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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Are we living in a police state?

'Dr Mahathir Mohamad said even he was not in total control of the police force when he was the PM.'

Pregnant woman identifies female cop in 30 seconds

Anonymous_3fc4: This is going to be a litmus test on the new IGP (police chief), let's see what is going to come out of this identification parade.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has remained elegantly quiet even after the police have been proven to have crossed the lines of proper conduct, abused their power and took the law into their own hands. Hishammuddin should do the right thing by ordering a thorough investigation of the errand police officers involved.

Pity Him: This is about the police bullying the people. Worse still, when they are in plainclothes.

Common sense tells us that this woman cannot be lying that she was slapped. Police are not respected at all, I was badly treated by a cop only yesterday at Jalan Petaling. This fellow used aggressive gesture to direct me away from my intended route.

1Malaysian: I wonder what the confiscated video recording will show. Or will they say that it had mysteriously been erased or malfunctioned when the cops took it back. I bet you anything that the recording will never see the light of day.

Tailek: Well done, Chow Soo Meng for standing up for your rights. Don't be intimidated by the police. Take this matter all the way up to the home minister, if necessary.

Cala: One interesting outcome of Chow's response to the 'illegal raid' of her store is to do with her admission of possessing contraband cigarettes, meaning cigarettes which are imported illegally from foreign countries without paying the tax.

If such is the case, one needs to ask what the level of efficiency of our Custom Department? Or is it to do with unrealistic tax structure that encourages tax evasion of imported cigarettes?

Abahpenang: There is another issue here apart from the rogue cops. Chow was keeping illegal goods, meaning that she was no angel either. The cops who stole her money, if it is true, thought that she wouldn't do anything because the goods were illegal. Both were wrong - the rogue cops and her.

Gerard Samuel Vijayan: The woman, even as a suspect, is entitled to her rights. Is that so difficult for the police to understand? It's fine to use reasonable force to enter her shop if you suspect that she has or is committing a crime. But act professionally.

Take an inventory of the contraband, confiscate the cash, take pictures, etc, and carry out your investigations properly. There is no need to slap her or abuse her. This raid should have been done by the Customs Department and not the police. That is why it is important to enforce a code of conduct for the police to regulate such matters.

The IPCMC (Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission) ought to have been set up to investigate allegations of police abuse or misuse of powers. But so far there is no political will from the BN. That is why the police are now behaving like a bunch of vigilantes, like a law unto themselves.

In the process, the police are becoming public enemy No 1.

AlexToo: Dr Mahathir Mohamad said even he was not in total control of the police force when he was the PM. Matilah, we all. We are living in police state. This is confirmed.

Anonymous_3e86: Basically, the police officers have not followed standard procedures in making the confiscation of the money and the arrest. The discrepancy in the amount seized is now disputed by both parties.

Seizure of items - the money, liquor and cigarettes - must be recorded and signed by both parties. The officers' failure to do this is against the law, more so when done without a search warrant.

In the past, it is a known practice that many unrecorded seized items end up being shared amongst the raiding party members. I'm not surprised that this is also the case. Robbers in uniform...

Sentinel: How can the police weed out the bad hats if they continue to protect these crooks in uniforms within its organisation?

If the PDRM do not want the IPCMC and wants to 'police' itself, then prove to us Malaysian taxpayers and voters that it is serious in doing so and will show no mercy against the bad hats in its own organisation. Otherwise, have the IPCMC!

Malaysian First And Malaysian Always: Forget all this. What Malaysia needs is a independent police commission for police abuse and corruption. If BN allows this commission to be formed, I guarantee it will get its two-thirds majority back in Parliament. But BN must do it now and not dilly dally.

Concerned Citizen 1e05: Don't write off the whole police force. In any organisation, there bound to be bad apples. PDRM must tighten its procedures and improve, yes, but give credit where it is due.

Anonymous: I had one policeman asking me for money just weeks ago when I claimed my stolen car. No, I don't think this problem is due to few bad apples unless you are willing to believe all police horror stories your friends and relatives told you and reported in alternative media are all false.

Firefighting approach will not work. It has to be reformed from the core.

Confused: It has come to a point that we do not know who we should run away from - the police or the robber.

Dr M: More racial polarisation now

(Malaysiakini) Eight years after giving up power, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad he thinks that there is more racial polarisation now than during his 'time'.

And the main culprit for that, he claimed is the increasing freedom of speech and expression in the country.

" 'We, we should be more liberal', (the critics) argue, and permit more discussion of controversial issues, like race relations, for example.

"The moment they do that, they go back. They go back to discussing this (kind of) thing and getting emotional, and getting angry with each other. And now, we have become more separate than we were during the time when this was going on.

"During my time, people didn't discuss, and therefore they didn't get heated up," he was quoted as saying.

NONEIn the most recent book on Mahathir (left), 'Doctor M: Operation Malaysia - Conversations with Mahathir Mohamad', American journalist Tom Plate interviewed the former premier of 22 years between mid-2009 and mid-2010, spread over four sessions.

Plate then asked: "So is Malaysia tensing up again? You mean, you think there's more polarisation now?"

"Yeah. Yes. More, much more," Mahathir replied.

"And, that's due to... why is that?"

"Well, because you allow people to talk. And, of course they will say things which will hurt the other side."

"And you didn't allow that."

"At that time we didn't allow that. You want to talk about these things, let's have a closed room, let the leaders talk, and you'll settle it, that's what you can do," said Mahathir.

Despite current PM Najib Abdul Razak propagating the 1Malaysia slogan to foster racial unity , it is known that Mahathir has his reservations about the concept.

Preventive laws gluing the country

Mahathir, a known advocate of preventive laws and detention without trial, also further defended his enforcement of the laws when asked about Malaysia's multicultural balance.

"Oh, you take early action. You do things before they happen. You know, a lot of things have been said against these preventive laws. But preventive laws are laws meant to prevent crimes, or whatever, from happening, because they are meant to deter people from doing something...

"When you see people getting over-emotional in a multiracial country, you know that sooner, and sooner rather than later, they would be fighting each other. They would actually be killing each other, and this happened in 1969," he said.

Sabah’s defeatist mentality the biggest hurdle

Years of listening to BN's mantra has left Sabahans with a deep-seated fear of looking beyond, says former chief minister Yong Teck Lee

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahans’ defeatist mentality is the single biggest challenge to bringing change in the state.

Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee sees Sabahans facing a bleak future where they will continue to be mistreated under unfair federal policies because of this ingrained “Sabah mentality”.

“Ordinary Sabahans are defeated mentally… they say even if we (SAPP) win, we still cannot govern.

“After 47 years we have been brainwashed to believe that we cannot do it on our own.

