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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Perkasa wants bumi share margin maintained

Malay rights group Perkasa today urged the government to explore fully the role Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas) can play in maintaining bumiputera share ownership.

Its president Ibrahim Ali said while it is up to individual shareholders to dispose of their shares as they chose, Ekuinas could act as a middleman in managing such shares until the time another bumiputera decides to buy them.

"I can understand if small-time (bumiputera) shareholders want to sell their shares, because if you buy a share at RM1 and it shoots up to RM1.30, even I will sell," Ibrahim (left) told a press conference at the Perkasa office in Kuala Lumpur.

"What Ekuinas can do is to set up a subsidiary to manage the shares sold off by these small-time shareholders, instead of letting the shares go to others in the open market."

Ibrahim, who is also Pasir Mas MP, suggested that Ekuinas serves as a buyer for shares set aside under the bumiputera allotment as a means of maintaining the community's percentage of share ownership in the market.

This way, he said, the government could make sure that the shares remained in bumiputera hands.

Ekuinas is a private equity fund set up by the government, with an initial capital of RM500 million.

The fund, set up in September 2009, is part of the government's efforts to liberalise the economy by cutting the 30 percent bumiputera equity quotas and trimming the role of the Foreign Investments Committee.

Ekuinas' role is to acquire controlling stakes in unlisted local companies and raise the level of bumiputera participation in commercial activities, and is expected to grow its fund size to some RM10 billion.

'Don't forget GLCs, statutory bodies'

Ibrahim meanwhile said Perkasa is “very happy” with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's launch of the Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (Teraju), but stressed that it should look beyond simply helping successful bumiputera companies.

Ibrahim said that apart from also helping mid-level and troubled companies that can be saved, Teraju should also monitor the performance of government-linked companies and statutory bodies that are supposed to help spur bumiputera commercial activities.

He said the government spends millions every year giving funds to the many entities under its purview, but noted that there are those that do not appear to be performing as expected.

“What of Risda, LKIM, LPP, Mardi, Lembaga Koko, and many others? What are they doing now? A lot of money is given to these bodies but there are some that have trouble even finishing their funds.

“How far is the money given to them used to help push bumiputera participation in business? Teraju needs to look into this,” he said.

‘MIC Youth chief a dictator’

A youth leader from MIC launches a scathing attack on his boss, accusing him of practicing caste politics and making arbitrary decisions.

KUALA LUMPUR : MIC Youth chief T Mohan has been branded a dictator by a member of the wing’s executive council.

R Ramanan made the allegation following his dismissal as the head of MIC Youth’s public complaints bureau.

Speaking to FMT, Ramanan said he was shocked when he received the letter, informing him that he would be relieved of the post, on Monday.

According to him, Mohan was not capable of being a national leader because he acted according to his own whims and fancies.

“Why must he replace me with someone else when I performed well in my job?” he asked.

“This is not the only incident, Mohan has made many decisions which have not gone down well with the grassroots,” he added.

The vexed Ramanan also accused Mohan of subscribing to caste politics, choosing his line-up based on this.

“I will strongly state that Mohan still practices caste system in MIC,” he said.

Posers over funds

Ramanan also claimed that the youth chief only focused on several divisions and had allegedly refused to allocate funds for some divisions.

“He only pays attention to Puchong (the division which he is from). Besides Mohan, the youth secretary-general and information chief are also from Puchong,” he said.

“Mohan holds the youth position to strengthen himself and his cronies, not for the party,” he added.

Meanwhile, a party insider told FMT that Mohan decided to axe Ramanan because the latter had raised questions regarding the Zuna Night, a cultural show held by the youth wing last year.

“Mohan was angry when Ramanan questioned about the funds for Zuna Night,” he said, adding that the youth chief was worried that Ramanan would raise the matter with MIC president G Palanivel.

Contacted later, Ramanan said that he was aware about the problems concerning the funds and would reveal more details when the time comes.

He was not effective: Mohan

Meanwhile, when contacted Mohan denied that Ramanan was sidelined with an ulterior motive in mind.

He said Ramanan was dropped after “too many complaints” against him by party members and the public.

“How can we appoint someone who has a bad record among the people as the public complaints unit head. Furthermore, he was only appointed to the post and was not elected. He is not even an elected Youth exco member,” said Mohan, clearly irked with the allegations levelled at him.

He said Ramanan was given an opportunity to perform but “he failed to do so”.

However, the party youth chief said the wing does not intend to take any drastic action against Ramanan for his outburst.

MIC Youth secretary general C Sivaarrajh alleged that Ramanan had made several promises to the people but had failed to live-up to his word.

“Because, of his poor performance and arrogance, the youth council decided to change the public complaints bureau chief…that is the only reason,” he added.

Asked of the allegation that Mohan had practised caste politics, Sivaarrajh said if that was the case Ramanan should come forward with evidence.

“As a party member, I challenge Ramanan to come forward with solid evidence that Mohan did indeed practiced the caste system,” he added.

He also invited Ramanan reveal the malpractice behind the Zuna Night cultural show.

“We have all the audited account records and he can check whenever he wants,” he added.

Egypt VP: Protests must end soon

Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian vice-president, warned on Tuesday that his government "can't put up with continued protests" for a long time, as tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square for the sixteenth day in a row.

In a sharply worded statement reflecting the regime's impatience and frustration with the mass demonstrations, the newly appointed Suleiman said the crisis must be ended as soon as possible.

Increasingly the public face of the embattled government, Suleiman said there will be "no ending of the regime" and no immediate departure for President Hosni Mubarak, according to the state news agency MENA, reporting on a meeting between the vice-president and independent newspapers.

The immediate departure of Mubarak is a key demand for the pro-democracy demonstrators. Mubarak's pledge to not seek another term later this year didn't tame the angry protests.

Meanwhile, the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon added his voice to host of countries calling for "an orderly transition" in Egypt.

Speaking at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Moon said Egyptian government must heed the call from its people for greater reform immediately.

Subtle threat

Suleiman reportedly told the editors of the newspapers that the regime wants dialogue to resolve protesters' demands for democratic reform, adding, in a veiled warning, that the government doesn't "want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools."

At one point in the roundtable meeting, Suleiman warned that the alternative to dialogue "is that a coup happens, which would mean uncalculated and hasty steps, including lots of irrationalities. We don't want to reach that point, to protect Egypt."

Pressed by the editors to explain the comment, he said he did not mean a military coup but that "a force that is unprepared for rule" could overturn state institutions, said Amr Khafagi, editor-in-chief of the privately-owned Shorouk daily, who attended the briefing.

"He doesn't mean it in the classical way."

"The presence of the protesters in Tahrir Square and some satellite stations insulting Egypt and belittling it makes citizens hesitant to go to work," he said.

Egyptian military, widely hailed for professionalism and restraint, has vowed not to use force against peaceful protesters. President Mubarak, his deputy and the new prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, are all retired military officers with deep links to the institution.

Sticks and carrots

Suleiman warned that calls by some protesters for a campaign of civil disobedience are "very dangerous for society and we can't put up with this at all."

This comes a day after Suleiman announced a slew of constitutional reforms, to be undertaken by yet to be formed committees.

Suleiman said that one committee would carry out constitutional and legislative amendments to enable a shift of power while a separate committee will be set up to monitor the implementation of all proposed reforms. The two committees will start working immediately, he said.

Suleiman stressed that demonstrators will not be prosecuted and that a separate independent fact-finding committee would be established to probe the violence on February 2.

Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

And now, expect Perkasa to protest

'This clearly indicates Najib is not the man for the job as he is unable to implement his own policies without having to kowtow to racist groups.'

Perkasa hijacked NEM, says NEAC man

Anonymous_3f96: Finally, some government insiders like National Economic Advisory Council member Zainal Aznam Mohd Yusof are opening up. Perhaps it is the Egypt factor, and people are gradually becoming less fearful.

Has Perkasa and its ilk like Utusan Malaysia ever made any constructive suggestion as to how we can achieve Vision 2020? Or maybe they are happy with the status quo? How will the government pay for the 1.3 million government servants (90 percent of whom are bumiputeras) and the billions in handouts once the country's oil reserves are depleted?

The biggest danger will come from the unemployed and underemployed graduates. With the mushrooming of universities and colleges, tens of thousands of young Malaysians will be joining these ranks.

Remember the Egyptian revolution is being led by the unemployed graduates. Hosni Mubarak built hundreds of universities in Egypt but couldn't provide the graduates with jobs. The same thing may happen here if the economic reform is stifled by vested interests like Perkasa. A stagnant economy cannot provide jobs for our graduates.

