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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fareed on a de facto partition of Libya

BN faltering on Taib factor

KUCHING, April 13 — With three days before polling, all is not well within the Barisan Nasional (BN) camp in Sarawak — and it is down to one man’s stubbornness.

BN officials on the campaign trail say that Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s reluctance to set an exit timetable, his unwillingness to accept that the ruling coalition is facing a tough challenge from the Opposition and reliance on people outside political circle, including a psychic, is a major headache in the home stretch before Saturday’s poll.

BN officials are particularly upset over Taib’s decision to refuse to accept that he has become a lightning rod for every negative about the ruling coalition in Sarawak.

“PM offering him a way out early was to help damage control and also give Taib the best way to set his own stage for standing down. But he has completely disregarded the interests of BN for his own interest,” a BN source told The Malaysian Insider, referring to Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s assurance of a quicker leadership change.

BN officials say there is no chance of losing the state but Taib’s continued stay will cost them more seats in the 71-seat assembly.

“He is not even campaigning effectively and with focus. This man’s reluctance to listen is going to hurt BN,” another source said.

Though BN officials are still confident that they will retain two-thirds control of the state, as many as 20 seats could fall to Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

In the 2006 state elections, the opposition only won seven seats.

A glowing performance by the Opposition could breathe new vigour into the coalition which has been stuttering of late and could scupper Najib’s plans to call for general elections this year.

Sarawak has long been seen as a very safe bet for BN because Taib has kept a tight rein on things and shut down any voices of dissent.

But disclosures over his family wealth and the effectiveness of the Internet and Radio Free Sarawak in raising questions about nepotism and cronyism has turned him into poisoned chalice this time around.

BN officials are also finding out that he has become their number 1 nemesis.

Taib has openly rebuffed the prime minister’s promise to step down quickly by citing the need to groom a successor despite being at the top for the past 30 years.

But the state’s longest-serving CM said last night he has a successor who has been groomed for the past two decades.

He did not name the person.

“Taib is looking for a safe passage out and wants a successor who can assure him that,” an Umno warlord told The Malaysian Insider.

“He also wants to put someone he can control just like Dr M when he picked Pak Lah,” the Umno man said, referring to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad choosing Tun Abdullah Badawi to succeed him as prime minister in 2003.

Deepak vs. RPK: Round 7

Let me admit to you that I did sign a false statutory declaration. Yes, I did. I signed a false statutory declaration. It was the second one, not the first one. The first one was entirely truthful. The second one was a complete pack of lies. I admit this.
Raja Petra Kamarudin

PI Bala's open letter to AG Gani Patail

Dear Tan Sri (Abdul Gani Patail),

My name is Balasubramaniam Perumal. I think you may have heard of me.

I was Abdul Razak Baginda's private investigator hired by him to protect him from his ex-girlfriend, Altantuya Shaaribu (deceased), sometime in 2006.

Remember you charged him for her murder but he got off. Instead, two of the prime minister's bodyguards got convicted. Stranger things have happened, I am sure you would agree.

But I digress. Let me come to the point.

I have been made to understand that you have decided to
close the case involving two statutory declarations I signed sometime at the beginning of July 2008 in Kuala Lumpur.

The contents of these statutory declarations were diametrically opposed. Both could not have been true and therefore one of them was false. I trust that makes sense to you.

The police, I believe, have investigated the circumstances surrounding the making of these two statutory declarations under section 199 of the Penal Code, for an offence which carries a sentence of three years' imprisonment and a fine. This is not a trivial offence.

The police must have interviewed my lawyer, Americk Sidhu, his secretary, the commissioner of oaths who attested my signature and a variety of other witnesses you have mentioned who were somehow intrinsically interwoven in the construction and affirmation of both statutory declarations, one way or another.

It has therefore come as a great surprise to me to discover that you have been unable to decipher any wrongdoing from the enormous amount of evidence the police must have been able to accumulate from their investigations.

Please permit me to assist you. Firstly, may I suggest that you re-open this file immediately. I will make it easy for you.

Let me admit to you that I did sign a false statutory declaration. Yes, I did. I signed a false statutory declaration. It was the second one, not the first one. The first one was entirely truthful. The second one was a complete pack of lies. I admit this.

This statutory declaration was prepared by some unknown person(s) and I was forced by very thinly veiled threats and intimidation to sign it. I have already made this known to the world at large and I am surprised your office has not picked this up as yet. Everyone else has.

If you are unable to ascertain this information which I have just provided to you directly, please feel free to contact me at this email address This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and I shall forward to you a copy of the video recorded interview I had in the presence of my lawyers in Singapore last November, and a copy of the transcript thereof.

Otherwise you can find this information on all the blogs worth reading (such as Raja Petra Kamarudin's Malaysia Today) and also on 'YouTube' (just type in 'PI Bala' into the search column and you will be surprised what comes up).

So you may now consider charging me for making the false second statutory declaration after the clues I have given you. I do however reserve the right to plead not guilty to the charge as I believe I have a very good defence.

Your prosecutors will also have to make sure they call all the necessary witnesses to prove their case against me. These witnesses will have to include the following personalities:

i) A lawyer named Arunampalam Mariam Pillai (who coincidentally does legal work for Deepak Jayakishan and Rosmah Mansor's personal companies).

ii) A commissioner of oaths (Zainal Abidin Muhayat) who works in the office of Zul Rafique and Partners (Advocates & Solicitors) and who attested my signature when he came to the room in which I was being held at the Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur.

iii) Deepak and Dinesh Jaikishan (very good friends and confidantes of Rosmah Mansor).

iv) Nazim Razak (younger brother of the prime minister), and his wife.

v) ASP Suresh (a suspended police officer formerly attached to the IPK headquarters in KL).

vi) Officers from the Immigration Department Damansara (who assisted in obtaining urgent passports for my family).

vii) A host of journalists and reporters who were present in the lobby of the Prince Hotel Kuala Lumpur when a lawyer called Arunampalam released my second statutory declaration without my permission.

