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Monday, July 26, 2010

Kalimullah dakwa PM terlibat dalam kes Altantuya

(Free Malaysia Today) - Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Negara (Perkasa) menggesa kerajaan menyiasat dakwaan Datuk Kalimullah Hassan bahawa pembunuhan wanita Mongolia, Altantuya Shaariibuu menggunakan bom C4 pada 2006 melibatkan Perdana Menteri Najib Tun Razak.

Ahli Majlis Tertinggi Perkasa, Zahid Mat Arip berkata, "dakwaan Kalimullah itu disiarkan oleh portal berita "The Malaysian Insider". Dakwaan ini berunsur fitnah bertujuan untuk menjatuhkan Najib."

“Kalimullah telah menyiarkan berita itu sebelum polis membuat penyelidikan terhadap kes berkenaan dan ini menyebabkan imej Najib tercalar.

“Saya yakin beliau mempunyai agenda tertentu untuk menjatuhkan Najib yang ketika itu menjawat Menteri Pertahanan,” katanya ketika dihubungi oleh Free Malaysia Today, hari ini.

Ujar beliau, "siasatan terhadap Kalimullah perlu dijalankan berdasarkan artikel-artikel yang disiarkan bertujuan untuk mengelirukan rakyat tentang kewibawaan seorang tokoh negara.

Menurutnya, Kalimullah bertindak demikian kerana ingin membantu pihak tertentu bagi mengalih pandangan umum supaya menyokong mereka.

Zahid turut mempertikaikan kontrak bernilai jutaan ringgit yang diberikan kepada syarikat milik Kalimullah oleh Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN).

“Kontrak yang beliau perolehi daripada LHDN itu menimbulkan keraguan orang ramai dan LHDN harus menjelaskan perkara ini supaya tidak disalah anggap," terang beliau.

PERKASA minta KDN siasat isu C4, Kalimullah

(Berita Harian) - Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) diminta menyiasat berhubung artikel yang ditulis Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan mengenai bahan letupan C4 ketika beliau menerajui The New Straits Times Press Berhad (NSTP).

Presiden Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (PERKASA), Datuk Ibrahim Ali berkata, Ahli Dewan Tertinggi pertubuhan itu, Mohd Zahid Md Arip sebelum ini sudah meminta Kalimullah supaya menjelaskan mengenai artikelnya itu.

Artikel mengenai bahan letupan C4 ini amat serius..., maka kita meminta KDN supaya segera menyiasat mengenai perkara ini, katanya pada sidang media selepas menghadiri majlis perasmian PERKASA peringkat Parlimen Wilayah Persekutuan di sini, semalam.

Kelmarin, sebuah akhbar berbahasa Melayu memetik temu bual Mohd Zahid bersama TV3 yang disiarkan menerusi Buletin Utama Sabtu lalu, yang meminta Kalimullah menjelaskan kaitannya dalam plot menjatuhkan Datuk Seri Najib Razak ketika menyandang jawatan Timbalan Perdana Menteri dan Menteri Pertahanan.

Dalam temu bual berkenaan, beliau mendakwa, Kalimullah dipercayai mempunyai kaitan dengan plot itu dan turut mendakwa, Kalimullah menyiarkan artikel tidak tepat ketika menerajui NSTP mengenai bahan letupan C4 yang digunakan dalam kes pembunuhan model warga Mongolia, Altantuya Shaariibuu pada 2006.

Dalam artikel itu, C4 ini kononnya hanya dimiliki oleh Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM) dan perlu kelulusan tertinggi Kementerian Pertahanan.

Berita ini tidak tepat kerana kita tahu bahan letupan ini juga ada di semua depot senjata Polis Diraja Malaysia dan penggunaannya tidak memerlukan kelulusan tertinggi.

Jika Kalimullah tidak mahu bertanggungjawab, tidak mahu menjawab, dan berdiam diri, beliau jangan marahkan saya. Seluruh rakyat percaya beliau salah seorang yang merancang plot untuk menjatuhkan Najib ketika itu dan agenda itu berterusan sehingga sekarang, dakwa Mohd Zahid seperti disiarkan dalam Buletin Utama itu.

Sacked MIC man to head towards opposition?

By G Vinod - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Sacked MIC central committee member KP Samy will decide in one month's time the course of his political future.

As it stands, he has an offer from an unnamed opposition party to join them as well as the option of setting up his own NGO to continue with his intention to help the Indian community.

“I'm still mulling several avenues to continue with my political struggle, be it through an opposition party or setting up my own NGO to assist the Indian community in Klang,”said Samy in a press conference today.

He was sacked by MIC president S Samy Vellu on May 24 for allegedly tarnishing the party. His appeal for reinstatement was dismissed by the party's CWC on July 22.

Samy, a known critic of Samy Vellu, has continously raised the issue of the president sitting on the post for a long time. Samy is also a loyalist of Samy Vellu's arch rival and former deputy president S Subramaniam.

When asked today as to the identity of the opposition party which had offered to take him in, Samy said it was not the time to reveal the identity of the party.

“I do not wish to reveal the name yet, as I'm still undecided,”said Samy. “I will decide within a month on what's my next step going to be.

“However let me reiterate that no matter where I go, I do not wish to have any position of power as I'm only interested in serving the community.”

He also added that his 4,000 supporters are eagerly awaiting for his next move, be it in the opposition party or through his NGO.

Selfish Murugiah

On another matter, Samy also took a swipe at Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department T Murugiah for joining MIC, claiming that the former PPP man had put his interest above that of his supporters.

“A real leader will put his people's interest before himself. Here we have the leader entering the party first, leaving his supporters in a lurch over their fate,” said Samy.

Murugiah joined MIC last week after being partyless for more than a year. He was sacked by PPP for tarnishing the party's image in May 2009.

Samy also dismissed Murugiah's claim of having 210,000 supporters, who have yet to join MIC.

“I challenge him to recruit a minimum of 5,000 people for MIC from major cities in Malaysia.”

“I also challenge party president Samy Vellu to set up an additional 2,000 branches to accommodate Murugiah's supporters,” said Samy.

Samy also did not hide his anger with the manner MIC discarded veteran grassroots leaders like himself but at the same time accepting people like Murugiah who had caused a split in his old party.

“Here is a person who went against his party (PPP) president, took the president to court and yet he is accepted into MIC but people like me who had slogged for the party for 38 years have been sidelined,” he said bitterly.

Keris-armed Orang Asli ready to battle for land rights

By Rahmah Ghazali and Hisyam Salleh - Free Malaysia Today

FMT EXCLUSIVE OLAK LEMPIT: The Orang Asli are prepared to unsheathe their keris to defend their land and rights from “invaders” as a desperate act of resistance.

If they don't fight, they fear they have to answer to their angry ancestors in the hereafter.

However, these humble and unassuming indigenous people prefer not to resort to violence. Instead, they want to battle the Selangor government in court for failing to protect them from the encroaching outsiders who have gobbled up their ancestral land.

They want to take the Selangor government to court next month for failing to act on their behalf against the injustice that had been perpetrated on them since 1990.

Dewi Malam, a Tok Batin representative from Kampung Orang Asli in Pulau Kempas, said the community has lost 17,500 acres of land out of 17,900 acres given them by the fourth Selangor Sultan Abdul Samad more than a century ago.

The land was finally gazetted to them in 1927.

Based on a copy from the National Archive, Dewi said the gazetted land borders ELITE highway all the way down to Kampung Kubang Beras and reaches the border of Pekan Sungai Manggis. It then goes up to Teluk Panglima Garang until Jalan Kebun on the east side of the district.

However, over the years, the land has shrunk because of encroachments by Tenaga Nasional Bhd, ELITE highway, state-owned Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd and a contractor LBS Bina Group Sdn Bhd.

And all these invaders, too, cannot escape from facing court scrutiny, said Dewi, 49.

“We are not here to discuss with any of them. We are here to bring the matter to court. That is the only option left because we no longer have faith in the current (Selangor government) leadership.

“We want to fight this in court and let the judge decide our fate,” he told FMT in an exclusive interview at his village here.

He said the legal action against the current state government and other responsible parties would be the first step towards initiating a similar move against the federal government and the previous state administration.

“We want to take one step at a time. First, we will take action against the things that are happening right under our nose. Later, we will look at the bigger picture,” he said.

Royal command to 'kill'

Dewi recalled that the late Sultan Abdul Samad had passed on a “sacred” keris to the Orang Asli community in the area for them to use if their land was invaded.

The keris is believed to be more than 100 years old.

“The Sultan said if there are people who invaded our land, we could use the keris to fight and kill them.

