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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nik Aziz dares Najib to back hudud law

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat dismissed as laughable suggestions that Kelantan could now go ahead to implement hudud law in the state now that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was no longer the prime minister.
Instead, he challenged Datuk Seri Najib Razak to withdraw any objections the federal government still had over Kelantan’s longstanding plans to implement hudud.
Dr Mahathir, the former prime minister, had previously written to the Kelantan mentri besar to inform him that the state did not have a right to implement hudud, which prescribes stoning, whipping and amputation as punishment for criminal offences.
But in remarks released through his Facebook page today, Nik Aziz (picture) pointed out that the letter from Dr Mahathir remained valid.
“I have not heard of any policy whereby letters sent by a prime minister expires after that prime minister resigns.
“Do all matters expire and need to be renewed when there is a change of prime minister? Tun Mahathir’s challenge is funny indeed,” he said. Dr Mahathir quit as PM in 2003.
Dr Mahathir challenged Nik Aziz yesterday to implement hudud because he was no longer prime minister.
The former PM’s remarks appear aimed at highlighting an issue that will almost certainly spark intense debate and rouse opposition from non-Muslims.
Since 2008 PAS and its Pakatan Rakyat allies, the DAP and PKR, have won over non-Muslim support, largely due to unhappiness with graft in government as well as policies seen as discriminatory to them.
The MCA, MIC and Gerakan, the three major non-Muslim Barisan Nasional (BN) parties, have been struggling to win back voters after losing record numbers of seats in the 2008 general election.
Dr Mahathir’s remarks are also designed to place pressure on PAS, which has successfully gained support among more moderate Malaysians by appearing to place its stated aim of forming a theocratic Islamic state on the back-burner.
PAS has tried to project a more moderate and progressive image in recent years, and has recently introduced its own version of a welfare state as part of its manifesto ahead of the next general election.
PAS had tried unsuccessfully in the past to introduce hudud and other strict Islamic laws.
But these attempts have all failed because of the federal government’s refusal to sanction any vote on changes to the federal constitution.

Malay nationalists biggest hurdle to NEM

New Economic Model is hailed as the key to Malaysia's progress but an institute warns of resistance within Umno itself.

PETALING JAYA: A new paper by the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) has hailed the New Economic Model as the key to Malaysia’s progress but also identified Malay nationalists as the biggest hurdle in its implementation.

The NEM was unveiled on March 30, 2010 with a vision to more than double Malaysia’s per capita income by 2020 via the key tenets of high-income, sustainability and inclusiveness.

The paper recognised that these steps were significant ones in the right direction but warned that resistance from Malay nationalists from within Umno itself could derail the plan.

In a press statement today IDEAS chief executive, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, stressed that the influence of these nationalists cannot be underestimated.

He referred to the re-emergence of pro-Malay agenda in the second part of the NEM as well as the establishment of Putrajaya’s bumiputera business co-ordinator, Teraju, as an example of how Malay nationalists forced Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, to water down his boldness.

“Any policy change that touches on Malay privileges is risky,” Wan said. “The launch of the NEM Part 1 in March 2010 led to an outcry from Malay nationalists, particularly about the lack of a “Malay agenda” in the plan.”

“This eventually led to the pro-Malay agenda being reborn in the Concluding Part document. Complaints from ethnic Malay pressure groups were taken very seriously by the government.”

Wan Saiful pointed out that Umno, being an ethnic-based Malay party, doesn’t allow room for its leaders to ignore the demands and threats made by Malay nationalist campaigners.

NEM a breath of fresh air

“They are Umno’s core voters,” he said. “Their influence through Umno in national politics cannot be ignored. They can exert pressure on policymakers at the highest level.”

Wan Saiful further emphasised that the NEM must be supported in order for Malaysia’s economy to progress. He added that while many positive steps have been promised it is still too premature to judge the outcome.

“Nevertheless Najib must be aware that the whole country, if not the world, is keeping a keen eye to see if he truly is a transformational leader who can achieve his own vision,” he said.

Wan Saiful also observed that the NEM’s aim to reduce the role of the government makes it more “free market” than its predecessor the New Economic Policy (NEP).

“The magnitude of change espoused by the NEM should not be underestimated,” he said.

“After decades of having an economic policy heavily influenced by the politics of ethnicity, the NEM is a breath of fresh air that is trying to take Malaysia forward into politics of ideas.”

“It is undoubtedly exciting to see that there is now the promise of a policy that sets the course to a more liberalised Malaysian economy.”

IDEAS’ paper was published by an international German organisation, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, which is a not-for-profit organisation linked to the Free Democratic Party, a member of Germany’s government coalition.

‘Defamation charge against Mat Sabu stupid’

Two top legal eagles give Mat Sabu's criminal defamation charge the thumbs-down.

PETALING JAYA: Two prominent figures in the legal fraternity have reacted with incredulity over PAS deputy president, Mohamad Sabu’s, criminal defamation charge with one of them bluntly calling it “stupid”.

Mohamad, better known as Mat Sabu, was charged yesterday at the Butterworth Sessions Court under Section 500 of the Penal Code with challenging the official account of the 1950 Bukit Kepong incident during a ceramah in Tasek Gelugor, Penang, on Aug 21.

He was accused of defaming the dead police personnel and their families who defended themselves during a Communist attack led by Mat Indera on the Bukit Kepong police station.

The charge has drawn harsh criticism from opposition supporters and NGOs who questioned the sincerity of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s recent pledge for democratic reforms and openness.

Mat Sabu himself has said that the case is about the interpretation of history and should be resolved through debate and dialogue, not by court. And he has since won the backing of two top legal eagles.

Lawyer and former UN Special rapporteur, Param Cumaraswamy, warned that Mat Sabu’s prosecution is an affront to Najib’s Malaysia Day annoucement.

“I’m very surprised that this archaic penal provision of criminal defamation has been invoked to charge Mat Sabu,” he told FMT in a text message.

“Many countries have decriminalised such defamation from their Penal Codes as it offends the fundamental right to freedom of expression. Malaysia is one of the very few to retain and invoke it.”

“This prosecution certainly makes a mockery of the PM’s recent statement proposing repeals of the several draconian laws. Looks like the Attorney-General is not in tandem with the PM.”

Let the affected families sue

Former Court of Appeal judge, Shaik Daud Ismail, didn’t mince his words when he branded the charge as “stupid” and dismissed it as having no basis.

“How can it be defamation?” he asked. “If he is being accused of defaming the dead, then let the family alone tackle it. Why are the police and the Attorney-General so concerned?”

“Utusan Malaysia has written many defamatory things in the past and yet no action has been taken against it. That speaks for itself.”

Shaik Daud said that the charge did not hold water and that it would reflect very badly on the legal fraternity.

Judge Ikmal Hishan Mohd Tajuddin has fixed Oct 27 for mention of the case and Dec 5-9 for trial.

Repeal of ISA months away

The Sun (Used by permission)

KUALA LUMPUR: It will take months of brainstorming and discussion to ensure the repeal of the Internal Security Act and other emergency laws is viable before coming into effect, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said yesterday.

The discussions, apart from taking place internally in the force, will also extend to relevant ministries, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, law experts and non-governmental organisations.

“We have our preparations and will hold discussions and forums for the plan to repeal ISA and other laws. This will take several months before we fulfil the objective. Our responsibility in the end should be the security of the country and the well-being of the people. 

“Our priority is ensuring the security of the nation is not compromised with the changes which will take place,” he said, after launching triage services at police stations which will enable police to attend to cases more efficiently.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak had announced the repeal of the ISA, Emergency Ordinance, Restricted Residence Act and Banishment Act last week in a move by the government to enrich democracy.  Meanwhile, several senior police officers who spoke on anonymity said the laws which will replace the ones to be repealed should be effective enough to keep criminals off the streets.

Referring to the Emergency Ordinance and Restricted Residence Act, sources said the legislation, although not providing trial in a court of law, has been used sparingly and was effective in fighting crime.

“The EO and Restricted Residence Act has only been invoked on less than 1% of the criminals nabbed. These are hardcore criminals. We have evidence they are responsible for the criminal act but at times it 
is insufficient to charge them in court. If we release them back into society, they may repeat the crimes and this will pose a threat to the public. This is when the EO and similar laws are used to rehabilitate these criminals,” said an officer.

The sources said invoking such laws is not done at the whims and fancies of the police but goes through a stringent process where federal police study the cases before making their recommendations to a panel made up of officers from the Home Ministry and even retired judges.

“At times when state police recommend a suspect be banished, it is shot down by Bukit Aman after perusing the report of the case even before it goes to the panel members. There is strict vetting and scrutiny before the EO is invoked,” said one source.

It is learnt that among the proposals police intend to produce to the government are to shorten the period of the initial 60-day detention under the EO.

