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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sources: U.S. finalizing aid package to help Pakistan fight extremists

Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration is putting the final touches on a security assistance package totaling as much as $2 billion over five years to help Pakistan fight extremists on its border with Afghanistan, senior U.S. officials and diplomatic sources tell CNN.

The aid is expected to be announced later this week when Pakistani officials are in Washington to hold high-level talks.

The package aims to address Pakistan's insistence it does not have the capability to go after terrorists, and needs more support from the United States, the sources said. The aid will help the Pakistanis purchase helicopters, weapons systems and equipment to intercept communications.

It falls under the United States' Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which provides grants and loans to countries to purchase weapons and defense equipment produced in the United States. It also includes more counterinsurgency assistance to Pakistani troops and a program allowing members of the Pakistani military to study at American war colleges.

The $2 billion package is on top of billions of dollars the United States already gives Pakistan in military aid and a $7.5 billion aid package over five years in non-military counter-terrorism assistance approved by Congress last year.

"They key is to beef up their ability to go after militants, it can't be diverted to other threats," one senior U.S. official said.

Pakistan has long claimed its military is geared toward defending itself against threats from countries like India, and does not have the kind of equipment it needs to fight insurgents. U.S. officials said they recognize Pakistan's current military hardware is not perfectly suited toward such operations, but made clear the new aid must be directed toward fighting extremists, rather than India

"We recognize they need different kinds of capacities and more of them to handle extremists form within their own border," one official said. "They do need more capacity and the kinds of capabilities that are geared toward fighting extremists, rather than a major land conflict."

U.S. officials acknowledge the Pakistani military is stretched thin since this summer's devastating floods, and has had to divert resources from the fight against extremists to conduct relief efforts. They hope the new security assistance will address the military's resource limitations so they can redouble efforts to go after militants.

"There is an expectation with that capacity comes a greater effort," a senior official said.

The aid comes on the heels of a White House report sent to Congress earlier this month which uses unusually tough language to suggest the ally is not doing nearly enough to confront the Taliban and al Qaeda, despite repeated Obama administration claims in public that Pakistan is working hard to crack down on militants

The White House assessment, obtained by CNN, is particularly tough on Pakistan's inability to make gains in South Waziristan, where many analysts believe key al Qaeda leaders have gained a safe haven to use as a base to plot terror attacks against Western targets.

The report notes that from March to June, the Pakistani military "continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or [al Qaeda] forces in North Waziristan. This is as much a political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military prioritizing its targets."

"The capacity issue is very real," another senior official said. "It's not like they could just go into North Waziristan if they wanted to and succeed. There is an issue of political will but the capacity issue remains extremely important."

The official said the multi-year assistance package is designed to provide the Pakistanis with "an issue of predictability and consistency" in U.S. military assistance, which has typically been done on a year-to-year basis. Pakistan has long voiced concerns the United States is not going to remain engaged with the region over the long term.

"We need to demonstrate we are in it for more than six months to a year. This offers a time horizon and allows them to chill out about that," the official said.

Even with the harsh White House report, U.S. officials do acknowledge that Pakistan has made some progress in combating terrorism, noting the country has suffered thousands of casualties as a result of its campaign against extremists in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Suspected U.S. drone strikes have also increased in Pakistan, killing dozens of high-level militants in the tribal areas. Although the U.S. does not comment on drone strikes, Pakistani officials have said they could not be done without Pakistani cooperation.

While in Pakistan in July, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Pakistani government has become "very serious" about fighting the violent extremist organizations within its borders.

At the time, Clinton alluded to the security assistance being announced this week, while telling reporters the United States was "working on a multi-year package with the Pakistanis."

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Pakistan's military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, are leading a Pakistani delegation arriving Tuesday for the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, three days of meetings starting Wednesday with Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The talks address all facets of the relationship between Washington and Islamabad, but counterterrorism cooperation will be a major aspect of the talks.

"Pakistan has taken aggressive action within its borders. But clearly, this is an ongoing threat and more needs to be done," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Monday. "That will be among the issues talked about."

DAP wants HRP to clarify its political stand

(Malaysiakini) The Human Rights Party Malaysia's (HRP) must decide whether it supports Pakatan Rakyat or BN before negotiations for cooperation can be made for the coming general election.

rela civil suit shooting death 130906 a sivanesanIn stating this DAP national labour bureau chief A Sivanesan (right) said that the HRP president, P Uthayakumar, since his release from ISA detention, had been attacking Pakatan and blaming it for every incident that has affected the Indian community.

"Why is he only targeting Pakatan political leaders especially DAP and not Umno-BN or MIC? Is there a hidden political agenda for this biased stand?," asked the state party vice-chief.

"Has he forgotten that it was DAP that stood by him in his hour of need like during his ISA arrest at Kamunting Detention Camp when DAP lawyers like Karpal Singh took on the legal battle to free him?," reminded the DAP Sungkai assemblyperson.

He also took the HRP leader to task for calling party supremo Lim Kit Siang a racist. Sivanesan said in May 14, 1992, Kit Siang was suspended from Parliament for eight months for championing the rights of 66,000 MIC shareholders which had allegedly been hijacked by three companies of MIC.

He reminded HRP that Kit Siang is a man for all political seasons and for all races.

"Now Uthayakumar chooses to field his members at Pakatan areas which are held by Indian politicians. Why not make the same political stand to contest in BN-held areas?," asked a puzzled DAP leader.

"Why the hesitation of Uthayakumar to criticise Umno-BN which had kept the Indian community in the dark ages without giving them equal rights for the past 53 years?," he queried.
Stop harping
He said that Uthayakumar must stop harping on the Nov 25, 2007 incident when members of the now-banned Hindraf had taken to the streets to demonstrate makkal sakthi (people's power), which drastically changed the political landscape of the nation.

NONESivanesan explained that both DAP and PAS are long-established political opposition parties that had weathered the brutal political might of Umno-BN including tasting ISA detention, before Uthayakumar (left) came into the political arena as the new kid on the block.

He said that four out of the five Hindraf leaders who were detained under ISA are now backing Pakatan with Uthayakumar the lone wolf against Pakatan.

He advised the HRP leader not to take a racist stand on Indian issues in a multi-racial country like Malaysia as now more people, especially the young voters, are advocating for a non-racial stance.

The Human Rights Party, as befits its name, should reflect all Malaysians irrespective of race or religion, and only then, can they make any impact in the political arena, he reasoned.

He asked the HRP leader what had happened to the Parti Reformasi India Malaysia (Prim) that he formed when he walked out of PKR in 1999?

According to Sivanesan, Prim was not a registered party just as HRP is now (HRP is awaiting recognition from the Registrar of Societies).

He claimed that HRP, with its racist stand, is fast losing support among the Indian community as seen in the lukewarm attendance of Indians at HRP functions.

As for the peace talks that HRP wants with Pakatan for the forthcoming general election, Sivanesan said, "Uthayakumar must come with clean hands, expecting nothing, put his views across but don't demand and seek cooperation for the mutual benefit of all Malaysians."

Selangor to proceed with temple in Section 23

A protester holds the severed cow-head as the group makes its way to the Selangor state secretariat after Friday prayers.
SHAH ALAM, Oct 19 — The controversial relocation of a Hindu temple to Section 23 here which sparked off a racially-charged cow-head protest one year ago will proceed. 

State Welfare executive councillor Rodziah Ismail said the decision to proceed with the relocation was made after taking into account the views of all parties, including the Sri Maha Mariamman temple management.

“We have decided that the temple will be relocated to Section 23, Shah Alam. The temple management has also agreed with this decision and we hope all parties including those staying in Section 19 will accept this decision,” she told The Malaysian Insider. In September last year, the Selangor government’s decision to relocate the temple was met with heavy protest by the predominantly Muslim community of Section 23.

Protesters stomping on a severed cow-head in front of the Selangor state secretariat.
The residents instead urged the temple to be moved to the originally proposed site in Section 22. 

