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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reform or face rallies, Bersih 2.0 warns EC

Hindraf backs 'Third Force' proposal

(Malaysiakini) Hindraf is all for the idea of a 'third force' in Parliament, but its position on details of the set-up differs from the proponents.

The ad-hoc human rights movement was referring to mention of the so-called third force in Pakatan Rakyat coordinator Zaid Ibrahim's statement that he would quit PKR.

Hindraf's political wing, Human Rights Party (HRP), said it is ready to contest under such a force in 15 parliamentary and 38 state seats it has designated in Peninsular Malaysia as "Indian seats", where at least 30 percent of the registered voters are from the community.

NONEThe third force is "an idea whose time has come", said Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy (right), whose elder brother is the leader of HRP.
Still, he worries that it may eventually be found wanting, like the opposition alliance Pakatan that Hindraf had no regret abandoning in the wake of the March 2008 political tsunami.

"We have been keenly following the interest in the third force, in Malaysia and abroad," Waythamoorthy said last night in a telephone call from London.
"We are heartened by the public debate on the possibility of a new political movement entering Parliament."

Still, Waythamoorthy is at a loss in trying to figure out what the third force actually means to those pushing for it. None of the proponents, he noted, have articulated what it would be it and the people have been left with vague generalisations.

"We would suggest that the initiative for such a force comes from Sabah and Sarawak," he said. "Let a Borneo-based national party or national coalition arise and work out the details."
Who will lead?
Waythamoorthy offered two reasons why the other half of Malaysia, across the South China Sea, should take the lead in the third force.

First, he thinks that the two Peninsular Malaysia-based national coalitions - Pakatan and the ruling BN - are more than enough to cater to the differing politics in the peninsula. Therefore, another national coalition arising in the peninsula and lacking the necessary critical mass would quickly find itself asphyxiated between Pakatan and BN.

Secondly, Sabah and Sarawak do not have a national party or national coalition and this is where a third force could come in to fill the political vacuum.

"A Borneo-based national party or national coalition would be able to give meaning to the historical and legal fact that Malaysia is a federation of three territories - Sabah, Sarawak and the peninsula," he said.

"But who will take the lead in forming and leading the third force?"

Answering his own question, Waythamoorthy said Sabahan Jeffrey Kitingan should leave PKR and lead the third force.

"Jeffrey has the right political pedigree and must take a stand," he added.
"Either he's with PKR or he's out. If he's out, then the third force is the approach he should take - unless he wants to go back to Parti Bersatu Sabah and save it, like what his brother Pairin has been urging him to do."

Teenager shot dead during robbery attempt

PETALING JAYA: A former estate overseer shot dead a teenager during a robbery attempt at Sungai Way here today.
He saw the 17-year-old brandishing a parang and demanding money from his housemaid at around 9.40am, and rushed upstairs for his shotgun, deputy head of the criminal investigations department ACP Khaw Kok Chin said.
"The former overseer fired two shots at the teenager who was trying to attack him," Khaw told reporters.
The teenager was hit in the ribs and was pronounced dead on arrival at the medical centre of Universiti Malaya.
Khaw said the teenager had four accomplices, one waiting outside the house and the other three in a car. They fled on hearing the gun shots.
Police are trying to identify the four accomplices, believed to be in between the ages of 17 and 20 plus.
Khaw s

Phantoms haunt PKR Kelana Jaya too

By B Nantha Kumar - Free Malaysia Today,

KLANG: Hundreds of phantom members probably voted in the PKR Kelana Jaya divisional election early last month, an FMT investigation shows.

There were more than 100 dubious names in the electoral list for the division, which claims to have 6,000 members. Like in the case of the Kota Raja division, names, addresses and MyKad numbers were near or exact duplicates.

For example, there were two voters named Geetha d/o Velu, one with membership number B 130002628 and the other B 130003657. They shared the same address and their MyKad numbers were almost identical: 40922-10-5508 and 740922-10-5308.

In another case, it was discovered during the polling that Vijayakumar s/o Nallaiah, whose MyKad number is 810703-10-5867, appeared on the electoral list as Vijekumara s/o Nallyah, with MyKad number 810307-10-5867. Sources said the officer in charge made the needed amendments on the spot and allowed him to vote.

The officer’s action apparently violated a party rule explained last week by newly elected Kota Raja division chief Dr Xavier Jeyakumar. In response to charges of phantom voting in his division, he said the party would not accept as a voter anyone who produced a MyKad with a number different from the one on the electoral list even if there were no problems with his name and address.
In a case similar to Vijakumar’s K Bala s/o N Kuppusamy, MyKad number 681101-10-5255, appeared on the list as Bala s/o Kuppusamy, MyKad number 681101-10-5525.
Unlike Vijayakumar, however, he was not allowed to vote. Sources said Vijakumar went to the polling station wearing a sticker on his shirt that said, “Support Syed Shahir”. Bala did not.
In the polls, incumbent Syed Shahir Mohamad Jalil retained the Kelana Jaya division head’s post by beating Abdul Razak Mohamed Jalil by six votes after a fourth recount.

FMT could not reach PKR election secretary Radin Shamsulkamar Shamsuddin for his comments.

Zaid betrayed our trust, says Azmin

By Rahmah Ghazali - Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: June 13, 2009 marked a significant date for PKR. It was the day the party welcomed a new hero to its stable, Zaid Ibrahim.

However, much has changed since then. Zaid is now on the verge of quitting the party, after firing a battery of allegations against its supremo Anwar Ibrahim, and the latter's protege Azmin Ali.

Zaid also pulled out of the race for the PKR deputy presidency, accusing frontrunner Azmin of playing dirty.

Speaking to FMT, Azmin expressed his disappointment with Zaid's change of tune and his stinging criticisms.

"The party accepted him with open arms and the perception was that he could carry out PKR's reform agenda. He was one of those who got the most privileges in the party.

“When he first came in, he was given senior posts and placed in the supreme council. Even the people who struggled for the last 10 years in the party couldn’t make it,” he said.

