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Monday, October 18, 2010

Typhoon Megi hits Philippines

Super Typhoon Megi has claimed its first victim in the northern Philippines, with authorities reporting that a fisherman has drowned as the storm brings heavy rain and strong rains.

The man drowned in a river in the city of Tuguegarao on Monday morning as Megi approached the area, Benito Ramos, the nation's civil-defence chief, said.

The northeastern provinces of Cagayan, in which Tuguegarao is situated, and Isabela were the first to feel the impact of the typhoon.

Megi, dubbed a "super-typhoon" by government relief agencies, has brought winds with speeds of up to 260kph, the government weather station said.

The storm was not expected to hit Manila, the capital, directly but authorities have warned the city's 12 million residents to remain on alert.

Schools were closed and thousands of people were evacuated across the north of the Philippines' main island of Luzon in advance of the storm, rescue and relief officials said.

Megi is expected to exit out to the South China Sea on Tuesday.

Complacency warning

Benigno Aquino, the Philippines' president, has ordered all government agencies to be on high alert to prevent casualties, while the coast guard was instructed to ban all fishing vessels from setting off to sea in the north.

"The president is reiterating that all agencies concerned should be ready for the approaching super typhoon Juan [Megi]," Abigail Valte, a deputy spokeswoman for Aquino, said.

She cautioned the public against complacency, amid reports that the weather in some northern provinces remained clear as of early Sunday.

Norma Talosig, the regional chief of the civil defence office, said the government was not ruling out forced evacuation for those who refused to leave their homes despite being told to do so.

"If we have to conduct forced evacuations, we'll do it for their safety," Talosig said on national radio.

"Our main objective is the safety of the community, the safety of the responders."

In Manila, disaster officials said food packs, medicine and rescue equipment, including rubber boats, were ready in areas expected to be lashed by the typhoon.

The Philippines is battered by an average of 20 typhoons a year, some of them deadly.

Tropical Storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma struck the northern Philippine island of Luzon within a week of each other in September and October last year, triggering the worst flooding in recent history.

The twin storms killed more than 1,000 people, affected nearly 10 million and caused damage to $4.3bn of infrastructure and property, according to the World Bank and international humanitarian agencies.

The US navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in its latest advisory on Sunday said Megi had undergone "rapid intensification", but could weaken as it moves across mountainous terrain after hitting Luzon.

Megi would then begin to steadily reintensify as it leaves the country heading for the South China Sea, it said.

China has urged its vessels to take shelter in ports and urged local authorities to prepare for emergencies caused by wind and rain, Xinhua said.

Islamic conversion law reforms hit 'dead end'

The road to reforming the laws on conversion to Islam appear to hit a snag. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz revealed that the Malay rulers are yet to consent to the changes proposed.

"There is a difficulty here, because as you know, Islam is under the purview of the sultans of the states. And in the states where there are no sultans, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is responsible for Islamic laws.

"So, we cannot do anything at all without the consent of the Rulers' Council. On the conversion issue, the sultans still feel that they need to protect Islam and the Muslim subjects because that is their duty. That is under their purview," said Nazri.

The rulers, he said, were not convinced that amendments to certain Islamic laws would not overlap with their duties as guardians of the Islamic faith in their states.

"They are not convinced that the laws, the amendments proposed by the government, do not touch on their rights as the penghulu (elders) of Islam in the states. So this is something that we have to resolve first.

"But for now, they have not given their consent," Nazri added in a recent interview with Malaysiakini.

NONENazri (left) also revealed that he has attempted to explain the matter to the rulers, but to no avail.

"Even though I tried to explain, that we are talking about the rights of a person, the scenario before that person became a Muslim, like his marriage and all that; the rulers still feel that these touch on the rights of a Muslim.

"Even though an individual converts recently, he or she is still a Muslim, and (the rulers) have to be consulted and they have to approve (the amendments). So there is nothing we can do about it," he said.

The government had last year attempted to table amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 and Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984.

The move came after several domestic disputes following secret conversions to Islam, which quickly escalated into a nationwide religious furore.

The last straw for the government came in the case of M Indira Gandhi, a 35-year-old Hindu who nearly lost the custody of her three children after her estranged husband converted to Islam, together with the children, without her knowledge.

A few weeks after the incident, the cabinet issued a ban on parents secretly converting children to Islam, in a move to calm strained race relations in the country.

In the meantime, the proposed amendments are yet to make it to the first reading in Parliament.

'Why don't state governments speak to the sultans?'

Nazri, who is the de facto Law Minister, then challenged the state governments, particularly the Pakatan Rakyat ones, to take responsibility, considering that Islam was a state matter.

"It is not about BN. It's about any government. And more so when religion is a matter of the state. Then it also becomes a concern for the PAS governments in Kelantan and Kedah, the DAP government in Penang and PKR government in Selangor.

"Because (Islam) is a state issue, so you cannot say that this is a BN problem. It is not. This is the wrong perception," he said.

NONEHe also threw the gauntlet at the Pakatan state governments, telling them to reason with the rulers instead of blaming the federal government all the time.

"Why are they not talking to the sultans? Why must it be us all the time? Islam is a state matter and they have direct access to their sultans. So, why aren't they talking?

"I want (Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng, left) to speak with the Yang diPertuan Agong about the rights of the non-Muslims in Penang, and (Selangor MB) Khalid (Ibrahim) should go and see the sultan about the conversion issue in Selangor.

"Convince the Sultans. If (Pakatan state governments) are fair to the non-Muslims, they should be working hard to convince the rulers about the importance of these law reforms," Nazri added.

Dr M promotes China model as alternative to democracy

Dr Mahathir: If you find good people to run a country, even dictators can make a country develop and develop very well.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today called democracy a “failed” ideology and held up China’s model of authoritarianism as an alternative “worth studying”.

He said China’s political model — which he termed the “Beijing Consensus” — showed that a nation could develop well even in the absence of freedom, liberty and equality — ideals fundamental to the rival “Washington Consensus”.

“The Beijing Consensus shows that having a non-democratic country can also give a good life for the people,” Dr Mahathir told delegates at the “Creation of the Global Citizen: Media Liberalisation and the New Political Realities” forum organised by Umno here.

“If you find good people to run a country, even dictators can make a country develop and develop very well.”

He pointed out that China’s “correct” application of the Beijing Consensus had allowed the nation of 1.3 billion “very poor” people to become the second richest country in the world.

The former premier also criticised the very premise of democracy, arguing that no issue could achieve total consensus, leading to an electoral split that will promote poor governance.

“Democracy... has failed in many countries,” he said.

“It is not the perfect thing it is touted to be. You find that some of these democracies really cannot work. People cannot make up their minds.

Dr Mahathir cited hung parliaments in Britain and Australia as proof that countries cannot progress when a majority of its voters cannot make up their minds, saying frequent changes in leadership were not good for a nation.

“We see a lot of democracies where leaders change every two years and the country cannot make any progress at all,” he said.

“Even the countries that have made progress find sometimes that democracies hinder the development of the country, make the country unstable and difficult to develop.”

He added that smaller parties roped into ad hoc coalitions to break hung parliaments in democracies will hold the majority hostage to minority demands that were not good for the country as a whole.

Dr M says big projects are way to go

Mahathir: When you spend money, then you create jobs, you create opportunities for doing business.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — The Najib administration’s move to reach for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s playbook of using big projects to stimulate the economy was applauded by the ex-PM himself today.

Dr Mahathir, whose 22-year tenure was characterised by a proliferation of large scale projects and iconic buildings, cited the Warisan Merdeka tower announced in Najib’s Budget 2011 speech last Friday, will be good for the country as it would create economic opportunities.

The 100-storey “supertall” skyscraper, sited adjacent to Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara, is expected to cost RM5 billion over the next five years to build. When completed, it will be the tallest building in Malaysia, surpassing even the Petronas Towers.

“What is interesting for me is that money is being spent to build this tower. When you spend money, then you create jobs, you create opportunities for doing business,” he said today.

“I don’t know if it should be a 100-storey tower or not but spending money is good.”

Dr Mahathir was speaking to reporters after delivering the keynote speech at the “Creation of the Global Citizen: Media Liberalisation and the New Political Realities” forum organised by Umno at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here.

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Racist principals: Nazri says better late than never

By Rahmah Ghazali

FULL REPORT KUALA LUMPUR: Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz has defended the snail-paced action against two principals who uttered racists remarks against their students.

According to him, the authorities were in the proces of initiating action against the principals from Kedah and Johor respectively.

The delay, he explained, was a result of having to follow the due process.

“There is an English saying, better late than never,” he told the Dewan Rakyat in response to a question from Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan). “But (in this case), I must stress that it is not too late.”

