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Friday, January 6, 2012

Anwar is PM material, says Umno veteran

Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin can dismiss Anwar Ibrahim's importance, but a former Cabinet Minister believes "Anwar will remain relevant for a long time.”

PETALING JAYA: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has landed himself an unexpected exponent in the wake of several hard-hitting interviews by self-exiled blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin.

In the interviews Raja Petra had branded Anwar “unfit” to be the next Prime Minister, alluded that Anwar was guilty of the sodomy charge and expressed certainty that Anwar was the man featured in the sex video.

But the waves created by his verbal attacks could very well change direction now that a former Umno Cabinet Minister’s endorsement of Anwar’s suitability as Malaysia’s leader.

Angkatan Amanah Merdeka’s – better known as Amanah – deputy president, Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, told FMT in an exclusive interview that Anwar has the makings of a “great Malaysian leader”.

“I know Anwar personally and I think he has great leadership qualities,” he said.

“(Former premier) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) appointed Anwar as his deputy because he obviously wanted Anwar to be the next prime minister.

“Dr Mahathir wouldn’t have done so if he didn’t see exceptional qualities in Anwar. He even made mention of these qualities in his recent book.”

Kadir, who has held six ministerial positions between 1983 to 2005 and who is still an Umno member, however said that the current “complications” that Anwar faced would stand in his way of becoming the country’s next leader.

People are well informed

Yet the truth of those allegations, he added, would be something that the people can and would have to judge for themselves.

“Some would dismiss it as a personal matter. Others would weigh the pros and cons of having leaders who steal billions versus leaders with weaknesses in their personal life. Then they will decide on the better choice,” Kadir said.

Pakatan is hoping that 100,000 people will make their “better choice” known by turning up at the Duta Court on Monday morning when the sodomy trial verdict will be delivered. Various quarters have scoffed at this ambitious figure pointing out that the Bersih 2.0 rally was less than half that number.

Kadir withheld his wager on the potential head count but emphasised that of greater importance is the public’s perception of the judiciary overseeing Anwar’s trial.

“It is very important for our judiciary to be independent and also to be seen as being independent in order to avoid trouble,” he said.

“Times have changed and the people are very well informed.”

“They keep up-to-date on details of the trial and they can read between the lines. So if they feel that the trial has been unfair then they will go to the streets,” he said.

Anwar is not irrelevant

Seeing as a significant number of Malaysians as well as international observers have long deemed the charge and trial a farce, the likelihood of them taking to the streets is a given.

The question is whether they be gathering in support of Anwar or in protest of injustice? It is a question to which Kadir doesn’t have an answer.

“To be honest I really don’t know but I can tell you that Anwar Ibrahim will be in Malaysia’s political scenario for a long, long time.

“Raja Petra may have called him irrelevant but in my opinion, Anwar will remain relevant for a long time,” said Kadir.

Police Allow Anwar Supporters To Gather At Car Park Outside Court Complex

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 (Bernama) -- The police have agreed to allow supporters of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to gather peacefully at the car park outside the Jalan Duta court complex here on Monday when the court is scheduled to deliver the verdict in Anwar's sodomy case.

Kuala Lumpur Police chief Datuk Mohmad Salleh said the agreement was reached at his meeting with PKR deputy president Azmin Ali at the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters here Friday.

"The organiser must ensure that the gathering is peaceful and does not disrupt public order," he told reporters after the meeting. Azmin met Mohmad at 10 am.

Wave of bombings leaves scores dead in Iraq

At least 70 killed and more than 100 wounded in the latest attacks in mainly Shia areas across the country.

Wave of bombings leaves scores dead in IraqA suicide bomber targeting Shia pilgrims has killed at least 46 people and wounded at least 80 others in southern Iraq, Qusay al-Abadi, head of the provincial council in Nassiriya, told Reuters news agency.

Local security sources said on Thursday the attack occurred at a police checkpoint in al-Badha area west of Nassiriya, 300km southeast of Baghdad, as pilgrims were walking to the shrine city of Karbala for Arbaeen commemorations.

This came hours after explosions in several mainly Shia Muslim neighbourhoods of eastern Baghdad killed at least 24 people and wounded a further 66, according to Iraqi officials.

Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, Baghdad military spokesman, said the aim of the attacks is "to create sedition among the Iraqi people". He said it was too early to say who was behind the bombings.

Thursday's attacks were the worst since a series of explosions across the Iraqi capital on December 22 killed 60 people.

Three bombs, one planted on a parked motorcycle and another two, also roadside devices, killed at least nine people and wounded 35 others in the impoverished Sadr City district in northeastern Baghdad, sources said.

"There was a group of day labourers gathered, waiting to be hired for work. Someone brought his small motorcycle and parked it nearby. A few minutes later it blew up, killed some people, wounded others and burned some cars," a police officer at the scene, declining to be named, said.

"Political leaders fight each other for power, and we pay the price," Ahmed Khalaf, a labourer near the site of attacks, said, alluding to the political tension between Sunni and Shia leaders.

Two bomb attacks in Kadhimiyah, another predominantly Shia district in Baghdad's north, killed another 15 people and wounded 31, an interior ministry official said.

Sectarian divide

Al Jazeera's Dahr Jamail, reporting from Baghdad, said that the the timing of the attacks "couldn't have come at a worse time", pointing to the tense political situation in the country.

The Shia-dominated cabinet of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, issued an arrest warrant last month for the country's highest-ranking Sunni politician, Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi.

Hashemi is currently living in Iraq's Kurdish north, thus effectively out of reach of state security forces.

Maliki's main political rival, the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, is boycotting parliament sessions and cabinet meetings in protest against what it says are efforts by the government to consolidate power and marginalise them.

Al Jazeera's Jamail said a meeting which is expected to take place at President Jalal Talabani's home in Baghdad has yet to be scheduled.

"It is still going to happen, according to groups, but we don't have a date yet," he said.

"The [Shia Islamist] Sadr bloc said they won't be a part of the meeting if the rival political group Asab al-Haq comes, for example, and the Hashemi situation is not to be discussed, according to Maliki", which further complicate the situation.

Domestic violence: Woman beaten for threatening divorce

BAHAWALPUR: A woman was beaten with a stick allegedly by her husband for threatening to leave him.

Kalsoom, a resident of Jinnah Colony, was taken to Shaikh Zayed Hospital on Wednesday with bruises on her arms and back.

Her father told The Express Tribune that Shahnaz and her husband, Khadim Hussain, had been quarreling for several months over the family’s earnings. He said on Wednesday she was beaten up following a similar argument. “We were informed about the incident by her neighbours. They had taken her to the hospital,” her father said.

“She had never complained about Khadim’s behaviour during the first couple of years of their marriage.

Khadim started beating her after he had to shutdown his business due to losses,” he said.

Doctors treating Kalsoom at the hospital said the woman had bruises on her arms and back. They said she would be discharged after full recovery in a weak.

Elahi Baksh, whose family took Kalsoom to hospital, said they were having lunch when they heard Kalsoom crying for help. He said by the time he and his wife rushed to her house her husband had fled.

Kalsoom’s father said he had filed a complaint with the Saddar B divison police for registration of a case against Khadim Hussain.

Saddar B Division police, however, said they had yet to receive a complaint.

In another incident, a case was registered against a man on a complaint filed by his wife under Section 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code (Punishment for criminal intimidation).

SHO Noor Nawaz said the complainant, a resident of Musafir Khana, alleged in her complaint that her husband had threatened to kill her over her refusal to let him sell a house she owned.

The complainant said that she had been married to Imtiaz for 14 years. She said her husband had been jobless and for several months he had wanted to sell the house the couple lived in. She said Imtiaz beat her and threatened to kill her if she obstructed his plans.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2012.

IGP says Jan 9 rally not banned, but wants ‘proper’ venue

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar gave his word today that police won’t ban the January 9 rally at High Court, but has asked the organisers to negotiate with them on a suitable venue.

“We are not disallowing the gathering and do not want to be viewed as such, we only want the gathering in a proper place,” he was quoted by The Star as saying.

“I have told the city police chief to call upon the organisers of the rally to discuss a proper place to meet for a gathering,” he added.

