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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Deaths in Philippine landslide

At least 25 killed, about 100 missing in Philippine landslideAt least 25 people dead and another 150 missing in a remote mountain community near Pantukan town on Mindanao island.

A landslide that struck a community of gold prospectors in the southern Philippines has left at least 25 people dead and about 150 others missing, government officials say.

The landslip hit a remote mountain community of about 100 families near Pantukan town, on Mindanao island, at dawn on Thursday, Benito Ramos, the civil defence chief, told the AFP news agency.

Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan, reporting from Manila, said manual digging at the site has just started.

"Trucks and military troops are now on site," she said.

The provincial government and local mining firms have been asked to bring up heavy equipment to the village, called Napnapan, to help the local army battalion speed up the rescue, Ramos said.

The rains were unleashed by a baby storm off Mindanao's southeast coast that later dissipated, the state weather service said.


Pantukan and nearby Monkayo town have drawn thousands of gold prospectors for years, and the largely unregulated mining activities have made the mountainside unstable and caused a series of deadly accidents.

Fourteen people were killed in a landslide on a nearby section of a mountainside on April 22 last year on top of another landslide in 2009 that killed 26 people.

Acting on the advice of national government geologists, local officials ordered all Pantukan gold rush areas evacuated last year after the April landslide.

However, they said some people had returned, possibly joined by new migrants drawn by stratospheric gold prices.

"We were there a year ago after the previous landslide and about two days after it hit people started to rebuild their homes on the same shaky grounds, saying they have nowhere else to go," our correspondent said.

"The local and national government have said they have allocated a relocation site for them but the villagers are saying that where they are to be moved to, there is not livelihood for them."

Twenty-five bodies were pulled from the debris within the first six hours, said Chief Superintendent Jaime Morente, the regional police chief.

Buried bodies

Arturo Uy, the governor of Compostela Valley province that includes Pantukan, said more than 100 people are believed to be still buried under the collapsed mountainside.

Ramos, however, said the number of missing was an estimate based on figures from village officials.

Miners had been warned previously of the danger of landslides after one struck a nearby community of gold prospectors in April, said Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje.

"We have identified this area as highly susceptible to landslides," he told ABS-CBN television in an interview.

"We had already told them even before the April incident happened that the top of the ridge is cracked, and it was just a matter of time" before another struck, Paje added.

"We had already ordered them out of the area in April and many did leave," Uy told GMA television in a telephone interview.

"But the area is remote and the local government has difficulty monitoring the area."

Ramos said two military helicopters were airlifting more rescuers to Pantukan from the southern port of Cagayan de Oro, one of two Mindanao cities hit hard by flash floods last month that killed more than 1,200 people.

Anwar says opposition will survive jailing

'Anwar in jail, Anwar out of jail... it doesn't matter. The most important (thing) is people should overthrow Umno,' he says.

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said his coalition will survive even if he is jailed on sodomy charges, as his nationwide tour ahead of next week’s verdict rolls on despite police warnings.

Anwar was charged in 2008 with having sex with a male former aide and a verdict in the long-running trial is due to be handed down on Monday. If found guilty, the 64-year-old politician faces up to 20 years in jail.

Anwar has condemned the allegations as a government plot to destroy his image in the conservative Muslim-majority country, and reverse the unprecedented electoral gains the opposition made in 2008 polls.

To rally support ahead of the verdict, he has embarked on a nationwide tour that began Tuesday in southern Johor and will sweep through six other states before a courthouse demonstration on Monday.

Anwar told a gathering of about 500 people in central Negeri Sembilan state, near the capital Kuala Lumpur, late Wednesday that his three-party opposition alliance would not crumble without him.

“Anwar in jail, Anwar out of jail… it doesn’t matter. The most important (thing) is people should overthrow Umno,” he said during a fiery hour-long speech.

Pacing on a makeshift stage set up in a parking lot, Anwar said he was innocent of the allegations and called on his listeners to “save our country” from government corruption and mismanagement.

“I’m not guilty. I’m a victim of slander… there is no case if they follow the facts or the law,” he told the townspeople, many in Muslim traditional dress and brandishing party flags and pictures of Anwar.

He also took swipes at ruling party politicians, often raising laughter, accusing them of aiming to create divisions between majority ethnic Malays and the multicultural nation’s ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.

After his speech, the crowd applauded and proclaimed the innocence of the opposition leader, a former finance minister who was sacked and jailed a decade ago on separate sodomy charges widely seen as politically motivated.

Monday rally

“Everybody knows Anwar has not done anything wrong ever. (The government) is playing the same card, the same game,” 21-year-old university student Izzat Haffiz told AFP.

Despite low turnout in the opening days of the tour, organisers are hoping the crowds will increase dramatically when Anwar visits opposition-held Kelantan state late Thursday and northern Penang on Saturday.

The government has warned people against turning up at the courthouse protest Monday, and police have said they will crack down on anyone caught distributing posters as well as blogs “inciting people to attend the rally”.

“Police have to handle this matter carefully as the planned rally poses a threat to public security,” police internal security chief Salleh Mat Rasid said according to state media.

Deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin also criticised the opposition for going ahead with the nationwide tour and the rally at the court — the scene of previous large demonstrations relating to Anwar’s legal dramas.

“Many sides have already voiced their objections against the gathering,” Muhyiddin told the New Straits Times newspaper.

“By going ahead with it, they are showing that they’re going with the assumption that the courts already have a negative verdict.”

Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, spent six years in jail on sodomy and corruption counts in a stunning fall from grace after he fell out with his then boss, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The sodomy conviction was eventually overturned and he was released in 2004, allowing him to revive his political career as leader of an opposition alliance which has for the first time threatened Umno’s half-century hold on power.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is widely expected to call fresh elections this year, hoping to regain a strong mandate after promising reforms on the economy as well as civil liberties.

