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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gadhafi asks Obama to end NATO bombing

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- As rebel and pro-government forces in Libya maneuvered on the battlefield Wednesday, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi urged U.S. President Barack Obama to end the NATO bombing of his war-torn country.

Gadhafi made the appeal in a letter to the American president, a senior administration official said.

But the official said there was "nothing new" in the letter, the thrust of which was an appeal for an end to the alliance's air operations. It contained no offers to negotiate or step down, and the official said the administration isn't taking the note seriously.

Gadhafi asked Obama to stop the "unjust war against a small people of a developing country" and said those in the opposition are terrorists and members of al Qaeda, the official said.

"We have been hurt more morally than physically because of what had happened against us in both deeds and words by you," Gadhafi wrote, according to the official. "Despite all this you will always remain our son."

The strongman expressed hope that Obama wins re-election next year, the official added. And he wrote that a democratic society cannot be built through missiles and aircraft.

"You are a man who has enough courage to annul a wrong and mistaken action," the leader wrote to the president.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the NATO strikes will stop when Gadhafi steps down and leaves the country.

"I don't think there is any mystery about what is expected from Mr. Gadhafi at this time," Clinton said.

The letter came amid diplomatic, economic and military developments in Libya, which remains in a deadly stalemate as pro-Gadhafi forces battle opposition fighters demanding democracy and an end to Gadhafi's nearly 42-year-rule.

A British airstrike hit an oil field in the eastern Libyan town of Sarir on Wednesday, causing damage to a main pipeline, Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim told reporters.

A tanker carrying crude oil left the eastern Libyan port of Tobruk on Wednesday in what was the first known export of oil by the fledgling opposition during the conflict, a sign of optimism for them.

Rebel fighters and pro-Gadhafi forces have been pushing back and forth between al-Brega and Ajdabiya, while residents in the western city of Misrata are spending their days in fear.

Also Wednesday, ex-U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon, who met with Gadhafi within the past decade, paid a visit to the Libyan capital with a cease-fire plan and a clear message to the embattled ruler that he must step down.

Former U.S. Congressman Weldon says he will meet with Gadhafi

Weldon, speaking in an interview with CNN affiliate WPIX-TV in New York, said he planned to meet with Gadhafi and Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim.

"It's a very solemn time because there's so much at risk here," said Weldon, who led a congressional delegation to Libya in 2004 and is visiting Tripoli at Gadhafi's invitation. Weldon is a Republican who represented a suburban Philadelphia district.

"I'm here to tell him face to face it's time for him to leave. It's time for him to step down, allow the people to take over the government of this country."

In an opinion piece published Wednesday in The New York Times, Weldon said he is proposing a cease-fire, "with the Libyan Army withdrawing from contested cities and rebel forces ending attempts to advance."

There's been seesaw fighting between pro- and anti-Gadhafi troops between al-Brega and Ajdabiya, CNN's Ben Wedeman reported.

On Tuesday night, Gadhafi forces moved 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) from al-Brega to Ajdabiya, and then Wednesday, the rebels pushed them back 10 kilometers (six miles).

At one point, rebels let loose with barrage of rockets, and they were answered by artillery and mortars.

Gadhafi paid U.S. firms to polish his image

"It moves back and forth," Wedeman reported.

A CNN team saw equipment the rebels didn't have before such as night-vision goggles and two Milan anti-tank missiles. Fighters said they obtained the missiles from the transitional government in Benghazi but didn't know their origin.

Rebel leaders have criticized NATO's mission to help protect civilians in recent days, saying residents in Misrata and elsewhere have suffered under horrific attacks from pro-Gadhafi forces with little evidence of NATO air power overhead.

"I am extremely sorry to say this, but NATO truly disappointed us," Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis, the opposition's top military official, said Tuesday. "Civilians are being killed every day, including children, women and elderly. If NATO will wait another week, Misrata will be finished. No one will be left alive. Do they want to wait, and watch them die, and let this crime be a shameful disgrace for the international community forever?"

NATO Brig. Gen. Mark van Uhm said weather conditions and tactics by Gadhafi regime have hindered their efforts.

In addition to using human shields and hiding equipment in populated areas, pro-Gadhafi forces have started abandoning heavy military equipment in favor of the same kinds of cars and light trucks the rebels travel in, making it difficult for pilots to distinguish rebel convoys from those carrying forces loyal to the regime, van Uhm said.

Libyan opposition: Compromise with Gadhafi not an option

NATO is operating under a Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to protect Libyan civilians.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is "deeply concerned about the deterioriating situation facing civilians in Libyan cities under military attack," according to a statement. Conditions in Misrata are "especially grave," the statement said, "with reports of the use of heavy weapons to attack the city, where the population is trapped and unable, as a result of heavy shelling that has continued over several weeks, to receive basic supplies, including clean water, food and medicines."

But residents in Misrata said this week that Gadhafi forces have trapped the city, with snipers shooting indiscriminately. Access to food has been hampered.

"Normal life is a luxury that we don't have," one resident said. "I haven't taken my family out for four weeks now. All schools are closed, my children didn't go to school since the 19th of February. All government offices are closed. Even dead people are buried without death certificates."

After weeks of relentless fighting, a military victory for either side seems remote. A political or diplomatic solution might be the only way to end the crisis.

Weldon said that in addition to his proposals for Gadhafi's stepping down, a cease-fire on both sides and the withdrawal of government forces from key cities, he is calling for a halt in further advances by rebel forces; the creation of a joint interim government run by Libya's current prime minister and the opposition leader; unfettered humanitarian access; and the establishment of a parliamentary commission that would include U.S., Middle Eastern, European and African politicians helping to establish a new parliament in Libya.

Alleged Libyan rape victim thankful for support

As for the Gadhafi family, Weldon's proposals also suggest a possible title for Gadhafi as honorary chairman of the African Union and allowing his second-oldest son, Saif, to stand in elections.

On the economic front, the tanker with crude oil that left Tobruk was sailing to Qatar, where the oil will be refined, CNN confirmed. Final destination of the export is not known at this time.

The civil war in Libya has severely curtailed oil exports from the North African nation, which produced some 1.6 million barrels per day last year. This move symbolizes the opposition's intent to manage the country's affairs.

The U.S. Treasury has frozen more than $32 billion in assets held by Gadhafi and members of his regime. Asked whether the opposition should be able to have access to those funds, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States "is well aware there is an urgency, that the Transitional National Council does need funding if it's to survive, and we're looking at ways to assist that." But Toner said he did not know the status of the $32 billion.

Hate or love him, Taib's a dividing factor

It has been 30 years since Abdul Taib Mahmud was sworn in as Sarawak chief minister, but never before has he had to defend himself so hard.

Starting their attack months ahead, it is no secret now that Taib's alleged corruption, and the seemingly good fortune and business acumen of those around him, have taken centre-stage in the election campaign of his opponents.

"PKR Youth will focus not just on local issues but also on the core issues of corruption and abuse of power," its chief Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin said.

"On June 29, 2010, we had lodged a report with MACC to investigate an estimated Canadian $3 billion involving Taib. Reports have been made to at least 10 divisions in MACC Sarawak."

While PKR's campaign materials, in the form of booklets of several pages, blatantly finger Taib as the bane of Sarawak society, the DAP flyers are more subtle.

NONEIts flyers with the Chinese character for 'greed' are illustrated with fine white hair growing out of the sides - a subtle but effective message to the party's target of mostly Chinese constituencies, where Taib is known as 'Pek Moh' (White Hair).

Subtlety is important in the context of Sarawak, where talking about the all-powerful Taib, albeit in a code name, is still done in a lowered voice and after looking over one's shoulders several times.

If it is not enough that Taib has been forced to put up YouTube videos to clear his name, the other BN leaders too are finding the veteran PBB leader's notorious street-cred a little too much to handle.

'Pek Moh is DAP's No 1 campaigner'

One local SUPP leader, who declined to be named, believes that Pakatan is on target.

