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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ibrahim Ali: Sack 'insane' Nazri

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Perkasa boss Ibrahim Ali today continued his verbal tirade, this time against Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz, whom he claims has lost his marbles.

The independent Pasir Mas MP was livid with Nazri over his jibe against Perkasa, and described the latter's comments as “least valuable”.

"A statement made by someone who is insane is least valuable and a waste of time. I am sympathetic (towards him) but what can I do? His statement makes the Malays hate Umno more.

"If Umno and Barisan Nasionl want to regain the support of the people, then get rid of Nazri,” Ibrahim said in an SMS to the media.

Nazri had earlier ridiculed the proposal made by MCA vice-president Donald Lim, who called for the formation of a Chinese version of Perkasa.

In shooting down the idea, Nazri had said that Umno and BN wanted to distance itself from Perkasa, which he described as “extreme and racist”.

“We want to get rid of Perkasa and he (Lim) wants to be an extremist. What about the Indians? Let’s also form Kadazan and Iban extremist groups, and then, let's all fight...

“I think it (Lim's proposal) is ridiculous,” he said, adding that BN and Umno reject racism, and this includes Perkasa as well.

Lim had called for the formation of such a Chinese body in order to tackle Perkasa, which has been at loggerheads with several MCA leaders, including its president Dr Chua Soi Lek.

Nazri: Time to 'get rid' of Perkasa

By Rahmah Ghazali - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA vice-president Donald Lim’s controversial call to form a Chinese "Perkasa" to counter the ultra-Malay organisation may put them on a collision course.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz described the move as "ridiculous" and tantamount to subscribing to "extremism".

“We want to get rid of Perkasa and he (Lim) wants to be an extremist. What about the Indians? Let’s also form Kadazan extremist groups, Iban and then let’s all fight....

“I think it is ridiculous,” said Nazri, adding that Lim, who is a Barisan Nasional deputy minister, should not be suggesting things like that.

“Two wrongs will not make one right… We are against any form of racism and Perkasa certainly doesn't belong to or is supported by Umno,” said the Padang Rengas MP.

Lim, three days ago, suggested a Chinese version of Perkasa to retaliate the right-wing Malay group’s constant racial attacks.

He was reported to have hinted that the proper body to take on the role of a Chinese "Perkasa" would be the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).

Lim’s comrades in MCA, however, distanced themselves from his suggestions, stressing that it was his "personal view" and that MCA leaders are closely working with all races.

'Distance yourselves from Perkasa'

When asked what he meant by "get rid" of the Malay-rights group, Nazri clarified that the people should keep a distance from it.

“There is a freedom of disassociation in this country. So we can't really stop them,” he said. [Read Ibrahim's reaction here]

However, if Perkasa's statements are deemed seditious, the people can take action against them.

“And I got no problem with that,” he said.

Asked whether Perkasa has made seditious statements, he replied: “Nobody has made police reports, I don’t know.”

To a question if he is willing to lodge a police report, Nazri stressed that it need not necessarily come from him.

“Why should I? Anybody can make a report and why should it be (from) BN? Any citizen who feels it (Perkasa) is a threat to the country, should make a report,” he said.

Nazri, a vocal critic of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, took the opportunity to lash out at him once again for advising the government to engage more Malay grassroots leaders.

“Who are the citizens of this country? All Malays kah? There are non-Malays here. You people have got no say at all? Are you second-class?” he asked, sarcastically.

He said that as a multi-racial country, the people cannot tolerate such statements regardless if they come from a former premier or anybody else.

“For a leader to say that we need to engage more Malays, what are you trying to say? Are you trying to say the non-Malays are not an important component of our country? I think that is unacceptable,” said Nazri.

Let's dialogue, Perkasa tells Wee

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Malay nationalist movement Perkasa is keen on holding a dialogue with Deputy Education Minister and MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong in order to “clear the air” concerning the scholarship row.

Perkasa Youth chief Arman Azha Abu Hanifah said it is the duty of the movement to explain the federal constitution to those who do not understand it, such as Wee.

“This is because many of the statements issued by Wee point towards conflicting opinions regarding the constitution. As a leader, he must steadfastly hold on to the constitution, and never make conflicting statements,” he added in an article published on Perkasa's website.

Wee had come under fire from Perkasa when he had asked if the government will scrap Mara scholarships as well since it planned to do away with the Public Service Department's overseas scholarships for non-bumiputera students.

Mara scholarships are exclusively for Malay students.

'Copy of the constitution for Wee'

Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali had then accused Wee of questioning Malay rights, but the latter denied this and slammed the former for “talking rubbish”.

This led to more heated exchanges, drawing others such as Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and MIC's S Vell Paari into the fray, with the two also attacking Ibrahim.

On July 5, Arman filed a police report against Wee.

Meanwhile, the Perkasa Youth chief said if the dialogue session materialises, he will personally hand over a copy of the federal constitution to Wee.

“We hope that Wee will accept the invitation to have a dialogue with us. It depends on him, we are ready to do so,” he added.

Arman also reminded all leaders to respect the federal constitution.

Since its inception last year, Perkasa has become a household name after Ibrahim courted controversy after controversy in his quest to protect Malay rights.

While Ibrahim, who is also the independent MP for Pasir Mas, denies that he is a racist, his critics, however, beg to differ.

Perkasa also has the blessings of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was the guest of honour at the movement's inaugural assembly.

Explain lost billions, before touting 'people first' slogan

By FMT Staff

SHAH ALAM: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak should stop touting his “people first…” slogan and first explain the scandals and the leaks involving billions of ringgit which have underlined decades of Umno-Barisan Nasional rule.
The missing billions, said PKR supreme council member Tan Kee Kwong were public funds and must be explained even before Najib can begin winning the rakyat’s  confidence.
Tan said this while debating Najib’s speech in which the premier said BN was always “prioritising the rakyat and helping the poor and needy.”
Tan drew attention to a litany of scandals which has ripped apart the Malaysian economy, leading to its current debt-ridden state.
He recalled how in 1998 during the economic crisis, finance minister Anwar Ibrahim was sacked and replaced by Daim Zainuddin.
According to him, Daim had at the time awarded a RM5.2 billion contract to his crony company PSC Shipyard Berhad  to build OPV vehicles (Patrol Pesisir).
The Public Accounts Commission (PAC) later discovered that the finance ministry had issued a check for RM1 billion before the OPV was completed.
“During the PAC meeting we were shocked to hear that RM3.8 billion had been paid out by the ministry although not a single OPV had been sent to the Navy (Royal Malaysian Navy).
“Then we questioned the defence ministry chief secretary about the missing RM600 million, he it was used to pay-off the debts of another one of his (Daim’s) projects.
“I understand the OPV contract has since been given to another company to complete the job and it has cost the BN government RM7.5 billion in total, an additional RM2.3 billion.
“Is this what Najib meant by “people first”?” asked Tan, the former deputy minister of land and cooperative development.

Major scandals over the years

Tan also questioned the setting up of the Terengganu Investment Agency (TIA) which was involved in administrating the flow of  “wang ehsan” funds from Petronas to the Terengganu.
The TIA received profits of between RM600 to RM700 million a year in commissions. “I was given to understand that for a large amount like this, a three percent commission is usually paid.
"In this case the commission paid was 12.5 percent and the commission received on the balance RM3.5 billion is even higher.
“Wang Ehsan should be used to to help the poor in Terengganu, not for other activities and should in fact be used to secure bonds," said Tan.
“Why was there a need for a 12.5 percent commission payout. Is the investment in Kazakhstan safe?" he asked.
He also recalled the major scandals involving the BN government, including the RM4 billion Hong Kong BMF scandal, the RM15 billion Perwaja Steel fiasco and the RM10billion PKFZ affair.
Also the time when MAS shares which were bought at RM8 per unit when in fact its market price was only RM3.5 and the direct awards of contracts for construction of schools and computers worth RM10 billion, and the RM8 billion purchase of military tanks.
The price of the tanks was RM500 million but what the government paid out was RM30 million for each unit.

'We can't destroy privately owned Malay villages'

By Muda Mohd Noor - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The Penang government has no authority to demolish Malay villages in the state because the land is either owned by individuals or non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state also could not interfere if the private owners of the land wished to develop their properties.