“But we are not like that. Although we are desperate, we will never use violence,” said Dewi, adding that he could bring the keris to court as evidence.

“We are still holding on to this artefact. This was what was given to us to defend ourselves. We will bring it to court if the situation persists.

“We want to show that the late sultan was concerned about us and our rights,” he said.

The future may look bleak for them but they are determined to stand their ground.

“It would be a great loss if our rights were not given back to us... we wouldn’t have anywhere to live if we don’t get what we deserve,” Dewi said.

He, however, said it is not the money they are seeking if the court rules in their favour. More precious to them is their dignity and their rights

“We don’t want the money, we just want our dignity and land back. I am worried that if we do not fight for it now, our ancestors in the hereafter will question us.

“We better get back the land rather than being questioned by them,” he said.

'Umno baiting PAS to destroy Pakatan'

By Fazy Sahir - Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Umno is attempting to create fissures in Pakatan Rakyat by baiting PAS on the issue of cooperation, said an academic.

“This is one of Umno’s political tricks. Umno knows that if PAS takes the bait, it will die in seats which the party won on non-Malay support like in Kedah,” Abdul Aziz Bari told FMT.

“In other words, Umno is using PAS to cripple Pakatan because Pakatan is dependent on PAS,” he added.

According to him, Umno was profiting from these political polemics compared to PAS which is still obsessed with its “musuh dalam selimut” (enemy within) thinking.

Abdul Aziz said that Umno was using this to distract the people from the issues at hand, economy and corruption, which Pakatan is constantly raising.

He pointed out that it would be difficult for cooperation between the two parties to materialise because PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat was against it.

But from Umno's perspective, this issue was beneficial to them.

"This issue is capable of switching public attention away from the economy and corruption which are important to Pakatan. It’s worked well for Umno.

“Say what you want but Umno has won; just watching PAS scrambling to look for the enemy within says much,” added the International Islamic University law lecturer.

Abdul Aziz also agreed with PAS' Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad that those who had met with Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria should be sacked from the party.

“I think it is stupid if PAS follows Umno and I agree with Khalid that the leaders who met with Harussani should be sacked. These leaders have clearly gone against party interests,” he said.

Harussani, who offered himself as a mediator to the PAS-Umno unity talks, said several PAS and Umno leaders met him to discuss the issues and asked his views on how to unify the two rivals.

’Cooperation could reduce differences’

Meanwhile, Transparency International (Malaysia) president Ramon Navaratnam said cooperation between the two parties could work if the aim was to improve unity among communities in the country.

“Any form of cooperation between political parties is always good but the aim must be to enhance existing unity. Let’s just hope that this is not a political trick.

“If everyone is supportive of a one community, irrespective of race and religion, then such cooperation would be fruitful. It would also reduce the bickering between the two parties.” he said.

Navaratnam warned however that cooperation cannot just tout Malays and Islam because then it would have negative implications on other parties and the Barisan Nasional concept.

'Al-Qaeda kills French hostage'

The 78-year-old French engineer Michel Germaneau was kidnapped in April in Niger [AFP]

Al-Qaeda in North Africa says it has killed French engineer Michel Germaneau, who was abducted in Niger in April.
In an audio statement broadcast by Al Jazeera on Sunday, the head of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said his group killed the Frenchman on Saturday in response to a raid by France and Mauritania against the group.
"[French President Nicolas] Sarkozy was unable to free his compatriot through this failed operation but he definitely opened one of the gates of hell on himself, his people and his nation," the man, identified as AQIM leader Abu Musab Abdul-Wadud, said.
"As a quick response to the despicable French act, we confirm that we have killed hostage Germaneau in revenge for our six brothers who were killed in the treacherous operation," the voice in the tape, which resembled that of other recordings attributed to Abdul-Wadud, said.
The French presidency in Paris said it had received "no confirmation" of the killing of Germaneau, and was trying to verify the claim.
Sarkozy called a crisis meeting of his defence and security advisers for Monday.

Cross-border raid
Mauritanian troops, backed by French special forces, launched the cross-border raid against an AQIM base in Mali on Thursday and continued the assault for several days.
The raid into Mali was a sign of an escalating European and African response to the armed group.
Mauritanian officials have said six fighters were initially killed and a seventh later died of wounds.
   
The military operation appeared to anger Mali, which was not involved, and Spain, which also has hostages held by another al-Qaeda faction in the region.
Paris has indicated that both those countries were informed in advance.

Germaneau was kidnapped in northern Niger on April 19 and the next month his abductors issued a photograph of him as well as a taped message in which he appealled to Sarkozy to work for his release.
He said he suffered from a serious heart illness and had no more medication and that he was struggling with the heat.
Germaneau's Algerian driver, who was also abducted, was later released. He said the Frenchman was being held in a desert zone in Mali.
On July 11, AQIM gave France a 15-day deadline to help secure the release of its members in the region, warning that Germaneau would be killed if Paris failed to comply.
Raid criticised

Current and former security officials in Algeria, which has the most experience with AQIM because it grew from a group that originated there, had warned that the raid could put the French hostage in danger and criticised French involvement.
   
One Algerian security official said the operation would help the fighters recruit more followers by allowing them to cast their campaign as a battle against Western "infidels" and not just fellow Muslims.
"The failure will be used by the extremists to spread their anti-Western propaganda," the security official, who did not want to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media, told the Reuters news agency.
A former Algerian security official said: "France failed to release its hostage. It failed to eliminate Abu Zeid....
"It angered the terrorist group, which will now either demand a ransom or kill the hostage if it has not done it already."
AQIM killed British captive Edwin Dyer last year after Britain refused to give in to its demands.
  
Last April, French troops attacked pirates who seized a yacht off the coast of Somalia. One hostage died and four were freed.

Muslims party on despite religious crackdown

By Beh Lih Yi - Free Malaysia Today

FEATURE KUALA LUMPUR: Dusk has fallen and the party is just beginning for 29-year-old Asyikin, one of the many young Malays who hang out in Kuala Lumpur's vibrant Bukit Bintang nightlife district.

A morality crackdown has seen Malaysian Islamic authorities hand out caning and jail sentences for illicit drinking and sex, and launch raids on homes and clubs in the glare of media flashlights.

But for Asyikin, a petite and attractive business executive dressed in a knee-length skirt and strappy high heels, the campaign hasn't dampened her party mood.

"I couldn't care less, I'm partying. Religion to me is a personal thing," she says as she sips a glass of whisky and greets other regulars at the bars and restaurants that line the narrow streets.

Malays, who make up 60% of the population, are forbidden to have sex out of wedlock or drink alcohol under the syairah legal system which runs in parallel to the civil courts in Malaysia.

In an unprecedented case that grabbed world headlines last year, Muslim model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 33, was sentenced to six lashes of the cane for drinking beer.

Kartika's sentence was commuted to community service after an uproar from rights groups, but three other women were quietly caned under Islamic laws in February for having sex out of wedlock.

Offspring of the nation's elite

Despite the highly publicised cases, every weekend Kuala Lumpur's top clubs are packed with fashionably dressed youngsters including Muslim Malays -- many offspring of the nation's elite -- socialising and drinking openly.

"I'm a bit more wary after all these cases but it doesn't really affect my mood to go out and party," says Muaz Omar, a civil servant who goes to pubs with friends to watch live band performances.

"People who drink still do go out because even private parties at home are subjected to raids, there is no longer a safe haven," says the 35-year-old, who adds that he does not drink himself.

"The religious authorities should not be a moral police. In religion, if it's a private matter, then it should be a private thing. There must be a rethinking of the way they act."

The crackdown has fuelled debate over rising "Islamisation" of the multi-ethnic nation, and rights groups have urged religious authorities to stop acting as morality police.

"We don't agree with the way they go on, Islam is not about snooping around catching people committing sin," says Ratna Osman, legal manager from leading civil society group Sisters In Islam (SIS).

Ratna blasted the raids as a form of rights violation and an intrusion into people's privacy.

"Unless that person is a drunkard and started going around committing crime or causing accidents, then yes, you can punish them because they endanger people and their own life," she says.

"But if the person commits a sin in a private domain, then it is between him and God. If as a Muslim, you feel compelled to tell him, it should be done in a compassionate way or to educate them."

'Drinking is a big sin'

Religious authorities defend their actions, saying they are merely carrying out their duty to ensure fellow Muslims stay away from sin.

"We don't accept any behaviour that is not condoned by Islam," Che Mat Che Ali, the head of the Islamic affairs department in Kuala Lumpur, said.

"Drinking is a big sin. If you are drunk, you are not in the right state of mind, you yourself will suffer and others may suffer too."

"It's not just something between the person and God, we have a duty to advise them."

