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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Landslide hits Mexican town

At least 11 people are missing after a landslide triggered by relentless rain buried homes in a town in southern Mexico, the interior minister has said.

Earlier on Tuesday both, Ulises Ruiz, the Oaxaca state governor, and President Felipe Calderon said that at least seven people had been killed and 100 others were missing.

"Happily, the casualty toll has changed, so much so that we can't even confirm any deaths" from the landslide, Jose Francisco Blake said after arriving in Oaxaca city on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day Ruiz said the water-logged hillside gave way at about 3:00 am [0800 GMT], burying between 100 and 300 homes and sparking fears that "up to 1,000" people may have died.

Ruiz said tropical depression Matthew had also heaped torrential rain on the neighbouring states of Tabasco and Chiapas.

"There has been lots of rain, rivers have overflowed, and we're having a hard time reaching the area because there are landslides on the roads," Ruiz said.

Rescue 'difficult'

Mariana Sanchez, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Mexico City, said the remoteness of the area as well as blocked roads, are making the rescue mission very difficult.

"They have not said whether they will be able to land at the capital of Oaxaca, which is about four hours away from the affected area, or if they will be able to get closer," she said.

"There are even rescue teams who are going there by foot. But it is very dangerous, it has been raining for 12 days non-stop. Mexico says there will be rains for at least another month. Thousands in the south have already been affected."

Matthew, the 13th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, has generated widespread rain in the area over the past week, threatening waterlogged sugar and coffee farms.

Residents in the region's coastal and low-lying areas have been wading through flooded streets since Monday, trying to salvage their belongings.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

The three R’s of anti-reform in Selangor

Khalid had few answers to the criticisms raised against his administration’s failings. — file pic

SHAH ALAM, Sept 29 — Recalcitrant civil servants, resistant party members, and race.

These are the recurring obstacles to reforms that the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Selangor government must eliminate, said academicians, activists and state government officials at a recent book launch.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, the event’s special guest, went beyond agreeing that these factors were mainly to blame for the disappointments in his administration’s more than two-year track record.

In responding to the criticisms levelled at his administration, Khalid alluded to fact that these factors would continue to hobble his government and that there was no sure way to deal with them.

“Our policies may be good. But implementation is hard. The obstacles are hard and are no joke,” Khalid stressed at the launch of “Road to Reform: Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor”.

The book is a collection of essays from 22 prominent members of Malaysia’s civil society movements — including academicians, writers, environmentalists, journalists and legal activists.

The pieces deal with specific Selangor government policies introduced by PR, which tried to break with the past practices of Barisan Nasional (BN) administrations.

The book looked at the challenges, pitfalls and victories in PR’s quest to establish a more transparent, accountable, inclusive and efficient state government. It was edited by Selangor government research officer Tricia Yeoh.

Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, who spoke at the launch, brought up an oft-mentioned PR promise that had yet to be fulfilled: Reintroducing local council elections.

This was also brought up by some in the audience, one of whom snidely remarked that PR did not really want the third vote as the coalition would lose control of local councils.

State governments currently get to appoint councillors and the posts are sometimes used to reward loyalists.

“It is something do-able. There are legal arguments that can be made for it and it is envisaged in the Constitution. The Selangor government must re-introduce them,” said Ambiga, the chairperson of election watch-dog Bersih 2.0.

Khalid chose not to respond to this specific criticism in his rebuttal but sources within PR told The Malaysian Insider that some leaders disliked the idea of local council elections.

The resistance was not wholly due to wanting to have partisan control but because of shortcomings in how the councils themselves carried out their duties.

“There is an internal debate on whether to have elections or to correct the deficiencies in council structure first. It is pointless to have elections without fixing the council structure,” one source said.

The state bureaucracy came in for heavy criticism from panellists and the book’s writers.

“You can have five different economic models but if you can’t fix the bureaucracy, then it is all pointless,” said one panellist, political economist Prof Edmund Terrence Gomez.

Ambiga pointed to several of the book’s articles which described agencies which were either unaware or uninterested in carrying out the new policies they had been tasked with.

Khalid acknowledged this but did little to assure the audience that his administration had an answer to problematic civil service officers.

“Yes the bureaucracy is a setback. But this is the group of people that we have to deal with. We are trying very hard to change their mindsets and our approaches are difficult for them to comprehend. So we have to keep doing it slowly,” said the state’s top civil servant.

A PR official met at the launch explained that the bureaucracy dragged its feet mainly because they were uncertain that the coalition will remain in charge after the next general election.

The fear is that if BN returns, officers who had co-operated with PR would be sidelined and purged from the service, says the official, who has intimate knowledge of the state government’s problems with bureaucracy.

Most of the criticism, however, was reserved for the topic of race. Specifically, how PR was faltering in its avowed aim of transcending race in its policies and the image of its member parties.

“I don’t even want to talk about race when it comes to development. It’s a difficult issue but we must transcend it. We must forge economic models that go beyond it,” said Gomez, of Universiti Malaya.

He said the present economic slowdown was the perfect opportunity to take stock of the current failed model of market-driven, unregulated growth and replace it with an approach that was more inclusive, just and sustainable.

Again, Khalid conceded to how intractable race was in planning an economic policy saying: “It’s really tough to change the economy. We have to enhance income and reduce disparities. Only then can we talk about race.”

Not all of the panellist presentations were negative. Ibrahim Suffian of the opinion survey firm Merdeka Center, said that polls in Selangor showed respondents being generally positive about the direction the state was headed in under PR.

“They know the constraints that the administration faces. Public opinion is fickle but at the moment the sentiment is quite okay with regards to Selangor,” said Ibrahim.

In the end, claimed another official from the administration, substantive reform would only be possible if PR takes over the federal government.

Lingam and 2 ex-chief justices get May 16 date to challenge video clip’s authenticity

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — The High Court has set aside May 16 next year to hear arguments from senior lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam and two former chief justices who are challenging the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on a controversial video clip recording of images of a person purported to be the lawyer on the telephone, talking about the appointment of judges.

High Court deputy registrar Halilah Suboh fixed the date in chambers upon meeting the parties when the case came up for case management.

Lingam, who was representing himself, told reporters that High Court judge Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh would hear the merit of the judicial review application filed by them over the commission’s findings.

On Aug 24, the Court of Appeal granted leave for judicial review sought by the trio and ordered the case to be remitted back to the High Court to hear the merit of the case.

The Appeals Court made the order in a 2-1 majority decision when allowing the appeal by Lingam, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim and Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin against the High Court’s refusal to grant leave for their applications for judicial review to challenge the findings.

Justices Tengku Baharudin Shah Tengku Mahmud and Datuk Zaharah Ibrahim allowed the appeal while Justice Datuk Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus dissented.

On Dec 12, 2008, the High Court ruled that the commission’s findings were not reviewable on grounds that they were not a pronouncement of a decision and thereby, did not affect the rights of the individuals or their obligations.

However, the Appeals Court held that the High Court, in dismissing the trio’s leave application against the commission’s findings, had applied the wrong test in interpreting the prima facie threshold to be passed under Order 53 of the Rules of the High Court 1980.

Following the ruling, the Attorney-General’s Chambers filed for leave to appeal at the Federal Court over the Appeals Court’s decision and the apex court set Oct 5 for case management.

The five-member panel of commissioners who heard the Inquiry, in their report, had found the video clip showing Lingam in a telephone conversation with Ahmad Fairuz over judicial appointments to be authentic.

The commission had also recommended that appropriate course of action be taken against six individuals, namely Lingam, Ahmad Fairuz, Mohd Eusoff, business tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for misconduct.

It found that there was sufficient evidence to investigate the six men for offences under the Sedition Act, Official Secrets Act, Penal Code and the Legal Profession Act 1976.

Except for Dr Mahathir, the other five filed for leave for a judicial review in an attempt to quash the inquiry’s findings.

However, Tan and Tengku Adnan withdrew their appeal early this year.

