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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Aiming to break BN grip in Johor

LABIS: The Tenang by-election may see a five-cornered fight after a PKR member declared his intention to contest as an independent.
S Jeevan, 34, a successful businessman from Kluang, said today that he intends to contest to break BN dominance in Johor.
“My main aim is not to win but to break the BN’s grip in Johor, which is considered its stronghold,” he said.
He added that his decision to contest nothing to do with PKR.
“I was not forced by any party to contest. I am doing this voluntarily,” Jeevan said.
Jeevan, who has been an ordinary PKR member of the Batu division since 2008, claimed the party’s central leadership did not give its full attention to the grassroots leaders here although it was they who made a lot of sacrifices for the party.
According to him, the PKR top leaders only focused on a small group which was working for the former’s interest.
“I was disappointed with these leaders who only paid attention to members like me during election to gain public support,” he told FMT.
He, however, said that he was still a strong supporter of Pakatan Rakyat.
Jeevan, who holds a diploma in electronic engineering, is fluent in Tamil and Malay.
When asked about his chances of winning, he admitted that hit would not be easy.
“But, at the same time, I will ensure that the BN and MIC will not get votes from the Indians and Malays.”
Indian life now worse
Jeevan also thinks luck may be on his side and he may score an upset win.
“I have had a relationship with Tenang for over 30 years. Many people here know me. If the Chinese do not choose the BN or Pakatan, then my chances of winning are very bright.”
“My message to the Indian community in Tenang: is do not forget your history and the ‘violence’ of  the BN.
“The Indian community landed in this nation and ate ubi. And today our lives have become worse,” he said.
Jeevan is the third candidate to announce his intention to enter the fray. The others were S Sanjeevan of Asthivaaram Foundation and G Sivanandan, a member of National Union of Plantation Workers.
BN/Umno is set to contest to retain the seat and is likely to face a stiff challenge from PAS. Both these parties are believed to have zeroed in on women candidates for the Jan 30 by-election.
The Tenang seat fell vacant with the death of two-term BN state assemblyman Sulaiman Taha on Dec 17 due to blood infection and diabetes.
Nomination day is Jan 22.

Brazil flooding reportedly claims 260 lives

(CNN) -- Heavy rains and flooding in Brazil have caused 260 deaths in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, CNN affiliate TV Record reported Wednesday.

The greatest damage was in a cluster of towns in a mountainous area northeast of the city of Rio from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, where civil defense officials said 147 lost their lives.

That included 114 people reported killed in Teresopolis by a mudslide, local officials told CNN. Some 1,000 others were left without shelter and were being moved to a local gym and schools.

And, in nearby Petropolis, 18 deaths were recorded, the state government said, according to Agencia Brasil. Three deaths were reported in Itaipava, while in Nova Friburgo there were 12.

Among the victims in Rio state were three firefighters who were involved in rescue operations when they were buried by a subsequent mudslide, Agencia Brasil reported. A fourth firefighter was missing.

Nearly 75,000 people were without power in the region as a result of the heavy storms.

Teresopolis Mayor Jorge Mario Sedlacek declared his city a natural disaster area. He told CNN affiliate TV Globo that at least 80 rescuers have been sent to the region.

Meanwhile, in the state of Sao Paulo, at least 24 people were dead as heavy rain continued to batter parts of the state, authorities said.

It has been raining since January 1, and the deluge could continue until the end of the week, forecasters have said.

The flooding has caused mudslides, officials said Tuesday. The Mairipora Dam gave way, adding to the woes in the area, said Ramos Junior, a captain at the Sao Paulo Civil Fire Department.

Sao Jose dos Campos, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the city of Sao Paulo, has been hardest hit by the flooding, Junior said.

In January last year, heavy rains caused dozens of deaths in Brazil's southeast coast. Torrential rains caused deadly mudslides in the resort area of the town of Angra dos Reis.

4 cops charged for beating up Chinese man. But no such records by A. G. Gani Patail for thousands of Indians similarly beaten up.

Tan Sri Gani Patail playing to the 90% Malay and Chinese political gallery? And never mind the Indian poor kena nyaya.
(see The Star 12/1/11 at page N 3)

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Jeffrey may turn UBF into political force

KOTA KINABALU: The United Borneo Front (UBF) may be forced to convert into a political party if the current political parties in Sabah refuse to subscribe to its Borneo Agenda, its leader Jeffrey Kitingan said yesterday.

“The current Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat set-up has focused on the peninsula’s agenda which is why UBF hopes to educate the masses on how we could empower ourselves politically.

“If the current political parties in Sabah refuse to subscribe to the Borneo Agenda, then we have no choice but to gather our supporters eventually into a new political party in Sabah to promote the struggle of our founding fathers,” he said yesterday after PBS officially denied any links to the NGO.

He said that UBF would approach every political party in BN and Pakatan intending to put candidates in Sabah and Sarawak and ask them whether they subscribe to the Borneo Agenda.

“This is so that the people will know what is truly in their hearts when they become the peoples’ representatives.

“We will make it very clear to our supporters and everybody we know here and abroad which parties have subscribed to our struggle and which parties have flatly rejected it,” he said.

He was speaking in response to PBS’s information chief Johnny Mositun’s denial of any talks with UBF.

Jeffrey said that Mositun’s denial was questionable.

“Did Mositun issue the denial unilaterally or did he have the blessing of the PBS supreme council?

“However, we will continue to be open to friendly discussions with anybody in Sabah and Sarawak pertaining to the Borneo Agenda,” he added.

Common agenda

On reports that PBS had invited him rejoin the party along with those who recently resigned from PKR, Jeffrey said that it was up to each individual to join whichever parties they wished.

“I have made it clear that I am focusing my struggle on promoting the Borneo Agenda through UBF and forming a Borneo Alliance of political parties, NGOs and individuals who subscribe to our struggle for political and economic empowerment in Borneo,” he said.

The UBF was co-founded by Jeffrey, lawyer Nilakrisna James and economist Zainal Ajamain.

The trio set it up as a civil rights movement and pressure group aimed at uniting political parties, NGOS and individuals in Sabah and Sarawak into a Borneo alliance and push for equal powers with the peninsula in the federation.

UBF was launched on Dec 16, which was the date of the Boston Tea Party revolt in 1773. The latter was sparked by oppressive cabotage laws imposed by the British against the American colonies that led to the American revolution and eventual American independence.

UBF hopes to force the Malaysian government to review laws, contracts, regulations and policies which negatively impact Sabah and Sarawak.

Khairy sends formal invitation for debate

PETALING JAYA: Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin piled pressure on opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim for an open debate on the economy, after sending a formal invitation for the debate to the PKR de-facto leader, here today.
The invitation letter was submitted by the Youth wing’s delegation this morning, led by national deputy secretary Megat Firdouz Megat Junid and information chief Reezal Merican, to the PKR headquarters.
“We come in a respectful manner to send a formal invitation to Anwar to accept our invitation for a debate on the economy.
“I hope he accepts the invitation which is good to widen democracy for the rakyat,” Reezal told reporters after handing over the letter.