What's Brewing In Snap?

By Alan Ting

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 (Bernama) -- What's brewing in Sarawak's oldest political party, the Sarawak National Party (SNAP)?

What does the future hold for this party as it prepares for its triennial general assembly scheduled for Sept 24 and 25 in Kuching.

Many political analysts have already written off any future for SNAP in Sarawak's political landscape as they believe it will never be able to rise again to its former glory.

"The party is basically finished. It's the end of the road. It has a branding issue with funding as its biggest problem. Previously, it was funded by the top leader who was financially strong. But the current leadership is facing financial constraints," political analyst James Chin told Bernama.

Himself a Sarawakian, Chin, who lectures at Sunway's Monash University, pointed out that before the April 16 Sarawak state election there was still some hope that SNAP could revive itself by winning some level of support in the polls but the result proved otherwise.

"The result has basically shown that the party is not relevant anymore," he said.

Out of the 672,667 (68.66 per cent) registered voters who cast their votes in the April 16 polls, SNAP, which contested 26 seats, garnered only 15,663 votes (2.33 per cent). The party failed to any seat while most of its candidates lost their deposits.

Another political analyst, Dr Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) said that though the party managed to reverse its deregistration by the Registrar of Societies (ROS), the deregistration had taken a significant toll on the party.

SNAP, which was formed on April 10, 1961, was deregistered by the ROS in 2002. The party won the appeal last year when the Court of Appeal set aside the ROS decision.

"The eight-year court battle was long and further weakened the party. Because of the deregistration, it lost its grassroots support. That's why the party lost badly in the state election," said Jeniri.

He feels the party has no more future in Sarawak politics as it has lost its appeal, especially among the Ibans as other Dayak-based parties were enjoying much more support.

"There is no light at the end of the tunnel. No future for SNAP in Sarawak politics. But despite all this and the changing political scenario, the party leadership is still playing old politics and employing old strategies. No way it can garner the support of the people," he said.

Not only that, some party members themselves have complained that they are clueless as to the direction of the party.

Some even questioned whether the party that was founded by Sarawak's first chief minister, the late Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan, was still relevant in today's politics.

They claimed that nobody knew whether the party wanted to remain in the opposition or become friendly to the Barisan Nasional (BN).

SNAP secretary-general Edmund Stanley Jugol admitted that the party would only know its direction for sure after the assembly this weekend -- whether to remain in the opposition or become a BN-friendly party as the new set of office-bearers would decide on the matter.

"We can't make any decision before the assembly as many things have yet to be settled. Moreover, the decision rests with the new office-bearers as our current president (Edwin Dundang Bugak) has said that he wants young blood to take over," he said when contacted by Bernama.

However, he confirmed that one of the possible options for SNAP was to explore whether it should be BN-friendly, even if it was only at the federal level, or remain as it is until the end of the current chief minister's term.

However, Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi, political analyst at the Institute of East Asian Studies of Unimas, believes that SNAP would not be accepted into the BN fold because the party was seen as weak.

"What SNAP needs now is a candidate who is highly credible, charismatic and respected by the opponents. It also needs to be viewed as a good political partner.

"Sarawak BN will only want a party that is competitive and stable, with a respected leadership. But at the moment, the party does not have that much- needed character," he said.

Many political analysts believe that the best option for SNAP at the moment is to transform its leadership, reorganise all its branches and reactivate its youth and women's wings.

But before all these can be done, the party is already facing new problems just before this weekend's assembly.

There is accusation that money politics has crept into the tussle for the president's post, with a concerned senior party member reporting that a certain candidate was offering as much as RM3,400 to each delegate to cover the air ticket, hotel room, pocket money and dinner.

Two candidates are in the contest for the president's post after nominations closed on Sept 17.

UK lawyer calls for recognition of crime of ‘ecocide’

British lawyer Polly Higgins is lobbying for the crime of ‘ecocide’ to be recognised and for Nature to be regarded as a “legal person” with rights that should be protected.
If such a crime is recognised by the international community, CEOs of corporations that cause major environmental damage could be prosecuted and, if found guilty, jailed.
As things stand, the real culprits responsible for crimes against Nature are able to hide behind the fictional ‘person’ of the corporation. If the corporation is found guilty, it is usually fined a paltry amount, which could have already been factored into their cost calculations.
Higgins proposes that crimes of ecocide could be heard in the International Criminal Court, especially in cases where the damage and destruction is transboundary. She wants the Rome Statute to be amended to include ecocide.
Listen to Higgins being interviewed by ABC’s Bush Telegraph.
You can also check out her website.
Here she is speaking around the time of the launch of her book ‘Eradicating Ecocide’:
This idea of giving nature rights is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Bolivia has already approved a ground-breaking law that gives Nature ‘rights’ and encompasses the vision of a radical ecological transformation for the country. Read ‘The Law of Mother Earth: Behind Bolivia’s historic bill’.

Middle East: Saudis arrest five Indonesian Haj 'sex workers'

Mecca, 21 Sept. (AKI/Jakarta Post) - The Saudi Arabia Prosecution and Investigation Commission (PIC) has arrested 11 foreigners, including five Indonesians, on their alleged involvement in prostitution in Al-Khansa, Mecca, during the Hajj and Umrah periods.

“[The 11 suspects] were arrested after being followed for several days,” a local official said.

The other six are all men from Bangladesh.

Mecca Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Zaki Al-Rihaili said all 11 suspects would be sent to Al-Maabdah Police before being sent to the PIC for investigation and then to court.

Police said the prostitutes had worked with security guards who were paid SR 200 per night for their discretion.

Duo sue police for 'torture' during questioning

(Malaysiakini) Three years ago, it would have never crossed Prabakar Bala Krishna's mind that he would be made to suffer for things that he would not even consider doing.

When he was picked up by police on the night of Dec 23, 2008 - along with another individual, Solomon Raj Chandran - he assumed that it was a routine anti-crime check that wouldn't take too long to resolve.

However, what he was to experience in the following days have left him severely traumatised and afraid, he said today.

NONEAfter five days in police custody, Prabakar and Solomon were released with multiple injuries - particularly, extensive scalding of their bodies, the result of police officers allegedly pouring hot water over them during interrogation.

"When they arrested me, they just told me that I was a suspected criminal. I followed them because I thought they just wanted to check my urine,” claimed Prabakar, speaking in Tamil.

"But when we reached Brickfields (police station), they started beating me up. When I asked them why, they told me to shut up and admit to various criminal charges, which I refused to do."

Prabakar was at the Jalan Duta court complex in Kuala Lumpur today, to jointly file a suit with Solomon against eight police officers and the government over the alleged torture.

Aside from scalding, the pair have accused the police of repeatedly assaulting them and, in Prabakar's case, allegedly hanging him from a ceiling fan using a rope and threatening to kill him using the rope.

NONEPrabakar claimed that, on the day he was released, the police warned him not to tell a soul about the alleged torture, especially since he had clear scald marks on his body.

"...and if anyone asks about the scalding, to just say that I spilled hot mee soup over myself," said the 30-year-old lorry driver.

Prabakar (left in photo) said he has been so afraid ever since the incident that he has had to seek psychiatric treatment. He said the doctor who tended to him has confirmed that he is suffering from severe trauma.

"Even my friends are ignoring me now. They call me crazy," he said, recalling their reaction to his seeing a shrink.

'Judiciary must share blame'

Lawyer N Surendran, who is representing Prabakar and Solomon, said the alleged torture was just one of countless cases where the public have suffered from police impunity.

However, he stressed that the blame does not lie only with the police and the Home Ministry - which he said constantly politicises the issue in defence of the police - but also the judiciary.

NONE"It is the attitude of the judiciary, where the judges think that the police are perfect, hardworking and not capable of doing such things,” he said.

"Automatically they tend to believe the police and not the complainants. Our judges are like ostriches, where they refuse to know what happens in police cells."

Surendran (right), who is also PKR vice-president, acknowledged that his clients' suit will be difficult to pursue due to the judiciary's alleged bias towards the police.

However, he pointed out that the action still serves an important purpose - of keeping this case on record as a reminder to the public that the police must be held accountable if they mistreat detainees.

The joint suit seeks compensation for loss of income suffered by both plaintiffs over the course of their detention, on top of general, exemplary and punitive damages among others.

The suit is a follow up to a KL Sessions Court decision on Sept 12 , ordering two police sergeants - Mohd Shafiee Abdul Halim and Mohd Diah Sulaiman - to enter their defence on two charges of injuring Prabakar and Solomon.

Bernama reported that Mohd Shafiee and Mohd Diah are charged on one count of physically intimidating Prabakar with intent to obtain a confession from him between 10.15pm on Dec 23, 2008 and 3.30am on Dec 24, 2008 at the Brickfields police station criminal investigation department.

