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Friday, May 6, 2011

Siblings in dispute with DBKL lose home in fire

Swift action by Ladang Bukit Jalil residents prevent blaze from spreading to neighbouring homes

KUALA LUMPUR: A house belonging to two brothers who are involved in a dispute with DBKL was razed to the ground in a fire at about 1am this morning.

T Anandavelu and T Nyanasambanthan are among 41 families of Ladang Bukit Jalil told to vacate their homes to make way for a Muslim cemetery project.

They were away attending a wedding when the fire started and no one was injured in the blaze.

Residents were caught unawares that the house, situated opposite the Ladang Bukit Jalil Tamil school, had caught fire.

Estate action committee treasurer K Balakrishnan: “We only knew about the fire after a resident who was returning home from work saw the fire and alerted us.”

“We called the fire department and also tried to put out the fire on our own. The heat was intense and we drew water from the pipes in the school and neighbouring houses to stop the blaze from spreading to neighbouring houses,” said Balakrishnan..

Balakrishnan who is also Hindraf Makkal Sakthi national coordinator said the fire trucks arrived 30 minutes later but was unable to save the house.

The family will be lodging a police report on the incident later today.

The 41 families living in the estate have been at loggersheads with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) since last year as the latter is trying to evict them from the land.

After a latest eviction notice on March, the residents sought legal action and got an interim injunction from the Kuala Lumpur High Court on March 14 against DBKL

The judge, Zabariah Mohd Yusof will decide on the injunction on May 10.

The Internet did not kill Kugan or Aminulrasyid


'How can the Internet be used to tarnish the police if the police force is impartial and serves the rakyat instead of the politicians in power.'

'Internet being used to tarnish police image'

Cannon: PDRM (Royal Malaysian Police) ought to take a hard look at itself and do some honest self-examination.

It ought to evaluate the public conduct and discharge of duty by its personnel from top down, from the IGP (inspector-general of police) to the rank and file. University bodies are available to carry out attitude-perception surveys for PDRM to gauge how the force is being viewed by the public.

Our police are partial and selective in law enforcement. It comes down hard on peaceful, civil demonstrators, NGOs and the opposition, while it turns a blind eye to demonstrations by Umno/Perkasa/Pembela hoods and bigots.

It hinders opposition election rallies and blocks them from entering villages. Whereas it escorts lawbreakers bringing obscenity into the mosque to frame and accuse a rival in Allah's name.

What image is PDRM talking about? The police force is its own worst enemy. PDRM has trashed its uniform and shredded its own credibility. The reputation of the police needs no tarnishing, and it should not threaten and blame the bad-news bearer.

Cala: Kuala Lumpur police chief Zulkifli Abdullah has erred for not differentiating "lies" from "facts" as carried in the Internet. The Internet is a force to be reckoned with for its facilitating role in giving a more balanced view on matters not picked up by the MSM (mainstream media).

Without the Internet, many incidents of police brutality would have swept under the carpet. What is there to be afraid of if the police have been acting professionally?

Tbala: One need not resort to independent surveys to gauge the image of the police. It is written on the wall. We dare the police to undertake an independent survey to prove the existence of its good name before they even talk about defending it.

By Election Fan: How can the Internet be used to tarnish the police if the force is impartial and serves the rakyat instead of the politicians in power.

Can you explain why the 'cow head' protesters were allowed to march with intention of insulting Hindus and those who gathered to campaign for minimum wages were arrested? Why was the reporter (Sin Chew Daily's Tan Hoon Cheng) detained under the ISA and the party which uttered racist remarks left off?

Dood: It is the police force itself that is tarnishing its own image by its irresponsible, unjust, and partisan behaviour.
It's a pity we have people like Zulkifli leading the force, because only a fool will blame others for "manipulating" issues like deaths in custody, causing the public to lose faith in the police force, rather than realise that if not for the police causing those issues in the first place (for example, allowing deaths in its custody to happen), there wouldn't be any issue to "manipulate".

Lim Chong Leong: What nonsense coming from the police. The Internet did not kill the many Kugans and Aminulrasyids. The Internet did not rob picture-frame makers or pregnant storekeepers.
The Internet did not have its special forces kill and bomb a Mongolian girl. The Internet did not offer protection to cow-head protestors and racist Perkasa or even porn producers.

The Internet also did not arrest candlelight 'vigilians' and their lawyers. And the Internet did not make stupid statements like this to make itself look even more stupid. So, the image of the PRDM (sic) being an Umno personal security guard is projected by them.

Petestop: It is not the Internet that tarnishes their image, it is police actions. What with the protection given to the Datuk T, who showed porn to the press and probably leaked it to the public (YouTube) since they claim they have the only copy of the sex video.

It is really weird to see these three jokers wearing bullet-proof vests and guarded by police when doing the 'sumpah laknat'. Is that what the police force is used for nowadays - to guard criminals so that it could gain political points?

The police actions tarnish their image and the Internet is just a medium to spread the information.

Anonymous222: There's no smoke without fire.

P Dev Anand Pillai: The police are pleading with the people not to simply judge them? What a joke! Actions speak louder than words and the police show it everyday.

When a group of students wanted to 'welcome' the visiting Chinese premier, why were they arrested for just holding out a cloth banner? Why was PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan arrested when all he was doing was to give the press their feed on what was happening on May Day.

The police force has now become the uniformed and armed unit of Umno-BN, it is no more the force that the British left us with. It has now become an armed force used by the government to threaten the people into submission instead of caring for and protecting them.

This was clearly displayed during the cow-head demonstration, Perkasa's loud demonstrations every now and then and during the Perak coup by the BN. Reputation and respect can only be earned not by force or threats.

Glocal: I would like to remind Zulkifli that the Internet had been an eye opener for the uninformed. The newspapers and the TV stations in this country are not telling us the truth. In fact, they are the culprits tarnishing the police image by falsifying reports of the actual situation. I think you have got the whole idea of the Internet wrong.

Ttloo: If the police image is tarnished by the Internet, there must be some truth in it as most of the articles that appear online come from the press, either locally or overseas. Only a small portion come from irresponsible Net users.

To sum it up, if the police image is good, an RCI (royal commission of inquiry) would not have been called before and until today the key recommendations from RCI had failed to take off. Does that answer your questions on the police image?

Official: Bin Laden material shows threats to railways, key cities

New York (CNN) -- Information taken from Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan indicates that al Qaeda was mulling attacks on a handful of U.S. cities, timed to significant dates, a U.S. official said.