MIC boss eyeing Padang Serai?

However, G Palanivel's plan to make a 'front door' entry could be hampered if the PM instructs BN coalition party presidents to remain on the bench during the next general election.

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC president G Palanivel is said to be keen on contesting the Padang Serai parliamentary seat in Kedah.

According to a source, this is despite speculation that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak might advise the Barisan Nasional component party presidents to keep out of the race.

The Padang Serai seat is currently held by former PKR vice-president N Gobalakrishnan, who defeated a MCA candidate in the 2008 general election.

The source claimed that Palanivel wanted to prove his mettle in the upcoming general election to silence the critics who had labelled him a “back door” minister.

He also pointed out that the MIC president had indicated that his party was willing to swap parliament seats in Selangor for those in Penang and Kedah.

The source also dismissed earlier talk that Palanivel was eyeing the Sepang parliament seat, saying that the latter would not gamble his political future in Selangor.

In the last general election, MIC candidates, including Palanivel, were trounced in Selangor but the party reclaimed its president’s seat in Hulu Selangor through newcomer P Kamalanathan in a by-election.

The source claimed that Palanivel might swap the Kota Raja or Kapar seats for Padang Serai and MCA might be agreeable to this since it had lost ground in the constituency.

“The political environment is different now, there is no such thing as any seat being a traditional stronghold of a particular party.

“As for Kota Raja, former PKR Youth chief Ezam Mohd Nor (who has since joined Umno) is interested in contesting there, so MIC may give way in return for Padang Serai,” he said, adding that Umno would then offer MCA one of its seats as a replacement.

In Padang Serai, the source added, it was certain that the incumbent MP would not defend his seat since after quitting PKR, Gobalakrishnan had become BN-friendly.

Meanwhile, a source from the Prime Minister’s Department revealed that BN component party chiefs were still not considered safe bets and this might prompt Najib to keep them on the bench during election.

“Since the perception is that these leaders are not favoured by the public, the prime minister may not pick them as candidates, asking them instead to focus on strengthening their respective parties,” he told FMT.

Third Force to be kingmakers in GE

Maverick Jeffrey Kitingan, true to form, has received his big brother deputy Chief Minister Pairin's blessing for the formation of the Third Force.
COMMENT

Jeffrey Kitingan, true to form, has once again decided against forming his own political vehicle to rival one led by Joseph Pairin Kitingan, his elder brother in politics. Instead, he has elected to be chairman of the Sabah chapter of the Sarawak Reform Party (Star).

The party also has a Sarawak chapter and both chapters will make common cause under a National Committee which will be the umbrella grouping for the party. Kitingan’s role in the National Committee is still work in progress, according to the official line, but has already been decided.

Kitingan being with Star could not have happened without Pairin giving him the blessing, nay even encouraging him as in the past with his entry into other parties.

Between 1994, when he first “joined” PBS 10 years after its founding, and Friday Jan 6, 2012 when he joins Star Sabah, he went through as many parties as possible and all in consultation with Pairin.

Such sojourns even earned him the unenviable crown as King of the Frogs. He concedes here on this score and readily too but not without claiming that he has always been a good frog, never a bull frog.

Kitingan, who co-founded the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) in 1984 with Pairin, the Huguan Siou (Paramount Chief), has always shied away from forming his own political vehicle.

For one, there’s the “blood is thicker than water” mindset of the Kitingans in and out of politics.

For another, Kitingan does not want to be seen among the still tribal mindset Dusun – including the Kadazan or urban Dusun and the Murut – as being at loggerheads with his brother.

Finally, there’s the distinct possibility, albeit receding, that he may no longer be needed to be the perennial sacrificial lamb and instead be called upon to play the role of the prodigal son and return home to bring PBS into the Borneo Alliance.

Star, the nucleus of Borneo Alliance

Star, in effect, is the political wing of the United Borneo Front (UBF), soon to be renamed United Sabah Sarawak Brotherhood Front (also UBF), Kitingan’s NGO which works across the political divide to flog the Borneo Agenda.

Star, in effect, is also the nucleus of the Borneo Alliance which will group together various local political parties in Sabah and Sarawak in furtherance of the Borneo Agenda.

Peninsular Malaysia-based political parties represented in the Sabah and Sarawak state assemblies, or representing the two states in Parliament, are not welcome in the Borneo Alliance unless they allow autonomous local chapters.

The Borneo Alliance, in effect, is the nucleus of the Third Force in the Malaysian Parliament to rival the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the Pakatan Rakyat (PR), both Peninsular Malaysia-based national coalitions.

In that sense, the Third Force will also be a national coalition, albeit Malaysian Borneo-based, reaching across the South China Sea to various allies viz. the Orang Asli, Christians, the Indian underclass as represented by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, and those in Peninsular Malaysia who support neither BN nor Pakatan.

If there was method in madness in Kitingan’s previous sojourns with various other political parties, there’s tenacity of purpose in him signing up this time with Star.

The Third Force, sensing a historical window of opportunity since the 2008 general election, has pledged to take up the role of kingmaker in the Malaysian Parliament.

If all goes according to script, neither BN nor Pakatan will be able to put together a federal government with even a simple majority without the support of the Third Force.

In that sense, the Third Force will not be part of the federal government but only support it from outside.

The Third Force is against the idea of a government of national unity i.e. one that groups together BN, Pakatan and itself.

Nurul Izzah could be deputy PM

The Third Force will only be in the federal government when it can take the initiative to form and lead such a government, even if it means that it will have less seats than its would-be partner.

In that case, there are no prizes for guessing that the Prime Minister will come from either Sabah or Sarawak.

If the scenario materializes as envisaged, Kitingan would be Prime Minister and Nurul Izzah Anwar one of five deputy prime ministers.

If BN is the preferred partner for the Third Force in Parliament, it would be a whole new ball game.