The commissioners — chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Amar Steve Shim Lip Kiong, retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mahadev Shankar, former solicitor-general Puan Sri Zaitun Zawiyah Puteh and Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim — sat for 17 days to inquire into the 14-minute video clip and concluded its work on Feb 15, 2008.—Bernama

Ibans to sue Taib’s sister

By Joseph Tawie - Free Malaysia Today,

KUCHING: The majority of villagers from 16 longhouses in Sebangan and Sebuyau are waiting to sue Chief Minster Taib Mahmud’s sister Raziah Mahmud who allegedly owns part of Quality Concrete Holdings Bhd, which has been licensed to log trees on their NCR (native customary rights) land and communal forests.

“The moment the loggers from this company encroach into our NCR land and pulau galau (communal forests), we will file our case in the court. We know who are the principal identities to be included in the suit,” said Nicholas Mujah, a leader of the group.

He named them as the Forest Department, the state government and Quality Concrete Holdings.

According to Sarawak Report, the latest illegal raid on NCR land is being carried out by Quality Concrete Holdings.

The company has started harvesting the timber worth millions of US dollars even though the majority of the villagers are refusing to accept the RM250 compensation per family.

Mujah said that nothing much can be done now to stop the accelerating logging activities by the company as the land involved  are individually-owned NCR parcels belonging to those who have been paid RM250 to surrender their land.

“As a spokesman and representative of the local native people defending our land and forest resources at Sebangan, I am very sad that some of our people are not persistent in their struggle.

“For RM250, I just can’t understand the people who are prepared to sell their right and livelihood to the company. I do understand we are poor but the price mustn’t be that little,” said Mujah, who is also the secretary-general of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association..

“We could have filed the injunction in August if not because of the turn of events: we found out that the penghulu (village head) and a few of his men were engaged by the company to harass illiterate families to give in to their interest,” said Mujah who was commenting on the articles by Sarawak Report, which have also appeared in a number of websites.

'We know how much to claim'
However, Mujah said that a majority of landowners have insisted on defending their land.

“We are waiting for the logging activities to start encroaching into our communal forest at Bukit Bediri for which the licence has been issued.

“Then we will file our suit against the company, the Forest Department and the state government.

"We know how much to claim after the Sarawak Report revealed the information,” he said.

The 3,305 hectare communal forest is home to some of the most valuable timber such as belian, meranti, selangan batu, kapur, kempas, tekam, resak, lon, penyau, ruan and engkabang.

The estimated tonnage of timber from the area is about 2.31 million tons valued at hundreds of millions of ringgit.

The Sarawak Report stated that it had received information that Taib himself allegedly stands to personally profit by about RM250 million from the timber operations.

The report also stated that Raziah is a non-executive director of Quality Concrete Holdings, a public-listed company largely owned by the family of Tiang Ming Sing and Tiang Ming Kok. She is directly profiting from her connections with Taib, who hands out all timber licences.

Ibans Do Get Raw Deal – Admits Borneo Post

Even the Borneo Post, Taib’s favourite propaganda sheet, has found itself unable to spin away the dire distress of  the Iban population, which it alleges is so supportive of Taib Mahmud and BN.
In an article last week, the paper loyally insisted that Iban communities have “expressed their strong support” for the elderly Chief Minister to remain in charge, with one local leader citing his “vast experience” as being “greatly needed”.
The Iban paramount chief in Miri, Temenggong Wilson Atong Limping, was duly quoted making the required statement that ”only the BN government can continue to bring more development”.  This is the message that Taib Mahmud likes to promote at every opportunity and it has been his mantra for his past 30 years in government.

Outside bathrooms - rainwater reliant
What progress and development?
However, the Borneo Post then went on to detail the conditions  that Taib has, with his ‘vast experience’, provided for the Ibans of the area after all those 30 years in charge.  Far from experiencing progress, the paramount chief explains, many of the villages “are still in dire need of basic amenities”. 
Furthermore, the communities “are desperately in need of basic infrastructure like a tar-sealed road, piped water supply and electricity”.  He also points out that telecommunications are totally inadequate and that people are still having to climb to the top of hills to make a phone call out!
This is of course a region which Taib and his logging cronies stripped of timber long ago, in the name of this same ‘progress and development’.  His promise then was that Ibans would be repaid for the loss of their forest by the provision of just such basic amenities.  But that was decades ago.

Progress and Development - One of Taib's complexes in Canada
Taib next made a second killing by acquiring their native customary rights lands and again ’developing’ them with oil palm. This he also did in the name of bringing ’progress and wealth’ for the local people.  But while, Taib has certainly acquired riches beyond imagination, investing billions of ringgit abroad to build his own foreign property empire, the Ibans are still waiting for water and electricity.
The Iban leader tried to be as polite about the situation as possible. “We appreciate greatly efforts by the goverment”, he insisted, listing some ‘minor rural projects’ carried out by authorities, for which he attempts to be suitably grateful.
These projects included providing villagers with tanks to collect rain water.  Thank you Taib for such progress and development after 30 years of exploiting our lands!

Typical rural road in Sarawak
But chief Atong also lists all the major things that have NOT been done.  Schools and clinics are inadequate and the gravel roads are in need of major repair throughout the area.  So much for progress and development.
The assemblyman for the area, BN’s Dr Stephen Rundi, also weighs into the article.  And he likewise, openly admits that the facilities in the area are horrendous!  “The government is aware of their plights and their sufferings”, he acknowledges of his Iban constituents, yet he assures the Borneo Post that there are “concrete plans” to bring more development to them.
More promises and ‘plans’

More like it! - one of the Taib family homes in Sibu
Surely, after 30 years of exploiting the Ibans’ home territories to raise vast sums of money from timber and palm oil, BN should be able to show more than just plans?
But, In fact even those plans turn out not to be so ‘concrete’ after all.  Rundi elaborates on his assurances by making clear there is actually a dire shortage of funds allocated for the well-being of his constituents and that they can’t expect it to go far.
“The RM18million allocated for Kemana constituency under the NKRA, is barely enough but at least it could be used to implement the various minor projects which are scheduled for completion in 2012″ he admits!  So no new money and forget the running water or electricity – let alone a decent road or two, or schools or hospitals.
So where did the money go?
If the Ibans, who are still being encouraged to live in hope by BN, want to see where the real development is taking place they should access some pictures of the Chief Minister’s foreign properties or the local houses occupied by himself and his family and friends along the coast.  It is not hard to see where the money that should have been spent on ‘progress and development’ has actually disappeared to.

What future? - Iban children have been forgotten by BN
The Ibans need to think hard about how long they think it will take before BN and Mr Mahmud deliver on their ancient promises.  One thing is certain, which is that the Chief Minister will not live another 30 years in order to fulfil them!
On the other hand, a very quick way to obtain the money needed to help the populations in Miri and elsewhere would be to reclaim the amounts stolen by individuals linked to BN over the past 30 years and return them to the public purse.  With such funds an honest administration could rapidly transform the lives of these impoverished people.
The opposition parties should not pass up their opportunity to make this point at the forthcoming election.

What now, given that Anwar’s dream team has hit an oil spill? Simple. Sack or suspend Zaid

Actually, it’s more than just one oil spill.
Seems a whole host of things have gone dreadfully wrong.
Last week, blogger Mat Saman Kati listed out Anwar’s preferred party cabinet, apart from also categorically asserting that Wan Azizah does not favour Azmin as her number 2.
Here’s Anwar’s list, according to Mat Saman Kati.
President: Anwar Ibrahim
Deputy President: Azmin Ali
Elected Vice Presidents : Dr. Mansor Othman, Dr. Lee Boon Chye, R. Sivarasa and one from Sabah/Sarawak)
Appointed Vice Presidents : Fuziah Salleh, Chua Jui Meng and one from Sabah/Sarawak
Wanita chief : Zuraidah
Youth chief: Rafizi Ramli