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Mysterious stoning in Tenang estate

LABIS: The by-election din is waking up not only the people in Tenang but also some angry “toyol” or “spirits” who have come out to wreak havoc on a rubber estate near here. Or so it seems.

For the past 10 days, the workers in Bukit Dato Tenang rubber estate have been spending sleepless nights because mysterious “falling rocks” have been hitting their quarters regularly.

No one knows who is pelting them – not the management, or the police, or the workers. They have all tried to catch the culprit but in vain.

Strangely, the hail stones have been raining down on one particular row of the 20 quarters.

Now the estate management has given the workers a week to find an alternative place to stay after it failed to locate the source of the “attack”.

According to 45-year-old S Maniam, a local familiar with the incident, the estate residents had reported the matter to the police.

“But so far even the police don’t know who is throwing rocks at us,” he said.

“This incident is very disturbing. We have not been able to sleep or work worrying about it… we don’t know who is doing this,” he added.

Since the bizarre “show” began, the estate youths have banded together to keep watch.

“We haven’t been able to find anything. Many now believe that it could be the work of an angry ‘jin’ or ‘toyol’,” Maniam said.

He said that a similar incident had occurred 15 years ago. At that time, the residents and management were also not able to identify who were throwing the stones.

“But after a week the whole incident stopped by itself,” said Maniam.

Meanwhile, locals in the area have sought the help of shamans and bomohs to “engage” the mysterious “spirit” and find out what it wants.

Yesterday, a bomoh managed to lure the mysterious spirit who told him that the local residents had “disturbed its place”.

After much cajoling, the spirit agreed to leave.

Sleepy hollow

Meanwhile, rumours abound that the appearance of the mysterious spirit has something to do with the upcoming Tenang by-election.

The once quiet sleepy hollow has seen much activity in recent days. Speculations are that the place will see more frequent “visits” by the “unknown”.

Bukit Datuk Estate is one of the 12 rubber estates located in the Tenang constituency.

The Tenang seat, which is part of the Labis parliamentary constituency in Johor, fell vacant on Dec 17 following the death of two-term Barisan Nasional assemblyman Sulaiman Taha.

In the 2008 general election, Sulaimn won the seat with a 2,492-vote majority against PAS’ Md Saim Siran.

Word is that both BN and PAS will, this time round, field female candidates.

Indications are that PAS may field its Labis Muslimah chief, Normala Sudirman, while BN may go for Labis Wanita chief Haslinda Salleh.

Reminder issued to Selangor PAS leaders over Khusrin saga

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12: PAS leaders in Selangor have been reminded not to issue contradictory statements with regards to the controversy surrounding the appointment of the state secretary.
PAS secretary general Mustafa Ali (right) said the party leadership had already decided to throw its full support for the state government, which opposes the appointment of Khusrin Munawi as the new state secretary.
PAS also fully supports the move to amend state constitution (appended below) so that the powers to appoint the state secretary, legal advisor and financial officer would revert to the state, and not the Federal government.
“I would like to remind all parties especially Selangor PAS leaders not to issue statements or carry out acts which contradict what has been stated as party's official stand.
"I am following the development in Selangor closely and I hope that there is no leader in Selangor taking a different approach,” he told Harakahdaily today.
"I can work with him"
Mustafa was responding to a report quoting Selangor PAS Commissioner Dr Hasan Ali, who is also a state Exco member, who said he had no problem working with Khusrin.
Hasan (left) had also advised the state government not to attack Khusrin because "it may cause problems" to the state civil service numbering some 28,000.
"If they picket, we may be in trouble," he was quoted as saying by online daily Malaysiakini, and added that a gag order had been imposed on all state party leaders not to comment on the Khusrin issue.
Last Sunday at a stadium in Shah Alam, PAS organised special congregatory prayer attended by tens of thousands of people to declare full support for the Selangor state government and Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, especially in defending the state against any planned coup by Barisan Nasional.
“This event was organised by the PAS leadership to state that we are together with our friends in Pakatan Rakyat to face every challenge and attack by BN.
"To any of our friends who have been touched, whether it is from PAS, PKR or DAP, we will be together to face the challenges. Pakatan Rakyat is getting stronger by the day," PAS president Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang told when addressing the gathering.

A-G Gani Patail should be suspended!

by Din Merican

On Wednesday  January 5, 2011, the MACC Corruption Prevention Panel Chairman, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, declared that AG Gani Patail has been cleared of his relationship with former MAS Chairman, Tajuddin Ramli’s proxy, Shahidan Shafie.
The very next day, his colleague Tan Sri Robert Phang, a member of that MACC Panel slammed Ramon for manipulating a closed door confidential meeting to clear A-G Gani Patail. Robert Phang also warned Ramon for making an unauthorized announcement on behalf of the Panel thus rendering the Panel members to be mere rubber stamps to protect and preserve A-G Gani Patail’s position.
However, Ramon insisted that he was entitled to make that statement on behalf of that MACC Panel. If so, was Phang the lone voice in the MACC?
Malaysians were confused. Who is telling the truth, Phang or Ramon? This must have troubled another member of that Panel, Ishak Thamby Kechik, who also issued a statement supporting Phang.  It appears that other members of the Panel have been awoken from their slumber and were now speaking out.  The full Panel decided to meet to settle this matter once and for all.
On Monday January 10, the full Panel comprising Ramon Navaratnam, Anis Yusal Yusoff, Azman Ujang, Ishak Thamby Kechik, Zainal Abidin Abdul Majid, Prof. Dr. Abdul Rahman Embong and Robert Phang met.  Earlier this afternoon (January 12), the MACC Panel made it clear that its chairman Ramon Navaratnam’s statement on January 4 on the matter was his “personal judgment”. This was a damning indictment against Ramon.
Ramon was not telling the truth
Ramon, do the honorable thing and resign
Ramon’s own Panel members are now saying publicly that Ramon was not telling the truth, which means that Ramon is a Liar for announcing that A-G Gani Patail has been cleared by the MACC. This amounted to a vote of no confidence against Ramon. If Ramon has any dignity left in him, he should step down as Chairman of that Panel. If Ramon has any integrity, he would resign from the MACC Panel.
The MACC Panel members must be people with integrity. Ramon has no business being in that Panel if his own Panel members think that he has no integrity. That is as simple as it gets. Let us see if Ramon has dignity and integrity.
The Panel also issued a statement that was reported by MalaysiaKini and which came on Channel 501 Astro Awani news earlier this evening (January 12) that:  The Panel also agreed that investigation by the MACC will continue where necessary to ensure the truth or otherwise of any allegations made against the A-G.”
That was exactly the point stressed by Robert Phang, that is, that there has to be a proper investigation before A-G Gani can be cleared. Phang’s criticism against A-G Gani Patail stems from the numerous allegations that had surfaced against  the A-G – from manipulation to lying, to outright fabrication and selective prosecution.
Phang resented any attempt to use the MACC Board and Panel to cover-up for A-G Gani Patail. To Phang, the Attorney-General must be free from any form of suspicion of improper conduct. To Phang, A-G Gani Patail’s conduct is far from satisfactory and he would not have the MACC being manipulated to be a fait accompli to A-G Gani Patail’s wrongdoings.
I wrote about all these on 6 January under the title: The Shameful Whitewashing of A-G Gani Patail’s Shenanigans. A-G Gani Patail’s association with Tajuddin’s proxy, Shahidan Shafie, is not just a bare allegation.The fact that A-G Gani and his family went for Haj and shared room with Shahidan was proven by official documents from Tabung Haji:
A-G Gani and Shahidan Haji Together
When invited by MalaysiaKini to publicly clear the air over these serious allegations, both AG Gani Patail and Shahaidan had chosen to remain quiet.
Tajuddin , who was MAS chairman from 1994 to 2001, had been blamed for the national carrier’s massive losses which brought it to the brink of bankruptcy. The Government introduced the Widespread Asset Unbundling (WAU) restructuring of MAS that basically cleaned the slate for MAS to be able to operate again.
Instead of quietly going away, Tajuddin had accused then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir, and then Finance Minster Tun Daim Zainudin, as being responsible for all of his actions in MAS. Tajudin even launched an arbitration claim in Switzerland through a well camouflaged German company called ACL GmbH.  Tajudin links with this company had already been exposed as a web of deceit in the chart below:

To close the investigation on MAS, the Director of Commercial Crimes Investigations Department, Dato’ Ramli Yusuff, and Lawyer Rosli Dahlan were charged by A-G Gani Patail on some ridiculous fixed up charges. Both have since been acquitted by the courts without even calling for their defence.
There is already public disquiet over a “Global Settlement” that Tajuddin is attempting to force upon the government. It is so blatantly done under the sanction of the court (see Tajuddin’s Lawyers’s letter below).
Lawyer Rosli Dahlan
Shahidan’s name is specifically mentioned as the new owner of Naluri Bhd which was the corporate vehicle that Tajuddin used to take over MAS. What game is being played here?  Why is the government so afraid of Tajudidn that it can be forced to settle all the cases against Tajuddin? If the government can be intimidated, is there any hope of the MAS Scandal ever being fully uncovered? Was that why Dato’ Ramli and Lawyer Rosli were treated so mercilessly?
If A-G Gani Patail is now to face investigation for his connection with Tajuddin and Shahidan in covering up the MAS Scandal, can there be an impartial and independent investigation for so long as A-G Gani Patail remain in office? Is there a possibility of A-G Gani imposing his will on the investigators?
As it is,  Dato’ Mat Zain Ibrahim, former CID Chief of KL had accused A-G Gani of fabricating evidence in the “Black Eye Incident” and in planting DNA samples on the mattress in Sodomy I. If, as recent as a few days ago, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam of the MACC Panel can be cowed into making a false announcement to clear A-G Gani Patail, what hope can there be for a truthful investigation while A-G Gani remains in power?
What is the norm when a Head of Department faces investigation? In the case of Dato’ Ramli
Yusuff, he was stripped of his post, lost all his salary and privileges and until now has yet to be reinstated. The D-G of Tourism, Dato Mirza Thaiyab was suspended. So was the D-G of Immigration, Dato Wahid Don.
Shouldn’t the same happen to A-G Gani Patail?  In fact more so, because as the A-G, he is so powerful and has wide powers to decide on  criminal proceedings under Article 145 of the Federal Constitution. For sure, he will not approve any prosecution against himself.
Thus, if the government is serious about this; if the Home Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin wants to show that his bees are not being squeezed by A-G Gani Patail; if they want to show independence in this investigation, the only option is to suspend A-G Gani Patail. Otherwise, this will be just another Cover Up!

Pre-polls reforms unlikely, says Roubini’s RGE

The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Much-needed reforms to Malaysia’s pro-Bumiputera policies will likely be put on the back burner until Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak secures a new electoral mandate, a report by star economist Nouriel Roubini’s RGE global economic analysis firm has predicted.

RGE said in its “Wednesday Note — Malaysia’s Middle-Income Malaise” released yesterday that Umno was “unlikely” to revamp such policies “blocking” Malaysia’s rise to high-income nation status before the next general election for fear of antagonising Malay voters.

Najib’s market-friendly reforms under the New Economic Model (NEM) have received lukewarm to hostile response from the Malays, many of whom regard such proposals as a challenge to the special position of Bumiputeras outlined in the Constitution.

“[Given] the governing party’s reliance on Bumiputera support, major changes are unlikely until new elections are held and the government has the political confidence to confront popular resistance to reform,” RGE said.

The Malaysian Insider, quoting sources, reported yesterday that Najib was considering pushing back snap polls, said to have been slated for the first half of this year, to the fourth quarter to give big-ticket projects time to gain traction.

RGE pointed out that the decline of the local electrical and electronics (E&E) sector over the past 10 years was “one of the most noticeable manifestations” of the middle-income trap afflicting Malaysia.

At its height in 2000, the E&E sector accounted for more than one-third of the country’s total value added in manufacturing, over 70 per cent of revenue from manufacturing exports and almost four per cent of world E&E exports, the New York-based company noted.

However, Malaysia’s E&E sector has witnessed a drop in productivity, export stagnation and deteriorating global market share since 2000 due to its inability to maintain a low value-added growth model in the face of higher labour costs and increased competition from low-cost rivals like the Philippines and China, RGE said.

It fingered the “stifling” effects pro-Bumiputera policies had on the development of a robust and indigenous E&E sector as the main culprit behind Malaysia’s failure to transition into higher value-added E&E production from its current “downstream dominated” setup.

RGE stressed that it was this “evolutionary process” to upstream production that allowed Asian Tigers South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore to successfully transition to higher value-added manufacturing, and later, high-income status, despite facing similar challenges as Malaysia.

“By the time labour cost increases forced downstream production facilities to lower-cost markets, [Singaporean] firms were experienced and competitive enough to continue operating in the E&E supply chain at higher levels of value added. In this way, Singapore has managed to increase its global market share of E&E since 2000,” its note said.
“In contrast, Malaysia’s E&E sector has been unable to adjust to shifts in the country’s comparative advantage.”

RGE said the underperformance of the E&E sector over the last decade should serve as a warning to Malaysia’s policymakers that the continuation of “distortionary” pro-Bumiputera policies may limit the country’s growth prospects.

It also said that affirmative action policies have exacerbated the non-Bumiputera brain drain problem and also created a “strategic disadvantage” for local firms by limiting human and financial capital as well as “perpetuating an unlevel playing field” for entrepreneurs.

The note added that the continued government presence in the economy via procurement policies and some 500 government-linked corporations (GLCs) provided “ample opportunity for rent-seeking by well-connected Bumiputera” able to take advantage of favourable policies.