'He failed to perform'

The Gombak MP pointed out that Zaid was also given the opportunity to make a comeback into Parliament via the Hulu Selangor by-election.

"All he had to do was to return the favour by serving the party. But he could not even perform in the party when he was given this golden opportunity. What has he been doing for the past one year? He did not even attend meetings.

“I don’t think it (Zaid's allegations) is fair to the party… he has failed to perform when in fact the party put faith, trust and confidence in him,” he said.

Azmin said the former law minister had revealed his “true colours” when he failed to turn up in Batu Sapi to help PKR in the Nov 4 by-election.

He said although Zaid was in Sabah at the time, he was more preoccupied with campaigning for the deputy presidency instead.

“He was in Kota Kinabalu and Tuaran campaigning for himself. He stayed in a luxurious resort and met with division leaders when he was supposed to help us in Batu Sapi,” he said.

“After all the trust we had in him, he turned his back on us and attacked the party. We may have weaknesses, but why can’t he discuss with us rather than taking it to the media?” he asked.

'He is not a team player'

The PKR leader also painted a bleak picture of Zaid's political future, saying that the latter was not a team player and therefore would find it difficult to succeed if he formed a new party.

“I don’t think the (new party) will have any impact because the members have seen his true colours. We don’t want a Trojan horse in the party.

“I don’t think he even understands what ‘reformasi’ is all about … so if he wants to leave the party, by all means, do it,” he said.

“He is not a loyal follower. In all cases, he wants to be a leader but he fails to be a good leader… he is more individualistic than a team player. You can’t move on like that,” he added.

Frustrated supporters urge Zaid to 'stay and fight'

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today

GEORGE TOWN: Zaid Ibrahim supporters in Penang, although respectful of his decision to quit the party, are of the view that the former law minister should stay and fight for reforms from within PKR. They simply don't want him to give up and walk away.

A local PKR leader, who declined to be named, said Zaid should not get frustrated with his unsuccessful bid to become the party deputy president due to alleged electoral irregularities.

"Zaid should understand that in politics you don't always get your way all the time. It's like a ship at sea which is always navigating its way.

"Politics is a long term struggle and one is bound to face many obstacles to fulfill one’s ambition and mission.

“And Zaid is not an exemption to the rule. Let not emotions cloud his judgment.

“He should give it more thought before deciding his next political step, which could well determine his own political fate,” cautioned the PKR politician.

Reconsider please

Describing Zaid's decision to quit as 'hasty', another party grassroots politician said Zaid should consider ground sentiments, especially the views of his own supporters.

He urged Zaid to reconsider his decision and not to let his critics portray him as “a general deserting his soldiers and leaving them stranded after losing only a battle.”

Yet another Zaid campaigner expressed disappointment that his predictions had become a reality.

Recalling the former minister’s decision to leave Barisan Nasional two years ago, he said Zaid cannot afford to quit each time the 'going gets tough.'

“Zaid should know that the tough must get going in the rumble and tumble of politics,” he said.

Another irate politician said Zaid would not have courted so much trouble and drawn such flak from party's top leaders if he had contested for the vice-presidency.

“Zaid would have won the vice-president post easily,” said the politician adding that things just blew-up because Zaid had decided to face-off with Azmin Ali for the party's No 2 post.

He said some party leaders thought Zaid was challenging PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim himself while others felt Zaid was vying the top post too soon.

“Zaid should have waited for another three years to have a shot at the No 2 position. By then more members would have understood Zaid’s struggle.

“Many others would also be disgruntled with performance of the incumbent deputy president,” he said.

Smear campaign common

Citing “personal attacks” as his (Zaid's) reason for quitting, the same politician said; “As much as one dislikes it, character assassination campaigns are very much part of politics.

"Zaid should accept and familiarise himself with the smearing campaign.

“Don’t tell me that Zaid is going to quit the very party that he may form (in the future) due to personnel attacks.”

Another local leader however offered sympathy to Zaid for his frustration at being ‘forced to drop out’ from the deputy presidential race due to alleged electoral irregularities.

He said he understood Zaid’s feeling at the leadership’s stubborn refusal to probe into complaints of electoral malpractises in the current party polls.

“How can a politician of his stature remain in PKR when he cannot agree with the party political style?

“Although many grassroots members would not welcome it, inevitably Zaid has to quit PKR . . . sooner the better,” said the politician.

Right time for 3rd Force, says Hindraf

By Joe Fernandez - Free Malaysia Today

KOTA KINABALU: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi has expressed its readiness to contest in national elections as part of a so-called Third Force that would keep both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat in check.

“It is an idea whose time has come,” Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy said.

He suggested that it be initiated from East Malaysia and led by Sabah strongman Jeffrey Kitingan, but the latter indicated to FMT that he was not too interested.

Speaking from London, where he lives in self-imposed exile, Waythamoorthy said Hindraf’s political wing, the Human Rights Party Malaysia, was ready to contest under such a force for 15 parliamentary and 38 state seats in Peninsular Malaysia. According to him, Indians make up at least 30 percent of the electorate in each of these constituencies.

He said he planned to hold a conference in London soon to discuss the Third Force and to get feedback from Malaysians resident in Britain, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe.

Talk of a third force has gained momentum, especially in cyberspace, since it became apparent a couple of weeks ago that there is a serious falling out between Pakatan co-ordinator Zaid Ibrahim and his colleagues in the PKR leadership, especially de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and vice-president Azmin Ali, who has virtually won the race for the party’s deputy presidency.

“We have been keenly following the explosion of interest back home and abroad in the Third Force,” said Waythamoorthy. “We are heartened by the public debate on a possible new political movement entering Parliament.”

However, he noted, none of the proponents of the idea had articulated it clearly enough to capture the imagination of the public.

“We would suggest that the initiative for a third force come from Sabah and Sarawak,” he said. He gave the following two reasons for this:

* PR and BN are “more than enough” for the differing politics on the peninsula. Another national coalition, lacking the necessary critical mass, would quickly find itself asphyxiated between the two.

* Malaysian Borneo does not have a national party or national coalition and the Third Force can fill the vacuum.

