Share |

Thursday, November 25, 2010

US: Korea shelling was 'one-off'

The United States says it believes North Korea's artillery attack on an island close to its disputed maritime border with South Korea was an isolated incident.

"This was, in our view, a one-off, premeditated act," PJ Crowley, the US state department spokesman, said on Wednesday.

"Without getting into intelligence matters, we don't see that North Korea is ... preparing for an extended military confrontation."

However, Crowley still called on China to act to restrain Pyongyang from any repeat of the assault on the tiny island of Yeonpyeong in the Yellow Sea that left two South Korean marines and two civilians dead.

"China is pivotal in moving North Korea in a fundamentally different direction," he said. "We expect China to be clear like we are."

Emergency meeting

Meanwhile, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak called an emergency meeting on Thursday to contain the economic impact of the strike.

Local media said the meeting of senior security and economic officials in Seoul would discuss ways to prevent tensions with the North from damaging the South's economy.

Washington has thrown its support behind Seoul since the incident with Barack Obama, the US president, calling his South Korean counterpart to reassure him that - with 28,000 troops based on the peninsula - the US "stands shoulder to shoulder" with its ally.

The USS George Washington aircraft carrier, which carries 75 warplanes and has a crew of over 6,000, is also heading to the region to join military exercises with Seoul.

Beijing, North Korea's closest ally, has urged the two sides to avoid any further violence and expressed regret at the deaths.

"China pays close attention to the incident. We regret the casualties and property losses, and are concerned about the situation," Hong Lei, the foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement reported by the official Xinhua news agency.

"We strongly urge both sides to retain calm and restraint, and engage in talks as quickly as possible in order to prevent similar incidents from happening again."

Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan, reporting from the Chinese capital, Beijing, said China wants to maintain the status quo in the region.

"The United States has called on a multilateral approach to this situation, but the Chinese have time and again shown that they will agree to multilateral action, but then they will try to dilute anything that the Americans try to do," she said.

"That behaviour isn't going to change. The Americans are going to have a very hard time trying to convince the Chinese to do any more.|

North Korean succession

North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Wednesday published a military statement accusing South Korea of triggering the artillery barrage by staging military exercises just a few kilometres of its coast.

Seoul has denied that it was firing shells in the direction of North Korea, which lies just 11km from the island which came under attack. North Korea's artillery barrage prompted an exchange of fire that lasted about one hour.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the US military's most senior officer, said on Wednesday that it was believed that the attack was connected to the apparent positioning of the youngest son of Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, as his successor.

"This is ... tied we think to the succession of this young 27-year-old who's going to take over at some point in the future," the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said in an interview on ABC's "The View".

Civilians killed

The bodies of two civilians were pulled from a heavily damaged construction site on Yeonpyeong on Wednesday as burned-out buildings continued to smolder. Footage aired by YTN television showed smashed windows and the huge shell craters.

Evacuees from the island also continued to arrive in Incheon with tales of panic as shells landed around them.

"I heard the sound of artillery, and I felt that something was flying over my head," Lim Jung-eun,who fled Yeonpyeong with three children, including a nine-month-old strapped to her back, said. "Then the mountain caught on fire."

Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

Karpal tells judge he is not above law

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s lead defence counsel Karpal Singh today cautioned Sodomy II trial judge Datuk Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah in deciding on the defence’s application to disqualify him, saying that there were laws and rules in place to punish a judge for being “biased”.

Anwar claimed yesterday the presiding judge in his Sodomy II trial had “intimidated” Karpal after he moved to disqualify the judge.

In a written affidavit filed along with a notice of motion to disqualify Mohd Zabidin, Anwar said the judge had “threatened” Karpal earlier this week when the lawyer gave notice of the defence’s intentions to file an application to disqualify him.

In presenting the defence’s oral submission today, Karpal stressed that a judge was by no means above the law, and could face punishment “short of removal” of office.

“A judge can be subjected to disciplinary proceedings if he is found to be biased.

“I’m giving your lordship a gentle reminder, your lordship would have to carefully consider, if your lordship insists on carrying on, with biasness, (then) be prepared for the consequences,” said Karpal (picture).

Karpal explained that a Judges’ Ethics Committee 2010 was set up recently and the committee was empowered to look in possible cases of misconduct by trial judges as well as hand out punishments.

“A judge cannot act as he pleases, he or she is subjected to rules and laws,” he said.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Karpal added that besides the ethics committee, a judge’s actions in presiding over cases were also under scrutiny in accordance with the judges’ Code of Conduct 2009.

“If a judge rules in a manner deemed biased, the Court of Appeal can also decide whether he has been biased.

“He (Mohd Zabidin) is subject to laws which can result in punishment short of removal,” said Karpal.

The white-haired lawyer had also told the court earlier of the international repercussions of the sodomy trial.

“This trial under close scrutiny. (There have been) calls by the United States Secretary of State, European Union and others for a fair trial. Malaysia’s legal system is also under trial.

“Your honour has no alternative but to recuse,” said Karpal.

The trial is scheduled to continue tomorrow to allow the prosecution to reply to the defence’s submission.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Hanafiah Zakaria said the prosecution needed more time as Solicitor-General II Datuk Yusof Zainal Abiden could not make it to court today as he was “unwell”.

It is understood that Yusof had an accident this morning and injured his leg, although his exact condition has yet to be confirmed.

Anwar, the 62-year-old PKR de facto leader, is currently facing sodomy charges for the second time in his life.

The former deputy prime minister is charged with sodomising a former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, at Unit 11-5-1 of the Desa Damansara Condominium in Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara here between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.

Anwar has denied the charge, describing it as “evil, frivolous lies by those in power” when the charge was read out to him. He is charged under section 377B of the Penal Code and can be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years’ jail and whipping upon conviction. The trial is taking place 18 months after Anwar was charged in court in August 2008.

He was charged with sodomy and corruption in 1998 after he was sacked from the Cabinet and was later convicted and jailed for both offences. He was freed in September 2004 and later resurrected his political career by winning back his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in a by-election in 2008, which had been held in the interim by his wife.

He had two years ago led the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, to a historic sweep of five states and 82 parliamentary seats in Election 2008.

Hindraf supporters commemorate rally at KLCC

By G Vinod

KUALA LUMPUR: About 30 supporters of the Hindraf Makkal Sakthi movement gathered at the main entrance of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) this morning to commemorate the third anniversary of the historic Hindraf mass demonstration on Nov 25, 2007.

The crowd consisting of men, women and children arrived at 9.30am, claiming to have fasted since 9pm yesterday. They kicked off the peaceful "demonstration" with a prayer, and sat on a ramp in front of the world acclaimed Petronas Twin Towers to start their hunger strike.

"We are here to remind the Prime Minister (Najib Tun Razak) of our 18-points demand," said Hindraf Makkal Sakthi national information coordinator S Jayathas, the leader of the pack, at a press conference at the sidelines of the protest.

Among the demand in their 18-points calls on the government to end 50 years of abuse of the federal constitution and set up affirmative action to assist all poor Malaysians, especially Indians.

Stressing on his demands, the Hindraf leader claimed the Umno-led government had set up discriminative policies which had led to the marginalisation of the Indian community in many sectors including education and jobs at government agencies.

"During independence there were about 28 percent of Indians studying at universities. Now we have less then one percent studying at varsities.

"As for the government service, we used to have Indians in top positions like director-generals. Now we can't even see an Indian post master," claimed Jayathas.

He also said Indian youth were now turning to the world of crime because they had been denied educational and job opportunities.

"Instead of tackling the rootcause of the problem, the authorities just take the easy way out by arresting the youths involved in crime under Emergency Ordinance. If the government can spend millions to rehabilitate mat rempits, why not the Indian youths?" Jayathas questioned.