Pakman: Unfortunately the extreme wing of Umno is more powerful then the whole kitchen cabinet under PM Najib Razak. So how do we progress from here? Except to change the government which is willing to implement a new economic policy which encompasses the full Malaysian spirit.

JBGuy: I am shocked that Najib is powerless against Perkasa. This clearly indicates he is not the man for the job as he is unable to implement his own policies without having to kowtow to racist groups. If Najib cannot even make the reforms he promised, he should make way for a PM who can.

DragonStar: Of the RM54 billion shares allocated to the bumiputera, only RM2 billion remain in their hands. No one claimed responsibility and no one is willing to initiate an investigation but some are now even asking for more.

The 30 percent share that is reserved for the so-called bumi is actually benefiting the Umnoputras. In other words, Umnoputras are a burden to the Malaysia economy.

Limml: Sad. BN controls the government, Unmo controls BN, Perkasa controls Umno and finally, TDM (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) controls Perkasa.

Anonymous_408d: Of course, the old man (Mahathir) knows more than Najib. He has Malaysian politics in his stranglehold and is playing the country and the rakyat like a chess board. Najib timidly does what he is told. Mahathir believes the country and the people are his to do as he pleases.

What is surprising is that Rosmah Mansor has not put a halt to this. She is not my favourite person, but for all the unpopularity she has earned, it is obvious that she is not a pushover, so her submission here is odd. She takes her husband's post very seriously as it gives her the status she craves and this brings out all the protectionist instincts in her, even if for the wrong reasons.

At any rate, she is not a wallflower. Much as her ambitious nature is seen as ruthless, she is a go-getter and one can only imagine what milestones she would achieve if she wanted to take this country to higher ground.

Maybe she will surprise us all, but none of us is holding our breath. Meanwhile, why she lets the old man control her husband is a mystery.

Loyal Malaysian: So now we have confirmation what has been reported in the alternative media - that the New Economic Model is new only in name.

Pakatan raps Putrajaya for dropping equality panel

PR has accused Najib of bowing to right-wing opposition to his proposed reforms. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers have criticised the Najib administration for dropping the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) from the New Economic Model (NEM), saying it showed a policy flip-flop. They also said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s omission of the panel showed that Malay rights group Perkasa was dictating the country’s economic policies.
“That depicts his character, (which is) one, spineless; two, his penchant for flip-flopping; and three, no clue what he is doing,” PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told The Malaysian Insider yesterday, referring to the PM.
“He should say, ‘I’m the prime minister. The buck stops [with] me. I’ll take the risk and do it my way’. This guy is so populist; he doesn’t know what he wants at the end of the day,” added Dzulkefly.
National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC) member Datuk Dr Zainal Aznam Mohd Yusof said yesterday the council had proposed the EOC but that failed to appear in the final part of the NEM, which was launched last December.
He accused the Najib administration of succumbing to Perkasa and lacking the political will to implement reforms, including the formation of the EOC.
Dzulkefly said Najib’s decision to forgo the commission would send the wrong signals to investors about Malaysia’s purported commitment to liberalisation.
The Kuala Selangor MP also claimed that Najib was “beholden to Perkasa”, highlighting the newly launched Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (Teraju).
Najib announced yesterday that the unit was set up to co-ordinate and drive Bumiputera economic participation through new and existing initiatives.
These include the public listing of Bumiputera companies with a market capitalisation of over RM1 billion this year.
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali has said dropping the EOC contradicted Najib’s “1 Malaysia” concept, which promotes equality.
“You talk about 1 Malaysia, but at the same time, your economic policies are still based on race,” said Azmin.
“You don’t give equal opportunities to all Malaysians,” added the Gombak MP.

PR claimed Dr Mahathir was dictating public policy through Perkasa pressure. — file pic
Azmin said PR’s stand was that economic policies should be needs-based and not race- based. “Our position is clear and we will continue to maintain that,” said Azmin.
“It is very unfortunate that Perkasa is dictating the economic policies of the country. When you talk about economic policies, you have to take care of all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion and colour,” he added.
The Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman claimed that Indians had been marginalised in the estates for the past 50 years while the Chinese, many of whom stay in the city, faced urban poverty.
“He (Naijb) is moving backwards, not moving forward,” Azmin continued.
The NEM had received a lukewarm response from investors due to a lack of detailed policies and an apparent rollback of Bumiputera quota reforms detailed in its debut last March.
The bold recommendations set out in the first part of the NEM to boost competitiveness by reducing quotas appear to have been sidelined in the second part, which was launched in December.
Malay rights groups led by Perkasa had lambasted the NEM for attempting to make affirmative action more market-friendly, forcing Najib to call the policy a “trial balloon” shortly after its debut.
DAP Socialist Youth chief Anthony Loke said Najib’s decision to forgo the EOC reflected weak leadership.
“If Najib cannot even take on Ibrahim Ali, he cannot claim that he is a strong leader with strong political will to carry out reforms,” said Loke, referring to the vocal Perkasa president.
Loke also claimed that Najib was yielding to pressure from Perkasa and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“If Najib cannot distance himself from this particular Perkasa agenda, or (from being) dictated [to] by Mahathir, he will be a very short-term prime minister,” said Loke.
Dr Mahathir is Perkasa’s patron and has warned Umno against alienating the group, claiming that the ruling party would suffer declining support in the next general election by doing so.
Loke added that the problem was in BN’s reluctance to implement reforms, and not in a lack of good policies.
“Whatever is written in the NEM and ETP (Economic Transformation Programme)... are good policy recommendations, which we in Pakatan can support. But the problem is... they don’t have the will... to carry out those plans,” said the DAP Socialist Youth chief.
“We have all the confidence that Malays can compete as [well] as other communities. I think progressive and young Malays have the confidence,” added Loke.
“It (equal opportunity) will not be at the expense of the Malays,” he added.
Loke also said it was pointless to talk about the 1 Malaysia concept after Najib dropped the EOC.
“1 Malaysia is empty rhetoric (and) an empty slogan without policy back-up,” said Loke.
MCA central committee member Loh Seng Kok had also urged the government to explain why it had excluded the EOC from the NEM.
“Has it been replaced by another mechanism to enhance economic competitiveness for the nation? Is it already included in other (economic) programmes or packages?” asked Loh.
“(The government) should give a solid reason why they are dropping it,” added the MCA deputy publicity chief.

New Bumi unit contradicts NEM principles, says Pua

Pua: ‘Najibnomics’ turning out to be nothing more than an endorsement of the controversial NEP which favours the influential elite and a copycat of Mahathir’s mega-projects and privatisation policies of the 1990s.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — DAP publicity chief Tony Pua accused Datuk Seri Najib Razak today of abandoning his New Economy Model (NEM) by launching a new unit to enhance Bumiputera economic participation.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP said the new unit called Teraju contradicted the spirit of NEM, which is to restructure the affirmative action programmes to benefit the bottom 40 per cent of income earners regardless of race.

“Najib is now proving to be a failed reformer, with his much vaunted ‘Najibnomics’ turning out to be nothing more than an endorsement of the controversial NEP which favours the influential elite and a copycat of Mahathir’s mega-projects and privatisation policies of the 1990s,” said Pua in a statement today.

“It is most unfortunate that the Prime Minister has chosen to pander to vested political interest of race-based extremists groups such as Perkasa, and forsake his opportunity to make his mark by embarking on genuine reforms on Government policies which will reverse the decline in our economic competitiveness,” said the first term MP.

When launching Teraju yesterday Najib had said that the unit will lead, co-ordinate and drive Bumiputera economic participation through new and existing initiatives, propose institutional reform to increase effectiveness and act as the secretariat for the Bumiputera Agenda Supreme Council (MTAB) that oversees Bumiputera economic development.

Najib had in the past promised that reforms to the economy would still see to the needs and interests of the Bumiputera community who are made up of the majority Malay population as well as indigenous people such as the Orang Asli.

He said yesterday that Bumiputeras account for 73 per cent of the 2.4 million households in the lowest 40 per cent income bracket.

In 2009, Najib had done away with regulations requiring a 30 per cent Bumiputera stake in 27 service and financial sub-sectors and limited the purview of the Foreign Investment Committee that oversees Bumiputera equity.

Pua said Najib had made NEM irrelevant with the new Bumiputera unit while extending the implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) without clear deadline.

“A confluence of criticisms by a member of the National Economic Action Council (NEAC), a former Minister and the former US Ambassador to Malaysia, together with an announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak himself have confirmed the death and irrelevance of the New Economic Model (NEM),” said Pua.