He said Jeffrey should leave PKR and lead the new coalition.

“Jeffrey has the right political pedigree and must take a stand,” he said. “Either he’s with PKR or he’s out. If he’s out, then the Third Force is the approach he should take unless he wants to go back to Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).”

Besides Hindraf and parties in Sabah and Sarawak, Waythamoorthy said the new coalition should include the Orang Asli, marginalized groups like the Christians in Peninsular Malaysia and any new party that Zaid Ibrahim would form.

'Our politics is different'

Jeffrey, contacted late last night after Waythamoorthy’s call, said that he was in no hurry to think about the Third Force.

“If the Peninsular Malaysians want to lead the Third Force as well, then we in Sabah and Sarawak can set up a fourth force,” he said. “And if Umno opens its doors to Indians and Chinese and becomes the Fourth Force, we can set up the Fifth Force.”

He declined to entertain questions that he would leave PKR soon or return to PBS. However, he confirmed that he would not join any party set up by Zaid or anyone else in Peninsular Malaysia. “Our politics is different,” said Jeffrey. “We should not jump from the frying pan into the fire. Two wrongs do not make one right.”

He also declined to dwell on speculation that a new Borneo-based party headed by him was in the works.

He responded that “it was news” to him when asked for his take on widespread speculation in Kota Kinabalu that Anwar Ibrahim called him over the weekend and offered to let him name the party’s candidates for all the KadazanDusunMurut seats in Sabah.

He said Anwar had made many promises in Sabah before and “never kept any of them” except for appointing Christina Liew Chin Jin Hadhikusumo as deputy chief for PKR Sabah.

'Drop quota system in armed forces'

By FMT Staff

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah DAP wants the quota system in the armed forces removed and the conditions to join the military relaxed.

Kudat DAP chief Alex Wong said these were the main reasons, apart from “low pay”, that discouraged youths from joining the Malaysian armed forces.

"It is ridiculous to say that if we don't join the armed forces, it means that we don’t love the country...," he said, referring to Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's controversial insinuation that non-Malays were “less patriotic”.

Last week in Parliament, Zahid listed the reason why fewer non-Malays joined the military.

Said Wong: "If the conditions are relaxed and there is no quota limit, we believe many people will be keen to join the army. It is better for Sabahans to join the (armed) forces than for them to beg for food in Kuala Lumpur."

Wong said that many non-Bumiputeras, especially the Chinese and Rungus people in Kudat, were interested to join the uniformed corp but were often unsuccessful.

"Everytime there is an intake or recruitment exercise in Kudat, the applicants are rejected. Many of these young people move away to the city or seek jobs in Peninsular Malaysia.

"Why is there such a high rate of rejection of our local applicants? Are we not qualified enough to join the armed forces and police?" he asked in a statement today.

Another bridge collapses

Meanwhile in Beaufort, yet another bridge has collapsed, cutting off an entire community from the nearest township.

An exasperated Beaufort DAP chairman Jamil Zakaria, who was at the site inspecting the collapsed bridge, slammed the Barisan Nasional government whom he accused of jeopardising lives.

"How can we expect the government like this to take good care of the poor people? It is better for us to ditch them (BN) and have a new government.

"We can’t continue to put ourselves in jeopardy anymore, and our suffering is getting intolerable day by day," he said.

On Nov 13, torrential rains and floods washed away the wooden bridge which was the primary link for families and houses living opposite the main road.

"Now there is no way for them to get across. These people informed the authority some years ago that the wooden bridge was in danger of collapsing and that they needed a new bridge. The BN government then began work on the construction of the new bridge.

"But for some unknown reason, work has stopped now for many years. Now the (wooden) bridge has collapsed into the river.

"Luckily, there was nobody or car crossing at that time or a tragedy would have occurred. This is a typical BN project... left uncompleted, and inconveniencing the people, " said Jamil.

The challenges facing the MCLM

Those elected into office are people’s representatives or wakil rakyat. That means they work for the rakyat or people and are paid salaries from our tax money. Politicians tend to forget this. And the MCLM will keep bugging them to ensure that they remember this.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) is not going to face an easy road ahead. Even before it can take over there will be attempts to shoot it down. Will the MCLM be bombed even as it is still taxiing on the runaway and before it can take off?

That would be a scenario we must be prepared for and it will not surprise me one bit if that happens.

Politicians by nature are very selfish and extremely protective of their turf. If the MCLM is seen as a competitor then expect very little cooperation from the political parties. No one likes to share power. And why should the politicians share power if they think they can attain power on their very own without any second or third parties crowding the field?

At best the MCLM will be seen as a pressure group, constantly telling the politicians how the country should be run. And it will be worse if the MCLM is seen as a player that will be vying for the same votes that the political parties need to get into office.

Either way the MCLM will be viewed as a nuisance that the politicians do can without.

Why should the politicians ‘take orders’ from another group of people? And that is how they will perceive it -- another group of people who are going to dictate what they can and cannot do, a pressure group that is going to constantly bug them on how the affairs of the nation should be managed.

In a business organisation there are checks and balances. The CEO or managing director can’t run the business any old how he or she wishes. There will be a board of directors, shareholders’ meetings, annual reports to be published, accounts to be audited, and external auditors who will go through the account books with a fine-tooth comb and come out with their auditor's reports with their opinion on how the financial matters of the business has been managed.

In spite of these many layers of checks and balances mismanagement and fraud still exists. Some get caught and face the long arm of the law. Many go undetected and no one is the wiser.

It will be nice if one owns a sole proprietorship. Then you are not accountable to anyone and can run the business the way you wish. But when you are managing a public-owned organisation and have stakeholders to answer to, then you can’t manage the organisation as if it is, as Malaysians would say, your grandfather’s business.

Unfortunately, in Malaysia the concept of a public organisation or public-owned company is not yet fully understood. They may be public companies listed on the stock exchange. But many, if not most, are run as if they are private limited companies or sole proprietorships.

And this is partly the fault of the stakeholders. They do not know their rights or understand how public companies should be managed. So they allow the directors of public companies to run these businesses as if they are family concerns or sole proprietorships.