One law enforcement source said that an alert issued Thursday and tied to rail security is the first new notice that can be linked to the early Monday raid on the Abbottabad compound where the al Qaeda leader was found and killed.

That notice says that, in February 2010, al Qaeda members discussed a plan to derail trains in the United States by placing obstructions on tracks over bridges and valleys.

The plan was to be executed later this year, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. But no specific city or rail system was identified in the notice.

"It is not surprising that we would find this kind of information in the home of the world's most wanted terrorist," said one U.S. official.

The federal department confirmed the notice went out to federal, state, local and tribal authorities, with spokesman Matt Chandler stressing that "this alleged al Qaeda plotting is based on initial reporting, which is often misleading or inaccurate and subject to change."

"We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector, but wanted to make our partners aware of the alleged plotting; it is unclear if any further planning has been conducted since February of last year," Chandler said.

Material gathered from the same compound also suggests that al Qaeda was particularly interested in striking Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, according to the official.

U.S. authorities have found that al Qaeda appears especially interested in striking on significant dates like July 4, Christmas and the opening day of the United Nations.

These threats come days after U.S. commandos were helicoptered into a northern Pakistan housing compound, where they killed bin Laden and four others, then took off with his body and numerous materials.

The cache included audio and video equipment, suggesting bin Laden may have taped makeshift messages there, a U.S. official said. Ten hard drives, five computers and more than 100 storage devices, such as disks and thumb drives, were also found, a senior U.S. official told CNN. Commandos also recovered five cell phones, paper documents and five guns, including AK-47s and pistols.

Earlier Thursday, a U.S. official speaking to CNN on condition of anonymity said that "valuable information has been gleaned already," though no specific plots or terrorist suspects were identified.

Members of the U.S. special operations unit involved in that raid will meet with President Barack Obama on Friday, a senior administration official said Thursday.

Obama will travel to Fort Campbell in Kentucky on Friday "to privately thank some of the special operators involved in the operation," according to the official. On Wednesday, the president met at the White House with Adm. William McRaven, the head of the Joint Special Operations Command "to thank him personally."

More details, meanwhile, emerged Thursday about the operation engineered and executed by this team, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of debriefings from Navy SEALs involved.

The raid occurred in a span of 38 minutes early Monday morning, following CIA reports of repeated sightings of a tall man doing "prison yard walks" around the yard of the housing compound in Abbottabad, which was under constant surveillance, this official said. U.S. authorities never definitely determined beforehand that the man was in fact bin Laden, but they eventually concluded that there was enough evidence to go through with the operation.

The first man killed in the mission -- which this official said was code-named "Operation Neptune Spear" -- was the Kuwaiti courier who had worked for bin Laden. He was shot dead after a brief gunfight in a guest house. From that point on, it is now believed no other shots were fired at the U.S. forces, the official said -- which contrasts to earlier U.S. government reports describing the operation as a "firefight."

The troops then moved into the compound's main three-story building, where they shot and killed the courier's brother. As they went upstairs and around barricades, one of bin Laden's sons rushed at them and was subsequently killed, according to this latest account. Neither of these men had weapons either on them or nearby, this official said.

The U.S. official said that the team then entered the third-floor room where bin Laden was, along with his Yemeni wife and several young children. The al Qaeda leader was moving, possibly toward one of the weapons that were in the room, when he was shot, first in the chest and then in the head. He never had a gun in hand but, like the other men, posed an imminent threat, according to the U.S. official.

An unidentified woman also was killed.

Afterward, one SEAL lay down beside the dead bin Laden to measure his height and further determine that he, in fact, was the man who for years has ranked atop the FBI's "Most Wanted Terrorists" list. He had 500 euros (about $745) in cash and two telephone numbers sewn into his clothing when he was killed, a congressional source present at a classified briefing on the operation told CNN Wednesday.

While the Friday meetings will focus on this raid, Thursday was about those personally affected by followers of bin Laden, when they turned hijacked jetliners filled with fuel and passengers into missiles aimed at New York and Washington.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks. The vast majority of the victims were killed when two hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, causing them to collapse. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon outside Washington, killing 184 people, plus the five hijackers. The fourth hijacked jetliner was heading for a target in Washington when it crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers rushed to take control of the plane. Forty passengers and crew, not including the four hijackers, died in that crash.

Obama attended a wreath-laying ceremony and took part in a moment of silence at the latter site, which is now being rebuilt. The president also had lunch Thursday at the home of Engine Company 54, which lost 15 members in the towers' collapse.

The U.S. Navy SEAL team that killed bin Laden "were doing it in the name of your brothers that were lost," Obama told the firefighters.

"It's some comfort, I hope, to all of you to know that when those guys took those extraordinary risks going into Pakistan, that they were doing it in part because of the sacrifices that were made in the States," he said on his way into the firehouse.

Obama's meetings with firefighters were private exchanges, during which the president sought to mark the end of the nearly decade-long manhunt.

"Coming by was really a spectacular thing, you know," firefighter Joe Ceravolo told reporters after Obama's visit. "We just wanted to tell him we thank him for what he did on Sunday, and all the troops and all. We want to let them know that we're with them every step of the way, and God bless them. I mean, if it wasn't for them, you know, we'd still be chasing this guy."

Obama decided this week not to release photos of bin Laden himself, saying it would be distasteful and wouldn't satisfy conspiracy theorists. Still, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday in Rome that the al Qaeda leader's killing "sent an unmistakable message about the strength of the resolve of the international community to stand against extremism and those who perpetuate it."

But, she added, "the battle to stop al Qaeda and its affiliates does not end with one death."

Notably, the U.S. continues to devote extensive intelligence and law enforcement resources at home and abroad to rooting out terrorists. And the war continues in Afghanistan, where bin Laden was once hosted and now has 130,000 U.S. and allied troops still battling his followers and his Taliban allies.

Meanwhile, authorities are picking up the pieces from the raid -- not just evidence collected at the compound, but also trying to address fresh wounds and questions pertaining to the relationship between the United States and Pakistan.

U.S. authorities decided to not to alert their counterparts in the southwest Asian nation prior to the operation fearing the word will leak. And this week, CIA Director Leon Panetta told U.S. lawmakers this week that Pakistani officials were either "involved or incompetent" in bin Laden's case, according to two sources in a closed door briefing.