“So defeated is the mentality of some that many in Sabah too believe in the BN (Barisan Nasional) leaders’ mantra that Sabah is BN’s perpetual fixed-deposit as far as election is concerned,” said Yong, who is also the president of Sabah Peoples’ Party (SAPP).

In a candid exclusive interview with FMT recently, Yong said the perceived strength of the ruling BN and its alternative, Pakatan Rakyat, has sunk so deep into the minds of the people that they feared looking further and as such, accepted the shabby conditions in the state.

(According to a World Bank Report, Sabah, with its abundant natural oil and gas resource, is the poorest state in Malaysia.)

“Economically speaking, I don’t think ordinary people have money here… it’s the same in the Peninsula. This Chinese New Year, for instance, has been very quiet.

“The dragon dance companies here received less than half their usual bookings… everything is expensive now,” he said.

But can the once strong opposition capitalise on the consumers’ angst against rising prices, corruption and land grabs?

Yong thinks not. He is worried that the opposition will be unable to take advantage of any revolt against the status quo.

“It is important to have a combined (opposition) force here before the election so that we can remove the (BN) fixed-deposit tag here which in turn influences the people in the Peninsula.

“But if the polls is called now, we are definitely not ready” he said.

Two-faced DAP

Another thing that worries Yong, who is known as “taiko” or master, is the clout DAP has over the Chinese voters.

Last year’s Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election was an eye-opener for political pundits when most of the Chinese votes went to PKR candidate Ansari Abdullah, a controversial figure, and not to Yong, as many had expected.
“In Batu Sapi, they proved a point that DAP can move considerable number of Chinese votes,” Yong said.

He added that men like DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and other DAP Chinese leaders “did a fantastic job of attacking” him instead of BN, two days before the polling.

Yong said that Batu Sapi is now a reference point on how the opposition shot itself in the foot.

“I was up against BN and Pakatan’s combined force,” he said, adding that this was why he eventually finished third behind winner Linda Tsen of the BN and PKR’s Ansari.

Yong said that before the Batu Sapi polls, there was some understanding that SAPP and DAP would “worked together where possible” but things had changed since then.

“All our relationship now is with Pakatan. We are friends, not Pakatan coalition partners.

“As far as we are concerned, all DAP leaders were formerly from other parties including SAPP… like Kota Kinabalu MP Hiew (King Chiew) and Jimmy Wong (Sri Tanjung assemblyman)” he said.

Yong, who himself was once with Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) for many years before forming SAPP, said that the local opposition is formulating an election plan.

“Our plan is being crystallised. By March or April, we will have a plan.

“We are working towards having a one-to-one fight with BN, but I cannot guarantee this 100% because Pakatan has three components (PKR, DAP and PAS).

“Maybe there will be DAP-sponsored candidates against SAPP this time (too).”

New twist in Sabah politics

Yong may be hinting at the possiblity that local opposition parties may band together to form a united front in a new twist to Sabah politics.

Is it coincidental then that another influential Sabah leader, Jeffrey Kitingan, had recently announced that he will be forming a new political party by March?

Jeffrey’s United Borneo Front (UBF), an NGO, has already reached some an understanding with leaders in Sarawak Nasional Party (SNAP). SNAP in turn is aggressively wooing Dayak-majority parties to back Jeffrey’s Borneo Agenda.

In an interview with FMT recently, Jeffrey had hinted that SAPP would be a local partner in UBF’s campaign to collectively wrest 56 seats in Sabah and Sarawak.

Said Yong: “I am quite familiar with Jeffrey’s struggle but am not very clear on his methodology… his political vehicle… we will know soon.

“But what I do know is that no peninsular party will survive in Sabah without the support of a local component.”

Asked what his reading was on the current political climate in Sabah, Yong said the frequent visits by political leaders from the peninsula to Sabah and Sarawak “points to unease at the top”.

“Peninsular leaders used to ignore us, now they are coming here so often.

“There is uneasiness among the BN elite that the Borneo electorate may be seeing a new window of opportunity,” said Yong.

BN crumbling within

Yong said that a seemingly calm Sabah is not good for BN, which is already saddled with internal problems. BN Sabah comprises PBS, PBRS, Upko, LDP and peninsula-based MCA and Gerakan.

He recalled that in 1985 when he was still with PBS “people looked down on us in PBS but in our three-week campaign we created a change”.

“There are situations here… Upko will not leave BN, but Upko’s grassroots will leave, making it a hollow party.

“The same with PBS. PBRS is gone. MCA (supposedly a Chinese party) relies on Malay votes and mixed areas,” he said.

With Sabah and Sarawak together contributing 56 (including Labuan, 57) of the 222 parliamentary seats in Malaysia, many are convinced that the battle for control of Putrajaya will be fought in the Borneo states.

Most believe that it will be a stalemate in the Peninsula with seats shared equally by BN and Pakatan after the 13th general election.

Yong, meanwhile, who is known for his wily ways, hasn’t missed a trick.

His Batu Sapi adventure can be seen as a “testing of the waters” as he moves towards making SAPP relevant in Sabah.

Don’t blame BN for Indian woes, Pakatan told

An ex-PKR leader and MIC's information chief disagree with PKR vice-president N Surendran's claim that BN is to be blamed for marginalising the community.

PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Rakyat states do not need financial aid from the federal government to resolve the Indian community’s woes, said former PKR leader N Gobalakrishnan.

“Poverty among Indians can be resolved by using the Land Act itself,” the Padang Serai MP told FMT.

He was responding to PKR vice-president N Surendran who blamed Barisan Nasional for the Indian community’s problems.

“It is very unbecoming for a senior PKR leader to blame BN for this,” said Gobalakrishnan.

Using the Coalfield estate issue as an example, he said the federal government had provided RM30,000 for the estate workers but there was nothing forthcoming from the Selangor government even though the estate was within Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim’s Ijok state constituency.

Gobalakrishnan also blamed Khalid for not providing land for the Coalfield estate workers.

Don’t play blame game

Meanwhile, MIC information chief S Murugessan called on PKR to stop playing the blame game and concentrate on providing for the people instead.

He said Surendran was just attempting to respond to DAP vice chairman M Kulasegaran who warned that Pakatan should forget about capturing Putrajaya if did not arrest the declining support among the Malay and Indian communities.

Murugesan said that even Hindraf Makkal Sakti leader P Uthayakumar had dismissed Pakatan’s track record of serving the Indians as being worse than BN’s.

Will PAS fail the test again?

It depends on how well it has learnt its lessons from recent by-elections

PAS’s campaign strategy in Merlimau will tell us whether it has learnt any lesson from the losses it suffered in the last three by-elections it contested. It lost in Bagan Pinang in 2009, in Galas in 2010 and in Tenang last month.