The two sergeants were also charged with five other police officers with allegedly hurting Solomon at the same time and place.

The other five - Zulkiplly Taib, Abdullah Musa, Zamrin Zaid, Matila@Saudi Ismail and Nizam Abd Wahab - were discharged and acquitted as the prosecution could not prove their involvement in the incident.

All seven officers, Brickfields district police chief ACP Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid and the government are named as respondents in the joint suit.

'DPM laying foundation stone mere theatrics'

The Human Rights Party (HRP) is not impressed with Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's act of laying down the foundation stone for a Tamil school in Batu Kawan recently, and has decribed it as mere “theatrics”.

The party's advisor, N Ganesan, said that prior to the 11th general election in 2004, Barisan Nasional politicians of various shades had come to the school and done a song and dance about a new school building. 

In 2008, “erstwhile” former works minister and former MIC president S Samy Vellu had done something similar just before to the 12th general election, he added.

“Now, it goes a notch up in the hierarchy it seems, for the 13th general election. The deputy premier is here with his bag of goodies. What a bloody shame!” he exclaimed.

NONE“Muhyiddin and his ilk are in denial, they cannot see the reality for what it is, or may I say they do not want to see reality for what it is,” he added.

Ganesan (right) urged that the school, SJK(T) Ladang Batu Kawan, be built now, before the polls, and not in 2013 as the DPM had announced. 

He said the Indians in the country desire true and fundamental changes in government policies affecting their lives, and the community was tired of such “selfishly conceived dramas”. 

He stressed that the Indians in the country see all of these acts as no more than “cheap theatrics” just to garner their votes. 

“If Muhyiddin thinks his waving of the ringgit note is going to work to get him the Indian votes, he and his party Umno are in real, real trouble,” said Ganesan.

On Sept 17, Muhyiddin laid the foundation stone for a new building for the Batu Kawan school, which is currently housed in a few containers along with the estate clerk's house, after its earlier colonial barn-shed building was burnt down some 10 years ago. 

During the one-day working visit to various spots in Penang, Muhyiddin, who is Umno deputy chief, dished out millions for various educational and development programmes.

There are a total of 523 Tamil schools in the country with a student population of 102,000 in 2011, about half the population of all primary school-going Indian children. 

Three hundred and seventy one of these schools are partially-aided schools. Essentially these are schools are carry-overs from the colonial days - structures that are no more than sheds.
'Equal allocations and equal developmental emphasis'

Ganesan said that in education, the Indians really seek a revamp and strengthening of the entire primary school system affecting Indian children as an urgent measure. 

They want all these schools to be part of the national educational system, with equal allocations and equal developmental emphasis, he added.

“In keeping with the rising political consciousness worldwide, the Indian community now demands equality in the allocation of national resources, they seek equality in opportunities in all aspects of life,” he said.

“In denying equality to the Indian minority, Umno denies dignity and denies meaning to the Indians in the country,” he added.

“By default they also deny dignity to the Malays in the country whom they purport to represent, by virtue of governing by norms so out of tune with the times, and based so crassly on narrow self-interests,” he stressed.

Analysts: Cool act makes Najib hot

But will it make a difference at the ballot box? Some say it depends on the timing of the general election.

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s latest campaign to appear cool to the young may just help him win their votes, according to analysts.

However, one analyst said some of the prime minister’s new fans might not make it in time to get on the electoral roll and another said the cool factor could dissipate easily.

On the weekend, Najib appeared at the Suara Kami concert and the audience gave him a rousing welcome. Yesterday, he took part in some segments of two morning shows on radio.

Pundits have been saying that the votes of the young would be crucial in the coming general election.
Pollster Merdeka Centre’s research manager, Tan Seng Keat, said Najib was using “the right channel to target the right group”.

He argued against the popular opinion that young voters were more likely to vote for the opposition than for Barisan Nasional.

“If you study the history of voting trends in Malaysia, more than half of first-time voters are fence-sitters,” he told FMT.

“They also tend to be personality-driven. So it is up to Najib to persuade them to vote for BN.”

He predicted that Najib would now give the opposition a run for its money. “Previously, the opposition had the upper hand, with quite a number of young, handsome, beautiful leaders.”

However, he raised the question of whether there would be enough time for these public relations activities to produce meaningful results at the ballot box, considering the speculation that the general election would be held soon.

“If the election is in November, the young voters who register now will not be able to vote,” Tan pointed out. “But to appeal to this group is worth a shot. It is better than nothing.”

Looks good, speaks well

Rita Sim of the Centre for Strategic Engagement said Najib had been doing “the right thing” for some time now, trying to reach out to all Malaysians, not just the young.

p“But notwithstanding this, it does seem as though he has stepped up his campaign in the right direction.”

She also said BN had the edge over the opposition because the public could clearly see Najib as its leader.

“You look at the opposition. Until today, it is still unclear who their leader is. Najib is seen as the clear leader, and that does give some advantage to the BN.”

Ooi Kee Beng, who co-ordinates the Malaysia study programme at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, said Najib’s personal image was stronger that the image of Umno or BN.

“He looks good on camera, he speaks well,” Ooi said.

But he told FMT that these qualities might not be enough to help Najib increase votes for BN. “Malaysia is at a point where people are calling for reforms. Just being good looking isn’t going to get you very far.”

He said Najib was actually at a disadvantage in the competition for coolness.

“Being against power has always been considered cool. That is why the opposition can capitalise on the cool factor. Being power itself, I don’t think you can win the game easily.”

He acknowledged that Najib could nevertheless sway the young to his side, but added that he had to call the election soon to capitalise on his cool factor because it could dissipate fast.

“It may disappear easily in a night or two,” he said.

School funds embezzled, claims PTA

A RM100,000 allocation made in 2008 went unaccounted and the culprits have yet to answer to the authorities, say committee members.

PETALING JAYA: Several Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) committee members of the Assunta 1 Primary School have cried foul over an unaccounted RM100,000 in school funds.

PTA chairman C Mahavishnu, the school headmistress Noor Adza Ismail and teacher, Noor Lina Mohd Yusuf, were implicated in the matter.

The money was allocated to the school by the education ministry in 2008.

PTA deputy chairman, Noorulainah Jalaludheen, said Mahavishnu had told them that RM55,000 was used to upgrade electical wiring and the rest for plumbing works.

Noorulianah said no such wiring works were carried out although the fund was disbursed.

“We found this out when the fire department investigated an incident where a fire broke out in the school. We were told that no wiring work was done prior to the fire,” Noorulainah said.

She added that checks also revealed that no plumbing work was carried out.

“Out of the 15 toilets in the school, only three work. So where did the money go?” asked Noorulainah.
She also said that the new committee members who came in March this year also suspected something amiss when RM39,000 was used on the pretext of buying 20 computers.

“Assunta 1 and Assunta 2 primary schools share the same computer lab although both primary schools are managed separately.

“Mahavishnu told us last year that he would purchase 20 computers for about RM39,000. However, only five computers were purchased at the said price.

“When Assunta 2 PTA chairman, Muhammad Zarif Abdullah, enquired about it, Mahavishnu accused Zarif of misappropriating the fund instead,” claimed Noorulainah.

Infuriated, she said Zarif took the matter to the district education office and the Selangor Education Department. Both schools were ordered to hold joint-committee meeting.

“At the meeting, Mahavishnu only apologised to Zarif over his unwarranted accusation and gave an assurance that he will allow the committe to audit the accounts,” said Noorulainah.

Report lodged with MACC

Not satisfied, Assunta 1 committee members brought the matter to the attention of Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong in July, who instructed the inspectorate to probe the matter.

A report was also lodged with the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

“The MACC interrogated the trio two weeks ago and Mahavishnu misled the officers by providing them with the minutes of a 2009 meeting, instead of last year’s,” Noorulainah said.

Last month, the principal of Assunta 1, Noor Adza, and the teacher implicated in the matter, Noor Lina, received a transfer order from the district edcuation department.

Noorulianah said that Noor Adza is being sent to a prominent school in Kota Damansara with better perks.

“Noor Lina is still in Assunta although her transfer was effective Aug 16. She claimed that she has a letter from the Prime Minister’s Department freezing her transfer,” Noorulianah said.

She added that Mahavishnu has up till now not accounted for the missing funds and wants the ministry to intervene in the matter and take action against the trio.

“We also want to call for an EGM to remove Mahavishnu as PTA chairman. An independent audit team must be appointed to check the school accounts of the past five years,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mahavishnu dismissed all accusations that he had misappropriated the school funds, claiming that the MACC and the ministry had cleared him of any wrongdoing.

He pointed out that the RM100,000 allocation from the education ministry in 2008 was never managed by him.

