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Monday, August 16, 2010

Umno-MCA war escalates as Soi Lek slams Hishammuddin

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 – An all-out war appears to have broken out between Barisan Nasional allies MCA and Umno, with Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek accusing “some BN leaders” of failing to recognise past failures and claiming that they would eventually cause the MCA’s demise.

The MCA president said that the party was not afraid to side with its opposition foe DAP in issues that benefited the community and would not run away from making its stand known.

Dr Chua also indirectly named Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein as one of the BN leaders he was referring to, claiming that this was shown in the Umno vice-president’s blunt reminder to the MCA yesterday to stick with BN’s struggles.

“Hishammuddin’s statement yesterday that the MCA should not forget the struggle of the BN when fighting for Chinese demands shows that some BN leaders have yet to learn from the 2008 general election and do not understand the urge of the people to reform,” he said in a statement here today.

It was reported today that the Umno vice-president had “reminded MCA to stick with the struggles” of BN when championing the rights of the Chinese community.

Dr Chua said that based on the results of Elections 2008, the new MCA leadership understood the need for it to change to regain the people’s trust and support.

“If some BN leaders continue to live in their own world, they will certainly push MCA to its doom and will not bring the ruling coalition any good,” he claimed.

Dr Chua said that while the party respected Hishammuddin’s views, the latter should not blame MCA for deviating from the objectives and struggles of the BN.

“He cannot blame us for deviating from the objectives and struggles of the BN simply because MCA has a different voice from him or other component party leaders,” he said.

Dr Chua defended the new, stronger stance of the present MCA leadership under his presidency, claiming that the party’s political struggle was “totally reasonable and legal”.

“MCA will push hard for the implementation of the 13 resolutions passed during the Chinese Economic Congress held on Saturday because the resolutions are not only related to the Chinese community but also the future of the country’s economic development.

“MCA reckons that it has the responsibility to reflect the wishes of the Chinese community due to globalisation. Otherwise, not only MCA will lose the community’s support, it will not be able to also justify its political existence,” he said.

On Saturday, the MCA’s Chinese Economic Congress called for economic liberalisation and that a merit-based and needs-based system would contribute to the path for Malaysia to be globally competitive.

Dr Chua’s strong words of rebuke against Hishammuddin today continues to fan the fires already brewing between the Umno and MCA.

The tension began when MCA called on Hishammuddin to use his authority to rescind the ban on the non-Muslims’ use of the word Allah.

The Home Minister had earlier admitted that the decision was regrettable.

MCA’s call was resounded by the DAP, triggering a knee-jerk response from Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who then called for a gag order on the issue.

The Umno deputy president had called on the MCA to accept the government’s decision in banning the word “Allah” and had also questioned MCA’s intention in sharing the same view as the DAP.

Shortly after the row quietened, Dr Chua created waves in the media again when he appeared to criticise both Umno and PAS for using religion to compete for Malay support.

He claimed that in recent days, Umno had appeared to be more “conservative” in its attempt to use religion to woo voters, and even said that the competition between the two Malay-based parties had led to some “non-progressive policies”.

The policies, he noted, had caused the country to be caught in a middle-income trap for more than 10 years.

Dr Chua in turn received flak from Umno leaders who accused him of trying to shift racial politics into religious politics.

Dr Chua and other MCA leaders have since claimed that his statement had been taken out of context.

MIC wants ‘racist’ principal charged with sedition

By FMT Staff

KULAIJAYA: MIC president S Samy Vellu said if it was true that a principal had uttered racist remarks during a Merdeka celebration at a school here, she should be charged with sedition.

Calling it a “shameless and senseless” act, he said the principal’s alleged action went against Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia concept.

“On one hand, we have the prime minister trying to forge racial harmony, and on the other hand, there are people who attempt to create division and disharmony in the country,” he added.

Samy Vellu said the rights of the non-Malays were enshrined in the Federal Constitution, and those who questioned or challenged them must be dealt with severely.

“I want the Education Ministry to launch a thorough probe, and if the allegations are true, the principal must be charged with sedition.

“MIC will also consider filing a police report, pending the completion of the ministry’s investigation into the matter,” he said, adding that such actions by educators cannot be tolerated.

Samy Vellu was responding to news reports which claimed that the principal had made disparaging remarks towards Chinese and Indian students.

Police launch investigation

According to the reports, the principal had labelled non-Malays as “penumpang” (passengers) in the country during her speech.

Student Brevia Pan, 17, said the principal had told Chinese students “to go to Chinese schools or study in China.”

Another student, Ashvini Thina­karan, 17, claimed that many Malay students were influenced by the principal’s remarks and made similar comments.

“Before she came to my school, all the students got along well,” she added.

Meanwhile, the police have launched an investigation into the matter after some 50 parents and students filed a litany of police reports against the principal.

The case was being investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code.

RM8 billion MAS loss: Who is protecting Tajuddin?

By Qayum Rahman - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Who is protecting former Malaysia Airlines Sdn Bhd (MAS) chairman Tajuddin Ramli from being investigated in relation to the RM8 billion loss the airline suffered in 2002? This was the question posed by PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub at a news conference earlier today.

Displaying a document related to the RM8 billion loss, he asked why the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had not taken action on a complaint lodged against Tajuddin.

He also asked why MACC had forwarded the complaint to the Commercial Crime Investigation Department.

“Who is protecting this criminal and this big case from being investigated?

“We want to know why MACC did not act on a report lodged by MAS against Tajuddin . MACC should have investigated the report but it instead forwarded the complaint to the Commercial Crime Investigation Departmednt,” he said.

Salahuddin also showed reporters a letter dated March 26, 2007 from the former Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Ramli Yusoff to then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The letter detailed the allegation against Tajuddin.

“Ramli had a special meeting with Abdullah where he explained that the contents of the letter were sufficient evidence to charge Tajudin.

“Even the Commercial Crime Investigation Department had made several proposals for prosecution but no drastic action had been taken in the case,” he said.

Salahuddin added that there appeared to be a conspiracy between the MACC and the police.

“Going by this document, MAS is of the opinion that MACC’s disclosure of the matter to the police shows a collaboration to cover up the loss,” he said.

MAS loss as big as PKFZ

Salahuddin said when such protection exists, the criminal is never blamed and will continue to live comfortably after cheating the people.

He said MAS’ lawyer Lee Hishamuddin Allen had handed the document to MAS, demanding to know how it could have disclosed the information to the police

“MAS is suspicious of MACC which hasd clearly failed to safeguard this secret and important document,” he said.

MACC must immediately explain its decision to involve the police and prove that it was carrying out its responsibility with the fullest integrity.

“MAS’ loss is as big as PKFZ (Port Klang FreeZone),” said the Kubang Kerian MP.

He said he himself had written to the Public Accounts Committee about the RM8 billion loss but todate there had been no response.

Salahuddin said he had handed the letter to PAC chairman Azmi Khalid in Parliament last year.

“I find there are several factors that must be studied and investigated but the PAC has been silent on this.

‘If indeed this document is true, then why have not the people who committed this breach of trust been brought to justice?” Salahuddin asked.

MIC and Umno have failed the Indians, says DAP

(Malaysiakini) DAP is accusing MIC and Umno of failing to address the dire social problems faced by marginalised Malaysian Indians in the country.

NONEDAP national vice-chief M Kulasegaran (left) claims the Indian community, that represents under 10 percent of the country's total population, faces the highest rate of social problems when compared to the other communities.

He says these include: the highest rate of school dropouts, the highest illiteracy rate, the highest suicide rate, the highest rate of alcoholism, the highest incidence of single motherhood, the highest number not possessing birth certificates and identity cards, and the highest number of jail detainees.

As an example, he cited that 40 percent of detainees at Simpang Renggam detention camp are Indians.

He says that while both MIC and Umno had taken the community for granted as traditionally loyal supporters of the BN, they had neglected to address their social ills for the past 53 years.

a kugan detention death funeral ummc to puchong 280109 19“If MIC had only been effective in fighting for the rights of Indians, the Indians would not have been so marginalised with so many problems unresolved,” said the DAP leader angrily.

Foreign countries like the USA have acknowledged the Indian race for their brains and their potential for of human development, yet Malaysia has failed to tap this vast potential for the economic advancement of the nation, said Kula, who is also party state deputy chief and Ipoh Barat MP.

He is calling for the Indian community to break away from the shackles of BN domination in controlling their socio-economic environment and take control of their political destiny.

