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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Interlok: Putrajaya tidak akan tunduk desakan baru, kata Muhyiddin

KUALA LUMPUR, 31 Mac – Tindakan pihak tertentu, termasuk pertubuhan komuniti Cina semalam, yang terus membangkitkan isu novel kontroversial Interlok sangat tidak bertanggungjawab dan berniat jahat, kata Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin hari ini.
Sehubungan itu Muhyiddin (gambar) menegaskan, isu tersebut tidak harus dibangkitkan kerana sudah selesai.
Malah kata beliau, kerajaan tidak akan tunduk kepada mana-mana pihak berhubung isu itu kerana keputusan muktamad telah pun dicapai.
Timbalan Perdana Menteri berkata kerajaan sudah pun mengumumkan formula penyelesaian di Parlimen minggu lalu.
“Jadi kita akan pegang pada itu,” kata beliau di Pagoh, Johor hari ini.

Source: CIA operating in Libya, in consultation with opposition

Benghazi, Libya (CNN) -- CIA operatives are providing intelligence from Libya, where opposition forces are on the run and the defiant government suffered the embarrassing defection of its foreign minister Wednesday.

The NATO-led coalition, which is enforcing a no-fly zone and protecting civilians from the intense fighting, got no help from the weather in its ongoing efforts to protect the fragile opposition movement.

"The weather conditions did not allow close combat support by aircraft in the last couple of days," said Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Moammar Gadhafi's government, for its part, kept up the war of words.

State-run Libyan TV late Wednesday quoted a military source as saying a "civilian location was shelled tonight in the city of Tripoli by the colonizing crusader aggression."

Amid debate on whether the allies will arm the retreating and undertrained rebels, a U.S. intelligence source told CNN the CIA is in the country to increase the "military and political understanding" of the situation.

"Yes, we are gathering intel firsthand and we are in contact with some opposition entities," said the source.

The White House refused to comment on a Reuters report that President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel troops.

"I will reiterate what the president said yesterday -- no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya," said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a statement. "We're not ruling it out or ruling it in. We're assessing and reviewing options for all types of assistance that we could provide to the Libyan people, and have consulted directly with the opposition and our international partners about these matters."

According to the Reuters report, Obama signed the covert aid order, or "finding," within the past few weeks. Such findings are required for the CIA to conduct secret operations, the report said.

A U.S. official not authorized to speak publicly could not confirm the finding, but noted when there are crises like this, "you look at all instruments of national power."

In early March, a U.S. official told CNN "the intelligence community is aggressively pursuing information on the ground" in Libya.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons that he has not ruled out arming the Libyan opposition, but added that Britain has not made the decision to do so.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provided classified briefings to House and Senate members who asked whether the United States intended to arm the rebels, participants told CNN.

Clinton and Gates made clear that no decision had been made, and Congress members from both parties said they believed it would be a bad idea, according to participants.

Regarding the committing of U.S. forces to the U.N.-backed operation, the White House has said Obama acted within his authority under the War Powers Act. It notes that the president and other officials consulted congressional leaders several times in the run-up to the March 19 deployment of U.S. forces to the U.N.-authorized Libya mission.

Clinton told members of Congress the administration acted within the requirements of the War Powers Act and needed no authorization for further decisions on the mission, lawmakers said.

The opposition got a boost Wednesday with news that Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa willingly traveled to London and told the government there that he has resigned, the United Kingdom Foreign Office said.

CNN's Ben Wedeman, who has been reporting from Libya for several weeks, said that Koussa's departure is a significant blow, but not a critical loss to the regime.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said Koussa was one of the most senior figures in Gadhafi's government "and his role was to represent the regime internationally -- something that he is no longer willing to do."

The department provided no other details on the surprise move.

CNN's Nic Robertson, who previously met with Koussa, said the former head of intelligence once was a stalwart defender of the government.

The Senate's Rogers called Moussa's defection "huge news."

Libya's opposition said its fighters are executing a "tactical withdrawal" from a swath of territory they once controlled, a move that comes as Gadhafi's forces relentlessly pound them.

Col. Ahmed Bani, speaking at a news conference in the opposition capital of Benghazi on Wednesday, said his forces are being outgunned by the superior military power of loyalists, spared the wrath of coalition airstrikes.

They have been pushed eastward over the last two days after CNN reported on Sunday that rebels took Brega, Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad and reached a town just east of Sirte.

Rebel forces have now lost Bin Jawad and the key oil town of Ras Lanuf and are backed up to the Brega area, Bani said. Ajdabiya, which is east of Brega, will be prepared as a "defense point" if the withdrawal continues farther east, he said.

CNN's Wedeman said the rebels continue to have no effective command and control.

Bani called on the international community to supply opposition fighters with better and more powerful weapons to hold off the Gadhafi forces. He said the opposition was open to foreign troops training rebel fighters. Bani asked for tanks, heavy artillery and communications and logistics equipment.

The rebels have been demanding an end to Gadhafi's almost 42-year rule in Libya, but they have been facing "sustained attacks in the face of the coalition bombing" in Misrata, Ras Lanuf, and Bin Jawad, Robertson reported.

In an address to the House of Commons in London on Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that "regime forces have intensified their attacks, driving back opposition forces from ground they had taken in recent days." He cited the violence in the western town of Misrata.

"Misrata also came under heavy attack yesterday, with further loss of civilian life, including children, from mortars, sniper fire and attacks on all sides from regime tanks and personnel carriers," Hague said.

In the outskirts of Ajdabiya -- which was recently taken over by opposition forces -- Gadhafi's regime planted several dozen land mines, Human Rights Watch said in a statement Wednesday.

"Given the pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area, the mines were clearly laid while government forces were in Ajdabiya," the group said.

Human Rights Watch also said 370 people are missing in the eastern part of the country, with some suspected to be in government custody. That list includes rebel fighters and civilians, including doctors, the group said.

Chinese groups weigh in on Interlok

Nazri tells TI-M to shut up, butt out

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has said Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) should “shut up” and “mind its own business” after the anti-graft watchdog said yesterday that any type of election handouts to voters is a form of corruption.

TI-M also criticised the Election Commission (EC) for failing to ensure free and fair elections in the country.

Nazri pointed out that a 1981 court case had ruled that it was not an offence but in line with the responsibility of the government to ensure development and allocate funds regardless of whether there was an election.

“This country has got a court system and our court has decided long time ago that it is not corruption. I just don’t give a damn about what they say on this. I only refer to the highest court decision which said that it is endowed fund and not bribery,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Nazri was referring to the legal precedent established in the case involving the Pengkalan Kota by-election between Teoh Teik Huat and Lim Kean Siew.

