say that he was in Malaysia purely to meet his family, who had returned home earlier.

Balasubramaniam's tactic here in being open about his visit was as a way to assure the Jaikishan brothers that he did not have ulterior motives. He spent 10 days in Kuala Lumpur conferring with Americk before returning to Chennai through the same route he had arrived.

Stopped at KLIA

In October 2009, Balasubramaniam came back to Malaysia again, this time with the intention of bringing his family to Chennai. On the advice of Americk, he flew straight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), because he wanted to "test" if his passport would be flagged. It was.
"SB (Special Branch) officers came running towards me," said Balasubramaniam. "They brought me into their office (in KLIA). I thought they would put me in Kamunting." But he made a call to Deepak, and when the Special Branch officers called their superiors, they were told to let him go.

selambau pkr altantuya prayers 040409 ceremony 3After about another 10 days in Kuala Lumpur, Balasubramaniam left Malaysia for the last time ever since. His family followed him in another flight a few days later.

While he admits that the danger of being 'silenced' is ever present, Balasubramaniam feels safe in Chennai where, his lawyers joke, "half the people there look like him". But he rubbishes claims he is in hiding. "I don't consider myself as a fugitive. What wrong have I done?"

Regarding his finances, Balasubramaniam has made it clear he has been living off about RM750,000 in total funds received from Deepak for over a year since July 2008. "I flew here (London) with Deepak's money," he said.

The cost of holding the press conference and his hotel stay was paid for by donations from supporters. Americk asserted that there isn't one single personality or party financing the London exercise.

Balasubramaniam insists that his actions immediately after he issued the first SD have been guided by a concern for his family. "I can't be bought," he said.

Now that he feels more assured for the safety of his family, Balasubramaniam is motivated by another concern: "I want the truth to come out... MACC not turning up shows that they don't want the truth to prevail."

DANNY LIM is a freelance writer and photographer currently based in the UK.

United Borneo natives demand justice and respect

By Roselind Jarrow - Free Malaysia Today

BAU: The Malaysian and Indonesian governments have been urged to ‘review all existing laws and regulations’ that undermine rights of Borneo’s indigenous peoples.

They were also asked to respect and recognise their rights to ensure the ‘full and effective participation’ of indigenous peoples in the respective countries' decision making process.

These were among the resolutions in the inaugural Krokong Declaration following a three-day Borneo Forests Conference attended by representatives from Sabah, Sarawak, West and East Kalimantan.

The conference was jointly organised by the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association, Borneo Resource Institute Malaysia, Building Initiative in Indigenous Heritage, Pascos Trust, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara, Indonesia, and Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia.

The Krokong Declaration remindedto the two governments, who endorsed and adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), of their obligation to uphold the rights of the indigenous peoples.

It calls on the these two governments to:

* Ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in all development policies, plans, assessments and implementation related to indigenous peoples subject to our Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
* Impose a moratorium on development projects that have been identified to be implemented and planned in our territories that have violated our rights and do not have our FPIC.
* Review all existing laws and regulations that undermine our rights as indigenous peoples.
* Urge the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia to stop and investigate all forms of violence against our people, arising from all the common issues below.

What's the Krokong Declaration says:

“We, the indigenous peoples of Borneo, have very distinct cultures and relations to our land, territories and resources.

“We strive to maintain these distinct values through our Adat and norms that have been passed down to us from our ancestors for generations.

“We have lived and nurtured our traditional knowledge, innovations and practices since time immemorial, making us the true custodians of our land, territories and resources.

“We, the indigenous peoples of Borneo have suffered social injustices resulting from the imposition of development aggression on our lands, territories and resources. All these have been done without our free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

“We have not been included in the decision making processes, thus we continue to be marginalised and discriminated regardless of our basic human and customary rights to land, territories and resources, as stated in state, national and international laws.

“We call upon our governments, Malaysia and Indonesia, who adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to fully uphold the rights contained in the declaration.

“We, the indigenous peoples of Borneo declare our solidarity and unity in declaring the Krokong Declaration to be respected and recognised towards its implementation in Malaysia and Indonesia.

“We are further united by the common threats that face us; mega dam projects, mining and other extractive industries, oil palm plantations, deforestation and forest degradation, and climate change on our island of Borneo. We recognise that these threats are faced by indigenous peoples in Malaysia and Indonesia as well as around the world.

“In Borneo, the development of mega dams has displaced and resulted in involuntary forced resettlement of indigenous peoples, causing losses of our customary land and source of livelihood, identity and culture.

“It will also contribute to climate change because of the emission of methane and carbon dioxide from forest clearing and from flooding of reservoir. Water-borne diseases like Malaria and Chikungunya happen more often in areas that surrounds the dam.

“The expansion of oil palm plantations is escalating in alarming and unprecedented proportions that destroy our customary land, territories and resources. This trend brings grave concern to us because it has adversely affected our social culture and livelihoods and unjustly deprived us of the very source of sustenance.

“Additionally, extractive industries such as mining and logging continue to encroach into our ancestral domains which have resulted in land and environmental quality degradation that further impoverish our people. All the extractive industries have contributed to climate change by emitting green house gases (GHGs).

“We are also adversely affected by climate change. Our rivers and land are drying, frequent occurrences of flash floods, unpredictable weather patterns and seasons that threaten our food security.

“Climate change mitigation schemes such as REDD can create potential threats to the ownership of our forests and our rights.

“All of the common issues above have increased the violation of our human rights in the form of intimidation, wrongful detention, criminalisation, killings, deployment of gangsters and the use of para-military force against Indigenous Peoples.

“Likewise, our traditional values, institutions, governance system and knowledge as well as cultural heritage are being eroded as a result of these,” the declaration says.
It also pledges that they work together as one people and one Borneo to respond to these threats in a united and systematic manner that will ensure the survival and dignity of the indigenous peoples.

“We therefore, will work for the establishment of the Borneo Indigenous Peoples Alliance (BIPA) as the expression of our united stand for life and dignity.”
The Krokong Declaration will be submitted to Malaysia and Indonesia as well as to the state and provisional governments. A copy will also be handed to the United Nations.

Will it be a wait in vain for Murugiah?

By FMT Team

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department T Murugiah is frantically hawking his "worth" to Barisan Nasional component parties MIC and Gerakan as uncertainty looms ahead.

But both parties, which are themselves struggling to stay relevant in Malaysian politics, are taking their time and weighing his actual worth.

Uppermost in their minds, it appears, is whether Murugiah, a former Youth chief with the People's Progressive Party (PPP), is all that he portrays and if he is “worth their investment”.

It is a known fact that Murugiah is seeking to strike a deal, any deal for that matter, as long as it includes a senatorship, which hopefully will give him a longer stint as deputy minister.

MIC wary

But rumour has it that MIC is hesitant as Umno had apparently recently taken back a senator seat which was “on loan to MIC” since ex-prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s era.

“Also, we are worried that he’ll bring with him more trouble…We know what happened in PPP and at this juncture MIC really cannot afford to take on excess luggage.

“As it is, we don’t have enough senator seats to go round,” said a source familiar with the situation, referring to the unsuccessful coup which Murugiah had allegedly engineered in PPP.

Murugiah, who currently heads the Public Complaints Bureau in the Prime Minister’s Department, was appointed to the post on PPP’s senator quota after the March 2008 general election in which the party’s candidates, including president M Kayveas, were wiped out.