Pakistan backed the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban's rule over most of Afghanistan before 9/11. Even before Panetta's comments, U.S. officials had warned that some elements of Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency remain supportive of extremists, even as the country battles its own Taliban insurgency.

But Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said Thursday he felt it is a "false charge" to assert that Pakistani authorities purposefully did not go after bin Laden and "are in cahoots with al Qaeda." He claimed that his country's intelligence agency alerted those in the United States about the presence of al Qaeda operatives in Abbottabad as early as 2004.

Yet he downplayed a potential rift with the United States over the raid, insisting that there has been an "excellent exchange of views" in recent days and that U.S.-Pakistani relations are "moving in the right direction."

At the headquarters of Pakistan's military on Thursday, armed forces chiefs issued a statement admitting that there had been "shortcomings in developing intelligence on the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan." The statement said an investigation will be launched "into the circumstances that led to this situation," but the service chiefs defended the intelligence service's efforts in attacking al Qaeda leaders.

The army chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, also "made it very clear that any similar action, violating the sovereignty of Pakistan, will warrant a review on the level of military/intelligence cooperation with the United States," the statement said.

Pakistan has ordered U.S. military personnel on its territory drawn down to the "minimum essential" level in the wake of the assault that killed bin Laden, the statement said.

During a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing Thursday, legislators on both sides of the aisle said a new approach to Pakistan was now needed. Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said that Pakistan's government is "very irrational."

"How could bin Laden have gone undetected living next door to Pakistan's equivalent of West Point?" said Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and the committee's chair.

But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that U.S. ties with Pakistan should be further strengthened, if anything. He said, "It's not a time to back away from Pakistan. It's time for more engagement, not less."

Clinton acknowledged the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is "not always an easy" one, but "it is a productive one for both of our countries."

"We are going to continue to cooperate between our governments, our militaries, our law enforcement agencies -- but most importantly between the American and Pakistani people, where we have made a commitment to helping them meet their needs and trying to establish a firmer foundation for their democracy," she said.

‘Umno semakin gelisah raih sokongan Melayu’

Ekoran kegelisahan Umno itu, mereka menggunakan pendekatan membuli kaum Cina manakala Melayu pula ditipu semata-mata untuk meraih sokongan.

PETALING JAYA: Naib Presiden PAS Dato’ Mahfuz Omar berkata Umno kian gelisah untuk meraih sokongan Melayu sehingga sanggup mengajak partinya menyertai Barisan Nasional (BN) dan meninggalkan Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

Menurut beliau, ekoran kegelisahan Umno itu mereka menggunakan pendekatan membuli kaum Cina manakala Melayu pula ditipu semata-mata untuk meraih sokongan.

“PAS merupakan sebuah parti yang lebih matang dan lebih ‘futuristik’ berbanding Umno dan akan terus kekal bersama Pakatan,” terang beliau kepada FMT ketika dihubungi.

Mahfuz yang juga Ahli Parlimen Pokok Sena menjelaskan, “ekoran dari keputusan pilihan raya negeri Sarawak tempoh hari, BN kehilangan banyak kerusi kerana MCA dan SUPP kalah kepada DAP.

“Maka mereka (Umno) mula gelisah dan bimbang kehilangan sokongan daripada kaum Cina mahupun orang Melayu bagi menghadapi pilihan raya umum akan datang,” ujar beliau.

Umno ugut Cina

Umno kata beliau, membawa pendekatan membuli Cina dengan taktik mengugut dan mengancam apabila Presidennya Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak berkata, jika mereka tidak menyokong BN maka tiada lagi menteri dari kalangan mereka dalam kabinet.

“Mereka tahu sokongan daripada kaum Cina semakin mengecil dan terhakis maka mereka tipu dan menakut-nakutkan orang-orang Melayu dengan memainkan sentimen ‘kuasa’ orang-orang Cina melalui DAP.

“Persoalannya jika Umno yakin mempunyai sokongan Melayu kenapa perlu ‘kalut’ ajak PAS sertai mereka?” soal beliau.

Ditanya sama ada isu ajakan menyertai Umno bakal diutarakan dalam Muktamar Jun depan, Mahfuz berkata pendirian ahli PAS adalah kukuh untuk menolak sebarang perpaduan bersama Umno-BN.

“Saya tidak bimbang walaupun wujud percubaan untuk menimbulkan suasana seperti ini oleh Umno lebih-lebih lagi Muktamar PAS akan diadakan dalam masa sebulan. Jelas Umno kini diserang fobia kehilangan kuasa,” katanya.

Mengulas mengenai pendirian beliau sama ada mahu mengekalkan jawatan sebagai Naib Presiden, Mahfuz berkata, perkara itu akan diumumkan pada 15 Mei nanti.

Eksploitasi Umno

Menyentuh soal perpaduan Umno dan PAS, Ahli Jawatankuasa Kerja PAS Pusat Mohamad Sabu pula berkata, tindakan Umno itu satu eksploitasi bagi mengeruhkan perpaduan dalam parti tersebut.

“Umno melihat trend dan kekuatan pengundi bukan Melayu bukan seperti dulu maka mereka (Umno) cuba mendapatkan sokongan daripada orang Melayu melalui PAS.

Apa yang mereka cuba lakukan……….untuk berbaik-baik dengan PAS ataupun memburukkan PAS di mata orang Melayu,” soal beliau.

“Tetapi Umno memang tidak boleh dipercayai kerana mereka akan mempertikaikan kewibawaan PAS semata-mata untuk menarik sokongan pengundi Melayu,” katanya yang dihubungi FMT.

Perdana Menteri dalam ucapannya di Kuala Terengganu 30 April lalu, mengajak PAS menyertai BN dan meninggalkan rakannya DAP atas alasan kononnya Umno memperjuangkan agama, bangsa dan negara manakala DAP menolak Islam.

Probes must be fair and speedy

By Terence Fernandez, The Sun

STANDARD procedures would usually dictate that when there are questions regarding a particular decision, it would be wise to suspend the decision until all doubts are cleared and any allegations put to rest.

But allegations sometimes remain just that – accusations – until proven to be fact. So by the time checks and probes are completed, the accused parties may have lost out.

In the matter of government agencies, the execution of public policies and jobs to bring revenue to the nation may also be delayed as one tries to verify the accuracy of some of these allegations.

But alas, this is what principles of public policy dictate in matters that concern public funds and the public interest.

