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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Najib accused of endorsing political blackmail

A Kedah PKR strongman has expressed shock that Prime Minister Najib Razak appears to have endorsed the campaign to politically blackmail his opponent.

NONEThe party's state committee member said that Najib, as PM, should stay far and above gutter politics when a sex video allegedly linked to an opposition leader become public knowledge on Monday.

Or else, Najib, who is also BN and Umno chief, was not fit to helm the country, added Gooi (seated at centre in photo).

"Instead, it is shocking that he is calling for a thorough police investigation, with the help of experts in the field of video editing to determine the authenticity of the sex video," he said.

"Najib has failed in his responsibility as PM of the country to outrightly condemn the actions of the Datuk T trio," added Gooi, a lawyer by profession.

"He should demand that the police take immediate action against the criminal acts of the trio for screening pornographic video to the media and having committed political blackmail," he added.

Umno on character assassination binge

Gooi, who stood as a candidate for the Alor Setar parliamentary seat in the last general election, was responding to Najib's statement last night that the main issue was whether the video was genuine or not.

The police should be allowed to do a rapid and professional job to verify whether the video was doctored or not, he was reported as saying.

Najib with his facebook gathering in Kuching, showing fingerNajib had also attempted to distance Umno from the video depicting Opposition Leader and PKR supremo Anwar allegedly having sex with a prostitute.

However, Gooi said by endorsing dirty politics, Najib (right) shows that Umno is desperate to character assassinate Anwar, who is Permatang Pauh MP, in whatever way they can.

This clearly shows that Umno has no confidence in facing Anwar's challenge for Putrajaya, he added.

"Umno is wallowing in a campaign to destroy Anwar's reputation, even though no crime has been alleged to have been committed by Anwar," he said.

"Umno behaves as though they are already going to lose the next general election," he added.
Gerakan joins in by launching broadside

Meanwhile, a Penang Gerakan leader has taken de facto law minister Nazri Abdul Aziz to task for implying that the trio who exposed the video needed to be protected.

The party's human rights bureau chief Baljit Singh was upset that Nazri had urged the public "not to kill the messenger".
linked to Umno.

Baljit expressed sadness that the country has gone down to gutter politics where the police appear to be practising double standards in their handling of the recent case.

He questioned if the trio had obtained police permit to screen the video and if police had acted on the former if they had failed to do so.

"Others need to apply for police permits for such things, for example, even to organise a forum on the Interlok issue, Hindraf was told to get permits. When they did not, they were arrested," he added.

He also criticised those who called for a royal commission of inquiry to determine the authenticity of the video.

He said the government did not find it necessary to call a RCI when a Malaysian citizen and DAP political aide - Teoh Beng Hock - died while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

"And now they want a RCI to investigate two adults having sex?" he asked.

U.S. commander claims successes in Libya

U.S. commander claims successes in Libya

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- NATO has agreed in principle to take the lead in protecting Libyan civilians, said the top commander of a U.S. mission that also is handing over control of a no-fly zone in the war-torn country.

Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, also said on CNN's "The Situation Room" Friday that removing leader Moammar Gadhafi by military means is not the aim of the mission and that the coalition is not arming rebel forces.

And the general claimed "we have achieved already a large degree of success" -- including an arms embargo, the no-fly zone and the halting of loyalist troops near the rebel-held city of Benghazi.

President Barack Obama will update the nation at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday from the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., the White House announced.

NATO this weekend is expected to take over control of the no-fly zone from the United States and finalize procedures on protecting civilians.

But Ham acknowledged that challenges remain.

"We find these regime forces taking cover inside built-up areas where they know -- because of our concern for civilian casualties -- that we won't strike in there," he told CNN'S Wolf Blitzer.

Loyalist snipers, along with armored units, continue to be a threat.

"It is a tough, tough challenge for us," said Ham, speaking from Stuttgart, Germany. "When we see regime forces attacking civilians, we will do everything we can to stop those attacks."

Not long after allies unleashed cruise missiles against Gadhafi air defenses last Saturday, Obama told Americans he wanted the United States, which has headed the military campaign, to hand over control of the enforcement of a U.N. Security Council resolution.

The resolution called for the protection of Libyan civilians and the enforcement of the no-fly zone.

NATO, which includes the United States, will lead both efforts.

The United States has been treating the protection of civilians as part of the mission, and that activity will continue regardless of the command structure, Navy Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said.

"Job one is to protect the Libyan people and the job doesn't change because we have a new boss," he said, briefing reporters at the Pentagon.

Obama on Friday conducted a conference call and meeting with congressional leaders to provide an update on the conflict and attempt to address their concerns about the mission's organization, cost and consequences. Democrats appeared more satisfied than Republicans.

Meanwhile, coalition fighter planes in a 24-hour period took out seven Libyan tanks it claims were threatening civilian populations, including in the city of Ajdabiya, authorities said Friday.

Although Gadhafi is feeling the pinch of more than 850 air sorties, the "regime is still able and still determined to reinforce their positions," Gortney said.

British Tornado fighter jets identified Libyan tanks with their weapons pointed north toward Ajdabiya and destroyed them, Air Vice Marshal Phil Osborn said Friday. The British military released video of two such tanks bursting into flames and smoke.

The United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, announced it will send 12 aircraft in the coming days to help patrol and enforce the United Nations-mandated no-fly zone. And Turkey, once wary of military operations, agreed to the use of an eastern air base in Izmir as a sub-command station.

Other Muslim nations participating in the Libya mission include Qatar, which will begin flying planes this weekend, and Kuwait and Jordan, which have agreed to provide humanitarian or logistical support.

But as the military operation continues, the situation for Libyans caught in battle zones grows more dire by the day, humanitarian agencies reported. The United Nations refugee agency said Friday that increasing numbers of Libyans are displaced from their homes due to fighting.

Refugees streaming out of Ajdabiya described chilling scenes.

"I couldn't even begin to describe to you the horror that I have seen," one man told CNN. "Leaving Ajdabiya we saw dead bodies in the street. No one would ever dare go to recover them."

CNN is not identifying Libyans it has interviewed for their own safety.

Another man said Gadhafi's troops were going house to house in Ajdabiya, hunting for opposition members. He said the troops took away five men from his neighbor's house. He didn't know what happened to them.

Early Friday, coalition warplanes roared again through Libyan skies, bombing the periphery of the capital where military bases are located. Anti-aircraft fire burst out but then fell silent.

International reporters in Tripoli were escorted to farmlands east of Tripoli in Tajura, where Gadhafi's government claims airstrikes killed civilians.

Reporters found no evidence of civilian deaths.

Two military bases along the way had been bombed and were still smoking Friday.

In Tajura, missile fragments lay scattered about a palm orchard and shrapnel had peppered walls of still-standing farm buildings.

One farmer told reporters that a missile landed about 8 p.m. Thursday, but there were no military installations nearby. The missile gouged a small hole in a palm tree and sprayed debris that damaged windows and doors of the farm buildings.

Gadhafi has been keen to put out the word on collateral damage from the coalition's airstrikes. International reporters were taken this week to a seaside cemetery in Tripoli where the funerals of 33 people allegedly killed in airstrikes were taking place.

State television said the dead were victims of the "crusader colonial aggression."

CNN could not independently verify the circumstances of the deaths or who the victims were. In Tripoli, CNN reporters go on government-organized tours in an effort to do their own reporting; Libyan authorities forbid independent movement by international journalists in Tripoli.