The case revolved around a statement by then-finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who had said he would personally give more money for the improvement of Pengkalan Kota if Barisan Nasional (BN) won.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department had also told Parliament that handouts and goodies in the form of financial assistance to voters during elections was not a form corruption because it was the federal government’s way of “fulfilling its promises” and manifestos.

Nazri yesterday expressed surprise over allegations the EC had failed to show that they were “independent” in carrying out its duties even though they were guaranteed autonomy under the federal constitution.

“How do you get [an] independent EC? Where do the commissioners come from? From the heavens? Our system is that all of our commissioners are appointed by the (Yang di-Pertuan) Agong on the advice of the prime minister.

“Unless Transparency International can have a system whereby the people can come down from heaven to become commissioner then I will accept. Otherwise just keep your mouth shut and mind you own business,” he added.

According to him, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would not likely have captured a total of five states and denied BN its stranglehold on Parliament in Election 2008 if the accusations hurled against the EC were true.

“How did the opposition win four [more] states? How did they win 82 seats during 2008? You mean to say that all those 82 seats they won fairly but the seats that BN won were unfair. Is that what they mean? Tell them to mind their own business,” he said.

PR lawmakers have consistently accused the EC of failing to be neutral during by-elections, resulting in numerous complaints to the commission.

The EC has, however, maintained that it is impartial and independent, denying allegations of bias towards BN.

Bible Society collects stamped Alkitab — as museum piece

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Despite denouncing the federal government for “desecrating” 5,000 Malay bibles with the Home Ministry’s seal, the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) has finally picked up its two-year-old cargo worth RM70,000 from Port Klang.

The importer said the stamped and serialised bibles, which it collected yesterday, cannot be sold and will instead be preserved as museum pieces and a reminder to future generations of Malaysian Christians of what it maintains was a deliberate and unjustified government move to deface their holy book.

“The 5,000 copies of the Alkitab that has been defaced by KDN (the Home Ministry) cannot be sold to Christian buyers.

“Instead, they will be respectfully preserved as museum pieces and as a heritage for the Christian Church in Malaysia,” the BSM said in a statement last night.

It was silent on the present location of the holy books and the Christian museum.

When contacted, the society’s general secretary, Reverend Simon Wong, told The Malaysian Insider the details would be disclosed later, but gave no date.

BSM said it decided collect the bibles because it feared the ministry may carry out what it considered further acts of desecration or disrespect on the bibles which it had seized from port on March 20, 2009.

The society pointed to the ministry’s officials who hastily moved to stamp and serialise every copy without first consulting its organisation two weeks ago.

BSM also rejected the Cabinet’s offer for certain Christian donors to reimburse BSM for the costs of the marked cargo, valued at RM70,000.

The government’s Christian minister, Datuk Seri Idris Jala, in his statement on March 22, said that certain Christian donors had also offered to fully replace, free of charge, the two marked cargoes at Port Klang and Kuching, which had been seized and detained by home ministry officials.

“Concerning the offer to compensate BSM for the costs of this shipment, BSM wishes to make its stand clear that BSM will only accept a cheque from KDN and will not accept any money from so-called ‘Christian donors’,” it said.

Earlier yesterday, the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) rejected the federal government’s overture in the Alkitab row, saying it did not resolve the core issue which is the erosion of basic human rights protected by the Federal Constitution.

The umbrella body representing over 90 per cent of churches here was referring specifically to Putrajaya’s offer to mask the Home Ministry’s stamp and serial numbering of 35,100 copies of the Malay bibles shipped in from Indonesia last week, as laid down last week by Jala, who is in charge of government and economic transformation.

“Our position is that there should be no restrictions, proscriptions or prohibitions whatsoever on the bible or the use of the language of our choice in the practice of our religion, as it was in the days before and after the formation of Malaysia,” CFM said in a statement here today, adding that the Alkitab issue was not the only restriction.

It noted that there has been a “systematic and progressive pushing back” of Christian rights — dating back to the 1980s — namely the right to practise, profess and express their faith.

It pointed to a series of restrictions imposed on Christians, such as the freedom to wear and openly display religious symbols, like the cross; the building of churches; and even what words can be used in a Christian religious context.

CFM, however, had said it would leave the decision on what to do with the marked cargoes to the two Alkitab importers in Selangor and Sarawak.

The Sarawak importer, a local branch of global Christian group, The Gideons, has yet to announce its decision.

Malaysia’s biggest state with a majority Christian population will head to the ballot box for its state polls on April 16.

MIED war likely to prolong as new court battle looms

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — The tug-of-war over MIC’s cash-rich education arm Maju Institute of Educational Development (MIED) is set to drag on following plans by three board members to seek legal redress — this time over the summoning of an extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

The trio are demanding that an EGM be held on April 21, after the wing’s board of trustees failed to convene the meeting this month despite their requisition notice on March 4.

The requisition, signed by former MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam, former MIC Youth chief A. Vigneswaran and former Kedah assemblyman and MIC central committee member Datuk S. Ganesan, calls for the removal of former MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu as board chairman and another member, Tan Sri Dr T. Marimuthu.

According to Vigneswaran, Section 114(3) of the Companies Act stipulates that the board must summon the EGM within 21 days of receiving the requisition notice.

But the 21-day deadline had already expired on March 24, he told The Malaysian Insider.

Should the three decide to refer the case to court, the billion-ringgit education arm will be embroiled in its third legal battle since the beginning of this year.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the board of trustees now want to hold its own EGM on April 20, a day earlier than the date planned by the trio.

Vigneswaran said should the board decide to hold its own EGM, on or before April 21, the matter would inevitably end up in court.

“If they want to come out with their own notice, then it would not be valid under the Companies Act.

“And if they have their own notice, we will go to court to seek a decision on whether their EGM is valid or not,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.

The MIED board of trustees had held its meeting two days back and it is understood that the April 20 EGM date had been considered.

MIED’s lawyers are presently studying the matter.

The trio are demanding that both Marimuthu and Samy Vellu, who recently stepped down as MIC president, relinquish their posts in the MIED until the RM100 million suit filed against them last year is disposed off.

Samy Vellu, MIC president Datuk G. Palanivel, Tan Sri M. Mahalingam, Marimuthu, Tan Sri Dr SK Ampikaipakam, Tan Sri Dr KS Nijhar, Tan Sri K. Kumaran and Tan Sri G. Vadiveloo are currently facing a lawsuit by MIED, which was initiated by Vigneswaran.