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was forced to temporarily shelve the relocation of the 150-year-old Sri Mahamriamman temple to Section 23 after a state organised town hall meeting was hijacked by protesting residents.
“Construction on the temple in Section 23 is scheduled to begin early next month and we expect it to be ready in early December. I hope that the construction will run smoothly without any interruption,” Rodizah said.

She added that a meeting with residents at Section 19 will be held to explain the state’s decision.

The Selangor State government heckled by protesters during a town hall meeting held last year.
“We will explain to the people here (Section 19) to inform them of this decision. It is important that they know what the status on this issue is,” she said. 

The Malaysian Insider understands that the temple will be constructed in an industrial area far from residential areas of Section 23.

When The Malaysian Insider visited the middle class neighbourhood last year, the faded graffiti on the zinc fence surrounding the disputed site reflected the feelings of residents.

“We object to this temple”, “Pakatan Rakyat cannot be trusted” and “Rodziah babi” were written on the fence. Rodziah Ismail is the Batu Tiga state assemblywoman, which covers the area, and an executive councillor in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government.

The Malay residents said that the cow-head protest underlined their anger and frustration against a government unwilling to heed their views.

They argued that the location was not strategic because it was unsuitable for a temple to be built in a predominantly Muslim community.

Graffiti near the proposed site of the temple makes it clear how residents here feel.
In July, 12 cow-head protesters were fined RM1,000 each for illegal assembly by the sessions court in Shah Alam. Two of the protestors were fined RM3,000 for sedition while one of the two was also ordered to serve a week in jail. 

Eyzva Ezhar Ramly, 31, was charged under the Section 4(1)(a) of the Sedition Act 1948 for “inciting racial animosity with carrying a cow-head”  along with the other accused, Mohd Azmir Mohd Zain.

Mohd Azmir was also charged under the same act for carrying and stepping on a cow-head with “the intention to create racial tension”.

Cows are considered a sacred animal to Hindus.
Mohd Azmir was fined RM3,000.

Four others who were also originally charged under the Sedition Act were given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal after they pleaded not guilty to the charges.

No end to the deficit, yet

By Teoh El Sen - Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Local economists have expressed worries over Malaysia's ability to reduce the deficit to 5.4% of the gross domestic product (GDP) next year – a slight 0.2% decrease compared with 5.6% in 2010.

The Federation of Chinese Assocation Malaysia (Huazhong) deputy secretary-general Dr Chin Yew Sin said the government would need to do more to cut down the deficit in the next four years.

"We presumed the deficit would go down about 0.5%, but this time it was only reduced by only 0.2% (to 5.4%) and I am quite worried about this," said Chin, who is also an economist and professor of Zhongnan University of Finance, Economics, Politics and Law .

He said that Budget 2011 unveiled by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak recently aimed to cut the deficit to 2.8%- 3% by 2015 but the country would still be 2.6% short of its target.

"This means that from now till 2015, we need to cut the deficit by about 0.7% every year. Hopefully in the next four years there is no economic crisis," he said.

Chin added that the government's failure to reduce spending could be attributed to its projects launched such as the Government Transformation Plan and KPI (Key Performance Indicators), which incurred high administrative costs.

Malaysia has been in deficit for the past 14 years and had only once been in fiscal surplus during the "economic boom years" between 1993 and 1997. However, the country reverted to budget deficit in 1998 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

Chin was, however, positive about Budget 2011, which he described as "inclusive and comprehensive”.

"I think Budget 2011 is good as it focuses on the country's infrastructure to spearhead our economy. During former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's time, only 40% was spent on infrastructure and 60% on human capital. Now Najib has reversed this by spending 60% on infrastructure," said Chin.

He said that the construction industry has the ability to spur other industries, including steel and food, as well as small and medium enterprises and small and medium industries; this in turn can stimulate economic development.
Broader tax base needed
Meanwhile, RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd's head of research and chief economist, Lim Chee Sing, said that there seemed to be "no light at the end of the tunnel" as far as the deficit is concerned.

"Obviously, 5.4% was less than expected. This is the 14th year that we are in deficit. Look at the other countries in the region; their deficit is between 1% and 2.5%. So if you say that we are comfortable, I would say I don't think so," said Lim.

However, he said that the government was also facing constraints and the measures taken were seen as "prudent".

"I would say that the budget is setting the pace towards transformation. The government aims to strike a balance between fiscal consolidation and the need to sustain spending to cushion the economy against the risk of a sharper slowdown in the global economy," he said.

Lim said the country needed more concrete measures to balance the budget and grow revenue and he suggested two approaches.

"First, you need open and transparent procurement policies... open tenders can save you a lot in costs. Secondly, you also need to reduce subsidies, although the government has undertaken measures to reduce subsidies so that the country would not turn into a very subsidy-dependent economy," he said.

Lim also suggested a broader tax base.

"Currently, our tax base is very narrow. Only 10% pay taxes; we need to broaden it," he said.

PKR to contest in Batu Sapi

By Rahmah Ghazali - Free Malaysia Today

FULL REPORT KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim today announced that PKR will contest in Batu Sapi, Sabah, after achieving a consensus with Pakatan Rakyat top leadership.

Anwar, who is also the PKR de facto leader, said that the decision was made as the seat was originally allocated to PKR during the last general election. But the party opted out as it could not field a candidate.

"Pakatan in Sabah has met and decided that PKR candidate will represent us in the by-election," he said.

Asked about another opposition Sabah-based party Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) which has also expressed interest to join the fray, Anwar said that he preferred a "straight fight" with Barisan Nasional (BN).

"I hope they (SAPP) will not contest because we would like a straight fight with BN," he said.
Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has announced that Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) will represent BN in the by-election.

PKR candidate to be known soon
Anwar, who is also the Permatang Pauh MP, said that the party will announce its candidate "soon".

While PKR is still in the midst of its selection process, BN is almost set to name PBS vice-president Thien Yui Fun as its choice.

Thien, a former Sungai Sibuga assemblyman, and several back-up candidates have been picked by PBS, pending a greenlight from Chief Minister and state BN chairman Musa Aman.

BN is scheduled to officially name its candidate this Sunday.

The seat, comprising 24,047 ordinary voters and 1,535 postal voters, fell vacant following the death of incumbent Edmund Chong Ket Wah in a road accident on Oct 9.

The Election Commission has fixed the by-election on Nov 4, with nomination taking place on Oct 26. The Batu Sapi by-election will be held simultaneously with the Galas state seat by-election in Kelantan.

PM 'disappointed' with Rais

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is apparently disappointed with Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim for lodging police reports against several bloggers.
According to reports in several blogs, the prime minister had mentioned this during his speech at a meeting with a group of bloggers yesterday at his residence in Langgak Duta.

The premier, who used the term “terkilan” (disappointed), said that a dialogue would have been a more reasonable approach.

“He said he will personally ask Rais to explain what many saw as an unnecessary action taken when other means of finding a solution could have been conducted,” stated the Barking Magpie blog.

Rais had filed the police reports against blogger Ahirudin Attan, who runs the popular Rocky's Bru blog, BigDog and TnT.

The reports were related to the allegation that Rais' son was one of the beneficiaries of the ministry’s RM1 billion grant to improve broadband access within the nation.

'Rais needs a doctor to save him'

Another blog, Apanama, also reported that Najib had expressed disappointment with Rais, and warned that the latter's political future could be at stake.

“Our friend Dr Rais Yatim appears to be in trouble and may need the services of a real (I mean medical) doctor soon. He might also need a 'political' doctor to save his career, apart from the dumb spin-doctors who have successfully dragged him into the pit.

“Rais's decision to lodge the police reports could just be one of his biggest mistakes in his tenure as a minister and politician in Malaysia,” read the posting.

Meanwhile, Ahirudin said the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), which falls under Rai's ministry, had called him for another round of investigation relating to the matter.

“I doubt they're meeting me to return my (siezed) laptop, though,” he said.