Kayveas, who was at that time a deputy minister, had handpicked Murugiah to fill his shoes after the former lost his Taiping seat in the polls.

But within a year in the coveted seat, Murugiah had allegedly planned a coup which eventually dragged the party’s credibility through the courts and the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

The High Court has since ruled Kayveas as the rightful president of PPP. ROS has also acknowledged the party and president’s legitimacy.

Gerakan's situation

On the Gerakan front, the issue is how does the party justify giving him a senatorship at a time like this.

“The question for us is, do we need another Indian deputy minister because a senatorship will leave us open to that?

“Now we have Kohilan Pillay who is the deputy foreign minister. We have many longstanding members who have fought for the party and who deserve it more than Murugiah.

“Even if he claims he can bring in the voters with his 220,000 members, the truth is no one has seen these members.

“It’s his word that he wants us to believe... mind you, this is the man who bit the hand that fed him,” said another source within Gerakan.

No Plan B

Meanwhile, Murugiah, when contacted by FMT today, said he was waiting for an appointment to meet with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

“I’m waiting for an appointment with the prime minister. I will only decide my next course after speaking to him,” he said.

Murugiah confirmed that he was in talks with MIC but declined to offer details of his negotiations. He also declined to comment on Gerakan.

“Yes, I am in talks... I am trying to represent MIC or Gerakan. They are strong parties,” he said, adding that he had no intentions of starting a new party because “there are already too many Indian parties”.

Asked what his his plans were, Murugiah said: “I don’t have a Plan B. What I do have now is the Barisan Nasional Supporters Club (BNSC).

“If MIC and Gerakan don’t want me, then I will focus on the BNSC. We already have 2,100 branches nationwide with 210,000 members.

“We will be holding our division and national convention soon and we see what happens,” he said

Fascism: A stinging zinger

By G Krishnan

COMMENT Zaid Ibrahim was recently quoted as describing Malaysia as at risk of becoming a fascist state. Perhaps you, too, came across the report about his remarks?

Well just in case you missed it, he is quoted to have said: “The medication now being pumped into the sick body of this nation is fascism... fascism has a penchant for abusing religious or ethnic identities, where they are moulded into a culture of supremacism.”

Well, I for one was struck by his words. “Is he being hyperbolic?” I wondered. Could it be that we are at risk of degenerating into a fascist state? After all, when we think of fascism, we typically think of Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy.

Surely, Malaysia could not be approaching anything resembling these two notorious standouts of fascism. That got me wondering, but what exactly makes a particular government a fascist regime?

I decided to look into it and came across a very enlightening article by Laurence Britt who has thoughtfully spelled out 14 key characteristics that identify a fascist state.

While you can surely look up what he has to say, I thought I would list them here. As you scroll down the list, you might find it interesting (and eerie?) to note how our government’s policies, actions, and modus operandi are spot on and correspond with Britt’s 14 characteristics of fascism.

Britt's list

* Powerful and continuing expression of nationalism. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity... usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.
* Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realising the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalising, even demonising, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
* Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice -- relentless propaganda and disinformation -- were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists”.
* The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
* Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws.

Controlled media

* A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.
* Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security”, and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
* Religion and ruling elite tied together. Most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behaviour was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless”. A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.
* Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.
* Power of labour suppressed or eliminated.
* Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled, politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed.
* Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crimes were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime.
* Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways -- the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favouritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well, for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
* Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Was Zaid on to something when he equated the Malaysian government with fascism? You be the judge.

G Krishnan is a freelance writer who routinely writes online columns about Malaysian affairs.

Dr M: Putrajaya need not apologise for Malay agenda

The NEP helped reduce the risk of race riots, claimed Dr Mahathir. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterated his belief that the government must not be apologetic for its affirmative-action policies to help the Malay community, saying it helped to ensure public security.

“I think affirmative action is relevant. I saw that, for decades, the country has developed more rapidly under the New Economic Policy (NEP) and our performance outpaced other developed nations.

“If this is true then you can look figures of country’s economic performance during the NEP,” the former prime minister said during RTM’s forum on the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) at the Putra World Trade Centre last night.

The ex-premier claimed that the NEP has been fair to all the communities.

“We do not have to be apologetic with the Malay agenda. We just want peace and do not want [the] economic gap to cause racial conflict — especially when the rich is from one race and the poor is from another, [then] the risk of riots is higher.

“We just want a bit of the economic cake so that the Bumiputera can catch up. We want fair, and not equitable, distribution. We are only asking for 30 per cent even though we are 60 per cent [of the population],” Dr Mahathir added.

He also stressed that the Malay agenda was not bigoted and that it was important to allow fair economic distribution.

“The Malay agenda is not racist because we want fair distribution. Special attention is needed to be given to the Malay community because they [are] lagging behind in the economy. So if we give equal treatment to the poor and rich, then how will the poor catch up the rich?” he argued.

Dr Mahathir went on to defend the NEP from criticisms that it had failed to increase Malay equity.

“Our economy is bigger than 1971 when the NEP was introduced. So it might be seen that the Malay equity has declined, but in actuality it didn’t because the equity was not able to keep at pace with the rapid development.

“The economic cake expanded but the equity cake didn’t,” said the country’s longest-serving prime minister, who stepped down in October 2003.

According to him, the NEP should not be blamed for the country’s current economic stagnation.

“I found that several years after I resigned, there were changes made that caused our economy to decline. Our economic decline is due to internal problems but the country leadership at that time did [not] understand and couldn’t solve the problem so many foreign investors deemed our country as economically unhealthy,” he added, in apparent reference to his handpicked successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, with whom he had a falling out.

Dr Mahathir also denied that Barisan Nasional’s (BN) affirmative-action policies had let to its downfall in Election 2008.

“When BN won small in the last general election, many foreign observers said that the people are bored with racial based political parties. But actually they are not bored but disappointed with the leadership that does understand the people’s problem but only prioritised himself and family. So by default, they voted for the opposition to oust the leadership,” he said.

The country’s fourth prime minister also continued his attacks against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s New Economic Model (NEM), which right-wing Malays fear would end their privileges doled out under the NEP, which ostensibly ended in 1990.

“I think the 10MP is better than the New Economic Model because it gave attention to the problems affecting the Bumiputera. Many were not satisfied with NEM. The 10MP brings us to the core problem, and that is the distribution of wealth,” he stressed.

He also called on the Malay community to remain united or risk becoming a minority power in the country.

“We must not underestimate the minority because they know how to act simultaneously. In America, the Jews are only 10 million but they can still determine who can be the next president,” he said, picking on his favourite theme of Jewish domination.

Why should we care what MBPJ does?