He said, however, if the owners were unhappy they could take the matter to court.

Explaining further, he said the state government had once objected to moves by the Urban Development Authority (Uda) to demolish a Malay village in Tanjung Tokong.

“We objected because Uda wanted to construct a condominium on the lot but the Malays could not afford to buy the units and were forced to leave the village,” he said when met in Parliament today.

Lim explained that “the state objected to Uda because a section of the land belonged to the state government”.

“But I want to ask, who wanted to take away the land -- was it the state government or Uda, which is owned by the federal government?”

He was commenting on allegations that the state government was developing a Malay-owned village site in the state, with the aim of usurping their homes.

Lim said Umno and Gerakan would have to prove their allegations that the state government was purposely destroying the Malay village.

“This is their drama, a political statement for their own politics,” he said.

Endemic scourge

By Hilary Chiew - Free Malaysia Today,

COMMENT It is systematic and endemic, screamed the A Wider context of Sexual Exploitation of Penan Women and Girls in Middle and Ulu Baram, Sarawak, Malaysia report.
Indeed, from the testimonies gathered from the victims, family members and their fellow tribe members, it does seem that sexual violence against the Penans has taken on a life of its own and the ‘monster’ has grew over the years.

This ‘monster’ firmly established itself with both Federal and state governments, and enforcement authorities that continue to turn a deaf ear to the cry for help from those remote and isolated settlements.

The Penan Support Group, Forum Asia and Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (PSG et al) findings released last week, again showed the vulnerability and long suffering of the Penan’s fairer sex in the vast logging frontier of the Baram district in Sarawak. The district is as vast as the state of Perak.

The report from a fact-finding mission conducted in November 2009 followed an alert issued by the
Bruno Manser Fund in September 2008. The issue gained national attention after a national English daily, The Star, published interviews with three of the victims identified by BMF in October, 2008.

Subsequently, two of the victims lodged police report with the sexual crime division of Bukit Aman.

One of them, ‘Bibi’ has since retracted her statement and claimed that she was ‘duped’ by NGOs into filing the case. According to Sarawak press report, she also implied that the NGOs disguised as members of media in obtaining and publishing her confession.

Sarawak police has warned to take stern action against those who manipulated the victim as well as the victim herself if it’s found that she was lying. However, until this day, no one knows what was the conclusion.

Interestingly, and this has been pointed out by others who followed the development of the issue, the police doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that the so-called husband of ‘Bibi’, a logging company worker, known as Ah Hing, who accompanied her to the police station, is a polygamist, an offence for non-Muslim in this country.

It is disheartening to learn that the other victim was pressured to do the same as ‘Bibi’ by her alleged perpetrator in the company of the police, according to land rights activist Muhin Urip in an interview with Malaysiakini suggesting attempt to cover up the hideous crime instead of thoroughly investigating the allegations of rape professionally. Looks like the police has a lot to answer to.

Denial syndrome


Apart from producing a report, which it refused to make public despite its initial promise but was forced to do so due to political pressure, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development has basically sat on its hands and do nothing.

Ministers like Jabu and James Masing (Land Development Ministry) showed their disdain by labelling the Penans as ‘stooge of foreign NGOs’ and ‘good storyteller’.
Nevertheless, the taskforce’s report admitted that sexual exploitation of the Penans’ womenfolks is indeed happening. Even then, the state government disputed it and questioned the reliability of the taskforce simply because it consisted of women rights NGOs representatives. Never mind that more than two-third of the taskforce members consisted of civil servants including from the state’s own
women affairs department.

The PSG et al effort was initially mooted as a form of assistance to the police to gain access to the victims who had understandably lost their confidence in the professionalism and impartiality of the force which over the decades was seen to be taking the side of the logging companies in oppressing the people who are defending their land rights.

The excuse given by the police for failing to follow through on this initiative which it eagerly embarked on between late 2008 and early 2009 following public outcry and the police reports filed by the two alleged victims is common knowledge now. And highly unpalatable to many sound-thinking Malaysians.

Hollow rhetorics

Eighteen months later and yet another report – this time more comprehensive and argued objectively in the context of a socio-economic development model that has further disempowered and impoverished the forest-dependent communities - the authorities’ reactions remain unchanged.

Sarawak deputy chief minister Alfred Jabu who is in-charge of Penan Affairs dismissed the report as act of sabotage against the state’s progress and the Penans are manipulated by foreign NGOs in his trademark rebuttal on anything to do with Penans. The state police chief Mohmad Salleh accused the PSG et al of politicising the issue and bent on shaming the police.

But as more such reports surfaced, such rhetorics are sounding like hollow, broken records.
Indeed, acknowledging the deep distrust of the Penans towards the authorities, PSG et al has again offered to work together. The report called for state and federal authorities and all stakeholders (logging and plantation companies) to fundamentally change their attitude and approach.

The group, in my opinion, certainly has an open agenda as it claimed. It certainly did not wish for the endemism to worsen as it wrote: “Or are we simply looking at another report such as this one, in five years’ time, ten years’ time, documenting the same abuses, the same deterioration, the same violence?”

Only way to test the sincerity of the NGOs is for the authorities to take up the challenge and work with them.

Thorn in the flesh
To understand the Penans disillusion with the state government and its apparatuses and in turn the shabby treatment that they are receiving, one has to understand the history of their protracted struggle.

The Penans’ continued resistance against encroachment by logging companies and in more recent time, plantation companies, had made them enemy No. 1 of Taib Mahmud’s regime. The state government particularly resents the international attention that the Penans continue to enjoy despite the ill-fated international campaign to save the Borneo rainforests in the late 1980s.

Ministers like Jabu and James Masing (Land Development Ministry) showed their disdain by labelling the Penans as ‘stooge of foreign NGOs’ and ‘good storyteller’.

The contempt towards the Penans goes back a long way; since the advent of industrial logging in Sarawak from the 1970s. Known for erecting blockade to stop trucks from ferrying felled timber in what they claimed as their ancestral forests, the underdog image of Penans eventually caught the eye and sympathy of Western rainforests campaigners.

The peaceful blockaders quickly became the poster boy of the largely Western-led campaign. However, compelling argument from then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed that these westerners should instead focus on their own governments and societies that are the market forces for the cheap timber from the Penan heartlands, the campaign fizzled out.

The result was the birth of timber certification scheme such as the Forest Stewardship Council and our own government-backed Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme. However, the success of MTCS in ensuring legality and sustainability, two key criteria of any timber certification scheme, continue to be questioned at the international marketplace largely due to pressure from local and foreign NGOs.

For example, the Malaysian Forest NGOs and Indigenous Peoples’ Network had denounced the MTCS for failure to respect indigenous land rights in its quest to promote Malaysian timber abroad.

These days blockades had taken on a more urgent note as the Penans as well as other Orang Ulu tribes like Kenyah, Kayan and Lun Bawang are faced not with degradation of their forests but a complete uprooting of their ancestral domain only to be replaced with oil palm and mono-species timber tree cultivation.

As a signatory of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Malaysia government has the obligation to ensure that the cultural identity of the indigenous peoples of Sarawak that is shaped and connected to the forest is preserved.

Article 8.2 of UNDRIP dictates that States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for: (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities.

Let’s hope that when Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak visits the Penan, these commitments are not forgotten.

In the interest of transparency, the writer wish to inform that she was the Star’s journalist who verified the BMF’s alert by obtaining first-hand information from the alleged victims.

Hitler and Dr M: What you should know of dictators

By G Vinod - Free Malaysia Today

COMMENT The title itself is a give-away maybe. Many have written about both individuals on many issues -- be it their achievements, their brutal politics and what not. However, the question is, have we actually learnt anything from our history books?
Authoritarian figures do not normally fall from the sky. They are made by a gradual process of political manoeuvring, sadly with mass support. The amazing part about authoritarian figures is that most of them normally share the same charasteristics. Take Adolf Hitler and Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Though both came from two different eras, so many similarities can be seen between the characters. For example, both had strong nationalistic love for their motherland for their own reasons.

While Hitler wished to unite the nation as a military powerhouse, Mahathir wished to unite the Malays and transform Malaysia's economy to fit the modern age.

