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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Samy denies rumours of early exit this year

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu denied today rumours that he will be stepping down this month after three decades helmsman of the Indian-based party.

“There are a lot of rumours. A lot of noise. It is just a rumour. There are a lot of people who are saying all sorts of things about me, let them.

“When I leave the party, I will have a meeting first, then I will announce my exit and I will also invite the press,” he told reporters after chairing MIC’s monthly meeting here.

Prior to this, Samy said that he would resign in January 2011.

Tamil newspapers had predicted that the party’s central working committee (CWC) meeting today will be his last because he is expected to resign at the end of this month.

The recently dissolved Gerakan Anti-Samy Vellu (GAS) had demanded his resignation by December, following his announcement in May to retire in September next year.

On May 18, Samy announced his plans to let go his position before the end of his term on May 21, 2012.

Samy Vellu has been the MIC president since 1979, over 11 consecutive terms.

He was also the longest serving Barisan Nasional (BN) MP to be a Cabinet member until his defeat in the 2008 general election.

The 74-year-old Johor native, announced that his deputy, Senator Datuk G. Palanivel will be taking over his post.

He also told reporters today that MIC is prepared for the upcoming General Election.

“We are ready for the 13th General Election, we will be having a number of discussions with branch leaders to go to the ground. It will also include leadership and management training to every division and branch leaders. We must show that we care about the people.

“In fact, we will register more Indian voters, open more service centres across the country and organise more ‘turun padang’ activities,” he said.

He is also confident that that the lost Indians votes are now finding its way back to the party.

“Since 2008, the Indian communities are now returning to MIC. Just take the Hulu Selangor and the Bagan Pinang by-elections we’ve won.

“So we are prepared for the next General Election,” he reiterated.

He said he hoped to see the government create more opportunities for the Indian community in this country.

“We hope that with the 2011 Budget announced recently, the government will provide more opportunities for the Indian communities, including efforts to increase more young entrepreneurs from the Indian community.

“As for education empowerment, we would like to see more preschool teachers in Tamil schools. With regard to the development of Tamil schools, MIC wants RM100 million every year to rebuild 140 schools.

“We hope that these suggestions will reach the prime minister’s attention in the next Cabinet meeting,” he said.

Banished teen to know if he can go home on Dec 1

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Teen Jiegandran Panir Selvam who was banished to Negri Sembilan by order of the Home Ministry earlier this year will know if he can go home this December 1.

The Selangor-born who was suspected of being involved in armed gang theft at four schools was arrested by the police last year and later locked up for 60 days under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) while still a minor.

The law is usually reserved for hardcore gangsters.

Jiegandran (picture), who only reached the age of maturity on May 22 this year, was then ordered confined to first Linggi and two months ago, Lenggeng, where he celebrated Deepavali alone.

But the ministry today offered to return the 18-year-old to his parents care.

At the High Court here today, senior federal counsel Najib Zakaria told reporters the Home Ministry has proposed to allow Jiegandran to return home, but will lawfully still be under house arrest for the next two years.

The restricted residence order that forms a part of the EO limits the person’s movement to within a certain radius.

When met in Linggi previously, Jiegandran told The Malaysian Insider he was barred from travelling more than 3km from the district police station, where he was also required to report in person weekly.

“The reason [for the banishment order] was to remove him from the influence of his crime mates, so to speak,” said Najib, after leaving trial judge Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh’s chambers.

The government lawyer added the ministry had come up with the idea after noting that both Jiegandran’s parents were poor and were hard put to support their second son living in a different state.

Jiegandran’s father works as a lorry driver while his mother works as a cook in a company canteen.

The teen and his father are challenging the Home Ministry’s use of the EO on him.

Lawyers for Jiegandran had previously asked for the banished boy to be reunited with his family, Najib said.

But Yohendra Nadarajan, who is part of the father-and-son’s legal team, told The Malaysian Insider that they may still fight on even if the ministry agrees to move Jiegandram’s place of restriction to the latter’s hometown in Beranang, Kajang.

“The ball is now in the deputy minister’s court,” said Yohendra, referring to Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop who had signed the EO order.

“Even if the deputy minister agrees to vary the restricted [residence] order, the parents may want to fight on for his release,” he added.

Yohendra said they would need to speak with Jiegandra and his parents first before deciding the next step.

Zaid-Anwar truce: 'Azmin main stumbling block'

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today

BUKIT MERTAJAM: PKR deputy president designate Azmin Ali is said to be the main stumbling block for any possible reconciliation between party supremo Anwar Ibrahim and Zaid Ibrahim.

Several Penang PKR Youth leaders claimed that Azmin had erected an “impregnable wall” to stop any reconciliation attempts by both leaders for stability and progress of the party.

“Azmin built the wall to protect his own political interests. Anwar will never breach it,” the leaders, who declined to be identified, told FMT today.

According to them, Zaid's departure would be a “gain for Azmin, but a loss for PKR”.

Stopping short of accusing him as the main culprit behind many internal problems, the youth leaders claimed that Azmin had been instrumental in ousting talented leaders from PKR in the past.

They cited the departure of former youth chief Ezam Mohd Nor as an example of Azmin's intense politicking and firm grip on Anwar.

“PKR is now set to lose Zaid merely to safeguard Azmin's interests. . . that’s all,” they said.

The leaders also chided the PKR and Pakatan Rakyat leaderships for putting on a brave front over Zaid’s departure when the truth was worrisome.

They said the emergence of a third political block helmed by Zaid would have a serious impact on Pakatan’s chances to capture Putrajaya.

“The situation is more alarming in Sabah and Sarawak. A third force would affect Pakatan more than Barisan Nasional,” they said.

Anwar slams Zaid

Earlier today, Anwar blamed Zaid for the current PKR imbroglio despite the former minister being given “opportunities and privileges to flourish.”

He listed the party appointments as supreme council member, head of the Federal Territories PKR and Hulu Selangor candidature as examples.

He said that it was Zaid who had asked to be accepted into the party after he was sacked from Umno in 2008.

“Zaid then sought a leadership role within the party,” he told reporters here.

Anwar said that Zaid had also asked to be the party's Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election candidate.

Although the local division objected, Anwar said the party leadership still gave Zaid the chance.

“When he lost, we gave him the chance to lead Federal Territories PKR,” he added.

Anwar also said that he expected Zaid not to face any hassle in his attempt to register a new party because it would be an advantage for Umno and BN.

The opposition leader also claimed that Zaid was never appointed as Pakatan coordinator.

He said that former party deputy president Syed Husin Ali had even double-checked all minutes of previous Pakatan meetings and confirmed it.

“I chaired all Pakatan meetings and to my knowledge, Zaid was never appointed as coordinator,” he said.

However, a check on the PKR website revealed that Zaid was appointed as head of the Pakatan secretariat, which practically carries the coordinating function.

Zaid's exit 'no impact' on PKR, says prof

By Zefry Dahalan - Free Malaysia Today

UPDATED KUALA LUMPUR: Zaid Ibrahim's exit from PKR would not affect the opposition party's chances in the next general election, said constitutional expert Prof Abdul Aziz Bari.
Speaking to FMT after a closed-door PKR Youth meet last week, the academic described Zaid's possible departure as not a major issue.