'Reprise kingmaker role'

He reminded the Indians that they must again rise up to the occasion and reprise their role as kingmakers in the next general election to deal BN its worst electoral defeat.

hindraf march of roses parliament 160208 orangemenThe fiery demonstrations by the Indian community prior to the last general election is often cited as one of the key contributing factors to the 'political tsunami' against the ruling party.

He warned the community not to fall for titbits that BN is dishing out now in the hope of regaining the support of Malaysian Indians.

He warned that many BN politicians believe that Indian voter will swing back to the BN like a pendulum once their anger has cooled, and that Indians can be easily pacified by dishing them some political goodies.

He criticised Najib Abdul Razak's cabinet committee for the Indian community that the premier chairs, saying it has yielded no policy changes to make a difference.

“I wish to remind the Indian voters that MIC and the BN government have not changed much or done much for the community since the 2008 general election,” he said.

He was speaking at a Tamil dinner at Dewan Kutien in Ayer Tawar organised by DAP on Saturday.

Other Pakatan speakers at the function included former menteri besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy, DAP state chief Ngeh Koo Ham and PSM Sungai Siput MP Dr D Jeyakumar.

Afghanistan's serious questions (part 2)

Photo by AFP
 
 

This installment focuses on some problems fighting this war from within the senior US military leadership.
This installment focuses on some problems fighting this war from within the senior US military leadership.
Back in December 2009, I covered General McChrystal’s briefing on the Obama Afghan Surge inside a tent filled with senior US, Afghan, and ISAF officers at Kandahar Air Field.  
Since this week has been about reflection, a couple things stand out in my mind, starting with the awkwardly long moment of silence among the military’s top brass when McChrystal finished his presentation and asked the standing room only crowd if there were any questions on the future of the war (more on that in a moment).
A single McChrystal sound bite from that night has since proven memorable. “I believe that by next summer, the uplift of new forces will make a difference on the ground significantly,” McChrystal said.  
Too bad he’s not here anymore to see that what connotation “significant” turned out to mean. 
To make it clear: a 31 per cent spike in Afghan civilian casualties from January to June 2010, according to the UN.  More public animus against American and Coalition forces—now numbering over 130,000—regardless if they themselves did not commit the majority of those losses.  The deadliest year of coalition casualties since the war began 9 years ago—434 deaths according to the latest stats at icasualties.org.
That’s a rate of one coalition soldier killed for every 5 Afghan civilians by the Taliban in 2010—is that significant enough?
I won’t impugn General McChrystal as some others have in recent weeks, including the mother of Pat Tillman [Army Specialist Pat Tillman was a former NFL football player-turned special forces Ranger who volunteered for service in Afghanistan only to be killed by his own men.  The Army’s shameful handling of the investigations (read: cover up) was under the direction of none other than Stanley McChrystal, commander of Joint Special Operations Command in 2004).
In that same package I had also interviewed Canadian Brigadier General Daniel Menard, who at the time was the Commander of ISAF forces for Kandahar City, which would see the brunt of America’s surge in the spring-summer 2010.   Kandahar is Afghanistan’s second largest city, the heart of the Pashtun majority in this country, a historical Taliban stronghold, and the most difficult beat in this war.
On the Afghan surge, General Menard confidently added “The intent is to ensure that around [Kandahar] City, and when I say around the city I mean right from Arghandab to Maiwand, we create a ring of stability. This ring of stability is essential to be created by May next year (2010) so we have a true buffer zone of people that believe in something else than the insurgency.” 
Having gone on an embed to the Arghandab District of Kandahar last month, I’d say that’s a premonition that was about as far off as one could get.  Menard should either have fired his magic 8 ball, or get fired himself (Whoops!  That’s right, he did get fired in May, for two other reasons, including allegedly not keeping his hands off a) a junior subordinate and b) the trigger of his automatic weapon).
The shakeup of General officers has had a detectable effect on senior officers here in Afghanistan, and not in a good way.  Us journalists call it “the McChrystal effect.”  That is, highly decorated grown men of rank are scared out of their wits to speak with journalists—the misguided lesson many took away from the whole McChrystal kerfuffle that led to his termination.
For the junior warfighters in Regional Command South (the area where fighting is heaviest, including Kandahar and Helmand), it has proven musical chairs of rank-heavy command leadership and differing philosophies, coupled with the coming and goings of normal troop rotations (ranging from 7 months to 1 year).   Any wonder there is lack of a steady vision?
We may soon learn the latest iterations in US-Afghan strategy changes when General Petraeus breaks his vows of silence in a media blitz—starting with the for-domestic-consumption only “Meet the Press.”  Many will be keenly watching to see what change in strategy ISAF’s new Commander might proclaim, including hints that the Obama timeline for withdrawal in 2011 is just too premature.
In the backdrop of these PR efforts, there is perhaps one important move made by the Obama Administration that will affect the officer-heavy US Armed Forces, but only in the long run.  That was Secretary Gates pledge this week to drastically cut the amount of senior officers and generals from the Pentagons payroll—a real shock and awe for the officer lobby and military-industrial complex, corporations owing their existence to the legions of retired Generals who flock there to trade inside access to secure billion dollar contracts. 
There is something about the breed of today’s top military brass that makes them come off more like politician/cheerleaders as opposed to the cigar chomping Generals George Patton and Chesty Puller who told the truth, regardless of who it offended.
How a generation that grew up—or in some cases, served—in the Vietnam conflict—with all its lies, manipulations, and cover-ups to continue a losing conflict—could today replay those sordid events upon assuming power and rank is beyond me.
But what is more chilling is the effect it has on some (but not all) in the US military’s junior officer corps. What’s the right thing to do? Whatever order/choice/outcome/assignment seems most popular, likely to please, and lead to self-promotion.
It's gotten so noticeable on embeds that, though officers often volunteer to speak, I almost always prefer to seek out the real story from enlisted soldiers and senior Non Commissioned Officers—troops who seem to value truth and being honest in the eyes of their peers above political correctness and looking good on TV.
One recent afternoon on patrol sticks out in my mind.  I was walking alongside a young officer who remarked of his Afghan Police counterparts “I don’t trust them worth a shit—nothing more than Taliban with a badge.” 
Naturally, I asked him to share that assessment with our 220 million viewers who want to understand how the “partnering up” aspect of the U.S. mission is going. He readily agreed, but what I instead got 2 minutes later—which I refused to use—was “Oh, the Afghan Police have a lot of potential, they’re getting better, there are challenges we’re working to overcome.” 
A little posturing is one thing, but come on.  No wonder the bite that did make our story was given by an enlisted Army Sergeant named Ryan Gloyer, replayed on Jon Stewart’s Comedy Central. Why? My guess is because he gave a credible, albeit amusing opinion (though he did not know, backed by this video footage) about his experiences witnessing the Afghan Police use drugs.
If only that candor could be replayed at the senior levels, when briefing the leadership and American public who are entitled to make informed choices about which direction to head in the Afghan war.
If the senior officers here in Afghanistan continually get it wrong, use this country as a petri dish for counterinsurgency (protect the population from themselves, Hoorah!), or muddle through each year hoping a deus ex machina from Washington will intervene, its time to consider replacing them too without waiting for the Pentagon’s reforms, which will anyhow take years.  
Even though for Democrats it harkens the humiliating experience President Bush had to undergo when the Iraq adventure turned upside down (“Iraq Study Group”), perhaps in this context Congressman Frank Wolf’s calls for an “Afghan Study Group” is not such a bad idea.
Rather than advise the president on what’s working—and clearly the Afghan surge has not, in spite of Pollyannaish predictions I mentioned earlier—the American brass will anyhow wait until Washington think tanks, Congress, the White House, and outside study groups give them guidance on how to best mitigate America’s damages.
So let’s skip a few steps and have the Congress promote the civilian brain trust of this war to General rank.  We could even turn the sacked officers into civilian military contractors—you know, to advise their replacements on how to wear a uniform, perform award ceremonies, salute, march, etc.
A sarcastic stretch, I know, but if so many from today’s officers corps are going to more resemble wannabe policy wonks and future Congressmen (presidents?) in uniform, why use a disguise? 
It would be funny if only so many people weren’t dying.

NRD studies Hindraf memo on 'British subjects'

(Malaysiakini) The National Registration Department (NRD) in Putrajaya is reportedly studying Hindraf Makkal Sakthi's memorandum presented last Friday, on the problem of several thousand people in peninsular Malaysia whom the group says have been denied Malaysian citizenship since independence in 1957.