It’s unlikely that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, for example, would be happy to eat humble pie and be a “lowly” deputy prime minister under Kitingan.

It was not so long ago, in 1994 in fact, when Kitingan asked former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad why a Sabahan could not be Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Kitingan had just been released from detention under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) mid-way through his second two-year term.

Mahathir, being himself, quipped: “A Sabahan cannot be Prime Minister of Malaysia but a Malaysian can.”

Kitingan had been detained by Mahathir for allegedly plotting to take Sabah out of Malaysia by force.

Indeed, the exit of Sabah and Sarawak from Malaysia remains a distinct possibility if the Third Force cannot make any headway in Parliament to seek redress for the many grievances in the two states against the Federation.

For now, the Third Force is here to stay, being an idea whose time has come.

MIC boss eyeing Padang Serai?

However, G Palanivel's plan to make a 'front door' entry could be hampered if the PM instructs BN coalition party presidents to remain on the bench during the next general election.

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC president G Palanivel is said to be keen on contesting the Padang Serai parliamentary seat in Kedah.

According to a source, this is despite speculation that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak might advise the Barisan Nasional component party presidents to keep out of the race.

The Padang Serai seat is currently held by former PKR vice-president N Gobalakrishnan, who defeated a MCA candidate in the 2008 general election.

The source claimed that Palanivel wanted to prove his mettle in the upcoming general election to silence the critics who had labelled him a “back door” minister.

He also pointed out that the MIC president had indicated that his party was willing to swap parliament seats in Selangor for those in Penang and Kedah.

The source also dismissed earlier talk that Palanivel was eyeing the Sepang parliament seat, saying that the latter would not gamble his political future in Selangor.

In the last general election, MIC candidates, including Palanivel, were trounced in Selangor but the party reclaimed its president’s seat in Hulu Selangor through newcomer P Kamalanathan in a by-election.

The source claimed that Palanivel might swap the Kota Raja or Kapar seats for Padang Serai and MCA might be agreeable to this since it had lost ground in the constituency.

“The political environment is different now, there is no such thing as any seat being a traditional stronghold of a particular party.

“As for Kota Raja, former PKR Youth chief Ezam Mohd Nor (who has since joined Umno) is interested in contesting there, so MIC may give way in return for Padang Serai,” he said, adding that Umno would then offer MCA one of its seats as a replacement.

In Padang Serai, the source added, it was certain that the incumbent MP would not defend his seat since after quitting PKR, Gobalakrishnan had become BN-friendly.

Meanwhile, a source from the Prime Minister’s Department revealed that BN component party chiefs were still not considered safe bets and this might prompt Najib to keep them on the bench during election.

“Since the perception is that these leaders are not favoured by the public, the prime minister may not pick them as candidates, asking them instead to focus on strengthening their respective parties,” he told FMT.

PPIM, Permas buat laporan polis bantah gerakan bebaskan Anwar

Akan hantar 5, 000 ahli menyokong Saiful.

imgAKUALA LUMPUR: Dua NGO Melayu membuat laporan polis terhadap perhimpunan membebaskan Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim di perkarangan makahmah tinggi di sini, Isnin depan.

Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia (PPIM) dan Majlis Ayahanda Malaysia (Permas) membuat laporan polis tersebut di IPD Sentul.

Dalam sidang media.bersama hari ini dua NGO berkenaan mendakwa gerakan itu berunsur politik dan provokasi bagi mencabar kewibawaan mahkamah.

“…tindakan ini amat tidak wajar dan bersikap biadap. Mereka pentingkan survival politik semata-mata tanpa menghiraukan kepentingan awam termasuk demokrasi dan perpaduan,” kata Setiausaha Agung Permas, Zulkifly Sharif.

Mahkamah akan membuat keputusan Isnin terhadap Anwar atas tuduhan liwat bekas pembantunya Muhamad Saiful Bukhari.

PKR bersama PAS, DAP serta NGO akan mengadakan perhimpunan besar-besaran di perkarangan mahkamah sebagai sokongan kepada Anwar.

Berikutan iu Perkemas akan menghantar 5, 000 ahli bagi menyokong Saiful.

Zulkifly berkata, menjadikan demonstrasi jalanan untuk simpati masyarakat perlu dicemuh.

“Kami marah dengan kebiadapan binatang-binatang kelompok ini yang didalangi Anwar dan Azmin Ali,” kata beliau.

Permas dan PPIM, kata Zulkifly sebarang kes yang masih dalam perbicaraan tidak seharusnya dipolitikkan.

T’is the season for jumping ship!


http://aliran.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Lim-Boo-Chang.jpgLim Boo Chang - Photograph: Malaysiakini