Unlike Bagan Pinang and Tenang, Galas was a PAS seat in a PAS-controlled state and the party was confident of retaining it when the by-election was declared. Ironically, its defeat there was the most acceptable of the three losses.

It is hard to think of any candidate who could have won against the charm of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who led the Barisan Nasional campaign there. Appointing him as BN election director was one of the most inspired acts that Umno has done in recent years.

The Bagan Pinang loss was the result of PAS’ overconfidence. It was sure that it could snatch the seat from BN because Umno’s candidate, Mohamad Isa Abdul Samad, had the taint of money politics on him. (In 2005, Umno’s disciplinary board found him guilty of buying votes in party elections.)

Instead, Umno’s winning margin was wider than the one in March 2008.

In Tenang, PAS went in knowing that it would lose. All it wanted was to boost opposition morale by reducing Umno’s majority. It didn’t make this intention public, but it was not a secret to party workers.

Well before the nomination of candidates for the Bagan Pinang by-election, PAS leaders told their colleagues in PKR and DAP not to make too much noise about Isa’s money politics. The idea was to trap BN into fielding him as its candidate so that the taint could be used as campaign ammunition.

Apparently, the PAS leadership was not aware that Isa was such a godfather to people in the Bagan Pinang area that they would not give two hoots to whether he had been found guilty of anything.

Not even the Negeri Sembilan PAS leaders seemed to know about Isa’s immense popularity. Neither did they do their homework when it came to choosing their candidate for the by-election.

The choice—Zulkefly Mohamed Omar—was an unknown in Bagan Pinang although he was PAS commissioner for Negeri Sembilan. Teluk Kemang PAS chief Ramli Ismail would have been a much better candidate. He enjoys some popularity there.

Strangest of all was the apparent reversal of the initial strategy to harp on Isa’s money politics. Instead, PAS campaigners went for petty local issues like clogged drains, filthy food stalls, and even an uncompleted bus stop.

Some PAS stalwarts have alleged sabotage by the group supporting the idea of cooperation with Umno in a unity government. They say it was the unity-government faction that plotted the strategy to draw Isa into the contest because it wanted to break Pakatan Rakyat’s winning streak.

They point out that the backbone figures of that faction were hardly seen during the campaign for Bagan Pinang.

Red tape

Other critics speak of too much red tape in PAS’ campaign organisation. PKR leaders especially suffered from this. Several of them could not give last minute ceramahs because the PAS information department stuck rigidly to its requirement of at least a day’s notice. However, this rule was relaxed for PAS leaders.

That was why Nurul Izzah Anwar, for instance, could not speak at a function in Batu 8, Telok Kemang. The local PKR leader who arranged for Nurul Izzah’s ceramah was livid.

“Short notice should not be a big deal,” he said. “It’s fine if the speaker is unknown, but Nurul Izzah is popular and a crowd puller.

“I have done my best to help PAS; if this is the type of bureaucracy they practice, then I have no comment.”

A senior PKR leader from Malacca said the scenario in Tenang was similar.

“There were cases in which Chinese PKR leaders were not allowed to deliver ceramahs in Malay majority areas,” he said.

It is not known whether PAS’ post-mortem of its Tenang defeat considered the effectiveness of such restrictions on the PKR machinery. Certainly, PKR would want it to re-consider the strategy as the Merlimau by-election looms.

Tenang has made it obvious that the so-called soft approach in wooing Malay voters to PAS does not work in Umno strongholds.

PAS should realise by now that although it has some support from rural and conservative Malays, urban Malays who are disillusioned with Umno are likely to be more comfortable with PKR than PAS. This is mainly because of the large presence of former Umno leaders and supporters in PKR.

The recent defeats should force PAS to rethink its strategy in trying to win more Malay support. After all, it was a change of strategy and rhetoric that has resulted in its winning over some Chinese and Indians.

Above all, it must be seen to be an integral part of Pakatan Rakyat, which means it should discard the practice of working as if it is a completely separate entity, like it did in Bagan Pinang and Tenang.

Caned for not filling up a form

Two Form One boys from longhouses in Sibu are in a state of shock after a hostel warden punished them over a trivial matter.

SIBU: An angry father of a Form One boy has filed a police report against the chief warden of a hostel for caning his son, who allegedly forgot to fill an application form requesting to become a boarder.

Gumbang Tegap, the father of Nicholas Novy, claimed there were bruises on his son’s buttocks from the caning and that the boy was now too traumatised to return to school.

Gumbang, who approached activist Johnny Kieh for assistance, said he only learnt of the incident when Nicholas and his friend Sylvester Ansam Stephen, who was also caned, were ordered to return to their longhouses in Nanga Mangut and Kanowit and given a form each to complete.

The form was a “request to stay in the school hostel” (borang untuk tinggal di asrama sekolah).

Said Kieh: “I was shocked when the father told me that his son and another were caned in front of other students for failing to fill up the form.

“This should not be the case as teachers, being professionals, should have emotional intelligence. They should not be emotional or react in such a manner as their actions could affect students psychologically.”

Kieh said the boys told Gumbang that their hostel warden had caned them once on the buttock with a rattan.

Upset with the incident, Gumbang lodged a report at the Sibu central police station here on Monday.

Both Nicholas and Sylvester were later sent to Sibu General Hospital for medical examination.

Letter to Najib

According to the police report, Gumbang had claimed that the boys had already submitted the hostel application form to their homeroom teacher.

Gumbang had also claimed that Nicholas and Sylvester had suffered bruises on their backs due to the caning.

According to the report, the incident took place at aboout 9pm last Sunday during a night class at a school in Durin.

Kieh said that Gumbang has also called for an investigation into the incident and action against the cane-wielding warden.

The angry father has also sent a letter about the incident to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and the Education Ministry.

The letter was also copied to the Sarawak Education Department director and the district education officer.

Attached to Gumbang’s letters were copies of the Nicholas and Sylvester’s medical and police reports.

Speaking to Borneo Post, Kieh said: “We hope the government will expedite its investigation into the matter and take appropriate action if the teacher was in the wrong.

“We do not want this incident to send a wrong message to the public that teachers, entrusted with the responsibility of moulding the cream of the nation, are prone to acting rashly instead of rationally.”