He cited NEAC member Datuk Dr Zainal Aznam Mohd Yusof’s remarks yesterday that Najib administration has insufficient political will to reform and former US diplomat John Malott’s warning against delaying reform plans or risked losing the country’s competitiveness.

“The Prime Minister himself, has chosen the very same day to hold a ‘Bumiputera Agenda Supreme Council’ meeting and announcing the setting up of ‘Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera’ to drive and co-ordinate bumiputera economic participation,” said Pua.

“This confirms the criticisms that Najib is placing the race agenda above the original intention of the NEM, which was to steer affirmative action programmes towards the bottom 40 per cent of income earners of the population,” he added.

A 30 per cent Bumiputera stake in the national economy has been an objective of the government since the implementation of the NEP in 1970.

Official statistics state that Bumiputera-held equity in the country stands at 18.7 per cent as of 2004.

BN leaders write off PKR Sabah

Sabah Barisan Nasional leaders are convinced that crisis-ridden state PKR is crumbling.

KOTA KINABALU: The exodus of senior PKR leaders and members has sealed the opposition party’s fate in Sabah, according to leaders in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Joseph Pairin Kitingan said while it was anybody’s guess why PKR leaders were leaving their party, it was obvious that they have lost confidence in the leadership of their own party.

Pairin, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, said that with the opposition party continuing to slip deeper into crisis and the general election expected to be held soon, many of its followers appeared to be thinking about their own political future and decided to join BN.

“The leaders and members of PKR have decided to leave their own party and prefer to be with the BN, and this is the conclusion that obviously must be seen by members of the public,” said Pairin.

Pairin, who was chief minister for nine years until PBS was toppled from power by BN in 1994 following the exodus of its elected leaders to BN, was among several BN leaders who voiced their views in the wake of former Sabah PKR chief Pajudin Nordin’s application to join Umno.

Pajudin’s resignation from PKR came barely a month after his controversial appointment as PKR Sabah chief by the party leadership.

Late last year, former PKR vice-president Jeffrey Kitingan, who is Pairin’s younger brother, also quit PKR. His resignation sparked a mass pullout by Kadazandusun and Murut leaders from the opposition party.

Jeffrey went on to form the United Borneo Front (UBF).

No credible leaders

Last weekend, PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail flew into the state and announced she had taken over the helm of the party’s state administration.

She immediately announced the setting up of a Sabah presidential council. The move is seen by leaders from the ruling BN as a “shadow cabinet” in view of the widespread talk about an impending snap general election.

According to another Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Yahya Hussin, the PKR central leadership has been facing difficulties in finding good leaders and gaining the support of the people of Sabah.

Yahya, who is also the Sabah Umno liaison secretary, said this was evident as Wan Azizah herself had to take over the party’s leadership in Sabah.

“Why would anyone want to join at the state level when the party is facing problems and is unstable at the national level?

“It is a clear sign that the party has been rejected. It’s a clear writing on the wall that needs no explanation,” said Yahya.

Other BN leaders in Sabah, when contacted, also expressed similar views, contending that PKR has found itself in deep trouble in Sabah because it no longer has any credible leaders with support from the grassroots.

No future in opposition

Puteri Umno Malaysia chief Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin described Azizah’s decision in setting up a presidential council as an attempt to strengthen its position in Sabah.

Rosnah, who is Deputy Health Minister, said the move to set up the presidential council to fill up the leadership void in Sabah showed that the party’s leadership pool in the state was drying up fast with the exit of its leaders and members.

This was not the case when PKR first spread its wings to Sabah some years ago; now the party no longer appears to have the sympathy and support of Sabahans, she said.

“Although the national leaders have claimed there is no internal crisis, dissatisfaction among their members and leaders is evident as they resign one by one. If the crisis in Sabah PKR continues to worsen, I would not be surprised if more resign,” she said.

United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) treasurer-general, Marcus Mojigoh, said PKR leaders were abandoning the party because they have come to realise that they have no future in the opposition.

“PKR is falling apart… how can you expect the party to run the country? Every leader appointed is led by the nose and must be subservient to (de facto leader) Anwar (Ibrahim). Who wants that? The people are not stupid.

The “mass migration” from PKR to BN means that “PKR can only dream of governing Sabah and has desperately set up the presidential council as a shadow cabinet”, he said.

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president Liew Vui Keong, who is also Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, ssid that the frequent changes of top leadership in Sabah PKR in the last few months was an indication that the party is crumbling.

Yong wants govt to act against new ‘Sulu Sultan’

Controversy rages over the newly crowned 'Sulu Sultan', an Umno member who allegedly was once held under ISA for faking MyKads.

KOTA KINABALU: Is the Federal Government going to take action against the ‘newly crowned Sulu Sultan’ Akjan Ali Muhamad who was allegedly held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for faking MyKads? This is a question posed by former Sabah Chief Minister Yong Teck Lee.

“The fact that there are innumerable claimants to the Sulu Sultanate is public knowledge.

“But to have a joker by the name of Akjan Ali to install himself in a self-styled coronation in Sabah as Sultan of Sulu is a direct joke to Malaysia’s sovereignty over Sabah and an insult to the our Malaysian Sultans and our Sabah head of state.

“Does this so-called “Sultan of Sulu”, complete with a “Prime Minster” of a government-in-exile expect people of Sulu descent (living in Malaysia) to pledge loyalty to him, and not to our Malaysian Agung, our constitution and nation?

“The security implications are obvious and serious,” said Yong in a statement issued here.

Yong, who is also Sabah Progressive Party president further noted that in 1995 or 1996, Akjan and several other Umno operatives were detained under the ISA for the manufacturing of fake identity cards.

“I need say no more about this person except that Akjan is an active Umno member. What is Umno going to do about him?

“If the Malaysian government does nothing to stop such flagrant violation of Malaysia’s sovereignty over Sabah, then Sabahans will be wondering what it means to be a Malaysian,” he said.

Akjan was crowned as the 33rd Sultan of the Sulu Sultanate in a symbolical coronation ceremony here on Feb 2. The coronation was witnessed by some 60 people comprising of senior officials of the Sulu sultanate and its interim government.

Hence, Akjan now proclaimed himself as Paduka Mahasari Maulana Al-Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim II, Dr Sharif Mohammad Akjan Mu’izzuddin Waddaulah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Sharif Ali Muhammad Pulalun, or Sultan Shariful-Hashim II, in short.

Support for Suhaimi is principled and correct

PKR leader Sivarasa argues that there is nothing wrong in Pakatan-ruled Selangor giving the Seri Muda elected rep financial support for a politically motivated prosecution.

By Sivarasa Rasiah - Free Malaysia Malaysia

Comments made by Kedah GerakanYouth chief Tan Keng Liang and so-called Gaps chairperson Hamidzun Khairuddin objecting to the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor government commitment to pay lawyers to defend PKR Seri Muda elected representative Suhaimi Shafie in his sedition prosecution only show their lack of understanding on the duty of the state to ensure access to justice.

The most obvious reason for the Selangor government to give him financial support is the fact Suhaimi, a Pakatan member of the Selangor state assembly, is now facing a politically motivated prosecution under a draconian law initiated in colonial times to stifle free speech.

On that score alone, Pakatan Rakyat Selangor, as a government advocating for a full democracy, would be duty bound to support his defence.

In the same way, there could be no objection whatsoever to Pakatan Selangor giving similar support if some of the persons arrested during the Selangor-organised gathering to hand over a memorandum rakyat to the Agung on the water standoff in Selangor were prosecuted for unlawful assembly under the Police Act, another BN draconian creation.

Likewise, if Pakatan lawmakers in Selangor were suddenly arrested under the ISA (another draconian colonial creation) by the Federal Home Minister, there could be no objection whatsoever if Pakatan Selangor weighed in with legal support for habeas corpus applications to secure their release.

These are some examples to make the point

Simply put, the Pakatan Selangor government is correct in principle to put its money where its mouth is and in principled opposition to politically motivated criminal prosecutions using oppressive laws.

The ignorant objectors we are hearing should appreciate that a civilised society goes even much further.

Underfunded legal aid system

Developed democracies all over the world put billions of dollars to fund legal aid systems and lawyers to defend their ordinary citizens facing criminal prosecutions for all sorts of ordinary criminal offences.

This is to ensure a fundamental canon of justice – that access to justice is not denied because of a lack of means.

Whenever matters of public interest are raised in court, these are also relevant considerations for the state to consider legal aid.

It is high time that the BN Federal government realised that the RM25 million currently used annually to fund our existing pitiful legal aid system needs to be expanded many times over.

We should be spending much more per capita to fund a truly effective legal aid system particularly for persons arrested and remanded in police lockups.

