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Friday, January 13, 2012

Tukar agama: Saman pemula ke Mahkamah Tinggi

Utusan Malaysia
PUTRAJAYA 12 Jan. - Mahkamah Rayuan hari ini memerintahkan saman pemula seorang wanita keturunan India, Siti Hasnah Vangarama Abdullah bagi mencabar kesahihan proses penukaran agamanya kepada Islam ketika masih kanak-kanak, dikembalikan ke Mahkamah Tinggi agar meritnya didengar dan diputuskan.

Panel tiga hakim diketuai oleh Datuk Seri Abu Samah Nordin yang bersidang bersama Hakim Datuk Sulaiman Daud dan Hakim Datuk Mohd. Hishamudin Mohd. Yunus membenarkan rayuan wanita itu dan memerintahkan ketiga-tiga responden membayar kos berjumlah RM10,000.

Mahkamah sebulat suara berpuas hati agar saman pemula itu dikembalikan ke Mahkamah Tinggi untuk dibicarakan kerana terdapat isu yang wajar dihujahkan berhubung proses pengislaman Siti Hasnah, 29, ketika berusia tujuh tahun.

Isu pokok yang dibangkitkan dalam saman pemula itu adalah sama ada seorang kanak-kanak berusia tujuh tahun mempunyai kapasiti dan tertakluk kepada pihak berkuasa agama untuk menjalani upacara keagamaan termasuk proses penukaran agama.

Wanita tersebut atau nama Hindunya, S. Banggarma merayu terhadap keputusan Mahkamah Tinggi Pulau Pinang pada 4 Ogos 2010 yang membatalkan saman pemulanya selepas membenarkan bantahan awal responden.

Responden pertama hingga ketiga terdiri daripada Yang Dipertua Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia (Perkim), Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Raimi Abdullah (ketika itu Setiausaha Perkim Bukit Mertajam, Pulau Pinang) dan Majlis Agama Islam Negeri Pulau Pinang (MAIPP).

Mahkamah Tinggi ketika itu berpuas hati dengan hujahan pihak responden bahawa Siti Hasnah seorang Islam dan mahkamah sivil tidak mempunyai bidang kuasa mendengar saman pemula berkenaan.

Wanita tersebut diwakili oleh peguam Gooi Hsiao Leung manakala Matthias Chang bagi pihak Dr. Mahathir, Tuan Zubaidah Tuan Muda bagi pihak Raimi manakala Hairuddin Othman mewakili MAIPP.

Dalam saman pemulanya yang difailkan pada 23 Disember 2009, antara deklarasi yang dimohon oleh Siti Hasnah adalah pihak responden secara salah dan tanpa mengikuti undang-undang telah menyebabkan dia menjalani proses penukaran agama ketika masih kanak-kanak.

Wanita itu mendakwa, proses pengislaman pada 28 Disember 1989 iaitu tiga hari selepas kematian ibunya dilakukan secara salah kerana ketika itu dia tidak memahami kalimah syahadah yang diucapkan serta kandungan Sijil Akuan Masuk Islam yang ditandatanganinya.

Pada 24 November 2009, sebuah portal berita propembangkang melaporkan sijil kelahirannya menyatakan bahawa Siti Hasnah dilahirkan pada 13 Ogos 1982 di Keratong, Pahang dan anak kepada pekerja estet keturunan India, B. Subramaniam dan R. Latchumy.

Bagaimanapun, MAIPP dalam sidang akhbar pada Disember 2009 menyatakan, wanita terlibat merupakan seorang Islam selepas ibu bapanya memeluk agama itu di Pejabat Agama Islam Daerah Rompin, Pahang pada 30 November 1983 dan menukar nama masing-masing kepada Mohd. Yusof Abdullah dan Siti Aisyah Abdullah.

Isu pengislaman Siti Hasnah itu ditimbulkan pada satu sidang akhbar selepas wanita berkenaan mendakwa dia terkejut ketika diberitahu dia seorang Islam semasa ingin mendaftarkan perkahwinannya bersama seorang lelaki beragama Hindu.

Kuwaiti Royal Family Member Reportedly Leaves Islam...

IRAN -- A Kuwaiti royal prince has become a believer in Jesus Christ and says that if he is killed because of an audio recording he made about his decision, he believes he will meet Christ face-to-face.

Kuwaiti royal prince
(Courtesy Mohabat News).
According to , the Iranian Christian News Agency, Al-haqiqa, a Christian Arabic satellite T.V. station, which broadcasts Christian programs, played an audio file which it attributed to a Kuwaiti prince called "Abdollah Al-sabah."
This Kuwaiti prince announced, "First of all, I totally agree with the distribution of this audio file and I now declare that if they kill me because of this audio file, then I'll go into the presence of Jesus Christ and be with him for all eternity."

The T.V. channel claimed that Prince Abdollah Al-sabah comes from a Kuwaiti royal family which currently governs the country. The channel also said that the prince recently denounced his Islamic faith and became a Christian.

The voice in the audio file introduced himself as Abdollah Al-sabah and stated, "First of all, I totally agree with the distribution of this audio file and I now declare that if they kill me because of this audio file, then I'll go into the presence of Jesus Christ and be with him for all eternity."

The prince added: "I'm satisfied with whatever they do to me, because the truth in the Bible has guided me to the right way."