Without fail it happens! Just before elections, hordes of renegades suddenly emerge from nowhere, bad-mouthing the party that they had been associated with.
By P Ramakrishnan
Malaysians must not be taken in by this sandiwara. We must remain focused on the larger objective i.e. to turn the BN into an opposition, writes P Ramakrishnan.
Without fail it happens! Just before elections, hordes of renegades suddenly emerge from nowhere, bad-mouthing the party that they had been associated with. It is a wonder that their disillusionment with their party must invariably coincide with the impending elections. Their disenchantment is, as it were, programmed to take off at a particular time.
This migration inevitably follows the electoral season and their path will invariably lead them to the Barisan Nasional!
If you study their history, you may discover that many of them would have belonged to one of the BN component parties and subsequently would have deserted it to hop over to the Opposition for the same reason – they were disillusioned!
It must have been a full circle for Lim Boo Chang who resigned from Parti Keadilan Rakyat, expressing his desire to return to Gerakan – a party that he deserted in 1995 in favour of the MCA, after having been with Gerakan for 15 long years. Thirteen years later, he jumped ship to the PKR.
Now, less than four years later, he has turned his back on PKR. Looks as if it is becoming a habit!
The NST, in the habit of playing up this kind of news that is deemed to be detrimental to the Opposition, understandably gave him front page publicity (15 December 2011, ‘PKR man quits, calls DAP “autocratic”’).
This latest episode has seemingly left a bad taste in the mouth of thinking Malaysians. It seems strange, they argue, that he was unable to find a niche in all these three parties. They wonder whether he is a misfit or his ideals were too high to find any common ground in these parties.
In any case, some days later, some 312 persons claiming to be PKR members – from Boo Chang’s Bukit Gelugor division of which he was the chairman – announced their resignation from the party at a press conference. Some of them apparently were officials of the division such as deputy chief Rosal Rahman, assistant treasurer Diong Chong Mee, several committee members and youth chief Shah Hameed Abd Kadeer.
Unsurprisingly, the Umno Baru division chief, Abdul Rahim Saibu, was present at this press conference. It isn’t all that difficult to fathom where these former PKR members apparently got their ‘enlightenment’ from! It’s no mystery why they jumped ship. It is not too difficult to guess why!
According to many thinking people, it seems, there are those who become wise when the inducement is irresistible!
Following this migration, it was also reported that other migratory ‘birds’ were also in flight! This act has got to be staged in such a manner to convey the impression that this is not an isolated case and that the “disillusionment” is real and wide-spread. That is the reason why soon after Boo Chang’s episode, we read about other cases.
According to the NST (18 December 2011) head-line, “120 ex-Pas men defect to Umno.” The report states, “A total of 120 Pas supporters in Kampung Beoh have announced that they were leaving the party en masse to set up a new Umno branch.”
Another NST (27 December 2011) head-line read, “42 Pas members quit to join Umno”. It was reported that “forty-two Pas members in Bakau Tua here (Kepala Batas) have quit the party to join Umno”.
On 31 December 2011, the NST again head-lined a report, “80 hardcore Pas supporters join Umno”. The report reads: “Some 80 hardcore Pas supporters in Tok Bali near here (Pasir Puteh) yesterday joined Umno en masse after become (sic) disillusioned with Pas for failing to keep its promises to help the poor and develop the town (Tok Bali).”
You can be rest assured that as the election approaches nearer, more and more “disillusioned” and orchestrated members will be betraying themselves and deserting their party of choice to align themselves with a party of convenience!
Obviously, such crossovers are meant to create the myth that the Opposition is losing its support and is on the verge of collapse. But the present-day electorate are much wiser and more discerning to fall into this trap, which is nothing but crap!
What does all this demonstrate about our value system? Betrayal is portrayed as a virtue going by the wide publicity given blatantly and brazenly to these deserters by the discredited media, the mouth-pieces of the BN.
The media do not query why suddenly – and at this juncture – these renegades have attained ‘enlightenment’. Why is it that, when the election was not imminent, these newly disgruntled members were hardly dissatisfied or disillusioned with their party?
Malaysians must not be taken in by this sandiwara. We must remain focused on the larger objective i.e. to turn the BN into an opposition. Only then will we know whether the present Opposition is capable of providing an alternative government that will protect the deserving and reward the hard-working.
Only then will we know whether the BN, which is ever so ready to condemn the Opposition for its every act as irresponsible and ignoble, is indeed capable of providing constructive and meaningful opposition without criticising for the sake of criticism.
P Ramakrishnan is the past President of Aliran

Police: Body in royal estate murder probe is young woman


London (CNN) -- A body found on Queen Elizabeth II's estate in Sandringham is that of a young white woman aged 15 to 23, investigators working on a murder probe said Wednesday.

Police were alerted Sunday to the human remains, found by a member of the public near the village of Anmer, in the English county of Norfolk.

Investigators said initial analysis of the remains had not yielded a DNA profile, which they had hoped might identify the woman.

Further tests are being carried out, with the results expected Thursday, a police statement said. "Officers will also look at more traditional methods of identifying the victim, which may take longer," it added.

The body had been at the site between one and four months, the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team said. Further searches of the area will continue Thursday.

Anmer, which lies within the bounds of the 20,000-acre estate, is near the town of King's Lynn.

Investigators said Tuesday they would be looking at cold cases as part of the probe.

Sandringham House, at the heart of the rural estate, is where the royal family traditionally gathers to celebrate Christmas. It's been the private home of four generations of British monarchs since 1862, and is one of two private residences used by the queen. Part of the estate is a 600-acre country park open to the public.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman told CNN Tuesday Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip "are in residence at Sandringham from mid-December to the end of January.

"It is a private residence, we cannot confirm whether or not the queen has been informed or not," the spokesman said, referring to the murder investigation.

Prince Philip has been recuperating at Sandringham since he was released from the hospital just over a week ago after having a coronary stent implanted. He attended a service at the church on the estate Monday.

Sandringham House and its gardens are open to the public from April to November.

Govt slammed for maid left to die

A senior lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lambasted the government failing to protect a migrant worker left to die in front of a mosque in Saudi Arabia last month.

“The case of Jamilah binti Emang is strong evidence that the government has never cared about migrant workers, especially their protection during their employment,” lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of House Commission III overseeing legal affairs, said on Tuesday.

The body of Jamilah was still in the morgue of King Abdulaziz Hospital in Jeddah, awaiting someone to repatriate it, Eva said.

Jamilah was admitted to the hospital after an Indonesian citizen found her near death at the gate of Masjidil Haram Grand Mosque in Mecca, about 400 kilometers from her employer’s home, Eva said. Jamilah said she had been dumped at the mosque because she was sick.

“According to the information from the hospital, Jamilah underwent intensive treatment for tuberculosis and malnutrition on Dec. 12, 2011. The medical team could not save her life,” Eva said.

Jamilah, formerly of Cianjur, West Java, departed for Saudi Arabia in 2006, sponsored by PT Al Hijaz Indo Jaya, a labor supply company located on Jl. Dewi Satika, East Jakarta.

