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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vietnam's forgotten war victims

The Vietnam war ended 35 years ago, but children are still being born with birth defects from chemical poisoning allegedly caused by defoliants sprayed by the US military [GALLO/GETTY]


When Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, visited Vietnam on Thursday she extolled the country's "unlimited potential" and strong trade relations with the US. But the words must have rung hollow for Ngyuen Ngoc Phuong, who has seen his potential destroyed by American chemical poisoning.
Phuong, 19, was born long after the US cut and run from the Vietnam war, evacuating its last remaining personnel by helicopter from the roof of its Saigon embassy in 1975.
But the results of that war, which officially ended 35 years ago, affect every aspect of Phuong's life.
The young man has severe physical deformities, and like an estimated three million Vietnamese, he suffers from exposure to Agent Orange, a toxic chemical US forces sprayed during the war to defoliate the dense jungles Viet Cong rebels used for cover.
In its manufacture, the chemical was contaminated with TCDD, or dioxin, "the most toxic substance known to humans", according to an investigation in the journal Science.
Dangers known
In his book Agent Orange on Trial published by Harvard University Press, Peter Schuck reported that companies who manufactured the defoliant knew "as early as 1952" that deadly dioxin had contaminated the chemical.
In video

    Riz Khan: Wounds of the Vietnam War
Between 1962 and 1971, the US military sprayed an estimated 80 million litres of Agent Orange and other herbicides on Vietnam, the journal Nature reported in 2003.
"I met one family of victims with four blinded children, no eyes - period," Dr Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, a Vietnamese researcher, said in a 2007 interview.
In a now declassified report for the US department of veterans affairs, Admiral ER Zumwalt Jr wrote that Dow Chemical and other manufacturers knew Agent Orange exposure could cause "general organ toxicity" and "other systematic problems" as early as 1964.
These and other studies show that the American military, and the chemical companies who serviced it, were well aware of the dangers posed by the chemicals on the general population.
On this front, Agent Orange elucidates an alarming trend in modern warfare, particularly counter-insurgency fighting: civilians and the environment tend to be main casualties.
Brutality clearly defined World War I and II and previous conflicts between standing armies, but soldiers usually made up the majority of the dead.
Poisoning civilians
From the jungles of Vietnam to the plains of Sudan, Iraq's cities to the Afghan mountains, civilians now bear the highest cost for wars not of their making.
"In Vietnam it was chemical [weapons] ... Agent Orange and napalm," Len Aldis, secretary of the Britain-Vietnam friendship society,told Al Jazeera.
"In Iraq, Kosovo, [and] Afghanistan the US, UK and Nato have used depleted uranium, cluster weapons ... and drones that are controlled from military bases in the US."
These conflicts tend to continue even after the wars officially end.
Vietnamese activists have been fighting for compensation and rehabilitation [GALLO/GETTY] 
"We did a number of soil samples and followed [dioxin contamination from Agent Orange spraying] though the food chain into ponds, to fish, into ducks and then into humans. We found it in children who had been born long after the war ended," Dr Wayne Dwernychuck, who led the first team of western scientists to study the long-term affects of sprayingin Vietnam, said in an interview.
"We concluded the only way they could be contaminated is through food and nursing," he said, referencing his 1994 study.
Former US military bases including Bien Hoa, Phu Cat and the infamous Danang are the worst sites of present day contamination.
"We have been working with Vietnam for about nine years to try to remedy the effects of Agent Orange," Clinton said at a press conference in Hanoi.
Since 2007, the US congress has appropriated $9m to help Vietnam clean up contaminated areas and for related health activities, or an amount roughly equal to the cost of 12 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
'Wounds still remain'
In June, a joint panel of US and Vietnamese policymakers, citizens and scientists estimated the cost of a proper clean-up and rehabilitation for the sick at $300m.
Despite public pressure, Vietnamese victims were unable to win justice in US courts [AFP]
"The war is over but the wounds from the war still remain in many areas of Vietnam," Nguyen Van Son, a member of Vietnam's National Assembly, said during the report's launch in Hanoi.

Vietnamese civilians are not the only ones suffering from exposure. Veterans in the US, Canada and beyond also have historieswith the chemicals.
In 1984, US veterans reached an out-of-court settlement for $180m with companies who produced the chemicals, including Monsanto and Dow Chemical.
Remarkably, Dow maintains that there is no evidence to link Agent Orange to illnesses from US veterans and Vietnamese civilians.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM),the pre-eminent scientific authority in the US when it comes to setting government policy, links exposure to a raft of conditions including cancers, diabetes and spina bifida. 
Like their American counterparts, Vietnamese victims have tried to gain justice in US courts, but after a series of cases, the US supreme court refused to hear their case in 2009. 
However, American conservatives were some of the first to recognise the moral quagmire around giving pensions and other benefits to US veterans and not Vietnamese civilians, even though both groups were poisoned by the American government and the companies who provided it with chemicals.
'Difficult to rationalise'
It is "difficult to rationalise why [American] Vietnam vets are compensated for Agent Orange exposure but Vietnamese civilians shouldn't be," Steve Milloy, a scholar at the Cato institute, wrote in a commentary for Fox News. 
During her visit, Clinton criticised Vietnam for jailing rights activists and censoring the internet and urged the single party, nominally communist state to "strengthen its commitment to human rights".
However, in the broader schema of rights, Vietnam's transgressions against courageous lawyers and journalists seem positively minor compared to three million destroyed lives: children born missing eyes, grossly elongated heads or misshapen legs where their arms ought to be.

Non-Muslim school clubs can proceed, says Muhyiddin

BUKIT JALIL, July 24 — Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today gave his word that decades-old non-Muslim societies in schools could continue to proceed with their activities and would not face closure.

He firmly reiterated that neither the ministry nor the Education Department had ever issued any directive to schools ordering for the dissolution of non-Muslim religious clubs.

“Let me clarify. There is no directive issued by the ministry.

“There was already an old circular from before so the status now is that existing societies whether Hindu, Buddhist clubs, can continue on. Take my word for it,” he told reporters after launching the Village Entrepreneurs Carnival at the Bukit Jalil stadium here.

Muhyiddin was referring to a circular by the Selangor education department issued on December 16, 2000, which stipulated that “any school that already has an established Non-Muslim Religious Club to carry on”.

His deputy Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong had earlier clarified to the media that the circular meant that all societies formed before it was issued could continue with its activities.

Those with the intention to form new clubs however would have to obtain clearance from the department.

Muhyiddin, who is also the deputy prime minister, stressed that ministry had been clear on its stand, adding that he did not want the matter to be rekindled into a new issue.

“I have already checked with the director-general (of education).

“Only the incident happened in Selangor because new societies have to apply to register themselves.

“But the existing ones, the ones already established, can carry on. It does not become a problem,” he said.

Muhyiddin was responding to continuing complaints on the illegal closure of long-established non-Muslim religious clubs following a newspaper report earlier this month highlighting such an incident at the Klang High School.

The report claimed that the school’s administration had ordered for the dissolution of its Kelab Agama Hindu, Kelab Agama Buddha and the Christian Union, which had been in existence since 1969.

When the issue came to light, the school authorities insisted that the decision had been made by the state education department.

When responding to the matter in Parliament recently, Wee told reporters that the department had never issued such a directive and said that the two societies could proceed with their activities.

Despite this assurance, students, parents, teachers and religious representatives have continued to complain of similar incidences, claiming that the Klang case was not an isolated one.