Clouds over Budget 2011

By Stanley Koh - Free Malaysia Today

COMMENT Most Malaysians do not live in Cloud Cuckoo Land, but a privileged few may find themselves working in the clouds after 2015, assuming that the RM5 billion 100-storey Warisan Merdeka can attract occupants.
The Malaysian mood was hardly euphoric after the government released details of Budget 2011 last Friday.

In fact, some four million tobacco addicts were already in a foul mood even before Budget Day, with holes burnt into their pockets. They had been ambushed a couple of days before by a 70-sen rise in the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes. The attack was so sneaky that many non-smokers thought there were no sin taxes this time around. Other vices like gambling and drinking were virtually untouched.

It does not seem to matter to the government that such a high price for such a common habit would encourage smugglers and black marketeers. In 2009, the high level of illicit trade on contraband cigarettes cost the government RM1.5 billion in evaded taxes and duties, calculated over a two-year period. This is almost equivalent to the yearly bonus paid to civil servants.

It remains to be seen whether this drastic move will discourage the expanding population of smokers. However, one thing is certain — the smoking population will try to blow away the BN government in the next election.

But the disturbing signals emerging from the budget are not just about smokes and clouds.

“Want not, waste a lot,” a Malaysian remarked cryptically in response to the budget announcement.

The sarcasm is well placed for stating what has become obvious. More and more Malaysians are becoming aware that their government has, for decades, been guilty of wastage, leakage, excess and corruption.

Many find it alarming that 76.2% (RM162.8 billion) of RM211.98 billion is for operating expenses, leaving only RM49.2 billion for development purposes.

Innovative route?

Cynics see an ironic twist in the budget. It contradicts officialdom’s acclaimed political will to transform the nation and place its fiscal direction on an innovative route.

The foundation for Vision 2020 was supposed to be have been laid years ago. Are we re-starting all over again?

Criticisms of misplaced priorities and fears arising from lack of transparency and accountability, which were once seen as opposition rhetoric and the loud talk of activists who wanted to appear intelligent, are beginning to make common sense to common folk. After all, sordid stories from the National Auditor’s Report have become annual fare for any Malaysian who reads.

Indeed, the Najib version of the Tower of Babel is not the only obscenity assaulting the sensibilities of those who wonder how it would address the real needs of the nation and the many hardships Malaysians are heir to.

Why, for instance, must the Prime Minister’s official residence require a colossal allocation of RM65 million when, not too long ago, a modest allocation to upgrade and renovate the Penang Chief Minister’s official residence was shouted down and criticised?

How much was allocated to do the same for the residence of the Menteri Besar of Kelantan, another non-BN state?

Does the budget address the hardships of the urban poor? Does it make any sense to say that a 1% increase in the service tax will reduce the cost of living?

What happened to the New Village Master Plan approved some time ago? How much is allocated to it?

Will mega projects result in a reduction in the number of foreign workers?

Apparently, the nation is beset by problems to which no one knows the answers, not even the so-called experts, economists and financial planners.

Grand corruption


Despite all these, the budget has some supporters like Ryan Cheong, 33, a software engineer. “I find this budget impressive, in fact better than last year’s,” he said.

“It has more variety — like the incentive for fresh graduates to buy houses for the first time. But there are also many neglected areas, like rising medical costs, and the concerns of retirees.

“But the exemption from paying the 10% deposit helps a lot, especially for those with a take-home pay of around RM2,000.”

But even Cheong expressed disapproval of the Warisan Merdeka, as did engineer Wong, another Malaysian interviewed by FMT.

“We can do better things with that kind of money instead of just creating an icon,” said the 53-year-old.

There are also concerns that the budget will not be closely monitored and may not achieve the objective of transformation and bring about a high-income society.

“Generally, Malaysians lack confidence in the implementation of budgetary allocations unless there is greater political will from the government to adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability,” MCA leader Yap Pian Hon said.

Fear of mismanagement of public funds keeps haunting the Malaysian public. Remember the 2006 Auditor-General’s report about a RM32 screwdriver set bought for RM224, a RM160 pen for RM1,146, and a RM50 carjack for RM5,700? Or an even more shocking RM290 million spent by the Customs Department for an outdated user-hostile information system?

Malaysians are reminded of overpriced goods and services, unauthorised payments, wasted equipment, shoddy implementation of projects and kickback money.

Real transformation can come about only through perspicuous political commitment. M Veera Pandiyan, deputy editor of New Media (mStar Online) was correct in quoting Transparency International: “Ending the pettier forms of corruption in the bureaucracy is almost impossible if grand political corruption persists.”

Stanley Koh is a former head of research at MCA.

Listen to the people, former Japanese minister tells Barisan

By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno and Barisan Nasional will collapse if they put party interest before that of the people, said Yale University senior fellow Kotaro Tamura.

Tamura said Umno should take heed of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan’s fall from grace last year, after being in power for half a century.

Like Umno, LDP enjoyed a landslide victory several years ago.

But, it suffered massive defeat in last year’s election,” he said at the international forum on “The Creation of Global Citizen: Media Liberali­sation And The New Political Realities” yesterday in conjunction with the Umno General Assembly.

Tamura, a former LDP minister, said the party became too arrogant after the landslide victory in 2004.

There were a lot of signals from the ground reflecting public unhappiness over certain policies.

“People were anxious because the economy remained stagnant for two decades. But the party did not address the concerns,” he said.

The regime change last year posed a painful lesson for LDP, said Tamura who later joined the Democratic Party of Japan. Similarly, people in Malaysia had expressed their dissatisfaction in the 2008 general election. The future of Umno is at stake if it did not address the root causes of the people’s frustration, he said.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported about calls by Umno Overseas Club urging party leaders to make greater efforts to explain to students and Malaysians overseas the actual meaning of 1Malaysia.

California Umno Club chairman Muhammad Danial Zuraidi said although there were briefings on the concept given to club leaders, none was organised for other Malaysians abroad.

Moscow Umno Club chairman Muhammad Akmal Salleh said such explanations would ensure that the concept would not be misinterpreted.

He said Malaysians residing overseas obtained most of the information on government policies, including the 1Malaysia concept, through the Internet, where their validity could be disputed.

“Actually, many of our own members and Malaysian nationals living abroad still do not understand the 1Malaysia concept, so I hope the Government or Umno can explain what is actually happening in Malaysia,” he said.

Top law student at Cambridge University is Malaysian and latest example of costly brain-drain which Najib’s 2011 Budget has done nothing to resolve for country to become high-achieving and internationally competitive

By Lim Kit Siang,

Congratulations to Ipoh-born 23-year-old Tan Zhong Shan who has emerged as the top student in his final-year law examinations at Cambridge University.
In a report headlined “Malaysian is top law student at Cambridge University”, the Star today reported that Tan obtained a first-class honours in the Bachelor of Arts (Law) in June this year at Queens’ College, which is part of the university, one of England’s oldest and most prestigious.
The report said:
“He even scored the ‘Slaughter and May’ prize given by the university’s Law Faculty – an award given to those who achieve the best overall performance in the final-year law examinations.
“Other coveted prizes he bagged include The Norton Rose Prize for Commercial Law, the Clifford Chance Prize for European Union Law and the Herbert Smith Prize for Conflict of Laws.
“Queens’ College dean Dr Martin Dixon said Tan definitely stood out among the students there.

“ ‘He is probably the best Malaysian student I have seen in the last 10 years,’ said Dr Dixon, who taught Tan on Land and Equity for two years.
“’He is the most able, dedicated and one of the most likeable students I have taught in more than 20 years at Cambridge.’”
However, Tan is the latest example of the failed Barisan Nasional policies resulting in the costly brain-drain in the past four decades which Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 2011 Budget has done nothing to resolve for the country to become high-achieving and internationally competitive.