This same culture exists in politics. Those who head political parties have the impression that ‘this is my party’. So they run the parties the way they would a sundry shop that is accountable to no one other than the man who owns it entirely.

A lot of reorientation and re-education is required. We talk about good governance, transparency and accountability. But many do not grasp the meaning of these concepts. Worse still, many do not see the value of all this and feel that these are not important. What is important is that the Barisan Nasional hegemony is broken and we get to change the federal government.

Yes, I agree, that is what we want to do. That is what we must do. But no one is able to offer any suggestions as to how to do that.

While I do not dispute what must be done, I would rather focus on how it is going to be done. No one wants to talk about that. They simplify the argument by saying that let us just focus on getting Barisan Nasional out and send Pakatan Rakyat to Putrajaya.

Well and fine. I am okay with that. In fact, I agree that this is our aim. But can someone explain to me how that is going to be done?

Simple, the argument goes, just make sure that there are no three-corner fights. Just make sure that Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat engage in straight fights. That will ensure Pakatan Rakyat gets to form the next federal government.

If it is that easy and if that is all it takes then why has Barisan Nasional (and the Alliance Party before that) managed to hold on to power for 53 years? There were many straight fights over the last 53 years (with some three-corner fights here and there). But still Barisan Nasional swept in.

Of course, making sure that there are no three-corner fights and only straight fights is crucial. But that is only one requirement. It is not the only requirement. Many more things are required to ensure that we see a change of federal government in the next election.

The recent Galas by-election was a straight fight. Yet the opposition lost what was originally an opposition seat. There was no MCLM or third force in the Batu Sapi by-election. Yet there was a three-corner fight. And the Barisan Nasional share of the votes was larger than the combined votes of both the opposing candidates. So even if there was no three-corner fight Barisan Nasional would have still won.

The political parties focus on winning the elections. That is not the main concern of the MCLM. Of course, we would like to see a change of government, just like you. But we will allow the voters to decide what type of government they want. What the MCLM will instead focus on will be what happens AFTER the general election.

Yes, that is what we want to talk about. You, the voters, and the political parties, go settle whom you want as the new government. When that new government is formed will be when the work of the MCLM starts. The MCLM will let the voters decide on the government. The MCLM will then ensure that the government delivers it election promises.

Call us the auditor if you wish. Maybe that is a better word than third force, which makes many people nervous. The stakeholders choose their board of directors. We will audit the board of directors to make sure they don’t cheat the stakeholders.

But we can’t sit back and just wait. We can’t play a hands-off role and wait to spring into action only after the voters have made their decision. The work has to start now. We have to make sure that even as the business is being mooted we get the right people to sit on the board as directors.

We must teach the politicians that election promises are not made just to entice the voters to vote for them, after which they can forget about all these promises once the election is over. We must teach the politicians that election promises are going to be carved in stone and that we shall hold them accountable if they fail to deliver on these promises.

Those elected into office are people’s representatives or wakil rakyat. That means they work for the rakyat or people and are paid salaries from our tax money. Politicians tend to forget this. And the MCLM will keep bugging them to ensure that they remember this.

And this will mean the MCLM will be a most unwelcome addition to the Malaysian political scene. And we shall face a lot of resistance because of it. But we shall have to face this resistance and push back hard.

Let the MCLM be seen as the enemy of the politicians if it has to come to that. Never mind, we shall not concern ourselves with that minor obstacle. After all, which board of directors love their auditors? Auditors are a nuisance whom pry into matters which they should keep their noses out of. But without the necessary evil of the auditors the organisation would be run into the ground at the expense of the stakeholders.

No, I do not expect the MCLM to be welcomed with open arms. But this is not a popularity contest and we are not concerned one bit whether the politicians love us or hate us -- and hate us they most likely will.

But when we eventually do see a change of government the voters will need the MCLM to keep the new powers-that-be in check and ensure that power does not go to their heads. And if we do not see a change of government then it would not matter anyway. Then we can continue to play the role we have been playing these last three decades by being a thorn in the side of Barisan Nasional.

Fatal shooting of 3 persons including a 16-year-old boy in Glenmarie

In almost all cases, police claim that the suspects fled and police gave chase. The suspects then attacked police and the police opened fire killing all instantly. No suspect in such situations ever seems to survive. Subsequent to the shooting police claim to have discovered weapons in their vehicle and accuse the dead of being involved in all sorts of crime. Of course, by then none of them can defend themselves.

By Lawyers for Liberty

Lawyers for Liberty is gravely concerned over the shooting to death of three alleged suspects by police during the early hours of Saturday 13th November 2010 at Glenmarie, Selangor.

The dead were Mohd Shamil Hafiz Shafie, 16, Mohd Khairul Nizam Tuah, 20, and Mohd Hanafi Omar, 22. Although one of the dead persons was a sixteen year old boy, acting Selangor police chief Datuk A.Thaiveegan has made the incredible claim that all the dead were "seasoned criminals".

The police allege that the dead suspects were part of a gang known as "Geng Minyak" which preyed on petrol stations. They further allege that the suspects when cornered rushed at the police with machetes and that the police shot them all dead in self-defense. We find this story by the police to be quite unbelievable.

If the suspects were only armed with machetes and not firearms, why was it necessary to shoot all of them dead? Were any warning shots fired? It beggars belief that men armed with machetes would rush into a hail of bullets.

We note that there is disturbing similarity in the justification given out by police after almost every fatal police shooting in recent memory. In almost all cases, police claim that the suspects fled and police gave chase. The suspects then attacked police and the police opened fire killing all instantly. No suspect in such situations ever seems to survive. Subsequent to the shooting police claim to have discovered weapons in their vehicle and accuse the dead of being involved in all sorts of crime. Of course, by then none of them can defend themselves.

Even 14 year police shooting victim Aminulrasyid Amzah was accused of being a parang wielding criminal. This standard police version which is trotted out after every shooting is extremely improbable, to say the least.