Regarding the Islamic groups who have recently gained power in Egypt, this Kuwaiti prince also stated, "Islamic communities have always wanted to attack in different parts of the world, but God has preserved the world and still protects it. This is why we have recently seen disagreements appearing among Islamic groups who are now fighting with each other. They are about to divide further into different groups.

Mohabat News says this piece of news made headlines briefly on Arabic newswires and also in the Iranian government run news agency. Some independent Shiite websites contradicted this report and quoted another Kuwaiti prince, Azbi Al-sabah as saying, "There is no one in the Kuwaiti royal family by that name."

Kuwait is a Middle Eastern country, neighboring Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran across the Persian Gulf. Its capital city is also called Kuwait.

Islam is the official and dominant religion in Kuwait, and almost the entire population is Muslim.

Only 4 percent of the population is Christian, and there is a tiny group of other religions. Article 2 of the Kuwaiti constitution reads, "Islam is the official religion in the country and Sharia is a main source for legislation."

Najib says not yet right time for polls

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) he is not comfortable calling for elections yet as the government must show his economic reforms are producing real results.
“Essentially, it’s a call you have to make on the basis of a feel-good factor, and that’s when you press the button. But of course at the end of the day it’s a rather intuitive decision,” the WSJ reported him as saying in its interview published today.
Speculation has been rife that Najib (picture) will be pressured to call for a general election soon due to the worsening global economy.
“You can have all the polling numbers but you must have the sense that this is the right time.
“I hope it will be the right time soon enough, but we still have to deliver on our promises and it’s important for people to have the feeling that the reforms we have promised will actually benefit them,” he said.
The PM acknowledged the global economic slump, especially the debt crisis engulfing Europe, could complicate his decision to press the election button.
“But so far we are still quite comfortable because our exposure to the EU in terms of total trade is only about nine per cent, so we are less vulnerable.
“But a euro-zone collapse or some other catastrophe there will affect the whole world,” he said in the interview with the WSJ.
The influential international paper reported today that Najib has been eager to paint himself as a leader of Malaysia’s most sweeping political reforms since independence.
The US-based daily noted that the PM appeared to be betting that the court acquittal of his political foe Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from a sodomy charge on Monday would help rather than hurt him politically.
Turning to the Anwar verdict, Najib said it was unclear whether prosecutors would opt to appeal, saying it was a matter for the Attorney-General.
But he said that the acquittal would likely help to convince critics that the government does not interfere in politically-charged judicial cases.
Anwar has accused Najib’s government of orchestrating the case against him. Najib denies having anything to do with the case.
Najib said in the interview that both the government and opposition camps will step up their race to claim the centre-ground of Malaysian politics in the coming months — but that this will only strengthen the predominantly Muslim country and provide a fresh example that democracy and Islam can co-exist.
The newspaper pointed out that both sides, though, seem to sense that the outcome of the vote depends on whether they can capture mainstream voters who are more interested in the economy than scandals.
Anwar told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that he is now reconfiguring the opposition alliance to tackle a gamut of issues in the upcoming vote, from ensuring greater economic freedoms to tackling poverty and stamping out corruption.

Parlimen atau Dun, pilih satu kerusi saja

Satu Calon, Satu Kerusi adalah satu langkah bijak DAP.

PETALING JAYA: Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia Negeri Johor (SAMM Johor) menyokong penuh kenyataan Pengerusi DAP Karpal Singh bahawa setiap calon DAP hanya akan bertanding untuk satu kerusi sahaja pada pilihan raya umum akan datang.

Penyelaras Negeri, Ahmad Anwar Asyraf Ismail berkata tindakan ini sememangnya satu langkah yang tepat bagi memastikan setiap calon yang memenangi kerusi tersebut dapat memberikan fokus sepenuhnya kepada kawasan konstituen yang telah dimenanginya.

“Malahan, ia turut dapat memastikan setiap wakil rakyat yang telah dipilih itu dapat memberikan tumpuan kepada setiap sesi persidangan Dewan Rakyat atau Dewan Undangan Negeri (Dun).

“Tambahan lagi, SAMM Johor turut berpendapat, langkah sebegini berupaya untuk mengelak berulangnya masalah ketidakhadiran wakil- wakil rakyat pada sesi persidangan Dewan seperti apa yang berlaku semasa pembentangan Rang Undang-Undang Pembangunan Kampung Baru tempohari.

Setiap wakil rakyat tidak lagi dapat memberikan alasan sibuk dengan masalah di konstituen masing-masing ekoran terpaksa menggalas dua tanggungjawab menjadi Ahli Parlimen dan Adun dalam tempoh serentak,” katanya dalam satu kenyataan media.

Selain itu katanya, langkah memperkenalkan Satu Calon, Satu Kerusi ini merupakan langkah yang bijak dan tepat pada masanya, ketika Pakatan Rakyat sedang melahirkan harapan menguasai pentadbiran negara.

“Langkah ini berupaya membuktikan betapa Pakatan Rakyat sememangnya mempunyai ramai pemimpin-pemimpin yang berkualiti, mempunyai kredibiliti yang baik dan kompeten dalam melaksana tugas dan amanah yang diberikan oleh rakyat.

“Langkah ini juga menghapuskan persepsi bahawa Pakatan ketandusan pemimpin dan hanya bergantung kepada beberapa kerat nama semata-mata,” terang Ahmad Anwar.

Great Expectations at Pakatan convention

Pakatan Rakyat is on a high after Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal but can the coalition harness this energy to topple Barisan Nasional?

