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Monday, May 23, 2011

‘Days are numbered for race-based parties’

For the first time voters are switching to multi-ethnic parties instead of supporting traditional raced-based ones, says PPP's Kayveas.

GEORGE TOWN: The young voters have had enough of race based politics and parties that represent only one race.

If one is to believe PPP president M Kayveas, the switch to multi-ethnic political parties have already begun.

Kayveas has come to this conclusion based on a study of registration of new voters done by PPP.

He said PPP, a multi-ethnic party, has registered the second highest number of new voters after Umno in the Barisan Nasional coalition.

He said his party registered more new voters for the next general election than race-based parties like MIC and MCA.

“Since December last year, the PPP has registered over 30,000 voters. Our focus is to get young voters to support BN in the next general election,” he said.

He added that PPP would stay focused in wooing young voters to support BN in the next election.

Kayveas said the issue of young voters opting for multi-ethnic based parties was discussed extensively at a BN Supreme Counci meeting recently.

“Other than Umno, the young ones are not keen to support just one race- based party,” he added.

He said coming in second to Umno in new voter registration was a plus point for PPP as Umno has the machinery to reach out to the largest number of voters who are largely Malay Muslims or bumiputeras.

Seeking another deputy minister’s post

Kayveas said PPP’s strategy was simple, which was to canvass support among the young voters, at least 5,100 of them in each of the 155 parliament constituencies where the party has a presence.

“Some 5,000 votes in our vote bank in each constituency is a huge statement as our voters can help decide who wins or loses.”

According to him, the winning majority in most of the 222 parliament seats, was an average of 5,000 during the 2008 general election.

Kayveas also said that PPP was now seeking for an additional deputy minister’s post because of its rising popularity. He claimed that PPP has around 577,000 members in 155 divisions nationwide.

In June last year, PPP senior vice-president Maglin Dennis D’Cruz was appointed as a senator and made Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture.

Kayveas said the additional deputy minister post would be given to Penang PPP chairman Dr Loga Balan Mohan if the Prime Minister agrees to it .

As for seats allocation for the next election, Kayveas who plans to step down as president in 2014, said PPP has decided to change its strategy from outright lobbying to winning-ability.

“We will only contest in seats which the BN leadership feels we have the better chance of winning compared to our BN partners,” he said.

Help resolve MIED fiasco, Najib urged

The Prime Minister must find an equitable solution to the mess in MIC's education arm and placate the Indian community.

PETALING JAYA: A MIC leader wants Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to step in and help resolve the scandal-ridden Maju Institute of Educational Development (MIED), MIC’s education arm.

V Thiagarajen, Taman Mujur MIC branch chairman, submitted a memorandum to the PM’s office last week, asking Najib to be firm in dealing with MIED.

Thiagarajen better known as VT Rajen, said he does not want a repeat of the Maika Holdings fiasco which plagued the MIC for over 30 years and left a scar in the Malaysian Indian phyche.

“Millions of hard earned ringgit from the Indian community have been mismanaged and wasted and now the same thing is happening in MIED,” he added.

Most of the Indian voters, said Rajen, deserted the MIC and BN in the 2008 general election, which led to the defeat of party heavyweights, including former president S Samy Vellu.

“It was largely due to the Maika Holdings scandal. The anger and dissatisfaction among the Indian community were not only directed at the MIC but also BN, for failing to help,” he said.

The MIED is embroiled in controversy with allegations of mismanagment, financial losses, awarding contracts to cronies, and close relatives of its chief Samy Vellu.

Rajen said the poor management of MIED must be taken seriously by the government and Najib must find an equitable solution to the mess and pacify the Indian community.

MIED hit the headlines after allegations that a total of RM5.265 million were missing from its account. Critics have also questioned the awarding of contracts relating to the construction of the Asian Institute of Medicine Science and Technology (AIMST).