"Taib is DAP's number one campaigner. We'd love for him to step down, but everyone knows that PBB and Taib hold the power in Sarawak BN and SUPP can't do much," he told Malaysiakini.

Taib's appearances in Chinese-majority areas, where SUPP is going head-to-head with DAP, he said, would only serve to boost DAP's campaign, which hinges largely on the brewing dissatisfaction among the Chinese over Taib's never-ending term as chief minister.

Malaysiakini understands that Taib has yet to schedule appearances in many of the Chinese-majority areas.

The Chinese make up 31.5 percent of the total 979, 796 total voters in Sarawak.

Chinese constituents in Padungan approached by Malaysiakini expressed unease over the way the Taib government did business, saying they felt left out as only select members of the community were given opportunities.

PKR's See Chee How, who is contesting in Batu Lintang against SUPP's Sih Hua Tong and an Independent, former PKR member Soo Lina, also believes that much of the election campaign boils down to the Taib factor.

"Independents contesting or not is totally irrelevant... the main issue here is Taib, because people are choosing between Pakatan or BN - whether you want Taib or not.

"It's a well known fact that Sih has been political secretary to Taib since after the 2006 state election," See said, hinting that Sih's connection with Taib would be the SUPP man's biggest liability.

Taib a Malay-Melanau hero

But such a strategy may not work too well in roughly 26 Malay-Melanau majority constituencies, said Universiti Malaysia Sarawak political analyst Jeneri Amri.

Jeneri, a Sarawak bumiputera, said that for the Malay-Melanau who make up 27.5 per cent of the voters in the state, it is a sense of pride that the all-powerful leader comes from their community.

NONE"Political literacy is low. Issues of good governance are too abstract and lofty. For many, Taib is a hero, a member of the minority who has managed to lead the majority," he said.

As such, attacking Taib further would alienate those who look up to him - some of whom are also the target voters of PKR and PAS.

Jeneri added that as a minority, the Malay-Melanau community was unlikely to want to give up power, fearing that they would not be protected if power was conceded to someone else.

Observations by Malaysiakini in the PBB stronghold of Satok yesterday confirmed this sentiment, with most of the local people we spoke to saying they fully backed PBB as "it is the party that will protect our rights".

In 2006, BN won about 70 percent of the total Malay-Melanau votes and if Jeneri's observations are accurate, the trend will persist in the April 16 election as well.

And, with seemingly much-loved Malay-Melanau PBB deputy chief Abang Johari Abang Openg touted as the chief minister-in-waiting, the Malay-Melanau community is likely to stick with BN, whether they love Taib or not.

Drop reins until Sarbani death probed, DAP tells MACC boss

KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — The DAP has demanded Datuk Seri Abu Kassim Mohamed step aside as Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief until investigations into the death of a Customs officer at the commission’s office here were complete, to avoid “an attempt to stop truth and justice.”

Secretary-general Lim Guan Eng described Abu Kassim’s call for Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed’s death in the MACC building in Cheras “not be exploited or manipulated by certain quarters for their personal interests” as “malicious and full of ill-intent.”

“Such provocative remarks display not only a guilty conscience but an attempt to gag and stop others from pursuing the truth and justice into the latest tragic death in the MACC. To describe (them) as exploiters and manipulators... is just irresponsible,” the Bagan MP said.

Lim added that the public would not have faith in MACC’s internal probe into this latest death as it has not fully explained or taken responsibility for the death of DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock.

Ahmad Sarbani’s death comes as a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) is investigating MACC operational procedures and the death of Teoh Beng Hock on July 16, 2009 after a coroner’s inquest returned an open verdict of neither suicide nor homicide.

The aide to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah was a witness whose body was found sprawled on the fifth floor corridor of the anti-graft body’s Selangor headquarters following overnight questioning there.

Today, Lim said while DAP respected Abu Kassim for his efforts to restore professionalism to the MACC after Teoh’s death, these measures have not been adequate.

The Penang chief minister said the MACC chief’s efforts were not fully successful due to the secretive nature of its methods, lack of independence from the Attorney-General and federal government, and failure to take action against what he termed the blatant corrupt practices by Barisan Nasional leaders.

“The death of Ahmad Sarbani yesterday undid and undermined all of Abu Kassim’s efforts to make a difference. His accompanying provocative remarks cannot be ignored,” Lim said.

He repeated his call for a RCI on the latest incident and asked for a full revamp of the MACC to be conducted by anti-graft watchdog Transparency International “with full powers to effect any changes necessary whether the federal government likes it or not.”

MACC investigations director Datuk Mustafar Ali told reporters yesterday that Ahmad Sarbani returned to the MACC building at 8.26am without an appointment and had requested to meet with the investigation officer.

Sarbani had already given his statement to MACC and was released from custody at 12.30pm on Saturday.

He had been remanded on March 29 following an MACC-led swoop on a Customs syndicate that it said was worth billions in unpaid taxes, resulting in the arrests of 62 officers.

“The deceased had asked to meet with the investigation officer but did not say why,” Mustafar said.

The chief investigator said an officer then accompanied the Customs officer to a room in the office before leaving to collect the case file but found him missing when he returned.

Sarbani’s body was later found on the badminton court on the first floor, but friends who visited the mortuary where his autopsy was being conducted yesterday said it was impossible that the 56-year-old Customs assistant director committed suicide over the MACC investigations.

Greenhorn in a hot seat

Christina Chiew, DAP’s youngest candidate, says she’s ready for a tough battle at a place she once called home.

In late December last year, Christina Chiew’s tenancy agreement expired and she had to move in with a friend while waiting for her new home to be ready. For two months, she lived in Batu Kawah, a small town about an hour’s drive from Kuching.

There she learnt that the residents either bought electrical poles with their own money or went without electricity. She rolled up her pants leg during bouts of torrential rain when floodwater would rise to alarming levels within an hour. And she witnessed the life of hardship that farmers and vegetable sellers lead.

Little did she know that those experiences would presage much bigger things in her relationship with the town.

In early April, DAP announced that it would contest 15 seats in the Sarawak election. Seven of its candidates are greenhorns. Chiew is one of them and she is up in the toughest of battles for the Kuching state seats. Her arena will be Batu Kawah.

“I didn’t even know that I was being considered for candidacy until Violet Yong approached me a few days before the party announced the candidate list.”

Yong is the current assemblywoman for Pending, which she will defend in the coming election. She was the person who put Chiew on her political path, appointing her as a special assistant just one month after she joined DAP last April.

“She said she found me capable,” Chiew said. “She had too much on her hands and needed someone to lighten the workload by corresponding with the state departments to resolve the people’s issues.”

Passion for politics

As it turned out, it wasn’t just Yong who noticed her capabilities. DAP thinks she has the calibre to lead the youth of Sarawak towards the change that it is touting.

Chiew, at 27, is the youngest DAP candidate in the election.

She may be a greenhorn, but she is already stepping into the shoes of a politician.

This interview took place at DAP’s Kuching headquarters. The only room that was available for it was the office of Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen. She walked behind his desk and hesitated as she lightly touched the large brown leather chair, murmuring, “This is YB Chong’s chair.”

But practicality won over self-consciousness and she sat down in it. That chair became hers almost as soon as she started talking about her passion for politics.

“If you read more, you know more,” she said. “And you will know that under the BN government, corruption, cronyism and, especially, unfair education are getting worse.

“I managed to secure a place in Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. But many of my Chinese friends who scored good grades failed to get in because of the quota system. They were forced to go overseas to study. I believe that every Malaysian should have the right to a full education.”

Best shot

And despite holding a Master’s degree in biochemisty, the Sibu-born Chiew says her education isn’t over yet. If she wins in the election, she will enrol in a law programme because “if you want to fight for the people, you need to know the law”.

Right now, however, she would rather not speculate on life after April 16 and instead concentrate on giving it her best shot. She has already acknowledged that Batu Kawah will demand more of her than any other Kuching constituency will of its candidates. Pundits consider it one of the nine hot seats in the election. BN won it in 2006 with a slim majority.