Hence when the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deems that it cannot "compel" another agency to suspend the award of tenders, it certainly raises eyebrows.

This is what the MACC says when queried over its probe into the award of contracts worth RM381 million to five companies, which is mired in allegations of kickbacks and breach of procurement procedures.

MACC Deputy Commissioner Datuk Shukri Abdull's assurance that "we are not finished yet" may be of little consolation to those who are braying for blood.

This is because the question later will be what if investigators discover that there were indeed certain wrongdoings, or at the very least negligence, in the selection process? By then work would have been halfway through and monies would have been paid to parties who should not have received the contracts in the first place. Then what?

Government officials and industry players whose views I sought, say in a situation such as this, what's probably the best option is to allow past recipients of the same jobs to continue the work.

But this is indeed a chicken and egg situation. If the companies in question are later cleared, wouldn't they have unfairly lost out? Would it take mere allegations from tender losers and those with vested interests to scuttle the progress of jobs by genuine parties who won their bids fair and square?

This is the quandary that we are faced with but which should have been nipped in the bud a long time ago.

The country's advertising and promotions jobs abroad were supposed to have started on Jan 1. It's already the first week of May and some of these jobs have only just taken off. Three weeks ago, the 29 other companies which bid for the contracts were officially told that they had not been successful, following which the successful bidders were informed officially that they could start work on the long-overdue advertising and promotions work.

Sen Media executive chairman Ruzi Sekh Ahamad whose company received the South Asia, West Asia and Africa jobs called my colleague Llew Ann Phang from Capetown
on Wednesday to say that the company has already started work for the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.

One supposes he's right, as long as there is a lethargic approach to probing the allegations. One is not saying that these companies do not deserve the jobs or cannot do the work. But the fact that presentations were not made certainly justifies the perception that the whole process was suspect.

Either way one looks at it, it is the public who will pay for the consequences.

Further delays in publicity and branding exercises would be detrimental to our efforts to draw in tourist dollars. Suspension of bona fide companies which have a contract may also subject the ministry and the government to legal suits, once the authorities discover that there is no case for them to answer.

But awarding contracts involving taxpayers' funds to those who do not deserve it also puts our procurement processes and the issue of transparency and good governance in the spotlight.

If the ambiguities are left unaddressed, it may reflect the overall lackadaisical approach in addressing concerns over government agencies and procurement. This would also continue to discourage bona fide parties and individuals who can certainly contribute to the nation, from offering their services.
It does not augur well for our policymakers who are trying so hard to draw talent and the best people to contribute to nation-building, when there are still questions hanging over our heads and if at the end of the day, it is not what you know but who you know that matters.

STANDARD procedures would usually dictate that when there are questions regarding a particular decision, it would be wise to suspend the decision until all doubts are cleared and any allegations put to rest.

But allegations sometimes remain just that – accusations – until proven to be fact. So by the time checks and probes are completed, the accused parties may have lost out.

In the matter of government agencies, the execution of public policies and jobs to bring revenue to the nation may also be delayed as one tries to verify the accuracy of some of these allegations.

But alas, this is what principles of public policy dictate in matters that concern public funds and the public interest.

Hence when the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deems that it cannot "compel" another agency to suspend the award of tenders, it certainly raises eyebrows.

This is what the MACC says when queried over its probe into the award of contracts worth RM381 million to five companies, which is mired in allegations of kickbacks and breach of procurement procedures.

MACC Deputy Commissioner Datuk Shukri Abdull's assurance that "we are not finished yet" may be of little consolation to those who are braying for blood.

This is because the question later will be what if investigators discover that there were indeed certain wrongdoings, or at the very least negligence, in the selection process? By then work would have been halfway through and monies would have been paid to parties who should not have received the contracts in the first place. Then what?

Government officials and industry players whose views I sought, say in a situation such as this, what's probably the best option is to allow past recipients of the same jobs to continue the work.

But this is indeed a chicken and egg situation. If the companies in question are later cleared, wouldn't they have unfairly lost out? Would it take mere allegations from tender losers and those with vested interests to scuttle the progress of jobs by genuine parties who won their bids fair and square?

This is the quandary that we are faced with but which should have been nipped in the bud a long time ago.

The country's advertising and promotions jobs abroad were supposed to have started on Jan 1. It's already the first week of May and some of these jobs have only just taken off. Three weeks ago, the 29 other companies which bid for the contracts were officially told that they had not been successful, following which the successful bidders were informed officially that they could start work on the long-overdue advertising and promotions work.

Sen Media executive chairman Ruzi Sekh Ahamad whose company received the South Asia, West Asia and Africa jobs called my colleague Llew Ann Phang from Capetown on Wednesday to say that the company has already started work for the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.

One supposes he's right, as long as there is a lethargic approach to probing the allegations. One is not saying that these companies do not deserve the jobs or cannot do the work. But the fact that presentations were not made certainly justifies the perception that the whole process was suspect.

Either way one looks at it, it is the public who will pay for the consequences.

Further delays in publicity and branding exercises would be detrimental to our efforts to draw in tourist dollars. Suspension of bona fide companies which have a contract may also subject the ministry and the government to legal suits, once the authorities discover that there is no case for them to answer.

But awarding contracts involving taxpayers' funds to those who do not deserve it also puts our procurement processes and the issue of transparency and good governance in the spotlight.

If the ambiguities are left unaddressed, it may reflect the overall lackadaisical approach in addressing concerns over government agencies and procurement. This would also continue to discourage bona fide parties and individuals who can certainly contribute to the nation, from offering their services.
It does not augur well for our policymakers who are trying so hard to draw talent and the best people to contribute to nation-building, when there are still questions hanging over our heads and if at the end of the day, it is not what you know but who you know that matters.

When good people, petrified, swallow poison

By Farida Ibrahim to Haris Ibrahim

________________________

Dear Haris,

Please allow me space on your blog.

On March 14, 2008, you ran my article ‘How Bosses Behave Badly’ -

http://harismibrahim.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/how-bosses-behave-badly/

I had felt compelled to write then because barely had the March 8 Election Tsunami euphoria ended, and Pakatan’s component parties begun working to settle state positions, albeit with bickering amongst them, there then erupted dissident voices among many of your commentators.

Wild accusations were made about certain successful Pakatan candidates, moans and groans were expressed because the parties didn’t seem to be able to get their act together. The most strident voices belonged to those who regretted voting for the Opposition. They wanted BN back!