This is because Tan is one of Malaysia’s “best and brightest” sons and daughters we have been losing to other countries in tens of thousands every year because of unfair Barisan Nasional education and nation-building policies – whether by directly driving them abroad to pursue secondary, pre-university and university education or pushing their parents to join the migration wave in earlier decades.
This is obvious from the report citing Tan as an ASEAN scholar awarded by the Singapore Ministry of Education after completing his A-levels at the Temasek Junior College in Singapore.

In the 2011 Budget, Najib announced “Intensifying Human Capital Development” as one of the four budget strategies, disclosing that the Government will establish a Talent Corporation in early 2001 “to attract, motivate and retain talent human capital from within the country and abroad”.
Although this is also the emphasis of the New Economic Model to “save” the country from the decades-long middle-income trap and from becoming a bankrupt nation in 2019 and instead to transform Malaysia into a high-income developed nation in 2020, there is nothing in Najib’s 2011 Budget to demonstrate that the government is at last serious and has the political will to address and end this grave problem of brain drain.

What is there in the 2011 Budget to convince Malaysians that the budding Tan Zhong Shans in the schools in Malaysia, who can become top students in the world’s top universities, will not be driven from Malaysian schools and universities to foreign ones by unfair BN policies only to benefit other countries eventually?

The Najibonomics of the 2011 Budget is just a throwback to the old Mahathironomics of mega-projects like the proposal to build a 100-storey RM5 billion Najib Tower rather than to create a new architecture of Malaysian talents fully able to retain and utilize the contributions of the best and brightest of Malaysians – who can compare and compete with their peers in other parts of the world.

Musa's Magic Touch To Steer BN To Victory In Batu Sapi

By Newmond Tibin

KOTA KINABALU, Oct 19 (Bernama) -- Less than three years after steering the state Barisan Nasional (BN) to a landslide victory in the 2008 general election, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman faces another tough battle to convince voters to rally behind the ruling coalition, this time in a parliamentary by-election.

Musa, who was named the Batu Sapi by-election director for BN yesterday, had proved his mettle and remarkable "political touch" when he led the state ruling coalition in making almost a clean sweep, securing 24 of the 25 parliamentary seats and 59 of the 60 state seats at stake.

Hence, the Sibuga assemblyman had created a history of sorts in the state's political arena and many BN leaders acknowledged this excellent achievement, so much so that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak fondly tagged Sabah as the "fixed deposit" for the ruling coalition.

"Musa is a superb and shrewd politician...not many people expected the Chief Minister to lead Sabah BN to that kind of victory in the last elections against the odds, but he did it in style," said local social and political activist Datuk Patrick Sindu, here, Tuesday.

"Despite the numerous challenges facing the state BN at that time, including the allocation of seats, he still managed to form a formidable team...obviously it has the leadership skills to do that."

Sindu said Musa's appointment as BN's Batu Sapi by-election director and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan as his deputy was a wise move, which would make it hard for the opposition, namely Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to wrest the seat.

"I won't be surprised if BN retains the seat with a bigger majority in this by-election," he said, adding that the split opposition was good news for BN.

SAPP and PKR have already decided to field candidates for the by-election, and both parties are confident of notching up good results.

Sindu, however, believed the combined forces of Musa and Pairin would inject the necessary impetus for the BN election machinery to go all out in the contest.

He said the Chief Minister himself had done a lot for the people of Sandakan, including the Batu Sapi constituency.

"Under Musa's leadership, he has turned Sandakan into an educational hub that will provide opportunities to thousands of students or people in the east coast to shine in education, not to mention the infrastructure development and his competency in managing the state's economy," he added.

The by-election is called following the death of its incumbent MP Datuk Edmund Chong Ket Wah in a road accident on Oct 9.

Chong won the seat in the 2008 general election by a 3,708-majority, defeating independent candidate Dr Chung Ong Wing. Chong polled 9,479 votes against Dr Chung's 5,771.

Batu Sapi has 25,582 voters, of whom 24,047 are ordinary voters and 1,535 postal voters, with 15,099 or 59.02 per cent of the voters being Muslim Bumiputeras, 689 non-Muslim Bumiputeras (2.69 per cent), 9,737 Chinese (38.06 per cent) and others, 57 (0.22 per cent).

The nomination of candidates for the by-election is on Oct 26 and polling is on Nov 4.

Meanwhile, Gerakan vice-president Tan Sri Liew Yun Fah described the appointment of Musa as BN's Batu Sapi by-election director as timely and appropriate as he represented a state seat in Sandakan.

"As Chief Minister, Musa is in a better position to mobilise the BN election machinery and he has a good personal touch with the grassroots in the area," he said.

Liew, a former Sabah cabinet minister, is also confident of BN retaining the Batu Sapi seat with a bigger majority.

"The late Chong had served the Batu Sapi constituency well, and I'm sure the people there will still remember his good deeds and vote for BN in the by-election," he said.

As such, he urged the voters in Batu Sapi to fully support the BN candidate for continued development and a better life ahead.

What is contempt?

The Star
Articles of Law By BHAG SINGH

Contempt of court is a subject in which restrictions and limits are open to a considerable amount of subjectivity when decisions are made.

EVERY now and then, someone will threaten another with contempt proceedings. Most people who have some idea of the subject will know that being found in contempt of court could result in a person being fined or even imprisoned.

Sometimes there is a tendency to confuse contempt with the sub judice rule. The Concise Dictionary Of Law describes the sub judice rule as a rule limiting comment and disclosure relating to judicial proceedings, in order not to prejudge the issue or influence the jury.

This is because sub judice refers more to the status of the proceedings or the matter. On the other hand, contempt is made up of words or statements that may influence or prejudice the outcome of a particular matter.

The common law definition of contempt of court is, according to Bower LJ in Helmore v Smith, an act or omission calculated to interfere in the due administration of justice.

Our law of contempt has its roots in English Law. Under the English Common Law, the offences under the law were either the creation of political process in that they were created by the executive or the legislature. Otherwise it is said the law has been the result of incremental customary development.

In our country, the power of contempt is conferred by statute. It is also recognised as being within the inherent jurisdiction of the courts. Yet nowhere is contempt defined. This allows a wide discretion for the judge in exercising contempt jurisdiction.

Wrongdoing

Some acts clearly disclose themselves as constituting contempt. Direct interference with court proceedings would be contempt. So would anything done to influence or intimidate a judge or witnesses or for that matter, deter a litigant. This would be interference with due administration of justice.

So, too, is disobeying the express orders of the court or scandalising the judge as it would lower the court’s dignity and adversely impact the administration of justice. Anthony Arlidge and David Eady in the Law Of Contempt states its development in three stages.

“First of all there were persons being punished for speaking disrespectfully of the court on service of process. Then the stage was reached where matter scandalising the court constituted a contempt whenever published. Finally the courts began to punish persons who published matters calculated to prejudice the fair trial of the pending cause.”

Contempts that fall into the first two categories are easy to comprehend. However, the third category poses a greater challenge. This is especially so when it comes to the commission of crimes and their discussion before the judge has had the opportunity to decide.

In earlier times, public discussion of a possible crime was very restricted. In 1742 in the case of Roch v Garvan, Lord Hardwick committed the printer of the St James Evening Post for publishing libel against witnesses in a matter pending before a court. He was wary of the impact of the press and stated the judicial response to the growing influence of the press at that time:

“Nothing is more incumbent upon courts of justice than to preserve their proceedings from being misrepresented. Nor is there anything of more pernicious consequence than to prejudice the minds of the public against persons concerned as parties in causes before the cause is finally heard.”

Whilst scandalising the court such as ridiculing judges or intimidation of those involved is clearly taboo, it is more difficult to draw the line where the contempt published has the potential to influence the outcome. Or it may seek to prejudge the issue, thereby usurping the adjudication function of the court.

Limits of permissibility

Half a century ago, a local publication carried a report of an accident, and it urged the police to prosecute the driver of the car involved in the accident. It was said that the driver of the car was driving above the speed limit and there was evidence of brake marks on the road. The article was held to be in contempt.