Hence, they allegedly retain their British subject status from the colonial era. Previously called, in a misnomer, 'stateless', Hindraf has since dropped the term as it implies 'a person without a country' which is not the case.

Hindraf drafted the memorandum on July 26 but held it back until after the 1st National Hindraf Convention in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 8.

N Ganesan, HRP advisor June 4“We had a very formal but cordial two-hour meeting with Mohd Azmin Hassan, the director of births, deaths and adoptions,” said Penang-based Hindraf advisor and industrialist N Ganesan (left) in a telephone call to Malaysiakini yesterday. “Initially, the director-general and his deputy agreed to be present.”

He was giving an update on the dilemma of British subjects in Malaysia following a statement released yesterday by London-based Hindraf chair P Waythamoorthy. The ad hoc human rights movement has conducted research on the subject at the National Archives of the United Kingdom.

The purpose of the hastily-set-up meeting with the NRD, continued Ganesan, was basically to get it to listen to Hindraf's elaboration on the memorandum rather than for them to give a briefing on known procedural requirements.

NRD: Only 80 without documents

For starters, the 12-man NRD team queried Hindraf's conservative estimate of 150,000 'stateless people' (henceforth 'British subjects') among 'ethnic Indians' in peninsular Malaysia who have been denied Malaysian citizenship and nationality.

indian rubber plantation worker 030905The NRD disclosed that they in fact conducted 84 campaigns throughout the peninsula alone in recent months, apparently seeking out those without Malaysian personal documents “and only 80 people turned up”.

“We explained that it doesn't work this way,” said Ganesan. “These people are not very educated and live in fear in a twilight zone. They would not dare to approach the authorities with their problems.”

The Hindraf advisor explained the basis on which they arrived at 150,000 which the NRD has accepted as a guideline, without dispute, for further study. The NRD conceded, when challenged to give their own estimate, that they “really did not know who is out there and how many of them (there are), especially when they don't turn up and see us”.

The fear among the British subjects, Ganesan stressed, is that they would be “detained at a centre for illegal immigrants for deportation” to India or other ancestral origins. The result is that they avoid having anything to do with the authorities and the system but, it appears, sometimes not very successfully.

“Most of the petty crimes in urban areas in peninsular Malaysia can be attributed to the British subjects,” said Ganesan. “They eke out a precarious living as cheap daily labour in the underground economy and live in abject poverty from generation to generation.”
These conditions make it an ideal breeding ground for those who are attracted to various criminal activities to supplement their meager incomes as cheap labour, the NRD was told.

'State should not dictate religion'

An additional shocker for the NRD was Hindraf's conservative estimate that at least 20 percent of the British subjects are non-Muslims married to Muslims, usually under Hindu rites, and went on to have children. Such marriages are not registered under the law and bring with it a host of attendant documentation problems of their own.

Hindraf's suggestion, spelled out in greater detail with graphic case studies in the memorandum, is that the parents involved in interreligious marriages should be allowed to decide on the religion of their children. The state should stay out, said the movement. “They should also not involve the judiciary or the Syariah Court.”

Briefly, the Hindraf take is that religion is a matter of individual faith and hence the individual should state his faith, if needed as a matter of public record, and not allow the state to dictate the religion.

corpse snatching family pc 011206 nrd documentGanesan and the other four members in his delegation explained the importance of the NRD shedding its old mindset and adopting a paradigm shift above race, religion and other considerations like the “numbers game”, among others.

The old mindset, alleged Ganesan, was politically driven by a “hidden agenda” to deny procedurally what is guaranteed by the federal constitution.

“We are confident that the NRD is the only department, no matter how flawed at the moment, that can help address the problem systematically and eliminate it,” said Ganesan. “They have the resources and can even employ field staff familiar with an area to seek out the British subjects and help them go through the process.”

'NRD must be people-friendly'

In short, Hindraf wants the NRD to adopt a people-friendly approach and go out to the British subjects instead of having them come to it. The onus, under this approach, is on the NRD and not on the affected people.

mykad counter 051105Ganesan thinks that the existing approach of hurling a stack of documents at would-be applicants and expecting them to decipher them and solve the problem on their own would not work.

Anyone would be put off especially if they feel that they are seen as a nuisance, added Ganesan. “The result is they don't come back.”

Hindraf has an early Dec 31, 2011 deadline in mind for the resolution of the problem. However, the memorandum itself acknowledges that it might take at least up to three years to bring closure to this unfortunate legacy from the colonial past.

Two charged over Pempena scandal for payment to Ummi Hafilda Ali






KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — Two former top officials of scandal-plagued Pempena Sdn Bhd were charged this morning with cheating in what are the first prosecutions involving the controversial Tourism Ministry subsidiary set up during Datuk Seri Azalina Othman’s tenure as minister.

The two former officials were charged over payments made to Ummi Hafilda Ali, who was a key witness in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy and abuse of power trials in 1999.

Today’s prosecution is the culmination of a scandal which broke while Azalina (picture) was still minister in 2007.

Pempena chief operating officer Mohammad Rosly Selamat and financial controller Lim Khing Tai were brought to face criminal breach of trust charges involving RM169,700 this morning.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had been investigating Pempena for financial improprieties believed to involve more than RM50 million.

The MACC had originally probed claims that Azalina, the former tourism minister, had hired 20 employees in Pempena although government regulations allow a minister to employ only eight people.

Mohammad Rosly, 56, and Lim, 38, are accused of making unauthorised payments for a concert without the consent of Pempena’s board of directors.



The money via four cheques was paid to Ummi Hafilda as sponsorship payments for organising Arab singer Amr Diab’s concert here.

The alleged offence took place at Pempena’s office at the Putra World Trade Centre on August 15, 2006.

If convicted, they face imprisonment of at least two years and not more than 20 years as well as a whipping and fine.

Session Court judge Rozana Ali Yusof set bail at RM20,000 for each and the case was fixed for mentioned on September 6.

DPP Muhamad Anas Mahadzir appeared for the prosecution.

Mohammad Rosly was represented by Rejinder Singh Dhaliwal while Lim was represented by Cheow Wee.

Former Tourism Ministry director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab was also seen earlier at the Jalan Duta Court Complex before leaving after half an hour.

Besides the sodomy charge, Anwar was charged in 1999 with directing Mohd Said Awang, then-Special Branch Director, and Amir Junus, then-Special Branch Deputy Director II, to obtain a written statement from Ummi Hafilda addressed to the prime minister denying allegations of sexual misconduct and sodomy as contained in her confidential report entitled “Perihal Salah Laku Timbalan Perdana Menteri” (Sexual Misconduct of the Deputy Prime Minister) dated August 5, 1997 in order to save himself from embarrassment.

Port Dickson’s lost glory

By Zefry Dahalan - Free Malaysia Today

SPECIAL REPORT PORT DICKSON: Twenty years ago, Port Dickson was among the top holiday resorts serving the most populous region of Malaysia. It was almost the natural destination for fun lovers wanting some respite from their jobs in the Klang Valley, Seremban, Malacca and some major towns in Johore.

How things have changed! Nowadays, Port Dickson seems barely able to compete with the many resorts and theme parks that have been cropping up in the country in the last two decades.

Yes, there are still weekend traffic jams on the road leading to and from Teluk Kemang, but they are not as maddening as they used to be, according to traders at the resort and other locals.

The most crowded spot is the Batu 8 beach near Teluk Kemang. FMT spoke to traders and holidaymakers there and heard them complain about poor public amenities, the dearth of good entertainment, and the lack of creativity among tourism planners.

Many of the traders were unwilling to give their full names and let themselves be photographed for fear of retaliation by licensing authorities.

Mariam, 50, spoke of how her income as a hawker had been shrinking.

"I used to earn around RM900 per day on weekends in 2007 and 2008. Last year and this year, my average weekend earning is RM600 a day,” she said.

"This year, especially, the situation has really been bad. There are weekends when I earn as little as RM400. The tourist arrival rate has really declined."

She offered an explanation for the decline. “In the 80s and early 90s, Port Dickson was popular for its holiday programmes, such as Pesta Port Dickson. We used to have tourists from as far away as the East Coast.

"These days, carnivals and other celebrations are rare, and when they happen, they are small-scale and don’t attract many tourists.”

