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Sunday, September 12, 2010

NEP policies to be reviewed: Najib

(Malaysiakini) The way affirmative action is implemented is to be reviewed to make it fairer, more transparent and market-friendly.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said what worked in the past, may not work today, and Malaysia would slide backwards and lose its competitiveness without reform or changes.

"We are doing this because we are committed to Vision 2020, which was initiated by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad in 1990," Najib said in an interview with Martin Soong in The CNBC Conversation today.

azlanHe stressed that to maintain the status quo was not an option.

However, the commitment in terms of balancing society to make it more equitable, leading to long-term stability, still remains.

"So, the essence of the New Economic Model (NEM) is not about changing the macro targets but to ensure that how we do it, results in greater success.

"By doing that, I think it would be more acceptable across the board and be seen to be fairer as well," he added.

Najib also said some people are concerned and may be in fear of change as well, but he added, this is nothing new.

Malay rights group Perkasa and Dr Mahathir Mohamad have voiced their defence of the special rights of Malays under the NEP and are against any changes being made to the existing bumiputera policy.

"They are not against us. They are talking more about bumiputera rights. But actually, we are not taking anything away from the bumiputeras, but saying, let us do it differently," he explained.

Najib emphasised that what is important is to achieve better results and a more equitable society.

"At the same time, we want to be fair to the non-bumiputeras as well. We want to build a 1Malaysia," he highlighted.

Sabah, Sarawak not forgotten

He said the commitment is also to bring more equitable development to including Sabah and Sarawak, which is a cornerstone of the NEM, which seeks to be inclusive.

According to Najib, quite a large chunk of resources would be channeled into Sarawak and Sabah under the 10th Malaysia Plan, especially in respect of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP).

He said this encompasses for example, infrastructure development, rural roads, electricity and water supply with the bulk of resources being spent on Sarawak and Sabah.

"We are seeing results because I monitor this on a regular basis. So, things are actually happening on the ground and we will see the achievements to be much higher as we move forward and gain momentum," he added.

- Bernama


Perkasa chief Ibrahim mocks Umno's stand

Controversy clouds 9/11 ceremony

Controversy clouds 9/11 anniversary

Commemorations held in New York and Washington amid row over "Ground Zero mosque" and pastor's threat to burn Qurans.

(Al Jazeera) Barack Obama, the US president, has marked the ninth anniversary of the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001 by saying his country is not at war with Islam.

The president's remarks came amid controversies over a planned Islamic centre to be built near Ground Zero and a Florida pastor's plans to burn Qurans to "send a message" on the anniversary of the attacks.

A series of commemorations took place on Saturday to honour the nearly 3,000 people killed when members of al-Qaeda hijacked four planes, crashing two of them into the World Trade Centre and another into the Pentagon.

In New York, the names of the victims who died there were read out - as they are every year - at the Ground Zero site, against a background of sombre music at a serivce attended by Joseph Biden, the US vice-president.

Obama attended a memorial service at the Pentagon, while a seperate service took place in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the fourth hijacked airliner crashed into a field.

Quran-burning row

Obama used his memorial speech to call once again for religious tolerance, as the day threatened to be overshadowed by a fringe US pastor's threat to burn copies of the Quran on Saturday.

The threat by Terry Jones, which was later withdrawn, has sparked protests around the world have and has been heavily criticised by Americans on both sides of the political divide.

"As Americans, we will not and never will be at war with Islam,"' Obama said.

"It was not a religion that attacked us that September day. It was al-Qaeda, a sorry band of men which perverts religion."

On Friday, thousands of Muslims in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Indonesia and the Palestinian territories took to the streets to protest against the pastor's threat.

The rallies continued on Saturday in the Afghan provinces of Badakhshan and Logar.

Threat withdrawn

Jones offered to scrap the plan to burn the Qurans on Thursday if an Islamic centre being built two blocks away from the Ground Zero site was relocated.

The pastor flew on Saturday to New York to hold talks with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the planned Manhattan Islamic centre and mosque.

Rauf, however, denied both that developers of the project, currently called Park51, had agreed to move the centre or that he was meeting Jones.

Jones, who leads a small congregation of around 50 people, said on Saturday that he would "not today, not ever" burn copies of the Quran after pleas from Obama, the Vatican and several other world leaders warning of a catastrophe for Western-Muslim relations.

"We will definitely not burn the Quran, no," he told NBC's Today show, adding that his decision was no longer dependent on the location of the Islamic centre.

A number of other small congregations and protesters sprinkled across the US insist that they will still burn Qurans on Saturday.

The US president has warned that the burning of Islam's holy book could provoke al-Qaeda suicide bombings and incite violence around the world.

Rallies by groups supporting and opposing the Park51 project took place near Ground Zero soon after the official ceremonies. The site, which is already used for Muslim prayer services, has been closed until Sunday.

Police were standing guard outside the block, and worshippers were being redirected to a different prayer room 10 street blocks away.

Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey, reporting from New York, said that the atmosphere in the city had been muted. "This is a sombre occasion. Family members of the victims have been reading their names, the pain and emotion that they feel still very evident," she said.

"But over this all is controversy about plans to build an Islamic community centre two blocks from the site. It has been a very contentious debate, at times an ugly and heated debate, with the majority of Americans thinking that this centre should not be built so close to where the World Trade Centre stood."


