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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jangan biar BN terus tipu sistem pilihan raya

Anti-ISA protesters march to Parliament House

Gunmen attack police sergeant, kill daughter

Leave two sons wounded while officer escapes unhurt

A police sergeant, Hessian Isah, was on Sunday attacked by gunmen at his residence in the Dandali ward of Potiskum, Yobe State.

Isah however managed to escape the attack but his six-year-old daughter was killed, while two of his sons were also injured.

According to a resident, the assailants came to the house at about 9pm and opened fire on Isah who was in the sitting room with his family.

"He narrowly escaped the gunshots, but his six-year-old daughter, Safiya Hassan, was killed by stray bullets that wounded two of his sons," a source said.

"This is the second time he is escaping this kind of attack, the last time was before he relocated to his personal house weeks ago."

The state police spokesperson, Gbagesin Toyin, confirmed the incident.

Conspiracy theory: Maharaj kidnapped two days before Hinglaj pilgrimage


The chairman of the committee that runs the temple’s affairs has been kidnapped.
KARACHI: Just two days before the annual pilgrimage to Hinglaj Mata in Balochistan, the chairman of the committee that runs the temple’s affairs has been kidnapped.

Maharaj Ganga Ram Motiyani was taken from Lasbela, Balochistan. On Sunday, protesters gathered at the Karachi Press Club to demand the government take notice.

“Motiyani’s kidnapping appears to be a conspiracy against Hindus since he was kidnapped two days before the gathering,” said the Pakistan Hindu Council’s patron and former Sindh Assembly member, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani. “He has not been kidnapped for ransom because he is a poor man.”

In April each year, thousands of Hindus flock to the cave temple of Hinglaj Mata, or the goddess Sati. According to a Hindu myth, Lord Vishnu cut up the body of Sati with his flaming disc into 50 pieces, which fell to the earth. Her head fell at Hinglaj. “Thousands of Hindus from across the country gather for the Hinglaj mela every year,” said Vankwani.

According to a council member, Dr Chandar Turshani, two men in police uniform arrived at Motiyani’s shop at 8:30 pm and said that a senior police official wanted to meet him. “We contacted the area police station within half an hour but he was not there,” Turshani informed The Express Tribune. “When we spoke to Motiyani on his phone, he said that he was being taken to meet a major.” Motiyani’s family lost contact with him after an hour.

“The provincial and district governments have assured us that he will be rescued but we are clueless about why Motiyani was taken and what condition he is in,” said Turshani.

Sindh and Balochistan’s Hindus were already in the thick of the controversy of forced conversions. The kidnappings add to their insecurity. Hindus are largely seen as wealthy merchants in Sindh and as they don’t have traditional tribal backing, they are considered fair game. The kidnappings have been protested before, but Maharaj Motiyani’s case has hit a nerve.

The council organised the protest and its speakers stressed that even though the constitution provides rights to all citizens without discrimination, Hindus in Pakistan are still seeking equality.

“Our problems are getting worse by the day,” said Vankwani. “[Another Hindu] Asha Kumari has been missing for 41 days from Jacobabad.”

Vankwani told The Express Tribune that despite orders from the Supreme Court, nothing had been done to rescue her. “We are continuously in touch with the Sindh government and police as the court has asked them to find Asha by April 18.”

“One should question whether Hindus are free citizens of Pakistan? Are we given free religious rights?” asked the Pakistan Hindu Welfare Association’s chairperson, Mangla Sharma. “We strongly condemn forced conversions.”

Dr M: Samy Vellu defeat was collateral damage, not personal

PUTRAJAYA, April 9 — Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu’s loss in Election 2008 was the collateral damage of a campaign against Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and not the result of a “personal grudge”, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in a Bernama Online report today.

“I did not tell the people in Sungai Siput not to vote for Samy, but my criticism of the leadership of Pak Lah (Abdullah) affected the thinking of lots of voters, and because of that, they did not support Barisan Nasional (BN) and along with it, of course, Samy,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying in the report.

“That was the situation. It is not a question of grudge. It is a question concerning the strength of BN and its component parties.”