ALOR SETAR: Pakatan Rakyat delegates for their national convention are on a high. Their leader Anwar Ibrahim has been acquitted of a sodomy charge, feuding leaders are ready to bury the hatchet and niggling differences within the coalition have been ironed out.

There is a sense of great expectations when some 2,000 delegates attend the convention at the Sultan Abdul Halim hall here tomorrow.

Although there is a possibility that the prosecution may appeal the High Court’s decision, there will be a sense of euphoria at the convention.

The coalition is ready to go back to brass tacks. Some delegates are all for the party returning to its original cry of “reformasi”.

They readily admit the party’s original intention was derailed by internal squabbles after the 2008 general election.

Penang PAS deputy commissioner II Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa was among the first to say that the party has gone through growing-up pains as they were new to governance.

Gone are the days of blindly condemning or opposing all policies. Pakatan must be now seen to have an edge over Barisan Nasional (BN).

Pakatan has had some trying times: the acrimonious relationship among PAS, PKR and DAP and finally the expulsion of Selangor PAS leader Hasan Ali .

Hasan ironically is the first PAS leader to be expelled since 1998. The former Selangor PAS commissioner was found guilty of going against the party’s policies and some of its leaders.

Also to be taken into account is that the four states under Pakatan rule have not been a shining example of leadership.

In Kedah, which is playing host to the convention, Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak is dogged with allegations of poor health, and his ability to administer the state has been questioned.

Pakatan in a bind

In Penang, the state DAP Indian faction is unhappy that its grouses are not effectively addressed by the state, triggering off the spat between chairman Karpal Singh and Prof Dr P Ramasamy, who is Deputy Chief Minister II and party’s deputy secretary-general.

In Selangor, the state government is dealing with below-par performances of its local authorities, an overly aggressive Islamic religious enforcement division and a perceived rift between state executive councillors and technocrat Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim.

While in the country’s oldest opposition held state – Kelantan – there is uncertainty whether its iconic Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat would continue leading as he is now 80.

At tomorrow’s convention, how much of these would the delegates selected to speak bring up?

Singapore-based political observer Jason Wong says Pakatan is in a bind as there is a feeling that it is a semi-government and semi-opposition party.

He pointed out that the people’s verdict on Anwar is not known yet. “The verdict would only be known in the general election. Many things can happen before the votes are cast.”

Pakatan must prove beyond doubt that the alliance is ready, so the momentum captured by the court’s decision, can become a decisive force in its march to Putrajaya.

Victorian man Mansor Almaribe heads home after Saudi lashing ordeal

Mansor Almaribe
Mansor Alamribe will arrive home tomorrow morning. Picture: Herald Sun.
A VICTORIAN man is heading home after being spared 425 lashes in Saudi Arabia where he was found guilty of blasphemy. 

Father-of-five Mansor Almaribe has already copped 75 lashes in horrid jail conditions since he was sentenced in November.

His family feared he would die because of his ailing health if the sentence was not waived.
Son Isaam Almaribe, 21, today told of his joy.

"We are feeling so happy - he is finally coming home," he said.

"We are all shocked because we have never been through this feeling before.

Isaam said the entire family would come together for an emotional reunion at the airport.
"We are just going to have a big party there for now," he said.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd was in regular contact with Saudi authorities begging for leniency.
Sharman Stone, federal MP for Murray, said community support for his release had been overwhelming.

"At that meeting (with Saudi officials) just before Christmas we presented petitions with hundreds of signatures of local and interstate people pleading for mercy and understanding, and the immediate release of Mr Almaribe,” she said.

Mr Almaribe, a Shi'ite Muslim, was detained while praying in the Sunni-dominated country while making the Hajj pilgrimage to Medina.

Mr Almaribe arrives in Melbourne tomorrow morning.

No Interlok withdrawal order at 80 schools

Karpal to Gani: Don’t get unduly concerned

Judgment by High Court judge Mohamad Zabidin was based on findings of fact and the call by the chief prosecutor to appeal is misplaced, says Anwar's lead counsel.

PETALING JAYA: Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail should not be unduly concerned over calls by the family of Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan to lodge an appeal against the acquittal of Anwar Ibrahim on a sodomy charge, said the opposition leader’s lead counsel Karpal Singh.

Karpal said this in response to calls by Saiful’s father, Azlan Mohd Lazim, who made an impassioned plea, urging the Attorney-General to appeal the High Court’s decision to set Anwar free.

Judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah freed Anwar on Monday due to uncertainty in the integrity of the DNA samples presented as evidence which may have been compromised.

Lead prosecutor, Solicitor-general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden, confirmed news reports that he had recommended that the Attorney-General appeal the judge’s verdict.

He told TV3′s Nightline English News early this morning that a decision to appeal was made after studying all related evidence in this case.

“As I mentioned before, the written judgment is not out. We have 10 days to appeal and that period would lapse before the written judgment is out. Therefore I have recommended that we appeal,” he told FMT when contacted today.

Asked if he would meet Gani in person to make the recommendation, Mohd Yusof said that he had already handed a written report to the head of the Appellate Unit within the Appellate and Trial Division in the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Closure for all parties

Mohd Yusof said the head of the head of Appellate and Trial Division may meet Gani to convey the recommendation.

“The call by Mohd Yusof for the Attorney-General to appeal High Court judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah’s decision is misplaced,” said Karpal.