The Woeful Plight of the Stateless Indians – Part 1

By: Iraiputtiran
It was 7.00 o’clock on a beautiful Sunday morning. The sun was rising slowly from far east. He was already out of his house, on his way to ferry the first family of seven without Birth Certificates, from Ayer Itam to the Human Right Party’s Penang state office in Prai for a press conference on their plight. Elsewhere other members of HRP/Hindraf were also busy ferrying families without BCs from around Penang to Prai for the same purpose.
By ten o’clock, the Human Rights Party’s state office was over flowing with families and their children without Birth Certificates. They came and sat there staring into the empty air, perhaps wondering, “what now, will we ever get a Birth Certificate?” I counted, there were nearly forty children and thirty adults in the crowd.
There was melancholy in the atmosphere and sorrow on their faces! It was so solemn and mournful there should be so many citizens in this country, from one particular race in that, come begging for their birth identifications like this when it should have been duly given to them as rightful citizens of this country. I looked at the young children’s faces, so innocent, so pure, so fragile. I recall a poem by Duncan that I so dearly remember…
Nor riches, nor power can give us the best things of life…
The smile of a child…Is the best of all rewards…

But today, I saw no smiles on the children’s beautiful faces, except the heartbreaking evidence of live trapped in absolute poverty. It is needless to say that the severe long term consequences of malnutrition were so glaringly evident on their frail builds. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), children who suffer from malnutrition are more likely to have slowed growth, delayed development, difficulty in school, and high rates of illness, and they may remain malnourished into adulthood. Looking at their parents, I need no more evidence than that to prove the fact. DSC_0160
As I sat there dispirited with the big turn out of the crowd for a very wrong reason, I was soon lost in my own thoughts as usual. The press conference started and I heard the National Coordinator of HRP/Hindraf, Mr. Ganesan, explaining to the press the plight of the poor and marginalised Indians without Birth Certificates and Identification Cards. This was soon followed by question and answer session. Finally lunch was served. It was something simple, but when I saw the children, some seated on the floor, eating the simple meal with much appetite, it brought few drops of tears rolling down my cheeks. We know just too well the reason for this, poverty. I wonder how many meals they would have missed in their lives, what do they eat when they have no money to buy food and how do they fight hunger.
Do the authorities who blatantly refuse to process their Birth Certificates for feeble excuses and kick them around like a football to many government departments for years and years, (some from birth to seven years, some almost thirty years of their lives) realize what they doing to these families, especially the innocent children. The National Registration Department’s excuse that most of these people are without their BCs and ICs because of their ignorance of the law, unregistered marriages and domestic problems is pathetic. As the idiom goes, there is ‘more than meets the eye’, behind this BC-less and IC-less issues, the problem is much more complex and difficult than it appears to be! Hidden deep down in the IC and BC policy of the government is an ugly truth that neither the government nor the National Registration Department wants to admit and act upon. It is their policies and their racially-bias execution of duties that has caused most of this poor and uninformed people to be BC-less and IC-less today, even as the third, fourth or fifth generation of citizens in this country. They adamantly refuse to accept the fact that in all truth, it is the UMNO policies that caused exactly the conditions! After so many years of independence, the powers that be are still ridiculing and travestying the poor Indians in this country! How cruel the powers that be can be…!
The poverty among the Indians in this country ranges from 60% to 70% or perhaps 80%. Poverty, ignorance, illiteracy and social problems are all cyclical! Do the authorities not know that? Sitting in the comfortable cushioned armchair in the nicely air-conditioned office room, it is easy to say, “Oh, it is their problem, they are ignorant, they are full of domestic issues, they are this, they are that…! And then, if at all they appear at the doors of powers that be, they are slapped with piles of complicated documents of which they have no knowledge, chased away with absolute disrespect for humanity!
I saw the documents required and was really taken aback with complexity of the process and the plethora of details and information needed to complete the application! How could this poor people trace the families of their late siblings, dissipated in all directions throughout the country, with whom they have lost contact twenty or thirty years ago,? How could we expect the adopted children who were abandoned by their poor parents some ten or fifteen years ago, trace back their parents? How can we punish the innocent children by denying them their Birth Certificates when their poor Muslim great grandmother gave away her daughter as a sixteen day old baby to a Hindu resulting in her being raised a Hindu. Her marriage registration application was rejected and her Hindu husband was forcefully taken away, circumcised and converted. As a consequence, her children and as well as her grandchildren were all denied their Birth Certificates even after thirty years of struggling as they were all practicing Hinduism. This is the case of Rani, 56, from Melaka who also joined the HRP/Hindraf near Istana Kinta last Sunday to hand over a memorandum to the Sultan of Perak to intervene and solve her struggle of thirty years! How is her conversion issue a domestic problem? How is Rani ignorant of the law when she was only a sixteen days old baby when she was given away. And in the case of Banggrama she was converted as a seven year old child. How was she ignorant of the law? Who was responsible for explaining the law to Rani’s biological Muslim mother, adopted father and Banggarama of conversion laws and consequences? What were the authorities doing when Rani’s Muslim mother was trapped in poverty and had to give away her sixteen days old baby. What was everyone doing until her age of marriage? Why punish these people of an offense that was never communicated to them nor they were aware of. In fact, they have to bear the brunt for the inefficiency, incompetence and racially-bias aristocracy of the UMNOsia government! That is the truth!
How do we comprehend the sadistic acts of the UMNOsia government and its authorities that seem to draw so much pleasure in torturing the poor Indians by whatever means and then just give a lame excuse that it is their ignorance of the law, domestic problem….blah…blah…blah!
Malay Muslim baby abandoning is a national issue and the government is so quick to act on the issue. They want to do all they can from building special schools for the pregnant teenage mothers to school counseling and approving severe penalty for the offence/crime. Similarly, why can’t they respect the abandoned Indian children and do all they can to help them? Why deny them their Birth Certificates because the parents can’t be traced and they are living with their grandmothers or aunts or someone in the family? What is the sin committed by Rani’s children, sons and daughters-in-law and grandchildren that they are being denied Birth Certificates. They are asked to solve the conversion issue first before being granted their BCs. But do the fools realise without BCs, the rightful citizens of this country can’t go to school, can’t acquire education, can’t get a proper job, can’t earn a decent living, can’t raise a family, can’t buy a house to live in, can’t open a bank account, can’t get medical treatment at the hospitals, can’t get insurance or SOCSO coverage for accidents and thousands of other can’t-s? Can life wait for seven years (as in Banggarama’s case) or thirty years (as in Rani’s daughters case)? Do the authorities realize their denial of BCs means denial of life for this poor people? I think they do and that is specifically what they are aiming for! They then can become a permanent supply of cheap labour and slavery. These people are in the fact worst off than the Bangladeshis and Indonesians in Malaysia who all at least have the Passports and can at least work as a factory operator.
The government servants with the pleniDSC_0166 potentiary powers are either completely out of touch with the real world or are just too hell bent on cleansing the ethnic Indians from this land. They prevaricate all they can to cover up their inefficiency and incompetence in the public service. They take no notice of the predicament they are causing the poor Indians and stay in their comfort zones, ignore and abandon them. Why are these people in public service in the first place? We need to reform the whole public service department if we were serious about alleviating the sufferings of the poor and uninformed in this country!
Beyond all these, I fail to comprehend what other critical bread and butter issues of the Indians are DAP, PKR and PAS fighting for to qualify their parties as the so called “multiracial” parties!
Read on my interview with the parents and children in the second part, you will realise how they have been victimised by the racist UMNO government and abandoned by the PKR, DAP, and PAS coalition as well for good! And you will cry with me for them!
Thank you!