When asked why they started fasting since 9pm yesterday , he said it was to commemorate their 18 points demand.

"We are fasting till 3pm today, which means 18 hours of fasting as per our 18 points," he added.

He said the organisation welcomes any dialogue with the premier and that it was important for both parties to iron out the matter for the benefit of the Indian community.

"We are also the nation's children. If left unattended, there might be another tsunami," he said, referring to the massive Hindraf rally in 2007 that saw thousands marching from KLCC to the British Embassy to handover a memorandum.

So far, the group has not been asked by the police to disperse although the men in blue are closely monitoring the situation.

A true fighter does not quit, Zaid told

By Zefry Dahalan - Free Malaysia Today

PORT DICKSON: PKR supreme council member M Ravi is the latest to launch a scathing attack on former party heavyweight Zaid Ibrahim.

According to the Port Dickson state assemblyman, the former minister was wrong to throw in the towel just because he was upset about certain issues.

This, he said, reflected Zaid's “zero knowledge” about politics.

Ravi said many state and division leaders had placed much hope on Zaid given his position as a former law minister and professional background as a renowned lawyer.

"Within months after he joined PKR, we gave him many posts including that of supreme council member and political bureau member. Then we gave him a chance to contest the Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election and he was also appointed as Federal Territories PKR chief,” he said.

"But just because he was unhappy about certain issues in the party... it's not a wise move to quit. A true fighter won't do that. He just fizzled out as his political judgement is not there,” he added.

Ravi, who heads the Teluk Kemang PKR division, said that in politicis there must be a “give and take” situation.

"There are leaders who have been loyal to the party since it was formed 13 years but were not given any post as what Zaid got. We had 100% hope that he would deliver, but he left just like that and continues to criticise the party,” he added.

Zaid had quit after crossing swords with several top leaders following his hard-hitting comments regarding party supremo Anwar Ibrahim and his protege Azmin Ali.

The former Umno minister, who was contesting for the deputy presidency, had pulled out of the race after accusing Azmin of rigging the polls, a charge which the latter had denied.

'Jenapala a traitor'

Meanwhile, Ravi also lashed out at former PKR leader S Jenapala over the latter's stinging criticism regarding the party and its accusation-riddled elections.

"There is no point talking from the outside. Be in the party and raise the issues accordingly through the proper channel. People like Jenapala are traitors and not qualified to criticise the party," he said.

Ravi also urged members and the public not to make hasty decisions about PKR's “one member, one vote” system.

"Since this is the first time we are doing this and no other party in Asia has done this, shortcomings are bound to be there,” he said.

"The party and its leaders need time to rectify the weaknesses and improve the situation for the next party election three years from now,” he added.

Can Teng spring a surprise?

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: The battle for all positions in the Selangor DAP has intensified as some 1,000 delegates get ready to cast their ballots on Sunday.

Party insiders say the tussle for votes has reached feverish level as two rivals – Selangor State Legislative Assembly Speaker Teng Chang Kim and Kinrara state assemblywoman Teresa Kok – go on overdrive to woo the delegates.

And there is a possibility that popular "rogue" leader Teng and his group, dubbed the “Justice Reform Group", may pull an upset win.

Teng's camp is challenging the establishment team led by Kok, who has also put up a line-up or "cai dan" (menu) for her faction known as the "Unity Team".

A state party leader, who did not want to be named, said that Teng's group might cause an upset as the "Justice Reform Group" has strong grassroots support.

The leader said Teng's group has been gaining ground, with some leaders aligned to this group claiming to have the support of nearly 70% of the state DAP branches.

They also claimed that the group had control of over 80% of DAP branches in Selangor, with branches from Sabak Bernam and Sungai Besar fully backing it.

“They (Teng's group) are riding on the Tee Boon Hock's sacking momentum. A lot of people are unhappy with the way the whole Tee issue was handled by the DAP leadership. They might just show protest by voting for Teng's team," said the leader.

Tee, former state DAP organising secretary and Klang Municipal Councillor, was sacked from the party over the "support letter" fiasco. He had allegedly given support letters to family members and friends to obtain state government contracts.

The Tee factor

"It is an open secret that Tee's supporters have been working hard to garner as much support as possible for Teng's group. In the past two years, Tee has been instrumental in increasing the number of DAP branches in Selangor in his capacity as the organising secretary,” said the leader.

"This is evident when those aligned to Kok were knocked out at branch elections. Now we will have some 700 new delegates and they can cause problem for Kok," he added.

Moreover, the leader claimed that Teng has declared his intention to take up the state chairmanship and this has pleased grassroots members who want to see a change in the state leadership.

Party sources revealed that Kok, who transferred her membership from Kuala Lumpur to Selangor, risks defeat at the polls.

Wishes of party leadership

Kok is said to be "acting on the wishes" of the national leadership, which is bent on wiping out Teng and his supporters, consisting of party veterans sidelined by the party, through the state election.

The sources said the top leadership felt that Kok should be leading the state because of her immense popularity among the masses and her "scandal-free" stature in the party.

Should she win, Kok, who is also Seputeh MP, is tipped to helm the state DAP, taking over from Ean Yong Hian Wah.

Party sources said Ean Yong was considered by the top leadership to be politically weak to lead the charge against Teng.

Another leader, Pandamaran state assemblyman and Selangor exco Ronnie Liu was also discounted after his image was tainted by the support letter scandal.

Newcomers like Tony Pua, the PJ Utara MP, and Klang MP Charles Santiago were also on the radar screen but were not picked because they lacked strong grassroots ties.

On Sunday, the delegates to the state DAP convention would pick 15 leaders out of the 50 contestants. The elected 15 committee members would decide at a later date what positions they would hold in the state DAP.

The current state committee is headed by Ean Yong, deputy chairman Pua, vice-chairmen Kannan Thangarasu and Charles Santiago, secretary Lau Weng San, assistant secretary Ng Suee Lim, treasurer Hannah Yeoh, and assistant treasurer Batumalai Malinaidu.

The others are assistant organising secretary Teo Nie Ching, publicity secretary Tiew Way Keng, assistant publicity secretary Jenice Lee Ying Ha, political education director Lee Kee Hiong and committee members Liu and Teng.

Ean Yong, Pua, Lau, Tiew, and Kee Hiong are said to be aligned to Kok while Ng, Batumalai and Kannan are said to be in Teng's team.

The stakes are high and all the rivals have gone on overdrive to canvass for votes, with the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and blogs besides distributing leaflets and meeting them face-to-face at dinners.

Party sources said both camps were targeting to capture at least eight of the 15 state committee seats, thus allowing the winner to control the committee.

Chong Eu – a pioneer in multi-ethnic politics

By Hawkeye - Free Malaysia Today

GEORGE TOWN: The country has lost a visionary leader who was a pioneer in propagating a Malaysian style of multi-ethnic politics.

This was what PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim said following the death of former chief minister Dr Lim Chong Eu last night at the age of 91.

Anwar said Lim's passing would be felt greatly by politicians and communities who advocated multi-ethnic political parties.

"There is no denying that Lim was instrumental in showcasing that multi-ethnic policies can work in Malaysia if it is managed well. He also showed to all that rapid development can become a reality if all races band together by discarding their differences."

Lim was widely regarded as the man who had transformed Penang's economic life from port services and trading-based state into a manufacturing, tourism and services hub for the northern region.

Penang is now regarded as a top economic centre in the region. Anwar expressed his condolences to Lim's family and friends.

State-level funeral

Meanwhile, state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh conveyed on behalf of the state government, a wish to give a state-level funeral to Lim.