My information from insider sources suggest that Mat Saman Kati is spot on.
Sivarasa losing the Subang division top post?
Minor hiccup.
The results are soon to be declared null and void and fresh elections for the division to be held.
The bigger headache is the number of nominations Zaid has garnered thus far, and the implications from this.
As Mat Saman Kati says, no one expected Zaid to pick up the 30-odd nominations he has to-date, with another weekend of nominations to follow.
Has Negri Sembilan fallen to Zaid? Can Azmin wrest this state back?
Has enough been done to undermine Zaid’s popularity with the grassroot members in Sabah and Sarawak?
Will Azmin be able to take advantage of his eleventh hour takeover of PKR Selangor to win over its 108,000 members?
Are both PKR Penang and Perak in the bag for the Azmin team?
If all these are answered in the negative, then what?
I had brunch yesterday with someone high up in the party but very unhappy with its state of affairs  and posed these very questions to that person.
This was the reply.
“Compare the two new kids in the PKR block, Jui Meng and Zaid. Jui Meng joined first and immediately became a team player. By that I mean he did not rock the boat by spotlighting problems in the party. Zaid, as he did in UMNO and which led to him being sacked, comes in and wants to bring about reforms.
I can tell you that even as Anwar welcomed Zaid into the party last June, many at the top, including Anwar, were not sure what to do with him. Where to put him in the party where it would not appear demeaning, and yet not allow him to get to know too much of the internal workings of the party?
Zaid’s frequent trips to Sabah and Sarawak, and his increasing popularity there, got both Anwar and Azmin concerned. In fact, I know that ex Sec-Gen Sallehuddin had remarked to Zaid on one of those trips that he (Zaid) was finished in the party.
Last year, when Anwar directed Zaid not to go to Sabah for the Hari Raya celebration, and Zaid defied the former, it became clear to Anwar that Zaid would not and could not be controlled.
Both Anwar and Azmin realise that even if Azmin pulls off an impressive tally of nominations for the no.2 post, that in no way guarantees that the members vote will go the same way.
They’ll make sure there is no contest for the no.2 post.
If Zaid cannot be persuaded to pull out after nominations are closed, they’ll find a way to disqualify Zaid from contesting.
A charge of misconduct,  money politics, or of bringing the party into disrepute will be trumped up, and Zaid will be either suspended or sacked.”

Threatening the turtles

WHEN a friend said he wanted a photo of himself riding on a sea turtle’s back, it made me flinch.
And yet, I doubt I would have winced had I not heard stories about how divers and snorkelers have disturbed and distressed turtles in the sea. If not for my marine-biologist friends, I probably would not have given this friend’s casual remark a second thought. After all, humans ride on horses, cows and elephants. So why not sea turtles, too?
Green turtle
Green turtle
Putting humans on top
This friend and I were volunteering on a turtle conservation project for a week at Chagar Hutang, Redang Island in September this year. What he wanted to do was ironic, considering that we were there to help conserve turtles that have been swimming in our seas since the age of the dinosaur.
Underlying his desire to ride a sea turtle is a worldview that seeks to dominate nature. It is a view that places humans above all other species, and regards other creatures as existing solely to satisfy human needs, desires and greed.
I do not blame my friend for holding a prevalent worldview that has been passed on by previous generations. But I am troubled by a paradigm that considers humans separate from nature, when it is impossible to divorce humans from the environment that sustains us.
Isn’t it precisely this sort of worldview that leads to human exploitation of nature and her beings on Earth? Indeed, the major environmental crises confronting our generation – climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, to name just a few – are a result of this problematic worldview.
People who continue to hunt hawksbill turtles for their exquisite shells, who sell or consume sea turtle eggs and meat, and who destroy turtles’ nesting beaches in the name of “development” all hold the same worldview.
And whether it’s by throwing plastic bags that end up choking sea turtles, buying from fisherfolk who use methods that kill marine turtles indiscriminately, or by simply being apathetic, we are guilty of threatening these ancient beings into extinction.
Sea turtles in Malaysia
Green turtle hatchings
Green turtle hatchlings
Malaysia is blessed because four out of the seven living sea turtle species in the world can be found here. However, two of them – leatherback and olive ridley turtles – are effectively extinct in our country.
The leatherbacks, the largest among all, recorded over 10,000 annual nestings in Terengganu in the 1950s. However, over the past decade, the numbers have dwindled to just a handful. Once Terengganu’s star attraction, only one leatherback was reportedly seen in Rantau Abang this year.
As for the olive ridleys, nesting is only reported occasionally in Penang and Kelantan. None has been sighted in Terengganu since 2005. The numbers are probably insufficient to keep the population alive.
In comparison, hawksbill and green turtles are doing better. The Sabah Turtle Islands have the highest nesting concentration of hawksbill turtles in Southeast Asia, with an average of 500 to 600 annual nestings. Other nesting sites can also be found in Malacca and Terengganu.
Green turtles are the most widely distributed species in Malaysia. As with the leatherbacks, however, green turtle nesting has dropped dramatically since the 1950s, from 20,000 in the Sarawak Turtle Islands to a few thousand only in recent years. However, its population in the  Sabah Turtle Islands has increased, and nestings in both Sabah and Terengganu also number in the thousands.
Changing our attitudes
Millions of ringgit have been spent to conserve our sea turtles during the past few decades. Turtle sanctuaries can now be found in Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak.
However, The Star highlighted in a June 2010 report that laws relating to sea turtle conservation are still inconsistent and inadequate. The sale and consumption of turtle eggs, for example, have yet to be banned across all states. Additionally, turtle killings are allowed for a fee of RM100 in Johor, Kelantan and Negri Sembilan.

Turtle eggs
Conservation projects, educational campaigns. and strict laws regulating turtle conservation aside, what needs to change is the fundamental attitude humans hold towards other creatures.
As long as we continue to hold on to the worldview that treats nature as inferior and something to be dominated, we are unlikely to learn to respect it and its creatures, be it sea turtles, tigers or pandas. If we truly want to conserve the environment, our generation needs to re-learn that being top of the heap doesn’t mean those at the bottom can be exploited without repercussions for our species.

Najib put in an embarrassing quandary

By Thomas Lee

While Datuk Seri Najib Razak was urging all nations of the world to “choose moderation over extremism” to promote international peace and harmony in his maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday 27 September 2010, it is surely shocking that back in Malaysia at about the same time, a senior civil servant spewed out one of the most extremist and venomous speeches against the Chinese and Indian communities.

Federal Territory Biro Tata Negara (BTN) deputy director Hamim Husin referred to the Chinese and Indian communities as Si Mata Sepet and Si Botol when speaking at a Puter Umno function.

“The Si Mata Sepet who has never gone to a mosque or surau only has one vote. The Si Botol who only knows how to go up and down Batu Caves only has one vote,” Hamim was quoted as saying, when talking about getting votes from the non-Malay voters.

It surely is most malevolent and seditious for the senior BTN officer to use such a contemptuous, pejorative and derogatory terms of Si Mata Sepet (slit eyes) and Si Botol (alcoholic) to describe the Chinese and Indian citizens.

The flabbergasted speech by the BTN deputy director makes our prime minister sounds like a first-class hypocrite at the United Nations!

The prime minister has urged world leaders to embark on building a “Global Movement of the Moderates” from all faiths to work together to combat and marginalise extremists, whom he said, had held the world with their bigotry and bias.

“It is time for moderates of all countries, of all religions to take back the centre, to reclaim the agenda for peace and pragmatism, and to marginalise the extremists. This Global Movement of the Moderates will save us from sinking into the abyss of despair and depravation,” Najib told the world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly.

Yet, back in his own country, a senior civil servant desacralizes his fair and impartial homily on inter-racial and inter-faith relationship.

The BTN, as an agency to train and develop civil servants, should be in the forefront of preserving and promoting racial equality, harmony and peaceful co-existence among the people.

It should be educating and acculturating the civil servants to lead all races to work towards achieving the inclusive OneMalaysia policy mooted by the Prime Minister.

However, the BTN has been shown to be an extremely racist and highly divisive politically-orientated agency to promote the supremacy of one particular race, which is in direct contradiction to Najib’s inclusive OneMalaysia policy.

During the height of the controversy over the BTN in the last quarter of 2009, various former participants of the BTN courses had testified that the agency is basically geared towards the propagada and promotion of an exclusive political agenda.