And this about-turn took place in less than a week after Election Day!

It tells us much about the character, loyalty and maturity of some of the people writing in to your blog. They gave BN decades but they could not give Pakatan even 2 weeks to sort out matters.

Today, many commentators are walking that same road, expressing an anger akin to that in 2008.

This time it is levelled against RPK for what he had said or is presumed to have said in his interview with TV3, and against you, Haris, for not distancing yourself from him.

Scandalous, unsubstantiated accusations that you both have been bought over by BN/ Mahathir, demonizing, slurs, verbal threats – they’re all there.

Sadly, those who made cuts in the interview and masterminded the spin, – TV3 and its political masters – have been let off lightly.

These evildoers must be celebrating because their scheme worked – good people, bewildered and petrified by what had unfolded, swallowed the poison and turned against both RPK and you.

Like the others, I too think it was a dumb, foolhardy thing for RPK to do – to agree to that interview.

Whether or not he took a calculated risk that backfired, whether or not this was his way of resurrecting the Altantuya tragedy because he did make a vow to her father that he would not rest till justice was served – who knows? Only he does.

But I do know one thing. RPK, more than any other Malaysian, opened my eyes to what really was going on in our country – politically, economically, socially, locally and nationally.

My own awakening about political processes, our fundamental rights etc. came about through reading and digesting his writings and yours, Haris. For that I am deeply grateful.

RPK’s courage in standing up to the authorities spilled over onto those of us who had become thirsty for change, and so began our greater participation in public life – from taking part in the Penguin walk, the Bersih rally, the anti-ISA rallies, the candlelight vigils, etc.

Today, reading again and again the sullying of your names in public space, the mocking language used against MCLM, I cannot help but wonder why our good people are stuck in this time warp of cursing RPK and you.

The TV3 interview was screened pre-16th March and we are now two weeks hence, yet many of your commentators are unable to move on.

Why?

Who are your commentators today? I’d say they can be categorized as follows:

a) pro-BN supporters who think they can now have a field day playing hell with the minds of readers, pitting them against you two;

b) pro-Pakatan supporters, particularly from PKR, who want to punish you because you wrote and exposed a lot of things about their divisional elections and put PKR in a tight spot by asking for explanations from Anwar and Azmin and these were not forthcoming;

c) cyber troopers paid to do their worst, create havoc and divide the Opposition front and its allies so that the BN regime can continue to rule, and mind you, it is actually only UMNO running the country;

d) decent and sincere readers who write from an anger borne of deep disappointment and some, from a sense of betrayal.

It is, really, only the last category that I am concerned about. The others, I would say, are just bent on maintaining or wresting power and so subject themselves to blind obedience to party demands, and not to the principles of justice, fairplay, truth, integrity and accountability.

So, let me say this to your decent and sincere readers/commentators:

Good People, just take a step back and examine your own hearts and motives re. this entire episode. And while you are doing that, evaluate honestly what you yourselves have done to rescue this country from politicians hell-bent on driving us down into the ground.

Have you walked the distance like RPK and Haris have? What is your own track record? Or are you merely in the grandstands, cheering them on to do what you shield yourselves from doing?

And for one mistake RPK makes – giving that interview to the enemy– you crucify both him and Haris?

You are unforgiving towards them but can tolerate what ruthless BN does, day in and day out.

Really, do you know what you have done?

You’ve given BN what it wanted. You’ve fallen into its trap – just like RPK did.

TV3 and its masters served you poison, Good People, and you swallowed it.

They wanted you to desert two men who have stood up against so much wrongdoing.

You did.

They wanted you to mock these two men, tarnish their reputation.

You did.

And in doing this for BN, you damned yourselves.

What do I mean?

Look at the top of the page. It says, ‘The People’s Parliament’.

This blog is symbolically your Parliament and mine.

Everything we’ve ever wanted our Malaysian Parliament to be, in every way we’ve wanted our politicians to behave, we must first demonstrate that in ourselves here.

We must be the catalyst, the statesmen and stateswomen we want our politicians to be.

We must be that heart and mind, voice and spirit of integrity and accountability we want others to possess

But look at what we demonstrate on this blog.

Venom is spewed. Pathetic arguments are the common offerings. People mock each other. Disrespect flows. Name-calling is common. Words are used to belittle, wound and destroy.

Where is the finesse, the maturity of thought, the substantiated arguments, the respect for one another, the articulation for nation-building?

Some people give pseudonyms because real names would jeopardize their jobs or families. That’s fine, but to use pseudonyms so that they can revel in vile words?

Do we build people up or pull them down?

So, are we any different from the current crop of parliamentarians, the likes of Nazri, Bung Mokhtar, Najib and his whole cabinet?

Can we honestly say we are people of integrity, accountable for everything we say and do?

And can we get out of this time-warp and trap we have entered into? Yes.

How? Recognize the enemy got us, pick ourselves up, acknowledge we fell from grace. Then move on.

Haris and RPK have. They’ve said what they needed to say and they’re back to working the ground, with or without you, to get this nation on track.

So what do you intend to do?

Close ranks?

Stand up and fight the common cause?

Or do you still want to stay imprisoned in that time-warp, wallow in unforgiveness and continue to swallow BN’s poison.

The choice is yours, Good People.

I leave you with this wise saying:

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

Wrongful arrest memo submitted to IGP

The Star 
KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) and the Mayday Committee have issued a memorandum to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar over the wrongful arrest of PSM secretary-general S. Arutchelvan on May 1.

Arutchelvan was mistakenly held for a 1995 theft case during a May Day demonstration and was later released on bail.

PSM treasurer A. Sivarajan said the police had admitted that it was a case of mistaken identity when they keyed in the wrong IC number.

“It was a malicious attempt by the police to scare the people into not standing up for their rights,” he said at Bukit Aman during the handing over of the memorandum.

Along with the memorandum, the group also lodged a report urging the police to investigate how the error could have occurred and those responsible for it.

The memorandum was handed over to a Bukit Aman public relations officer.

School director suspended over alleged assault

Activists chew out cops for wrongful arrest

Obama: Bin Laden death sends message to world


Barack Obama, the US president, has laid a wreath at Ground Zero in New York, where he met families of people killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

The attacks are believed to have been ordered by Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, who was killed by US forces earlier this week.