Yesterday, Samy Vellu blamed Dr Mahathir for his Election 2008 defeat, and accused the former prime minister of sabotaging his political chances.

“Dr Mahathir, prior to the (2008) election, told the people ‘Don’t vote for Samy Vellu,’” the former MIC president said in a New Sunday Times report.

“You see, there are reasons he (Dr Mahathir) felt hurt. He wanted to bring the IPF (Indian Progressive Front), (the late Tan Sri M.G) Pandithan’s party into Barisan Nasional. Everybody (other BN component party leaders) agreed (but), I said no,” Samy Vellu said.

Today, the Dr Mahathir pointed out that Samy Vellu’s was not the only BN reversal in 2008 and noted that the coalition saw defeat in many areas as a result of the so-called political tsunami then.

“In 2008, it is not only Samy Vellu who lost, but a lot of people (also) lost,” he said.

Despite denying the grudge, Dr Mahathir appeared to agree with Samy Vellu’s suggestion that the acrimony between the two veterans traced back to MIC’s rejection of IPF’s entry into BN.

“Everytime he (Samy Vellu) sees somebody who has potential, he makes sure they are removed. When you remove the leader, it is not (that) one person who goes off but he takes away his supporters (as well), and as a result, the MIC shrinks,” he continued.

“We have to have total agreement in BN before we can admit any new party. So, there was nothing I could do about it. As a result, I think MIC became weaker.”

Pendidik desak henti tekanan terhadap guru

Kebelakangan ini Pendidik menerima kira-kira 100 aduan tindakan tidak profesional Kementerian Pelajaran menganiayai warga pendidik.

Sekitar Dewan Rakyat

KUALA LUMPUR: Persatuan Gerakan Kebangkitan Pendidikan Kebangsaan (Pendidik) menggesa Kementerian Pelajaran tidak mengenakan tekanan kepada guru hanya kerana menjadi penyokong parti pembangkang.

Presiden Pendidik Normala Sudirman berkata, kebelakangan ini pihaknya menerima kira-kira 100 aduan tindakan tidak profesional Kementerian Pelajaran menganiayai warga pendidik.

Antaranya dibuang kerja, ditukarkan jauh daripada kediaman, menempatkan pasangan guru berbeza lokasi dan berjauhan antara satu sama lain sebagai ‘dendam’ pilihan raya, selain dituduh memakai baju Bersih 2.0 serta disyaki aktif menyertai politik pembangkang.

Normala mendakwa guru terbabit turut dipotong gaji, dinafikan bonus tahunan, tidak dibenarkan masuk ke kelas untuk mengajar, malah tidak diberikan jadual waktu mengajar.

Beliau mengemukakan bukti seorang guru di Selangor yang ditukarkan Pengarah Pendidikan Daerah (PPD) dan Jabatan Pelajaran Negeri (JPN) akibat berceramah politik, serta seorang guru di Perak yang ditukar 200 km jauh dari sekolah asal di Parit ke Tapah kerana desakan politik Umno Bahagian Parit.

Normala yang pernah menjadi calon PAS dalam Pilihan Raya Kecil (PRK) Dewan Undangan Negeri (Dun) Tenang turut mengemukakan bukti suaminya ditukarkan sekolah ke Kota Tinggi yang jaraknya sejauh 500 kilometer serta dikenakan tindakan tatatertib, dipotong gaji tujuh hari bekerja, dinafikan bonus dan dikenakan amaran kerana menyokongnya dalam kempen PRK tahun lalu.

“Wujud double standard dalam pelaksanaan tindakan terhadap guru-guru yang menyokong parti pembangkang tetapi di pihak lain penglibatan guru dalam politik dan memegang jawatan tidak pula dikenakan sebarang tindakan, malah dipertahankan,” katanya dalam sidang media di Parlimen hari ini.

Sehubungan itu, beliau dalam memorandumnya mahu Kementerian Pelajaran mengambil tindakan tegas terhadap pegawai JPN, PPD, dan sekolah yang bertindak tidak profesional, tidak mengikut telunjuk orang politik (Umno-BN) yang mempunyai agenda khusus.