For example, the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat state government in December 2009 prohibited state civil servants and students in state-owned tertiary institutions from attending the BTN courses, claiming that they were an indoctrination process by the Barisan Nasional federal government and aimed at brainwashing Malaysians to hate all those opposed to its political agenda.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders have accused the ruling Barisan Nasional federal government of using the BTN to brainwash civil servants and tertiary students to hate the opposition and asked why the BTN is not open to public and conducted in secrecy.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders and former participants have also claimed that the courses were racist in nature and emphasised the idea of the supremacy and superiority of one particular race.

It was also reported that former BTN participants revealed that they were not allowed to take along their mobile phones and other electronic media gadgets while course notes were not allowed to be taken out of the lecture hall.

The latest malicious and malevolent remarks on the Chinese and Indian communities by the Federal Territory BTN deputy director has again highlighted the fact the BTN is in fact an indoctrination tool to instil and reinforce a racial supremacist agenda, which is, for all purposes and intend, an antithesis to Najib’s OneMalaysia ideal.

The predictable danger of such an indoctrination scheme causing untold harm to the already very frail and fragile multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural and mulit-lingual Malaysian society is very real. It can even result in a veritable racial explosion, if not checked, curbed and controlled.

For the most part, those participating in the BTN courses consist of pre-university students, government scholarship students, civil service recruits, and civil servants sent for refresher courses.

With the BTN leadership comprising people with mentality like the Federal Territory deputy director, instead of seeking to instil the spirit of patriotism and love for the country, and promoting racial equality, justice, harmony and peaceful co-existence, the BTN is an utterly destructive agency which should be closed for good.

Najib has told the world leaders at the United Nations: “We must choose moderation over extremism. We must choose negotiations over confrontation. We must choose to work together and not against each other. And we must give this effort utmost priority for time is not on our side.”

If that is what the Prime Minister sincerely believes in and wants to happen, he must show the world by example that he practises what he preaches in his own country.

Then, among his first actions should be the dismantling of the BTN, and the taking of disciplinary action against the racist civil servants, such as the Federal Territory BTN deputy director and the two school principals who cynically and contemptuously run down the non-Malay students in their schools. The actions should include sacking these people, and charging them for sedition.

In the case of the Johor principal who liken her Indian students to dogs, and told them and the Chinese students to go back to India and China, it has been more than two and a half months since the incident was exposed, yet no action has been taken against her. The most ridiculous and stupid statement issued by the federal government is that the Education Minister has no power to act on the case.

Najib also must act fast to rein in and restrain those political racial rousers in his own party Umno who are playing the communal card, causing the racial temperature and tension to rise with their irresponsible blazing stirring of sensitive issues.

He should also put a stop to all the fierce and destructive racial attacks propagated in the media owned by his party. The series of communal onslaughts on the human, fundamental and constitutional rights of the people must be made to cease immediately.

Until our Prime Minister acts on these matters, his speech at the United Nations General Assembly will just be sounds from an empty gong, with no substantial and essential value.

Full text of PM's speech at UN general assembly

The New Straits Times 

Statement by the Honourable Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia at the General Debate of the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly New York on Monday 27, September 2010.

Mr. President,

Allow me at the onset to congratulate you, on your election as the President of the 65th Session of the United Nations’ General Assembly.

I am confident that under your very able and astute leadership, the 65th Session will be able to complete its proceedings successfully. In this regard, let me assure you of Malaysia’s full support for your Presidency.

Let me reaffirm Malaysia’s unwavering and continuing support for the United Nations and the multilateral principles, based on international law, which it embodies. Let me also reiterate Malaysia’s commitment to doing our part in this collective endeavour.

We do so in the strong belief that all nations, no matter how large or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, have a common responsibility towards creating a better world for tomorrow. It is my firm belief that in order to create a better world for our future generations, we need to take into account today’s realities as well as learn from the lessons of yesterday.

Mr. President,

Among the most important challenges confronting the international community today that needs to be addressed collectively, is the challenge of ensuring a just, equitable and durable peace.

Peace not just during our time, but, peace for all times. It is imperative that we have to achieve peace premised upon a covenant of the willing and not one enforced by way of hegemony through fear and coercion.

Such peace can only be achieved if we are willing to constructively engage each other through dialogue. Such discussions would help in creating a deeper understanding as well as appreciation and respect of each other in our conviction to create a better future for all citizens of the world.

Mr President,

As a trade organization, WTO remains relevant to today’s economic climate and Malaysia believes that the Doha Round must return to its original objective of ensuring free, fair and equitable trade. Let us put our joint efforts and focus on moving the process forward and build upon the progress and achievement to date. It is urgent that we conclude this as soon as possible.

Since the adoption of the MDGs a decade ago, which galvanized the world into collective action; there has been lack of efforts on joint endeavours towards the betterment of humanity.

The missed opportunity at last year’s climate change meeting in Copenhagen is a wake-up call for all of us. We need to bridge the gaps towards resolving and addressing the issues of climate change which affects the lives and livelihoods of the peoples of the world and our future generations.

Mr. President,

On 7 June 2010, the Malaysian Parliament unanimously passed a Resolution condemning the brutal Israeli attack on the humanitarian convoy in international waters. This resolution was premised on humanitarian grounds and demanded that the Palestinians be given their basic rights.

This was why the Members of the Malaysian Parliament, regardless of their political alignment, stood together in full support of this Resolution. In this regard, we reaffirm today our solidarity and sympathy with the people of Turkey and to the families for their tragic loss.

Malaysia understood the necessity of letting the multilateral system work. We were happy to see establishment of the UN Investigation Panel and the International Fact Finding Mission of the Human Rights Council.

We are pleased with the findings of the International Fact Finding Mission of the UN Human Rights Council. The report has found that the conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate but also demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence.

This inhumane attack constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law. The Malaysian Parliament feels vindicated by these findings.

We are now waiting for the UN Investigation Panel to complete its work. We want to see the perpetrators responsible for the attacks be brought to justice and adequate compensation for the innocent victims of the attacks.

We want the UN to act justly and decisively, without fear or favour, in a manner that would ensure transgressions of blatant international laws are dealt with and that justice is done.

Mr. President,

On the Middle East Peace Process, Malaysia is encouraged with the recent development especially the active role by the Obama Administration and the Quartet in seeking a comprehensive and lasting solution.

A solution not only to the problem between Palestine and Israel, but also to the region. We welcome the recent initiative by the United States in hosting the direct peace talks between Palestine and Israel.

We also call on all parties to support these initiatives and not be detracted from these efforts to achieve the aspiration of creating two sovereign States living side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders.

For this to happen, the following pre-requisites should be addressed:

• First, Israel must heed the high expectations of the international community to end this long standing conflict. We call on the US and other members of the Quartet to persuade Israel to end the construction of new settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

• Second, reconciliation efforts must bear fruits. The achievement of political unity among the Palestinians is vital in moving the peace process forward and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

• Third, both parties must eschew violence and ensure the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian and human rights law.

Mr. President,

While harnessing our efforts to promote international peace and harmony we are concerned with the increasing trend in some parts of the world to perpetuate or even fuel Islamophobia.
Attempts to demonize Islam offend the one and a half billion adherents of the religion. It intensifies the divide between the broad Muslim world and the West.

The real issue is not between Muslims and non-Muslims but between the moderates and extremists of all religions, be it Islam, Christianity or Judaism. Across all religions we have inadvertently allowed the ugly voices of the periphery to drown out the many voices of reason and common sense.

I therefore urge us to embark on building a “Global Movement of the Moderates” from all faiths who are committed to work together to combat and marginalize extremists who have held the world hostage with their bigotry and bias.

We must, and I repeat, we must urgently reclaim the centre and the moral high ground that has been usurped from us. We must choose moderation over extremism. We must choose negotiations over confrontation.

We must choose to work together and not against each other. And we must give this effort utmost priority for time is not on our side.

In this regard we are heartened to note that a group of American Evangelical Christians had worked tirelessly to prevent the threatened burning of the Quran with the compelling argument that it is in fact un-Christian to burn the Quran. This is a clear example of what can be achieved when moderates in each faith stand up to the extremists that are trying to hijack the universal values of our religions.