Local council blamed

Maimunah, the manager of a souvenir shop at Dataran Teluk Kemang, also said business had been especially bad in the past year. She blamed the Port Dickson Municipal Council, which early this year demolished shops at Batu 1, forcing the traders there to relocate at Dataran Teluk Kemang. Many of them sell goods that are similar to Maimunah’s merchandise.

"The traders were promised they could continue doing business at Batu 1 once a new building to house their shops was ready,” she said. “The council said that the building would be ready by the middle of the year, but it’s already August and there’s no sign of any construction work going on.

"This has resulted in a situation where the number of the traders selling the same items as I do exceeds the demand from tourists. So all of us have ended up losing.”

Maimunah works for her parents, who inherited the business from her grandmother. They too have seen their income diminish over the years. The drop has been especially drastic since 2007, when the business would earn about RM1500 per weekend day. It now earns about RM700.

She also complained about the absence of toilet facilities in the block of building housing her shop.

Roslan, 53, rents out boats and tents. His main grouse was the poor toilet facilities.

“As you can see from here, there’s a long queue waiting to enter the washroom,” he said.

“During peak days, the water pressure becomes extremely low and this poses a lot of problems for the tourists and ourselves."

Scarcity of toilets


Roslan also spoke of the lack of space on the beach for him to set up his tents for rent.

"You have to put up your tent at the lower part of the beach, not at the more comfortable upper part, where there’s not too much sand,” he said.

"Tourists with small kids prefer to rent the tent at the sand-free upper level, but I can't do much for them. Enforcement officers from the municipal council will issue me a summons if I set up tents at the upper level.

"As you see today (Sunday), most of my tents are empty. Tourists don’t like to have their picnic here. It’s too sandy.”

A quick survey conducted among tourists confirmed Roslan’s claim that the most frequent complaint was about the gross scarcity of toilets.

Abdul Shukor Maarofe of Kajang, who was holidaying with his family of six, said he did not expect the toilet situation to be so bad.

"They are charging RM1.00 for a shower and RM0.50 for using the toilet, but the toilets are very dirty and the water pressure is very low. We have to wait for a very long time before we can use the bathrooms and toilets,” he said.

He also complained about the lack of parking lots, but was particularly disappointed that the beach had become much narrower than it once was. "The beaches are congested,” he said. “Much of the beach space has been taken up by hotels, and they will eventually become private beaches.“

Another tourist from Kuala Lumpur, Koh Kim Sea, 33, had similar complaints about limited parking lots and dirty toilets.

Asked why she chose Port Dickson for her seaside holiday even though she was aware of the problems, she said it was because it was close to Kuala Lumpur.

"I can't afford to go to Langkawi or Kuantan as that will be much more costly, taking into consideration that I have big family of five," said Kim Sea.

Nothing to offer
Nurulikhma Rusnan, a finance clerk working in downtown Port Dickson, was with a friend to try to enjoy the weekend carnival.
She was obviously disappointed. “Apart from the beaches, what else you can find here?” she said.

“The local authorities do organize a few carnivals and concerts on and off, like today, but how do you expect tourists from other states to come here when even locals like us were not aware of them because there was no publicity.

"It was just a boring Sunday; so I and my friend decided to come here after lunch to see if there is anything interesting going on.

“We didn’t know there was a small carnival.”

She also said many youngsters from Port Dickson preferred to go to Seremban for their weekend entertainment.

"When I was in Standard Six in 1999, there was at least one cinema in Port Dickson,” she said. "Nowadays we have to go to Seremban on weekends to watch movies.”

Nurulikhma's friend, Norhamizah Munira Azhari, said most of the tourists were from outside Negeri Sembilan.

"Many people from Negeri Sembilan no longer come here because they know Port Dickson is not as attractive at it used to be for a holiday,” she said.

"When I was kid I used to see many foreigners here. Nowadays, there are hardly any. See for yourself.”

A tourist from Kuala Lumpur, Hardi Razlan, spent a night with his family of four at a popular hotel here. He said the service was not worth the money he paid.

"I paid RM390 for a night and I expect the room condition to be at least comfortable. But a plug point was faulty and the drawers could not close properly."

Amendments took the wind out of Bar Council

By S Rutra - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Veteran lawyer Karpal Singh said the Bar Council's reticence to stand up on issues can be traced to the 1970s when amendments were made to the Legal Profession Act.

Among others, it stipulates that those holding office in any political party and trade unions could not offer themselves to be elected to the council.

He said as a result of the amendments, MPs , assemblymen and unionists known for their vocal views have been “legislated out” and remain as ordinary members.

Thus, only “toothless people” without the right qualities were eligible to contest for a council seat, he added.

"And as a result, the Bar Council has become weak and ineffective," said Karpal.

He said the government had amended the Act after he had initiated a motion urging lawyers not to take up cases where hearsay evidence was admissible even without the presence of counsel and accused during trials.

"The motion was adopted with some amendments, with the words "should not" substituted with "advice".

"I was disappointed and discharged myself from three cases as a mark of protest where eventually the courts sentenced the accused in the cases to death," he added.

He said those elected now are bereft of the qualities possessed by members in the 1960s and 1970s where they spoke up without fear or favour on any issue or government policy.

He described some of the current council members as "self-seekers" who are merely keen on rubbing shoulders with judges and securing award for themselves.

"Because of them, the government does not care anymore about the Bar Council's views and opinions and bypasses its input when amending laws," said Karpal.

He said that he agreed with Bar Council member Edmund Bon who had lashed out against the council for its toothless approach with the government on various issues.

"The rot set in after the amendment to the Legal Profession Act in 1977 where members had limited choices in picking the right people," added Karpal.

He said Section 46A of the Act, which spells out the eligibility of those aspiring for positions, should be repealed.

"I'm not saying all of them were toothless; there were some exceptional cases," said Karpal.

Men of principle

He singled out Raja Aziz Addruse as an example of a man of principle who stood up during the 1988-1989 judicial crisis and Manjit Singh Dhilon who was proactice on certain issues.
"Because of people like Raja Aziz and Manjeet Singh, people were fired up on issues and the government was afraid of the Bar Council," added Karpal.

He said current council members lacked such sprit as people expected them to stand up and speak out on issues.

The Bar Council was not consulted on the recent amendements to the Subordinate Court Act, which had far-reaching implications on issues like injunctions to be handled by the Sessions Court.

"I'm of the view that these matters should remain with the High Court, with the amendments starting at the Sessions Courts and stopping at the Appeal, not the Federal Court anymore," he said.

Karpal said the government did not care mainly because of the weaknesses of the Bar Council.

"Why are they (judges) so afraid of the CJ (Chief Justice). They should stand up. It's very distressing to see judges rushing to dispose of cases because of KPI (Key Performance Indicators),” he said.

“The judges are forced to take on much more than they can chew," added Karpal.

The senior lawyer concurred with Bon that there was nothing wrong in confronting the government on issues affecting the people.

"This has been done before. It's nothing new to speak out against the government," added Karpal.

On the different approaches adopted by junior and senior lawyers (the latter will prod the Bar Council to be more aggrresive while the former wants a more non-confrontational approach), Karpal said only way they (seniors) could gain the confidence of juniors was by standing up for rights of their members and public in general.

Anwar loses bid to strike out sodomy charge


By FMT Staff
FULL REPORT KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has dismissed an application by Anwar Ibrahim to strike out the sodomy charge against him.

The court ruled that the alleged affair between the main witness and a deputy public prosecutor would not affect the direction of the case.

Anwar had sought to dismiss the charge following claims of an affair between Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan and DPP Farah Azlina Latif.
Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah said there was no proof of the defence argument that Mohd Saiful could have been passed confidential trial information by Farah.

He accepted the prosecution's argument that Farah was a junior member of the team, a note-taker who had no access to sensitive information that could undermine the trial process.

"She has no control over the directions of the prosecution and in the handling of the witnesses," Mohamad Zabidin said.

"(Therefore it) did not affect the prosecution to the extent that it compromised the integrity and the conduct of the trial."
Mohamad Zabidin also rejected an application by Anwar's lawyers for a stay of proceedings pending their appeal against this morning's decision.

The judge ordered the lawyers to be ready to continue with the trial today. However Anwar's lawyers have sought adjournment until this afternoon - which was granted- to make a formal stay application.
DPP dropped from the case
Anwar has applied to strike out his sodomy charge on the ground that the integrity and impartiality of the entire prosecution team had been compromised as the result of the affair allegation.