The reports of civilian deaths have been given little credence by coalition forces.

"The only civilian casualties we know of for certain are the ones that the Libyan government itself has caused," Gortney has said.

Instead, it is Gadhafi who is almost sure to face serious charges for his brutal crackdown on protesters, said a spokeswoman for the International Criminal Court. The prosecutor of the court is "100 percent" certain Gadhafi will face charges of crimes against humanity once an investigation has been completed, the spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, the Libyan delegation attending an African Union meeting in Ethiopia said the country is committed to a cease-fire and is ready to let the African Union monitor one.

"We demand the cessation of the air bombardment and the naval blockade carried out by Western forces and the United States for the invalidity of its argument to protect civilians since it is killing them by the hundreds and is attacking and destroying our armed forces and paving the way for the other side to attack," said Mohammed al-Zwai, speaker of the Libyan People's Assembly.

Under an agreement reached Thursday, NATO forces will be able to close Libyan air space to all flights except humanitarian ones and will be able to use force in self-defense.

Michael Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, said he expects the defense alliance to take over command of the entire operation in a few days to keep up pressure on Gadhafi. The alliance said Friday that Canada's Lt. Gen. Charlie Bouchard, stationed in Naples, Italy, will take the lead for the Libya mission.

"The no-flight zone alone cannot protect the civilians of Libya," Burns told CNN. "Gadhafi is still attacking. ... He is still on the move in some places."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he has seen no signs of the cease-fire called for under U.N. Resolution 1973, which was hurriedly passed March 17, as Libyan forces were closing in on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

"To the contrary, fierce battles continue in and around the cities of Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zinan," Ban said Thursday, adding his envoy told Libyan authorities that if the government did not comply with the cease-fire resolution, "the Security Council was prepared to take additional measures."

The Libyan conflict was sparked in February by protests against Gadhafi's nearly 42-year rule. The strongman responded with force against civilians, prompting the international community to take action beginning last weekend.

Najib: Focus on sex video’s authenticity, not Umno’s role

Najib stresses the importance of verifying the auhtenticity of the sex video. - file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak moved last night to distance Umno from the video allegedly showing Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim having sex with a Chinese prostitute, insisting that the main issue was whether the video was genuine or not.

The prime minister stressed that the police should be allowed to do a rapid and professional job to verify whether the video was doctored or not.

“People have been asking whether Umno is at fault but the main issue is whether the tape is true or false,” the Umno president told reporters after chairing a supreme council meeting.

“Raising the idea of a conspiracy is shifting the focus from the main issue of whether the recording was genuine,” he added.

Former Malacca chief minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik had admitted on Wednesday that Datuk Shazryl Eskay, Perkasa treasurer-general Datuk Shuib Lazim and himself were collectively the mysterious “Datuk T” behind the 21-minute sex video that was screened on Monday.

The involvement of the former Youth chief Abdul Rahim has led to accusations that Umno had doctored the video to undermine Anwar’s credibility.

PKR has also accused the prime minister of meeting the sex video trio on Wednesday in Parliament.

Najib also said that calls for a royal commission of inquiry into the video would have to be decided on by the government and not Umno.

“We only discussed the issue to stress that we are not involved in any way in any recording of this video,” he said.

He said that for now, it was up to the police to act in a professional manner so that the public would have confidence in the investigation.

“The police will have to show if there has been any doctoring of the video. Such doctoring will be easy enough to detect and determine,” he said.

Police today arrested Abdul Rahim and Shazryl in relation to the video while Shuib had his statement recorded in Bukit Aman last night.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar promised yesterday to leave no stone unturned in the probe of the sex video and said that the police had formed a “special team” and will bring in and question anyone necessary.

In Sarawak, a Christian groundswell

The stamping of the bible by the Ministry of Home Affairs is only one out of the many reasons that have caused unhappiness among the Christians in Sarawak. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — When 3,000 Christians turned up for a prayer rally in Kuching this week it sent ripples running through Petrajaya, where gleaming structures house the Sarawak state government that is facing elections next month.

In a Christian-majority state where there has been little in the way of religious tension, the prayer rally was an unusual event.

It was a protest against the establishment which Christians have associated themselves with in the state.

The unhappiness with the Barisan Nasional (BN) government is palpable among Christians all over the country. But for it to be become so apparent in Sarawak is worrying BN politicians even in Putrajaya.

Through conversations with ordinary Christians, church officials and Christian Barisan Nasional supporters, a consensus emerged that though the dispute gnawed at their hearts, it would not tilt election results.

For now.

The prayer rally on March 23 has challenged that conclusion.

The 3,000-strong public rally is rare for the Christian community. Its leaders, compared to that of other religious communities, are usually adverse to controversy.

Its organisers and attendees were even slammed by Deputy Federal Minister Joseph Salang Gandum who urged Christians “not to make fools of themselves” over the stamping of Bibles.

A Sarawak Barisan Nasional activist who requested anonymity, maintains that the dispute does not resonate among ordinary Christians. That it is more of an issue among church leaders than the majority.

For those who attended the rally, it was more than just about stamped bibles. It was the collective expression of a community that feels its rights as guaranteed by the Constitution, are being taken away.

Pastor Jeff Wei, one of the rally’s organisers, stressed that it was a non-partisan affair. The preachers who addressed the crowd in Bahasa Malaysia, Iban, English and Mandarin did not press them to vote for any particular party.

“Each pastor was given a particular topic to speak on and we all prayed to God to help resolve these problems,” said Wei who was confident that the crowd included both BN and Pakatan Rakyat supporters.

The recurring theme was that the Christian community’s right to worship and spread their faith was being steadily eroded.

It wasn’t just the recent Al-Kitab issue that weighed upon attendees. It was also about the church-burnings of last year and the Government’s insistence that the term Allah be reserved for Muslims.

It was also about the strictures against worshipping in the national language, Bahasa Malaysia, a practice in Sarawak ever since Christianity arrived at its shores.

One attendee described it as a collective stand against the small and gradual slights against the community that have occurred over the years.

“Christians have never spoken out before even on issues that affect us. We have been patient and tolerant for a long time.”

But the tipping point came when the Home Ministry detained about 30,000 copies of Al Kitab in Kuching.

“Being in Sarawak Christians never really felt the tension that is usually felt between religions like in the Peninsula. Even during the Allah issue. But when the Bibles were seized in Kuching we really felt it,” said another man, 44 who attended the rally.

The dispute that emerged from the seized Bibles punctured a certain exceptionalism felt by the Sarawakian Christian community based on its relatively harmonious relationship with the state’s Muslims.

For instance, Sarawakian Christians continue to use the term Allah in their prayers in defiance of pressure by Peninsula-based Muslim groups for them to stop. Sarawakian Muslims apparently have no problems with this centuries-old practice.

Though it is still felt in Sarawak, the Allah issue is by-and-large considered a “Semenanjung-created problem” being fought over by conservative Semenanjung Muslims.

But when bibles in Sarawak and meant for Sarawak were seized by a Semenanjung-originating authority, it was as if a foreign power had invaded and started imposing alien values.

“It’s as if our right to practice our faith was being repressed,” said the 44-year-old.

Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong Wui Wui feels the BN is being willfully ignorant of the message that the rally was sending — that it’s sign that Sarawak Christians are beginning to speak out against a perceived injustice.

“It has come to a point where they cannot just sit quiet anymore. They want something to be done. They want the government to uphold their freedom to practice their faith.”