Memurnikan novel ‘Panchayat’

Sebuah novel yang terbit pada 2002 sedang dimurnikan untuk diterbitkan semula.
COMMENT

Novel ‘Panchayat’ (2002) adalah novel pertama yang saya terbitkan sendiri iaitu selepas menerbitkan kumpulan cerpen ‘Sasterawan Pulau Cinta’ (2001) dan antologi cerpen ‘Vanakam’ (2002).

Tempoh dari tahun 2002 hingga sekarang bukan suatu tempoh yang lama. Namun, sistem bahasa memang sudah mengalami sedikit perubahan. Pada masa sama, perlu juga diakui bahawa terdapat beberapa sesilapan dalam novel edisi 2002 yang wajar dibetulkan sekiranya mahu diterbitkan semula.

Itulah yang saya lakukan sebagai langkah pertama menerbitkan semula Panchayat sebagai ‘Panchayat: Edisi Khas’.

Panchayat adalah majlis timbang cara dalam amalan hidup kaum India yang diwarisi daripada nenek-moyang di Benua Kecil India. Tarafnya lebih kurang seperti mahkamah penghulu dalam kalangan orang Melayu, tetapi tidak sama.

Pada asalnya, panchayat diwakili oleh lima (panca) orang warga tua terhormat di kampung berkenaan. Akan tetapi, mengikut peredaran zaman, panchayat mula dipengerusikan oleh seorang sahaja; biasanya ketua kampung.

Cerpen ‘Pancayat’ (Siru Kambam, 1996) yang berlatarkan Kubur Gajah menampilkan misteri kehilangan berhala emas Kaali Devi dan disusuli beberapa kes kematian secara tiba-tiba. Tidak ada penyelesaian yang jitu pada akhir cerpen; dan ini disengajakan.

Beberapa persoalan dalam cerpen berkenaan terjawab dalam novel Panchayat. Tetapi novel itu pula pasti menimbulkan beberapa persoalan baru yang tidak dijawab di sini. Hal ini juga disengajakan.

Suatu hal yang ketara (dan sesungguhnya saya senangi) dalam karya saya adalah penampilan budaya, bahasa, adat dan cara hidup masyarakat India yang terdiri daripada beberapa keturunan yang bangga dengan identiti keturunan masing-masing; sambil tetap menjadi sebahagian daripada Bangsa Malaysia.

Sebenarnya saya beranggapan adalah menjadi tanggungjawab saya menampilkan kebudayaan kaum India untuk tatapan dan pemahaman para pembaca yang terdiri daripada pelbagai kaum di Malaysia.

Manuskrip lesap

Lapan bab pertama novel Panchayat telah saya hasilkan antara waktu-waktu kuliah di Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur pada tahun 1994.

Sewaktu saya terlantar di Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya (Hospital Universiti) akibat kemalangan pada bulan Februari 1994, saya meluangkan masa membina plot dalam kepala untuk sepuluh bab terakhir.

Manuskrip novel ini pada mulanya diberi kepada sebuah penerbit terkemuka tanah air. Dr Othman Puteh (Allahyarham) selaku penilai sudah meluluskan manuskrip novel ini untuk diterbitkan.

Bagaimanapun, tidak lama kemudian, saya diberitahu bahawa manuskrip itu sedang dinilai semula sebagai sebuah novel kanak-kanak!

Tidak setakat itu, kemudian manuskrip yang sama diserahkan pula kepada seorang “ustaz” di penerbitan yang sama untuk dinilai semula bagi kali yang entah keberapa. Dan seperti yang telah saya duga, manuskrip yang saya serahkan itu “lesap” begitu sahaja. Entah apa alasan sebenar yang menyebabkan novel berkenaan tidak diterbitkan.

Akhirnya, pada tahun 2002, saya membuat keputusan menerbitkan sendiri novel ini supaya kisah yang terkandung di dalamnya boleh sampai kepada khalayak pelbagai kaum.