“It’s a tough fight because 58% of the residents there are Chinese, 20% are Malays and 20% are Dayaks,” Chiew explained.

“Our analysis of the 2006 election shows that only 40% of the Chinese and less than 5% of the Malays and Dayaks voted for DAP. So, of course, there is pressure.”

But the pressure is matched by a layer of cool confidence. When asked about BN candidate and incumbent Tan Joo Phoi, Chiew breaks into a wide smile. “Tan Joo Phoi,” she said, repeating the name slowly. “He has a lot of experience, much more than I do. But the constituents say that there hasn’t been much improvement in the last five years.

“Villagers in Kampung Bumbok, especially, say that he hasn’t visited them even once. Almost all of them are Bidayuh and I’m confident of winning at least 80% of their votes.

“Of course, the residents have asked me what change DAP will bring if they vote me in. So I tell them what we have done for Penang and they are satisfied.”

Where would she put her chances on a scale of one to 10? Chiew pondered the question and smiled. “Eight,” she said.

'Tunjuk bukti jam Omega'

Wan Azizah didesak tidak berlakon, alih perhatian isu video

(Berita Harian) - Presiden Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail didesak untuk tidak cuba berdolak dalih atau mengalihkan tumpuan, sebaliknya tampil menunjukkan jam Omega milik suaminya, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim sebagai bukti jam itu berada dalam simpanannya.

Ini kerana tindakan Wan Azizah cuba berdalih mengenai jam itu pada sidang media kelmarin tidak mampu menjawab dan melenyapkan spekulasi yang mengaitkan lelaki dalam video perlakuan seks dengan seorang wanita yang disiarkan dalam banyak laman web adalah suaminya, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Pengerusi Gabungan Badan NGO Malaysia, Md Radzi Daud, berkata Wan Azizah wajar membuktikan jam itu berada dalam simpanannya dan bukan yang ditemui pada wanita itu bagi menghilangkan rasa curiga rakyat yang ketika ini keliru dengan pelbagai maklumat mengenai rakaman video berkenaan.

Katanya, sebarang pendekatan fitnah, saman atau membuat laporan polis sekali pun akan dilakukan oleh mana-mana pihak demi membersihkan diri daripada tuduhan.

“Sewajarnya ia dilakukan untuk membuktikan suaminya bersih daripada tuduhan yang dilemparkan. Apa susahnya kalau sekadar diminta tunjukkan jam kerana tuduhan terhadap Anwar mungkin betul dan mungkin fitnah. Kita bukan malaikat, hanya Anwar dan Allah SWT saja yang mengetahui keadaan pada masa itu. Tidak perlu takut untuk membuktikan jika memang Anwar tidak bersalah,” katanya.

Kelmarin pada sidang media di kediamannya, Wan Azizah kurang senang apabila wartawan bertanyakan mengenai jam Omega milik suaminya. Beliau dilaporkan berkata jam berkenaan masih ada padanya, tetapi apabila didesak beberapa wartawan supaya menunjukkan jam berkenaan sebagai bukti, beliau enggan dan berkata: “ Why I have to show... are you the prosecutor? (kenapa saya perlu tunjukkan... adakah awak pendakwa raya).

Sementara itu, penganalisis politik, Prof Madya Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, jika ditunjukkan jam tangan itu kepada umum, ia akan menjawab segala spekulasi sama ada ia fitnah atau sebaliknya yang akan memberikan kesan kepada pembangkang mahu pun kerajaan.

“Jika ia sama sekali tidak benar, maka pendedahan bahawa jam itu ada pada Wan Azizah akan mengukuhkan lagi kedudukan pembangkang dan akan memberikan kesan besar kepada mereka yang membuat tuduhan.

“Jadi, mengapa sukar mendedahkan perkara itu kerana sidang akhbar dibuat di rumahnya bukan di pejabat PKR atau di kawasan lain kerana sebelum ini beliau ada mendakwa jam itu ada disimpan di rumah. Tak perlu menyalahkan wartawan bila ditanya soalan sedemikian kerana rakyat juga mahu tahu sama ada ia spekulasi atau sebaliknya,” katanya.

Bekas Ketua Penerangan PKR, Ruslan Kassim, berkata beliau tidak terkejut dengan tindakan Wan Azizah yang dilihat cuba berdolak dalih dalam isu jam Omega kerana sikap seperti itu sering berlaku terhadap pemimpin parti berkenaan jika menganggap ia boleh menjejaskan reputasi mereka.

Sambil menyifatkan jam itu seperti jerangkap samar yang dibuat sendiri oleh pemimpin PKR, beliau berkata kedegilan untuk menunjukkan jam kepada umum seolah-olah cubaan untuk menyembunyikan pergolakan yang tercetus daripada kes itu.

Setiausaha Agung Majlis Perundingan Melayu, Dr Hasan Mad pula berpendapat tidak sukar untuk pemimpin seperti Pengerusi DAP, Karpal Singh memanipulasi isu yang akhirnya terus menjadikan budaya politik kotor.

Beliau juga menggesa isu video seks Anwar ditamatkan kerana ia bukan saja memberi kelebihan kepada populariti pemimpin itu, bahkan memberi kesan negatif terhadap pembangunan negara, masyarakat Melayu dan sistem politik negara.

Sementara itu jurucakap The Swatch Group (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, pengedar jam Omega di negara ini menjelaskan setiap jam Omega mempunyai nombor siri yang dicetak pada jam sebagai jaminan untuk membolehkan pengguna menuntut ganti rugi sepanjang tempoh jaminan dua tahun.

Katanya, nombor siri tidak direkodkan oleh syarikat pengedar berkenaan sebaliknya hanya direkodkan oleh penjual dalam kad jaminan.

Deepak vs. RPK: Round 3

“After Suresh introduced us, I met him one more time. He asked me for money, it was either RM500 or RM1,000, but I told him I cannot (give him the money)... I didn't want to be involved in (Balasubramaniam's) financial matters." Deepak added that he had never issued the two cheques allegedly totalling RM5 million to Balasubramaniam as payment for retracting his first statutory declaration implicating Najib and Rosmah in Altantuya's murder. He said he had met with investigators from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission last year to give his statement on Balasubramaniam's claims, pointing out that the cheques in question were not even real. "The cheques are not real, they are doctored. It wasn't my signature on the cheques. Even the cheque numbers did not exist.” -- Malaysiakini

Raja Petra Kamarudin


Special courts for graft

The Star

SHAH ALAM: Fourteen courts have been set up to deal with corruption cases, including the more than 300 pending and the nearly 2,000 commercial crime cases that have yet to be closed.

Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi said the Special Courts for Corruption would help dispose of corruption cases faster and deliver better justice to the public.

He said, to date, there were 376 corruption cases pending in the country, with the oldest dating back to 2008.

As of February, there were also 1,988 commercial crime cases pending, with four dating back to 1999, he added.

“These cases have yet to be resolved and the longer they drag on, the tougher it is to solve them,” said Zaki.

“With the establishment of these special courts, cases can be cleared faster and justice can be served, not only to the accused but also to the public,” he said at the launching of the courts at the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Court Complex here yesterday.

Zaki said the courts, established under the Government Transformation Programme, aimed to speed up corruption trials and complete cases within a year.

“Delaying cases is never good as it could result in witnesses forgetting the facts,” he said.

Calling for the appointment of more lawyers and judges to handle the cases, Zaki said some Sessions Court judges had pointed out that the same lawyers and judges appeared in most of the important corruption cases.

“Apparently, the few specialised lawyers available are the ones most sought after,” he said, adding that he was pleased that the Selangor Bar committee and the Malaysian Bar were taking appropriate measures to resolve this. 

Bar Council calls for inquest, RCI on death

The Sun
by Pauline Wong and Tim Leonard

PETALING JAYA (April 6, 2011): The Bar Council has called for an immediate inquest into the death of Customs assistant director Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed, and for a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to be conducted swiftly into the operations and investigation techniques of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

"Chapter 32 of the Criminal Procedure Code requires all custodial deaths to be investigated by way of inquest," said council president Lim Chee Wee in a statement today.