When Hitler rose to power becoming Chancellor of Germany in 1932, he instituted many economic reforms that saved the nation's economy from going bust altogether, eventually turning it into a military economy.

While Mahathir did not inherit a bankrupt economy from his predeccesor Hussein Onn, nevertheless he transformed Malaysia from an agriculture-based economy into a modern industrial-based one. By mid-90s, Malaysia became an economic tiger in Southeast Asia.

Everyone enjoyed economic and social comfort during their reign. Unemployment numbers were low and everyone had reasonable level of disposable income to spend.

Machiavellian politics

In order to consolidate his power, Hitler merged the chancellory office with the presidential office to become the Fuhrer (supreme leader), effectively gaining controlling on crucial state apparatuses such as the military, police, parliament and the judiciary.

While Mahathir did not really remove the Council of Rulers and turned the nation into a republic, he nevertheless made it clear to them who was in charge by stripping the rulers of their immunity and royal assent to pass parliamentary bills in the 80s and the 90s.

Barry Wain aptly described Mahathir in his book “Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times: “By the end of his 22- year tenure, Mahathir had remade his country in his own image and become Malaysia's presidential premier.”

His controversial move not only sent shivers down the spines of those still attached to the feudal concept of Malaysian lifestyle, his move also ensured the royalty knew that he will not tolerate any opposition from anyone, rulers included. No one will be in his way of bringing Malaysia into the new age.

Both towering figures commanded respect and fear from their own Cabinet and lawmakers. Hitler commanded even the army to swear an oath of loyalty to him alone, and not to the nation. Dissenters were swiftly put away using the draconian powers he wielded via the Enabling Act 1933, be it opposition members or within his own ranks.

In Mahathir's era, he controlled the crucial two-thirds parliamentary majority which gives him power to amend the constitution at will. While lawmakers were controlled by the party whip, the Cabinet is bounded by collective decision. In other words, Mahathir became the Cabinet and the Parliament.

Dissenters suffered their wrath to the fullest extent. While Hitler used his Gestapo and the SS to get rid of critics, Mahathir used the state instrument such as the police and the legislation to silence dissenters.

Press freedom was at its lowest in both men's reign. Hitler as the Fuhrer controlled the judiciary and he became the judge, jury and executioner.

Mahathir stripped the judiciary of its independence in 1988, after the sacking of the then Lord President Salleh Abas and five other judges. A few constitutional amendments followed suit to ensure the judiciary no longer holds power to intepret law and dispense justice independently.

Like it or not, Germany was Hitler's baby then and Malaysia was Mahathir's. The difference is, Mahathir is still alive and he is still trying to influence policy-makers to run the country the way he wants it to be run.

Truth be told, Malaysians were fooled by the same “fear-generated political climate” perpetuated by Mahathir who knew his trade well... We have organisations like Perkasa, Gertak and Umno itself still perpetuating nationalistic fear among Malays, citing the non-Malay threat to Malay domination.
While Hitler was in a confrontational mode -- defying the Versailles treaty and preparing for a military conquest of the United Kingdom -- his deputy Rudolf Hess was hoping UK would become an ally to fight against the Soviet Union.

Hess then flew to England to secure peace, incurring the wrath of the Fuhrer who ordered him to be shot if he was ever seen in Germany.

Mahathir had another “foe” to battle in 1997 -- the Southeast Asia financial crisis. While Mahathir was adamant on currency control and bailing out uncompetitive business entities, his deputy Anwar Ibrahim was adamant on helping only competitive entities and was more accomodating to the ideas proposed by the International Monetary Fund.

Hence, Mahathir “shot” his deputy Anwar with dismissal and sent him packing to jail on corruption charges.

Personal traits

There are many similarities which Mahathir and Hitler share even on a personal note. Both had very strict fathers whom they feared and very close personal bonds with their mothers.

Both do not drink alcholic beverage and are non-smokers. None was known to have been womanisers.

Nevertheless, Mahathir pursued higher education knowing full well of its importance while the latter never made in the Vienna school of arts and was loitering in the streets, doing menial jobs for sustenance.

While we can share more about both men's similarities or differences, one important point to note is that both men did not rise to power via military conquest or by some dubious means. Instead both were elected to power.

Dictators are not born, they are made by the people after creating certain emotional feeling over an issue that is close to the people's heart.

Hitler used the communists and the Jews as scapegoat in order to gain popularity among Germans, blaming them for Germany's defeat in World War 1. As nationalistic fever was high in Germans then, they swallowed his argument without even mincing it.

As for Mahathir, he worked on two strategies. When dealing with the outside world, he instilled fear among Malaysians of Western economic imperialism. When dealing with the locals, it was all about putting the fear among the Malays that they may lose political control to the non-Malays if they do not unite under his reign.

Both were master politicians and very Machiavellian in their ways.

Truth be told, Malaysians were fooled by the same “fear-generated political climate” perpetuated by Mahathir who knew his trade well.

While Germans have gained vast political maturity since Hitler days, unfortunately there are still Malaysians who are in awe of “Mahathirist politics” though he is no longer the premier.

We have organisations like Perkasa, Gertak and Umno itself still perpetuating nationalistic fear among Malays, citing the non-Malay threat to Malay domination.

Fortunately, many Malaysians of various races have wised up and dismissed such political rhetoric, knowing full well their words are nothing but to save their own political career, which is nearing its doom.

Ultimately, the people should wise up and study their leaders well before empowering them. We cannot undo the past but the next time a person shows up with the same traits, the people should decide whether to accept or reject them.

French police hold marathon session in Paris with Bala

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

Amid talk that Malaysian police have warned the press not to make any contact with him, private investigator P Balasubramaniam spent a marathon session debriefing French investigators in Paris on what he knows of Prime Minister Najib Razak's role in the purchase of two high-cost submarines in 2002.

“I was told that editors were warned not to have direct communication with Bala or else they could be arrested,” PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

Indeed, Bala, a former Special Branch detective, may hold key information that could incriminate the Malaysian leader, his wife Rosmah Mansor, their friend Razak Baginda and a murdered Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu in the French corruption probe.

Bala is the first Malaysian witness to be called to give his statement to Parisian police. Accompanied by his lawyer, Manjit Singh Dhillon, he went for his 2pm (8pm Malaysian time) meeting with them at the Direction Centrale de la Police in Nanterre Prefecture.

However, until 6pm Paris time (12midnight Malaysian time), when most offices have closed for the day, Bala was inside the Direction Centrale giving his statement. All eyes are now on what had transpired during those long hours. His lawyer is expected to issue a press statement later in the day.

“Of course, we are all anxious to know what Bala was asked and what the French police told him. I think most Malaysians are eager for some justice to be done,” Tian said.

Intimidation and suppression

To an extent, the Malaysian premier has himself to blame for the increasing feelings of discontent and distrust amongst the citizenry and within his own Umno party. Pundits say he may have overplayed his hand by slapping on an unofficial blackout and using intimidating tactics to scare off the media and political critics from the episode.

Najib's credibility wore thinner when the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission – which answers directly to him – swerved at the 11th hour from a London appointment to record Bala’s statement last week.

“You may have noticed the sharp counter-attacks that Najib, some of the Umno leaders and the police have launched against Pakatan leaders, like Anwar Ibrahim, Tian and Chegu Bard in the past week. They are trying very hard to deflect attention from the case, even to the extent of giving the impression that snap elections are at the doorstep,” PKR vice president Sivarasa Rasiah told Malaysia Chronicle.

The French investigation comes about following a complaint lodged by Malaysian civil rights group SUARAM. The NGO has said it had no choice but to take its case on behalf of Malaysian taxpayers to France because of Najib's stubborn refusal to initiate any inquiry on allegations that DCNS, the vendor of the Scorpene submarines, had paid Baginda a kickback of 114 million euros or RM570 million for closing the deal.

No longer containable


It is believed that the contract inked between the Malaysian defense ministry and the French firm contained an anti-corruption clause that makes it illegal to pay any commission or form of kickback to secure the deal. This provides the basis for the French probe as DCNS is one of their biggest companies.

On the Malaysian side, Najib was the defense minister at that time and had sanctioned the acquisition. Bala was hired by Baginda in 2006 to stop Altantuya from blackmailing Baginda for her US$500,000 share of the commission.