RGE is chaired by Nouriel Roubini, famous for correctly predicting the US sub-prime crisis three years before it happened.

Roubini, an economics professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, previously advised the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and currently holds research fellowships at London’s Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Karpal seeks order for Zaki to reply to complaints

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP national chairman Karpal Singh is seeking for the High Court to compel Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi to respond to complaints of alleged misconduct over bribery issues.

Karpal, in his capacity as Bukit Gelugor MP, filed an application against the country’s top judge at the High Court registry at noon yesterday.

In his application, he is asking for a mandamus order for Zaki to respond to his accusations, in two letters dated Aug 20 and Dec 1 last year, of hypocrisy and misconduct while on the Bench.

“As the respondent has failed to respond to the letters, he has failed to carry out his duty and obligation under Section 13 of the Judges’ Code of Ethics 2009,” he told reporters.

In his affidavit, Karpal said Zaki, in his capacity as a public authority, was required by law to process and reply to a complaint made against any judge, including the Chief Justice.

Karpal has also called for a tribunal to be set up to investigate Zaki over his alleged misconduct.

Probe on AG will continue: MACC

The New Straits Times
by Karen Arukesamy

PETALING JAYA (Jan 12, 2011): The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will continue investigations into allegations made against Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail.

"The panel agreed that investigation by MACC will continue where necessary to determine the truth or otherwise of any allegations made against the AG," the commission’s Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel secretariat said in a statement today.

The decision was made after the panel held a dialogue with Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein on MACC’s commitment to step up the fight against corruption.

An online portal had made allegations pertaining to Abdul Gani’s relationship with former Malaysia Airlines chairman Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli’s proxy, Shahidan Shafie, particularly in relation to a haj pilgrimage with his family.

The portal asked what part Abdul Gani had played in omitting to charge Tajudin for the RM8 billion in losses the national carrier recorded during his tenure.

According to the secretariat, the panel had discussed yesterday a statement made by its chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam on Jan 4, after Abdul Gani had met with the panel and board members.

Points raised at the meeting include that Navaratnam’s statement touched only on Abdul Gani’s explanation on expenses incurred during his pilgrimage; and that it was Navaratnam’s personal judgment when he said the panel had generally accepted Abdul Gani’s explanation as satisfactory.

The meeting yesterday was attended by Navaratnam, Prof Emeritus Dr Abdul Rahman Embong, Dr Zainal Abidin Abdul Majid, Prof Dr Ishak Tambi Kechik, Datuk Seri Azman Ujang, Anis Yusal Yusoff and Tan Sri Robert Phang.

Navaratnam’s statement had attracted the criticism of fellow panel member Phang, who has been relentless in determining the truth of the allegations.

Urging the MACC to continue its probe into the allegations, Phang had said Navaratnam’s unilateral statement breached the confidentiality of the meeting and was far from the truth.

His views were shared by Ishak, who was reportedly of the view that it was improper for Navaratnam to voice a personal opinion publicly while purporting to represent the panel.

MACC Anti-Corruption advisory board member Tan Sri Simon Sipaun had also said the authority should proceed with the investigations.

King to have a look at RCI names first, says PM

The Star

PUTRAJAYA: The names of members of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the Teoh Beng Hock case will be made public after they are presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the government was going through some names for the Commission.

“There is a process. We are going through some names. I am not able to seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as he is overseas,” he said when asked if the RCI members would be named yesterday.

The Prime Minister, when announcing the setting up of the RCI, had said its chairman and members would be named after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.

The RCI is to determine if there was any abuse in procedures by the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commi-ssion in handling the case and if there was a violation of Teoh’s human rights.

The Attorney-General had also applied to the High Court for a revision of the Coroner Court’s open verdict on the political aide’s death.

The two-pronged approach is in line with the Government’s effort to get to the truth about how Teoh died on July 16, 2009.

On another matter, Najib said the Cabinet wanted the Indian community to engage in a dialogue with the Education Ministry to look at how best to ease the tension caused by the controversial novel, Interlok.

He said the Cabinet had asked that a few individuals among the community be selected to discuss the matter.

“It was discussed by the Cabinet but we have not reached any decision yet. We want a discussion to look at how we can ease the situation and unhappiness among the community,” he added.

The move to make the novel a literature text caused controversy when several quarters claimed that it contained elements deemed offensive to the Indian community.

Rogue militias abuse rural Afghans

"At night, they come out on the roads with their faces covered," said Obaid Sediq, a resident of Central Baghlan in northeastern Afghanistan. "Many times they have stopped our car and emptied our pockets. They have guns and you can't say anything back."

The Arbakai, semi-official local militias, have committed tremendous abuses in Afghanistan's northeastern provinces of Kunduz and Baghlan. President Hamid Karzai finally ordered their disarmament last month.

These militias are known to collect forced "taxes" from feeble locals, create illegal checkpoints, seize property, and detain people in private jails - all at gun point and sanctioned by the government in Kabul.

This widespread abuse damages government legitimacy and casts doubt over a recent program to create local police forces in other parts of the country. It also brings into question the effectiveness of the quick solutions sought to the security problems in Afghanistan.

Historically, Arbakai militias were a major part of the tribal security apparatus in southeastern Afghanistan. Loosely linked to the central government, these groups typically came together from village families and provided security in times of need. A standing police force in these areas was a rarity.

In the north, however, the idea of Arbakai is new. In fact, they are largely made up of former Mujahideen from the civil war period who were disarmed in the early years of President Karzai's government. In the past couple years, they have regrouped under their former commanders, re-christened as Arbakai with new weapons.

Accounts of violence

"They killed a girl in our district and dumped her body in a bag outside her home," said a young woman who relocated to Kabul and asked that her identity not be revealed.

"We do not have a Taliban problem here ... It is the Arbakais that are causing real problems for the people"

Nizamuldin, district governor of Khanabad, Kunduz province

A high school graduate, she worked for an international organization in Kunduz before the harassment began. When she realized that she was being followed by gunmen, she switched vehicles everyday and refused to commute in her work car. And the armed men gave her family repeated warnings to withdraw their daughter from her job. Terrified, she left Kunduz to find work in Kabul.

"They are supposed to protect us from the Taliban," she said in an interview with Al Jazeera, "But it is difficult to tell the difference".

Another family, from Aliabad district of Kunduz, was forced to leave as well. The father, who owned a grocery store, was followed one evening and dragged into a secluded area by armed men. When he resisted, he was severely beaten.

They took his watch, jacket, and about $400 in cash. Then, they dropped him off near his house. Today, he lies in bed, with his leg broken, in a new temporary home in Kunduz city. His store remains closed, his five children without a breadwinner.

"During the day, they are the government," his wife told Al Jazeera. "At night, they turn into thieves."