“The government allocated the same amount to Assunta 2 as well. However, the funds were managed by the school’s board of directors. I had nothing to do with the funds,” he said.

Mahavishnu added that it was the board which decided to use the funds for repair works under the supervision of one of the board members known as Terence, an engineer.

On the computer purchases, Mahavishnu admitted that he purchased only five computers for about RM15,000 and not RM39,000 as alleged.

“We intended to buy 20 units but lacked funds. The computers were purchased based on a quotation given by a reputable vendor. I welcome anyone to investigate this,” said Mahavishnu.

‘Police abuse’ victims sue cops

The two claim to have been beaten with rubber hoses and that the cops poured hot water on their bodies.
KUALA LUMPUR: Two alleged police abuse victims have filed a civil suit against seven police officers whom the duo accused of torturing them while in custody in 2008.

Also named in the suit were Brickfields police chief Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid and the Malaysian government.

In their suit, B Prabakar and C Solomon Raj demanded the officers pay for general, aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages plus costs.

The two claimed that they were beaten with rubber hoses and forced to confess to crimes they did not commit after being picked up by the police in December 2008.

They also alleged that the police poured hot water on their bodies.

While two of the officers were ordered by the court to enter their defence in July, the rest were cleared by police investigation.

‘Incident has traumatised me’

Speaking at a press conference here today, Prabakar, 30, said he was traumatised since the incident and had to seek psychiatric treatment as he was too afraid to leave his house.

“Even my friends have ignored me and started calling me a mad man,” he said.
Also present were his lawyer N Surendran, Lawyers for Liberty adviser Latheefa Koya and Kapar MP S Manickavasagam.

On his arrest, Prabakar said he never knew the police were going to brutalise him as he thought they only wanted to test his urine for drugs.

“But they started assaulting me after putting me in a lock up. When I asked them about it, the officers told me to shut up and confess to a number of crimes I did not commit,” he said.

After five days of remand, the police allegedly warned him not to reveal what had happened.
“As for my burn marks, the police told me to tell that I dropped hot soup on my body while eating,” he claimed.

Blaming the judges

Meanwhile, Surendran said the government must set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to deal with cases involving police brutality.

On the suit, the PKR vice president said it was filed as a reminder to the police that they were under public scrutiny.

He also took a swipe at the judiciary, blaming it for the rot in the police force as the former refused to act sternly on cases involving police brutality.

“In my 18 years being in legal practice, I have seen many judges siding the police despite having a strong case. One judge even threw out our case saying the police are hardworking public servants.

“As for Prabakar’s case, we are upset that only two of the officers were called to enter their defence although he identified seven assailants,” he said.

‘Please help me become a doctor’

M Syamala Devi is pleading with the government to grant her a RM40,000 loan so that she can complete her final year.

KUALA LUMPUR: M Syamala Devi’s dream is to become a doctor. But the 28-year-old final year medical student has returned home from Romania because she cannot afford to continue her education.

To make matters worse, she also took RM20,000 from a loan shark to finance her studies and is forced to pay RM2,000 in interest every month.

Speaking at a press conference organised by the Human Rights Party (HRP) here, the sixth-year student with the University of Medical Pharmacy of GRT Popa said she needs another RM40,000 to complete her degree.

“My father was a former auxiliary policeman and he died when I was eight. Look at my family background, that is why I chose to study in Romania because the fees is cheaper there,” she said.

Syamala said after completing her STPM examination, she had applied in vain for a place to do medicine in 20 local universities.

She also applied for scores of scholarships and education loans, including the Public Service Department (PSD) scholarship and Higher Education Loan Fund (PTPTN), but was rejected.

Seeking government help

Following this, she worked with a courier service agency for two years and provided home tuition in order to save enough money to pursue her dream.

Apart from taking money from a loan shark, she also used to work in the UK during her summer holidays.

When the semester commences, Syamala said she used to earn a small income by cooking and selling food to some 30 Malaysian students at her university to cover her day-to-day expenses.

However, the UK implemented a new rule prohibiting students from other countries from working there and this dealt a blow to Syamala’s ambition.

“The total cost of my education is RM350,000. Until today, I have spent nearly RM310,000, money which I raised myself,” she said, adding that her brother and sister were also helping her to settle the loan shark’s interest.

“I am pleading to the government to help me. Please grant me a RM40,000 loan to finish my studies,” she said, adding that she enrolled in that particular Romanian university although it is not recognised by the Malaysian government because she had no choice.

“This was the cheapest place to study medicine and upon graduation I will have to sit for another examination in Malaysia to allow me to practice here,” she said.

Meanwhile, HRP education bureau head G Ganeson asked the government if it was wrong for a poor Indian to dream of becoming a doctor.

He said the government must immediately grant Syamala the loan so that she could complete her studies.

The next level

If Najib is sincere and honest about reforms, then he should invite the opposition (or at least those from the civil society movements) to sit down with the government to discuss the new laws. And if the opposition too is sincere and honest about reforms, it should stop screaming about who should take the credit for the repeal of the ISA and try to approach the government to ask to be part of the team that is going to formulate the new laws to replace the ISA.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
For decades we have been fighting for the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) -- at least I have, for about 35 years since the 1970s (that was about the time the government detained Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Syed Husin Ali, and others who opposed the government). By then, the ISA - a weapon used to combat terrorism and the Communist Terrorists (CTs), had been around for about 14 years.
No one had any objections to the ISA before that. But once it was no longer used to combat terrorism or the CTs, but instead was used against student leaders, university lecturers, activists, and those viewed as dissidents or anti-establishment, then the ISA began to attract attraction.
Finally, after half a century, the government is considering repealing the ISA -- although it was indicated that a new law would be introduced to replace the ISA (and we do not know yet how this law is going to look like and whether it will be better or worse than the ISA).
But what are we doing? What is the opposition doing? Everyone is arguing about whether the repeal of the ISA is proof that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is walking the talk and is serious about his reform agenda or whether this is proof that the government has admitted defeat and is repealing the ISA because of the pressure from the opposition.
The government is taking credit for the repeal of the ISA. The opposition is also taking credit for the repeal of the ISA. It’s all about who should be credited for the ISA finally being abolished.
Is anyone sitting down to sort out what the new law is going to look like? Yes, the ISA is going to be repealed. But there is going to be a new law to replace it. Should we not be more concerned about this instead of whether Najib or the opposition should take the credit for the ISA being repealed?
I have said this before and I am going to say it again. Both the government and the opposition must become more matured and open. Yes, BOTH the government and the opposition.
If Najib is sincere and honest about reforms, then he should invite the opposition (or at least those from the civil society movements) to sit down with the government to discuss the new laws. And if the opposition too is sincere and honest about reforms, it should stop screaming about who should take the credit for the repeal of the ISA and try to approach the government to ask to be part of the team that is going to formulate the new laws to replace the ISA.
On another issue, I have received ‘hate-mail’ from people who allege that Malaysia Today has been ‘compromised’. Umno has bought off Malaysia Today, they say. These people argue that in the past Malaysia Today focused on revealing corruption and the wrongdoings of those who walk in the corridors of power. Now we no longer do that (actually we still do).
I suppose these types of people just love to read about scandals. And that is all they are concerned about -- to be entertained with stories of scandals. But Malaysia Today is not in the entertainment business. We are not here to entertain you. We are in the business of seeing change in Malaysia.
Honestly, if Malaysia Today publishes more stories about corruption and scandals, is that going to make you any more a hard-core opposition supporter than you already are? Those who come to Malaysia Today are already BN-haters.  You can see this from the comments. The BN-lovers do not come to Malaysia Today.
So whom would I be trying to convert? The BN-haters? The BN-haters would still hate BN never mind whatever I say. No amount of reports about corruption and scandals would make the BN-haters any more haters of BN than they already are.
We need to reach those who DO NOT come to Malaysia Today. And since they already DO NOT come to Malaysia Today, then we have to find a way to go to them instead. The mountain must go to Muhammad, as the saying goes.
And we are doing just that, trust me. But we are not doing that through Malaysia Today because they DO NOT read Malaysia Today.
We are currently talking to some people to come out with a Bahasa Malaysia version of Malaysia Today. Everything will be in Bahasa Malaysia and it will be a totally different site.
There are many Malay-educated readers, even those from towns in the Malay heartland, who read Blogs. But they do not come to ‘English’ Blogs like Malaysia Today. They only read ‘Malay’ Blogs. So we need to create a ‘Malay’ version of Malaysia Today. And this is in the cards.
Then there are many Malay-educated Malaysians in the rural areas who do not access the Internet at all. They do not even own a computer. So we need to reach them through other means.
And that plan has already been launched. I will not tell you what it is just yet in case the government shoots us down before we can take off. But rest assured that hundreds of thousands of ringgit is being poured into this new project to reach the rural, non-internet savvy population. We are trying to raise the money for this project even as you read this. 
Now, back to Malaysia Today.
Malaysia Today is now seven years old. We started life on 13th August 2004 soon after the March 2004 election ‘disaster’. The first few years were spent in exposing the wrongdoings of the government and in trying to convince you that we need change.
Those who come to Malaysia Today are already convinced we need change. I cannot convince you any more than you are already convinced. Exposing the wrongdoings of the government is not going to convince you any further. We need to now take this to ‘the next level’.
What we are now attempting to do is NOT to convince you that we need change or ABU (Anything But Umno/Asal Bukan Umno). That you already know. We want to talk to you about what type of change we should be looking at.
It is not enough we scream and shout that we need change. We must also be clear in our minds about what type of change we should be seeking. And my piece on the Bill of Rights is one of many examples of how we are trying to do this.
We must not be naïve and think that as long as we kick our Barisan Nasional then all our problems will be over. They thought that as well when they kicked out Charles I of England, King Louis XVI of France, President Batista of Cuba, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Shah Rezā Pahlavi of Iran, etc. What they got in the end was an exchange of one tyrant for another. 
No, I am not saying that Pakatan Rakyat will be a tyrant or that it will prove worse than Barisan Nasional. I am saying that Barisan Nasional will never be kicked out and Pakatan Rakyat will never take over unless we, the people, do that.
So let’s be clear about one thing. Pakatan Rakyat will never be able to kick out Barisan Nasional. It will be we, the people, who can do that. So we, the people, have a say in what type of government we want as a replacement to the current government that we have.
This is what I mean by ‘the next level’. The next level is to teach you what you should be looking at. The next level is to teach you what you should expect. The next level is to teach you what you should demand.
Enough with all this ‘Barisan Nasional is corrupt and should be ousted’ talk. We all know that. We do not need further convincing. What we should focus on now is to make sure that what we get in exchange is really something better and not just the same old wine in a new bottle.
And let’s start with the new law that is going to replace the ISA. Why have we not heard anything from the opposition other than arguments about whether Najib or the opposition should take the credit for the repeal of this draconian law? Who cares who should take the credit? We want to know what it is going to be replaced with.
That is ‘the next level’.