If there is sufficient evidence, France may prosecute the wrongdoers although it may not have jurisdiction on the Malaysian personalities involved. Nevertheless, SUARAM has urged French prosecutors to make public all their findings so that Malaysian authorities can also take action at home.

The Malaysian government or navy may also sue DCNS for recovery of the commission if the French probe finds that the firm did violate the anti-corruption clause. Whether the Najib administration will allow this to happen is already a 'hot' debate amongst the people, but it is unlikely that Malaysian taxpayers would let him sweep the matter under the carpet any more.

In a statutory declaration made in 2008 (see below), Bala listed down explosive information given to him by Razak during the course of his work. It is believed that this information will form the heart of his testimony to the French team.

Below is the statutory declaration Bala lodged in 2008

STATUTORY DECLARATION

I, Balasubramaniam a/l Perumal a Malaysian Citizen of full age and residing at [deleted] do solemly and sincerely declare as follows :-

1. I have been a police officer with the Royal Malaysian Police Force having jointed as a constable in 1981 attached to the Police Field Force. I was then promoted to the rank of lance Corporal and finally resigned from the Police Force in 1998 when I was with the Special Branch.

2. I have been working as a free lance Private Investigator since I left the Police Force.

3. Sometime in June or July 2006, I was employed by Abdul Razak Baginda for a period of 10 days to look after him at his office at the Bangunan Getah Asli, Jalan Ampang between the hours of 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m each working day as apparently he was experiencing disturbances from a third party.

4. I resigned from this job after 2 ½ days as I was not receiving any proper instructions.

5. I was however re-employed by Abdul Razak Baginda on the 05-10-2006 as he had apparently received a harassing phone call from a Chinese man calling himself ASP Tan who had threatened him to pay his debts. I later found out this gentleman was in fact a private investigator called Ang who was employed by a Mongolian woman called Altantuya Shaaribuu.

6. Abdul Razak Baginda was concerned that a person by the name of Altantuya Shaaribuu, a Mongolian woman, was behind this threat and that she would be arriving in Malaysia very soon to try and contact him.

7. Abdul Razak Baginda informed me that he was concerned by this as he had been advised that Altantuya Shaaribuu had been given some powers by a Mongolian ‘bomoh’ and that he could never look her in the face because of this.

8. When I enquired as to who this Mongolian woman was, Abdul Razak Baginda informed me that she was a friend of his who had been introduced to him by a VIP and who asked him to look after her financially.

9. I advised him to lodge a police report concerning the threatening phone call he had received from the Chinese man known as ASP Tan but he refused to do so as he informed me there were some high profile people involved.

10. Abdul Razak Baginda further told me that Altantuya Shaaribuu was a great liar and good in convincing people. She was supposed to have been very demanding financially and that he had even financed a property for her in Mongolia.

11. Abdul Razak Baginda then let me listen to some voice messages on his handphone asking him to pay what was due otherwise he would be harmed and his daughter harassed.

12. I was therefore supposed to protect his daughter Rowena as well.

13. On the 09.10.2006 I received a phone call from Abdul Razak Baginda at about 9.30 a.m. informing me that Altantuya was in his office and he wanted me there immediately. As I was in the midst of a surveillance, I sent my assistant Suras to Abdul Razak Baginda’s office and I followed a little later. Suras managed to control the situation and had persuaded Altantuya and her two friends to leave the premises. However Altantuya left a note written on some Hotel Malaya note paper, in English, asking Abdul Razak Baginda to call her on her handphone (number given) and wrote down her room number as well.

14. Altantuya had introduced herself to Suras as ‘Aminah’ and had informed Suras she was there to see her boyfriend Abdul Razak Baginda.

15. These 3 Mongolian girls however returned to Abdul Razak Baginda’s office at the Bangunan Getah Asli, Jalan Ampang again, the next day at about 12.00 noon. They did not enter the building but again informed Suras that they wanted to meet Aminah’s boyfriend, Abdul Razak Baginda.

16. On the 11.10.2006, Aminah returned to Abdul Razak Baginda’s office on her own and gave me a note to pass to him, which I did. Abdul Razak Baginda showed me the note which basically asked him to call her urgently.

17. I suggested to Abdul Razak Baginda that perhaps it may be wise to arrange for Aminah to be arrested if she harassed him further, but he declined as he felt she would have to return to Mongolia as soon as her cash ran out.

18. In the meantime I had arranged for Suras to perform surveillance on Hotel Malaya to monitor the movements of these 3 Mongolian girls, but they recognized him. Apparently they become friends with Suras after that and he ended up spending a few nights in their hotel room.

19. When Abdul Razak Baginda discovered Suras was becoming close to Aminah he asked me to pull him out from Hotel Malaya.

20. On the 14.10.2006, Aminah turned up at Abdul Razak Baginda’s house in Damansara Heights when I was not there. Abdul Razak Baginda called me on my handphone to inform me of this so I rushed back to his house. As I arrived, I noticed Aminah outside the front gates shouting “Razak, bastard, come out from the house”. I tried to calm her down but couldn’t so I called the police who arrived in 2 patrol cars. I explained the situation to the police, who took her away to the Brickfields police station.

21. I followed the patrol cars to Brickfields police station in a taxi. I called Abdul Razak Baginda and his lawyer Dirren to lodge a police report but they refused.

22. When I was at the Brickfields police station, Aminah’s own Private Investigator, one Mr. Ang arrived and we had a discussion. I was told to deliver a demand to Abdul Razak Baginda for USD$500,000.00 and 3 tickets to Mongolia, apparently as commission owed to Aminah from a deal in Paris.

23. As Aminah had calmed down at this stage, a policewoman at the Brickfields police station advised me to leave and settle the matter amicably.

24. I duly informed Abdul Razak Baginda of the demands Aminah had made and told him I was disappointed that no one wanted to back me up in lodging a police report. We had a long discussion about the situation when I expressed a desire to pull out of this assignment.

25. During this discussion and in an attempt to persuade me to continue my employment with him, Abdul Razak Baginda informed me that :-

25.1 He had been introduced to Aminah by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at a diamond exhibition in Singapore.

25.2 Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak informed Abdul Razak Baginda that he had a sexual relationship with Aminah and that [deleted out of respect to the family of the deceased].

25.3 Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wanted Abdul Razak Baginda to look after Aminah as he did not want her to harass him since he was now the Deputy Prime Minister.

25.4 Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Abdul Razak Baginda and Aminah had all been together at a dinner in Paris.

25.5 Aminah wanted money from him as she felt she was entitled to a USD$500,000.00 commission on a submarine deal she assisted with in Paris.

26. On the 19.10.2006, I arrived at Abdul Razak Baginda’s house in Damansara Heights to begin my night duty. I had parked my car outside as usual. I saw a yellow proton perdana taxi pass by with 3 ladies inside, one of whom was Aminah. The taxi did a U-turn and stopped in front of the house where these ladies rolled down the window and wished me ‘Happy Deepavali’. The taxi then left.

27. About 20 minutes later the taxi returned with only Aminah in it. She got out of the taxi and walked towards me and started talking to me. I sent an SMS to Abdul Razak Baginda informing him “Aminah was here”. I received an SMS from Razak instructing me “To delay her until my man comes”.

28. Whist I was talking to Aminah, she informed me of the following :-

28.1 That she met Abdul Razak Baginda in Singapore with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

28.2 That she had also met Abdul Razak Baginda and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at a dinner in Paris.

28.3 That she was promised a sum of USD$500,000.00 as commission for assisting in a Submarine deal in Paris.

28.4 That Abdul Razak Baginda had bought her a house in Mongolia but her brother had refinanced it and she needed money to redeem it.

28.5 That her mother was ill and she needed money to pay for her treatment.

6. That Abdul Razak Baginda had married her in Korea as her mother is Korean whilst her father was a Mongolian/Chinese mix.

28.7 That if I wouldn’t allow her to see Abdul Razak Baginda, would I be able to arrange for her to see Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

29. After talking to Aminah for about 15 minutes, a red proton aeroback arrived with a woman and two men. I now know the woman to be Lance Corporal Rohaniza and the men, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azahar. They were all in plain clothes. Azilah walked towards me while the other two stayed in the car.