Throw the book at lecherous politicians

The law must redeem itself and take holders of public office who rob women of their dignity to task.
Power and impunity are being abused to cover up wrongdoings, especially those that involve sexual violation against women by senior politicians of this country. Be it extramarital affair or sexual harassment or rape cases, senior ministers have found all the time to commit them.
And by their “personal first and public later” attitude, these politicians through their deviant behaviour have proved that sex, and not public welfare, is first and foremost on their mind, which is most unfortunate because these politician-ministers have shown no respect to the very people who chose them as leaders.
Take former health minister Dr Chua Soi Lek. He was involved in an extramarital affair with a woman he claimed was a “personal friend” until their rendezvous was exposed in December 2007.
On Jan 2, 2008, Chua, the then health minister and vice-president of MCA and also the Member of Parliament for Labis, resigned from all his posts. A day earlier he had admitted he was the person featured in a sex DVD that was widely circulated in Johor.
To save face, Chua claimed that his downfall was due to his dedication to his work as health minister and MCA vice-president, both of which caused his rivals to grow suspicious of him. But having given up his medical practice for full-time politics, Chua was not one to give up.
Despite the sex scandal, he returned to politics in March 2010 and contested the MCA president’s post, edging out incumbent Ong Tee Keat and former president Ong Ka Ting.
The year 2010 came to an end amidst news that Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim had in 2007 raped his domestic helper, an allegation which Rais took two weeks to refute.
And like Chua, the 69-year-old Rais said the allegation was to tarnish his name and his efforts in promoting the Barisan Nasional policies,particularly Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia concept.
Rais added that the rape accusation was to divert attention from the bigger crimes involving opposition leaders, such as sodomy.
Intense pressure
Rais, the Jelebu MP, asked that the public not speculate on this allegation pending the outcome of the on-going investigation. However, the PKR-linked group, Malaysian Youth Solidarity, had lodged a police report over the allegation.
Two days after Rais denied the allegation, Najib, after intense pressure, broke his silence only to question the timing of this accusation. A sad day for Malaysia when its prime minister, instead of being troubled by such a serious allegation, chose to be nonchalant, questioning why was the issue raised only now.
But then Najib’s reaction leaves little room for surprise. Was he himself not the man besieged with accusations of having had an affair with a Mongolian translator, Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was later gunned down and her body blown to bits in a jungle at Puncak Alam in Shah Alam in October 2006?
A private detective in his statutory declaration alleged that Najib had “passed” Altantuya to his best friend Abdul Razak Baginda because the former knew he would become prime minister and wanted to avoid shame.
But shame it is because although there were numerous witnesses and evidence connecting Najib to the affair, he was never questioned or put on the witness stand. And like all good wives, Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor too remained cool as a cucumber throughout the ordeal surrounding Najib and Altantuya.
Travesty of justice

Back in 1994, the then chief minister of Malacca, Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, was reported to have raped a 15-year-old schoolgirl (under Malaysian law, sex with a minor constitutes statutory rape). Lim Guan Eng, currently the chief minister of Penang and the then MP for Kota Melaka, spoke out against the rape of a minor after the girl’s grandmother-cum-guardian, who was also Lim’s constituent, turned to him for help.
However, far from deserving justice, both Lim and the schoolgirl received their “dues”. Lim was jailed for three years for speaking up against the rape while the girl was given three years “protective custody”. As for Rahim, because of the rape and pending corruption charges, he was forced to resign, after a 12-year stint as Malacca’s chief minister.
But the judiciary saw Rahim escape punishment for a crime committed; this came about after the public prosecutor withdrew the charge citing lack of evidence. The corruption charges against Rahim were also dropped.
The travesty of justice is such that on Feb 28, 1995, Lim was thrown into jail after he was charged under the Sedition Act for prompting “disaffection with the administration of Malaysia”.
On March 17 the same year, he was slapped with another charge under the Printing Presses and Publications Act for “maliciously printing” a pamphlet containing “false information”, specifically that Lim had used the term “imprisoned victim” to describe the schoolgirl who was raped.
As a result of his trying to seek justice for the rape survivor, Lim was barred from holding public office for five years, making him ineligible to contest in the 2004 general election.
As for the underage rape survivor, she was initially detained for 10 years without parental consent. She was subsequently sentenced to three years “protective custody” in a house for “wayward girls”. During Lim’s trial, the girl gave evidence that she had sex with a minister.
With such lecherous politicians in our midst, the safety of girls and women – be they our sisters, daughters, mothers and foreign female workers – is at risk. There is no telling which politician is waiting to sexually assault the girls and women in this country. What is annoying is the fact that the crime is easily dismissed by threatening and buying the silence of the victim.
In Rais’ case, if the rape had never taken place as he claimed, then what made his domestic helper of eight years to suddenly pack her bags and leave for home in Indonesia? If he has been such a kind and generous man as his former domestic helper claimed when retracting her allegation of rape, the question of her quitting her job would not arise. There is no doubt something is amiss here, no matter how much Rais denies it.
In the case of Rahim, he was never convicted and continues to enjoy life while Lim spent three years in jail and the the rape survivor was sentenced to three years in a house for “wayward girls”. What wrong did the girl do to end up in a house for wayward girls while the perpetrator, Rahim, walked a free man? Where was justice when it was desperately needed?

Respect women
Politicians must learn to respect women. Be they mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and women in general, they must be accorded the respect worthy of a human being. And any abuse of that right must never be viewed lightly, what more, dismissed.
The wives of Malaysian politicians are women with a big heart. Chua’s wife never openly cried her heart out nor did Rais’ wife Maznah opt to lead a separate life after learning about the rape allegation involving her husband. It is perhaps that these women are a forgiving lot or that they dared not go against their respective husbands.
And just as shameful is to see the silence from the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Jalil in defending the domestic helper who was allegedly raped by Rais. The ever playing-safe Shahrizat decided it was best to safeguard her political career rather than to jeopardise it by speaking up against her colleague.
Likewise, Shahrizat decided to keep quiet when another colleague, Jamaluddin Jarjis, was accused of sexual harassment by a female worker at a restaurant in a five-star hotel in 2008. Within hours, the worker retracted her complaint, saying she was used to Jamaluddin’s “rough” ways and jokes. What a misfortune it is for Malaysia that Jamaluddin who has stooped so low has been despatched to the United States to serve as the Malaysian ambassador.
Also, whatever happened to the narcissistic Dr Mahathir Mohamad who, after his retirement from politics, has decided to so-call champion the rakyat’s rights? Did he too have nothing to say about the lecherous politicians masquerading in the Malaysian political arena and who have given the country a bad name?
The silence from the “powers that be” when politicians sexually assault women speaks of the indifferent attitude adopted by the country’s government in according respect to its women, who are both taxpayers and voters. And it is also evident that the abuse of power succeeded in silencing the injustice done by such unscrupulous politicians. Such abuse must no longer be tolerated. It is time for the law to redeem itself and take such people to task.

The Sarawak opposition dilemma

The opposition in Sarawak is so divided that it appears like Barisan Nasional is going to rule the state forever. This is because of the ego of the opposition leaders and because all want to lead the opposition so that if the opposition wins this opposition leader can become the new Chief Minister.
Raja Petra Kamarudin

Ops Lalang: Kenyataan Mahathir amat memalukan

(Harakah Daily) - Penjelasan mantan Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yang mempersalahkan polis atas Operasi Lalang yang menyebabkan 106 ditangkap di bawah ISA pada tahun 1987 lalu, jelas merupakan kenyataan yang amat tidak bertanggungjawab dan memalukan.