The president first paid a visit to Engine 54, a fire station from where 15 firefighters died attempting to save the nearly 3,000 people who were killed after planes were flown into the World Trade Center.

Addressing the firefighters, Obama said: "What happened on Sunday because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence sent a message around the world but also sent a message here back home."

The president said bin Laden's death sent out the message that "when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say".

"This is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day,' Obama said.

The president viewed a memorial plaque commemorating the firefighters who were lost and then lunched privately with a dozen firefighters.

Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York at the time of the attacks, joined Obama in the visit to the station.

Bush rejection

The White House has stressed that Obama's visit to Ground Zero, his first since becoming president, was not a victory tour following bin Laden's killing, but a form of homage to the victims of the attacks that triggered Washington's "war on terror" against al-Qaeda nearly a decade ago.

Obama invited George Bush, his predecessor who was president at the time of the attacks, to join him at Ground Zero.

However, the former president decided not to attend.

"He appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight," said Bush spokesman David Sherzer.

"This is a moment of unity for Americans and a moment to recall the unity that existed in this country in the wake of the attacks on 9/11," Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said. "The invitation was made in that spirit."

Carney described the death of bin Laden as a "cathartic moment for the American people", adding that Obama wanted to "honour the spirit of unity in America that we all felt in the wake of that terrible attack".

"He wants to meet with them and share with them this important and significant moment, a bitter-sweet moment, I think, for many families of the victims," he said.

Obama ratings surge

The killing of bin Laden during a helicopter-borne commando raid deep inside Abbottabad is undoubtedly one of Obama's chief political triumphs since taking office in 2008, analysts said.

Polls showed an immediate surge in his ratings and even the usually squabbling Washington political establishment has rallied around the president.

The president's actions during the visit have been portrayed as part of the same attempt to retain an atmosphere of dignity in the wake of bin Laden's killing.

Obama has personally ordered that photographs of the al-Qaeda leader's dead body remain secret - despite a clamour from many people for some visual proof of his demise.

The Reuters news agency released several pictures of people killed in the operation that it said were taken by a Pakistani security official about an hour after the assault.

In an interview with 60 Minutes, the CBS news programme, to be aired on Sunday, Obama said: "It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence.

"As a propaganda tool. You know, that's not who we are. We don't trot out this stuff as trophies. The fact of the matter is this was somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received.

"And I think Americans and people around the world are glad that he's gone. But we don't need to spike the football."

Source:Agencies

Penang keeps ‘Interlok’ concealed in public libraries

KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — The controversial “Interlok” will no longer be allowed to be displayed openly in public libraries in Penang, Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy said today.

Ramasamy explained the move did not constitute a ban on the novel, as the libraries may still keep copies on hand but not display them on publicly viewable shelves.

The DCM was responding to a question by Seri Delima assemblyman RSN Rayer during today’s session of the state assembly sitting, and explained the move to be a protest of the federal government’s insistence on using the book in schools.

The “Interlok” novel is a compulsory text for the literature component of the Bahasa Malaysia subject in the secondary school syllabus, and first encountered controversy when the Indian community accused it of containing words and phrases deemed offensive.

Following the uproar, an independent panel was formed to suggest revisions to make the novel more acceptable although critics of Datuk Abdullah Hussain’s book want it to be dropped completely instead of amended.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, however, stood firm on the decision to retain “Interlok”, choosing only to amend parts deemed sensitive by the country’s Tamil community.

Following the uproar by the Indians, the Chinese have now accused the novel of depicting the community unfavourably and are asking for it to be omitted from schools.

‘Expert witnesses’ who lie in court

The Sungai Siput MP said his patient did not get any compensation because the court was misled.

PUTRAJAYA: If you are suing for medical negligence, beware of “expert witnesses” who are not always honest with their findings.

Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) MP for Sungai Siput Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj cited Chow Chooi Mei’s case.

Chow , a patient of his, was suffering from tuberculosis. In 2004, Chow was given an overdose for her ailment at the Ipoh General Hospital, causing her to suffer from blindness and “spastic paraplegia”.

After waiting for compensation, her case was brought to court in 2007, but was later overthrown by the Sessions Court in August 2010.

Jeyakumar said that the result was influenced by two Health Ministry-related specialists, who, he claimed, “lied in court” so that Chow would not get her compensation.

“If this was how Chow’s case was handled, then any patient suing for compensation will lose out if lies are told in court.”

Jeyakumar said that the two specialists in Chow’s case told the court that the medicine given to Chow did not take away her sight.

They added that she had named the wrong doctor in the case.

However, Jeyakumar claimed to have evidence from various medical publications that spoke otherwise. He also dismissed the wrongly-named doctor as a “technicality”.

“If you look at doctor’s (reports), who writes their own name properly? It’s all just scribbles,” Jeyakumar said.

Together with Chow and PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan, Jeyakumar then met with Health Ministry director-general Hassan Abdul Rahman with a list of demands for the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).

The PSM leader asked why the experts’ testimonies differed from “public knowledge” over the drugs, and if they were speaking to save the government from giving compensation.

He also asked that they be disallowed from giving testimonies in court in the future, and urged disciplinary action be taken against them.

“We are not saying sack the doctor (who wrongly treated Chow). At least if you made a mistake, give some compensation,” Jeyakumar said.

He later told FMT that ministry officials were “non-committal” in their meeting with Chow and the PSM leaders.

“They didn’t say very much. They said they will study it. That’s all.” he said.

He added that PSM was going to continue fighting for Chow and that the ministry is expected to give a response in two weeks.

‘I want a public apology from IGP’

S Arutchelvan was arrested on Labour Day for illegal assembly and was subsequently told it was for a 1995 theft case. This is a clear-cut case of abuse of power, he says.

KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S Arutchelvan wants a public apology from Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar for abuse of power when he was arrested on May 1.

Arutchelvan and about 20 people from a crowd of 400 were arrested for failing to disperse during a Labour Day rally calling for minimum wage and a check against price hikes.

He later found out that he was arrested for a 1995 theft case in Alor Star and was asked to present himself at the Alor Star police station this Saturday.

“I enquired with the Alor Star police station only to find out that the suspect they were looking for was a Malay man with a similar identification card number as mine.

“The only difference is my identification card number begins with the letter A,” said Arutchelvan.

The old identification card numbers are made up of seven digit numbers and
some have alphabets before the numbers.