"Public confidence can only be restored when there is a high-level, independent and far-reaching inquiry into the circumstances of Sarbani's death."

Lim took a swipe at the MACC by recalling the death of former DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock, who was found dead on the 5th floor of the Selangor MACC office in Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam in July 2009.

"It appears that despite the Teoh Beng Hock incident, MACC procedures involving welfare of witnesses has not changed," he said.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, meanwhile, expressed regret and shock over Ahmad Sarbani's death.

"It is surprising that a tragedy like this has occurred. It looks like MACC did not learn anything from Teoh's case and this shows they are not alert about the safety of their witnesses and detentions," he said in a statement.

"We will appeal to the Federal Court to revoke the High Court order which cancelled the state government circular that stated state government officials are to be interviewed by MACC only during office hours and should be accompanied by a lawyer," he said.

He said that this was necessary to ensure safety of state government officials.

DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng released a statement saying: "The ability of MACC to perform its duties effectively and objectively, and without harm done to its witnesses, needs to be reevaluated, and its relevance reconsidered."

He said an anti-corruption body with no credibility would not be effective in fighting corruption, and proposed an Independent Investigative Body under Transparency International to reevaluate the MACC.

"The question now is how far is the government willing to go to find the person responsible and take action. The people will not believe it is a suicide, and this tragedy will create deep doubts and destroy the trust people have in the investigation procedures of the MACC," he said.

Meanwhile, MACC chief Datuk Seri Abu Kassim Mohamed in a statement released in the evening said the MACC will conduct a thorough internal investigation in the matter.

"We will leave it to the police to investigate the cause of death and will give our full co-operation to the investigation," he said, adding that he hoped the incident will not be exploited or manipulated by anyone for personal gain.

Abu Kassim also conveyed his sympathies and that of the MACC to Ahmad Sarbani's wife and family.

In PORT KLANG, more than 80 forwarding agents gathered at the Customs Department and hurled abuse at MACC following the death of Ahmad Sarbani.

The agents had earlier gone to the Customs office for a meeting to discuss the new import/export form system and to fill up forms when news of Ahmad Sarbani’s death broke out.

This prompted some of them to hang up banners labelling the MACC “murderers” and shout abuse at the commission.

More agents started arriving at around 2pm and the situation became tense. They shouted out that Ahmad Sarbani was a clean officer and that he was murdered.

The Customs office was a scene of chaos for the most part of the day. Some forwarders were also angry with the Customs Department as they had incurred charges as a result of having been unable to clear their forms.

They were also unhappy with the new system that does not allow forwarders their choice of Customs officer to clear forms for the shipment of goods. The situation was however quickly brought under control by police.

Later, many Customs officers were seen heading out from their workplace. Many were shocked and angered at the death of a colleague.

“Ahmad was one the cleanest officers around. He lived a modest life and we can’t believe that he committed suicide at the MACC office,” said an officer who wanted to be identified only as Wan.

Another who declined to be named said Ahmad Sarbani was an exemplary officer in the export/import division and was well-respected by subordinates as well as forwarders.

NATO vows to protect Misurata amid criticism

NATO has vowed to protect Libya's civilian population and give priority to the besieged city of Misurata, a day after rebel fighters accused the military alliance of acting too slowly.

"We have a clear mandate and we will do everything to protect the civilians of Misurata," Carmen Romero, deputy spokeswoman for NATO, said on Wednesday, adding "Misurata is our number one priority".

Oana Lungescu, NATO'S spokesperson, told Al Jazeera that the alliance was enforcing the UN mandate to protect civilians against the threat of attack.

"In the last six days we've flown over 1,000 sorties and out of those over 400 were strike sorties.

"Yesterday we flew 155 sorties, today almost 200 are planned. So we are taking our mandate very seriously indeed, we've been striking tanks around Misurata and we've also been striking armoured vehicles, air defence systems, rocket launchers around Misurata, Ras Lanuf and Brega," she said.

Britain also said it would move four Typhoon fighter jets currently being used to police the no-fly zone to a ground attack role in Libya in response to criticism that forces were not protecting civilians.

Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said he would discuss with NATO the situation in Misurata, where residents have been under siege from forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for the last 40 days.

"Misurata is in a situation which cannot continue and I am going to discuss it in a few hours time with the secretary general of NATO," he told France Info radio.

But he also said that military operations in the country were becoming more complicated as pro-Gaddafi forces adopted tactics that raised the risk of civilian casualties.

"We've formally requested that there be no collateral damage for the civilian population," he said. "That obviously makes operations more difficult."

Brigadier General Mark van Uhm, NATO's chief of allied operations, previously said that human shields were being used in Misurata to prevent the coalition from identifying targets.

He added that Gaddafi's troops have been adjusting their tactics to deal with the threat from coalition airstrikes, travelling in trucks and light vehicles to the front line and hiding their tanks and armoured vehicles from sight.

'More airstrikes needed'

Admiral Edouard Guillard, the head of France's armed forces, said the slow pace of NATO operations was frustrating, but that "protecting civilians means not firing anywhere near them".

On Tuesday Abdul Fatah Younis, the head of the Libyan opposition's armed forces, said the military alliance had "disappointed" them by being too slow to hit targets, such as pro-Gaddafi convoys, that would help protect civilians.

"Civilians are dying daily because of lack of food or milk, even children are dying. Even by bombing. If NATO waits for another week, it will be a crime that NATO will have to carry. What is NATO doing? It is shelling some defined areas only," he said.

"When a large force of tanks, and even artillery, is on its way to Benghazi, Ajdabiya or Brega, we always inform NATO straight away. Because we don't have such weapons. NATO's reaction is very slow. By the time the information reaches from one official to another until it reaches the field commander, it takes hours.

Hoda Abdel Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Benghazi, said rebels were expecting more airstrikes.

"They say that when France and the US were in charge there were more airstrikes, they say especially on the frontline that when those airstrikes happened it helped them to make their push towards the west.

"Now they've been retreating badly towards the east, nearly at their starting point," she said.

"They say the NATO airstrikes are needed in the west of the country because there's an understanding here in the east that they can't continue this uprising alone."

She added that there were fears that if the situation continued the country could be divided between the east and the west.

Supply lines reopened

Doctors said last week that 200 people had been killed in Misurata since the uprising began on February 17, a figure that is likely to have risen in recent days.

Meanwhile, Gerard Longuet, the French defence minister, said on Wednesday that Libyan rebels would now be able to supply the city by sea.

"We are going to ensure that... aid comes from [the rebel stronghold] Benghazi and that at no moment Gaddafi's military forces will be able to stop this," he told France Inter radio.

"Previously, the interpretation of the embargo meant that no boats could supply any towns," he said.

"Today, we have reopened [marine] traffic at Tobruk and Benghazi, and so boats from Benghazi will be able ... to supply Misrata, because the coalition will prevent any action by the Gaddafi navy," he said.

Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

Deepak on Anwar, PI Bala, RPK and Rosmah

(Malaysiakini) The mystery "carpet man" alleged to be closely linked to the premier's wife Rosmah Mansor said today said he considers her like an "older sister" to him, nothing more.

NONEDeepak Jaikishan, the carpet dealer mentioned numerous times by blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, said Rosmah "is a good person, if you know her personally".

He denied Raja Petra's claims in a recent posting on Malaysia Today that he was trying to get back into Rosmah's good books, saying that the extent of their relationship was confined to carpets and the gossip around town.

"I first got to know her about six or seven years ago, when she visited our family shop. I know her, and treat her like an older sister," he told a press conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
Deepak rubbished Raja Petra's claims that he was Rosmah's “confidante” and “toyboy”, saying instead that she and her husband, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, had been kind enough to write commendation letters and introduce his family's carpet business to new clients.

rosmah mansor najib 250609 02He denied that he had gone about either “bad mouthing or praising” Najib and Rosmah, claiming that the people behind Raja Petra's post on Malaysia Today are simply trying to create “discord” between him and his clients.