Selain itu, kenyataan itu juga boleh dilihat sama ada Mahathir telah lupa dengan apa yang telah dilakukan atau mahu menutup imejnya yang buruk semasa menjadi Perdana Menteri dahulu yang amat banyak melakukan tangkapan di bawah ISA.

Ahli Jawatankuasa Kerja PAS Pusat, Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa menegaskan, selaku eksekutif atau Perdana Menteri di negara ini ketika beliau menjadi Perdana Menteri dulu, mustahil Mahathir tidak tahu dengan tangkapan ISA dan membiarkan pihak polis yang bertindak sendirian dalam hal itu.

Menurut beliau, pada hal, penggunaan ISA ke atas seseorang itu bukan berada di bawah kuasa polis, tetapi di bawah Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN), manakala Menteri Dalam Negeri pula ketika itu adalah Mahathir sendiri.

"Untuk menahan seseorang itu di bawah ISA, ia mestilah ditandatangani oleh Menteri Dalam Negeri yang juga Perdana Menteri ketika itu iaitu Mahathir sendiri. Jadi macam mana Mahathir boleh kata dia tak tahu menahu perkara itu dan polis telah bertindak di luar perancangannya atau lain dari yang ingin dilakukannya?" katanya ketika dihubungi Harakahdaily hari ini.

Jadi, menurut beliau, kenyataan Mahathir itu tentunya tidak boleh diterima oleh sesiapa sahaja yang berakal waras kerana semua tindakan yang dilakukan itu adalah di bawah tanggugjawab beliau sendiri selaku Perdana Menteri, apatah lagi dalam masa yang sama turut menjadi Menteri Dalam Negeri.

"Malah jika benar apa yang dikatakan oleh Mahathir itu, ia jelas merupakan sesuatu yang ganjil, memalukan dan kegagalan Mahathir sendiri dalam melaksanakan tanggungjawabnya selaku Perdana Menteri ketika itu," katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian ketika diminta mengulas kenyataan Mahathir yang mempersalahkan polis atas Ops Lalang yang menyaksikan 106 orang termasuk seteru politiknya ditangkap mengikut Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) pada tahun 1987.

Dalam buku terbaru mengenai Mahathir yang berjudul 'Doctor M: Operation Malaysia - Conversations with Mahathir Mohamad', bekas perdana menteri yang meneraju Malaysia selama 22 tahun itu mengakui bahawa beliau berang dengan tindakan polis itu.

"Ya, saya akan tangani secara berbeza, tetapi polis ingin melakukan hal-hal ini (tangkapan ISA) kerana mereka menyatakan ia perlu.

"Saya sebenarnya berjumpa dengan semua ahli pembangkang (terlebih dahulu) dan menyakinkan mereka bahawa mereka tidak akan ditangkap. Dan awak tahu apa yang polis lakukan? Polis menangkap mereka. Kredibiliti saya hilang," kata Mahatahir.

Tom Plate yang mewawancara Mahathir dan mengarang buku itu kemudiannya bertanya kepada Mahathir dengan lebih lanjut sama ada beliau marah atau tidak dengan tindakan polis itu.

"Yeah, tapi apa yang boleh saya lakukan? Saya perlu menerima hakikat bahawa mereka adalah orang-orang yang membuat keputusan. Saya memberikan kuasa umum kepada mereka untuk bertindak," jawab Mahathir.

Semasa penangkapan besar-besaran pada 27 Oktober 1987, lebih seratus orang ditangkap. Sebahagian besar daripada mereka yang ditangkap itu terdiri daripada pemimpin pembangkang dan segelintir ahli politik dari Umno dan MCA. Selain itu, permit penerbitan untuk akhbar The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh dan Watan telah ditarik balik.

Kerajaan kemudian menawarkan penjelasan bahawa tangkapan ISA yang kedua terbesar sejak rusuhan perkauman 13 Mei itu adalah 'perlu' bagi membendung 'ketegangan perkauman' yang semakin memuncak, akibat protes besar-besaran berhubung pelantikan pengetua bukan berpendidikan Cina di sekolah-sekolah vernakular Cina.

Umno pula kemudiannya membalas dengan mengadakan protes besar-besaran juga yang diketuai oleh ketua pemudanya ketika itu, Datuk Seri Najib Razak di Kampung Baru, beberapa hari sebelum tangkapan beramai-ramai dibuat.

Mengulas perkara itu dengan lebih lanjut, Dr Mujahid menegaskan, kenyataan Mahathir itu bukan sekadar membuktikan kegagalannya dalam melaksanakan tugas sebagai Perdana Menteri, tetapi juga amat mengejutkan.

"Mahathir tidak sepatutnya menyalahkan pihak polis atau pihak lain dalam hal itu kerana dialah sebenarnya yang bertanggungjawab dengan semua itu.

"Semasa menjadi Perdana Menteri dulu, Mahathir sememangnya banyak melakukan tindakan yang bercanggah dengan demokrasi termasuk penggunaan ISA, menarik balik permit akhbar, menyekat kebebasan rakyat memberikan pandangan, menyekat kebebasan bersuara dan menyekat kebebasan akhbar," katanya.

Kini setelah sekian lama bersara, menurut beliau, barulah Mahathir sedar kesalahannya itu dan mahu menutup kesalahannya dengan membuat kenyataan seperti itu, walaupun ia lebih memalukan dirinya sendiri.

Malay Chamber: Bumi Economic Stake Can Hit 30% by 2015

(Bernama) - The Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia (DPMM) is confident that the setting up of the Bumiputera Agenda Driving Unit (Teraju) can increase the share of Bumiputera in the economy up to 30 percent by 2015 from about six to seven percent presently.

DPMM president Syed Ali Alatas said the target would be achievable through full cooperation between the chamber and Teraju.

"Firstly, ownership. Settle debts between traders and banks using a new financial method. If not, these traders may have to close shops," he told a press conference here today.

He was sure that with support from Malaysia Building Society Bhd and local banks, a comprehensive and more effective financing program could be introduced.

He said the government should draw up also a new land policy with a view to reducing bureaucracy to speed up the land approval process for development projects.

State governments, meanwhile, should introduce a new formula to improve the land management system, he said.

Syed Ali said DPMM fully supported the setting up of Teraju to drive the Bumiputera agenda.

It was in line with DPMM's initiative through its Bumiputera Socioeconomic Laboratory to strengthen the effectiveness and achievement of Bumiputera economy, he said.

