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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Is there quality in our life?

Our writer laments the passing of the good old days and wonders whether the quality of governance is to blame.
For some time now, economists have become comfortable with catchwords that we once associated with the speech of psychologists. Even as they speak about money, profits and balance sheets, they no longer blush when they mention such things as emotional well-being, self-esteem and spiritual vitality.

And Malaysian politicians and technocrats have caught up fast in using these jargons. They are no longer talking about “standards of living” or “costs of living”, but rather the “quality of life”, as if it means anything to the poor Malaysian wage earner struggling to provide his family with three square meals.

Malaysia’s good old days are really not that old. Middle-aged Malaysians can still remember when you could have coffee with a friend for 20 cents. (We used dollars and cents then.) And if you had an extra 50 cents in your pocket, you could each have a roti canai or a bowl of mee or kuay teow. Your bus fare probably cost you 5 or 10 cents, and you could talk forever on the phone for 10 cents if it was a local call. If you earned around $500 a month, you could own a car.

In short, life used to be good. There was quality in it.

Today, an urban family earning a household income of RM3,000 a month would be lucky to survive the costs of food, utilities and transport. Try shopping with RM50 and see what you can take home to your family.
And now rumours are bouncing around that another round of price increases is in the offing.
Meanwhile, the issue of minimum wage is still in the dock.

Serious problem
Nothing has probably changed since the 2007 survey that showed that more than 57.8% of Malaysian households earned less than RM3,000 and 70.7% earned less than RM4,000.

Many villages in Sabah and Sarawak are still not connected by road and more than a quarter of households there do not have electricity. Furthermore, at least 50,000 families in the state are in need of new or restored houses.

In urban areas such as the Klang Valley, public transport remains a serious problem. Infrastructural coordination is poor and “networking” exists only in our dreams.
Municipal councils seem to be blind to the serious shortage of car parks, a shortage that takes its toll on housing estates and shopping centres and turns even the well-bred into inconsiderate motorists who have made a habit of double and even triple parking.

The rat population is increasing at an alarming rate in residential areas as night markets and hawker stalls sprout up everywhere and uncollected garbage pile up into mountains.

Quality sleep
Highways and expressways that cut across residential areas are causing so much noise that we can only daydream about having quality sleep.

It was once said that in Malaysia, as elsewhere in Asia, the affluent tend to surround themselves with comforts befitting their status, shutting out the plight of the less fortunate around them.

But times have changed. There are problems everyone suffers, regardless of income. The decaying environment, traffic congestion and rising crime rates make life lousy even if you are rich. Bad governance and inept public administration affects everyone.

In 2005, Malaysia was ranked 36th in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Quality of Life Index. By 2010, we had fallen to the 85th position.

If the quality of our life is not improving, should we change our lifestyle to suit our economic position or should we change the ruling regime? Perhaps Malaysians should be thinking instead of the quality of the government that they want.

Stanley Koh is a former head of research with MCA. He is now an FMT columnist.

Najib’s biggest hurdles after Sarawak

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak must face the reality of Chinese support in the country.

The two biggest questions for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak after the Sarawak election are how to expedite the departure of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and how to arrest the decline in Chinese support.

The fact is the Barisan Nasional (BN) cannot govern alone.

It needs the support of the Chinese communities. The Chinese control the economy.

The Chinese control most of the urban areas. And also because this country needs to operate less on ethnic grounds than it does on practical matters.

Even before the Sarawak election Najib, who must have been urged along by his advisers and some politicians, was demanding that Taib moves on.

Taib has been at the helm of Sarawk for 30 years. Allegations abound over his involvement in corruption, nepotism and in his generally kleptocratic government.

These allegations have remained, by and large, undefended.

One can always say that what he does and did to Sarawak are nothing less than what other politicians did and do in the peninsula.

Still that doesn’t excuse Taib from doing what he is doing. Further wrongs do not make right.

In any case, why should Taib retire?

Rumours awash

His candidates have won all the 35 seats his PBB contested.

SUPP, and the others didn’t. SNAP which was hastily resurrected, some say, with aid of BN parties did not win at all.

And Balingian independent candidate Salleh Jaffaradin is a mystery.

In Kuala Lumpur, everyone knows that he is a man of straw. Salleh was supposed to have been included in the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) line-up, probably as an insurance candidate to eventually replace Taib as the titular chief minister.

Rumours are awash in KL that Salleh got some millions to contest in Sarawak.

On nomination day, Salleh’s name was nowhere to be seen on the PBB list. Taib must have sensed or knew that something was cooking.

Salleh’s name was ditched. So what to do with the money? Salleh contested as a candidate.

He must have known as an independent candidate against Taib, he stood no chance.

The fact there were suggestions that some unseen political hands were supporting Salleh, helped Taib to remove a minor threat, to his continued rule, which if he hadn’t recognised, would have turned into a big headache.

Taib knew that maybe Kuala Lumpur was behind Salleh.

Rushed swearing-in

Perhaps this was the reason Taib rushed his swearing in as CM. He was fearful that some extraordinary means would be employed to replace him as CM.

Now you tell me! Will a person who rushed his own swearing in as CM, indicating that he wants to stay put, go off in two to three years?