A parent told The Malaysian Insider yesterday that the school authorities of SMK SS17 in Subang Jaya, Selangor, had ordered the Buddhist Society and Christian Fellowship to stop holding meetings and carrying out religious activities in January last year.

At a press conference in MCA yesterday, several Buddhist and Christian religious representatives, including the Young Buddhists’ Association of Malaysia (YBAM), Buddhist Association of Subang Jaya and the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), called on the Najib administration not to neglect the spiritual well-being of the non-Muslim community.

Malaysia’s reputation for religious harmony took a beating earlier this year, following attacks on several houses of worship after a court ruling allowed the Catholic Church to publish the word “Allah” outside the Muslim context.

Perkasa an identity thief, says Orang Asli

What's Taib's real salary?

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: The curiosity revolving around Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s billions of ringgit worth of international properties and his allegedly extensive business interest in his home state via family-owned Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS) and cronies has not ebbed. New and candid revelations are popping up throughout the blogs and tales of his direct and indirect links are filtering through the Internet.

On record, Taib and his league of Barisan Nasional “bandits” are unperturbed by these disclosures although Taib has directed his office to clamp down on mainstream media’s discussions of his wealth and ordered his political party, Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), to set up a unit to monitor and “counter the lies”.

Taib’s hope is that the “lies” won’t reach his “fixed deposit” -- the Bumiputera voters whom he has confessed are “poor and grateful to BN” because they “need BN”.

How far-reaching these disclosures will affect Taib and BN’s influence over Sarawakian voters is left to be see.

Meanwhile, online portal, Sarawak Report, which first launched its explosive series on Taib’s billions abroad, has sought to correct a point in its reporting in reference to the chief minister’s official monthly salary.

To date, the commonly asked question is, how did Taib who earned RM20,000 a month as chief minister amass such wealth?

Mystery money

Read below Sarawak Report’s peek into the mystery:

“We have frequently questioned how (Taib) Mahmud’s reported remuneration of RM20,000 per month could have supported a multi-million-dollar property empire across the globe.

We are now advised that the chief minister’s official salary is actually RM13,000 per month (excluding allowances or perks, such as the sole, exclusive use of a personal jet courtesy of the Sarawak taxpayers).

Nevertheless, it is important not to forget the numerous other salaries that the chief minister has simultaneously obtained through awarding himself a number of key top jobs at once.

On top of his chief minister’s salary, he has also enjoyed his MP's salary of RM10,000 per month and his state assemblyman’s salary of RM8,000 per month.

With great energy, he also commands the two other key financial offices of Sarawak in his roles as finance minister (salary: RM9,000 per month) and state planning and resource management minister (another RM9,000 per month).

In total, it is a very attractive RM49,000 per month, the sort of salary that any chief of state would be pleased to receive.

However, we remain baffled as to how such a salary could begin to support the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of properties across the globe, which we have unveiled as belonging to his family in recent reports.

By contrast, for example, Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, has been much criticised for a collection of family properties that now extend to three houses and a couple of flats. Yet, his resources to pay for these relatively modest properties are easy to identify.

His wife is a high-flying UK barrister and he now occupies a number of directorship and positions.

The couple have also both been paid for their books and he gets a huge amount for speaking engagements.

But where does (Taib) Mahmud get his wealth, which is exponential in comparison with Blair?

Perhaps those simultaneous three roles as chief minister, finance minister and state planning and resource management minister are part of the answer.

For what can get done in Sarawak without the say-so of this trinity -- wrapped up so conveniently in one?”

'Puteri Umno, a wasted pool of talents'

By Muda Mohd Noor - Free Malaysia Today
KUALA LUMPUR: A former Puteri Umno leader has called for an amendment to the constitution to allow Puteri members to be automatically absorbed into the Wanita wing once they hit 35 years of age.
Azalina Othman Said said currently Puteri members who reach 35 have to apply to join the Wanita wing.
“The policy must change. It’s automatic entry for Putera members into Umno Youth. The same convenience must apply to Puteri.
“From what I gather, most of the current members are hesitant or simply unwilling to go through the process of applying to join the Women’s wing.
“It’s a pity really to lose talented and dedicated Malays over a simple issue,” she said, adding that this was the reason why another former chief Noraini Ahmad had not applied to join the women’s wing.
Azlina said many of the old guard in the Wanita wing disliked Puteri members whom they consider emotional.
“But if this matter is not addressed quickly, it would lead to Puteri Umno’s eventual demise,” she tod FMT recently.
Biggest challenge
Azlina, who helmed the movement from 2002-2004, said Puteri Umno’s biggest challenge now was dealing with a shortage of leaders.
“When I was the leader, there was Noraini. After Noraini there was Rosnah (Ahmad Shirlin). Now who are the leaders-in-waiting?,” she asked.
“Leaders must be brave in politics and there are some in Puteri Umno who are like that but the opportunities to rise are far between,” said the Johor Pengerang division chief.
According to Azalina, when she was the Puteri chief, she had direct guidance from some of the top national leaders such as Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Khalil Yaakob.
“I asked the supreme council at the time to be alert to the movement so that we could achieve the objectives which were set out,” she said.
But according to her, the current situation is different.
“I fear that Puteri Umno, which was once used to contain the flow of young Malays towards the opposition, would be dissolved because it is unable to function as it should,” she said.

Perkasa an identity thief, says Orang Asli

By Rahmah Ghazali and Hisyam Salleh - Free Malaysia Today

OLAK LEMPIT: Perkasa, whose pro-Malay rhetoric has upset many Chinese, Indians and even Malays, has found itself another opponent — the Orang Asli.
Dewi Malam, a Tok Batin from Kampung Orang Asli in Pulau Kempas, said Perkasa had robbed his people of their identity by using the word “pribumi” in its name.

Perkasa is short for Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia, which can be translated as the Malaysian Organisation for Mighty Natives. It is headed by controversial politician Ibrahim Ali, who founded it as a body to defend Malay rights and privileges.

“But pribumi means orang asal (original people),” said Dewi. “They are the original owners of all the land in the peninsula. They do not have to pay for the land because they are its owner.

“That is what a pribumi is. He is master, sultan, king.”

Dewi said pribumi is not synonymous with Bumiputera, a word coined by Malaysia’s first premier, Tunku Abdul Rahman, to refer to the Malays and indigenous peoples.

“Perkasa members cannot call themselves pribumi. They can only call themselves Bumiputera.”

Dewi, a Temuan tribesman, said that even the word Melayu had been abused. According to him, it is a Temuan word meaning “the people who work” and originally referred to six related pribumi tribes: Kuala, Kanaq, Seletar, Jakun, Semelai and Temuan.

Selangor PAS may be Pakatan's saviour

By Zainal Epi - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: In Pakatan Rakyat Selangor, PAS appears to be the strongest pillar holding up the loose alliance. It is seen as a better bet than PKR to attract Malay voters and keep the state from falling into the clutches of the Barisan Nasional. With PKR in disarray, PAS has emerged as soild as a rock with members swearing unwavering loyalty to the party leadership. They remain steadfast in their commitment and determination to defeat the BN in the next encounter. They cannot be swayed by “sweet talks” or “offers of bribes”.

In Selangor, PAS is putting down firms roots as it works assiduously on its Islamic agenda without jeopardising its ties with the non-Muslims.

The leadership tussle in the state does not seem to bother its members who consider it as mere “ripples” normal in any party.