Ampersand by KW Mak | The Nut Graph
MOST ratepayers are unlikely to know this. But according to the Local Government Act, if a local council incurs a debt it cannot pay, ratepayers can be compelled to pay up instead. Section 45 of the Local Government Act states that should the local council default in payment of a loan for three months, the matter can be brought to court. And the High Court can order that rates be imposed on all ratepayers to help pay off the debt.
The issue here is not a hypothetical “what if”. The Petaling Jaya City Council or MBPJ has already been slapped with a lawsuit demanding millions of ringgit in compensation for an alleged deal that went sour. Suffice to say then that it would be prudent for ratepayers to know exactly what decisions councillors make on their behalf. After all, the wrong decisions could lead to a debt that affects ratepayers across the board.
But do ratepayers have enough access to the council’s decision-making? And do ratepayers themselves care to find out?
Annual report
The MBPJ councillors of 1992 counted amongst them Soh Chee Wen (2nd from left, front row), Lee Hwa Beng (5th from left, 2nd row from the front), and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's father Datuk Ibrahim Abdul Rahman (4th from left, front row).
The MBPJ councillors of 1992 counted amongst them Soh Chee Wen (2nd from left, front row), Lee Hwa Beng (5th from left, 2nd row from the front), and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's father Datuk Ibrahim Abdul Rahman (4th from left, front row).
Information on local council decisions is limited. Some councillors even argue that because the public don’t ask for information, it need not be provided.
But the Local Government Act also states that the local council is a body corporate for all ratepayers. Technically, as a body corporate, the MBPJ should be producing annual reports and providing information to the public whether they ask for it or not.
Actually, the council did produce annual reports for ratepayers once upon a time. The last time an annual report was produced, however, was in 1992.
Annual Report 1992
MBPJ's Annual Report for 1992 (all pics courtesy of KW Mak)
The report had each department list out the problems they were tackling and provided a statement on how these problems would be dealt with. Details like the number of billboards and the expected number of future development projects were stated clearly within the annual report. The report is an important aspect of being transparent that the MBPJ should reinstate.
There is further impetus to make public all contracts that the local council signs. A recent court ruling insists that the government cannot simply slap “sulit” on documents and contracts that are of public interest. And surely, local councils are all about public interest since the entire reason for their existence is to provide public services.
Public demand
Bur regardless of how much some of us in government may demand for some things to be done, they are meaningless if the public does not also push for the same things.
Take for example my previous column about demanding for the local council’s meeting minutes, which the law actually allows for. To date, no one has bothered to test whether they can gain access to the meeting minutes.
What exactly are the people waiting for, I wonder?
Ignorance and apathy about the way things work allows those with ill-intent to dictate the way local government is run, even if it is contrary to public interest. For this reason, as a two-term councillor, I have sought to learn as much as I can about the local council and administrative laws such as the Town and Country Planning Act and the Local Government Act.
My findings and observations here in The Nut Graph may not be sensational. But local council issues and these administrative laws affect our daily lives and the public on a much wider scale than any political scandal. These issues may be mundane compared to the politics of the land, but they clearly deserve as much attention from politicians and the public if our society is to be governed well.

Where is the report of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Corruption on the first year of operation of MACC which is to be tabled and debated in present meeting of Parliament?

More than a month ago and before the start of the present meeting of Parliament, the Chairman of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Corruption Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad called for a parliamentary debate on its report on the first year of operation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Radzi said allowing a parliamentary debate on the MACC would be a healthy development in improving the performance of MACC.

Under the MACC Act, the Special Committee on Corruption comprising MPs is to submit an annual report to the Prime Minister, who will then table it in Parliament.

The Special Committee on Corruption had completed its report. However, it is now at the end of the present meeting of Parliament which will end next week and there is no sign of the report of the Special Committee on Corruption being tabled in Parliament to enable a special parliamentary debate to be held in the current session.

This is most troubling and goes against all the talk of achieving the NKRA targets which includes eradication of corruption especially “grand corruption”, which means action against the “big fishes”.

More than 18 months have elapsed since the launch of the MACC and public confidence in MACC and the campaign against corruption especially those in high places have suffered further setbacks.

Next week is the full anniversary of the mysterious death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock who plunged to death from the 14th floor of the MACC Headquarters in Shah Alam on July 16 last year and the public uproar and controversy over the cause of Teoh’s death remain the major factor why MACC has not been able to gain public confidence in its independence, integrity and professionalism.

The many other outstanding unresolved, untouched or wound-down cases affecting corruption have aggravated public confidence in the MACC – whether the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, the MACC flip-flop on taking statement from Private Investigator P. Balasubramaniam in London on the C4 murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu or the alleged vast and unusual wealth of Sarawak Chief Minister.

As Chairman of the Special Committee on Corruption, Radzhi should ensure that his committee’s report is tabled in Parliament first thing on Monday and that a full parliamentary debate could be held before Parliament adjourns sine dine next Thursday.

Tun Razak My Hero, Says Economist

By Neville D'Cruz

MELBOURNE, July 9 (Bernama) -- A leading Australian agricultural economist has paid tribute to former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein for his vision in promoting land development schemes and improving smallholdings in Malaysia in the 1960s.

"Tun Abdul Razak was a personal hero of mine," Dr Colin Barlow told the 18th biennial conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia at the University of Adelaide in South Australia Thursday, when he presented his paper entitled "Malaysian Agriculture in Transition 1960-2010".

Dr Barlow said soon after arriving in Kuala Lumpur in 1963 to work at the Rubber Research Institute, he realised rural agencies and research bodies lacked the weight to improve Malaysian agriculture and much had to be done.

"What was needed in this 1960s situation was to focus much more on bettering individual and group smallholdings. We needed a person with authority, having a common touch and in tune with rural people's aspirations.

"And we found him in Tun Abdul Razak. He became the architect of giving practical application to popular desires - a personal hero of mine."

Dr Barlow said Tun Abdul Razak, the then Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development, was`an individual combining great vision with skills in leadership and administration.

He facilitated the organisation of replanting and new land development schemes, he said.

"Tun Abdul Razak engineered major improvements to rural education and health, along with roads and other infrastructures, proceeding in the 1970s to pioneer wider national transformation through the New Economic Policy," he said.

Dr Barlow, who has been involved in rural development for many years, especially in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, told the Adelaide conference "a further crucial initiative" of the 1960s in Malaysia was the establishment of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), which was fashioned after difficult beginnings into a highly successful body".

This opened up and managed many new planted areas, first under rubber and later oil palm, he said.

A crucial key to Felda's success was Tan Sri Raja Muhammad Alias Raja Muhammad Ali, a person who worked in the organisation for 35 years and was chairman for almost half that time.

He was an effective and a visionary leader and administrator, without whom the giant social enterprise was quite likely to have faltered and failed," Dr Barlow said.

He said former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had pre-dispositions towards developing agriculture and achieving socio-economic equity while his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tended to emphasise the development of manufacturing and the IT sector.

Dr Barlow, who has a deep attachment to Malaysia, said he was looking forward to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's New Economic Model, cited as the route to Malaysia becoming a high-income nation.

"I profoundly hope it leads to Malaysia's continuing success," he said.

He said Malaysian agriculture, which has been described as a "third engine of growth", has potential for further expansion, but it depended on the intentions of future governments.

Dr Barlow has written several books on Malaysia, his most recent book was titled "Malaysian Economics and Politics in the New Century" (Edward Elgar, 2003, edited with Francis Loh Kok Wah).

Kampung Buah Pala: A post-script

By Anil Netto,

The project details for the property development at the site of the demolished Kampung Buah Pala have been put on public display.

I am not quite sure how the compensation of double-storey terrace houses for the displaced Kg Buah Pala residents fits into the project description shown on the above board. And 53 units?
The developer Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd’s main contractor is Wabina Construction & Engineering Sdn Bhd.
You can find out who leads Wabina from its website here.
Among the current projects listed on Wabina’s website is the controversial Surin condominium project (developed by GLM Property Development Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bolton Bhd) in Tanjung Bunga.