From south to north

For most of the war against terror, as the south was engulfed in flames, the north of Afghanistan remained relatively peaceful. Former warlords, who had known only the way of the gun for decades, went through a process of disarmament and reintegrated into the new regime. The Taliban's spread was minimal. After years of suppression, most of the north had a good share in the central government.

In the past three years, however, the security situation has deteriorated, even in the north. The national police, nine years after its rebirth, failed to meet security needs. The central government has resorted to arming local groups. Those who had recently been disarmed found themselves in a position of power again - by gathering as Arbakai militias to fill the security void. These men were to defend against any Taliban spread within the bounds of their village. But, as has happened so many times in Afghanistan, some Arbakai militias turned on the locals and used their guns for abuse of every kind.

"We do not have a Taliban problem here," said Nizamuldin, the district governor of Khanabad in Kunduz province. "It is the Arbakais that are causing real problems for the people."

According to the governor, over 800 Arbakai forces have been active in Khanabad for the past year and half. In this period, they have occupied people's land, forced people to pay their everyday expenses, imprisoned people over personal animosities, and have been involved in murder and mayhem, much of which has gone unaccounted.

"As the governor, I feel ashamed in my helplessness," says Nizamuldin. "People come to complain of their abuses often, but my hands are tied because my police cannot match them." According to the governor, there are 152 registered villages in Khanabad but only 117 active police officers at the governor's disposal.

Some of the violence has actually been between the various Arbakai militias, due to clashes of interest or to settling of old scores. Last week, for example, two Arbakai groups clashed in Aliabad district of Kunduz. Rehmat Jan, a member of one the groups, was killed on the spot. He left three daughters and one son behind.

"His 9-year-old son lifts his father's gun," said a relative of the deceased who asked not to be identified. "And he cries, 'if no one else does, I will avenge my father'."

Financing the force

The same issues have been reported in two other districts of Kunduz: Qala-e-Zaal and Imam Saheb. The number of Arbakai forces in these districts is smaller, ranging between 180 and 300, but the gravity of the abuses reported is uniform across the districts. In Qala-e-Zaal, for example, a source close to the National Security Council says that a portion of the population has been forced to migrate because they could not afford to pay the money that the Arabakai constantly demanded from them.

The district governor in Qala-e-Zaal, when contacted by Al Jazeera, admitted that locals have been paying Arbakai expenses for the past 16 months, but denied other complaints of abuse.

"We have no issues of harassment at the hands of the Arbakais," said Hafeezullah, the Qala-e-Zaal district governor.

He stressed that the Arbakai were gathered from the local families and had their support, but the payments are causing a strain on people. "I have to say that people can no longer pay the Arbakai expenses, and that is becoming a problem."

In Baghlan province, too, the Arbakai have harassed locals for funds and worse. In Central Baghlan district, for example, 600 Arbakais are active. According to the source close to the National Security Council, Arbakai have raided homes at night, forced taxes on people, and killed as many as 15 individuals in clashes within two weeks.

"They have committed tens of murders in Baghlan, yet no one is able to bring them to justice," says Abdul Shaker Erfani, member of the Baghlan Development Council. The Arbakai, he says, has turned into a liability for the government, derailing any sense of legitimacy.

"In areas under Taliban control, murders are investigated swiftly," says Mr. Erfani. "In the government areas, unfortunately, no one asks about such murders."

Shifting from Arbakai to ALP

Reports of abuse led the president's National Security Council to order their disarmament last month. General Daoud Daoud, police commander of the Northern Region, confirmed that the Arbakai would be brought under the police structure.

"Work has begun to recruit them into the police setup," General Daoud said. "After that, Arbakai will have no authority in our eye. We are working hard to bring them into the formal structures."

But analysts and local leaders believe that disbanding Arbakai will be a difficult process. These men, highly rooted in local communities, have involved themselves in unfinished animosities. Furthermore, they are protected by key figures in Kabul as well as the region.

"They are supported by powerful people," says Neda Kaihani, a member of Baghlan's Provincial Council. "Dissolving them will not be easy."

Revelations of recent abuse have highlighted concerns about another controversial program signed this past fall to create local police forces, called the Afghan Local Police (ALP), as a supplement the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP).

After a much-heated debate between President Karzai and NATO commander General David Petraeus, who promoted the idea, the creation of a 10,000-strong local force was approved by the National Security Council.

NATO and Afghan officials claim that the ALP is a well-structured program directly under the command of the Ministry of the Interior - and does not resemble the Arbakai. But security analysts are fearful.

"The Afghan Local Police is directly under our formal National Police structures," says Zmarai Bashari, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior, which is spearheading the creation of the new groups.

"They will be vetted by elders and our security institutions, and we will recruit no one with a criminal past," Bashari says.

The program is already being implemented in 25 districts across the country, where close to 2,000 men have been recruited.

Bashari rejects concerns about the risks of the program: "These men will be trained and provided weapons and salaries by the government through a well-organized chain of command. No standards will be taken lightly."

Some analysts, however, are not optimistic about the program. They argue that the vetting process is impossible to carry out in these troubled areas. And their doubts are amplified by recent Arbakai abuse in the north.

"In theory, the Afghan Local Police are different from the Arbakais, and steps to prevent abuse might exist," says Lt. General Hadi Khaled, a former Deputy Minister of the Interior. "The implementation is usually hasty and left to powerful locals. That's where the problem begins."

According to General Khaled, the creation of such groups - under any name - will make governance difficult. In appearance, he says, security might improve. But beneath the surface, tremendous problems will arise.

"Lets face up to the reality," says General Khaled. "These men will answer to their own bosses, and not to the government. With their presence, law and order will be impossible."
Al Jazeera