Anwar's lawyers had argued that the sodomy trial had been compromised as a result of the relationship. They claimed that Mohd Saiful could have had access to the details of the prosecution's strategy as well as to notes from other witnesses.

The prosecution however claimed that Farah was just a note-taker in the prosecution team and had no access to legal documents and other sensitive material. They also said that the alleged affair would not have any bearing to the prosecution. She had since been dropped from the prosecution team.

Both Mohd Saiful and Farah have not said anything publicly about the alleged relationship.

Anwar, 63, had claimed trial to sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful, 25, at Desa Damansara Condominium in Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.

Najib all alone at the top

By Zainal Epi -Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Najib Tun Razak needs help. Najib is all alone. The prime minister cuts a lonely figure at the top as he surveys the dismal scene below: his coalition forces – the Barisan Nasional – are not backing his pet projects and concepts. Neither are the Malays.

He is carrying his causes on his shoulder and walking a solitary path while all about him his “soldiers are going in different directions”. They are not following his orders, they are deviating from the targets.


Najib needs support for his ambitious goals but so far, nothing is coming his way. He has pulled many rabbits out of his hat but two are close to his heart: 1Malaysia and the New Economic Model (NEM).

The NEM is a bold plan to “transform the Malaysian economy to become one with high income and quality growth by 2020”. Najib was all fired up with this mission and thought he would receive unqualified support from all, especially the Malays.

But a Malay right-wing NGO led by a firebrand named Ibrahim Ali shot the down the NEM. He simply told Najib to his face that the Malays have rejected the NEM for its perceived threat to their special economic rights. The maverick politician was not a voice in the wilderness. He commands wide support among the Malays who loved his extreme pro-Malay views. Even Umno members have drifted to his camp in droves.

If the Malays did not fall in love with the ugly NEM, they also did not swoon over the 1Malaysia beauty. At first the concept was greeted with a roar of approval, mostly from the non-Malays. But soon its beauty faded as the Malays turned against it, seeing it as an insidious attempt to destroy the the interests of the Malays while championing the causes of the non-Malays.

The other races read nothing sinister in 1Malaysia and were quite enthusiastic about it, even calling for equal opportunities for all. They believe the call to unity also means giving all races access to opportunities in the various fields of endeavour.

Testing the waters

Maybe Najib was testing the waters to see if his beloved 1Malaysia would be embraced wholeheartedly when he introduced it to the public. To his dismay, the response from the Malays was not encouraging. Perkasa especially smelled something fishy about the whole show. It did not like all this talk about unity since this can translate into equality for all to the detriment of the Malay status.

His isolation continues to grow. Even former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had distanced himself from Najib when he questioned the 1Malaysia concept. Matters didn't help when Najib's second in command Muhyiddin Yassin himself seems to put his Malayness first and Malaysian identity second.

Najib is caught in a bind: the Malays do not share his message of unity when the underlying theme is equality which they feel will sound the death knell for their special place in the country. By degrees, the Malays are becoming cynical: If 1Malaysia treat all races equally then why the need for vernacular schools since 1Malaysia calls for a united Malaysian race with one language? But then the Chinese and the Indian communities will not give up their vernacular education.

Are the other BN leaders helping out to translate NEM and 1Malaysia into reality? The consensus is that even Najib's partners are not doing enough to get the message across to their communities. The MCA is only pushing for a level playing field while the MIC is pressing for more rights. The two are drifting away from Najib.

Najib is all alone even among the civil servants – the backbone of the country. Their chief Sidik Hassan had recently issued a memo directing all civil servants to report to their superiors any recommendation letters from politicians for favours.

Najib appears unable to intervene or put the number one civil servant in his place. It has been the practice ever since independence for politicians who are MPs or assemblymen or ministers to submit recommendations to the government on behalf of their constituents.

As elected representatives, they are looked upon by their voters as the link to the all-important civil service force. Without their recommendations, voters will find it difficult to get civil servants to approve their application for, say, scholarship or a place in public universities for their children.

A recommendation is more often than not a passport to success. With a recommendation, civil servants can verify the applicants' background. But now with the directive from Sidik, civil servants will not dare entertain the applications.

For Najib, the Sidik directive can only spell more troubles ahead. The directive has effectively diluted the role of elected representatives as the link to the voters who are party members and supporters of the ruling coalition.

Forlorn battle

Najib had more bad news with Felda as he is fighting a forlorn battle to explain the plantation's financial position to allay fears that it had gone bankrupt. It appears to be a losing case.

Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan, who is also Deputy Minister in Prime Minister's Department, had said Felda would sue Suara Keadilan for making the allegation but until today no action was taken.

Words have it that Felda is collecting all the data before bringing the case to court but bloggers and some Malay observers are sceptical that this would happen.

“I spoke to several people in Felda and until today, I have not seen anything in the court,” said one blogger.

Several other issues are pushing Najib into a corner. His attempts to get back the states lost in the 2008 general election are turning out to be a one-man show – his allies are too busy squabbling among themselves to join forces with him.

Instead of conducting programmes to help party members and supporters understand Najib’s new policies, the fractured coalition is more interested in seeking equality for all races from Najib.

In their haste to champion the cause of their respective communities, they fail to see that they are supposed to enhance Najib’s position by strengthening his policies.

They failed to work alongside Najib to explain his policies that could enhance and strengthen unity and the economy.

In Umno, Najib is alone trying to strengthen the party while division heads continue to advance their own agenda to stay on in their posts.

With just two years to go to the next general election, Najib is still walking alone in the corridors of power. He alone is struggling with a heavy baggage filled with many unresolved issues –Altantuya Shaariibuu, Scorpion submarines, Sime Darby, Felda, cronyism... and the list goes on.

Indeed, Najib is all alone at the top.

As if objective reality isn’t scary enough...

By Stanley Koh - Free Malaysia Today,

COMMENT It was a dark and stormy night. On a lonely road, a tired taxi driver was heading for home when a woman in a white dress and red overcoat hailed him.

The soft-spoken woman gave directions and the taxi driver took no further notice of his passenger, although he did wonder about her long hair, which she allowed to flow down her forehead across her face.

After covering some distance, the taxi entered a Chinese new village and the woman signalled the driver to stop at her given destination. She paid him the fare, opened the door and got off the taxi.

The cabbie went home and slept soundly. It was not until the next morning that he discovered the red overcoat in the back seat of his taxi. He decided to return it, but then he also discovered that the woman had paid him the night before in Hell Bank currency notes.

He went back to the new village. With one hand holding the red coat, he knocked on a door although he was not sure whether he had called on the right house.

An old lady finally opened the door and the cabbie explained the reason for his visit. Her face changed when she saw the coat. “Yes, it belonged to my daughter,” she said, her voice shaking. “But she is dead. She passed away last year.”

This spooky episode happened on the eve of the Festival of the Hungry Ghost some time in the 1960s in Petaling Jaya, which was then largely a new village settlement.

If you are looking for ghost stories to scare — or perhaps entertain — the superstitious or those prone to mental hypochondria, there are plenty to choose from, and they date back to the earliest centuries of human existence.

Do ghosts exist?

Why are there so many haunting stories that span across cultures, religious beliefs and civilisations? Why are they kept alive through time? Can a rational mind explain the phenomenon? Do they adequately prove to the sceptic that there is indeed a spirit world that exists side by side with the physical dimension?

In the last few decades, there has been a keen interest among scientists as well as professional and amateur ghost hunters to learn more about the phenomenon. Many of them are ironically disbelievers. They have hunted far and wide for ghost stories and have documented hundreds of thousands of them.

It is hard to debunk every ghost story you hear, and even if a sceptic is able to do so with one story, the next one might prove him wrong.

In a tradition that cuts across Taoism and Buddhism, the Chinese observe Zhongyuan — or the Hungry Ghost Festival — in this seventh lunar month. Specifically on the 15th day of the month, the gates of hell are opened, allowing spirits to wander in the living physical environment.

The Chinese believe that this is a time to show compassion and filial piety, particularly to their ancestors among the neglected wandering spirits.
They perform prayers and offer food, joss sticks and Hell Bank notes to appease these spirits, hoping that they will continue on their path of evolution and not harm the living.

Yet not all ghosts are willing to let bygones be bygones. Those who had to leave this life through violent means, such as murder or suicide, are angry spirits yearning for natural justice to take its course. Normally, they refuse to stop haunting the living.