"The focus on Bumiputera economic development is timely so that Bumiputera participation can be promoted under the government's Economic Transformation Programme," he said.

He hoped that with the Bumiputera Socioeconomic Laboratory, the Bumiputera economic community could generate economic programmes with game-changing characteristics.

"It is DPMM's hope that the game-changing environment will bring the Bumiputera trading and industrial community to a world of business which places greater importance on the effectiveness of Bumiputera participation without quota, subsidy or crutches," he said.

CNN International interview with Anwar Ibrahim on Egypt and Democracy in the Muslim world

Freeing Education From Politics

by Zairil Khir Johari

There is one particular issue in this country that never fails to incite fierce debate, with passionate arguments – and the occasional flying brick – from all sides of the divide. This has been the case for a very long time, and its history is one that runs parallel to our nation’s own. To chronicle its story would be to journey through the annals of our own ethno-political experience, from early immigrant settlements to colonial dominance and finally to the many compromises that have been effected since political independence was achieved. Today, the story is by no means over; it is one that is constantly evolving (and tormenting) our socio-political structure.

And what is this matter that is as naturally fundamental as it is exasperatingly sensitive? Why, it is this little matter called education.

Few would dispute the contention that there is something fundamentally wrong with the education system in our country, but polemics abound when solutions are proffered or undertaken. Take, for example, the recent remonstrations surrounding the reversal of the PPSMI (teaching of mathematics and science in English) or the sudden announcement that history will be made a mandatory SPM pass subject from 2013. Or better yet, consider also the replacement of the PMR by a school-based assessment programme. Initially reported to take place in 2016 in order to provide sufficient time for a transition that would not burden the affected students, it has now been abruptly brought forward to 2014. And then there are the really thorny issues, such as the question of vernacular education and its place in our national polity, or the standard of our national school model and curriculum, viewed by many as tools of political indoctrination and partisan propaganda.

No doubt most of the issues faced today are legacy problems, the result of a colourful history peppered by missionary zeal, colonial policies, nationalist fervour and political compromise over decades if not centuries.

So how do we even begin to approach such a complex matter?

Actions and solutions taken thus far have been symptomatic fixes. Yet as one symptom is alleviated another appears, for the root cause remains untouched. This article thus contends that the only way out of this befuddling quagmire is to produce a solution that is innovative in approach, holistic in scope, and one that would correctly address the core of the problem.

A Political Problem or a Problem with Politics?

A quick glance at the problems aforementioned would reveal one common feature that reverberates throughout, and that is the distinctive presence of the political hand. The structure of our education system is such that all departments, bodies and boards that are related to the planning, implementation and monitoring of education are entirely encompassed within the Ministry of Education. Hence, it is then not far-fetched to say that the system in its entirety, from the curriculum, the syllabus, the examinations, the teachers, all the way to the funding and auditing, are under the direct patronage and behest of the Minister of Education, and as such extremely susceptible to political influence. Thus, it is not surprising that we constantly see arbitrary decisions to abolish this or to implement that, decisions that seem to be made with lesser reference to true societal and educational needs than they are to gratify the political flavour of the day.

In short, our national education system has been far too politicised.

The teaching body, for example, appears to be beholden to the political order of the day. As a case in point, take the directive from the Ministry that effectively disallows national schools in Penang and Selangor from inviting elected representatives to their school events simply due to their political affiliation, even when the representatives are members of the state governments in question! On the other hand, representatives of the federal government face no such problems and are constantly attending these events. The underlying message here is clear and obviously partisan and political in nature.

The current system, politicised as it is, has resulted in a severe crisis of faith, leaving a disenchanted Malaysian populace that is far from convinced not only of the quality of education, but also its impartiality. Hence, are we really surprised by the recent shocking and clearly seditious remarks made by two national school principals in Johor and Kedah? To compound the incredulity, no disciplinary action has since been taken!*

Separation of Power

This article now proposes that in order to create a world class education system, then the one pervading impediment needs to be resolved. In other words, the political element has to be removed.

This can be done by transferring authority over certain key areas away from the Ministry of Education to a new, independent commission that consists of stakeholders representing all interested groups such as academics, teachers, parents, civil society, religious groups, vernacular educationists, sports bodies, institutions of higher learning and of course representatives from the Ministry. Crucially, the political executive, i.e. the ministerial office, must have no direct influence over the commission except via its representatives.

Key areas under the direct purview of this commission should be control over the curriculum, school syllabus, examinations, monitoring activities such as audits and inspections, and very importantly, the teachers. This is to say that under the proposed system, the entire teaching faculty all the way to the Director-General of Education will report directly to the commission instead of to the Ministry, and by extension, the Minister.

Currently, the Education Ministry is a dichotomy of an administrative division headed by the Secretary-General, and an education division headed by the Director-General of Education, a post that is subordinate to the Secretary-General. In the proposed systemic reform, the Ministry will continue to oversee the administrative aspects of education, such as streamlining, financial operations and implementation of policies and infrastructure, while the teaching faculty will be directed by an independent and transparent commission that is responsible directly to the public.

A comprehensive and inclusive syllabus can then be devised for the approval of the commission. This is important, as not only will the commission’s views reflect the collective consensus of all interested parties, it will also very importantly be free from undue political influence. Only then can we achieve an education system that is effective, fair and objective. Teachers that espouse racialist jingoism will no longer be conveniently rescued by their political masters. The potential repercussions from this are immensely positive, and would effectively trigger a snowball effect that would increase the quality and attraction of national schools, a trend that has been suffering a downward spiral for the last three decades.

In short, there needs to be a clear delineation of power separating the education system from political abuse. At the same time, this proposal cannot on its own, result in a reformed and ‘world class’ education system. It must also be complemented by other measures to improve the quality of teaching. As the common adage goes, there are no bad students, only bad teachers. Thus, it is equally as important to find ways to expand the talent pool of our teachers.

That being said, the buck doesn’t stop with primary and secondary education. Tertiary education needs also discover its independence in order to recapture its lost glories. As long as our universities adhere to the status quo, we will never achieve our ambitions of developed nationhood. However, that is a story for another day.

*At the time of writing.

Looking at other side of Mak Nyah

The New Straits Times

IT is so easy to disregard their existence or even shun them, but they are part of society, whether we like it or not.

The Mak Nyah (transsexual) community here always turns heads wherever they go.

Some members of the public are discreet in observing them, there are those who stare openly while others give them disgusted looks.

Many, however, feel that the Mak Nyah community are simply a misunderstood lot.

A lot of transsexuals have difficulty finding jobs and have turned to being sex workers to earn a living.

In Malaysia, there are between 10,000 and 20,000 transsexuals and more than 60 per cent of them are involved in the vice trade.

A study by National Defence University Professor Dr Teh Yik Koon shows that 62 per cent of them have difficulty finding work.