Ismail (picture) said he was aware of efforts to rally crowds of people near the Jalan Duta High Court this Monday, the same time judge datuk Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah will deliver a decision on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy charge.

“In light of this, the police are ever ready to ensure the safety and security of the public and property, especially if it involves public order and safety of the nation. We will respond to the situation accordingly.

“We will advice the crowds to disperse and if they do not heed our advice, we will use various elements of crowd dispersal if the situation requires it.

He called on the public to be mature and objective, regardless of the outcome of the High Court verdict.

“I urge the public not to disrupt public order and national safety. Please act according to the law. Our police on duty will be fair and just,” he said.

PKR’s deputy president Azmin Ali announced on Tuesday that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) will be amassing a rally of over 100,000 people in a show support for Anwar next Monday when the High Court delivers its decision for Sodomy 2.

Anwar, 64, is charged with sodomising former male aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan at a condominium in upscale Damansara Heights in June 2008, a few months before returning from a decade in the political wilderness and winning back his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat.

This represents the second time he has been prosecuted for sodomy.

If found guilty, he could spend up to 20 years behind bars but will escape the caning penalty as he is over 60. It would effectively spell the end of his political career and his chance to be prime minister.

Will Anwar be more effective in or out of jail?

Both sides of the political divide have come with their versions on the possible aftermath of the High Court’s verdict on Anwar Ibrahim.

KUALA LUMPUR: In four days, Anwar Ibrahim will either be found guilty or acquitted of sodomy. And the question people with any political inkling are asking is will he be more effective inside or out of jail.

Anwar, 64, faces 20 years in prison if found guilty of sodomizing a 24-year-old former male aide in 2008, a charge he has vehemently denied and claimed was concocted by political foes.

Both sides of the political divide will off course have differing views. Some say that if Anwar is jailed there will be a wave of sympathy for Pakatan. If he is acquitted, he will remain the biggest and sharpest thorn in Barisan National’s side.

Take the view of MIC central working committee member S Vell Paari. He feels that whether Anwar is in or out of jail, he will still remain a powerful figure.

“You must understand Anwar. No matter if he is inside or outside, he is still a powerful person. I don’t think this will be major issue,” said the son of former MIC president S Samy Vellu.

Vell Paari said that in terms of voter sentiments, the battle lines have also been drawn much earlier and the verdict won’t make a big difference in voter swing.

“I think if you look at this particular case, you already have people who are his supporters and people who are not his supporters. Obviously his supporters will be upset if he is jailed. It’s like asking a Manchesty City fan in a Manchester United game if he is happy his team is losing,” said Vell Paari.

“In my honest opinion I feel that by jailing him, more people are going to go out and campaign . But Pakatan voters and BN voters are already settled on who they are. Their minds are set on who to vote for .”

Of Anwar being touted as the best option for Prime Minister, Vell Paari said that the true progress for the community, he believed, was through a Prime Minister such as Najib Tun Razak.

“I believe, we do have a Prime Minister who is very people oriented and genuine. Of course people jump at him from time to time, but we must remember Rome was not built in a day,” said Vell Paari, who cited the example of Najib being the first PM to admit to mistakes and pledging to amend them.

Effective outside

PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli sums up the opposition’s most popular view. He says that Anwar would clearly be more effective outside of jail and would be crippled, as what BN intends, if put behind bars.

Rafizi argued that Anwar’s direct involvement in politics has contributed tremendously to the current political scenario

“One of his biggest contributions to Malaysian politics is bringing Pakatan Rakyat together. He is the most credible alternative candidate for Prime Minister,” said Rafizi.

An example of Anwar’s influence, said Rafizi, is how he effectively galvanised support and achieved the political tsunami of March 2008.

“That is, I suppose, the big motivation to try to limit his involvement in direct politics, by imprisoning him and taking out his eligibility in the next general election. With such a direct access, he is a big threat to Barisan Nasional,” he said.

Rafizi said that things were very different today compared to 1998 when Anwar was sacked and faced his first sodomy accusation.

“The situation today is different, the challenges are different, back then it was a shock to everyone that this could happen because everyone thought our country was rosy and nice,” said Rafizi, who was a student leader in university at the time.