Accompanied by human rights lawyer N Surendran, former Bar Council president S Ambiga and about 20 activists, Arutchelvan lodged a complaint at the police headquarters in Bukit Aman today.

He said his arrest was a clear case of abuse of power by the police and wants a public apology from Ismail and also wants the police to cancel the bail notice that requires him to be present in Alor Star.

“If they can do something like this to me, I wonder how many other people are being wrongly detained,” said Arutchelvan.

Surendran said: “The police must open an investigation paper as it is an offence on the part of the police (to do what they did) under Section 211 of the Penal Code.”
The section is for false charge of an offence made with the intent to injure. If found guilty, the accused would be liable to imprisonment for a period of two years.

Ambiga, meanwhile, said Arutchelvan’s arrest was not only an abuse of power but was also defamatory.
The day before yesterday, Arutchelvan rubbished the 1995 police report lodged in Alor Star under Section 380 of the Penal Code for theft.

Sri Lanka conflict: ‘Probe war crimes’

Malaysian NGOs say there are 'credible allegations' of serious war crimes by Tigers and the Sri Lankan government which the UN should investigate.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian non-government organisations (NGOs) want the UN to investigate war crimes by the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

A UN report released last month, which studied the closing stages of the civil war, found that there were “credible allegations”, albeit yet to be proven, that severe war crimes had been conducted by both the Sri Lankan government and rebel forces, LTTE.

The LTTE was defeated in May 2009 ending the 26-year-old gruesome conflict.

A total of 130 NGOs have come together to ask for the investigation.Today, 30 representatives from the NGOs gathered at the UN headquaters here and presented a memorandum to UN official, Davendra Patel, urging UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to set up a mechanism to further verify these credible allegations of war crimes.

Suaram chairman, K Arumugam, who presented the memorandum, said that it would be a “brutal blow to human dignity” should the UN fail to pursue these allegations.

The memorandum has also urged the UN to investigate the Sri Lankan government for genocide and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The 127-page UN report revealed that the number of civilian deaths during the final stages of the conflict were estimated to run into the “tens of thousands”, much higher than the previous UN estimate of 7,000.

The report also accused the Sri Lankan government of serious war crime of “systematically” shelling hospitals on the frontline and conducting shelling in government-designated “safe zones” for civilians.

The UN report claimed that government shelling had caused most of the civilians deaths during the closing stages of the war. The Sri Lankan government, however, had denied the accusation, claiming that the damage was caused by suicide rebel blasts.

The government has also rejected the report, claiming that it is “fundamentally flawed”.

The LTTE was accused of holding civilians as human shields and firing on those who tried to flee. The organsation has also denied the allegation.

Estimates say that as many as 100,000 people were killed during 26 years of conflict.

A letter to PKR

Dear PKR members,

I think it’s high time you guys decide whether your party is a multi-racial one, as you've often claimed, or in fact a two-tier 1Bumi 9Non political organization, not unlike the two-tier BN of 1UMNO 9Others.

I ask because your Sarawak state chief has just been pushing the 1Bumi line, arguing that the PR Sarawak state shadow cabinet
does not have enough bumis. If he is so conscious about racial equity, then please be frank and declare your party as one like BN, of 1Bumi 9Nons.

But I sympathize with you because its seems Bian can’t make up his mind about his bumi status, as yesterday he challenged DAP to prove its (DAP’s)
multiracial credentials. He wasn't alone in his jealous outburst because I recall that Nik Nazmi, your chief of communications or whatever, had (post-election) jealously sniped at DAP in an article he wrote in The Malaysian Insider, challenging it to stand in a Malay-Melanau majority seat.

Jealous lah. Tough, eat it, or your sour grapes pathetic jealousy will be so poisonous that if you aren't careful, you'll toxify yourself, that is, if you haven't already.

Baru Bian, hot one day on multi-racialism and cold the next when he suddenly turned sizzling on ketuanan bumi, not unlike a cacing kena abu or a kera kena belacan, twisting and turning and a hopping around, probably because he wasn't nominated opposition leader, wakakaka.

Incidentally, your royal princess has declared that PKR will not cede to other PR members any of the 49 seats it contested recently, despite losing in 46 wakakaka - what a dog in a manger. What percentage does 49 over 71 make? What percentage of bumi does Baru Bian demand in the shadow cabinet? Or, does he just want be opposition leader wakakaka? Another Zahrain Hashim in the making?

Hmmm, I wonder what other outrageous demand PKR is going to make, but whatever, I won't be surprised?

Incidentally, do you know how long PKR has been in Sarawak politics? Just a mere ten years. So don’t be so easily discouraged by your pathetic results in the state election despite claiming for yourself the largest chunks of seats to contest, wakakaka. Oh yes, we remember all too well (and with disgust) the fangs you had snarled at your supposed PR allies when they asked for a fair share of the 71 seats.

DAP had hoped to get a mere 20, less than one-third, but you forced it to reduce its share to 15; SNAP asked for 20 or so, but you arrogantly declared it could have 3 as if you are like UMNO dictating to MCA, MIC, Gerakan and the rest of 9Non. Maybe some of you still think you’re UMNO and can grab the lion share wherever, whenever, however?

Baru Bian is also now eyeing DAP’s traditional grounds of Miri (and Stampin). For the next state election, why don’t you demand those 12 seats that DAP won (only after they had invested 30 years of hard work in those constituencies)? Wait, why don't you ask DAP to stay out of Sarawak and Sabah altogether, allowing you to declare these two states as PKR's 'safe deposit'? Such a policy will better align you with UMNO's thoughts.

Let me remind you of an old saying, to cut one’s suit according to the cloth one has. Thus there is no obligation for DAP (or you) to charge into constituencies where angels dare not thread, those it knows it doesn’t have a ghost of a chance. It's just a commonsense appreciation of using one's limited resources as best as one can - no need lah for a grandstanding D-Day landing in 49 seats wakakaka.

By the way, don’t panic if you now hear about DAP making man man lai inroads into Bidayuh territory. This has been based on the encouraging support it had received from the community in the last election. But fret not as it plans a lengthy five-year campaign to win the support of the people. It won’t be a fantasized 916 quickie or Taiwan foray to 'political power in 7 days'. Slow and steady wins the race, as proven in its 30 years of investment. No investment (including hardwork), no gain, because there isn't and shouldn't be any affirmative action in PR politics. So keep your fingers out of Miri, please.