Mr President,

We commend President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg for rising to the challenge by affirming the rights of supporters of the Cordoba House to be located near the site of the World Trade Centre. This project will include a mosque and a Multi-Faith Community Centre open to all.

We support the objectives of the Cordoba Initiative, an organization that focuses on promoting peace, understanding and moderation, both between Muslims and non-Muslims and within the Muslim communities. All countries should encourage and support initiatives that promote mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and reject the extremists who divide us all with issues that have in the past brought misery and hatred.

Mr. President,

Allow me to share my country’s own experience in managing issues of diversity. Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural and democratic society that has benefited from the positive interaction and synergy between the various communities. Mosques, temples, churches and other places of worship co-exist in harmony.

Although Islam is the official religion, we honour other religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism – by making their religious and cultural celebrations as national holidays and celebrate them as national events. It is this equilibrium that leads to moderation or “wasatiyyah” in the Islamic tradition of mutual justice.

Malaysia stands at the geographical cross roads of major civilisations and religions of the world. We are therefore well poised to play our part in promoting religious understanding, harmony and tolerance. To further strengthen our process of national unity, I have introduced a philosophy known as 1Malaysia .

1Malaysia is a vision that seeks renewal and rejuvenation to bring all our people together in a just and harmonious relationship. 1Malaysia calls for the acceptance of diversity as a source of greater unity. We seek to celebrate our multi-ethnic and multi-religious society for strategic strength and harmony.

Mr President,

It is time for moderates of all countries, of all religions to take back the centre, to reclaim the agenda for peace and pragmatism, and to marginalise the extremists. This “Global Movement of the Moderates” will save us from sinking into the abyss of despair and depravation.

This is an opportunity for us to provide the much needed leadership to bring hope and restore dignity for all. With greater will and collective determination, we will build a more peaceful, secure and equitable world.

Thank you.

1,000 people could be trapped in Mexico landslide, governor says 

Mexico City, Mexico (CNN) -- Up to 1,000 people may have been trapped by a landslide in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca, Gov. Ulises Ruiz said Tuesday.

A hill about 650 feet wide (200 meters) collapsed early Tuesday, sending tons of mud over houses in the Santa Maria Tlahuiltotepec municipality, Ruiz said.

"We're talking about some 300 homes affected," Ruiz said. "We don't have the exact number of those affected. But the death toll could reach as many as 500 or 600, even 1,000."

As of Tuesday afternoon, seven bodies had been recovered and 100 people were confirmed missing, civil protection official Luis Marin Castillejos told CNN en EspaƱol. The number could increase, he said.

Residents have been evacuated from nearby areas and moved to shelters, but "The danger for the rescuers is imminent," he said.

"We're already rounding up the necessary equipment, and moving it towards the affected area," Ruiz said in an interview on CNN affiliate Televisa.

"We are also moving members of the military, the state police, ambulances, health workers, and all rescue teams available. They're all trying to get there. But, we haven't been able to reach the area, yet. ... We expect to get there in time to rescue these people," he said.

Ruiz said several rivers overflowed their banks due to heavy rain in the area and many roads are blocked by landslides, making it difficult for rescuers to reach the affected areas.

Some residents were complaining Tuesday morning that help was slow in coming.

"Police and rescue officials still have not arrived at the landslide zone and there are many landslides on the road," the Oaxaca Red Cross reported on its Twitter account Tuesday morning.

The region has been plagued by extremely heavy rainfall over the past two weeks, most recently by the remnants of Tropical Storm Matthew, which were still stalled over the area Tuesday, according to CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller.

Satellite data indicates that nearly 12 inches (300 mm) of rain has fallen in the area of the landslide in the past three days, Miller said.

Many houses are built on the edge of ridges on the steep terrain in the state, which stands about 2,400 feet above sea level, making it conducive to landslides in severe weather.

More rain is forecast in the region in the next day and a half, Miller said.

The severe weather led civil protection authorities to declare a state of emergency Monday for the Oaxaca state municipalities of Oaxaca de Juarez, San Felipe Tejalapam, San Jacinto Amilpas, San Lorenzo Cacaotepec, San Pablo Etla, Santa Lucia del Camino and Tlalixtac de Cabrera. A municipality in Mexico is a geographic division within a state, similar to a county in the United States.

The Santa Maria Tlahuiltotepec municipality is a remote area with about 8,500 residents, located about 182 miles (295 kilometers) from the state capital, Ciudad de Oaxaca.

Residents in Tlahuiltotepec are indigenous -- nearly 99 percent of them speak an indigenous language and about 66 percent also speak Spanish, according to information provided by a local educational institution, the Bachillerato Integral Comunitario Ayuujk Polivalente.

Statistics provided by the institution show a relatively poor area where 43 percent of homes didn't have electricity 10 years ago and 17 percent had no indoor plumbing.

Nearly 40 percent of the municipality's residents were illiterate and only about 10 percent graduated from high school, the institute said.

The statistics came from the year 2000 and show an increasingly higher quality of life compared with 1990.

"Housing construction has evolved considerably," the institute said in a report. "Walls that used to be built with sticks, mud and adobe have been substituted by concrete, which is a mix of sand, lime and cement."

Likewise, the report said, roofing that used to consists of leaves, limbs, and other vegetation has been replaced with aluminum or even concrete tiles.

Most residents are involved in low-level farming, raising livestock and commerce.

'UUCA unconstitutional': No, says High Court

UMNO DBKL: Even Chendol stall licence denied to Indians. Stalls confiscated, assaulted and told to become security guards.


No.6, Jalan Abdullah, Off Jalan Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur. Tel : 03-2282 5241

Fax : 03-2282 5241 Fax: 03-2282 5245

Website: E-mail:

Your Reply :

In Reply :

Date : 28/9/2010

YAB. Dato Seri Najib Razak

Prime Minister of Malaysia,

Block Utama Bangunan Perdana Putra, Fax : 03-8888 3444

Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, E-Mail :

62502 Putrajaya.

Y.B. Sen. Dato’Raja Nong Chik bin Raja Zainal Abidin,

Menteri Wilayah Persekutuan,

Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan,

Aras 4, Blok B2,

Menara PJH, Presint 2, Fax No. 03-88891411

Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, Email- :


Y. Bhg. Dato Ahmad Faud bin Ismail

Dato Bandar Kuala Lumpur

Tingkat 27, Menara DBKL

Jalan Raja Laut Fax: 03-26919664

50350 Kuala Lumpur. Email:

Re : Indian Chendol seller denied licence for ten years, stall confiscated, assaulted and told to become security guard. Tip of iceberg of Indians denied licences permits, APs’ etc. But Malay muslim traders freely granted licences.

We refer to the above matter and to the newsreport in The Star today (26/9/10 at page M4). denying even Chendol stall licences for ten long years to S. Vijendren and Yuganthiran, their chendol stall confiscated, assaulted and were told to instead become security guards.

We are shocked, appalled and disgusted at this level of racist and religious supremacy practiced by the UMNO controlled government’s Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and almost all other licensing authorities nationwide and on a day to day basis.

DBKL forces them to close shop by issuing them repeated hefty compound notices. And the last straw was when Vijendran was punched in the face by a Malay-sian DBKL officer on 31st August 2010 at 1.00 a.m, his stall towed away and he being hospitalized for two (2) days to treat his swollen left cheek.

Despite a police report having been lodged as usual the Malay-sian police has taken zero action.

This is just the tip of the iceberg to even the sixth generation Malaysian born Indians being denied licences to even engage in petty trading let alone to engage in the multi billion ringgit corporations. To the direct contrary in the USA, the world’s most powerful country, even a black and bearing a muslim name and son of an immigrant from Kenya ie Barrack Hussien Obama was elected by the 90% White Christians to become the President of the USA.

UMNO has to stop this policy, practice and implementation of this level of racist and religious supremacy in One Malay-sia and stop bullying the already economically weak, poor and politically powerless Malaysian Indians.

We have received complaints of thousands of Malaysian Indians being denied even licences to do business in scrap metal, (5,000 Indians denied scrap metal licences alone nationwide) food stalls, fruit stalls, flower stalls, local council and highway rest area food and other stalls, markets stalls, pasar malam stalls etc.