An actual groundswell of sentiment may be building in the community. Wei, of the Sarawak Ministers Fellowship, says the organisers have received requests to hold more of such rallies through-out Sarawak.

He admits that there is a political dimension to the rally given that it’s set against the backdrop of the state elections.

“Our call is to anyone in power, whether it is BN or Pakatan, to uphold our right to practice as stated in the Constitution. Our message is that Christians must choose wisely and elect people who are justice-minded.”

As with the rally, it is hard for politicians or church leaders to gauge how far-reaching the discontent will be on the elections.

A Catholic state government officer told The Malaysian Insider that though he is incensed by the Home Ministry’s handling of the bibles, he is unsure whether it will be the prime mover behind his vote.

“You have to look all things not just the issue. You have to look at the party and your area’s candidate.”

But what is sure that the sentiments which fuel this ground swell are only beginning in Sarawak. It is quite possible other prayer rallies will be held beyond the shores of Sarawak and in time for the federal elections.

Don’t blame others, Pairin told

KOTA KINABALU: Former minister Tham Nyip Shen has accused his one-time boss in Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Joseph Pairin Kitingan of being a weak leader.

Tham said Pairin was now floundering around, accusing others for allowing Umno to enter state politics and overthrow his party in 1994.

Pairin has come under attack this week by his former colleagues in the party, Yong Teck Lee and Tham, for attempting to blame others for pulling PBS out of the Barisan Nasional (BN) in 1990.

The matter came up after former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in his memoirs, “A Doctor in the House”, published recently, that it was a mistake for PBS to have pulled out of BN on the eve of the general election.

Tham said Pairin was ignoring the troubled history of the party and putting the blame on others for the downfall of the PBS government and paving the way for peninsula-based political parties to take over the state government.

“I fail to see why Pairin, being a senior leader, still comes up with so many excuses to cover up his mistake of pulling PBS out of BN at that time.

“I am sure way back in 1985, he already felt very bitter when after winning the election in the same year, PBS was not allowed to form the state government.

“We were all thankful to Musa Hitam (former deputy prime minister) that with his help, PBS finally got to form the state government.

“Today, for any remaining PBS leaders who were with him (Pairin) at that time to conveniently choose to forget the collective decision made then, and to start putting the blame on others is simply wrong and inglorious.

“I feel so sorry that despite being the president of PBS since 1985, he is still unable to set the official records straight,” said Tham.

Setting record straight

Tham was responding to a recent statement made by PBS vice-president Radin Malleh, implicating him (Tham) and two former high-ranking PBS leaders – Yong, who is now opposition party SAPP leader and Bernard Dompok, president of Upko – for the decision to pull out from BN on the eve of the 1990 general election.

Radin was commenting on Mahathir’s musings, in his recently published book, that Pairin lost the opportunity to develop Sabah the moment he decided to pull out from the BN just before the 1990 general election.

“Although Pairin was already pushed to the wall, he remained loyal to BN until an emergency PBS supreme council meeting held on Oct 15, 1990, where he was forced to agree to pull out from BN by Yong and Tham, supported by Dompok.

“These three people were very adamant to get out from BN,” said Radin in defence of his boss who is also the Huguan Siou (overall chief) of the Kadazandusun community.

Tham said that though he was no longer a member of any political party, it was his duty and responsibility to come forward and set the records straight, since as he has been implicated in the affair.

“I feel that misplacing the facts in the PBS official records is not only unfair to me and those who were involved at that time, but also to our future generations,” he said.

He maintained that PBS had misjudged in leaving BN in 1990, citing a prediction by former Gerakan

president, Dr Lim Chong Eu.

He recalled that when Pairin was about to make the announcement that fateful night, Lim was desperately trying to contact Pairin to advise him to rethink the decision.

He said that Lim even got his then political secretary and current Gerakan leader, Koh Tsu Koon, to contact him (Tham) to tell Pairin what the drastic consequences would be if PBS pulled out.

“And despite the fact that PBS signed a confederation with Gerakan at that time, the advice was ignored. The announcement was made and the rest is history,” said Tham.

Not consulted

Tham also said he was not even in the PBS supreme council when the party pulled out of BN.

“I was in Sandakan when it happened. I was never told nor consulted over the decision, nor was I in any meeting that decided it.

“In fact, I had even in a number of private discussions with other PBS leaders voiced my view against pulling out of BN before the incident.

“These leaders are still around,” he said.

Tham, a former deputy chief minister, also poured scorn on Radin’s claim that Pairin had remained loyal to BN till the last moment, although the federal leadership at that time did not favour the party.

“If that’s indeed the case, why then it took almost 12 years – long, long after the three of us had left the party – before it (PBS) rejoined BN?” he asked.

PBS rejoined BN in 2002 with the help of Chong Kah Kiat, who was former Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president. Chong was also the chief minister at the time.

Tham also said that after leaving PBS, before the election in January, 1994, both he and Yong had gone on to form SAPP (Sabah Progressive Party) and joined BN while Dompok formed Parti Demokratik Sabah (PDS), the precursor to Upko, and both also joined BN in the same year.

Kita willing to forge political ties

Kita says it is ready to work with any political parties on power sharing after the next general election as long as it is not a 'marriage of convenience'.

SUNGAI PETANI: Parti Kesejahteraan Insan Tanah Air or Kita is prepared to work with any political blocks or parties on power sharing after the next general election as long as it was not a “marriage of convenience”.

Kita president Zaid Ibrahim said Kita would never compromise its policies and principles merely to be in power.

The former de facto law minister insisted that his party was neither power-grabbing nor power- crazed.

Citing PAS-DAP link vis-à-vis Pakatan Rakyat as an example of marriage of convenience, he said Kita would only accept any power-sharing concept if the interested parties agreed to his party’s political struggle.

“Otherwise, we would not commit into such power-sharing cooperation,” Zaid told reporters after officially launching the party Kedah branch here today. Present were Kedah Kita chairman Zamil Ibrahim and Penang Kita chairman Tan Tee Beng, the Nibong Tebal MP.

He said that Kita could be offered a chance to share power in the federal government or state government if the party managed to win seats in the next general election.

He said Kita could be interested in power sharing based on policies and issues if no political blocks could muster a majority to form the next government.

He added that a political marriage of convenience was all about an electoral pact to help each other to win votes and seats.

Although DAP and PAS do not have much in common, he noted both parties were prepared to set aside their vast differences and work together for electoral gains.

However, Zaid assured that Kita would never enter into such an unholy alliance in a marriage of convenience.

He said his party would, however, go solo in the next general election.

He indicated the party would field candidates in viable seats in states of Kedah, Perlis and Selangor.

Kita may opt out of Penang because “DAP seems too strong in the state”.

‘ A documentary, not pornography’

On the much-talked about sex video allegedly involving a top Pakatan politician, Zaid, an ex-PKR supreme council member, said he was prepared to face the police for viewing the obscene clips.

However, he insisted that police should also haul up others, like Sungai Petani MP Johari Abdul, for watching the tape.

He, however, said that he was prepared “to pay the price” if viewing the tape was considered an offence under the law.

“But it was also offence for a top leader to do such an act,” he said.

Describing the sex video as “documentary, not pornography”, he said he wanted to view the tape out of curiosity.

He said that he wanted to watch the video because it would assist him to give an opinion on the hot issue, which had now caught fire across the country.