The department has rounded up nearly 500 individuals in Kuala Lumpur so far this year for offences including drinking and "khalwat", or "close proximity" which bars Muslims from being alone with a member of the opposite sex.

Ratna warns that if the crackdown continues it will hurt Malaysia's image as a moderate and progressive Muslim nation.

"The outside world looks at us as a country which is leaning towards the Talibanisation of the Muslim community in Malaysia," she says.

But many Malays are unmoved by the ideological debate.

"If you ask me whether I am afraid to hang out with my friends like this after all these cases, the answer is no," says Asyikin, who like many of Malaysia's most privileged youngsters went to university abroad -- in Britain.

"It's a choice of lifestyle. Some people, they really follow the book (religious teachings) and for some, you are born a Muslim, you can't get out of it," she says as she clinks glasses with a friend.

- AFP

That forbidden fruit called Ibrahim Ali

By Stephanie Sta Maria - Free Malaysia Today

FMT EXCLUSIVE KUALA LUMPUR: Biblically, the term "Adam's Apple" is derived from Adam having eaten the forbidden fruit. But now Ibrahim Ali has given this a political twist.

The Perkasa boss has likened himself to the protusion in the throat, but that of politicians. He is something which they cannot swallow or spit out.

In an exclusive interview with FMT, the vocal politician denies dancing to Umno's tune and talks about his love-hate relationship with former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He also touches on how Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's ears turn red hot when given a Perkasa lashing.

The right-wing Malay movement has become a household name within a short span of time after courting a string of controversies.

Some have described it as an Umno tool while there are those who claim that the movement serves as a mouthpiece for Mahathir.

But Ibrahim finds such tags purely offensive.

He insists that Perkasa is a non-partisan organisation, dedicated to protecting the Federal Constitution and the special privileges accorded to the Bumiputera.

The independent Pasir Mas MP also pointed out that Perkasa has criticised the government and its policies, incurring the wrath of Umno leaders.

At one point, he said, Perkasa was even considered “unfriendly” by those in Umno.

“When we criticise the opposition or other NGOs, we are branded as an Umno tool. But when we criticise the government, no one recognises us as being independent,” he lamented.

Ibrahim also scoffed at the perception by certain quarters that a good and independent NGO is one that acts as a permanent thorn in the government's side.

“That is a wrong perception. An independent NGO is one that is friendly to all parties, critical of policies and outspoken on issues with which it disagrees.

“But as far as the government is concerned, we still need to engage it so that we can put across our demands and opinions,” he said.

However, he reiterated that such a stand does not make Perkasa beholden to Umno.

“Look, even (Minister in the Prime Minister's Department) Nazri Abdul Aziz and (Umno Youth chief) Khairy Jamaluddin have openly said that Umno doesn't support Perkasa.

“We take these statements positively because it underscores the fact that we are not being used by anyone,” he said.

'I am not Dr M's mouthpiece'

While Umno constantly attempts to steer clear of Perkasa, Mahathir, however, has not done the same.

Apart from officiating at Perkasa's inaugural general assembly, the octogenarian also credited the movement for roping in Malay votes for Barisan Nasional during the recent Hulu Selangor by-election.

This has fuelled suspicion that there is more than what meets the eye in terms of the ties between Mahathir and Perkasa.

However, Ibrahim stressed that the buck stops at having respect for Mahathir.

“I am not his mouthpice. I have never practised patronage. He (Mahathir) is a great man and I respect him but I have also criticised him. Our relationship is a love-hate one.

“The difference between Mahathir and the others is that he accepts criticism gracefully. There is no element of revenge. This is what sets him apart from others,” he said.

Ibrahim also recounted his relationship with Anwar, when he was deputy premier, Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and the late former deputy premier Ghafar Baba.

He explained that he was favoured by all those leaders until he started speaking his mind, which at times entailed criticising them.

“These are the people who trained us before. They kept saying 'we are a democractic party', 'we want the youth to be more open-minded' and 'we're prepared to be criticised'. But when we criticise, they balk and label us as 'troublemakers'.

“Take, Anwar. I was close to him for many years and he would talk about being open to criticism. But when he was on the receiving end of mine, his ears would burn!” he said.

“Respecting and accepting leaders is one thing but if criticism is due then it has to be dealt. I don't believe that your friendship with a leader requires you to support him through right and wrong. And this belief is the stumbling block to my political career,” he added.

Tomorrow: Ibrahim on Perkasa' future plans and on the role of the new media

For Chua, work comes first

By Teoh El Sen - Free Malaysia Today

FMT EXCLUSIVE KUALA LUMPUR: While still haunted by allegations of nepotism, new kid on the block Chua Tee Yong -- son of MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek -- has decided to follow in his father's footsteps and ignore his critics.

The 33-year-old Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, the youngest deputy minister in the current line-up, told FMT that he was "not too bothered" by all the talk.

Chua's current priority is work, he said, which he described as "hectic" so far.

In the second and last of FMT's two-part interview with Chua, the first-term Labis MP tells us more about his recent appointment and what he thought about MCA's chances in the next general election.

Noticeably reluctant to talk about speculations on his appointment and also on second-term Gelang Patah MP Tan Ah Eng's anger at being allegedly sidelined for his post, Chua instead chose to dwell on his ministry's problems and successes.

Tan was the other name submitted by Dr Chua to the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for the Cabinet post. She was, understandably, upset as she is currently the only one among all the 15 MCA MPs who has never held a government post.

Speaking on MCA and the next general election, Chua said in the current political scenario there was no such thing as a safe seat anymore and admitted that similar to the Pakatan Rakyat, MCA had done its fair share of good, as well as bad.

Chua, who was appointed to the MCA central committee in November last year and presidential council in April, said with his Cabinet appointment, he was still "managing by" and indicated that he had no immediate ambitions for a higher MCA post.

Although he never directly mentioned his father in the interview, Chua did show support for the new leadership, which he said was trying its best to reunite party members and, more importantly, gaining back the support of the rakyat.

Here are excepts of the interview:

FMT: On to politics and MCA, people say that you are not qualified enough or too young for the deputy minister's job. What do you think about such perception and does that affect your performance?

Chua Tee Yong: I think there is no need to reply to that; I think in life you don't have to reply to every accusation that is hurled at you. Because then you would be wasting or investing your time in just answering them.

And some people say your father's position helped you get here. And your appointment was based on "nepotism" or "cronyism" rather than merit. How do you respond?

Some believe in my ability and some are congratulating me. I believe there would be a range of responses. I must thank the prime minister for trusting my ability and giving me confidence. I think I will just concentrate on doing my work and not be worried about what people say, because in politics there are always varied opinions of any decisions that we make anyway. So I am not too bothered.

How about (Gelang Patah MP) Tan Ah Eng; people say she was more senior and deserved the post more than you?

I think I do not need to go into her case as she has already said what she has to say. That's it. I don't have to say anything on that.

So far, how has your appointment been?

With my appointment as deputy minister, I would like to thank my constituents. Without their support the past two years, (things) would not have been easy.

In any constituency, the local people play a role to help you to reach out to a wider group of people. I would also thank the MCA and the prime minister for their support. Since I've been appointed, it has been hectic.

In layman's language, can you tell us about what your ministry does?

The Ministry of Agriculture is supposed to provide the services and funds necessary to ensure that we have a certain level of production of food, livestock, and fisheries to sustain the demand and consumption of our country. But, of course, this is ultimately what we hope for, but to attain self-sufficiency is not as easy as it is hoped.

What is your scope of duty in your capacity as deputy minister?

I'm not given a specific task. But the most important thing is to look at where the issues are to help out the rakyat.

How do you feel about your current post in agriculture, do you like the ministry you are in? Do you think you were made for this or do you aspire or think you would be better utilised elsewhere?

I think it's okay... the post I'm having. The most important thing in any post is we need to take the trouble to know it -- to have briefings and dialogues and to go to the ground to understand the issues and try to resolve them.

In any ministry, at the end of the day we are trying to help the rakyat.

You cannot say that if you are trained as an accountant, you have to be in the finance ministry. Likewise, I don't think anyone who study a certain profession must work in the profession they are supposed to be in. I know of farmers who are doctors, engineers and accountants. I believe my experience as an internal and external auditor does help, because with that (background), I would be able to understand issues and deal with management.

Does your duties overlap with the minister's?

We have to maintain contact at all times. We also have our weekly post-Cabinet meetings which is also a good venue for us to see what are the issues being looked at by himself and me. The ministry is big enough to avoid overlapping (laugh). There is certainly a lot of things we need to look at. Certainly there are things we need to improve, things we need to put more effort into to ensure the industry grows -- especially industries we are promoting such as ornamental fish, birds' nest and certain fruits we are looking at.