Blogger Umno gelar Muhyiddin 'anak paria'

Muhyiddin digelar sebagai anak paria, penyamun besar dan perosak Umno. Lebih hodoh lagi, Zaharin yang juga Setiausaha Umno Bahagian Bandar Tun Razak mendakwa beliau ada maklumat bahawa Muhyiddin terbabit hendak menjatuhkan Perdana Menteri, Dato' Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak. 

Mohd Rashidi Hassan, HARAKAH DAILY
"DI BAWAH pentadbiran Muhyiddin Yassin, Umno Wilayah (Persekutuan) sudah jadi macam parti mak bapak dia..Dia buat apa dia suka..Kerana dia penyamun besar yang berselindung atas nama nasionalisme Melayu dan Islam..Maka dilantiknya jawatan kanan Umno bahagian bdr tun razak semuanya banduan politik wang."

"Muhyiddin Yassin itu anak paria," tulis Setiausaha Umno Bahagian Bandar Tun Razak, Zaharin Mohd Yasin yang juga bloger Sang Kelembai dalam laman Facebook (FB) beliau.

Beliau menulis lagi, "16 September 2011 bermula konspirasi hendak menjatuhkan PM Najib oleh Muhyiddin Yassin, dgn perlantikan setiausaha dan bendahari bekas banduan politik wang dan seorang yd diadukan melanggar perlembagaan Umno, maka dengan sendiri Parlimen Bandar Tun Razak yg dinamakan sempena bapa PM Najib dgn mudah akan dimenang oleh pembangkang. Maka Muhyiddin Yasin akan minta PM Najib letak jawatan saperti yg pernah dia lakukan kpd Abdullah Hj Ahmad."

Apa yang ditulis Zaharin menunjukkan politiking dalam Umno memang hebat. Sentiasa panas dan bergolak. Selalunya kemelut dalaman Umno tidak diketahui rakyat kerana ia dapat disembunyikan oleh media tali barut Umno. Bila dibongkarkan satu-persatu mereka kata, ianya hanya ibarat 'ribut dalam secawan kopi.'

Ribut dalam Umno kali ini memang hebat dan tidak dapat dibendung. Ia diluahkan dan didedahkan secara terbuka oleh bloger-bloger dan facebookers Umno. Laman sosial FB menjadi tempat mereka melepaskan geram terhadap seteru politik dalam Umno.

Zaharin begitu berani mengambil risiko menghentam dan mengecam Timbalan Presiden Umno yang juga Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin digelar sebagai anak paria, penyamun besar dan perosak Umno. Lebih hodoh lagi, Zaharin yang juga Setiausaha Umno Bahagian Bandar Tun Razak mendakwa beliau ada maklumat bahawa Muhyiddin terbabit hendak menjatuhkan Perdana Menteri, Dato' Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak.

Dalam tulisannya di laman FB, Zaharin berkata, beliau akan mendedahkan hal tersebut tidak lama lagi.

Zaharin melepaskan geramnya kepada Muhyiddin dipercayai kerana terdapat usaha TPM selaku Pengerusi Umno untuk meletakkan 'orangnya' menggantikan beliau sebagai Setiausaha Umno Bahagian.

Malah dalam laman FBnya, Zaharin terus menyerang Muhyiddin kerana melantik orang-orang bermasalah dan yang jelas terbabit dalam politik wang seperti Dato' Mokhtar Samad dan Amil Salleh di bahagian tersebut.

Menulis mengenai Zaharin bukan bermakna menyokong beliau. Sebab Zaharin memang jenis out-spoken. Dalam posting beliau selalu menyerang PAS dan Pakatan Rakyat. Timbalan Presiden PAS, Mohamad Sabu dan Ketua Umum KeADILan, Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim sering menjadi 'ulam' beliau.

Saya ketepikan soal serangan Zaharin terhadap Pakatan Rakyat buat seketika. Yang penting sekarang bukan soal Zaharin sebagai penulis dalam blog atau FB. Beliau ada jawatan. Selaku Setiausaha Umno Bahagian dan Setiausaha BN Bahagian, kuasanya agar besar dan berpengaruh. Beliau juga terbabit sebagai AJK Umno Wilayah Persekutuan.

Oleh kerana itu serangan dan kecaman beliau terhadap TPM memang ada weight yang tersendiri. Sebab apa seorang yang berjawatan sanggup menyerang Timbalan Presiden Umno yang juga Pengerusi Umno negeri? Kata-kata yang dihamburkan pula bukannya kritikan biasa.

Gelaran 'anak paria' terhadap Muhyiddin yang berbangsa Melayu dan beragama Islam adalah sedahsyat-dahsyat gelaran. Jika ada kalangan orang India pun tidak setuju jika ungkapan paria digunakan kepada mereka walaupun ia ada dalam kamus mereka, inikan pula orang Melayu-Islam menerima geralan sedemikian.

'Anak paria' yang dikatakan Zaharin bukan sekadar paria, dia adalah penyamun besar, pembela golongan rasuah dan bermasalah dalam Umno. Lebih dahsyat lagi 'anak paria' itu dituduh merancang hendak menjatuhkan PM kesayangan Zaharin.

Sudah tentu serangan Zaharin terhadap Muhyiddin tidak dapat diterima juak-juak Muhyiddin. Melalui blog Cucu Tok Selampit mereka menyerang Zaharin dan menggesa Umno memecatnya.

Zaharin kata blog tersebut sebagai politikus yang tidak bermaruah. Zaharin dituduh menyerang bekas PM, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dan kemudian mencium tangan Abdullah selepas mendapat habuan yang dikehendaki. Gambar Zaharin memeluk dan mencium tangan Abdullah juga disiarkan mereka.

Bloger Umno yang marah dengan Zaharin mendakwa beliau menjalankan politik 'peras ugut'. Zaharin didakwa memeras ugut ahli politik (termasuk TPM), kemudian mereka diminta 'menghulurkan habuan' jika serangan terhadap mereka hendak dihentikan.

Bloger Umno yang tidak puashati dengan kecaman Zaharin terhadap Muhyiddin, terus menyerang beliau dan mendakwa Zaharin mempunyai kelaku yang amat buruk. Kata mereka Zaharin tidak layak menjadi ahli Umno kerana banyak komen-komennya merosakkan Umno.

Membaca komen-komen yang diposting mereka naik tergelak dibuatnya. Macamlah mereka yang duduk dalam Umno suci macam Malaikat Jibril.