The minister said this was the first time in the history of the Malaysian civil service where government officials had been cited for racism.

He said the investigation into the Johor case was time-consuming as it involved many witnesses, who had different versions of the incident.

"So the investigating committee had to process every witness' statement to reveal the truth behind the accusation. But most importantly, the principal had been suspended immediately," he added.

Nazri stressed that the government did not want to make a hasty decision, and the principals also had the right to defend themselves.

"In this situation, we need to see the circumstances surrounding their statements, whether the statements were made intentionally or not. They could be angry about something when they uttered the remarks.

"We need to take everything into consideration, only then can we make a fair decision for," he said.

Two months ago, the principal of SMK Bukit Selambau in Kedah had told a group of Chinese students “to go back to China” when he spotted them having breakfast in the school canteen during the fasting period.

Prior to this, the principal of SMK Tengku Abdul Rahman Putra in Johor had ignited a firestorm of protests for making racial remarks when launching the school’s Merdeka celebrations.

The principal, identified as Siti Inshah Mansor, was alleged to have said that Chinese students were not needed here and should return to China while the prayer strings tied around the necks and wrists of Indian students made them look like dogs.

Following this, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also education minister, came under fire when he distanced himself from the matter.

Muhyiddin said he could not act against the duo because their high pay-scale placed them beyond the jurisdiction of his ministry, and only the Public Service Department could act against them.

Kit Siang blames BTN, Nazri disagrees
Meanwhile, Nazri said the Johor principal was transferred to the state education department on Aug 23.

He said the government had issued a “notice of accusation” against her on Oct 8, and action would be taken after 21 days.

"We issued the letter after considering that the principal has appealed and retracted her statement during a meeting with non-Malay teachers, " he added.

As for the principal from Kedah, Nazri said the Education Ministry had issued a warning and the principal made a public apology.

"He was later suspended and reassigned to the Kuala Muda district office on Aug 23," he added.

The minister also denied the allegation by Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) that the incident was caused by the “indoctrination” of the National Civics Bureau (BTN).

"Isn't the minister aware that these racist remarks were caused by the indoctrination of BTN? There are seeds of racism planted in the courses,” said the opposition leader.

"Instead of just reviewing the courses' module, is it not better for the government to just shut down BTN, which has been acting against the 1Malaysia concept?" he told the Dewan Rakyat.

Nazri disagreed, saying that the modules were already being reviewed to reflect the unity concept and there was no need for it to be shut down.

Even before the dust could settle on the controversy surrounding the principals, BTN's deputy director Hamim Husain landed in the limelight for allegedly making racist remarks during a closed-door meeting.

However, Hamim denied that he had reportedly referred to Chinese Malaysians as “Si Mata Sepet” (slitty eyes) and Indian Malaysians as “Si Botol” (alcoholics) as reported.

What about Namewee?

In a related development, Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) asked Nazri if the government planned to take similar action against rapper Wee Meng Cheng, popularly known as Namewee, over his “racist” remarks in a video clip he had made in relation to the principals.

"We will take action against Namewee but we cannot take a similar action because he is not a civil servant. He is not a principal and not a civil servant. But there are police reports lodged against him, and we will take the appropriate action," replied the minister.

Following this, Guan Eng had asked if other BN MP's were prepared to emulate Nazri's “Malaysian first, Malay second” proclamation.

However, Nazri brushed this off, saying that there was no need for them to do so as they had been united as Malaysian in governing the nation for 59 years.

"But for Pakatan Rakyat, they need to say this repeatedly because DAP is branded as Chinese chauvinists and PAS as Muslim extremists. That is why they need to say it many times," he said.

Muhyiddin contradicts Najib on press freedom

By Patrick Lee - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: In stark contrast to his boss' statement recently, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin reminded the Malaysian media that it was not free to do as it pleases.
"Press freedom is not a blank cheque to do whatever we want," he said at the International Forum on “The Creation of Global Citizen: Media Liberalisation and Political Realities” at the Putra World Trade Centre today.

Muhyiddin also warned that the freedom enjoyed by the media needed to be used responsibly.

"The media in this country understands what constitutes fair, free and responsible press... (but) we have to be cautious of what it can do as a communications tool," he said.

Muhyiddin added that it was in Malaysia's best interests to liberalise its media and to increase global awareness. He did not say how the government was going to do this.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had recently said that there was a need for a free media, and that it should report without fear or favour.

Contrary to Najib's views, the government appears to have adopted a hard stance against various local politically-themed media outfits in recent days.

Online portals not spared

In September, cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque (better known as Zunar) was arrested under the Sedition Act for publishing his latest book, Cartoon-o-Phobia.

Zunar, whose work has been critical of government administration as well as of Najib, has seen three of his previous works banned by the Home Ministry.

Online portals and social media outfits were not spared from the government's far-reaching hands.
Local blogger Ahiruddin Attan was recently questioned by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) after Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim lodged a police report against him.

Attan, or popularly known as Rocky Bru, had allegedly posted a rumour that a minister's son stood to gain from a RM1 billion project organised by Rais' ministry.

According to the Press Freedom Index compiled by international media organisation, Reporters Without Borders, Malaysia stands at 131 out of 175 countries.

Trouble brewing in Batu Sapi for PKR

By Michael Kaung - Free Malaysia Today

SANDAKAN: Hasnar Ibrahim, the new Batu Sapi PKR division chief, has denounced the negotiation and selection of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) candidate for the Batu Sapi by-election.

Describing it as improper and controversial, he warned the Pakatan leadership of serious consequences if they attempt to simply impose their choice (of candidate) against the will of Batu Sapi people.

Hasnar, who has a stake in the coming by-election, said unauthorized Sabah PKR members had attended a closed-door meeting to select a candidate for the Batu Sapi consituency.

He claims to be among the five PKR leaders being given the mandate to select the PKR candidate for Batu Sapi.

The others in the list are state PKR chief Ahmad Thamrin Jaini, Tuaran division Ansari Abdullah, Kota Kinabalu chief Christina Liew and Tawau chief Kong Hong Ming.

However his name and that of Ansari have been removed and replaced with that of Jeffrey Kitingan and Kalakau Untol.

Hasnar is furious that he was not informed and he only realized this when he was prevented from attending the Sabah Pakatan secretariat meeting scheduled yesterday afternoon at the Sandbay Hotel.

Meeting at another venue

He claimed that Thamrin had called off the scheduled meeting but later proceeded with it in another venue without his (Hasnar's) knowledge. It was also learnt that there was insufficient quorum.

“This is just not right and we are absolutely not happy with it. We in Batu Sapi PKR especially do not welcome both Jeffrey and Kalakau," Hasnar said, adding that both of them were too strong-minded and un-compromising.

He believes that both his and Ansari’s names were dropped from the original list of the select committee in order to get Thamrin nominated as the candidate.

“I know for a fact that someone in the committee has nominated Thamrin for the candidacy, which is against our Batu Sapi members and supporters’ will,” he claimed, adding that his committee had identified someone who is more qualified as the candidate.

A former ISA detainee in connection to distribution of faked Malaysian identity cards during the early 90s, Hasnar also reminded Pakatan central leaderships to honour their promise of giving full autonomy for Sabah Pakatan coalition leaders to decide on Sabah affairs.

“Stop treating us like puppets,” he stressed.

He also urged PKR central leaderships to be wary of being exploited by leaders who are actually “opportunists in disguise”.

Thamrin could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, it was reliably learnt that Pakatan leaderships might call for a press conference to announce the Batu Sapi candidacy, in the Parliament lobby, today.

Malicious attacks are signs of fear, says Zaid

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today,

GEORGE TOWN: Smear campaigns carried out by certain candidates in the on-going party polls are pointers to a fear syndrome gripping PKR, party supreme council member Zaid Ibrahim said.

He said the malicious personal attacks on others, using labels such as “Trojan Horse”, “hidden enemy” and “BN agent”, were carried out to promote a fear culture among party grassroots members.

He called on those spreading the malicious campaign to produce evidence to back their claims or stop their personal attacks.

“This is not good for the party democratisation and reform struggle. Do we want the culture of accusing each other to prevail in the party?

“If this is the culture we want, then we are no different from Umno and Barisan Nasional,” he told some 60 people attending “An Evening with Tok Z” session at Seri Malaysia Hotel yesterday.

The PKR Bayan Baru division’s “Team Rakyat”, headed by M Ngnanasegaran, organised the event.

Zaid suggested that the top leadership take stern disciplinary action against those carrying out the malicious attacks.

“They should be disciplined with stern punitive action for tarnishing the party's image,” he said.

'People are smart'

Zaid said that PKR and Pakatan Rakyat cannot go on merely criticising the government on all issues without suggesting solutions.