"Onn Jaafar was the founder of Umno and was regarded as a hero at that point of time. But when he quit Umno and formed Parti Negara, he did not have any major impact on Umno. In fact, Umno became stronger after that.

"Another example is when Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah quit Umno and formed Semangat 46. That did not have any significant impact on Umno and eventually Razaleigh's party collapsed,” he said.

Based on these examples and his own analysis, Abdul Aziz felt that Zaid's exit would not weaken PKR, but could probably have the reverse effect instead.

'Shortcomings in polls unavoidable'
The professor also defended the accusation-ridden PKR elections, saying that problems were bound to arise during the first attempt.

"To be fair, the party election which is open to every single member is a first in the attempt to install greater democracy.

"Since this is the first time such an election is held in a large-scale manner, weaknesses are bound to be there. We must give the party more time. I believe the leadership will rectify the shortcomings and weaknesses in future,” he added.

Zaid, who was running for the deputy presidency, had pulled out from the race after accusing his rival Azmin Ali of fraud, and the leadership of turning a blind eye to this.

On Anwar Ibrahim's role as party supremo (ketua umum), Abdul Aziz said this was not a major problem as long as the majority of PKR members agreed and supported the opposition leader.

"If that role involved the administration of the country, then it is not proper. As a national leader he must be elected by the people. But here Anwar was elected unamiously as ketua umum during the PKR national congress in 2004,” he added.

Before the 2004 congress, many division leaders had proposed that Anwar contest for the post of president but he was barred from doing so by the Registrar of Socities due to his conviction and imprisonment.

In view of this, delegates attending the congress agreed to the creation of the ketua umum post.

Anwar says Zaid can go
Meanwhile, in PENANG, Anwar said that Zaid was free to leave PKR and do whatever he wanted to do, including forming his own party.

He added that Zaid would find it easy to form his own party as the BN government will be making no fuss in approving one for the former minister.

He also hit out at Zaid for causing a rift in the party. He indicated that the party had given Zaid chance after chance in leadership positions.

“We made him the Hulu Selangor candidate despite objections from the local leaders.

“When he lost in Hulu Selangor, we gave him a chance to lead Federal Territories PKR,” he added.
Anwar also said that the party had never appointed Zaid to be the Pakatan Rakyat coordinator, a label which had been used to describe Zaid who was involved in formulating Pakatan's common policy.

“We have checked the minutes of our meetings and we can't find any record of making such an appointment,” Anwar said as he lashed out at Zaid just as the latter has decided to quit the party.

Zaid is expected to respond to Anwar's claims and his immediate future plans at a press conference tomorrow

Samy Vellu rubbishes early departure rumour

By G Vinod - Free Malaysia Today,

UPDATED KUALA LUMPUR: Long-serving MIC president S Samy Vellu has denied news reports that he would relinquish his party post at the end of the month and not in January next year as announced earlier. 

Speaking to newsmen after chairing the party's central working committee meeting at the MIC headquarters today, he said that there were "many rumours" on his early departure date but none is true.

"Many make noises but we do not care about it. Some people do not have anything to write so they just write something," he said referring to the news reports.

Samy Vellu, who appeared calm throughout the news conference, said he would make a "proper announcement to all" when he decides to "leave the party".

"When I leave the party I will have a meeting and call everyone to announce that I am leaving," he added.

He also slammed a newspaper report today which said that party deputy president G Palanivel could not become the MIC acting president as the party constitution does not provide for an acting president's post.

The 74-year-old party leader said that in the absence of the president, the deputy president will act in the presidential capacity.

"When I resign, Palanivel will become the acting president as stipuated in article 63 of the MIC constitution," he added.

Samy Vellu became party acting president following the death of V Manickavasagam in 1979 and was elected president two years later.

He had been under massive pressure to vacate the MIC top post since the March 2008 general election, where the ruling Barisan Nasional lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

MIC too suffered a massive blow at the polls, losing six out of the nine parliamentary seats it contested under the BN banner.

Samy Vellu was also a casualty in the election losing the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat, which he had held for more than 20 years.

Samy Vellu holds the distinction of being the longest-serving MIC president, holding on to the post for a record 11 consecutive terms.

He served as the works minister and was the longest-serving minister in the Cabinet until he lost the Sungai Siput seat in 2008.

He was first appointed to the Cabinet in 1979 as housing and local government minister. He was then appointed works minister. From 1989 to 1995, he became the energy, telecommunication and post minister. He returned to the works ministry in 1995.

He had earlier announced that he would vacate the MIC top post in January next year.

MIC deputy president Palanivel had been named successor to the post. Palanivel would serve as acting president until March 2012, when MIC is scheduled to hold its presidential election.

Do more for urban poor
Speaking on another issue, the MIC president declined comment when asked if the party would support any attempts by Umno to work with PAS.

"If there is such a proposal from Umno, there must be a meaning to it. We will be commenting on it when the proposal comes as previous attempts to talk to PAS had failed," said Samy  Vellu.

On another note, he also urged the Federal Territories and Urban-Well Being Ministry to tackle urban poverty issue, especially those affecting the Indian community.

"Though urban well-being is included in the particular ministry, no activities had been done to help poor Indians in the urban areas," claimed the MIC leader, who was also flanked by Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being deputy minister, M Saravanan.

He added that hundreds turn up at his doorstep every month seeking various assistance to settle their daily problems and most of these poor Indians were from urban areas.

"Every month, about 200 to 300 people come to me seeking assistance to settle their rents and others," said the former works minister.

Karpal wants CEC to discuss Kula's grouse

By S Rutra

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP national chairman Karpal Singh said he would push for a central executive committee meeting to discuss the issue raised by the party's Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran.

Kulasegaran, whose team was defeated in the election held during the recent Perak DAP convention, had cast aspersions on the new branches formed prior to the convention.

Kulasegaran, who expressed shock over the election outcome, had described it as a “slaughter” of capable leaders by relatively unknown candidates.

The faction that emerged victorious was linked to state DAP chairman Ngeh Koo Ham and his cousin, Nga Kor Ming, who is also the state party secretary.

Meanwhile, Karpal said he would talk to the secretary-general Lim Guan Eng to call for a CEC meeting to settle the issue once and for all.

The veteran politician said this was a serious issue which the CEC must resolve before the next general election, which he believed would be called after Chinese New Year.

"We in DAP want all members stay united to face the general election. Internal squabbles must take a backseat,” he added.

'Learn from our defeats'

Karpal also called on Kulasegaran and the other party leaders to refrain from making any public statements on the matter in order not to worsen the situation.

He said that since the party election was held every two years, the Ipoh Barat MP could work towards a sterling performance in the next contest.

“I'm sure he can do it and he should work towards it. It's a democratic porcess, where winning and losing are part of the game," he added.

Karpal said while the defeat could be a bitter pill to swallow, Kulasegaran should emulate him (Karpal) and DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang when the pair was defeated in the 1999 general election.

"We just carried on and waited for the next election and won the seats back with better majorities. It's part of the political life," he added.

Musa works on Chinese psyche to counter 'poverty' report

By FMT Staff

KOTA KINABALU: Sitting amongst 40% of Malaysia's poor, wealthy Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman is grossly uncomfortable. It's an attention that neither he nor his 16-year-old regime needs much less want.

The opposition groups have slammed him over the World Bank Report's shocking disclosure that Sabah is the poorest state in the country despite its oil and natural resources.