Selain itu, beliau juga mahu campur tangan dan pelabelan guru mengikut parti politik segera dihentikan melalui “Tapisan Keutuhan Peribadi” dalam proses kenaikan pangkat guru di semua peringkat.

“Satu Jawatankuasa Bebas di bawah Parlimen perlu dibentuk bagi menangani dan mengendalikan kes penganiayaan guru,” katanya.

Lift menders bring relief to disabled couple

Workers could not access equipment during the weekend, according to a source from Dover Elevators.

PETALING JAYA: Technicians are currently repairing the lifts at a Selayang public housing project (PPRT) that malfunctioned on Friday and caused a weekend of distress to a disabled couple.

A source from lift suppliers Dover Elevators Sdn Bhd said the repairs were delayed because workers could not gain access to equipment during the weekend.

He told FMT the company despatched technicians to the Taman Wahyu 2 flats this morning and they were attending to the problem.

“It is not that the repairing process was deliberately delayed,” he said. “We could not access equipment from our office during the weekend.

“Also, the flat’s management office was closed as well. So even if we had the equipment, we could not access the motor room of the affected block.”

Yesterday FMT highlighted the plight of a wheelchair bound couple who said they had suffered loss of wages because two of the three lifts in their block of flats had broken down. The only working lift does not stop at the first floor, where they reside.

The husband, 40-year-old A Thangarajoo, said technicians did some repairs on Friday, but the lifts malfunctioned again on Saturday.

He said he had no choice but to crawl up and down the stairs to get groceries for the household and provisions for his hawker stall.

Contacted today, Thangarajoo confirmed that the lifts were being repaired and said he was relieved.

He said his wife’s employer had cut his wife’s salary by RM600 because she missed work on the weekend.

“I’m just glad that the problem it is being rectified now,” he said.

Mafia’ trio Gani, Musa, Anifah cornered MACC files

Even as new revelations surface about MACC thwarting investigations in Sabah, infighting within Sabah Umno is threatening Najib's influence.

KUALA LUMPUR: Sabah’s most influential men – Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, Chief Minister Musa Aman and his brother Foreign Minister Anifah – allegedly blocked the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigations into tens of millions of ringgit worth of secret timber concessions and money laundering.

Leaked MACC documents revealed that Gani had allegedly shelved files on the investigation and refused to prosecute.

MACC’s investigation into Musa nominee Michael Chia’s arrest in Hong Kong in 2008 had allegedly thrown up details of the secret timber concessions within the family and Gani’s close ties to the Aman family.

Gani himself is from Lahad Datu, one of many entry points for illegal immigrants in Sabah. Gani’s wife is connected to Musa’s close associate, Johan Abdul Samad, who is also the deputy director of Yayasan Sabah.

Anifah’s wife is Johan’s sister. Musa himself is chairman of Yayasan Sabah, which holds monopoly over Sabah’s forest.

MACC investigations into the Chia case led to the revelations of tens of millions of ringgit worth of timber concessions which Musa had awarded his brother Anifah and nephew Hairul from the time he assumed power in 2003.

Chia was detained by the Hong Kong authorities at the Hong Kong International Airport for alleged money trafficking. He was caught trying to smuggle out of Hong Kong some S$16 million (RM40 million).

Apparently when he was caught, Chia told the Hong Kong authorities that the money was for Musa.

Gani’s “protective” instinct and the fact that Musa himself had a “close” relationship with former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin has kept Musa above the law.

At the time of the incident, rumours were that Musa had promised Abdullah the money in time for the Permatang Pauh by-election which saw Anwar Ibrahim return as MP.

However, such comfort has long since vanished. Musa and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak are not pals. The only link between them is Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor, who is said to be “close” to the Aman family.

Najib losing control in Sabah

Najib, however, prefers to put his own man Shafie Apdal – Umno vice-president – at the top seat if he can squeeze Musa out and this is no longer a closed-door secret.

Infighting within Sabah Umno is now rumoured to be at a “dangerous” level that even Najib is said to be losing control.

According to Sabah blogger Selvarajah Somiah, the 2009 allegation listed out by PKR Youth in its report lodged with Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) “threatened not only Musa but Najib’s credibility as well”.