Countries like Australia, United Kingdom and Canada spend billions to deliver effective legal aid systems.

Even after adjusting for the size of our GNP, our legal aid expenditure looks completely miserly and only serves to confirm our antipathy to a basic principle of justice.We should be spending hundreds on millions to ensure our citizens are ensure legal representation particularly for criminal prosecutions instead of spending billions buying military hardware of limited utility.

It makes a mockery of the slogan ”Rakyat didahulukan”!

Whilst it is certainly not a responsibility of the state government under the Federal Constitution to provide full fledged legal aid systems which is a federal responsibility, it is my view that Pakatan-run Selangor should consider initiating limited pilot public legal aid projects (bearing in mind its limited resources ) to demonstrate Pakatan’s commitment to full-fledged legal aid systems under a future Pakatan Federal government.

Access to justice must always remain a cornerstone of any equitable and fair legal system.

Lawyer Sivarasa Rasiah is the MP for Subang and a member of PKR’s political bureau.

Woo Malays, Indians or kiss Putrajaya goodbye

DAP's M Kulasegaran issues a stern warning: Find ways to stop the decline in support among the two communities or forget about capturing the administrative capital.

GEORGE TOWN: The Pakatan Rakyat leadership must immediately conceive a strategy to arrest the declining support for the opposition coalition among Malays and Indians, said a DAP leader.

Failing which, DAP vice-chairman M Kulasegaran, warned that Pakatan’s ambition of capturing Putrajaya would hit a brick wall.

Based on a preliminary analysis of the recent Tenang by-election results, he noted that there was a surge in Malay and Indian support for Barisan Nasional.

“Pakatan cannot deny that consistent with past survey findings, Malay support, specifically of the rural Malays, for BN has increased. There was also an obvious increase in Indian support for BN.

“This is an important area that Pakatan must look into. It must plan new strategies to win back their support,” added the Ipoh Barat MP in a blog posting.

On a positive note, Kulasegaran said it was encouraging to note that Chinese support for Pakatan had increased by some 10% in Tenang.

“This happened despite the candidate being from PAS and MCA campaigning hard on the Islamic state issue to frighten the Chinese voters,” he added.

Votes from all ethnic groups needed

However, Kulasegaran cautioned that Pakatan cannot be over-dependent on Chinese votes.

He said Pakatan needed support from the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans, Orang Asli and other minorities to achieve its Putrajaya goal.

In the Tenang by-election, BN candidate Mohd Azahar Ibrahim from Umno defeated Pakatan candidate Normala Sudirman from PAS by a majority of 3,707 votes.

Azahar received 6,699 votes against Normala’s 2,992, giving BN 1,215 votes higher than its margin in the 2008 general election.

The victory in Tenang was BN’s sixth in the 14 by-elections held since the 2008 general election. The coalition won in Hulu Selangor, Batang Ai, Galas, Batu Sapi and Bagan Pinang as well.

Pakatan won eight in Sibu, Kuala Terengganu, Bukit Gantang, Permatang Pauh, Permatang Pasir, Manek Urai, Penanti and Bukit Selambau.

Both coalitions would be locking horns once again in the Merlimau state by-election on March 6.

Meanwhile, Kulasegaran reminded that Pakatan must conduct an in-depth analysis into the Tenang results to comprehend the voting trend and how it would affect or help the coalition’s electoral chances.

“Only then Pakatan can march successfully to Putrajaya to create a better Malaysia. Pakatan must work towards this,” he said.

RM1 billion per patrol boat is the way to make money

Dictators all over the world make money through defence contracts. And the exorbitant price that Malaysia is paying for the six patrol boats can only be because of shenanigans. Why can’t Malaysia call for an open tender like other countries?
Raja Petra Kamarudin

Valentine's Day - HARAM dalam Islam

This video is about an ustazah giving her opinion about Valentine's Day. At minute 3:20, she said "Maksiat, Disco, Couple Couple bersunyi sunyian, inilah tradisi masyarakat yang beragama Kristian".
Is This 1Malaysia? Apparently she is still living in Ignorant Age (Zaman Jahiliah)
From Kenny Chong

Can Malaysia shelter from the tidal wave of true democracy?

Nations that propagated oppressive or suppressive laws (depending on which side of the political camp one belonged to), to keep citizens reined-in are being caught by surprise and uprisings overnight. Leaders who wielded the baton to keep revolts out of sight are finding their barricades falling apart.

By J. D. Lovrenciear

The world has only crossed the first decade lap in its run on the 21st century time-line circuit and already a tidal wave of true democracy and civil liberties is beginning to sweep across the earth.

The Glasnost took the world by surprise. But it did not end there.

The Berlin Wall collapsed. It was enough.

China rammed open its closed-door policy of decades under Mao Tze Dong's communism grip. And now there is even more.

Tunisia. Egypt. In fact even the Gulf States are sitting on the edge despite having a water-tight grip on the masses.

The truth is the tidal wave of true democracy and heightened civil liberties are indeed sweeping across the globe. In the wake of this new age liberation panacea, aided by the accelerating breakthrough Information Technology innovations and a East to West, North to South 'networked society', we are witnessing the gaining speed of a corrective action taking place worldwide.

Nations that propagated oppressive or suppressive laws (depending on which side of the political camp one belonged to), to keep citizens reined-in are being caught by surprise and uprisings overnight.

Leaders who wielded the baton to keep revolts out of sight are finding their barricades falling apart.

Those who took a Machiavellian route are discovering that they are becoming antiquated voices in the increasing deserted wilderness with passing time.

Today, the fight against corruption, lack of transparency and poor accountability has indeed gained momentum. These are also becoming the core issues in the re-awakening agenda of human society the world over.

What we are witnessing is a clarion call to 'return to society what rightfully belongs to all mankind'. This is a far cry from the centuries old practice of 'Give unto Caeser what belongs to Caeser'.

Closer home, Malaysia has been no exception. These past several years, the political climate has been heating up not gradually. Social order is going through a soul searching process.

Now the question is can Malaysia withstand the surge of true democracy and the clarion call for the re-institution of civil liberties in the world?

Perhaps the answer should be: It is not what we go through but what we will eventually become. Therein lies Malaysia's survival as the world over-hauls itself in this second decade of the 21st century.

The reality take is basically this: a country can have any number of increasing laws; it can erect any high fences to shut its people off; it can intensify the fear factor; it can silence protests arguing that it is in the public's interest. But all these are already failing across the globe in the face of the tidal wave of true democracy and civil liberties sweeping the world over.

Hence the sooner our leaders come to terms with this second Renaissance of humanity, the better the nation's chances of surging ahead with the tides of change. The proverbial 'frog in a well' or 'katak dibawah tempurung' mindset will only be a punishing and painful liability.

Mahathir blames police over Ops Lalang

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had pointed at the direction of the police over Ops Lalang, which saw 106 people arrested including top political dissidents under the Internal Security Act in 1987.

conversations with mahathir tom plateIn the most recent book on Mahathir, 'Doctor M: Operation Malaysia - Conversations with Mahathir Mohamad', the former premier of 22 years revealed that he was furious over the mass crackdown.

"Well, I would have handled it differently, except that the police wanted to do these things because they say it is necessary...

"I actually met all of the opposition members (beforehand) and assured them that they would not be arrested. And you know what the police did? They arrested them. My credibility is gone," he said.

"You must have been furious!" retorted Tom Plate, the interviewer and author of the book.

"Yeah, but what can I do? You see, I have to accept that they are the people on the ground that makes a decision. I give general authority to them," continued Mahathir, who was known as a strongman who brook little dissent.

Regrets, I've had few

In the 1987 crackdown on Oct 27, over one hundred people - mostly opposition and a handful of MCA and Umno politicians - were arrested while the publishing permits for The Star and Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan were revoked.

The government had explained that the second largest ISA swoop since the May 13 racial riots were 'necessary' to contain rising 'racial tensions' from the protests over the appointment of non-Chinese educated principals to Chinese vernacular schools.

In response, Umno held a counter protest, where notably then Youth chief Najib Abdul Razak led a mammoth rally in Kampung Baru days prior to the arrests.

Mahathir, who was the PM at that time, also said that in retrospect, he may have had some regrets over the clampdown.

"Yeah. Regrets ... I mean you have to trust the police, because you have to work with them. They are the people who have to look after security, and when they advise you that the tension is very high, that it might explode into racial riots, and they need to take this action, you can't tell them no.

"You don't, you see, because you know less than they do. See, and you have to trust the people who are the implementers. I have no means of verifying everything that they say," he said.