The same study also reveals about 50 per cent of Mak Nyah had been caught by the police and religious authorities for indecent behaviour and cross-dressing.

Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) president Datuk Mohd Zaman Khan says the Mak Nyah community attracts attention because of the way they dress and act and agrees that they are a misunderstood lot.

"In some places, they would be arrested for carrying ladies' handbags."

Zaman gives an example in Negri Sembilan where a Mak Nyah community had organised a fundraising event and a few politicians attended.

"When people found out about it, there was a big fuss about the politicians attending the function."

The perception that Mak Nyah became like they are because they were born in a female-dominated family and only had the influence of women in their lives is wrong.

"There is a medical and biological reason as to why they behave that way," says Zaman, adding that the main problem Mak Nyah faced was the prejudices and negative stigmas associated with them.

"There is this perception that most of them are sex workers, but that is entirely false."

He said there are Mak Nyah who are successful in business and at the top of the corporate ladder. And there are a whole lot of them in the beauty and entertainment industry.

Zaman admits that most transsexuals were denied jobs because of the way they dress, despite the fact that some of them are educated.

"In desperation, they turn to the sex trade to survive. It does not help that they face rejection from their families, too.

"But I believe they can still make a decent living if they remain positive."

He says as society progresses, they are privy to more information about transgenderism, which helps them to understand the community well.

Nowadays, most families are more accepting because they understand the situation better.

Zaman relates a story of his friend who had five children and one became a Mak Nyah.

"When my friend fell sick, it was that child who had looked after him and nursed him back to health."

Zaman says MAC has a close association with this community as their mission is to prevent the spread of HIV virus, which is undeniably prevalent among the Mak Nyah community.

U.S. Says Egypt Failing To Meet Protest Concerns

Protesters pray near army tanks in Tahrir square in Cairo, February 9, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa WaguihBy Andrew Quinn and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Egypt must do more to meet protesters' demands for political change, the United States said on Wednesday in a sharp escalation of rhetoric with one of its most important allies in the Middle East.

Washington is waiting for "real, concrete" moves to speed the transition, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said after Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit suggested the United States was eager to impose its will on Cairo.

"What you see happening on the streets of Cairo is not all that surprising when you see the lack of steps that their government has taken to meet their concerns," Gibbs said.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak held meetings at the White House as the United States and another key ally weighed the impact of Egypt's crisis on stability in the Middle East.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday set out steps Egypt must take in the face of unrelenting protests against President Hosni Mubarak, bluntly telling his government to stop harassing protesters and immediately repeal an emergency law allowing detention without charge.

The demands appeared aimed at raising pressure on Mubarak's handpicked vice president, Omar Suleiman, the former intelligence chief who is negotiating with opposition figures demanding Mubarak's immediate ouster.


"A lot has changed in Egypt, just within the period of the last week," Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, told journalists on a conference call. "We believe it can never go back to being the way it was."

Mubarak has given no indication he will step down, saying only that he will not run in September elections.

Aboul Gheit, in an interview with the PBS "NewsHour" program, said Biden's advice was "not at all" helpful and that he was amazed by the suggestion the emergency law should go.

"We have 17,000 prisoners loose in the streets, out of jails that have been destroyed. How can you ask me to sort of disband that emergency law while I'm in difficulty?" he said.

"Give me time, allow me to have control, to stabilize the nation, to stabilize the state, and then we would look into the issue." [ID:nN09190737]

Gibbs said Mubarak's administration appeared out of touch.

"I think it is clear that the Egyptian government is going to have to take some real, concrete steps in order to meet the threshold that the people of Egypt, that they represent, require from their government."

President Barack Obama discussed Egypt with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Wednesday and emphasized the U.S. commitment to security in the region, the White House said.

The Obama administration has struggled to calibrate its message on Egypt, where the protests have raised fears of Islamist radicalization that could threaten Cairo's 1979 peace accord with Israel and its role in Middle East peace efforts.

Egypt's strategic importance to the United States includes its role as guardian of the Suez Canal, a route for oil imports to the West, and as a counterweight in the region to Iran.


But Israel -- one of the biggest recipients of U.S. aid -- is also a factor. Israeli officials have said the turmoil in Egypt may require the Jewish state to "bolster its might."

Barak, in his first visit to Washington since the crisis erupted, met Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Thomas Donilon, Obama's national security adviser.

The U.S. officials stressed Washington's "unshakable commitment to Israel's security, including through our continued support for Israel's military, and the unprecedented security cooperation between our two governments," the White House said in a statement after the meeting.

With calls for an orderly transition, the United States hopes the $1.3 billion in annual aid it gives Egypt's military is a stabilizing factor. But the idea of putting conditions on that aid was a hot topic at a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said aid should continue "so long as the military is playing a constructive role in bringing about a democratic transition."

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll showed a majority of Americans believe the United States should be cautious about backing democracy in the Middle East because elections could lead to anti-U.S. Islamist governments.
© REUTERS 2011