Licences, permits, APs and business opportunities to export scrap metal, set up Petronas and other petrol stations, Proton and other cars outlets and service centres, KFC, McDonald, Ayamas, and other franchise opportunities, Insurance companies, banks, government tenders, contracts and projects have almost zero Malaysian Indian participation in but all in the name of One Malay-sia.

Kindly grant this Chendol seller and all other Indian petty traders and all the other Indian businesses aforesaid their due licences, permits and APs’.

Please note that the right to do business is a constitutionally enshrined right and not mercy, which DBKL and all the other UMNO licensing authorities can only regulate and not arbitrarily refuse!

Kindly revert to us accordingly.

Rights Not Mercy

Thank you,

Yours faithfully,


P. Uthayakumar

Secretary general (pro-tem)

Petition: Bukit Jalil Tamil School “Ethnic Cleansing”

Kempen Tandatangan : Jangan tutup SJK (T) Bukit Jalil dan pindahkannya ke satu tapak tanah yang telah digazetkan sebagai Sekolah Agama Sri Keladi secara sementara dengan tujuan “penghapusan ethnik” secara sistematik sekolah ini dan kesemua 523 sekolah-sekolah Tamil di Malaysia. SJK(T) Bukit Jalil ini adalah simbol pengorbanan, sejarah dan warisan pekerja-pekerja ladang yang harus dipelihara sebagai tapak Warisan Satu Malaysia untuk generasi akan datang. 

Sekolah ini juga adalah dekat sesuai dan perlu untuk lebih kurang 1,000 keluarga di Flats PPR, Kg Muhibah, Ladang Bukit Jalil, Alam Sutera, Mutiara Bukit Jalil dan lain-lain lagi. 

Kenapa hanya sekolah-sekolah Tamil sahaja di kenalpasti, dipindah- randah, dan dianayai yang tidak dilakukan kepada sekolah-sekolah Melayu, Cina Orang Asli, Kadazan atau Iban.

Kami minta Kerajaan Malaysia supaya perbuatan penutupan dan pindah-randah sekolah-sekolah Tamil ini diseluruh negara dihentikan secara segera.

Kami mahu SJK(T) Bukit Jalil ini diberikan tanah seluas sepuluh (10) ekar di lokasi sedia ada dan digazetkan sedimikian dan di bina semula dan dijadikan sebagai sekolah Bestari berasrama penuh Tamil yang pertama di Malaysia.

Kesemua 523 sekolah-sekolah Tamil di Satu Malaysia juga harus diberikan tanah lima (5) ekar setiap satu sekolah dijadikan sekolah-sekolah kerajaan bantuan penuh dan digazetkan sedemikian untuk setiap satu sekolah dan memelihara kesemua 523 sekolah-sekolah Tamil di Satu Malaysia ini.

Please download, get signature and return to Captain Bala 019 2166205 or fax to 03-2282 5245
Bkt Jalil Petition

But police remain tight-lipped over new discoveries

KUALA LUMPUR: Police today confirmed they have found more new evidence within the ‘killing field’ of beauty products millionaire, Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and her three associates at the Ladang Gadong poultry farm in Tanjung Sepat, near Banting.

Federal CID chief Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin, said besides the two graves and bone fragments discovered within the compound previously, there have been many new evidence and leads which could be linked to the quadruple murders; the missing Sungai Petani contractor and businessman, 37-year-old Shafik Abdullah and his unidentified friend, as well as missing Indian millionaire A. Muthuraja.

“All of the cases are being investigated Under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder and also missing persons.

"We will be visiting some other places that we believe are connected to the said cases. This will be based on the evidence and leads that we've gathered from the investigation,” said Mohd Bakri after attending the Hari Raya open house at Kuala Lumpur police contingent headquarters today.

He, however, declined to elaborate on the new discoveries. He only said police are on the right track, and that investigation is showing positive progress based on statements from witnesses as well as evidence collected from many of the suspected crime spots around the area.

“The investigation paper was given back to us after the Attorney-General wanted us to further update and 'tighten' the investigation,” he said.

Mohd Bakri said the outcome of the investigation paper will be discussed with the A-G in the next two to three days before submitting to the prosecution.

On the DNA results, Mohd Bakri said they are still waiting for the report on the analysis. Although the process may be complicated, police would not pressure the pathologist and the chemistry lab.

“We will not pressure them to hurry their analysis of the bone fragments as this has to be conducted properly and carefully. There is no rush and we have to give them time,” he said.

MCA, DAP flay BTN, demand punishment for ‘racist’ official

Lim wants the BTN official punished. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — The DAP and MCA demanded the immediate punishment of a National Civics Bureau (BTN) official today for making racist remarks during a Puteri Umno function yesterday.

Lim Kit Siang from the DAP also pushed for BTN to be dissolved in the wake of the comments made by the bureau’s deputy director Hamim Husain.

Hamim had yesterday referred to the Chinese and Indian community as “Si Mata Sepet” and “Si Botol” respectively when asking Puteri Umno members to approach the non-Malays for votes.

“The ‘si mata sepet’ that has never gone to a mosque or surau only has one vote. The ‘si botol’ that only knows how to go up to Batu Caves up and down only has one vote,” Hamim told the closed-door gathering.

The BTN, a state agency charged with running courses on patriotism for civil servants and undergraduates, came under fire last year for promoting racism.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration had promised a revamp of BTN’s courses following a widespread public outcry.

Lim said today that the onus was on the Cabinet take action against Hamim

He also challenged the Cabinet to dissolve the entire bureau which he claimed promoted “extremism”.

“The Cabinet is meeting tomorrow. It must act or be exposed for its irrelevance or impotence,” said Lim in a statement today.

He also claimed that the manner in which the BTN controversy was being handled was in stark contrast with Najib’s remarks at the UN General Assembly yesterday where he pushed for moderation to be practised between all major religions and races in the world.

“Borrowing Najib’s analogy in the UN yesterday, the real issue in Malaysia is not between Malays and non-Malays or Muslims and non-Muslims but between the moderates and extremists.

“Would the Cabinet dare to rise up to the challenge tomorrow and answer this national call?” asked Lim.

Separately, MCA central committee member Loh Seng Kok also expressed outrage over Hamim’s remarks and urged the Public Service Department to take appropriate action.

Loh also suggested that the police charge Hamim under the Sedition Act for his remarks.

“It is time to put a halt to the arrogance and intolerance of bigots,” said Loh in a statement earlier today.

He said that it was high time the government overhauled the BTN, given that there had been many reports alleging that the bureau’s courses promoted “ethnic supremacy” and racism.

“The Kursus BTN should produce civil servants with a global outlook and a 1 Malaysia mindset of moderation, mutual respect, and not extremists stuck in racial parochialism,” added Loh.

MBPJ hires 'crony' firm: Mayor, PKR leaders cry 'No'

By Teoh El Sen - Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Cases involving the Petaling Jaya City Muncipal Council (MBPJ) are being given to a law firm where two PKR leaders R Sivarasa and Latheefa Koya, a MBPJ councillor, work.

However, MBPJ mayor Mohammad Roslan Sakiman described it as an “old story”.

He also dismissed the allegation that it was a case of special preference and denied that it could lead to a conflict of interest.

"No, I cannot answer this. This was discussed in a meeting some time ago and everything had been dealt with; this is a non-issue,” he told FMT.

“We don't think it is a conflict of interest for a councillor to be a lawyer in a law firm we engage. Latheefa is not a shareholder of the firm," he explained.

Roslan also refuted the claim that the firm Daim & Gamany was not in the list of MBPJ's legal panel, saying the firm was fully sanctioned by the council.

Sources told FMT that the issue was raised by several councillors during a special MBPJ meeting last year.

The councillors wanted to know why Daim & Gamany had been allowed to represent the council since it might lead to a conflict of interest.

During that meeting, the council had decided that there was no issue and the matter was closed.

However, sources said that Daim & Gamany had been given at least four cases to handle in recent months.