Saya tidak perlu cenderung untuk membela sesiapa dalam Umno dalam perbalahan ini. Mereka hendak tuduh, hendak kata apa pun kepada seteru mereka, itu urusan mereka. Hanya mereka sahaja yang tahu dan faham perangai orang-orang Umno.

Yang jelas, tujuan saya mengutarakan isu ini, lebih kepada untuk menyedarkan rakyat dan mendedahkan kepada rakyat, bahawa Umno itu memang hodoh dan teruk. Perbalahan dalaman mereka memang teruk dna tidak mampu dibaiki lagi.

Persoalan yang harus dijawab oleh Umno hari ini bukan soal siapa Zaharin, atau apa buruk baik kelakunya. Yang tidak boleh dinafikan orang Umno ialah, didakwa wujudnya satu usaha yang didalangi Timbalan Presiden Umno untuk menjatuhkan Presiden Umno. Itu isu yang sebenarnya.

Yang menuduh atau membangkitkan isu ini bukan orang PAS. Bukan juga orang Pakatan Rakyat. Yang menuduh Muhyiddin hendak menjatuhkan Najib adalah dari kalangan Umno sendiri. Apa yang dibuat Muhyiddin, siapa penyokongnya dan bagaimana cara beliau hendak jatuhkan Najib, kita tunggu pendedahan dari orang Umno seterusnya.

Cuma yang hendak kita katakan kepada orang-orang Umno-BN, kami dari Pakatan Rakyat, sama ada yang meneraju negara itu Najib atau Muhyiddin, tidak penting bagi kami. Asalkan sahaja nama mereka Umno-BN, kami bertekad akan tumbangkan mereka pada PRU yang akan datang. Insya Allah.

Rare Earth Plant in Malaysia May be Closer to Opening

The Lynas Kuantan plant
High Chinese prices, electoral situation, western scarcity of rare metals become factors
(Asia Sentinel) An Australian-owned rare earths processing facility in Malaysia that is reported to be the world’s biggest outside China, which has been delayed by environmentalists and opposition political leaders, may well be gathering enough steam to open by the end of the year, say several sources in Kuala Lumpur.

The plant, to be located near the east coast city of Kuantan, was not expected to open until after snap national elections that some political observers said might be called late this year. It now looks like the elections will be delayed, however, until at least March of next year and possibly into 2013 when the current parliamentary term ends, partly because of infighting within the United Malays National Organization, partly because inflation is rising and because the economic situation in the developed countries could spell trouble for Malaysia’s exports.

Now, although there has been no definite word, the government may give the plant the go-ahead with or without waiting for the elections, the well-placed sources say. The Pahang state seat in which the plant lies is expected to go to the opposition in any case, and the feeling is that with the election that far away, much of the public anger over the opening will have dissipated by the time the polls roll around.

The facility is to be operated by Lynas Malaysia Sdn. Bhd., a subsidiary of the publicly traded Lynas Corp of Australia. It has been in limbo at a time when rare earths are skyrocketing in price. China, which supplies 95 percent of the world’s supply, has cracked down on illegal operators and is attempting to clean up its landscape. That has caused China to cut its exports by 35 percent or more.

The New York Times reported on Sept. 15 that the average price for fluorescent light bulbs in the United States has risen by 37 percent this year because of a shortage of elements such as Yttrium, Europium and Terbium, which are known as phosphors and are refined and processed to produce fluorescent and compact fluorescent bulbs. As rare earths are also used in a wide range of computer, cellphone and tablet products as well as wind turbines and electric motors, the price rises are wreaking financial damage on western companies forced to buy them at China’s price.

Thus the global need for increasingly scarce materials is putting added pressure on Malaysia to open the plant.

Karen Yap, a Kuala Lumpur-based spokeswoman for Lynas, said the Kuantan plant is on track to become operational before the end of the year. However, she said, Lynas will not comment on the political situation surrounding the plant. Environmentalists and Malaysia's opposition parties, particularly the Democratic Action Party, have been warning that the plant has the potential to create serious environmental and public health problems.

Rare earths mining and processing is difficult, expensive and rarely ecologically friendly. It produces enormous quantities of wastewater, requires vast amounts of energy, uses toxic materials in the refining process and can produce radioactive materials with half-lives of hundreds of years. The United States closed its rare earths mining operations in California’s Mojave Desert in the 1990s because of the environmental cost. They are now being reopened.

Malaysia is particularly sensitive to the issue. In the 1980s, Mitsubishi Chemical established a plant in an area called Bukit Merah west of Ipoh. For the last two decades, both Mitsubishi and Malaysia have paid the price in terms of deaths of workers from leukemia and environmental cleanup that so far has cost US$99.2 million and still hasn’t been completed.

That environmental disaster thus laid the foundations for the current opposition to the Kuantan plant – which will only process materials shipped from Australia, not mine them domestically. Lynas Malaysia says it plans to import rare earth ore from Mount Weld in Western Australia, said to be the richest rare earth deposit on the planet, truck the ore to Fremantle, send it by containership to Kuantan, then process it at a RM700 million (US$231.9 million) facility at the Gebing Industrial Estate nearby in Pahang state.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and other government officials have continued to insist the plant won’t open until all safety and environmental concerns are met.

Despite professions of electoral strength by Barisan Nasional leaders, it is unsure at this point just how strong the government’s position is. The Malaysian Chinese Association, the second-biggest party in the national coalition, is in an absolute shambles because of political infighting and charges of corruption. Despite Najib’s attempts to woo the Chinese back, the widespread feeling in Kuala Lumpur is that the Barisan has lost the Chinese, the country’s second biggest ethnic group, to the opposition Democratic Action Party for the foreseeable future.

Also many urban ethnic Malays are said to have aligned themselves with Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the party headed by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. A heavy-handed crackdown by authorities on a July rally and march demanding electoral reform is said to have alienated much of the urban public as well.

Thus, Barisan leaders are reluctant to court electoral trouble, especially on the eastern seaboard which is the home of the rural ethnic Malays who make up the backbone of UMNO support. Party leaders believe they must obtain the votes of most of the Malays for the coalition to survive.

As to the plant itself, commissioning is expected to be completed and production is supposed to begin by the end of the year, according to Ms Yap, of Ogilvy public Relations Worldwide, which functions at Lynas’s spokesman. Some regulatory approval is necessary for a pre-operational license. “However, there is a conclusive path following the release of the IAEA independent report and the Malaysian Government's clear announcement of implementing recommendations within the report,” according to a prepared release. “The required plans and an updated Radiation Impact Assessment (RIA) were submitted on 18 July 2011, and Lynas' submission of the Safety Case to the Atomic Energy Licensing board is imminent.”

A pre-operating license typically covers the first two to three years of operation. A full operational license isn’t granted until the plant has been fully operational for some time. Ogilvy called this standard engineering practice.

Apakah kelebihan kepada BN sekiranya Anwar dipenjarakan

Apakah kelebihan kepada BN sekiranya Anwar dipenjarakan Retak mula kelihatan dalam Umno dan Barisan Nasional (BN) sedang pemimpinnya menghadapi tekanan dengan spekulasi pilihan raya umum yang bakal dilangsungkan tidak lama lagi seiring dengan serangan habis-habisan terhadap Anwar Ibrahim yang sedang berlaku kini.

Mereka sedang menucuk-nucuk pemimpin PKR yang berkarisma dan pemimpin Pakatan Rakyat, yang masih lagi dianggap sebagai ancaman utama UMNO dan BN dalam pilihan raya akan datang, justeru mereka ingin melihat golongan ini dikeluarkan dari persada politik negara dengan apa jua kos.

Kebimbangan mereka dilihat berasas memandangkan kedudukan Anwar dalam Pakatan masih kukuh dan tidak goyah dalam gabungan pembangkang itu sekalipun pelbagai ujian dan seksaan keatasnya, terutamanya perbicaraan kes liwat yang terpaksa dihadapi oleh ahli politik yang berusia 64-tahun itu.

Dengan perbicaraan yang hampir sampai ke penutup, pengkritik beliau semakin lantang menuduh bahawa beliau bersalah. Sudah ada beberapa orang ahli parlimen dan bekas pembantu Anwar yang menawarkan diri untuk menjadi saksi-saksi pendakwaan dalam perbicaraan kes liwat beliau. Ini berikutan kejayaan pasukan pembelaan Anwar memanggil 15 orang, termasuk Perdana Menteri dan isterinya, sebagai saksi dalam perbicaraan itu.

Mereka ini dengan agenda politik tersendiri, mengasah pisau mereka untuk saling mengalahkan antara satu sama lain dalam menilai watak Anwar dan kredibiliti beliau dalam apa yang para penganalisis sifatkan sebagai tindakan terdesak dalam konspirasi politik yang dilancarkan terhadap pemimpin Pakatan Rakyat itu .