Karpal wants CJ tried over 'bribe' remark

Witness of latest custodial death lodges report

New poser over 'balik India' claim

Did Jelutong PKR Youth chief Khairil Anuar Kamaruddin hear Komtar assemblyperson Ng Wei Aik tell an Indian-Muslim restaurant owner to 'balik India'?
He has chosen not to comment yet on a posting on anti-DAP blog which claims that he has admitted to having heard the remark being passed.
NONEAsked for clarification today, Khairil Anuar would neither admit nor deny the claim. He said he would prefer to wait until Ng (left) and Syed Kassali Mohamed Aliyar resolved the issue.
“I will probably comment on this issue next week... I respect the channels in Pakatan Rakyat... we have I need more time,” he said.
Khairil Anuar said the involvement of the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma) had complicated matters and that he does not want racial issues to be played up in the media.
The blog posting headlined 'Exclusive: Racist Ng Wei Aik must resign! Go back to India!' stated that many witnesses had heard Khairil Anuar admit that Ng had made the remark.
The posting noted that Ng himself had been brave enough to face the media after asking Penang Pakatan Youth to help him deny that he ever said “balik India”.
The blogger then urged Khairil Anuar to come clean about “the lies by racist Ng Wei Aik”.
“Do not allow this racist to continue with double-standard practices and act selectively on the traders around George Town,” he wrote.
Khairil Anuar denied that any meeting had taken place between Ng and Pakatan Youth, or that the latter been asked to deny what happened during the raid on the restaurant last week.
Ng has flatly denied allegations that he had been racist to Syed Kassali, and has given Kimma a week to retract its claim and apologise.
He has also lodged a police report against Kimma and Syed Kassali, warning them of an impending defamation suit if they do not retract their allegation.
'Ng exceeded authority'
Parti Cinta Malaysia political secretary Melvin Chin, meanwhile, criticised Ng for having been 'aggressive' with the restaurant owner.
Chin said it was clear from the YouTube video that Ng's actions went “beyond the limit, physically as well as morally”.
NONE“Ng is not an MPPP councillor... he has no right to seize the gas cyclinder or raid the premises,” Chin told a press conference after opening the party's service centre in Seri Delima today.
“He is only a state assemblyperson... the incident happened in Pengkalan Kota, a constituency under Lau Keng Ee... so why was Ng there?”
Chin noted that MPPP president Patahiyah Ismail has jurisdiction in the matter “but even she has not uttered a word of comment about the issue”.
Ng, he alleged, had shown double standard in acting against the restaurant for putting up illegal structures that were a hazard to public safety.
“Why hasn't he taken action against other shops, especially those around Komtar? Is there something more than what meets the eye?” asked Chin, adding that Ng was arrogant and had exceeded his power.

New Delhi Indian Parliamentary Caucas on Malaysian Indians (IPCMI) on the cards.

On 10/1/11 a breakthrough meeting was held between the 8 member HRP/Hindraf delegation led by P. Uthayakumar and Mr. Avinash Rai Khanna, BJP Senior Member of Parliament (MPCRS) and Punjab BJP Chief who is also a lawyer at the BJP Human Rights Cell at the BJP Headquarters at No. 11 Asoka Road, New Delhi.

Also present at the one and a half hour meeting was Dr. Nirmal Singh the BJP Chief for Kashmir, Mr. Sudhir Aggarwal the BJP Human Rights Cell Chief and Supreme Court of Indian Advocate and finally joined in by Mr. Vijay Goel the Secretary General of BJP and four other Senior BJP officials.

This meeting was facilitated by Mr. Vivek Goyal, Additional Advocate, Punjab and Advocate, Supreme Court of Indian and a Hindraf sympathizer.

P. Uthayakumar began by briefing the BJP party on the Malaysian Indian Minority & Human Rights Violations Annual Report 2010. The BJP party were shocked at the level of atrocities befalling on the Malaysian Indian poor as they have otherwise only known of Malaysia as a prosperous and fair country with the world’s tallest Twin Towers.

M.P. Mr. Avinash said that he is agreeable in principle to our proposed IPCMI but would have to confer with Lok Sabha Parliamentary Opposition Leader Madam Sushma Suvaraj BJP Supremo Lal Krishna Advani and the BJP Leader in charge of the External Cell.

In the interim Mr. Avinash had agreed to raise the serious Human Rights violations against the poor Malaysian Indians in particular on the 450,000 4th, 5th and 6th generation poor Malaysian Indians made stateless, forced conversions to Islam, Malaysian Indians denied upward mobility opportunities, government scholarships. We also pointed the exported UMNO racism and religious extremism to Indian soil ie medical seats in 14 medical colleges in India for almost all malay muslim Mara and JPA scholarships. For example P. Uthayakumar pointed out that at page 56 of the Malaysian Indian Minority & Human Rights Violations Annual Report 2010 “The first batch of University Science Malaysia’s International medical programme students will be starting their classes in September 2010 in Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Belgaum, Karnataka India. Out of the 74 students, only one (1.35%) medical student was Indian, Abilasha Nair, 19, from Masai, Johor. (News Straits Times 6.7.2010, page 27)” were also raised Mr. Avinash promised to raise these issues at the upcoming session of the Rajha Sabha in March 2011.

On a query as to whether there are Indian elected MP’s in Malaysia P. Uthayakumar explained that there are 11 ethnic Indian MP’s in PKR, DAP and PAS (P.R) and a further 4 from MIC/BN.

But these 15 Indian mandore MPs’ refuse to raise even 1% of the atrocities against the Malaysian Indian poor as per the Malaysian Indian Minority & Human Rights Violations Annual Report 2010 as they merely choose to play to up to the 90% Malay and Chinese voter gallery in their constituencies. And the same with the rest of the 76 PKR, DAP and PAS Opposition MPs’.

Thus we having to resort to IPCMI until HRP’s Project 15/38 ie winning in 15 Parliamentary and 38 state seats in the highly anticipated March 2011 General Elections.

P. Uthayakumar

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Boy dies of severe injuries

KUALA LUMPUR: An eight-year-old boy, believed to be a victim of child abuse, died earlier this afternoon.

The boy had been warded at the Ampang Hospital since December after his mother brought him in when he had stopped moving and breathing.

According to a police source, he was malnourished and had bruises – old and new – on his body including cane marks. Several of his fingers were also burnt and had become gangrenous when he was brought in.

“We are working hard to solve this case,” said the source.

The case is classified as “child abuse”. The source said it could not be classified as murder as the initial post-mortem results showed the boy died of blood infection.

It was learnt that police had previously detained the mother, a saleswoman in her 30s, but released her on bail.

The source also said that the woman’s husband is living in Australia and had regularly sent home money but had stopped doing so last year.

Family and neighbours said they seldom saw the boy around the house and believed he was kept at home whenever the mother went to work.

They also told police that they heard screams and believed the boy was being beaten at home.

“We are now wrapping up our investigation,” said the police source.

We are not brutal, says land office

PETALING JAYA: The Federal Territories Land and Mines Office today defended its “brutal” action in demolishing the homes of some 100 farmers at a 100-acre illegal farming site inside the Sungai Besi army camp near Balakong yesterday.

Its director Hasim Ismail told FMT that its action was justified as ample time had been given to the illegal occupants of the land, which belonged to the Defence Ministry.

“There is nothing brutal here. We have to understand and consider each other’s rights and responsibilities. These people have been living there illegally for 30 over years, reaping rewards from the land, but did we take any action then? We have given them years, and then months,” he said.

Hasim added that the department was not considering any compensation, which the 124 or so farmers have been asking for, as everything has been done in accordance with the law.

“There was only one poor family who qualified to receive assistance and they have been referred to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to relocate them to a nearby government People’s Housing Project,” he said.

He said the department gave two premises – one rearing bullfrogs and the other fish – until Friday to move out.

“As usual, when we enforce the law, the press will only highlight how ‘brutal’ we are, but do you also consider that they are illegal farmers? They have already made profits from the land all these years,” he said.

Hasim added that the authorities could have charged the farmers with trespassing on government land but chose not to do so.

On allegations that the authorities were “heartless” when they used bulldozers to tear down the homes, Hasim said the farmers themselves should be “more sincere” in leaving and not simply demand for more time.