A new awakening

Rafizi said in 1998 a large majority of Malaysians who were very pro-establishment came together and formed the “reformasi” groups as they were suddenly “aware and disillusioned”.

“There was a spike of anger, without too much light at the end of the tunnel. It was a question of how we could sustain that spike of anger, and it was hard for those reformists to capitalise on that anger as the non-existent PKR then had no organization, no system, and was not clear-cut in what we wanted to do,” he said.

“After 10 years, after 2008, there is now a clear segment of society that wants political reform and wants a two-party system. That is Anwar’s value to this segment of society which is no longer the same motivation as in 1998, which was simply anger over his victimisation,” he said.

Rafizi said comparatively, Anwar was now much more valuable to the rakyat. “He can still galvanise people on his latest tour, I would expect 15,000 -20,000 as his minimal crowd. But whether you would see an outpouring of 100,000 or 200,000 remains to be seen in a week’s time,” admitted Rafizi.

Rafizi said the younger generation, who do not actually remember what transpired in 1998, are also going through a similar “awakening” but through other issues including academic freedom, electoral reform and other scandals.

“But today, people who go (to support Anwar), go with a purpose, people know there is a finality to this—which is the opposition taking over Putrajaya.”

Demonstrasi cubaan ugut mahkamah, kata Dr Mahathir

Jika ahli politik pembangkang percaya kepada demokrasi, mereka perlu menunjukkan rasa hormat kepada undang-undang dalam negara.

KUALA LUMPUR: Bekas perdana menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad berkata Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim dan para penyokongnya perlu menghormati undang-undang dan tidak perlu mengugut mahkamah dengan cadangan mengadakan demonstrasi di ibu negara pada 9 Jan ini.

Beliau berkata demonstrasi yang dicadangkan oleh PKR itu adalah satu cara mengugut proses mahkamah dan meletakkan mereka yang terbabit dalam proses perundangan dalam keadaan tertekan.

“Kita tidak harus mempengaruhi mahkamah dengan cara ugutan, umpamanya apabila mahkamah buat keputusan yang untung bagi mereka, maka tidak ada demonstrasi,” kata beliau kepada pemberita selepas menyampaikan ucap utama kepada lebih 150 bekas pegawai tinggi Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM) di sini hari ini.

Para penyokong Anwar bercadang mengadakan demonstrasi di hadapan Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur pada 9 Jan ini, hari mahkamah memberikan keputusan terhadap kes liwat melibatkan ketua pembangkang itu sebagai tertuduh.

Dr Mahathir berkata jika ahli politik pembangkang percaya kepada demokrasi, mereka perlu menunjukkan rasa hormat kepada undang- undang dalam negara dan tidak cuma pandai bercakap tentang pelbagai peraturan yang kerajaan perlu patuhi.

“Negara ini sebenarnya mempunyai peraturan dan undang-undang tetapi pembangkang menganggapnya sebagai satu konspirasi dan mereka tidak perlu ikut.

“Mereka kata perhimpunan yang dianjurkan ini mempunyai kaitan dengan hak bersuara yang diperuntukkan oleh perlembagaan tetapi sebenarnya amat jelas bahawa tujuan mereka adalah untuk mengugut mahkamah,” kata Dr Mahathir.

Dalam ucap utamanya yang berjudul “Malaysia kini dan peranan yang boleh dimainkan oleh pegawai-pegawai tentera yang bersara hari ini,” beliau berkata Malaysia sangat bertuah berbanding negara-negara yang merdeka pada zaman penjajahan British dahulu.

Untuk menilai kejayaan Malaysia, katanya, rakyat negara ini harus melihat negara ini dari luar di mana selepas lebih 50 tahun, kestabilan berjaya diwujudkan.

“Persoalannya adakah anda semua berpuas hati dengan kejayaan ini? Atau anda sudah berputus asa dan mahu perubahan tetapi ingat, perubahan sentiasa memusnahkan. Saya pernah dituduh korup walaupun puas saya menjelaskan saya tidak korup tetapi manusia tetap percaya saya korup, itulah politik,” katanya.