Even more insulting to Musa was the fact that WRB's East Asia and Pacific Region Human Development Sector director Emmmanuel Jimenez was least impressed with the scenic ride from the airport to the capital city.

In fact Jimenez had told reporters that "..coming from the airport to the hotel, you don't see poverty but the statistics say there's a lot and there are huge disparities" and there are "deep pockets of poverty here in Sabah."

Musa's attempt at countering these revelations with a denial by his emissary from the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) riled Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee so much that he accused the state of a 'cover-up.'

"For an important matter such as this, the person who is answerable is the Chief Minister," Yong had said.

And so it was earlier this week, Musa, without directly addressing the core issue in the 'poverty' report, said 'the government was committed to strengthening the 'economic climate and livelihoods of Sabahans."

Speaking at the launch of the installation ceremony of the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS), Musa urged the economically active community not to believe those 'giving wrong information and fanning government hatred.'

Don't believe the opposition

Working on their psyche, he said the government was all out to strengthen the state's economic climate, which incidentally was one of the approaches suggested by the World Bank Report for the state and country to achieve Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's aspiration of a high-income economy.

Two other strategies proposed in the World Bank Report were:

promoting investment in human capital by strengthening education and vocational skills training; and

providing well-targeted social protection to help those who cannot help themselves.

Said Musa: "The government is committed to strengthening the economic climate in Sabah and the livelihoods of Sabahans through the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and the Sabah Development Corridor (SDB).

"We know that this stability is the most important factor and I urge you not to take it for granted."

Musa said there were attempts by certain opportunistic groups to embarrass the government.

"Don't believe them. They are opportunists who want to smear the image of the state by giving wrong information and fanning government hatred.

“They are desperate now because they have no real issues except for personal agendas of gaining power,” he said.

Citing Barisan Nasional's Batu Sapi victory, he said people's support of BN was evident during the campaign.

"I hope that the people will judge carefully, and continue to support the government," he said.

Too many parties, too few leaders

What we need is fewer politicians fighting for themselves and more leaders fighting for the people.

Based on reports so far, the US’ Tea Party has no aspirations of becoming a third party or a formal political institution. Its members seek to influence existing parties and they seem more concerned with principles rather than policy prescriptions.


So, is this going to be yet another case of let’s party again?

The PKR has accused renegade leader Datuk Zaid Ibrahim of having set up a new party and already controlling it through proxies.

Its secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution claimed that Zaid had put his close friends among the new leadership of the party a few months ago.

The former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department has responded by daring Saifuddin to name the new party that he was supposed to have formed along with his so-called proxies.

Zaid, a veteran lawyer who joined the PKR in June 2009 after falling out with Umno, has been accused of being a Trojan horse, although a battering ram may be a better description of his recent actions.

The PKR’s party pooper wants to quit to disso­ciate himself from “liars and cheats”.

His announcement came after he dramatically withdrew from the party’s deputy presidential race in protest against “fraud and manipulation” in the ongoing elections.

He has also publicly demanded that the PKR’s Ketua Umum (General Leader or Leader General?) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his blue-eyed deputy president candidate Azmin Ali step down, claiming they are barriers to the reform agenda.

Zaid is expected to tell all about his decision tomorrow. We wait with not-so-bated breath as the drama goes on.

But if he hasn’t set up one, like Saifuddin says, but is planning to do so and is looking for a suitable name, can I offer one?

It’s not very original but given our penchant to copy all things Western, or more specifically American, how about the Teh Tarik Party ala the US’ Tea Party?

Translated into Malay it would be Parti Teh Tarik or PTT in short, which has got a nice ring to it.

As we know, the Tea Party movement in the US began in a wave of anger over government bailouts of collapsed banks, insurance firms and car companies following the economic meltdown of 2008.

It provided the fervour and excitement that enabled the Republicans to win a majority in the House of Representatives in the Nov 2 mid-term polls.

The movement’s name is taken from the “no taxation without representation” protests of early Americans in 1773 who threw tea from the British colonial government into the sea at Boston harbour.

Based on reports so far, the US’ Tea Party has no aspirations of becoming a third party or a formal political institution. Its members seek to influence existing parties and they seem more concerned with principles rather than policy prescriptions.

Its members, who have been accused of racism and xenophobia, are mostly white, older than 45 and generally believe that President Barack Obama’s policies are “socialist” and “un-American” in nature.

But enough of the Americans. Let’s get back to the proposed PTT.

Basically, the ideology can be built around what the people want and Zaid, or whoever is keen to set it up, just needs to listen to the usual conversations of Malaysians as they sip their teh tarik daily.

It must revolve around justice and fairness, eradication of corruption, rejection of religious and racist extremism, good governance, affordable quality education, lower crime and political leadership by example.

Yes, you’ve heard it all before. But if these can’t be delivered, we might as well start setting up parties just for the heck of it.

Throughout the world there are such parties that poke fun at the hypocrisy in politics, using their own silly policies and insane promises.

There’s a Beer Lovers Party of Russia, registered in 1994, which at its height, had branches in 60 regions of Russia. It was deregistered four years later but apparently branches continue to exist as formal and informal associations.

Canada’s Rhinoceros Party was a registered political entity between the 1960s and the 1990s. Operating within the tradition of political satire, its credo was “a promise to keep none of our promises”.

It picked the rhino as the symbol because politicians, by nature, are “thick-skinned, slow-moving, dim-witted but can move as fast as hell when in danger, and have large, hairy horns growing out of the middle of their faces”.

There is also a Donald Duck Party in Sweden that gets votes without really existing. For a long time, it was unregistered and had neither leaders nor members, until Bosse Person officially registered it, and remains its only member.

So, in addition to the several mosquito parties that we already have, perhaps someone should set up a Parti Monyet Malaysia or a Parti Buaya Malaysia in similar spirit.

At the least, we can have a bit of fun instead of becoming blinded and gullible partisan supporters of parties that are increasingly looking like burlesque sideshows, as their leaders jostle for power.

But the serious message in all this is we don’t really need more political parties. What we need – and have always needed – is fewer politicians fighting for themselves and more leaders fighting for the people.

> Associate Editor M. Veera Pandiyan likes this quote by Plato: Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being ruled by those who are dumber.

Najib May Win Back States in Malaysian Election, Ex-Premier Mahathir Says

(Bloomberg) Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the country’s ruling National Front coalition may win back one or two states in general elections required by 2013 because the opposition is in “shambles.”

The ruling coalition “may not get the two-thirds majority which would enable them to rule the country with a strong majority,” Mahathir said in an interview in Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 16. It “might be able to recover maybe one or two states.”

His optimism for the ruling party’s prospects follows a series of wins in local by-elections. The successes may convince Prime Minister Najib Razak to call national elections before they’re required by 2013, said Ooi Kee Beng, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

“There’s a certain feel-good factor spreading in his camp,” Ooi said by e-mail. “The premier may take the risk and call for general elections before the opposition catches its breath.”

Najib will chair a meeting of the National Front’s supreme council this weekend to discuss preparations for elections, the Star reported today, citing a person from the party it didn’t name. Participants won’t discuss a date for the contest, according to the report.

His coalition won back control of Perak state on Peninsular Malaysia in February 2009 after three opposition lawmakers defected to become independents. It also won two by-elections on Nov. 4 after having lost seven of 11 previous parliamentary and state votes since 2008.