“While Gani has the discretion under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution to appeal against a criminal court’s decision, the three-year trial had taken a toll on Anwar and his family.”

Moreover, said Karpal, the judgment by Mohamad Zabidin was based on findings of fact and that an appellate court is usually slow to overrule in an appeal.

He added that there would be a closure for all parties when Gani decides not to appeal Anwar’s acquittal.

“It is in the interests of all concerned that there be closure to a trial which has been described by Court of Appeal judge, Abdul Malik Ishak, as the mother of all trials in Malaysia.”

M’sians don’t read papers because of bad reporting

Malaysia's poor education system and lazy reporting have led many to stop reading newspapers altogether.

KUALA LUMPUR: Local reporters have no idea of journalism and this has caused many Malaysians to avoid reading newspapers altogether.

A university don says this has led many reporters to be little more than transcribers.

Though restrictive media controls and political ownership of news outlets were at fault, Notthingham University professor Zaharom Nain (picture left) said that many reporters in the country were just lazy.

“Our writers or our reporters are unable to evalutate or analyse (in their news pieces). Yes, they have controls and editors who listen to owners, but a large part of it is due to plain laziness. They are unable to do more than just transcribe the thoughts of others.”

“Many journalists I know just go to press conferences and record what the minister is saying,” the media observer told FMT.

He said that journalists here failed to ask people critical questions, and as a result, could only come up with “superficial” news reports.

Earlier today, Zaharom was speaking at a forum entitled “Truth Matters: The Media and GE (general election) –13″ at UCSI (University College Sedaya International).

Zaharom used the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal, and Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil as an example.

“I don’t think very many journalists have asked Shahrizat: ‘You say you are not involved, but how can you as husband and wife not know what is going on?’,” he said.

Editors breathing down reporters’ backs with alleged lists of taboo questions in the newsroom were also a bane to newsmen in the country, Zaharom added.

It was no wonder, he added, that Malaysians were not reading the news. “People don’t believe what they’re reading in the newspapers anymore, because the stories are becoming so stale, and are so supportive of a regime that clearly needs to be criticised,” he added.

During the forum, Zaharom said: “People talk about how bad Utusan Malaysia is, but look at the Star, look at the New Straits Times, look at Berita Harian. I don’t think we’ve got anything to be proud of as a people in terms of what we get out of our newspapers.”

Gospel truth

USM professor Azman Azwan Azmawati (picture below) said that local reporters were also unable to write their stories according to context.

“Everything is located within a context, and you have political, social, economic, religion and so forth. But journalists don’t get to write in a way that communicates other messages to their readers,” she said.

Malaysians seemed to lack “media literacy”, which she explained, was understanding situations and turning them into reports.

However, Azman said that local readers were also to blame. Many Malaysians, she said, appeared to accept everything they read as the gospel truth.

“Readers here don’t think. I’m generalising, but most Malaysians won’t think. They just accept everything at face value. They do not scrutinise, they do not examine when they read.”

“They just believe everything they read and spread the word,” she said, adding that many locals only got their news from one source.

But the root cause of all this, she said, was Malaysia’s poorly-run education system. Students, she said, were raised from young to believe that everything their teachers said were right.

“Our education system has spoiled everyone’s mind to be conformist, accepting the status quo, and as a result, makes them scared to ask questions,” she said.

This habit, she said, was not easy to break, and would often carry on to journalism students, and onto the working world.

Hindraf launches global e-Petition against racism

Hindraf says it is targeting 100,000 people globally to be signatories of the petition to be forwarded to foreign bodies and governments.
GEORGE TOWN: Hindraf Makkal Sakti has launched a global cyber e-Petition against Malaysia’s perceived racism.

The London-based Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy said they are targeting some 100,000 people worldwide to be signatories of the petition, which would be forwarded to relevant international bodies and governments, including the US government and the European Parliament.

“We want to raise awareness and call on all Malaysians to join force with Hindraf to fight and eliminate racism in the country,” he told FMT here today.

The e-Petition’s main demand is for Putrajaya to repeal Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, which Waythamoorthy claims was the “mother” of all Malaysian racist policies for the past 54 years.

He alleged that Article 153 has been the catalyst to transform Malaysia into a pervasive and increasingly aggressive racist nation, characterised by the doctrine of “Ketuanan Melayu” or Malay supremacy.
He said Article 153 was a brand of apartheid, which ran foul of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948.

The petition also calls on the Malaysian government to dismantle all racist policies and provisions, and treat alll Malaysians equally.

It calls on the federal government to take measures to ensure that all contentious matters involving Malaysians of other faiths be adjudicated in civil courts.

The petition also called on Putrajaya to form a royal commission to inquire and report on all racist policies and violations of religious freedom.

The petition wants the United Nations to make representations to Putrajaya on behalf of almost 12.5 million citizens of other faiths to be treated equally with dignity.

The site is available at

Jangan tiru Arab

Orang muda telah melakukan `perubahan yang senyap' melalui pilihan raya umum 2008 ," kata seorang pakar hubungan Indonesia-Malaysia, Musni Umar.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia tidak perlu meniru cara Indonesia dan Timur Tengah dalam melakukan perubahan kerana terlalu mahal harganya, kata seorang pakar hubungan Indonesia-Malaysia.