He reiterated that the person shown having sex with a woman in the video was PKR de facto leader and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

“But whether the video was genuine or not will depend on a scientific probe.

“It’s for the investigators and forensics experts to find out,” he said.

He reiterated his call on the government to engage international bodies such as Scotland Yard, FBI and even the Royal Canadian Mounted to verify the authenticity of the clip.

Zaid quit PKR blaming electoral malpractices of marring the party election in which he was vying for the deputy president’s post late last year.

Pelancaran DNA: Polis ceroboh tempat persendirian

Tindakan polis menganggu majlis itu mengakibatkan kecederaan kepada rakyat yang hadir - AMK Selangor.

KUALA LUMPUR: Angkatan Muda Keadilan (AMK) Selangor meluahkan rasa kecewa dan mengecam tindakan pihak polis yang mengganggu majlis pelancaran Datuk Najib Altantuya (DNA) anjuran AMK dan PKR Pusat di Taman Melawati dekat sini semalam.

“Tindakan polis ini mengakibatkan kecederaan kepada rakyat yang hadir termasuk wartawan dan pimpinan AMK,” kata Ketua Penerangan AMK Selangor, Mohd Saifullah Mohd Zulkifli.

Dalam satu kenyataan media hari ini beliau berkata, “lebih malang apabila pihak polis bertindak menyalahi undang-undang dengan mengganggu majlis aman ini yang diadakan dikawasan persendirian.”

Menurut beliau, pihak polis jelas menunjukkan sikap tidak profesional apabila menyerbu masuk kawasan persendirian ini dan cuba mengheret (Ketua Umum PKR) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim disaat-saat beliau sedang mengakhiri ucapannya.

Tindakan seperti ini membuktikan bahawa pihak Umno-Barisan Nasional (BN) takut kepada kebangkitan rakyat dan kebenaran akan terpancar akhirnya dan sekaligus menutupi fitnah yang ditaburi dalam kes sodomi Saiful Bukhari Mohd Azlan dan video seks Datuk T.

Saifullah menasihati pihak polis supaya tidak perlu rasa takut dengan arahan dan tekanan pihak pemerintah tetapi sebaliknya berkhidmat untuk rakyat dengan adil dan saksama, serta bukan berkhidmat untuk Umno-BN semata-mata.

The enemy within our fold

There is now a pressing need for fundamental Christians and their activities to come under the searchlight of the authorities.

By Christopher Fernandez

Concerned Malaysians, especially Christians, are displeased over the recent “seizure of bibles”, which has highlighted the frailty of our inter-faith solidarity. They are worried that their right to freedom of worship as enshrined under the Federal Constitution is being threatened.

The fact that many quarters had voiced concern over this incident (impounding the bibles) is understandable. But now that the “outrage” and “unsettled excitement” have begun to die down considerably, let’s examine the issue with a little presence of mind over why this incident surfaces from time to time and why it especially seems to affect “the seemingly hapless and persecuted Malaysian Christian community”.

My idea basically is to take a look at the real culprits who are flouting the laws in the context of how and for whom the bibles are being used.

For this purpose we need to examine the role of fundamental Christians in Malaysia and how they go about their activities.

Firstly, it must be said that fundamental Christians are new entrants in the world of Christendom. Unlike the Roman Catholic and multiple number of Protestant denominations that have existed for centuries, fundamental Christians or evangelical Christians (as they like to be referred to) evolved out of the “Azusa Street” revivals of post-Great Depression America and have managed to propagate their beliefs throughout the world.

Fundamental Christians in Malaysia

In the past, several fundamental Christian groups have been highlighted to the public over their “troubled” status as churches such as Gereja Hujan Akhir or the Latter Rain Church (Petaling Jaya), the New Testament Church (Tapah) and Calvary Church (Damansara Heights).

Within fundamental churches exist instances of incest, sexual misconduct, abuse of position, unaccountability or misuse of sourced funds and other abuses. While the wrongdoers are not above disciplinary measures, most offences are usually swept under the carpet in a “keep it within the family” spirit.

Besides this, these churches are guilty of deviant teachings which are not in agreement or subscribed to by the mainstream Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. Their clergy are often trained by superficial and vague syllabi and mostly given practical training in what they term as “evangelism.”

Evangelism is really a substitute version of proselytising which goes against the spirit of our Federal Constitution. But while fundamental Christians are generally passive and keep a low profile, they are nevertheless greatly motivated in proselytising activities using the bibles as their only source of reference, very unlike mainstream churches.

The confusion and injustice, if any, usually set in when legitimate bibles by bona fide Christian organisations are seized and confiscated by the authorities. This is because the workings of fundamental Christian groups are clandestine and are implemented seemingly in line with mainstream churches.

As a result, there are a growing number of complaints not only by mainstream churches such as the Catholics, the Anglicans, the Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans and others, but also by Islamic groups, Hindu and Sikh organisations and the Buddhists over the proselytising activities of fundamental Christian church groups using the bible.


Up to now, there have been no real checks-and-balances conducted or imposed upon fundamental Christian groups. They also seem to be keen proponents of the free enterprise spirit with some of them raising millions of ringgit in building and missionary projects.

These are usually churches with humble start-ups in houses, shophouses, former cinema theatres, that are sometimes transformed into “community centres” as a way to escape the scrutiny of the authorities.

Their proselytising activity is not just a “conversion of souls” but also an attempt to boost the coffers of the church. Fundamental churches have large “treasure chests” because church members are asked to part with 10% of their salary every month.

Besides this, there are financial pledges to fulfil and donations and offerings in cash or kind made to the churches, making the whole set-up reek of a fabulously-run corporate structure eventually. The general comment by mainstream church members is that fundamental churches are nothing more than “business enterprises”.

The systematic indoctrination of members include behaviour modification to the extent that members owe a life-long allegiance to their churches with the promise of eternal life upon death for their submission and obedience to leaders of the church who profess to act on behalf of God.

The success of brainwashing weak-willed individuals who fall prey to their proselytising enables leaders of these churches to live off the commercial efforts of their adherents and to fund a jet-setting and lavish lifestyle on the pretext of “taking care of the business of God”.

Will it happen here?

Though it is unlikely fundamental Christians will turn into the militant style of Al-Maunah, the fundamental Islamic group guilty of “ajaran sesat” (deviant teaching) and whose members were rounded up by the police (who nipped the problem in the bud back then), there is now a pressing need for fundamental Christians and their activities to come under the searchlight of the authorities.

Prevention is always better than cure. It is timely to recall how Pastor David Koresh destroyed a community of fundamental Christians or how Reverend Jim Jones, an ex-pastor of the Assemblies of God, drove the members of his church to commit suicide en masse in what has come to be known as “The Jonestown Tragedy,” in Guyana.

This is another noticeable failing of fundamental Christians. They are also doomsday cults – with a preoccupation with death – which distinguish them markedly from the remarkably health activity of the mainstream or traditional churches.

Usually, persons who fall for their proselytising are persons who have difficulty in the areas of health, finances, relationships, or with study, work or business problems. These individuals are easy prey.

We need to weed out these black sheep from the midst of genuine church-goers in the hope that the issue of seizing bibles becomes a thing of the past as bibles should and are rightfully being used by the established churches in a most responsible and acceptable manner to all Malaysians.

The writer is a schoolteacher teaching English and Science at a Chinese school in Kuala Lumpur, and has also been working as a writer since 1984.