Perkasa says BN snub a bid to regain non-Malay support

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — Datuk Ibrahim Ali has shrugged off Barisan Nasional’s (BN) disavowal of his Perkasa group, calling them attempts by the ruling coalition to gain political mileage with non-Malay voters.

“With one shot against Perkasa, everything is solved,” the Perkasa chief said, and then queried if BN was trying to distract voters from MCA president Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek’s “porn video” and MIC’s leadership issues by hitting out at the Malay rights group.

Presenting himself tongue-in-cheek as a martyr to national unity, Ibrahim said he was willing to endure detractors’ slings and arrows if that would help BN win.

Claiming he was not fighting for any personal political agenda, the Pasir Mas MP said his only purpose was to make the government aware of the Malay grassroots sentiment — of being sidelined so BN can court the non-Malay vote.

"Sometimes I fight to lose... to make the voice heard," he said, arguing that unity of Malaysian society on the whole was dependent on Malay unity as they constituted the largest ethnic group in the country.

In any case, Ibrahim believed such attacks will only strengthen the resolve of Perkasa members to carry on their fight to preserve Malay rights.

"We're not the slightest bit perturbed by attacks from all sides. I am not worried," he said, and urged members of his non-governmental organisation not to lose sight of their struggle.

Barisan Nasional leaders finally came together yesterday in an apparent face-off with Perkasa and Ibrahim, who has been seen as a thorn in the side of the Najib administration.

Umno’s top leaders, who have kept silent so far on the topic of Perkasa, yesterday dropped their defences when approached on the matter and agreed that supporting the controversial group’s views could prove detrimental to BN's struggle.

Leading the fray was Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who told The Malaysian Insider that it was “about time” that Umno made a strong stand against Datuk Ibrahim Ali and his fledgling Perkasa.

Nazri, who has been the most vocal of all Umno leaders on the topic of Perkasa, even went a step further to assert that all of Perkasa’s members from Umno and its patron, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, were political “has-beens”.

Also joining in was Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, who told his BN component party counterparts that Umno will not back Perkasa or Ibrahim in the next general election as such a move will only erode non-Malay support for the ruling coalition.

In response, Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali earlier today warned political parties today that they risked electoral defeat if they attempted to alienate the Malay rights group.

He said members from Malay political parties were signing up because they felt their leaders were afraid to speak out against the leaders of “certain races” for fear of losing political support, claiming that only Perkasa was brave enough to defend their rights.

Ibrahim also took the opportunity today to hit out at Umno's statements of disavowal and said that Perkasa had never asked for any support from the Malay party, or any other party.

"When did we ever asked for their support? We are not a tool for any political party," he said.

-The Malaysian Insider

Fire on Penang Bridge disrupts traffic

GEORGE TOWN: Thousands of vehicles were stranded on the Penang Bridge after Tenaga Nasional Bhd's high-voltage cables caught fire at Km2, Perai, heading here today.

Tenaga Nasional vice-president for transmission Rozimi Remeli said the incident, at about 10am, involved three 132KW cables under the bridge.

A Penang Bridge Sdn Bhd spokesman said the fire forced the closure of the right lanes on both ways of the bridge, causing traffic congestion stretching about 10km.

Black smoke was billowing from under the bridge.

However, traffic flow had returned to normalcy this evening. The spokesman said the traffic flow was back as usual about 6pm.

Rozimi said that power disruption was limited to several areas like Bayan Baru, George Town and Gelugor.

"We managed to restore powers to these areas within two minutes after thefire," he told reporters at the scene.

He also assured the people in the state that power would be sufficient to meet the demand.

"We apologise to the affected consumers,” he said, adding that apart from powers from Seberang Perai, Penang also received supply from the Gelugor and Juru plants channelled via submarine cables.

He said Tenaga Nasional was now identifying the cause of the incident.

Similar incident took place in 1995, he added.