Apa yang menarik, walaupun ditulis empat tahun sebelum istilah “adil” mula menjadi bualan ramai, novel Panchayat banyak memuatkan istilah tersebut: mampukah majlis timbang cara berlaku adil, apakah seorang individu mampu menjamin keputusan yang benar dan adil, sukarnya menegakkan keadilan dan seumpamanya.

Tapi ingat: novel ini sudah saya tulis pada tahun 1994 lagi. Jadi, jangan pula ada pihak yang memutarbelitkan cerita dan mengatakan bahawa Panchayat berciri anti-establishment!

Akhirnya, novel Panchayat yang pernah “lesap” semasa dinilai seorang “ustaz” di sebuah penerbitan terkemuka tanah air sampai ke tangan pembaca pada tahun 2002.

Rasional mudah

Novel ‘Panchayat: Edisi Khas’ pula sedang dalam usaha untuk diterbitkan berikutan permintaan daripada masyarakat pelbagai kaum yang dahaga akan sebuah novel oleh sasterawan tempatan yang mampu menggambarkan budaya kaum India di Malaysia secara yang bermaruah.

Tidak dapat dinafikan bahawa “minat” ini timbul berikutan kontroversi novel ‘Interlok Edisi Murid’ (2010) yang masih belum ada penyelesaian yang memuaskan hati semua pihak.

Sebenarnya, kerangka yang saya gunakan dalam kerja-kerja “memurnikan” novel ‘Interlok Edisi Murid’ dijadikan panduan semasa “memurnikan” novel ‘Panchayat’.

Misalnya, keseluruhan novel itu diteliti semula dari aspek kesalahan bahasa, kesalahan fakta dan perkara-perkara yang mungkin menyentuh sensitiviti pembaca pelbagai kaum.

Rasionalnya amat mudah: Sedangkan karya seorang Sasterawan Negara boleh “dimurnikan”, inikan pula karya seorang pengarang biasa seperti saya.

Saya mendapatkan bantuan daripada sekumpulan rakan-rakan dari pelbagai latar, kaum, bidang dan pendidikan untuk meneliti novel ‘Panchayat’.

Maklum balas yang mereka berikan amat membantu kerja-kerja “memurnikan” novel berkenaan sebelum diterbitkan dalam bentuk edisi khas.

Selepas kerja-kerja “pemurnian” hampir selesai, kini saya perlu pula memikirkan soal dana bagi menerbitkan ‘Panchayat: Edisi Khas’. Tanpa wang yang mencukupi, tentu sukar untuk menerbitkan novel berkenaan walaupun ISBN sudah diperoleh dan reka kulit baru sedang diusahakan.

Uthaya Sankar SB berharap novel ini dapat diterbitkan sebelum beliau menyertai World Tamil Writers Conference di Singapura pada Oktober nanti.

Sex abuse: The truth is out there

Since the police are hiding the truth about sexual crimes against children, someone has to come out and reveal the true story
COMMENT

When the nation’s top cop orders the 2010 Crime Statistics booklet be placed under the banner of Official Secrets Act, berefting the people details on the state of crime affecting women and children, what should the people make of it?

The statistics are available in a booklet prepared by Bukit Aman’s Sexual Crimes Child Abuse Division.

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), a non-governmental organisation, had three months ago requested for the information. The police responded saying they were unable to provide the details as the figures were classified as confidential documents.

The statistics requested include cases of domestic violence, rape, incest, domestic worker abuse and child abuse.

Thinking that the police made a mistake, WAO on April 1 wrote yet again to Bukit Aman, explaining why the statistics were needed. On April 28, WAO received the 2010 Crime Statistics from Bukit Aman with a cover letter informing that the information given was for reference and research purposes only – it cannot be shared with a third party.

Puzzled by the sudden change of affairs, WAO put in a letter of appeal asking that the decision be reconsidered.