‘In Shambles’

A two-thirds majority is required in parliament to pass legislation, requiring a party without such a mandate to win backing from independent or opposition lawmakers.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is facing dissent within his own People’s Justice Party after former Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim defected this week, having called on Anwar to step down.

“At the moment his party is in a shambles,” Mahathir said.

He called Najib a “vast improvement” over his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Mahathir picked Abdullah to succeed him when he retired in October 2003, before later leading calls for him to resign after 2008 election results.

Abdullah led the National Front coalition, or Barisan Nasional, to its slimmest election victory since independence in the 2008 national vote, with Anwar’s opposition seizing control of five of the country’s 12 states.

Economic Rebound

Najib, 57, succeeded Abdullah mid-term and has since guided the country back from recession, unveiling an economic transformation program in September aimed at stimulating investment. Gross domestic product is forecast by the government to grow 7 percent this year, before expanding as much as 6 percent in 2011. The country’s benchmark stock index hit a record high on Nov. 10.

Mahathir, who led the country between 1981 and 2003, implemented construction projects that he sought to help the former British colony build a national identity following independence in 1957. They included the 88-floor Cesar Pelli- designed Petronas Twin Towers, which were the world’s tallest when they opened in 1999.

Najib’s government identified $444 billion worth of potential private sector-led projects as part of an economic transformation program in September, including mass rail, a 100- floor tower and plans to develop a nuclear energy industry.

Fired Deputy

Anwar served as Mahathir’s finance minister and deputy until he was fired after opposing capital controls during the Asian financial crisis in 1998. He was arrested a few weeks later and imprisoned for almost six years on corruption and sodomy charges.

Malaysia’s Federal Court quashed the sodomy conviction in 2004, though it upheld the corruption charge. The 63-year-old Anwar is now de facto head of the People’s Justice Party, one of three key parties in the opposition People’s Alliance coalition. Anwar is fighting fresh sodomy charges and if jailed would not be able to participate in elections.

An open letter to the Prime Minister

By Johan Brendon

Dear Prime Minister,

This letter sets out to find the real Najib Razak. So let me start with your controversial ‘1Malaysia’ slogan. Did you conceive the idea because you have seen the light and believe Institutional racism is immoral or did you think you could get away with a catchy gimmick to show your visionary leadership?

In my letter (14/11/10), ‘1Malaysia – 2Standards’ published in Malaysia Today, I lampooned your ‘1Malaysia’ slogan by paraphrasing George Orwell’s mocking fable (Animal Farm), “we are all equal but some are more equal than others”. Having shown your true colours, "… political power must remain with the Malays to translate the spirit of the Constitution", wouldn’t you agree ‘1Malaysia’ is therefore a publicity stunt and you have no intention of, to use your own word, “progressing” towards an equal society? The fact that you give mixed messages suggests that you are either a very confused man or a very shallow man who speaks with a forked tongue.

There is still a dark shadow cast over your reputation concerning the murder of a certain Mongolian woman. An innocent man, let alone an esteemed Prime Minister, accused of conspiracy of a hideous crime, would surely want to do all he can to clear his name; wouldn’t you agree? In view of your alleged involvement, I would have thought you would want to urgently establish a judicial inquiry conducted by an unimpeachable Judge (an oxymoron?) to clear your name as well as the reputation of the country.

And wouldn’t you also want to punish the silly bugger who made Malaysia a laughing stock for buying a submarine that only floats? As we Malaysians would say, ‘where can’? This entire shady episode encapsulates the real Malaysia with intrigues such as unexplained deaths including an ‘accidental fall’ from a tall building, corruption, cronyism and cover ups. Hence with all the goings-on, it comes as no surprise if Malaysia is soon considered a banana republic. At best, your inaction suggests your indifference and at worst, you really have got something to hide in particular to the deceased Mongolian and a wonky submarine.

There is another small matter concerning Anwar Ibrahim. The sodomy charge and conviction is a tried and trusted means to silence him. We ought to pay tribute to our former half-Indian Prime Minister for his evil genius to come up with such a clever plot. There is a hint of suspicion that you are using the same ploy; though - bless you, you did try to counter such cynicism with your bravado, “We are willing to compete against anyone, this is democracy”. Amen to that! So will you have a quiet word in the pathetic Attorney General’s ear to drop the sodomy charge? If you did, you will also be doing the country another big favour because the sheer incompetence of the nincompoop, Gani Patail (a lawyer?), is making a mockery of the Malaysian judiciary.

Your recent conduct pertaining to your declaration that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had endorsed ‘Malacca’s developed status’ which turned out to be false, is fascinating. But what is puzzling is not the falsehood per se, but telling such a porky in a public announcement is certainly blatant. It is either you like living dangerously or that you are incapable of differentiating between fact and fiction.

Last but not least, why would you want to be endorsed by our former half-Indian Prime Minister who is perceived to be inherently corrupt, racist and some might say evil? I would have thought you would not want this half-Indian anywhere near you. Even the ineffectual but affable Badawi stood up to him. The fact that this half-Indian instills fear in you perhaps shows the weakness of your own conviction and character. So Prime Minister, enough said. These observations and inferences have seemingly highlighted your dodgy side and may I quickly add, ‘seemingly’ is the operative word and therefore will you show us the real Najib Razak?

Yours Obediently,

Johan Brendon

PS: ‘Obediently’ sits nicely with Soi Lek and Tsu Koon and if you can’t beat them, join them!

Ex-servicemen launch broadside at Zahid Hamidi

By Joseph Sipalan

When Admiral (rtd) K Thanabalasingam ascended to the position of the nation’s first ever local chief of Navy,it would have never crossed his mind that his loyalty to the country would be questioned.

Having spearheaded the navy’s mission to protect Malaysia from numerous threats that arose in the 1960s-1970s period, the former naval chief spoke in disbelief at Defence Minister Zahid Hamid’s recent statement that patriotism among non-Malays was “not strong enough” for being reluctant to sign up with the Armed Forces.

“I don’t understand how such a statement came about… I’ve been through a lot, and I don’t care who says it, it hurts me. I am a Malaysian born and bred, and I intend to die here,” Thanabalasingam (left) said when contacted by Malaysiakini.

The 75-year-old veteran who retired in January 1977 after holding the top naval post for nine years and one month, stressed that there has never been a lack of patriotism among non-Malays in defending the nation from threats within, and without.

He recounted how they, along with their Malay brothers-in-arms, fought side-by-side regardless of whether they were in the navy, air force, army or police field force to push back the communist insurgency that spanned some three decades from the 1950s until it ended in 1989, and the perils they braved over the five years of the 1963-1966 Confrontation from Indonesia.

“Even during the Confrontation, there was a lot of action in the Singapore Straits and Malacca Straits. At that time, two of my officers were awarded the PGB (Panglima Gagah Berani), which is the highest award for bravery, for blowing up KKOs (Indonesian Korps Komando Operasi) during an attack.

“One officer was an Indian who eventually retired as a commodore, and the other a Eurasian who also later retired as a commodore too.

Why were they awarded PGBs? Because of their bravery in the line of duty,” he said in driving home his point.