30. Azilah asked me whether the woman was Aminah and I said ‘Yes’. He then walked off and made a few calls on his handphone. After 10 minutes another vehicle, a blue proton saga, driven by a Malay man, passed by slowly. The driver’s window had been wound down and the driver was looking at us.

31. Azilah then informed me they would be taking Aminah away. I informed Aminah they were arresting her. The other two persons then got out of the red proton and exchanged seats so that Lance Corporal Rohaniza and Aminah were in the back while the two men were in the front. They drove off and that is the last I ever saw of Aminah.

32. Abdul Razak Baginda was not at home when all this occurred.

33. After the 19.10.2006, I continued to work for Abdul Razak Baginda at his house in Damansara Heights from 7.00 p.m. to 8.00 a.m. the next morning, as he had been receiving threatening text messages from a woman called ‘Amy’ who was apparently ‘Aminah’s’ cousin in Mongolia.

34. On the night of the 20.10.2006, both of Aminah’s girl friends turned up at Abdul Razak Baginda’s house enquiring where Aminah was. I informed them she had been arrested the night before.

35. A couple of nights later, these two Mongolian girls, Mr. Ang and another Mongolian girl called ‘Amy’ turned up at Abdul Razak Baginda’s house looking for Aminah as they appeared to be convinced she was being held in the house.

36. A commotion began so I called the police who arrived shortly thereafter in a patrol car. Another patrol car arrived a short while later in which was the investigating officer from the Dang Wangi Police Station who was in charge of the missing persons report lodged by one of the Mongolians girls, I believe was Amy.

37. I called Abdul Razak Baginda who was at home to inform him of the events taking place at his front gate. He then called DSP Musa Safri and called me back informing me that Musa Safri would be calling handphone and I was to pass the phone to the Inspector from Dang Wangi Police Station.

38. I then received a call on my handphone from Musa Safri and duly handed the phone to the Dang Wangi Inspector. The conversation lasted 3 – 4 minutes after which he told the girls to disperse and to go to see him the next day.

39. On or about the 24.10.2006, Abdul Razak Baginda instructed me to accompany him to the Brickfields police station as he had been advised to lodge a police report about the harassment he was receiving from these Mongolian girls.

40. Before this, Amy had sent me an SMS informing me she was going to Thailand to lodge a report with the Mongolian consulate there regarding Aminah’s disappearance. Apparently she had sent the same SMS to Abdul Razak Baginda. This is why he told me he had been advised to lodge a police report.

41. Abdul Razak Baginda informed me that DPS Musa Safri had introduced him to one DSP Idris, the head of the Criminal division, Brickfields police station, and that Idris had referred him to ASP Tonny.

42. When Abdul Razak Baginda had lodged his police report at Brickfields police station, in front of ASP Tonny, he was asked to make a statement but he refused as he said he was leaving for overseas. He did however promise to prepare a statement and hand ASP Tonny a thumb drive. I know that this was not done as ASP Tonny told me.

43. However ASP Tonny asked me the next day to provide my statement instead and so I did.

44. I stopped working for Abdul Razak Baginda on the 26.10.2006 as this was the day he left for Hong Kong on his own.

45. In mid November 2006, I received a phone call from ASP Tonny from the IPK Jalan Hang Tuah asking me to see him regarding Aminah’s case. When I arrived there I was immediately arrested under S.506 of the Penal Code for Criminal intimidation.

46. I was then placed in the lock up and remanded for 5 days. On the third day I was released on police bail.

47. At the end of November 2006, the D9 department of the IPK sent a detective to my house to escort me to the IPK Jalan Hang Tuah. When I arrived, I was told I was being arrested under S.302 of the Penal Code for murder. I was put in the lock up and remanded for 7 days.

48. I was transported to Bukit Aman where I was interrogated and questioned about an SMS I had received from Abdul Razak Baginda on the 19.10.2006 which read “delay her until my man arrives”. They had apparently retrieved this message from Abdul Razak Baginda’s handphone.

49. They then proceeded to record my statement from 8.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. everyday for 7 consecutive days. I told them all I knew including everything Abdul Razak Baginda and Aminah had told me about their relationships with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak but when I came to sign my statement, these details had been left out.

50. I have given evidence in the trial of Azilah, Sirul and Abdul Razak Baginda at the Shah Alam High Court. The prosecutor did not ask me any questions in respect of Aminah’s relationship with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak or of the phone call I received from DSP Musa Safri, whom I believe was the ADC for Datuk Seri Najib Razak and/or his wife.

51. On the day Abdul Razak Baginda was arrested, I was with him at his lawyers office at 6.30 a.m. Abdul Razak Baginda informed us that he had sent Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak an SMS the evening before as he refused to believe he was to be arrested, but had not received a response.

52. Shortly thereafter, at about 7.30 a.m., Abdul Razak Baginda received an SMS from Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and showed, this message to both myself and his lawyer. This message read as follows :- “ I am seeing IGP at 11.00 a.m. today …… matter will be solved … be cool”.

53. I have been made to understand that Abdul Razak Baginda was arrested the same morning at his office in the Bangunan Getah Asli, Jalan Ampang.

54. The purpose of this Statutory declaration is to :-

54.1 State my disappointment at the standard of investigations conducted by the authorities into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Altantuya Shaaribuu.

54.2 Bring to the notice of the relevant authorities the strong possibility that there are individuals other than the 3 accused who must have played a role in the murder of Altantuya Shaaribuu.

54.3 Persuade the relevant authorities to reopen their investigations into this case immediately so that any fresh evidence may be presented to the Court prior to submissions at the end of the prosecutions case.

54.4 Emphasize the fact that having been a member of the Royal Malaysian Police Force for 17 years I am absolutely certain no police officer would shoot someone in the head and blow up their body without receiving specific instructions from their superiors first.

54.5. Express my concern that should the defence not be called in the said murder trial, the accused, Azilah and Sirul will not have to swear on oath and testify as to the instructions they received and from whom they were given.

55. And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declaration Act 1960.

SUBCRIBED and solemnly )

declared by the abovenamed )

Balasubramaniam a/l Perumal ]

this day of 2008 )

Before me,


………………………………….