The Inspector-General of Police, Ismail Omar, the man who barred the information from becoming public knowledge, is now claiming he had no idea of the WAO request.

“I haven’t seen the application. I have no idea what it’s about,” was how Ismail tried to wriggle his exit.

But as WAO executive director Ivy Josiah said, why are the police hiding the truth about sexual crimes against children?

Public education messages

WAO wants the information de-classified as the information in the booklet is important in learning the
trends of sexual crime to help people understand the issue of violence against women.

Said Josiah: “We need them to formulate public education messages and policy reform. For example, an important statistic is how many women die in their own homes and whether there are prior domestic violence reports so we can see if there’s a link.”

Speculating on Bukit Aman’s refusal to release the statistics unlike previously, she said it could be that the information puts the country in a bad light.

To Josiah, the best way to overcome such obstacles is by putting in place a Freedom of Information Act.

For WAO, the statistics assist it in offering services that are relevant with the changing times. And statistics are crucial as it helps the group to understand trends and effects.

Without the statistics, WAO is unable to focus its attention on those who need it most and to help combat these crimes.

In April 2009, Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung reported to the Dewan Negara that compared with 1,241 rape cases reported in 2007, the figure was higher in 2008, at 4,959 cases, , showing a 300% increase.

Also, in the first two months of 2009, 769 rape cases were reported.

Statistics from the police concerning domestic violence revealed that the number of reported domestic violence cases had increased by 505 cases from 3,264 in 2006 to 3,769 in 2008.

Furthermore, data obtained showed that the number of rape cases had doubled in the last six years, from 1,217 in 2000 to 2, 341 cases in 2006.

Financial difficulties blamed

In cases of incest, a women’s group reported that the incidence of sexual abuse had increased within a five-year period (1993 to 1998). It was reported that more than 50% of all sexual abuse victims were under 16 years of age.

Interestingly, a consultant community paediatrician at the Ipoh General Hospital, Dr Amar Singh, in a letter dated April 13, 2002 to an English daily, said at least 8.3% of all Malaysian females and 2.19% of all Malaysian males had been sexually abused or had suffered incest in their childhood.

According to Amar, who for many years had worked with children who had been sexually abused or who are victims of incest, very few cases of incest or sexual abuse had been brought to court and even fewer ended up with conviction. This is because under the Criminal Procedure Code, it is difficult to provide sufficient evidence particularly when it involves underage children.

Child abuse reports in Malaysia spiked to a record high last year, according to statistics, as police blame the crime on misunderstandings and financial difficulties.

The number of physical child abuse cases jumped about 26% from 203 in 2009 to 257 in 2010, the highest recorded over the last five years, police revealed to local daily, the Malay Mail, recently. In 2006, the figure was only 141.

Conversely, the Department of Social Welfare, in 2008 reported that child abuse cases stood at 2,780, unlike 2,279 in 2007 and 1,999 in 2006 respectively. It meant an average of seven children in Malaysia were reported to be victims of abuse each day in 2008.

The 2008 report revealed that neglect is the most common form of child abuse (952 cases), followed by physical abuse (863), sexual abuse (733), of which 529 (72%) were incest. In addition, 58 cases of abandoned babies were also reported in that same year.

Failure to provide care and supervision has become the most frequent cause of death among children. The World Health Organisation defines child abuse and neglect as child maltreatment,

And as has happened in Malaysia on many occasions, child abuse has also led to the death of the child.

In 2009, the Indonesian Embassy second secretary (consular affairs), Susapto Anggoro Broto, said Malaysia was the most problematic of all the Asian countries that took in Indonesian domestic helpers.

Child abuse cases on the rise

Each year, no fewer than 1,000 domestic helpers, mostly Indonesians, flee for their lives after suffering cruelty at the hands of their employers.