There are claimed records of ghosts tempting the living, especially those who have done evil, to commit suicide.

The Internet has opened a window to thousands upon thousands of ghost stories and scary tales, from mundane sightings to infamous hauntings, creating a sub-sector for the tourism industry, offering such attractions as The 10 Most Haunted Places in the World.

Even among those who say they have had no direct encounter with ghosts, many know of ghost stories they have heard from members of their family, and some believe that they are true.

The common haunts of ghosts in most parts of the world are places such as road junctions, old school buildings, hospitals, holiday resorts, police stations, historical sites, war zones and prisons.

Murdered victims are believed to hang around at their haunts until justice is done.

Haunted Washington DC

It is said that even the brutal tyrant Josef Stalin was afraid of ghosts, insisting on having bodyguards around him during the night because he was paranoid about being attacked by the angry spirits of his victims.

Remember, ghosts or haunting spirits do not exist at the whim and fancy of your belief or disbelief. The wise thing to do is to accept the possibility of their existence and to be careful.
Mafia boss Al Capone, according to some biographers, claimed to be haunted by one of his victims for more than 20 years.

From the angry spirit of Hamlet’s father to the cute Caspar, there have been many ghosts in literature and popular entertainment as well.

Even American presidents are not immune. There is a persistent rumour that Franklin Roosevelt died of suicide; some claim he was driven to it by ghosts.

Indeed, it is said that Washington DC is one of the most haunted places in the world. Over the decades, members of the White House staff have reported seeing Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson still walking the corridors of power.

Lincoln’s ghost is apparently fond of walking up and down the second floor hallway of the White House, rapping at doors and standing by windows with his hands clasped behind him. Some explain that this is because he was unable to finish his second term as president and is trying to protect his beloved country from beyond his grave.

As for murder cases, there have been many gruesome reports of ghosts seeking vengeance.

“The Art of Getting Even” by Min Tzu depicts ghosts of murdered victims refusing to rest until justice is served.

In Chicago in 1977, police found the dead body of Philippine-born Teresita Basa, a hospital respiratory therapist, on the floor of her apartment stabbed to death and partially burned. Police solved the case after Basa’s spirit named her boyfriend as the killer.

The case of the Greenbrier Phantom is similar. It is about the murder of Zona Heaster in 1896 in the West Virginia town of Greenbrier. After her death, Zona appeared before her mother, Mary Jane, four nights in a row to tell of her husband’s cruelty. Mary Jane’s persistent telling of this story prompted authorities to exhume Zona’s body. They found that her neck had been broken. Her husband was eventually found guilty and sent to prison for life.

Remember, ghosts or haunting spirits do not exist at the whim and fancy of your belief or disbelief. The wise thing to do is to accept the possibility of their existence and to be careful.

Perhaps many are not aware that Malaysians have their own homegrown ghost busters, called Malaysia Seekers, and that they have a counterpart across the causeway, the Singapore Paranormal Investigators.

School head under probe over racist remarks

"Pelajar-pelajar Cina tidak diperlukan dan boleh balik ke China ataupun Sekolah Foon Yew. Bagi pelajar India, tali sembahyang yang diikat di pergelangan tangan dan leher pelajar nampak seakan anjing dan hanya anjing akan mengikat seperti itu." 

By Student of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Kulai
police report
(The Star) KULAIJAYA: Police are investigating a school principal who allegedly used racist remarks against non-Malay students during a Merdeka celebration at the school here recently.

Kulaijaya deputy OCPD Asst Supt Mohd Kamil said police had received 12 reports against the principal since Saturday and that the case was being investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code.

Over 50 parents and students had lodged the reports against the principal, who allegedly described the non-Malays as “penumpang” (passengers) in the country during her speech at the start of the celebration on Aug 12.

“I was shocked that my principal had used such a word against non-Malay students in our school.
“This is not the first time that she had made racist comments against Chinese and Indian students in our school,” said 17-year-old student Brevia Pan.

She added that the principal, who joined the school early this year, would only target Chinese and Indian students.

“During the Merdeka celebration, she had told non-Malay students to go study in a Chinese school or go back to China,” she told reporters in a press conference organised by Senai assemblyman Ong Kow Meng.

Another student, Ashvini Thi-na­karan, 17, said many Malay students were influenced by the principal’s remarks and made similar comments and called them names.

“Before she came to my school, all the students got along well,” she said. Her father R. Thinakaran, 47, said this was a serious matter and that principals should not behave like this.

“This principal has caused racial disharmony at the school,” he said, adding that if no action was taken, he would take his daughter out of the school.

Ong called for stern action against the principal, adding that such school heads and educators would affect the minds of students.

NEP and the Chinese

zaid






The success stories of the Chinese under NEP are plentiful and are well known. NEP for this purpose means hugely lucrative patronage preference system. As the Prime Minister’s brother Nazir Razak himself says, the NEP has become bastardised. What he doesn't say explicitly is that the NEP, which was set up with noble aims of eradicating poverty irrespective of race, has become a system that is opaque, corrupt, non-accountable and highly secretive.

Through this system which was corrupted by UMNO leaders, there are quite a few Chinese who have made it very big because of the NEP. These include Vincent Tan, Francis Yeoh, the young 28-year-old Jho Low (Low Taek Jho) and Liew Kee Sin of SP Setia fame. How did they do it? We should know so that we can learn and so that other Chinese can emulate them.

Mr Liew who is so happy with the NEP and admits he is one of the NEP’s success stories. He was an officer at a small merchant bank. But he knew how to move in the right circles. He befriended two lawyers - Rashid Manaf and Zaki Azmi (now the Chief Justice). Both Rashid and Zaki did not have any business history, but they were nice people and friendly. They didn’t make much from the law practice either. Neither did I. But somehow, as businessmen, they were successful when they became lawyers to UMNO. Their friendship with Mahathir, Daim, Samy Vellu benefitted their business. Wasn’t SP Setia previously owned by SPK which was controlled by Mahathir’s friends Abdullah Ahmad (Kok Lanas) and Ramli Khushairi? And Liew became a shareholder with Rashid and Zaki? Didn’t they say that SPK used to belong to UMNO leaders and civil servants? Yes, Liew is an NEP success story.

Vincent Tan made it big because he was able to convince then PM Mahathir Mohamad in the 1980s that gambling was bad for Muslims and the Islamic Government Mahathir was touting then should not be involved in it. It was a simplistic argument which was acceptable to Mahathir because Mahathir wanted his friend Vincent Tan to make money.

So he privatised Sports Toto and other “haram” activities, such as slot machine licences and sports betting to Vincent. But to be successful, Vincent had to have a Mahathir relative as his “partner”. Vincent asked a nice gentleman, Mahathir’s nephew, who headed the national news agency Bernama then, to be his partner, with Mahathir’s blessings. But I doubt this nice guy got much in the end as Malay partners dont last very long in this high stakes game. The rest is history. Vincent built his fortunes on these “haram” activities. An NEP success story, certainly.

Francis Yeoh’s father Yeoh Tiong Lay started a construction company which for 30 years could not make the top grade. Until Francis convinced Mahathir in the 1980s to give him the construction of hospitals in the peninsula. Then came the lucrative Independent Power Plant (IPP) where, till today, YTL is given the highest payments for the Power Purchase Agreement where Tenaga buys all power from YTL, whether they need it or not. Then Tenaga chairman Ani Arope objected and Mahathir forced his resignation. Today, YTL has cash reserves of more than RM9 billion and where is it going – buying expensive power plants in Singapore, paying the highest price for land in Orchard Road, and owning probably half of Sentosa Island... Another NEP success story. Oh, yes, the Bumiputra partners for Francis? Maybe people should ask Mokhzani and Mukhriz Mahathir...

They say young Jho Low is close to the PM; or more importantly his wife. And perhaps, Rosmah Mansor’s eldest son. He is here, there and everywhere. I must congratulate The Star on its “worldwide exclusive” with Jho Low. Wonder who made the call for Jho to be interviewed?

Jho was there when IMalaysia Development Fund was launched by Najib; he was on holiday with the PM in Monte Carlo last year and also just two weeks ago in St Tropez. Foreign news reports say young Jho (friend of Paris Hilton) had a hand in getting the Government to guarantee the IMalaysia Development fund raising RM5 billion on a 30-year Islamic notes at coupon rate rate of 5.75% when the normal debt sovereign risk of a country like Malaysia can easily be issued at 4.1 to 4.2% interest. Why pay the extra 1.6 to 1.7% on a RM5 billion loan over 30 years which means an extra interest payment of about RM2.4 billion? (How the lenders must be happy with that extra income! And I am sure they were generous to those who helped approve this).