The problem now stays with the BN chairman Najib.

He has promised the people of Sarawak that Taib will go off soon. On the contrary, Taib is sending signals that he plans to stay put for as long as he wants to.

He leaves on his terms and conditions, not on BN’s or Umno’s or the PM’s.

The writer is a former Umno state rep and an FMT columnist.

Tun Dr M2 stop being a statement but be a Statesman

Should not a seasoned and ex-Premier be someone who can counsel, give direction and uphold the entire citizenry with words of wisdom and show the middle path to co-existence?

By J. D. Lovrenciear

It is indeed a wounding, bleeding pain to keep reading Malaysia’s former Prime Minister’s statements in the media. Despite hundreds of protest comments against him, he does not seem to get the message loud and clear.

His latest comment or statements in relation to DAP’s win in the Sarawak election is seriously shocking. And the outpour of anti-Mahathir reactions is therefore understandable although the foul choice of words in several instances cannot be supported.

How could an elder Statesman speak with such divisive, annihilating sentiments or viewpoint? Is not a Statesman one who brings people together even when there is a rift between them?

Should not a seasoned and ex-Premier be someone who can counsel, give direction and uphold the entire citizenry with words of wisdom and show the middle path to co-existence?

Should a politician who had the population’s benefit of doubt and rode on the pinnacle of power for two long decades now not return that trust and support with greater democracy, civil liberties and peace and progress beyond racial and religious parameters?

Why is the Tun working people up rubbing them in the reverse and splitting Malaysians like this? Is DAP a communist insurgency entity? Illegal? Against the law of order and decency? If so, what was the Tun doing all those years he was in power? Why did he not wipe it clean like what the Tunku did to the Malayan Communist Party then?
Why does the Tun insult and spit on the faces of gentlemen individuals who are non-Chinese but are working for and with the DAP at the echelon level? Does he have no regard, respect and honour for others?

Did not our parents teach us early in our lives that if we spit in the sky, that sputum is bound to splash back on our own face?

And so concerned Malaysians are asking you that if you say DAP is bad, then how good is UMNO and BN? Are not the BN line-up a race based formula where UMNO takes care of Malays, MCA cares for Chinese and MIC for Indians only?

Did not your UMNO rallies and General Assemblies have keris swaggering and cries for blood and crushed bodies? Does PERKASA not ride on preferential racial benefits and rights? Your very first double-edged sword publication, 'The Malay Dilemma' not one that is pure racism?

But look at DAP. It has Chinese, Malays and Indians within its fold. Now how can you fault them and in the process drag a neighbouring country into the mud as well? Which Statesman in the world speaks like how you do along such base and vile parameters of race and religion divisiveness in this contemporary world of globalization? Tell us Tun.

Please Tun Dr M2, do all Malaysians a favour and help us in our efforts as we join the world to make this place a better place for our children’s children. Please say something that makes us all Malaysians really proud of you, proud of the nation and proud of each other.

Please Tun, stop your ranting by making irresponsible statements. Be a Statesman and teach Malaysians that sharing is not about the “giving up” of one’s share. That concept belongs to the Dark Ages. Sharing, if we may enlighten you, is all about partaking; one is happy to share what he or she has with another who does not and in the process there is a mutual gain of honour, respect and goodwill. So please dump your Robin Hood version of sharing that is clearly barricaded by race-politics.

A Statesman is one who brings his citizens to a higher and new plateau of well being, progressive peace and learned wisdom.

Perhaps we should all hold nationwide prayer vigils with the hope that the Tun will have some remorse of conscience and be bestowed with wisdom that can light up our path of political cloud. If all else fails then perhaps the citizens will have to count on the ISA that you shielded, to have justice for all Malaysians. Pray it will not come to that however.

Golden opportunity for police force

By Terence Fernandez, The Sun

In March last year, the then inspector-general of police was reported as saying that the distribution of pornographic images is an offence. Tan Sri Musa Hassan issued the warning after receiving text messages offering pornography and said it violated Section 292 of the Penal Code.

Over a year later, journalists received text messages and email invitations to a “viewing party” of a sex video featuring someone said to resemble an opposition politician. The viewing party was held in a room of a five-star hotel in the city – images which now have found their way to YouTube.

The fact that offences have been committed may be clear to many and the perceived hesitance in bringing the culprits to book has people wondering.

Musa’s successor Tan Sri Ismail Omar has told us in no uncertain terms not to tell him how to do his job. “Why should I arrest anyone based on what you say? Let us carry out the investigation and then I will decide on the right time and who to arrest,” Ismail told a press conference on April 5.

While we leave the investigations in the good hands of the police, Ismail must remember that justice must not only be done but seen to be done. At a time when the police are under the spotlight in the Government Transformation Programme (GTP), being a crucial component of the National Key Results Areas (NKRA), it has to – now more than ever – shake off the widespread perception that it is not apolitical.

It is imperative that action is taken against those responsible the same way it raids other pornographic material suppliers and distributors. The fact remains that a pornographic video was shown to the public. That the investigation has focused on the actors in the video has led to certain quarters accusing the police of being pawns in a political game.