However, the one issue that still rankles them is any talk of co-operation with Umno. State party chief Hassan Ali had attempted to walk down this tempting path after Pakatan captured the state in the 2008 general election.

Sources said Hassan had met Umno federal leaders to work out “an alliance” but it fizzled out when party stalwart and Shah Alam MP, Khalid Samad, got wind of it.

Economic stature

Hassan, an intellectual and religious man, is a nationalist who sees nothing wrong cooperating with Umno for the sake of Malay unity. It was said that his motivational business grew under the patronage of Umno in the 90s.

He joined PAS with a broader perspective in mind -- as a nationalist, he wants to see the Malays grow in economic stature and their spiritual development enhanced.

Khalid, on the other hand, is a fundamentalist fighting for the Islamic cause and he had even been detained under the Internal Security Act in the late 80s for the very same reason.

However, Khalid is closely linked to PKR de facto chief Anwar Ibrahim as both had been student activists as well as partners in the Islamic Youth Movement (Abim).

His close association with Anwar has put him in the camp of the liberals, who are seen as eager to take over the reins of the party.

The row between Hassan and Khalid is not centred on who wants to lead the party in the state but on the broader issue of the party's struggle -- Hassan wants Malays to enjoy better protection under government policies while Khalid is keen to nurture closer rapport with PKR.

Anwar's men

Moreover, Khalid and other PAS leaders such as Husam Musa in Kelantan are seen as Anwar’s men whereas Hassan, though a close friend of Anwar at one time, is closer to former Selangor strongman Muhammad Muhammad Taib.

While Hassan and Khalid are fighting their personal war, PAS members and supporters in the state are coolly going about with their campaigns and ceramah in mosques and suraus.

With the formation of a non-Muslim wing in June, the party can be counted upon to deliver the votes and keep the body and soul of Pakatan together.

US actor De Niro in town on private visit

By Noorsila Abd Majid, The Star
 
He had reportedly told the Prime Minister’s wife: “You are very progressive, you are very engaging. I would like to come to your country.”
And Rosmah had reportedly responded: “Please come because, otherwise, you would listen to all the wrong things about Malaysia. It is very important to put things in the right perspective.”
KUALA LUMPUR: Hollywood star Robert De Niro is in town on a private visit. The Oscar winner flew in via Singapore late on Thursday evening, an Immigration Department source at the KL International Airport told the Daily Chilli, a news portal of The Star.
“He checked in using a different name,” the source said yesterday. “He doesn’t want to be identified.”
The versatile actor, director and producer who is best remembered in classics like The Godfather: Part II, 1900, Raging Bull and The Good Shepherd is expected to stay in Malaysia until this weekend.
It is learnt that his visit here is at the invitation of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who met him in April during an event in New York.
Rosmah was quoted in a recent report as saying that De Niro had come to the event as a guest “and saw the other side of Malaysia”.
He had reportedly told the Prime Minister’s wife: “You are very progressive, you are very engaging. I would like to come to your country.”
And Rosmah had reportedly responded: “Please come because, otherwise, you would listen to all the wrong things about Malaysia. It is very important to put things in the right perspective.”
A Hollywood film industry source said the 66-year-old actor is scheduled to meet the Prime Minister’s wife during his stay here.

The impact of polygamy in Malaysia

By Ding Jo-Ann | The Nut Graph,


PETALING JAYA, 21 July 2010: A landmark study on polygamy in Malaysia has cast doubt on whether husbands in polygamous marriages are able to treat their wives and children equally as intoned by the Quran.
The study, conducted by Sisters in Islam in collaboration with academics from several local universities, found that while almost 80% of husbands interviewed said they could be fair, their wives disagreed.
Researcher Masjaliza Hamzah said just over half of the second wives interviewed in the study said their husbands could be fair. Among first wives, only 35% shared this view.
“Among the wives, the first wife is the most dissatisfied. She experiences the strongest effects as she is able to compare the polygamous marriage with when she was in a monogamous marriage. In many cases, they expressed sadness, a sense of being wronged and betrayal,” Masjaliza said.
Even though polygamy is seen as a male right provided for in the Quran, in some Muslim communities, including in Malaysia, there are other interpretations of what is permissible in Islam. Several Muslim countries either restrict or ban polygamy and cite Surah al-Nisa 4:3, which states that if a man fears that he cannot deal justly with several wives, he should only marry one.

Rashidah Shuib
Associate Professor Datin Dr Rashidah Shuib, one of the study’s researchers, said a proper understanding of polygamous families was needed to enable policies to be formulated based on facts.
For example, she said that “giliran”, or taking turns equally and fairly in a polygamous marriage, was ideal, but in reality, it is difficult to carry out.
“Policies should be formulated not based on ideals, but on reality,” she said.
Masjaliza, Rashidah and four other researchers presented their findings from the peninsula-wide study, titled The Institution of Polygamous Families and Marriage, at a forum in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia on 15 July 2010.
First wives most impacted

(Courtesy of Sisters in Islam)
The study indicated that a majority of first wives suffered negative social impacts after their husbands’ second marriages, although there were others who were satisfied with the situation.
Of the first wives interviewed, 45.6% were dissatisfied with their polygamous marriages, compared with 39.3% who were satisfied. This was in sharp contrast with second wives, 68% of whom were satisfied with their marriages. Only 18.8% said they were dissatisfied.
Additionally, when a man took a second wife, his first marriage was often put under strain. Over 40% of first wives in the study said they argued more with their husbands after finding out about their husbands’ intentions to marry again.
A majority of them also indicated that their love, respect and trust for their husbands deteriorated after discovering their intentions.
Men benefit most
Masjaliza Hamzah
Masjaliza Hamzah
“The husband is the family member who is most successful in fulfilling his needs and desires. He has access to more than one sexual partner every night, whereas his wives will need to take their turn,” Masjaliza noted.
Hence, it comes as no surprise that 65% of the husbands interviewed would recommend polygamy as a family institution. But only 25% of first wives and about 50% of second wives held this view.
Impact on children
A majority of the children of first wives also demonstrated negative emotions towards their fathers marrying again.
Up to 60% said they were disappointed when they found out about their fathers’ polygamy. More than half were angry and sad. Hardly any felt happy, proud or loved upon hearing the news.
Interestingly, the study also revealed that in time, the children of first wives recorded “indifference” as the dominant emotion towards their fathers’ polygamous marriages.
Norani Othman
Norani Othman
Head researcher Professor Dr Norani Othman said during the in-depth interviews conducted with children of polygamous marriages, they explained that being indifferent was a way of coping emotionally with disappointment and distress.
Meanwhile, more than 55% of the children of second wives said they were “indifferent” about their fathers’ polygamy upon first knowing about it. This figure rose to over 60% when asked how they felt about it currently.
Despite different emotions expressed by the children of first and second wives, over 90% of both groups of children said they would not contract polygamous marriages, based on their own experiences.
Reasons for polygamy

(Courtesy of Sisters in Islam)
The top three reasons cited by husbands for marrying again were to validate their love for their second wives, and to avoid adultery and khalwat. This was roughly echoed by second wives.
A majority of first wives, however, cited “to satisfy lust” as their husbands’ main reason for marrying again, followed by to avoid adultery (46.3%), and then only to validate their love for their second wives (36.3%).
The study showed that almost half of the men and women interviewed either rarely or never told their friends and colleagues about their polygamous families.
“The survey is not just about women’s or men’s experiences with polygamy, but to find out the challenges of living in a polygamous family,” said Norani.
The first-of-its-kind study examined the effects of polygamy on family members – financially, emotionally, as well as socially. At least 1,500 interviews were conducted among husbands, first and second wives, and children in their adulthood from first and second marriages.
The interviews were conducted since 2007.