Mahalingam and Kumaran are no longer members of the board.

In the suit, filed on July 5, MIED claimed that all the defendants had breached their fiduciary and statutory duties, and failed to discharge their responsibilities as trustees and auditors, which caused MIED to suffer financial losses.

It was also seeking an injunction to restrain Samy Vellu from continuing to helm the institute, that he be stripped of his membership in MIED and for him to return all monies or profits made from MIED either by himself or through family members and close friends.

MIED was also seeking a court order to make Samy Vellu compensate all the financial losses incurred by the institute during his tenure as its chairman as well as damages amounting to RM100 million.

In January, the Kuala Lumpur High Court had issued a 30-day deadline to Samy Vellu, as the MIED chairman, and seven other board members to furnish several documents in the MIED suit.

Judge Datuk Abdul Aziz Rahim had ordered them to surrender the documents, including those involving the construction of AIMST University, which is said to have caused MIED’s massive losses.

Vigneswaran had also requested that the defendants surrender the appointment letter of former MIED chief executive officer P. Chitirakala and her scope of duties.

MIED had sought a total of 12 documents after Judicial Commissioner Mah Weng Kwai on June 14 last year had allowed the application to nominate MIED as plaintiffs in the proposed suit against the board of trustees.

The requisition for the EGM comes as Samy Vellu faces accusations of attempting to hijack MIED from MIC by expanding its membership, which was denied by the former works minister.

On March 7, the same trio had won the injunction to stop Samy Vellu from going ahead with a meeting that would have expanded the number of MIED members by 10.

It is understood, however, that the move oust Samy Vellu would be easily defeated as the majority of the 34 MIED members remain loyal to the party’s longest-serving president.

The Malaysian Insider understands Palanivel is still struggling to win the support of the majority of the MIED members because of his failure to award party leaders with GLC positions, government appointments and contracts.

MIED with assets of about RM1 billion, has been chaired by Samy Vellu since it was established in 1984.

It currently has 34 members who have the power to elect the chairman of the 10-man board of trustees.

MIED is scheduled to hold its annual general meeting in the middle of this year, the first since Palanivel became MIC president last December.

Samy Vellu has denied allegations that he was planning to hijack the education arm from MIC.

He instead claimed that the accusations were designed by his enemies to drive a wedge in his relationship with his successor Palanivel.

He pledged that MIED would stay in MIC’s control.

GTP and the stink of reality

Snatch thefts, robberies and murders are almost a daily threat and the result is people are afraid to leave their homes, terrified of the danger lurking outside.Crimes like rape are far from decreasing. Not a day goes by without newspapers reporting about it. This does not include the rapes perpetrated by those in authority.

For those in police custody, they should count their blessings if they do not end up dead in their cells. In the face of all this, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has declared his contentment with the performance of civil servants.

In an interview with Malaysian Business magazine recently, Najib said he was surprised that set targets have been achieved and some even surpassed. “This is a wonderful testament to the commitment by the civil service,” he said, and added that “much of what we promised has been delivered.”

The promises talked about include better public transport, fighting corruption, reducing crime rate and poverty respectively. What commitment is the prime minister talking about? Civil servants are merely doing what they are paid to do, no more. Maybe it is a case of being overworked and underpaid, as government servants have forgotten how to greet the people.

Some of them even take the liberty of insulting their customers over queries made. Is that what great job is all about? Najib is on the edge, confident that the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) will do wonders for the country. Instead of glossing over the end results, he must make sure the people on the ground are serving the public without fear or favour.

Reality check is in place to alert Najib not to exaggerate the achievements of the civil service. Is Najib aware that cosmopolitan Kuala Lumpur fails miserably in the cleanliness rating? The city is as dirty as a City Hall waste truck, with rubbish scattered everywhere. The drains in town are horrendously clogged, often the cause of those notorious flash floods assaulting the city.

Pedestrian bridges are filthy, reeking of urine stench and the lighting doesn’t work – clear evidence of the local council workers not doing their jobs. Plus, these bridges have become a haven for drug addicts, vagabonds and beggars who have turned them into makeshift homes. All this has forced pedestrians to refrain from using these facilities for fear of being mugged or harassed by drug addicts or beggars.They rather risk their lives and dash across the streets.

The bus stops outside the Light Rail Train (LRT) stations are never lit up when it is dark, giving the LRT commuters the creeps when waiting there for the bus or taxi.

Cheap tiles

Since Najib takes great pride in his “people first, performance now” mantra, does it bother him to know that cheap tiles are used for the flooring of LRT stations, resulting in commuters having near falls each time they have to dash for the train. And in the heart of the city too, there are drains with covers no where in sight. Tourist spots like Petaling Street and Central Market are crying out for sufficient rubbish bins as the few that are there are choked to the brim with waste.

Where the public buses are concerned, its drivers are told by their management to cut down on the use of the air-condition to save cost.

All this comes at who’s expense if not the people? Likewise, the Komuter train service is just as lousy, with the coaches meant for women leaking, showering the passengers with rain water.

The above are just some examples of a day in the life of the average Malaysian. It is clear that what Najib is claiming cannot be vouched as the truth. The situation on the ground stinks, literally. Instead of throwing dust in the public eyes, he should make sure matters on the ground work effectively for it is his “people first” who are at the receiving end of the services provided by civil servants.

With such inconvenience faced by the people, Najib’s claims are baffling. The quality of life of the ordinary Malaysian has yet to improve, for the reason that the civil servants have yet to clean up their acts. Najib may be in a flutter over the great work done by civil servants but the people will vouch otherwise. His eureka idea of the GTP has brought no tangible improvement in the lives of the people.

Najib said the many civil servants involved in the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) labs, which drew up the targets, were “now keen to see that they deliver on their plans and promises”

“The civil service has been very receptive to the changes that have been introduced with the GTP,” Najib said. “It has proven to be a major catalyst and a benchmark for the civil service to work harder and as a team for the benefit of the rakyat.”

His words are cold comfort to those in the bottom rung of the totem pole who are the best judges of how things work on the ground. For instance, has Najib’s GTP helped make the working place safe for women? If the Labour Department director-general Ismail Abdul Rahim can trivialise the proposed Sexual Harassment Bill, that in right earnest speaks of how “committed” Najib’s civil servants are in delivering the goods.

Where is the commitment when KL City Hall workers last year mercilessly abused a street dog while sprucing up the Kepong Sentral railway station, just to make sure the minister visiting the site would be pleased with their good work? Was there a need to treat the dog with such cruelty? The canine died 46 days later. Were the workers reprimanded by the minister concerned or City Hall? Is animal life worth nothing in this country?