What are the main challenges of handling this ministry?

Obviously there would be challenges, as we all know. One problem we always have is that we don't own most of the land as it is confined to the state. Every state regardless of whether it is under Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, has its own priorities. And usually, development is the key as revenue is gauged by how much they (the state) can get by in terms of land tax, assessment and things like that.

In that sense, can we say that agriculture is slowly being pushed aside here?

I think this is happening in every country, not only in Malaysia. Even in China. In Singapore, there is virtually no agriculture. And in Japan and Taiwan, you have to specifially allocate places for planting.

You mentioned that there are some things you are proud of?

The things the ministry would be proud is the fact that despite whatever inefficiency, we have tried to and have actually successfully maintained a 70% self-sufficiency.

Let's take ornamental fish: the value of our exports here has risen from RM106 million in 2004 to more than RM748 million in 2008. We are trying to increase it even higher. We mainly export Arowana, gold fish, and so on to Europe and the US. But we are not a big player, as the whole industry is worth RM27 billion.

Moving back to MCA, how well do you think the party will do in next general election? What is its position now?

Everyone hopes for a good win in any general election; we don't go in hoping to lose big. We can't tell at this moment whether the next general election will be positive or otherwise. But we are trying our best to reach out to the people and voters. Of course, there will always be issues; likewise, if you look at Selangor, in the two years (Pakatan Rakyat has been governing it), it is already handling some "time bombs". But I do admit that the BN, throughout its 50 years (in power), had had its fair share of good things and also weaknesses.

And how do you see MCA in Johor: is it losing its base?

I think in the current political scenario, there's no such thing as a safe seat. Every election or by-election would require the efforts of the candidate and the machinery to run it smoothly. It is no longer the scenario where you put a 'stone' there and it would definitely win.

How do you see MCA in the future with DAP now in the lead getting in new voters?

To be fair, it's not just DAP but PKR and PAS are also doing this (getting new voters). At the division level, we are already recruiting new voters and members are also starting to work. MCA was in an internal turmoil for awhile, and with the new leadership, more emphasis is being placed to reunite members and do the necessary.

There are now more presidential council meetings to discuss more issues, and we do make a stand on certain topics regardless of whether people agree or disagree. There is also the effort to look at the 10th Malaysia Plan to structure it to what the Chinese community hopes for. We are also having more dialogues with NGOs, associations and residents to get a better feel and reach out to the voters.

How about yourself? In your position, would you contest any posts in the next party election?

Ever since I became an MP, my focus was to acclimatise and get to know my job well and get to know my constituency and touch base with the people in my constituency. But after I was appointed (as deputy minister), I had a whole new ball game to look at in terms of the ministry and its functions and the problems faced.

So I don't really think about that (contesting for party posts) at this moment. But obviously, politicians harbour ambitions, hopes and aspirations, but I'm currently just concentrating (on my current job) and managing it by.

There are so many associations wanting to have dialogue with us. But so far it is still manageable and this is also due to the support of my family.

I would also like to thank my wife for this. Because it's not beeen easy in the sense that there won't be much time for them.

Ravenous Umno is Borneo's bane

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: An Umno on the 'death-bed' as described by PAS is asserting itself in Sabah and muscling its way into Sarawak.

Bellowing in the land below the wind is a rising rebellion that Umno president and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is having trouble quelling. The reason according to a source, is partition politics and money.

Within the Umno fraternity in Sabah, alignments are consolidating itself and loyalties are being negotiated, as Umno-BN looks to the Borneo states as its saviour, post the 13th general election.

Despite Najib’s recent order to grassroots leaders in Sabah to focus on the needs of the people, the taunts and behind the scenes political scheming continues.

What is now public knowledge is that at least two divisions in Sabah Umno have abandoned 'old values' and decorum.

They have demanded that long-standing BN component member Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) return its seats in Merotai, Tawau and Tanjung Kapor in Kudat to Umno.

What is simmering and likely to erupt soon are similar calls from other divisions aligned to Chief Minister Musa Aman, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin.

Will Najib be able to contain billionaire Musa and his powerful Kuala Lumpur connections?

Can Musa’s billions fuel a landslide victory for Umno in Sabah in the 13th general election or will the burgeoning opposition which is hammering away at the state government for squandering the state’s wealth and sovereignty, and plunging its citizens into the abyss of poverty, succeed in denying them a majority?

So many questions and so little time, if rumours are anything to go by.

Pundits are betting that Najib will call for polls as early as October or November which would apparently work well for Sarawak, where Chief Minister Taib Mahmood is battling his own set of ghosts.

Apart from the fact that ‘everyone in and outside of BN’ wants him out, his latest headache is stemming from recent disclosures on the blogsphere of his immense wealth abroad.

This coupled with his commonly known disdain for natives, the rampant rape of Sarawak’s rainforest by government sanctioned logging concessionaires and the state’s disregard for native customary rights land could dent his support.

BN’s popularity at 64 percent

Unlike Sabah where Muslims are now majority, allegedly as a result of legalising illegals under Project IC aka Project Dr M, Sarawak’s demographics are a little more challenging for BN.

Just under 50 percent of Sarawak’s population are native Dayaks, with some 26 percent Chinese and the balance Malay Melanaus.

A recent Merdeka Centre survey put BN’s popularity at 64 percent but whether this will translate on the ground is something else.

Since its loss to DAP in the Sibu by-election in May 2010, Sarawak BN’s oldest partner Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) had openly declared that the next state election would be a great challenge and expects to see some seats fall.

In the 2006 state polls, 71 seats were up for grabs. The opposition won seven state seats and one parliamentary seat (excluding Sibu).

This time round it is aiming to, at the least, deny BN its two-thirds majority. But they may be hard-pressed to achieve this given Sarawak’s vast terrain.

Confident state ministers declared that the opposition cannot touch their rural vote bank and have rubbished warnings by mushrooming agrarian political parties with “they are no threats.”

But wise man Taib is not taking any chances this time, not with an empowered opposition taking pains to detail his impriopriety.

For the first time Taib was lukewarm at a recent suggestion by Pasir Gudang Umno division to set up a Sarawak Umno branch for the 40,000-odd Sarawakians living and working in Johor.

In an unprecedented move Taib, whose Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) is the backbone of Sarawak BN, said Umno and PBB shared the same policy under the BN banner.

Strangely enough Taib, who had until now fobbed off Umno’s persistent attempts at moving into Sarawak said: “Why not, if it is for better management.

“After all, PBB is a member of BN and quite close to Umno in most of its activities because we happen to fight for the same group of people.”

For the record Najib had, during PBB's March convention, openly said that Umno will not move into Sarawak so long as PBB is relevant, but then again he was referring to Umno walking into Sarawak through the front door.

“But we all know Umno’s speciality, its reverse takeovers…like in Perak. There is also the issue of who is doing the muscling, it's not Najib's man!” said the source.

Protest against one of Asia's greatest kleptocrats

By Hilary Chiew

COMMENT One of Asia’s greatest kleptocrats and single-handedly one of the most destructive forces against the environment, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, East Malaysia, Abdul Taib Mahmud, has been invited to present the opening address at the Said Business School’s inaugural Islamic Branding and Marketing Forum, July 26 (Monday).


During his 30 years of iron grip over Sarawak, Taib Mahmud has systematically plundered a country once rich in natural resources, oil and timber. He and his family are now multi-billionaires, while indigenous tribes resort to the law courts to reclaim their ancestral lands.

The Penan are struggling to keep his loggers out of the last corners of their jungle, one of the most precious remaining areas of biodiversity left on earth. A recent report has revealed shocking evidence of their treatment, including the systematic rape and abuse of their women by logging workers, an outrage that Taib has refused to acknowledge or investigate.

Taib has destroyed all but 3% of the Borneo jungle in the state, which had been handed all but intact into the care of his uncle, his predecessor. Habitats which are home to the Orang Utan, proboscis monkey, a plethora of unique plant and animal life have been destroyed due to his rapacious and unsustainable plunder of the jungle. Oil palm plantations span for miles and miles where ancient trees once stood before they were cut down. One would think that proceeds from exports would have been ploughed back into the state but the people of Sarawak remain some of the poorest in Malaysia.

Taib’s “business interests” are notorious. The whole state of Sarawak has been illegally absorbed into the possession of his cronies and family members through “privatisation” and the handing out of palm oil and timber concessions, via arbitrary state acquisitions of native lands. He now runs the state as a family business, maintained through systematic electoral intimidation and fraud.