Eva delivered an official letter to the foreign minister and the Indonesian consulate general in Jeddah, asking that Jamilah’s body be returned to Indonesia as soon as possible.

Jamilah’s case was a strong rebuke for the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry and the Overseas Labor Placement and Protection (BNP2TKI), Eva said, given that both bodies have claimed to improve protections given to Indonesian migrant workers.

“The consulate-general is ignoring the case. This is the fruit of the government’s incompetence in giving adequate information, training and supervision, since the workers’ were recruited from their home villages,” Eva said.

Migrant Care, which advocates for migrant workers, condemned the government’s handling of Jamilah’s case, calling on the President to reform the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry and to dissolve the BNP2TKI.

“More and more workers will die or be killed overseas if no measures are taken to mend the ministry’s performance” Migrant Care representative Nur Muhammad said.

Nur warned that Indonesian migrant workers might face even worse abuse given their lack of adequate training and the inadequate supervision and monitoring of worker recruitment and placement companies.

Contacted separately, Abdullah Dahlan of Indonesia Corruption Watch and University of Indonesia political analyst Cecep Effendy agreed that Jamilah’s case evinced poor performance and budget corruption at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry.

Meanwhile, Rusjdi Basalamah, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Labor Exporters’ Association (PJTIKI), defended the Manpower Ministry and the BNP2TKI.

“If Jamilah was not found not fit and did not meet all of the requirements, she would not have been sent abroad,” he said.

Anwar: Pakatan has identified my replacement


The verdict will be out in Anwar’s sodomy trial on January 9. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has decided who will lead the pact if he is found guilty next week of sodomy charges and jailed ahead of a general election expected this year.

The de facto PR leader did not, however, name his replacement in an interview today with US business news service Bloomberg.

“We have prepared the groundwork for a manifesto for Pakatan Rakyat and we are now in the final stages,” Anwar told Bloomberg in the interview.

“We have decided on the leadership during elections or post-elections in the event I’m imprisoned.”

Anwar said this was part of PR’s contingency plans if he were to go to jail again.

The High Court here will deliver its verdict in Anwar’s second sodomy trial on January 9.

Anwar faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of sodomising his former aide.

Yesterday, the PR leadership also said it was prepared in the event Anwar is jailed next week.

“The Pakatan leadership, not only me and (Datuk Seri Dr Wan) Azizah (Wan Ismail) but Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Lim Kit Siang have discussed scenarios…If I am jailed, involved in accident or shot, we are prepared, discussed various possibilities, scenario one, two, three,” Anwar had told reporters here yesterday.

An analyst quoted by Bloomberg in its report today suggested PR parties would benefit at the ballot box if Anwar is convicted.

“There may be an immediate swing towards him and his party” if Anwar is convicted, said Ibrahim Suffian, a political analyst at Kuala Lumpur-based Merdeka Center for Opinion Research.

“If Najib takes some months before calling an election, this opens up room for weaknesses in the opposition coalition to surface and any differences in opinion to be exploited.”

Hisham agrees to Jan 9 rally if…

In the spirit of the newly-passed Peaceful Assembly Act 2011, organisers must guarantee order, says the Home Minister.
UPDATED

PUTRAJAYA: Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Pakatan Rakyat leaders must convince the authorities that the planned Jan 9 mass rally in support of Anwar Ibrahim will not cause public disorder.

Far from the usual zero-tolerance tone given by the government in dealing with street gatherings, the minister did not say today if the rally, planned by PKR for the Sodomy II verdict, would be disallowed.

Instead he said in the spirit of the newly-passed Peaceful Assembly Act 2011, organisers must guarantee order if they were to proceed with the planned mammoth rally that intends to gather as many as 100,000 participants.

“The organisers have to convince the police that their plans will not destroy public peace and safety, and if they want to gather, the spirit of the Act states that it must be done peacefully,” he told a press conference here.

Yesterday PKR deputy president Azmin Ali said the party and its allies in Pakatan Rakyat intended to mobilise the numbers and gather at the Duta Court compound in support of Opposition Leader Anwar.

Anwar will hear the verdict on his sodomy charges this Monday in an outcome that will determine the PKR de facto leader’s political future and cause a deep impact in Malaysia’s political landscape.

The 64-year-old is charged with sodomising former male aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in June 2008, an allegation he has repeatedly denied, and accusing prime minister Najib Tun Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor of masterminding the “trumped up” charges.

Hishammuddin said no application has been made for the gathering yet but pointed to the several police reports lodged against the rally, a major concern the authorities must take into consideration when dealing with the Jan 9 event.

Police are ready

He said while Pakatan leaders want their demand to hold an assembly to be respected, they must do the same for those who oppose it.

“The organisers must be responsible and be aware of the rights of those who are opposed to the rally.

“I recommend that they go and speak to the police first, rather than making statements about the gathering,” he said.

Numerous pro-government NGOs like right wing group Perkasa had lodged several police reports against the rally and demanded that its organisers be arrested to prevent the rally from taking place.

They claimed the rally was meant to sow disorder and disrupt public peace. However, no mention of a counter-rally has been made.

Hishammuddin said the police are well-prepared for any eventuality of chaos on Jan 9 from past experience like the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally.

“The police are more than qualified and ready to face whatever eventuality that has been planned for Jan 9, 2012″.

Hishammuddin also urged the public not to jump to conclusions should anything happen at Monday’s gathering.

Referring to the uproar that ensued following the recent “clash” between the police and UPSI students, the minister said the public must take into consideration both sides of the stories before making any judgements.

Plagiarism: Judge admits guilt, says Karpal

'His refusal to sue me for defamation is a public admission of plagiarism. He should now resign.'