You don't argue with men with guns

Later on in the book, Mahathir betrays a hint of timidity with the police force.

When Plate asked whether Mahathir's control over the police, even as a powerful prime minister, was not absolute, the elder statesman agreed.

bad police officers"No, not absolute. You have to learn to live with the people with guns," he said.

"But then, does that make you to some extent a hostage of the people who have guns?" asked Plate.

"To a certain extent... everybody is. You see, you have to give people the means to enforce, and then of course they are better equipped than you are. You have to accept the fact that when they tell you that certain things need to be done, you have to respect them.

"If you keep running them down - there have been instances where they were run down by the government as being incompetent, corrupt and all that - what happens then?" he asked, hinting that the police may in the end go on strike.

Choosing the 'wrong' successors

While recounting his previous experience with former protege and deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim - whom Mahathir would later sack from the cabinet in 1998 - the former PM conceded that he had problems picking his successors.

"I got my blind spots, you know. You could say that I choose all of the wrong successors," he said.

"One of my biggest mistakes was choosing my successor," Mahathir repeated himself later.

Mahathir had quarrelled with most of his anointed deputies, including former deputy premier Musa Hitam.

After stepping down from power in 2003, he appointed Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the fifth prime minister. However, the two too quickly fell out of favour.

'Conversations with Mahathir Mohamad' is based on a series of interviews by veteran American journalist Plate.

Sedition law’s overreach

The Star

The Sedition Act is open to many criticisms for its breadth and for its far-reaching implications on political life in the country. Some of its provisions do raise enthralling issues of constitutionality.

THE sedition charge against Sri Muda assemblyman Shuhaimi Shafiei draws our attention to the catch-all provisions of the controversial Sedition Act 1948.

Definition: Section 2 and 3(1) of the Act state that any act, speech, words or publication are seditious if they have a tendency towards any of the following:

> To bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or government.

Disaffection does not mean absence of affection but refers to disloyalty, enmity and hostility: PP v Param Cumarasamy [1986].

> To excite subjects to seek alteration other than by lawful means of any matter by law established.

> To bring into hatred or contempt the administration of justice in the country. In Lim Guan Eng v PP [1998], an opposition leader who complained that justice was selectively administered was convicted of this charge.

But in PP v Param the defendant’s criticism of the Pardons Board for not applying uniform standards in considering applications for mercy was held not to constitute sedition.

> To raise discontent or disaffection among the subjects. In PP v Ooi Kee Saik [1971] an opposition leader had accused the Government of gross partiality in favour of one race over another.

> To promote ill will and hostility between races or classes.

> To question the provisions dealing with language, citizenship, the special position of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the sovereignty of the Rulers. In Melan Abdullah v PP [1971] the editor-in-chief of Utusan Melayu had published an MP’s speech with the sub-heading “Abolish Tamil or Chinese medium schools in the country”.

Application of the law: In Param Cumarasamy it was held that intention to incite to violence, tumult or public disorder is not a necessary ingredient of the crime.

As long as the words were intentionally published and they had a tendency to cause ill will, etc, the offence is complete.

The prosecution need not prove that the act, speech or publication actually caused hostility, ill will or disaffection. It is no defence for the accused to argue that his words were, in fact, true and honest: PP v Ooi Kee Saik [1971].

Sedition can be committed either in public or in private. On the same set of facts the speaker, the printer and the publisher of a speech may all be prosecuted as in Ooi Kee Saik’s case.

Under Article 63(4) and (5) of the Federal Constitution, Members of Parliament are not exempt from the law of sedition for their parliamentary words or actions: Mark Koding v PP [1982].

Safeguards: Section 3(2)(a) of the Sedition Act says that a speech is not seditious if its tendency is only to show that any Ruler has been misled or mistaken in any of his measures.

Section 3(2)(b) states that a speech is not seditious if its tendency is to point out errors or defects in the implementation or administration of government policies with a view to remedying the errors or defects.

What this means is that implementation of government policies and programmes can be questioned.

But the existence of rights, privileges, powers, etc, cannot be put to debate.

Except in relation to sensitive matters, it is permissible to try to seek by lawful means the alteration of any matter established at law.

There is a defence of innocent and non-negligent dissemination in section 6(2).

No person shall be convicted if the publication was printed, sold or distributed without his consent, knowledge and without any want of due care: Melan Abdullah v PP [1971].

Under section 7, innocent receivers of seditious publications are protected if they surrender the publication as soon as the nature of the content has become known to them.

The offending passage must be read in context and as a whole: Mark Koding v PP [1982].

The presiding judge is entitled to look at the audience addressed.

Language which may have a tendency to incite youths may not have such tendency with professors or divines.

The judge is entitled to take note of the contemporary situation. In times of war, emergency or discord, a tendency to bring about one of the undesirable results may be more easily imputed than in times of peace and harmony: PP v Oh Keng Seng [1977].

Constitutionality: Though the Sedition Act has stood the test of time since 1948, it is not immune from judicial review.

Some of it’s provisions do raise enthralling issues of constitutionality.

If the Sedition Act is an Act to combat subversion, then it suffers from a number of manifest defects.

> Every law made under Article 149 must contain the recital prescribed in Article 149(1).

The Sedition Act contains no such recital. Absence of a recital amounts to a violation of a mandatory procedural requirement.

The alternative approach could be that the absence of a mandatory recital relegates the Act to the status of an ordinary law under Article 10 that is bereft of the special scope of Article 149.

> Under Article 149(1) subvesive action must be taken or threatened by “any substantial body of persons”.

Actions of lone dissidents are not within Article 149’s contemplation. Yet the Sedition Act criminalises individual acts of dissent or disaffection.

> In section 2 of the Act, the definition of “publication” includes all written or printed matters and any visible representation.

This means that even a purely private, non-printed, non-circulated matter that is left in a person’s drawer (but discovered by the police in a search under section 8(1) can be regarded as a “publication”.

This means that the Act goes for an overkill. Its prohibitions show no necessary nexus or connection with the action or threat of a substantial body of persons to do the prohibited things in Article 149(1)(a) to (f).

> In sections 2 & 3 of the Act, sedition is not to be judged by actual facts or by criminal intention but by a speculative and subjective “tendency”.

However, in Article 149(1), “tendency” alone is not enough. The alleged action must be of a nature so as “to cause”, “to excite”, “to promote”, “to procure” or be prejudicial to public order, etc.

If the Sedition Act is a law under Article 10(2) and 10(4), then its restrictions must fall within the borders of the explicitly enumerated grounds in these Articles.

It is arguable that many of the provisions of the Act, e.g. section 3(1)(a) on exciting disaffection against any government go far beyond the permissible limits.

In PP v Pung Chen Choon [1994] it was held that where a law authorises restrictions in language wide enough to cover restrictions both within and outside the permissible limits, the law cannot be upheld.

In the same case it was provided that in order to determine whether a particular piece of legislation falls within the orbit of permitted restrictions, the objects of the law must be sufficiently connected to the eight restrictions enumerated in Article 10(2)(a).

The connection must be real and proximate, not far-fetched or problematical.

There is emerging jurisprudence in the case of Shamim Reza that, as in India, parliamentary restrictions on fundamental rights must be “reasonable” in order to be valid.

The concept of sedition in Malaysia is much broader than in the UK, Ireland, India and Australia.

On ideal democratic standards, the law is open to many criticisms for its breadth and for its far-reaching implications on political life in the country.

For this reason it is ripe for review. Whether the technique for law reform will be legislative or judicial remains to be seen.

> Shad Saleem Faruqi is Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM and Visiting Professor at USM

Employment Downturn For Working Mothers This Year

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 (Bernama) -- In a worrying development for equal opportunities across the globe, this year is expected to see an employment downturn for working mothers due to the reawakening of old prejudices.

A research by workspace solutions provider, Regus, revealed the proportion of firms intending to hire more working mothers has slumped by one fifth over the same period last year.

The survey showed only 36 per cent of the companies planned to hire working mothers this year compared to 44 per cent previously.

It also reveals the residual concerns among a minority of employers, 37 per cent of them fear working mothers show less commitment and flexibility, 33 per cent believe they will leave shortly after training to have another child and another 24 per cent were concerned about their outdated skills.

William Willems, Regus Vice-President for Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, said it was not surprising to see prejudiced attitudes come back into play with economic belt-tightening and some businesses are evidently still guilty of applying old-fashioned misgivings to the contemporary environment.

The survey also revealed more than 50 per cent of Malaysian firms were reluctant to hire working mothers.

While 48 per cent of Malaysian companies planned to add staff, only 41 per cent of them intend to hire more working mothers.