Sad, pathetic story

In the face of all this, is the public supposed to take Najib’s words as gospel truth when reality on the ground tells a sad and pathetic story?

Najib said the crime index has decreased by 15% while street crime has reduced by 35%. Credit for this goes to the mobilisation of more than 14,000 police officers to 50 crime hotspots. Also, about 5,000 Rela (People’s Volunteer Corps) and JPAM (Civil Defence Force) members were deployed to the hotspots.

Is Najib’s idea of tackling crime limited to only street crimes like snatch thefts? What is he doing to reduce crimes like rape, domestic violence, child abuse or for that matter make sure the streets are safe for the women and children?

As for the Rela members, they do more harm than good when its members behave in barbaric ways, especially during raiding of premises to nab illegal immigrants. This has resulted in the public having little faith in them and would rather avoid seeking their help. Since Rela’s help is regarded as invaluable by Najib’s government, it is only fair that the recruitment of Rela members be based on proper academic qualifications and aptitude.

In the case of the police, what does the public do when the police abuse their patrol duties and harass the people for money or sexual favours?

The percentage quoted by Najib does not help reassure the people who know better that the roads are still haunted by the presence of snatch thieves, regardless of time of day. There have been many such cases where victims of snatch thieves either end up dead or severly injured for the rest of their lives.

And talking about crime and police, an English daily recently reported that the family of a missing contractor Wong Fook Onn who was murdered on March 20 this year is upset with police investigations into the case. His family lodged a police report after Wong went missing on March 14.

Wong’s father Kim Sai claimed the police never updated the family, prompting the senior Wong to investigate his son’s murder himself. Kim Sai successfully located his son’s missing car and upon alerting the police, was asked to drive the car home.

Kim Sai was puzzled as the car was evidence in a police case. Wong Senior refused and spent the night keeping an eye on the car to ensure the evidence was not tampered with.

Kim Sai was unhappy as the police reacted indifferently and he has since turned to MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Michael Chong for assistance.

On March 20, Kim Sai was alerted by a Sin Chew Daily reporter that a body was found in an abandoned house near the car. The description of the body matched that of Wong Fook Onn.

Najib also said the ministers had their individual Ministerial Key Result Areas (MKRAs) focused when it came to delivering and achieving targets that had been set for them.

Indeed, if the ministers had their focus intact, a homeless dog would not have been abused at the convenience of the City Hall workers. If the MKRAs is a dedicated effort, the ministers would think twice before skipping Parliament sessions or blowing taxpayers’ money on frivolous things.

Trying so hard to assure the people, Najib said the government would continue to hold engagements with the people to obtain their feedback on possible new areas of focus. Is all this lip service or will Najib take the people’s comments seriously?

Sarawak must re-write own story

Sarawak is not a 'fixed deposit' for the BN but a thinking state that must chart its own course.

We should not investigate facts by the light of arguments, but arguments by the light of facts. – Myson of Chanae

Never before has a singular event throw up so much dirt and fodder. The coming Sarawak election has produced enough political misadventures to give any right-minded thinkers a headache.

The run-up to the Sarawak polls (nomination is on April 6 and polling on April 16) is indeed a showcase of the current state of Malaysian politics.

The issues raised and the counter arguments advanced by both sides of the political divide can be seen as a form of comedy which can release you from daily stress. But it can also be stressful when in most instances, such issues merely insult the readers’ intelligence.

There are reports that Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) is heading for a major upset with the loss of at least 33 seats and that SNAP is poised for a dramatic comeback to Malaysian politics. Then there is the Pakatan Rakyat coalition which appears to have been relegated to the background where it is busy warding off attacks on its leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Add to this mix the ruckus concerning the impounded Al-Kitab (Malay-language bibles) and various other jabs at Christianity (including the “haram” tag on the poco-poco dance), the Sarawak election is going to be one heck of a ride.

At this point, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak should be having a migraine. His migraine may just turn into a haemorrhage when bumbling ministers like Nazri Aziz speak of protecting “criminal” whistleblowers and calling fellow BN members “nagging wives”.

Sarawakian intellects who have all this while remained quiet are noting down all these incidents breaking out on the national scale. They are slowly growing in number and strength.

The term “Sarawakian intellects” is not used loosely. It describes a community of people who are capable of deciphering and evaluating the arguments before them in the light of facts and taking steps to convey these truths to the grassroots communities.

Unprecedented step

This seems to be something that Chief Minister Taib Mahmud realises when he hastily commissioned his own SarawakReports ( where he seeks (though it is really too late) to touch base with Sarawakians who are tech-savvy and very much aware of current issues affecting the state.

Taib has taken this unprecedented step to justify his actions, only to shoot himself in the foot due to his own inexperience and that of his team in using this medium and coming came up with the (idiotically) clever idea of copying or imitating

Taib knows that Sarawak is no longer a “fixed deposit” state.

The term “fixed deposit” branded on Sarawak by the BN is insulting. It implies that Sarawak is merely a rubber stamp colony of voters who would keep the state safe in BN’s grip.

Sarawak is not a “fixed deposit” state; it is a thinking state and holding Sarawak to ransom with promises of development is a lost cause.

Development is part of the job description of any democratically elected government, so why the constant reminder to the people on who would best give development?

Whoever holds the reins of government is obliged to provide development in any form to the people. There are no two ways about it.

Common carrot

The common carrot dangled before the Sarawak public is “development”. The promises of tarred roads, pipe water, electricity and infrastructure are commonplace, come election time. Yet, this is not what right-minded Sarawakians want to hear.

Instead, tell them what they really want to know.

What about the unemployment rate in the state? Why is it that 200,000 registered voters are working in the Peninsula?

Sarawak is very rich in natural resources but why is the state home to some of the poorest communities?

Sarawak recognises “Islam as the religion of the federation but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the federation’ (Article 3(1) –Constitution of Malaysia); yet why are non-Muslim Sarawakians subject to harassment by religious authorities who do not understand Sarawak?

Why is Article 153 of the Federal Constitution merely read to mean “Malay rights”? When read in its entirety, Article 153(1) states, “It shall be the responsibility of the Yang diPertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.”

What ever happened to the rights of the “natives of Sabah and Sarawak”?

Sarawak must re-write its own story and unless this is done, it will forever be stuck in the rut of a “fixed deposit” state that only rubber stamps intrusive policies that will erode the very fabric of society.

Maclean Patrick is a columnist with FMT and a webmaster based in Kuching.