These are just some of the witnesses I can think of but I am sure you know how to do your job so that should be not a problem. I don't want to be accused of trying to teach an old dog new tricks.

If for some strange reason my defence is called, I will also be able to provide witnesses to support what I have to say. I need not disclose who these witnesses are at this stage and I am sure you know that as well.

I shall now wait for the charge against me to be laid.

I will be more than happy to return to Malaysia to defend myself but you will have to ensure that my safety is guaranteed as there are some people who would prefer that I was not around.

Balasubramaniam Perumal  

Deepak to sue if RPK returns

(The Star) - Businessman Deepak Jaikishan says he will sue fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin if the latter returns to Malaysia.
The businessman in his 30s held a press conference yesterday to respond to a series of articles in Malaysia Today implicating him in private investigator P. Balasubramaniam’s controversial statutory declarations.
Raja Petra is better known as the founder and editor of the online news portal Malaysia Today.
Deepak said he would not hesitate to “hire the best lawyers” to take Raja Petra to court if he was back in the country.
“Otherwise, I will consider taking legal action against him in UK,” he said, adding he was also looking into lodging a police report.

How Bad Are Things in Cambodia?

ImageCambodia’s Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land by Joel Brinkley. Public Affairs. US$27.99. Available on Amazon.

Is Cambodia the worst place on earth?
It’s a contender. Per capita income is one-third of North Korea’s. Half of Cambodia’s children receive only two or three years of schooling. The irrigation systems are so poor that farmers manage only one harvest per year, while their counterparts in neighboring countries enjoy two to four.
These statistics only scratch the surface, according to former New York Times reporter Joel Brinkley. In his new book Cambodia’s Curse, Brinkley returns 29 years later to the country where he made his name – he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for coverage of post-war Cambodia for the Louisville Courier-Journal-- and he discovers how much has changed since the 1970s and how little has changed since the 1370s.
The majority of Cambodians live an agrarian life in the countryside cultivating rice or other foodstuffs or raising animals. A few engage in trades such as blacksmithing, tanning and cobbling, and these pre-modern terms are no accident. Outside the large cities, people live in much the same way as their ancestors did during the height of the Angkor civilization more than a thousand years ago. Actually, argues Brinkley, life for the average peasant may have been better then.
But Cambodia’s not the worst place if you have a government job. The village heads tend to have the nicest houses (which, in Khmer terms, often means a hut with a metal roof instead of straw), because medical and other humanitarian supplies entrusted to the village heads for general distribution are instead sold for profit. Teachers demand bribes from six-year-olds, and degrees are bought and sold. Patients seeking treatment at a government hospital better have money to slip to doctors or nurses if they want even the most rudimentary care.
Cambodia is also one of the most corrupt societies in the world. According to Brinkley, almost all legitimate tax revenues are stolen. The country operates on contributions from the international aid community, and much of that money is stolen as well.
Cambodia can be a very good place to live if you work for one of those NGOs, though. Brinkley’s most acerbic words are directed at foreign aid workers, people who keep financing unrealistic projects that line politicians’ pockets, all the while enjoying the lifestyle that comes with being a (relatively speaking) wealthy person in Phnom Penh.
“Year after year the foreign donors continued meeting with the smiling health minister who flattered, and coddled, them,” Brinkley writes in one example. “They reached agreements to begin new projects and then joined their friends or lovers at the new Greek place for dinner. After handing over the money to build a new health clinic, the deputy minister took out enough to pay his son’s school tuition bill. The assistant minister took enough to buy new tires for his car. His deputy simply stuffed some cash in his pocket. After all, government commerce was carried out entirely in cash. When the clinic was finally built, so little money was left that the contractor had to use cheap and flimsy building materials, raising the real risk that the structure would collapse in the next big storm.”
Cambodia is a great place for Prime Minister Hun Sen and top members of his ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Hun Sen’s house has a heliport on the roof. Deputy prime minister Sok An lives in a modest 60,000 square feet. When Chevron purchased the rights to explore for oil in 2002, the company paid an undisclosed amount to unidentified persons.
Mind you, Cambodia’s Curse is for the general reader, not for the expert. It’s a newsy one-volume account of Cambodian history from the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1978 to the present. It lacks the scholarly detail of Ben Kiernan’s works, but Brinkley’s a reporter, not a Yale historian. The principal drawback of the book is that it is overly American in its perspective and sourcing.
The question remains: Is Cambodia the worst place on earth?
Probably not. Life expectancies are far shorter in Zimbabwe (44 years as compared to Cambodia’s 61). The HIV infection rate among child-bearing South African women is about 30 percent, while less than 1 percent of Cambodians are infected. The Cambodian regime operates in a world of multi-national organizations and foundations, forcing Hun Sen to be more receptive to international pressure than isolated strongmen like Kim Jong-il or Than Shwe. And, unlike busybodies like Lee Kwan Yew, the Cambodian leaders don’t meddle in the personal details of their subjects’ lives; they’re too busy stealing.
So, no, Cambodia is not the worst place on earth. But sometimes, for some of its people, it must feel that way.
Paul Karl Lukacs is legal affairs correspondent for Asia Sentinel

Search on for missing lawyer

The Star

BUTTERWORTH: A search has been launched for a lawyer who fell off the Penang Bridge.

The search party, which included a marine police scuba diving unit, is scouring the sea for S. Thilagumaran, 25, who was believed to have fallen off the bridge at about 6am yesterday.

Thilagumaran’s Toyota Vios was found at a lay-by on the island-bound lane of the bridge.

Mechanic Siva Subramaniam, 45, said he saw a man sitting on the concrete railing of the bridge at about 5.45am while he was on the way to repair a car.

Thilagumaran, who works and lives in Kuala Lumpur, had returned to his hometown in Sungai Karangan near Kulim on Monday and stayed the night with his parents.

His father D. Suppramaniam, 58, said his son had left the house early yesterday to buy nasi kandar but did not return home.