Public confidence in Police Plummeted in 2010


by Martin Jalleh
25th March 2011

Bolehland celebrates the 204th Police Day today. We thank God for each member of the PDRM for risking and putting their lives on the line every day for us and the countless unseen and untold sacrifices they have made.
We would like to believe that the country is at peace because of the police.
Sadly though a review of the performance of the police force last year (2010) indicates the failure of the government’s professed intention of improving the level of public confidence in the country’s police force.
In a four-part series. the reader will be able to see how in 2010, the police
a) aggressively and indiscriminately denied certain citizens the constitutional right to the freedom of speech and assembly b) abused and used arbitrarily the wide powers of arrest and detention
c) acted with impunity and complete disregard for constitutional and judicial safeguards.
d) arrogantly showed their contempt for the rights of the people that resulted in gross abuse of police powers leading to brutality, torture, prolonged detention, shooting, custodial violence and death.

Part I: Police Preferred to Play Politics

In March 2010, then then IGP Musa Hassan’s insisted that “the police did not take into account the political leanings of anyone, including politicians, when conducting their investigation…”

Musa was only fooling himself. There were ample examples in 2010 of the police being blatantly and brazenly biased towards the powers that be. This can be especially seen in the double standards it displayed.

Umno and its cohorts has never had to bear up with any blinding tear gas or burning chemical-laced water from a water cannon. They were never brutalised or bludgeoned by the batons of bullies in blue, or bundled into police vehicles or beaten up in a police cell.

In 2010, the police appeared to believe in and guarded Umno’s constitutional right to the freedom of speech and assembly. They were guaranteed convenient and comfortable passage to and from the place they held their demonstrations. No action was taken even though it was later confirmed it was an “illegal gathering”.

Such was the case when in February about 300 Umno Youth, Perkasa and MIC Youth members besieged the Australian High Commission to protest against the 50 Australian Members of Parliament who had called for the sodomy charges against Anwar Ibrahim to be dropped.

In the same month, police gave their blessings to some 1,000 members of Perkasa and Selangor Umno to march from the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz mosque to the Selangor State Secretariat Building to protest the state government’s handling of the quit rent issue involving Yayasan Basmi Kemiskinan.

In sharp contrast, police subjected the Opposition to “petty prosecutions”. They made it their job to deny, disturb, disrupt and derail events organized by the Opposition, civil groups (like Hindraf) or concerned citizens.

In March they disrupted Pakatan Rakyat gatherings in Kepong and Kelab Sultan Sulaiman field, held to celebrate the second anniversary of its 8 March success. In July, they “ambushed” a dinner-talk in Rengit, Johor. Such senseless police aggression was also seen in Changkat Lada, Perak and many other places throughout 2010.

In March, acting on police reports made by the police themselves, the police interrogated Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim over “sensitive issues” which he had supposedly raised during his ceremahs in Penang. Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and about 15 other elected representatives were also questioned.

“I think this is too much…We strongly resent and protest this continued intimidation by the police force… the police are out to prevent us from carrying out our duties. They should focus on problems of security and criminals and not be subservient to Umno leaders,” Anwar lambasted the police.

On 1 August 30 people were arrested in Petaling Jaya for attending an anti-ISA candlelight vigil to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ISA. On that same night, police also arrested four people in another vigil held at the Speakers’ Square in Penang.

Police confirmed that they knew of the presence at the same spot of pro-ISA members believed to be Umno representatives and that they were there “to create trouble and agitate”. Yet, no one amongst that group was reprimanded or arrested.

The police also stood idly by when a group of pro-ISA protestors disrupted an Anti-ISA Forum in Penang in November. Would the police do the same if a group were to disrupt a forum organized by Umno?

The year ended with the men in blue at their biased best! On 5 Dec. riot police fired tear gas and sprayed chemical-laced water to disperse some 3,000 protesters as they attempted to march to Istana Negara to submit a memorandum urging the King to intervene in the on-going dispute between the state government and water management company Syabas. About 50 protesters were also arrested.

Of course, the police did not mind the 300 or so protestors of the Anti-Penyelewengan Selangor (Gaps) or anti-Selangor government movement gathered at Stadium Merdeka. They sent a delegation to the palace by car and submitted the memorandum on the water issue to a palace representative.

From the examples given above and still more, the Police failed to “act fairly, independently and professionally” in 2010. They remained for yet another year – the Police Farce!

Lawyers: Possession and screening of the video a criminal act

The Star

PETALING JAYA: Datuk T's action in showing media representatives video footage of several sex acts, allegedly featuring a top politician, is an offence under the Film Censorship Act 2002, said criminal lawyers.

Under Section 5 of the Act, no person shall have in his possession, control or ownership of any film material which is obscene or against public decency.

It also states that no person shall circulate, exhibit or distribute these film materials, and anyone guilty of it can be jailed not more than five years or fined between RM10,000 and RM15,000, or both.

Criminal lawyer Datuk K. Kumaraendran said Datuk T (revealed to be Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik, Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah and Datuk Shuaib Lazim) had breached the law by being in possession of the sex video.

“It is also an offence to exhibit such a video,” he said, adding that police could investigate the trio under this section of the Act.

However, he said police would first have to determine if the sex video was indeed obscene.

Kumaraendran added that the trio could be charged under Section 499 of the Penal Code for criminal defamation if it was proven that the man in the video was not Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Another criminal lawyer, Amarjit Singh Sidhu, said they could also be investigated under Section 292 of the Penal Code, which is similar to Section 5 of the Film Censorship Act.

However, the penalty under Section 292 is lighter with imprisonment of up to three years, or a fine, or both.

“They can also be investigated under Section 503 of the Penal Code which deals with criminal intimidation,” he said.

Criminal lawyer Sreekant Pillai stressed that police should be allowed to carry out their investigations without political pressure.

“All parties should be investigated fairly. Politicians shouldn't point fingers and interfere,” he said.

More Than New Faces Needed To Recapture Urban Seats, Say Analysts

By Mohd Noor Firdaus Mohd Azil

KUCHING, March 25 (Bernama) -- Introducing new faces alone will not be enough for Barisan Nasional to recapture urban seats that it lost to the opposition in Sarawak, according to political analysts.

They said that BN leaders must mingle more with the people to explain or resolve issues of interest to the urban electorate, especially the Chinese who are the majority in these constituencies.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak lecturer Dr Jeniri Amir said that BN leaders must demonstrate that they were ready to address the concerns of the voters on such issues as education and business opportunities.

In the 2006 state election, the DAP snatched from BN Pending and Batu Lintang while PKR took Padungan. All three had been held by SUPP.

The DAP also won the newly created constituency of Kota Sentosa.

Political blogger Norizan Shariff said that SUPP, the voice of the Chinese in the Sarawak BN, need to play a bigger role in the urban areas.

To be effective, it must first eradicate alleged factionalism in the party, she said.

Norizan said that SUPP could exploit the bickering among opposition parties over the allocation of seats if it did not have internal problems of its own.

Holder of the Tun Abdul Ghafar Baba Chair at the Sultan Idris Teaching University Prof Datuk Dr Zainal Kling said that SUPP, among other BN parties, must convince the Chinese community that whatever problems they faced now would not be resolved with a change of administration.

Zainal said that SUPP and the other BN parties must impress upon Chinese voters that they would make things worse for themselves if they heeded too much insinuations of the DAP.

Lecturer Md Shukri Shuib of Universiti Utara Malaysia said that the only way for BN to win back the urban constituencies was to prove that "they alone can solve problems that the voters face."