P.Uthayakumar: We champion human rights disregard for ethnicity or religion

RHB Bank leads One Malaysia, NOT UMNO’s Najib Razak.

url rhb
This latest act by RHB Bank of advertising Nisha Chandramoham (2) is the very first baby steps towards One Malaysia.
For the first time ever a non Indian concern (Michael Chong of MCA being the exception) is caring for an Indian baby which went missing.
We applaud RHB Bank for taking one full page local advertisement in the Sunday Star and Sinar Harian coverage which has never been done before, better late than never, and hope to see UMNO taking the lead as opposed to mere wayang kulit illusion.
P. Uthayakumar


Tharmendran released after family posts RM50,000 bail

(Malaysiakini)Family members of Royal Malaysian Air Force sergeant N Tharmendran posted bail today, two days after the High Court in Petaling Jaya reduced his bail from RM150,000 to RM50,000.

Tharmendran (below, right) was released from the Petaling Jaya court complex about noon, having spent six months under remand at the Sungai Buloh prison for failing to post bail.

The High Court also ordered his family to surrender Thamendran's passport as an additional condition for his bail reduction.

Tharmendran was jointly cair force f-5 jet engine missing two charged 060110 tharmendranharged with company director Rajandran Prasad Kusy over the theft of two F-5E engines at the air movement section of the Subang air force base in December 2007.

If found guilty on charge under Section 380 of the Penal Code, he will up to 10 years in jail and whipping.

Tharmendran also faces another charge of abetment under Section 109 of the Penal Code for allegedly collaborating with senior airman Mohamad Shukri Mohamad Yusop to steal the engines from the Sungai Besi air force base.

Mohamad Shukri was not charged with the theft and is likely to be one of the main prosecution witnesses.

Mother pawns jewellery

Lawyer N Surendran (below), who helped secure Tharmendran's release, said the sergeant's mother had to pawn her jewellery to raise RM20,000 of the bail amount, with relatives chipping in the rest.

He said the delay in posting bail was because the family members had to retrieve Tharmendran's passport from the Sungai Besi air force base.

NONEOn Tuesday, Justice Su Geok Yian agreed to reduce the bail on grounds that Tharmendran's application had its merits.

“He is a government servant with a gross salary of RM3,500, (and has) four dependents. With the dependents, he is unlikely to abscond,” said Justice Su.

The court also noted that the accused had to support his aged father and an elderly brother, who is paralysed and has suffered from polio from birth.

It was reported that Tharmendran's father, N Nagarajah, lodged a police report alleging that his son was tortured to confess to the theft of the two missing F5E jet engines, which were later recovered from Uruguay.

Nagarajah also said that the family had considered selling their house in Seremban to raise the bail of RM150,000 initially imposed by the Sessions Court.

Debt Collector Shot Dead While Riding Motorbike

RAWANG, July 8 (Bernama) -- A debt collector was shot dead by an assailant while riding his motorcycle in Jalan Garing Utama here at noon Thursday.

Selangor Acting CID chief ACP Omar Mamah said S. Ramesh, 38, was killed on the spot after an unidentified man fire two shots which pierced his chest.

"We believe that the suspect who was riding a Honda EX-5 motorcycle had followed the victim from his house before shooting him dead.

"The suspect fled towards the direction of Rawang (town)," he told reporters at the crime scene.

Police found two spent bullet shells at the scene and believed that the suspect had used a .9mm automatic pistol.

Omar said the body was taken to Sungai Buloh Hospital for a post-mortem while the case was investigated under Section 302 of Penal Code.

He did not dismiss possibility that the killing was due to revenge and would check the victims's criminal record and links with ah long.

Members of the public with information on the case have been urged to contact Gombak police at 03-61262222 to assist investigation.

We may face a double-dip recession, says Dr Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Malaysia may slip into a double-dip recession if European countries face a similar slowdown, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former Prime Minister said there were emerging signs of a double-dip recession hitting European countries and this would indirectly influence the Malaysian economy.

“I just returned (from England). In Europe (a double-dip recession) is imminent. If that happens, we may also be “infected”, he told reporters after witnessing a contract signing agreement between Iris Corp Bhd and Koperasi Atlet Malaysia Bhd here today.

Dr Mahathir (picture) was commenting on predictions made by economists and analysts that a double-dip recession may occur in the second-half of this year and whether Malaysia would suffer the same fate.

While saying the government had in place several economic plans and adopted progressive measures like the New Economic Plan, Dr Mahathir said it would, however, be difficult to predict the future as whatever occurs overseas has repercussions on Malaysia.

“Government is doing a lot of things but we cannot predict (the future) as external developments do affect us,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on Tuesday that Malaysia may face a double-dip recession in the second-half of the year prompted by external factors.

A famous banker also said recent data emerging out of the United States and Europe pointed to a possible global economic recession. — Bernama

Kg Baru renewal must include non-Malays, says Dr M

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tonight jumped into the debate over Kampung Baru’s proposed redevelopment, saying it must also involve the non-Malays.

The former prime minister pointed out that the inclusion of non-Malays will make Kampung Baru more attractive to not only foreigners but also local visitors. The residents have thus far objected to plans to bring in non-Malays into the enclave next to the city's business district.

“When I was the prime minister, I have tried to develop Kampung Baru but the residents objected.

“We have developed Kampung Baru as a Malay area for the community to do business but I think they there should be other races to take part in its redevelopment because it will create a better attraction,” he said during RTM’s Forum on the Tenth Malaysia Plan at the Putra World Trade Centre here.

He argued that the involvement of non-Malays will generate more interest from the Malay community.

“If not then the Malays won’t come because some of them think that Malays can’t do business. So we want to use the non-Malays as bait to lure more visitors,” said Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister who stepped down in October 2003.

However Dr Mahathir did not state the ratio of the non-Malays to be involved in the development plans.

“We should give a reasonable percentage to them. Kampung Baru is now a slum and squatters in the middle of the city which is very ugly. Until when are we going to allow this? It is not logica,l so we must progress,” he said.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders are currently involved in a tussle over the redevelopment of Kampung Baru.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has argued that Selangor had administrative obligations to Kampung Baru although the settlement is located in Kuala Lumpur which is under federal administration.

Federal Territories minister Raja Datuk Nong Chik Zainal Abidin has also insisted that, according to land laws, Kampung Baru is legally under the care of the Federal Territory, and Selangor no longer had any rights over it.

Raja Nong Chik, who has been tasked by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to spearhead redevelopment plans for the settlement, has faced one obstacle after another since taking helm of the project.

He was forced to back down quickly from his position that non-Malays were key to Kampung Baru’s new genesis after objections from residents, eventually conceding that the decision would be put up to a vote among owners and beneficiaries.

Raja Nong Chick proposed that there should be a 60:40 Malay to non-Malay ratio for property ownership in the area.

He then clarified that not a single square inch of Kampung Baru land would be sold to non-Malays, and that his original proposal to open up the area to non-Malays only involved the sale of strata titles.

Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali defended Dr Mahathir and said the former premier was pragmatic.

“He talks with reality; there are others, they talk with idealism. Tun speaks in terms of reality and we have to accept it. It is a strategy to bring success to the development of Kampung Baru,” he told reporters.

