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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sodomy II: Najib, Rosmah need not testify

Anwar has failed to show the relevancy and materiality of both Najib and Rosmah to the trial, ruled the judge.

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has failed in his bid to haul up Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor to court to testify in his Sodomy II trial.

Judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah today allowed an application by the couple to set aside the subpoenas compelling them to be defence witnesses in the trial.

“After going through the affidavits and submissions, I found that the defendants have failed to show the relevancy and materiality of both Najib and Rosmah to the trial,” said Mohamed Zabidin.

On Monday, the judge heard submissions from the couple’s lawyers as well as from lawyers representing Anwar.

Anwar’s argument is that it was important to have Najib and Rosmah to testify in his trial so that he could find out what had transpired in a meeting involving the prime minister and the complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Anwar also wants Rosmah to explain about her meeting with Muhamad Rahimi Osman, a close friend of Saiful. (Rahimi was said to have gone to Rosmah to seek assistance on behalf of his friend.)

Najib and Rosmah have, however, stressed that they have no knowledge of the alleged sodomy and stated they were not relevant to the trial.

Both had denied conspiring with anyone to incriminate Anwar despite Najib admitting in his affidavit that he had met Saiful two days prior to the alleged sodomy.

Najib’s lawyers had alleged that Anwar was embarking on a “fishing expedition”.

Last month, Najib and Rosmah were subpoenaed by Anwar’s defence team to appear as defence witnesses.

On Sept 21, Najib and Rosmah filed the applications to set aside the subpoenas, which was heard before the trial judge today.

Anwar, 64, claimed trial on Aug 7, 2008, to committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature at the Desa Damansara Condominium in Bukit Damansara between 3.10pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.

Meanwhile, Anwar’s trial continues.

Tung Shin incident "blown out of proportion"

ImageThe Sun Daily
by Karen Arukesamy and Alyaa Alhadjri

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 5, 2011): Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein today defended the police's standard operating procedure (SOP) in dispersing Bersih 2.0 demonstrators, saying the Tung Shin hospital incident during the July 9 rally had been blown out of proportion.

Referring to the Health Ministry probe which concluded police had broken their own SOP by firing water cannon and smoke bombs into the hospital compound during the rally, Hishammuddin said the police are not the only ones to be blamed for the incident.

“On Tung Shin there is a spin – it is looking as though the standard operating procedure of the police is at fault.

“This is just one incident and the fact they are just looking at one particular incident relating to internal disciplinary action based on SOP, to me is like making a mountain out of a molehill,” Hishammuddin told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.

The Home Minister said there was a need to widen the scope of the probe and not just pick one particular incident.

“The report is already done but we need to widen the scope of investigation," he added.

Hishammuddin also said the incident at the hospital was one of “six or seven” incidents that involved the wrongdoing of “one errant police officer”.

“This does not mean that those who are at fault, including the police officer, will not be prosecuted. But the Attorney-General will decide on that. This is a process that we have to go through,” he said.

Meanwhile Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar, who was also present, said there is “nothing wrong with the SOP”.

Failing to explain further, he just said the investigating committee will check on the report and that the police officer is from a “different department”.

The Home Ministry in a press statement released late yesterday night had reportedly admitted that police had breached the SOP and had acted unethically in the dispersal of demonstrators of the Bersih 2.0 at the Tung Shin Hospital based on the Health Ministry’s highest level internal investigation committee’s report.

Home Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Mahmood Adam said his ministry will refer the personnel concerned to the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM)'s disciplinary committee for its consideration and further action.

Meanwhile, at a separate press conference at Jalan Tun Razak police station today, KL CID Chief SAC Datuk Ku Chin Wah said disciplinary action will be taken against a police officer with the KL police contingent for using "forced violence" to disperse protesters taking part in the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally.

Ku said the officer was identified by the police from one of the many videos circulated online of incidents which took place on the day, including of alleged police brutality.

"He was seen in the video to be wearing a red handkerchief that covered his face, but we have identified him and submitted our investigation paper to the DPP (Deputy Public Prosecutor)," said Ku.

He however said the DPP decided that no further action can be taken as no victims had came forward during the investigation process.