Bid to move conversion case to Federal Court Star

IPOH: Kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi, who is seeking to quash her three children’s conversion to Islam, has applied for the case to be moved to the Federal Court or heard in full by the High Court.

Her lawyer M. Kulasegaran made the application before High Court assistant registrar Helmi Ghani in his chambers yesterday.

Kulasegaran told reporters that Justice Zainal Adzam Abdul Ghani would decide on May 6 if he would order a full hearing into the case or refer it to the apex court.

Indira Gandhi is seeking to nullify her children’s conversion to Islam by their father without her consent on April 3, 2009.

Despite an order made by a separate High Court here last May for her estranged husband Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah to return their youngest child, Prasana Diksa, mother and child have yet to be reunited.

The case, in which Indira Gandhi has been also granted custody of her two elder children – Tevi Darsiny, 13, and Karan Dinish, 12 – is pending appeal by Mohd Ridzuan, who has obtained interim custody of the children from the Syariah High Court here.

Met at the High Court, Indira Gandhi, 36, said she continued to live with the pain of not being able to see and hold Prasana.

The child turns three on April 8 and the last time the mother saw her daughter was just before the little girl’s second birthday.

“It’s a reminder of how much I have missed out on my baby’s life,” she said.

Syria's Assad warns of 'conspiracy'

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, blamed "conspirators" for two weeks of anti-government protests that have rocked the nation but failed to lift emergency rule or offer other concessions.

In his first address to the nation since the start of a violent crackdown on protests demanding greater freedoms that erupted earlier this month, Assad said Syria was going through a "test of unity".
"I belong to the Syrian people, and whoever belongs to the Syrian people will always keep his head high," he said in the televised address before members of parliament in the capital, Damascus, on Wednesday.
"I know that the Syrian people have been awaiting this speech since last week, but I was waiting to get the full picture ... to avoid giving an emotional address that would put the people at ease but have no real effect, at a time when our enemies are targeting Syria," he said.
Al Jazeera's Cal Perry travelled to Daraa to gauge reaction to President Assad's speech
During his speech, that lasted almost one hour, Assad took aim at social networking websites and pan-Arabic satellite television news channels but made no mention of any plans to lift the state of emergency.

Assad said he supported reform but offered no new commitment to change Syria's rigid, one-party political system.

"Staying without reforms is destructive to the country," Assad said, without elaborating on a pledge by his adviser Bouthaina Shaaban last week that the president would look into lifting the emergency law.

Assad echoed that statement on Wednesday.

"The emergency law and political parties law have been under study for a year. There are more, unannounced reforms ... but giving a timeframe is a logistic matter," the president said.
He said "conspirators" have tried to reinforce sectarianism to incite hatred and "bring down Syria".
Assad entered parliament to a mass of cheering crowds outside the building. Once inside, legislators chanted "God, Syria and Bashar only!'' and "our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you Bashar.''

Witnesses from the coastal city of Latakia, where 12 people were killed last week during protests, told Al Jazeera clashes broke out between government troops and protesters within an hour after Assad's speech in Damascus.
Deadly unrest

Assad's rule has been rocked by a wave of demonstrations in defiance of the law over the past two weeks, with protesters emboldened by uprisings in the Arab world.

Assad was expected to use the address to discuss a string of reforms announced last week, amid a wave of dissent and protests demanding more freedoms. But he failed to elaborate on any such reforms.
The speech came a day after the country's cabinet resigned.
Click here for more on our special coverage
Naji al-Otari, the resigning premier, has been chosen by Assad as caretaker prime minister. Otari has been prime minister since 2003.
The government has little power in Syria, where power is concentrated in the hands of Assad, his family and the security apparatus.
Syria has been ruled by the Baath Party since 1963 and Assadsucceeded his father, Hafez al-Assad, in 2000.
The 32-member cabinet will continue running the country's affairs until the formation of a new government.
The new cabinet, which is expected to be announced by the end of the week, will face the task of implementing the reforms.

The wave of protests, which began on March 15 in Damascus, were quickly contained by security forces, before taking root in the southern tribal region of Daraa and the city of Latakia in the north.

More than 60 people have died since March 18 as security forces cracked down on protesters, Human Rights Watch has said.

'Pushed into chaos'

Daraa has sustained the most casualties, with activists estimating at least 100 people killed on Wednesday last week in clashes with security forces.

Syrian rights activists have accused security forces of killing 130 people in the crackdown, while Amnesty International says upward of 55 people have been killed. Officials put the toll at 30 killed.
Assad offered no concessions to ease the grip on public life exercised by his authoritarian regime [AFP]
Tuesday's announcement about the cabinet came as tens of thousands of Syrians joined government-organised rallies across the country in a mass outpouring of support for their leader.
On Tuesday, all roads leading to Sabeh Bahrat ("Seven Seas") square in the capital were cut off by police armed with batons, as the crowd raised Syrian flags and pictures of Assad.
"The people want Bashar al-Assad," they chanted in unison.
"Bashar al-Assad is the spine of Syria. Without him, our country will be pushed into chaos," said a man who identified himself as Abu Khodr.
Authorities have accused fundamentalists and "armed gangs" of aiming to incite unrest in the country, particularly Daraa and Latakia, which emerged as the focal points of dissent.
Such demonstrations would have been unthinkable a couple of months ago in Syria, but it now faces the wave of Arab revolutionary sentiment which has toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia..
Al Jazeera and agencies

A-G no power to ‘indemnify’ anyone, says Nazri

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Attorney-General (A-G) Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has no power to strike a deal with anyone facing criminal charges for being caught in a sticky political situation, Parliament was told today.

De facto law minister, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, said this in reply to the DAP parliamentary chief, Lim Kit Siang, who pressed for the government’s response to a former senior cop’s claim that ongoing police investigations against Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik would likely go nowhere.

Nazri also said he needed time to look into allegations by former KL CID chief, Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim, that the public prosecutor had dropped its case against Abdul Rahim, who was slapped with a RM40 million graft charge in the 1990s, in exchange for the latter stepping down from all government, statutory and party positions.

Abdul Rahim, a former Umno vice-president, was Malacca chief minister from 1982 to 1994 and had quit all public posts after also being charged with the statutory rape of an underage girl at the time.

The charges were later dropped by the public prosecutor over lack of evidence.

He was back in the spotlight last week after openly admitting he was part of the “Datuk T” group behind a sex video scandal said to depict Opposition Leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in a tryst with a China call girl.

Mat Zain had weighed in yesterday on the current controversy and said Abdul Rahim was unlikely to be charged for his role in the video due to Abdul Gani’s influential position today as the A-G.