Zahid’s barking up the wrong tree

Retired airman, Brig Gen (rtd) Datuk Goh Seng Toh (right) was more severe in his rebuke of Zahid’s statement, calling it “unfair, stupid and racist”.

Goh, 65, said before anyone starts accusing non-Malays of being unwilling to serve the country in the military, the nation’s leaders themselves should set an example if they insist on such talk.

“He’s (Zahid) barking up the wrong tree… if you talk of patriotism, then I have one question; do any of our ministers have children in the Armed Forces? If not, then the same argument applies to them, so why only look at the Chinaman?

“I was shot at twice by communist terrorists in Betong at the Thai-Malaysia border. I nearly lost my life on more than one occasion, and I never chickened out. If anyone queries my patriotism, I get very angry,” said the 35-year veteran.

All about being practical

Both men, however, agreed that the crux of the matter lies not in the loyalty of non-Malays to the country, but the challenge of surviving in the modern world.
Thanabalasingam stressed that far from being an issue of patriotism, what concerns non-Malays when it comes to enlisting in the Armed Forces is their career prospects should they choose to lay their lives on the line for the country.

He pointed out that public perception of the armed forces is mired in the notion that non-Malays, more often than not, are left behind when it comes to career advancement,

“Today people are more interested in careers. Gone are the days when you just join and follow orders. People want to see what’s in it for them, can they raise a family, educate their children… they want to be able to raise their family comfortably instead of having to struggle to make ends meet

“If the conditions are correct, they will join. It has to be proven that they have got a good future and prospects, and there is no discrimination in promotions or selection for senior defence posts or special courses overseas,” he said.

Goh went so far as to say that the Armed Forces have done nothing to disprove the perception of race being a key factor for advancement.

“There is an element of truth, unless you say all the Chinese who join the Armed Forces are sub-standard. But this cannot be true, because there are many good people, but they leave because they do not see their career path being very bright.”

Goh, who earned his one star in 1997 – three years before retirement – blamed the low ratio of non-Malay soldiers on the current make up of the Armed Forces, the bulk made up of the Royal Malay Regiment.

“Not a single non-Malay can be part of it. No Chinese, Indians, Ibans, or any other can join these regiments. You must be Malay.”

“I can’t say exactly how many regiments there are, but assuming that they take up around 50 percent of our forces, that only leaves 50 percent open to multi-racial (participation), and this would only be for the services and supporting arms,” he said.

No matter what the situation ,however, Thanabalasingam said he believes that Malaysians will stand up and be counted among the country’s defenders when needed, regardless of race or creed.

“If we had a war today, I would volunteer to do whatever I can, even with my condition with a walking stick… many would rally to the cause to defend the nation,” he said.

Zaid Was Never PKR Co-ordinator, Says Anwar

BUTTERWORTH, 18 Nov (Bernama) -- Parti Keadilan Rakyat advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim denied on Thursday that Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was ever PKR co-ordinator.

He said that he himself had chaired all PKR meetings and there was no record in the minutes of Zaid, the former Federal Territory chairman of the party, being appointed to that position.

What PKR had was a secretariat, and he (Anwar) had acted as co-ordinator at the top level, the opposition leader told reporters here.

Anwar said:" We have repeatedly clarified this, but the media had kept using it (the title for Zaid), and he had through his friends in the media promoted himself as PKR co-ordinator."

But a month ago, PKR deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali went through the records and found no such appointment, he added at the distribution of meat to the poor in conjunction with Aidil Adha.

Asked to comment on reports that Zaid might set up a new party, Anwar said: "It is up to him..."

Zaid, who withdrew from the contest for deputy president alleging fraud in the election system, confirmed that he was quitting PKR and would explain all at a news conference on Friday.

‘Govt should amend laws to clear deadlock in conversion cases’

The Star 

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar wants the Government to resolve the impasse in conversion cases through Parliament, saying the courts have openly relinquished their responsibility.

Bar vice-president Lim Chee Wee said they were disappointed that the Federal Court had refused to decide on the issues of law in the S. Shamala case last week although it was presented with a “clear opportunity to resolve fundamental questions that affect public interest”.

“By side-stepping these significant issues, the Federal Court failed to be decisive, and abdicated its role as the ultimate arbiter in disputes involving constitutional questions and jurisdictional conflict.”

On Nov 12, the Federal Court rejected a referral application by Shamala, who is embroiled in a custody battle with her estranged Muslim convert husband Dr Muhammad Ridzwan, formerly known as Dr Jeyaganesh C. Moga­rajah.

The five-man panel said that since Shamala, believed to be overseas with her two sons, had avoided the contempt proceedings brought by her husband, it was reluctant to give her further opportunity to hear constitutional issues regarding the validity of the children’s conversion.

The court also accepted a preliminary objection from her husband that she must face the contempt proceedings before she had the right to be heard.

In a statement, Lim said the apex court should have fulfilled its responsibility to right an injustice, no matter how difficult or divisive the issues were.

He said the decision disregarded the dilemma faced by a parent in Shamala’s situation.

“It does not take into account the circumstances that caused her to leave the jurisdiction, which stemmed from her estranged husband’s initial and indefensible action in converting their children without her knowledge or consent.”

Lim said it should have exercised its discretion, adding that insistence on a strict rule regarding contempt of court was unjust in this case.

He said the Cabinet directive in April 2009 that children should not be converted from their original religion without the joint consent of both parents was merely a policy statement without real effect.

As such, he said the Bar urged the Government to amend the relevant laws to fully implement this directive.


By Anil Netto,

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister George Chan says Sarawakians should reject all candidates standing under the ticket of Semenanjung-based opposition parties.

He claimed they would only listen to their political masters from Semenanjung Malaysia and forget about the interests of Sarawak people and their well-being, according to a Borneo Post report.

“At least all the state BN components are truly Sarawak parties. We have been and shall continue to defend and protect the rights, interests and well-being of all the people here.

Let me get this straight – only Sarawak-based parties can serve Sarawakians best? Is this his idea of 1Malaysia?

I supposes he thinks Taib’s administration has worked in the best interests of Sarawak and its people. (Obviously, he is not telling us about all those bothersome Sarawak Report exposes.)
And what about Umno’s role in Sabah then?

In Germany, evidence emerges of attack plans

Berlin, Germany (CNN) -- Concrete evidence has emerged of a possible attack planned in Germany later this month and persistent efforts by Islamists to attack the federal republic, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Wednesday.

There is "reason for concern but no reason for hysteria," said de Maiziere, adding that the information is coming from German and foreign intelligence.

De Maiziere told reporters that since mid-year, security officials "have logged increased indications, according to which the terror organization al Qaeda is believed to be planning to carry out attacks" in the United States and Europe, including Germany.

"Security authorities are considering three different threat scenarios by international terrorists. Security authorities have been pursuing these indications for weeks with the highest intensity and proper sensitivity -- in closest cooperation with our international partners.

"Now further insights and facts relevant to danger have added themselves to these established insights" and spurred a hike in the country's threat level because of what is termed a "new situation." The level is now the same as it was during Germany's September 2009 federal elections.

Last month, the United States issued a general travel alert for Americans in Europe amid concerns that al Qaeda or related groups might be planning attacks similar to the 2008 massacre in the Indian city of Mumbai.

A group of jihadists from the German city of Hamburg was alleged to be at the heart of the purported plot, European intelligence officials said.