“The central core of the exposé is Musa’s corruption of the state and the many questionable business deals linked to his relatives and cronies.

“The infighting in Sabah Umno is now in the open and numerous factions within are plotting to overthrow him. It’s all to do with money, ” he said.

In its 2009 complaint to ICAC, opposition Youth chief Shamsul Akmar had revealed that four Musa nominees had been linked to “corrupt and shady practices” involving funds belonging to the Sabah state government and several government-linked companies including Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd, Rakyat Berjaya Sdn Bhd and the Yayasan Sabah group.

“The public funds were illegally obtained and were siphoned out from Malaysia. They were deposited into various accounts in Hong Kong at UBS AG, Bank of East Asia Ltd, HSBC, Credit Suisse and Citibank,” Shamsul had reportedly said.

Revealing the depth of the “secret” deals, online portal, Sarawak Report, posted that Gani had refused to allow charges to be brought against Musa and Najib was “scandalously turning a blind eye to the affair”.

“Gani had forced the MACC to shelve its entire investigation in Sabah, which was one of the largest and most extensive ever undertaken by that body and involved sums amounting to billions of ringgit, siphoned out of the state by corruption at the highest level,” said the portal.

Do the right thing, Ambiga tells BN leaders

Bersih coalition co-chairman S Ambiga said she is 'pleasantly surprised' with the change in the government’s attitude towards the peaceful assembly on April 28.

KOTA KINABALU: Bersih 3.0 chairperson S Ambiga has urged all “right-thinking and good conscience leaders” in Barisan Nasional and Umno in particular, to have the courage to speak up in the best interest of the nation and its people.

Ambiga made the call at a news conference held in conjunction with the launch of “Jom 100” organised by Bersih Sabah chapter, at a hotel here today.

She was responding to a question on what the rights movement she heads would do if the government refuses to give in to the demands for electoral reforms to ensure a clean and fair election in the country.

“I think it will be very silly of the government not to listen [to Berish’s demands]. I think this time it is going to be translated into votes. How much can you cheat, seriously?

“But I’m hoping that they [the government] will sit up and take notice. My suspicion is, it is not the whole of BN that thinks the same. It’s just a few people at the top who think that this is the way it should be, because I do know for a fact that they are good people in BN who don’t like what’s happening.

“So my hope is, they will speak up in the best interest of the rakyat, in the interest of their children, their next generation. For me Bersih 3.0 is about the next generation… it’s about the kind of country we are going to hand over to the next generation,” she said.

On the government’s reaction to Bersih 3.0 nationwide peaceful protest on April 28, she said she was pleasantly surprised with the change in the government’s attitude.

“The government’s reaction is very much different from the last time and I’m pleasantly surprised. The police have handled the two other rallies, that is the 901 and the Himpunan Hijau very well.

“I think they are more prepared now. I don’t anticipate a problem and we will be working with the police. Hopefully we can show that we are really heading towards being a healthy democracy,” she said.

No threats yet

Ambiga reiterated her concern and dissatisfaction over the Election Commission’s reluctance to use indelible ink for postal voters and the possible increase in their numbers.

“For postal votes, up to today, my understanding is, they [EC] are not going to use indelible ink. So what does it mean? To me, it is risky, actually.

“The number of postal voters are possibly increasing when they are supposed to be decreasing due to increase in the number of EC staff and the registration of their spouses. We want to reduce the categories of postal voters… the fewer the better,” she said.

The former Bar Council president, who has helped propel the need for electoral reform into the forefront of Malaysian consciousness, admitted that she had been threatened for her stand but said that this would not prevent her from speaking .

“They unashamedly threatened me,” she said of the last Bersih gathering she had led but added that since the launch of Bersih 3.0 last week, she had not received any threat.

“Not so far, but let’s see. I’m not going to push my luck but they are still rude about me. But the press will be the first to know if I get a threat,” she said.

Let’s meet man to man: Altantuya’s dad to Najib

The father of the slain Mongolian national says the last time he tried to meet the premier, the latter bolted.
UPDATED

KUALA LUMPUR: The father of slain Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu today said he wished to meet Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak “man to man.”