Taib has laughably advertised his UK visit as a promotion of “green development” in Sarawak and will be focusing on the promotion of Islamic and halal products, his latest venture, during his visit to Oxford. But, we ask – just how “halal” are products produced under the auspices of this man ?

It is a standing disgrace that Oxford University should be extending a hand of welcome and supporting the status of such a man. His wealth and ability to endow is not in doubt; however, there is no possible basis of legitimacy for such wealth, as can only be plainly apparent to all his hosts.

The people of Sarawak are struggling to rid themselves of this man and his parasitical family and to preserve their unique environmental heritage from his further “business ventures”.

Please lend your support to their struggle and to the campaign to preserve what is left of the Book of Life and the Borneo Jungle’s natural wealth. Defend the rights of the indigenous tribes that rely on the rainforest for their livelihoods. Demand that Taib explain the source of money that has enabled him to purchase multi-million pound properties in Canada, US and the UK.

Be there to receive him and protest at the disgraceful invitation that has been extended to him by Oxford University and the Said Business School.

Nalla lodges report against Manjeet over beheading threat

By The Star

PETALING JAYA: Datuk S. Nallakaruppan has lodged a police report against lawyer Manjeet Singh Dhillon for allegedly threatening to behead Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s former aide Anuar Shaari.
Nallakaruppan, who was Anwar’s former tennis partner, alleged that Manjeet had uttered the threat during a telephone conversation with him. He lodged the report at the Brickfields police station on Saturday.

Nallakaruppan claimed Manjeet had called him at 8.22pm on Friday to get an explanation on a news report, which had quoted Anuar as saying that Manjeet had persuaded Nallakaruppan to meet Anwar.

“Manjeet scolded me and questioned who is Anuar to publicly expose the (alleged) attempt to persuade me. He threatened to behead Anuar and walk on the street,’’ claimed Nallakarupan.

Anuar, who is former PKR secretary-general, was quoted in Utusan Malaysia recently as saying that Manjeet had continuously persuaded and made offers to Nallakaruppan to rekindle his friendship with Anwar and to support him.

Nallakaruppan said he had declined Manjeet’s invitation to meet and rekindle ties with Anwar.

“Manjeet is unhappy with me and Anuar because he wants to keep it (the act of persuasion) a secret,’’ he said.

Nallakaruppan claimed Manjeet was upset when the “secret” was published in the media.

Manjeet is the legal counsel for private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, known as PI Bala, who is now on a self-imposed exile after releasing two contradictory statutory declarations on the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaaribuu.

When contacted, Manjeet expressed shock and dismissed Nallakaruppan’s allegations against him as “absolute rubbish.”

“I didn’t threaten to behead Anuar. This is getting ridiculous. Who am I to threaten small-time politicians like Anuar?

“I also didn’t threaten Nallakaruppan who is a dear friend of mine,” he added.

Manjeet, however, admitted that he did try to persuade Nallakaruppan to be friends again with Anwar.

“But it has nothing to do with any political tie-ups or hook-ups. I just wanted Anwar and Nalla to be friends again,” he added.

Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid confirmed Nallakaruppan had lodged a police report on the matter.

“We have forwarded the case to the Sentul district police headquarters as the alleged incident took place there,’’ he said yesterday.

Hisham’s doublespeak

By Gan Pei Ling | The Nut Graph
“We have allowed and encouraged the different communities, Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans, to develop and nurture their language, religion and cultural practices.”
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein declares at a conference in Kuala Lumpur that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government should be credited for allowing and promoting cultural diversity since Malaysia’s independence. Hishammuddin, who is also Umno vice-president, added that this was why Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia was so important. (Source: Embracing diversity our greatest challenge, says Hishammuddin, The Malaysian Insider, 19 July 2010)
“I am concerned that the court decision will make Muslims emotional and attract comments from all quarters. I wish to remind everyone that we are dealing with a very sensitive subject and we have to be very careful.”
Hishammuddin, announcing the government’s decision to appeal against a High Court ruling that assured the Herald Catholic weekly’s right to use the world “Allah” in their publication.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court declared on 31 Dec 2009 that the Home Ministry’s ban against Herald from using the word “Allah” was “illegal, null and void” as the term was not exclusive to Islam. Furthermore, the ministry had failed to substantiate its claims that Herald‘s use of the word would threaten national security.
The Home Ministry secured a stay against the judgment in January 2010, and the case is still pending an appeal in court. It was the BN government that in 1986 first banned the use of “Allah”, “solat”, “Kaabah” and “Baitullah” by non-Muslim communities, even though there is no Muslim copyright on these words. (Source: Ministry to file appeal against Allah ruling, The Star, 4 Jan 2010)
“They also had no intentions to raise racial or religious tensions by using the cow’s head as accused by certain groups lately.”
Hishammuddin, defending the cow-head protesters in a press conference in his office. In August 2009, around 50 Muslim protesters demonstrated against the relocation of a Hindu temple to a Muslim-majority area in Section 23, Shah Alam after Friday prayers during Ramadan. They stamped and spat on a cow’s head during the protest despite knowing that the cow is sacred in Hinduism.
Hishammuddin said he was “convinced”, after his meeting with the cow-head protesters, that they did not have any political motive. He also defended their actions by noting that it was not the first time animal heads had been used in a protest. Hishammuddin said that previously, a pig’s head had been wrapped in the Umno flag and placed at the Umno building. (Source: Temple protest: Various parties try to resolve issue, The Star, 2 Sept 2009)

Anwar Demands A-G Respond To RPK’s ‘Affair’ Allegations

From Malaysian Insider
By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyers have demanded that Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail respond to Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s claims of a female deputy public prosecutor being romantically involved with the lead witness in Anwar’s on-going Sodomy II trial.

Fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin had alleged in a blog posting recently that a female deputy public prosecutor, a junior member of the prosecution team in Anwar’s trial, is having an “affair” with lead witness Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Lead counsel for Anwar’s defence team Sankara Nair said that the Attorney-General or the prosecution team had yet to respond to Raja Petra’s allegations, stressing that if the matter were left unaddressed, it could affect the on-going trial proceedings which is set to continue this coming August 2.

“This will have serious implications in the trial, we want the Attorney-General to confirm or deny these allegations. The Attorney-General’s chambers has to be impartial and prove to do so in its dealings, even though Saiful is the complainant and the prosecution’s material witness,” Sankara told The Malaysian Insider this morning.

Sankara said that the defence team will be submitting a letter to the Attorney-General’s office today, demanding that the Attorney-General step in and provide answers to Raja Petra’s claims.

“We will be sending a letter to the Attorney-General’s office today. They should be getting it (the letter) in the afternoon,” said Sankara.

Sankara also said that they would have to wait for an “official response” from Abdul Gani before they can proceed with any further action.

But the prosecution team say that they are still undecided on whether the female deputy public prosecutor named by Raja Petra would be dropped when the case resumes next month.

Lead prosecutor for the case, Solicitor-General 2 Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden, stressed that any decisions on whether she would still be on the team would only be made when the trial resumes.

Mohd Yusof refused to disclose her status following Raja Petra’s allegations.

“I cannot tell you for now, I have not heard about these claims or allegations. But I will have to consult my team, and we will see on August 2 whether she will still be on the team,” Mohd Yusof told The Malaysian Insider last week.

But the senior prosecutor insisted that her role in the case was minimal, as she was “not officially” part of the team when the trial commenced.

Mohd Yusof was also at great pains to explain that she had only been brought in to assist with compiling data and taking notes of trial proceedings because another prosecutor left the team.

“To begin with, she was not in my team. She is not a permanent member of the team… she was only brought in to help with taking notes, compiling data, evidence.

“So I cannot say that she’s been dropped from the team, because she was well, not really part of the team, not like (DPPs) Noorin (Badaruddin), or Wong (Chiang Kiat), or myself. She was brought in to help out, but now we have at least three lawyers who can do the compiling, and sometimes Noorin also takes down notes.

“Besides this she (the implicated DPP) is a prosecutor, a lawyer. She also has other cases to handle. If we decide not to include her on the team next month, it’s because we can handle it without her… it’s because she too has other cases to manage,” said Mohd Yusof.

Yusof has refused to comment on whether there was any truth to Raja Petra’s allegations.

Anwar is being prosecuted by an eight men prosecution team comprising Mohd Yusof, Datuk Nordin Hassan, Mohamed Hanafiah Zakaria, Wong, Noorin, Mira Mirna Musa, Naidatul Athirah Azmad and Farah Azlina Latif.

Anwar, the 62-year-old PKR de facto leader, is charged with sodomising Saiful at Unit 11-5-1 of the Desa Damansara Condominium in Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara here between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.