Labour unions boost Egypt protests

Egyptian labour unions have gone on a nationwide strike, adding momentum to pro-democracy demonstrations in Cairo and other cities. 
Al Jazeera correspondents, reporting from Egypt, said around 20,000 factory workers stayed away from work on Wednesday.
Al Jazeera's Shirine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said that some workers "didn't have a political demand".
"They were saying that they want better salaries, they want an end to the disparity in the pay, and they want the 15 per cent increase in pay that was promised to them by the state."
However, Tadros also said that some workers were calling for Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, to step down.
The strike action came as public rallies calling for Mubarak to immediately hand over power entered their 16th day.
Determined protesters are continuing to rally in Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square, and other cities across the country. They say they will not end the protests until Mubarak, who has been at the country's helm since 1981, steps down.
Protesters with blankets gathered outside the parliament building in Cairo on Wednesday, with no plan to move, our correspondent reported. The demonstrators have put up a sign that reads: "Closed until the fall of the regime".
Click here for more on Al Jazeera's special coverage 
The government seems to be scrambling under pressure from major powers and pro-democracy supporters, Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker reported from the city.
She said people in Tahrir Square were angered by a visit from Tamer Hosni, a famous Arab pop star, on Wednesday morning.
Hosni previously made statements telling the demonstrators to leave the square, saying that Mubarak had offered them concessions. "His comments really did not go down very well," our correspondent said. The crowd reacted angrily and the military had to intervene to keep them away from him.
"People feel very strongly here," Al Jazeera's Dekker said.
Another Al Jazeera correspondent, reporting from Cairo, said there was also a renewed international element to the demonstrations, with Egyptians from abroad returning to join the pro-democracy camp.
There is even an internet campaign aimed at mobilising thousands of expatriates to return and support the uprising, our correspondent said.
Protesters are "more emboldened by the day and more determined by the day", Ahmad Salah, an Egyptian activist, told Al Jazeera from Cairo on Wednesday. "This is a growing movement, it's not shrinking."
Concessions fall short
Mubarak's message has thus far been that he will not leave until his term expires in September.
As a gesture of goodwill, however, 34 political prisoners, including members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood opposition group, were reportedly released over the past two days.
Dekker, our correspondent, reported that there are still an unknown number of people missing, including activists thought to be detained during the recent unrest, while Human Rights Watch reported that the death toll has reached 302 since January 28.
Egypt's health ministry denied the figures, however, saying that official statistics would be released shortly.
"He (Suleiman) is threatening to impose martial law, which means everybody in the square will be smashed. But what will he do with the rest of the 70 million Egyptians who will follow us afterward."
Abdul-Rahman Samir, a spokesman for a coalition of the five main youth groups behind the Tahrir Square protests.
Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian vice president, warned on Tuesday that his government "can't put up with continued protests" for a long time, saying the crisis must be ended as soon as possible.
Suleiman said there will be "no ending of the regime" and no immediate departure for Mubarak, the state news agency MENA reported from a meeting between the vice-president and independent newspapers.
At one point in the roundtable meeting, he warned that the alternative to dialogue "is that a coup happens, which would mean uncalculated and hasty steps, including lots of irrationalities".
When pressed by news 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.
Response to Suleiman's statements was grim.
"He is threatening to impose martial law, which means everybody in the square will be smashed," said Abdul-Rahman Samir, a spokesman for a coalition of the five main youth groups behind protests in Tahrir Square.
"But what would he do with the rest of the 70 million Egyptians who will follow us afterward."
Earlier on Tuesday, Suleiman said a plan was in place for the peaceful transfer of power, which included forming three committees  - one to propose constitutional amendments, another to oversee the implementation of the amendments and a third to investigate the violent clashes of February 2.
Al Jazeera and agencies

Indian community leader joins PKR

RCI panel meets Teoh's sister, lawyers

Malott, Zainal Aznam are sick, says Ibrahim Ali

Teoh Inquiry: Commission ready for Monday hearing

All is set for the royal panel to get down to business, starting with applications by lawyers for Teoh's family and the Selangor government to be allowed to participate.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock held its last meeting today to discuss several issues before hearing proper begins on Monday.
The commission’s secretary Saripuddin Kasim said three main issues were discussed during the meeting which went on for about three hours at the Jalan Duta courts complex here this afternoon.
“Firstly, we went through the administrative and logistive aspects of this inquiry, including visiting the courtroom (the biggest in the court) where we’ll be holding the inquiry,” he said.
Saripuddin said most matters will be formally addressed on Monday, including the application by Karpal Singh and Malik Imtiaz Sarwar to represent Teoh’s family and the Selangor government respectively during the hearing.
The lawyers have previously written letters to the inquiry secretariat seeking permission to be allowed to act for the family and the state government respectively and have the right to cross-examine witnesses.
“We were also briefed by the conducting officers on the progress of the preparations so far and we are satisfied,” said Saripuddin, who is also the director-general of the Legal Affairs Division in the Prime Minister’s Department.
“We know this case is of public concern and we will do our best,” he said, adding that the hearing will be held at the third floor of the court complex at 9am on Monday.
Seeking revision
Earlier, the commission members also met with Teoh’s sister Lee Lan and her lawyers Karpal and Gobind Singh Deo.
During the informal meeting which lasted 15 minutes, concerns were raised over a move to seek a revision of the coroner’s findings. The case is pending.
Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail is seeking a review of the coroner’s ruling. On Jan 5, coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas delivered an open verdict, saying that Teoh’s death was neither suicide nor homicide.
Karpal said that there should not be a revision and an inquiry on the same matter concurrently.
Gobind has asked Gani to withdraw the application to avoid confusion. High Court judge Mohtarudin Baki will mention the revision case on Feb 17.
“We can’t go on with both. There will be conflict in the findings later on. We must proceed on only one…,” Gobind said.
Other major issues brought up at the informal meeting included the dates of the inquiry hearing and the list of witnesses.
Gobind said that the dates set by the commission, Feb 14 to April 25, were not suitable as Karpal, Malik and himself already have cases on those dates.
“The dates were fixed without us being present and we’re hoping that could be readjusted. There is no point having a royal commission that cannot proceed if other people are engaged elsewhere.
“If you want to have a royal commission, let’s doing it properly and not in haste,” he said.
Gobind added that a list of witnesses have been sought and he expected to be furnished with one before the hearing commenced.
“We’re also concerned about witnesses that were brought in by the family, for example Dr Pornthip (Rojanasunand),” Gobind said, adding that everything should be clearer by Monday.
He also said that he has not been informed on how the inquiry will conduct its investigation.
“We are also unsure if it would be a re-hearing or (a case of) going through the transcripts. We will only know by Monday whether we will be allowed to cross-examine,” he said.
He added that he believed this would be the last meeting before hearing begins.
“The meeting today was more of an administrative hearing so that the parties, including Teo’s family, can go before the commissioners to voice their concerns,” said Gobind.
‘Need time to think’
Initially, Lee Lan and her lawyers were not called to attend the meeting between the commission panellists and the Attorney-General’s representatives, but they were later invited.
Approached by reporters, Lee Lan looked confused, saying that she needed more time to think. She declined to speak about today’s meeting.
“I will probably issue a statement later,” she said.
Last month, Federal Court judge James Foong was appointed to head the commission to look into the cause of Teoh’s death and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) interrogation procedures.
The commission’s terms of reference are:
  • To look into whether or not, there was any impropriety in the conduct of the examination of Teoh in the course of an investigation into a Shah Alam report by the MACC, in relation to its standing orders and practices, and to recommend any appropriate action, where necessary; and,
  • To enquire into Teoh’s death and the circumstances surrounding and contributing to his death.
The other four members of the commission are former federal judge Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, ex-Court of Appeal judge T Selventhiranathan, Penang Hospital’s senior consultant in forensic pathology Bhupinder Singh and Cyberjaya University College of Medical Science’s dean and consultant forensic psychiatrist Prof Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom.
The five are expected to draw up a list of witnesses to be called, among other things.
The inquiry is scheduled to start on Feb 14 and end on April 25, when the final report will be handed over to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin. The King will then decide the next course of action.
The conducting officers are senior federal counsel Amarjeet Singh and deputy public prosecutors Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud and Kwan Li Sa.
Teoh, the DAP political aide to Selangor executive councillor and Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on July 16 last year on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam here.
Teoh, then 30, died hours after he was interrogated overnight by the MACC at the Selangor MACC office located on the 14th floor of the same building. He was a witness in the alleged misuse of Selangor government allocations.