However, over the years there has been more discussion of happenings, especially when personalities are alleged to be or at least suspected of being involved. This leads readers to conclude, at least in their minds, on the guilt or otherwise of those referred to. Is such media exposure for better or worse?

The more liberal atmosphere today may perhaps be attributed to a more educated and informed public, and the fact that as juries are no longer deciding, a judge is better trained and placed to deal with such matters despite media coverage. It may also be attributed to the belief that pending litigation or prosecution is not just between the parties involved but affects society as a whole. Therefore society has a right to know what goes on.

Actual scenario

The fact remains that the eventual determination of whether action for contempt ought to be taken or whether a court will hold a person in contempt is always very flexible, and reliance on it may vary from time to time and place to place.

In EVB Kotte Air, the Nagpur High Court refused to make a finding of contempt and went on to say: “Courts, no doubt, have to be jealous to guard against any interference with their functions, but on the other hand, they should not be too sensitive where no harm has been caused or was intended to be caused.”

The flexibility of its application is to be found in a statement that the law relating to contempt of court is literally what the judges wanted to make of it. Otherwise the judges were able to adapt the Law of Contempt to suit the problems which they faced.

This state of the law has been acknowledged from time to time. Even the Phillimore Committee, in its conclusion, has said that the law as it stands contains uncertainties which impede and restrict reasonable freedom of speech. It should be amended and clarified by statute to allow as much freedom of speech as is consistent with the objective to maintain the rights of the citizen to a fair and unimpeded system of justice.

Brothers lose appeal against being disbarred

The Star
by M.MAGESWARI

KUALA LUMPUR: Two brothers, including one charged with the murder of cosmetics millionaire Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya, cannot practise law in Peninsular Malaysia.

The brothers – N. Pathmanabhan and N. Surendren – lost in their bid at the High Court here to overturn the decision by the Advocates & Solicitors Disciplinary Board which struck both their names from the Roll of Advocates and Solicitors of the High Court of Malaya last November.

Yesterday, High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Mohd Zawawi Salleh dismissed the appeal by the two brothers against the disciplinary board’s decision with costs.

The judge also dismissed a stay granted by another High Court on Dec 24 last year against the disciplinary board’s decision.

Justice Mohd Zawawi ordered the two brothers to pay RM5,000 in costs to the Bar Council and another RM5,000 in costs to respondent, businessman M. Rajeanteran.

The judge made his ruling after hearing submissions by the disciplinary board’s lawyer Biliwi Singh, Bar Council lawyer Robert Lau and Rajeanteran’s lawyer, T. Rajasekaran. The brothers were represented by T. Gunaseelan.

“The judge agreed that the order of the disciplinary board should stand as there is no merit in the appeal,” Biliwi said.

Lau said the brothers cannot practice law as an advocate and solicitor in Peninsular Malaysia.

In Sept 18 last year, the disciplinary committee found the two guilty of misconduct. In Nov 5 last year, disciplinary board chairman Tan Sri Khalid Ahmad Sulaiman ordered that the brothers be struck off the Roll.

Pathmanabhan was called to the Bar on Nov 4, 1999 and Surendren on Dec 10, 1999.

In court documents, it was stated that the brothers had misrepresented themselves as solicitors practising in a law firm under the name and guise of Messrs Mohana & Co in Banting. The brothers had proposed that Rajeanteran buy a house in Banting.

The brothers denied that they had executed the Sales and Purchase (S&P) Agreement on Dec 14, 1998. However, handwriting forensic expert, Lim Yok Chaw confirmed that the signature in the S&P belonged to Pathmanabhan while Suren­dren had signed a receipt acknowledging payment from the respondent.

Want to be a municipal councillor?

Civil society groups under the umbrella of Penang Forum 3 are inviting the public to participate in elections on 14 November to determine their nominees to serve as MPPP and MPSP councillors in 2011.
These pilot elections are a small first step in the journey towards the full restoration of local council elections in the future. Although many shortcomings in the process leading up to 14 November will inevitably crop up (given the constraints Penang Forum is operating under), the aim is to get the public used to the idea of having elections at the municipal council level.
Not all NGOs are public interest groups. Groups such as Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers and the various Chambers of Commerce are more like lobby groups representing the interests of their members.
On the other hand, the civil society groups that are under the Penang Forum (such as Suaram, Aliran, Sembang-Sembang, PHT, and Malaysian Nature Society) advocate issues that are of concern to the wider public i.e. public interest issues.
And so the Penang Forum is inviting the public to participate in the process of determining (through elections) who the civil society nominees for local councillors on the island (MPPP) and mainland (MPSP) will be. If you want to become a municipal councillor or have a say on who becomes one, this is your chance.
Invitation to Penang Forum 3: Elections to determine civil society nominees to serve as MPPP and MPSP Councillors for 2011
Date: Sunday, 14 November
Venue: Penang Chinese Girls School Alumni Hall (directly opposite St Nicholas), along Jalan Bagan Jermal.

Time: 9.00 am – 3.00 pm
Registration: RM10 (vegetarian lunch/tea provided) (RM5 for students)
Penang Forum is committed to helping bring back local elections to Penang to promote democracy, transparency and accountability. Pending that, Penang Forum would like to see a more transparent appointment of civil society’s representatives in MPPP and MPSP and is asking that for 2011, there be five civil society councillors appointed for Penang Island and another five for Seberang Prai.
We are calling Penang Forum 3 to elect nominees for these positions.
You are invited to participate in this process by:
  • either standing as a candidate in the elections that would determine civil society’s representatives to serve as MPPP and MPSP councillors for 2011
  • or voting in the elections on 14 November.
Call for Nominations
To have the election of civil society representatives in the local councils, we need candidates! So we are calling for nominations!
If you are interested, you will need to fill a nomination form and have a proposer and a seconder ready. The form can be downloaded from the penangforum.net website or picked up from the Aliran office.
To submit your nomination (closing date 29 October)
Please send your nomination form to Penang Forum 3,
c/o Aliran, 103 Medan Penaga, 11600 Jelutong, Penang
or fax it to (04)6585197
To participate and vote in the elections (closing date 11 November)
All Penang residents are invited to participate in the Penang Forum 3 event and vote in the elections on 14 November. To register, please email aliran@streamyx.com or phone Aliran at 658 5251 during office hours, Tuesday to Saturday. Registration fee will be collected on the day of the forum.
Please visit Penang Forum website for more information.

NATO official: Bin Laden, deputy hiding in northwest Pakistan



Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are believed to be hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan, but are not together, a senior NATO official said.

"Nobody in al Qaeda is living in a cave," said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the intelligence matters involved.

Rather, al Qaeda's top leadership is believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and some members of the Pakistani intelligence services, the official said.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied protecting members of the al Qaeda leadership.

The official said the general region where bin Laden is likely to have moved around in recent years ranges from the mountainous Chitral area in the far northwest near the Chinese border, to the Kurram Valley, which adjoins Afghanistan's Tora Bora, one of the Taliban strongholds during the U.S. invasion in 2001.

Tora Bora is also the region from which bin Laden is believed to have escaped during a U.S. bombing raid in late 2001. U.S. officials have long said there have been no confirmed sightings of bin Laden or Zawahiri for several years.

The area that the official described covers hundreds of square miles of some of the most rugged terrain in Pakistan, inhabited by fiercely independent tribes.

The official also confirmed the U.S. assessment that Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, has moved between the cities of Quetta and Karachi in Pakistan over the last several months.

The official would not discuss how the coalition has come to know any of this information, but he has access to some of the most sensitive information in the NATO alliance.

Analysis: The finger is being pointed at Pakistan

However, Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said there was nothing new to what the official was saying.

"We hardly have a day that goes by where somebody doesn't say they know where Osama bin Laden is," said Holbrooke, who was in Rome, Italy, for a conference on Afghanistan.

Another U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the exact locations for bin Laden and Zawahiri are unknown, other than that they are "somewhere in the tribal areas of Pakistan near the Afghanistan border."