Meanwhile, 76 per cent of Malaysian employers were particularly concerned about working mother flexibility and another 52 per cent were worried about their leave to have another child.

The survey involved over 10,000 business respondents from the Regus global contacts database who were interviewed between August and September last year.

Protests swell at Tahrir Square

Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators have poured into Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square as protests against Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, entered their 15th day despite a slew of concessions announced by the government.
Tens of thousands of protesters have also come out on the streets in Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city.
There were also reports of a protest outside the parliament building in the capital. A witness said at least a thousand people had gathered at the spot and more were coming in.
According to Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the Egyptian capital, the crowd at Tahrir Square grew rapidly on Tuesday afternoon, with many first-timers joining protesters seeking Mubarak's immediate ouster.
Click here for more on Al Jazeera's special coverage 
The newcomers said they had been inspired in part by the release of Wael Ghonim, the Google executive, after what he said was two weeks of detention by state security authorities.
"I came here for the first time today because this cabinet is a failure, Mubarak is still meeting the same ugly faces ... he can't believe it is over. He is a very stubborn man," Afaf Naged, a former member of the board of directors of the state-owned National Bank of Egypt, said.
"I am also here because of Wael Ghonim. He was right when he said the NDP [ruling National Democratic Party] is finished. There is no party left, but they don't want to admit it," she said.
Amr Fatouh, a surgeon, said he had joined the protests for the first time too.
"I hope people will continue and more people will come. At first, people did not believe the regime would fall but that is changing," he said.
Ghonim was the person behind a page called "We are all Khaled Said" on the social networking site Facebook, which is being credited for helping spark the uprising in Egypt.
Another Al Jazeera journalist, reporting from the square, said the protesters' resolve seemed very high. Many said they would not leave until their demands are met.
Meanwhile, about 20 lawyers have petitioned Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, the country's prosecutor general, to try Mubarak and his family for allegedly stealing state wealth.
Ibrahim Yosri, a lawyer and a former deputy foreign minister, has drafted the petition.
Constitutional reforms
But Mubarak's message has thus far been that he will not leave until his term expires in September.
However in a statement made on Egyptian state television on Tuesday, Omar Suleiman, the country's vice-president, said that a plan was in place for the peaceful transfer of power.
He annouced formation of two independent committees for political and constitutional reforms.
Suleiman Speech
Following are the main points of announcement
Mubarak will form a committee to review constitutional amendments.
Mubarak will form another committee to follow up govt measures to solve the crisis, including talks with opposition.
Third committee will investigate violent acts and attacks on protesters.
Mubarak has promised not to arrest or charge any one of those who took part in the protests.
Suleiman said that one committee would carry out constitutional and legislative amendments to enable a shift of power while a separate committee will be set up to monitor the implementation of all proposed reforms. The two committees will start working immediately, he said.
Suleiman stressed that demonstrators will not be prosecuted and that a separate independent fact-finding committee would be established to probe the violence on February 2.
The government had offered on Monday a pay rise to public-sector workers, but the pro-democracy camp said the government had conceded little ground in trying to end the current crisis.
"[The pay rise] doesn't mean anything," Sherif Zein, a protester at Tahrir Square told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

"Maybe it will be a short-term release for the workers ... but most of the people will realise what this is, it's just a tablet of asprin, but it's nothing meaningful."
Beyond Tahrir Square, life has been slowly getting back to normal in other parts of Cairo with some shops and banks reopening.
Tourism sector affected
However, the country's tourism sector is still suffering, with the area around the famed pyramids remaining closed. The Credit Agricole bank says the protests are costing Egypt more than $300m a day.
"There is a lot of popular public sentiments in Cairo and wider Egypt regarding what those protesters are trying to achieve but at the same time, people are trying to get back to live as normal lives as possible," our correspondent said.
People from different faiths have come together in the anti-Mubarak protests [EPA]
Another correspondent, also in Cairo, said: "There are divisions. On one side, people do agree with the messages coming out of Tahrir Square, but on the other, Egypt is a country where about 40 per cent of the population lives on daily wages."
Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons, reporting from Cairo, said that a so-called battle for hearts and minds is going on.
"Anti-government demonstrators are pushing to convince the country that Mubarak needs to go, but some also don't want the country to plunge into chaos," he said.
"There is also a struggle to get back to normality. Many want to get back to normal lives, but at the same time want this campaign to continue."
Tanks continue to guard government buildings, embassies and other important institutions in the capital.

Interlok row and BN´s sinister motives

While the burning of the novel 'Interlok' is heavily debated, PAS' Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud shown her empathy for those against the book, even while she also does not condone the book-burning. 

Not only does she put Indians at ease with PAS but also brings into questions the role played by self-proclaimed custodians of various races, the BN, and the PM and DPM's role in engineering our society into the future.

Anwar Ibrahim meanwhile has lost an excellent opportunity to appease and sympathise with the Indians in dismissing the novel as not racist. He clearly misses the mark here. Hence he will become fodder for bashing as being anti-Indian and strengthen the belief that Pakatan is no better than BN.

Without touching on the 'P' word and circumstances surrounding the controversy, let us analyse the motive behind making the book compulsory for SPM students.

The Interlok issue speaks volumes on BN's motive in indoctrinating our nation into the 1Malaysia frenzy. Looking back, the 1Malaysia prime minister and his 'Malay first' deputy are both responsible for the overzealous fake application of 1Malaysia while stressing that pendatangs should not question the status quo. Let's see what has been implemented since March 8, 2008.

The abolition of teaching maths and science in English in all schools amidst protests by many NGOs is one. Results have shown that Tamil school students had improved since implementation of English as the teaching medium, but the so called 'Indian leaders' just toed the line without any clue. What seems to be important is that BN gets its brownie points from the Malay voters.

And attacking non-Malays has been sub-contracted to other groups, yet does this absolve the blame from BN?

Next we see the overzealous implementation of 1Malaysia camps amongst which has resulted in a tragedy and death of students. 

And we have the education minister declaring he is a Malay first. This proves the failure of 1Malaysia, that really says we are equal when we really are not. 

Another policy that was bulldozed into implementation was the compulsory pass in history for SPM students, while the subject itself is being scrutinised for being a BN propaganda tool. Is the syllabus historically accurate or just the viewpoint of one party? For example where is mention of past heroes such as Youth Corps P Veerasenan and 'Malaya' Ganabathy who died fighting the British insurgency? There are many more heroes and incidents that the current history schoolbooks choose to ignore, this is being tolerated by BN component parties who share the blame.

After 50 years of successful brainwashing and propaganda from young to believe the only eligible government to rule our country is BN, the Indians will never forget the gifts of tear gas canisters and chemical rain the government of the day gave us in 2007. 

The torture, blame, and hardships we continue to endure in the last 50 years have created an awareness amongst us. Since that day in 2007, the Indian community has become sensitive and alert. It has now become a volatile community suspicious of every move by any political party. 

With pressure groups ready to strike at anyone, each issue is being suspiciously looked upon. Both BN and Pakatan has to be on their toes, as benefit of the doubt is given to neither. Issues of Kugan, Kg Buah Pala, demolitions of temples and now 'Interlok' are all looked upon as being an attack by the ruling party and discriminatory to Indians.

So why does 'Interlok' matter? Because it could have been any other novel with a 1Malaysia recipe. So why now? Why not another novel?

The story's premise is in 1910s at a time when the pendatangs came to Malaysia. Perkasa would surely have loved this notion of telling things as it is - the Indians and Chinese as pendatangs. 

Without doubt Perkasa has celebrated the author. Utusan Malaysia carried front page headlines with a large photo of the author in tears. Knowing the role of Utusan Malaysia, we should get an idea of the direction all this is heading.

From an Indian viewpoint it's very simple: why put our children in a lower pedestal of self esteem to others? Do we need to be told to feel grateful to be in this country? That we are pendatangs whose ancestors were glad to be here as socially, Malaya was a viable country compared to India?

Taking it further and generalising most Indians as coming from the lowest caste is indeed mischievous. Are African American students made to watch 'Roots' and read about Kunta Kinte as literature? 

To look back at how our ancestors arrived and the struggles they endured has to be seen accurately and in a positive light. When the African Americans read about Kunta Kinte they will also read about Martin Luther King and in the future about Barrack Obama.

So does our history books have many positive Indian figures who were part of our nation building? Are our children taught about them? It's a myth if someone thinks there are only four castes in India, as there are many castes according to profession and hundreds of sub caste from different regions. 

So how does the sentence 'most people from Dravida south are of lower caste' sound to readers? Does it mean false statements such as 'the colour of the skin determines the caste' should be accepted? Is calling Indians 'keling' not enough to insult us? Do we need more insults?