He also laughed off the blogger's allegations that he intended to bring private eye P Balasubramaniam (left) back to Malaysia to file a new statutory declaration to absolve the premier and his wife of any involvement in the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu.

“If I had the power to get him back (to Malaysia), why would I do it now? Why not last month, or six months ago? This is inaccurate information... this is wrong. If you want to accuse someone, have the facts,” he said.

NONEDeepak admitted that he had met Balasubramaniam on two occasions after a mutual friend – an officer from the police' serious crimes 'D9' division by the name of Suresh – had introduced them.

'Bala asked for money'

He said Balasubramaniam and Suresh were “clubbing boys” with his younger brother Danesh, but he did not see any reason to get close to the private investigator.

“After Suresh introduced us, I met him one more time. He asked me for money, it was either RM500 or RM1,000, but I told him I cannot (give him the money)... I didn't want to be involved in (Balasubramaniam's) financial matters,” he said.

altantuya murder razak baginda case 180607 p balasubramaniamDeepak added that he had never issued the two cheques allegedly totalling RM5 million to Balasubramaniam (left) as payment for retracting his first statutory declaration implicating Najib and Rosmah in Altantuya's murder.

He said he had met with investigators from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission last year to give his statement on Balasubramaniam's claims, pointing out that the cheques in question were not even real.

“The cheques are not real, they are doctored. It wasn't my signature on the cheques. Even the cheque numbers did not exist.”

When asked, Deepak said that he had never met Altantuya.

“I have never seen her, though I think she's quite pretty.”

HRP goes to court on registration

Impossible Sarbani would commit suicide, say friends

KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — Deep in the basement carpark of Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM), shocked relatives and friends grieved silently as the body of Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed lay in the mortuary awaiting an autopsy.

They had come to one conclusion upon hearing of his death plunge earlier — that it was impossible for the 56-year-old Customs assistant director to commit suicide over investigations into over a billion ringgit in unpaid taxes across five ports in the country.

In Customs Department uniforms or clad with headscarves, men and women lined the hallway leading to the mortuary, murmuring prayers and talking in hushed tones about the man who was found sprawled on the first floor after falling from the third floor of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) building on Jalan Cochrane this morning.

Some were unable to control their grief, with tears seen trickling down their faces.

Sarbani’s family was protective of his wife and five children who were escorted to the mortuary waiting room with their faces covered to avoid photographers from capturing their images. His siblings refused to give any comments to reporters crowding the mortuary.

His childhood friend, Ridzuan Mohamad, told The Malaysian Insider of his disbelief when he received the news of Sarbani’s death today.

“I was close to him and he was very humble. I think the charge against him by MACC is nonsense. If it is true then show the proof. The way they interrogated him was not fair.

“He was just a scapegoat for someone else,” said the 46-year-old former reporter.

Ridzuan also said that it was illogical for him to commit suicide because he had always maintained his innocence.

“Last night he called and told me that he was being investigated by MACC. He told me that he was not scared as he has not done anything wrong.

“He also told me that he was going to send a document tomorrow (today). That was it, to send a document,” he added.

Another close friend, Ashaari Isa, added that Sarbani was very pious and that a man of God would not commit suicide.

“That is what MACC has to say but for those that knew him personally then it was impossible (that he committed suicide).

“His personality and conduct was that of a very religious person,” said the 57-year-old businessman.

He also dared MACC to explain why the senior Customs officer would commit suicide and requested for the closed-circuit-television footage (CCTV) to be made public.

Ashaari, who drove from Sarbani’s village in Perak, angrily denied that suicide was the cause of death.

“Men from our village don’t kill themselves but we kill others,” he said in an emotional outburst.

MACC investigations director Datuk Mustafar Ali earlier told reporters that Sarbani had returned to the MACC building at 8.26am today without an appointment and had requested to meet with the investigation officer.

Sarbani had already given his statement to MACC and was released from custody at 12.30pm on Saturday.

He had been remanded on March 29 following an MACC-led swoop on Customs staff, resulting in the arrests of 62 officers.

“The deceased had asked to meet with the investigation officer but did not say why,” Mustafar said.

The chief investigator said an officer then accompanied the Customs officer to a room in the office before leaving to collect the case file but found him missing when he returned.

Sarbani’s body was later found on the badminton court on the first floor.

Pandamaran assemblyman Ronnie Liu arrived later and was seen consoling the dead man’s relatives.

He told reporters that DAP has offered to represent the family but has yet to receive an answer.

Hospital authorities said the autopsy will be conducted at 9pm tonight. Police have yet to say when the body will be released for burial by the family.

Customs officer falls to his death at MACC office

Selangor Customs Department assistant director, Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed, 56 falls to his death from the third floor of the MACC office.

KUALA LUMPUR:  A Customs officer fell to his death from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office in Jalan Cochrane here today.

The deceased was identified as Selangor Customs Department assistant director, Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed, 56.

He was among 62 officers arrested in a joint operation in Penang, Johor, Selangor and Pahang by a special task force comprising MACC, the Inland Revenue Board, the Customs Department and Bank Negara.

Speaking at a press conference here, MACC director of investigations Mustafar Ali said the deceased came to the commission’s office at about 8am to meet the case’s investigating officer.

“He was one of the Customs officers arrested during the raid on April 1 at Port Klang. He was released the day after at 12.30pm after posting bail,” he said.

Upon arriving at the office, Sarbani was unable to meet the investigating officer as the latter was in a meeting.

The deceased then waited at the lobby until 9.30am and was later escorted by another officer who brought him to his office.

“At about 10.15am, the officer left his room to get Sarbani’s investigating officer. Upon returning to his room, he found that the Customs officer was missing.
“After a search, Sarbani was found dead at the first floor of our office building,”said Mustafar.

Asked if this incident would further erode MACC’s image, the director refused to comment. “We will let the police investigate the matter,” he said.

Police chief: Don’t speculate

Kuala Lumpur police chief Zulkifli Abdullah, who was present at the scene, said a special task force would be set up to investigate the matter.

“The deceased was found dead at the badminton court located on the first floor of the building. We have classified it as sudden death for now,” he said, adding that Sarbani was found lying face down.

The Customs officer’s body had been sent to the Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for post-mortem, and Zulkifli urged all quarters not to speculate on the incident.

“We will take statements from witnesses and update the media from time to time,” he said.
Asked if there was a CCTV recording of the incident and if he suspected foul play, Zulkifli refused to comment.

“Let us investigate the matter first,” he said.

Suspend all MACC officers involved

Civil society organisations meanwhile called for the immediate suspension of MACC’s national director Mohamad Khalid Yusuf, the Selangor director and all officers involved in the investigation of the case.

They urged for the setting up of an inquiry commission to ensure there is no cover-up of evidence or any obstruction to the investigation process.

“This incident has again raised questions on the integrity and accountability of the MACC. Public
confidence in the credibility and professionalism of the MACC has been shattered,” said the civil societies, represented by Suaram, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) and Malaysians For Beng.

Suaram has also called off its plan to submit a memorandum against Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to the MACC in Putrajaya in view of this latest incident.

Riot at Port Klang

Earlier, DAP’s Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng tweeted that a riot had erupted at the Port Klang Customs office over the incident.

He said the angry Customs personnel had “thrashed computers” and “shouted slogans”.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz told reporters in Parliament that Sarbani’s death would not derail MACC’s investigation into other Customs officers.

“We will investigate the matter (the death) but the investigations (into the graft allegation) must continue,” he said. Several Customs officers are expected to be charged tomorrow.

In another immediate reaction, PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail described the incident as a “shocking tragedy”.

“In the midst of the Teoh Beng Hock’s RCI, it shows the institution and governance in the country is poor,” she told reporters in Kuching, Sarawak.

“What is the indicator of (good governance)? In the midst of having a royal commission, we are told of MACC officers downloading porn. How can we trust them?” she added, referring to revelations made at the Teoh inquiry earlier this week.