PETALING JAYA: Appeals Court Judge Abdul Malik Ishak has admitted that he has been guilty of plagiarism, according to DAP chairman Karpal Singh.

“I am taking the refusal by Abdul Malik to sue me for defamation as public admission of plagiarism,” he said in a press statement today.

He reiterated his call for Abdul Malik’s resignation.

Last week, Karpal asked the judge to respond to allegations that he had plagiarised a judgment made by Singapore High Court judge GP Selvam in 2000. He also challenged Malik to sue him if the allegations were false.

There has been no response from Abdul Malik

“Abdul Malik’s position as a judge of the Court of Appeal has become untenable,” Karpal said in today’s statement. “He knows the truth. He should step down.”

Abdul Malik was born in Johor and received his law degree from the University of Singapore. He became a judicial commissioner in October 1992 and was elevated to the position of Judge of the High Court of Malaya in Aug 1994. He was appointed to the Court of Appeal in July 2007.

Karpal first made the allegation of plagiarism in Parliament last October, but the Speaker turned his motion to debate the issue. Subsequently he wrote several letters to Abdul Malik asking him to clarify the issue. Copies of those letters were sent to Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria.

Last month, the Chief Justice responded to the allegation by saying that it had no merit.

‘Penang sabotaging federal housing aid’

Nine kampung Buah Pala residents have accused the Penang state government of lying about offers of compensation.

GEORGE TOWN: The nine Kampung Buah Pala residents, who were left in lurch after their houses were demolished in September 2009, have accused the Penang state government of sabotaging the federal government’s effort to provide them with double-storey homes on the mainland.

The registered village residents association chairman M Sugumaran alleged that certain state government leaders were behind the misinformation disseminated in an article published by The Star on Jan 2.

The article claimed that the Kampung Buah Pala village was demolished by Syarikat Perumahan Negara (SPN) Bhd.

“How could The Star misinform the public? It’s a lie. The whole world knows that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s administration was responsible for demolition of the Indian heritage village,” said Sugumaran.

Sugumaran has lodged a police report against the article at the Bayan Baru police station today.

He believes there are mischievous hands at work who are sabotaging the federal government’s efforts.

“Definitely there are elements of sabotage involved.

“Certain state government leaders know they can no longer lie to ethnic Indian community.

“So they are resorting to dirty tactics to sabotage the federal housing aid to us,” Sugumaran told a press conference here this afternoon.

Najib gave us houses

Also present were eight other house owners who were all denied compensation by Lim’s administration despite compensating 24 others with double storey homes on the former village site.

Sugumaran claims the Pakatan leaders were envious and unhappy with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s sincere and honest efforts to provide them houses that were denied by Lim’s vindictive misrule.

He accused Lim’s government of being responsible for demolishing homes of the nine temporary occupation licence (Tol) holders and denying them their rightful compensation.

“Pakatan leaders made empty promises to us,” he alleged.

“The state government demolished our houses but did not offer us new homes.

“The question of rejecting compensation never arose because we were never offered compensation anyway.

“Would anyone with a sensible mind reject compensation offers after their houses have been brutally demolished?

“The state government is lying,” chided Sugumaran.

He claimed that thus far their numerous attempts to seek compensation have been futile and that the relevant state leaders have turned deaf to their pleas.

The heartache of the nine residents are now partially relieved as they have accepted offers of double-storey houses worth RM220,000 each by SPN in Taman Sejahtera Indah, Teluk Air Tawar.

It’s learnt that they will be signing the sales and purchase agreement with SPN soon.

MIC did nothing

He hailed Najib for being caring and sympathetic towards their plight by taking up the responsibility to provide them homes on humanitarian grounds, not as compensation.

“He is the real people’s Prime Minister,” he exclaimed.

He also praised Bayan Baru MP Zahrain Md Hashim, Penang Indian Development Organisation (PIDO) chairman M Nganasegaran and Najib’s special assistant in charge of Indian affairs P Ravin for assisting the nine villagers to secure the houses.

In his police report, Sugumaran also accused Bukit Gelugor MIC branch chairman I Muthusamy of falsely claiming credit for the allocation of houses for the nine.

In The Star article, Muthusamy claimed that he had pushed hard for double-storey houses for the nine families for past two years when all the hard work was done by Zahrain and Ngnanasegaran.

“Obviously Muthusamy is lying,” said Sugumaran.

Despite accepting their new homes, he said the nine families would continue with their court battle to secure their rightful compensation from the state government.

He said the nine have documents to prove that the demolished Kampung Buah Pala land belonged to the villagers vis-a-vis the federal government, not the state.

However, he declined to reveal much on the evidence as the matter was pending in court.

“Wait till we reveal it in court,” warned Sugumaran.

Kampung Buah Pala, which was known commonly as Tamil High Chaparral due to population of ethnic Indians, cattle and other live stocks, was demolished to pave way for a posh condominium project, the Oasis, by Nusmetro Venture (Pg) Sdn Bhd.

The project is now almost completed.

Good for Pakatan Rakyat if Anwar goes to jail

(Reuters) - Malaysia's opposition leader believes his party could be strengthened if a court rules against him in a sodomy trial on Monday, with an economic showdown already threatening to damage the ruling coalition with polls expected this year.

Malaysia is bracing for possible unrest after the two-year trial ends, with supporters of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim hoping to draw 100,000 to a rally outside the courthouse where the verdict in the trial is due to be read on Monday.

The trial has polarised opinion in conservative, majority Muslim Malaysia. The High Court decision could deepen political divisions further as Prime Minister Najib Razak, branded a hardliner by the opposition, weighs whether to call elections this year.

Police have warned people not to gather outside the court. Mass protests could cast doubt on Malaysia's political stability and spook investors, who are vital to achieving Malaysia's target of attracting $444 billion of investment by 2020.

Anwar, a former finance minister, told Reuters in an interview that Najib's ruling coalition "has to decide, Anwar in prison, is it better for them or not?"