The former deputy prime minister has denied the charge, describing it as “evil, frivolous lies by those in power” when the charge was read out to him. He is charged under section 377B of the Penal Code and can be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years’ jail and whipping upon conviction. The trial is taking place 18 months after Anwar was charged in court in August 2008.

Anwar was charged with sodomy and corruption in 1998 after he was sacked from the Cabinet and was later convicted and jailed for both offences. He was freed in September 2004 and resurrecting his own career by winning his old Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in a 2008 by-election.

He had earlier led the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, to a historic sweep of five states and 82 parliamentary seats in Election 2008.

Scrap the 10-yr-old Education Ministry circular restricting formation of non-Muslim religious societies in schools – against 1Malaysia and NEM to educate a critical and creative generation of Malaysians

The 10-year-old Education Ministry circular restricting the formation of non-Muslim religious societies in schools is the best example of Little Napoleons running riot in the civil service working against the national interests of educating a critical and creative generation of Malaysians and harnessing the multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural assets of plural Malaysia.

What is the use of boasting about Malaysia as a model of ethnic, cultural, religious and biological diversity and Malaysia’s rich and unique cultural heritage when restrictions continue to be in place affecting the formation of non-Muslim societies in schools?

The Cabinet on Wednesday should scrap the 10-year-old Education Ministry circular restricting the formation of non-Muslim religious societies in schools as it is against Prime Minister’s 1Malaysia slogan and policy and the New Economic Model objective to educate a critical, creative and innovative generation of Malaysians.

The Education Ministry circular dated 16th December 2000 stated that non-Muslim religious societies formed before 2000 need not have to be registered but remain as status quo. Those set up from 2000 onwards need approval by the registrar, which is the state education department director.

For ten years, the circular was used by Biro Tatanegara-trained Little Napoleons in the Education Ministry to discourage, hamper or downright disallow the formation of non-Muslim religious societies.

Why should there be a distinction between non-Muslim religious societies formed before 2000 and after – when it should be a positive factor to allow and encourage the formation of non-Muslim religious societies in schools under proper guidance and supervision?

The Cabinet should not only scrap the 10-year-old Education Ministry circular restricting the formation of non-Muslim religious societies in schools, but should call for up for review all government regulations and circulars which run contrary to the 1Malaysia policy enunciated by Najib as well as the other pillars of Najib’s National Transformation programme to transform Malaysia into a inclusive, sustainable high-income developed nation.

Nepali Government To Introduce Free-visa Regime To Attract More Tourists

KATHMANDU, July 26 (Bernama) -- If a proposal forwarded by the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) is endorsed by Nepali government, foreigners coming to the country will not need to pay visa fee, reports China's Xinhua news agency.

According to Monday's Republica report, in a bid to attract more foreign tourists to the country and make Nepal Tourism Year 2011 campaign a grand success, MoTCA has proposed the government to waive visa fee at least for the campaign period.

Nepal has set a target to welcoming more than one million foreign tourists in 2011. More than half a million foreign visitors had visited the country in 2009.

Laxman Bhattarai, spokesperson and joint secretary at MoTCA, said the proposal have been forwarded to Ministry of Finance to incorporate it in the budget for fiscal year 2010/11.

He informed the daily that the proposal to introduce free-visa regime was worked out by the Nepal Tourism Year 2011 National Coordination Committee.

At present, foreign visitors need to pay US$25 for visa for 15 days and US$40 for a month. But visitors from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries get visa for free.

MPPP’s slow response frustrates worried TBRA

Unlike the MPPP’s prompt, decisive action in the case of a RMAF hostel following a complaint from a neighbouring resident, the council appears slow to respond in another nearby project, despite repeated reminders from a residents group.
Frustrated, the Tanjung Bunga Residents Association has sent yet another email to the MPPP which it says will be its final message to the council. The group wants answers to the following questions regarding the Bolton Surin project on a steep hill-slope in Tanjung Bunga:
Yesterday, Sunday, 25 July 2010, the developer of Bolton Surin were at it again – working on so-called electrical and other construction work (which caused quite a din, by and by), when we believed that they are supposed not to be working on a rest day.
As such the questions that we have been putting to our MPPP are really relevant and require a simple answer. Can we please get an answer from our MPPP relating to our questions…  These questions are now long overdue (since June 2010) for answers…
i. Please advise us all at what time daily is the developer required to cease all work in the Bolton Surin project?
ii. Has Bolton Surin been given permission to work beyond the normal working hours?
iii. Has Bolton Surin been given permission to work on rest days and public holidays, thus disturbing the tranquility of the surrounding neighbourhood on such rest days and public holidays?
iv. Should the developer work beyond the permitted time or day, what is the penalty that will be imposed by Bolton Surin on the developer?
v. What is light work and what light work does the developer carry out when permission is given to do light work after the permitted daily hours and on rest days/public holidays?
vi. What are the machinery & tools allowed to be used during light work?
vii. Has MPPP officials advised our “blur” members of the Mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Majlis that the residents living all around the Bolton Surin project are NOT in favour and strongly oppose any application to extend work beyond the normal daily working hours?
viii. We have not yet received any response from (the) Engineering Dept of MPPP towards any of the questions posed and promised to be answered by (the MPPP head).
… In the above MPPP is not even able to make simple answers to areas that are within its purview/control despite repeated requests by members of the public via their association – TBRA. What more to view its actions….
Do also note that the rains & winds over the last few days have caused the sheet coverings of the Chee Seng hill-slopes/cliffs to fly apart, thus exposing many areas of the near 90-degree cliffs in the Bolton Surin project. Perhaps a reminder by your council to Bolton to recover them and to do it well is in order.
The residents association has also questioned the hoarding of the 1Tanjong project, which restricts access to state land.

PI Bala's lawyers issue challenge to critics

Israeli Islamic leader begins jail sentence for spitting on police

Sheikh Raed Salah is surrounded by supporters as he arrives at prison near Tel Aviv, Israel, on Sunday.
Sheikh Raed Salah is surrounded by supporters as he arrives at prison 
near Tel Aviv, Israel, on Sunday.
 
Jerusalem (CNN) -- The leader of the Islamic movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, begins a five-month jail sentence Sunday after being convicted of assault for spitting on a border police guard during a protest against Israel's construction near the Al-Aqsa mosque in 2007.

Islamic movement spokesman Zahi Injidat told CNN that followers were heading to the mosque Sunday in solidarity.

"We are going to show our support with Sheikh Raed Salah that the fight is for the Aqsa mosque and make the Israelis feel that there will be thousands of Salahs, not only one. The Israeli authorities will not bring us down," he said.

Injidat also described the ruling and charges against Salah as an "an unprecedented ruling."

A court in East Jerusalem reduced Salah's sentence from nine months to five months earlier this month and also acquitted him of incitement charges.

Salah was one of the passengers on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara flotilla boat trying to break Israel's blockade on May 31. Israeli troops raided the ship, killing 8 Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American dual citizen and injuring others. Nine Israeli navy officers were also injured during the operation.

Soi Lek says Guan Eng behaving like ‘opposition’

KLANG, July 25 — MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek today accused Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of behaving like he was still in the opposition for initiating the ongoing spat with a federal officer.

Dr Chua (picture) mocked Lim’s attitude and how he had chosen to handle the tiff, pointing out that the DAP secretary-general could have used a more civilised channel to voice his grievances against State Development Officer (SDO) Nik Ali Mat Yunus.

“Look at how Lim Guan Eng handled the issue with the SDO. From there, you can generally conclude that he (Lim) himself is not aware of his own role as an administrator,” he told reporters after opening the Selangor MCA convention at Centro here this afternoon.

He said that as the chief minister, Lim had the right and the responsibility to evaluate Nik Ali’s performance and come up with an official verdict through the state government.

“He can evaluate the SDO and make a decision during the state executive council meetings. Through that channel, he can present the state government’s views to the Chief Secretary to the Government,” said Dr Chua.

He added that the chief secretary would have “no choice” but to accept and respect the views of the state government.

“But by forwarding your views out in the open like that, the SDO would be forced into retaliating to defend himself.

“In the end, the issue does not get solved,” he said.

Dr Chua claimed that if the spat, which has now turned into a full-fledged war between the Penang state government and the federal civil service, failed to be settled, it would be the people who would suffer.

“He (Lim) still acts like he is from the opposition party although they are actually the ruling government in Penang,” he said.

The debacle between Lim and Nik Ali began when Pulau Betong assemblyman Muhamad Farid Saad alleged recently that illegal sand excavation was taking place at a plot in Kampung Kenanga, which had been earmarked for a government polytechnic.

Lim had responded to the allegation by saying that the state had not been able to probe the matter as Nik Ali was not co-operative.