Speaking to reporters in Parliament on his three-day visit here, Setev Shaariibuu said – through a Mongolian translator – that the last time he wanted to meet Najib, the latter “ran away.”

“I wanted to meet the PM, but he ran away. I don’t mind meeting him again. Just to appeal to him… I don’t want to meet him as anyone but as a father, man to man,” he added.

The university professor said that all he wanted to seek after almost six years was “real justice” and to bring the remains of his daughter back home.

Setev said that it was in accordance with the family’s religion that a burial should be hastened for Altantuya’s soul to rest in peace.

“I want (the government and Malaysians) to solve this case as soon as possible. I want to take my girl home, to bury her in her own country,” he added.

He also denied rumours that he had been paid by the Malaysian government to keep his lips sealed over the high-profile case which continues to haunt Najib.

“I deny this. I did not take even a single ringgit from the Malaysian government,” he stressed.

Instead, Setev said that he had paid the Malaysian government some US$20,000 for legal costs which has amounted to nothing.

He said that he was made aware of rumours accusing him of taking a bribe shortly after political consultant Abdul Razak Baginda was acquitted of all charges in connection with the murder.

“For six years I have been seeking justice but the Malaysian government did nothing.

“Now everybody knows me, everybody knows why I am here. Thank you for supporting me,” he said, adding that he has travelled the globe seeking support for his case.

Setev also expressed disappointment that despite his country sending numerous diplomatic notes to the Malaysian government, there had been no reply.

“I’m very surprised that Malaysia is keeping silent,” he added.

He said that his family now was living in financial dire straits following the death of his daughter. One of his granddaughters was in need of medical aid while another granddaughter, aged 14, needed to work to help the family survive.

Najib’s alleged involvement

In 2006, Altantuya’s remains were found in a secluded area in Puncak Alam, Shah Alam. Police investigation found that she was shot twice before her body was blown up using military-grade C-4 explosives.

Abdul Razak, said to be Altantuya’s one-time-lover and a close associate of Najib, was acquitted of a charge of abetting two Special Action Squad (UTK) members — Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar — in committing the murder.
On April 9, 2009, Azilah and Sirul were convicted and sentenced to hang when the High Court found them guilty of murdering the 28-year-old mother of two.

In the 70-page judgment in the Altantuya trial, which was only released recently, the judge did not allude to the murder motive for the two UTK personnel.

“Whatever the motive was, it is a matter of law that the motive, although relevant, has never been the essential to constitute murder,” wrote Shah Alam High Court judge Mohd Zaki Md Yasin.

Opposition leaders alleged that Najib might also have had an affair with Altantuya and that there was a connection between her murder and the controversial multi-billion ringgit Scorpene submarine deal between the Malaysian government and French arms manufacturer DCNS.

French prosecutors are preparing for a corruption trial which could see top Malaysian officials, including Najib, being asked to testify.

The RM7.3 billion deal was inked in 2002 when Najib was then defence minister. Najib has denied knowing Altantuya or being involved in her murder.

On June 4, 2007, Setev filed a civil suit for RM100 million against the Malaysian government seeking compensation for the physical and mental anguish of losing his eldest daughter. He lost the case and was ordered to pay costs, but is appealing the decision.

Shaariibuu Dakwa Malaysia ‘Buat Senyap’ Kes Altantuya

Harakah

Bapa kepada Altantuya Shaariibuu, Setev Shaariibuu berkata beliau datang ke Malaysia sejak semalam untuk menuntut keadilan terhadap kematian anaknya.

Ianya antara lain mahu menuntut kerajaan mempercepatkan saman sivil RM100 juta beliau terhadap kerajaan Malaysia yang difailkan tahun 2007 lalu.

“Sudah enam tahun saya mencari keadilan untuk anak saya. Ini kali kedua saya datang ke sini (parlimen).