Do they take us to be fools who are naïve an unable to see that behind the friendly handshake the hand at the back approves religious conversion, body snatching, little Napoleans, discriminating policies, insincere promises, lack of equal opportunities for education, ongoing marginalisation, fourth class treatment, subtle polarisation ... I could go on.

Spending millions to upgrade Batu Caves and doing some cosmetic changes and colourful paintings with ugly fat dancing statues in Brickfields and hanging a board called Little India there does not solve even a single grouse of the Indian community.

These are smokescreens to keep BN with their 1Malaysia rhetoric in power. 

What the Indians need is acknowledgement of marginalisation, sincere efforts to eradicate our problems, amendment of discriminating laws and policies, keeping the little Napoleans in check, reigning back overzealous officers, sincere willingness to listen and to come up with an royal commission of inquiry on various problems among the community. 

With its wealth of resources BN only needs to start implementation with discipline and a heart with a willpower to do what is right. MIC is definitely not what the Indians need. They are clueless people, as they are part of BN.

Has the government attempted to solve 53 years of grievances that was highlighted by 30,000 people in the streets of KL? More activist groups will rise if these issues are not solved. What is going to stop another demonstration?

It is no wonder Indians are seeking other countries that offer them equality and unity in diversity. What more when disunity and racial hatred is being sown in front of our eyes! 

Ex-US envoy launches broadside at M'sia's racism

Former United States ambassador to Malaysia John Malott has lambasted Prime Minister Najib Razak's hypocrisy over his 1Malaysia slogan in a scathing article published today in the Asian Wall Street Journal.

NONEMalott (left), a frequent critic of the government since ending his three-year tenure as US ambassador in 1998, told Najib to take “a long look in the mirror” if he was serious about achieving his 1Malaysia goal.

“Despite the government's new catchphrase, racial and religious tensions are higher today than when Najib took office in 2009.

“Indeed, they are worse than at any time since 1969, when at least 200 people died in racial clashes between the majority Malay and minority Chinese communities,” said Malott in his AWSJ commentary.

He blamed the recent escalation of tensions on the government for “tolerating, and in some cases provoking, ethnic factionalism through words and actions”.

Malott cited a number of examples, including the incident where a top Najib aide, Hardev Kaur, had suggested that no crucifixes be displayed during the premier's Christmas Day open house visit at the residence of the Catholic archbishop of Kuala Lumpur.

“Ms Kaur later insisted that she 'had made it clear that it was a request and not an instruction', as if any Malaysian could say no to a request from the prime minister's office,” lamented Malott.

NONEOther examples of insensitivities, said Malott, included Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussien defending the actions of a group of residents who paraded a cow's head to protest the relocation of a Hindu temple to their neighbourhood, and Defence Minister Zahid Hamidi questioning the “lack of patriotism” of ethnic Chinese and Indian Malaysians.

Malott also slammed Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia for stoking racial hatred by regularly attacking “Chinese Malaysian politicians, and even suggested that one of them, parliamentarian Teresa Kok, should be killed”.

As a result of the growing racism, as many as 500,000 Malaysians left the country between 2007 and 2009, more than doubling the number of Malaysian professionals who live overseas, decried Malott.

The economic price tag of racism

He also said Najib is enamoured to right-wing groups such as Perkasa, which are against economic reforms in the name of 'Malay rights'.

“But stalling reform will mean a further loss in competitiveness and slower growth. It also means that the cronyism and no-bid contracts that favour the well-connected will continue.”

NONEMalott said that while Najib may not actually believe the rhetoric emanating from his party and his government's officers, he allows it because he needs to shore up Malay votes.
“It's politically convenient at a time when his party faces its most serious opposition challenge in recent memory - and especially when the opposition is challenging the government on ethnic policy and its economic consequences.”

The steady erosion of tolerance, warned Malott, had become an economic problem as well.
“To meet its much-vaunted goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020, Malaysia needs to grow by 8 percent per year during this decade.

“That level of growth will require major private investments from both domestic and foreign sources, upgraded human skills and significant economic reform. Worsening racial and religious tensions stand in the way.”

The former US ambassador argued that while the government might find it politically expedient to stir the racial and religious pot, such opportunism comes with an economic price tag.

“Its citizens will continue to vote with their feet and take their money and talents with them. And foreign investors, concerned about racial instability and the absence of meaningful economic reform, will continue to look elsewhere to do business.”

Ex-US diplomat warns Malaysia against resisting reforms

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 – Former US ambassador to Malaysia John Malott warned the Najib administration today against delaying its reform plans.

Malott added that Malaysia also risked further losing its competitiveness over the actions of the ruling party in stoking racial sentiment.

“But stalling reform will mean a further loss in competitiveness and slower growth. It also means that the cronyism and no-bid contracts that favour the well-connected will continue,” said Malott in an article published by the Wall Street Journal today.

“All this sends a discouraging signal to many young Malaysians that no matter how hard they study or work, they will have a hard time getting ahead,” he said.

Malott said that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been forced to give in to pressure by Perkasa who has spoken out against the government’s economic reforms plans for fear that they would threaten the special position of the Malays.

“Although Mr. Najib held out the hope of change a year ago with his New Economic Model, which promised an ‘inclusive’ affirmative action policy that would be, in Mr. Najib’s words, ‘market friendly, merit-based, transparent and needs-based,’ he has failed to follow through,” said Malott.

“This is because of opposition from right-wing militant Malay groups such as Perkasa, which believe that a move towards meritocracy and transparency threatens what they call Malay rights,” he added.

Malott said the political parties in the ruling coalition tasked with representing the non-Malays have been unable to perform their duties and have contributed to the migration of 500,000 members of minority groups between 2007 and 2009.

“The Chinese and Indian political parties in the ruling coalition are supposed to protect the interests of their communities, but over the past few years, they have been neutered,” he said.

“They stand largely silent in the face of the growing racial insults hurled by their Malay political partners,” said Malott

The former diplomat who served in Kuala Lumpur from 1995 to 1998 said while he believed that Najib may not share his party’s racial rhetoric, he has been forced to accept it to maintain the support of the Malay electorate.

“It’s politically convenient at a time when his party faces its most serious opposition challenge in recent memory – and especially when the opposition is challenging the government on ethnic policy and its economic consequences,” said Malott.

“Malaysia’s government might find it politically expedient to stir the racial and religious pot, but its opportunism comes with an economic price tag.

“Its citizens will continue to vote with their feet and take their money and talents with them. And foreign investors, concerned about racial instability and the absence of meaningful economic reform, will continue to look elsewhere to do business,” he added.

Nurul runs down steep walkways

The opposition MP is seeking answers over the astronomical figures involved in the construction of walkways in the city, and wonders if an open tender was issued.

KUALA LUMPUR: Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar has expressed concern over the cost involved in the construction of pedestrian walkways in the city.

In a statement, the PKR vice-president expressed mixed feelings over the 142m air-conditioned walkway which is estimated to cost approximately RM10 million.

“As a Federal Territory Pakatan Rakyat MP, I’m happy that such an infrastructure is built for the benefit of KL residents and tourists,” she said.

“But the figure involved translates to an average of RM70,422 per meter, an amount which demands clarification as public monies were undoubtedly used,” she added.

Nurul wanted to know the exact figures for the construction of these walkways.

“What are the maintenance and operational costs involved and as the unit price of energy increases how will these costs increase over time?” she asked.

Yesterday, the Minister for Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin launched the first phase of this project, which links KLCC to Hotel Impiana KLCC.

Nurul also enquired whether an open tender was issued as government linked companies and agencies, like Petronas, Syarikat Prasarana and KLCC Holdings, were involved in the project.

Petronas reportedly contributed RM100 million to two phases which will link KLCC to Impiana and eventually to Jalan Raja Chulan. Another RM6 million was contributed by Syarikat Prasarana for six other walkways.

“At a time when Malaysian citizens are told to ‘change their lifestyle’ as the price of basic goods and petrol increases, I welcome efforts by all parties to develop basic infrastructure for pedestrians in KL.

“At the same time, I call upon all related government ministries, agencies, and organisations to lead by example and end such excessive expenditure,” she said.

Nurul also called on Raja Nong Chik and KL mayor Ahmad Fuad Ismail to provide “truthful” answers to her queries.

She added that the matter further underscored the importance of having an elected mayor.

Malaysian Shi’ites face uncertain future

A religious community is facing harassment simply because it is considered a 'deviant sect'.