And now rumours are swirling in banking circles about 1MDB’s annual accounts that show only RM4.3 billion of that RM5 billion remaining on its books. Wonder how that RM700 million was spent? There we are – Jho Low, suatu lagi kejayaan Dasar Ekonomi Baru (NEP).

So the Chinese knew all along what to do and they did not need Liew Kee Sin to tell them the benefits of the patronage under the so called NEP. But how many “Chinese-putras” get to know the well-connected “UMNO-putras”? That is the question.

So a more enlightened and equitable economic system is needed; where everyone has a fair chance to strike gold without having to be well connected.... without having to have someone as your lackey or point man in Putrajaya. Is that too much to ask?

GORE, WOLFOWITZ AND ANWAR

1. I am merely a Malay Muslim who once led a Third World country. I therefore do not understand democratic politics, the rule of law and justice.

2. And therefore when Anwar the great statesman and my deputy in the Government and the party, challenged me, I charged him with sodomy, beat him up severely and put him in solitary confinement for years.

3. Strangely for this cruel leader, when he was earlier attacked by another deputy who then collaborated with his own political enemy to challenge me in the 1986 elections, they were not charged with sodomy or anything and thrown into jail. One was actually made a special Malaysian representative to the United Nations with Ministerial rank while the other was free to form a splinter party, collaborated with opposition parties and contested against me in 1990 and 1995. This must have been an oversight by me. In fact one of them who supported the move to overthrow me, was actually chosen by me to be Deputy Prime Minister and succeeded me as Prime Minister.

4. Anwar was jailed by the courts for sodomy and abuse of power. But of course Malaysian courts take orders from me when I was Prime Minister.

5. Could it be that his "acquittal" after I stepped down was also due to influence? God knows.

6. And then Anwar was once again charged with sodomy during the time of the PM when he was "acquitted". It is very unimaginative of the Government of the time to make the same charge. A smart Government would think up of something else more credible.

7. But this was still a brown-skinned Malay Government which just cannot be smart. Or could it be that it was actually the victim of anal rape who decided to tell things as they happened? I would like to say we should wait for the court to decide, but that can take a very long, long time or even never. The delay must be due to Malaysian courts taking orders from the Prime Minister so that Anwar would be able ot challenge the Government Party in the coming election.

8. Whatever, Malaysians must take heed of the advice by the great leaders of the United States of America, a truly democratic country which democratically exercises veto power in the United Nations, ignored the UN on Iraqi invasion, lies about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, uses bombs and cluster bombs and depleted uranium shells and bombs, kill hundreds of thousands of innocent Afghans and Iraqis, arrests and detains just about any Muslim without trial and without benefit of any law, legalised torture of detainees, and supports internationally illegal acts by its allies. Malaysians must never reject the advice of the great leaders of the United States of America, a country dedicated to killing people so they can enjoy democratic rights.

9. Thank you Mr Gore and thank you Mr neocon Wolfowitz, Anwar's friend, adviser of Bush on the shock and awe invasion of Iraq which now enjoys so much peace and prosperity that thousands are regularly being blown to kingdom come.

10. We the Malay Muslims must democratically choose your bosom pal as leader of our country. After all he has been accused only of doing what you normally do in your great country.

Delaying disclosure of evidence: Who gains?

MANY questions have arisen from the sudden introduction in the inquest into Teoh Beng Hock‘s death of a note purportedly found in the DAP aide’s bag. More than a year after the inquest started, the Attorney-General (AG)’s Chambers surprised the coroner’s court on 9 Aug 2010, saying it wanted to introduce the note which “may throw some light on [Teoh's] death”.
Gani Patail
Gani Patail
In a press statement, the AG’s Chambers said the note first came to their attention on 7 Oct 2009, more than two months after Teoh‘s death. It said that due to the AG being suspicious about its authenticity, the note was not disclosed or tendered in the inquest. However, due to a “recent” admission by investigating police officer Ahmad Nazri Zainal that he actually found the note on 17 July 2009 but did not realise its significance, the AG decided to now tender the note as evidence.
Public incredulity at this turn of events was only to be expected especially since Teoh’s mysterious death, after being interrogated by a government agency, has generated widespread public interest. But can the AG’s Chambers legally introduce the note at this late stage in the inquest? Can the court reject the note considering the questions surrounding its sudden emergence?
And what does this incident reveal about the conduct of the AG’s Chambers? Can they be entrusted with carrying out inquests and criminal prosecutions fairly and openly?
Finding the truth
Criminal lawyer Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu says the AG’s Chambers is allowed to introduce the note, even at this late stage. “The magistrate cannot disregard the evidence. He [or she] must examine all evidence which could have led to the death,” Baljit says in a phone interview.
Baljit Singh (pic courtesy of Baljit Singh)
According to Practice Direction No 1 of 2007 which sets out inquest guidelines, an inquest is not like a criminal trial, which is adversarial in nature. The prosecution in an inquest is there merely to assist with the examination of witnesses to help the magistrate ascertain the cause of death and whether any specific persons were involved. The magistrate also need not strictly follow the usual evidence rules but may use his or her discretion.
Baljit however says the magistrate still needs to allow interested parties to have the document examined by experts and to recall witnesses to deal with possible new lines of questioning. “Everything must be done in the interest of justice to ascertain the cause of [Teoh's] death,” he stresses.
But what can we make of the extremely late disclosure of this potentially crucial piece of evidence? “I’m speechless,” Baljit says. “One moment the AG’s Chambers say they want to be transparent and fair in all proceedings, the next, this happens.”
Playing fair
Shouldn't it be mandatory?
What happens if the prosecution fails to disclose evidence before the trial?
Playing fairly and openly however has not always been the prosecution’s forte, not just during inquests, but also in criminal proceedings. This is hardly the first time the prosecution has delayed disclosure of documents to interested parties.
This is despite the fact that under a 2006 amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), the prosecution is now obliged to disclose to the defence all the evidence they intend to tender before the trial begins. But what happens if the prosecution fails to do so? Are there sanctions imposed on the prosecution? Can the evidence be disregarded?
Baljit says no. “The courts have been saying [the requirement under section 51A to disclose all the evidence that will be tendered before trial] is only directory, not mandatory. If the evidence is not produced within the time stipulated, it’s not fatal.”
Richard Wee
Richard Wee (pic courtesy of Richard Wee)
But aren’t the requirements supposed to be mandatory? After all, Section 51A states, “The prosecution shall before the commencement of the trial deliver to the accused the following documents.” Otherwise, what would be the point of amending the law if it was only meant to be a directive?
The CPC amendments also require the prosecution to produce a “written statement of facts favourable to the defence.”
“Yes, they do sometimes give us the statement,” says lawyer Richard Wee in a phone interview. “But all the statement says is, ‘There are no facts favourable to the defence’. But my clients still get acquitted so there must have been some facts in our favour otherwise how were they found not guilty?”
“I demand to see my lawyer”
Wee adds that CPC requirements giving arrested persons the right to see their lawyers are also frequently not complied with. “The police just don’t respect it,” he says. “They do allow us to see our clients sometimes, but it’s often done grudgingly and with limits. It feels like we’re asking for favours to see our clients.”
“The prosecution’s job is to uphold justice in the public interest,” notes Baljit. “They should not be overzealous. It’s prosecution, not persecution.”
Winning on merit
The objective of the CPC amendments was to provide balance to the prosecution and defence. Crucial evidence should not be hidden from the defence, or in the case of an inquest, interested parties. After all, isn’t the purpose of such proceedings to establish the truth and dispense justice?
The prosecution should not have to rely on underhanded tactics and “cat and mouse games” to successfully secure a conviction. In an ideal world, the investigation of an offence should be so thorough that even if all the available evidence were revealed to the defence, the prosecution would still be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was guilty.
Our law can probably still be amended further to make the balance between the prosecution and defence more equal. But if the police and prosecution could just start by complying with the spirit of the 2006 amendments, it would already create a more equitable situation.
It is not just the final verdict or outcome in a court case that is important. It is also the manner in which that conclusion was reached that determines whether or not the public have confidence in that verdict. The justice system can only gain credibility if its actors are transparent, open and fair in their dealings with each other.
The late Teoh Beng Hock, who was found dead two days before he was supposed to register his marriage.
The late Teoh Beng Hock
It is a heavy responsibility that these actors bear. After all, under the law, the state and the courts have the power to arrest us, charge us, try us and imprison us.  In Teoh’s inquest, the courts have the power to examine the evidence and make pronouncements on what caused his death. Instances such as the sudden appearance of Teoh’s “note” and the non-disclosure of evidence before a trial will only serve to break down citizens’ trust in the state’s ability to conduct proceedings fairly. Who gains, then?