It should be noted that international policing norms require that firearms only be discharged to protect life and that clear warnings be given with adequate time to comply. Are these rules being observed and complied with by the Malaysian police force? We seriously doubt it, going by previous cases.

We also note that the authorities continue to refuse to make public even the police guidelines on discharge of firearms. Why all this secrecy?

We call for an immediate independent investigation into this latest shooting, with the findings made public. We reiterate the call for a Royal Commission to investigate all police shootings over the past decade.

We call upon the police force to adhere to international guidelines on policing and to eschew all unlawful actions in the name of crime prevention.


Fadiah Nadwa Fikri

The prime minister, the private investigator, the murder of a Mongolian model, and 114 million euros

In one statement, one of the bodyguards said they were paid 100,000 Malaysian ringgits ($36,000) to commit the murder. In another statement, one said they blew up the body because Altantuya begged them not to kill her because she was pregnant. The idea was to make it impossible to identify the father.

By Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun

The remaining loose ends are being tied off in the seemingly determined efforts to ensure Malaysia's prime minister, Najib Tun Razak, is not embroiled in the still unresolved murder by two of his bodyguards of a Mongolian model and translator.

Distancing the prime minister from the murder also creates some space between Najib and 114 million euros ($160 million) in "consulting fees" paid by the French warship manufacturer DCN for Malaysia's order of two Scorpene submarines when Najib was defence minister.

Malaysia's law minister, Nazri Aziz, has told parliament that authorities have closed the case against private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, the man who tied Najib to the 2006 murder of 27-year-old model Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Altantuya worked as translator for Najib and his close friend and adviser on defence matters, Abdul Razak Baginda, in the negotiations with the French.

Balasubramaniam has said she told him she was to be paid $500,000 for her part in the submarine deal.

Balasubramaniam was facing charges of making false statements after he made a statutory declaration in July, 2007, that Najib, then the deputy prime minister, was Altantuya's lover and involved in her murder.

The private detective said Najib had handed Altantuya on to become his friend Baginda's lover when the opportunity for Najib to become prime minister presented itself.

Two of Najib's bodyguards, Chief Insp. Azilah Hadri and Cpl. Sirul Azhar Umar, were convicted of Altantuya's murder in April last year.

But the day after Balasubramaniam filed the declaration, he made another one saying the first was written under duress.

He then left the country, but popped up in Britain last year to say the first statement implicating Najib was the correct one. When last heard of, Balasubramaniam was in India.

Law Minister Nazri said the case against the private eye was being dropped because "although there are contradictions between the two statutory declarations, the contradictions do not affect the outcome of the trial" of the bodyguards.

This leap of logic has left many Malaysians gasping.

Although they are well used to seeing their legal system tailored to political requirements, the events around the Altantuya case have stretched credibility beyond the bounds of reality.

Balasubramaniam entered the case in 2006 when he was hired by Baginda. Baginda had recently jilted Altantuya, but she refused to accept the end of the affair and wanted her share of the 114 million euros the French state-owned shipbuilder DCN had paid to a consulting company set up by Baginda.

Altantuya took to demonstrating loudly outside Baginda's house in Kuala Lumpur and he hired Balasubramaniam to keep her away from him.

But on the evening of Oct. 19, 2006, the two bodyguards bundled Altantuya into a car and drove her to the jungle outside Kuala Lumpur, where they shot her in the head and blew up her body with C-4 military explosives.

In one statement, one of the bodyguards said they were paid 100,000 Malaysian ringgits ($36,000) to commit the murder. In another statement, one said they blew up the body because Altantuya begged them not to kill her because she was pregnant. The idea was to make it impossible to identify the father.

With oversight that defies imagination, no one asked either of the bodyguards during the 159-day trial who had given them the money to kill her.

But very early in the proceedings, before any significant evidence had been heard, the judge saw fit to dismiss charges against Baginda, saying there was no case for him to answer.

Baginda promptly hightailed it to Britain, where he has remained since.

But there are still a couple of dangerous loose ends in the story over which the government of Prime Minister Najib does not have full control.

One is that the government of Mongolia has said it will fund a civil suit by Altantuya's family against the Malaysian government and Baginda.

The other is that French prosecutors continue to investigate the 114-million euros kickback given by DCN to secure the submarine sale to Malaysia.

Masa sudah sampai untuk era Baru untuk menjaminkan masa depan rakyat Sarawak

The trees, the lands and the rivers will be returned to the people.
Corruption will stop.

Thirty years of looting by Taib and his cronies will be brought to an end.
The time is now!

Click the image below to catch the driving force that will bring a tsunami to the shores of Sarawak.

China's Trade Clout

Image(Asia Sentinel) Hosting the Dalai Lama can be bad for your export health

Although China caught the world's attention in September by using trade as a bludgeon in suddenly cutting shipments of rare earth minerals to Japan, Beijing has been throwing its weight around for considerably longer, especially over the Tibetan religious leader the Dalai Lama.

The decision to cut back on rare earth shipments grew out of a fit of pique over who controls a handful of East China Sea islands. It has awakened the world to the fact that a pugnacious China is willing to use a trade as a hammer to further its political aims, but it is hardly a new story.

Governments in the past have paid the price for daring to host visits by the Dalai Lama, according to a 46-page paper published in October by economists Andreas Fuchs and Nils-Hendrik Klann at the University of Goettingen in Germany, who set out to quantify the effect. World leaders who welcome the Tibetan religious leader face an average 8.1 percent annual loss of exports from their countries to China for up to two years before the "Dalai Lama Effect," as the authors call it, wears off.

For decades, the Dalai Lama has pursued an energetic agenda of keeping Tibet in the world news. He has visited 62 countries on all of the world's continents between the time he was forced into exile in 1959 and the end of 2009, usually meeting heads of state, much to Beijing's annoyance.

As China's economic clout has grown, it has become increasingly assertive in using trade systematically as an ideological weapon, according to the authors. The degree of political compliance "increases with the asymmetry of the trade interdependency between the two trading partners…With the rapidly increasing size of the Chinese economy, the asymmetry of trade dependencies between China and its trading partners shifts in China's favor. This development enables China to enforce political compliance among its trading partners to an increasing extent."