By Romen Bose - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Like other Muslims they read the Quran and face Mecca to pray, but the Shi’ite community in Malaysia is considered a “deviant sect” and faces harassment in the multicultural country.

Religious authorities in December arrested 200 Shi’ites as they observed the holy day of Ashura, accusing them of threatening national security in a country where most of the 16.5 million Muslims are members of the Sunni sect.

The majority of those detained were Muslim Malays – who dominate the Malaysian population – joined by followers from Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Iran.

Former state religious department head Mohammed Khusrin Munawi, who led the Dec 16 raid, said that the faith, if left to grow, could undermine security as “fanatical followers of the sect consider other Muslims infidels”.

“For them, the blood of the followers of other faiths is lawful which means that it is okay to kill (Sunnis),” he told the Utusan Malaysia newspaper.

“Shi’ite doctrine is more dangerous than other deviant teachings (as)… Shi’ite followers in Iran and India are fighting against other Muslims merely because of different faiths,” he said.

The split dates back to a dispute over succession after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632.

In a country where non-Muslims are constitutionally free to practise their faith, the crackdown on an Islamic sect which forms the majority in other countries, including Iran and Iraq, has raised concerns.

“Everyone in the country should have freedom of worship,” Reverend Thomas Philips, head of the country’s largest inter-religious council, told AFP.

“But in the Muslim context in Malaysia, they have a different understanding and so it is a very sensitive issue.”

Deviant ideology

The estimated 40,000 Shi’ites in Malaysia are one of several Islamic sects under close watch by religious authorities, who crack down hard on so-called deviant Islamic groups.

A 1989 Islamic law and a 1996 fatwa by Malaysia’s top Islamic clerics banned Shi’ism, declaring it a deviant ideology.

Malaysia has a dual-track legal system, with civil courts running in parallel with Islamic Syariah Courts where Muslim Malays can be tried on religious and moral charges.

However, Chandra Muzaffar, head of rights group JUST, says that religious officials are abusing their power.

“The Shi’ites are not deviants, they are very much part of the Muslim community and if you deny them, then you are saying that 15% of Muslims worldwide are also deviant,” he said.

“They follow almost all the tenets of the majority Sunni sect and the differences are more political and historical so we should engage them through dialogue rather than carry out raids, arrest and prosecute them.”

Kamil Zuhairi Abdul Aziz, 45, the Iranian-trained leader of the Hauzah ar-Redha or “Knowledge House” raided by authorities in December, says they are forced to practise their faith quietly.

“We are Muslims just like any other Muslims in the country but we live in fear as we are constantly attacked verbally and are often arrested and detained by authorities,” he told AFP after prayers at the hauzah, the biggest of 40 Shi’ite community halls throughout the country.

“Shi’ism came to the shores of Malaysia in the 14th century when Islam arrived here as many of the Arabic, Indian and Persian traders who brought the religion were also Shi’ites.

“The authorities must recognise that we are not a recent phenomenon and that we should be respected just like any other faith in the country,” he said in the hall filled with religious banners and pictures of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“We do not believe in bloodshed or that we are justified in killing anyone but yet these are the lies spread about us.”

Religious laws

Community elder Muhammad Hassan, 72, said the last waves of arrests of Shi’ite followers in Malaysia came in 1997 and 2001.

He says his grandchildren are discriminated against in school and higher learning institutions, where religious teachers “criticise Shi’ites openly although they don’t even understand or are bothered to even study our teachings”.

State religious department head Marzuki Hussin told AFP “the bottom line is that Shi’ism clashes with Islam in Malaysia and so it cannot be allowed to propagate here as it can cause instability”.

“We are happy to counsel the Shi’ite community on the practices of Malaysian Sunnis as what they are practising is a violation of our religious laws,” he said.

Kamil, who was among those arrested in the December raid, will answer charges of preventing Islamic officials from carrying out their duties on Feb 17.

“Our future is very uncertain as we have lived here for centuries but now don’t know for how long we can exist like this on the periphery of society,” he said.

“We are treated as outcasts when we actually contribute much to society. We are fellow Muslims — treat us as such.”


A desperate act to muzzle online media

The BN government is using scare tactics to ensure news portals do not report the truth.

The Barisan Nasional’s (BN) desperate move to control online media groups and further curtail freedom of information in the country is nothing short of being bodoh sombong or foolish arrogance.

To scramble and narrow the scope of existing laws to ensure online media is disabled from revealing the truth to the people reflects BN’s arrogance in acting as big bully in dictating terms to bloggers and news portals.

It is a folly for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to tighten his grip on online portals and bloggers under the misguided belief that it was solely their doing that drowned BN in the 12th general election.

BN last month schemed a plan – to amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 using national security as the excuse to halt the transparency practised by the online media and bloggers.

Here, the words of former American senator William Proxmire, “Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous” must be kept in mind by the BN in its frenzy to gain absolute control of the country.

To avoid history repeating itself, BN is dead certain that if it can control the content produced by bloggers and news portals victory is definite come the next general election. But this notion is only as good as it gets, because BN is in denial of why the rakyat rejected it.

It was not the portals and bloggers’ doing that BN lost. It was the fault of BN coalition that caused it the humiliating defeat. The karma behind the loss was to create an awareness in Umno, MCA and MIC that their existence is not to fulfil personal interests but to serve and look into the welfare of the rakyat. Yet, the BN coalition stubbornly refuses to improve.

The move to regulate the contents of online media is a desperate act by the BN. It is now up to the people to determine who best deserves their votes, the money-politics dependent BN or the opposition, still a fledging in the political arena.

BN’s Machiavellian ways

Truly, desperate times call for desperate measures and this the people are witnessing through the various ways and means BN is applying to snatch back all the votes it had lost to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance in the previous general election.

The BN’s desperation has prompted it to do whatever it takes to reassure itself that victory will be theirs in the coming 13th general election.

Perhaps that is why after all the brickbats the government received to its proposal to amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, Najib swiftly dropped the idea, instead deciding to regulate the Sedition Act 1948, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Act 1998 and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

To safe face amidst jeers from the public and the younger generation of politicians on the move to amend the PPP Act 1984, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz came on board with a far from convincing justification:

“The move is not to stifle freedom of expression in the country but that the government was stern on issues that could threaten national security.”

“People have been talking about freedom of expression, freedom of the press. They think freedom of expression is everything, including the freedom to lie, to slander, to do anything, even to the extent of jeopardising the country’s security. Security of the nation is paramount. No compromise on that,” was Nazri’s way of saving grace.

With such Machiavellian ways being churned out by BN to seize control from Pakatan, the move to amend or regulate existing laws is BN’s way of exerting its control for good over the online media and putting an end to freedom of information for good.

Every move is being made to stifle the existence of bloggers and news portals to prevent them from sharing the truth with the people.

Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim has confirmed that the proposed guidelines will be tabled at the Cabinet meeting soon. He said the guidelines were prepared by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and were endorsed by the Cabinet’s Special Committee to Strengthen the Government’s Communications Strategy, chaired by Nazri.

Trying hard to reassure Malaysians, Rais said the guidelines should not be seen as a clamp-down on Internet censorship. Beating around the bush, Rais finally owned up that the guidelines were to end all liberties taken by the online media in spreading information.

“What is important is that bloggers or those who use alternative media should remember that laws remain in force no matter where they are. They are unscathed as law enforcers did not go after them. But from now onwards if complaints are made, actions will be taken against them,” Rais had warned.

No gag for cronies

However, BN’s tactic to scare bloggers and Internet media into not reporting the truth and being transparent is a flop, simply because of the double standards practised by Umno.

For instance, the Umno-controlled Malay daily, Utusan Malaysia has the liberty of writing as much nonsense as it wants to defame Pakatan, BN’s arch rival. There is no limit imposed on the extent of damage Utusan can do through its editorials.

Likewise, the Malay-rights group Perkasa under founder Ibrahim Ali has been vomiting racist remarks from the day it was formed post-the 2008 general election.

Ibrahim has never been reprimanded by the government for threatening the non-Malays should the latter question the privileges enjoyed by the Malays as laid out under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

Will Najib’s administration be fair and censure mainstream media like Utusan Malaysia and newsletters produced by Perkasa which are on a “mission” to do all the damage they can to the very fabric that has held Malaysia in place, that is, unity among people of different races?

If the BN cronies are going to enjoy the freedom of writing discriminating articles to hoodwink the people, the government’s move to regulate the various Acts is certainly an approach to bully the Internet media into bowing down to its demands.

At the end of it all, the decision rests with the rakyat – will they squander their votes under the influence of lies created by BN or will they make an informed choice, one that will ensure the country is administered rightfully and truthfully?