Obama’s Failure in Burma

By Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro
Friday, July 23, 2010

With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attending the ASEAN Regional Forum this week, it is an opportune moment to examine U.S. efforts to engage with Burma (also known as Myanmar). When President Obama was inaugurated, many in the international community were particularly enthusiastic about a return to U.S. multilateralism to address global problems. Nowhere was this more necessary than in the case of Burma, where a brutal military dictatorship has for decades both oppressed its people and failed to yield power, despite losing democratic elections in a landslide in 1990.

Many observers of the nascent administration, myself included, applauded Clinton’s announcement in early 2009 of a full review of U.S. policy towards Burma. I understood that some creative thinking would be valuable, having spent eight years as the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, trying to address the problems created by the junta. Yet since those early days, the Obama administration has made a series of inexplicable missteps.

First, the administration took some eight months to develop its new policy. As the junta increased its repression in the run-up to elections it scheduled for this year, the United States was absent in the global debate on how to respond. Not only did Washington fail to communicate its intentions, but this silence left many diplomats confused. This disengagement resulted in reduced pressure on the Burmese junta as other countries awaited the results of the U.S. review. When a new policy was announced last fall, it was remarkably uninspiring and uninspired: keep sanctions and increase engagement. Why it took eight months to develop such an obvious result is unclear.

Second, the administration has left unfilled the congressionally mandated position of special coordinator on Burma policy. While Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has all the qualities necessary to lead the State Department’s engagement with the junta, he is also responsible for all U.S. policy relating to Asia, so he has limited time to focus on Burma, and the lack of sustained focus has been lamentable.

Finally, when the United States got around to engaging directly with the junta, it took a surprisingly unilateral approach. I do not understand why the administration would think it would have any leverage with this regime without bringing partners to the dialogue. The Burmese junta knows it has support from China and Russia in the U.N. Security Council. It is making billions of dollars annually from its natural resources. And the United States will get no leverage from existing sanctions against Burma until it exercises its leadership to bring into the process others whose views do matter to the regime.

If the United States wants to influence the junta, it must immediately change its entire approach. Beyond appointing an envoy, it must make Burma policy a high-level priority. The junta has the upper hand. Without the kind of pressure the United States can bring to bear multilaterally, the junta will have no incentive to come to the table, let alone change its behavior.

Specifically, the United States should reach out to its allies, beginning at the ASEAN Regional Forum, to ensure that most nations will reject the results from Burma’s upcoming “elections,” which by every indication will be neither free nor fair. It should publicly embrace the call of my successor, Tomás Ojea Quintana, to create a commission of inquiry through the United Nations to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the junta, and then work multilaterally to make this inquiry happen. It should fully enforce existing U.S. sanctions and target Singaporean and Dubai banks that do business with the regime. It should work to impose a global arms embargo on Burma. And it should take full advantage of being one of three countries to lead the cross-examination of Burma’s human rights record in the Universal Periodic Review process taking place in the U.N. Human Rights Council early next year.

Some will say it is unrealistic to expect the United States to put in this kind of concerted diplomatic effort, particularly given its other foreign policy priorities. I have dealt with the Burmese junta and understand better than most how hard it is to influence the generals. I am certain that if the United States actually wants to affect this regime, its efforts must be strategic, focused and unrelenting.

Given the forthcoming “elections” in Burma, President Obama and Secretary Clinton have limited time to turn around their policy. As a start, they need to take Burma and this situation seriously. Then they need to show the world that the United States means what it says.

The writer, an adjunct professor of international relations at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, was the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar from 2000 to 2008.

India hails $3 billion showpiece airport terminal


New Delhi, India (CNN) -- A massive new terminal at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport is being touted as a testament to India's economic prowess.

The sprawling five million square foot building was officially opened Saturday by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.

Complete with imported granite floors, huge white columns fitted with expensive speakers, 63 elevators, 95 immigration counters and a state of the art security and baggage system, Terminal 3 is also home to India's first transit hotel.

Officials say the new nine-level hub will be able to handle 34 million passengers per year, making it one of the biggest in the world.

"This is a confirmation that India has truly arrived on the world stage," India's Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel told the crowd of invited guests.

Terminal 3 is a far cry from the cramped, low tech international terminal that existed before.

In addition to its architectural grandeur, the $3 billion building is attempting to be green with high ceilings featuring skylights to save on energy consumption during the day.

It was built in just 37 months in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games, which are coming to Delhi in October this year.

But the terminal is not without its critics. Some question the amount of money spent on the project, pointing out less than one percent of the population travels by air.

P.Uthayakumar : All citizens bound by the law, no exception to police.

HRP pro-tem sec-gen P.Uthayakumar commented on the issue of a 35-year-old market vendor A. Murugan, his wife and mother were arrested but only Murugan was brought to court Friday (July 16,2010) to face a murder charge. He was sentenced to death. It has been no history of the Attorney General prosecuting death under police detention and death by police shooting. Our statistic showed that 1.3 person has been gunned down by police every week. 2002 statistic shows that one person died while under police custody every two weeks.
Camera work : Calvin Cheah
Video by Citizeen Journalist, Arvind Raj

Top Indian student Reethashini Raman (17) have to beg for Scholarship and PTPTN study loans in One Malay-sia?

url top
NAME: REETHASHINI A/P RAMAN,
ADDRESS: 4E-11-17 LORONG SEMARAK API 1,
BANDAR BARU AYER ITAM ,
11500 PENANG.
21/JULY/2010
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,
RE: APPLICATION FOR SHOLARSHIP
I’M REETHASHINI RAMAN,17; WOULD LIKE TO APPLY FOR A SHOLARSHIP FROM THE MIC COMMITEE FOR MY STUDIES. MEANWHILE, I HAVE JUST FINISH MY FOUNDATION IN NURSING LAST MONTH. IN TWO WEEKS TIME I’LL BE CONTINUEING MY DEGREE PROGRAMME IN NURSING. IM STUDYING IN ‘INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF NURSING (IUCN)’ AT KOTA DAMANSARA,KUALA LUMPUR.
I WILL BE APLLYING MY PTPTN LOAN SOON AT A AMOUNT OF RM80,0000. I AM FROM A MIDDLE CLASS FAMILY. AND IN FUTURE I THINK I’LL BE HAVING DIFFICULTIES IN PAYING BACK THE MONEY BECAUSE OF MY FAMILY PROBLEMS AND CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES.THEREFORE, I WOULD LIKE TO GET A SHOLARSHIP FROM THE MIC FOR MY STUDIES TO BE CONTINUED.
MY FATHER IS A TAXI DRIVER WHO EARN NOT MUCH MONEY DAILY ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF CUSTOMERS.WHILE MY MOTHER IS A NURSE IN A PRIVATE CLINIC WHO EARNS RM 1500 TO RM2000. I HAVE A SISTER,SANGIDAA RAMAN;20, WHO ARE STUDYING IN MASTERSKILL COLLEGE, KUALA LUMPUR FOR PHARMACIST AND MY YOUNGER BROTHER, ARVIN RAJ;16, WHO IS STILL STUDYING IN ‘SMK PENANG FREE SCHOOL,PENANG’. MY PARENTS ARE HAVING DIFFICULTIES IN TAKING CARE THREE OF US.
I HAVE GOOD ACHIEVED CGPA MARKS FOR MY 2 SEMESTERS IN FOUNDATION. THE TOTAL CGPA MARKS WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON IN THIS MONTH. I HAVE STUDIED WELL FOR MY FOUNDATION WHERE FOR MY 1ST SEMESTER I HAVE ACHIEVED CGPA OF 3.23. AND FOR MY 2ND SEMESTER I HAVE ACHIEVED CGPA OF 3.21. WHILE PREVIOUSLY PAST 3WEEKS AGO I FINISHED MY 3RD SEMESTERS FINAL TEST ACCELLENTLY.I AM TOTALLY SURE THAT I WILL BE QUALIFIED TO ENTER THE DEGREE PROGRAMME.
UNFORTUNATELY, THE TOTAL INCOME OF MY PARENTS WOULD NOT ENOUGH TO TAKE CARE US AND GIVE ME MONTHLY EXPENSES MONEY FOR MY STUDIES. THEREFORE, IF THERE IS ANY HELP THAT THE MIC COMMITEE CAN HELP MY STUDIES,PLEASE KINDLY REPLY ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
YOUR KIND HELP WILL BE MUCH APPRECIATED.
THANK YOU.
FAITHFULLY,
REETHASHINI RAMAN.