China, the authors say, "considers the status of Tibet as an internal affair in which outside interference is rejected. In addition to purely diplomatic threats, China more-or-less openly threatens that it will respond to meetings between its trading partners' officials and the Tibetan leader with measures that will result in a deterioration of their trade relationships…By opposing any notion from abroad that might challenge the status quo of the region, China not only aims to contain the spread of unrest inside Tibet, but also seeks to weaken the worldwide Tibetan independence movement."

Using publicly available data from the United Nations and the World Bank, the study tracked exports from 159 countries trading with China from 1991 to 2008 in which exports to China dropped after the Dalai Lama met with heads of state.

"Our empirical results support the idea that countries officially receiving the Dalai Lama at the highest political level are punished through a reduction of their exports to China," the authors say. "Machinery and transportation equipment exports suffered the most consistent negative impact, while it disappears two years after meetings took place."

Specifically, "…a deterioration of the bilateral political climate and a decrease in bilateral diplomatic exchanges, as a result of foreign officials meeting the Dalai Lama, may lead to a systematic reduction of exports to China through government influence," the authors write. "For example, countries receiving the Tibetan leader might be punished directly through a reduction of trade missions and, thus, exports of goods typically purchased in the ambit of such missions. Also, tariff and non-tariff barriers might be raised as a response to receptions of the Dalai Lama by foreign officials."

The study cites several specific examples, including France, which was crossed off the travel agenda of two Chinese trade delegations in 2009 in retaliation for a meeting between President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama. Other European governments signed trade deals worth US$15 billion with the first delegation alone. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao apparently dropped a state visit to France in January 2009. When asked to comment on the itinerary of his European tour, Wen was quoted as saying: "I looked at a map of Europe on the plane. My trip goes around France."

Also, before Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's reception of the Dalai Lama in 1995, according to the authors, "the Chinese prime minister warned his Italian counterpart that "if this [the Italian] government will adopt a policy that could damage a matter of principle [for China], it may also damage trade relations."

Facing potential trade retaliation by the Chinese, Berlusconi openly admitted to the Dalai Lama that the international community was facing a dilemma, "caught between the importance of maintaining trade relations and protecting human rights." Berlusconi stood up to the Chinese and allowed the visit.

In contrast, Germany's political leaders refrained for a long time from meeting with the Dalai Lama. In this regard, German foreign policy was aimed at avoiding political conflict over human rights issues with China, so as not to endanger lucrative trade ties with the emerging economy,the authors say. "The decision to meet the Tibetan leader despite Chinese threats was judged as 'courageous' by both the Italian media and the Dalai Lama himself."

The Dalai Lama effect appears to have reached US President Barack Obama as well. The leader of the world's lone super power met the Tibetan exile leader in the map room of the White House rather than the Oval Office. With rows on over imports and exports of meat, car tires and raw materials in the spotlight, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai summoned the US ambassador to express China's discontent.

Alistair Thornton, a China analyst with HIS Global Insight, told CNN: "The possibility remains that Chinese companies are taking it upon themselves to curb trade links, rather that it being a direct order from the highest levels. As machinery tools are strongly linked to trade missions, and the government controls the trade missions, the government would appear to be in control here. But it could be less that the government has ordered a freeze on imports, rather than removed one easy way for companies to strike deals for those imports" said Thornton.

"It is unfortunate that the Chinese government views everything His Holiness does through a political angle," said Tenzin Taklha, the Dalai Lama's representative in Dharamsala. "His Holiness has no intention of causing any inconvenience to the host country he visits."

China does have an interest in eventually restoring its commercial relationships, the authors write. "On the other hand, they have interest to really show their anger about a Dalai Lama reception or meeting" Fuchs said.

A clear example to this is the recent trip by the Chinese President Hu Jintao to France. After Wen blasted Sarkozy two years ago, Hu and Sarkozy met in a changed atmosphere. The business leaders signed deal after deal including an agreement by Chinese companies to buy 102 aircraft from Airbus Industrie. French companies will also sell uranium and technology, making the total package worth US$22.8 billion.

Certainly the finding reveals China mixes business with its political agenda. "We find strong evidence that bilateral political relations matter for trade with China," Fuchs and Klann sum up. "Chinese trade relations are not free of political bias and the country seems to exploit trade ties as a foreign policy tool."

Saransh Sehgal is a writer based in Dharamsala, India.

Over 50 Killed In Delhi Building Collapse

By P. Vijian

NEW DELHI, Nov 16 (Bernama) -- At least 50 people were killed and over 70 injured when a five-storey building in the capital collapsed on Monday night, officials said.

Extensive search operations are underway amid fear that up to 40 people could be trapped under the debris.

The tragedy took place on Monday night in the heavily congested Lalita Park in Laxmi Nagar in the eastern part of the capital.

According to early investigations, authorities suspect the old residential building had caved in after its structural foundation was weakened by the recent August monsoon in Delhi.

"The scale of the tragedy is unprecedented. I don't think such a tragedy has taken place in Delhi in recent past," Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit told the media at the tragedy scene, reported Press Trust of India (PTI).

Local media reported that some illegal construction works were also in progress in the building and many workers were killed during the collapse.

Rescue operations reached the scene late as ambulance cars and cranes found it hard to navigate the crowded narrow lanes.

Rental hikes and lack of parking bays a bane in Little India

By G Vinod | Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: After the pomp and pagentry at the launch of ‘Little India’ in Brickfields on Oct 27, the lights have dimmed and a pall of gloom has decended in the area.

Traders and businessmen at the 3km stretch of Brickfields are at crossroads with the prospect of ‘impending’ rental hikes and dwindling sales due to the absence of car parks.

Several businessmen voiced their frustration over these two issues which could hamper trade in the bustling area, where one could purchase almost all items found in India.

While an increase in rental could slice profits significantly, the lack of parking space could inflict severe damage to their business, which they claim had already been battered.

Sampoorna Curry House owner, S Thilagavathy, 30, said the lack of parking is likely keep away many customers and cut into her profits by at least 30%.