Chilling reminder

DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Ahmad’s death gives a tragic sense of déjà vu and is a chilling reminder of the death of DAP political secretary Teoh in the Selangor MACC HQ.
He said that there should be an RCI on this latest incident, and called for the full revamp of MACC.

PAS’ Mujahid Haji Yusof Rawa questioned MACC’s integrity, saying that the second death in their custody would invoke an issue of trust against MACC’s favour.

“If I want to make a report, how would I trust (MACC)?” he asked.

MIC/BN’s Hulu Selangor MP P Kamalanathan agreed with Mujahid, saying the latest incident would cast doubt in people’s mind’s over MACC.

The latest incident comes amid the investigation by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the death of Teoh, who had also fallen to his death two years ago after being questioned by the MACC in Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam.

Teoh’s death had severely dented MACC’s reputation, and the RCI had also been tasked with probing into whether the commission’s investigative methods violated human rights.

Prove your saintliness, Gerakan man tells Najib & Co

The outspoken Barisan Nasional leader wants the PM and his subordinates to walk the talk and take respective religious vows to prove their moral standards.

GEORGE TOWN: A Gerakan leader has boldly called on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his Cabinet ministers to take religious vows to prove that they are paragons of virtue.

According to Baljit Singh, head of Penang Gerakan legal and human rights bureau, Najib and his ministers, their deputies and parliamentary secretaries must prove that they were better than Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

“They shall be obliged to be subjected for a moral test. They should take the vow and bow before God,” he told FMT.

In other words, Baljit said, the Cabinet must walk its talk.

Anwar had been attacked on grounds of morality following the disclosure of a sex video, which his accusers claimed depicted the opposition leader having sex with a prostitute.

However, Anwar and his wife, PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, denied that the man in the video was Anwar.

Meanwhile, Baljit said Najib and his subordinates should take their vows in accordance to their respective religious beliefs and rites that they, throughout their careers, were never involved in graft, sexual transgressions, and abuse of power.

He pointed out that the Umno-helmed federal government had always harped and passed judgments on the moral standings of Anwar, first with the sodomy cases and now the sex video.

“He who has not sinned shall cast the first stone,” he said, adding that Najib and his team should take the religious vows if “they are so morally righteous.”

He said that the people had the right to know about their government leaders’ moral standards.

Nazri and Hisham slammed

Baljit also slammed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz for suggesting that Wan Azizah was not competent to identify the person in the video.

He chided Nazri for refusing to accept that the sex video game was now “over” following Wan Azizah’s denial.

He criticised Nazri’s statement as “the most illogical and unrealistic suggestion coming from a full cabinet minister.”

“If there is someone who knows every inch of Anwar’s body, it must his wife. How can Nazri say that Azizah is not the best person? Don’t tell me Nazri knows Anwar’s body better than Azizah?” he asked.

He also rebuked Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein for claiming that the public had wrongly perceived Barisan Nasional of being the mastermind behind the sex video.

He said Hishammuddin had unnecessarily dragged BN into an alleged Umno mess.

“The public perception is that Umno, not BN, has been involved in this sex video from the start. The public knows that others in BN have nothing to do with this mess,” he added.

The fate of Anwar and the Pakatan Rakyat

If Anwar and the Pakatan Rakyat fail, it might be a threat to the hard-won two-party system. And if the two-party system collapses, it is definitely not a good thing for the country as without a strong alternative party to check and balance the BN, the executive power would expand and the country would deviate from the track.

Translated by Soong Phui Jee
Sin Chew Daily

A reader called to ask why the Pakatan Rakyat has to wait for another 10 years to fight for the central power if it is defected in the upcoming Sarawak state election as mentioned in the article Memories of a past Sarawak state election.

I believe that if the Pakatan Rakyat loses Sarawak, it might not be able to win many parliamentary seats in the next general election and once its momentum falls, it is destined to fail getting the central power. It might also mark the end of PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's political career and therefore, the coalition needs a longer time to recover.

The next general election is the best timing for the Pakatan Rakyat to seize Putrajaya as the BN has just been rising from the bottom. If it fails, the alternative coalition might not be dissolved but Anwar would not be able to wait for another five years since he is already 64 years old. Besides, he has been entangled with lawsuits and he might be put behind bars again after losing the general election.

The importance of Anwar to the alternative coalition is self-evident and only he can pull the DAP and PAS together. We cannot find any other Malay politicians possess the same charisma in the PKR. PAS leaders are not able to lead the Pakatan Rakyat due to religious issues while I cannot see young leaders with similar potential in the Pakatan Rakyat either at the moment.

Anwar is indispensable to the Pakatan Rakyat and therefore, leaders of the DAP and PAS must give Anwar their full support or the Pakatan Rakyat might split. Apparently, the BN is aware of it and thus, it has constantly attacked Anwar to undermine his credibility over the past three years.

There is not much time and space left for Anwar. He must lead the Pakatan Rakyat to fight for the central power or he might face the "Judgement Day of politics". The Sarawak state election would be a key battle determining his political destiny.

At this critical juncture, a controversial sex video allegedly involving Anwar has been spread over the Internet. It is said that the motive is to completely destroy him so that he would not be able to stabilise the Pakatan Rakyat's influence through the Sarawak state election.

Would the sex video divert the attention of Sarawak voters and would it have an impact on the state election? It all depends on Pakatan Rakyat's strategy to offset the impact of the sex video scandal and turn voters' attention to more important issues. Besides, the sex video is a double-edged sword as it can cause doubts, as well as antipathy.

The plight of Anwar and the PKR today is not necessarily an inevitable outcome of the alternative coalition. The BN might have continuously attacked but Anwar's leadership has also brought many unnecessary shocks to the Pakatan Rakyat, such as the September 16 regime change prophecy, the act of creating by-elections, the collective withdrawal of PKR members and the party election chaos. The originally excellent prospect has been turned into a crisis-ridden plight.

From another perspective, perhaps the sodomy trial and the sex video scandal are not necessarily bad for him as at least they can force him to focus more on leadership and wait for an opportunity to break the siege.

However, politics is realistic. He has missed the chance to hit Umno and let Umno occupy a favourable place.

If Anwar and the Pakatan Rakyat fail, it might be a threat to the hard-won two-party system. And if the two-party system collapses, it is definitely not a good thing for the country as without a strong alternative party to check and balance the BN, the executive power would expand and the country would deviate from the track.

Anwar and the Pakatan Rakyat have played an important role in positive changes in national politics over the past three years. I believe that history will evaluate them.

Why PR will not be able to get the Indian votes back

By Naragan

What the Indian voters rejected in GE12 was basically the Mandorist approach of UMNO. And they rejected it with some vehemence. Mandorist approach, to put it briefly, is about “powerless and deceitful representation”. MIC is the key Mandore of UMNO. And this is what the Indian voter rejected; UMNO and their Mandores. Lock stock and barrel.

Now compare - what is happening on PR’s side.

Many of the Indian PR reps got together in Penang last week for a retreat to brainstorm why the Indians were deserting PR, in spite of all the nonsense towards them from UMNO. Don’t have to go far. The outcome of the meeting itself tells of the reason. The net outcome was three feeble recommendations. Three bloody feeble recommendations – what a bloody shame! Have a liaison officer for Indian issues, get more involved in the Interlok issue and give more jobs in the States and local councils to Indians. What nonsense, this is. How can Pakatan get the Indian votes back with such utter nonsense - a basic strategy worse than the one just rejected by the Indian electorate in GE 12.

The PR reps who met should have been given the authority to come up with the right formula to address the core and chronic problems faced by the Indian poor in a true permanent problem solving manner and then to go out and implement their plan. Instead, they can only do what their Mandore counterparts from the other side do. Come up with some ridiculous recommendations.

If PR wants to regain the Indian support, then enough of this kind of nonsense - deal with the problems squarely. Simple, isn’t it. However it is my opinion that it is not in PR’s DNA to be able to do this. To me it is so self evident, but there seems to be a total blind spot on PR’s side.