Tidak demokratik

Dr Mahathir berkata ada orang menuduh kononnya kerajaan Barisan Nasional hari ini tidak demokratik dan mengamalkan pemerintahan kuku besi, tetapi yang anehnya jika benar keadaan seperti itu, Anwar tidak akan melalui proses penghakiman dan diwakili oleh sembilan orang peguam.

Beliau turut mengingatkan generasi muda hari ini bahawa mereka paling banyak menikmati kestabilan dan pembangunan yang diciptakan oleh pemimpin terdahulu.

“Kita hantar ramai generasi baru ke barat dan kerana kekayaan (negara) ini kita mampu hantar beratus ribu pelajar ke luar negara tetapi mereka terdedah kepada sistem nilai barat, dan mereka tidak nampak konsep perkongsian. Bila balik mereka lihat kita adalah kerajaan yang totalitarian,” katanya.

Dr Mahathir turut mengucapkan terima kasih kepada ATM kerana sentiasa bersikap profesional dan tidak pernah campur tangan dalam situasi politik di Malaysia.

“Anda boleh simpati dengan pembangkang tetapi bila kerja dengan kerajaan kena ikut peraturan, kalau tidak, akan ada ambil alih kuasa oleh tentera tetapi alhamdullilah, askar Malaysia askar profesional,” katanya.

Dr Mahathir mengakui beliau sukar untuk memuji seseorang tetapi sebenarnya beliau mudah untuk menghargai jasa mereka yang telah berkorban untuk negara khususnya pasukan tentera.

- Bernama

Tolong selamatkan negara, tumbangkan Umno!

Kekayaan negara banyak tetapi hanya dimonopoli oleh orang-orang tertentu, kata Anwar Ibrahim.

SEREMBAN: “Tolong diri kita, tolong selamatkan negara. Umno harus ditumbangkan jika rakyat ingin berkongsi kekayaan negara.

“Kekayaan negara banyak tetapi hanya dimonopoli oleh orang-orang tertentu”, kata Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim di ceramah Kempen Bebaskan Anwar 901 di perkarangan Pejabat PKR Negeri Sembilan di sini malam tadi.

Anwar memberikan contoh bagaimana sesuatu industri seperti gula, penjana kuasa elektrik persendirian (IPP), perhotelan, syarikat televisyen kabel hanya diberikan kepada tokoh korporat yang sama
seolah-olah seperti tidak ada lagi Melayu, Cina dan India yang mampu mengendalikan perniagaan tersebut.
Ahli Parlimen Permatang Pauh juga mengutarakan beberapa contoh bagaimana kerajaan Umno-Barisan Nasional (BN) zalim kepada rakyat tetapi mesra kepada kroni.

Ujar beliau, “dengan rakyat biasa kau (kerajaan) bukan main garang. Oh! Tak boleh buat itu!, Oh! tak boleh buat ini!

“Tetapi apabila tokoh korporat kroni datang berjumpa kerajaan dengan tuntutan seperti kenaikan tarif elektrik atau harga gula, bagi begitu sahaja. Langsung tidak memikirkan beban pada rakyat.

Beliau menyoal, “tahap kemiskinan orang Melayu dan penindasan ke atas orang Melayu siapa punca, dia?
“Siapa lagi kalau bukan Umno? Siapa Perdana Menteri Malaysia? Siapa Timbalan Perdana Menteri? Siapa Menteri Kewangan? Siapa Menteri Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani?

Menteri Umno

“Siapa lagi kalau bukan Menteri Umno yang berbangsa Melayu juga,” kata Anwar dan disambut dengan sorakan gamat lebih 2,000 orang awam yang membanjiri kawasan tersebut.

Anwar seterusnya menceritakan pengalaman beliau ketika di penjara dulu (1998) bagaimana seorang lelaki yang mencuri sehelai seluar jeans dijatuhkan hukuman enam bulan penjara.

“Tetapi ada pemimpin Umno yang didapati bersalah atas tuduhan rasuah membabitkan jutaan ringgit hanya dijatuhkan hukuman 12 bulan.

“Saya tidak memusuhi ahli Umno atau pemimpin bawahan Umno. Tetapi saya menentang pemimpin Umno atasan termasuk menteri yang saban hari mengutuk dan mengaibkan saya dengan fitnah.