In schools, a crackdown on non-Muslim clubs

MCA deputy publicity chief Loh Seng Kok (centre) highlights non-Muslim frustration with government officials who continue to deter initiatives for religious activities in national schools. — Picture by Jack Ooi
KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — Students, parents, teachers and religious representatives are complaining of a systematic effort by education officials to frustrate their initiatives to hold religious activities in national schools, despite a decade-old Education Ministry guide allowing non-Muslim societies in schools.

More have now stepped forward to report the “illegal” dissolution of non-Muslim religious clubs in schools following a newspaper report earlier this month highlighting such an incident at Klang High School.

Today, several Buddhist and Christian religious representatives called on the Najib administration not to neglect the spiritual well-being of the non-Muslim community, at an MCA press conference here.

They reminded the Cabinet to stop dragging its feet over the long-standing issue and to take immediate steps to correct confusion — deliberate or otherwise — over the education ministry’s stand promoting holistic religious education for the nation’s future.

“Today’s meeting is not the first time,” MCA deputy publicity chief, Loh Seng Kok, told reporters, describing his talks earlier with parents and religious representatives, including from the Young Buddhists’ Association of Malaysia (YBAM), Buddhist Association of Subang Jaya and the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM).

Loh added the issue had also been raised at his party’s presidential council meeting earlier this year, where MCA Youth Chief, Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, who is also the Deputy Education Minister had been quizzed, but admitted “there has been no reply from Cabinet” to date.

Malaysia’s reputation for religious harmony took a beating earlier this year, following attacks on several houses of worship after a court ruling allowed the Catholic Church to publish the word “Allah” outside the Muslim context.

Father of three, Chin Fook Khiang, disclosed to The Malaysian Insider that Klang High was not the only public school to have shut down its non-Muslim religious clubs.

The 53-year-old said SMK SS17 in Subang Jaya, Selangor, had without warning ordered the school’s Buddhist Society and Christian Fellowship to stop holding meetings and carrying out religious activities in January last year, stunning students and parents alike.

The two non-Muslim religious clubs had been running for nearly 15 years, since the school was established, but were suddenly ordered to disband ostensibly because they were not registered with the state education department.

Chin added it was not the first time education authorities had tried to shut down non-Muslim religious activities in the school, and related an attempt in 2005 by a district education officer to close the Christian and Buddhist clubs for the same reasons, but added it had been foiled by the previous school head.

The school’s then-headmaster, Ahmad Akim, had defended the two clubs’ right to continue, pointing to a state education circular issued on December 16, 2000, which provided for “any school that already has an established Non-Muslim Religious Club to carry on”.

Only the clubs that had yet to be formed before the circular was issued were required to write in to the state education director for approval.

“It’s very sad because the rules are very clear. The guidelines are very clear, but somehow along the way, little Napoleons have chosen to interpret [the provisions in the circular] according to their whims and fancies,” Chin criticised.

Christians were not the only group with the dilemma, nor was SMK SS17 the only school in the district barred from carrying out religious activities for non-Muslims, said Subang Jaya Buddhist Association president, Chim Siew Choon, who was alerted to the school’s directive by its Buddhist students.

“Christianity and Buddhism are among the five mainstream non-Muslim religions accepted and recognised by the government, so what’s the problem to have religious activities in schools?” he asked, noting that the school clubs were essential to develop the spiritual well-being of students for a holistic education.

Chim said he had approached Deputy Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong early last year to help resolve the issue, and was initially reassured by the latter’s reply promising to look into the matter.

But he found his confidence in the deputy minister crumbling by the day, as the federal government continues to drag its feet.

“It’s very disappointing. It’s already been one year since the issue was raised. It’s not something impossible to solve, it’s a very straightforward issue,” Chim said.

“On one hand, the government is trying to promote the principles in the Rukun Negara… but some people are sabotaging the government’s effort,” he added, but refused to elaborate on the identities of the individuals.

A school official contacted by The Malaysian Insider yesterday declined to comment on the issue, citing a gag order by the Selangor state education department.

“I’m sorry, but we were told not to speak to the press,” the official apologised.

The school spokesman, who asked not to be named, added the principal has been trying to meet with the state education director for clarification.

The Malaysian Insider understands the problem is not also limited to Selangor.

A teacher in neighbouring Negri Sembilan said there has been continued pressure on non-Muslim students to stop having religious activities in school for decades.

The 56-year-old, who has been teaching for 32 years, said state education authorities “strongly discourage anything to do with non-Muslim religions in schools”.

“There’s no black-and-white from the [state education] department to say that, but that’s what usually happens,” he said.

“You can have clubs for cultural or moral activities but not for Hindus, Christians or Buddhists,” he told The Malaysian Insider, requesting anonymity for fear of backlash from the authorities.

A Hindu, the teacher recalled how a second camp for Hindu students planned for this weekend had to be shelved at the last minute after school officials told the organisers to first clear the red tape with the state education authorities.

“There was no obstruction for the first camp in May held at the Seremban Lake Gardens,” he said.

“It’s very unfair. How come we non-Muslims are not allowed when Islam is allowed and considered a help to build character?” he quizzed.

“All religions promote good values. Having religious knowledge is good for students. It gives them values that can help them in life,” he stressed.

Resolve Tamil school's land issue, NGOs urge PM

PETALING JAYA: Two NGOs have urged Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to resolve the land issue involving the SRJK (T) Sungai Salak Tamil school in Negri Sembilan. In a joint press statement today, Lim Lian Geok Cultural Development Centre's president Toh Kin Woon and his Tamil Foundation counterpart K Arumugam said the school deserved the six-acre land promised during the Bagan Pinang by-election last year.

“During the by-election, the government promised the school the land. After the election, the Education Ministry informed the Parent-Teacher Association that the school will share the space with the education department, effectively receiving only three acres.

“We find this appalling. This is clearly a breach of trust and we cannot help but to think that the promise was made to fish for votes. The school deserves to get the land as it caters mainly for poor Indian children,” they said.

Toh and Arumugam were responding to a report which appeared in the FMT on Wednesday.
In 2002, the Sungai Salak school was forced to close down when its land was used for a development project.

Following this, it shared the same premises with another Tamil school, SRJK (T) Springhill, till 2007 but was later evicted due to space constraint.