Yesterday, some 100 enforcement officers, armed with bulldozers and backed up by anti-riot police, demolished almost all of the 124 farming lots in the area.

DAP leaders Selangor exco and Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah and Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching later condemned the action, saying that the authorities were “brutal”.

They were unhappy that the authorities did not discuss with the farmers before moving in or consider giving them compensation. The farmers suffered losses estimated at RM1.6 million.

Humanitarian grounds

Meanwhile, Teo said that a police report has been lodged today on an allegation that one of the enforcement officers had asked farmers to “balik Cina”.

“We also have proof to show that an officer from the Federal Territories Land and Mines Office stole a plant while another officer from DBKL stole a chicken from the farm.

“This is ridiculous. We want action taken against these two officers. Theft cannot be tolerated.”

“But more importantly, we are asking for compensation. The farmers admitted they do not own the land, but at least give them some compensation since Chinese New Year is around the corner,” Teo said.

“Their action is very harsh, and we are very unhappy with DBKL and the Defence Ministry. They simply refused to talk to us,” she said, adding that a fence has been put up to bar the farmers from returning to salvage their belongings.

Teo also asked why only one farmer was given welfare.

“Only one? The authorities must be more transparent in this matter. Tell us what are the criteria to qualify for assistance?”

Teo said that the farmers deserved some form of compensation on humanitarian grounds, as there were many cases where compensation was approved.

“In Malaysia, we have so many farmers who are working on a piece of land that doesn’t belong to them. This is their livelihood,” Teo said.

“When you take away their rice bowl, how are they to survive and feed their family? The government should be more responsible and caring.”

Commercial ‘land bank’ for Sarawak

UCHING: Chief Minister Taib Mahmud – undaunted by the more than 200 native customary rights (NCR) land cases pending in court against the state government, allegations of “land grab” and the opposition’s flogging of his government as “corrupt” – is set to create a “land bank” to be “modelled like a stock exchange company”’

Taib said the land bank would be a private company which would be 100% Bumiputera-owned with landowners as shareholders.

Lands belonging to these “shareholders” will be transferred to the bank and then developed on a joint-venture basis with companies or venture capitalists.

While quick to assert that the land bank idea is at a conceptual stage, Taib said that as a prelude, the state government would first establish a native estate programme to manage lands owned by Bumiputeras.

“In Sarawak, Bumiputeras own lots of land but unfortunately, most of these lands are not properly managed or fully utilised.

“By participating in the native estate concept, owners would see their lands being changed from mere cultivated lands to assets that could also be sold and bought among Bumiputeras through the share system,” he said.

According to Taib, Bumiputeras in Sarawak own some two million hectares of land.

” Imagine if we could invest in at least 30% of the two million hectares and turn them into new assets – many Bumiputeras would have assets worth up to thousands of millions of ringgit,” he said.

Land grabs

Side-stepping a question as to whether the native estate concept had been tested, Taib said that the state had developed nearly 200,000 hectares.

“But because of the size of the land involved in the concept, there would be lots of negotiation, especially on native boundaries.

“The people need to understand the high returns that could be generated if the native lands are developed.

“Anyway, the formula is to attract many participants and we are going to see whether the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra) and Federal Land Development
Authority (Felda) could come in and help,” he said when launching the “Survival of Bumiputeras in socio-economy and politics” seminar here recently.

Barely days ago, State Land Development Minister James Masing went to great lengths to convince the rural communities that the state government had “no intention” of robbing them of their land as alleged by the opposition.

“We have no intention of robbing the people of their land. Your rights will always be protected. There will be dividends and compensations,” he said after announcing that the state was“looking for ways to form joint ventures to open up oil palm plantations in a bid to improve the economic status of the rural communities in the long term.

Last month, Masing had declared that the state government intended to double its oil palm plantation area from the current 920,000 hectares to 2 million hectares by 2020.

The announcement shocked human rights and environmental campaigners who are concerned about the ruthless alienation of native lands and the rapid degradation of Sarawak’s rainforests.

Compensations and dividends

Meanwhile, Sarawak PKR information chief See Chee How has his own take on the government’s pledge on compensations and dividends for native land owners.

The state’s track record on such matters as ownerships, payments and dividends have, thus far, been poor.

Already, there are cases pending against oil palm companies, in addition to NCR matter,.

“Non-payment of bonuses and dividends is common among joint ventures between the natives and oil palm companies.

“Most natives cannot do anything to ask for payment of bonuses and dividends… which is why they have to resort to blockades,” he said, referring to the ongoing blockade by the Penan community in Baram in a bid to protect their communal property from trespassers.

The blockade was a result of several failed attempts to get the authorties to step in and rescind licences issued to timber companies.

The Sarawak government has declared that it intends to convert one million hectares of secondary rainforest into oil palm plantations within the next 10 years.

Why Umno wants to give Penang back to Kedah

Umno wants to give Penang back to Kedah. Why is that? This is because Umno knows it can never win back Penang, not for a long time to come. So it wants Penang to be given back to Kedah so that the Chinese population, which is 75% of the population of Penang, can be diluted by the large Malay majority of Kedah. It is all about Malay political power and supremacy. And this is what is happening in Sabah and Sarawak as well. 
Raja Petra Kamarudin


DO NOT DOWNLOAD THE FILE. To play the recording, go to the link above and click the play button (RIGHT ARROW BUTTON) on the player icon (see sample below). There is also an alternative link below if the above site does not work well.

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BN can take back Kedah, says Dr M

(Bernama) - Barisan Nasional (BN) will be able to wrest back Kedah if there is no infighting among the leaders, especially in Umno, says former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“But the problem is, when someone is moving up, another person who is not, will try to bring him down. Then when it’s the latter’s turn to move up, yet another will try to do the same.”

He cautioned that BN would not be able to win the general election in Kedah if the leaders did not do away with the culture of “cantas mencantas” (toppling one another).

The former premier was speaking to reporters after officiating at the Giatmara Silver Jubilee (1986-2011) celebration at Giatmara Prima Kubang Pasu, here, today.

He was asked about BN’s chances of regaining Kedah following the appointment of Datuk Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah as the state Umno liaison chief and Jerlun Member of Parliament Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir as the deputy chief.

Asked whether he had a hand in his son’s appointment to the post, Dr Mahathir said he was not involved at all with the decision-making process.

He said he has never interfered with Mukhriz’s political career from the start and any decision involving the latter was made by the prime minister and other top Umno leaders.

“Even when I was prime minister, I forbade my sons from being involved in politics as people would talk, and now that I am no longer prime minister, I have also not interfered,” he added.

Khir Toyo surrenders Datuk Seri title

(The Star) - Former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo has written to the palace stating that he wished to surrender his "Datuk Seri" title in view of him being charged for graft.

The policy for title-holders to surrender their titles if charged in court was made during his tenure as MB, he told The Star when contacted Wednesday.

"Given this, it is the right and honorable thing for me to return the title to the palace.