The net of this is that in time all the Indian votes will desert PR. BN is not going to be the beneficiary of a PR desertion, though they may be hallucinating such. The third alternative, the Human Rights Party has no choice but to grow.

The Indian votes will line up behind the Human Rights Party, it is only a matter of time.

You cannot stop history.

USD$100 milion commission for RM4.1 billion submarines contract was paid by Malaysia and not France

This was what was reported in December 2006: Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin denied in Parliament yesterday that the government had paid USD$100 million commission for the RM4.1 billion deal to buy three submaries from a collaboration of French and Spanish warship builders – DCN International and Thales respectively. Today, that has been proven to be a lie. The Malaysian government DID pay the commission.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
First read this:
Then read what was reported in December 2006: 
Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin denied in Parliament yesterday that the government had paid USD$100 million commission for the RM4.1 billion deal to buy three submaries from a collaboration of French and Spanish warship builders – DCN International and Thales respectively.

The deal concluded in 2002 involved the construction of two Scorpene SSK-class submarines (to be delivered in 2009) and an overhauled French Agosta 70 submarine for training purposes.

The contract was signed by the Ministry of Defence with Amaris – a joint-venture company between DCN and Thales.

The issue however was not whether the USD$100 million was paid by the Malaysian government but whether there was such a commission by the French contractor as the commission would eventually be added to the final bill of the contract to be paid by the Malaysian taxpayers, and who are the real beneficiaries of the USD$100 million submarine commission.

The issue of the USD$100 million submarine commission when the submarine contract was concluded in 2002 and the central role played by Abdul Razak Baginda (central figure in the Mongolian model murder case) had been raised in the previous Parliament, but no satisfactory explanation had been given.

Far Eastern Economic Review of August 15, 2002, in an article “Wanna Buy a Sub?” traced the makings of the submarine deal, which had not been denied. According to the FEER article, the company Perimekar “will receive, over the next six years, 8% of the total contract value: about 288 million ringgit, and possibly more, as the euro, on which the contract is based, has appreciated 13% against the ringgit since the signing”.

The 2002 FEER report said that Perimekar was 100% owned by Ombak Laut, “a private company owned by associates of Abdul Razak. Ombak then sold 40% to LTAT and a sister company.”

Can Malaysians expect an answer as to who are the real beneficiaries of the USD100 million commission for the RM4.1 billion submarines deal?

Kematian Seorang Lagi Saksi SPRM: Selangor Tekad Lindungi Kakitangan

6 APRIL 2011

Kerajaan negeri amat kesal dengan berita kematian seorang lagi saksi Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) yang amat mencurigakan.

Amat mengejutkan bahawa tragedi ini boleh berulang lagi. Nampaknya SPRM tidak belajar langsung dari kes Teoh Beng Hock dan masih tidak bertanggungjawab atas keselamatan saksi dan tahanan mereka.

Takziah kepada keluarga Penolong Pengarah Kastam Pelabuhan Klang, Ahmad Sarbani Mohd, 56, dilaporkan dijumpai meninggal dunia dipercayai akibat jatuh bangunan SPRM di Jalan Cochrane, pagi ini.

Kini jelas kepada rakyat Malaysia bahawa tanpa ada keadilan yang sepatutnya dalam kes-kes seperti kematian Teoh Beng Hock, insiden-insiden tragis seperti ini akan terus berulang.

Tiadanya tindakan yang serius terhadap mereka yang bertanggungjawab atas kematian Teoh Beng Hock mengakibatkan pihak-pihak tertentu bertindak seakan-akan mereka kebal dari kuasa undang-undang.

Insiden ini juga menguatkan hasrat kerajaan negeri untuk melindungi setiap pegawai kerajaan negeri. Kami akan merayu sehingga peringkat Mahkamah Persekutuan perintah mahkamah tinggi yang membatalkan pekeliling kerajaan negeri yang menyatakan bahawa semua pegawai kerajaan negeri hanya boleh ditemuduga oleh SPRM pada waktu pejabat serta ditemani oleh peguam.

Arahan ini adalah amat wajar memandangkan dua kes kematian ini, dan kerajaan negeri akan memperjuangkan keselamatan pegawai kami tanpa berbelah bagi.

Kami harap kes ini adalah kes terakhir dan akan terus berusaha melindungi dan menjaga kepentingan semua rakyat Selangor dan Malaysia.


Malaysia's Carelessness over WMD

Port Klang: Big place to search.
Najib government needs a greater nonproliferation focus

On March 17, the Malaysian government reported that authorities at Port Klang had confiscated cargo suspected of being related to weapons of mass destruction which was headed from China to Iran aboard a Malaysia-flagged vessel.

Unfortunately, this story is but the latest account in a chilling narrative in which the Southeast Asian nation has been used as a transit point for illicit weapon trafficking. It is accordingly time for Kuala Lumpur to reassess and redefine its nonproliferation strategy. One key step in this direction would be for the administration of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to formally endorse the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative.

The latest cargo interception involved dismantled Chinese components suspected to be for use in the Iranian nuclear program. The Sun newspaper noted that police and customs officials had seized two containers of “equipment believed used to make weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear warhead.”

Ismail Omar, the Inspector General of national police, confirmed the suspicious cargo and said that the country's nuclear agency would be conducting an investigation. Meanwhile, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein acknowledged, “It is safe for me to say that Malaysia is likely being used as a transit point and not a destination point for WMD.”

The results of the government investigation could have serious implications for both Malaysia and the diplomacy over Iran's nuclear program. Iranian negotiations with the P5+1 parties have gained little traction in recent months, and the country is under several rounds of UN Security Council sanctions targeting its military and economy.

It is also important to focus on the point that reports suggest shipment of nuclear weapon components alongside sensitive dual-use technologies for use in uranium enrichment. In the past, Tehran was accused of experimenting with uranium deuteride neutron initiators for use in the physics package of a nuclear bomb, but no “smoking gun” ever surfaced. Short of such obvious technologies, Chinese firms may have shipped materials like carbon fiber and industrial vacuum tubes on the Malaysian vessel.

This is far from Kuala Lumpur's first experience with the WMD trade. Malaysia has come under constant criticism from western countries for its loose military export controls. In October 2003, the Italian coast guard interdicted a German-flagged ship carrying centrifuge components to Libya. It turned out that the Malaysian firm Scomi Precision Engineering, connected to then-Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's son, Kamaluddin Abdullah, had manufactured the parts for a front company connected to the AQ Khan nuclear smuggling network.

And in February 2010, the US State Department launched an investigation of Electronics Components Ltd and Skylife Worldwide. The probe concluded that these Malaysian firms were front companies that violated UN sanctions by attempting to provide technologies such as gyroscopes for missile guidance to Iran.

But in April 2010, the Najib government took steps to enhance its nonproliferation bona fides with its new Strategic Trade Act. Kuala Lumpur announced the approval of the bill the day before the Obama administration's Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. In praising the merits of the law, the premier said, “Malaysia is committed towards ensuring that nuclear materials and technologies do not fall into the wrong hands.”

The Strategic Trade Act is largely an attempt to codify Malaysian obligations under Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires states to take steps to prevent the proliferation of WMD and their associated components. The act put into place stricter procedures for licensing and regulating sensitive dual-use trade and the monitoring of ports. It also established harsh punishments for infractions.

Nevertheless, regulation efforts have hardly been sufficient. Because of its rapidly expanding economy and location between East Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Oceania, and the Indian subcontinent, Malaysia has long been an important waypoint and transshipment center. Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas are among the world's busiest seaports. Together they handle nearly 15 million freight containers annually. But national export controls are roughly a year old, cargo inspections have been spotty at best, and the Najib government has not requested foreign assistance to implement Resolution 1540.

One way to improve Malaysia's nonproliferation strategy and credibility would be for Kuala Lumpur to embrace the Proliferation Security Initiative. The PSI was unveiled by then-US President George W. Bush in Poland in May 2003. It is an international effort to interdict weapon smuggling activities in contravention of the nonproliferation regime and involves practices such as intelligence sharing, technical assistance to enhance detection, and ship boarding agreements.