One such case that will forever haunt both Malaysia and Indonesia is that of Indonesian domestic helper Nirmala Bonat who made national news in 2004 after revealing the brutality faced at the hands of her employer, who abused Nirmala with an iron and boiling water. Four years later, the employer, a housewife, was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

WAO programme officer Valerie Mohan expressed unhappiness over the restrictive use of the information given, especially when the police have refused to explain the need to hide such details.

She said the statistics were necessary as it would help WAO lobby for allocation of resources not only for the NGOs but also for the welfare department and the police.

“We maintain the position that freedom and access to information is central to a democratic process and that all statistics of public interest should be made available in the public domain without any hindrance by the authorities.

“Access to such information is not only vital to WAO and civil society but it should also be recognised that we have a right to have access to such information,” Valerie wrote to an online news site.

Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) provides that governments take appropriate measures to protect children from all forms of abuse, neglect and violence, by their parents or anyone else who looks after them. In terms of discipline, CRC upholds that any form of discipline involving violence is unacceptable.

With the number of child abuse cases on the rise in Malaysia, there is no excuse for Ismail to classify the booklet under the OSA. Doing so only puts the police force in a bad light for various reasons, be it hiding the truth or not doing its job of helping women’s groups work at putting in place strategies to raise awareness among the public.

What is more important to Ismail is to hide as much truth as possible, perhaps to paint a glossy picture of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s National Key Results Areas (NKRA) under its Government Transformation Programme. It was in March last year that Deputy Home Minister Jelaing Mersat said the national crime index had dropped by 3.4% since NKRA’s crime prevention campaign was initiated in 2009.

If the NKRA was indeed successful in reducing crime rates as claimed, why then did the IGP refuse to disclose the statistics in the 2010 Crime Statistics booklet?

Or is the situation otherwise, with Ismail worried that the increasing crime rates are a harsh reflection of the “dedication” of the police force to its profession? Perhaps the indifference shown by the police in handling the rapes of the Penan women and girls is a hint as to why the IGP is uneasy in releasing the statistics to WAO.

Anyhow, since Ismail has decided to use his discretion in prohibiting the truth from reaching the people, it is now left to the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Jalil to step in and speak the truth, as it is out there.

The people are waiting…

MIC wants bright students to seek PSD scholarships

Palanivel also urged the Indian community to strengthen solidarity and appreciate the 1Malaysia concept.
KUALA LUMPUR: MIC president G Palanivel today advised Indian students with excellent examination results to register with the Public Service Department (PSD) for scholarships to pursue tertiary education.
He said students who had yet to do so could obtain assistance at any MIC office.

“The MIC will help applicants who go through the party. We will discuss the matter with the PSD, especially in the case of students from poor families,” he told reporters after the launch of the Telegu Association of Malaysia by Deputy Information Communication and Culture Minister Maglin Dennis D’Cruz, here.

Palanivel also urged the Indian community to strengthen solidarity and appreciate the 1Malaysia concept.
On the party’s preparations to face the next general election, he said the MIC would field candidates who could work hard and were committed to helping the people.

At the event, 50 students were honoured for achieving excellent results in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) examinations.
- Bernama