"I wrote a letter to the palace on this matter last month," he added.

Dr Mohd Khir, however, in his blog posting, said that he was surrending the titles "temporarily", pending the disposal of his graft trial.

Dr Mohd Khir, 45, was charged on Dec 6 in the Sessions Court here with accepting two plots of land in Section 7 here for RM3.5mil, when the said lots were bought by Ditamas Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Shamsuddin Haryoni for RM6.5mil.

Shamsuddin, 52, was also charged with abetting in the deal of the property on May 29, 2007.

Open Letter to Chua Soi Lek

Dear Soi Lek,

You are a highly educated person and one with the ability to think. As such, you are probably aware that the welfare of this nation rests on more than just the MCA winning its share of seats at the next general election and remaining in the coalition that holds the power to decide the fate of Malaysia.

You are probably aware that the way forward for Malaysia is renouncing the way of the Barisan Nasional, led by Umno, falling back on an outdated decades-old formula. And that if you and the MCA continue to collude with the other parties in BN to retain power, you are subscribing to practices that could lead the nation to racial rifts and economic ruin.

Would you not agree with me that at this point in our history, as we stand at this crucial crossroads deciding which is the best path to take, national politics should no longer be race-based?

If you do agree, what then is the rationale for the MCA to continue to exist as an ethnocentric party? What is the rationale for you and your party members to stick with Umno which avowedly fights for the Malays and the MIC which avowedly fights for the Indians?

How long more do you see this ethnocentric equation taking hold of the lives of Malaysians, causing strife from time to time when disputes arise over who should get what and how much? We’ve had 53 years of that; isn’t it enough?

Which is more important for you and your MCA colleagues: To stay on in BN in order to reap the rewards of being in government positions, or to do something that will ensure the honour and integrity of your party and of yourselves? I cannot tell you what that thing is which you could do to gain rectitude. You have to find it yourself.

But as you search for an answer, perhaps you would like to reflect on how strong the MCA’s position really is within the BN coalition for the party to achieve its aims. Are you, for instance, contributing to inter-racial understanding and harmony? How could that be when you have to speak up against any threat to the position of the Chinese? How could that be when Umno must speak up against any perceived threat against the Malays?

It’s a game full of contradictions, isn’t it? You can’t have one and the other, can you? In fact, your attempts over the past several months to speak up for the Chinese – indeed, for the country as a whole – clearly illustrate this.

Last August, after the Malaysian Chinese Economic Congress, when you called on the Government to gradually remove the 30 per cent Bumiputra equity in all sectors of the economy, you were immediately jumped upon by Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin. He even warned you about May 13.

A few days later, in your interview with a Malay-language newspaper, you had to soften what you had said, clearly showing your vulnerability.

Even Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein told you to “stick to the struggles of BN”. What are they? Do you know?

You were even a target of criticism at the Umno general assembly last October. A delegate slammed you for saying that the social contract should not be discussed openly.

Then at the BN convention last month, you called for a ban on the use of the term “Ketuanan Melayu”, and you told Umno it should not approve government policies during its supreme council meetings. But straight away, Hishammuddin said you had upset many BN leaders, including those in the MCA.

This boggles the mind. What you said was absolutely right – how could Umno take it upon itself to decide on government policies when it is only one of the component parties of BN? Does the MCA have no say? So how could MCA leaders be upset by what you said? Have they become Umnofied themselves? Have they become slaves of their masters? Or, as former Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin said, “running dogs”?

If so, what dignity is left in them? And in you, if you continue to serve the MCA within the BN fold?

Isn’t it obvious, too, that what you say doesn’t count for “doodley-squat”, as the American novelist Kurt Vonnegut would call it?

To be brutally honest, what good is your speaking up when you are still within the same cabal and your partners not only disagree with you, they don’t respect what you say?

As you have probably been informed, people outside don’t give much credence to your speaking up, anyway. They think it’s just a sandiwara act to merely give the impression that you are standing up for what is right. But it’s just an act.

I admit that going by the issues you have been bringing up recently, you are highlighting the fact that things are not being done right, and that your political partners should be held accountable. I might even hazard that you are at least concerned. What I fail to see, though, is your commitment.

For instance, at the MCA general assembly last October, Umno president Najib Razak told your party right within your own premises to be less communal and less demanding. Did you have an answer to that? Did you tell him in return to ensure that Umno would be less communal too? Did you tell him that the MCA was not being more demanding, that it was merely asking for what is guaranteed all Malaysians?

You see, I believe you know what is right for the country, but you are not willing to go all the way to ensuring that what is right prevails. If you were, you would not continue with the current regime. You would press for reform.

Surely, you would not disagree with me if I said the judiciary needs to be independent, that it needs to regain the trust of the people? The same with the police, the mainstream media and the civil service?

Surely, you would not disagree with me if I said our education system needs to be totally revamped to institute quality and regard for merit?

Surely, you would not disagree with me if I said that the way we award government projects needs to be transparent to eliminate cronyism? Or is that too tough a call after your appointment as Penang Port Commission chairman, a move that raised many eyebrows?

Above all, surely you would not disagree with me if I said we need a government that is clean; tells the truth; follows the rule of law; uses public funds for the people’s sake rather than for its own; and upholds the country’s institutions rather than abuses them for its own advantage?

Do we have such a government today?

If we did, you would not have said what you said last Dec 5 – when you called for each BN component party to have an equal voice and to share power “genuinely”; when you said BN had to change to be inclusive, multi-racial and to put the people first.

I know how to read between the lines, Soi Lek, and what you said that time said a lot about the coalition your party is part of.

Do you think it is capable of responding to your calls for change? Right now, looking just at the Cabinet line-up, we can see what a far cry it is from the days of Tunku Abdul Rahman. Will we ever see an inclusive government that has non-Malay ministers for the portfolios of Finance, Trade and Industry, or Defence? That no longer looks at skin color but at ability, integrity and character?

I think you might better serve the people by taking the first step that leads away from race-based politics. If you choose to do that, you will be blazing a trail. And that could bring honor not only to you but your party as well. Unless, of course, you’re a politician first and a public servant last. Then all I’ve been saying here would be worth doodley-squat.


Najib refuses to debate - no confidence in his own numbers, policies, record

Najib on Anwar’s challenge to a debate:
Najib did not refuse outright the challenge to debate but questioned the point of such an exercise.
“If we want to debate, there must be an outcome from the debate.
“I do not see one and what is important is public opinion,” he told reporters
The only part that he got right is that ‘what is important is public opinion’.
If you ask me, public opinion is that his refusal to debate means Najib is chicken.
His “there’s no outcome” reasoning is proper bullshit. What he means is “there’s no outcome in which I will benefit politically from”.
If Najib is confident in his policies, his numbers, and his administration, a public debate is the perfect avenue for him to put Anwar in his place.
Him not wanting to step up to the plate just substantiates all the criticism about corruption, economic numbers that don’t add up and a complete disregard for the freedom of information.