Pendedahan daripada perbicaraan

Musuh politik Anwar, bagaimanapun, nampaknya telah terperangkap dengan keterangan dalam perbicaraan kes liwat terutamanya bukti DNA yang meragukan dalam usaha pihak pendakwaan melumpuhkan
pemimpin PKR itu. Pasukan pendakwaan yakin strateginya mereka berjaya selepas enggan mendedahkan bahan-bahan yang dianggap oleh pasukan pembelaan Anwar sebagai penting untuk pembelaan. Ini termasuk senarai saksi, nota klinikal doktor dari Hospital Kuala Lumpur, kenyataan saksi dan sampel forensik untuk pemeriksaan dan pengesahan secara bebas.

Sampel DNA tersebut telah memihak kepada Anwar. Pakar perunding molekul genetik Dr Brian Leslie McDonald memberitahu Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur bahawa sampel yang diambil daripada Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan berkemungkinan telah tercemar sebelum dihantar untuk analisis.

Beliau menyuarakan secara terang-terangan kesalahan dalam tatacara dalam mendapatkan swab dan ketidaksamaan cara ahli kimia kerajaan Dr Seah Lay Hong dalam penlabelan dua botol yang mengandungi swab yang diambil dari Saiful untuk analisis DNA. Dr McDonald mengatakan bahawa bukanlah satu pilihan untuk ahli sains membuat anggapan terhadap tarikh, sambil menambah ia "suatu kesalahan yang boleh menyebabkan pemecatan".

Seorang lagi saksi, Profesor Madya Dr David Lawrence Noel Well, memberi keterangan bahawa adalah jarang untuk mendapatkan sampel sperma pada swab dubur yang diambil 65 jam selepas hubungan seks. Pakar forensik Australia, ketua Perubatan Forensik di Institut Perubatan Forensik Victoria berkata bahawa dalam pengalaman beliau, sangat rendah kebarangkalian untuk mendapatkan hasil yang positif jika spesimen itu diambil selepas 65 jam.

Dengan percubaan yang menemui kegagalan serta tidak mengikut skrip Barisan Nasional, kongcu-kongcu Umno melakukan serangan terhadap Anwar dan Pakatan tanpa henti melalui media-dikawal BN dengan memutarkan propaganda sebagai samaran kepada kegagalan kepimpinan mereka.

Dilema pemimpin-pemimpin Umno

Walau bagaimanapun, serangan tidak berhenti-henti telah menimbulkan persoalan di kalangan sesetengah orang BN jika kepimpinan Umno telah kehabisan idea dalam merangka pelan untuk pilihan raya umum ke-13 yang semakin hampir. Beberapa orang telah secara terbuka menyatakan kekecewaan terhadap Umno yang dikatakan mempunyai agenda yang salah dengan memberi tumpuan kepada kempen menyerang Anwar semata-mata dan membuang masa.

Ada juga yang membuat spekulasi bahawa ini adalah helah pemimpin-pemimpin Umno untuk menghilangkan semangat dan memusnahkan PKR yang mempunyai ramai ahli yang merupakan bekas ahli UMNO. Mereka merasakan serangan Umno terhadap Anwar akan menghilangkan semangat ahli-ahli PKR seraya berpatah balik kepada Umno. Strategi ini tidak dikongsi oleh parti komponen BN lain yang merasakan bahawa perkara-perkara yang lebih penting, terutamanya berkaitan ekonomi dan isu-isu utama lain telah dikompromikan dalam usaha Umno untuk menghapuskan Anwar dan parti PKR beliau.

Penganalisis melihat kepimpinan Umno yang sering menghentam Anwar sebagai manifestasi persaingan peribadi antara Perdana Menteri dan Ketua Pembangkang itu, yang pernah bersama-sama melalui zaman mereka dalam Umno dan Kabinet BN persekutuan. Najib menyedari potensi Anwar untuk merangsang akar umbi dalam PKR dan Pakatan, dan merasakan bahawa Anwar akan kekal menjadi ancaman utama kerana sifat berkarismatik beliau bukan sahaja untuk BN pada pilihan raya akan datang tetapi juga sebagai seorang pemimpin Melayu.

Mereka berkata langkah oleh pasukan pembelaan Anwar membuat permohonan sepina ke atas Najib dan isterinya Rosmah Mansor untuk memberi keterangan dalam perbicaraan kes liwat telah benar-benar mencabar Presiden Umno itu dan beliau akan lakukan apa sahaja untuk menyekat apa-apa pengaruh politik. Orang dalaman Umno berkata, terdapat kebimbangan dikalangan peringkat tertinggi parti dan berkemungkinan perbicaraan terhadap Najib akan memberi kesan negatif kepada calon-calon mereka pada pilihan raya akan datang.

Orang dalaman Umno juga berkata bahawa obsesi Najib terhadap Anwar menyebabkan mereka-mereka yang lain dalam BN kecewa kerana mereka lebih ingin melihat beliau fokus kepada isu-isu yang lebih penting dalam ekonomi seperti pengangguran,inflasi, kenaikan harga, penghijrahan professional keluar negara, rasuah besar-besaran dan dasar kerajaan yang dianggap tidak adil.

BN menghadapi prospek yang samar

Terdapat spekulasi bahawa prospek BN pada pilihan raya umum akan datang semakin malap dari hari ke hari dengan percanggahan dalaman parti dalam menangani isu-isu yang dihadapi negara. Ramai merasakan bahawa 'tsunami politik' boleh berlaku dan mengakhiri zaman BN dan pemimpin-pemimpin Umno.

Sesetengah pemimpin Umno berani memberitahu Najib untuk menimbang semula strategi beliau terhadap Anwar, yang masih dilihat sebagai gam yang mengikat Pakatan Rakyat dan satu-satunya pemimpin Melayu yang boleh dipercayai; masih berprinsip dan berintegriti terutamanya dengan kekurangan pemikir dalam Umno. Prospek Anwar dipenjarakan dalam perbicaraan kes liwat boleh mencetuskan tindak balas yang lebih besar bukan sahaja dalam Umno tetapi BN secara keseluruhannya. Mereka telah secara terbuka mempertikaikan prospek memenjarakan Anwar yang dilihat boleh mencetuskan rasa marah rakyat seperti episod 'Mata hitam Anwar' terutamanya di kalangan belia justeru memusnahkan prospek politik BN.

Perkembangan politik di negara ini telah memerangkap BN dan pemimpin Umno dalam arus kegelinciran dan kredibiliti Najib dan Umno semakin menipis selepas perhimpunan Bersih baru-baru ini dan episod pertikaian jajahan Inggeris terhadap Tanah Melayu yang telah meninggalkan ramai tertanya-tanya jika kepimpinan BN akan lumpuh dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang.

Selepas kesilapan dalam menangani Bersih, Najib akhirnya bersetuju dengan beberapa tuntutan mereka dan juga bersetuju untuk menubuhkan sebuah jawatankuasa parlimen untuk mengkaji reformasi pilihan raya. Ada dikalangan pemimpin parti komponen BN merasakan bahawa Najib telah menjejaskan BN kerana terlalu mengikut telunjuk Umno apabila gagal untuk menangani Bersih dengan betul. Ia rata-rata dianggap sebagai kesilapan besar oleh pengkritik Perdana Menteri dan menghantar isyarat yang salah kepada rakyat.

Pemerhati politik merasakan bahawa Najib boleh menghadapi kegagalan besar dalam politik sekiranya Anwar didapati bersalah dalam kes liwat dan dipenjarakan. Penahanan pemimpin Pakatan itu akan dilihat oleh rakyat sebagai helah kotor dalam kempen memburuk-burukkan BN dan ini dan boleh diterjemahkan kepada kehilangan undi untuk UMNO dan BN. Ia juga boleh bertukar sebagai simpati yang meningkat untuk Anwar. Akibatnya mereka akan melangkaui politik perkauman dan berharap agar pemimpin-pemimpin Pakatan akan bisa menyematkan harapan mereka untuk tsunami politik yang akan datang.

Fokus pada perbicaraan

Semua mata sekarang fokus kepada perbicaraan kes liwat Anwar dan bagaimana ia akan dimainkan. Ini mendorong beberapa pemimpin Umno untuk memberi tekanan kepada Najib untuk mengadakan pilihan raya yang awal untuk membendung kejatuhan, sementara itu, yang lain lebih suka Anwar berada dalam penjara dan apa yang mereka harapkan adalah supaya merka dapat merompak Pakatan daripada pemimpin yang boleh membawa mereka kepada kemenangan.