“Kerajaan Mongolia telah hantar surat rasmi kepada kerajaan Malaysia tapi tiada apa-apa respons sehingga sekarang,” katanya pada sidang media di lobi parlimen hari ini yang diterjemah pembantunya Tsoggerel Och. (Gambar)

Pada sidang media sama, Shaariibuu turut menafikan khabar angin kononnya beliau telah dibayar sejumlah wang oleh kerajaan Malaysia selepas apa yang menimpa anaknya itu.

“Saya datang ke sini menafikannya, saya tak pernah terima walau satu sen.

“Malah saya yang mengeluarkan USD20,000 untuk kos perundangan,” katanya lagi.

Anaknya, Altantuya dibunuh sekitar jam 10 malam 19 Okt, 2006 hingga 1 pagi hari berikutnya dalam sebuah hutan yang sedang dibersihkan di Lot 16735, Mukim Bukit Raja, Shah Alam.

Ianya didakwa ada kaitan dengan urus niaga kapal selam Scorpene dengan Thales International, melibatkan Syarikat Perimekar Sdn Bhd milik Abdul Razak Baginda dan Menteri Pertahanan pada masa itu, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Mahkamah bagaimanapun membebaskan Razak, namun dua yang lain yang dituduh bersamanya iaitu Cif Inspektor Azilah Hadri dan Koperal Sirul Azhar Umar didapati bersalah.

Bulan lepas, mahkamah Perancis memutuskan untuk memulakan inkuiri terbuka untuk menyiasat pegawai Perancis yang disyaki terlibat dalam skandal kapal selam itu, dan juga komisyen RM570 juta yang diterima Perimekar.

Sebelum ini beliau memberitahu pernah untuk bertemu dengan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak, tetapi beliau mendakwa ‘Najib lari’ dari bertemu dengannya.

Ketika ditanya wartawan, apa yang beliau akan beritahu jika berpeluang jumpa Datuk Seri Najib, beliau berkata: “Saya akan bercakap bukan sebagai dia perdana menteri tapi bercakap dari hati seorang bapa ke bapa dan kawan”.

Malaysia will need to improve its performance in education

Tunku Munawirah Putra - The Malaysian Insider


APRIL 9 — Our deputy prime minister/minister of education announced that the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitive Index (GCI) report 2011-2012 for Malaysia ranks the quality of our education system at No. 14 out of 142 countries. Malaysia should be proud of this accomplishment which is above many developed countries including the United Kingdom, the US and Germany.

We really should give ourselves a pat on the back for being ranked at par with these First World nations. But instead, many have voiced their concern over the misrepresentation or misinterpretation of the data by the minister. Many are not amused but aghast.

The WEF CGI report has, for three decades, been perceived as the world’s most respected assessment of national competitiveness, by leading business executives around the world. The control sample is based on the opinion of 87 senior-level management in the business community in Malaysia. It is a snapshot of what they believe is true and they believe that Malaysia has one of the best education systems in the world.

Therefore, their opinion is credible and the report is not for dispute. The information is to be helpful for business communities to evaluate the viability of Malaysia as a global player in the corporate world, and specifically to serve the needs of this niche group only.

To put the WEF opinion poll into better perspective, the respondents would have belonged to the top echelons of the business community. It can be safe to assume that they are among the elite — high income, highly educated and living in the urban areas, specifically Kuala Lumpur, with their children in private and international schools and a plan for overseas tertiary education thereafter.

Therefore, to be ranked 14th would have highly likely been based on the quality of private and international education, and not the overall level of the Malaysian education system as a whole. The choices of good private and international schools are plentiful and thanks to the relaxation on local students’ enrolment, these schools are available in every high-income housing area, making such schools very accessible to this group.

To determine overall students’ performance and the education system as a whole, the international standardised test, Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in Mathematics and Science Survey (TIMSS) for Malaysia, would be a more accurate determinant of the current state of affairs in education.

The number of students assessed in Malaysia for PISA 2010 is 4,999 and TIMSS 2007 is 4,466. Cognizance and modesty would point us to evaluate our entire education internationally via PISA and TIMSS. Unfortunately, the reality is that we performed below average in both tests.

One would err to interpret the WEF GCI Education ranking report in isolation without considering the control environment of the sample and generalising that it represents the whole education system when it clearly does not. The WEF CGI shows a true picture of only a cross section of the population whilst PISA and TIMSS covers a wider spectrum.