He had also accused Nik Ali of refusing to respect the principles of accountability by answering queries on the Penang Botanical Garden, the illegal sand excavation at the Balik Pulau polytechnic and how federal projects were being carried out without approval from the local councils.

The accusation escalated into a verbal war between Nik Ali and Lim with the federal officer retaliating by calling Lim “insolent, uncivilised and a coward” at an Umno function.

Since then, other leaders including DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and even Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan have joined the fray, turning the spat into an all-out battle between the civil service and the DAP.

Mohd Sidek has so far accused Lim of being “excessive” in his remarks and has given his assurance that Nik Ali would not be reprimanded for criticising a chief minister.

Lim then retaliated by accusing Mohd Sidek of preferring to protect “little Napoleans” than defend the integrity and professionalism of the civil service.

Conman's victim: He destroyed my legal career

By Teoh El Sen - Free Malaysia Today

SUBANG JAYA: "I was used by him, I was one of his many victims... because of him, my career is totally destroyed.
"These were the words Teoh Ming, 46, who not only lost RM500,000 but was suspended from being a lawyer for two years and subsequently declared bankrupt last year.

She is now a single mother providing for her 11-year-old son through freelance jobs, and her predicament is because of one person, the elusive conman "Baladevan".

Teoh is the first victim to come forward and go on record following media reports on the 56-year-old "conman" who had allegedly swindled more than 40 local companies and individuals of more than RM7 million in the span of 10 years.

Baladevan's modus operandi was to claim close links with influential people, even government officials here and in India, and be able to obtain contracts for large-scale government projects.

Speaking at a press conference here, Teoh described Baladevan as "very well dressed" and a “very good speaker".

"He would splash money and buy us drinks and all that. We were taken by this, especially me. I was even used by him to convince others to wait for his projects. And like a stupid fool I did all that.

"He is so good I think he can even charm ten birds off a tree," she said.

Samy Vellu's name was used
Recounting her experience with the smooth-talking scam artist, Teoh said in 2003, a friend introduced her to Baladevan, who claimed that he was close to then works minister S Samy Vellu as his brother Mogana Devan was the private secretary to the minister.

Teonh said she felt more convinced after confirming the identity of Baladevan's brother at the Works Ministry office.

"He told us then that Samy Vellu wanted to help them earn some money and he (Samy Vellu) wanted some funds for the coming election.

“He said Samy Vellu told him that there would be some 'mark up' for some projects and the money from these 'mark-ups' would then go to both of them," she added.

Teoh said Baladevan told her to look for contractors for the roadworks and railway projects worth more than RM40 million.

"I found some contractors for him. They were usually convinced at first but when he asked for upfront money or 'commitment fees' to be paid to his people inside the Works Ministry in order to expedite the matter, they backed off," she said.

Teoh said she then decided to pump in the money herself - with help from friends and even money lenders - and "invested" a sum of RM650,000 with the promise of getting part of the commission from the would-be contractors.

That, however, never materialised and she lost almost RM500,000.

Second incident

Teoh said the second time around, Baladevan had contacted her in 2004 and told her that he had three other projects which were road upgrade and repair works along the Seremban to Senawang road; the Sungai Balang, Batu Pahat road; and the Lubok Cina, Malacca road.
"I then represented three contractors who were interested in each of the three projects. The three, who also met Mogana Devan at the Works Ministry, were required to deposit an amount in my firm at the time," said Teoh, adding that one company paid RM200,000 while the other two paid RM500,000.

However, Teoh said she had released the money to Baladevan after he told her he needed the money for the bill of quantities to be issued before a letter of award could be obtained.

"Because I still believed in him I released the money but I also got him to sign an undertaking to guarantee that he would refund the money if the letter of award was not issued," said Teoh.

However, there was no letter of award or contracts and Baladevan grew evasive and finally disappeared.

And one of the upset contractors Teoh was representing decided to lodge a complaint with the Bar Council and she was subsequently suspended from practicing.

"Thankfully, the two other contractors decided not to pursue legal action against me as they knew I was also a victim," she said.

In 2006, Teoh made two police reports against Baladevan but to date, the latter had not been arrested.

"The reason I am coming out now is because I don't want this to happen to anyone else. I have actually put this part of my past behind me but looking at how many others actually were his victims, I felt that I needed to do my part to put him behind bars for all this," she told FMT.

Polygamy makes for unhappy families: study

KUALA LUMPUR: Men in polygamous relationships find it difficult to meet the needs of all their wives and children, and the result is unhappy and cash-strapped families, according to a landmark Malaysian study.

Polygamy is legal for Muslims, who make up more than 60 percent of Malaysia's population, allowing Muslim men to take up to four wives.

But activists and women's groups say polygamy is cruel and has deviated from its original purpose in Islam, which was to protect widows and orphans.

A study by advocacy group Sisters in Islam (SIS) found that the majority of first wives and children in polygamous families were unhappy with the arrangement.

Husbands and junior wives gave a more positive response, according to the study which backed activists' views that first wives are often forgotten after a man creates a new family.

"The husbands are the most advantaged in terms of fulfilling his desire and satisfaction in life. He has access to more than one sexual partner every day or night while the wives take turn," the study said.

According to preliminary data, more than 90 percent of the 523 children in households interviewed vowed not to enter into polygamy themselves, and two-thirds of first wives were against the practice.

"Generally, it is due to the fact that their right to demand (time and money) from their husband has decreased because their father now has another family," SIS researcher Syarifatul Adibah Mohamad Jodi told AFP.

"Despite some women saying they are not happy in the marriage, they have to accept it and they are resigned to it. They are in a vulnerable position -- financially or emotionally," she said.

Husbands unhappy too

SIS estimates that up to five percent of marriages in Malaysia are polygamous, a figure that has risen as rules limiting multiple marriage have been watered down over the years.

However, husbands were not entirely happy with the situation, either. Many of those surveyed said they found it "most difficult to fulfill the needs of the first wife and their children".

The study, which involved extensive interviews with 1,235 individuals from polygamous families, will be formally published next year.

SIS hopes it will trigger a change in legislation that allows the practice to flourish in Malaysia.

Adibah said that reforms should include ensuring that first wives are not cut off financially and that their consent is required before their husband enters into a second marriage.

Critics of polygamy say that such laws, where they exist, are frequently ignored in Malaysia.

Polygamy is illegal for non-Muslims in the multi-ethnic nation, which is also home to large ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.

- AFP

What we should focus on


Some lament about the FDI. Some scream about Malay Supremacy (Ketuanan Melayu). Others worry about what T-shirt or jersey we wear. There are those who would like all Malays absorbed into just one political party for the sake of ‘Malay unity’ -- and so on and so forth. But all these people overlook one important thing -- and that is the quality of life in Malaysia and what your Ringgit can buy.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

The average price of houses in the UK is roughly RM700,000. This is based on the nation-wide house prices although in some instances you could be looking at millions depending on locality and type of house. But a ‘working man’ would need to fork out RM500,000-600,000 for a decent British home, unless you live in London.

The minimum wage is now about RM30 per hour (based on a rate of exchange of 5:1). This will be going up in October. Yet the British complain that this minimum wage just can’t meet the cost of living.

In Malaysia there is no minimum wage. In spite of the campaign by the opposition and civil society movements since the 1990s, the government still refuses to set a minimum wage. Today, the minimum wage has to be at least RM1,800 per month to make it possible for Malaysians to live a decent life.

In the UK, the lower-rung income earners bring in about RM4,500-5,500 per month. A skilled worker earns about RM8,000-10,000 per month. The higher-income bracket earns about RM15,000-25,000 per month. Of course, with overtime thrown in, most hourly-waged employees can see an additional RM2,000-3,000 per month.

But what is the cost of living in the UK?

You would need to set aside about RM2,500 per month either for house rental or for your housing loan repayments, unless you are living in a council house. Your utilities and groceries would take away another RM2,500 per month, at the most. So about RM5,000 per month is gone just to survive. But if both husband and wife (or housemate/civil partner) work, then the cost sharing makes it very affordable (two can live cheaper than one).

Now compare this to Malaysia. Can we say the same for the Malaysian worker? A full cart of groceries in Malaysia will cost you about RM500-600. It costs only RM300-400 for a full cart of groceries in the UK. But the salaries in the UK are eight to ten times higher than in Malaysia.

The basic pay for a security guard in Malaysia is about RM800 per month. In the UK, the basic pay for a security guard is about RM8,000. The Malaysian security guard can’t survive on RM800 per month. The UK security guard needs only RM5,000 per month to survive.