He added that the people have voted Pakatan not just to oppose BN, but also to perform as state governments with a difference.

He warned that Pakatan states' failure to deliver would result in people voting out the coalition in the next election.

He cautioned Pakatan not to take the support of the people in the last general election for granted.

“The people are smart... they would quietly vote us out,” he said.

Zaid said the size of the party membership was not an indication of a PKR success, adding that the Conservative party in Britain has only about 300,000 members but is ruling a population of 67 million.

“What we need are active members who can take part in all the decision-making process of the party, not just by-standers” he said.

He added that it was pointless to claim half-a-million membership when only a few hundred took part in the party elections.

“It shows that members were not keen to exercise their one member-one vote rights,” he said.

Vision for PKR

Zaid, who is contesting for deputy president, called for a cohesive reform programme to be carried out within PKR to galvanise members to take an active part in the internal polls.

“What’s the point for us to contest when members do not come out to vote,” said Zaid, who faces PKR powerbroker Azmin Ali and Mustapha Kamil Ayub for the number two slot.

He cited BN’s claim of having 7.5 million members as a fine example that large membership does not necessarily bring success.

If the BN membership was true, said Zaid, the country need not hold general elections because the coalition would win them all since registered voters numbered only 12 million.

Instead, he said the hallmarks of a successful party were political leadership and management quality; the bottom-to-top democratisation and leadership empowerment process; and performance with a difference.

“We must empower the people from bottom to top to be active and involved in decision-making process at all levels.

“We need to reform members to be active, vibrant and dynamic to give ideas and solutions to resolve local problems.

“It is pointless for us to talk about the sky and earth, stars and moons when we fail to sort out these details.

“This is my vision for the party,” said Zaid, who was fondly addressed as “Tok Z” by local PKR members.

When one death is too many

By R. Nadeswaran, The Sun

TWO weeks ago, a 20-year-old Singaporean student was killed in what appeared to be a hit-and-run incident in the upmarket area of Belsize Park in London. Tan Ming Wei was an undergraduate medical student at Cambridge and was reported to have been hit while walking along a kerb in the wee hours of the morning. It made the front page of the Evening Standard the same day and the tragic incident was extensively reported in other national newspapers the following day. I can relate to the anguish of her parents and all that can be said is that no one should ever go through such a traumatic experience.

In a country like the United Kingdom where its society brooks no nonsense when it comes to road safety, one death is one too many. In a society where indis-cipline on the roads is never tolerated, there’s little room for discretion when it comes to flouting traffic regulations. Even if you jump the queue, you are treated like a pariah and get dirty stares for being "uncivilised".

However, the 20 deaths in two crashes in Malacca and Kampar last week are just treated like statistics, adding yet more names to the long list of people who have lost their lives on Malaysian roads. Yes, the Transport Ministry comes out with the same old statement which has become an overused cliché – "We will investigate the cause of the accident" – after which it is business as usual until the next big crash takes place. No one wants to do the "dirty" job of coming down hard on those who choose to break the law. Besides, the mind tells the average Malaysian that there’s no problem because everything can be kau tim. This adds another hurdle in the enforcement of traffic laws.

Five years ago, the Road Safety Depart-ment was set up, but what has been achieved? Other than seeing goodies dished out at toll plazas before the festive rush and the occasional "road safety campaign", there’s little to show. Yes, the department will produce statistics that fatalities have dropped, but 300 deaths over the recent fes-tive exodus is nothing much to shout about.

Motorcyclists and their pillion riders were described as the biggest "risk group" and instead of wielding the big stick, the dep-artment was more interested in sourcing free helmets to be distributed to them. Why this velvet glove treatment when they make no effort to comply with the laws to protect themselves? The rampaging Mat Rempits who have taken control of some streets in Kuala Lumpur are testament to how the law has lost control of itself. Instead of treating them as law-breakers, some have chosen to pamper and pander to their wishes as if these act-ions are going to make them change their notorious lifestyles. In London, crossing the limit at a 20mph (32kph) zone in residential areas draws a compound fine of £95 (RM475) and no one gives amnesty or special discounts for early birds or latecomers in the Malaysian context.

The emphasis in Malaysia has been on speed. It’s been shown time and again that speed is NOT the greatest contributor to road deaths. Poor road design, insufficient lighting or signage, poor road surfaces, badly placed road signs and billboards – and the list goes on. The authorities keep harping on speed limits and it becomes monotonous. Doesn’t anyone care about the potholes as a result of which so many have died? When asked, the answer is always expectable: "Roads come under local councils and we have no control over them."

We must restore sanity on our roads. Don’t even think of "bringing in new laws to make it tougher". We have the laws, but they must be enforced with zealous discipline.

Andrew Evans, transport professor at the Imperial College in London, says that of all everyday activities carried out by people, transport carries the greatest risk per unit time of accidental death or injury. Need more be said? Why then are we not stopping our cars becoming mangled coffins and our roads being the graveyards they have turned out to be?

On Saturday, R. Nadeswaran marked the sixth anniversary of the loss of his daughter in a car crash with a vow to campaign to help end the carnage on our roads. Comments:

No need for BN MPs to declare ‘Malaysian first,’ says Nazri

Nazri: We all aware that Barisan has a Malaysian branding.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz claimed today that Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs should be exempt from declaring they were “Malaysians first”, as the federal coalition had always “championed” the rights of all races.

Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers have claimed that many BN MPs did not espouse Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia concept of “Malaysian first”.

In BN’s defence today, Nazri said that PR lawmakers were the ones who needed to make such a declaration, as he claimed that the opposition coalition was made up of “chauvinists” and “extremists.”

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s department said that Malaysians were already “well aware” of BN’s stand on equality, saying that the opposition instead needed to do so as they were still “new.”

“It is only those who are new that must constantly declare their stand as the rakyat may not trust them yet,” he said, adding that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) was only formed in 2008.

“DAP is a Chinese chauvinist party, PAS is an Islamic extremist party while PKR offers somewhat of a balance. But we all aware that Barisan has a Malaysian branding,” Nazri said in reply to a supplementary question by Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng.

Lim had asked whether other BN MPs were willing to emulate Nazri’s recent actions in declaring himself as “Malaysian first.”

The Minister had, in an open letter to Utusan columnist Awang Selamat, declared himself as “Malaysian first, and Malay second.”

“I am Malaysian first and Malay next, does any bigot have a problem with that?” said Nazri in the open letter published in The Malaysian Insider.

Later on at a press conference, Lim said that Nazri’s reply had failed to state whether other BN MPs were willing to declare whether they were Malaysian first or otherwise.

“Is Nazri alone in this? I don’t see any Umno or BN MPs sharing this view, even the Deputy Prime Minister does not share the same view,” said Lim.