The school's PTA then convinced the Education Ministry to permit them to set up the school in a shoplot unit in Lukut. It has remained there to date.

'Be fair to all under 1Malaysia'
Meanwhile, the two NGOs also urged the government to hasten the building of Chinese schools as per the promise made before the 2008 general election, including the SRJK(C) Tun Tan Siew Sin.

“Though Putra Heights residents have submitted a petition of 1,200 signatures in January 2009, the ministry had ignored it,” they said.

Toh and Arumugam also urged the government to be fair in distributing allocations for building schools, and to provide adequate insfrastructural support and qualified teachers to all schools.

“Whether the school is built on government or private land, to categorise them as fully-aided and partly-aided is unconstitutional and discriminative in nature.

“We urge the prime minister to abolish such categorisation in the spirit of 1Malaysia. If it still exists, the 1Malaysia slogan will just remain a rhetoric,” they said.

Lawyers to hold press conference and Anuar Shaari is invited




Manjeet Singh Dhillon, Amarjit Singh Sidhu and Americk Singh Sidhu are holding a press conference in the conference room of the Peninsula Residence All Suite Hotel at 10, Jalan Semantan, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur at 4.00pm on Saturday, 24th July 2010.

The three lawyers have invited Anuar Shaari to attend the press conference to deal with the issues he raised and to produce his evidence of the wild allegations that he made yesterday

(Malaysian Digest) - Former private secretary to PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Anuar Shaari, in a press conference today urged the three lawyers of private investigator, PI P.Balasubramaniam to immediately report their income status to the Inland Revenue Malaysia and confirm their declarations.
Anuar (pic) said the roles of Manjeet Singh Dhillon, Amarjit Singh Sidhu and Americk Singh Sidhu as lawyers are really in doubt regards to their actions lately. 

According to Anuar, Manjeet has repeatedly persuaded and made offers to Datuk Nallakarupan to befriend
and support Anwar. He also claimed that Manjeet had represented Balasubramaniam when the latter invited Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to London to take his statement.

He added that the three lawyers also accompanied Balasubramaniam to Paris to take a statement by the French authorities.

“It is really a big question since the public already know that Balasubramaniam is unable to survive even in Malaysia and it is impossible for him to pay the legal cost to the famous lawyer Manjeet Singh Dhillon,” he said.

Anuar also questioned where the three lawyers obtained the money to help Balasubramaniam and, according to him, the answer will link them to his former superior Anwar.

“I just want them to clarify either it is yes or not since the public is seeking for their explanation,” he added.

He also queried on how much money Anwar had to spend in engaging the three solicitors to be lawyers and escort to Balasubramaniam in London.

Also present at the press conference is Perkasa activist Yusof Mahmud. 

Najib splurged RM50,000 to get flattering U.S. media coverage

Steven Gan, Malaysiakini

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak paid RM50,000 (US$15,000) to a Washington-based political consultant in April this year in an attempt to get an opinion-editorial article written by him published in one of the major newspapers in the United States.

And should the article eventually appear in print, the prime minister will have to fork out an additional RM50,000 as a 'success fee' to the consultant.

This is revealed in documents filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act by Quinn Gillespie & Associates (QGA), a top public relations and lobbying firm in Washington DC.

According to the documents obtained by Malaysiakini, QGA was assigned by another consultancy firm, The Laurus Group, to try and convince a major US newspaper to carry Najib's article.

The Laurus Group, an obscure public relations firm whose website is still under construction, had apparently been hired by the Malaysian government to provide 'public relations services' during Najib's week-long trip to Washington DC and New York from April 10 to 16 this year.

Najib, who was accompanied by his wife, Rosmah, met US President Barack Obama on April 12 in Washington. The couple later left for New York where Rosmah was feted and awarded the inaugural International Peace and Harmony Award at a gala dinner attended by a number of top Hollywood stars.

Non-refundable project fee

In the April 14 letter of agreement between the two consultancy firms – QGA and Laurus – it is stated that QGA 'will provide public and media relations services on behalf of the government of Malaysia related to the placement of an opinion editorial authored by the prime minister of Malaysia'.

It added that Laurus would pay QGA a 'non-refundable project fee of US$15,000 for the period beginning April 14, 2010 and ending April 20, 2010'.

Should QGA succeed in placing the opinion editorial in a major-market print media publication, the client (Laurus), will pay QGA a success fee of US$15,000. The success fee shall be paid within 30 days of the date on which the opinion editorial appears in a publication meeting the criteria described above'.

The agreement did not identify the major newspapers which the opinion piece by Najib was to appear in.

It is unclear whether Najib had to pay the full sum of around RM100,000 for the publication of his article. A check on leading US newspapers – Washington Post, New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – indicated that no such opinion piece appeared.

However, the Washington Times – a newspaper founded by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon – did produce a supplement on Malaysia on the eve of Najib's arrival in the capital city.

Interestingly, the offices of both Laurus and QGA are located on the same floor in a building in Connecticut Avenue. Washington, DC.

Rosmah's ad in New York Times

The Laurus Group is also somehow linked to the controversial two-page advertisement in New York Times congratulating Rosmah (below) for her peace award.

Online news Nutgraph has over the past two months reported that New York Times initially said that the advertisement – which cost between RM1 million and RM1.5 million – was paid by the Malaysian government.

But the Times retracted its statement a few weeks later, stating that the advertisement was not paid by the Malaysian government. It, however, has refused to reveal the identity of the individuals who placed the advertisement.

At the same time, the Business Council for International Understanding which presented Rosmah the one-time award, also wrote to Nutgraph to express regret over its 'well-intended gesture of welcome and congratulations' to honour 'Malaysia's First Lady' had been turned into a political issue.

Their e-mail communication on the matter was copied to Hank Jones, the chairperson of the Laurus Group, whose name appeared in the letter of agreement between his firm and QGA.

Evidence that Shamsul Yunos operates his mouth without first engaging his mind

Shamsul Yunos aka Marahku aka rabid canine commented on my ‘Did The Star lie…?’ post at
BTW, good to know you now rely on the Star for your facts… thought you said MSM all liars
or is it only when it suits you
typical haris Ibrahim
and at
so anyway, does the star’s higher number prove that you did not do your homework or picked the number from your ass??
cause the numbers dont tally do they
one figure here one figure there
what is the truth?
why don’t you tell me to read Truth for dummies and how lawyers twist them
and at
when you’re running away you cannot accuse others of running away… its not believable
someone who calls Star liar and now quotes it and gets caught out…
you are the one doing damage control
kalau berani reveal lah your numbers and breakdown who is afraid of teh truth here??
You, see, Shamsul immediately assumes that The Star report quoted forms the basis of the figure of 1,805 deaths in custody.
Silly boy!
Pay attention next time.
Read properly.
Think.
If Shamsul had payed close attention to my ‘Who let the dogs out?’ post, he would have noted that I had, at the tail end of the post, said that “…I will give you the full breakdown of how the number 1,805 is arrived at, source reference and all. That exercise, though, might prove me wrong. The number might even be higher. By about 2″.
That should have alerted Shamsul that The Star report cannot be our reference point.
Unless, in Shamsul’s world, 1,805 + 2  =  2,571