“The firm charges the maximum fee allowed by MBPJ. Other firms had quoted lower fees and yet they were not appointed to represent the council,” said a source.

"In a few recent court cases, procedures and policies for selecting legal firms were bypassed. The council is supposed to send letters to all firms on the legal panel when there is a case, and ask for their price quotations, but this was not done,” added the source.

'Conflict of interest'

As for conflict of interest, the sources cited Section 35 of the Local Government Act 1976 which states: "No councillor shall by himself or his partner or agent act in any professional capacity for or against the local authority of which he is a councillor."

The sources said although Latheefa, who is also PKR information chief, might not be personally handling MBPJ cases, her position in the council and law firm, however, gave rise to a conflict of interest.

This was because she could have access to sensitive information and documents, they said.

The sources also cited another example where in 2003 and 2005, Sivarasa, who is PKR vice-president, had represented the residents of Taman Desaria PJS5.

The residents had taken legal action against the then Barisan Nasional-controlled Selangor government and MBPJ for allowing low-cost flats to be built in their area for the nearby squatters of Taman Medan.

In 2005, the court ruled in favour of the residents and declared the flats illegal. It also awarded damages to the residents and declared MBPJ's development order issued to Mentari Properties Sdn Bhd null and void.

In the landmark ruling, the court held that local authorities must hear the views of affected residents before issuing any development orders.

Soon after Pakatan Rakyat took over Selangor in 2008, MBPJ decided to appeal against the decision and it is understood that Sivarasa continued to act for the Taman Desaria residents. The case is still pending.

Professional conduct

Another MBPJ councillor Derek Fernandez, who had also acted for the Desaria residents in the past, discharged himself on grounds of conflict of interest.

However, sources said MBPJ's move to appoint Sivarasa's firm for several cases was strongly supported by Fernandez.

"How can Sivarasa be acting in a suit against the council and at the same time be given cases to defend MBPJ? Isn't that a clear-cut case of conflict of interest?" asked a source.

In another case last year, Sivarasa represented the council when residents of Taman Sri Aman, Petaling Jaya protested against a condominium project being undertaken in their area.

MBPJ then issued a stop-work order to the developer, Sri Aman Development Sdn Bhd, which was building the Paramount View condominium and an access road.

Subsequently, the developer went to court and filed for a judicial review of MBPJ's action. The court ruled in favour of the developer.

Several lawyers told FMT that such examples of conflict of interest went against the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978, where a lawyer should not accept a case if his professional conduct could be challenged.

FMT learnt that Sivarasa was also representing MBPJ in two judicial review cases involving the council and two outdoor advertising companies.

'These are wild allegations to shame us'

Both Sivarasa and Lateefa denied that they were involved in cases that gave rise to conflict of interest.

"The Local Government Act prohibits only councillor-lawyer from acting for or against the council... I am not a councillor, so where is the conflict?" asked Sivarasa, who has been practising law for 24 years.

The PKR leader explained that he was mostly hired by MBPJ for judicial review cases, which was his area of specialisation.

"These allegations are simply caused by ignorance. These people do not understand what conflict of interest is. In the Taman Desaria case, conflict of interest does not arise at all,” he said.

On the allegation of high legal fees, he said: "This is subjective. Lawyers come in all shapes and sizes. I charge according to what I feel is fair and it is subject to MBPJ's decision."

Meanwhile, Latheefa described it as “wild allegations made by those with their own agenda to shame a few of us”.

The lawyer said she had never acted for or against MBPJ since she was appointed as councillor in 2008.

"Bringing this up is a nasty thing to do. I never participated in any discussion at council meetings. In fact, I deliberately stayed away from such meetings whenever my legal firm was involved.

"In what way have I breached Section 35? It doesn't mean that just because I am in the same law firm, everything I do gives rise to conflict of interest," she added.

Latheefa stressed that conflict of interest occured only when sensitive information was involved.

Bigotry in school: 'Why the foot-dragging?'

By G Vinod - Free Malaysia Today,

PETALING JAYA: Both the Public Service Department (PSD) and the police are dilly-dallying in their investigations into the cases of two school principals who insulted their students with racist remarks, Perak DAP vice-chairman A Sivanesan said today.

He also rebuked teachers’ union boss Hashim Adnan and a Malaysian Youth Council (MYC) alumnus for their statements on the issue.

He said he agreed with PSD director-general Abu Bakar Abdullah that only PSD’s disciplinary committee could take action against the two principals, Siti Inshah Mansor of SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Kulai, Johor, and Ungku Aznan Ungku Ismail of SMK Bukit Selambau, Kedah.

However, he added, “it’s been 45 days” since the first incident. “Why is it taking so long?”

He said the disciplinary committee should have issued show-cause letters to both the principals by now.

Sivanesan, who is Sungkai state assemblyman, used to be a member in the general council of Cuepacs, the civil service union.

He said PSD could investigate the principals for misconduct at the workplace.

He also called on the police to announce the outcome of their investigation into the cases, noting that several people had lodged reports against the alleged culprits.

“The cases can be investigated under the Sedition Act,” he said.

“The police should inform the public of the outcome of the investigation. If they have completed their investigation and sent the report to the Attorney-General, then the latter should explain what his next course of action is.”

Sivanesan criticised Hashim, National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) president, for telling DAP that it should not politicise the issue.

Hashim, in an interview with an English daily, also referred to the two cases as “internal issues” that could be settled by the district education departments, the principals and the students involved.

“This is the most disgusting statement that can come from a union president,” said Sivanesan.

“I wonder whether he knows how serious the offence is, or whether he is just trying to please his political masters.”

He also took a swipe at MYC alumnus Shamsul Anuar Nasarah for telling DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang to be rational and to exercise caution when issuing statements involving racial unity.

“Shamsul should be directing the statement to the principals, not Lim,” he said.

Koh barking up the wrong tree on Putrajaya

By Joe Fernandez - Free Malaysia Today,

COMMENT Judging from his more recent pronouncements in public, Gerakan president Koh Tsu Khoon continues to indulge in wishful thinking while living on hope. Either he’s too comfortable in his current position at the Prime Minister’s Department, a misnomer for a hyper ministry, or wants to shamelessly curry favour in public with his political masters in Umno.

Koh is convinced that Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition alliance, will never get its hands on Putrajaya, as if Umno has somehow made a pact with the Devil himself to rule Malaysia forever, if not having a divine mandate. This reminds us of similar stories on Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and the seven bomohs who reportedly help keep him in power.

Not that many days ago, Koh’s party raised the “bright” prospects of wresting back the Penang state government from Pakatan. It’s not known at this juncture how many in Penang, if not elsewhere in Malaysia, died of laughter after reading Gerakan’s latest take on the Pearl of the Orient.

Sure, there are many problems in Penang but never in a million years will the Chinese in Penang hand back the island state to Gerakan at this juncture after having finally given the party and MCA the boot. Many Penangites, especially supporters of Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, are disappointed with the DAP but not to the extent of inviting Koh and his effeminate team back to squat on them again.

This reminds us of the Law of Inertia in Physics: “A body at rest continues to stay at rest unless acted upon by external forces. A body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by external forces.”

The political situation in Penang is one in which the body is at rest, that is, there’s no possibility of a change in the status quo. The various miniscule protests engineered by “sore loser” Penang Umno has only served to harden sentiments among Penangites against the party and the Barisan Nasional (BN). If anything, it’s a blessing in disguise as they have served to keep Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on his toes. He has no time to rest on his laurels, be complacent or take anyone for granted.

Penang Deputy Chief Minister II, P Ramasamy, will have to be sacrificed to placate Hindraf unless the bumbling professor makes peace with the ad hoc apolitical human rights movement.

Putrajaya is the Law of Inertia working on a bigger scale but with a difference vis-a-vis Penang.

As surely as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning, the BN will not repeat its performance of 2008 in Sabah and Sarawak at the next outing expected by 2013. If the general election were to be held tomorrow, the BN will lose at least a third of the seats in the respective state assemblies and at least 10 parliamentary seats each.

There are no prizes for guessing where the parliamentary seats will fall in Sabah and Sarawak.