Barisan leaders must show their sincerity and must not be seen to be interested in the welfare of voters only during elections, he said.

Deaths as Syrian forces fire on protesters

Syrian security forces have opened fire on anti-government protesters in the city of Sanamin near Daraa, killing at least 20 people, according to one witness.

"There are more than 20 martyrs .... they [security forces] opened fire haphazardly," the witness told Al Jazeera.

Rula Amin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Damascus, said Syrian forces apparently fired after protesters set fire to a statue of the late president, Hafer al-Assad.

Reuters reported that heavy gunfire could be heard in the southern city of Daraa, the focal point for demonstrations against Bashar al-Assad's regime in recent days.

Three people were also reported killed in Mouadamieh district of Damascus after a crowd confronted a procession of cars driven by supporters of president Bashar al-Assad, residents said, according to Reuters.

Regime supporters take to streets

But regime supporters also took to the streets in sizeable numbers on Friday, waving flags and images of al-Assad. A large crowd gathered in the evening outside Al Jazeera's bureau in Damascus, demanding to be shown on the network.

Reem Haddad, from the Syrian information ministry, told Al Jazeera that security forces had been given the order not to shoot at protesters "no matter what happens".

"But things took on a different hue because inside these peaceful demonstrations there was another group of people who were armed ... and were shooting at the security forces and were shooting at other citizens in Daraa. At the end of the day this became a matter of national security."

But an eyewitness told Al Jazeera that "there were no people carrying arms among demonstrators".

"What happened in the square ... was live ammunition, I was present myself and I saw the youth and other young demonstrators leading a peaceful demonstration.

"They were chanting slogans calling for freedom and transparency and an end [to] corruption."

'Day of dignity'

The latest clashes come after protesters demanding greater freedom called for a "day of dignity" on Friday following a week-long crackdown by pro-regime forces that has left dozens dead.

At least 200 people marched in the centre of Damascus after Friday prayers in support of the people of Daraa, scene of protests against Baath Party rule, Reuters reported.

Protests spread across Syria, with rallies also held in the central city of Hama and in Tel, near Damascus. According to our correspondent, numbers at these rallies ranged from hundreds of people to thousands.

Daraa, the main city of southern Syria, has become a flashpoint for protests. Officials have been on the defensive after protesters in the southern city were shot dead by police.

The crackdown has already attracted the attention of the United Nations with human rights commissioner Navi Pillay calling for an investigation and an immediate halt to violence, a message echoed by Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General.

The US on Friday called on the Syrian government to end the use of violence against protesters and the arrests of human rights activists.

"We strongly condemn the Syrian government's attempts to repress and intimidate demonstrators," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Emergency rule

Syria has announced that it would "study" ending emergency rule - in place since 1963 - and look into legalising political parties, a presidential adviser has said.

"I am happy to announce to you the decisions made by the Arab Baath party under the auspices of President Bashar al-Assad ... which include ... studying the possibility of lifting the emergency law and licensing political parties," Buthaina Shaaban, the Syrian president's media adviser, said on Thursday.

The current emergency law allows people to be arrested without warrants and imprisoned without trial.

Soon after the promises of reforms were made, the prisoners detained in Daraa during the protests were released. There were also reports of orders being issued by the president for the army to pull out of Daraa.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Child brides risk their lives in Nepal

Early marriages are common in many parts of Nepal. But, as each month brings reports of murders and brides being thrown onto the streets, child rights activists say the lives of young girls are being put in danger - particularly when families argue over dowries paid by a bride's family to the groom's.
Al Jazeera's Subina Shrestha reports from Siraha district, on the threats faced by child brides.

Step down from Risda post, PKR Youth tells Rahim

Anwar's ceramah disrupted by FRU, two arrested

Who next after Christians, questions non-Muslim interfaith council

The Najib administration has been criticised for what many view as high-handed tactics.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — A fever has broken out over Putrajaya’s handling of the Alkitab row that appears to have split multicultural Malaysia into two distinct camps — Muslim and non-Muslim — as the nation readies for crucial polls in Sarawak, its biggest Christian state.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) issued a strongly worded statement today accusing the Najib administration of riding roughshod over religions other than Islam when it imposed conditions for the release of 35,000 Malay bibles seized from Port Klang and Kuching.

“This means that the Alkitab (Bahasa Malaysia version) is now considered a restricted item and ‘the Word of God’ has been made subject to the control of man,” it said, citing the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) in the latter’s previous attempt to free the bibles.

CFM is the umbrella body that represents over 90 per cent of churches here.

In a series of news statements that started earlier this month, the Christian organisation denounced the Najib administration for defacing its holy books with the home ministry’s official seal, an act it said amounted to desecration.

“Does our current prime minister wield any authority? And if he does not, who does?” the interfaith council demanded of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“We also vehemently oppose the present line of action being pursued,” it said in solidarity with the Christian community.

About one in 10 Malaysians is Christian.

The MCCBCHST said the authorities seemed to want Malaysians to believe that the Alkitab conflict is solely a tussle between two creeds, Islam and Christianity; and affects only Muslims and Christians.

“After the Christians have been ‘fixed’, who next?” the MCCBCHST questioned.

The council — which represents five out of the country’s six main creeds — reminded the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition of its founder’s words uttered shortly after Independence in 1957.

“Let freedom be secured for all the law-abiding people. There shall be freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom from want, freedom of association, freedom of assembly and freedom of movement,” it said, citing first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.

“The political leaders definitely do not have a finger on the pulse of the nation. They are definitely wrong in what they are doing,” it added, in a thinly veiled dig at Najib’s 1 Malaysia slogan aimed at uniting the different communities.

The MCCBCHST further accused Islamic leaders of not knowing their own religion despite dipping their fingers into the controversy.

“In the face of what has been alluded to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the narrative about ‘The Promise to St Catherine’, it is highly suspect that the Islamic high officials in our country do not even know their own religion!” it said.

Prophet Muhammad was said to have made a promise to a delegation of monks from the monastery near Mount Sinai over 1,400 years ago that Muslims will always protect Christians and their way of worship.

An English translation of the promise as published in the Islamic web site,, can be read here.
The Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug-of-war over the word “Allah”, with the latter group arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim God.

Christians, however, have argued that “Allah” is an Arabic word that has been used by those of other religious beliefs, including the Jews, for centuries in reference to God in many other parts of the world, notably in Arab nations and Indonesia.

The tussle is still trapped in the courts after the ministry won a stay of the 2009 High Court ruling that allowed Catholic weekly The Herald to use “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

The ongoing bible row started in January and came to a head last week after the home ministry stamped the two separate shipments with its official seal before ordering their release.

The Christian importers have denounced the Najib administration for the act, which they say is a desecration of their holy book.

Two days ago, the government backed down and offered to paste over the marked Alkitab with labels that simply read “For Christianity”.

In a media statement to national news agency, Bernama, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala said Christian donors have also volunteered to ship in a new replacement consignment so long as the importers agree to have the same words “For Christianity” stamped on their covers in font type Arial size 16.

“No other words or serial numbers will be stamped on the bibles,” Jala added.

CFM is pondering accepting Putrajaya’s offer and has said will give its decision after consulting with all Christian leaders next week.

With Sarawakians going to the polls on April 16, the twin issues are expected to weigh on the minds of Christians who make up close to half of the hornbill state’s total population.