Restricting indigenous rights

IN the upcoming Galas by-election, Umno is expected to harp on “Ladang Rakyat”, a PAS state government development project that has reportedly benefited a private company over the rights of settlers. While Umno is championing the land rights of Malay Malaysian settlers, however, the Orang Asli remain one of the most impoverished communities under the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
The Orang Asli remain one of the most impoverished communities under the BN government
In the name of development, customary lands belonging to the indigenous peoples have been seized; their forests, houses and crops destroyed with minimal or zero compensation. And yet, Umno has announced its determination to win the votes of the 2,000 Orang Asli voters in the by-election.
How it will do that will soon be revealed when campaigning begins. What is more significant though is that over the years, the BN government has systematically used the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 and Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (JHEOA) to exert control over Orang Asli communities. A new land policy the BN government passed in 2009 looks set to further restrict indigenous rights even as Umno clamours for settlers’ land rights.
Problematic new land policy
The National Land Council, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, passed a controversial Orang Asli land policy in December 2009. Muhyiddin claimed the new policy would help to eradicate poverty among the indigenous communities in the peninsula.
Orang Asli at a September 2008 gathering in Kuala Lumpur
However, over 2,000 Orang Asli marched to the Prime Minister’s Office in March 2010 to submit a memorandum in protest of the policy that was passed without consultation with the indigenous communities.
Under the new policy, instead of recognising Orang Asli rights over their customary lands, the state would instead “give” them between 0.8 to 2.4 ha of land per family, and an additional 5,000 square feet to build houses.
Colin Nicholas
Colin Nicholas
But Centre for Orang Asli Concerns coordinator Dr Colin Nicholas warns that under the policy, it is likely the Orang Asli will no longer be recognised as indigenous peoples.
“One of the key elements in the definition of indigenous peoples is their collective attachment and control over a particular customary land,” he said in a 9 Oct 2010 Bar Council forum in Kuala Lumpur. Nicholas noted that the new land policy does not take into account the Orang Asli’s unique way of life and the diversity of their traditional land use practices.
“Unlike the Malay [Malaysians] who have their Malay reserves, and the Sabah and Sarawak natives who can make a claim over their native customary rights (NCR) lands, the Orang Asli will only be accorded individual land titles,” Nicholas explained.
Furthermore, only sanctioned development agencies, not Orang Asli themselves, would be allowed to develop the lands. In other words, the Orang Asli would have little control over their land.
Additionally, the communal customary lands known as tanah adat or “roaming areas” will be lost to the Orang Asli under the proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954. The Orang Asli would also be prohibited from making land claims in court once they accept the government’s land titles.
Nicholas claimed the new land policy was the federal government’s reaction to restrict Orang Asli land rights after the Adong Kuwau and Sagong Tasi landmark rulings, which extended recognition of Orang Asli rights to their traditional lands and resources.
Aboriginal Peoples Act
Apart from the new land policy, the BN government has also yet to amend or repeal the problematic Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 that does not fully recognise Orang Asli land rights.
A colonial product, the law was supposed to “provide for the protection, well-being and advancement of the aboriginal peoples of Peninsular Malaysia”.
Augustine Anthony
Augustine Anthony
However, lawyer Augustine Anthony pointed out during the Bar Council forum that all 19 sections in the Act need to be amended, if not repealed.
“For example, under Section 3(3) of the Act, it is the minister that decides who is an Orang Asli (not the Orang Asli themselves).
“Also, under the Act, an aboriginal area or reserve can be changed to Malay reserve or a forest reserve by the state at will,” said Anthony, adding that the Orang Asli cannot transfer, lease or sell their land without the consent of the director-general of Orang Asli affairs.
“Clearly, the Act was established by the British to exert control over the Orang Asli communities during the communist era,” said Anthony. And the BN government has continued to use the same tool to control the Orang Asli since independence.
Who is responsible?
Full house at the Bar Council forum
Conducted in Bahasa Malaysia, close to 200 Orang Asli attended the Bar Council forum that sought Orang Asli feedback on the new land policy. All voted against the new policy.
Additionally, many spoke out against JHEOA and the BN government during the forum. A few complained that the politicians would make sweet promises to grant them land titles during election campaigns, but disappear without a trace after that.
“We can always blame the government, but the way I see it, we Orang Asli must unite and stand up for ourselves, too,” said Tijah Yok Chopil from Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia.
Tijah Yok Chopil
Tijah Yok Chopil
“We can’t keep thinking that all our problems including our land woes will be solved once we vote for a particular party. BN or Pakatan candidates, we can’t just sit down [and wait for them to fulfil their election promises]. We need to look for them after the elections,” Tijah, a Semai, said.
Indeed, while civil society and the Bar Council may help to amplify indigenous voices, it is still up to the Orang Asli to continue to pressure the federal and state governments to uphold their rights and fulfil election promises. The Galas by-election will provide just the opportunity to keep doing so.

And so it begins… Sg Rajang level drops

The Rajang River water level reportedly has dropped after flooding began at the Bakun Dam. Already the express boat between Kapit and Belaga has been suspended.
Rajang River water level drops - Photo credit: Borneo Post
Will Kapit now be cut off from vital river transport? What about the area’s future water and energy supply? What other environmental consequences does the Bakun Dam have in store?

Khalid’s decision not to contest: Selangor rakyat comes first

While we wait on a hopefully upcoming website for the MB, I thought I would help share a press statement released today
I would like to thank all those who supported my candidacy for the post of Deputy President in the coming Parti Keadilan Rakyat elections. Their trust, confidence and willingness to always put the interests of the rakyat first remain an enduring source of inspiration for me.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the special consultation committee – Saudara Tian Chua, Puan Irene Fernandez, Tuan Syed Shahir and Dr Muhammad Nur Manuty – who spent much of their valuable time meeting various leaders in the past week.
My interest in contesting the party elections was informed by a desire to strengthen party unity and promote a commitment to a healthy political culture and principles above all else. I continue to harbour these aspirations for the good of the party and for all Malaysia. After careful and considered discussion with the special committee members, my political secretary Faekah Husin and key Reformasi activist leaders, I am convinced I can advance these goals best by not contesting any of the top party posts in these elections.
The Pakatan Rakyat led Selangor state government is in many ways a blueprint for a Pakatan Rakyat led federal government. In view of the upcoming general elections, I feel my highest duty is to demonstrate the kind of dynamic, principled and rakyat-centric governance that will inspire confidence in Malaysians throughout the country and help spread the Reformasi spirit all the way to Putrajaya.

I also see it as my duty and goal to retain the stronghold that is the Selangor state government. With our continued commitment to the welfare of the rakyat through the Merakyatkan Ekonomi Selangor agenda, we can safely aim to surpass a two thirds majority in the next state elections, retain the current parliamentary seats and deliver the remaining five BN-held seats towards the effort of forming the federal government
The massive focus that has been channeled into the Klang Valley in the recently announced federal budget has also been a factor in my decision. The Greater Kuala Lumpur plan involves projects worth billions of ringgit and it is crucial for the Selangor government to play a major role in ensuring that these projects are managed efficiently and transparently.
To safeguard the interests of the rakyat, the Selangor Government will monitor and scrutinise these developments. We will be paying special attention to the tender process for all projects, especially those involving the construction of commuter and LRT routes (possibly too specific for a statement of this nature and subject), to ensure that the contracts awarded do not profit crony companies at the expense of the rakyat.
In conclusion, I would like to note again that I am confident in the abilities of all the candidates I have seen nominated for top party positions, and am optimistic about their potential to rejunevate the spirit of Reformasi for the party while we in the Selangor state government remain focused in our efforts to realise a genuinely rakyat-centric government. I call on all candidates to maintain the highest standards of a healthy political culture throughout the campaign, and hope they will set an example worthy of aspirants to the federal government.
I look forward to a campaign that will feature sophisticated discourse with regards to the ideals and direction of our party, and a comprehensive roadmap to success in the next general elections. I wish all candidates and members the very best – may these historic elections pave the way for a better Malaysia.
Saya ingin merakamkan setinggi-tinggi terima kasih kepada semua yang menyokong pencalonan saya sebagai Timbalan Presiden pada Pemilihan PKR 2010. Kepercayaan dan komitmen mereka kepada kebajikan rakyat merupakan satu inspirasi yang berterusan kepada saya.
Saya juga ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada jawatankuasa khas – Saudara Tian Chua, Puan Irene Fernandez, Tuan Syed Shahir dan Dr Muhammad Nur Manuty – yang telah menyumbang masa untuk bertemu dengan pemimpin dan akar umbi parti minggu lepas ini.
Minat saya untuk bertanding adalah berdasarkan keinginan untuk menguatkan muafakat parti dan mempromosikan budaya politik yang sihat serta komitmen yang tidak berbelah bagi kepada prinsip-prinsip murni.
Aspirasi saya adalah untuk menyuburkan pendirian ini demi parti dan demi seluruh Malaysia. Setelah perbincangan yang mendalam dengan jawatankuasa khas, setiausaha politik saya Faekah Husin dan beberapa pemimpin Reformasi, saya yakin saya boleh lebih merealisasikan objektif-objektif ini tanpa bertanding untuk mana-mana jawatan tertinggi parti dalam pemilihan tahun ini.
Kerajaan negeri Selangor yang diterajui Pakatan Rakyat boleh dikatakan sebagai contoh sebuah Kerajaan Persekutuan yang bakal dipimpin oleh Pakatan Rakyat. Memandangkan pilihan raya umum yang akan datang, tugas pertama saya adalah untuk menjadikan kerajaan Pakatan Rakyat sebagai contoh kerajaan dinamik, berprinsip dan berpaksikan kebajikan rakyat di peringkat negeri mahupun di peringkat Perseketuan. Dengan membina keyakinan ini dalam minda rakyat, kita akan lebih dekat kepada hasrat kita untuk menyebarkan semangat Reformasi sehingga ke Putrajaya.
Tugas saya juga adalah untuk memastikan bahawa Selangor dikekalkan sebagai kubu kuat Pakatan Rakyat. Dengan komitmen berterusan kami kepada kebajikan rakyat melalui agenda Merakyatkan Ekonomi Selangor, kami berkeyakinan untuk mensasarkan kemenangan majoriti dua pertiga pada pilihan raya akan datang, mengekalkan kerusi-kerusi parlimen dan memenangi lima lagi kerusi BN sebagai sumbangan terhadap membentuk kerajaan Persekutuan pada pilihan raya umum.
Satu lagi faktor terhadap keputusan saya adalah fokus besar terhadap Lembah Klang dalam belanjawan yang baru diumumkan. Projek “Greater Kuala Lumpur” melibatkan projek berbilion-bilion ringgit, dan kerajaan Selangor mesti memainkan peranan yang besar dalam memastikan projek-projek ini dikendalikan dengan cekap dan telus.
Demi menjamin kepentingan rakyat, kerajaan Selangor akan memantau dan meneliti semua projek ini. Khususnya, kami akan memerhati proses tender, terutamanya dalam pembinaan infrastruktur pengangkutan awam untuk memastikan kontrak-kontrak yang dianugerahkan tidak hanya memanfaatkan syarikat kroni dan merugikan rakyat.
Saya cukup yakin dengan kebolehan setiap calon yang telah menerima pencalonan untuk bertanding dalam pemilihan PKR, dan mengalu-alukan potensi mereka untuk menyegarkan semangat Reformasi dalam parti; pada masa yang sama, kami di kerajaan negeri Selangor terus fokus terhadap menyempurnakan agenda kerajaan berpaksikan rakyat.
Saya berharap semua calon akan mengamalkan kempen yang berasaskan budaya politik sihat yang wajar bagi bakal pemimpin negara.
Semoga pemilihan PKR penuh dengan perbincangan mendalam mengenai prinsip-prinsip asas serta halatuju parti kita serta rancangan mantap untuk mencapai kejayaan pada pilihan raya umum akan datang. Saya mengucapkan selamat bertanding dan selamat mengundi kepada setiap calon dan ahli parti – kita harapkan pemilihan ini akan jadi langkah pertama bagi merealisasikan harapan baru untuk Malaysia.