"We had completed our investigations in August and received a reply from the DPP last month," said Ku, who however did not elaborate on the exact incident he was referring to.

He said the officer concerned will be referred to the PDRM Disciplinary Committee for future action.

In an immediate response, Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Dr Wong Chin Huat questioned the police's motive behind narrowing its investigation to only one individual.

"That is why no victims can be found. All other reported cases does not stand," he claimed.

How tax reliefs subsidise the rich

Come Budget Day, many taxpayers will be hoping for more tax reliefs on all sorts of expenditure. But do you know such tax reliefs actually favour the rich?
Not only that, they tend to benefit powerful business lobby groups such as private hospitals and insurance companies.
Economist Subramaniam Pillay explains in more detail in an article on the Aliran website ahead of Budget Day.
With policies like these, it it any wonder then that the rich are getting richer?

Nude squat probe finds no impropriety by officers

The two Singaporeans were detained for driving through an unmanned Immigration inspection lane.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — The Immigration Department’s probe into a recent nude squat incident involving two Singaporean women has found that its officers exercised their responsibilities in a “good and orderly” fashion, the Home Ministry said today. In a written response to Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah), the ministry said the women were examined by a female officer, as required under the department’s standard operating procedures (SOP).
Fong had urged the ministry to furnish the full details of the probe, including why the women were forced to perform nude squats, how they had passed the Johor immigration officials without being checked and the number of such incidents.
The ministry explained that the women were detained on June 9 under Section 6(1)(C) of the Immigration Act for entering Malaysia without a valid pass.
According to the probe, the women had entered Malaysia without being checked as the department’s counter had been closed.
“At the time, there were no immigration officials on duty at the counter,” said the ministry.
The women were then brought to the Pekan Nanas detention depot and were made to undergo standard “inspection procedures”, which were carried out by female immigration officials.
“According to the investigation, the officials involved in the inspection ensured that their responsibilities and duties were carried out in a good and orderly fashion,” the ministry concluded.
According to a Singapore Straits Times report on June 14, the two women who drove to Johor Baru for supper on July 9 were questioned by Malaysian immigration officials, handcuffed, thrown behind bars and made to do squats while naked.
The two women claimed they drove through uninspected because the immigration lane was unmanned, and that no one answered the intercom.
Following their punishment, they were allowed to return to Singapore after 48 hours with a warning.
Both women have reportedly vowed never to return to Malaysia after the incident, which drew criticism from opposition MPs who called the act “humiliating and ridiculous.”
The ST added that one of the women, known as Chang, would be taking legal action.
The Malaysian Immigration Department suspended two officers following the incident but it insists that the detention was legal under the Immigration Act as they had entered the country without passing through biometric fingerprint checks.
The Malaysian Insider reported on June 29 that a special multi-agency panel had concluded its investigations into the nude squat incident after the republic submitted written reports from their affected citizens.
“The written reports have been handed over to Malaysian authorities,” a source told The Malaysian Insider.
It is also understood that the island state has demanded an explanation from Malaysia after an earlier request for details concerning the case.
The incident also caused a furore in during the last Parliament session, with opposition MPs from DAP demanding an explanation from the Home Ministry.

Perkasa minta siasat transaksi saham Sime Darby-E&O

Siasatan terperinci perlu dibuat jika wujudnya krisis kepentingan, penyelewengan dan salah laku penjawat awam, kata ketua penerangan Ruslan Kasim.

KUALA LUMPUR: Pertubuhan Peribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) hari ini mengemukakan aduan kepada Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) berhubung isu pembelian 30 peratus ekuiti syarikat Eastern & Oriental Berhad (E&O) bernilai RM776 juta oleh Sime Darby Berhad (Sime Darby).

Laporan itu dibuat oleh Ketua Penerangan Perkasa Ruslan Kasim di Bangunan SPRM Wilayah Persekutuan, Jalan Cochrane di sini petang tadi.

Bercakap kepada pemberita, Ruslan berkata siasatan terperinci perlu dibuat jika wujudnya krisis kepentingan, penyelewengan dan salah laku penjawat awam ke atas transaksi dagang dan pembelian saham terbabit yang berharga RM2.30 seunit.