Western intelligence officials say they learned about the alleged plot after Ahmed Sidiqi, a German citizen of Afghan descent, was arrested in Afghanistan in July and taken to the U.S. air base at Bagram for questioning.

"You are aware that the federal security authorities have been presuming a stronger threat situation from international terror for a considerable time," de Maiziere said. "In spring 2009 and in the time thereafter, there were detailed indications of possible attacks in the U.S.A., in Europe and in Germany as well."

De Maiziere mentioned the attempted strikes on international air freight carriers at the end of last month. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for those plans.

After the Yemen developments, he said a clue from a foreign partner emerged about "an alleged attack plan" to be carried out at the end of November.

"Our own latest investigations by the Federal Criminal Office in conjunction with persons from the Islamist realm confirm independently and additionally the continued endeavors of Islamist groups towards plans to attack the Federal Republic of Germany," he said.

Anwar's a 'discordant' voice, says Najib

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's views of Malaysia represented a discordant voice which did not reflect the opinions of world leaders.

He said Anwar's was "only one voice ... a minority voice".

"World leaders acknowledge our success ... which means his (Anwar's) is actually a discordant voice.

"And (Anwar's views) do not reflect the opinions of the mainstream world about Malaysia," he told reporters after a video conference with members of the Malaysian community and students in six countries, at the prime minister's official residence, Seri Perdana, here.

Also present at the session were Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, and Higher Education Minister Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

Najib was asked to comment on a statement by Anwar that he considered it an insult when countries hailed Malaysia as a great Islamic country.

Anwar had made the comment in what is seen as an effort to coax Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to apply pressure on the Barisan Nasional government to end what he alleged were corruption and electoral fraud.

The opposition leader had made the claim in an interview with Sky News Australia two days ago in an effort to garner international support after apparently having failed to obtain US backing over his sodomy accusation.

- Bernama

Who are the real Trojan Horses?

They blame Zaid for jeopardising the future of the opposition coalition. They even chide Malaysia Today for ‘hurting’ Pakatan Rakyat. But these ‘they’ are the same people who are burning the bridges and making it impossible for Zaid to reconsider his position.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I have always picked up pieces by Tay Tian Yan (translated by Dominic Loh) to feature in Malaysia Today. This is the first time I am replying to what they published.

First of all, why are they ‘crediting’ the Third Force to Zaid Ibrahim? Talk of the Third Force emerged long before there was any indication of trouble in PKR or that Zaid would be leaving the party. Suddenly, everyone is saying that Zaid is the leader of the so-called Third Force. And I say so-called because there are hardly any clouds on the horizon and umbrellas are already popping up everywhere.

Is the Third Force just mulling, like the Unity Government was mulled over back in 2008 soon after the last general election, and which came to nought in the end?

There are some people in PKR who are attempting to play mediator to urge the two factions to close ranks. They are trying to persuade Zaid to not leave the party and instead stay on and continue his struggle within PKR and Pakatan Rakyat.

However, the way Zaid is being demonised, it will make it very difficult for the two factions to close ranks. Can Zaid now cool down and reconsider his position? I don’t think so with what is being said about him. No way can the wounds heal. In fact, with the salt being rubbed into Zaid’s wounds it would hurt even more.

They blame Zaid for jeopardising the future of the opposition coalition. They even chide Malaysia Today for ‘hurting’ Pakatan Rakyat. But these ‘they’ are the same people who are burning the bridges and making it impossible for Zaid to reconsider his position.

After what they are saying about Zaid he has no other choice but to move on and not look back in spite of the efforts to hammer out a reconciliation and ‘peace treaty’.

Take this piece by Tay/Dominic. There is a tone of mockery in the way they write. If they had come out with a political analysis, that would be quite acceptable. When there is mockery in your voice then expect Zaid to take a stance of no compromise.

“To know things half way through is tremendously dangerous,” said Tay/Dominic. I can say the same about them. Why are they assuming that Zaid is going to form a new party? From what I know, at this point of time Zaid has no intentions of forming a new party. He also has no intentions of joining another existing party. But if you push him too much and if you continue to mock him then he might just do that out of spite. And I would not blame him if he did. If you mock me I too would retaliate in the worse possible way that I can.

I suppose people like Tay/Dominic who are aligned to one faction in PKR are delighted with the current conflict in PKR. They are delighted that Zaid is leaving. In fact, they may even be aware that there are attempts being made to try to persuade the two factions to close ranks and to persuade Zaid not to leave.

Maybe this is why Zaid is being demonised. Maybe these are the real Trojan Horses after all. They are worried that a peace treaty might be hammered out and peace will again reign in PKR. So they are rubbing Zaid the wrong way to make sure that he does not cool down and reconsider his position.

It takes two hands to clap. We are only looking at what wrongs Zaid has done, which I do admit he has erred. But does this mean only Zaid has erred and the other side is noble and a reincarnation of Mother Teresa?

When I speak up for Zaid I am accused of being in his camp. I also speak up for Anwar, have been for 12 years until today (as far as his sodomy trials are concerned). Does this mean I am also in Anwar’s camp? How I can I be both in Zaid’s and Anwar’s camps when they are at loggerheads?

Zaid and Azmin are at each other’s throats. But I speak up for Zaid and also send Azmin congratulatory messages. Should I instead send Azmin a nasty message with four-letter words to ‘prove’ I am Zaid’s man?

I don’t mock Azmin. I send him nice messages. Why then should we mock Zaid? Is it to make sure that he hates PKR and do as much damage to PKR as he can?

Many try to pretend that they are matured. Sure, and when I go have tea with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad I never hear the end of it. Actually, the present problems facing PKR were triggered by the so-called PKR strong supporters who enjoy mocking others. This is probably the way for small people to imagine themselves as big people.

I can only see that there would be no turning back for Zaid. The effort to mediate in this matter and get Zaid to cool down and reconsider his stand is going to fail. And this is all because of the Trojan Horses masquerading as strong party supporters.

Do they really want the matter to be resolved or do they enjoy seeing this conflict in PKR?

Macam ni mampus lah PKR. Hancur!


The Third Way? Come on, give me a break!


Translated by DOMINIC LOH

The Third Way? Or a Third Force?

With the recent stint of Zaid Ibrahim, some people have come up with this novel offering.

As if Zaid is able to open up a Third Way outside BN and Pakatan having exited PKR and the opposition pact.

To know things half way through is tremendously dangerous.

Malaysia's political process remains at the stage of stacking up the Second Way. Pakatan's Way is still in its infancy, tortuous and risky.

Before the bipartisan system can even take its form completely, we are dreaming of a tripartisan way. This puts up far ahead of some of the most developed democracies on this planet.

The bipartisan system of Britain has been in existence for well over two centuries with the Labour and Conservative parties taking turns to run the country and not the slightest chance for a Third Force to emerge, until this year when the Liberal Democrats was pampered with a chance to form a coalition government with the Tories.

As for the United States, the Democrats and the Republicans have been sharing the power since the dawn of nationhood. While the Tea Party does have some influences, it is nothing more than a spectre appended to the rightists in the Republican Party, and is still a long way from the so-called the Third Way.