Penganalisis politik berkata Najib kini condong memihak kepada senario ke dua kerana ini akan memberikan dia masa untuk menguasai semula parti dan secepat mungkin melakukan reformasi dalam pilihan raya, dalam bentuk apa sahaja, untuk mengelakkan sebarang tindak balas atau tuntutan kempen kotor. Lebih penting lagi, dengan prospek ekonomi global yang menurun, Perdana Menteri ingin melihat hasil awal daripada program transformasi kerajaan yang beliau rencanakan. Ada juga yang melihat keadaan ekonomi memainkan peranan penting dalam apa-apa keputusan Perdana Menteri dalam menetapkan tarikh untuk pilihan raya umum ke-13.

Walau bagaimanapun, nasib Anwar dikaitkan dengan Najib. dengan mempercepatkan pilihan raya umum sebelum perbicaraan Anwar berakhir menunjukkan kepada pengkritik Najib bahawa Perdana Menteri sedang panik dan cuba untuk memulihkan apa-apa kerosakan dari segi politik hasil daripada perbicaraan itu. Senario alternatif adalah lebih menakutkan kerana memenjarakan Anwar boleh menimbulkan bantahan keras di dalam dan diluar negara, malah BN dan Umno mungkin tidak akan dapat pulih sebelum pilihan raya umum ke-13 walaupun sehingga berakhirnya mandat kerajaan pada tahun 2013.

Ramai melihat kes liwat Anwar sebagai tidak adil dan caj yang dibuat terhadap bekas timbalan perdana menteri itu yang satu masa dahulu merupakan bintang Umno saja-saja direka dan merupakan kezaliman terhadap pemimpin Pakatan itu. Dia dan isterinya, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, masih merupakan orang-orang yang berpengaruh dalam Pakatan walaupun pelbagai cabaran yang dihadapi mereka. Malah kehadiran mereka di perhimpunan PKR dan Pakatan boleh menguja orang ramai dan pengaruh mereka ke atas angin perubahan politik mungkin tidak terukur dalam bulan-bulan yang akan datang.

Terdapat juga badai yang melanda parti-parti komponen BN dan seruan kepada pemimpin-pemimpin Umno untuk "mengeluarkan kepala mereka dari pasir" dan menangani cabaran-cabaran yang melanda negara. Ini juga boleh memaksa Najib untuk menetapkan tarikh bagi pilihan raya . Beberapa pemimpin komponen BN juga sedang berkira untuk menarik diri daripada pakatan itu untuk menyelamatkan diri mereka daripada kejatuhan yang mereka semakin rasakan. Setakat ini Perdana Menteri masih dapat memegang pengaruh terhadap mereka dan menghapuskan keretakan yang perlahan-lahan muncul.

Retak tersebut boleh membesar dan tidak dapat diperbaiki lagi jika PKR dan Pakatan berjaya meraih simpati walau apa jua hasil perbicaraannya Anwar itu nanti.

- Malaysia Chronicle

Branding guru calls Najib’s PR efforts an ‘absolute scam’

Anholt, courtesy of
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — The creator of the nation branding concept has called the prime minister’s use of British publicity firm FBC Media to burnish Malaysia’s image abroad an “absolute scam” and a waste of public funds.

Simon Anholt, who pioneered the use of nation branding as a way to measure, build and manage a country’s reputation, said that while public relations was needed in the private sector, it was “highly suspect” that a country could up its standing using the same means.

“There’s a great deal of evidence around us to show what a waste of taxpayers’ money this is,” he told BFM Radio in a phone interview this morning.

“First of all, the countries that tend to spend most money on these PR campaigns to fix their image tend to be the rogue nations.

“If you look at the countries that have spent the most money on ambitious PR campaigns, they’re the places that are most despised and it hasn’t done anything to fix their image at all.”

Anholt pointed out that media studies has known for decades that the media cannot change people’s perception of a country from worse to better or vice versa but could only raise the profile of its existing image.

For this reason, he said “the last thing” a country with a bad image should do is engage in public relations as increased media coverage would only remind the rest of the world what a “problematic” country or government it was.

“So I’m afraid I think the whole thing is an absolute scam and a shocking and indefensible waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

Anholt stressed that governments needed to understand that when they engaged in foreign policy, economic development or international relations, they risked damaging the reputation of their country, which was worth “much, much, much more” than all other tangible assets combined.

It was the “sacred responsibility” of governments today to ensure their country’s good name was preserved and handed down in the same condition, if not better, he said.

Anholt added that countries could only make themselves more relevant to the rest of the world by becoming more useful, and suggested Malaysia tackle shared global issues like climate change, women’s rights, terrorism and financial instability to improve its reputation.

“And then I absolutely guarantee that if you do that and you do it well and you do it consistently over a number of years... you will find that you will become a much more widely recognised and more widely appreciated country,” he said.

“That’s how reputation is earned. I’m afraid there aren’t any shortcuts to it.”

Last month, Putrajaya was forced to end its contract with FBC Media after an embarrassing exposé revealed that Malaysian leaders routinely appeared in paid-for interviews on global television programmes.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has since engaged the services of a new group of political strategists — including members of the team behind Tony Blair’s “New Labour” — to reinvent the first-term premier as a moderate reformist in preparation for possible snap polls next year.

Najib’s new team of advisers is just the latest in his administration’s penchant for foreign public relations firms.

APCO’s time in Malaysia was marked by controversy after the opposition alleged the public relations firm was linked to Israel.

Najib And Wife File Application To Set Aside Subpoenas As Anwar's Witnesses

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Wednesday filed the application to set aside subpoenas asking them to be defence witnesses in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's ongoing sodomy trial.

They filed the application at the High Court Criminal Registrar at 3.30pm through Hiysam Teh Poh Teik & Company.

The couple who were the applicants in the application named Anwar and the public prosecutor as the respondents.

They were represented by lawyers Datuk Salehuddin Saidin, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, M.Athimulan and Datuk Ghazi Ishak.

Salehuddin told reporters that their team had filed the application on behalf of Najib and Rosmah.

However, he declined to give the grounds for the application, saying the court had not yet made a sealed copy of the application.

"At the moment, we are waiting for the sealed copy from the court," he said.

Salehuddin also said that the parties would meet High Court Judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah, the presiding judge of the trial, tomorrow to set a hearing date.

He said Najib and Rosmah had received the subpoenas Tuesday.

On Aug 8, Justice Mohamad Zabidin had granted Anwar's application to interview witnesses offered by the prosecution, including Najib and Rosmah. At the close of its case, the prosecution offered 71 witnesses, including Najib and Rosmah to be defence witnesses.

On Aug 12, Najib and Rosmah were present at the Jalan Duta Court Complex for the interview.

In the first sodomy case in 1998, then prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad (now Tun) who was subpoenaed, had applied to set it aside and the court granted his application.

On May 16, Justice Mohamad Zabidin ordered Anwar to enter his defence after ruling that the latter's former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, the complainant in the case, was a truthful and credible witness.

Anwar, 64, pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court on Aug 7, 2008, to committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature at the Desa Damansara Condominium in Bukit Damansara between 3.10 pm and 4.30 pm on June 26, the same year.

At Wednesday's proceedings, Australian DNA expert Dr Brian McDonald who was cross-examined on the second day by Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden, told the High Court that he just supervised lab personnel conducting a DEP test and he never did it on his own.

Questioned by Mohamed Yusof on the DEP test, a procedure to separate normal and sperm cells from a sample, Dr McDonald said he could not recall ever conducting the DEP but added that he might have supervised several cases before.

Dr McDonald said Dr Seah Lay Hong had wrongly concluded that the "Male Y" DNA samples were from sperm cells, calling what she had done mere "guesswork".

He said since Dr Seah did not use a slide to confirm and check through a microscope, if a sample was "cleaned" of normal cells, and was purely of sperm cells, then it was even possible to say complainant Mohd Saiful's sperm was in his own anus.

Mohamed Yusof: You talked quite extensively on differential extraction. You touched on the procedure involved...have you done it yourself?

Dr McDonald: Not that I can remember.

Mohamed Yusof: So when you told the court about the procedure, you did not base it on your experience?

Dr McDonald: I've conducted it but not on a frequent daily basis. I did not do it personally but I supervised the people who did the DEP.

When asked again, Dr McDonald maintained his evidence earlier that Dr Seah's procedure was flawed.

Mohamed Yusof pointed to an article which indicated that using a slide to confirm that the separated sample contained purely sperm cells was not a "must" to which Dr McDonald agreed.

However, he reiterated that it was important in this case as one needed to be sure that "Male Y" came from sperm cells.

On the issue of degradation of the samples, Dr McDonald disagreed that he had testified that Dr Seah had stated no degradation on all the samples examined by the chemists.

"I didn't say that. Degradation deferred from the samples collected from the anus and the pants of the complainant," clarified Dr McDonald.

He also admitted that it was a difficult task to separate the sperm and non-sperm extractions. The trial before Justice Mohamed Zabidin continues Thursday.