"If we knew where he was -- in a house, an apartment, a villa or an underground cave or bunker -- we would have gotten him," said the official. "We can't rule out he may be in a cave one day and a house in a city on another."

The official referred to CIA Director Leon Panetta's comment a few months ago that the United States has not had any precise information about bin Laden's whereabouts for many years.

"He is, as is obvious, in very deep hiding," Panetta said. "He's in an area of the tribal areas of Pakistan that is very difficult."

As for Pakistan's role, Holbrooke said it was ultimately up to Islamabad to decide how to craft its fight against militants.

"The United States and our allies -- all would encourage them to do as much as they are able to do," Holbrooke said. "There's been a long discussion about whether ... they would go into other parts of the border area. That is for them to decide on the basis of their resources."

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Monday that similar reports of bin Laden and Mullah Omar's whereabouts have proven false in the past.

Malik denied the two men are on Pakistani soil, but said that any information to the contrary should be shared with Pakistani officials so that they can take "immediate action" to arrest the pair.

The NATO official, who has day-to-day senior responsibilities for the war, offered a potentially grimmer view than what has been publicly offered by others.

"Every year the insurgency can generate more and more manpower," despite coalition military attacks, he said.

Although there has been security progress in areas where coalition forces are stationed, he said in other areas, "we don't know what's going on."

He pointed to an internal assessment that there are 500,000 to 1 million "disaffected" men between the ages of 15 and 25 in the Afghan-Pakistan border region. Most are Afghan Pashtuns, and they make up some of the 95 percent of the insurgency who carry out attacks just to earn money, rather than to fight for a hard-core Taliban ideology, he said.

The official said it is now absolutely vital for the Afghan government to address the needs of this group with security, economic development and jobs in order for the war to end and for Afghanistan to succeed.

"We are running out of time," he said.

In recent days, Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has made a number of public statements expressing some optimism about the progress of the war. Petraeus "doesn't think time is running out, " his spokesman, Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, told CNN.

The NATO official said the entire scenario is made more complex by the fact that "there is a huge criminal enterprise" in Afghanistan, dealing in human, drug and mineral trafficking. Those crimes are also tied in to the insurgency.

He acknowledged the overall strategy now is to increase offensive airstrikes and ground attacks in order to increase the pressure on the Taliban and insurgent groups to come to the negotiating table with the current Afghan government.

There is a growing sense that many insurgent leaders may be willing to accept conditions such as renouncing al Qaeda because they want to come back to Afghanistan.

But, the official cautioned, hard-core Taliban groups such as the Quetta Shura run by Mullah Omar, the Haqqanis, the HiG (Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin) and the Pakistani Taliban still could potentially muster as many as 30,000 fighters.

The U.S. continues to face a more localized insurgency in the south. In places like Marja and the Helmand River Valley, the majority of the fighters captured are within a few miles of their homes.

The insurgent leader Mullah Abdullah Zakir has increased his strength in the south, the official said. He essentially exerts some levels of control and influence both in the greater Kandahar region and across the south from Zabul to Farah province.

The official continued to stress the urgency of getting the Afghan government to deal with the multitude of problems it faces.

Right now, the U.S. war plan approved by President Barack Obama extends through 2014, the official said. That is the official document that spells out matters such as troop rotation schedules.

The U.S. military could sustain a war "'indefinitely," the official said. But the goal is to achieve reconciliation and allow the Afghan government to function and provide security and services to the people.

Without that, he said, "we will be fighting here forever."

Pt 1: Abandoned Babies in Malaysia: Dispelling the Myths

JMM dakwa Malaysian Insider hina institusi diraja

Muslim conversion law reforms hit 'dead end'

(Malaysiakini) The road to law reforms on Muslim conversion appears to have hit a snag. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz recently revealed that the Malay rulers have yet to consent to the changes proposed.

NONE"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.
www.malaysiakini.com/news/102982

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


'Pakatan, go convince 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.

UMNO Court of Appeal rejects Uthayakumar’s “ethnic cleansing” application for extension of time to file Petition of Appeal. Case back to biased Sessions Court Judge.

url umno court
This morning P.Uthayakumar was present at the Court of Appeal Putrajaya for the above Appeal appealing that the so obviously “biased” Sessions court Judge does not hear P. Uthayakumar’s trial at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court despite the bad blood between Uthayakumar and the said “biased” Judge. The Court of appeal rejected Uthayakumar’s application for extension of time to file in the Petition of appeal as there was a miscommunication about the Record of Appeal.

And now Uthayakumar is forced to go on trial before this biased Judge this Wednesday 20/10/10 at 9.00 a.m for mention.

Justice must not only be done but must manifestedly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.

In Metropolition Properties Co Ltd v Lennon 1969 QB 577 Lord Denning said and I quote ‘It brings home this point in considering whether there was a real likehood of biasness the court does not look at the mind of the justice himself or at the mind of the Chairman of the tribunal or whoever it may be who sits in a judicial capacity. It does not look to see if there was a real likehood that he would or did in fact favour one side at the expense of the other. The Court looks at the impression which would be given to another people. Even if he was as impartial as he could be, nevertheless if right minded persons would think that, in the circumstances, there was a real likehood of bias on his part then he should not sit. And if he does sit, his decision cannot stand. Nevertheless there must be circumstances from which a reasonable man would think it likely or probable that the Justice or Chairman as the case may be would or did favour one side unfairly, suffice it that reasonable people might think he did. The reason is plain enough. Justice must be rooted in confidence and confidence is destroyed when right minded people go away thinking the Judge was biased.” (NST 12/10/08 page 23).

In England Uthayakumar would have got justice. In fact the Sedition charge of “ethnic cleansing” would have been thrown out in the first place by the grand Jury in the USA as the Kampong Medan ethnic cleansing where 5 Indians were murdered in broad daylight by people believed to be civil clothes policemen and 100 others caused severely grievous bodily injuries. Up to date the UMNO government has refused to hold a Royal Commission of Inquiry, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission has refused hold an Inquiry and the Attorney General Gani Patail and the Chief Justice refusing to order an Inquest into the five Indian murders despite it being 10 years on now.

So much for Justice in UMNO Najib Razak’s One Malay-sia.

S. Jayathas

Putrajaya faces RM7.5b toll freeze bill

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 – Toll highway operator PLUS Expressways Bhd could be compensated as much as RM5 billion over the next five years for not raising toll rates.

The highway concessionaire is also owed about RM2.5 billion from previous compensation as at June 30.

The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and UEM Group Bhd (UEM), which have proposed to privatise PLUS for RM23 billion, are also opening discussions with the government to restructure the toll concession agreement.

The deal to privatise PLUS could be completed within 8-12 months.

UEM Group MD Datuk Izzaddin Idris said that compensation has averaged about RM1 billion each year in the past but added that the compensation for the next five years was something that still has to be finalised with the government and could be less than RM5 billion.

“The compensation is a matter of discussion,” he told reporters at a briefing today.

Izzadin also described the offer of RM4.60 to PLUS investors as “fair” as it was a 14.7 per cent premium over the 3-month volume weighted average market price of RM4.01.

He also said that the UEM-EPF joint proposal had absorbed the risk of no toll increases for the next five years and had taken it into consideration.

EPF deputy CEO (Investment) Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said that he expects investment returns from PLUS to be higher than what EPF is getting from Malaysian Government Securities (MGS) but declined to be more specific in terms of numbers.

“It makes sense to achieve overall returns in excess of our current dividend yield,” he said at the same briefing.

He said that EPF took note of the number of bids that have emerged for PLUS in the past few months and took the opportunity to review the outlook for the asset in which it already has a 12.03 per cent stake.

Shahril added that the deal was structured in this manner because it would take a long time to accumulate PLUS shares on the open market and chose to work with UEM because it knows the toll concession business well.

“We’ve not been approached by other parties,” he said. “EPF has to take a conservative view.”

UEM Group and the EPF made a joint-offer to PLUS to acquire all its business undertakings including all assets and liabilities last Friday.