Phee informed of the state's decision when he was among the first to visit the family's home in Tanjung Bungah here.

Lim's son Lim Chien Aun said the family is grateful for the offer but stressed that they would need to discuss it first.

"We would make an official announcement later."

Penang Gerakan vice-chairman Wong Mun Hoe said the party has ordered all its service centres and buildings to fly the party flag at half-mast as a sign of respect to their pioneering leader.

Wong said the flags would be lowered until Lim's official funeral.

Lim's death comes at a trying time for Gerakan in Penang, according to Parti Cinta Malaysia vice-president Huan Cheng Guan.

Huan, who quit Gerakan last year due to differences with its top leadership, said the party was now seeking a fresh sense of direction after seeing that its multi-ethnic ideology was now emulated or adopted by new and upstart political parties.

Nowadays, every party in Malaysia seems to be embracing a sense of multi-ethnic approach in wooing for support, he said.

Huan hopes that Lim's legacy is not just about the physical nature such as the state's tallest building, Komtar, but in his courage to reach out to all Malaysians irrespective of their political leanings.

Defeated by another Lim

Lim's political career ended exactly 20 years ago when he was defeated by DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang in the 1990 general election for the state seat of Pengkalan Kota.

Lim's surprising loss caused an upheaval initially in Barisan Nasional which struggled to find a successor.

This was when a relatively unknown academic Koh Tsu Koon was thrust into the limelight and as Lim's political secretary, Koh assumed the chief minister's post and in turn became one of the island state's longest-serving leaders.

Koh reigned from 1990 until 2008 for four terms.

He was among the casualities in the historic 2008 general election when Gerakan was wiped out in Penang, losing all the seats it contested in.

The present Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, is the son of Kit Siang.

Three years after Hindraf march, Indian anger against BN dissipates

November 25, 2007 file photo of riot police firing chemical-laced water on Hindraf protesters in Kuala Lumpur. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — Three years to the day after 30,000 Indians marched into the city to protest against the “unfair” policies of the Barisan National (BN) government, political leaders say the Najib administration’s conciliatory policies appear to be winning back their support.

BN has regained Indian votes in several of the 13 by-elections since Election 2008 where the country’s estimated three million Indians form a sizeable minority.

The outlawed Hindraf movement that organised the November 25, 2007 march has also split up, with some leaders favouring the BN government while others either continue with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties or have grown disenchanted with both coalitions.

One of the five Hindraf leaders detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for organising the march, R.S. Thanenthiran, said the prime minister’s policies had helped to solve problems faced by the Indians, ranging from birth certificates to welfare aid.

“When Datuk Seri Najib Razak became prime minister, there was a total change in the way the government was run. Significant changes are happening for the Indians,” said Thanenthiran, who set up the pro-BN Malaysian Makkal Sakthi Party.

He was referring to the Special Implementation Task Force (SITF) for Malaysian Indians, set up this year by the Najib administration to resolve their grouses.

The government agencies involved with the taskforce are the National Registration Department, the Social Welfare Department, the Skill Development Department, Tekun Nasional and the Social Security Organisation.

He also said the move by Najib in the 2011 budget to allow Malaysians to purchase low-cost houses without any downpayment was a big help to the Indians.

November 25, 2007 file photo of a protester throwing back a tear gas canister at riot police during the Hindraf demonstration in Kuala Lumpur. — Reuters pic
His praise for Najib is not unusual as the PM backed his party although a quarrel has now split the party inspired by the rallying cry of Makkal Sakhti or People Power when Hindraf launched its march.

The Indian community has long been seen as a “fixed deposit” vote bank for BN but the march to the Petronas Twin Towers blew the lid on simmering frustration of being left out of development. A majority of Tamils came as labourers who worked on the rubber and oil palm estates but a change from an agrarian to an industrialised economy sidelined them to menial jobs and gangsterism.

The ISA detention of Hindraf leaders after the march was seen as a major factor that swung Indian voters to the opposition in Election 2008, denying the BN government its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament and handing four more states to the PR parties.

However, BN’s main Indian party, the MIC, believes the situation has changed since the unprecedented Hindraf march.

“Nearly 60 to 65 per cent of the Indians have returned to the MIC and BN,” MIC Youth chief T. Mohan told The Malaysian Insider.

Mohan also agreed with Thanenthiran that initiatives taken by the MIC and the Najib administration to meet the needs of the Indian community had won back a large number of Indians who had favoured the opposition parties.

His confidence was not shared by Hindu Sangam deputy president Dr M. Bala Tharumalingam, who believes the Indian community is still in favour of PR.

“The general Indian public may not have full confidence with Pakatan now but they still favour them,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Bala attributed the drop in confidence to the slow result of PR government policies, saying the state governments in Penang and Selangor should be given time to improve as they are still new in administrating a state.

Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran told The Malaysian Insider that Najib is well aware of the importance of the Indian vote and had been attending gatherings organised by the Sikhs, Malayalees and Telegus.

“Indians are already a minority in this country. And Malayalees, Telegus and the such only make up 30 per cent of the Indian population. He (Najib) knows these minorities of the minorities are a pivotal factor, which is why he attended those gatherings. What more the Indians in total,” Kulasegaran said.

But the DAP vice-chairman believes the Indians would still vote for PR in the coming general election but not as strongly as they did in 2008, citing the lower support is due to internal squabbles in the PR parties.

But Kulasegaran urged the Indians “to give us another term to make the changes. We have only been around for two years but BN had been around for 50 years.”

A plastic test of maturity

By Himanshu Bhatt, The Sun

FEW Malaysians are aware that Hongkong now requires retail outlets to charge 50 cents (20 sen) for a plastic bag and in many places in the UK, consumers fork out at least 5 pence (25 sen) for one.

In several towns in India people have been told to use cloth bags for shopping. In 2004, the Indian Railways started promoting use of environmentally-friendly clay cups for drinks sold at stations to replace containers made of non-biodegradable plastic and polystyrene.
These are but a few examples of communities around the world that are moving fast to remove or reduce the scourge of plastic bags in their environments, and are making significant strides in changing the attitudes of people in taking for granted non-biodegradable materials.

Yet, in Malaysia, a state government’s move to ban free plastic bags (people can still have them for 20 sen each; the money goes to charity) has met with heavy opposition, not surprisingly enough, mostly from plastic manufacturers.

From January, Penang is imposing a complete ban on giving of free plastic bags at hypermarkets and supermarkets, with plans to extend the ruling to include smaller retail outlets and, very likely, even hawkers. It is a move the state has admitted will likely pose a political challenge, if it turns out to be unpopular.

And the plastic manufacturers are leading the charge in being stridently critical. As it is, the Selangor government and the federal authorities are also following suit to impose restrictions on plastic bags.

The manufacturers insist their productions have been hit following Penang’s "No Plastic Bag" campaign, which is now limited to three days a week. The state has already imposed a ban on polystyrene at government functions and municipal council food courts. It has also announced a ban on the use of polystyrene for all licensed eateries with enforcement to begin in January.

It is encouraging manufacturers and distributors to come up with biodegradable containers, like food-grade paper boxes and containers made of organic husks.

The Malaysian Plastic Manufacturers Association had as early as last year delivered a memorandum urging the state to reconsider the campaign. It maintained that plastic can be recycled with proper planning and implementation.

The manufacturers have since cited, among other things, studies that supposedly point to pollution rising in countries that have banned plastic bags. They insist that deaths of marine creatures from plastic, something that is widely publicised, are caused by the fishing industry which uses nylon nets and leaves behind plastic debris in the seas, and not by plastic bags.