“DBKL had informed us through the Brickfields Business Community Council (BCC) that we will have car parks right in front of our premises.

“I have enquired about this consistently and they have said it will be erected soon,” said Thilagavathy.

When asked if she was told by DBKL when the the car parks will be built, Thilagavathy claimed that she was not informed of a time frame.

She said space was scarce in the area, but for unknown reasons, the authorities, decided to have huge pavements for pedestrians which she said was unnecessary.

“The space could have been used to erect parking bays. I believe DBKL took the BBC for a ride,”claimed Thilagavathy.

Another restaurant owner, M Prema (left), 40, who owns Seetharam Curry House said her revenue had dropped by almost 50% since parking bays were done away in the vicinity.

“We were initially promised car parks by DBKL but nothing has come forth,” she said, hoping that business would pick-up soon.

Pending rental hikes sends jitters

A saree businessman, P Loganathan, 45, the owner Saradha Silks (M) Sdn Bhd, however, said car parks were not the only issue plaguing the business community there.

“There is talk that building owners may hike up rentals after Deepavali,” said Loganathan who is also a tenant at his business premise.

He claimed that he had learnt that shop building owners were planning to increase rentals to a minimum RM30,000 for the ground floor, from the current RM10,000.

“I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with the hike,” said Loganathan, who claimed the move was attributed to the RM35 million facelift to the area to attract more tourists.

The gaily decorated shops, stall owners and small time business people had to contend with the fact that their makeshift stalls lacked basic amenities such as proper drainage.

“When it rains, it floods our stalls and there is no room for the water to flow,” said R Devi,22, who owns a stall at the hawkers corner.

She also lamented the fact that when they were moved to the new location, facilities such as safety grills and canopies were not provided.

“I spent RM2,500 to fix a shutter for my stall. I mentioned this to Saravanan (Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being deputy minister) but nothing was done,” said Devi (right).

The same frustration was also echoed by R Mahendran, 39, who owns Tarani Food Corner.

“We pooled money and fixed the ventilation fans, grills and canopies ourselves,” said Mahendran.

Both stall owners added that they suffered a dip in their revenue since they moved to the makeshift stalls.

“In my old place, I used to make about RM200 just by selling ‘vadai’ alone. Now, even if I see RM10 profit a day is a good thing,” said Devi.

Mahendran, on the other hand, said he used to earn about RM2,500 in profits monthly but now it had been reduced to about RM1,500.

“DBKL has promised that they will start erecting a permanent stall for me near my old place after Deepavali,” said an optimistic Mahendran.

FMT failed to reach DBKL for comments despite numerous attempts.

Reduce maid age limit, Govt urged

The Star
PETALING JAYA: Maid agencies are calling on the Government to reduce the age requirement for domestic workers from 21 to 18 years old to meet current supply shortages in the market.
A memorandum representing 45 maid agencies was recently sent to the Home and Human Resource ministries to consider lowering the age requirements for the maids.

This was to allow more Cambodian maids to fill the void left by the freeze on Indonesian maids in June last year.

The management of several maid agencies said many of them were in dire straits and desperate for supply of foreign maids.

They said the reduction of the age requirement would enable another 10,000 to 15,000 additional maids to be brought in to meet local demand.

Agensi Pekerjaan Haz Sdn Bhd director Datuk Raja Zulkepley Dahalan, who is the former president of the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa), said Cambodia had become the main source for maids following the Indonesian maids freeze last year.

He added that officials from Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training would be happy if Malaysia lowered the age requirement for maids.

“They are of the opinion that a maid will be mature enough to be fit for hire,” he added.

“On average, Malaysia needs 6,000 to 7,000 maids a month to meet demand and get replacements. With the current shortage, I don’t think we can even get 2,000 maids,” Raja Zulkepley said.

“We have had to decline requests for maids from our customers because of this shortage,” he added.

Raja Zulkepley also said many bumiputra-owned maid agencies were at risk of closure or had gone out of business due to the Indonesian ban.

Agensi Pekerjaan Sri Nadin Sdn Bhd director Fiona Low said many agencies had turned to Cambodia to source for maids because it was the best alternative at the moment. “Although we are pushing for an age reduction, it will just be a temporary reprieve to help us cope with the shortage. We need to find an end to the Indonesian ban because it remains the main problem,” Agensi Pekerjaan Sentosa Sdn Bhd director K.C. Lau said.

Papa president Alwi Bavutty said a plus point for the Cambodians was their good discipline record – the problem of them running away from their employers is non-existent.

By comparison, Alwi said 20% of Indonesian maids ran away from their employers.

He added that the Cambodians also got job training and attended English and Malay language classes in their homeland before they were sent to Malaysia.

Orang Asli customary lands and article 153: A small caveat

ImageLoyar Burok 
By Yogeswaran Subramaniam

A commentary on the recent unsuccesful attempt to table a motion for a debate calling for the inclusion of Orang Asli in article 153 of the Federal Constitution and the government’s intent on moulding 18 Orang Asli distinct groups what seems to be “1OrangAsli.”

Last month, Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s Kamarul Baharin Abbas unsuccessfully attempted to table a motion for a debate to call for the inclusion of Orang Asli in article 153 of the Federal Constitution. Apparently, this call originated from a group of Orang Asli leaders.

As many of us are aware, article 153(1) of the Federal Constitution obliges the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays, natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities. Benefits under article 153 relate to the reasonable reservation of quotas in respect of public service, education and permits and licences for trade and business. It is commonly understood that Orang Asli do not come within this provision.

It must be noted that the word “land” is not mentioned in article 153. The absence of the word “land” in article 153 is not mind-boggling. Malay reservation lands are constitutionally protected by article 89. In Sabah and Sarawak, there are explicit legal provisions recognising native customary rights in respect of land, a matter within the competence of the respective state governments (see Federal Constitution, Ninth schedule List IIA item 2(a), (b) and 13).