Ibrahim said that the Malay rights group has always believed the involvement of non-Malays is important in bringing capital for investment.

“We have our stand that component projects such as hospital and hotel as we cannot rely on taxpayers money. We need investors so I don’t think it’s wrong if certain projects where non-Malays own 60 per cent. If not, then the redevelopment of Kampung Baru won’t be a reality because of the construction and value of the property. So who will buy? So we have to take [this into] account.

“There are some areas where we must ensure that the ownership of Bumiputera is 100 per cent but there are also other areas where we must strategise,” said the Pasir Mas MP.

After the forum, Dr Mahathir reiterated that residents of Kampung Baru must want to progress for change.

“They can oppose but until when are they going to stay [in] shoddy houses?“ he asked.

What the PI Bala PC revealed, but was not reported by the media

Private investigator P. Balasubramaniam and his three lawyers -- Americk Sidhu, Manjeet Singh Dhillon and Amarjit Sidhu -- held a press conference at the Holiday Villa in London yesterday. Much of what was said in that press conference was not reported by the media. This is some of what transpired at that press conference.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Americk kicked off the press conference by telling the assembly that this whole thing started when the PKR Youth leader, Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, lodged a report with Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission or MACC soon after private investigator P. Balasubramaniam’s video interview was released on Youtube (see below).

MACC’s response to Shamsul Iskandar’s report was that they would like to meet Bala to record his statement. However, MACC does not know how to get in touch with Bala so they would like to seek the assistance of Shamsul Iskandar in contacting him (Bala).

On reading this statement by MACC, Americk sent MACC an e-mail to inform them that he is the lawyer acting on behalf of Bala and if they need to meet him (Bala) to record his statement then he (Americk) would help arrange it.

MACC replied by saying that they are not prepared to deal though an ‘unofficial’ e-mail and that all communications must be by way of official letter only. Americk then wrote an official letter offering to arrange the meeting between Bala and MACC so that they could record his statement.

Many months were spent haggling over the venue, date and terms of the meeting. Finally, after ding-donging to-and-fro, it was agreed that the meeting between Bala and MACC would be held in the Holiday Villa in London on the 5th and 6th July 2010. MACC said that they would like to make the arrangements for the meeting room in the Holiday Villa London.

However, no booking was made for any meeting room in the Holiday Villa London. Americk then wrote to the Holiday Villa to make the booking on behalf of the MACC and he also told the MACC this. Meanwhile, the lawyers and Bala had already made flight arrangements and hotel bookings so that they could be present in London at least a couple of days before the meeting with MACC on 5th July.

On Thursday, MACC sent Americk an e-mail saying that they would not be coming after all. This was after they had confirmed they would be coming. In fact, they even told the mainstream media that not only would three officers be sent to London but that Bala’s lawyers could be present in the meeting as well.

The problem was, by then, most had already arrived in London and those who were yet to arrive were already in the plane on the way to London. And the reason MACC gave for aborting the meeting was that they could not record a witness’s statement outside Malaysia, as it would not be admissible in court.

As what Manjeet told the assembly, not only is this not true, but in fact there is a provision in the Act that specifically states MACC can record statements of witnesses outside Malaysia. Furthermore, MACC would have surely done their research before asking to meet Bala, knowing that the meeting was going to be held outside Malaysia.

Bala’s lawyers could not accept this excuse as a legitimate reason for aborting the meeting. What MACC said is not true. In fact, it is opposite to what MACC said. And did not MACC go to a few countries to record statements of witnesses in the Eric Chia-Perwaja corruption case? Furthermore, added Manjeet, MACC is assuming that Bala would not be prepared to go back to Malaysia to testify in court had the need arisen.

If MACC takes action and charges the ‘right persons’ in court, said Manjeet, certainly Bala would be prepared to testify in court as to what he told MACC on the 5th and 6th July 2010. He would stand by his story and testify in court to support what he told MACC in his meeting with them in London.

Bala’s lawyers are of the opinion that MACC has missed a golden opportunity to get to the bottom of the Statutory Declaration that he signed and the ‘u-turn’ he did barely a day later in what has now been dubbed as SD1 and SD2.

When Bala signed his first SD, it took him two months to prepare it. The following day he held a press conference to inform the world about this SD. Less than 24 hours later, he signed a second SD that contradicted what he had said in his first SD. A few hours later, he and his family disappeared. His nephew subsequently made a police report about the disappearance of Bala and his entire family.

And this was supposed to be the focus of MACC’s meeting with Bala on the 5th and 6th July 2010. MACC was not interested in the Altantuya murder or who may be behind the murder or whether she was having an affair with certain Malaysian personalities or about bribery involving the purchase of submarines or whatever. MACC wanted clarification from Bala as to his allegation that immediately after signing the first SD he was paid money to come out with a second SD to contradict his first SD.

So it was a very specific issue. It was to focus merely on the allegation that after he signed his first SD some parties paid him money to sign a second SD to contradict his first SD. This was merely an investigation into a crime of corruption committed by certain individuals.

Actually, under Malaysian law, corruption is more than just about money. If you can remember, Anwar Ibrahim was arrested, charged, put on trial and found guilty of corruption although it did not involve any money. His so-called ‘corrupt act’ was in allegedly abusing his power to get a witness to withdraw a certain allegation against him.

Therefore, in Bala’s case, whether money was involved or not is one issue. Even if no money was involved and even if only what the guilty parties did was to persuade, cajole, threaten, etc., Bala to sign the SD2 to cancel the SD1, that would also be corruption. And in Bala’s case they used threats plus money to force him to sign the SD2 so that the SD1 could be ‘neutralised’.

Of course, MACC’s focus should have been wider than that. But even if they narrowed the focus to Bala’s allegation that after he signed SD1 certain parties abused their power to threaten him and bribe him to sign the SD2, that in itself would be a good start. And we must remember, Bala alleged that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s brother together with Deepak Jaikishan, Rosmah’s business partner, were the two parties who threatened and bribed him. And, to assure Bala that this came from the highest office in the land, they offered to arrange breakfast between Bala and Rosmah Mansor, the Prime Minister’s wife, now given the official title of First Lady of Malaysia, although she is actually Najib’s second rather than first wife.

Bala said he was promised RM5 million but received only RM750,000. And to support this allegation he had prepared copies of his bank statement, pay-in slips, etc., which he was going to hand over to MACC on 5th-6th July. None of the members of the media who attended the press conference on 7th July 2010 asked to see these copies. I would have imagined they would have all been curious to see whether Bala’s allegation that Deepak Jaikishan had paid him RM750,000 could be proven or not.

I saw the copies of these documents and what I saw certainly supports the allegation that Deepak had paid Bala RM750,000. The dates and amounts reconcile with what Bala alleges. No one else, however, was concerned with the evidence. And considering that MACC’s focus and the statement they wanted to record from Bala centers on the allegation that he was bribed plus threatened to sign the SD2 to cancel the SD1, then the key to the entire issue would be whether Bala has any evidence that Deepak paid him RM750,000 and if he did then for what purpose and on whose instructions.

Everyone shouts about wanting to see the ‘smoking gun’. They want to see hard evidence that there is more than meets the eye and that the two police officers found guilty of Altantuya’s murder had acted on instructions from certain forces in the corridors of power. This smoking gun does exist. But it does not exist in the literal sense. It exists in the form of certain evidence and documents that all leads to the door of those who walk in the corridors of power.