The Chinese voters

In Sabah, all Chinese seats will fall to the opposition. Pakatan can also expect some seats from among the Dusuns and local Muslims. Local Muslims continue to suffer the brunt of disenfranchisement with the continuing influx of illegal immigrants who enter the electoral rolls with MyKads issued via the backdoor.

DAP's Lim Kit Siang, increasingly seen as an elder statesman who has withstood the test of time, has emerged as the undisputed leader of the Chinese in Sabah, as in Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia. Lim’s continued reliance on the BIC ballpoint pen in his shirt pocket, simple white short-sleeved shirts and ordinary Japanese slippers has won him an endearing image among the grassroots in Malaysian Borneo as in Peninsular Malaysia. No one can point even a finger of impropriety at him or his family.

In Sarawak, the Chinese parliamentary seats will be a repeat of the scenario in Sabah. The Chinese-based Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) is on the verge of entering the dustbin of history.

There are also pockets of discontent among the Bidayuh, Orang Ulu and Malay. The Iban continue to be plagued by low literacy levels and held to ransom by the dependency syndrome foisted on them by their longhouse chiefs, politicians and the BN. There’s a small group of Iban intellectuals working on the young voters but these dream in the comfort of the urban areas.

In Peninsular Malaysia, the status quo will remain and Perak will go back to Pakatan.

Given Sodomy II, the external force in the Law of Inertia, there are also prospects of additional opposition gains in Terengganu, Negri Sembilan and Malacca while reinforcing the opposition’s strength. In the last two states, as in Penang, Pakatan needs to come to an accommodation with Hindraf.

The opposition philosophy that “it’s better to quarrel now than later” has served it well. The washing of dirty linen in public is coming to a end and has strengthened the opposition alliance in the process. This includes PKR, supposedly the weakest link in the opposition alliance.

The Ku Li factor

Anyone with a calculator should get it out now. If the opposition-held parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia are totalled with the expected gains in Sabah and Sarawak, Pakatan is on the threshold of power in Putrajaya with a simple majority.

The Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah faction in Umno can be expected to throw in its lot with Pakatan as well. The faction has been in the cold for quite a spell now and know that the tide has finally turned and for it as well.

Pakatan will be in Putrajaya, come the next general election, whether Koh likes it or not.

One of Pakatan's biggest weapons in its arsenal is a promise that it has made in Sarawak: “To return all land stolen by politicians and the state government from the people back to them.”

Another major promise is to get back all the ill-gotten gains salted away overseas by Umno and BN politicians and bring them to reckoning. Only Umno and BN politicians who are willing to declare their assets in public and prove how clean they are will be spared the wrath of the electorate at the next outing and the long arm of the law. This (declaring assets) is a challenge that Taib is unlikely to take up.

The systematic looting of the public treasury under the guise of development cannot go unpunished. This is Pakatan's trump card in the coming general election.

Government procurements and projects are being taken by those in power in Umno and BN through nominees at twice, three times and even up to 10 times what it would actually cost the Chinese Baba contractor in traditional Ali Baba deals. This includes profits and the usual 5% to 15% commission for the Malay Ali who brings in the government jobs for the Chinese Baba. The Chinese community, long tolerant of Ali Baba practices like the Malay, is up in arms against the looting of the public treasury by those in the corridors of power with their fat cats in tow.

Nurul’s unanswered challenge to Mahathir and Ibrahim

By Kim Quek - Free Malaysia Today,

COMMENT Amidst the recent heightening of racial rhetoric, mainly originating from Umno, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad created a minor sensation when he warned that Malays will lose their power and a Chinese or an Indian may become prime minister, if the opposition Pakatan Rakyat were to come to power.

This statement was immediately rebutted by Nurul Izzah, Lembah Pantai MP, and eldest daughter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

In a hard-hitting statement on Sept 24, Nurul accused Mahathir of playing the race card to incite racial animosities and to perpetuate the “politics of fear”. The cornerstone of this age-old, race-centric strategy of Umno was Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, which Nurul said Umno has used as a “political instrument of deceit and despair”.

Through mass indoctrination that “degrades, confuses and paralyses the community”, Umno has caused the Malays to be “enslaved intellectually and emotionally”.  Nurul said the purpose of all this is to maintain political hegemony so that the few ruling elite can continue to enrich themselves “through corruption, abuse of power and undermining the constitution relentlessly”.

To counter such politics, Nurul offered the “politics of hope and liberation” which would transform the Malay mind from one of misguided fears to one that would “create a confident and liberated community”.  She “humbly offers” to debate with Mahathir to “clarify if his ‘fear’ for the Malays is really about loss of power or in reality loss of wealth for the chosen few”.

Not unexpectedly, Mahathir has maintained his “elegant silence” to her offer.

Malaysia or Malaysaja?

Nurul also suggested an “honest, constructive dialogue” with Ibrahim Ali, head of the Malay right-wing Pekasa, which is under the patronage of Mahathir. Nurul’s offer was contained in her article dated Aug 31, titled “The ultimate Malaysian debate: Malaysia or Malaysaja?” (Malaysia or Malays Only?) which was written to counter Perkasa’s seemingly endless championing of “Malay rights” which had escalated racial tension and raised political temperature by many notches.

Ibrahim and Mahathir seem hell-bent on stopping Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak from implementing his New Economic Model, which is supposed to liberalise the economy and free it from the clutches of the economically stifling, much corrupted and skewed New Economic Policy that heavily plays on “Malay rights”.

Nurul’s article is in fact an important document that probes deep into the current Malay dilemma faced by so many Malays, and by extension, the entire country.

In her article, she explores, analyses, as well as answers some of these crucial questions:

  • What exactly are “Malay rights”?  What is the constitutional basis of these rights? What exactly is stated in the famous Article 153 upon which the clamour for all kinds of racial privileges seems to have been built?  What sort of racial preferences are included and what are excluded in Article 153?
  • What is the nature of Malay discontent? What are they unhappy about?
  • What are the true causes of failure to uplift the Malay standard of living despite heavy dosage of the New Economic Policy?
  • What are the real solutions to overcome these predicaments?
  • What are the serious consequences to the country if racial bigotry were to triumph over rational solution and “ketuanan Melayu” (Malay supremacy) advocates win the next general election?

Nurul proposes, in her article, to have an “honest, constructive engagement or dialogue” with Perkasa to reach a better understanding of key issues and to jointly look for real solutions.

Nurul’s article is outstanding in that it had accurately dissected Article 153, distinguished facts from myths, analysed ambiguous notions, pin-pointed real causes and solutions, and above all, earnestly and sincerely sought to work out common ground for the benefit of all.

Wanton police acts defamed the nation

But alas, what did she get in return for such gallant effort? Instead of being heaped with accolades and positively reciprocated, she was summoned to a police station where she was subjected to investigation for alleged breach of the Sedition Act based upon a police report lodged by Perkasa accusing Nurul of “questioning” the Federal Constitution in her article!

What a big joke! The one who should be hauled up for questioning should be the complainant, Perkasa representative Zaira Jaafar, for having made an unfounded accusation. Zaira should have been punished or at least warned of the serious consequences of making a false police report and falsely defaming others.

Of late, there has been an alarming increase in the number of cases where police wantonly abused their power to harass opposition members by subjecting them to investigation on frivolous grounds, confiscating their books illegally, and even arresting them arbitrarily.

A most recent case is that of cartoonist Zunar, who was arrested and shuffled around from one police station to another for not less than six times, while all the time the police were unable to make up their mind what law to use to charge him.

By displaying such disgusting political partisanship and lawlessness, the police have defiled the image of the country and further lowered our grade (which has already reached rock bottom) as an investment destination. And needless to say, such fragrant trampling of people’s fundamental rights has caused their political masters, the Barisan Nasional, to lose more electoral support than they could ever imagine.

Now, coming to Mahathir and Ibrahim. The hue and cry they have raised over the alleged peril to the Malay race cannot withstand the test of rational scrutiny. They know the truth but are only pretending not to know it. And their refusal to engage in any constructive dialogue with Nurul goes to show they are not prepared to have their masks taken down.