10 killed in stampede at Indian temple

(CNN) -- At least 10 people were killed and as many others injured in a stampede that broke out during a ritual at a Durga temple in Bihar, India, the nation's official Doordarshan news agency reported Sunday via the Indian government's website.

The stampede broke out Saturday night, the news agency said, at the temple in Bihar's Banka district during the "Navrati" festival, one of the most celebrated festivals of the Hindu calendar.

More than 45,000 devotees were at the temple to offer prayers and sacrifice goats when the stampede occurred, officials told Doordarshan. A portion of the sacrificed goat's body fell on some people, creating a scare that led to the stampede, according to the report.

"Ten deaths have been confirmed so far, while four are stated to be in critical condition," District Magistrate Aadesh Chitarmare told the news agency.

Police will not prosecute murderers of schoolgirl Divya Bharathi Murali (16) raped and murdered. (See NST 17/10/10 page 3)

Some ten years ago an Indian school girl Mellisa Odery of Convent Bukit Nanas was similarly raped and murdered. Her murderers were never seriously investigated nor the murderer prosecuted by Attorney General Tan Sri Gani Patail simply because she was an Indian victim. So was the case of dozens of other Indians.

The Polis Raja Di Malay-sia also did not seriously investigate and the Attorney General did not prosecute the murderers of Varsha (12) who was murdered in Kuala Lumpur in the middle of this year and scores of such other murder cases involving Indian victims for example Johor MIC Deputy Chief Dato’ Krishnasamy in 2006, Dato Annamalai, MIC elected State Assemblyman Dr.Joe Fernandez and even many others.

Bangsar Shan was kidnapped, handcuffed by a group of policemen and is believed to have been murdered.

All because the victims were all merely Malaysian Indians, who do not deserve Justice under the Malay-sian sun?

When state Assemblyman Dato Taha was murdered even a serving Minister Dato Mokhtar Hashim was prosecuted for murder even in 1984. Then Mona Fandey and two others were sentenced to death for the murder of another UMNO elected State Assemblyman.

And the lates being the swift murder charges for the murder of Dato Susilawati and three other Malay muslims.

UMNO Malay-sia has become so racist that it matters even what ethnicity the murder victim is.


New Scan-20101017125158-00001

Gated or No Gated

Failures of authorities to provide adequate security, many Resident Associations have taken their own measures to safeguard themselves from robbers, burglars and snatch thieves.
But the measures taken by the Resident Associations do not please everyone, particularly those who are unwilling to contribute for the expenses and take part in running their own security management. This is creating tensions among the same community.

 Charles Santiago

Don’t Fight… Don’t  Fight…. Is that what MP Charles Santiago telling Klang Bukit Tinggi Residents?

Also, some of the measures taken, such as putting up fences and blockading back lanes, violate the City Hall regulations.
Recently, the authorities came up with a new guidelines but it may not solve the tensions in at least one Residential area.
Two groups from Klang, Bukit Tinggi have taken their grievances to Klang Member of Parliament Charles Santiago. One in favor of blockading side lanes and another group wants free access.
 Bukit Tinggi
 Bukit Tinggi

Kit Siang says Najib trying to ‘out-Mahathir’ Dr M’s mega projects

Lim: It must be asked whether Najib is secretly trying to out-Mahathir Mahathir not only to build a tower higher than Mahathir’s Petronas Twin Towers, but which could be acclaimed as the tallest in the world — however brief the claim.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — Lim Kit Siang has accused Datuk Seri Najib Razak of trying to outdo Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad by building a 100-storey skyscraper rather than a high-income economy.

The influential DAP advisor said today that the Budget 2011 tabled last Friday did not reflect the objectives of New Economic Model (NEM) introduced by the prime minister to transform Malaysia from a middle income country to a high income economy.

“Despite all its bombast and pyrotechnics, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 2011 budget is not a child of the New Economic Model but bears all the marks of old discredited policies which have landed Malaysia in the middle-income trap for more than a decade, setting the country towards a failed and bankrupt nation come 2019,” said Lim in a statement.

“Former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir’s obsession with mega projects like the proposed RM5 billion 100-storey Warisan Merdeka tower is back with a vengeance,” said the DAP parliamentary leader.

“It must be asked whether Najib is secretly trying to out-Mahathir Mahathir not only to build a tower higher than Mahathir’s Petronas Twin Towers, but which could be acclaimed as the tallest in the world — however brief the claim?” he added.

When tabling Budget 2011 on Friday, Najib said that the Warisan Merdeka would be a Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) project, sited adjacent to Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara and is expected to cost RM5 billion and will be the tallest tower in Malaysia upon its completion in 2015.

“Najib’s 2011 Budget is not convincing that it represents the first budget of a New Economic Model to transform Malaysia from a middle income country to an inclusive and sustainable high-income developed country by 2020, emphasising high-skilled human capital, efficient public services, a reinvigorated private sector and equal opportunity for all Malaysians,” said the Ipoh Timur MP.

He also doubted if the Najib administration plan increase talents in the domestic job market would succeed due to the prime minister’s lack of political will to implement the NEM vision of ensuring equal opportunity.

“What surety is that the National Talent Blueprint is not condemned to failure like previous “Brain Gain” programmes for the simple reason that there is no political leadership and will in the Najib administration to achieve the vision spelt out by the New Economic Model,” said Lim.

Dr Mahathir embarked on a massive development spree after he took power in 1981 by building highways, the Penang Bridge, opening new industrial estates and oversaw the construction of the Petronas Twin Towers, the KL International Airport, intra-city train lines, several ports and the new administrative capital Putrajaya and its neighbouring Cyberjaya which was central to the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project.

In Budget 2011, Najib announced the construction of the new Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) service for Kuala Lumpur, the Warisan Merdeka Tower, the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Financial District (KLIFD), the redevelopment of the Sungei Besi Air Base and the Rubber Research Institute land in Sungai Buloh.  - The Malaysian Insider

Budget fails to address urban poverty

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today

GEORGE TOWN: The Tanjung Tokong Malay village residents today hit out at Budget 2011 for its perceived failure to address escalating urban poverty.

Village association chairman Mohamad Salleh Yahaya regretted tha the Najib administration had only emphasised on rural poverty and development in Sabah and Sarawak in the budget.

He said the budget did not reveal any concrete allocations to carry out comprehensive policies to eradicate prevailing urban poverty especially among the Malay and Indian communities.

“The budget seems to be an election budget designed to fish votes and maintain Barisan Nasional 's power in the next election,” Salleh told FMT here today.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who is also the finance minister, unveiled the budget last Friday.

Salleh indicated that the BN federal government budget prioritised popular votes rather than addressing real poverty issues in urban areas such as in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Johor Bahru.

He said since BN needed votes from rural areas and the Borneo states for its political survival, Najib had focused the national financial resources in these areas.

“The budget has deprived urbanites, mostly Malays and Indians, of much needed funds to upgrade their standard of living in wake of rapidly rising cost,” he added.

The Human Resources Ministry study revealed that a staggering 34% or 440,000 of the country’s 1.3 million domestic workers were living under the poverty line, earning below RM700 per month.