Growing split in MIC despite Palanivel’s unity efforts

ANALYSIS, May 23 — Datuk G. Palanivel’s attempts to unite the MIC by bringing back sacked members have resulted in accusations that the new president is trying to head off a challenge to his six-month leadership of the Barisan Nasional (BN) component party.
Critics say pardoning leaders sacked just before his predecessor Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu stepped down was a move to strengthen Palanivel’s own position rather than the party as a whole.
Earlier this year, Palanivel (picture) told The Malaysian Insider that all MIC members who were sacked or resigned would be allowed back and handed their old posts.
Last month, the central working committee (CWC) readmitted three leaders who headed the Anti-Samy Movement (GAS).
V. Mugilan reclaimed his post as deputy Youth chief while Kumar Aamaan and K.P. Samy are back in the CWC.
In the aftermath of the CWC decision, MIC Youth secretary C. Sivarraajh filed a complaint to the Registrar of Societies (RoS) claiming the decision was invalid as it breached clauses in the party’s constitution, including one that says members sacked by the party can only be readmitted two years later.
Sivaraajh’s complaint was followed by Bagan division chief Datuk Henry Benedict Asirvatham questioning the methods and motives of the president.
He openly accused Palanivel of trying to politically assassinate deputy president Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, who is considered a potential challenger for the presidency.
Dr Subramaniam, who is MIC’s only Cabinet minister, is said to have the support of Samy Vellu, who led the party for three decades prior to this.
A significant number of Youth leaders are said to back a leadership team headed by Human Resource Minister Dr Subramaniam and Youth chief T. Mohan.
But Mugilan was reported to be readying a challenge for the Youth chief post, angering those in power now.
But party polls that were due early next year have also been postponed until after the next general election, delaying any attempt to challenge Palanivel, who took over as president in mid-December.
Those critical of Palanivel have directly or indirectly claimed that he has no grassroots support and only won in two previous party elections due to the backing of Samy Vellu.
The Malaysian Insider understands that the former president has become uneasy with the steps taken by Palanivel.
Last Thursday, Asirvatham received a show cause letter which he says he will definitely respond to.
“If I need proof, I can bring witnesses from around the country in buses who support Dr Subramaniam with proof that there are attempts to politically assassinate him,” he said when contacted by The Malaysian Insider.
He insisted that Palanivel had restored leaders sacked by Samy Vellu “not in the interests of the party, but because he is worried about Dr Subramaniam’s popularity.”
Asirvatham also claimed that Palanivel has set his sights on bringing down vice-president Datuk M. Saravanan.
When contacted, secretary-general S. Murugessan confirmed that the disciplinary committee has asked Asirvatham to show cause for his attack on Palanivel.
Political analyst Sivamurugan Pandian said the steps taken by Palanivel appeared good on the surface but it would be difficult for some to accept that the sacked leaders were automatically returned to their previous posts.
Samy Vellu supporters as well as Asirvatham have also claimed that Palanivel has opened nearly 1,000 new branches to shore up support for himself in the party.
Dr Subramaniam was one of just three MIC candidates who made it into Parliament after the 2008 elections which broke BN’s two-thirds parliamentary majority.
Palanivel, who lost in Hulu Selangor, was appointed a senator at the end of last year after he did not contest a by-election there in April 2010.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is expected to call snap polls within the year and has been asking all BN component parties to ensure unity ahead of the elections.

Najib vs. Anwar: Epic Battle

Image
Such good friends
Wikileaks cables detail a struggle Najib has won so far


Hidden in thousands of pages of US diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to Asia Sentinel, is a years-long battle for Malaysian political primacy between Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

It is a battle that Najib appears to have won, at least for now, having been named prime minister while an embattled Anwar remains in the dock, fighting charges that he sodomized an aide.

The cables, more than 900,000 words long and covering 15 years from 1993 to 2008, depict an Anwar who from the start saw Najib as a danger to him personally. He was in frequent touch with US Embassy officials, warning constantly that Najib was the perpetrator of a long series of corrupt acts in the procurement of defense equipment and that he was a danger to the exercise of democracy. 

Equally, the cables depict an American legation determined to avoid becoming ensnared in Malaysian politics by taking sides. Christopher LaFleur, US ambassador from 2004 to 2007, wrote in a July 31, 2007 cable to US Army Gen. George W. Casey that “Malaysia is important to us because it is an economically successful, stable, predominantly Muslim country that, over the longer term, may be able to support us more strongly in places like the Middle East… The overall tone in Malaysian-American relations has improved considerably since Abdullah Badawi became Prime Minister in late-2003, and we seek to translate this into substantive improvements.  Bilateral relations eroded under Abdullah's vituperative predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad, but Abdullah brought with him a friendlier style and an interest in projecting a more moderate image, both for himself and for his country. “

The embassy, however, watched closely as Anwar forged an unwieldy opposition coalition from the Islamist Parti Islam se-Malaysia, the Chinese Democratic Action Party and Anwar’s own Parti Keadilan Rakyat, made up largely of urban Malays. 