Sebaliknya, Musni Umar lulusan Ph.D jurusan sosiologi menasihatkan rakyat Malaysia yang majoritinya berpendidikan baik dan negara mengalami kemajuan yang mengkagumkan, memilih pilihan raya seperti yang dilakukan Turki.

“Saya mencermati bahawa masyarakat Malaysia terutama dari kalangan muda yang cukup berpendidikan menyedari pentingnya perubahan di Malaysia untuk mengganti suasana, tetapi ‘perubahan yang senyap’ melalui pilihan raya.

“Mereka sudah mula melalukan pada pilihan raya umum 2008 ,” katanya.

Katanya, perubahan yang sedang terjadi di Malaysia dengan membuka sedikit demi sedikit kebebasan harus diberi pujian.

Bagaimanapun, kata, ramai jugamasyarakat Malaysia yang takut kepada perubahan dengan berbagai alasan dan pertimbangan sehingga tetap mempertahankan pemerintahan sekarang.

Katanya, alasan mereka ialah BN telah membuktikan dengan berjaya membawa Malaysia ke arah kemajuan seperti sekarang.

“Itu tidak salah dan harus dihormati yang tidak mahu berubah. Namun harus disedari, di dunia ini tidak ada yang abadi, kecuali perubahan itu sendiri,” tambahnya.

`Orang tua berundur’

Penganalisis politik itu juga berkata, BN mesti melakukan perubahan dalaman dengan mengambilkira pengaruh Kebangkitan Arab.
Katanya, misalnya memberi semakin banyak peluang pemuda yang berpendidikan tinggi untuk untuk turut sama membangun Malaysia melalui BN.

“…dan pada saat yang sama orang tua berundur dari arena politik untuk memberi kesempatan kepada kaum muda.

“Selain itu, menyahut aspirasi masyarakat Malaysia yang menginginkan membuka koridor demokrasi dan kebebasan untuk semua,” katanya lagi.

Musni juga meramalkan keputusan Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur mengenai kes liwat terhadap Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim akan memberi pengaruh kepada politik Malaysia.

Pertama, ketegangan politik antara BN dan Pakatan Rakyat akan semakin meningkat. Oleh kerana kedua kelompok ini, sudah mempunyai pandangan yang berbeza tentang kes Anwar.

Kedua, para pemimpin dan penyokng dari kedua kelompok yang bersaing, sudah menjadikan kes Anwar menghancurkan lawan dan meraih simpati dan sokongan dari rakyat Malaysia dalam pertarungan menghadapi pilihan raya yang diperkirakan tahun ini juga.

Ketiga, dengan keputusan hakim yang jujur dan adil, kepercayaan antarabangsa terhadap Malaysia tetap terjaga.

Defence minister talks cock. Poke him in the eye

Ahmad Zahidi Hamid, the defence minister, talked poppycock on Monday about the mangled Engrish used on the ministry’s web site that featured “Clothes That Poke Eye”. He said the mistakes have been corrected.
By uppercaise
On Monday: “We have corrected the mistakes”
— Ahmad Zahidi Hamid, defence minister, quoted in the Star
Wednesday: Still no correction done

Is someone lying? » Mindef’s Engrish and Google compared | See for yourself
Ahmad Zahidi Hamid, the defence minister, talked poppycock on Monday about the mangled Engrish used on the ministry’s web site that featured “Clothes That Poke Eye”. He said the mistakes have been corrected.
In fact, no corrections have been done on the web site. At 5pm on Wednesday the two-word headline still says “Ethical Clothing” (instead of “Dress Code”). A notice still says “Translations are not available”.
Ahmad Zahidi was lying. Does Ahmad Zahidi or anyone in Mindef have eyes? Or have they all lost sight by being poked in the eye?
Apologists for politicians always make excuses to say the politician was misinformed. Just because someone lied to him and he in turn lies to the public does not excuse the lie. Ministers are responsible to the public for the conduct of their ministries. If a civil servant lied, he is disciplined. But it is the minister who takes the rap in public.
That’s how constitutional democracy works.
But how often do Malaysian ministers take the rap when proven wrong?
Does Ahmad Zahidi take everyone for fools? Obviously the answer must be yes. First because he’s still there as defence minister handling billions of your money. And second, because the ministry could not be bothered correcting something as simple as a two-word headline. Too much bother? Just brazen it out? Politics as usual? The public are too stupid to care?
What do you think? Do those people in high places, in government or in business, care what any of us think? Or do they think the public are just a bunch of saps who just need to be tickled every five years?
Ahmad Zahidi also told the Star that the ministry had used Google’s free online translation services, thus implying that Google was to blame. More poppycock.
Mindef did not publish a Google translation. What they published is different. Google’s translations, in fact, are both better and worse than Mindef’s shoddy Engrish.
Mindef’s “Clothes That Poke Eye” is Google’s “of scantily clothes”. Some other parts are similar to Google’s versions, some are different. » Mindef’s Engrish and Google compared See for yourself whether someone’s lying.
Read more at:

Malaysia Election Around the Corner?

Najib and Anwar in happier times
With Sodomy II out of the way, looks forward to March polls -- maybe
With the Sodomy II trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim now out of the way, it is probably time to start thinking seriously about Malaysia's 13th general election, which most observers -- but not all -- believe will be called in March, during school holidays when the classrooms are empty.