Anyway, I have written about this many times before. And this is what Malaysians need to focus on -- not on whether it is right to wear certain football jerseys.

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Minimum wage to rise by 2%: but increase dwarfed by inflation

By Stephen Hunt, 22nd June 2010

The minimum wage for adults in the UK will increase to £5.93 in October, a rise of 13p, or 2%, the government has announced. The change is the result of a recommendation by the Low Pay Commission, which has been rubber-stamped by the government.

Working adults are not the only beneficiaries of the increase - 21 year olds will now receive at least the full adult minimum wage, whereas only people aged over 22 years were previously eligible.

Also unveiled were smaller percentage increases to the minimum wages for other age brackets - 18-20 year olds get 9p extra, while 16 and 17 year olds earning the minimum wage will enjoy 7p more. Furthermore, a minimum wage for apprentices has also been implemented.

The changes were well received by the TUC, it said: "The minimum wage has been a great success, and if this announcement means that this is an area that will see continuity rather than change it will win wide support."

This is in spite of the percentage rise of 2% falling well below that stipulated by the retail price index of inflation, an indicator of pay rises, which for May was as high as 5.1%

Edward Davey, Minister for Employment Relations, claimed that the rise "will strike a balance between helping the lowest paid whilst at the same time not jeopardising their employment."

The rise in the national minimum wage was however incongruous with the "London Living Wage", which rose by over a percent more to £7.85. Mayor of London Boris Johnson underlined that the increase was necessary to give people ample incentive to work.

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What is the Average Salary in the UK?

While there are several different factors that contribute to an employees’ salary, the average salary in the UK is considered to be £25,800 for full-time employees in the United Kingdom. This number is available from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earning report issues in November, 2009, by Office of National Statistics in the United Kingdom. The average salary in the UK was determined through a survey of working professionals in the UK, but primarily focused on government employees and other similar professions. When converted to dollars, the average salary in the UK is around $41,700 based on the current average rate of conversion.

Of course, there are varying fluctuations in the rate of pay for certain employees based on their profession, their level of education, and the amount of experience they have in their given profession. As for the profession, the highest paid jobs in Britain according to this survey was Chief Executives and Directors of businesses. They raked in around £115,576. The service industry saw the worst average salaries in the country, pulling in £11,930 annually, although it was unclear whether or not this includes tips and gratuity if the job allows for it. Most waiters and waitresses will typically get between 10 and 12 percent from customers depending on the type of establishment they are employed at.

The average salary in the UK has risen steadily over the past several years according to the report this data was drawn from, but the number of jobs has dramatically decreased. Those who are employed are being paid better, but there are fewer jobs for people to get. According to the report, the average salary increase of around 2.8 percent for those working in the public sector, and only 0.8 percent in the private sector. The private sector is estimated at losing over 2,000 jobs daily in the UK.

The Best Salaries in the UK

Sure, we know that Chief Executives and Directors make the most in the UK, but what are some of the other high average salary jobs in the UK. Since the report by the Office of National Statistics, covered around 300 different professions, we can easily examine what the highest paying jobs are, what the lowest are, and where those in the middle fall. Here are the best salary jobs in the UK.

* Medical Practitioner and other Health Professionals - This job is high paying in almost every country you visit. The health care field is one of the highest paid fields in the UK, with average salaries ranging between £60,866 and £78,366.

* Senior Officials and Corporate Managers - Highly similar to the Chief Executives, only in a reduced function, Senior Officials and Corporate Manages make an average salary of between £85,000 and £86,000 a year.

* Brokers - Brokers help people to buy and sell stocks, futures, bonds, and other types of investment options. The average salary of a Broker in the UK is around £61,117, but it is not stated if this includes commissions and bonuses.

* Government Figures - While this may seem like commonplace, the senior officials in National Government make around £68,283 in the UK.

The Worst Salaries in the UK

Like in most countries, the service industry typically pulls in the worst annual salary, and the UK is not different. While it is already known that waiters and waitresses pull in the worst annual salary, who else is at the bottom of the Office of National Statistic's report? Let's take a look at the four worst paying jobs in the UK.

* Bar Staff - This can include bar backs, dishwashers, bartenders, and bar maids. Their average salary is around £12,184, but it does not say whether or not this includes any gratuity they may get through the job.

* Tour and Travel Guides - This includes people who offer guided tours of historic areas to tourists and visitors and those who help to make arrangements for those staying in the UK. This job, while it does sound like fun to many, only has an average salary of around £23,561.

* Hairdressers - Hairdressers and those in a related or highly similar position make an average salary of around £13,194. This is about the average, since many in this type of career does make some type of gratuity.

* The Cashier - Your standard retail store cashier and similar job titles make a very meager salary in the UK of around £12,736.

http://averagesalaryuk.com/

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UK Average Salaries & Expenditures http://www.worldsalaries.org/uk.shtml



Not only politicians but investors draw battle lines in Malaysia

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

The worst is still far from over for Malaysia, which recorded an 81 percent plunge in foreign direct investment last year as investors bet that Prime Minister Najib Razak will not be able to steer his country to safe shores.


“From their point of view, Malaysia is beginning to look more like Thailand each day. They don’t think Najib is in control at Umno anymore and they are worried about the next handover of power,” PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

“The second-line Umno leaders like Muhyiddin, Hishammuddin are not inspiring. Then the type of politicking displayed by people like Khir Toyo and Ibrahim Ali frighten investors even more. And that’s why they bail out. And I’m not talking about foreign investors but also Malaysians themselves. Both categories are running away.”

Najib has to call for a general election latest by March 2013, but pundits beleive it will happen before October 2011.

Sore thumb amongst ASEAN nations

Indeed, Malaysia was the only country in the region to record negative FDI in 2009. According to the World Foreign Investment Report 2010 released by the United Nations on Friday, Malaysia received only US$1.38 billion.

This is even less than Philippines’ US$1.95 billion and pales in comparison with Singapore’s US$16 billion. Only Cambodia, Myanmar, Brunei, Laos and Timor-Leste received less than Malaysia.

The WIR data is chilling given that Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Idris Jala had earlier warned that Malaysia could go bankrupt by 2019, if the government was not allowed to embark on a subsidy-slashing program to reduce debt.

But experts and opposition politicians have dismissed Idris’ arguments as masking the real problems, arguing that the reasons for the economic downfall was due to endemic corruption, a weak political and administrative system.

In particular, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has lashed out at Najib, who is also Finance Minister, for offering piecemeal solutions rather an integrated and structural revamp."Burdening the people on the pretext of reducing deficit and using 'government savings' to fund government excesses must be stopped immediately," said Anwar.

He warned that subsidy cuts, which would trigger prices hikes, should only be used as a means to cut the national deficit. However, Malaysia’s national debt has soared to record high and the fiscal deficit was 7 percent of GDP last year, he pointed out.

DAP chief economist Tony Pua was also unconvinced by Najib's five-year plan unveiled last month. This aims to bring the deficit down to 5.3 percent this year, and reduce government debt as a proportion of GDP to 49.9 per cent in 2015 compared to 52.9 per cent in 2010.

“What was previously unimaginable, that we may one day be compared to countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar, is now a real possibility,” said Tony, pointing to the WIR data.

“The government cannot use the excuse of global financial crisis as the reason for the precipitous drop in FDI as we have performed the worst compared to all other countries big and small in the region.”

Najib's roadshows failed to inspire

The WIR data also showed that despite its current problems Thailand recorded a 30.4 per cent drop, Vietnam 44.1 per cent and Indonesia 44.7 per cent.

The other ASEAN nations Singapore, Brunei, Philippines and Myanmar managed to register positive FDI growth despite stiff challenge from East Asian dragons like China and Hong Kong.

Earlier this month, Anwar had suggested 4 key measures to bolster public and investor confidence. These include the immediate announcement of drastic reforms for a transparent government procurement system; restructure of gas subsidies for Independent Power Producers; vigilant management of Government-Linked Companies and government agencies and lastly, stepping up efforts to combat corruption and to stop political meddling in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Attorney-General's Chambers.

“It is not a mystery at all why we did so badly. Investors fear not the Pakatan Rakyat but Umno and BN. They are afraid Umno might instigate or trigger a political stalemate if they lose at the next General Election. Bear in mind some Umno leaders have hinted they would fight to the end not to lose political power,” Tian said.

“We also have to look at the performance of Najib as Finance Minister. He has done poorly and should relinquish the post to someone more capable immediately. So far, his New Economic Model has disappointed and the weak FDI numbers are another testament to his inability to draw in funds despite numerous expensive road shows. He spends too much money on frivolous thing like public relations and media advertisements to boost his image and on the political front - too much time on negative politicking.”