The proposed acquisition, to be satisfied by cash, would be through a co-investment vehicle with UEM holding a 51 per cent stake and EPF the rest.

UEM Group and its parent company, Khazanah Nasional Bhd collectively hold 55.25 per cent of PLUS, of which 15.02 per cent has been pledged against exchangeable trust certificates issued by Khazanah.

In a joint statement to the media, UEM and EPF said that the acquisition of all assets and liabilities of PLUS would lock in an investment with steady long term cash flows.

“EPF members will directly benefit from profits generated from highways,” said Shahril in the statement. “If successful, this will provide stable returns for our 12 million members retirement savings and we believe through the joint ownership by EPF and UEM, PLUS will be able to improve its financial performance further.”

Analysts were mixed on the joint offer with AmResearch saying it was a “fair exit price” for investors while OSK Research said RM4.80 to RM5.00 would be a fairer price.

I did it my way


The Tiananmen Square revolt was soon enough quelled but China realised that it could not ignore what the people want. So they decided to allow economic reforms as long as the people stay out of politics and do not call for political reforms as well.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Dictatorships can be good for the people, said former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who himself has been accused of having an authoritarian brand of leadership.

Taking such accusations on the chin, Mahathir, who was addressing an international forum at the Putra World Trade Centre today, cheekily said: "Malaysia is said to be ruled by a dictator for 22 years. I enjoyed it."

"But at least we made some progress. This building was not even here (before my time)," he said.

Besides being accused of governing with an iron grip, Malaysia's longest serving prime minister was alleged to have played a part in channeling taxpayers' money to partly finance the construction of Umno-owned PWTC.

One prime example of how dictatorships or authoritarian governments can work better than a democratically elected one, is China, said Mahathir.

"There is no democracy in China but the system of the government it has can bring lots of benefit to its people," he said, adding that the change of leadership there is more peaceful than some democratic countries who change leaders in uprisings every few years.

In his speech, the veteran politician also lambasted his most severe critics from the developed nations, branding them hypocrites for trying to champion democracy.

Referring to the US-led war on Iraq, which was later justified as a means to spread democracy, Mahathir cuttingly said: "Maybe in the afterlife (the dead) can experience democracy but dead people won't enjoy it much." -- Malaysiakini

***********************************************

Some say that Tun Dr Mahathir’s favourite song is ‘My Way’. Others tell me that this is not really Dr Mahathir’s favourite song but happens to be the only song that he can sing. I suppose I can say the same about myself. I sing Elvis Presley’s song ‘In the Ghetto’ because that is the only song I can sing.

Anyway, ‘My Way’ has somehow become synonymous with Dr Mahathir. And we must certainly admit that he looks at things his way, which may not always be the correct way of seeing it.

However, one must be able to read between the lines of what Dr Mahathir says. When asked about his favourite football team he replied that he does not like football and does not see why 22 players should chase one ball all over the football field. Just buy them all one ball each, he quipped.

First of all, only 20 players chase the ball. The other two guard the goal. Secondly, these 20 players chase the ball not because they want to own the ball. So buying them one ball each will not solve the ‘problem’. They chase the ball to see who can control the only one ball and then shoot it into the goal. It is almost like politics where so many people ‘chase’ the only one position at the very top, the post of Prime Minister. Do we solve the problem by creating 65 positions of Prime Minister so that all 65 can become Prime Ministers without them all having to ‘chase’ the position?

When asked about golf, Dr Mahathir again quipped that he does not see the logic of chasing the small ball all over the golf course when the ball was with you in the first place.

Was Dr Mahathir being serious or was he being cheeky? Seeing that many Malaysia Today readers do not recognise tongue-in-cheek or sarcasm even if it bit them in the butt they would probably take Dr Mahathir’s replies at ‘face value’.

Anyway, I would like to reply to what Dr Mahathir said about dictatorships being good for economic growth. And he used China as an example of a good dictatorship. Dr Mahathir also made a sarcastic remark about the invasion of Iraq, which removed the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Dr Mahathir probably feels that Saddam was good for the people of Iraq.

Have we forgotten how many of his own citizens Saddam murdered? Entire villages were gassed and women and children were not spared. This was ethnic cleansing of the highest degree. Is the economy more important than people’s lives? This appears to be what Dr Mahathir is saying -- the economy comes first and people’s lives is not that crucial.

I started going to China just before it became an 'economic miracle'. This was not long after the Tiananmen incident and I made about ten trips to China in all. I visited not only the major cities but also many rural parts of China where no Malaysian has ever visited before. Some places I visited did not even have proper roads or train service and I had to ride on the back of a lorry to get there.

So I saw how China ‘exploded’ from ‘ground zero’. I also visited Pudong and went up the tower even as it was still being built and before it was opened to public. I was the guest of the Shanghai provincial government and the most exciting thing about those trips was probably being able to ride around in a military car where all the traffic was stopped so that we could pass. We did not even have to stop for the red light. I can’t do that in Malaysia even with my ‘royal status’.

To understand the ‘Chinese miracle’ you have to study Deng Xiaoping. He was the man who said: never mind if it is a black cat or a white cat as long as the cat catches a mouse. This means never mind whether it is Communism or Capitalism as long as the economy grows. Dr Mahathir says almost the same thing: never mind whether it is a dictatorship or a democracy as long as the economy grows.

But how did China grow? And was it China or Pudong that grew? And is the development of China spread evenly throughout China or is it concentrated only along the East Coast, the Shanghai-Pudong region in particular?

First of all, the entire area of Pudong is 467 square miles and it has a population of 4 million. Shanghai’s land area is 2,717 square miles and it has a population of 20 million. China’s land area is 3,600,950 square miles and it has a population of 1.4 billion. Malaysia’s land area is 127,354 square miles and it has a population of 27 million.

So, are we comparing apples to apples? Are we comparing China to Malaysia or are we comparing Pudong to Shah Alam? It is not fair to compare Pudong to Malaysia and say that Pudong is proof that China’s dictatorship is better than a democracy.

The next point I am trying to make is: is it Communism or the dictatorship that resulted in the ‘Chinese miracle’ or is it due to the size of that country? We must understand that China is one of the oldest civilisations in the world but only over the last 20 years since 1990 have we seen this country ‘explode’. Why is it what happened over the last 20 years could not happen over 3,500 years before that?

It all started in Tiananmen Square in 1989, ten years after the Islamic Revolution of Iran. Now, we must remember, that same year, 1989, Boris Yeltsin introduced economic and political reforms known as Perestroika. Encouraged by what happened in Russia, the Chinese activists decided to push for the same in China.

The Tiananmen Square revolt was soon enough quelled but China realised that it could not ignore what the people want. So they decided to allow economic reforms as long as the people stay out of politics and do not call for political reforms as well.

That was the beginning of ‘The Great Leap Froward version 2’.

But the Tiananmen Square revolt was not really the cause of these reforms. It may have accelerated the reforms but China was already on the road to economic reforms even earlier.

In November 1978, Deng visited Singapore and met up with its Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who advised Deng to open up the country and institute reforms, as well as to stop exporting Communist ideologies to other Southeast Asian countries. Deng was so impressed by Singapore's ‘economic miracle’ that he listened to Lee and upon returning home he opened up China to the world.

Under Deng's direction, relations with the West improved remarkably. Deng travelled abroad and had a series of meetings with western leaders and became the first Chinese leader to visit the United States in 1979 where he met up with President Carter. Shortly before this meeting, the U.S. had broken diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established them with the People's Republic of China.

It took another ten years before the ambitious plan to develop Pudong was mooted. And Singapore played a very crucial role in the Pudong blueprint.

What I want to stress here is that, first of all, China grew when it decided to open up the country to the world. Secondly, Singapore played a crucial role in advising China on what to do. Thirdly, the development in Pudong or Shanghai may be impressive but this does not mean that in the rest of China the roads are also paved with gold.