Commissioner for Oath

Kuala Lumpur

Violence against Penan: How the government ignores indigenous rights

By Ding Jo-Ann | The Nut Graph
What has the government done so far? (pic of Penan people © Sofiyah Israa | Flickr)
Where is justice for the Penan people? (pic of Penan people © Sofiyah Israa | Flickr)
THE phenomenon of indigenous women like the Penan being violated is not peculiar to Malaysia. Indeed, there are parallels in other countries, including a developed nation like the US.
In their 2007 report, Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA, Amnesty International (AI) reported that indigenous women were 2.5 times more likely to be raped and sexually assaulted than other women in the US. The contributing factors to this state of affairs? Discrimination against the indigenous peoples; inadequate policing; poor training; and delays in responding to them.
In one AI-documented case, Della Brown, a 33-year old Alaska Native woman, was raped, mutilated and murdered in September 2000. Her body was discovered in an abandoned shed with her skull so pulverised, the coroner compared it to a “bag of ice”.
The AI report said the indigenous community in the US was distrustful of the police and reluctant to report instances of sexual violence. The report also documented a history of government colonisation and conquest of the indigenous community, for example, compelling them to assimilate into non-indigenous society. This historical backdrop only served to perpetuate sexual violence against indigenous women.
Penan case
Some of the findings of AI’s report sound eerily familiar to the Penan community’s trials and tribulations in Malaysia.
The Penan have been involved in a long struggle against the Sarawak government over the awarding of licences to timber companies allowing these companies to log and deforest the Penans’ lands. These logging companies have spelt further trouble for the marginalised community. A government task force and an independent fact-finding mission by non-governmental organisations have confirmed that logging companies’ employees have been sexually assaulting and preying upon Penan women and girls for years.
It’s been almost two years since the sexual violence was highlighted by The Star and almost a year since the government task force’s report was released. But there is precious little evidence that the police and the government took the rape and assaults seriously. Like the US police and government, the Malaysian government and police have demonstrated similar scepticism, discrimination and foot-dragging.
Masing
Alfred Jabu (left) and James Masing allocate the blame elsewhere (pics source: dun.sarawak.gov.my)
No less than Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu reportedly said that the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which highlighted the Penans’ plight were “living off the misery of the few, and manufactured lies.” Sarawak Land Development Minister Dr James Jemut Masing told the BBC in December 2009 that the Penan “operate on different social etiquette as us”. He said a lot of the sex was actually consensual. When confronted with an account of a girl who was beaten unconscious and raped he replied, “They change their stories, [as and] when they feel like it. That’s why I say Penan are very good story tellers.”
Indeed, the Sarawak police closed their investigations in 2009, citing lack of evidence. When asked about the Penan Support Group (PSG)’s recent report containing more allegations of sexual violence, state police commissioner Datuk Mohmad Salleh said the Penan had been uncooperative during investigations. “The police have taken all necessary efforts in the investigation but the real problem lies with the victims themselves,” Mohmad reportedly said.
Mohmad also accused PSG of “politicising” the issue to tarnish the Sarawak police’s image. And so, instead of taking the reports of sexual violence seriously and ensuring the community was protected, the police blame the survivors and their advocates instead.
Does the state really care?
Sarawak police commissioner Mohmad Salleh blames survivors of sexual violence (source: rmp.gov.my)
Sarawak police commissioner Mohmad Salleh blames survivors of sexual violence (source: rmp.gov.my)
Surely, if the police really cared about the Penan, the state police commissioner would not be blaming the survivors of violence for not being able to catch the crooks who prey on them.
And by saying that the Penan can “come to me directly” if the district offices ignore them, what is Mohmad saying? Does he expect the Penan, who live in the deep interior, to drive out and knock on his door just like that? Why is the burden placed on the victim to find a way to be heard? Why isn’t a state authority like the police taking the initiative instead to assist a vulnerable community?
One also wonders, did the police commissioner take pains, during police investigations, to ensure that officers complied with cultural norms? Did they bring along female officers to conduct the interviews? Were they properly trained to handle accounts of sexual violence? Did they ensure there was an interpreter whom the Penan felt comfortable with?
Trust is an important component in encouraging survivors of rape and sexual abuse to relate their ordeal. It is questionable whether our police took pains to build trust with the Penan community especially since the state police are seen to work hand-in-glove with powerful logging companies to protect loggers’ interests. For example, the police have arrested Penan and dismantled their blockades repeatedly in a show of disrespect for indigenous rights. How then are Penan women and girls to trust the state police when reporting crimes by loggers against them?
Class struggle
 (pic of Penan elder Aweng Tevai © Sofiyah Israa)
The government does not care about the Penan (pic of Penan elder Aweng Tevai © Sofiyah Israa)
Truth it, the government really doesn’t care about the Penan. That’s why it took the government nearly a year to make public a task force report about the Penan rapes and sexual assault. And that’s why nothing concrete has been done to investigate these crimes and ensure they don’t happen again.
But imagine this: If a minister’s daughter or wife was raped, how do you think the police would respond? How do you think the cabinet would react?
Perkasa — defender of all bumiputeras?
But it is not just the rich and powerful who are entitled to have their rights, including the right to security, upheld by the state. In fact, it is incumbent on the state to guarantee that the poor and marginalised are protected, especially because, like the Penan, these groups would have less resources to do so on their own.
So, here’s a thought. If Umno and Perkasa were serious about defending bumiputera rights and upholding affirmative action, this would be a good place to start.
PM’s walkabout
The Penan community needs much more from their prime minister than a walkabout
The Penan community needs more from their prime minister than a walkabout
For now, apart from the Sarawak police denying culpability in not ending the terror against the Penan, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is expected to visit the Penan settlements in Ulu Baram. Apparently, his visit is to demonstrate that he is a “prime minister for all Malaysians”, and that the government cares.
But really, it’s not a prime ministerial walkabout that the Penan community needs. It’s a systematic revamp of the government’s shabby treatment of indigenous rights — from land, health, education and freedom from sexual violence.
Indeed, Najib’s visit is two years late. Not only that, as prime minister, he does not need to do a walkabout in Ulu Baram to ensure the Penan receive justice and protection. He need only direct his ministers in charge of home security and women’s affairs to take stringent measures to end the violence against the Penan. Why hasn’t he done that?
Given his government’s lack of results thus far in protecting the Penan community, his current visit begs this question: Is Najib more concerned about the Penan or about his own administration’s public reputation?
More importantly, what’s in store for the Penan if their story is no different from the story of the indigenous peoples in the US?

Jokers Without Any Sense of Humor

By M. Bakri Musa

Banning books in Malaysia is now such a routine matter that it is no longer newsworthy. That is the scary part.

So when the Associated Press carried the news of the Malaysian government banning Zunar’s books of political cartoons, that perked me up especially when the news item was also picked up by major American papers such as the Washington Post and influential online portals like the Huffingtonpost.com.

I have long been a fan of Zunar, or Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque, ever since his cartoons appeared in Malaysiakini.com. What struck me then were his astute observations, brazen courage, and devastatingly powerful caricatures. Much to the discomfit of our politicians, Zunar has only gotten better. Now he is even more biting, cuts even deeper, and as reflected by the government’s action, can goncang (shake) even the most powerful.

In trying (that is the appropriate and operative word) to explain the government’s action, Home Ministry Secretary-General Mahmood Adam said, “[The books] have been banned for their contents that can influence the people to revolt against the leaders and government policies.” Adding, “The contents are not suitable for and detrimental to public order.” To think that this joker not only lacks a sense of humor but he is also the ministry’s highest civil servant!

Another way of looking at the Secretary-General’s “explanation” is that Zunar has really goncang powerful folks. Or that those seemingly powerful people are made up of softer stuff. Zunar is not at all perturbed by the government’s latest stupid action. On the contrary, like a Great Dane facing the irritating yelping of a diminutive pariah dog, Zunar is ready to pounce back, and with not an ounce of mercy.

The publisher of his One Funny Malaysia, one of the banned books, has already initiated legal action. As for Zunar, a cartoonist for over 20 years, his dismissive response was, “They can ban my books, they can ban my publications, but they can’t ban my mind! I will not stop drawing till the last drop of my pen.” That may not sound like a Great Dane ready to pounce on a pariah dog, more the flicking off an irritating flea. But then that’s what Great Danes do to lull their prey. So I am really looking forward to Zunar’s next cartoon following this latest government folly.

Zunar now has three prime ministerial notches on his cartoon belt. The materials on the first, Cartoons on Tun and Others, showed that Zunar was not in the least in awe of or intimidated by the most powerful and mercurial personality. He was merciless in his treatment of Mahathir. As Zunar rationalized in his introduction, “Why pinch when you can punch?” Way to go, Zunar!

Some would claim that at times he punches below the belt. I disagree. Rather that his victims have their belt and samping way too high!

Zunar’s critics take exception to his caricaturing Mahathir’s nose. Like Jews, we Malays are sensitive about the shape and size of our snouts, and Mahathir has been known to express his irritation to this less-than-flattering caricature. Beyond that, there was nothing more.

One of Zunar’s most memorable cartoons depicts a scene right after Mahathir’s shocking announcement of his resignation. Many, and not just his supplicants, were pleading for him to change his mind. There was Zunar appearing in his own cartoon lamenting whose nose he would be drawing now that Mahathir would be gone!

Zunar’s fame has spread despite his intentionally bypassing the mainstream media. Kowtowing to the establishment or the powerful is just not his style or mode of working. That is what makes his work so refreshing and, well, Jebat-like. Luckily, as Amir Muhammad noted in his preface to one of Zunar’s collections, “[His] talent matches his bile!” I would also add, “And courage too!”

Just as he was merciless with the mercurial Mahathir, Zunar was no less sparing with Mahathir’s pliant successor Abdullah Badawi. In many ways Abdullah was more of a challenge as he was so pathetically out of his league. Too tough and you would appear to be picking on the village idiot. That could backfire, evoking sympathy instead. At the same time you have to puncture the idiot’s increasingly uppity pretensions. A delicate balance!