Despite euphoria on the part of the three-party opposition coalition, the end of the trial doesn't mean that Anwar's troubles are over. One political observer in Kuala Lumpur told Asia Sentinel that the United Malays National Organization, the lead party in the ruling national coalition, will probably do its best to discredit him in other ways.

Despite being declared not guilty, the image of the opposition leader as a sexual deviant has probably been planted in a lot of Malaysian minds. Mohd Saiful Bukhairy Aznam, Anwar's accuser, appears to have no intention of going away. He has asked the attorney general to appeal the acquittal and is tweeting and texting his outrage and innocence to anyone who will read them. UMNO could well put him on the trail to demand denied justice at every campaign stop.

However, UMNO and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak carry plenty of baggage of their own. A long series of scandals within the party bear the hallmarks of being pushed by various Umno factions to cripple each other. That isn’t to say the snap poll won’t come off. But there are headwinds. The party held its annual general assembly in December and was expected to come out fighting. There was plenty of harsh rhetoric that made it sound as if Umno is besieged on all sides by threatening foes from both inside and outside the country – particularly from Christians, particularly Chinese ones.

Najib himself concluded the conclave by pounding the war drums in stark terms, outlining a dark future if the opposition were to win, saying that: “This is the fate that will befall us if Umno loses power. Who will uphold the symbol of Islam? Who is capable of protecting the rights and agenda of the Malays? Who will continue to honour our Malay rulers?”

Massive scandal derails party conclave

Almost simultaneously with the annual general assembly, however, UMNO found itself in a massive scandal involving the family of Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the head of Wanita Umno, the women’s wing of the party and minister for Women, Welfare and Community Development. It has been impossible to wish the scandal away as a ploy by the opposition because it was exposed in September by Malaysia’s Auditor General.

As some observers have pointed out, it is also damaging because it involves agriculture, and particularly cattle – something Umno’s rural constituency can understand in all of its ominous implications. The matter involves the National Feedlot Corporation, which was given RM250 million (US80 million) in a government soft loan and was established to slaughter as many as 60,000 cattle a year by halal, or religiously accepted, methods. However, NFC has never slaughtered 10 percent of the projected total and has since scaled back its target to 8,000 head but hasn’t been able to meet that target either. The agreement to establish the company, made when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was prime minister, was okayed by Muhyiddin Yassin, the agriculture minister at the time and now the deputy prime minister.

None of Shahrizat's family had any experience in cattle production or beef supply prior to the establishment of the company. It appears that much of the money—as much as RM131 million -- was poured into things that had nothing to do with feeding cattle but instead into cars, condos and travel, among other things.

The matter has been seized upon with a good deal of glee by the opposition. One Malay businessman source said “there may be other revelations as to how the money for cattle was used which may implicate the number 2 guy.” That is Muhyiddin Yassin, the deputy prime minister. “This thing has been a lifeline for the opposition who are sitting on a thumb drive full of info which they are revealing in bits and pieces,” he said.

Intermixed with this are reports that both Muhyiddin’s and Najib’s private secretaries have been accepting funds of at least RM10,000 per month from private parties for reasons that are unclear. The allegations against each – complete with pictures of checks -- are suspected of having been leaked by the Muhyiddin and Najib factions against each other. There reportedly is yet another massive scandal waiting in the wings, involving hundreds of millions of dollars in connection with the Iskandar project in Johor across the strait from Singapore. Documents have been made available to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission that are said to implicate former lieutenants of former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Some sources have said the Shahrizat matter and shortcomings by other ministers argues for a cabinet reshuffle prior to any election. Certainly, Shahrizat is expected to be dropped as a candidate in the next election, whenever it is to be held, and that probably her husband will be charged at some point.

The allegations of corruption have cost the country four places in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, dropping it to a still relatively respectable 60th. But it is the third straight year the country has slipped in the perceptions index – all three of them occurring on Najib’s watch. Although the mainstream media, all of which are owned by the component parties of the Barisan have tended to downplay the corruption reports, it is estimated that 41 percent of Malaysians now have access to the Internet – and a huge flock of opposition bloggers and websites, some of which, such as Malaysian Insider and Malaysiakini, are very professionally produced, and which pull no punches on reporting corruption and government mismanagement.

Part of the problem for Umno, a party source says, is getting divisional warlords to make way for winnable candidates in races that have become competitive now that the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition has become a genuine movement rather than a ragtag group of parties cobbled together by Anwar. These are old hands that refuse to give away to younger, more attractive and educated candidates.

It is a longstanding problem borne out by the fact that Rais Yatim, the information minister and an Umno Supreme Council member, said after the December conclave that those not selected must refrain from sabotaging the party. It is significant enough that the Mahathir wing of the party is contemplating demanding that party members sign a loyalty oath. A Penang district member, Musa Sheikh Fadzir, proposed the establishment of a General Election Disciplinary Committee to take action against those who go against the party in the upcoming polls.

Added to this are concerns that the party isn’t appealing strongly enough to young, urban Malays, turned off by infighting and corruption, who have been drifting towards Parti Islam se-Malaysia, or PAS, which has rebranded itself as a secular party, and to a lesser extent to Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

According to the Neilsen rating agency, Malaysia’s highest Internet usage is recorded among the young -- people aged 20-24: 57 percent use the Internet regularly, spending an average of 22.3 hours online per week. Despite considerable publicity in recent weeks over a demand that the party return to its Islamic roots by former executive committee member Hasan Ali and his confederate, Nasharudin Mat Isa, a former PAS deputy president who was supplanted by the new moderate team, other sources say the party remains perhaps the most disciplined in the three-party opposition.