At least now, nationally, we have been apprised of our ability to compare the level of education available to the wealthy minority versus what is available to the less fortunate majority. This goes to show that we have the capability to provide quality education locally and we should strive hard and work towards that benchmark.

Without doubt, these private and international schools offer mathematics and science in English. We wonder what the opinion would be if the following question was asked: “How likely are you to send your children to schools which offer science and mathematics in English?”

* Tunku Munawirah Putra is the honorary secretary of PAGE Malaysia.

How legitimate is our elected government?

The Nut Graph 
 In A Nutshell by Andrew Khoo

This post is reproduced from here.

IF rumour holds true, the 13th general election, due by March 2013, will be held sometime this year. Once again, Malaysians will cast their votes and the party that wins the most number of parliamentary seats will govern federally.

But how legitimate is the government that eventually gets into power? Does the party in power actually have the support of a majority of Malaysians? And if not, what can be done to make our democracy better?

8 March results

Let’s look at Malaysia’s 12th general election, held on 8 March 2008. Of the 10.9 million registered voters, about 70% cast their ballots. Barisan Nasional (BN) won 51.39% of those votes and took 140 out of 222 parliamentary seats. Pakatan Rakyat (PR) took 47.79% of the votes and 82 parliamentary seats.

However, about 30% of the 10.9 million registered voters did not vote. If we take them into account, BN only has the support of 35.97% of all registered voters, and PR 33.45%.

If we include the approximately four million Malaysians of voting age who did not register to vote, BN’s actual support drops to only 26.31%. PR’s support would be only 24.47%.

What does this say of the legitimacy of the BN government’s right to wield political power? Indeed, the number of Malaysians who did not register to vote constitutes 26.84% of all those eligible to vote. So each of the two political coalitions won less popular support than the total number of Malaysians aged 21 and above who did not register to vote.

DBKL representation

The running of the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur is a good example of where the legitimacy of government can be questioned. Although PR won 10 out of 11 parliamentary seats in Kuala Lumpur, no PR representative sits on Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur’s (DBKL) advisory board.  This board has been appointed by the federal government since the city of Kuala Lumpur was established in 1972.

None of the present 13 advisory board members has any popular mandate from the people of Kuala Lumpur to advise the Datuk Bandar in running the city’s administration.  For that matter, neither does the Datuk Bandar, as he is also a federal government appointee.

Datuk Lim Si Pin of Gerakan is the only advisory board member who contested in Kuala Lumpur in the 2008 elections. He obtained 20,330 votes in the Batu seat, where he lost to Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s Tian Chua. This constitutes 4.08% of total votes cast throughout Kuala Lumpur. With only the support of 4.08% of Kuala Lumpur, Lim is nonetheless able to exert influence on the governance of Kuala Lumpur citizens in a way that none of the elected PR representatives can.

Overall, of the 497,741 votes successfully1 cast for all candidates in the 11 Kuala Lumpur parliamentary constituencies, PR obtained 308,377 while BN secured 188,875.  In terms of percentage, PR gained the support of about 62% of voting KL-ites as opposed to BN’s 38%.

In the light of these statistics, the BN’s complete control of the administration of Kuala Lumpur is a travesty of democracy and flies in the face of the declared intent of its voting citizenry.

Return local government elections

One sure way to ensure better representation would be to reinstate local government elections.

To be fair, Lim has said that even he, as an advisory board member, is scantly respected by DBKL staff. Speaking at a 10 Feb 2012 Centre for Public Policy Studies forum on the next general election and its impact, he said DBKL staff recognise the anomaly of his situation and fail to pay him any heed.  He has thus repeated his party’s own call for the return of local government elections, the only BN component party to have done so.
The reason may be two-fold. Gerakan could genuinely believe in local democracy. After all, it has its origins in the streets and neighbourhoods of Penang, and its support of local democracy may hark back to halcyon days of its glorious past. Reintroducing local government elections may also be the only way the party can stave off complete annihilation as a political entity in this country.