Orang Asli already possess a special status under the Federal Constitution. Article 8(5)(c) enables laws to be enacted for “the protection, well being or advancement of the aboriginal peoples of the Malay peninsula (including the reservation of land) or the reservation to aborigines of a reasonable proportion of suitable positions in the public service” without offending the principle of equality enshrined in article 8(1). Further, the term “law” includes any customs or usages having the force of law (article 160).

As evidenced by their memorandum handed to the Federal Government during the Orang Asli protest on 17 March 2010, Orang Asli demand for, recognition and protection of their customary lands and territories and, free prior and informed consent and the right to develop their own priorities in matters concerning their lands and territories. These demands are far from unreasonable as they are contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007, a document voted for twice by the Government of Malaysia.

The Government’s persistent non-recognition of Orang Asli lands, territories and resources in their policies suggests “development” of Orang Asli must be at the cost of sacrificing customary lands. Development need not be a zero sum game. Experiences from other jurisdictions have shown that an acceptable compromise can be reached between the socio-economic development of Indigenous communities and the preservation and development of customary lands, territories on their own terms. All that is required is the political will and effective engagement between the State and Indigenous communities.

Unfortunately, the empowerment and self-determination route as contained in the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 remains a distant dream for Orang Asli. Orang Asli are faced with a Government that seems intent on moulding the 18 distinct Orang Asli groups into a homogeneous cluster of oil palm small holders who have little management and control over their lands or for that matter, future direction.

Are such policies to protect the Orang Asli or control them? Is this what is meant by 1Malaysia or should I say, 1Orang Asli?

In melodramatic terms, enter the white knights to champion the Orang Asli cause and save them from certain doom. The silver bullet: The inclusion of Orang Asli under article 153.

This begs the question, would a simple amendment to include “Orang Asli” compel the Government to protect and recognise Orang Asli customary rights? The answer is an emphatic NO. Customary land rights are not covered by article 153. From a rights perspective, Orang Asli would be in exactly the same constitutional position unless the courts come to their rescue yet again. Put another way, Orang Asli would be left with article 8(5)(c) and the common law in respect of their customary lands, territories and resources.

Despite possessing ample power under article 8(5)(c), the Government’s performance in respect of the recognition and protection of customary lands, territories and resources has been undeniably poor. Orang Asli continue to be dispossessed of their lands and have, for some time now, resorted to the courts for justice. It can safely be said article 8(5)(c) has not inspired the Government to legislate and act effectively for the protection and recognition of Orang Asli customary lands. An amendment to article 153 to cover Orang Asli will not automatically increase Orang Asli rights to their customary lands, territories and resources.

The situation in Sabah and Sarawak fortifies the point. In Sabah and Sarawak, article 153 of the Federal Constitution has not safeguarded native customary lands. Despite possessing better statutory protection than Orang Asli, native customary lands in Sabah and Sarawak are regularly encroached and expropriated to the detriment of Indigenous communities.

It is nonetheless heartening to see politicians taking up the Orang Asli cause. There is also no doubt that the possible inclusion of Orang Asli under article 153 of the Federal Constitution would be beneficial to them.

However, merely including Orang Asli under article 153 in its present form is not the be-all and end-all of Orang Asli issues. Quite to the contrary, it is a glaringly incomplete picture. Effective ownership and control over customary lands, territories and resources, a vital ingredient in Orang Asli vitality and development, would still be in a constitutional limbo.

Advocates of Orang Asli rights must appreciate that effective recognition and protection of Orang Asli customary lands, territories and resources is essential for Orang Asli economic, social and cultural development. They go hand in hand. Failure to internalise this concept on the part of advocates compromises Orang Asli aspirations from the outset and risks doing more harm than good.

Yogeswaran Subramaniam, an Advocate & Solicitor and a member of Aliran, is pursuing a doctoral thesis in the reform of Orang Asli land rights at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Hospitals struggle to cope with crowds

Some of our underfunded general hospitals appear to be overstretched as staff struggle to cope with the large number of outpatients. And to think they want to build a 100-storey tower while others want to promote ‘medical tourism’.
Waiting to pop your card in the box at the counter, and then waiting to get a waiting number(!) and then waiting to be called to see a medical officer
Waiting for a waiting number!
Finally waiting to see a doctor - notice the crutches and the wheelchairs

I happened to be at the orthopaedic outpatient treatment section at the Seberang Jaya General Hospital this morning and this was the scene that greeted me. Young and old, of all ethnic groups – people in wheelchairs, others in arm slings and still others holding crutches – they are accustomed to waiting and waiting and waiting to be called.

First, they have to crowd at the counter to pop in their appointment cards in a little plastic box – one box for 8.00am appointments, another for 9.00am and another for 10.00am. Many turn up early but they still have to wait, perhaps just as long.

Then they take a seat and wait for a long time for their names to be called, upon which they receive their queue numbers. One patient had turned up at 7.30am and only received the queue number at 10.00am.

And then it’s another wait for your number to show up on the board before you can finally see a medical officer (some of whom may not be that experienced), doctor or specialist. Mind you, the above pictures are at the new larger waiting room for outpatients. (The old one was too small and crammed.) The waiting room may now be more spacious but the crowd remains just as large, if not bigger.

One Pak Haji, a petrol pump attendant, was there because his son was involved in a road accident and had damaged his knee. He had taken the boy to the Kepala Batas Hospital but was referred here (Seberang Jaya Hospital) because the KB Hospital was “tak lengkap”, he told me.

Pak Haji lamented that he had to spend RM200 to buy a metal plate for the surgical procedure on his son’s knee. He’s lucky; others have to spend several thousand ringgit on nuts, bolts, stents and other paraphernalia before surgery can be carried out.

We have money for submarines and a 100-storey tower, but not enough for our public health care system, which suffers from an acute shortage of specialists, other staff and vital equipment. Sad, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, private (and sometimes well-connected) companies profit from the sale of the paraphernalia for surgery, the provision of privatised services (catering, housekeeping, maintenance of hospitals) and the supply of drugs to the general hospitals. And because of the overstretched services in general hospitals, many who can barely afford it are forced to turn to private hospitals, which, along with medical insurance firms, reap big bucks.