The biggest of the three opposition parties, it is continuing to work to appeal to urban voters. It is a dramatic illustration of the change in Malaysian society. According to the CIA World Factbook, 72 percent of the country’s 28.7 million people are now living in cities. Although Malays make up the preponderance of the other 28 percent, the rural roots of both Umno and PAS are vanishing – at an annual rate of 2.4 percent. Agriculture now comprises only 13 percent of the workforce, with industry, 36 percent, and services, 51 percent, making up the rest.

As evidence of the racial divisions in the country, a poll by the Merdeka Centre taken last year said 61 percent of ethnic Malays believe the country is going in the right direction as opposed to only 31 percent of Chinese. Ethnic Indian approval of the way the country is going, at a high of 66 percent, has fallen dramatically as well, to 39 percent despite Najib’s assiduous efforts to woo Indians back to the fold.

Najib, Rais Yatim and others have pointed to the decision to acquit Anwar as evidence of the Malaysian judiciary's independence, which is probably stretching the truth considerably. However, Umno and its leaders have been touting reforms of the hated colonial-era Internal Security Act, which allows for the indeterminate jailing of anyone the attorney general considers to be subversive, amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act and election law cleanup as well as other liberalizations as a step towards a new Malaysia.

Opponents regard these changes as cosmetic. The ISA is likely to be replaced by something akin to the Patriot Act, which was jammed through a panicked US Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

The government appears to have shot itself in the foot with the passage by the Dewan Rakyat, or parliament, of a Peaceful Assembly Act that opposition lawmakers, human rights activists and the country’s lawyers say was about as bad as the law it replaces as it bans street demonstrations and requires assemblies, meetings and processions to be held only on designated compounds.

Whatever strength Najib has within Umno and whatever hold Umno has on the ethnic Malay electorate, the Barisan Nasional appears almost certain to have to simply write off the Chinese vote, and perhaps an unknown portion of the urban Malay and Indian vote as well. According to one analysis, overall 50 percent of parliamentary seats are Malay majority, 25 percent are Chinese majority and mixed seats i.e. seats in which no ethnic group has a majority, 25 percent are from the east Malaysia states of Sabah and Sarawak. To win Putrajaya, either the Barisan or Pakatan Rakyat must secure at least half of Malay majority seats -- 25 percent of the total parliamentary seats. For the Barisan, the winning formula is: 25 percent Malay majority seats, 5 percent Chinese or mixed seats and 20 percent from Sabah and Sarawak. For Pakatan, the winning formula is: 25 percent Malay majority seats, 20 percent Chinese or mixed seats and 5 percent from Sabah and Sarawak.

The other Barisan component parties are in considerably worse shape than Umno. The nearly moribund Malaysian Chinese Association is enmeshed in a scandal over the development of the Port Klang multimodal port facility, which we have alluded to before and which has the potential to cost the country RM13 billion if all loan commitments are to be met. There is also hand-to-hand combat among leadership factions. In addition Chua Soi Lek, the head of the party, has been repeatedly taken to task by Malay supremacists such as Ibrahim Ali and his NGO Perkasa, which has the tacit backing of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, further disenchanting ethnic Chinese, who make up 23.7 percent of the population. They appear to have abandoned the party wholesale.

Although East Malaysia appears solidly in the Barisan camp, if the state election held in Sarawak held on April 16 is any harbinger, the results indicate a clear abandonment of the Barisan by Chinese voters. The Chinese-based opposition Democratic Action Party won 12 of the 15 seats it contested, doubling its share of seats in Sarawak since the 2006 state elections. Parti Keadilan Rakyat, led by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, won three seats, including a rural one.

Thus the outcome appears to depend on how much PAS, having abandoned its Islamic goals, can make inroads among the Malay population, and particularly the urban Malay population. That 72 percent urban preponderance starts to look interesting indeed.

Thus the most likely scenario is a Barisan win, but the historic two-thirds majority in parliament, which allowed the Barisan to dictate the country’s political and governmental agenda, is likely gone for good.

That doesn’t mean the opposition is faring much better. Pakatan Rakyat coalition continues to be beset with defections and arguments between the three component parties.

One of the things militating for an early election is increasingly dour economic forecasts. Second-half gross domestic product growth edged lower to 4.0 percent year-on-year as domestic demand weakened. By sector, according to the Malaysia Economic Institute of Research, services (6.3 percent growth) and manufacturing (2.1 percent) were the main growth engines. MEIR expects growth momentum to moderate as exports weaken on lacklustre performance by its main export partners, principally the United States. For 2012, MIER has revised its GDP growth forecast downward to 5.0 percent. Other research analysts, more pessimistic, put growth at 4.4 percent.

Although inflation seems relatively tame at a forecast 3 percent, Malaysia’s tripartite growth model, two segments of which are manufacturing and commodities and both directed for export, will be hit by what appears to be an almost certain 2012 economic downturn in Europe and sub-par growth in the United States barring some miracle. That leaves just fiscal pump-priming and the public sector economy to maintain growth. Federal government net borrowing is forecast at RM45.1 billion for the full year of 2011 and RM43.6 billion in 2012. Najib has produced an election budget with some goodies for everybody, but particularly the country’s ethnic Malays, including 1.3 million civil servants, one of the highest civil servants-to-population ratios in the world – the preponderance of them ethnic Malays. Civil servants will be offered tuition assistance for part-time studies

Other goodies include abolishment of payments for primary and secondary education, a “commercialisation innovation fund” to help out SMEs, a RM2 billion “shariah-compliant” financing fund for SMEs to be managed by selected Islamic banks – another bone thrown to Malay businessmen – as well as a review of capital gains taxes on property to stabilise the property market.