The National Employment Return (NER) study last year made strong recommendations to the Najib administration to increase wages considerably especially after the ministry realised that the nation’s remuneration system cannot rely solely on market forces.

The World Bank study discovered that the country’s wage trend only enjoyed 2.6% in past decade compared with escalating cost of living, especially in rapidly developing urban areas.

Urban poor makes up 60% of the urban population in the country.

Heritage issue not addressed

Salleh also lamented about Najib’s failure to address the Tanjung Tokong Malay village heritage issue, despite constant pleas from the association over the years to the Putrajaya administration to intervene to save their village from extinction.

He said the association had expected the budget to allocate a sizeable fund to redevelop the village into a heritage Malay settlement under the 10th Malaysia Plan.

“But the Najib administration showed strong pro-corporate inclination,” he said.

It was Najib’s late father, Abdul Razak Hussein, who as prime minister launched the scheme to restructure, redevelop and upgrade the village under the Urban Development Authority (UDA) in 1972. The idea was to create a Malay settlement in George Town.

However, the idea got strayed as UDA subsequently relocated many villagers to completely transform the area into a new township. In 2008, it even declared the remaining 1,500 villagers as squatters.

Salleh alleged the village has now been earmarked for demolition to pave the way for UDA’s money-making commercial development spin, which was a clear drift from its original project plan.

He cited the Malay restructured urban village, Gugusan Manjoi in Ipoh as a point of reference to show that the premier can intervene and save the Tanjung Tokong village.

He said Gugusan Manjoi was restructured and rebuilt in 2007 under a RM10-million development package through personal initiative taken by former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and former Perak menteri besar Tajol Rosli Mohd Ghazali.

Salleh called on Najib to emulate Abdullah on Tanjung Tokong, especially given that it was his late father who initiated the re-development project for the village.

“After all, Najib is the prime minister for 1Malaysia, not just for rural areas, Sabah and Sarawak,” he said

Dear Khairy

We can stop questioning the Bumiputera equity target, as what you asked us to do. But how are we going to ensure that we reach that 30% target unless you can find a way to stop the Malays from selling what the government gives them and then secretly transferring the money overseas to buy property or to save in foreign bank accounts?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Dear Khairy,

How are you? It’s been a long time since we last met and shared a cigar. I don’t know whether you ever make it to this part of the world but in the event you do please look me up and maybe we could shoot the breeze and have a drink or something like that. Smoking cigars is quite difficult here unless you do so outside because the UK no longer allows smoking inside the pubs or bars. However, unless we do that in summer we will find that extremely uncomfortable.

Anyway, what I want to talk to you about is your comment yesterday that no one should question the Bumiputera equity target. It is strange that you should say this because back in 1976 we too said the same. Oh, and was not 1976 the same year you were born? That means when you first emerged from your mother’s womb and first saw the light of day as a squealing newly-born baby we said exactly what, today, you are saying: don’t question the Bumiputera equity target.

I was then already 26 years old and a member of the Malay Chamber of Commerce. Later, I went on to become one of the Chamber’s central committee members. So, back when you first emerged into this world we were already fighting for what only today you are fighting for.

To be honest, however, we did question the Bumiputera equity target. You can, in fact, find my many kertas kerja (working papers) in the Malay Chamber library and archives, unless they have all been thrown away. Some of these kertas kerja were also compiled and published into books. Yes, while you were still in diapers and being breastfed (or maybe bottle-fed) by your mother we were already cracking our heads, pondering on how to help the Malays.

Now, when I say we did question the Bumiputera equity target, we did not question it from the point of view of whether it should be retained or removed. No, this would be a treacherous act because the Malays needed our help and even the Chinese and Indians agreed so. We questioned it from the point of view of it being 30%.

“Why 30%?” we asked. And may I remind you that we asked this question during the time you were born.

“Who set the figure at 30%?” we wanted to know -- although we suspected your father-in-law, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, may either know the answer or had a hand in it, seeing that he was the Secretary of the NOC at that time (so maybe the next time you have a family sit down you can pose this question and see what he says).

“Since Bumiputeras represent 60% of the country’s population why not the equity target be fixed at 60% instead of 30%?” we argued -- and no one could enlighten us and tell us why.

Finally, they admitted that 30% appeared to be a good figure and was sort of plucked from the top of the head. If it had been only 10% then the Malays would have complained that it is too low while if it had been 60% then the non-Malays would complain it is too high. So, 30% appeared to be a good and compromising figure, which both the Malays and non-Malays may not quarrel with.

In other words, we were told that there was no formula. No one sat down to work out the arithmetic and the end result of that calculation or formula revealed that 30% must be that target. It was just a convenient figure that some thought would be acceptable to all sides without a quarrel.

“But is 30% achievable?” we asked. Well, came the reply, it is just a target. It is not law. It is merely an aspiration (hasrat). We will try to work towards that figure but whether we achieve 30% or not is not as important as we have a target to aim for so that we know where we are heading.

Fair enough. We could accept that. So there is really no basis for it being 30%. It is just that 10% or 60% may upset one group or the other and that 30% is a middle-of-the-road or compromise that both sides can agree with without a quarrel. And while there is no formula for it being 30% or any guarantee that we can meet this 30% it at least allows us a target to aim for. And 30% is as good as any figure to aim for.

Another ten years passed. And by 1986 -- which by then you were ten years old and probably in standard three -- we again sat down to review the achievement (pancapaian) of this 30% and found that the target of 30% had not been met. We were told by the then Deputy Prime Minister that the pancapaian was only 19% or so.

This got us worried. We remembered the new Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (then Datuk Seri), warning us merely four years or so earlier that the NEP would not go on forever and that by 1990 the NEP would end. “We promised the Chinese and Indians that the NEP would end in 1990,” said Dr Mahathir. “So we have to keep our promise and end it in 1990. So the Malays had better be ready to stand on their own feet without any government protection.”

I must admit that I too panicked. We called for a meeting of all Malay businessmen to discuss this matter. 1990 was not that far away. If the pancapaian is only 19% and if the NEP is going to end in 1990, what are the Malays going to do?

As I said, you were then still only in primary school. At that age you probably did not worry about all this and for sure would not have panicked like we did.

We decided to hold a two-day seminar at the Shangrila Hotel in Kuala Lumpur where we invited both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to attend. We whacked Umno and the government. We whacked what we called the Umnoputeras (Umno people who kill other Bumiputeras). We whacked the trust agencies (such as Pernas, SEDC, etc.) that compete with Bumiputera businesses by using unfair and dirty tactics, and more.

I even whacked Bank Bumiputera Malaysia Berhad (BBMB) in my working paper and called BBMB ‘Bank Buat Melayu Bankrupt’. Basir was so angry he cancelled my RM5.7 million banking facilities and gave me 14 days to pay back all my outstanding balances in full -- plus I was blacklisted by the Ministry of Finance and barred from getting any further government contracts (you can talk to Idris Tulis about this because he and Izat Emir, etc., were two of the many victims of BBMB).

But nothing much happened after that because the entire world was in recession and the government could not help itself, let alone help the Bumiputeras. In fact, even the Chinese suffered and some such as Tan Koon Swan even went to jail.

This brought us to 1990 when the NEP was supposed to officially end. We were devastated. The 19% figure of 1986 was still 19% by 1990. This was mainly because of the long mid-1980s recession. So everything stagnated. What do we do?

We then decided to hold the Third Bumiputera Economic Congress and at the same time invite the government leaders to this congress so that the leaders and we can jointly ponder on this matter and consider how we could jointly solve the problems of the Malays. Of course, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and entire Cabinet would be invited.

We were then summoned by Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, the KSN, to attend a meeting in his office, which we did. Ahmad Sarji told us that Dr Mahathir had agreed to attend the congress but he insists that the government take over the organising of the congress instead of attending it as a mere guest. Furthermore, we were told, Dr Mahathir wants to invite the non-Malays to attend the congress.

We protested. How can non-Malays be invited to a Malay congress? There may be some very nasty things said during the congress and what would the non-Malays feel if they were present and heard all this?

Never mind, Ahmad Sarji said. It is good that the non-Malays attend so that they can hear what we say. This will give them an idea of how the Malays feel. This will also allow the non-Malays to participate in the debates so that they too can suggest how to assist the government in overcoming the problem of the Malays. Anyway, said Ahmad Sarji, the Prime Minister has made up his mind and this matter is not open for negotiations.

Reluctantly we had to agree because, as you know, once Dr Mahathir has made up his mind there is no turning back. And the congress was held with the participation of the non-Malays and with the government as co-organisers.