In the context of Malaysia today, Barisan Nasional is the First Way, the north-south expressway that runs all the way from Bukit Kayu Hitam to Johor Bahru, always smooth-running except some peak hours during the festive seasons. Basically it will decide how much toll it wants to collect, and anyone unhappy with it can choose to inch his way down the aged trunk road.

Pakatan Rakyat is the Second Way, an alternative route teeming with potholes, unclear signages and dubious directions.

Running on this road will put your tyres at risk, or yourself for getting lost. Indeed, the road is in urgent need of repair, but that will take a lot of time and effort.

The Pakatan concept needs some integration, and the organisation needs to be expanded to places outside major urban areas. It also needs to be able to lift itself from merely frying up issues and waiting for the BN to commit serious blunders that it can exploit.

This is road upgrading works, and Zaid has been tasked with a mission similar to that of a senior roadwork engineer. Malaysians look to him to upgrade the alternative road into a full-fledged expressway on par with the NSE.

Weirdly, this senior engineer fails to upgrade the Second Way, but instead digs up a few more holes and brings down a few more signages to complicate the project further.

Then he says this is not his way, and he calls it quits.

He wants to set up a new party, a Third Force and Third Way.

The real Third Way is not a child's play. Perhaps I should suggest that he read The Third Way by British politico-sociologist Anthony Giddens.

The book talks about the construction of new mentality surrounding the core values of cooperation and assimilation in a bid to lead the society towards democracy, equality and peaceful co-existence and fulfill the true aspirations of a civic society.

The Third Way should be one of renewed ideology, not a path for disgruntled opportunistic politicians! -- Sin Chew Daily

PM: Unnecessary to commemorate May 13 riots

By Bernama

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said Wednesday it was unnecessary to commemorate the racial riots of May 13.

"We should regard it as an event in the annals of history from which we can learn from ... as a demarcation for us so that it will not recur," he said.

Najib was asked to comment on a proposal in the "Cuit" column of the Utusan Malaysia daily for May 13 to be commemorated, similar to the racial riots of 21July 1964 in Singapore which the republic observes as Racial Harmony Day.

Columnist Zaini Hassan had made the suggestion after Penang Opposition Leader Azhar Ibrahim was suspended on Nov 1 for six months for having allegedly made "May 13" threats in the state assembly sitting.

Although the proposal was objected to by the opposition pact which lodged a police report claiming that it was seditious in nature, many quarters have expressed support saying it was a positive move to strengthen unity.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had said the government was prepared to consider the proposal to commemorate the May 13 incident, but added that the government had yet to receive any proposal or give it any thought.

Najib, when asked about the changes to be made to the Umno leadership, said he would look into the matter as he had been preoccupied with nursing himself back to health after being afflicted with chicken pox.

"I am thinking about it ... I was indisposed for two weeks due to illness(chicken pox). I am back to work now, and will look into it," he said.

At the Umno general assembly last month, Najib, who is also Umno president, said changes would be made to the Umno leadership at certain levels for the party to be better prepared to face the next general election.

Asked whether he would reshuffle the Cabinet, the prime minister said: "Don't tell me I should disclose that (to you). If there is a (Cabinet) reshuffle, then there will be one ... if there is none, then there will be none." - Bernama

DNBN Kuburkan BN : SMS Campaign 1 – Radio Free Sarawak

By Haris Ibrahim,

The Sarawak state elections is imminent.
Our brothers and sisters in Sarawak need to know the truth about the looting and the pillage that has been going on.
The mainstream media will not tell them.
Send the following sms, or a shortened one, to every Sarawakian you know, and urge them to send the same out to every other Sarawakian.
“Untuk siaran radio yg sampaikan berita benar, telus & bebas, dengarlah Radio Free Sarawak, berfrekuensi 7590kHz pagi jam 6.30 – 7.30 dan 15680kHz petang jam 6 – 7, setiap hari. Sebarkan kepada semua rakyat Sarawak”
We have a nation to take back.

For Pakistan's stability, all roads lead through Karachi

Beautiful Downtown Karachi
(Asia Sentinel) And they're bumpy

On Nov. 11, militants demolished a police department used to detain terror suspects in Karachi, killing 18 people and wounding 130 others. Pakistan's Taliban swiftly claimed responsibility.

It is an example that among the myriad problems confronting Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, none strikes as close to home as the current instability in Karachi. The country's largest city and commercial capital, with a population of 12 million, has become a nerve center for many of the wider and overlapping threats facing Pakistan, including political/ethnic strife, militancy and criminality.

The bombing, of the city's Criminal Investigation Department, brings some of Karachi's problems sharply into focus. While most of Pakistan bears little resemblance to the teeming port city, Karachi's fragile security situation has significant ramifications for the rest of the country.

Since the start of this year and in particular this past month, Karachi has witnessed a surge in political and ethnic violence, threatening the stability of Zardari's administration. The metropolis is home to significant communities of mohajirs (Urdu-speaking migrants from pre-partition India), Sindhis, Pushtuns and Balochis, among others. However, far from living in communal harmony, these groups are highly segregated, with tensions between well-armed factions often erupting into street violence.

This is not a new phenomenon. Karachi is the main power base of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) – primarily an ethnic mohajir party – but is the capital city of Sindh province, a traditional stronghold of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP). The PPP, widely perceived as a Sindhi-dominated party, and the MQM were in open conflict throughout much of the 1990s, during which hundreds of civilians were killed and the city was paralyzed. With the recent influx of Pashtun migrants fleeing floods and military operations in the northwest of the country, this ethnic group is gaining in numbers and influence.

As a result, the Pashtun-dominated Awami National Party (ANP) also has a growing presence in the city. The MQM is fearful of losing control of Karachi to Pashtun nationalist parties, but is equally wary of its historical rival, the PPP.

The struggle for influence between the MQM, PPP and ANP, through land grabs and battles for territory, is at the heart of this year's surge in violence. Far from being a mere local issue, the turmoil could threaten the survival of Pakistan's national government. That is because political maneuverings in the aftermath of the 2008 election resulted in a tenuous alliance between the MQM and PPP. With its razor-thin parliamentary majority, the PPP depends heavily on backbench support from the MQM, which has exerted influence mainly by threatening to quit the coalition, potentially forcing fresh elections.

Political calculations aside, Karachi also presents Zardari with a more lethal set of adversaries. The city, a focal point for Islamic extremist groups of different stripes, is one of the key engines driving the machinery of jihad in Pakistan. Karachi's extensive network of radical mosques and madrassas – a legacy of General Zia ul-Haq's military regime in the 1980s - forms a key component of this machinery.

During the Zia era, madrassas in particular were a major recruiting ground for the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan and the violent anti-Shia agenda at home. Since then, the influence of these mosques and madrassas has only deepened in Karachi, underpinning Sunni militancy in the city today and across the country. Indeed, over the past three years, there has been a renewed surge in anti-Shia violence in Karachi, in particular suicide bombings carried out by Sunni extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Perhaps more importantly for Pakistan's wider security situation, as the International Crisis Group has noted, Karachi's mosques and madrassas provide a critical source of recruitment and networking for militants from across the country and the world. The significance of this infrastructure, according to Jane's, is that "these madrassahs, mosques and camps are the arteries that enable the human flow to and from the tribal areas."

This is apparent in the recent flurry of raids in Karachi by Pakistani authorities, who have arrested a number of al Qaeda, Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban leaders, mainly in Pashtun parts of the city.