The former cop accused Abdul Gani of having once hijacked an investigation against Anwar back in 1999 in order to conceal his role in “indemnifying” the former Malacca chief minister from being prosecuted for corruption.

Mat Zain said that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) back then had recommended that Abdul Rahim be prosecuted for four counts of corruption — three under the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance and one for making a false statutory declaration, punishable under section 193 of the Penal Code.

Now Chinese claim ‘Interlok’ racist

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Fresh trouble is brewing over the use of “Interlok” in schools, with Chinese groups today condemning the novel’s depiction of Chinese characters as greedy, opium-smoking lechers keen to exploit Malays for profit.

Having weathered a storm of controversy from the Indian community over the novel’s use of the word “pariah”, the Education Ministry now faces Chinese calls to drop the “racist” book from the Form Five Bahasa Malaysia syllabus.

In a statement today, Chinese associations from across Malaysia said the book was not only offensive to Indians but Chinese as well, as it depicted the character Kim Lock as a “miserly opium addict and callous adulterer” and his son, Cing Huat, as “cunning, greedy, unscrupulous and someone who would happily sell his daughters”.

“‘Interlok’ in its totality propagates the ideology of ketuanan Melayu. In our considered opinion, this novel is not only unhealthy but an insidious poison,” the statement said.

“In fact, ‘Interlok’ is barely a step away from the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) brainwashing that promotes racism and disunity. ‘Interlok’ conveys the central message that Chinese, Indian and other minorities are second-class citizens in addition to perpetuating the divisive notion of a host community (the Malays) versus foreigners (‘bangsa asing’ Cina dan India).”

The groups also condemned the “major thread” in the book, which depicts the Chinese “cheating and oppressing” Malays or as “nasty and immoral” communist guerrillas.

The statement was signed by the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH), LLG Cultural Development Centre, Malaysian-China Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Chinese Associations Johor, the Penang Chinese Town Hall and 40 others, including the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) and several Indian organisations.

Some excerpts appended as evidence of the book’s alleged racism include:

* “We eat anything. Roots if we can get them. We beg. We steal. We don’t have a daughter. If we have a daughter, we can sell her.” (Kim Hock, pp 119-120)

* Kim Lock takes Mei Hwa to smoke opium and has sex with her every time they meet like that. (p 200)

* In a big and strange city like this, people cannot be kind, if they are kind they can’t be rich. Here money becomes the measure. In this world, money is the number two God. (pp 155-156)

* “Cina Panjang says all that land rightfully belongs to him. The cows we kept are also his. My father pawned it to him.” (p 88)

* Seman said he gave all the land to Cina Panjang, and the Chinese man then asked Seman to leave the kampung. (p 92)

The associations pointed out, however, that they did not wish for national laureate Datuk Abdullah Hussain’s book to be edited — as demanded by Indian groups unhappy with the word “pariah” — but also called for the book not be used in schools.

They urged the Education Ministry not to allow “slurs” that hurt the feelings of the various communities to be uttered with impunity and asked that it substitute the book with reading material more suited to the classroom.

“State-endorsed literature should rightly promote contemporary progressive values such as democracy, freedom, equality and human rights. Living in Malaysia of the 21st century, we ought to advocate ‘Ketuanan Rakyat’ instead of sponsoring a parochial and narrow ethnic hegemony,” the statement added.

“Interlok” was written by Abdullah in 1967 and chronicles the daily struggles of the Malays, Chinese and Indians in pre-independence Malaya.

Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said last week that the Cabinet had asked Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) to edit the novel in order to replace terms offensive to Indians but refused to drop the book completely.

Muhyiddin added that his ministry will also provide a glossary to explain the phrases and concepts to students to provide historical context.

Systematic restriction on Christianity

The Christian Federation of Malaysia says that both the government and certain segments of society are to be blamed for this.

PETALING JAYA: There has been a systematic restriction on the practice of Christianity in this country, said the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) today.

According to CFM chairman Bishop Ng Moon Hing, both the government and certain segments of society were to be blamed for this.

“There has been a systematic and progressive pushing back of the public space to practice, profess and express our faith.

“For example, the wearing and displaying of crosses and other religious symbols, using religious words and constructing places of worship have been restricted,” he said in a media statement.

Ng said that CFM was against the restrictions placed on the Bible as well as the language of choice in “the practice of our religion.”

He then cited Malaysia’s guarantee of freedom of religion in Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution, and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

More than 35,000 copies of the Malay-language Al-Kitab were detained in Port Klang and Kuching as the books were deemed a threat to national security.

After much public pressure, the government agreed to release the bibles but not before stamping the Home Ministry’s official seal on them, along with a “For Christians Only” label.

Remove every impediment

This led the bibles’ importers to refuse the copies, with numerous Christian groups around the country accusing the government of desecrating the holy books.

Ng said that the government needed to respect the Christian community’s right to use the Al-Kitab.

“We call on the government to remove every impediment, whether legal or administrative, to the importation, publication, distribution and use of the Al-Kitab,” he said.

He added that this included revoking orders made under the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 that considered the Malay-language bible a security threat.

Ng also said that the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984 should not be applied to the affected bibles either.

Although he said that CFM was willing to work with the government on the matter, he nevertheless criticised the government for not consulting the affected parties before stamping the Al-Kitab.

Disallowed in many Peninsular states, the Al-Kitab’s usage would not be restricted in East Malaysia. This is due to Islamic law enactments set in states governed by the Malay sultanate.

Nearly half of Sarawak’s population is Christian, with many believers there more familiar with the Malay language.

The Al-Kitab matter is not the first Christian issue to have been brought up in recent times.

Last year, a massive row erupted over the use of the word “Allah” by the Malay version of the Catholic weekly newspaper, The Herald.

Subsequent events led to a number of churches being firebombed.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s administration was also not exempt from the alleged restriction on religious symbols.

In December, one of his aides allegedly instructed Catholic church officials to remove crucifixes and to avoid singing hymns during Najib’s Christmas visit to the Archbishop of KL.

Perak patuhi fatwa haramkan poco-poco

Tarian diharamkan kerana ia mempunyai unsur kepercayaan agama lain iaitu Kristian selain pemujaan roh.

IPOH: Kerajaan Negeri Perak akan mematuhi keputusan Jawatankuasa Fatwa Negeri Perak berhubung pengharaman tarian poco-poco, kata Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

Beliau berkata selepas fatwa dikeluarkan, semua pihak perlu menghormatinya dan tidak mempersoalkannya.