“Saya menentang kerana mereka inilah yang ambil duit komisyen, terlibat dengan rasuah, salah guna duit rakyat, salah guna duit Zakat dan bisnes lembu”, jelas Anwar lagi dan hadirin sekali lagi bersorak gamat sebagai tanda sokongan.

Anwar juga memberikan contoh bagaimana pendapatan hasil kayu balak oleh Kerajaan Pakatan Rakyat Kedah berlipat kali ganda lebih besar berbanding ketika pentadbiran BN.

“Ketika pentadbiran BN dulu hasilnya hanya RM1,000 untuk keluasan seekar. Di bawah kerajaan Pakatan, pendapatan negeri Kedah adalah RM19,000 untuk keluasan seekar. Mana pergi RM18,000 ketika zaman BN dulu?,” tanya Anwar dan penyokong beliau kedengaran menjerit “BN dah sapu”, “Umno sapu”.

Di akhir ceramah Anwar meminta rakyat bangkit dan menolak Umno-BN pada Pilihan Raya Umum ke-13 nanti.

“Ini bukan soal saya dipenjarakan atau tidak. Tetapi ini soal keadilan rakyat. Senjata Umno hanyalah dengan memainkan isu perkauman dan memecah belahkan perpaduan di antara kaum.

“Jika dia (Umno) bagi duit, ambil. Bagi baju atau kain, ambil, tapi jangan lupa undi calon Pakatan. Keangkuhan pemerintahan Umno-BN harus ditamatkan.

“Lawan tetap lawan!”, laung Anwar dan dibalas dengan orang ramai dengan kata-kata yang sama.

Muka baru

Sementara itu FMT menemubual Pesuruhjaya PAS Negeri Sembilan, Mohd Taufek Abdul Ghani berhubung jumlah kehadiran penyokong yang agak kecil sedikit berbanding ceramah Anwar sebelum ini di Seremban yang lazimnya mampu menarik di antara 3,000 ke 5,000 orang.

“Sebenarnya kehadiran pada malam ini memang ramai. Anda tidak boleh bandingkan ‘crowd’ sebelum ini dengan malam ini. Biasanya kita adakan ceramah Anwar di markas atau tapak ceramah yang memang popular di kalangan penyokong Pakatan.

“Bagaimanapun kali ini kita mengadakan di kawasan awam di bandar dan betul-betul di tepi jalan utama Seremban-Tampin. Hasilnya 80% orang awam yang hadir pada malam ini ialah muka-muka baru, pengundi atas pagar dan mereka yang bukan ahli PAS, PKR atau DAP.

“Biasanya ceramah Pakatan, majoriti yang hadir ialah Melayu. Malam ini anda sendiri boleh saksikan bagaimana ramainya orang India dan Cina turut bersama kita.

“Saya juga amat gembira melihat sokongan kaum India yang memang ramai
pada malam ini dan ini bukti sokongan kaum India pada

Pakatan masih utuh dan kononnya mereka telah lari kepada BN adalah mainan politik Umno-BN untuk mengalih fokus pengundi India kepada mereka,” jelas Mohd Taufek.

Turut hadir ialah Naib Presiden dan Ahli Parlimen Lembah Pantai, Nurul Izzah Anwar; Pengerusi Majlis Pimpinan Negeri (MPN) PKR Negeri Sembilan, Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas dan Pengerusi DAP Negeri Sembilan dan Ahli Parlimen Rasah, Anthony Loke Siew Fook.

Selepas Anwar menghabiskan ceramah pada pukul 10.30 malam beliau bergegas ke Bukit Katil, Melaka untuk satu lagi sesi ceramah kempen 901.

Anwar akan mengetahui nasibnya pada Isnin 9 Januari ini berhubung kes tuduhan liwat II di Mahkamah Tinggi Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur.

Rakaman Siri Jelajah Anwar Ibrahim Di Seremban 4/Jan/2012

Why no apology? — Spencer Gan

JAN 5 — In 1998, then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed promised Catholic Church leaders that the church would be consulted when it comes to the appointment of principals and heads of mission schools.