The state's inability to clamp down on radical militancy in Karachi stems from an under-equipped and corrupt police force, lack of political will and, in some cases, political patronage of extremist groups. As a result, there is growing evidence that the city's law enforcement officers are becoming soft targets for retaliatory attacks by militants without having the resources to properly repel such assaults.

Taliban fighters have been able to exploit such insecurity. Taliban militants from the northwest come to Karachi not just to seek temporary refuge in the city's large Pashtun and Afghan slums, but for funds and other resources to continue their campaign against Pakistani and ISAF forces. Police attribute a rise in kidnappings for ransom and major robberies in Karachi to a growing nexus between criminality and militancy stemming from the tribal belt.

With much of the Taliban insurgency taking place in Pakistan's northwest, it is tempting to treat this region in isolation. However, the country's security challenges cannot be ring-fenced in North or South Waziristan. Indeed, the dense and interwoven array of competing ethnic/political, sectarian, and criminal threats that beset Karachi highlights the complexity of both Pakistan's democracy and its fight against extremism.

Urmila Venugopalan is a freelance writer and consultant. She can be reached at urmila.venugopalan@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Where are the Friends of Pakatan?


Last July, the Friends of Pakatan Rakyat (FoPR) was officially launched in London to great acclaim by Zaid Ibrahim, who had specially flown into England, with his DAP and PAS colleagues.

For Pakatan Rakyat (PR) supporters worldwide, it was a new beginning. However, four months later, Zaid dropped his bombshell by withdrawing from the PKR deputy presidency elections and openly criticising PKR’s party leaders.

Whilst many are angry at Zaid’s (right) betrayal, FoPR’s silence about this important development is damning. Has FoPR lost its focus or is it just momentarily stunned? Where is the rallying cry at a crucial time like this?

The FoPR probably chose July 4 for its launch, presumably because of its significance – it is synonymous with the United States’ Independence Day. Even the venue was important – Conway Hall in Holborn is renowned as a hub for free speech and progressive thought.

Soon after its launch, the FoPR movement was being duplicated throughout Europe, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. In east Malaysia, FoPR helped create awareness, with its network of support and community services.

Harnessing global strength

FoPR’s objective was to harness the global strength of highly qualified Malaysians working and living abroad, to tap into their expertise and financial strength in preparedness of the up-coming general election (GE-13).

When contacted, FoPR supporters in UK, although shocked by Zaid’s actions, made the following comments about PKR’s crisis.

Q: Will Zaid’s actions affect FoPR in UK?

“Although we are not clued up about the internal politics, Keadilan is in crisis and we are waiting to see how the party can regroup itself after the elections. They need not be written off, now.”

“The timing of the withdrawal will have an impact on public confidence. It’s a shame the various parties could not work out their differences and come to a common understanding of how best to move forward. The nature of politics is that things are often very fluid and you come to expect the unexpected – life goes on.”

“Parties do not disintegrate or fall apart just because of the change in one person’s circumstances.”

“Malaysia’s domination by one political party for 52 years means a strong opposition coalition will not be built overnight. For all the faults and weaknesses of the opposition, it does not wield the ISA axe, arrest students observing the election process, allow ministers to spend RM1.8 million at Disneyland or arrest cartoonists for political satire.”

“Umno has systematically immobilised civil society by stripping the rakyat of their basic civil liberties, freedoms and rights. We need to make a stand and reclaim those basic rights for a more open, democratic and just society. A stronger and more accountable opposition with the ability to run the country, means we each need to pitch in and do our part, stop complaining, get involved and take a real interest in the future of our nation.”

Q: Did Zaid’s allegations about irregularities in the voting process have a basis of truth?

“The system is imperfect. Perhaps the right mechanisms and safety nets were not in place to deal with the logistical complications of running this sort of party election. Issues have been overplayed by certain quarters in the media.”

“We must conduct a proper investigation before jumping to conclusions.”

Q: Were Zaid’s allegations dealt with properly and satisfactorily?

“There has been a lot of sensationalism and hype in the media. We need to refocus and keep our eye on the ball.”

Q: How much stronger or weaker is PR and/or FoPR without Zaid?

“I admit it’s a shame – Zaid seemed to have a lot to offer. He could have contributed significantly to the opposition coalition. We must not be swayed by any one particular personality.”

“A lot needs to be improved in PR but it is not just about PR – there are also stalwart component members – DAP and PAS – which have stood the test of time and been working towards a credible opposition and two-party system for over 30 years.”

Q: Zaid was wooed at the official launch of FoPR and today, it is not just Zaid who is despondent, but PR supporters too. So what happens now, for PR and FoPR?

“That’s life and that’s politics. What happens next? We move on.”

“PR needs to reflect on the recent election initiative, how the public relations were handled and the losses in Galas and Batu Sapi.”

“We are here to campaign for a better Malaysia – not a Malaysia where apartheid type policies and scare tactics paralyse society, but a Malaysia where fundamental civil liberties and the rule of law are upheld, democracy thrives, and social justice and equality are not just pipe-dreams.”

“FoPR needs to keep being a ‘friend’. True friends offer constructive criticism, to improve things and forge a better way forward. But more importantly, true friends also take action by providing the practical support and ideas to move forward.”

Where’s the official voice of FoPR?

Thus, if the July launch of FoPR was the largest gathering of overseas Malaysians, so in the interests of the millions who still cling to the hope of a better Malaysia, where is the official voice of the FoPR to perpetuate the dream?

Although the FoPR has not been inundated with a barrage of questions from the media or overseas Malaysians, it must realise that when PR’s image is under attack at home, FoPR must rally the overseas supporters and take control of the situation, respond to various stinging criticisms and thus protect PR’s reputation.

FoPR cannot only be vocal when times are good, like at its official launch or when publicising the talks by Malaysian politicians in cities outside Malaysia. It is important that at these crucial ‘low’ points, FoPR reaches out to say that despite setbacks, the struggle continues.

This crisis has come at a crucial time because of the impending GE-13. Instead of a united front, PR has been caught with its pants down.

What FoPR needs to do is to continue to inspire both the politicians of PR and its supporters, that the march to Putrajaya is still on. A statement from FoPR would help clear the waters.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

Mukah: Mystery illness raises suspicion

A mystery illness has reportedly struck native families living in Rumah Bansan longhouse at Sungai Bedengan near an aluminium smelting plant in Mukah.
The public needs iron-clad guarantees from the Sarawak government – certified by truly independent health and environmental safety engineers/inspectors – that there is no link between the aluminium plant, which is 300 metres away, and longhouse illnesses since September 2009. Failing which, the state government, which has very little credibility, can hardly be believed.
From Free Malaysia Today:
Explaining the ‘mysterious illness’, Tuai Rumah (longhouse chief) Bansan said the community has been “experiencing all sorts of health problems such as breathing diffuculties, coughing and skin diseases” since the construction of the smelting plant.
“The air here now has a stinging smell and the rain water which we collect and use for drinking is turning black.
“The environment is also suffering. All the fish in nearby rivers and in ponds are gone, paddy and fruit trees cannot bear fruits and our vegetable cannot grow,” he told a team from the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) early this week.
Reiterating his suspicion to Sadia, Bansan said “his people’s life and their livelihood are in danger of something from the plant.”