- Bernama

Tiada geran tanah walaupun hutang dilangsai

Oleh Jamilah Kamarudin - Free Malaysia Today

LAPORAN KHAS GEMAS: Free Malaysia Today turut mendengar keluhan beberapa peneroka tanah rancangan Felda Palong 9, 10, dan 11 yang telah pun melangsaikan  hutang tanah seluas 10 hektar kepada Felda, namun masih belum menerima atau diberi geran tanah hak milik individu.
Mengikut Akta Penempatan Berkelompok atau Group Settlement Act (GSA) 1960, apabila peneroka selesai membayar kesemua jumlah hutang hak milik tanah, Felda akan menjadi orang tengah dengan mengesyorkan kepada kerajaan negeri supaya dikeluarkan geran tanah kepada peneroka.

Namun perkara ini tidak berlaku kepada peneroka Md Salam Yusof,49, yang sudah pun melangsaikan hutangnya sejumlah RM52,000 sejak tahun 2008.

Beliau menjadi peneroka awal di tanah rancangan Felda Palong sejak tahun 1985 membayar ansuran kepada Felda sebanyak RM250 sebulan melalui potongan hasil pendapatan bulanannya.

Katanya, selepas bebas daripada hutang, hasrat untuk menanam secara sendiri dan tidak mahu lagi bergantung kepada Felda tidak kesampaian memandangkan pengurusan Felda masih lagi bermain tarik-tali terhadap pemberian dokumen geran hak milik tanah.

"Saya menerima duit raya daripada Felda selepas Perdana Menteri Najib Tun Razak mengumumkan peruntukan RM350 kepada setiap peneroka.

"Saya hanya menerima RM200 sahaja, peneroka yang lain dapat bayaran penuh. Ini bermakna mereka (Felda) sudah mengiktiraf status saya bukan lagi sebagai peneroka yang masih berhutang.

"Jika pemberian duit raya ini sudah memberi petanda yang saya sudah bebas daripada hutang Felda, kenapa tidak terus diberikan geran tersebut kepada saya," soal beliau.

Felda ambil kesempatan?
Md Salam, yang juga Ketua Program Tanam Semula Palong 9, berkata, Felda seperti mahu mengambil kesempatan terhadap dirinya apabila menawarkan perjanjian program tanam semula, walaupun tahu beliau telah malangsaikan hutang tanahnya itu.

Katanya, Felda melalui Tabung Tanam Semula akan memberikan elaun sara hidup dan lain-lain bantuan kepada peneroka sebanyak RM1,000 sebulan dan peneroka itu akan diberikan pinjaman (hutang) yang mesti dibayar balik.

"Saya tidak mahu hidup dibebani hutang Felda lagi kerana saya mampu memperoleh pendapatan dua kali ganda jika tanam sendiri. Felda seperti cuba menghalang peneroka daripada berdikari dan mendapat hasil keuntungan berganda".

"Saya juga pernah menerima aduan daripada peneroka lain yang mereka digertak untuk diusir keluar daripada tanah rancangan jika tidak mahu tanam semula dengan Felda," katanya.

Setiausaha Program Tanam Semula Berkelompok Palon 10, Shafie Daoh pula berkata, beliau bersama beberapa peneroka yang telah melangsaikan hutang dengan Felda pernah memohon untuk menanam semula getah melalui bantuan Pihak Berkuasa Kemajuan Pekebun Kecil Perusahaan Getah (RISDA) tetapi tidak dibenarkan oleh  Felda.

Halang pengambilan tanah individu
Beliau, yang juga antara peneroka awal sejak tahun 1985, kesal dengan pengurusan Felda yang masih menggunakan taktik kaveat (membekukan) geran hak milik individu.

"Setakat ini di Felda Palong 9 sahaja ada 27 orang manakala Felda Palong 10 dan 11 ada 54 peneroka yang mengalami nasib sebegini," katanya.

Mengejar impian agar Felda memberi pelepasan kepada mereka untuk tanam sendiri, Shafie dan beberapa peneroka lain sanggup turun ke Kuala Lumpur untuk berjumpa dengan pegawai atasan untuk mendapatkan geran sekaligus mahu diiktiraf bebas daripada cengkaman Felda.

"Respon mereka agak mengecewakan. Mereka memberikan jawapan geran kami tidak boleh dikeluarkan begitu sahaja. Biasalah, kerenah birokrasi.

Menceritakan persiapan menyambut hari raya, Md Salam berkata tahun ini disambut secara sederhana berikutan hasil pendapatnnya yang tidak memberangsangkan seperti dulu.

"Hasil pendapatan tanaman getah kini tidak seberapa kerana pokok getah sudah tua. Tak banyak hasil yang diperoleh.

Walaupun sudah tiada hutang dengan Felda, tapi mereka tidak memberi hak milik tanah kepada saya, malah mereka menawarkan saya berhutang lagi dengan mereka melalui program tanam semula.

"Sekarang saya berada dalam keadaan dihimpit dengan tekanan kerana jika saya melakukan tanam secara sendiri, saya akan dikenakan tindakan oleh Felda," katanya.

Nine years on and 911 still baffles US policymakers

By David Anandarajoo

COMMENT Today marks nine years since the 911 attacks. In the US, West Asia policy, under Barack Obama, has been mainly, containment and reversing the political damage of the previous administration.

To some extent, he has made some progress. But US policy shifts are notoriously laggard.

And by the time Obama’s administration translates the new policies into practical day-to-day diplomacy, he runs the risk of introducing concepts that might have worked during George W Bush’s  tenure…10 years ago!

But time, tide and West Asian politics waits for no one. Regional politics, key players, socio-economic and political tectonic plates have changed and are changing virtually daily.