The return of local government elections was part of PR’s manifesto in 2008, and is likely to remain so for the next general election. Since coming to power in Selangor and Penang, both state governments have launched initiatives in that direction. Penang briefly experimented with a selection exercise with civil society participation to choose potential candidates for appointment as local councillors, but then failed to appoint all the successful candidates. Rather than proceed on its own, the Penang government has announced it will take legal action against the Election Commission to force it to conduct local government elections.

The Election Commission has parroted the federal government’s position that local government elections, suspended in 1965 and totally abolished in 1976, cannot be brought back without fresh legislation in Parliament. Both Penang and Selangor take a different view of the legal position.  In fact the Selangor government announced the use of elections to choose 30% of the Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya’s members as an initial experiment. However, such elections will now take place only after the next general election, widely expected this year.

Both BN and PR should pay much closer attention to local government elections. It has a hidden appeal that goes beyond mere participation in local politics.  If the Malaysian public decides it likes the idea of separating political power between federal and state government, it may well pursue the same in state and local government relations.  The political coalition that ends up losing a state election could nonetheless remain relevant if it were to win seats contested in local government elections, if the latter were reintroduced.  This would prevent a total shut-out from government and allow it to continue to wield political power and influence.

Andrew Khoo is an advocate and solicitor in private practice, and an aspiring columnist and commentator.

1 Excluding spoilt votes and ballot papers not returned.  Figures taken from the website of the Election Commission.

Trust, Support From Chinese Community For BN Rising - Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said trust and support from the Chinese community for the Barisan Nasional government has been rising since he took over the administration of the country.

The prime minister said through the various engagement activities carried out by him since three years ago, the support was on the uptrend although the percentage was lower as compared to the other communities.

"It is lower but the trend is on the rise. I believe if the engagement process is continued, progammes implemented (by the government) can be felt by the majority of the people and we are fair to all, the support level will be higher," he said.

Najib said this when he appeared on the 'Chat Time With...Najib' programme which was aired live on the NTV7 television channel Monday night.

In the one-hour programme, the prime minister said the reality was that the government was aware there were voters who were 'fence sitters' (yet to decide who to back in the election).

When asked about his target in terms of support from the Chinese community for BN in the coming general election, Najib said it would be impossible to obtain 100 per cent support in a parliamentary democracy.

"What's important is that we get support that allows us to win seats, especially parliamentary seats. We want the majority in the areas concerned to favour BN," he said, adding that this also depended on the racial composition of the particular area. On whether he was worried about the voting trend of the Chinese community which is said to be difficult to predict, Najib stressed that support from all races was important and needed attention.

"I have stated that I am a prime minister for all, meaning my responsibility is to oversee the welfare and wellbeing of all races.

"Through our efforts to engage and communicate effectively, we hope they will support us when the time comes," he added.

The prime minister said he better understood the attitude and aspirations of the Chinese as a result of his engagement with the community.

As such, Najib urged the Chinese community to join the government in making the government's transformation agenda a success because without the support of all quarters, it may not be achieved.

"If there's one message that I can leave to the audience, especially to Malaysian Chinese, is that it's important for them to be on board in supporting this journey towards transforming Malaysia.

"Our agenda for transforming Malaysia is a big agenda, and it's important for them to support it and not take the attitude 'look, let's wait and see, let's stay on the sidelines.

"This transformation agenda will not take place without the support of the people," he said, adding that armed with their support he was confident that "we'll get there."

Najib, who was evasive when asked when the general election would be held, pointed out that elections in Malaysia were conducted in a clean and fair manner.

"Otherwise how could it be that we lost five states in the last election and Kelantan still continues to be in the hands of the opposition for 22 years," he said.

He continued: "Let me say very clearly that we're all for clean and fair elections. I've said it many times and I'd like to repeat it once more -- we'll not want to be elected on the basis that we have rigged or manipulated the elections.

"We want the people to really show their support in a fair and clean manner."

On the 1Malaysia People's Aid Programme (BR1M) which has been lauded by the people, Najib said if the financial position of the country further strengthened, the government would consider continuing it.

Under the programme, eligible households receive a one-off cash aid of RM500.