We lamented about the 19% pencapaian of the Bumiputeras and how, now that the NEP has ended, we will never see it touch 30%. The Minister of Trade, Rafidah Aziz, and Minister of Finance, Anwar Ibrahim, even argued on stage in front of the entire audience. It was actually quite embarrassing to see two senior ministers arguing on stage in front of all of us who sat there dumbfounded.

“The trouble with the Malays is that they are dayamaju (viable) but not dayatahan (resilient),” Rafidah chided us. “You can’t blame the government if the pancapaian is only 19% and not 30%,” screamed Rafidah. “It is the fault of the Malays and not the government,” Rafidah said.

Rafidah then explained that the government had given many Malays shares, permits, quotas, contracts, etc. The problem is, once the shares go up, the Malays sell them. If the Malays had retained or kept all the shares the government gave them, then it would be 30% instead of 19%. In fact, it may even be more than 30%.

We had no choice but to admit defeat. Rafidah was right. In fact, I too am guilty of exactly what Rafidah had said we Malays normally do. So how could we dispute what she said? Many Malays sell the shares the government gave them and secretly transfer the money overseas to buy property all over the world.

If you include all the overseas property and cash in foreign banks that the Malays own, and if you add this to their equity holdings, then we could probably see the figure touch more than 30%. But then if you ignore the overseas assets and cash of the Malays and just look at their shares in Malaysian companies, it would appear like the Malays own only 19% instead of 30%, or probably more.

There is hardly any successful or elite Malay who does not own property or cash outside Malaysia. And most of these are undeclared. So it does not reflect in the 19%. If it did then it would not be 19% but much more. It may even be more than 30%.

Realising that most of us are guilty of doing what Rafidah said we are doing, we decided to let the matter rest. The only way to establish whether the Bumiputera wealth is really 19%, or 30%, or maybe even 40%, we would need to declare all our hidden assets overseas, which no one was prepared to do.

Of course, there is one way we can solve this. And this would be whenever shares are issued to Malays you stamp it ‘non-transferable without government permission’. And even then if permission is granted the shares can only be sold to another Malay and not to a non-Malay.

In other words, these shares would be ‘Malay reservation shares’ just like how we have ‘Malay reservation land’. Therefore, just like in the case of Malay reservation land, shares allocated to Malays can only be sold to another Malay and to no one else.

But then the Malays do not want this. Malay reservation land is very much lower in value compared to freehold land because only Malays can buy Malay reservation land. If the land can be sold to non-Malays then the land value is so much higher. And this would be the same for ‘Malay reservation shares’ that can only be sold to Malays and not to non-Malays.

There would also be the problem of the stock exchange listing. There will be two sets of shares quoted on the stock exchange. The ‘freehold’ shares will be quoted at one price, which will be higher, and the ‘Malay reservation’ shares will be quoted at another price, which is lower.

Now, what happens when a RM1.00 share, which is 'freehold', is quoted at RM10.00 per share on the stock exchange while the ‘Malay reservation’ share is quoted at only RM0.80? The Chinese would make millions while the Malays would lose their pants. I, for one, would never buy a ‘Malay reservation’ share but would rather buy shares that can be sold freely on the market at a much higher price.

The important thing, however, is that once shares are issued to Malays they are 'frozen' and cannot be sold unless to another Malay. This would ensure that the 30% target can be achieved and Malays will forever own those shares. But the shares will hardly be worth more than the issue price and at times maybe even less than the issue price. But if the 30% target is the main issue then this would address the issue although in terms of real wealth there would not be much to shout about.

So you see, dear Khairy, at around the time you were born we already discussed this matter at great length. And the best brains in Malaysia at that time were not able to find a solution. We can stop questioning the Bumiputera equity target, as what you asked us to do. But how are we going to ensure that we reach that 30% target unless you can find a way to stop the Malays from selling what the government gives them and then secretly transferring the money overseas to buy property or to save in foreign bank accounts?

And please don’t say this is not happening. It is. In fact, your own family does it as well -- as do many of my Malay friends, most of whom you too personally know.

Dear Khairy, let me assure you that I will support any move of yours to address this Malay problem. But, as we discussed back in 1976 when you were first born, we need to find a solution on how to enlarge the cake so that there is more to go around and not on how to steal other people’s cake. And we also need to solve the problem of how the Malays can keep the cake and not eat it because once you eat the cake it will be gone. You just can’t eat your cake and have it as well.

I trust your Oxford education will not go to waste and that you can use the wisdom you have gained in Oxford to find a solution to a problem that many of the best brains in Malaysia were not able to solve since the day you were born back in 1976.

Yours truly,

Raja Petra Kamarudin

PS. I have some Cuban cigars in stock and will wait to meet you in London before I smoke them.

Khairy: refrain from disputing Bumiputra equity target

(Bernama) - The 30 percent Bumiputra equity target should not be raised or contested by any Barisan Nasional (BN) component party in order to maintain unity and harmony, said Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.He said likewise BN component parties should not question the national type Chinese schools (SJKC) .

"Like affirmative actions under clause 153 of the constitution, matters not stipulated in the constitution, such as the 30 percent equity target should not be raised. We should respect each other aspiration.

"I will not question the SJKC but they (component parties) should put their feet in our shoes. If we adopt this approach and hold on to our aspirations, I think there will be no problem," he told reporters after launching the state level 1Malaysia Expedition (JOM) here today.

Khairy, who is also BN Youth chairman, was commenting on MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek's call to the government to review the 30 percent Bumiputera equity target in line with the Economic Transformation Plan.

On chaotic delegates' meetings in several Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) divisions recently, Khairy said it was due to scheming initiated by certain individual who wanted to be in control by manipulating others.

"This is not a guided democracy but a rule with an iron fist by an individual who want to determine who should be in or out," he said.

He also chided PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail who blamed "outsiders" involvement for the commotion at the party divisional meetings.

On JOM, he said 500 houses would be repaired between three and six months nationwide under the first phase of the program and the assistance transcended racial barriers.

Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return

“And of mankind are some who say,  ‘We believe in God and the Last Day’, when they believe not. They think to beguile God and those who believe, and they beguile none save themselves, but they perceive not. In their hearts is a disease, and God increaseth their disease. A painful doom is theirs because they lie. And when it is said unto them, ‘Make not mischief on this earth’, they say, ‘We are peacemakers only’. Are not they indeed the mischief-makers? But they perceive not. And when it is said unto them, ‘Believe as the people believe’, they say, ‘Shall we believe as the foolish believe?’. Are not they indeed the foolish? But they know not. And when they fall in with those who believe, they say, ‘We believe’, but when they go apart to their devils they declare, ‘Lo! we are with you. Verily we did but mock’. God doth mock them, leaving them to wander blindly on in their contumacy. These are they who purchase error at the price of guidance, so their commerce doth not prosper, neither are they guided. Their likeness is as the likeness of one who kindleth fire, and when it sheddeth its light around him God taketh away their light and leaveth them in darkness, where they cannot see. Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return” – Surah 2 verses 8-18 of the Holy Qur’an.
On the proposed 100-storey Wawasan Merdeka project that will cost the rakyat RM5 billion :
“We take pride in our national icon, the Petronas Twin Towers. It signifies the spirit of Malaysia Boleh. Another landmark to be developed by PNB is Warisan Merdeka, expected to be ready by 2020″ -  Najib
“…everybody wants a tallest tower. Shanghai and Taiwan want more, so why should we hold back?…The most important thing is that we can do it. Why should we hold back?…The building serves to balance Malaysia’s traditional cultures and pursuit for modernity. This will put Malaysia on the tourist map” – Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen
“The nation must have a dream. We had the Twin Towers and KLCC. Now, the 100-story building will be the new ‘Malaysia boleh’. This is good because we all need to dream. All these projects that are coming under the Great Kuala Lumpur plan and other mega-projects will bring in foreign investors that will spur the economy,” – Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department SK Devamany
Could we not put the RM5 billion to better use for the rakyat?

India Buys US War Equipment

Image(Asia Sentinel) Thanksgiving present for Obama when he arrives in Delhi in November

India is making a definitive turn away from Russia and other long-time weapons suppliers France, Sweden and the United Kingdom towards the US and Israel, a fact that should considerably sweeten the visit of US President Barack Obama to India in November.

Ties between India and America thus follow a strategic shift in the relations between the two countries over the last couple of years that began with the signing of a landmark civilian nuclear deal by the administration of former President George W Bush, as well and other defense agreements. America has been promoting India as a counterweight to China in the region as well as seeking to tap new business opportunities.

The emergence of the US as India's new military partner has ripened even as New Delhi looks beyond Russia, India's traditional supplier dating well back into the Cold War era. Problems with Russia include servicing and spare parts delays and obsolete technology. As Asia Sentinel reported in March, the purchase and retrofitting of an elderly Russian aircraft carrier, the 28-year-old Admiral Gorshkov, is far behind schedule. Expected to be launched in 2012 as the INS Vikramaditya, its retrofitting cost has skyrocketed from US$750 million to US$1.5 billion. In December 2009, the Indian Air Force had to ground its entire fleet of 105 Sukhoi fighter jets after two crashed.