And the pattern hasn’t changed for years with the US and its European allies perceiving the region as being static and torpid.

But West Asia evolves faster and far less predictably than the West can possibly picture.

Eventually, US and European governments do come to grips with their mistakes, but by the time their realizations occur, the  policy adjustments end up being hopelessly dated and quite ineffective.

As Arab nationalist movements emerged and took power across West Asia, the US and Europe ignored the challenge they posed and wrongly treated them as Soviet-inspired satellites.

By the time the significance and popularity of these movements were fully appreciated, Europe's power had long since faded, and its reputation in the region was irreparably tarnished by the stain of neo-colonialism in the aftermath of the so called war on terrorism.

Likewise, the US only became fully aware of the jihadist threat in the upshot of 911, after Washington had fuelled its rise by backing Islamic groups in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

And the idea of a Palestinian state was only endorsed by Washington in 2000 -- just when, as a result of developments on the ground and in both the Israeli and the Palestinian polities, the achievement of a two-state solution was becoming increasingly elusive.

The West's tendency to adopt policies that have already outlived their local political shelf lives is repeating itself today.

Despite its attempt to rectify the Bush administration's missteps, the Obama administration is cramped by flawed assumptions about the region’s balance of power.

The US and Europe still see West Asia as a neatly divided cut between two camps: a moderate, pro-West camp that ought to be supported and a militant, pro-Iranian one that needs to be contained.

A false assumption that is as far as the East is from West.

David Anandarajoo is a veteran journalist who now teaches journalism.

Petelagahan Umno Dan Perkasa Hanya Sandiwara

Dari TV Selangor

Ketua Pembangkang Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim yakin perbalahan Umno-Perkasa hanya sandiwara bersama untuk menghadapi Pilihanraya Umum ke-13.

Beliau berkata, umum sedia maklum bahawa kepimpinan Umno selama ini mempromosikan Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia.

Bukan sahaja permit kumpulan itu lulus dalam sekejapan, bahkan juga majlis-majlis Perkasa direstui dan dihadiri bukan sahaja oleh mantan Presiden Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, tetapi juga Presiden Umno, Najib Abdul Razak.

Mutakhir ini media melaporkan Umno membuat keputusan untuk menjauhi Perkasa dengan kerana kumpulan itu mengugat kestabilan Barisan Nasional, dan menghakis sokongan rakyat kepada gagasan itu.

Anwar menyifatkan Umno bermain bunga silat untuk mengelirukan pandangan rakyat, kononnya langkah menceraikan Perkasa adalah perlu bagi mencapai matlamat 1Malaysia.

”UMNO tidak boleh lepaskan tanggungjawabnya sebagai satu badan yang selalu mempromosikan PERKASA jika mereka masih berdegil maknanya mereka harus memberikan penjelasan kepada rakyat apa yang berlaku sebenarnya,”kata Anwar

Beliau menggesa Umno menjelaskan kepad rakyat apakah keputusan itu adalah dasar yang kekal, atau sekadar keperluan politik semasa semata-mata.

”Kalau setakat ini kita tidak yakin bahawa sebenarnya UMNO tidak menjiwai apa yang disuarakan oleh PERKASA tetapi hanya satu sandiwara politik sementara”, kata Dato Seri Anwar selepas menghadiri rumah terbuka anjuran Parti Keadilan di tapak Expo seberang jaya petang tadi.

Sementara itu, Anwar memberi amaran bahawa tindakan tegas akan dikenakan terhadap mana-mana ahli Parti Keadilan Rakyat yang menganggotai Perkasa, kerana ia bercanggah dengan prinsip perjuangan parti.

To Modernize, Can Malaysia Move Beyond Race?

By Michael Schuman / Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia is that rare country with an unequivocal national narrative. It goes something like this: Malaysia’s 28 million people, comprising mainly Malays, Chinese and Indians, make up a moderate and modern emerging democracy. Unlike members of other multiethnic countries, they respect one another’s beliefs and values and share a commitment to achieving prosperity. The official religion is Islam, but other faiths are freely allowed and celebrated. This is one harmonious place.

Much of that narrative is true — but not all of it. Malaysia’s economic miracle has stalled, and while the nation is, indeed, somewhat pluralistic, it is no melting pot. Indeed, it is a society where people define themselves first and foremost by race.

The country’s political leadership has in some respects reinforced those ethnic identities. For the past 40 years, policymakers have doled out special privileges — in education and business — to one community: the majority Malays. The program is one of modern history’s greatest experiments in social engineering and possibly the world’s most extensive attempt at affirmative action. But the policies have also bred resentment among minorities, distorted the economy and undermined the concept of a single Malaysian identity.

Now a movement is gaining strength to finally change the system — and it’s coming from the very top. Prime Minister Najib Razak, 57, has surprised the country by advocating a fundamental reform of the pro-Malay program first introduced, ironically, by his father, who was Malaysia’s Prime Minister in the 1970s. Though the specifics of the new policies remain hazy, Najib’s intent is not. “I want Malaysia to be globally competitive,” he told TIME in an exclusive interview. “For that, we need to get every single Malaysian to be together.”

Najib’s proposals have simultaneously raised hopes, ire and fear. The mere idea of changing the affirmative-action system has reopened old wounds in Malaysian society and reactivated the long-running debate on how best to fuse Malays, Chinese and Indians into one nation. The direction Malaysia takes, moreover, has repercussions beyond its shores. The issues raised by Najib’s proposals are relevant to any upwardly mobile developing economy, especially a multicultural one: how to increase wealth and do so equitably.