"I'm not sure whether it's better for them. We've done a lot to explain to the masses. (The opposition) may emerge slightly stronger," said.

Once the rising star of Malaysian politics and a former deputy premier, Anwar's political fortunes have since been marked by long-running legal battles over charges of sodomy - sex between males is illegal in Malaysia - after he was sacked by former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad in 1998.

Anwar, 64, is charged with sodomising a 26-year-old male former aide and faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

It is the second time he has faced what he says are politically motivated charges aimed at wrecking his political career and ending his challenge to the government.

In 1998, at the height of the Asian financial crisis, Anwar, then deputy prime minister and heir apparent to Mahathir, was accused of sodomy and corruption, sacked, tried and eventually sentenced to a total of 14 years in jail.

The cases have been marked by lurid details, including a semen-stained mattress produced in evidence, that have mesmerised Malaysians. A conviction that exposes weaknesses in Malaysia's judiciary to wider scrutiny could once again put the Southeast Asian nation under the international spotlight.

Although elections are not due until 2013, there is widespread expectation Najib will call a snap poll this year. Anwar said he expected elections "sooner rather than later", adding that his Pakatan party should be able to secure a simple majority in parliament.

"Our concern is how do we ensure fair elections?" he said.

"This is a major problem for the opposition because, although there have been some announcements and some easing, but not (in) media control, not the judicial process, not in terms of any excesses, abuse and corruption and the electoral process," he said.

Anwar said support for the opposition among native Malays increased substantially after his 1998 conviction. He was freed in 2004 after the sodomy conviction was overturned.

"But in 1998, we failed to garner enough support of the Chinese and Indians," he said, referring to two other major Malaysian ethnic groups.

"Society will say: 'Okay, you may disagree with Anwar but you don't need to beat him up or continue to put him in prison.' This is my third, fourth time, they know it's political," Anwar said of the electorate.

Najib, who took office in with a strong majority after elections in 2009, has seen his approval ratings fall in the past year, in part because of a widening religious divide that has alienated minority non-Muslims.

Stubbornly high inflation and the slow pace of promised political reforms have also been sources of frustration.

"There is greater awareness of the abuse of power, of endemic corruption," Anwar said when asked what had changed public sentiment since 2009.

A weaker economy could also work in the opposition's favour. Malaysia's economy grew at a stronger-than-expected 5.8 percent in the third quarter, but a slowdown in global trade will likely crimp growth in the coming quarters.

Malaysia is also vulnerable to sudden capital flight. Foreign ownership of stocks and bonds is larger than the country's foreign exchange reserves. Portfolio outflows jumped to RM23.4 billion in the third quarter, a sharp reversal from the second quarter's 48.1 billion in inflows.

See you on the streets on Monday


Dalam satu sidang media semalam, Presidennya Datuk Ibrahim Ali berkata, perhimpunan oleh Perkasa itu adalah sebagai "misi mempertahankan keamanan negara" dan akan bermula dengan solat subuh di Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan. "Selepas itu, kami berarak dan sekiranya bertembung dengan (Timbalan Presiden PKR) Azmin Ali serta penyokong mereka yang sanggup mempertahankan pemimpin yang menghadapi masalah moraliti, kita sama-sama melakukan provokasi," katanya.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
There are those who and angry with me for saying that the Chinese can never support a ‘Tahrir Square’ type revolution. I am told I am wrong and should not be speaking on behalf of the Chinese. In fact, I should not even be referring to them as Chinese but as Malaysians. Well, if I am wrong then I would like to apologise.

Anyway, Pakatan Rakyat has promised that 100,000 Malaysians are going to be on the streets on Monday. I expect at least 30,000 to 40,000 should be Malaysians of Chinese ethnicity and that it is not going to be an entirely or predominantly Malay crowd or else I will be proven right (that the Chinese are cowards).

Perkasa (and I was told Pekida as well) are also going to be on the streets to checkmate the 100,000 opposition supporters. They boast of millions of members, many who are in the police and army. Sources tell me that this is true although we may not be talking about millions but mere hundreds of thousands.

Well, let’s see what happens on Monday. I may be proven wrong and may have to apologise in the end. I know the Umno side hopes that some sort of chaos will be created so that emergency can be declared and Parliament is suspended. Then they need not hold the 13th General Election so soon and Najib Tun Razak’s arse can be saved.

I suppose, as I told Haris Ibrahim in Phuket recently, we need to break the shell to fry the egg and unless we are prepared to suffer collateral damage then it is no use talking about a revolution.

I fear if I were to speak out against the Monday event I will, again, be accused of undermining the effort for change. Therefore, I will just say that make sure the agent provocateurs do not successful hijack the event and achieve what they want to do: suspend democracy under the guise of an emergency to allow Najib time to get his house in order.

That is all I wish to say on the matter.
**********************************************
Perkasa akan sekat himpunan bebaskan Anwar

(Harakah Daily) - NGO pendesak Melayu, Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) akan menyekat penyokong Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yang akan berhimpun di Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur 9 Januari ini.

Dalam satu sidang media semalam, Presidennya Datuk Ibrahim Ali berkata, perhimpunan oleh Perkasa itu adalah sebagai "misi mempertahankan keamanan negara" dan akan bermula dengan solat subuh di Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan.

"Selepas itu, kami berarak dan sekiranya bertembung dengan (Timbalan Presiden PKR) Azmin Ali serta penyokong mereka yang sanggup mempertahankan pemimpin yang menghadapi masalah moraliti, kita sama-sama melakukan provokasi," katanya.

Mengulas larangan pihak polis agar mana-mana pihak tidak mengadakan himpunan pada hari itu, Ibrahim berkata terpulanglah kepada polis untuk menghalang Perkasa atau pembangkang kerana kedua-duanya melakukan perhimpunan haram.