Now, many of you weren’t UMNO rejects. Apart from the Batu martyr wannabe, why don’t you see the truth and do something positive, as dear Jonson Chong has, instead of remaining silent and acting 'dunno'?

Do you know something unpleasant, you bunch of ‘Confusions’ wakakaka are actually witnessing and tolerating the further UMNO-ization of your party, so really, what’s the difference between you and MCA? Wake up and remember your socialist roots, and don’t be the PKR equivalent of Liow ‘My beloved PM’ Tiong Lai wakakaka.

Yours wakakaka,

kaytee

Murder is Still Murder

Image
Obama and the green light
(Asia Sentinel) The US tarnished itself by executing bin Laden

It now appears, from “clarifications,” that the President of the United States gave the green light for the murder of another human being, if he didn't actually order it.

It is impossible to believe that Osama bin Laden would have been capable of making enough “threatening gestures” to invite homicidal retaliation from a heavily armed US Navy SEAL, probably wearing night-vision gear in what can be assumed to be total darkness at 2:20 am. It is questionable if Osama even saw the man who killed him, let alone threatened him.

This is a disgraceful and despicable act that has tarnished the image and principles of the United States, no matter Osama's crimes. It is a violation of the principles enshrined in the United States Constitution and the rule of law. It is at one with the attempt to murder Libyan dictator Muammar Ghadaffi in the current struggle for that country.

It may be argued that those principles are often more fiction than fact. Certainly, the United States stood by without interfering in the murder of South Vietnam leader Ngo Dinh Diem by his own troops in 1963. It helped to foment the 1973 coup that ousted Chile's democratically elected President Salvador Allende, who was either murdered or committed suicide. The CIA actively participated, at the request of the British MI6, in the coup that ousted the Iranian leader Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1954 over his nationalization of Iranian oil fields.

But the murder of a defenseless man, no matter what his crimes, when he could easily have been taken captive, is unacceptable. If democratic nations start to emulate the murders committed by jihadis, they are no better than those who flew the airplanes into the World Trade Towers and bombed the nightclubs of Bali.

It may be true that losers are denied both the spoils of war and a fair trial. But in the wake of World War II, Nazi leaders responsible for far worse crimes against humanity were put on trial at Nuremburg for war crimes. Ten of the top 24 Nazi leaders were hanged – and crucially, some were acquitted. In Japan, the Allied powers held trials that resulted in the execution of 920 Japanese combatants – and the acquittal of 1,018.

It may be argued that the evidence against Osama bin Laden would have resulted in his execution and thus there was no need to try him. That is specious nonsense.

As with the Germans at Nuremburg and the Japanese at Tokyo, an important principle has been ignored, and that is the use of a court of law for the purpose of illuminating for the general public the nature of the crimes committed against humanity.

The baying of the crowds in New York and Washington, DC over Osama's death, I am sad to say, represents what the United States has become. It has ceased to be the United States of Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Lincoln and become the United States of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and George W. Bush. What is sad and astonishing is that Barack H. Obama, a Chicago liberal and Democrat, a so-called transformational figure, has become part of the crowd.

Osama bin Laden should have been in The Hague standing trial for crimes against humanity instead of at the bottom of the Arabian Sea.

If this is American exceptionalism, America is welcome to it. Superman, it is said, has given up his American citizenship.

Malay Unity Will Strengthen With Umno-PAS Marriage: Rais

KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 (Bernama) -- Malay unity will be strengthened with the "marriage" of Umno and PAS, Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said Thursday.

He said there was nothing wrong in seeking this "noble aim" (unity) and it should not be viewed with suspicion by anyone.

Such unity was sought in Article 3 of the Umno constitution and in an article of the PAS constitution, he told reporters after launching a radio programme on Malay culture here.

Rais was commenting on calls from various quarters for PAS to cut ties with the DAP and cooperate with Barisan Nasional.

He said that Umno should be regarded as the backbone of the nation based on the politics of numbers since it represented the Malays which made up 60 per cent of the population.

Singapore general election: Democracy rising

It’s just two more days to polling day in Singapore – and the democratic awakening sweeping across the world has not left the island republic untouched.

“Singapore is a country – not a company,” says private teacher Michelle Lee, speaking at an opposition SDP rally

An opposition rally in Singapore

One political observer in Singapore told me he expects the opposition to pick up 10 to 12 seats in the 87-seat legislature. “(It is) difficult to predict though…..could be more. People I spoke to (seem) determined to cast their votes to the Opposition.” In the 2006 general election, the opposition won just two out of the 84 seats up for grabs. Under the circumstances, even if the opposition captures six to eight seats, it would be a significant advance.
Like elsewhere, part of this newfound democratic consciousness may be attributed to the stranglehold over the mainstream media being broken by wider public access to alternative views on the Internet. There’s solidarity in numbers too – and that has helped to cast off some of the fear of earlier years.
What’s interesting is that quite a number of the major election issues in Singapore are similar to ours – although of course the obvious corruption and the racial and religious rhetoric over there is much less.
The core issues seem depressingly familiar: lack of freedom of expression, the rising cost of living, an influx of migrant workers, the absence of a minimum wage, a clamour for affordable health care and housing, traffic congestion and crowded public transport, long hours at work, retired workers having to work into their twilight years.
Apart from this, many seem resentful over the high ministerial pay packets. Like in Malaysia, income inequality in Singapore is worrying: the island republic’s Gini coefficient was 0.425 for 2000-2010, the second highest of 42 nations with “very high human development”.
But beyond all this there seems to be realisation that human development should not be measured solely in economic terms. At the heart of it all, many Singaporeans appear tired of the focus on GDP and productivity in Corporate Singapore even as a large proportion of workers appear to be struggling.
Voters now seem to be looking at larger quality of life issues; they want to be treated with dignity and they want their democratic freedom, their basic universal rights. Surely, there must be more to life than slogging away in the service of GDP growth rates and the bottom line or being a human cog in the production line.
That’s not too dissimilar from what is happening in Malaysia, where many are waking up to hard economic realities. Many Malaysians are also burdened by the inability of wages to keep pace with the soaring cost of living. And all the while, the government bows to Corporate Malaysia with pro-business policies that promote corporate-driven GDP growth (for whom?) while dishing out corporate incentives, soft loans, and contracts for the ‘boys’.
It’s time for a more sustainable and people-centred approach to development that would put people above profits. The economy should serve the people and not the other way around.