The police should be focused on eradicating street crime and instilling a sense of security on the streets for the public, as well as to encourage the injection of more foreign investments and tourist dollars. Instead, the force is yet again being stretched as the country is mired in yet another sex scandal.

It is imperative for the authorities – the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers – to quickly dispose of the case and let the law take its course.

The question being asked by the man in the street is: What offence under the Penal Code have the players in the video committed for the police to be doggedly concerned about their identities? Perhaps they could slap them with solicitation for prostitution?

If that were the case, they should station policemen at every seedy hotel in town where such activities are rampant.

One is flabbergasted as to why the clear commission of an offence is being ignored while efforts are being made to investigate the actors. Perhaps as a matter of public interest it is imperative to treat this case differently from a regular sex video clip. After all, morality counts when one wishes to lead, and the police must be supported and even encouraged to go further in its investigation.

But while doing so, it has to show that it is impartial and will act against all parties involved.
The police have to maintain the public trust. Perception of the force has been on the decline for the last decade. Now is a good opportunity for it to mend its image and show that its priority is to uphold the law and serve the public.
While the force also serves the government of the day, it should never be seen or even suspected of serving the interests of individuals.

The Sinking of the Taj Mahal

Imagine the post card without the Taj
(Asia Sentinel) The river that gives the monument life is drying up

One of India’s most enduring symbols, the Taj Mahal at Agra, could sink as a result of damage to its supporting structure if the depletion and drying of the Yamuna River continues, experts and activists fear.

Built by Mughal emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaj, the marble mausoleum is propped on an ebony wood base that needs moisture to retain its strength. The nearby Yamuna River was meant to provide such moisture and is integral to the structure’s life. But pollution is taking a toll on the once-pure river that runs along the northern plains.

Shah Jehan and the architects of the monument could never have envisaged the drying of the Yamuna. Its pristine waters originate in the Himalayas and flow through New Delhi in the heart of the country. Like other rivers in India, it is integral to the culture and life of people along its path. But over time, dams, and canals have restricted the water flow, while deforestation has led to soil erosion and blockages.

The main damage is caused by the drawing of water for industrial purposes and use by the growing populations of Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The unplanned industrialization and urbanization also has resulted in sewage, waste and poisonous material being spewed back into the river.

The undermining has continued despite the Yamuna Action Plan, which was launched two decades ago with help from Japan with the aim of restoring the river. Today, nearly 60 % of Delhi’s sewage continues to be dumped into the river rendering the Yamuna little more than a “drain.”

On a recent visit to Agra, this writer found that the river was a trickle of viscous dark grey in which it would be hard to imagine any aquatic life surviving. The biggest threat is the fact that the river dries up completely at Agra during the summer months.

The Times of India reported recently that a Save Taj campaign is gathering strength as a result of alarm over the possible undermining of the building’s foundations.  Environmentalists, activists, politicians and businessmen have joined the campaign to bring the threat to the Taj to a wider audience.

Last month, the Member of Parliament from Agra, R S Katheria of the Bharatiya Janata Party, led a delegation to President Pratibha Patil in New Delhi and apprised her of the situation.

The group pressed for “a decent water level in Yamuna’’ to save the Taj from permanent damage, the Times reported. They have asked that the basement underpinnings of the Taj be inspected by independent agencies and the findings made public.

The official Archaeological Survey of India is the only body authorized to access the underground chambers. The ASI insists that all is well, but activists counter that official agencies have a poor track record in India of owning up to mistakes and often only move when matters reach a crisis point or the media demand investigations.

A recent book by social activist Professor R Nath, “Taj Mahal History and Architecture,” claims that the drying of the Yamuna will weaken and crack the wood on which the Taj stands, making the entire edifice unstable.
The river’s deterioration, of course, is just one of many environmental issues that India faces in the absence of planned development and the country’s reckless approach to the environment.

Environmentalists cite mounting problem areas, from illegal mining in mountain ranges such as the Aravali Hills to rampant deforestation, ground water depletion and the pollution of numerous river systems, including the sacred Ganges, which was once thought by Hindus to be self-cleaning.

Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has surprised many by taking on numerous big corporations and entrenched interests in recent years on a number of fronts, including the rights of minorities to their ancestral lands in the face of mining claims. His battles with the powerful Vedanta mining group and others have caught the public imagination, and in 2010 he was named India’s Person of the Year by Forbes Magazine.

He and others are criticized by business interests for hindering India’s growth and pro-green critics say that Ramesh needs to establish a strong institutional framework if his work is to have  a lasting impact on the movement for sustainable development.

In Agra, the worry is clear: India needs to protect the Taj. While regulations have been put in place to ensure that pollution from factories and cars is minimized in the vicinity of the Taj, the city of Agra itself continues to suffer from chronic overcrowding, bad roads, power outrages and inadequate sewage systems.

The city remains a global tourist hub due to the Taj and Agra Fort, which provides a beautiful view of the monument nestled on the river bank. Yet unless urgent action is taken, time could run out for India’s – and the world’s ‑ symbol of eternal love.

Judge chides guard for not doing duty

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: A witness in the Teoh Beng Hock Royal Commission of Inquiry broke down after he was ticked off by the commission chairman over his duties as a security guard.

Mohd Khairudin Denan, who was on duty at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) building the night before Teoh was found dead, told the inquiry yesterday that he did not make his rounds that night because “God did not move him to do so.”

This prompted commission chairman Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen to chide the 56-year-old.

“If God did not tell you to do it, you won’t do it. So if God told you not to make your rounds every day, there is no need for you to go to work then,” Foong told Mohd Khairudin, who then started sobbing.

Foong then called for a break to allow Mohd Khairudin to calm down. The commission also interviewed the witness in chambers.

When the inquiry resumed in open court, commissioner Prof Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom asked Mohd Khairudin if he had any responsibility to watch over visitors in the MACC building, to which the latter said no.

Dr Mohamed Hatta: So you had no responsibility over the unknown Chinese man (whom Mohd Khairudin saw at 1.30am during his watch)?

Mohd Khairudin: No. It is the MACC officer’s (responsibility).

Dr Mohamed Hatta: So when you went home after work, you did not leave out any duties?

Mohd Khairudin: No.

Mohd Khairudin also denied that he was “coached” into coming up with a list of questions and answers that he referred to when answering questions in the inquiry.

When Bar Council lawyer Cheow Wee pointed out that the questions in the list were specific in nature, Mohd Khairudin insisted that he came up with them on his own.

“You (Mohd Khairudin) said you made the list because you wanted to remember what to tell the inquiry. But if you were to tell the truth, you wouldn’t need to make notes. Am I right?” Cheow asked, but was met with silence.

To a question by MACC’s counsel Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Mohd Khairudin agreed that he had answered all questions honestly.

The inquiry continues today.

Cops say ‘Datuk T’ may be charged

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — The police may charge the “Datuk T” trio over the screening of the sex video allegedly featuring Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Federal police CID deputy director Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani did not dismiss this possibility, stressing that it was an offence under Section 292 of the Penal Code to screen pornographic material.

“But it’s not [for] the police to decide on this (whether to charge those responsible). We will hold a proper press conference on this once everything is completed,” he was quoted as saying by national news agency Bernama.

Acryl added, however, that the police did not have the power to arrest the two people shown having sex in the video.

“There is no legal provision for the police to arrest and take statements from them. We have to refer the matter to the A-G’s Chambers for any review,” he told Bernama.

Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik and Datuk Shuib Lazim have openly admitted to being the “Datuk T” trio responsible for the screening.

When asked to comment on the investigation papers regarding the case, Acryl said that there was still two matters that needed to be resolved before the papers could be sent to the A-G’s Chambers.

“If possible, we want to submit the investigation papers by this Thursday,” he said.

On March 21, “Datuk T” had shown the 21-minute clip to a group of journalists.

Acryl yesterday announced that police had concluded their investigation into the sex video.

He said the police had wrapped up their investigation under the Penal Code for the distribution of obscene material and that investigation papers would be sent to the Attorney-General’s Chambers soon.

He also said the identity of the owner of the Omega watch, alleged by Shazryl to have been worn by the man in the video, was not central to the case.

A poll conducted by independent survey house Merdeka Center earlier this month, found that the majority of the people interviewed believe Anwar was a victim of character assassination in the latest sex video scandal.

The poll also showed that respondents agree the video had been released to destroy the former deputy prime minister’s political career.

Internet under Najib still in shackles

The country's Internet freedom ranking has not improved since 2009 and is categorised as being partly free.

KUALA LUMPUR: Internet freedom in Malaysia has not improved since 2009, the year Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak took over the leadership reins.

According to its latest findings, the US-based Freedom House said that Malaysia was listed with 17 other countries in the “partly free” category.

The study, titled “Freedom on the Net 2011: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media”, was published today. The report is available at Freedom House’s website.

The report had listed 37 countries in three categories – “Free” (eight countries), “partly free” (18) and “not free” (11).

Estonia topped the list for the greatest degree of Internet freedom, followed by US and Germany. Whereas the bottom four countries categorised as “not free” were China, Cuba, Myanmar and Iran which received the lowest score.

Scoring 41 points out of 100, Malaysia was ranked between India and Jordan.

The score was an accumulation of three categories: (A) obstacles to access, (B) limits on content points and (C) violation of user rights.

Obstacles to access included studying barriers to access and governmental efforts to block specific applications.

Limits on content included looking into filtering and blocking of websites and other forms of censorship while violations of user rights centred around studying surveillance, privacy and repercussions for online activities such as legal prosecution and other kinds of harassment.

The report also stated that the use of the Internet in Malaysia for “political mobilisation” and “news dissemination” had widely contributed to the opposition’s electoral gains in 2008.

It added that in the run up to and the aftermath of the 2008 election, many observers sensed that the government had recognised the potential of the political impact of the Internet and “grew more determined to control” it.

Freedom House noted that a number of Malaysian bloggers in 2009 and 2010 faced legal harassment, intimidation, fines and brief periods of detention although none were imprisoned.

Globally, the report said, there had been an increase in government regimes attempting to control Internet freedom.

“Cyber attacks, politically motivated censorship, and government control over Internet infrastructure are among the diverse and growing threats to Internet freedom.

“Non-democratic regimes are devoting more attention and resources to censorship and other forms of interference with online expression,” said Freedom House executive director David J Kramer.

No EGMs for MIED

The High Court says the suit to remove Samy Vellu and trustee Marimuthu must be cleared first.

KUALA LUMPUR: A High Court decision today effectively cancelled both emergency general meetings called by rival trustees of the Maju Institute of Education Development (MIED).

Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof dismissed the board of trustees’ application against an order to restrain it from adding new members.

That order was made pending the disposal of a suit by a member of the board, former MIC youth chief SA Vigneswaran, who is seeking the removal of MIED chairman S Samy Vellu and trustee T Marimuthu.

Vigneswaran, along with two other trustees — former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam and Kedah MIC deputy chairman S Ganesan—are accusing Samy Vellu and Marimuthu of negligence resulting in the loss of RM12.5 million from MIED coffers.

They allege that former MIED CEO S Chithirakala took the money.

Vigneswaran also filed a requisition under the companies act for an EGM to be held on April 21. The board of trustees countered this by filing for an April 20 EGM, where it planned to add new members.

In his decision today, Justice Mohammad Ariff said there were serious issues to be tried and that the plaintiff’s claim was neither frivolous nor vexatious.

This means that neither of the two EGMs will take place, no new members can be taken into MIED and no resolution to remove Samy Vellu and Marimuthu can be tabled.

The full trial of Vigneswaran’s suit continues in June.

Utusan must say sorry, says Gerakan man

All BN component parties should jointly force the Malay daiy to make a public apology

GEORGE TOWN: A Gerakan leader today demanded that Utusan Malaysia make a public apology for labelling Chinese voters in Sarawak as “ungrateful”.

Baljit Singh, who heads the Penang Gerakan’s legal and human rights bureau, also called on all Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties to join forces to coerce the Umno-controlled Malay daily to do it.

He accused Utusan Malaysia of being a source of racism by frequently stirring racial and religious sentiments of the people.

“This is not the first time Utusan has resorted to racist brand of articles to undermine the credibility of non-Malays.

“It has happened too often and this must be stopped. The entire BN must demand an open apology from Utusan Malaysia for its latest racial rhetoric,” he told FMT.

He said the massive 8% dip in popular votes for BN in the Sarawak polls was across the board, and not just confined to the Chinese community.

He questioned why Utusan did not brand Malays in Penang, Kedah, Perak, Selangor and Kelantan as “ungrateful” for voting against BN in the last general election.

In an editorial published on Sunday, the Malay-language daily took Chinese voters to task for turning their backs on BN despite the development brought to the state.

Baljit praised MIC publicity and communication chief S Vell Paari for slamming the newspaper for such an article.

“But where are the other BN equal partners? What is their stand on Utusan racism?” he asked.

He said the country would never attain the status of a developed nation if racism continued to rear its ugly head.

Main reason

Baljit added that racism was among the main reasons for the BN massive loss of popular votes in last weekend’s Sarawak polls.

“Al-Kitab and the Allah issues, for instance, have influenced many voters,” said Baljit, a lawyer by profession.

He said that the relevant religious authorities could have resolved the contentious issues amicably without political interference.

However, he said the issues were politicised when political parties intervened.

In Saturday’s Sarawak election, the BN clinched 55 seats while Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Rakyat alliance won 15. An independent candidate took one seat.

Previously, BN held 63 seats and the opposition eight.

Baljit applauded BN for retaining the state government with a two-thirds majority, while also congratulating Pakatan for making massive inroads into the Borneo state.

BN popular votes, however, dipped from 63% in 2006 to 55%, which critics described as a massive blow.

Sarawak, like Sabah, is being considered as a traditional BN electoral fixed deposit.

Baljit called on Umno to stop twirling, twisting and turning everything into racial issues because “racist spins could no longer work to fish Malay-Muslim votes.”

He slammed Umno for not learning the lessons of the 2008 election debacle, saying that both Umno and BN were surely losing the war of perception among voters.

Since 2008, he said the people have been demanding reforms and good governance, but the Umno-led administration had failed to deliver.

Instead, he said Umno had resorted to its age-old tactics of racial and religious spins.

“Public perception on the BN government now is that corruption and racism will not stop,” he said

He said BN could face “a political death” in the next general election if issues behind the coalition’s “defeat” in Sarawak were not addressed immediately.

“It’s time for Umno and BN to buck up, or else they will have to pack up,” Baljit said.

Boy assaulted, no action from school

The school claims that it can't act because a police report has been lodged, says the mother.

PETALING JAYA: A mother is in a state of shock. Not because her son was assaulted but because the school authorities are reluctant to act against a group of Form Four boys who beat him up.

Kia Ooi Meng, the mother of the Form three student, Hui Yew Yik, has lodged a police report against the eight Form Four Shah Alam students.

“I was shocked to hear the headmaster telling me that they cannot do anything simply because a police report has been lodged. How can that be? My son was beaten within the school compound and not outside.”

She told FMT that she would raise the issue with the Selangor Education Department if the police did not take any action.

“In the incident that took place last Wednesday, Hui went to another classroom to get a chair. It was then that a group of eight Form Four students who were occupying the class approached Hui and assaulted him,” Kia said.

She added that Hui was assaulted with a chair. He was also punched and kicked and he had bruises on the back,head and arm.

“My son endured injuries on his head, arms and has bruises all over his body,” she said in her police report.

A police source who wished to remain anonymous said that the incident took place because of a misunderstanding.

Sarawak state cabinet members sworn in

All former state ministers who won their respective seats in the Sarawak polls have been retained in the state government.

KUCHING: All eight former state ministers, who retained their respective seats in the just-concluded Sarawak election, were sworn in as members of the new state cabinet here today, after the Barisan Nasional (BN) formed the government.

The Cabinet members, comprising five from Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and one each from Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), took their oath of office before Yang diPertua Negeri Sarawak Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng at the new Sarawak State Legislative Assembly building in Petra Jaya here.

They were led by Deputy Chief Minister and PBB deputy president Alfred Jabu, PRS president Dr James Masing and SPDP president William Mawan, whose respective porfolios, however, are yet to be announced.

The others were PBB deputy president Abang Johari Tun Openg, SUPP deputy secretary-general Wong Soon Koh, PBB vice-president Michael Manyin, PBB senior vice-president Awang Tengah Ali Hassan and PBB deputy woman chief Fatimah Abdullah.

Also present were Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and wife, Ragad Kurdi Taib.

Taib, who is state BN chairman and PBB president, was sworn in as chief minister, shortly after the BN secured two-thirds majority in Saturday’s 10th state election.

BN won 55 of the 71 seats in the State Legislative Assembly, with the first meeting expected to convene in May this year.

- Bernama

The failed boycott the mainstream media campaign

That same night I received a phone call informing me about the council’s decision and I rushed to Harakah’s office in Jalan Pahang for an emergency midnight meeting. Zunar, Zul Sulong and Rustam were also there.


Raja Petra Kamarudin
It started in November 1999. I was in the media committee headed by PRM leader Rustam Sani. Every noon in the run-up to the November 1999 general election we held a press conference in PKR’s office in Phileo Damansara.

On the second day of the press conference, I threw TV3 out of the office. It was recorded by the TV3 cameraman and played on TV that night and the few nights thereafter.

The party was most upset with me. I was ordered to allow TV3 to cover the press conference even though they twist and misquote what we said.

This is about respecting the freedom of the media, I was told. If we boycott or ban TV3 then we are practicing censorship and are therefore no better than the government.

I was told Rustam Sani wanted to resign as Chairman of the media committee ‘unless Raja Petra can be brought under control’.

I was told to shut up and behave or else Rustam wants me removed.

In 2000, Rustam Sani, Zulkilfi Sulong (editor of the Harakah), Zunar (the cartoonist) and I planned to launch a ‘Boycott TV3, Utusan Malaysia and NST’ campaign.

It was supposed to be an opposition effort.

However, the Barisan Alternatif council met and ruled that the opposition coalition would not support the planned boycott. We were told to call it off.

That same night I received a phone call informing me about the council’s decision and I rushed to Harakah’s office in Jalan Pahang for an emergency midnight meeting. Zunar, Zul Sulong and Rustam were also there.

We decided not to abort it and to go ahead with the planned boycott campaign. But we would do it under the Reformasi Movement banner instead.

It was launched at Azmin Ali’s office in Gombak and Nurul Izzah Anwar gave what was probably her first public ceramah (she sneaked out of her university to come address the gathering).

During the PKR Convention in Kelana Jaya, we put up notices banning the mainstream media -- in particular TV3, Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, and NST -- from the convention hall.

They complained to the party and Dr Chandra Muzaffar ordered all the notices removed and for the mainstream media to be allowed in to the hall.

The party scolded me and said that we must never ban the mainstream media from opposition events. They must be allowed to cover the events. In fact, we must engage the mainstream media in spite of the problem of spinning, misquoting and distortions in their reports.

The opposition is fighting for freedom of the media: I was lectured. So, if we ban or boycott or refuse to engage the mainstream media, then we are not practicing what we preach.

It is important that we demonstrate what we mean by independence of the media by first of all engaging the mainstream media.

Since then, I have always spoken to the mainstream media (even to Jocelyn Tan of The Star). But mostly it has been the print media. This is the second time I have managed to speak to the Malaysian electronic media (TV3 -- because this is the first time they asked to speak to me). I have, however, appeared on TV1 before (and of course many times on the foreign electronic media).

The question is: is the opposition right in saying that we must NOT ban or boycott the mainstream media or were we right in saying that we should?


1. I would like to congratulate Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, the chairman of Barisan Nasional in Sarawak for the victory achieved by the party in the recent election.

2. Dato Seri Najib and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also deserves to be congratulated. The two were on the ground campaigning almost throughout the whole campaign period. They worked very hard and they had good supporting staff from the Peninsular as well as Sarawak.

3. I congratulate the DAP for bringing its racist politics to Sarawak. Before this all races co-operated well with each other for the good of Sarawak. Now we see clearly that the Chinese community in Sarawak has rejected multi-racialism.

4. Perhaps the SUPP are at fault but others in the BN also committed many wrong things. But the rejection is almost entirely by the Chinese community.

5. They have become infected by the virus of Chinese racism that is the guiding principle of the DAP. In the past DAP was almost totally rejected in Sarawak.

6. The DAP will talk about Malaysian Malaysia i.e. Malaysia for all Malaysians. But its appeal had always been to the racialist sentiments of the Chinese. Those Chinese who reject the DAP seem to be considered as non-Chinese by the DAP.

7. Malaysia faces a grave danger of being divided by two parties - one Malay dominated by default and the other Chinese by choice. This will not be good for Malaysia. But this is what the DAP is striving for. A two-party system based on race will not contribute to stability much less national unity.

8. The presence of a few Malays in the DAP is just window dressing. It is the same as in Singapore where the PAP Government side lined their Malay supporters completely. The Malays make up 15 per cent of the island's population but their share of political power and wealth of this very prosperous nation is about one per cent. Of course Singapore is ruled by Singaporeans. The same would happen in Malaysia should the DAP rule this country. It would be ostensibly Malaysian.

9. I will be called a racist for pointing this out. For more than half a century the races in Malaysia had worked together to build the nation. The world saw stable BN Governments with power and wealth being shared by all races quite fairly. None of the races got everything that they considered they were entitled to - not the Malays, nor the Chinese, nor Indians, nor Ibans, Kadazans etc. All had to give up something. That is the essence of sharing.

10. Now the DAP has destroyed this power and wealth-sharing formula by separating the Chinese from the rest.

11. Soon we will be holding the 13th General Election. I pray and hope that the Sarawak pattern is not repeated in this beloved country. Let us all think carefully whether we want to split up this country or we are prepared to sacrifice something of our own in order to maintain the stability and growth through the BN coalition.

Video: Peguam Negara Dijangka Akan Tetap Mendakwa Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim Walau Siasatan Polis Tunjukkan Sebaliknya

Saya merujuk kepada laporan Bernama yang memetik kenyataan Timbalan Pengarah Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah, Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani bahawa siasatan videos seks telah lengkap dari setiap sudut dan ia menjurus kepada Seksyen 292 Akta Kanun Keseksaan kerana kesalahan mengedar bahan lucah.

Acryl juga dipetik berkata hasil siasatan itu akan diserah segara kepada Peguam Negara.

Kenyataan ini menunjukkan siasatan polis mendapati tidak ada sebarang asas undang-undang untuk mengaitkan Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim di dalam video tersebut kerana jelas beliau tidak ada kena mengena dalam isu. Ini selari dengan penafian Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim yang konsisten mengenainya.

Walau bagaimanapun kita yakin bahawa Peguam Negara dibawah arahan rejim Barisan Nasional akan tetap mencari jalan untuk mendakwa Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim ke mahkamah.

Ini kerana seluruh episod konspirasi ini direka bertujuan menghancurkan kerjaya politik Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Ini tidaklah mustahil kerana sebelum ini situasi sama berlaku dimana Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim dihadapkan ke mahkamah atas dan difitnah atas dua tuduhan liwat, walau pun beliau tidak melakukannya.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat kesal kerana Barisan Nasional terus menggunakan politik kotor, jijik malah menginjak batas agama dan peradaban kemanusian demi mengekalkan kuasa politik.

Saifuddin Nasution Ismail
Setiusaha Agung Parti Keadilan Rakyat
18 April 2011

After Sarawak setback, what next for BN?

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — Barisan Nasional (BN) lost significant ground in its stronghold of Sarawak during Saturday’s state assembly election, setting the stage for a shift in government and economic policy as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak works to regain support.

The government recorded its worst performance in 24 years in the poll in a result analysts say reflects the mood across the country, which could prompt Najib to switch tack in his plan to recapture the ethnic minority vote and restructure the economy to catch up with Asian neighbours.

In Saturday’s poll, the opposition won 15 seats in Sarawak’s 71-seat state legislature, giving the ruling BN coalition a two-thirds majority. But it was the coalition’s worst performance in Sarawak since 1987 when it won only 25 of 45 seats.

Following are questions and answers on how the poll outcome could reshape Malaysian political and financial policy.

Was it a big win for Najib?

Not really. BN won 77 per cent of seats in the 71-member state legislative but the opposition increased its seats to 15 from the 7 it won in the last polls in 2006, a major feat in a state where the ruling coalition has always held near total political dominance.

Mainstream domestic media mostly hailed the BN’s performance as a major win, although most newspapers also warned of a further erosion of support.

“With the opposition emerging as an even stronger player in (Sarawak) and willing no doubt to use its greater share of state seats to build support for the next general elections, there is a great need to take stock,” the pro-government New Straits Times said in an editorial.

How will Sarawak affect Najib’s general election timetable?

A general election is not due until 2013. Some analysts had said a strong showing in Sarawak might have tempted Najib to call an early poll this year. That now looks unlikely.

“We maintain our view that the general elections will be held in 2012 rather than 2011,” Credit Suisse Research said in a strategy report today.

What is at stake?

Complaints about ethnic and religious discrimination were a major source of voter discontent in Sarawak which helped the opposition to gain ground.

Ethnic Chinese and Indians, who make up about a third of Malaysia’s population, complain that their rights have been increasingly eroded as the government panders to the wishes of majority ethnic Malays.

A squabble over the government’s seizure of Bibles, allegations of racist slurs by government officials and a dispute over the right of Christians to use the word “Allah” have all fanned ethnic minority anger.

Najib needs to regain the trust of ethnic minorities as Sarawak and neighbouring Sabah, which both have a sizeable non-Malay population, hold the key to national power. The two states account for 56 seats in Malaysia’s 222-seat parliament.

What does Najib need to do, and can he pull it off?

Holding a general election later rather than sooner would buy Najib time to regain support but he would need to rethink his approach to economic reform. Instead of proceeding with fuel subsidy cuts and rolling out a goods and services tax, the government could seek other avenues to widen its revenue base without further denting popularity.

But a delay in cutting subsidies and boosting revenues could derail the government’s goal of further reducing its budget deficit. The deficit hit a 20-year high of 7 per cent of gross domestic product in 2009 before falling to 5.6 per cent in 2010 and is projected to be 5.4 per cent this year.

The Economist Intelligence Unit said Malaysia’s budget deficit would be 3.9 per cent in 2015, “somewhat above the level considered prudent”.

On the political front, any move by Najib to placate Chinese and Indians could anger conservative Malay Muslim groups which form a core support base for the ruling coalition.

A coalition of Muslim groups known as Pembela (Defenders) protested last Friday against what they said were excessive government concessions in talks with church leaders to resolve the Bible seizure row.

What are the implications for the opposition?

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is expected to try to capitalise on ethnic minority discontent with the government to build on the support the opposition drew in the Sarawak poll.

Analysts say that with the Sarawak outcome, the three-party opposition alliance appears to have stemmed a recent slide in its popularity triggered by a spate of election losses and Anwar’s ongoing sodomy court case and his alleged involvement in a sex tape scandal, which he denies. — Reuters

Sarawak State Cabinet Members Sworn In

KUCHING, April 18 (Bernama) -- All eight former state ministers, who retained their respective seats in the just-concluded Sarawak election, were sworn in as members of the new state cabinet here Monday, after the Barisan Nasional (BN) formed the government.

The cabinet members, comprising five from Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and one each from Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Sarawak United Peoples' Party (SUPP), took their oath of office before Yang Dipertua Negeri Sarawak Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng at the new Sarawak State Legislative Assembly building in Petra Jaya here.

They were led by Deputy Chief Minister and PBB deputy president Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, PRS president Datuk Seri Dr James Masing and SPDP president Datuk Seri William Mawan, whose respective porfolios, however, are yet to be announced.

The others were PBB deputy president Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, SUPP deputy secretary-general Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, PBB vice-president Datuk Seri Michael Manyin, PBB senior vice-president Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan and PBB deputy woman chief Datin Fatimah Abdullah.

Also present were Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and wife, Ragad Kurdi Taib.

Taib, who is state BN chairman and PBB president, was sworn in as chief minister, shortly after the BN secured two-thirds majority in Saturday's 10th state election.

BN won 55 of the 71 seats in the state legislative assembly, with the first meeting expected to convene in May this year.

Sarawak: Give them back their ancestral lands

Here is another proposal from blog reader Sean, which broadens the discussion and might be worth considering.

Your correspondent is still suggesting that PR beat BN at their own game: giving beads.

I’d like to see a Green Party campaign in rural Malaysia on a ‘give them back their ancestral lands’ agenda. I think such a party should seek to gazette large tracts of rural Malaysia as ‘heritage forest’ (possibly even using ‘Malay reserve’ legislation, but reserving it as a national treasure) and prohibit land ownership and industrial agriculture within, creating a large number of paid ‘stewardship’ positions so that the resident communities can perform simple ecological monitoring and agency in return for reasonable pay. Such an arrangement would economically reward the people of the forests for performing meaningful heritage/preservation/environmental monitoring roles that would employ their specific talents.

Of course, such a scheme would take away ‘development’ land from current or prospective urban Pakatan Rakyat voters. Sooner or later the urban voter has to accept that if they want the rural vote to assist in the ‘oust BN’ project, they’re going to have to concede something substantial to rural Malaysians. They’re just not going to beg to be allowed to vote for PR in return for sewing machines. In my view the biggest hurdle to changing the Federal government is naked urban avarice. That’s not an easy political message for the three major Pakatan Rakyat members to give to their urban constituencies. What’s needed is a committed coalition prospect like PSM (no socialist-minded voter is ever going to vote for DAP, PAS or PKR), but with an agenda that’s exactly right for the rural/heritage voter.

I think we have to look forward to a coalition government to replace BN, but we need more parties to reflect the diversity in the Malaysian voting population. The three Pakatan Rakyat parties’ accent on expediency is just not sufficient to attract people with genuine and vital needs. What is DAP offering the forest voter – a low-cost house in a shoddily-built development with a condescending suggestion to ‘learn economic activity’? What is Pas offering the forest voter – mosques? What is PKR offering the forest voter – a handful of lawyers who offer patronage in the form of cheap/free assistance with land quarrels? It’s never going to be enough *and* be compatible with the demands of the ‘work smart’ urbanite.