Tahun lalu, Perkasa turut mengeluarkan kenyataan sama, iaitu mahu menyekat Himpunan Bersih 2 yang diadakan 9 Julai 2011 dengan mahu mengadakan himpunan anti Bersih.

Namun beberapa sehari sebelum Himpunan Bersih yang disertai lebih 50,000 rakyat itu, Ibrahim mengumumkan perhimpunan Perkasa dibatalkan dengan alasan tidak mendapat kebenaran pihak stadium.

Sementara itu, Azmin pada satu sidang media semalam memaklumkan bahawa PKR akan menggerakkan sekurang-kurangnya 100,000 orang bagi menyertai himpunan di Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur pada 9 Januari ini.

Katanya, walau apa pun keputusan yang diumumkan, Pakatan dan PKR telah bersedia menggalas amanah memimpin negara serta berusaha mengembalikannya ke landasan yang tepat.

BORNEO HEIGHTS

By Tun.Mahathir
1. Most Malaysians know Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands. Their principle attraction is the coolness of the climate. They also know of Mount Kinabalu not so much because of its coolness but being, at 13,000 feet, the highest mountain in Malaysia.

2. Not many know of Borneo Heights, one of the most beautiful hill resorts in Malaysia. Situated only one hour slow drive from Kuching International Airport, the heights have retained much of its original tropical rain forest.

3. It is literally at the border between Sarawak and Kalimantan, Indonesia; literally because the border is a cliff which plunges 600 meter (2000 feet) from the southern boundary of the resort, to Indonesia Kalimantan. You cannot miss the border. One step over the rope marker you would be in Indonesia sans visa. The drop would not be pleasant.

4. The view from the top of the cliff is breathtaking. From the foot of the cliff, the thick tropical forest of Kalimantan spread to the distant mountains some 20 – 30 miles away (my guess – could be much more).

5. There appears to be no human habitation. But I was told the Indonesian Dayak shifting cultivators live there, though their long houses cannot be seen. I know of no other place where one can view a huge green tropical forest seemingly untouched by human habitation. Kalimantan is bigger than Sabah and Sarawak put together but it is very sparsely populated.

6. The resort has an eighteen hole golf-course laid out beautifully between thick forest. But more interesting to me are the beautiful temperate climate flowers which grow well there. They come in all shapes and colours. But deep purple seem to be the dominant colour.

7. I have a house there but have not been using it much. Not knowing where to go for my year end holiday, I decided to go there. I spent three restful, quiet days without air-conditioners.

8. The heights are as cool as ever. I was driven up in a 4WD to the vantage point to look down the cliff at Kalimantan and as usual it took my breath away. Our vantage point is 3,600 feet above sea level.

9. Borneo Heights was developed by Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, a close friend of mine. Maybe this article will benefit a “crony” but if more tourists, domestic and foreign visit this beautiful part of Malaysia, tourism Malaysia will also benefit. And what we earn from tourism will benefit all Malaysians. It would be selfish of me to avoid writing this bit simply because I am afraid of being accused of cronyism.

Rakaman Jelajah Anwar Ibrahim: Ledang,Johor 3/4/2012

100,000 can have a bearing on verdict, says lawyer

The Star

PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Rakyat's move to gather 100,000 people in support of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has placed “undue pressure” over the court's stand on the Opposition Leader's sodomy trial on Monday, says lawyer Art Harun.

He said the trial, which he had described as “highly-charged and highly emotional”, should be allowed to take its own course.

“Why don't they let the court do its work? If they are not happy with the verdict, then appeal.

“What are the 100,000 people going to do there?

“How about the whole of Kuala Lumpur who wants to go to work that day?

“The lawyers and other members of the public who have to be at court as well?”

Art said emotions were bound to run high whether or not Anwar was found guilty or acquitted.

“If Anwar is convicted, then everyone may get angry and out of control, and the police may come. Some people may get injured.

“There are other safe avenues to support Anwar, especially now that it is an open world,” he said, referring to the varied sources of information the public could get from the Internet.

However, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee said it respected, recognised, protected and upheld others' constitutional right to protest against court decisions.

He said this right was guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of the freedom of assembly “as long as it was peaceful and without arms”.

Lim added that the constitution did not otherwise provide restrictions on this freedom beyond any of that which Parliament deemed necessary.

“In other words, there is no prohibition against any protest against a court decision,” he said, adding that such protests were nothing unusual.

Street Demos Won't Change Court Decision: Hishammuddin

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 4 (Bernama) -- Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said any street demonstration will not influence the decision of the court.

Referring to the proposed demonstraton for the 'Free Anwar 901' campaign, he said the public should not be too emotional and easily influenced if there were any group trying to incite them to join the demonstration.

"I wish to remind the people that the court case which would be decided soon has been proceeding for a long time. Why should this particular programme be carried out now?" he told reporters after attending a post-cabinet meeting, here Wednesday.

The gathering planned for Monday is said to demand for justice for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when the Kuala Lumpur High Court is scheduled to give its judgment on the sodomy case involving the Opposition Leader on that day.

Hishammuddin said police would not compromise on the attempt by the organisers to stage a gathering to the extent that public safety was jeopardised.

"What is of concern to the Royal Malaysia Police is security, public order and safety including those of the traders and hawkers. If it does not pose a threat, I see there should not be any problem.

At the same press conference, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said he had instructed Kuala Lumpur Police Chief Datuk Mohmad Salleh to have a meeting with the organisers on the proposed gathering.

On another development, Ismail again emphasised that police personnel did not use force when dispersing the illegal assembly organised by the student movement, Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia, after the New Year Eve celebration at the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Tanjong Malim.

"So, you see for yourselves. We have shown the video. It's now on the You Tube. Judge for yourself who is telling the truth and who is not," he said, stressing that the police personnel were truly professional in handling the incident.