To be fair, the manufacturers’ main concern is not environmental but economics. One can, however, empathise with the new business dilemma they now face.

Consider, for example, that almost 90% of plastic bag factories in the northern region cater for the local market. And on the average, they are now seeing production plummeting by 30% with a few being affected by as much as 75%.

But the state too has its concerns, which are not in the least bit unwarranted. Studies have shown that plastics make up 15%-17% of Penang’s wastes. Every year, plastic materials clog up public drains and canals causing flash floods during heavy rains.

The recycling rate for plastic, a highly non-biodegradable material, is 3%. And as many as 25.2 million plastic bags, or 2.5 million pieces a month, were given away in 2008 in six major groups of supermarkets and hypermarkets. If one were to add that sum to the millions of unaccounted for bags distributed by retailers, hawkers and other traders, the state faces a massive problem in waste management.

So this plastic dilemma precipitated by Penang’s ban will not test the government’s political will. It will, more importantly, be a test of the maturity of our people. It will show whether Malaysians can be as conscientious and educated in changing their habits as other communities around the world are doing.

Discontinue the Teoh Beng Hock inquest

by P. Ramakrishnan

We are gathered here today to express our solidarity with the Teoh family.

We are here to express our sorrow over the tragic death of Teoh Beng Hock. We are here to share the pain and anguish that his family is suffering on a daily basis.

Teoh Beng Hock’s death has outraged the conscience of this nation. It is difficult to understand how his death could have taken place in a secure area without the knowledge of MACC officials who had complete control over the premises.

His death has distressed us and has raised many questions of propriety in the manner he was treated by the investigating personnel. He was on his feet working the whole of Wednesday, 15 July 2009, when he was taken in at 5.00pm for questioning.

His cruel grilling continued into the wee hours of the next morning until 3.45am the next day — nearly 11 hours after he had gone into the MACC building.

Why should he be subjected to this inhuman torture when he was taken in as a witness to help the MACC?

It is public knowledge that one Tan Boon Wah, another witness, who was in the building at the same time as Beng Hock, had stated that he had to stand the whole time he was being questioned without food, sleep, rest or break.

Beng Hock’s session could not have been any different. He must have been deprived of food, denied sleep and rest and subjected to intense questioning for nearly 11 hours.
Anyone who had been subjected to this torture would have bolted from this hell hole when he was released at 3.45am. Why then didn’t he leave the place in a hurry?

How, why and when did he die?

Is it believable that his death took place without the knowledge of the MACC?

“How can a bright young man walk into MACC office as a witness, only to return as a dead body?” Lim Kit Siang rightly demanded to know.

But after more than one year we are still waiting for answers that are not forthcoming to reveal the truth.

We were told that the findings would be made known within two months. Now, after more than one year, we are nowhere nearer the truth; no one is any wiser when the findings would be concluded.

We are still in the dark as to what caused his death and who contributed to this tragic episode. The mystery surrounding Beng Hock’s death should have been vigorously and relentlessly pursued to unravel the truth at the shortest possible time.

But what we are witnessing is the sad fact that the inquest has not moved with the speed this issue deserves. There is no sense of urgency. All that we have witnessed are delays and denials adding to the agony and anguish to the Teoh family.

It is totally unfair to them that they should suffer this dereliction without any sign of closure to this tragedy.

There is now a ridiculous attempt to introduce so-called new evidence to suggest suicide. Suddenly a handwritten note has been discovered but which was not submitted as evidence at the beginning of the inquest, nor was this fact disclosed to the lawyers representing the Teoh family and the Selangor state government.

There was even this absurd suggestion that Beng Hock could have strangled himself. When asked by Gobind Singh how this could be possible, the DPP Abdul Razak Musa came across as a clown when he tried to choke himself.

I wish that he had succeeded and spared us the torment of listening to his ludicrous cross examination of Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand! There was yet another opportunity for him to escape the embarrassment that he was going through.

However, it is a pity that when Abdul Razak asked Dr Pornthip if she had jumped off a building, nobody took advantage of this and to ask him how one does that!
His demonstration would have ended this comic opera!

When one is seeking the truth, no stone should be left unturned; no scrap of evidence should be overlooked. But, unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with this inquiry.

According to the investigating officer, he found a note in Beng Hock’s sling bag but put it aside because he “did not realise the significance of it”.

What gave him that right to come to this conclusion? His duty and business should have been to sieve through every item that was in that sling bag for possible clues.
But he behaved like a clueless clot displaying a total lack of discernment.

The Attorney-General’s conduct was no better. The AG’s clarification – that when this note was finally brought to his attention on October 7, 2009, he wanted further investigations to be carried out — is indeed baffling.

He should have tendered this note to the coroner for the court to determine its authenticity and relevance to the case. To submit this so-called “new evidence” some 10 months later is totally unacceptable.

It only raises questions of ethics and propriety. From whatever angle one may look at this situation, there is only one inevitable conclusion — evidence has been clearly and surreptitiously suppressed.

Instead of assisting by all means to arrive at the truth, the AG’s Chambers have not acted in a transparent and honest manner by hanging on to this so-called “new evidence” that now suddenly seems to have assumed “significance”.

This so-called “new evidence” has unfairly disrupted the entire proceedings and made the inquiry untenable. If it had been tendered from the very beginning, the trend of questioning would have taken a different form and direction.

There seems to be a serious contradiction in the statement issued by the AG’s Chambers as to when the note was discovered.

In Paragraph 4, the statement reads: “According to the investigation officer, it was not found when he first searched the deceased’s sling bag after the incident.”

But in Paragraph 10, we are told: “However, recently the investigation officer owned up by admitting that he did in fact find the note when he searched the sling bag on July 17…”

What then is the truth? Why did the investigating officer lie in the first place? What was he trying to cover up? Why should we believe him?

We must unravel the mystery that shrouds his death. But in no way can we reconcile to the possibility of a suicide. Why would a young man about to marry the day after, a young man happily looking forward to becoming a father for the first time, want to take his life!

The inquest into the death of Teoh Beng Hock has been totally discredited. It has turned out to be a sham inquest. Nobody is going to believe the coroner’s verdict.

It is Aliran’s stand that the inquest should be disbanded and discontinued; it should make way for the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

Anything short of this would be a travesty of justice. Only a Royal Commission can determine what caused his death and who contributed to this tragic episode.

Someone who had suffered terribly in the Nazi death camp put it rightly: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Yes, we couldn’t prevent the injustice that was meted out to Beng Hock but we can protest to express our outrage, to demand justice for the Teoh family; to mobilise support so that an injustice can be remedied.

* P. Ramakrishnan, the president of Aliran, was speaking at a Malaysians for Beng Hock forum in at the Han Chiang Shcool in Penang.

Muhyiddin Tells Youth, Don't Fall Into The Trap Of Self-Interest Groups

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin reminded the younger generation not to let themselves to be manipulated by what he described as self-interest groups whose struggle may seem admirable at first but is actually based on skewed agenda.

Speaking at the Young Malaysian Leaders seminar at parliament house on Thursday, Muhyiddin, who is Education Minister, said the young leaders should not be easily hoodwinked into believing in a struggle that is no longer based on the truth.

"Lately in Malaysia we see issues are being sensationalised and politicised ... religious issues, the law such as the Internal Security Act, race relations, freedom of speech and human rights are becoming the subject of intense debates which could affect race relation and undermine peace.

"You as young leaders should not let yourselves be used by these irresponsible groups," he said at the seminar attended by Senate President Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang and Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

The younger generation, he said, should instead galvanise their energies towards helping to find solutions to the relevant issues and help propel Malaysia into a developed country.

Intensifying efforts to get rid of illegal immigrants

The New Straits Times

THE authorities have never wavered in efforts to rid Sabah of illegal immigrants as 16,359 undocumented foreigners in the state were arrested over the last 10 months under "Ops Bersepadu".

Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, Datuk Nasrun Harun, told the house that 11,093 of them were Filipinos, 4,940 Indonesians and 326 of other nationalities.

Replying to a question by Datuk Louis Rampas (BN-Kiulu), he said during the same period, 11,310 illegal immigrants -- of whom 7,311 were Filipinos, 3,856 Indonesians and 143 other nationals -- were deported.

Stressing that operations against illegal immigrants were carried out on a regular basis, Nasrun said last year saw 11,608 being deported.

Steps taken to address the problem include tightening checks at entry points, especially in the east coast, meting out a more deterrent punishment such as whipping and intensifying surprise operations.

Many of the illegal immigrants are said to be working in the plantation and construction sectors.

On the issue of unemployment among youths in Sabah, the house was told that based on a report compiled by the Manpower Department, an estimated 15,543 youths in the state were jobless.

Assistant Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad said the unemployed graduates comprised of 8,727 females and 6,716 males.

Replying to a question by Datuk Liew Teck Chan (SAPP-Likas), she said 7,966 of the jobless youths were SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) school leavers, 2,232 with STPM (Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia), 2,597 with diploma and 2,648 graduates.

Jainab said the government had taken various measures to overcome the problem such as providing skills training, scholarships to pursue courses which were in high demand and job placement programmes which had so far benefited 1,692 youths.

The debate on the 2011 state budget saw Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail (BN-Pantai Manis) seeking a detailed explanation from the state government on its decision to issue bond totalling RM544 million.

Ninoy worth RM3.6m; our PM, CMs?

Philippine President Aquino has declared his assets showing that he is worth RM3.6 million (50 million pesos). Now when will we get to know how much the Malaysian Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Chief Ministers are worth? Transparency anyone?
Aquino submitted his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) to the Ombudsman’s office soon after he assumed office. Notice, it is not a statement of income but of assets.
In contrast, his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo started her term of office with a net worth of RM4.8 million. By the time she stepped down from office, her wealth had soared to RM10.2 million.
See report here.
These amounts are chicken feed compared to what some of our politicians are worth – although in both countries, their real wealth is unlikely to be in their own names.
Still, the practice of making a declaration of assets does serve to put public scrutiny on politicians and to make them more circumspect about their life-styles, some of which can be ostentatious.
For instance, it would be most revealing to see a declaration of assets from the likes of Najib, Taib Mahmud and Samy Vellu.
And what about the Pakatan CMs who promised us transparency?

New evidence on Anwar's black-eye incident

Pakatan convention to be in Penang

UMNO’s Appalam Tamil movie launch on 25th November 2010 is to divert attention away from 3rd Anniversary of 25th November 2007 Hindraf Rally on 25/11/2010.

url apaalam
This only proves that UMNO is still terrified about Hindraf’s 25th November 2007 Hindraf Rally, and our 3rd Anniversary tomorrow at KLCC, the Prime Minister’s office at Putrajaya, and ending at the Batu Caves Temple.
The UMNO mainstream media in particular the Vellithirai Astro TV station has been broadcasting  propaganda over the last one week or so about this Tamil movie Appalam, which features unusually the non Tamil speaking Jacklyn Victor and many other young local actors and singers whom the Malaysian younger generation relate to.
apalam 3And this movie too being broadcast the first Malaysian Tamil movie after a 24 years gap.apalam 1
And why does this Tamil movie premier launch has to be on 25th November 2010 a weekday? Why not on the prime Saturday night which will draw the most audience?
This is the typical and classical UMNO diversion tactic and this time to divert attention away from the 25th November 2010, Hindraf hunger strike at KLCC from 9.00 a.m and ending at 3.00 p.m.
This is not going to work. Hindraf will continue getting the support of the Indian poor and Indian masses as long as UMNO/BN refuse to address the genuine grievances, and at the very least the pressing Indian poor problems at the ground.
The moral of the story – UMNO cannot succeed by taking short cut diversion tactics. Get to the point UMNO.
We hope the performers are aware that they are being used for political purposes to try and weaken the Indian community.
P. Uthayakumar
apalam 2

Pakatan confident PKR problems will not mar voter confidence

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — As talk of a snap poll intensifies, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact is gearing itself up for a showdown with Barisan Nasional (BN) and is confident that PKR’s fractious party election would not affect its chances.

PR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim brushed off today BN leaders’ constant warning that it would be capitalising on the supposed cracks in PKR’s leadership to bolster its chances in the next general election.

The opposition leader, who is also PKR’s de facto leader, confidently told reporters that the ruling BN coalition would use any tactic to try and cripple its PR rivals.

“I am sure that this will not be the only issue. When I go to Australia, it becomes and issue, when (US secretary of state) Hillary Clinton calls me, it is an issue, when I speak to (Australia Foreign Minister) Kevin Rudd, it is an issue, when Sky News or ABC News interview me, it is also an issue.

“But TV3 never interviewed me... I would be willing if they wanted to. Even Astro Awani has not interviewed me. No problem. I think they are just using as many issues as they can,” he said.

Anwar expressed confidence that the experiences of his PR colleagues like DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, former PKR deputy president Syed Husin Ali and PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali in facing such attacks from their BN foes.

“They are used to these kinds of situations so I think we are ready. What do we have now that is less than what we had in Elections 2008? They often attack PAS, DAP and PKR but I think the people cannot be so easily fooled,” he said.

He added that despite the incessant accusations against the PKR leadership’s failure to address irregularities and malpractices in its just-concluded polls, the party had never once sought to hide its problems.

“When there are complaints, we take action. We never hide,” he said.

Anwar again accused the Umno-owned Malay mainstream media of attempting to silence dissenting views from the Malay community but insisted that this would not necessarily translate into a loss for PR in the coming polls.

“The Malay media do not even give space to the Malays to think. The Chinese media offers a bit of space and so do the English press but in the Malay media... they stand no chance at all,” he said.

Anwar also listed out several PR programmes that will be held over the next few months, as a part of the pact’s attempt to shore up support and stand as a cohesive front to face the BN giants in the polls.

Among others, he announced that the pact would be hosting its PR Mentris Besar and Chief Minister conference on November 29 in Shah Alam and the second national PR convention in Penang on December 19.

“Among the issues in the conference that will be discussed will be on economic performance, infrastructure and investments, racial integration and balance, community development and others,” he said.

He also said that the pact’s leaders would be holding a meeting with the Election Commission soon to discuss complaints on irregularities in electoral rolls.

Will 'inspired' Taib call for a December poll?

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud is all ready to ring the bell for the big “fight”: he may call for state election as early as next month.

Taib has openly said that he would decide on matters of seats and a “partyless” assemblyman once Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Najib Tun Razak makes a decision on opening the BN doors to associate members and possibly embracing “independents”.

Now that Najib has opened the doors, it paves the way for Taib to have a politically “safe” state election.

Speculators are betting on a quick-kill December poll, saying that everything's in place for a snap election. They say a December poll will not give the opposition coalition time to maneouvre itself.

PAS has already declared that it is not fully ready to deal with an immediate general election, given the chaos in PKR over Zaid Ibrahim and its allegedly fraudulent party polls process.

Zaid reportedly has a strong following in Sarawak and his supporters are reportedly furious with PKR adviser Anwar Ibrahim, who they see as acting in an unfair manner against Zaid.

In Sarawak, the BN component parties, although unhappy with each other, will pull together rapidly under Taib's hand.

But even if these parties don't do well and independents win under the BN umbrella, it will still be a party-friendly victory, say speculators.

Taib's strategy

Meanwhile, Taib knows well that the recent media reports alleging wide-ranging corruption and exposure of his global wealth and family's oppulent lifestyles will work against him.

He expects the opposition to lynch him. But he's not unduly worried. Taib had reportedly travelled to London where a family congregation was held to "try and repair some of their public feuds and rivalries".

The move was rumoured as an attempt by Taib to present a “united family front” in the coming state election.

Speculating on the “event”, Sarawak Report said family members were expected “to ask for each other’s forgiveness” and make amends with one another.

Sources said all was well in London and it's a comfortable Taib who, on arrival here today, announced that he has found the “inspiration” to call for polls but declined to say when.

Direct membership

Meanwhile, Sarawak is on a threshold of something new and fresh. There are already reports of independents emerging in far corners of the state.

These independents are locals who “will best represent” the interest of their people.

But all independents will need financial assistance to carry out their own projects in their respective areas. Taib knows that it's only BN which has the financial muscle to eventually entice these independent representatives to become BN-friendly.

A case in point is Engkilili repersentative Johnical Rayong who was elected on a Sarawak Nasional Party ticket in 2006 and then turned independent immediately after winning. He was accepted into BN fold last month.

Another is Pelagus assemblyman Larry Sng.

In a Bernama report today, Taib said he would let Sng, 31, decide his political future.

In which case Sng, who is an assistant minister in Taib's Cabinet, is now free to stand in his own constituency against his former partymembers.

Sng won the Pelagus seat in 2006 on a Parti Rakyat Sarawak ticket. He was sacked the following year for insubordination.

Meanwhile, rumours continue that state polls could be held as late as March or April next year since the current term of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly expires in July 2011.

The Sarawak BN has 62 seats in the 71-seat assembly, with 34 held by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), 11 by Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP), nine by Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and eight by Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).

The remaining nine seats are with the DAP (six), PKR (one) and Independents (two) who incidentally are now BN-friendly.

Chong Eu dies

GEORGE TOWN: Former Penang chief minister Dr Lim Chong Eu, 91, died at his home in Tanjong Bungah, here, at 9pm today.

Lim had earlier been warded at the Penang Hospital for almost a month following a stroke and was brought back to his residence this evening.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Koh Tsu Koon, when contacted, confirmed Lim's demise and said an official announcement would be made.

He leaves behind his wife, two sons and two daughters.

The founding president of Gerakan, he served as the second chief minister for a record 21 years (from 1969 to 1990).

Lim was born in Penang where he attended the Penang Free School. In 1937, he was a King's scholar at the Edinburgh University in Scotland, and later graduated with a medical degree.

The fiesty politician was at one time helming the MCA but after a fallout with Umno, he left the party to form the United Democratic Party and co-founded the Gerakan.

Attempted murder, say both cops and shot suspect’s family

By Teoh El Sen - Free Malaysia Today,

AMPANG: The family of noodle seller Ho Chei Hang is crying out for justice as he lies in hospital with wounds in his back that were caused by police bullets.

Police plan to charge him for drug possession and attempted murder, but the family swears that he is an upright citizen.

“It’s the police who should be charged for attempted murder,” said his lawyer, Keppy Wong, at a press conference this morning.

Ho, 32, was shot in the back four times while he was driving his car in a residential area in Kepong at dusk last Tuesday.

Police said two plainclothes officers opened fire because Ho tried to attack them by ramming his car into them. They said they suspected that he was carrying illegal drugs.

According to Wong, Ho was in the area to chat with a friend about car accessories. He was driving home when the two officers starting chasing him on foot and shouting at him. Not knowing that they were policemen, he drove off. The two opened fire several times.

"After he was shot, he lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the brick wall of a house, not because he was trying to ram into the police,” said Wong. “The car door opened and he fell into a monsoon drain."

Wong said police told him they found 45 sleeping pills and no weapons in the car.
"The sleeping pills were for his mother, who has difficulty sleeping,” he added. “Those are not illegal."

He said the policemen neither identified themselves nor fired a warning shot.
"Furthermore, why didn't they shoot at the tires? Why should they open fire so many times until he was shot four times?"

'He's a good man'

Wong described Ho’s survival as a miracle. An ambulance took one hour to arrive at the scene, he said.

Doctors at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital have extracted three bullets from Ho’s back. They said they were waiting until he got stronger before removing another slug, which is lodged in a shoulder.

"He was handcuffed to the bed even though he could barely speak and move,” Wong said. “That's violating his human rights."

The family has lodged a police report about the shooting and plans to complain to Suhakam.
"My husband is innocent,” said Ho's wife, Tan Chsiew Yong, a 29-year-old medical student. “Why did they have to shoot him?

"I was told they shot more than four times. They shot wildly. It was a public place. What if they had hit someone else? There's even a kindergarten there."

Tan wept as she spoke.
"My husband has no prior records, he is a good man. The only vice he has is smoking. We go out for supper sometimes, just the two of us. He doesn't have any other outside activities. When he has time, he makes fishballs at home.

"When I saw him, I thought he was going to die. He had all these pipes all over his body.

“We just want some justice.”

Ketamine in the car

Sentul district police chief ACP Zakaria Pagan said police had received information about two cars driven by suspicious individuals in the area and had tried to stop the two men for checks.

"However, police were forced to react when one of the cars tried to ram into the officers," he said, adding that the other car, a white Nissan Fairlady, drove off.

"We cannot take things for granted when we believe it is a drug related offence as the suspects may have a weapon."

He said police was treating the case as attempted murder and drug possession.
They found the drug Ketamine in the car, he added.

What maketh a force?

The bottom line is, the third force would become a reality only because of the attitude of Pakatan Rakyat in trying to monopolise the electoral process and not share the field with others.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

It looks like the issue of the Third Force does not want to go away. I wrote earlier that the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) is not a third force and it was never intended to become one. Nevertheless, many still insist that it is a third force in spite of these denials.

Be careful what you wish for lest your wish gets granted. If you keep talking about it too much and too often it may just become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What Syed Husin Ali said, however, does hold some truth when he commented that the third force is neither third nor a force. This was almost the same argument that was used to change the name of the opposition coalition from Barisan Alternatif (the Alternative Front) to Pakatan Rakyat (the People’s Alliance).

Why should the opposition coalition be called ‘alternative’? Alternative to what? Barisan Nasional (the National Front)? Alternative means second choice, second choice to Barisan Nasional. So the name Barisan Alternatif was replaced with Pakatan Rakyat.

The idea of a third force must be dropped. As Syed Husin said, it is neither third nor a force, yet. Instead it should be called Barisan Rakyat (the People’s Front).

It can still be a force, though, if it wants to. However, to be a force to be reckoned with, Barisan Rakyat must merge all the different ‘mosquito groups’. The political parties, movements and whatnot -- such as Hindraf, groupings from West Malaysia, groupings from East Malaysia, and so on -- should be brought under one roof.

Then, when this new grouping called Barisan Rakyat is as big as Pakatan Rakyat, both must sit down and hammer out an electoral pact.

Pakatan Rakyat is a coalition of three parties versus Barisan Nasional, a coalition of 14 parties. Soon, Barisan Nasional will enlarge its membership by allowing direct non-party membership. Barisan Nasional may soon become a bigger giant than it already is.

Pakatan Rakyat must also try to enlarge its membership. All the three parties in Pakatan Rakyat combined can’t even beat the membership of just Umno, let alone that of Barisan Nasional.

Pakatan Rakyat can no longer remain an ‘exclusive club’.

Pakatan Rakyat must reach out to Barisan Rakyat. It needs to invite them to become coalition members of Pakatan Rakyat. Only then can Pakatan Rakyat grow from being a coalition of three parties to maybe six, seven or eight.

If Pakatan Rakyat closes its doors and refuses to embrace Barisan Rakyat then they leave the others no choice but to form their own grouping or coalition. And this would mean a third force that they talk about would really emerge. But it will emerge not because those in Barisan Rakyat want it to but because Pakatan Rakyat closes it doors and treats them as the enemy and forces the ‘homeless’ Barisan Rakyat to build a home of their home.

The bottom line is, the third force would become a reality only because of the attitude of Pakatan Rakyat in trying to monopolise the electoral process and not share the field with others.


Syed Husin: Third force 'neither third, nor force'

Public attention on rampant politicking during the just-concluded PKR polls prompted much talk about a political 'third force' coming into existence.

But for PKR's NONEoutgoing deputy president Syed Husin Ali, talk will be talk because for now, the third force is “neither third, nor force”.

“Most people associate the idea of a third force with the Liberal Party in England, but the Liberal Party has existed for hundreds of years as a political organisation. It has its own force.

“We have yet to see this third force as a 'force' or a 'third' because there are differing views among those behind it, too,” he told Malaysiakini last week.

The veteran politician's decision to not defend his post sparked vicious in-fighting in PKR and allegations of vote-rigging. This led to deputy presidential aspirant Zaid Ibrahim pulling out of the contest and eventually quitting the party, pledging to set up a new one.

Syed Husin said he understands that parties involved in the third force are not entirely independent.

“We know who is behind the third force and they may not necessarily be Pakatan-friendly,” he said, noting that this could have an adverse impact on the opposition coalition.

“I more or less know (who is involved) but one by one they have come out to say they have nothing to do with it, including Zaid, the one in Sabah, in the peninsula and in Sarawak,” he said.

Lawyer and prominent blogger Haris Ibrahim - another person said to be part of the third force - has also denied the claim, saying that his proposed Barisan Rakyat is intended to screen election candidates for Pakatan Rakyat.

However, Haris does not rule out the possibility of the 20 proposed candidates contesting independently if Pakatan does not accept them.

This did not sit well with Syed Husin, who said PKR does not need to be held at ransom.

“We have our own screening process and we have a larger group of potential (candidates). Of course we can make the decision to let others contest under our banner (as PSM candidates did in 2008), that's not a problem (but) we make this decision, not someone else coming in to say 'You must field this candidate'.

“If they say they have someone with potential, that person must show their strength because in politics numbers count. How strong is his support?”

Interestingly, Syed Husin said that a representative believed to be in the group behind Barisan Rakyat had met with him prior to the 2008 election to suggest a candidate for the Kota Damansara state seat.

“It so happened that I knew this person he was referring to, (so I said) 'Do you know that he is a drunkard? Where is this screening? You come here to negotiate, to ask that someone else be sidelined. But if this is your candidate then sorry, goodbye'.” -- Malaysiakini


We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers – Emmeline Pankhurst The pitfalls and the perils of the politics of patronage

Last Saturday, after Spurs had nicked 3 points off Arsenal at the Emirates, I headed off to the Friends of Pakatan Rakyat (FoPF) talk in London on the role of our youth in Malaysian politics.
The speakers were  Hannah, Nik Nadzmi and Ginie Lim.

Hannah and Nik, both first time state assemblypersons in Selangor, shared how they were eleventh hour choices to contest in the last general election.

I want to focus on Hannah’s story.

Hannah was identified as a candidate some two weeks before nomination day for the Adun seat of Subang, which, presumably, had already been allocated to DAP following negotiations between the DAP, PAS and PKR.

I checked with her a little while ago and she confirmed that she has been a member of DAP since January, 2007, joining Tony Pua’s branch.

She served on a committee and recalls that she may have been charged with looking into women’s affairs.

What you have here is a young party member who held no significant party position, whether at national, state level or divisional level, had no political pedigree or track record, who, presumably because of her strong academic qualification, strong religious convictions that guide her actions, her principled position on important national issues and her ability to articulate them well, was soon noticed by party leadership as excellent candidate material.

I cannot imagine that the party leaders would not have made discreet inquiries to assess her suitability before the decision was made to offer Hannah as a candidate in Subang.

Hannah’s entry into the mainstream of Malaysian political life as an elected assemblyperson of the residents of Subang, starting from a position as a political novice, is the very antithesis of all that the politics of patronage represents.

On hindsight, having the benefit now of measuring the performance of this young politician, the DAP leaders must be credited with the courage to go against the grain of party politics philosophy that, all things being equal, parliamentary and state seats would invariably go to party national, state and divisional leaders.

Did DAP leaders face a backlash from their grass root leaders and members owing to their choice of ‘lightweight’ Hannah as candidate?

I’ve just been told that this did not happen, but if it did, then this warrants a second feather in the cap of the DAP leadership for sticking to their guns and their decision to field Hannah.

DAP, though, did feel the backlash in Perak, when Jelapang Adun Hee Yit Foong, a three-term assemblyperson and a DAP member from the late 80s’, was apparently upset that she had been passed over in the selection of Perak exco members, losing out to younger Aduns.

Hee, it seems, felt that her years of loyalty to the party was being overlooked by the party leaders by her exclusion from the exco.

Never mind that she might not be the best for the job.

The politics of patronage relegates considerations of meritocracy, giving precedence to considerations of loyalty and utility to the party.

We all know what finally happened.

She, together with PKR’s Osman Jailu and Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, quit their respective parties, and then announced themselves as BN-friendly assemblypersons, paving the way for the collapse of the Pakatan state government in Perak.

If Hannah’s suitability was discreetly investigated, was Hee’s, too?

And if not, was this because of her long-standing membership with the party, and probably holding some significant divisional and state leadership post?

Jamaluddin, apparently, had expected to be offered the MB’s post, before it went to Nizar, suggesting again that he probably held some high divisional or state leadership position within PKR.
Did PKR discreetly check on Jamaluddin’s suitability before he was offered as a candidate at the last election?

If not, why?

If Hannah was not the product of the politics of patronage, the same cannot be said of Hee, Jamaluddin and most other candidates at the last elections, from both sides of the political divide.
Remember Zakaria Deros from UMNO?

From a railway gatekeeper to state assemblyperson for Pelabuhan Klang in 2004.
Truly, Malaysia Boleh!

And when things got too hot to handle owing to Zakaria making the news once too often, he was dropped in the 2008 elections.

To be replaced by his daughter-in-law, Roselinda Abdul Jamil.
The politics of patronage.

You scratch my back, I scratch yours.
It is therefore heartening to read in Malaysiakini today PKR outgoing Deputy President Syed Husin Ali say that the party has its own process to screen potential candidates.
One hopes, though, that this was not the same screening process used to validate the candidacy of both Osman and Jamaluddin.

And Wee.
And Zul Noordin.
And Zahrain.


The Nation newspaper reported on October 18th that the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Markel, said "Multikulti (Multicultural) in Germany has not worked" (read here).

Her remarks were prompted by the unwillingness of Germany's non-German population of 16 million, including Turks and Jews to "integrate" with the natives of Germany i.e. the ethnic Germans.

For the Muslim Turks integration means curbs on their religion. Whether the Jews also should have their religion curbed is not mentioned.

I think Malaysia can be regarded as being more successful with multi-culturalism. We are more tolerant of the differences between our racial origins, our religions, our languages and our cultures.

I think Germany and Chancellor Merkel can learn something from Malaysia about multi-culturalism.