Menteri Besar berkata demikian mengulas laporan sebuah akhbar mengenai kenyataan Mufti Perak Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria bahawa Jawatankuasa Fatwa Negeri Perak telah memutuskan tarian berkenaan sebagai haram.

Harussani dilaporkan berkata tarian tersebut diharamkan kerana ia mempunyai unsur kepercayaan agama lain iaitu Kristian selain pemujaan roh dan pewartaan fatwa itu akan dibuat tidak lama lagi.

Dalam perkembangan lain, Zambry berkata proses kelulusan tanah dijalankan mengikut prosedur biasa dan setiap permohonan akan dilayan mengikut peraturan.

“Permohonan akan diproses mengikut peraturan dan undang-undang…jika pemohon layak, kelulusan akan diberikan. Pemohon tidak akan ditanya sama ada menganggotai mana-mana parti,” katanya ketika diminta mengulas dakwaan pembangkang bahawa sebidang tanah di Gopeng diberikan kepada Umno baru-baru ini.

Zambry berkata dakwaan itu tidak seharusnya dilayan kerana sebelum ini, pembangkang mendakwa kerajaan negeri memberi tanah kepada MCA dan MIC.

MBSA lulus pelan tapak kuil Seksyen 23, Shah Alam

Kerja-kerja pembinaan jalan masuk ke kuil itu sudah dimulakan dan disediakan oleh PKNS.

SHAH ALAM: Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) Sri Andalas, Dr Xavier Jeyakumar berkata pindaan pelan susun atur yang melibatkan tapak kuil di Seksyen 23 telah diluluskan oleh Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam (MBSA).

“Kerja-kerja pembinaan jalan masuk ke kuil itu sudah dimulakan dan disediakan oleh PKNS (Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor),” katanya yang juga Exco Kesihatan, Pekerja Ladang, Kemiskinan dan Kerajaan Prihatin Negeri.

Beliau berkata, “satu mesyuarat penyelarasan yang dipengerusikan oleh Rodziah Ismail pada 15 Mac 2011 memutuskan agar satu perjanjian di antara pihak PKNS, Jawatankuasa Kuil dan Pejabat YB disediakan sebelum kerja-kerja pembinaan jalan masuk dimulakan.

“Persetujuan asal pembinaan jalan masuk ke tapak cadangan disediakan oleh PKNS,” katanya ketika menjawab pertanyaan mulut daripada Adun Sri Muda, Shuhaimi Shafie di Dewan Undangan Negeri di sini pagi ini.

Malahan katanya, kerja-kerja pembinaan akan dimulakan selepas persetujuan bersama antara Adun/ahli parlimen, PKNS dan Jawatankuasa kuil berhubung kos pembinaan keseluruhan dan bayaran semula kos kepada PKNS selepas ia disiapkan.

Kontroversi pemindahan kuil di Seksyen 23 ini mendapat perhatian semua pihak termasuklah pemimpin Barisan Nasional (BN) sebelum ini memandangkan terdapat larangan untuk membina rumah ibadat bukan Islam di kawasan perumahan.

Pada September 2009 lalu, kerajaan Negeri mahu mengalihkan kuil dari Seksyen 19 ke Sekyen 23 dan mendapat bantahan daripada penduduk yang majoritinya beragama Islam.

Namun difahamkan rumah ibadat bukan Islam itu akan dibina di lokasi perindustrian.

Xavier berkata buat masa ini kerajaan Negeri juga masih belum bercadang untuk merancang satu ‘master plan’ bagi pembinaan rumah ibadat selain Islam.

Beliau berkata kerajaan Negeri akan memantau dan menyelesaikan isu-isu berkaitan keperluan pembinaan rumah ibadat selain Islam melalui Mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Hal Ehwal Selain Islam.

Kita eyes 15 seats in Kedah

Zaid’s party is taking advantage of a three-way split in PKR

SUNGAI PETANI: Zaid Ibrahim’s Kita is eyeing at least 15 seats in Kedah, five of them parliamentary seats.

PKR seats are the new party’s main targets, according to Kedah Kita chairman Zamil Ibrahim.

“With the right strategies and candidates, we have a fighting chance to replace PKR in Kedah,” he told FMT.

“We are also a multi-racial party led by a former federal minister.”

He said PKR’s Kedah chapter had split into three factions mainly because the leadership was sidelining and isolating those who supported Zaid in last year’s PKR elections.

“One must remember that Zaid received a lot of support and votes from PKR Kedah in his fight for the deputy presidency. That support can be transformed into Kita votes.”

In the last general election, PKR went for the following parliamentary seats in Kedah: Langkawi, Alor Star, Kuala Kedah, Merbok, Sungai Petani, Padang Serai and Kulim-Bandar Baru. It lost only in Langkawi and Alor Star.

In the state contests, it fought for Kuah, Bukit Kayu Hitam, Pedu, Derga, Bakar Bata, Gurun, Bakar Arang, Sidam, Lunas and Kulim, but won only the last three . It gained another seat—Bukit Selambau—when the independent victor, V Arumugam, joined it after the election.

Kita is likely to contest all these seats in the next election.

Zamil said Kedah Kita was already shortlisting potential candidates.

He claimed that many PKR members were ready to join Kita but would wait until the next dissolution of Parliament and state assemblies.

He said these potential defectors included party and state officials, town councillors, village heads and directors of government-linked companies.

Minority Rights

By batsman

Prior to 2008, it is claimed that the non-Malays were too frightened to stand up for their own rights with the threat of genocidal massacre hanging over their heads. In fact PAS had to make a pledge to defend non-Malays with the lives of PAS members if ever UMNO makes good its threat of launching another May 13 style genocidal massacre.

“The best laid plans of mice and men gung go awry.” Does PAS now rue the day it made this pledge? Are there people who now claim that PAS’s pledge had nothing to do with the non-Malays gaining enough courage to vote for the opposition during the 12th GE?

Now that the non-Malays have stood up to fight for their rights, the question is how far and how independently should such a fight take? Many non-Malays now oppose PAS’s stand on beer, sexy concerts and gambling, although many still support it or at least refuse to be drawn into the debate. Hindraf has shown a disconcerting proclivity to choose an isolationist “bugger off” approach when their demands are not met although there are still many staunch Indian supporters of the PR. Many Chinese have taken a strident anti-Islam stance while some have become members of Islam Hadhari. Has PAS chewed off more than it can swallow?

Will the non-Malay struggle for their rights take on an independent air and refuse cooperation and coordination with PAS and maybe even be in opposition to it?