The US, presently India's sixth-biggest arms provider, will likely be among the top three alongside Israel and Russia in the next couple of years. Indeed, in its second stint in power the Congress-led Manmohan Singh government has been unshackled from the tricky task of managing anti-American leftist parties that it faced in the earlier coalition government. With the exit of the left from the ruling national coalition, the role of Indian private firms in defense production has got a boost, while American defense supplies and contracts are on the rise.

While much of the Congress-led government's energies last term went into tying up the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal and dealing with recalcitrant communist allies, security and defense are key focus areas this time around in the wake of events such as the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

In a buyer's market, India is looking to negotiate deals from a position of strength. Offset investment requirements in local defense companies and easing of foreign direct investment requirements can be expected to boost domestic private players.

Eager to diversify its weapons procurement sourcing, India has told the US to ease its export control restrictions to allow high-end weapons technology tie-ups between the two nations. India's defense minister, A K Antony, who visited America last month to iron out matters with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates prior to the Obama visit, said that India is eager to "diversify its defense procurement sourcing and wants America to ease export control restrictions" for fully-fledged military exchanges.

Over the last couple of years, the big arms deals inked with America include six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for almost US$1 billion (2007) and eight Boeing P-8I planes for more than US$2 billion (2009).

India has also acquired the Airborne Early Warning Air Craft, Hawkeye E-2D, developed by US firm Northrop Grumman, much to China's irritation. There is a pending multi-billion-dollar deal for American C-17 cargo planes.

America has also been looking to bag a mammoth US$12 billion deal to supply 126 advanced fighters with an option for 60-odd more, as Asia Sentinel reported on Aug. 24, 2009. Six global aerospace companies, Lockheed Martin and Boeing (American), Dassault's Rafale (French), Gripen (Sweden), MiG (Russian) and Eurofighter Typhoon (a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish companies), are bidding for the multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) deal.

The MRCAs will replace long-obsolescent, crash prone MiG-21 interceptors and fit between the more powerful Sukhoi-30 and the low-end indigenous Tejas LCA lightweight fighters.

"The Pentagon is working with India to put three foundational agreements in place with New Delhi that would allow American frontline technologies to be shared with the country," a Defense Department spokesman in Washington recently said, in an attempt to tilt the MRCA bids.

Indeed, events such as the Kargil incursion in 1999 during which the country nearly went to war with Pakistan and the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, have only heightened India's quest to stock pile arms, mostly acquired from abroad as the domestic industry remains incipient.

In the decade that has followed the Kargil war, India's arms purchase deal value has crossed a big US$50 billion, with every sign of such momentum being carried over the next decade and crossing US$100 billion.

Pakistan remains the immediate focus of India's military upgrade as evidenced by the recent successes in test firing of nuclear capable short range Prithvi missiles in quick succession for the first time. The Prithvi missiles are aimed at targets in Pakistan.

Interestingly, India's arms acquisitions have more than doubled over the last five years from 2004-2009 (US$35 billion) compared to 1999-2004 (US$15.5 billion), as defense plans of the earlier period due to the Kargil conflict have been followed to fruition. The defense ministry has signed more than 450 arms contracts worth over US$30 billion within the last three years alone.

Further, in response to perceived threats following the Mumbai attacks, India's defense budget (2009-10) was raised by 34 percent to US$30 billion, while officials say that defense modernization expenditure should easily scale over US$100 billion between the years 2000-2020. More than US$10 billion was set aside by the government for net capital expenditure for the 2009-10 fiscal year, clearly indicating the impact of the Mumbai attacks.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), a reputed arms trade monitor, in its report for 2009, has said that India was the world's second-largest arms buyer over the five-year period from 2005-2009, importing 7 percent of the world's arms exports. The top spot went to China. India could well take the number one spot as China is turning self sufficient in arms, while the former's procurements continue to rise.

Even as America emerges as the new defense partners, others continue to sustain their high defense presence.

Deals with Israel include 3 Phalcon AWACS for over US$1 billion (2004) and a US$2.5 billion project to jointly develop medium-range surface-to-air missile systems (2009). India and Israel have finalized deals for the Barak-8 Naval air-defense system, and the Spyder surface-air-missile system.

Israeli defence contracts have not been without problems. Israel Military Industries was kicked out of the country in 2009 for being charged with complicity in bribery with a top Indian defense procurement official. IMI supplies the Uzi and Tavor 21 submachine gun, variants of which cater to the needs of the Indian forces as well as 125mm tank shells and manufactures Zitara carbines and cargo ammunition (a variant of cluster bombs).

Although India may be turning away from its traditional suppliers, they still have plenty of residual business. France has been involved in supplying and building six Scorpene submarines, a US$4.5 billion project (2005) Britain has been involved in the 66 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) US$2 billion project (2004).

Russia's stakes in India's defense continue to be high with the US$1.5 billion Admiral Gorshkov and MiG fighter package deal, now nearly doubled due to increased costs of the aircraft carrier's refit, and 230 Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets for US$8.5 billion and T-90 tanks.

A Participant’s Perspective Of Kursus Kenegaraan (BTN)

By A Disappointed Civil Servant

It amuses me to note the rapacious back and forth regarding the Kursus Kenegaraan organised by the Biro Tatanegara. However, i notice that remarks defending the program have so far been based on perspectives of certain Government officials, who may or may not have been subjected to the charms of the program. As a serving Government professional of non-Bumiputera descent, I feel it is pertinent that I share my experience of this program, so that some objectivity may be achieved in understanding the isssue at hand.

It is compulsory for all Govt. servants to attend this course once during service. I attended the program in 2006, in a group of 80-odd Malays and 9 non-Malays. We were a mix of doctors, dentists, pharmacists and teachers. On the first day, we had to listen to a series of 4 lectures, all delivered by lecturers from the local MARA University campus. I vividly remember the 1st lecture on Kerakyatan, for it was delivered with such fervour by an obviously inspired lecturer. At times he seemed to go off his script and made several references to ‘other’ races being ‘pendatangs’ and forgetting their ‘place’ in society, and not being grateful for the citizenship ‘awarded’ to them, and other remarks of a similar vein.

However what shocked me was when this lecturer, in a frenzied fit of rage, asked the audience whether they knew that ALL Indians who migrated here were from the PARIAH caste, and similarly all Chinese who came here were also from the lower classes in their country of origin. I was livid with rage that this supposed university lecturer had the unabashed temerity to tar all Indians and Chinese with the same brush, and make such an unsubstantiated sweeping statement that may have been lapped up by the ill-informed as the gospel truth. From that moment I was mentally tuned off from listening to further garbage being spewed by this obvious racist. After ranting and raving for a good forty minutes more, he mercifully concluded and invited questions from the floor.

I immediately got up and proceeded to enquire on what basis the lecturer made his sweeping statements, and if he was aware that aside from indentured labourers, the British had brought educated Indians and Ceylonese Tamils to serve in the civil service in pre-independence Malaya. I then informed him that I was a 3rd generation civil servant, and the last time I checked, I wasn’t a PARIAH. By this time the lecturer was squirming in discomfort, especially as the crowd assembled there started to cheer me on. I sternly told the lecturer to check his facts before he confuses others with blatant untruths.

The Chinese dentist that stood up after me was in no conciliatory mood however. She blasted the lecturer outright by saying ‘Saya berasa amat tersinggung dengan apa yang dikatakan oleh penceramah tadi (I am offended by the remarks made by the lecturer); ianya sangat tidak adil dan amat mengelirukan para hadirin di sini (it is an unfair statement and can confuse the others assembled here).’ Probably stung by the truth of those comments, the lecturer tried to weasel out of the messy situation by defending his statement which was made in a particular context. But none of us were fooled, and we realised that this course was an attempt to stereotype and racially profile the citizenry for the benefit of a certain group to assert its ‘ketuanan’ on others.

Suffice to say, i was least interested in the ensuing activities, especially the drill parade where we were forced to pray with arms outstretched to maintain ‘conformity’, despite my usual method being the traditional hands clasped in supplication.

Ultimately, the course made me despise the way the non-bumis were treated, and served to reinforce the belief shared by many that it is a brainwashing and indoctrination exercise to target the ill-informed and the gullible. I am sure my Malay friends would (mostly) have cringed in shame at the way their fellow citizens were humiliated and made a mockery of.

Bottom line is, stay away from this course. It does no good and can serve to divide the population.