It is unfortunate that MACC called off the meeting which, as Americk said, was a golden opportunity for them to get to the truth. It was equally unfortunate that the media did not demand that Bala prove his allegation that he was threatened and bribed into signing his SD2 with the purpose of contradicting his SD1. He did have the proof. But, somehow, no one wanted to look at it.

Americk told the assembly that MACC cancelled the meeting by sending him an e-mail. At the beginning of this whole thing, MACC had said that they do not deal through e-mails. All communications must be by way of letter to make it official. If by e-mail then at best the communication would be regarded as unofficial.

But then, when MACC cancelled the meeting, they did not send any letter. They sent Americk an e-mail. By MACC’s own standards, this would make the cancellation of the meeting as unofficial. Why did MACC not dare send Americk a letter to officially cancel the meeting? Why unofficially cancel it by sending an e-mail?

This was one more point raised by Americk. MACC had always demanded that all communications must be in writing and must be by way of official letter. Then, when they cancel the meeting, no longer need it be official and by way of letter. A simple and ‘unofficial’ e-mail would do just fine.

After cancelling the meeting, MACC sends Americk a letter asking that Bala reply to a few questions. The letter is marked RAHSIA, which means it can’t be revealed to the public.

Now, there are two things wrong here. First, if Bala’s statement can’t be recorded outside Malaysia because, as the MACC said, it would not be valid, how then can Bala’s reply to their questions be valid since he is replying also from outside Malaysia? Whether the MACC officers come personally to London to meet Bala to record his statement or whether they send a letter to London with a list of questions for him to reply to, would not the same thing apply -- that is, both are done outside Malaysia (in London)?

Secondly, the letter is marked RAHSIA. That means if you are in possession of a copy of this letter in Malaysia then you are guilty of a crime. But since MACC sent his letter to London and since, in the UK, Malaysia’s laws do not apply, then there is nothing to stop Bala or his lawyers from circulating copies to the media.

Furthermore, only the letter is marked RAHSIA. Bala’s reply to the questions in the letter is not marked RAHSIA. So there is nothing to stop the media from publishing Bala’s replies even though they may not be prepared to publish the questions lest they fall foul of the Malaysian government.

Americk told the assembly that he is halfway through preparing Bala’s replies and he held it up for everyone to see. No one asked to be allowed to look at it though. They did not appear interested to know what MACC was asking and what Bala’s replies to these questions are.

Bala and his three lawyers said many other things during the press conference. Some were just reiterating what he had already said before and some were new information. The new information that could be considered interesting is that not only are the two police officers who murdered Altantuya linked to the Prime Minister’s office, but in addition to Musa Safri, Najib’s ADC, we now have Nasir Safar, Najib’s personal assistant, who was at the scene when they picked up Altantuya in front of Razak Baginda’s house.

The point Manjeet was making is that it now looks like all those who are somehow involved in Altantuya’s murder work for Najib. We have his police bodyguards, his ADC, his personal assistant, and his best friend and adviser. Can it be mere coincidental that all these five people who are linked to Altantuya’s murder all work for Najib?

Bala’s lawyers also pointed out that the police detained Bala for 14 days under a section of the law that is used for those suspected of murder. This means Bala was a murder suspect and was being remanded for a murder investigation.

However, earlier, the Attorney General announced that only three people are involved. So, if Bala was being remanded for suspicion of murder then it can’t be only three people who are involved because Bala would be the fourth person.

Why announce that only three people were involved in Altantuya’s murder and then detain Bala for suspicion of murder? Was this to frighten Bala so that he would cooperate and agree to whatever the police wanted?

Bala’s lawyers told the assembly that the police recorded Bala’s statement no less than five times. They took five statements from Bala over the period of the investigation. The police then edited Bala’s statement and made him sign the edited statement.

This is illegal. The police are not supposed to edit your statement. Worse, they are not supposed to force you to sign a statement that the police drafted and which is not what you actually said.

But Bala was facing a charge of murder. At least that was what he was being remanded under. So, if he wants to be set free and allowed to go home then he has to agree into signing this edited statement although that was not his statement but what the police conjured.

When Bala signed his first SD, it was consistent to his statement to the police. In other words, what he signed in his SD1 is exactly what he had told the police. The police already knew what Bala had signed in his SD1 because Bala had already told them exactly the same thing.

This was just some of what was revealed in the press conference yesterday and which the newspapers and online portals do not seem to want to report. Why they would rather keep silent on all these issues and instead just report that Bala said Razak Baginda is not guilty of murder is beyond me. For all intents and purposes, that was merely Bala’s personal view or suspicion and was not what the press conference was all about.

The main focus of the press conference is that Bala was prepared to have his statement recorded by MACC, and that he would have offered them evidence that what he signed in his SD1 is true, and that this is exactly what he had told the police, and that he was threatened and bribed into signing the SD2, and that he can support this allegation with documents.

This was lost to the media people who attended the press conference yesterday.

The PI Bala interview on Youtube

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

The P. Balasubramaniam press conference


Raja Petra Kamarudin

After private investigator P. Balasubramaniam’s press conference yesterday, instead of writing my report, I went to Queensway for lunch and in the evening I went to see ‘We will rock you’ at the Dominion theatre.

I thought I would allow 24 hours or so to pass before I write my report because I wanted to see what the others have to say first. Well, most have reported about one minute of the 100-minute press conference. And most talk about just one point of the so many points that were raised in the press conference.

Mind you, this one point about Razak Baginda not being guilty of the murder of Altantuya is merely Bala’s personal opinion, and he said so. But those who covered the press conference prefer talking about this one point, which is Bala’s personal opinion. They totally ignored the so many other issues about events and happenings before, during and after Altantuya’s murder.

I think an injustice has been done, not only to Bala and his lawyers who put so much preparation into this press conference, but also to all those Malaysians who had been waiting with bated breath and had expected much more than just one statement -- an opinion about whether Razak Baginda is guilty or not.

It could be because those sent to cover the press conference were part-time or freelance reporters who were probably there covering the press conference for the extra income and because there was nothing better to do anyway. This may explain the quality of the report, or rather the lack of it.

Anyway, as I said, instead of writing my report on the press conference, I went to this awesome musical at the Dominion, and boy, it totally blew my mind.

My daughter admitted she had not heard most of The Queen’s songs before and I told her that this was in the days when they made real music and not those stuff that you hear on the radio nowadays.

Anyway, I will start writing my report now and in a couple of hours you can read what was said at the P. Balasubramaniam press conference yesterday -- the 99 other minutes that the other news agencies and sites appear not interested to report about.

All eyes on Paris: Bala can help speed up Scorpenes probe

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

With the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission failing to show up and the London press conference over, private investigator P Balasubramaniam will be making his way to Paris, where he is due to tell French authorities all he knows about Prime Minister Najib Razak’s acquisition of two costly Scorpene submarines.

In Paris, he will be meeting the French investigating team on Monday. They have indicated to Malaysian civil rights grroup SUARAM their focus will be on procurement procedures and the information Bala has on the roles played by his boss Razak Baginda and Najib, who was then the defense minister sanctioning the RM6.7 billion purchase from French firm DCNS.