Ruslan berkata, transaksi berprofil tinggi dalam jangka masa singkat menunjukkan timbulnya keraguan tentang peranan yang dimainkan oleh Pengerusi Suruhanjaya Sekuriti (SC) Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar dalam transaksi yang melibatkan suaminya sendiri yang juga Pengerusi Bukan Eksekutif E&O Datuk Azizan Abdul Rahman.

‘Insider trading’

Beliau mendakwa wujud aktiviti dagangan dalaman (insider trading) memandangkan beberapa pengarah E&O termasuk Datuk Azizan didapati telah membeli saham syarikat tersebut sebelum diumumkan pembelian 30 peratus oleh Sime Darby.

“Walaupun Zarinah terpaksa mengumumkan beliau tidak campur tangan dalam siasatan berkaitan dengan urusan tersebut, tetapi apakah tiada kemungkinan imej dan pengaruh yang dimilikinya sebagai Pegerusi SC dapat pula mempengaruhi sebarang tindakan dan keputusan sepanjang siasatan dilakukan.

“Kenapa dalam keadaan baru lepas menanggung kerugian berbilion ringgit, Sime Darby sanggup membayar sehingga 60 peratus lebih dari harga pasaran E&O?,” soal Ruslan selain turut membangkit persoalan penglibatan individu yang menjadi dalang dalam permainan transaksi ini.

Sehubungan itu, beliau mendesak SPRM bertindak dengan segera menyiasat isu ini tanpa pilih bulu sama ianya melibatkan ‘ikan paus’ atau ‘ikan bilis’ dan mengheret mereka yang terlibat ke muka pengadilan jika terbukti wujudnya salah guna kuasa.

Siasatan ini amat diperlukan sekaligus bagi melindungi dan menjamin ketelusan, kewibawaan dan integriti sebuah badan pengawas selia kewangan sektor awam berprofil tinggi seperti SC, katanya.

Isu membabitkan Azizan timbul selepas beliau didakwa telah membeli kira-kira 450,000 saham syarikat hartanah daripada pasaran terbuka membabitkan lima transaksi berasingan sejak April dan Ogos tahun ini.

Tiga daripada transaksi dibuat antara Julai dan Ogos dan transaksi terakhir membabitkan pembelian 100,000 saham pada 12 Ogos lalu.

Penguasaan itu menjadikan Sime Darby sebagai pemegang saham terbesar dalam syarikat hartanah yang memiliki Hotel E&O di Pulau Pinang.

Sementara itu, SC yang diketuai dua pegawai kanannya Datuk Francis Tan dan Datuk Gumuri Hussain telah mula melakukan siasatan menyemak transaksi saham E&O-Sime Darby sejak bulan lalu, manakala Zarinah terpaksa menarik diri dalam siasatan itu.

Pakistan's Stolen Cultural Heritage

Pakistani fasting Buddha (photo credit: Christie's)
(Asia Sentinel) Christie’s halts a planned auction of a rare Pakistani artifact
At the behest of UNESCO, the fine arts auction house Christie’s has halted a planned auction this month of a fasting Buddha, a nearly 2,000-year-old statue from the Gandhara civilisation, which was believed to have been stolen from Pakistan and sold to a private collector in Germany in the 1980s.

The grey schist figure of the emaciated Siddhartha, or ‘Fasting Buddha’, was called the most fascinating 3rd or 4th century Gandhara piece in Christie’s entire collection. Islamabad’s Department of Archaeology and Museums was spurred to look deeper for Pakistan-origin artifacts that might have reached the auctioneer surreptitiously for sale. The search revealed that Christie’s was in possession of 60 more Gandhara-period relics with price tags ranging from $2,000 to $200,000.

Pakistani authorities must prove their claim that the sale was illegal if they are to recover the Buddha. What will become of it remains to be seen, yet this news evokes realization of the country’s cultural heritage despite its increasingly tarnished image as a hub of myopia and intolerance.

Located at the crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia, Western Asia and the Arab Gulf region, Pakistan’s heritage is in fact both diverse and unique. Its historical sites range from the ancient urban settlements of Mohenjo-daro from the Indus Valley civilization of Sindh and the rich Buddhist Ghandara civilization, to Mughal monuments, shrines of Muslim mystics, Sikh and Hindu temples and colonial period architecture, as well as numerous natural wonders.