Dr. Mahathir PerluTaubat Nasuha

24 NOVEMBER 2010

Biro Pemahaman & Pemantapan Agama. (BIPPA), PKR, terpanggil untuk menyambut kenyataan mantan Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad seperti yang dilaporkan dalam Sinar 24 November 2010 dengan penegasan bahawa:

1. BIPPA menasihatkan adalah lebih wajar mantan Perdana Menteri sendiri melakukan taubat nasuha kerana beliau yang sebenarnya menjadi punca kepada perpecahan bahkan kemunduran masyarakat Melayu. Muktahir ini mantan Perdana Menteri menjadi penyebab maraknya api perkauman dikalangan masyarakat berbilang kaum di Malaysia. Pada usia senja adalah lebih baik untuk mantan Perdana Menteri banyak melakukan ibadah khusus kepada Allah SWT sebagai persiapan menemuiNya walaupun penentuan umur adalah di tangan Allah SWT.

2. Beliau bertanggungjawab memecat dan mengaibkan Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, mantan Timbalan. Perdana Menteri dengan dakwaan fitnah liwat yang ternyata tidak benar. Beliau mengaibkan DSAI dan keluarga di khalayak ramai. Perbuatan mantan Perdana Menteri mengaibkan DSAI dan seisi keluarga adalah sangat bertentangan dengan prinsip dan hukum agama dan tindakan tersebut bertentangan denga norma dan tatasusila masyarakat bertamadun.. Justeru, DSAI mempunyai hak di sisi syariat Islam mempertahankan maruah diri dan keluarga daripada fitnah. Kiranya tindakan DSAI mempertahankan maruah diri menimbulkan perpecahan, maka perpecahan itu adalah hasil daripada pertembungan antara hak dan batil. Demikian penegesan dari sepotong ayat dalam al-Qur’an: ”Dan katakanlah: Yang benar telah datang dan yang batil telah lenyap. Sesungguhnya yang batil itu adalah suatu yang pasti lenyap.” (al-Isra’: 81). .
3. Mantan Perdana Menteri juga bertanggunjawab merobek unsur-unsur kekuatan bangsa Melayu dari segi bahasa, agama, pendidikan sekolah agama rakyat, kedudukan Raja-Raja Melayu, kedudukan ekonomi orang Melayu dan melakukan pindaan persempadanan kawasan pilihan raya majoriti pengundi Melayu sehingga menjejaskan keutuhan politik melayu

4. Menjadi satu kebiasaan mantan Perdana Menteri meletakkan setiap beban kesilapan dan ketelanjuran beliau diatas bahu orang lain. Isu perpecahan masyarakat Melayu dan rakyat Malaysia adalah berpunca daripada beliau sendiri.

5. Parti yang didakwa kecil oleh Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pada hakikatnya adalah sebuah parti yang lahir pada tahun 1999 dari gejolak kemarahan rakyat kerana kezaliman beliau dan terus mendapat dokongan rakyat pelbagai kaum di Malaysia. Alhamdulillah, parti ini pengaruhnya semakin meluas dan bertakhta dihati rakyat serta berpotensi besar, insyaallah, mengambil alih pemerintahan negara. Inilah yang digeruni oleh Tun Dr Mahathir yang menjadikan beliau sentiasa berada dalam resah dan gelisah. Sewajarnya mantan Perdana Menteri berlapang dada menerima penentuan rakyat dalam merayakan amalan demokrasi.

6. Seandainya DSAI itu rendah kualiti diri dan kepimpinan dalam mata pandangan Tun Dr Mahathir, mengapa DSAI masih terus mendapat sambutan dan sanjungan rakyat di negara ini walaupun dicerca saban hari dan waktu oleh pelbagai pihak menerusi pelbagai media. Beliau juga terus diterima dan dihormati sebagai seorang tokoh pemimpin berwibawa oleh sebahagian besar pemimpin dunia, para ‘ulama tersohor, para ilmuan Muslim dan bukan Muslim di peringkat antara bangsa.

Dr Muhammad Nur Manuty
Biro Pemahaman Dan Pemantapan Agama (BIPPA), PKR

Is North Korea Moving the Red Line?

Image(Asia Sentinel) And is the west letting them get away with it?

North Korea and South Korea exchanged artillery fire near their disputed border in the Yellow Sea/West Sea on Nov. 23. The incident raises several questions, not the least of which is whether Pyongyang is attempting to move the real "red line" for conventional weapons engagements, just as it has managed to move the limit of "acceptable" behavior regarding its nuclear program.

The incident damaged as many as 100 homes and thus far has killed two South Korean soldiers and two civilians with several others, including some civilians, wounded. The South Korean government convened an emergency cabinet meeting soon after the incident and called for the prevention of escalation. It later warned of "stern retaliation" if North Korea launches additional attacks.

Pyongyang responded by threatening to launch additional strikes, and accused South Korea and the United States of planning to invade North Korea, in reference to the joint Hoguk military exercises currently under way in different locations across South Korea.

The incident is the latest in a series of provocations by Pyongyang near the NLL this year following the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March. Over the past several years, the NLL has been a major hotspot. While most border incidents have been low-level skirmishes, such as the November 2009 naval episode, a steady escalation of hostilities culminated in the sinking of the Cheonan. The Nov. 23 attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeongdo represents another escalation; similar shellings in the past were for show and often merely involved shooting into the sea, but this attack targeted a military base. It also comes amid an atmosphere of higher tensions surrounding the revelation of active North Korean uranium enrichment facilities, South Korea’s disavowal of its Sunshine Policy of warming ties with the North and an ongoing power succession in Pyongyang.

Over the years, North Korea has slowly moved the "red line" regarding its missile program and nuclear development. It was always said that North Korea would never test a nuclear weapon because it would cross a line that the United States had set. Yet North Korea did test a nuclear weapon in October 2006, and then another in May 2009, without facing any dire consequences. This indicates that the red line for the nuclear program was either moved, or was rhetorical. The main question after the Nov. 23 attack is whether Pyongyang is attempting to move the red line for conventional attacks. If North Korea is attempting to raise the threshold for a response to such action, it could be playing a very dangerous game.

However, the threat North Korea’s nuclear program poses is more theoretical than the threat posed by conventional weapons engagements. Just as it seems that a North Korean nuclear test would not result in military action, the Cheonan sinking and the Nov. 23 attack seem to show that an "unprovoked" North Korean attack also will not lead to military retaliation. If this pattern holds, it means North Korea could decide to move from sea-based to land-based clashes, shell border positions across the Demilitarized Zone or take any number of other actions that certainly are not theoretical.

The questions STRATFOR is focusing on after the Nov. 23 attack are as follows:

  • Is North Korea attempting to test or push back against limits on conventional attacks? If so, are these attacks meant to test South Korea and its allies ahead of an all-out military action, or is the North seeking a political response as it has with its nuclear program? If the former, we must reassess North Korea’s behavior and ascertain whether the North Koreans are preparing to try a military action against South Korea — perhaps trying to seize one or more of the five South Korean islands along the NLL. If the latter, then at what point will they actually cross a red line that will trigger a response?
  • Is South Korea content to constantly redefine "acceptable" North Korean actions? Does South Korea see something in the North that we do not? The South Koreans have good awareness of what is going on in North Korea, and vice versa. The two sides are having a conversation about something and using limited conventional force to get a point across. We should focus on what the underlying issue is.
  • What is it that South Korea is afraid of in the North? North Korea gives an American a guided tour of a uranium enrichment facility, then fires across the NLL a couple of days after the news breaks. The South does not respond. It seems that South Korea is afraid of either real power or real weakness in the North, but we do not know which.

This is reprinted with permission from Stratfor Global Intelligence (