The same trends are being seen in East Malaysia. Many complain that the Sabahans have not yet woken up, but will they rue the day when the Sabahans do wake up?

The other “fixed deposit” state of Sarawak has advanced much farther along in trying to shake off BN domination to the extent that participation of West Malaysian based political parties in Sarawak opposition politics is now seen as part and parcel of West Malaysian domination.

The question is – can the struggle for rights be controlled once it is ignited? Should it be controlled?

Obviously there are limits. Most people would put the limits at violence or independence movements arising out of the minorities’ struggles for their rights. Many insist that the minorities’ struggles for their rights should come under an umbrella of opposition groupings to unseat BN domination and BN abuse of power. Still others think that the various minorities should police themselves and be responsible for the discipline and statements that issue from members of their communities.

What is MCLM’s stand on this since it specializes on civil liberties and minority rights come under the arena of civil liberties? Do minorities have the right to choose an independent path for themselves whether as opposition entities or on the national question of minority autonomy?

More than this, what is PAS’s stand on this? What is the DAP’s stand on this? Can PKR explain its stand on this issue too? Does PAS’s pledge that it will defend non-Malays against another MAY 13 still stand? Does it still stand when some non-Malays take anti-Islam positions?

So many questions – not enough answers. Maybe the BN can provide some answers. What is the BN’s stand on the struggle of minorities for their rights?

Rahim not prosecuted for RM40 million corruption in the nineties in return for relinquishing all government, statutory and party positions?

In Parliament yesterday, I had asked for the government response to Monday’s Open Letter to the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar by former Kuala Lumpur CID chief Datuk Mat Zain Ismail who had expressed lack of confidence that Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik would be prosecuted over the Carcosa sex video scandal because of the ultimate involvement of Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as Attorney-General.

Mat Zain was the police officer who headed the initial investigation into the 1998 case of Anwar Ibrahim’s “black eye” assault while in police custody in Bukit Aman but whose recommendation that the then Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor be prosecuted for criminal assault against Anwar had been ignored until the subsequent establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

As KL CID chief in 1999, he handled the four police reports lodged by Anwar Ibrahim in Sungai Buloh prison, one of which was on the abuses of power by the then Prime Minister Tun Mahathir, the late Mohtar Abdullah who was Attorney-General and Gani Patail who was head of prosecution AG’s Chambers, although the Anti-Corruption Agency had compiled enough evidence to prove a “prima facie” case against Rahim for corruption involving money and shares worth RM40 million.

The questions which Mat Zain posed, and which I asked for answer in Parliament yesterday, were:
• Persoalan yang tidak kurang pentingnya ialah adakah Peguam Negara mempunyai kuasa untuk “indemnify” kesalahan jenayah mana-mana orang berdasarkan pertimbangan Politik?.
• Adakah Peguam Negara berhak melepaskan wang Rakyat RM 40 juta sebegitu mudah untuk Rahim menikmatinya tanpa sebarang tindakan.
• Adakah ini sesuatu yang adil kepada Rakyat sedangkan Peguam Negara yang telah mengesahkan bahawa Rahim memperolehi harta sedemikian banyak menerusi salahguna kuasa dan rasuah.
Earlier in his Open Letter, Mat Zain alleged that Rahim had not be prosecuted for corruption as the Attorney-General had “indemnified” him from all his crimes in return for Rahim’s agreement to resign from all government, statutory and political party positions.

In his reply in Parliament yesterday in the winding-up of the Prime Minister’s Department during the committee stage of the debate for the second 2010 supplementary estimates, Nazri replied that the Attorney-General had no powers to indemnify any person for his criminal action based on political considerations.

However, he asked for time to investigate and respond to Mat Zain’s allegations that Rahim Tamby Chik had not been prosecuted in the nineties for corruption involving RM40 million in return for relinquishing all government, statutory and party positions.

Not only Mat Zain and MPs but all Malaysians await Nazri’s anwer to Mat Zain’s allegations.

People Want Not Only Development But Good Governance Too, Says PM

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysians today want not only development but also efficient, transparent and clean administration, which they could regard as good governance.

The prime minister said the people's expectations and their attitude towards leaders and the government had changed.

"That is why the benchmark to become a leader today is higher than before as information could not be easily accessed in those days but today, the people are more educated and better informed.

"Nowadays, whatever we try to hide, will eventually come out...people will get to know about it. So as leaders, we must be aware and change ourselves....make adjustments.

"God willing, after we've made adjustments, the people will still want Barisan Nasional (BN) to lead the nation...but they want a transformed BN in keeping with today's changed situation."

Najib said this when opening the 34th annual general meeting of the Welfare Body of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti) at Bangunan Bakti Siti Hasmah, here Wednesday.

He said what happened in 2008 (general election) was structural change; that Malaysians today were no longer like before.

According to him, today's generation wanted change and the BN government could bring about change, and that was why the country did not need the kind of reformation called for by certain quarters, but transformation that was now being undertaken by the government.

"We don't need reformation that ends with the throwing of chairs. We have chosen need to hold street demonstrations...shouting out there. But we work and deliver, and that is why under the 1Malaysia concept, we stress on performance and outcomes," he said.

Najib said the approach in the present era is not having too many formalities between the leaders and people.

"There is no wall between us and the people. We must be people-oriented...this is our theme if we want to be more successful in a democratic system."

Najib said when leaders "turun padang" (go down to the field), there was no need for much protocal as this would enable the leaders to be closer to the people and know their problems.

"What's wrong with having the taxi associaton chairman sitting beside us (leaders), or the village head, mosque imam or other local leaders?"

Najib recalled the time when he did away with protocol and sat cross-legged on the road with hundreds of football fans watching the Suzuki AFF Cup 2010 final on the big screen in Bukit Bintang, as an enjoyable moment with the "rakyat" (people).

"We are not in a comfort zone. It cannot be business as usual because the situation out there is so different now," he said.

Earlier, Najib's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who is also Bakti president, addressed the AGM.

Najib who is also the patron of Bakti, advised Bakti members, who are also the wives of leaders, to be always humble and close to the people in helping the various groups in society like the senior citizens, disabled, orphans and single mothers.

"We must have the spirit of giving back to society, to appreciate and return the trust and support given by the people to us as leaders."

He said the leaders' wives' good work for society would also help create a more positive image of the government.

Najib also praised the spirit of the Bakti members and their assisting all levels of society through their welfare and charitable activities, which could make them a role model and provide strong leadership for other associations.

He said Bakti collected RM25 million in donations through its fund-raising dinner function in 2010.