Kredibiliti Pendakwaan Terjejas

Seperti yang diduga mahkamah telah menolak permohonan untuk membatalkan pertuduhan fitnah ke atas saya. Walaupun hakim akur pihak pendakwa gagal menafikan samada wujudnya hubungan sulit di antara Farah Azlina dan Saiful Bukhari, namun hanya kerana berasaskan pengakuan Mohd Hanafiah dan Jude Pereira, Hakim Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah merasakan ianya memadai membuktikan Saiful tidak mempunyai akses kepada dokumen penyiasatan serta perbicaraan.

Sebelum inipun hakim yang sama menolak permohonan Pasukan Pembela agar Farah dan Saiful dipanggil untuk menjawab dan berhadapan dengan persoalan samada wujudnya hubungan sulit serta wujudnya kebocoran maklumat dokumen perbicaraan dan penyiasatan. Mahkamah seperti mahu memberi perlindungan kepada Farah dan Saiful sedangkan kedua-dua mereka sewajarnya memfailkan affidavit membela kehormatan jika benar tuduhan itu palsu. Mengapa gentar berhadapan dengan kebenaran!

ANWAR IBRAHIM

For The Love of Allah, And Only for That!

Rabi’a al-’Adawiyya
By M. Bakri Musa

During this Ramadan, like all previous ones, mosques will be full of worshipers and the treasuries of Muslim charities will be flooded with generous donations. This is true of my little Muslim community here in the southern tip of Silicon Valley, California, as well as in the heart of Islam, Mecca.

In my community, praise be to Allah, we have no difficulty finding sponsors for our weekly community iftar (breaking of the fast). We have also conveniently made our annual fundraising event, “Feeding of the Soul,” during Ramadan. As my folks back in the old kampong would say, we are mengambil kesempatan durian runtuh (taking advantage of the durian season).

However, as my young Imam Ilyas observed in his Friday sermon, this heightened spirituality and generosity during Ramadan, while certainly praiseworthy, would be more so if we could extend them throughout the year.

Ramadan holds a special reverence for Muslims. It is the month in which the Quran was first revealed to our Prophet Muhammad, May the Blessings of Allah be upon Him. That should be reason enough to hold the month in high esteem.

We are also told that prayers and other spiritual deeds offered during Ramadan would carry “forty times more reward” than at any other time. And on the special “Night of Power (Lailatul Qadar), said to be one of the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan, those deeds are “better than that of a thousand months!”

Muslims presumably need this further assurance for the month’s special place!

I have difficulty when religious deeds, or indeed any good deeds for that matter, are reduced to the simplistic accumulation of “brownie points.” In this case, the collecting of merit points, Boy Scout style, to be later redeemed presumably at the Gates of Heaven.

I am reminded of this eloquent prayer of the eighth century Muslim hazrat (saint), Rabi’a al-’Adawiyya:

O God! If I worship Thee for fear of Hell, then burn me in Hell

And if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, then exclude me from there.

But if I worship Thee for Thine own sake,

Then grudge me not Your Everlasting Beauty!

Her prayer brought back fond memories of my late grandfather, Haji Salam bin Tachik. Yes, his name – Salam – was a reflection of him, a man at peace with himself. Whenever he was offered an odd job by a neighbor, he would promise to give his best, and then sealed it with a handshake uttering, “Kerana Allah” (because of Allah).

And he did his best and gave all he had. I would often criticize him for expending so much effort that was way out of proportion to what he would be paid. He was not at all perturbed by my carping. Instead he would reply, “Grandson, I did it not to please the man in the hope that he would give more work or better pay in the future, but because I had made a promise to Allah.”

Kerana Allah, he would repeatedly remind me. He did not say that he was worried of “sinning” and fearing God’s wrath if he were to cheat his employer by doing a less-than-satisfactory job. His love of Allah was enough for him to give his best and to avoid deeds that would earn His wrath. That was what kept him on the “straight path.”

I remind myself of my grandfather’s simple lesson and Rabi’a’s moving prayer this Ramadan whenever I am called to tend upon yet another indigent patient. What with the present trying economic times, there are plenty of such patients. And as per my Imam’s advice, I have tried to live through my grandfather’s creed throughout the year.

There are plenty of generous deeds being done in Malaysia and elsewhere during Ramadan. Many are high profile events like elaborate iftars in fancy restaurants and generous donations to the disadvantaged. Let us hope that those are done for the sake of Allah, and only for His sake, in the spirit of Rabi’a al-’Adawiyya, and be continued outside of Ramadan, as per my Imam’s sermon.

Rabi’a al-‘Adawiyya

Rabi’a was the fourth (hence her name) daughter of a poor family. They were robbed while traveling in a caravan and she ended up being sold as a slave to a cruel master.

She spent her evenings praying after her chores were done. One night her master was awakened by the sound of her prayer lamenting the fact that she was unable to carry out His command as she was enslaved. Her prayer so affected her owner that he felt ashamed and sacrilegious in keeping a slave, and offered instead to be her slave and her be the mistress of the manor.

She instead opted for her freedom, which she spent meditating and learning. And learn she did, and in her own unique way. She was not all impressed with the superficialities of the faith or the mindless rituals of its followers. Despite being a woman and single, her fame spread.

It was said that when she undertook the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Ka’aba was so enthralled with her pending arrival that it moved halfway to meet her! Now to have the Ka’aba come to you and not the other way around is highly symbolic in the Islamic scheme of things. It is of course a less lofty version of the hadith theme that if Muhammad (pbuh) would not come to the mountain, then it would come to him!

Rabi’a however was not in the least impressed or enthralled by the gesture, and was reported to have retorted, “It is the Lord of the house whom I need; what have I to do with the house? I need to meet with Him Who said, ‘Who approaches Me by a span’s length, I will approach him by the length of a cubit.’ The Ka’aba which I see has no power over me; what joy does the beauty of the Ka’aba bring to me?”

She rightly separated and was not confused by the object of veneration from the subject. Some would say that hers was the height of arrogance; to me, putting things in perspective! It is not the Ka’aba that Muslims should be praying to, rather Allah.

In misogynist medieval Arabic culture, Rabi’a stood out as a shining light and an exemplary teacher. Teachers would do well to heed her maxim: “You call yourself a teacher; therefore learn!” She also stood out in many other ways. In a faith and culture that frankly abhor celibacy and non-marriage, Rabia’ remained single and celibate. She was, in the tradition of nuns, already ‘married’ to God. Meaning, fully and exclusively devoted to Allah!

Legend has it that she was found one day running on the streets of Basra carrying a torch in one hand and a pail of water in the other. When asked what she was doing, she replied, “I want to put out the fires of Hell and burn down the rewards of Paradise. They block the way to God. I do not want to worship from fear of punishment or for the promise of reward, but simply for the love of God.” Hence her famous prayer!

Unfortunately today religion, in particular Islam of the official Malaysian variety, is simplistically reduced to a series of dos and don’ts, as well as the accompanying mindset of garnering reward and avoiding punishment. The intrinsic value and satisfaction of doing good, and the avoidance of evil for its own (meaning, Allah’s) sake, are lost.

Rabi’a’s concept of “Divine love” (For the love of God), also found in other faiths, was her guiding principle. God should be loved for His own sake, not out of fear of Hell or the promise of Heaven, as beautifully encapsulated in her prayer. Indeed such primordial emotions as fear and sublime ones like hope can be like a veil, hindrance to the full vision of Allah.

This Ramadan as we fast, pray, give zakat, and do all the meritorious deeds Allah has commanded us to do, let us do so not in the promise of the reward of Heaven, or the fear that we would end up in Hell should we fail to do them, but for the love of Allah, and only for that. Nor should we do good merely for public recognition and rewards, rather for its own sake – kerana Allah.

For me, this Ramadan is also a time to remember and relive the lesson my grandfather taught me so well some 50 years ago. May the soul of Haji Salam bin Tachik rest in peace!