Understanding the mindset of Flabby Jowls and other UMNO bloggers

If you go to Flabby Jowls’s blog ( commence a course of antibiotics before you do. God knows what you might contract going in there ), you will see a poster in his sidebar.
It opposes the formation of the IPCMC.
Flabby Jowls opposes the IPCMC.
As do the other UMNO bloggers.
The IPCMC, short for Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, was recommended by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police in May, 2005.
Why?
One reason that appears to have propelled the Royal Commission to recommend the IPCMC was the matter of deaths in police custody.
“The police’s lack of professionalism in handling cases of deaths in custody has created suspicion of foul play, doubts and distrust among the dead suspect’s family members, the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police has found.
Shoddy investigations, insensitivity towards a grieving family, delay in notifying them of a suspect’s death, denial of a post-mortem report and failure to offer an oral explanation were also cited as reasons behind a host of complaints documented in the 607-page report.
Citing the case of G Francis Udayappan, the commission said the police had failed to act in accordance with the law by, for example, acting promptly to facilitate an inquest, behaving insensitively towards family members or by denying their request for an independent pathologist.
Most often, said the commission, families of suspects were unaware of their whereabouts until informed about their deaths while in police custody.
It said there was a “severe lack of proper records of action” following a suspect’s arrest including the logs in lockup, investigation and station diaries.
Allegations of tampering with records with regards certain dates and a general lack of transparency were also noted.
In addition, the commission said that police failed to “faithfully follow” provisions in the Lock Up Rules 1953 such as ensuring a safe journey to and from the lock-up after recording of a statement. In one case, the suspect jumped over a corridor wall and fell to his death…
…The commission also found that magistrates and the police failed to order for a post-mortem following custodial deaths, leading to an oversight of possible internal injuries. Only accidental deaths while in police custody are exempted by law.
Concerned with the trend of police invoking the proviso for any custodial death, it recommended that a mandatory inquest be held for any death in police custody.
The police were also found to ‘escape’ responsibility over a suspect by granting bail before sending him/her for a medical examination.
“When the suspect dies in hospital, the death becomes one that had not occurred while in police custody and an inquiry into the death is not mandatory,” it said, adding that police should probe beyond the reasons cited by a pathologist.
Shoddy investigations into custodial deaths were also found where key eye-witnesses including cell-mates, lock-up officers on duty, arresting officers and officers who had earlier examined the suspect were left out of questioning or statements.

Of the total 80 deaths between 2000-2004, only six were inquired into while in 22 others the magistrate or deputy public prosecutor had decided that it was not necessary”Malaysiakini report dated 19th May, 2005.
Can you believe that?
Of the the total of 80 deaths between 2000-2004, only 6 were inquired into. In 22 others, someone somewhere out there in officialdom decided no inquiry was necessary.
Why?
What became of the other 52?
Is it then unreasonable to ask what proportion of the 1,805 who died IN OUR PRISONS, POLICE LOCK-UPS AND DETENTION CENTRES, were not inquired into?
And why?
This is the aspiration of the proposed Project 1805.
To get at the truth of these deaths.
UMNO is not interested in the truth.
Neither are their cybertroopers.
Prior to the Rotal Commission report of May, 2005, there was another report by Asian Human Rights Commission dated 24th June, 2004  that documents for posterity some of the many atrocities that have taken place in this country.
May the UMNO cybertroopers choke on the contents of the same, for the injustice they inflict on this nation by their continued role in the dissemination of lies.
You can get the report HERE.

Bad FDI news for Malaysia: Down by 81 percent in 2009

By Aidila Razak | Malaysiakini

A nosedive in foreign direct investments in Malaysia in 2009 follows a continued downward trend in FDI, increasingly overshadowed by regional players, noted a United Nations report.
FDI Malaysia 2009
According to the World Investment Report 2010 unveiled today, FDI plunged 81 percent from US$7.32 billion (RM23.47 billion*) in 2008 to just US$1.38 billion (RM4.43 billion) last year.
(*Calculated based on exchange rate of US$1 = RM3.20650)
The 2009 FDI is less than half of the annual average FDI inflow between 1995 to 2005, which encompasses the long recovery period following the 1997 economic crisis.

Malaysia’s performance also pales in comparison with neighbouring economies like Thailand and Indonesia whose FDI figures did not contract as severely, despite the global financial crisis.
Thailand suffered a decline of US$4.44 billion (RM14.24 billion) while Indonesia saw a more modest drop of US$2.60 billion (RM8.32 billion) in foreign investments in 2009.
FDI 2009
The severe dip also places Malaysia in the red for the first time in the last 15 years, with figures for cumulative FDI (see chart right) surpassing incoming investments by about US$1 billion (RM3.21 billion).
Doubts over high income target
Speaking at the UN Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today, Universiti Malaya economist Rajah Rasiah (at podium in photo) said that Malaysia’s poor performance casts doubts over whether it can achieve the targets set to achieve high income status.
“Malaysia is fortunate to be in a good neighbourhood, located among growing countries. The three largest recipients of FDI are located in Asia (but) Malaysia does not even make the top 10 list of recipients,” he said.
He added that this is remarkable for a country with a specific FDI policy, unlike Taiwan which is placed 10th in the list.
Conversely, Malaysia is “doing well in FDI outflows”, ranking fifth in the list of South, East and Southeast Asian countries investing abroad.
“Speaking to fund managers, I get the impression that we have the resources to invest locally but not many viable options to do so. Even local investors find us less attractive,” he said.
Human capital a barrier
The main stumbling block, he said, remains our narrow human capital pool which leaves industries stagnating in low-end production.
He added that while foreign investor laud the ease of doing business in Malaysia, a lack of skilled labour, research and development and technological capabilities is placing the country on the losing end of the increasingly competitive FDI battle.
Malaysia has 300 to 400 science and technology workers for every 100,000 persons, as opposed to 3,000 in countries which made the transition from middle to high income status, he said.
Similarly, the country is under-investing in research and development at only 0.64 percent of GDP, while others like Taiwan and South Korea are investing about 3 percent of theirs.
It should also look at mirroring such nations in developing a “vetting mechanism” for FDI to ensure that the investments can be a catalyst for human capital and technology development.
This will include screening FDI by choosing those with technologies that could be upgraded along the value chain and monitoring to ensure a transfer of expertise takes place.
“We allow foreign firms in by giving grants and tax incentives, so we must ensure that spillovers (in terms of technology transfers) occur,” he said.
The bottom 40 percent of the population should also be assisted insofar as developing their skills to meet the shortage in industry.
“In assisting the lower income population, we should look at developing skills like precision engineering and die casting, which are sought after by foreign investors,” he said.