Najib and his troops have been hitting the campaign trail assiduously. But whether that means an election is imminent remains to be seen. Mahathir, the party’s stormy petrel, counsels waiting until all of the ducks are lined up. But he also counsels that the Barisan keep up the pressure to make the opposition believe the national polls could happen sooner – forcing them to spend money, time and energy to try to keep up with the government parties.

Winning back public confidence

ImageThe Star 
Brave New World By Azmi Sharom

It is not enough that our judges must be seen to be independent, we also need to know that the decision to prosecute or not is made without fear or favour.

IN the wake of the Anwar Ibrahim verdict, there has been much debate on how this proves the independence of our judiciary.

Praise has been lavished on the transformation plan as though it was this plan that improved the judiciary’s freedom.

If this is so, then surely the implication is that before the transformation plan there were problems with the Bench.

However, it would be too much to ask of anyone in the ruling party to admit to this.

After all they have been vehemently denying that there is nothing wrong with our justice system despite damning reports both from home and abroad.

So for the past few days, Barisan MPs and supporters have been going around saying: “I told you so, nothing wrong with the judiciary. I told you so.”

Well, to use a well-worn phrase, “a swallow does not a summer make”.

The loss of confidence in the judiciary is too deep to be revived with just one decision.

Let’s look at this judgment. A cynic would say that this was the best thing to have happened to Barisan.

After all, if Anwar was locked up the ruling party would have to deal with a “martyr”; and Azizah would once again be pushed into the foreground.

I am not suggesting for one moment that this is why the judge made his decision; I am not privy to the workings of his mind.

I am merely pointing out that it is not so easy to say with just one case that all doubts regarding the relationship of the judiciary and the Executive can be wiped out.

To restore faith in the legal system would take years. And it is not merely the Bench I am talking about here.

The independence of the Attorney-General’s Chambers and its prosecution service must also be restored.

It is not enough that our judges must be seen to be independent, we also need to know with absolute certainty that the decision to prosecute or not is made without any fear or favour.

Once trust is lost, it takes years to rebuild.

This is true between individuals; it is even truer when it comes to institutions as important as a country’s legal system.

PM Announces Review Of Public Service New Remuneration Scheme

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Thursday announced a review of the Public Service New Remuneration Scheme (SBPA) to resolve the issues raised by certain quarters pertaining to its implementation.

He said the Cabinet, at its meeting yesterday, decided on the review.

"After the review, the SBPA will come into force as of Jan 1, 2012, as promised by the government," he said in a statement.

Najib said the review is being made following discussions with the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs).

The prime minister said the review does not cover the decision to extend the civil service retirement age to 60 and, as such, this will be implemented as of Jan 1 this year.

Najib said Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan has been asked to determine the review mechanism.

"It is hoped that the review will be accepted by all quarters," he said, adding that a statement on the matter will be released soon.

The Public Service Department (PSD) had agreed earlier to extend to Jan 15 the date for acceptance by civil servants of the SBPA option, but retained the Dec 30 date for stating the option to extend the retirement age to 60.

Previously, civil servants were given 15 days from Dec 16 to exercise the option to sign up for the SBPA or remain in the old scheme.

In the new scheme, the civil service hierarchy has four levels, namely the Premier Group, the Top Management Group, the Management and Professional Group, as well as the Implementation Group.

Details of Penang CM, exco asset disclosures

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his exco today declared their assets to the public. The details are provided below.
Guan Eng’s personal investments have increased by RM54000 since 2008. His income is derived from exco salaries, exco allowances,  Adun allowances, MP allowances, and director’s fees (PBA and PDC).
These disclosures are a step in the right direction but a few questions/proposals for improvement inevitably come to mind:
  • The obvious question is, why did it take nearly four years to disclose such simple statements? (It is obvious that one or two of the exco members are fairly wealthy and that could explain the earlier reluctance to disclose their assets.)
  • Of course, for the disclosures to be complete, spouses and other immediately family members need to also disclose their assets.
  • Cash in ordinary bank accounts (apart from FDs) should also be included, along with other liabilities. And a few exco members have not disclosed the amount in their FD’s as at 8 March 2008.
  • In the case of inherited property, some basic information should be disclosed e.g. type of property (e.g. double storey semi-d house), residential area and town OR acreage and location (in the case of agricultural land) to identify them for comparison over time and to distinguish them from other properties the politician might later acquire.
  • An independent audit firm should audit such disclosures.
I hope BN leaders at the federal and state levels and leaders of other Pakatan state governments will be inspired by this move to disclose their own and their immediately families’ assets. Well, we can dream (till the cows come home!), can’t we…
No, no, no, we should insist on such disclosures when they come around to canvas our votes in the next general election. No asset disclosure, no vote for you.
Guan Eng also spoke about the need to end the mix of politics and business.
A timely call. Taking this a step further, I think there should also be maximum transparency of corporate donations (in any form) to political parties.
You can download the .pdf file of the asset disclosures of the CM and his exco members.