Can we say that just because Kuala Lumpur has the most number of Mercedes Benz E Class cars in SEA then this means the entire Malaysia is rich? There are still many Malaysians in the rural parts of Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah, Sarawak, etc., who do not even have water or electricity supply.

Let’s look at some statistics below. If China’s growth is so great, and if it is because it is a dictatorship that it has grown, why is the GDP per capita for China so much lower than that of Pudong? The figures below clearly show that the wealth of China is concentrated in only a small part of China and not spread evenly around the entire country.

In fact, Malaysia’s GDP per capita is more than double that of China. However, if you look at Pudong’s GDP per capita, it is higher than Malaysia’s. So maybe Malaysia should go meet Lee Kuan Yew and appoint Singapore as our economic adviser. Then we shall really see Malaysia ‘fly’. And further proof would be to look at Singapore’s GDP per capita. It is even higher than Britain’s.

Maybe we should not have sent the British home and declared Merdeka in 1957. If economic growth is all that matters and if it does not matter whether it is a black cat or a white cat as long as it catches a mouse then Malaysia would be better off as a British colony just as long as we see the country’s economy grow in leaps and bounds.

Historical GDP of the People's Republic of China versus India

Pudong's gross domestic product for 2008 amounts to an estimated US$53.98 billion, roughly equal to that of Slovenia. Its GDP per capita is therefore around US$16,938.

China's gross domestic product for 2008 amounts to an estimated US$4,522 billion. Its GDP per capita is therefore around US$3,414.

Malaysia's gross domestic product for 2010 amounts to an estimated US$213.21 billion. Its GDP per capita is therefore around US$7,547.

Singapore's gross domestic product for 2009 amounts to an estimated US$177.13 billion. Its GDP per capita is therefore around US$37,293.

Britain's gross domestic product for 2009 amounts to an estimated US$2,183.13 billion. Its GDP per capita is therefore around US$32,798.

Sabah and Sarawak the 'biggest losers'

By Rahmah Ghazali - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Sabah and Sarawak have been “marginalised” in Budget 2011 despite bigger contributions to the government's coffers than its counterparts in the peninsula.

Tony Pua, DAP national publicity secretary, said that from the projects outlined, the peninsula is “by far the biggest beneficiary, with Sabah and Sarawak the biggest losers”.

He said the value of the projects in the peninsula amounted to a massive RM109.74 billion, compared to Sabah and Sarawak which only received a meagre RM9.55 billion.
Pua said this continued “marginalisation” would halt the country from becoming a high-income nation.

"Is this (justifiable)... when it is Sabah and Sarawak which have contributed the most to the federal government's coffers?

"And ironically, they are in need of funding to raise the standard of living of their people," he said.

Pua said that billion-ringgit projects for Peninsular Malaysia included the RM40 billion MRT (Mass Railway Transit) system for the Klang Valley, RM26 billion for KL International Financial District (KLIFD), RM10 billion worth of new highways, RM10 billion for mixed property development in Sungai Buloh and RM5 billion for the controversial 100-storey Warisan Merdeka.

Pua said the government has been “heavily dependent” on income contributed by the oil and gas sector, especially from Petronas which finances it in the form of income taxes, dividends, export duties as well as royalty payments.

These contributions formed an average of 40%, or more than RM60 billion annually of the government's total income over the past several years, he said.

Bigger gap

Sabah and Sarawak contributed 44.5% in terms of crude oil as well as 64.1% of natural gas production.

However, this was not reflected in the Ninth Malaysia Plan Mid-Term review, where Sabah and Sarawak remain among the poorest in the country.

"Based on the report in 2007, poverty in Peninsular Malaysia is 2.3%, while in Sarawak, it is nearly double at 4.3%.

"And in Sabah, it is nearly seven times higher at 16%," said Pua.

"Based on the 2009 data from the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, 41% of both the states are without rural water supply, while it is only 10% in the peninsula.

"There's a bigger gap in rural electricity coverage, with 23% in Sabah and 33% in Sarawak but only 0.5% in Peninsular Malaysia," he said.

Sabah and Sarawak are also left behind in terms of infrastructure development, said Pua, although they constituted more than 60% of the land mass in the country.

They have only 6,390km of paved roads while the peninsula has more than three times the length at 21,589km.

Tengku Muhammad Fa-iz is Kelantan crown prince

KOTA BARU: Tengku Muhammad Fa-iz Petra ibni Sultan Ismail Petra, the younger brother of the Sultan of Kelantan Sultan Muhammad V, was today appointed the Tengku Mahkota Kelantan and heir to the Kelantan throne with immediate effect.

State secretary Mohd Aiseri Alias said the decision was made by the State Council of Succession which met today and chaired by its chairman, Tengku Abdul Halim Al-Haj Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ibrahim.

The ceremony to present the letter of appointment as Tengku Mahkota Kelantan was held at Istana Negeri in Kubang Kerian at 2pm.

Aiseri told a press conference that the meeting of the Council of Succession was attended by 14 of its 15 members except Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah whose membership ceased automatically for being absent before without the permission of the council.

Tengku Muhammad Fa-iz, 36, is second of four children of the former Kelantan Sultan, Tuanku Ismail Petra. His other two siblings are Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Petra and Tengku Amalin A-Ishah Putri.

Tengku Muhammad Fa-iz, who was born at Istana Kota Lama on June 20, 1974, was appointed Tengku Bendahara Kelantan on March 30, 1989 and is the head of the Kelantan Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council since June 21, 2009.

Aiseri said that according to the Kelantan State Constitution, Tengku Muhammad Fa-iz could be the ruler or regent when the Sultan is abroad for a period of more than 12 months or unable to carry to out his duties as the ruler over the same period.

He said the Council of Succession did not discuss the appointment of Tengku Temenggong as today's meeting was only to determine the heir to the throne.

The title of Tengku Temenggong was previously held by Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Petra but it was withdrawn by Sultan Muhammad V recently.

- Bernama

Anwar: I'm not jealous of Paris Hilton but 1MDB has no record

It pays to party like this - you may get a RM26bil contract!
Malaysia Chronicle

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim blasted Prime Minister Najib Razak for entrusting an obscure business entity 1 Malaysia Development Berhad to oversee the RM26billion Kuala Lumpur International Financial District.

“I'm not jealous of Jho Low spending time with Paris Hilton, but the fact is that upon checking with the companies commission, 1MDB has no business address and no appointed auditor. How can the government approve such a company to take on a project of such national importance? What is the prime minister's interest in this?” Anwar asked Parliament on Monday.

He was referring to 27-year Penang millionaire Jho Low, who has shocked the nation with his extravagant entertainment of Hollywood socialite Paris Hilton.

The Rosmah connection
During his debate speech on Budget 2011, Anwar pointed out that 1MDB was barely a year old and has no track record to prove that it is capable of handling the mega-project.

Jho helped to fete Najib, Rosmah during their Monaco trip
Anwar reminded the House that the company was linked to millionaire Low Taek Jho, often referred to as Jho Low and that its background was suspicious.

1MDB was formerly known as the Terengganu Investment Authority, which Jho had helped to establish. However, he claims that he is not involved in 1MDB.

Nonetheless, speculation is rife that he is the point-man for Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor in 1MDB and its Middle-Eastern deals.

Jho is a good friend of Rosmah's son from her first marriage and is known for his contacts in the Middle-East. Just the week before, Najib had announced that billions were due to flow in from several Arabian investors.

“It is also questionable that its chief executive officer only reported on Oct 12 that they made RM425 million profit, just days before the budget was tabled," Anwar said.

Last week, Najib unveiled a RM214 billion budget for 2011, the biggest in Malaysia's history. Although praised by former premier Mahathir Mohamad, opposition leaders and analysts have panned it for the reckless spending on super-mega projects totaling RM109.74 billion.

These include the RM40 billion MRT system for the Klang Valley, the RM26 billion KL International Financial District, an estimated RM10 billion worth of new highways, a RM10 billion mixed property development in Sungai Buloh by EPF as well as the RM5 billion 100-storey Warisan Merdeka skyscraper.