Thus far, 97 countries have endorsed the PSI, including important parties in the battle against proliferation like Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.

Despite Malaysia's status as a critical transshipping center and hotbed for WMD trafficking, the government has distanced itself from the PSI. Kuala Lumpur has actually joined countries such as Brazil, China, Indonesia, and South Africa in rejecting the initiative. However, Malaysia has observed interdiction exercises in the past and does not seem opposed to the principles underlying the PSI. Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas are already participants in the US Customs and Border Protection Container Security Initiative, which involves the stationing of US customs authorities in Malaysia.

Najib has also acknowledged that outside of the PSI Malaysia has “some cooperation with ASEAN countries to share information and intercept ships carrying suspicious cargo.”

Malaysia's objections to formally endorsing the PSI revolve around concerns of maintaining a nonaligned foreign policy and respecting other states' sovereignty. But neither of these should be a serious obstacle to joining the PSI. Enforcing UN protocol and trying to stop WMD proliferation hardly violates either principle. In fact, by not making greater strides to crack down on front entities and smuggling through its ports, Kuala Lumpur would arguably be taking the side of suspected proliferators.

Furthermore, due to international law, the PSI respects national sovereignty by forbidding interdictions on the high seas without consent from the government of the vessel's home country. Even historically neutral states like Switzerland and Sweden, as well as numerous members of the Nonaligned Movement, have embraced the PSI.

Still, the PSI is no silver bullet for halting the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. It is true that more than 50 interdictions have been carried out under the auspices of the PSI, preventing the transfer of heavy water to Iran and North Korean exports of ballistic missile technology. But compliance is far from universal. And aside from ship boarding agreements, the PSI has no enforcement mechanism on the high seas. It's also limited by the strength of national cargo inspections and cannot technically require its participants to take action since it is an informal rather than legally binding agreement. There are signs pointing in the opposite direction, however, as countries continue to sign on and the Obama administration promised in its National Security Strategy to transform the PSI into a “durable international effort.”

The PSI is far from perfect, but it is a worthy endeavor. By remaining outside of its code of principles, intelligence sharing, ship boarding agreements, and implicit technical assistance provisions, Malaysia is casting aside an opportunity to secure its ports and prevent the proliferation of destructive weapons. It's time for the Najib administration to engage with international partners to prevent WMD trafficking, dismantle front networks, and enhance Kuala Lumpur's nonproliferation credibility.

Endorsement of the PSI could entail such benefits as the ability to inspect suspicious vessels flying the flags of partner countries, foreign aid in constructing and implementing effective inspection and export control regimes, and technical assistance with radiation detection and other vital security procedures. There's simply no rhyme or reason why the Malaysian government shouldn't be interested in these things.

Stephen Herzog is a visiting research associate at the Washington, DC-based Federation of American Scientists, where he focuses on nonproliferation issues. He is also associate editor of Bellum: A Project of the Stanford Review. The views here are his own.

Press Release: Government must halt deaths in custody and reform MACC now

ImageThe Malaysian Bar is appalled at the news of the death of Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed, a Customs Department officer, after he reportedly fell from the third floor of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (“MACC”) building in Kuala Lumpur.

It is shocking that another person has died in such tragic circumstances, which immediately bring to mind the death of Teoh Beng Hock, who was found on the fifth floor of the MACC’s Selangor headquarters in July 2009.  It appears that, despite the Teoh Beng Hock incident, MACC’s procedures involving the welfare and safety of witnesses and suspects have not changed.

MACC’s credibility already leaves much to be desired.  MACC officers are either negligent or reckless in fulfilling the duty of care that they owe to those called in for questioning.  The institution of Malaysia’s enforcement agencies (both the Customs Department and the MACC) is now tainted, and its integrity in grave doubt.

The Malaysian Bar calls for an immediate inquest into the incident, which was, in all likelihood, a death that occurred while Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed was in MACC’s custody.  Chapter XXXII of the Criminal Procedure Code requires that all custodial deaths be investigated by way of inquest.

Public confidence can only be restored, and justice seen to be done, if there is a high-level, independent, far-reaching and effective inquiry into the circumstances and cause of Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed’s death.  This incident is a matter of utmost public interest that warrants the highest level of priority.  Every death in custody must be thoroughly and impartially investigated.  Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed’s death must not be relegated to a mere statistic.

The Malaysian Bar also calls on the Government to conduct, by way of a Royal Commission of Enquiry, a concomitant review of MACC’s operations, interrogation and investigation techniques, and safety and other protocols. 

Recent inquiries into deaths of persons that occur whilst in the custody of, or in or around the premises of, law enforcement agencies, have resulted in “open” verdicts.  The Malaysian Bar thus calls on the Government to introduce a Coroner’s Act and establish a Coroner’s Court, and to conduct a comprehensive review of the manner in which inquiries into deaths are undertaken.

This incident is the latest in a deplorable string of deaths occurring in the context of investigations carried out by law enforcement agencies.  It must be the last. 

Our heartfelt condolences go out to Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed’s family and friends.

Lim Chee Wee
Malaysian Bar

Only BN Candidates Will Get Backing Of Federal Leaders - Muhyiddin

MUKAH (Sarawak), April 6 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin Wednesday made it very clear that only Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates will get one hundred per cent backing from Federal leaders in the April 16 Sarawak state election.

He said claims made by some non-BN candidates in the election that they had the backing of certain federal leaders were false and aimed at confusing voters.

"All the BN candidates have been endorsed by the prime minister himself. No other candidates are sponsored by us (BN)," he told reporters at Mukah airport before leaving for Kuala Lumpur.

Muhyiddin said this in commenting on claims made by Independent candidate Datuk Salleh Jafaruddin, who is a former Education Minister and cousin of Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, that he (Salleh) had received the blessings of federal leaders to take on Taib in the election.

Salleh and another candidate, Suriati Abdullah of PKR, are challenging Taib, who is also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president and Sarawak BN chairman, for the Balingian seat.

Muhyiddin said he believed Sarawak voters could not be easily duped by political desperados who should not even be contesting in the first place because they were doing so only for their self-interest and not to serve the people.

Although no BN candidate received a walkover when nominations closed Wednesday, Muhyiddin said the BN had no fear in facing its opponents no matter who they were.

"Nevertheless, we must not be complacent or underestimate the opponents," he said, adding that the BN would work very hard to win all 71 seats at stake.

Commenting on PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's statement that the Opposition would be satisfied if it could win at least 24 seats, Muhyiddin said: "That's his assumption."

"Before this they were hoping to topple the state government. What is important to me, how many seats they (Opposition) win is immaterial because it is the voters who will determine our fate," he said, adding that what was more important was not getting a moral victory but a clear mandate.

Asked how many seats the BN expected to win this time around, Muhyidin was only willing to say that the BN would do well but was not going to reveal its strategies.

On reported lacklustre support for the BN in Chinese majority seats, he said he hoped to get a more clearer signal of a swing back to the BN as campaigning gets underway.

Port Klang ...

A developing story at Port Klang customs….
Twitter pic by alaramkalai

“From what I hear, there appears to have been a work-to-rule in Port Klang over the last few days,” said Klang MP Charles Santiago, when contacted.
“Emotions seem to be running high there,” said a forwarding agent who overheard the hoo-ha over the phone when speaking to an associate at the scene.
The forwarding agent told me he was informed that forwarding “boys” are now gathering at Wisma Kastam in Port Klang. “I don’t think they are protesting against the Customs though. Many of them deal with the Customs officers and are sympathetic towards them.”
He said the MACC had conducted a series of raids on forwarding agents, shipping companies and the customs over the last week, and questioned their method of investigation.
Santiago meanwhile called for a public inquiry into the death of the Customs assistant director at the MACC premises this morning. “All the MACC officers involved in that investigation should be suspended pending the outcome of the inquiry,” he said.