However, at present the cultural diversity of Pakistan and its invaluable natural landscapes receive little attention in comparison to the gigantic political, social and economic problems confronting the country. It is also unfortunate that the present international image of Pakistan obscures the cultural heritage of the country, leading to its increased international isolation. In order to reverse such disturbing trends, it is vital to draw attention to its unique cultural heritage and harnesses its potential to promote a more balanced picture of the country.

In order to do so, it is necessary for relevant government institutions to make greater efforts to protect and promote the aspirations of the diverse range of ethnic and linguistic groups which reside in Pakistan. Instead of devising top-down bureaucratic interventions, efforts must be made to encourage increased participation of marginalized local communities, including women, in conservation and management of varied national cultural assets, including historical buildings, local literature, folklore and even music. After all, this heritage is a testament to the rich diversity of cultures and religions in this land for centuries.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Culture acknowledges the need to recognize and promote its cultural diversity, including appreciation and respect for the multitude of cultures that have been a part of Pakistan’s history.

However, its low priority and the lack of sufficient resource allocation to realize this goal has resulted in rather ad hoc attempts to promote cultural heritage, mostly in the form of renovation or preservation of a very limited number of historical sites, such as the 17th century Shalimar Gardens built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan or the 16th century Lahore Fort built by the Mughal emperor Akbar. There is an absence of practical measures for protection, conservation and maintenance of numerous other heritage sites strewn across Pakistan.

Last year, a Quaid-i-Azam University survey documented 450 heritage sites in Islamabad and Rawalpindi alone which are in desperate need of protection and preservation. These sites included Buddhist settlements, ancient caves, rock shelters and temples. Preservation and promotion of traditional skills and crafts, music and literature is under similar threat due to lack of suitable conservation policies and financial support.

Pakistan’s natural heritage is similarly being subjected to the onslaught of population pressures and commercial exploitation. While the government has taken some steps to protect the environment by creating Environmental Protection Agencies at the federal and provincial levels, these entities continue to struggle with a host of resource and capacity deficiencies due to which they remain ineffective in halting the threat of encroachment, deforestation and pollution of Pakistan’s irreplaceable natural heritage.

Cultural tourism perhaps offers the best means to promote cultural assets, while at the same time deriving economic benefits out of them. There are ample international examples from Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa and South America indicating how cultural and ecological sites can be preserved through adoption of sustainable tourism plans. Although there is huge dormant potential for tourism in Pakistan, growing insecurity in the country must be tackled first.

(Syed Mohammad Ali is a freelance columnist and consultant. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service.)

Najib: Malaysia Needs World-class Educational Institutions With World-class Leadership

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 (Bernama) -- Malaysia not only needs an education system that nurtures creative and analytical human capital but also world-class educational institutions with world-class leadership, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

This was in line with the government moves towards an innovation-led economy, the prime minister said.

"We are taking a series of measures to encourage more young people to think the unthinkable and forge a bold new path -- shaping a supportive ecosystem, creating new opportunities and funding enablers for innovation," he said in his speech at the Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) World Cup 2011 dinner here, Wednesday night.

His speech was delivered by his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is also Education Minister.

Najib said the Malaysian government was "determined to do everything to support innovation" by creating an environment in which corporations, research organisations and individuals were better able to engage in innovative activities.

"Measures to achieve this include developing human capital, investing in innovation infrastructure and nurturing new ventures through incubators," he said.

Najib wanted to see more commercially-viable innovations and urged the private sector to come forward and collaborate with universities and schools to innovate new products which had the potentials to contribute to economic growth and to societal well-being.

"But the success of our innovation agenda will depend on our ability to value openness, to embrace critical thinking and to encourage risk taking and experimentation; because sometimes we all get things wrong before we get them right," he said.

Najib also said that there was a need revamp the education system "to unlock individual skills and talents" and to produce well-rounded individuals.

"Poor performance in education today will have negative impact on the country's tomorrow, as higher education levels are consistently correlated with robust economic growth," he said.