Zunar was more than up to the task. The one cartoon that best captures Abdullah’s tenure is one showing him slumped in an oversized chair issuing endless edicts: “Zero Corruption! Zero Red Tape!” followed by a series of Zs ending with his snoozing in his chair. That summarizes better than the kilobytes of critical commentaries by erudite columnists. The chair was just a tad too large for him, or the man too small for it, and Abdullah was reduced to uttering useless slogans. He succeeded only in putting himself to sleep.

One would expect Abdullah’s successor to have minimal difficulty to shine. Alas that was not to be with Najib Razak. As for the reasons, you could torture yourself and read the various dry commentaries by the pundits and academics, or you could spend RM20 and get a copy of Zunar’s latest book, the one banned by the government, “1 Funny Malaysia.” The title obviously pokes fun at Najib’s 1Malaysia slogan. You will be entertained, as well as being educated.

Thanks to the inefficiency of the Home Ministry, the publisher already sold the first printing of 5,000 copies before the ban. With Internet marketing and with many of Zunar’s cartoons readily available free online (www.cartoonkafe.com), the Ministry’s ban is, like all the government’s actions, all fury with no significance. That makes the whole banning exercise less scary than first thought.

The cartoon cover of the banned volume is illuminating enough. It shows Najib commanding his ship, KD Altantuya, presumably the newly-acquired and exorbitantly expensive submarine that would not sink, shouting out orders to no one in particular. Or perhaps no one cared to listen! Notice the ship’s name!

In other cartoons Najib is reduced to his oversized glasses, pin-sized eyes, and prominent forehead, an unmistakable befuddled deer-in-the-headlight look. That also describes Najib’s leadership – befuddled.

Zunar was equally tough on all our leaders. Not so the reactions of his subjects. I am certain that both Mahathir and Abdullah were none too pleased to be so unflatteringly caricatured and mercilessly skewered by Zunar. Nonetheless, very unlike Najib, they did not see fit to ban Zunar’s books or undertake any such nefarious actions.

That is the significant difference between them and Najib, a “transformation” in our leadership that should scare us. It is noteworthy that while the world notices this as evidenced by the extensive global coverage of the ban, the matter receives scant attention in the mainstream Malaysian media. Nor has the ban attracted much commentaries or editorials. That too is equally significant, and scary.

Zunar, we need you now more than ever. We need you to keep them straight when they strayed, soften them when they become sclerosed, and bring them down a notch or two when they get too uppity. May the ink in your pen never run dry!

French interview Bala in marathon session

(Asia Sentinel)French authorities, believed to be police and/or prosecutors, interviewed Bala for more than six hours yesterday, according to Tian Chua.
The interview began at 2.00pm French time (8.00pm Malaysian time) and extended past 5.00pm, well after normal working hours in France, said the parliamentarian, who has been following developments in France. It is not immediately known when the session ended.
The probe is believed to focus on the background to a submarine deal.
French interest in the case may be viewed from a larger concern over the state of French politics in recent times. Last Friday, the BBC website carried an analysis ‘How rotten is France’s politics?
William Bourdon
Photo source: plumedepresse.net
Bala and his lawyer Manjeet Singh are expected to call on a renowned human rights lawyer in France, William Bourdon (right), at 10.00am today. Bourdon, a former Secretary General of the International Federation of Human Rights (1995-2000), is known for taking legal action in France against former Serbian and Rwandan leaders implicated in crimes against humanity. He has also represented Franco-Chilean families who suffered under the oppressive former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. More details on the Human Rights Watch website here.
The Asia Sentinel recently reported:
… French lawyers William Bourdon, Renaud Semerdjian and Joseph Breham put an end to that when they filed it with Parisian prosecutors on behalf of the Malaysian human rights organization Suaram, which supports good-government causes.
Judges in the Paris Prosecution Office have been probing a wide range of corruption charges involving similar submarine sales and the possibility of bribery and kickbacks to top officials in France, Pakistan and other countries. The Malaysian piece of the puzzle was added in two filings, on Dec. 4, 2009 and Feb. 23 this year….
“Over the past years, serious cases have been investigated in France by judges involving DCN,” lawyer Renaud Semerdjian told Asia Sentinel in a telephone interview. “This is not the first case of this kind that is being investigated. There are others in Pakistan and there are some issues about India. To a certain extent, every time weapons of any kind have been provided, suspicion of violation of the law may be very high.”…
In the current complaint in Paris, the issue revolves around what, if anything, Razak Baginda’s Perimekar company did to deserve €114 million. Zainal Abidin, the deputy defense minister at the time of the sale, told parliament that Perimekar had received the amount – 11 percent of the sale price of the submarines – for “coordination and support services.” The Paris filing alleges that there were neither support nor services.

India in multiple satellite launch claim

An Indian rocket carrying a payload of five satellites takes off from its launch pad on July 12, 2010.


New Delhi, India (CNN) -- India successfully launched five satellites into orbit Monday, one of them a mini-spacecraft built by students, space officials said.

The main payload was a remote-sensing satellite -- CARTOSAT-2B -- which the country's space agency said would be used in infrastructure programs because of its capability to take high-resolution images of the Earth.

Other smaller devices comprised satellites from a Canadian university, Algeria and STUDSAT, a light-weight rocket made by Indian engineering students, the Indian Space Research Organization said.

Monday's launch came two months after an Indian satellite powered for the first time by a home-made cryogenic engine failed in what was seen as a setback to the country's space ambitions.

ISRO spokesman S. Satish told CNN that scientists have identified the causes behind April's misfire. India now aims to test the same domestically built technology within a year, he said.

The South Asian nation has an expansive space program.

In 2008, India sent its first unmanned mission to the moon, called Chandrayaan-I.

Chandrayaan-1, meaning moon craft, dropped a TV-sized probe on the lunar surface, completed more than 3,400 orbits and met most of its scientific objectives in 312 days before vanishing off radars abruptly last year, according to the space agency.

The satellite carried payloads from the United States, the European Union and Bulgaria. One of its aims was to search for evidence of water or ice and identify the chemical composition of certain lunar rocks.

The Chandrayaan-1 mission came to be seen in India as the 21st century Asian version of the space race between the United States and the former Soviet Union -- but this time involving India and China.

China launched a manned space flight in October 2003, becoming the third nation in the world to put a person into orbit. India has not launched any manned space flights.

Satish said the Indian agency also was planning to launch a second version of Chandrayaan in 2013.

India held its first rocket launch from a fishing village in southern India in 1963.

Now, the South Asian nation lists more than 60 events as "milestones" in its space program, which includes the successful use of polar and geosynchronous satellite launch vehicles.

Indian scientists say their country has the world's largest constellation of remote-sensing satellites.These satellites, according to the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, capture images of the Earth used in a range of applications -- agriculture, water resources, urban development, mineral prospecting, environment, forestry, drought and flood forecasting, ocean resources and disaster management.

Another major system, or INSAT, is used for communication, television and meteorology.

Mahfuz: 'MA-sissies' afraid of Bala

'Military intelligence officers tortured me'

Video HINDRAF & HRP SPM Top students Memo to Malaysian King at Istana Negara 11/7/2010

Samy Vellu's attack dogs 7 (Warning: To watch this video, you must be 18 and above)

Police detain 227 with RM419m in bets on World Cup matches

KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 — Police detained 227 suspects with bets worth RM419.2mil for the month-long FIFA World Cup 2010 matches which ended early today. Spain won the World Cup after defeating Holland 1-0 in a game that went to extra-time.

CID director Datuk Seri Bakri Zinin said today the suspects aged 15-73 years were not only bookies and gamblers but include Ah Longs (loan sharks) and those who took loans from Ah Longs. Of the 227 detained in 270 raids, 216 including seven women were locals while 11 were Indonesians.

The government had cited social ills for backtracking its approval for a football betting licence issued to tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd last month. Tan had won approval to revive a licence first issued by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad but Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said public outcry against gambling outweighed its financial benefits.

Local newspapers had highlighted the number of police raids against illegal betting as a reason to legalise the industry which Tan had estimated to be worth as much as RM30 billion and could provide the government with RM3 billion in annual tax revenues. Malaysia already gains from taxing numbers forecast operators and the sole casino in Genting Highlands.