“We are quite optimistic that Bala can help to move things a step closer to the truth. Because of the special position he was in, he may possess a few missing pieces of the puzzle and that will help to quicken the entire process,” SUARAM director Cynthia Gabriel told Malaysia Chronicle.

“It is very important that the probe moves as quickly as possible because it is a multi-tiered process. Once police investigations are complete, it will go back to the prosecutors and then possibly trial. But most importantly, we would stress, is that the French authorities make public all of the findings as soon as they can.”

SUARAM earlier this year lodged a complaint with the Parisian authorities after the Najib administration repeatedly refused to initiate a thorough investigation, despite public outcry over an alleged RM570 million kickback from DCNS.

This amount was booked by the defense ministry as co-ordination and support fees to a firm controlled by Baginda, who is a close friend of the Malaysian PM and his wife Rosmah Mansor. Baginda’s firm, Perimekar, has no record of any previous experience or expertise in submarines care or technology. Both Scorpenes have since been delivered, but one has serious malfunctions and still cannot dive.

Scapegoat but for whom?

As in the case of Taiwan, which also suffered corruption in deals struck with certain French defense firms, there was also a murder in the Malaysian acquisition.

A Mongolian translator, Altantuya Shaariibuu, was shot in the head and her body blown up with C4 explosives in a jungle clearing in Malaysia in 2006. Two former bodyguards of Najib’s and Rosmah’s have been sentenced to hang for her killing, but both men never met her until the night of her murder. This sparked intense speculation that there were master-minds involved. Razak Baginda was also charged for abetting the bodyguards, but he was acquitted in 2008.

In London on Wednesday, Bala agreed that his former boss was not involved in the murder, but was merely a scapegoat. But he did not say, scapegoat for whom?

“As far as I am concerned, Razak is a scapegoat. He has got nothing to do with the murder,” Bala, a former Special Branch detective, told the press conference on Wednesday.

“Yes, he (Baginda) was financing her and he had a relationship with her, but as far as I am concerned, he is innocent. In fact, my testimony in court saved him."

No smoke without fire

All eyes are now on Monday’s meeting with the French authorities. Malaysians hold little hope that their own government will do anything to revive investigations in either the murder or the graft case.

In fact, the MACC – which answers directly to Najib - was ordered to reverse an earlier decision to record a statement from Bala in London.

Najib himself has kept quiet on the issue despite public jeering at why he did not insist on an all-out investigation to clear his name.

“As the saying goes, there’s no smoke without fire. Najib and Rosmah have been implicated in very serious allegations – not just corruption but also murder. It is incomprehensible that they do not want to clear their names,” PAS legal adviser Hanipa Maidin told Malaysia Chronicle.

Ghost of Mongolian model continues to haunt Malaysian government

A handout photograph of murdered Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu who was shot dead in the jungle outside Kuala Lumpur and then blown up in an apparent attempt to foil identification.

A handout photograph of murdered Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu who was shot dead in the jungle outside Kuala Lumpur and then blown up in an apparent attempt to foil identification.

Photograph by: Reuters, Vancouver Sun

The ghost of murdered Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu refuses to lie quiet.
For the Malaysian government of prime minister Najib Tun Razak a line appeared to have been drawn under the sordid and politically explosive affair when two of his bodyguards from his days as defence minister were convicted last year of the young woman's murder in the jungle outside Kuala Lumpur in October 2006.
But in the last few weeks two events have revived simmering questions about the connection of the murder to a $1.2 billion contract to buy two French Scorpene-class diesel submarines ordered while Najib was defence minister.
Najib's friend and adviser on defence matters, Abdul Razak Baginda, whose wife's company was paid a questionable $150 million over the submarine contract, had recently brought a love affair with Shaariibuu to an acrimonious end when she was abducted and murdered.
During the months' long trial of the two police bodyguards every effort was made to ensure prime minister Najib's name didn't figure in evidence.
And in a move that astonished legal experts, the judge early on in the trial exonerated Baginda of any responsibility. He promptly fled to Britain where he remains.
The stage management of the trial convinced Malaysian human rights groups that it would be pointless to try to resolve the Shaariibuu case in the senior courts in Kuala Lumpur.
One of those Malaysian human rights groups, Suaram, has therefore pressed for a judicial inquiry in France, where there are a number of investigations underway of the notorious willingness of state-owned defence companies to pay bribes or other inducements in order to gain arms contracts.
In this case Parisian prosecutors started inquiries in March focusing on the $150 million paid to a Malaysian company called Perimekar, which was set up just before Najib signed in 2002 the deal to buy the two Scorpene submarines from the French state-owned shipbuilder DCN.
Perimekar was ostensibly hired to provide "coordination and support services" for the contract, but no evidence has been produced to show the company had the skills for such tasks or ever attempted to perform them.
Perimekar is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a company called KS Ombak Laut Sdn Bhd., whose principal shareholder is lawyer Mazalinda Baginda, the wife of prime minister Najib's friend and adviser Razak Baginda.
Shaariibuu, 28 at the time of her death, had learned French when she was a model in Paris and there is evidence she acted as translator for her paramour Baginda during his negotiations with DCN over the submarines on behalf of Najib and the Malaysian government.
Malaysian authorities have responded to the move by French prosecutors to investigate DCN and particularly its submarine-manufacturing subsidiary Armaris, for possible corruption and paying kickbacks by insisting nothing is wrong.
A spokesman for prime minister Najib said recently the French prosecutors have the right to investigate, "but for us, there is no case to answer." He added that the deal was entirely free of corruption.
Exactly why Shaariibuu was murdered by Najib's bodyguards has never been entirely resolved, despite the long trial and 45 witnesses.
By some accounts, after Baginda jilted her, the young woman and a friend launched several noisy demonstrations outside Baginda's house.
Baginda reportedly went to Najib's chief of staff, Musa Safri, and asked for help in keeping the young woman away from his home.
As a result, the two police bodyguards, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, abducted Shaariibuu during one of her demonstrations, took her to the jungle outside the capital and shot her.
But they then used military C4 explosives to blow up the body in an apparent attempt to foil identification, though this act has, of course, led to speculation that Shaariibuu was pregnant.
But in a letter written by Shaariibuu and discovered after her death -a letter never produced in evidence -she indicated she was trying to blackmail Baginda for $500,000 to keep quiet about the details of the $150 million paid to his wife's company, Perimekar.
There have also been suggestions that Shaariibuu knew details of the many other arms purchases made in the military equipment buildup overseen by Najib while he was defence minister from 2002 to 2008.
These deals include the purchase of Sukhoi supersonic fighter jet aircraft from Russia and of a small fleet of coastal defence vessels.
As well as Malaysian human rights organizations, Shaariibuu's parents have been adamant that there has been no real justice for their murdered daughter.
With the stage-managed criminal trial now done, Shaariibuu's father and mother have tried to bring a civil suit seeking compensation for her death against Baginda and the two convicted policemen.
In a strange move, Malaysia's High Court in March ordered the family to make a security deposit of the equivalent of $20,000 for the case to be heard by the Court of Appeal and potentially to continue to the Federal Court.
The family was distraught, saying it could not raise such a sum.
But last week The Mongolian government announced it will put up the security bond demanded by the Malaysian court so the case can be heard, though at this point it seems more likely that Shaariibuu's ghost will get justice in Paris rather than Kuala Lumpur.