He who is without sin…

By Haris Ibrahim,

That Chua Soi Lek survived his own sex video scandal and went on to become the president of MCA, and Eli Wong continues to serve her constituents in Bukit Lanjan despite the revelations of her private photographs that were surely never intended for public viewing, left many, myself included, hopeful that we, as a society, were displaying a level of political maturity sufficient to recognise such exposes as no more than character assassinations, not founded on the considerations of the well being of the public at large, but grounded on some surreptitious, self-serving, political agenda.

Of course the public will always take an interest in such matters, and politicians and other public figures will do well to remember that when they choose to enter public life and service, they forfeit the right to total and complete secrecy as to how they live their lives.

On the part of the public who these politicians and public figures serve, we would do well to remember two things.

First, public figures, like the rest of us, are still entitled to a measure of privacy.

Soi Lek’s adulterous behaviour, in my view, was a matter between his wife and himself.
Eli’s photos ought never have found their way into public space.

Second, the intrusion into the private lives of both Soi Lek and Eli were not embarked upon to serve the better interests of the citizenry, but the political ambitions of those behind these deeds, and, it must be seen and condemned as such, lest we unwittingly urge the proliferation of gutter politics.

Take the latest sex video that has the nation all abuzz.
Is the main player who they say it is?
I do not know.
Is the woman a prostitute?
Again, I do not know.

And if the main player is who they claim it to be, do we have a right to know?

I guess, now that the issue is in public space, that must be answered in the affirmative.
What of those behind this revelation?

Now that their identities are known, can it be said, beyond any doubt, that they were motivated by nothing other than the well-being of the nation and its people?

In my view, the very identity of those individuals suggests a political agenda to bring one man down.
This is gutter politics, irregardless of the the truth or otherwise of the allegations as to the identity of those in the video.

Zaid seems to think otherwise.
FreeMalaysiaToday quoted Zaid as saying, in relation to the three individuals behind the video revelation, “You cannot blame these three who are doing a public service. If I had such a video in my possession, I would also disclose it because it involves the opposition leader and future prime minister. Isn’t that enough public interest? Don’t you want to know the real man?”.

Ironically, a little less than a year ago, whilst Zaid was the subject of a smear campaign during the Hulu Selangor by-elections, he did not take too kindly to the same or perceive what was being said of him as a ‘ public service’.

When asked if he would return like with like, Malaysiakini reported him as saying that he was of ‘better pedigree than that‘.

I thought so too, then.
Sadly, that pedigree has not been showing through of late.

5,000 Saksi Anwar Diheret Polis Dari Pentas Ceramah, 3 ditahan

Dari Keadilan Daily

Lebih 5,000 rakyat pelbagai lapisan kaum hadir program pelancaran Kempen Tolak kes Fitnah II anjuran KEADILAN di perkarangan Pusat Khidmat Rakyat Ahli Parlimen Gombak, Taman Melawati di sini, malam ini.

Seperti kelaziman, program anjuran KEADILAN itu dihalang polis hingga menyebabkan majlis yang dijadual bermula jam 9 malam ditangguh kira-kira sejam.

Polis dikatakan hanya membenarkan sesi ucapan selama 30 minit sahaja, menyebabkan pegawai kepada Timbalan Presiden KEADILAN, Mohamed Azmin Ali terpaksa berunding dengan polis Ampang.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Ketua Pembangkang turut muncul hingga menggamatkan hadirin.

Bagaimanapun, polis hanya membenarkan Anwar memberi ucapan selama 15 minit sahaja, malah mematikan pembesar suara dan mengheret Ketua Umum KEADILAN itu turun dari pentas, hingga menimbulkan kemarahan orang ramai.

Kehadiran polis, FRU hanya menyebabkan kekecohan berlaku
Pada jam 11.30 malam, polis menyerbu ke arah orang ramai hingga menimbulkan kekecohan sedangkan program itu, asalnya berlangsung aman.

Suasana terus kecoh dan tiga orang dipercayai ditahan polis.

Dalam pada itu, seorang wartawan Free Malaysia Today, Fazy Sahir cedera terkena lontaran kerusi dalam suasana kecoh itu.

Kempen itu dinamakan sebagai ‘DNA’ atau ‘Datuk Najib-Altantuya’ bertujuan mengupas perkembangan terkini kes yang dihadapi Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim dan fitnah terbaru mengenai rakaman video seks yang didalangi Umno melalui ‘Datuk T’.

Turut hadir dalam ceramah ialah Ahli Parlimen Balik Pulau, Yusmadi Yusoff dan Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) Hulu Klang, Saari Sungib.

Book Review: A Battling Former Prime Minister's Story

Image(Asia Sentinel) A Doctor in the House: The Memoirs of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. MPH Group Publishing. RM100. Available at local bookstores.

Just over a year ago, I went to Mohamad Mahathir's office on the 86th floor of the Petronas Twin Towers to interview the former Malaysian prime minister about Barry Wain's recently published biography of him. It was a frustrating business.

I suggested we begin by talking about "the book." He claimed not to know which one I was talking about – even though the media in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur had been full of it for weeks, not least because at that point the Malaysian authorities were not letting it into the country. So I held up a copy of Malaysian Maverick. "Ah," said Dr M. "Barry Wain. All the bad things I did throughout my 22 years. Nothing good at all." He smiled. "If that is his impression of me, he is welcome to it."

I had hoped for some feisty rebuttals of the charges Wain laid against him. This is a man, after all, well known for his pungent put-downs. Indeed, to his admirers (and with qualifications, I am one) his outspokenness is one of his most attractive qualities. But when it came to the key queries, which will be familiar to anyone who has considered his years in office (1981-2003) – the growth of corruption, the emasculation of the judiciary, the retreat of secularism, the silencing and imprisonment of critics – he was fluent, but ultimately evasive.

Those hoping to find satisfactory answers in Mahathir's long-gestated 800 page memoir, "A Doctor in the House," will be similarly disappointed. For one of the amusing aspects of this book (although those who have suffered some of the good doctor's harsher ministrations may not find it so), is that when it comes to the main incidents his critics have always latched on to, it seems that Dr M wasn't there.

When 106 people were arrested during 1987's Operation Lalang, he tells us, "I was flabbergasted... I thought only a few ringleaders would be taken in... But I could not countermand police orders." Mahathir admits that his finance minister, Daim, "was repeatedly accused of lining his pockets and taking kickbacks from contracts." But what could he do? "People came to see me to complain about him, and when I demanded evidence, they could produce none."

As for the dismissal of Tun Salleh Abbas as Lord President of the Supreme Court the following year: it had nothing to do with his criticisms of the government or his lack of pliability. "It was the Agong who instructed me to remove Tun Salleh," writes Mahathir, explaining that the then king felt insulted because Salleh had written to him complaining about noisy building renovations. Dr M realizes that some readers will be "incredulous" that he "was prepared to dismiss the Lord President simply at the Agong's behest and on his personal demand... But that is the truth as to what happened."

He rues the fact that he has been "branded a legal vandal" as a result. However, "many see only what they wish to see.... for me that is simply human nature and it has to be accepted."

In 1998, Dr M says he was "apprehensive" when the police told him they were going to arrest Anwar Ibrahim – with good reason, since his former deputy then appeared in court with a black eye. "I advised the IGP not to use violence or to handcuff Anwar," he writes, " angered people when I suggested that his injury may have been self-inflicted, but I honestly did not think that the police would beat him up, particularly after I had personally instructed the IGP to be careful."