Thilagumaran had called a sister who lives in Johor Baru to take care of their parents. He then switched off his mobile phone.

His brother-in-law S. Rajeskannan, 33, who is married to another sister, said the Johor Baru sister then called her parents to inform the family of the phone call.

Rajeskannan, who lives in Kulim, suspected that Thilagumaran could have gone to the island as he was told that Thilagumaran was on a working trip to Penang.

He said he drove to the island to check and found Thilagumaran’s car parked on the lay-by.

In defence of women’s rights

ImageThe Star

We have long been told that human rights has no place in religion, especially Islam, so it was an incredibly profound experience to listen to imams saying that it is crucial to defend human rights, especially women’s rights.

WHEN things are really miserable, what we need most is hope. Sometimes that comes by meeting people who behave in unexpected ways.

I have just returned from a meeting of human rights defenders organised by the Carter Centre and Emory University in Atlanta, USA. The theme this year was Of Heaven and Earth: Religion, Belief and Women’s Rights.

To say that it was an extraordinary meeting is to put it mildly.

The participants, from all over the world, were people who fight all sorts of human rights violations, especially of women’s rights.

There was a woman journalist from Jordan who had led a campaign against honour killings (the killing of women for allegedly dishonouring their family names, sometimes just by looking at a male stranger). The campaign was so successful that today, people can be jailed for a minimum of 10 years for it.

There were those fighting for justice for the women rape victims of soldiers during the war in the “Democratic” Republic of Congo and those who successfully made more than 40,000 villages in Senegal pledge to end the horrific custom of female genital cutting (FGC).

The most astonishing aspect of the conference for me was that so many of these human rights defenders were religious leaders, both Muslims and Christians.

When for so long we have been told that human rights has no place in religion, especially Islam, it was an incredibly profound experience to listen to imams saying that it is crucial to defend human rights, especially women’s rights because the violations are in fact un-Islamic.

I listened open-mouthed as Tostan, an NGO in Senegal, a mostly Muslim country, described how for many years they had worked to educate religious leaders, tribal chiefs and “cutters” themselves that FGC is not an Islamic practice, and that there is nowhere in the Quran that says it should be performed.

Village by village they went educating people but without judging their long-held beliefs and customs.

Tostan understood that people had been doing FGC for years simply because it was tradition.

They brought together chiefs from different villages, all Muslims, where some practised FGC and some did not, thereby disproving that it was Islamic.

I listened as Imam Cherif Diop described how human rights is not incompatible at all with Islam.

A custom like FGC only brings misery, ill-health and even death to young girls. Therefore it cannot be Islamic.

Oureye, a former cutter, an immensely dignified old lady, described how she had followed her grandmother’s and mother’s roles as cutters in the village.

“Although I did not go to school, I was always keen to learn,” she said.

So when she heard that Tostan was conducting programmes to educate people on health and human rights, she joined.

What she learned from the programme led her not only to abandon FGC, even though it meant a substantial loss of income but to also become one of the best educators against FGC.

When I listened to these wonderful people, I wondered which country was really more developed.

Senegal, where there was change for the better led by religious leaders, or Malaysia, where religious leaders have no interest in bettering our lives on earth, only supposedly for the afterlife.

Indeed, recently, despite there being no Quranic or health evidence for it, our National Fatwa Council passed a fatwa that made female circumcision a must for Muslim women.

In Malaysia, although it can be done in very sterile conditions, it remains an unnecessary procedure and meant to supposedly control female sexuality.

The chair of the conference was former US President Jimmy Carter who, with his wife, have made it their mission to defend human rights everywhere.

They have programmes, for instance, in Liberia that provide access to justice to victims of the recent civil war, especially women who have suffered rape, and children born of those rapes.

The couple are profoundly religious people in the Southern Baptist Christian tradition but see defending human rights as part of their duty as Christians.

A few years ago, they left the church they had attended all their lives because it had issued a statement that wives must always submit to their husbands.

To the Carters, this was a gross violation of women’s rights.

As the former president put it: “I support human rights because I am a Christian; I am a Christian because I support human rights.”

Similarly, Professor Abdullahi An-Naim, an Islamic scholar teaching at Emory University, who had once been a political prisoner in Sudan, stressed that “I support human rights because I am a Muslim; I am a Muslim because I support human rights”.

By that he meant universal human rights, not some special Muslim version of it.

When I read of what was happening at home, where both religious leaders and politicians treat women with such disdain, I wonder if perhaps I should move to Senegal instead.

At least there I can see change for the better.

Witness tells RCI he was beaten and kicked

The Sun

KUALA LUMPUR (April 12, 2011): Details of torture at the hands then-Anti Corruption Agency (ACA) Selangor officers resurfaced today in the testimony of 24-year old T. Sivanesan at the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) investigating Teoh Beng Hock’s July 16, 2009 death.

Questioned by conducting officer Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud, Sivanesan recounted his Sept 4 to Sept 9, 2008 detention at the ACA’s Selangor branch on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam, where Teoh was brought to by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on July 15, 2009.

Sivanesan had first revealed details of his 5-day detention in 2009 when he testified at the inquest into Teoh’s death.

Sivanesan said he was approached by ACA officers to assist in the “Ravi Chandran” case at their office, but when he arrived, he was told instead to confess and shown documents to sign, which he refused.

Asked by Awang Armadajaya, Sivanesan named the RCI’s 20th witness, Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus as one of his torturers.

“An officer named Ashraf hit me with a metal pole. He hit my back and my buttocks many times, hard,” said Sivanesan.

To another question, Sivanesan said he was ordered to strip to his underwear and then hit and kicked by five or six officers including Ashraf and a tall bespectacled officer.

Sivanesan also spoke of a second beating by 10 to 15 officers which also included Ashraf and the tall officer, whom he saw wrapping the L-shaped pole in newspapers.

Sivanesan spoke of further abuse by Ashraf, who sparked his anger when he uttered a racial slur.

“I became aggressive as I could not take it anymore, and he cuffed my feet and tied a yellow ACA towel over my eyes.

“Mohd Ashraf hit me with a cane on my genitals. He handed the wrapped iron rod to the tall officer with glasses and hit me with the cane on my private parts,” he added, recounting his first day at the ACA.

RCI chairman Tan Sri James Foong described this as worse than any torture he’d seen.

Foong had earlier cautionED Sivanesan to tell the truth and not play around, a statement echoed by Commissioner Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman as Sivanesan was smiling on the stand.

Sivanesan said he ultimately confessed on the third day of his detention when he was told his remand would be extended if he didn’t do so.

Replying to a question from Foong, Sivanesan said he was called by the ACA to their Klang office six to eight months after the incident and told that there was no evidence to charge him in court.

He added that he lodged complaints with the police, Suaram, Suhakam and the Public Complaints Bureau, and went on to say that he was able to identify officers at an identity parade.

Among the officers identified at the identity parade conducted this year were Hairul Ilham Hamzah and Ashraf.

In another testimony, MACC senior assistant superintendent Raymond Nion John Timban admitted he was unsure if it was Teoh he saw sleeping at the MACC offices.

He agreed with Bar Council lawyer Cheow Wee that he did not stop to see who was sleeping on the sofa when he passed the office of another officer, Nazri Ibrahim, but could identify that the person was Chinese.

“His skin was fair. I thought it was a Chinese,” said Raymond, who had earlier agreed with Cheow that he would be unable to say if Teoh was sleeping, had fainted or was dead.

Raymond admitted that he had never seen Teoh face-to-face, or spoken to him, testifying that he had previously seen two Chinese people at the MACC office.

He said one appeared to be in his mid-30s while the other, in his 50s.

Sibu's 'Ah Thai' Gears Up For Dudong Fight

By Linda Khoo

SIBU, April 13 (Bernama) -- Children and adults with special needs here are most fortunate because they have the Agape Centre to care for their needs.

The centre, housing five organisations - Children with Special Need, Lau King Howe Memorial Children Clinic, Methodist Care Centre, Sibu Autistic Association, Special Olympics Sibu - in Jalan Alan here, began its operations in 2006.

The Agape Centre was set up largely due to the generosity of one of the town's most illustrious philanthropist, Datuk Tiong Thai King, or Ah Thai to his friends.

Tiong, 66, is the youngest brother of Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King, one of the country's business tycoons known for his interests in media, property and timber.

It was reported that the younger Tiong, who is also the executive director of Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Group, contributed considerably to the construction of Agape Centre but he declined to disclose how much.

He has also declined to have the centre named after him, preferring the name Agape Centre, as a gift to the disadvantaged.

Tiong is the four-term Member of Parliament for Lanang since 1995 and well-liked especially by his rural voters for his generosity in sponsoring land, school sports and his regular visits to present them with minor rural projects.

The soft-spoken and very approachable Tiong is also Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) Chairman and Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) vice president.

But Tiong can be stern when the occasion demands it, said local political observer, Edward Wong.

On Saturday, Tiong takes on another fight, he is the party's candidate to defend the Dudong seat, replacing four-term incumbent and Assistant Minister of Housing and Public Health Datuk Dr Soon Choon Teck.

Dudong is one of the two state seats under the Lanang constituency, the other being Bukit Assek which was won by state DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng in 2006.

Tiong, from the Foochow clan, may face the wrath from Dr Soon's supporters who had expected the incumbent, a Hokkien, to be retained for the contest.

"I will do my best. My first task if elected as assemblyman is to request for more allocation to improve the basic amenities here and provide a better quality of life for the people," he told Bernama

Top on his priority list is to ensure that all the 150 longhouses and kampungs in Dudong constituency would be supplied with electricity and clean water.

"At present, there are only a few longhouses left without electricity and clean water supply. Road upgrading is also part of my plan to provide better connectivity in the constituency," he said.

The veteran politician said he would never underestimate his rival, lawyer Yap Hoi Liong, 39, although the latter is a first-timer.

"I'm confident that the voters here are mature in making a wise choice this coming Saturday to determine the Chinese community's political future. They must have faith in BN based on its excellent track record in Dudong.

"BN's aspiration is to serve the people based on the 1Malaysia spirit.

The opposition are only creating lies. So, don't be fooled by their lip service," he said.

Dudong is a constituency of 26,251 voters.

Live - Report from Sarawak

Coming to you live from Kuching.

Hosni Mubarak hospitalised

Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president, has been hospitalised at the Red Sea port of Sharm el-Sheikh, where he has been staying since he was ousted from power by a popular uprising on February 11.

Mubarak was taken to hospital on Tuesday after suffering a "heart crisis" when he was being questioned during an investigation, state television reported.

It did not give further details about the 82-year-old's health or about the investigation.

"He has been under house arrest in Sharm el-Sheikh ever since he was ousted from power. We are still not sure of what condition he is in, but the former president has been complaining that he's been unwell for some time now," reported Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Cairo.

Egyptian security officials told the Associated Press news agency that Mubarak arrived under heavy police protection at the hospital, which was being picketed by pro-democracy activists.

Mubarak has kept a low profile since he stepped down from the presidency, but released an audio message earlier this week saying that he would cooperate fully with the prosecutor-general's investigations into allegations of corruption committed by his himself and family members.

Mubarak had been expected to be questioned by investigators for the first time on Tuesday in connection with corruption allegations and violence against protesters during the uprising.

The public prosecutor issued the summons on Sunday.

Mubarak's sons Alaa and Gamal have also been summoned for questioning.

"He was supposed to travel to Cairo to be questioned about his wealth, about his assets, by the prosecutor-general here, but he said that he was unable to travel. Now whether or not its a coincidence that he falls ill just days after the prosecutor-general decided to summon him as well as his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, for questioning about their wealth and their assets ... in fact, at this hour, ministry of justice officials are questioning his sons," Khodr reported.

"Now this has been a demand of the pro-democracy protesters here in Egypt for the prosecution of the president, as well as high-ranking members of the former regime, in order to hold them accountable for what they believe was the amassing of billions of dollars of wealth."

Activists sceptical

Mubarak also has a history of illnesses, and while in power would routinely travel to Germany for check-ups. The former president had suffered from a number of health problems and had undergone gallbladder surgery in the days leading up to the end of his rule.

"Definitely this news will not be welcomed by pro-democracy protesters, this is what many of them actually feared, that the president will not be tried, will not be held accountable for his actions over recent decades. And definitely, a lot of them will be sceptical - they will wonder whether or not he is really sick," Khodr said.

She said that many pro-democracy activists were "ridiculing" Mubarak's hospitalisation, and were of the opinion that the timing of his admission to hospital was not coincidental.

"I feel that I'm watching a ridiculous soap opera that has been dragging on now, and directed by the miltiary junta, for more than two months," Hossam el-Hamalawry, an Egyptian pro-democracy activist, told Al Jazeera.

"I think the demands of the revolutionaries and the millions of Egyptians who took to the streets since the start of the uprising has been to put Hosni Mubarak on trial. Not just for financial corruption ... but for the murder of protesters and for treason," he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Virtual war over Alkitab as polling day looms

KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 – The tug-of-war over the Alkitab has moved on to cyberspace as the race to win the crucial Christian vote heats up in Sarawak ahead of state polls on Saturday.

A string of partisan text messages targeting Christian voters has been making the rounds within the state in what appears to be a last-ditched bid to swing votes in favour of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) or Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties.

The Borneo state is home to Malaysia’s largest Christian population where an estimated one in two voters is Christian.

Some of the messages have also managed to cross the South China Sea to the peninsula, where more than 200,000 Sarawakians have settled down to further their studies and work.

One such message The Malaysian Insider received today read: “In Sabah and Sarawak, under BN, Christians can worship freely, can print and import Bibles without restrictions whatsoever. No stamps, no serial numbers. Opposition are spreading all sorts of rumours and lies. Pls forward to 5 fellow Christians, in the name of Jesus!”

The Christian who forwarded the message said it was referring to the Cabinet’s 10-point formula to resolve outstanding issues that have plagued the religious community for the past 30 years.

The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said it showed an attempt by interested parties to subvert the Christian dilemma centred on the use of “Allah”, the Arabic word for God.

A counter message has also popped up online questioning the validity of the 10-point formula, this time in the national language.

“Kenapa 10 perkara cadangan kerajaan berkenaan isu alkitab tidak meyelesaikan isu penggunaan isu ALLAH?

“Kerana semua arahan berikut masih berkuatkuasa. 1. Tegahan alkitab di bawah Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri 1960 sbb ia memudaratkan kepentingan & keselamatan Negeri. 2. Larangan perkataan Allah dalam semua penerbitan Kristian. Alasan untuk jaga ketenteraman awam & mengelak salahfaham antara orang Islam & Kristian. Surat dari Bahagian Kawalan Kementerian Dlm Negeri Perkeliling 5/12/86. 3. Larangan pengimpotan alkitab/penerbitan buku2 Kristian. Garispanduan Bahagian Kawalan Penerbitan &Teks Al Quran. JUSTERU, ALKITAB MASIH DILARANG KERANA PERKATAAN ALLAH, 10 perkara hanyalah untuk memancing undi semasa Pilahan Raya Umum Sarawak.”

[In English, it reads: “Why the 10-point government proposal on the Alkitab does not resolve the use of the word ‘Allah’?

“Because all the following orders are still in force. 1. The Alkitab is banned under the Internal Security Act 1960 because it threatens public interest and national security. 2. The word ‘Allah’ is prohibited from use in all Christian publication. The excuse is to protect public order and prevent confusion between the Muslims and Christians. A letter from the Home Ministry’s (Publication) Control division dated December 5, 1986. 3. A ban on the import of the Alkitab/Christian books. Guideline from the Publication Control and Al-Quran Text division. Therefore, the Alkitab is still barred because of the word ‘Allah’, the 10-point is vote-bait for the Sarawak elections.”]

The Star newspaper also reported today another text message circulating in Bintulu and Sarikei since Sunday urging voters to cast protest ballots against the BN, which Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Dr Mashitah Ibrahim denounced for being seditious.

“Vote against BN is a vote for Jesus. BN is an anti-Christ agent. Christians are being discriminated and rights in Constitution denied. Don’t vote for BN. If you are a true Christian, send this message to 8 other Christians,” the English daily reported, citing the message.

Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who met with church leaders in Kuching earlier today , has brushed off reports of chain SMSes being spread among the Christian community urging them to vote against the BN.

“Have they got the authority from Jesus to say that?” he replied when questioned by reporters after the meeting with the Association of Churches in Sarawak.

Several church leaders appeared ignorant of the SMS fight when contacted by The Malaysian Insider for comment today.

“We have no personal knowledge of this. Sorry,” the Catholic Church’s spokesman, Father Michael Chua, said in a text message.

But Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) secretary-general, Rev Dr Hermen Shastri, remarked that churches are non-partisan and will never tell its congregation how or who to vote.

“We don’t take a partisan stand. We don’t support this party or that but we hold all parties to be responsible for responsible governance.

“In Christian tradition, Christians are asked to vote responsibly according to their conscience and they should take it upon themselves to check out their candidates,” he said, adding that the messages could have originated from individuals with strong opinions of their own and was not a reflection of the church.

Shastri also said the text messages being circulated telling voters who to cast their ballot for was not new and had been employed in past election campaigns

“This thing about SMS, it’s nothing new. It’s happened before. SMS is now the medium. This is the new world. Communications is much faster,” he said.

The senior clergyman poured water on Mashitah’s effort to rein in the text messages by getting the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to investigate its origins.

“There’s no way the government can control this. The only way to check this is for the people to make a new government that’s more responsible and accountable,” Shastri said, pointing to the revolutions in the Middle East that started because reports of government abuses went viral.

Dr Ng Kam Weng of the Kairos Research Centre in Petaling Jaya said the government’s decision to take their 10-point formula public by broadcasting it through the media rather than through quiet diplomacy gave the impression it is not interested in negotiations.

The head of the Christian think tank debunked views that Christians are now “playing politics”.

“So what comes across is political posturing. There’s no room for negotiation. That’s why the various Christian groups will respond publicly as well,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this does no one any good,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

PKR Indian leaders eyeing 25 seats

They have set their sights on seven parliamentary and 18 state seats. The leaders also dismiss talk that they are 'asking for too much'.

PETALING JAYA: PKR Indian leaders are eyeing seven parliamentary and 18 state seats in the next general election, party sources said.

FMT also learnt that party supremo Anwar Ibrahim, concerned with the decline of Indian support, had instructed a “special Indian team” to do the groundwork to identify suitable seats for PKR’s Indian candidates.

According to sources, the seats identified were Padang Serai (Kedah), Tapah (Perak), Kapar, Subang, Hulu Selangor (Selangor), Bentong (Pahang) and Teluk Kemang (Negri Sembilan).

Most of these seats were traditionally contested by MIC, under the Barisan Nasional (BN) banner.

As for state seats, the focus was on Lunas and Bukit Selambau (Kedah), Batu Uban (Pulau Pinang), Tualang Sekah, Behrang, Hutan Melintang and Chenderiang (Perak), Batu Caves, Seri Andalas, Bukit Melawati and Seri Serdang (Selangor), Port Dickson, Rantau and Jeram Padang (Negri Sembilan), Gadik (Malacca), Tiram, Puteri Wangsa and Tanjung Puteri (Johor).

Selangor, with 14% of its voters being Indians, was the main focus.

Sources said that the final decision on the candidates would only be decided by PKR’s supreme council.

“But we are confident that the supreme council will allow us to contest the seats which we have proposed,” said a PKR Indian leader who wished to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile in Kedah, the party’s Indian leaders were confident of wresting the Padang Serai seat from former PKR strongman N Gobalakrishnan. The incumbent quit PKR early this year to become a BN-friendly independent MP.

As for Penang, PKR Indian leaders acknowleged that the state was DAP territory.

“We have little opportunity of contesting in Penang. The only seat we can contest is Batu Uban,” said a source.

In the 2008 general election, PKR’s S Raveenthran defeated BN’s Goh Kheng Sneah with a slim margin to capture the Batu Uban seat.

Meanwhile, PKR Indian leaders also brushed aside talk that they were “asking for too much” in terms of seat allocations.

“What we are proposing is reasonable,” argued one of them.

“We will be happy to get the seats we have requested. We will rival MIC. MIC will contest nine parliamentary and 18 state constituencies under BN. We have to ensure that there is enough Indian representation in these states.”

Asked if the party had winnable Indian candidates, he said the party was currently “searching for good candidates”, saying that 70% of the party’s Indian candidates would be fresh faces.

‘Last man to see Teoh alive’ tweaks his story

MACC officer Raymond Nion says the man he saw lying on a couch might have been sleeping, unconscious or dead

KUALA LUMPUR: Teoh Beng Hock might already have been dead when an officer saw him on a couch in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office on the morning of July 16, 2009, the royal commission investigating the death heard today.

Selangor MACC assistant enforcement officer Raymond Nion anak John Timban said he could not tell if the person he saw was sleeping, unconscious or dead.

According to earlier testimony, Raymond was probably the last person to see Teoh alive

Responding to questions from Bar Council lawyer Cheow Wee this morning, he said he could not even be sure the person he saw lying on the couch was in fact Teoh.

However, denied that his testimony about seeing Teoh was a “mere fabrication”.

“I put it to you that you were actually unsure whether it was Teoh,” said Cheow. “The area was dark and you could not actually be sure of the figure you saw.”

“More or less,” replied Raymond.

Raymond said he walked pass the couch at 6am and did not stop to scrutinise the features of the man who was lying down there with an arm over his forehead.

Cheow: Could you see whether his eyes were rolled up? You wouldn’t know whether he was asleep, fainted or even dead.

Raymond agreed with Cheow.

He testified earlier that he had seen Teoh briefly only once before, at 12am at a resting area for officers. He added that he had also seen a black and white photo of Teoh shown to him by Selangor MACC Head of Investigations Hairul Ilham Hamzah.

Cheow suggested that MACC had chosen Raymond as its best “time marker” because he was not directly involved in the investigations involving Teoh. But Raymond disagreed.

Cheow: So after you went back and discussed with other officers and your superiors, you’re suddenly so sure that it was Teoh you saw at the couch.

Raymond: Yes. More or less.

Cheow: In your statement given to the police, you said you returned to the office (after Teoh’s body was discovered) so that you could make sure if you had really seen the victim.

Raymond: Yes.

Cheow: I suggest to you that you did not know it was Teoh at all, and you merely saw a black and white photo of him previously and briefly saw his face.

Raymond: Mungkinlah (Maybe)

Cheow: You were more sure after you discussed with other officers.

Raymond: Yes.

Cheow: I suggest to you that you were relaxed after that, even playing computer games, because you already knew exactly what you wanted to say to the police.

Raymond: Yes.

Punched out for a minute

Cheow also grilled Raymond about his punch card, which indicated that he left the office at 6.04am and returned at 6.05am.

He explained that he punched in and out within a minute because he had to go to court and wanted to do so straightaway.

However, Cheow suggested that he did it to lend credence to his story about being the last to see Teoh.

When questioned by MACC’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Raymond said he had discussed Teoh with the investigating officers not to “create a story” but “just to make sure”.

When asked how he could tell that the Chinese person who was found dead was the same one he saw on the couch, Raymond said it was because Teoh was the youngest looking witness who was at the MACC on the night of July 15, 2009.

Teoh, who was political aide to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead the next morning on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam. He had been interrogated the night before by MACC officers at their office, located on the 14th floor of the same building.

On Jan 5 this year, coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas returned an open verdict after an inquest, ruling out both suicide and homicide.

Subsequently, the government caved in to public pressure and established the commission now sitting. It is investigating both the cause of Teoh’s death and MACC’s interrogation methods. The inquiry is scheduled to end on April 25.

Torture victim

Meanwhile, in the afternoon session, former MACC suspect and “torture victim” T Sivanesan was grilled by Shafee on his testimony.

Shafee requested that handcuffs be brought in and asked Sivanesan to demonstrate how he, with his large body size, could have switched his handcuffs from behind the back to the front.

When Sivanesan squatted on the floor and failed to loop his hands under his legs without separating his hands, Shafee asked why he could not do it.

“You must understand the cuffs that tied my hands together had long chains,” Sivanesan said.

He told the commission that the chains were about two feet long and were linked to the other handcuffs too.

Shafee also queried Sivanesan about a police report he had lodged against a superior in Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd (KSSB) for intimidation, but the Sivanesan said he has been advised not to reveal information as the case was under investigation by the police as well as the MACC.

Sivanesan, 24, was a marketing officer with KSSB.

When questioned by the commissioners, Shafee said the issue was relevant.

“This witness is not only a witness for the inquest but a witness for an ongoing investigation against several Selangor state assemblymen and because KSSB made headlines for alleged corruption in sand mining. We want to know if Sivanesan got into KSSB as a reward?”

Commissioner T Selventhiranathan then asked Shafee: “Are you saying it was self-inflicted?”

Racial slurs

Earlier, Sivanesan recalled the alleged torture he suffered at the hands of the Selangor anti-graft officers.

He said that he was repeatedly assaulted when he was being forced to confess to an alleged bribery while in MACC custody between Sept 4 and 8, 2008, about 10 months before Teoh’s death.

During his detention, he alleged that several officers slapped and kicked him with an L-shaped metal rod wrapped in newspapers. His private parts were also caned.

He also claimed that he was handcuffed on both his hands and feet, ordered to strip to his undergarments, blindfolded and had woken up twice with a bag of ice in his underwear.

Sivanesan also claimed the officers also used racial slurs and expletives when they scolded him and also told him: “‘Say the truth or this place will be your hell.’”

He said MACC dropped his case six months later, citing insufficient evidence.

Ibrahim Ali kepada Husam: Desak Nik Aziz berhenti

Dulu MB Kelantan kata kalau Tun Dr Mahathir berhenti, dia juga akan berhenti dan masa sudah hampir lapan tahun berlaku.

PETALING JAYA: Ahli Parlimen Bebas Pasir Mas, Ibrahim Ali menempelak exco kerajaan Kelantan, Datuk Husam Musa yang mendesak Perdana Menteri menamakan pengganti Ketua Menteri Sarawak, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Sebaliknya, Ibrahim yang juga Presiden Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) itu, mendesak Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat berhenti dari jawatan Menteri Besar Kelantan kerana selalu sakit dan menamakan penggantinya.

“Sibuk dengan rumah tangga orang, rumah tangga sendiri bocor tidak sedar. Kuman seberang laut nampak, kepala kereta api depan mata tak nampak.

“Dulu MB Kelantan kata kalau Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) berhenti, dia juga akan berhenti dan masa sudah hampir lapan tahun berlaku,” katanya dalam kenyataan media hari ini.

Ibrahim berkata, beliau menyokong Husam sebagai menteri besar bagi menggantikan Nik Aziz dan percaya banyak isu yang boleh diselesaikan.

Katanya, isu air, Bazar Tok Guru yang dikatakan rugi RM50 juta dan
pembinaan pasar baru Pasir Mas boleh diselesaikan oleh Husam.

Menurutnya, pemimpin PAS dan kerajaan Kelantan perlu menumpukan kepada kebajikan rakyat dan pembangunan negeri agar wujud lebih banyak peluang pekerjaan.

“Lebih baik begitu dari berceramah siang malam, berkokok sana sini, berapa lama nak main isu rakyat serta berselindung di sebalik Islam,” tambahnya.

Ibrahim berkata, desakan Husam supaya Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak menamakan pengganti Taib merupakan satu desakan yang amat lucu dan nakal.

“Siapa ganti itu hak BN, yang kamu sibuk kenapa? Apakah kena dapat kelulusan (daripada) PAS?,” soal beliau.

Husam dilaporkan mendesak Perdana Menteri menamakan pengganti Taib dalam satu majlis anjuran Pakatan Rakyat di Kuching malam tadi.

‘Yap Ah Loy memang pengasas Kuala Lumpur’

Kita tidak boleh menolak kebenaran sejarah bahawa Ah Loy bertanggungjawab membina semula KL selepas perang saudara di Selangor, kata Dr Ranjit.

PETALING JAYA: Tokoh sejarawan Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi terkejut dengan kenyataan Profesor Dr Ramlah Adam yang menyatakan bahawa masyarakat bukan Melayu yang datang ke Malaysia hanya menyumbang sebagai ‘pelabur atau kuli.’

“Semua ahli sejarah mengakui bahawa Yap Ah Loy ialah pengasas Kuala Lumpur. Kita tidak boleh menolak kebenaran sejarah bahawa Ah Loy bertanggungjawab membina semula Kuala Lumpur selepas perang saudara di Selangor,” katanya. Beliau turut memetik tulisan J Kennedy di dalam buku A History of Malaya.

“Ah Loy merupakan penguasa sebenar bandar ini sehingga kedatangan Residen British ke Kuala Lumpur dalam tahun 1880.”

Menurut Ranjit, Kennedy menulis bahawa Yap Ah Loy juga melakukan usaha terbaik untuk membangunkan bandar yang ditakdirkan menjadi ibu negara Malaya. Pandangan ini disokong sejarawan lain seperti Margaret Shennan, J M Gullick, B W Andaya dan L W Andaya.

“Menurut B W Andaya dan L W Andaya, Kuala Lumpur dalam tahun 1891 mempunyai jumlah penduduk seramai 43,786 dan 79% terdiri daripada masyarakat Cina,” kata Ranjit.

Beliau turut menuduh Ramlah, yang juga seorang sejarawan, berbohong apabila menyatakan bahawa dia (Ranjit) telah menerima bayaran untuk menyemak sukatan pelajaran.

“Saya hanya dilantik sebagai pakar rujuk untuk menyemak buku teks sejarah bertujuan untuk mengelak kesilapan fakta,” kata Ranjit di dalam satu kenyataan yang diterbitkan pertubuhan bukan kerajaan, CPI-Asia semalam.

Berat sebelah dan prejudis

“Saya juga tidak terlibat dalam tugas menyemak sukatan pelajaran Sejarah sekarang yang berat sebelah dan prejudis.”

Beliau menjelaskan bahawa beliau bertugas secara sukarela dan hanya diberikan bayaran honorarium.

Justeru itu, beliau mahu Ramlah memohon maaf kerana kenyataannya yang bersifat fitnah.

Ranjit mengulas kenyataan Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) yang mempertahankan sukatan mata sejarah tingkatan empat dan lima sebagai benar.

Ramlah, yang juga ahli Majlis Kepimpinan Perkasa pada hari Ahad lalu menyatakan bahawa masyarakat bukan Melayu gagal memahami sejarah Malaysia.

Seterusnya contoh Yap Ah Loy yang diperkatakan Ranjit turut dibidas Ramlah. Beliau dilaporkan berkata: “Ranjit bercakap mengenai Yap Ah Loy yang tidak diiktiraf…..dia tidak mengasaskan Kuala Lumpur. Oleh itu namanya tidak disebut.”

“Orang bukan Melayu datang ke negara ini dan menyumbang sebagai pelabur dan kuli,” tambah Dr Ramlah.

Beliau turut mendakwa bahawa Ranjit diundang oleh pihak kerajaan bersama Tan Sri Profesor Dr Khoo Kay Kim untuk menyemak sukatan.

“Beliau menandatangani dan menerima bayaran untuk khidmatnya. Dia tidak mengadu ketika itu.”

Pada hari Sabtu lepas, Ranjit menyatakan bahawa sukatan pelajaran sejarah sekolah menengah bersifat terlalu Islam dan berpusat kepada masyarakat Melayu.

“Lima daripada 10 bab sejarah tingkatan empat adalah kaitan dengan sejarah Islam sedangkan dalam sukatan sebelum ini, hanya ada satu. Ranjit berkata kepada media pada hari tersebut.

Beliau yang juga bekas penulis buku teks sejarah sehingga tahun 1996 menambah bahawa sumbangan masyarakat India dan Cina dalam proses pembangunan negara telah dipinggirkan dalam buku teks sejarah.

“Contohnya, sumbangan pemimpin seperti Yap Ah Loy ketika mengasaskan Kuala Lumpur,” katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian dalam sesi perbincangan anjuran Persatuan Guru Katolik di Gereja Assumption berhampiran Hospital Assunta dekat sini Sabtu lalu.

New hospital pledge stinks of ‘political opportunism’

A new hospital with 108 beds which has been promised to Sri Aman voters is simply 'adding insult to injury' according to opposition candidate Leon Donald.

KUCHING: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s announcement of a RM200 million new hospital for Sri Aman has come under scathing attack from the opposition for being 15 years too late.

Describing the announcement as a “despicable act of pure political opportunism”, DAP’s Simanggang candidate Leon Donald said Najib had simply brushed aside the “the suffering and needless loss of human live” over the past 15 years as a result of Barisan Nasional’s neglect.

“This is a clear proof that BN will not change the politics of corruption and vote-buying through election goodies. It’s what they have been practising for 40 years.

“The PM alongside Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai and SUPP candidate Francis Harden Hollis have further added insult to injury (with this announcement),” Donald said.

Najib announced yesterday that a new site had been identified and ground work would begin later this year.

“After being informed of the troubles faced by the people of Sri Aman, I am glad to announce a new RM200 million hospital that can accommodate 108 beds, which will start construction this year, ” he said. The new hospital is scheduled to be ready in 2013.

He also said that at least two specialists would be seconded to the current hospital. Presently serious cases are sent to the Sarawak General Hospital which is four hours away in Kuching.

Who’s handling contract?

Donald also challenged the BN government to declare the details of the site for the new hospital, on when exactly construction will begin and who the contractor was for project.

“Will this be another project that will benefit the cronies and proxy companies of (Chief Minister) Taib Mahmud and his minions?

“Without any specific plans laid out, what is the guarantee that the proposed project will not suffer cost overruns or bad management, as was the case in the past?” he asked.

He also slammed the PM and the Health Ministry for saying that it would station specialists at the hospital.

“This (secondment of specialists) is precisely the kind of move that has failed in the past 15 years.

“Local sources have stated that due to the dilapidated conditions and the lack of equipment at the hospital, specialist doctors have not been able to perform effectively.

Lack of basic equipment

He added that the only specialist who has served the hospital in the past was a foreign doctor who performed so badly that his services were discontinued.

“The PM does not understand that it is precisely because of lack of basic equipment, such as CT Scans, that is the cause of good specialist doctors not wanting to be stationed here.

“Can the PM guarantee all Sri Aman citizens that this proposal of placing one or two specialist doctors in the hospital ensure that all patients will receive safe and professional medical treatment, while waiting for the completion of the hospital in 2013, if the construction begins at all?” asked Donald.

Donald is among 213 candidates contesting in 71 constituencies across Sarawak in the 10th state election on April 16. In Simanggang, Donald will be facing incumbent Hollis in a straight fight.