From the time Anwar was released from prison after a 1999 trial on what were widely seen to be bogus charges of corruption and sexual deviancy, the cables show a United Malays National Organisation paralyzed by inaction and led by an ineffective Abdullah Badawi while opposition forces raise enthusiastic crowds of tens of thousands of cheering spectators demanding political reform.

The need for Anwar’s crucial leadership of the awkward coalition is underscored by a Feb. 23, 2007 cable signed by LaFleur. “PAS valued Anwar as the ‘bridge’ between the non-Malays especially the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and PAS, and as a name-brand figure able to attract voters,” La Fleur wrote. 

PAS elders, he wrote, found it impossible to communicate with the DAP and other non-Malay parties. He quotes Azizan Abdul Razak of PAS saying that PAS and DAP were “like chickens and ducks, feeding at the same trough, but unable to talk to one another.” Anwar was seen as the only one who could blunt the “ruling National Front juggernaut.”

Anwar, LaFleur wrote on July 17, 2007, was concentrating his attacks on then Deputy Prime Minister Najib as a way to “open up fissures in UMNO middle ranks that will give him other opportunities.” 

As pressure continued on the ruling coalition, Anwar led enthusiastic rallies all over the country, culminating in the March 2008 national elections that ended the Barisan Nasional’s 50-year two-thirds hold on parliament.  The cables in general seem to indicate a sense of growing panic and paralysis on the part of Barisan leaders, particularly in UMNO, and a desire to drive Abdullah Badawi from the premiership to make way for Najib.  Anwar compounded the fears by displaying an eight-minute videotape of a prominent lawyer, VK Lingam, apparently telling a Supreme Court judge to fix key appointments in the government’s favor, thus spurring a royal inquiry into judicial corruption.

According to Ambassador James Keith, who succeeded LaFleur in July 2007, UMNO leaders worried “about Anwar's drawing power on the streets.  That Anwar and other opposition leaders proceeded successfully in the face of PM Abdullah's personal warnings should bolster the opposition's resolve and embolden them to plan further events.“ 

After Anwar returned to politics by taking back his Penang parliamentary seat in a by-election, it was only a matter of time before UMNO replaced a faltering Abdullah Badawi with Najib.  As Mahathir goaded Najib to act in April 2007, Anwar was telling the diplomats that his opposition coalition “had a ‘realistic’ opportunity to topple PM Abdullah's government by bringing over 30 or more BN MPs for a no-confidence vote in Parliament,” Keith wrote. 

All of that was brought to a halt on June 30, 2008,when former aide Mohamed Saiful Bukhary Azlan, charged that he had been sodomized by Anwar, a case that goes on to this day.  The charges brought the opposition’s momentum to a halt.

On July 23, 2008, apparently aware that this second sodomy arrest was being viewed skeptically by the international community, Malaysian Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar assembled a flock of foreign diplomats to give them the government’s view. 

According to a cable on that date signed by Keith, Syed Hamid dismissed claims of conspiracy, defended the police handling of the case and emphasized that Anwar was “being treated fairly.”

“The Government of Malaysia is becoming aware of the negative impact the Anwar case has had on its international reputation and is acting to change the negative foreign perceptions,” the cable read. 

“Today's briefing was an attempt by the GOM to influence the diplomatic community, counter Anwar's own messaging the day before, and work against critical international media attention.” 

The skeptical tone of the cable is difficult to miss. Syed Hamid, the cable said, “shared no new information with the group as a whole and we doubt the briefing swayed diplomats to change their prior opinions; indeed, we heard a good measure of cynicism from some of the gathered diplomats. The government's decision to hold the event and the Ambassador's discussion with the Home Minister afterward served to reinforce our belief that the Government of Malaysia already has decided to charge Anwar for sodomy, and it will take this next step by mid-August.” 