Analysts differ on the amount of money wagered with illegal gambling syndicates due to the murky nature of the industry while police say not all raids are successful, especially for the World Cup period.

“Only 151 raids were successful. We seized cash RM99,266, laptops, mobile phones, betting slips, fax machines and calculators,” Bakri told reporters at his office here.

He said 151 investigation papers were opened under Section 6 (3) of Betting Act 1953.

It is understood that the syndicates operate online with payments made through deposits in bank accounts and also the traditional method using paper slips.

Police are tracking down four men believed to be the syndicates’ kingpins who slipped to a neighbouring country before Ops Soga began in April.

The suspects in their 40s had been identified and police are monitoring movement of their family members.

The four have previous records including for gambling and other crimes.

“It doesn’t stop here as there are other football matches like the English Premier League.

“We believe that there will be other new betting syndicates,” Bakri added.

Review selection of councillors, NGOs tell Selangor

By Teoh El Sen - Free Malaysia Today

VIDEO INSIDE SHAH ALAM: Non-governmental organisations and professionals want the Selangor government to review the recent appointment of local councillors, claiming that some NGOs and professionals have been left out this time around.

The Coalition of NGO and Professional Appointed Councillors (CONPAC) and Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) handed over a memorundum on this issue to Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim today.

The delegation was led CONPAC chairman Tan Jo Hann. The memorandum asks the state government to:

* Reveal the list of all councillors appointed under the promised 25% quota allocation for NGOs and professionals;
* Allow a transparent assessment system so that those who have been dropped have a chance to defend themselves; and
* Include an official from the CGG in the selection committee to ensure fair play.

Tan expressed "disappointment" with the appointments that allegedly did not fulfil the 2008 general election promise of setting aside 25% of the posts for professionals and NGOs.

"These were definitely not fairly allocated because we see a lot of political appointments made... We want established and real NGOs appointed... we are supposed to be free from any political influence," said Tan.

He said that in the Subang Jaya Municipal Council, the number of NGOs and professionals apppointed have been reduced to three from the original seven in 2008.

“In the Kuala Langat district council, the only NGO councillor not affiliated to any political party who was appointed under the quota system has been axed," said Tan.

"We are being picked like sheep. If you like me, I'm in. If you don't like me, I'm out," said Tan, adding that one or two NGO representatives would help a lot.

Jeffrey Phang, chairman of CGG, which is a coalition of over 40 NGOs, said an NGO councillor who is also a politician should not be selected.

"We can't have two masters because it is very hard for them to serve society first. We need councillors who can make decisions that are not based on politics."

Phang also said there is a shift in trend to recruit "yes men" as councillors.

He claimed that local councils in Shah Alam and Subang Jaya had their NGO quota taken over by political appointees or politically connected people who have questionable track record in NGO work.

"One week before the list of appointed councillors was released, we sought an appointment with Ronnie Liu (state executive councillor in charge of local councils).

“When we finally met him, he plainly refused to allow CGG to vet through the NGO list of councillors... this is tantamount to saying the state government has decided to disengage from civil society," he said.

Bala surfaces in London and Paris

WHEN something threatens to become public, and the people in power have no desire for you to know the details, an official investigation is arranged. This way, a good old-fashioned whitewash supported by selected facts is guaranteed. Meanwhile, the truth is obscured.
When private investigator P Balasubramaniam (Bala) discovered that his testimony as a witness in Altantuya's murder was not revealed, and evidence was suppressed by both the police and the prosecution, he felt it his public duty to make a statutory declaration (SD1).
He reasoned that if people were to judge truth from lies, in an objective manner, then access to the facts would be crucial. If the whole truth were not to be given during an official inquiry, the findings only amount to a whitewash that robs the public of their chance to determine what really transpired.
balasubramaniam-piSo when it appeared that Bala was not going to keep silent, behind-the-scenes activity resulted in Bala retracting his statutory declaration. The day after, he issued a sanitised version of SD1. This second statutory declaration (SD2) omitted all references to the deputy prime minister and defence minister at the time, Najib Abdul Razak.
Did Bala receive RM5 million?
Interestingly, one of the people who 'persuaded' Bala to release SD2 was the younger brother of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who during a meeting near The Curve in Damansara said, "If you love your family, just follow what Deepak (Jaikishan) tells you to do."
Deepak is a carpet salesman and a good friend of Malaysia's "First Lady".
Another extraordinary point was that when Deepak promised Bala RM5 million to guarantee both his family's safety and his silence, it is also alleged that ASP Suresh, who was to facilitate matters for Bala, was offered RM4-million to act as the middleman.
The press conference in London, on 7th July 2010, held by Bala and his team of lawyers, was supposed to be a platform to discuss issues raised during a scheduled interview of Bala by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). When the MACC cancelled at the last minute, their non-appearance generated more questions than answers.
According to the lawyer Manjeet Singh Dhillon, "What we intended to do if MACC had turned up in London, was for Balasubramaniam to highlight a whole series of events surrounding this Altantuya matter that pointed to the centre of a conspiracy web. A conspiracy at the very highest level to keep out all references to Najib."
Bala's interview with the MACC, which was to have taken place on 5 and 6 July 2010, would have focused on the two SDs and the payment made to Bala to withdraw SD1.
Bala believes his former client, Abdul Razak Baginda, to be innocent of Altantuya's murder. He said, "Abdul Razak Baginda is a scapegoat. He has got nothing to do with the murder. Yes, he 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".
He reasoned that if Abdul Razak Baginda hired him until 26 October, 2006, then he can't have known that Shariibuu would be murdered on the night of 19 October 2006.
This is a naïve assumption. What if Abdul Razak Baginda is smarter than we imagine? What is a week's fees if all semblance of innocence can be preserved? That would be the perfect cover and a good decoy. Bala says that Abdul Razak Baginda is a coward and that he lied in his (Baginda's) earlier press conference, soon after his release.
Never mix business with pleasure
Abdul Razak Baginda may have his own reasons for wanting Altantuya eliminated.
If Baginda and his puppet-masters had only paid Altantuya a fraction of what she was promised, it is possible that she would have gone away and none of the Scorpene scandal would have surfaced.
Greed got the better of them and they probably reneged on the deal.
The common themes which seem to drive this sorry saga are greed and sloppy methods. If there is another lesson to be learnt, it is never to mix business with pleasure.
It was reported that Altantuya spoke Russian, Chinese, Japanese and English. There was no reference to fluency in French. How was she assisting Abdul Razak Baginda in the translations? Was he a tight-wad who wanted a translator, on the cheap, who could also double-up as his 'arm-candy'?
Was she an accredited technical translator? The terminology used in hydraulics, electrical systems and chemical exchanges would mystify many ordinary translators.
altantuyaAltantuya was allegedly promised a commission amounting to US$500,000 for her translating services. Was this the original arrangement or promised by Abdul Razak Baginda in the throes of passion?
Did Altantuya discover, in one of their trysts, that Abdul Razak Baginda's company, Perimekar, would net €114 million in a €1 billion (RM4.5 billion) contract? Did she get too greedy and demand more money?
Taxi driver demanded fare
On the evening of 19 October 2006, Altantuya, her cousin Amy and a friend, went to Abdul Razak Baginda's house by taxi. Two of the girls crossed the road to wait for Altantuya to finalise her business with Baginda, to settle her commission.
When Altantuya was bundled into the red Proton, the taxi-driver rushed after her demanding his RM100 fare. But for his insistence at being paid, we would never have been privy to her murder.
Chief inspector Azilah Hadri was one of Najib's bodyguards who would later be sentenced to death for Altantuya's murder. He was at the scene and only paid the taxi-driver RM50. If he had paid in full, we would never have known the details of the events leading to Altantuya's death.
With Altantuya missing, her two cousins lodged a complaint at the nearest Mongolian embassy, in Bangkok. Amy's testimony forced the taxi-driver who was underpaid, to make a police report at the Tun HS Lee police station. His testimony helped.
If Amy had not been persistent in her search for her cousin, Altantuya's disappearance would have sunk without trace.
Without the evidence of the taxi-driver, to back up Amy's story, Altantuya's abduction may never have surfaced.
This case is just like the submarines purchased by Najib and Abdul Razak Baginda – they have a nasty habit of keeping afloat.