In confronting these sensitive challenges, Najib is taking enormous political risks. The primary base of electoral support for Najib’s political party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), is the Malay community, and altering decades-old perquisites could cause voters to defect to the opposition. But Najib believes he has little choice. If Malaysia’s economy is to compete with China, India and other rapidly emerging neighbors, Najib sees no other route but reform. “The competition is much greater and some would describe it even as cutthroat,” Najib says. “There is a realization that what has worked in the past may not necessarily work in the future.”

The Malay Card

Najib is facing the same dilemma his predecessors have since the earliest days of Malaysian independence: balancing the perceived needs of the Malays, both political and economic, with those of the country as a whole. At the heart of the problem is the reverse-pyramid shape of the Malaysian economy. Though the Malays and other indigenous peoples, together known as bumiputra in Malay, make up about 60% of the population, they have traditionally been poorer than the Chinese and Indian immigrants, who have long dominated the nation’s business and trade. After Kuala Lumpur was struck by race riots in 1969, a shaken leadership determined that communal peace was impossible without economic balance. The result was the New Economic Policy (NEP), introduced in 1971, which aimed to raise the Malays’ share of the economic pie. Malays were given preferential access to public contracts and university scholarships. Any company listing on the stock market had to sell 30% of its shares to bumiputra investors. Though some measures have been softened or eliminated over the past two decades, many pro-Malay privileges remain. Certain government contracts are available only to bumiputra-controlled firms, for example. Malays even receive special discounts on home purchases. The affirmative-action program has become so ingrained in the Malaysian psyche that it is akin to a national ideology.

It is also controversial. Critics contend that the pro-Malay program too often benefits the connected few over its intended targets: the poor and struggling. All car-import permits, for example, are awarded to bumiputra-controlled firms, a policy intended to foster entrepreneurs in the community. But government audits have revealed that Malay businessmen with access to the permits sometimes sell them to minority traders who don’t — at an instant profit. (The Ministry of Trade and Industry, recognizing the problem, says it will phase out the permit system by 2020.) “Unfortunately, as [the NEP] was implemented over time, some of the zealots, politicians and bureaucrats included, tended to become more racial and emphasized more on the people who have relationships with them,” says Razaleigh Hamzah, an UMNO dignitary and former Finance Minister. “That’s where it went wrong.”

Despite four decades of special aid, 3 in 4 of the poorest people in Malaysia are still bumiputra. Adli Ahmad Ghazi, the Malay co-owner of Malaysian Defensive Driving & Riding, a 70-employee driving school in Kuala Lumpur, complains that the pro-Malay policies do little to help a small businessman like himself. In 2008, Adli tried to get financing from three agencies tasked with supporting Malay businessmen or small enterprises, but got rejected. When he has to deal with the bureaucracy, Adli says, he faces the same red tape as any other businessman. It took him two years to buy a parcel of land for his company from the local government. “The [NEP] rules don’t really apply to people on the ground,” Adli says. “They say the NEP would help the Malays, but it only helps a small percentage of the Malays.”

Comfort Zone

Affirmative action may not be helping the overall Malaysian economy either. Though Malaysia has been among the best-performing economies in the world since World War II and boasts a spectacular record of improving human welfare — the percentage of the population living in absolute poverty has plummeted from 50% in 1970 to less than 4% today — the story is now stuck on the same chapter. Malaysia has fallen into what is called the “middle-income trap.” Having elevated itself to a comfortable level of income, Malaysia has been unable to take that next leap into the realm of advanced economies. While growth has slowed, Malaysians have watched other fast-paced Asian rivals zip by. In 1970, the gross national income per capita of South Korea, at $260, was below Malaysia’s $380, but by 2009, South Korea’s was almost three times larger, at $19,830 vs. $7,230, according to the World Bank.

Malaysia’s struggles reflect those facing Southeast Asia as a whole. The region’s economies once seemed among the world’s most promising emerging markets, but in recent years, progress in almost all of them has been stymied by upheaval and poor governance. Thailand remains rudderless as its fragile democracy has degenerated into perpetual factional strife. The promise of the Philippines remains unrealized as its feeble government has continually failed to enact the tough reforms needed to turn around the underperforming economy. Indonesia is only now returning to its place as one of the world’s premier emerging economies after a decade of political uncertainty scared off foreign investors.

If it is able to change its economic system, Malaysia could show its neighbors the way forward. Malaysia’s essential problem is that its growth model — export-oriented manufacturing, often by foreign-invested factories — has become mismatched with its needs. Malaysia must become more innovative if its rapid development is to continue. But that’s not happening. Private investment has fallen from a third of GDP in the mid-1990s to only about 10% today, labor-productivity growth has slowed, and R&D spending remains anemic. Instead of developing new products with highly skilled technicians, Malaysia’s manufacturing sector still too often assembles goods designed by others, using imported technology and low-skilled foreign workers. “There is a growing realization that Malaysia’s relative position compared to other countries that are catching up very quickly is not improving,” says Philip Schellekens, a senior economist at the World Bank. “Relative to where they want to be, there is still a long road.

Though it would be incorrect to blame the pro-Malay policies for the economy’s woes — Malaysia did, once, achieve remarkable rates of growth with the perquisites in place — they are nevertheless dampening business sentiment, scaring off talent, curtailing investment and stifling domestic competition. Chua Tiam Wee, president of the SMI Association of Malaysia, a small-enterprise organization, believes relaxing the NEP preferences would create a more level playing field on which the most capable firms could advance, making the economy more merit-based and upgrading Malaysian industry. The affirmative-action policy is “a source of a lot of distortions to the economic system,” Chua says. By limiting the opportunities available to minorities, the NEP is likely contributing to a brain drain, in which some of the country’s most talented people choose to work elsewhere. The government estimates that more than half of the 350,000 Malaysians working abroad have a college education. Stéphane Garelli, director of the World Competitiveness Center at IMD, a business school in Switzerland, believes that the affirmative-action regulations have made Malaysia less attractive to foreign investors. Malaysia’s “bargaining power to put such restrictions on foreign investors is not as big as other nations’,” he says.

Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs in Malaysia certainly believe the pro-Malay policies cap their business opportunities. Pardip Kumar Kukreja, the Malaysian-Indian chairman of Grand Paradise Holdings, a Kuala Lumpur — based firm that manages and owns hotels and operates travel agencies, laments that he can’t get access to lucrative contracts providing travel services to the government due to regulations that favor Malay-owned enterprises. Removing such restrictions, he says, can act as an incentive to invest. Kukreja recently decided to launch an Internet-based business to sell travel services worldwide because Najib’s administration liberalized affirmative-action rules for the tourism sector last year. “There are many things we’d like to do, which we hope we’ll be able to do in the near future,” he says. “To a small and medium entrepreneur, he wants to make his own decisions.”

New and Untested

Najib is convinced the old ways must go. The centerpiece of his economic reform program, introduced in March, is called the New Economic Model (NEM). The plan envisions reducing red tape to encourage more private investment and internal competition, decreasing the state role in the economy and improving the education system to produce more skilled workers. “For us to move up a few notches, we have to address the structural problems,” Najib says. “We cannot be in denial.” Most of all, the NEM also proposes a major reform of affirmative-action policies to phase out remaining racial quotas and focus efforts on uplifting the poorest 40% of the population — irrespective of race. Says Najib: “I don’t want anyone to feel that they’ve been left out or marginalized.”

There are urgent political reasons he feels that way. UMNO, which has ruled Malaysia in coalition since its independence from Britain in 1957, lost ground to opposition parties in a hotly contested 2008 general election, and Najib is faced with the daunting prospect of expanding UMNO’s political base outside its core Malay constituency. The NEM is an effort by Najib to turn stodgy UMNO into the party of change and outmaneuver its rivals. Some powerful voices within UMNO are egging on Najib to push his reforms. “We have to be bold and brave to ensure [our] long-term competitiveness,” says Khairy Jamaluddin, an UMNO member of Parliament.

Yet Najib has also come under pressure from conservative elements in the Malay community to hold back. “The bumiputra are still lagging behind,” complains Ibrahim Ali, president of Malay nationalist organization Perkasa. “If the economy is not balanced, then everything will lead to trouble.” As a result, Najib doesn’t have full support from an UMNO worried about scaring off Malay voters. Najib’s reform program “is a tough sell within the party,” admits Khairy. “There will be people who resist the changes.”

The split in UMNO reflects the greater divide within the Malay community over the future of affirmative action. Some Malays believe that they still don’t possess the skills and resources to contend against Chinese businessmen, making continued affirmative-action policies indispensable. The program “should stay in place and improve,” says Rizal Faris, president of the Penang Malay Chamber of Commerce. “What [officials] want to achieve is a level playing field where all parties are able to compete on their merits, but we need to ensure that the Malay community has been sufficiently skilled and pulled up.” But others believe the time has come for Malays to step up and compete on their own, without special government aid. Akmal Syahirah, a 21-year-old law student at the University of Malaya, says that affirmative action should be eliminated, even though her family has greatly benefited from it in the past. Her father acquired land to produce palm oil through a pro-Malay development scheme, and her three younger sisters received tuition for extra after-school studies. But now, “I think we need to change,” she says. “We can’t just let Malays stay in their comfort zone.”

Balancing Act

Faced with such contending forces, Najib is trying to please everybody. Affirmative action won’t be eliminated entirely under the NEM, but altered to weed out abusive practices, target money where it is most needed and support the most worthy Malay businessmen, all the while trying to open up opportunities for minorities. Najib sees no contradiction in such a strategy. “Affirmative action remains in place, but the way it is carried out would be different,” he says. “When it comes to helping the poor and the vulnerable groups, it should be irrespective of race. But there are certain affirmative actions which are still necessary, because the bumiputra are still very much behind and they must be helped. We want to help those bumiputra who are potential winners.”

Even as he faces the daunting task of reforming Malaysia, Najib must deal with the domestic and international fallout from the divisive trial of Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition’s most prominent leader. In 2008, only months after the opposition’s electoral success, Anwar was charged with sodomy, a serious crime in Malaysia. The trial has a déjà vu flavor. Anwar was convicted of sodomy in 2000 (and abuse of power a year earlier), but the ruling was overturned in 2004 and he was freed after six years in prison. Anwar has pleaded not guilty to the latest charge and attacked his trial as a politically motivated attempt to discredit the opposition. The government denies that, saying the courts have a duty to conduct a fair trial. Yet the case has tainted Najib’s administration. In a joint essay in the Wall Street Journal, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz wrote that Anwar’s trial threatens “all those in Malaysia who have struggled for a freer and more democratic nation.”

The biggest test for Najib still awaits. All eyes are watching for the detailed policy prescriptions of Najib’s NEM, which could be released in October. Some Malaysia experts expect the final package to be underwhelming. Najib “doesn’t have the strength to follow through, whether politically or personally,” says John Malott, a former U.S. ambassador to Malaysia. “He’s not a transformational figure.” Najib insists his critics underestimate him. “I want to transform Malaysia,” Najib says. “I want Malaysia to be a 21st century nation and I am determined to do that.” Malaysia’s future — and new narrative — depends on it.