Extended Tales of Debauchery: Jho, Rosmah, Najib

Thanks for all comments on the Low Taek Jho post. Needless to say, anyone living that kind of life is bound to attract attention.
I must admit, we have no solid proof of anything – just a lot of very suspicious coincidences. I must also say, I think The Nutgraph has covered almost everything I am writing about helow.
That said, allow me to add something quite new to that list. Observe a comment received on said post:
i have handle Low Taek Jho account before in Singapore. I cannot reveal his personal details as is private and confidential. He has various bank accounts assigned with banker gurantee to secure overdraft fundings for his expenditure.
He spends consistantly 2 million approx every month. I am quite surprise he have such a high value network even within the banking line to secure higher extension on his credit. he does not have any income support from Singapore, i am surprise he can get such a high priority account on his age. I know many tycoon accounts but they don’t spend like him.
My concern about him was many transaction was made was high risk charges like Casino transactional payments and also High expenses on jewellary. Howveer no one in our company have questions his spending as he has consistant payments made regularly.
He travel extensively around the world. He have many first class tickets prebooked and paid for his extensive travelling. I felt his main base is in Las Vegas mainly since early 2010. My gut instinct tells me this man is doing money laundering with the unusual spending pattern history on his account.
He is basically low profile customer. and only calls in when he is seeking to extend more funds on his account. i can’t say more. Only time and justice can tell if he misused funds.. or he have a lucky break securing a big contract from the govement of Malaysia. Overrall he is soft spoken online. May god reveal the truth when time comes.
Youch. I think that’s quite a high level of detail, don’t you? Does that sound like someone who is spending his own money?
I wonder whether this sort of info is the kinda thing that gets you (me?) landed in jail.
In any case, fun as it is to dig at this guy (I get the feeling he’s in some trouble now), it wouldn’t do to lose sight of the bigger picture – our interest in him should not be limited to his Mr. Paris Hilton status, but rather how he reveals all sorts of sketchy links.
What got the latest Jho ball rolling, was The Nutgraph’s revelation of an email slip-up by a Henry Thomas Jones of one Laurus Group.
What was that? Laurus mentioned in a Malaysiakini expose bylined by Steven Gan himself?
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak paid RM50,000 (US$15,000) to a Washington-based political consultant in April this year in an attempt to get an opinion-editorial article written by him published in one of the major newspapers in the United States.
And should the article eventually appear in print, the prime minister will have to fork out an additional RM50,000 as a ‘success fee’ to the consultant.
This is revealed in documents filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act by Quinn Gillespie & Associates (QGA), a top public relations and lobbying firm in Washington DC.
According to the documents obtained by Malaysiakini, QGA was assigned by another consultancy firm, The Laurus Group, to try and convince a major US newspaper to carry Najib’s article.
The Laurus Group, an obscure public relations firm whose website is still under construction, had apparently been hired by the Malaysian government to provide ‘public relations services’ during Najib’s week-long trip to Washington DC and New York from April 10 to 16 this year.
Goodness me. To top it off, Malaysiakini has the down and dirty in black and white:

While the Jho/Joh link is still speculative (although this “receptionist” business is quite implausible), I think it is becoming clear that the Laurus group is very much involved in a hard sell by the Najib administration to gain popularity overseas – popularity he is probably paranoid-ly afraid of losing to Anwar.
Laurus and this QGA join APCO in being the latest of a legion of Washington based consultants that Najib is throwing millions upon millions of our money, in the belief that he does not have to be a quality leader – he only needs to be seen as one, by the ‘right’ people.
While APCO is clearly the worst of this particular lot, this entire ‘political consulting’ and ‘lobbying’ industry is a mega con-job that represents the worst in politics.
In Washington, it is perhaps one of the biggest ways politicians from both sides of the divide make sure they get a (considerable) slice of the cake – a cake that belongs to you and me. I daresay it is a huge complot by the rich (politicians, business, media, etc) to stay that way at the expense of the poor (yaya, I will probably join them one day, sigh).
It seems very appropriate that Najib & Rosmah would want to throw in their lot with these ‘types’ – it fits their image perfectly.
At the risk of sounding unflattering or snobbish, I daresay they are some cross between thieves and bumpkins who have come into a lot of money, and now want to hobnob with the ‘respectable’ crowd. (think Beverly Hillbillies, but without the good heart and cuteness).
Instead of focusing on what is really respectable in the hearts of the rakyat, Najib/Rosmah/Jho only have eyes for the gliteratti of celebrities (and the occasional model/translator perhaps).
Cases in point are Martha Stewart, and most recently – wonder of wonders – Robert DeNiro??
That’s got to be a new level of absurdity. At some point, perhaps I’ll compose something to him directly.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, we’re belatedly uncovering some rather….. once again, ‘absurd’ seems to be the best word, along with ‘undignified’ perhaps…. details regarding the party in which Rosmah (with hubby in tow) was feted.
A word on the source for the content below. Wendy Brandes is not your typical blogger on Malaysian affairs. I think “complete outsider” would perhaps be apt.
I have no way of verifying the veracity of her eyewitness account, but some time researching the internet suggests she is not some fake teller of tales.
This makes the following observations even more disturbing than it would be normally, although you should really read the whole (amusing) article:
Warning: If Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx and the prime minister of Malaysia are dancing on stage together, move aside quickly. Ladies in pink head scarves will cut a bitch who gets in the way of their picture-taking.
I learned this the hard way on Friday at a dinner at The St. Regis hotel in honor of the first lady of Malaysia, or, as I call her for short, “Her Excellency Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor.” She was receiving the “International Peace and Harmony Inaugural Award 2010.” I accepted an invitation from my Malaysian designer friend Zang Toi, who was presenting a few gowns during the cocktail hour. It was only the day before the event that I took another look at the invitation and realized the gown presentation came during an “Islamic Fashion Festival.”
Much to my surprise, the Malaysian event wasn’t a typical awards dinner. It was like a wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, Sweet 16 and quinceanera all rolled up into one. I was awestruck. Jamie Foxx was the host and fully deserves an all-expenses-paid trip to Malaysia for his hard work. The music included the always-excellent Boys Choir of Harlem (who all looked like they were in their mid-30s, as Jamie pointed out, calling them the “Boys-to-Men Choir”); pop star Leona Lewis; and more traditional wedding-type singers.
Security scolded me for taking this iPhone picture of Leona Lewis.

When the magic hour of 10 P.M. rolled around, and we hadn’t even been served an entree, I decided to throw caution to the wind and stay. Good thing I did because Jamie Foxx was THE emcee of all time, managing to:
- perform a flirty karaoke version of “You’ve Got a Friend” with Her Excellency Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor;
- dance with Malaysia’s prime minister, which made the head-scarf-wearing ladies GO WILD;
- drag Robert De Niro, Charlize Theron, Emmy Rossum and a host of others onstage for “We Are the World”;
- run to all the front tables, exhorting us to, “Put your hands in the air!”
OO
CBS Reporter Kaylee Hartung adds some observations:

What an apt question :P
Also, TNG:
According to one Twitter posting by a DJ, known as DJ Irie, who parties with Hollywood stars, Foxx and Rosmah rehearsed for their duet before the party.
Now. You know many people couldn’t call me a prude with a straight face (Urbanscapes), but… I mean…. this is the head of state we’re talking about here. The No. 1 and his wife.
I think, under such circumstances, the word ‘debauchery’ might fit the bill.
Dancing with Jamie Foxx? Singing “a flithy karaoke version of You’ve Got a Friend”?? Practising it beforehand???
I almost can’t imagine (And perhaps that’s a blessing).
Ok, visceral response aside, there are some serious questions here.
So, we’re talking Robert DeNiro, Leona Lewis, Jamie Foxx, Charlize Theron, Emmy Rossum, etc, at a dinner ‘to honour the First Lady of Malaysia’.
How many of those people knew where Malaysia is?
Right.
So. What were they doing at this dinner?
Of course, of course, because they were moved to tears by the charitable work of Her Excellency Datin Seri Paduka Rosmah Mansor.
What? You don’t believe me? They were just paid a huge sum of money to be there you say? My my, how cynical of you to suggest such things, sir.
Where does it all end, friends?
Petrol and sugar more expensive for even the poorest of the rakyat, Penans walking two days to see Najib (instead of Najib going to them), and somehow, we’re throwing millions – possibly billions – at APCO, QGA, Laurus and other Washington-slickers, so that Rosmah can sing dirty karaoke with Jamie Foxx.
Where does it end?