Will you remember Guna and the others, too?

By Haris Ibrahim,

“Kota Alam Shah assemblyperson M Manoharan has called on Malaysians to observe a one-minute silence on July 16 to mark Teoh Beng Hock’s death anniversary” , reports Malaysiakini today.
Mano has asked that the minute’s silence be observed at 2pm  that day.
Late evening on the day that Teoh’s body was discovered, R. Gunasegaran, aged 31, died at the Sentul police station.
Guna was death in custody No. 1805.
For those of you who are completely in the dark, read HERE and HERE.
The inquest to look into Guna’s death continues on Monday, 12th July, the burden of which rests squarely on the lone shoulders of lawyer Visva, notwithstanding that there were several lawyers who had agreed to help out in the early days after Guna’s death.
More on what I feel is an unfair burden placed on Visva and why the intended Project 1805 has not taken off in another post shortly.
Yes, let’s remember Beng Hock come next Friday.
Can we also spare a thought for Guna?
And the 1,804 who died in custody before him?
And the others who have died in custody since?
Next Friday, in the evening, some of us will lay flowers at the base of the flagpole in Dataran Merdeka in memory of these lives that were lost whilst in the custody of the very authorities who were supposed to protect them.
Join us if you care to.

Growing up in a Chinese village

By Gan Pei Ling | The Nut Graph
(All pics courtesy of Yudi Yap)
(All pics courtesy of Yudi Yap)
TO hear Yudi Yap sing is to be transported with nostalgia to another era.
The former vocalist of local Chinese-language band Alternative Music House started singing Chinese oldies in 1999. But even before then, she had already made her mark. Yap won the Best Voice Award when Alternative Music House represented Malaysia in the Sumitomo One World Pop Festival in Tokyo in 1992.
In December 2009, she revived Nanyang oldies like Dayung Sampan and Ban Seng Yim (Penang Beauties) in her concert titled Modern Nanyang.
Yap is also a songwriter, composing music and lyrics for other local singers. She has also helped local pop singer Ah Niu produce his music albums, and has performed in Five Arts Centre’s theatre productions.
In an exclusive interview with The Nut Graph on 9 June 2010 in Petaling Jaya, Yap shares her experience of growing up in a Chinese new village.
TNG: Where and when were you born?
Yudi Yap: I was born in a Chinese new village called Kampung Benggali, Ketari in Bentong, Pahang in the 60s. Although it was a Chinese new village, there were also a lot of Serani and some Malay [Malaysians] in the village.
Tell us more about your ancestry.
My parents are blue-collar workers and of Hakka lineage. My father was a driver, while my mother used to work as a rubber tapper. They are kind, thrifty, law-abiding citizens, the sort that people sometimes take advantage of due to their kindness. They would be anxious to return money they borrowed, but they themselves wouldn’t take it to heart if they were the lenders.
My paternal great-grandfather was from China. He bought land when he came to Malaya and became a shareholder of a bus company in Bentong. The family even had a car back then. This was before the world wars started. After that, my great-grandfather died and two to three years later, my grandfather died, too. My grandmother remarried and my great-grandmother had to sell the land to keep the family going.
My maternal grandfather was a gold miner in Raub. He passed away around his thirties, so my grandmother had to take care of her six children on her own. She only studied until Standard Three and couldn’t really speak Malay. My mother started working when she was young. She met my father when she went to Bentong to look for jobs.
17-year-old Yudi at Kampung Benggali, Ketari, Bentong
17-year-old Yudi at Kampung Benggali, Ketari, Bentong
Curiously, my maternal grandmother looked like a Westerner. A lot of my relatives from my mother’s side, including my younger brother, have Western features, too. But we couldn’t trace it back to [find out] which Western country our ancestors possibly [came] from.
How was growing up in Bentong like?
I’ve really fond memories of my childhood in Bentong; it was really carefree then. The kids could run all over the place, swim in rivers, climb hills, and steal fruits.
My family moved to Bahau in Negeri Sembilan because of my father’s work when I was nine, and I studied there until Standard Six.
We moved back to Bentong later, and I studied in a Catholic high school. That was when I joined the Catholic Youth Association and started singing and performing during Christmas celebrations in school. I was in a choir, then our teacher asked us to sing in smaller groups, and then in pairs, and finally I sang solo.
What songs did you sing back then?
Any song, especially campus folk songs from Taiwan. They were popular back in the 80s.
What happened after school?
While I was waiting for my Form Six results, I taught in a primary school in Jerantut. After that, I entered the Malaysian Institute of Art (MIA) to study fine arts. Our lecturers were really energetic and enthusiastic; most of them had just returned from studying overseas and had lots of fresh ideas to share with us. We were given a lot of freedom in campus. The lecturers opened up my mind and taught me to look at stuff from different perspectives.
I can still remember the story about a stone. If you put a stone on a beach, people will probably ignore it, thinking it’s an ordinary stone. But if you put it in a museum, shine spotlights on it, highlight its history and beauty, then people’s perception about it will probably change.
My course mates and I started a band called Colour Pallete when I was studying in MIA. We composed our own songs, went around performing in schools and colleges. Our lecturers knew of our “outside activities”, but allowed us to do whatever we wanted so long as we continued to [hand in] our assignments on time. I felt that was when my life truly began.
After graduating from MIA, Colour Palette evolved into Alternative Music House and we released albums. I have been in the music industry since.
Alternative Music House, pictured in their first CD album inlay design, released by Rock Records
Alternative Music House, pictured in their first CD album inlay design, released by Rock Records
When did you become aware of race? Is there any aspect of your identity that you struggle with?
I’ve had the chance to work with people from different races and ethnicities when I was involved in theatre. I also had good Malay and Serani Malaysian friends during my childhood. Even though I wasn’t fluent in Malay then and had to use sign language to communicate with my Malay friends, we had a lot of fun playing with each other.
My environment and music career may have been very “Chinese-ish”, but we work in the environment we’re familiar in, seemingly independent of each other yet connected in some ways. It’s natural. So I don’t think language and skin colour are problems at all. What matters is how we see and treat each other.
In my industry, I notice that the English- and Malay-language media rarely cover happenings in the local Chinese music industry, and vice versa. What kind of music is the most representative of Malaysia? I have been trying to look for it, but I think the spiritual element [in music] is the most important.
Acting in 'Yang Family', produced by Five Arts Centre, 1998
Acting in 'Yang Family', produced by Five Arts Centre, 1998
What hopes do you have for Malaysia?
I hope Malaysia will grow up wisely even though we are lagging, not merely economically but also in terms of freedom and being wholesome human beings. This land doesn’t belong to anyone. We make it meaningful. It takes everyone’s effort to work on it, and our ancestors have proven it in history.
I hope the politicians will return voice to the people, and [give us] the chance to think independently, to think for ourselves, instead of continuously confusing the people, particularly on racial and political issues.
Don’t erase or change history. The stories of Chinese Malaysians are part of the Malaysian narrative, too. I grew up here. I worked seriously to get to where I am today. The people I love are here. I have feelings for this land, too.
I hope there will be more focus on liberal arts in the education system so that our children can grow up with an open mind, and are able to think independently and critically, to appreciate nature, and be spiritually wealthy. And also be able to appreciate different cultures, [and be] a true global citizen.