The article originally appears in the September 6, 2010 issue of TIME Asia magazine.
— with reporting by Liz Gooch And M. Krishnamoorthy / Kuala Lumpur

Peguam dikehendaki ada rekod jenayah?

Utusan Malaysia 

KUALA LUMPUR 9 Sept. - Seorang peguam yang dipercayai antara senarai individu paling kehendaki dalam kes kehilangan jutawan kosmetik, Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya, 47, dan tiga lagi lelaki sejak 30 Ogos lalu, disyaki mempunyai rekod jenayah kes penipuan di Selangor.

Menurut sumber yang rapat dengan Sosilawati, peguam bergelar Datuk dan berusia 40-an itu juga pernah berurusan dengan beberapa ahli politik di negeri terbabit atas urusan jual beli tanah.

Sumber itu mendakwa, salah seorang daripada ahli politik terbabit yang juga Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) turut terlibat dalam urusan penjualan tanah yang ingin dibeli oleh Sosilawati.

Selain itu, peguam tersebut juga ada memberikan sekeping cek bernilai RM1 juta kepada Sosilawati baru-baru ini, menurut sumber itu.

"Cek itu kemungkinan mempunyai kaitan dengan urusan beli tanah antara mereka, namun ia hanya boleh ditunaikan pada September ini.

"Sosilawati mengenali peguam itu kerana pernah beberapa kali berjumpa dengannya sebelum ini untuk membincangkan urusan pembelian tanah.

"Kali terakhir ialah sebelum beliau dilaporkan hilang pada 30 Ogos lalu," katanya ketika dihubungi di sini hari ini.

Sejak beberapa hari lalu, pelbagai khabar angin tersebar mengenai misteri kehilangan Sosilawati bersama tiga lelaki.

Sosilawati yang merupakan Pengasas Nouvelles Visage dikesan hilang bersama pembantu peribadinya, Kamarudin Samsudin, 47, pegawai bank CIMB, Norhisham Mohammad, 38, dan peguam Ahmad Kamil Abd. Karim, 32, sebaik sahaja meninggalkan pejabatnya.

Misteri kehilangan Sosilawati bagaimanapun menemui petunjuk baru apabila kereta BMW X5 berwarna hitam milik wanita itu yang dipercayai ditinggalkan dalam keadaan tergesa-gesa akhirnya ditemui di kawasan letak kereta di Flat USJ1, Subang Jaya, 6 September lalu.

Sementara itu, Ketua Polis Selangor, Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar berkata, pihaknya akan menyalurkan apa sahaja maklumat yang diperlukan oleh polis Kuala Lumpur untuk membantu siasatan sehingga terungkai misteri kehilangan Sosilawati.

Beliau berkata, memandangkan Sosilawati dan tiga lagi yang lain dilaporkan hilang di Banting, Selangor, maka pihaknya memang ada menerima maklumat daripada penduduk tempatan.

Katanya, namun semua maklumat diperoleh itu diserahkan kepada polis Kuala Lumpur kerana disiasat pihak tersebut.

"Dalam kes-kes melibatkan orang hilang, polis Selangor memang ada terlibat memberi bantuan jika mempunyai maklumat, begitu juga pasukan polis dari kontinjen lain.

"Kes Sosilawati tidak terkecuali apabila kita sentiasa menyalurkan maklumat dari semasa ke semasa jika ada perkembangan," katanya kepada pemberita ketika ditemui selepas melawat pos kawalan Ops Sikap Ke-22 di Batu 20, Bukit Berdarah, Jalan Sungai Buloh-Kuala Selangor dekat sini hari ini.

Almost zero production after RM22b spent

By Anil Netto,

They invested RM22 billion in the hope of hitting a ‘gold mine’. And now they have almost zero production.
That’s the fate of the Malaysian biodiesel industry players, which have an installed capacity of 2.6 million tonnes. Read The Star report here.
And now, guess what, they are asking the government for subsidies. How do you like that? Didn’t they factor in the various risks? I still remember a business weekly gushing about the prospects of the biofuel industry and the big moves planned by the various players.
And what about the environmental impact of biofuels? Environmental groups argue that deforestation produces far more emissions than biofuels remove. See Wikipedia here.
This is what Global Subsidies Initiative says:
The Malaysian Federal Government consequently developed ambitious biofuel policies in 2005 to expand the market for palm oil, improve energy security, create a new export industry and replace petroleum imports with a cheap indigenous fuel to satisfy domestic needs.
Yet, in just a few years, Malaysia has seen its vision of sustainable development through biofuel production fade. The very efforts of governments worldwide to encourage the production and use of biofuels have undermined the economic viability of the industry as a whole. In 2007, millions of tonnes of vegetable oils, tallow, grains and sugar cane were converted worldwide to produce approximately 70 million litres of biofuels. A sizeable portion of this production occurred in OECD countries, heavily supported by government incentives that are estimated to have totalled over US$ 15 billion that year alone. The result, over the past two years, has been an unprecedented surge in demand for agricultural commodities causing dramatic rises in prices, including that of palm oil. Today, high feedstock prices put biofuels largely beyond the reach of any but the wealthiest nations that can afford to maintain subsidies.
The GSI concludes:
In light of the limited economic, social and environmental benefits of promoting biodiesel in Malaysia, the GSI report recommends that the government refrain from intervening in the market for biofuels, through such measures as offering direct price support or imposing mandatory blending. Rather, the biofuel industry should be allowed to function in response to market signals—consistent with environmental and social standards—so that the industry establishes itself on a sustainable rather than a government-dependent basis. The government has correctly surmised that biodiesel can only, at most, complement other energy sources. It cannot significantly augment the nation’s energy supplies.