The cables take note of the fact that Anwar filed a police complaint on July 1, 2008 against the national police chief and the Attorney General.  He held a press conference and later headlined a mass rally, using the podium to attack Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor, “whom he believes to be behind the current sodomy allegations.”  

Anwar's wife Wan Azizah met with Abdullah Badawi, the cable notes, “to provide him with information on Najib's connection to Anwar's accuser, and receive Abdullah's assurances her husband would be treated fairly… The sodomy case highlights that the risks for Anwar from the political status quo are significant and very personal, and provides impetus for Anwar to move ahead more aggressively to try to topple the BN government and stop Najib from becoming the next Prime Minister.”

That was 2008 and that is pretty much where the political situation still stands three years later.  Frustrated with the sodomy case and hamstrung by internal political squabbling within his coalition, Anwar may not be a spent force, but Najib has the far stronger hand.  The cables contain no smoking guns about the sodomy case. But the trial itself, with the prosecution’s numerous missteps and admissions that Najib, his wife and police officials met with Saiful before he made the allegations against Anwar, provides enough evidence of that.

Police probing fake judgment in RM400,000 suit

The Star
by NELSON BENJAMIN

JOHOR BARU: Police are probing a “mysterious” High Court judgment that ordered two companies to pay RM400,000 to a law school dropout even before the case has been set for hearing.

The judgment, believed to be fake, was said to have been obtained after a senior High Court Registrar’s signature was forged.

The matter came to light after a court official discovered that an originating summons, filed by the dropout against an investment company and a golf resort for RM400,000, had been given a judgment in favour of the plaintiff recen­tly.

The court official then carried out checks and discovered the registrar’s signature had been falsified and the decision had been given within 24 hours of the originating summons being filed.

Sources said the dropout, in his 20s, even tried to get bank officials to transfer the money from the two companies to his personal account in Bayan Lepas in Penang.

This prompted bank officials to call the police and check with the court officials when they realised something amiss about the order.

The senior court official then lodged a police report alleging that her signature had been forged to issue the said judgment.

Police have started investigations into the case for attempted cheating.

Initial investigation showed that the dropout had claimed that the money was actually investments he had made with the companies and he filed the summons to get back his funds after the companies refused to pay him.

Police are still checking to ascertain how the dropout managed to prepare the fake judgment.

A court official confirmed that a report had been lodged with the police and added that this was the first time such a case had occurred here.

Sources said that police, who picked up the dropout, released him on bail after a magistrate refused to remand the suspect.

Bersih should clean up its act, says Home Minister

The Star 
by MOHD FARHAAN SHAH

JOHOR BARU: The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) should change its ways and not hold public demonstrations, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

“Demonstrations are a nuisance and may backfire.

“They (Bersih) have nothing better to do other than to instil hatred in the hearts and minds of the people and show to the world that our country is chaotic,” he told reporters after attending the closing ceremony of the Pulai Umno meeting here yesterday.

Hishammuddin vowed that police would clamp down on demonstrators if they posed a threat to national security.

He said public security was the main priority for police and that they would take action against demonstrators who create chaos.

Hishammuddin was responding to a report that Bersih was orga­nising a “Walk for Democracy” on July 9 to demand for free and fair elections.

He also said that the ministry had forwarded the proposed amendments to various Acts, including the Internal Security Act, to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Cabinet.

“One proposed amendment will allow rallies to be held in stadiums for which the organiser will not need a permit.

“Let them (demonstrators) shout from morning to evening inside the stadium where they will not create trouble for the public,” he said.

Earlier, Hishammuddin, who is also Umno vice-president, urged the Malays not to choose and follow pemimpin hantu (phantom leaders) who would do anything to gain power.

He said such leaders only thought of their own position and would even sell out their own race and religion for power.