He expresses irritation at the way Anwar's trial was conducted, meaning his former protege was "able to score several points and leave many Malaysians convinced that he was the victim of a political conspiracy." But, continues Mahathir, "how anyone could believe this, I really could not understand. To conspire against Anwar in this way I would have had to take the police, the Attorney-General and his prosecutors, their witnesses, the judge, the forensic laboratory experts and many others into my confidence."

The problem for Mahathir is that there are many who believe that he was perfectly capable of doing that; or at least, if he did not issue orders personally, that he presided over an administration in which people knew what outcomes he desired and made sure that nothing got in the way. He almost concedes this possibility at one point: "Like it or not, I must accept that this is what Malaysians are like. When you are the top man people will try to read your mind and try to do what they believe you want."

This rueful, seemingly powerless stance sits very oddly with a man whose entire career has been marked by such commendable attention to detail that he could even find the time when prime minister to look into why Kuala Lumpur's street lamps did not appear to be properly lit. (Their ill-fitting covers were letting in insects, whose frazzled remnants then obscured the lights. "I pointed out the problem to the Datuk Bandar [mayor] and soon enough the covers were cleaned, and more importantly, kept clean.")

His enthusiasm for efficiency, simplification of bureaucracy and ensuring implementation of decisions are well detailed in his memoirs, and no one can doubt that they were needed. Once, when Dr M liked the idea of building a replica of Rome's Spanish Steps near the KL Tower, the Public Works Department despatched a team to study them. Unfortunately, "they could not find the Spanish Steps... because they were sent to Spain".

Many will continue to find it hard to believe that one of the most determined and forceful premiers of the late 20th century, who can take much of the credit for pushing and often, it seemed, dragging Malaysia towards developed nation status, willing great construction projects such as the Penang bridge and the Twin Towers into being, and with the strength of personality to stick two fingers up to the IMF during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, could not have known exactly what was going on at every level of his administration.

The questions over what Mahathir describes as a "black mark" (Operation Lalang) and other incidents – he recognizes that Anwar has "demonised" him "in the eyes of the whole world" – will not go away and will cast a shadow on his reputation for as long as historians care to examine it.

In a wider context this matters a great deal, for while many Malaysians may be ambivalent about their longest-serving prime minister, nearly all of them acknowledge that his achievements were considerable – game-changing for Malaysia, in fact – as well the fact that other aspects of his record were not so creditable. Abroad, however, and especially in Europe and America, the "black marks" are just about all anyone hears about.

This is a great pity, as for those who wish to listen Dr Mahathir has highly interesting things to say. His chapter on "The Europeans", for instance, is written from a fascinatingly revisionist perspective – but contains much that one cannot disagree with. He believes that the European taste for warfare fed into the 20th century religion of the market and "the idea that competition will not only establish who the winner is but who is right". A false connection, as he says: "Already they are seeing disaster in their own countries as the free markets wreak havoc on their finances." Pointing to the deaths accompanying new systems of government in Europe (by which he means the world of the white man) over the centuries – republicanism, Communism etc – he claims this stems from the insistence that any new ideology was the best.

"They would not only practice the system but would want to force everybody else to do the same. Many who refused would be killed.... Currently they believe that democracy, the free market and a borderless world will create heaven on earth...They invade countries and kill people in order that democracy and its accompaniments be accepted by all."

Who can dispute that after the last decade? Again and again, his criticisms of Western hypocrisy hit home, such as his argument that there is nothing equitable about global trade agreements that allow rich countries to penetrate and dominate developing nations' markets, while continuing to subsidise their own industries at home.

On Islam, too, if the Western world could temporarily suspend its sensitivities about any mention of "the Jews" (with whom, regrettably, Mahathir does occasionally manage to make himself sound obsessed), they would find much to applaud in what he has said. Repeatedly he has urged his fellow Muslims not to be taken in by literalism, medieval obscurantism and a concentration on the afterlife that ignores the plight and lack of progress of their co-religionists in this world. He claims that it is Islamic to be pacific, to be moderate, tolerant and to seek knowledge.

The academic Patricia Martinez once wrote: "In his pragmatic understanding of and agenda for Islam and its umma, Mahathir was the best contemporary leader in the Muslim world." It may be that it didn't quite work out like that at home – in my interview with him, the one point he conceded was that the pressure to be seen as "Islamic" may have grown during his premiership – but Martinez's point still stands. Credit is rarely paid him for that, but it is owed nonetheless.

In a book this length many will find smaller details to seize upon and hold against its author. Already some of have attempted to make hay with his comments about the extent of his Indian ancestry (only in Malaysia could this be considered quite so crucially important). His generous remarks about Anwar and Tengku Razaleigh – if they had played their cards differently, he says, the former should have been prime minister and the latter could have been deputy PM – will no doubt be seen by others as fake.

But clearly written, with dashes of humor and of remorse, "A Doctor in the House" is a very readable account of a remarkable politician's life and career as he sees it. Both in length and in span, it bears comparison with the memoirs of his old sparring partner, Lee Kuan Yew, and will likewise be indispensable to future students of Asian history. If at the end of his book, Mahathir remains an enigma and does not solve the riddle of how he could have been such an impressive leader and simultaneously stand accused of so many misdeeds, then that has been his choice. For that at least, he is certainly responsible.

Sholto Byrnes is a contributing editor of the New Statesman and divides his time between Kuala Lumpur and London.

Sex Video: Umno Not Involved, Says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that Umno had nothing to do with the sex video alleged to involve an opposition leader.

"The question is whether the tape is authentic or not because if it is genuine, a sin had been committed. This is what has to be determined first," the Prime Minister and Umno president said.

"There are those inclined towards conspiracy theories which distract from the core question of whether this sinful act occurred and was recorded," he told reporters after chairing an Umno supreme council meeting here, Friday.

On the call for a royal commission to be set up to investigate the authenticity of the video, he said this was up to the government to decide.

Najib said that police must carry out an investigation that was thorough and professional, with experts brought in to help.

Najib said that the experts could help ascertain whether the video had been doctored.

"It is very easy to see and verify if a video had been doctored," he added.

Thursday, former Melaka Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik and businessman Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah handed to the police at Bukit Aman the video together with an Omega gold watch, alleged to belong to the person seen in the video.

Najib said the meeting also discussed the party membership which now totalled 3,233,586.

He also said the meeting decided to lift the suspension imposed in 2009 on state assemblyman for Usukan in Sabah Datuk Japlin Akim for involvement in money politics.

Cops move in at Anwar ceramah

Police moved in to prevent Anwar from addressing a ceramah in Gombak outside Azmin Ali’s service centre.

This was for the launch of campaign to highlight the Altantuya murder controversy, which began at 9.00pm.

A crowd of a few thousand turned up to listen to the various speakers. When it was Anwar’s turn at around 11.30pm, the cops moved in to prevent him from speaking.

The crowd grew agitated and hurled whatever they could get hold of. Anwar, meanwhile, slipped out backstage and was escorted safely away from the scene.

Riot police with water cannon had sealed off the area.

More police and about 10 FRU trucks arrived at the ceramah venue even after it was over. The crowd dispersed but two people were believed to have been arrested.

Funny Parody Video: Najib & the Sex Video Scandal

By Nathaniel Tan,
Permit me to leave you with something funny for the weekend :P :) I usually don’t like these Hitler vids, and who hasn’t had enough of the sex video scandal, but this was actually pretty amusing :)