That promise was elastic and was made just before the Sabah election, and at a time when Dr Mahathir was shaky after the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim. This historical fact was made public a few weeks when Archbishop Murphy Pakiam informed Catholics that the government had reneged on its promise to consult the church on the new principal of Convent Bukit Nanas.

Only after threatening noises by the church did the government back down. So please excuse my scepticism about the "assurance" given by Najib Razak at a lunch with Christian leaders that the government would consult in future before any appointments are made. Once again, this promise is being before an election.

Given this administration’s big propensity for flip-flopping, it would not surprise me if in the new future the Catholic Church may once again have to highlight another episode of the government going back on its word.

So unless there is some written agreement between church and government, this assurance by Najib will count for not much.

I thank Anglican Bishop Ng Moon Hing and the Christian Federation of Malaysia for not being swayed or impressed by a luncheon meeting with the Cabinet. After all, there is no reason for people of God to be impressed by people who tolerate and accept religious intolerance and corruption.

In a statement, he said that Christians nationwide had been victimised enough by groups with a selective reading of the Federal Constitution. I don’t propose to read Ng’s mind but I would think he was referring to Perkasa and also Umno.

He noted that there was an alarming disconnect between what Najib says and what actually happens on the ground. In short, Christians or for that matter other non-Muslims have had enough of promises and grand gestures.

We have watched with alarm the unabated demonisation of Christians and the disinclination of the Najib government to put a stop to these attacks or even apologise for the insults thrown by Umno, its newspapers and Perkasa.

One swallow does not make a summer and one or two lunches packed with promises do not mean the end of a period of persecution.

* Spencer Gan reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

Hisham: No permit applied

ImageThe New Straits Times

PUTRAJAYA: Organisers of Monday’s gathering must guarantee that it will be peaceful, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said.

He said police would protect and maintain public order in line with the spirit of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011, but the organisers would have to convince the authorities that whatever they were planning would not jeopardise public safety.

He also said to date the organisers had yet to apply for a permit, but added “many”  police reports had been lodged against the gathering. As of 2pm yesterday, 475 reports had been lodged nationwide.

He advised the public to be careful of text messages, blog entries and postings on the gathering, adding there was no restraining order to bar supporters from congregating at the High Court on Monday.

He said this after chairing the post-cabinet meeting here yesterday. Present were Deputy Home Ministers Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop and Datuk Lee Chee Leong, and Inspector-General of Police  Tan Sri Ismail Omar.

Najib, Lee Confident Iskandar Projects Will Continue To Flourish

CORDIAL RECEPTION...Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at THE press conference in conjunction with the Malaysia-Singapore territorial dialogue session at Perdana Putra today. The session enables both leaders to examine the progress in bilateral relations and explore initiatives to further strengthen existing good relationship between Malaysia and Singapore.Pic: BERNAMAfoto ALLRIGHTS RESERVED

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 5 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is confident Iskandar Malaysia would continue to flourish and that the project would be completed on schedule despite global economic uncertainties.

To a question on whether the economic contraction in Singapore and the global economic uncertainty would affect overall development of the joint venture project, Najib said there were no signs to indicate that the overall development of Iskandar was slowing down.

"In fact, investments are actually proceeding according to schedule," he said adding that the current economic situation in Malaysia and Singapore would continue at a level conducive for the private sector to continue investing in Iskandar.

Najib was speaking at joint press conference with his Singapore counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, after the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat here Thursday.

Meanwhile, Lee said Iskandar was a long-term project and "we have to look at the long-term outlook rather than quarter-to-quarter performance".

"What's more important is to continue to work together," he said adding that the Singapore economy was still growing on a positive note.

The republic's economy grew 4.8 per cent in 2011 and was projected to grow between one and three per cent this year, Lee said.

Earlier, Najib welcomed Lee at Level One of the Prime Minister's Office and the two leaders then adjourned to Level Five for the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat.

Both prime ministers agreed that the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia should explore more ways to enhance collaboration.

In relation to this, a new work group on industrial cooperation would be formed, under the Joint Ministerial Committee, to promote mutually beneficial twinning economic activities between Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore.