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Friday, April 20, 2012

Hindraf: Pakatan vying for 798 seats but none for us?

Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) is disappointed with Pakatan Rakyat’s refusal to include the organisation in seat distribution talks for the coming general election.

Despite plans to contest a total of 798 seats in the 13th general election, the three-party opposition coalition has failed to make way for even a single seat for Hindraf, lamented its information chief S Jayathas.

NONEThrough its political wing Human Rights Party (HRP), Jayathas (left) said that Hindraf had made clear to Pakatan its intention to contest seven parliamentary and 14 state assembly seats, but had yet to receive any response.

“This is also despite the very clear political direction of Hindraf that we do not support Umno or BN and are amenable to a regime change at Putrajaya... which also has been communicated to Pakatan,” he added in a statement yesterday.

“We wish to clarify to Hindraf supporters nationwide that despite our various overtures to meet and to work together with the top leadership of PKR, DAP and PAS... these have been to no avail.”

‘Hindraf will not beg for seats’

Jayathas was responding to press reports quoting PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who announced that Pakatan was still in discussions on five percent of the 798 seats that the coalition planned to contest.

He said Hindraf would not “beg” Pakatan for seats, hinting that the movement, which has been widely credited with helping contribute to the March 2008 election tsunami, would go on its own if it had to.

“(This is not) an option, for it would be tantamount to starting off on the wrong foot and doomed to becoming the Indian ‘mandores’ (labourers) for Pakatan, for which we have no desire,” he said.

PAS had once held a formal meeting with Hindraf, but the movement’s de facto leader P Uthayakumar had dismissed the session a public relations exercise.

Hindraf’s latest attempt to seek recognition from Pakatan will take place on Sunday, at an event in which PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and other top opposition leaders were invited to speak on the coalition’s plans for the Indian poor.

Breivik 'planned to kill many more'

A Norwegian man on trial for killing 77 people last July has said that his original plans including decapitating the country's former prime minister, bombing a royal palace and killing the entire government.

Anders Behring Breivik also told an Oslo court on Thursday that he trained himself using a computer wargame to help plan the attacks on the fourth day of his trial.

Breivik killed eight people in a car bombing outside the ruling Labour Party's headquarters in Oslo and then shot dead 69 people on the island of Utoya, where the party was holding a youth summer camp.

"The aim of the attack on the government buildings ... was to kill the entire Norwegian government, including the PM ... and everyone in the building," Breivik told the court. Jens Stoltenberg, the current Norwegian prime minister, was not at the offices on the day of the attack.

He also described how he planned to kill everybody on Utoya, culminating in the filmed beheading of former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan, reporting from Oslo, said Breivik had told the court how he started playing wargames for up to 16 hours a day after moving in with his mother in 2006.

"Breivik was taken through his preparations ... He said that his plan was to go to Utoya Island and he knew that the former prime minister of Norway [Brundtland] would be there," said Brennan.

"He wanted to first of all subdue her with plastic handcuffs and decapitate her while filming the whole thing. And then he was going to upload it up to the internet."

'I wanted to kill them all'

Our correspondent said that Breivik also said he intended to kill everyone on Utoya by driving them all into the water in order to save ammunition. There were 564 people on the island on the day of Breivik's attack.

"I wanted to kill them all," said Breivik, as relatives of the vicitims inside the courtroom wept.

Brennan described Breivik as "utterly remorseless...and emotionless."

He did, however, drop his habitual far-right salute following demands from survivors and relatives of the victims.

Breivik had been making a clenched-fist salute at the beginning of each day of the trial since Monday, touching his chest and extending his clenched right fist in front of him.

"We have discussed it with him," Breivik's main lawyer, Geir Lippestad, told reporters on Wednesday evening, adding: "We hope he won't do it."

Breivik has acknowleged carrying out the attacks, but denies criminal guilt, saying that he was acting in self-defence to resist multiculturalism and a "Muslim invasion of Europe".

He says he belongs to a far-right network called the "Knights Templar", although prosecutors question whether the group exists.

Breivik has demanded to be executed or acquitted for Norway's worst massacre since World II.

"There are only two just outcomes to this case - acquittal or the death penalty," the 33-year-old said, calling the prospect of a prison sentence "pathetic".

Norway has no death penalty and formal sentencing cannot exceed 21 years, though Breivik could be held for the rest of his life if he is judged to pose a continuing danger.

He could also be committed indefinitely to a mental institution if he is deemed to be insane.

Source: Agencies

Saudi court 'convicts rights activist Bajadi in secret'

Mohammed al-Bajadi 
 Judges prohibited Mohammed al-Bajadi's lawyers from attending his trial, activists said
A state security tribunal in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a prominent human rights campaigner to four years in prison, Amnesty International has said.

The group said it had received credible information the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh had convicted Mohammed al-Bajadi in secret on 10 April.

He was detained a year ago after a pro-democracy demonstration in the capital.

Last week, the authorities denied Mr Bajadi was on hunger strike, as he had claimed in a letter to activists.

The Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA) said on 8 April Mr Bajadi had refused food for a month and that his health was deteriorating.

"I inform you that I am still continuing with my hunger strike," Mr Bajadi wrote in a letter smuggled out of his prison by someone visiting another inmate.

"On 20 March, I was taken to the prison hospital for a check-up and force-fed in the presence of five soldiers and the ward officer."

His lawyers have asked to be allowed to visit him in prison to check for themselves, but are not believed to have been granted access.

'Denied justice'

Mr Bajadi was arrested by domestic intelligence agents on 21 March 2011, a day after a small group of Saudis demonstrated in Riyadh, calling for the release of thousands of people detained without charge or trial.

Mr Bajadi was later charged with participating in the establishment of an unlicensed human rights organisation, harming the image of the state through the media, calling on the families of political detainees to protest, contesting the judiciary's independence and possessing banned books.

He was a founding member of ACPRA, which the government had refused to license, while the books in question came from the 2011 international book fair in Riyadh, according to fellow activists.

Judges prohibited Mr Bajadi's lawyers from attending his trial at the Specialised Criminal Court, a state security tribunal for terrorism cases, which began in August.

On Tuesday evening, Amnesty said the court had sentenced him to four years in jail, followed by a five-year travel ban in a secret session. Neither his family nor his lawyers were made aware of the hearing.

"Mohammed Saleh al-Bajadi appears to have been convicted on charges that amount to the criminalisation of his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa director, Philip Luther.

"After more than a year in detention without being able to see his lawyer, he has been denied any form of justice in a process which flagrantly breaches his rights," he added.

Christian Acquitted of ‘Blasphemy’ Charge in Pakistan

Prosecutor unable to produce any evidence despite clamoring of Muslim mobs.

LAHORE, Pakistan, April 17 (CDN) — A Pakistani Christian falsely charged with “blasphemy” after rescuing his 8-year-old nephew from a beating at the hands of Muslim boys has been cleared of the charge.

Dildar Masih, a 27-year-old father of two young children, was acquitted on March 26 after prosecutors failed to produce any evidence against him, he said.

“I was produced in court three times during the case proceedings, but not one accuser ever turned up at the hearings,” Masih told Compass by phone. “You cannot imagine my joy when the prison officials told me that I had been acquitted by the court. I had not been taken to the hearing that day; only my lawyer, Javed Raza, and father were present in the courtroom.”

His nephew, Ihtesham (also known as Sunny), had gone out to fetch ice when Muslim boys from a nearby madrassa (religious school) beat him for refusing to convert to Islam in village No. 68 AR Farmwala, in Khanewal district’s Mian Channu area in Punjab Province, on June 10, 2011.

Seeing the attack from a distance, Masih shouted and rushed to the scene, rescued his nephew and then went to his work as a painter. Soon after the incident, a Muslim mob of about 55 led by village prayer leader Qari Hasnain besieged Masih’s house and ordered his father, Yousaf Masih, to hand over “the blasphemer” to them.

Yousaf Masih said that Hasnain claimed to have heard Dildar Masih “abusing Islamic holy words” as he was standing in the entrance of his mosque near the site of the incident. Hasnain later telephoned clerics in neighboring villages, and they called on all Muslims to “come out for the defense of Islam” after Friday prayers (see, “Pakistani Families Flee after Another Bogus ‘Blasphemy’ Charge,” June 15, 2011).

Unaware of the declarations emanating from the mosque, Dildar Masih had no idea why the Islamic throng arrived at the house he was painting and “pounced on him like tigers,” his elderly father told Compass.

Police registered a blasphemy case against Dildar Masih, No. 211/11 under Section 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order, later that night after a crowd of about 2,500 Muslims gathered outside the police station and demanded officers hand him over to them.

He told Compass that he could scarcely believe his ears when he learned that he had been acquitted and would be released that same day. He said that there had been instances when Muslim prisoners and junior jail officials at the Multan Central Jail had tried to vent their anger at him, “but some prisoner or another would intervene in the situation and tell them that I was not guilty of blasphemy and thus saved me from being beaten up.”

Masih said that during his imprisonment, he stood by his faith that Jesus would free him from the false charge and that he would be able to return to his family.

“I prayed a lot … This was the only other thing I did in prison besides having food and sleeping,” he said. “I kept on telling God that I had complete faith in Him and would wait for the day when He would set me free.”

After being released from jail – so full of joy that he forgot several of his belongings in his hurry to leave – Masih joined his family in a village where the entire clan has relocated after the incident.

“I haven’t found work as yet, but I’m sure God will provide a living for me very soon,” he said. “It’s so good to be back among my two children and wife … And yes, I’m much more closer to God now.”

He said he’s witnessed the hand of the Almighty at work.

“About 13 people are currently imprisoned in Multan Central Jail under blasphemy charges,” he said. “I was the only Christian, and probably the only one to have been able to return home in less than a year.”

‘Professional misconduct’ if Shafee’s secret mission untrue, says Bar Council

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 – If a lawyer is found to be lying over his reason for adjourning a case, the act is tantamount to “professional misconduct”, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee has said.

Lim was responding to reports of a letter supposedly penned by prominent pro-Umno lawyer Datuk Seri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah seeking adjournments for all his cases from April 1 to 25 due to a “sensitive legal assignment” abroad allegedly commissioned by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

The Bar Council president (picture) said that lawyers intending to go on long leave for any reason would ordinarily request others to take over his court matters.

“The lawyer would request other lawyers to take over hearings where the dates were originally fixed with the consent of the lawyer,” he told The Malaysian Insider in an email statement here.

Unless, Lim added, the lawyer feels he is the only person capable of handling the matter by virtue of his expertise or availability of other lawyers.

“[But] If a lawyer’s reason for adjournment is later found out to be untrue, it is tantamount to professional misconduct,” he said.

Shafee’s letter, penned on March 23, was addressed to Chief Justice Tan Sri Ariffin Zakaria, Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif and Chief Judge Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.

PKR has linked the “assignment” to the ongoing Scorpene submarine sale probe by French authorities, to which Najib and Rosmah has also been pinned to.

But a second letter surfaced yesterday from Shafee’s legal firm, this time claiming that the prominent Umno lawyer has to be in Sydney for a law conference this month, instead of the “sensitive legal assignment”.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the letter was raised yesterday in the Court of Appeal during an appeal hearing in which Shafee was the appointed counsel.

According to the letter, sighted yesterday evening by The Malaysian Insider, Shafee’s firm had written on April 9 seeking to postpone today’s hearing, citing his participation in the law conference as reason.

“Please note that Dato’ Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah will be in Sydney for the Commonwealth Law Conference as a participant from 18th to the 22nd of April 2012,” the letter read.

The Malaysian Insider understands, however, that Shafee’s request for adjournment yesterday was refused by Court of Appeal Justices Datuk Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad, Datuk Clement Allan Skinner and Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim.

The appeal subsequently proceeded and Shafee’s client’s appeal was argued by other lawyers and dismissed with costs.

But the dates stated in Shafee’s April 9 letter contradicts the lawyer’s March 23 correspondence to the country’s top judges.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz had said in Parliament earlier this week that Shafee may have “misrepresented” himself for stating in the letter that he was on assignment for the government.

The minister pointed out that the government cannot appoint a lawyer for the wife of the prime minister.

Recent media reports have pinned Najib to the RM7.3 billion Scorpene submarine deal by French authorities, which has also been linked to the brutal murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Altantuya’s lover Abdul Razak Baginda, a close associate of Najib’s, was acquitted of a charge of abetting two Special Action Squad members – Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar – to commit the 2006 murder.

Last week, Altantuya’s father Dr Setev Shaariibuu told a press conference in Petaling Jaya that he had offered himself as witness in the submarine probe, claiming that his testimony would be able to “connect the dots” between her death and the Scorpene case.

MIC told to prove land claim

A member of the Effingham Tamil school board of governors says that a land search showed that six acres were originally allocated for a school.

PETALING JAYA: The board of governors of a Tamil school here has challenged the MIC to prove its claim that a three-acre land beside the school belonged to the Barisan Nasional aligned Indian-based political party.

VT Rajen, a member of the Effingham Tamil school board of governors, said MIC must show the evidence to back its claim or return the piece of land that was originally designated for the school.

“We want MIC to do the right thing by ensuring that the Effingham Tamil school gets back the three acres of prime land,” he told FMT.

The school is located in Bandar Utama, Damansara. Accusations of the land grab first surfaced in 2008 after former students and residents claimed that the developer of Bandar Utama has allocated six acres of land for the school in 1999.

MIC, however, countered this claim, saying that there was an error in the description of the proprietor in the land title and that the party is the rightful owner of the three acres.

However, Rajen dismissed this claim, saying that it was “unacceptable”.

Rajen also showed a copy of the Bandar Utama land plan which was drafted in 1996 by the Petaling Jaya land office.

According to the plan, there were two pieces of land – lots 28813 and 28814 – for a religious school and a primary school respectively.

“Each of the schools was awarded 24,293 square metres of land equivalent to six acres,” Rajen said.

However, he said a recent land search on the Tamil school lot revealed that the six acres had been broken into two separate lots in 2005.

“The MIC seized the Tamil school’s land after 2005,” he alleged.

“If it is true that the six acres were divided into two halves between 1990 and 1995, then it should have been recorded in the state executive council meeting. Can MIC reveal minutes of meetings as proof?” he asked.

“The land was designated for public use and should not be sold or transferred to any individual or political party, hence it was not suitable for the MIC to use it to build its headquarters there,” he added.

Najib has not come through for the Indians

Despite the PM declaring that he has fulfilled all his promises to the rakyat, Indian representation in the civil service is still wanting, says MIBA.

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has yet to deliver on his promise to increase Indian participation in the public and private sectors.

Malaysian Indian Business Association (MIBA) president P Sivakumar said: “The mainstream media recently gave prominent coverage that Najib had fulfilled his promises to the rakyat.”

“In 2008, Najib pledged that Indians will be represented in the civil service to the tune of 7.4% from a disputed 2 to 4 %. He has yet to keep to his promise to Indian community.”

In fact, BN first made the pledge in November 2007, days after the arrest of the five Hindraf leaders for organising a mammoth rally which subsequently resulted in the tsunami of 2008.

“Former PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made the pledge in 2007 and Najib reiterated it, but Indians continue to be sidelined despite many reminders from both sides of the political divide.

“Securing jobs in the civil service is one of the aspirations of the Indian community and today it has become a social concern,” said Sivakumar.

Recent mega roadshows by BN’s Special Indian Task Force still needs transparency and the number of Indians in the civil service and in the GLCs must be revealed, said Sivakumar.

“If after more than four years, the executive is still not able to deliver, then there should be measures taken, like making it compulsory for a quota to be in place at the Public Service Commission and monitored until the government’s directives are met.”

He also said that the members of the PSC should be represented by capable and talented individuals rather than political party appointments in order to bring about a competitive and effective public services delivery system.

“It has been alleged that Iskandar Malaysia has around 300 staff but only two Indians, and when GLCs take over an entity they get rid of the non-Malays first,” he said.

“The private and public sectors recruitment should be non-racial and based on merit and talent. MIBA wishes to state that its demands for the quota is temporary until the 7.4% target is met.”

Double demo at Parliament gates

Two different demonstrations were held in front of Parliament this morning, but both had one theme - criticising the government.

KUALA LUMPUR: Two different groups demonstrated against the government in front of the Parliament’s gates this morning.

At around 10:30am, the larger of the two saw more than 80 Indians – many of them in their 60s – gathering to ask why the government had failed to give them their identity cards.

Much of the crowd seemed to be carrying red MyKads; an identity card reserved for permanent residents.

PKR vice-president N Surendran, who led the demonstration, said many of the 80-plus did not have MyKads even though they were born here.

He added that the crowd only represented a fraction of the 300,000 Indians without MyKads.

“We are here peacefully because we have a crisis, where more than 300,000 people have not been given their documents such as birth certificates and blue ICs.

“[Because of this], they are suffering because they do not have access to education, jobs, medicine or have the right to claim Socso or Employee Provident Fund (EPF) benefits!” he said.

Armed with a list of the people present, Surendran demanded that the 80-plus be given their MyKads within 48 hours.

He also demanded that the government “identify” the 300,000 and promptly give them their MyKads, or face nationwide protests in the future.

He added that if the government could grant immigrants in Sabah citizenship, they could do the same for Malaysian-born Indians.

Kapar MP (PKR) S Manickavasagam said that this problem even affected his family.

“My mother passed away last year at the age of 65. She was born in India, but she could never get the blue MyKad,” he said.

He then asked why it was so difficult for Indians to get ICs when foreigners could get them easily.

In a Parliamentary written response, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told Manickavasagam that 42,493 people had been given citizenships from 2008 to March 2 this year.

The minister added that a total of 225,222 people had been made permanent residents from 2008 to Feb 29 this year, including 162,233 Indonesians.

Anti-Time protest

The second demonstration was aimed at local telecommunications provider Time Dot Com, which was accused of sacking 549 of its workers without compensation.

Members of the 30-strong crowd claimed that they were let go by the company in November 2010.

According to group representative M Sarasvathy, the 549 were Time Dot Com workers who were transferred to a brand new subsidiary company known as Paycomm Networks Sdn Bhd.

She added that this company was then dissolved after six months, and that none of the workers were compensated, or given their much-needed benefits.

Sarasvathy added that 54.7% of Time Dot Com was indirectly owned by the Malaysian government, making it a government-linked-company (GLC).

(This is divided into a 30% Pulau Kapas Ventures Sdn Bhd stake, and a 24.7% Maju Nominees (Tempatan) Sdn Bhd stake.)

Khazanah Nasional Berhad in turn owns 70% of Pulau Kapas, while Bank Pembangunan dan Infrastruktur Malaysia Berhad owns 100% of Maju Nominees.)

Sarasvathy said that the workers had met with Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam three weeks ago over the matter, but had failed to do anything since.

The workers then met with Sungai Siput MP (PSM) Michael Jeyakumar.

Hishammuddin: Bersih rally has no appeal

The home minister claims that the rally has not gained traction with the people but PKR says it expected 50,000 of its members to show up for the rally.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Bersih 3.0 protest planned for April 28 has gained minimal “traction” with the people, said Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

Speaking to reporters here today, he reiterated the government’s stand that the electoral watchdog’s rally was not considered a security threat.

On the contrary, he added, it was the organisers who faced the threat of drawing negative public perception.

Describing the upcoming protest as “really nothing”, Hishammuddin said: “It’s just some people who want to gather.”

“If it’s about parliamentary democracy, we had the parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms… on the Internal Security Act, it (will be) repealed. On PTPTN (higher ecucation loans), we must consider the rationale of free higher education and now on Lynas (rare earth plant),” he added.

The home minister said all these issues were put into one “pot” and the public was aware that the true intention behind the rally was political.

Hishammuddin added that the organisers’ decision to hold the rally so close to the general election would also lead the public to question the timing and whether the motive was sincere.

“As far as the threat to public perception is concerned, (the organisers) need to face the risks in the coming general election,” he said.

As for holding protests, the home minister said this was normal in today’s democracy and had become a global culture.

He said the government had dealt with these issues in a “proper and progressive manner”, adding that it was up to the people to decide if such actions were good for the nation’s future.

Hishammuddin also assured that the police would not crack down on these protests, unless the organisers fail to keep their word and cross the line.

“When this happens, don’t blame the police,” he said.

Bersih’s previous rally in last July grabbed international attention when the police fired tear gas and water cannons on the tens of thousands who took the streets demanding for clean and fair polls.

The move proved to be an error for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s administration as the government drew widespread condemnation for the high-handed action.

This time around, the authorities had decided to exercise more restraint and tolerance.

50,000 from PKR for Bersih 3.0

In another development, speaking to reporters at Parliament, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the party expected 50,000 of its members to show up for the Bersih rally.

Saifuddin said that these members were likely to come from the Federal Territory, Selangor and neighbouring states.

“We’ve got about 500,000 party members; so let’s say we can mobilise 10% of that,” he said, but added that “even less than 5%” would be satisfactory.

Nevertheless, he said a figure close to 50,000 was “achievable”.

He said the party leadership, confident that members would go to Dataran Merdeka on their own, would not arrange for transportation.

“They will manage it themselves,” he said. “They’ve been doing this sort of thing for the last 12 or 13 years. There is already a standard, unwritten, operating procedure. As far as party members are concerned, they will come if we just give them a standard instruction.

“The bottom line is they know they have to be there.”

Selangor PAS recently announced that it would mobilise at least 50,000 people to join the rally.

PRM to be at the rally too

Meanwhile, Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) warned the government to be careful how it handles Bersih 3.0, saying the planned rally has garnered the support of a large section of Malaysians.

“The people have seen better things in other countries, and unless the government listens, its credibility will be lower than in 2008. If you continue with your old methods and tactics, your legitimacy as a government will not be accepted,” PRM president Rohana Ariffin told FMT.

“This is simply a march for clean elections. Overseas, we’ve already seen people demanding the downfall of a government. Now, our government has to be careful how it deals with the rakyat over Bersih 3.0 [or risk seeing repercussions].”

She said that many of Bersih 2.0’s previous demands have not been met despite the government setting up a Parliamentary Select Committee which recently produced a 22-point recommendation.

These unfulfilled demands, she said, included the 21-day campaign period, the cleaning up of the voter rolls, and fair excess to the media.

“So far only the indelible ink has been promised. Many others are still very grey. I just hope that the government can implement real changes by the next [general] election,” she added.

Rohana said that because Malaysian society has matured and there is a much greater level of literacy with the Internet generation, public expectations of the government are also higher.

Anwar to Najib: What’s your deal with Shafee?

The prime minister must explain his alleged role in ordering a senior lawyer to go on a 'sensitive legal assignment'.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak must reveal all on the trip abroad of a senior lawyer supposedly acting on the government’s behalf, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said.

He said that senior lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s affairs were “shrouded in secrecy”, and that Najib owed an explanation as public funds were involved.

“Most of these cases [are] all shrouded in secrecy, [especially with the] usage of public funds or using the basis of trying to go on behalf of the PM and his wife (Rosmah Mansor). Both Najib and Shafee have to explain,” he said.

Anwar was referring to a letter allegedly written by Shafee to senior judges seeking postponement of his cases from April 1 to 25.

In the letter, Shafee was allegedly appointed on behalf of the government, especially by Najib and Rosmah, to carry out a “sensitive legal assignment”.

Opposition leaders have asked if the assignment was linked to the French judiciary’s investigation into the RM7.3 billion Scorpene submarine deal, which is allegedly linked to Najib and the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Sharibuu.

The letter, which was revealed by PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution on Tuesday, was addressed to Chief Justice Ariffin Zakaria, Court of Appeal president Md Raus Sharif and Chief Judge of Malaya Ahmad Makinudin.

It added that Shafee’s assignment had to be “completed before the general election”, and that it involved him travelling to New York, London, Dubai, Paris and Basel, Switzerland.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz previously told Parliament that the government did not appoint Shafee for the alleged assignment.

Anwar said that Malaysian judiciary had much to explain as well.

“Writing a letter like that to the court! We not only want to hear from the government but from the court. What has the court have to say upon their receiving of such a letter? Can they accept [this]?”

“Let’s see what the court has to say since they claim that the judiciary is getting more independent,” he said.

Banking on non-Malays for stronger mandate

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak begins a two-day visit to his 'vote-bank' in Sabah in what seems to be a final round of election push as speculation of a nearing national polls grows.

With 25 parliamentary seats up for grabs in the 13th general election, Sabah will be the key to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s aim to score bigger in a polls that would determine his political future in the ruling party, Umno.

Winning a stronger mandate would be crucial to Najib’s survival in a party that had shown resistance to his liberal reform pledges and stalled plans to roll out unpopular but pivotal policies needed to revive the ailing economy.

Najib is scheduled to visit Sabah tomorrow and will meet voters in several programmes around the state including visits to non-Malay constituencies.

The prime minister has repeatedly said in the past that the ruling coalition cannot survive on Bumiputera votes alone and that support from the country’s ethnic minorities is key to realising Putrajaya’s transformation plans.

In reality, Najib will need much of the non-Malay support to regain the coveted two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Achieving this will seal his position as a popular leader, backed by the country’s majority, and clear the path against any resistance to greater economic liberalisation especially from the hawks within his own party.

But poll data from previous by-elections and the Sarawak state election showed the opposition making significant inroads in Sabah and Sarawak. Chinese support in particular, is swaying towards Pakatan Rakyat.

Although pundits believe Sabah will remain a vote-bank for Barisan Nasional, the ruling coalition could see itself losing a few Chinese-majority seats judging from the voting pattern in Sarawak which saw the opposition virtually wiping out its rivals in the predominantly Chinese urban seats.

Observers believe Pakatan could do more damage if it could match BN’s mighty resources but money remains the opposition bloc’s biggest drawback.

This setback will be a major blow to the coalition’s ambition to take over Putrajaya.

Surging popularity

Pakatan will also have to deal with Najib’s surging popularity which is likely to further increase with the recent tabling of several reform laws including the just passed Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill meant to replace the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Pundits believe the tabling of laws aimed at improving civil liberties would help boost Najib’s reform credentials and is likely to influence his decision on the election date.

Talks are rife that Najib will want to capitalise on the current “feel-good” environment and call for the general election as early as June.

Influential former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also said that holding national polls now would be good for the prime minister.

BN component parties were already instructed to submit their list of candidates and its secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had said that the vetting process will begin after the April 30 deadline.

Najib had said in the past that his coalition would adopt the “winnable candidate” tactic, a strategy that provided a glimpse into the premier’s ambition to restore BN’s dominance “by hook or by crook”.

Umno MP: World full of dirty electoral rolls

Umno MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan argues that it is statistically impossible to achieve a completely clean electoral list.

KUALA LUMPUR: As far as Kota Belud Abdul Rahman Dahlan is concerned, it is impossible to have a clean electoral roll.

According to the Umno leader, not a single nation had a 100% clean electoral list and therefore Bersih was demanding an unattainable target.

“Does S Ambiga (Bersih co-chaiperson) want a 100% clean list? Statiscally, we cannot,” he added when debating the Election Offences (Amendment) Bill 2012 in the Dewan Rakyat.

The electoral watchdog, led by former Bar Council president Ambiga, is slated to hold a rally on April 28 at Dataran Merdeka here.

Bersih claimed that the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms had failed to address the discrepancies in the electoral list.

Previously, the Election Commission (EC) revealed that there were 42,000 dubious names in the list which could not be verified.

Disagreeing with Abdul Rahman, Machang MP Saifuddin Nasution claimed that Bangladesh had a squeaky clean list.

“The Bangladeshi government postponed its polls for a year and spent millions to clean up the electoral list,” said the PKR secretary-general.

‘Even in US, New Zealand and Australia’

However, Abdul Rahman interjected, saying that although Bangladesh might have worked hard to clean its electoral list, this did not mean that the list was without discrepancies.

“Our EC cleans up our list on a daily basis,” he pointed out.

He said that even in the US, 15% of the names on its electoral list could not be verified of their existence and even countries like Australia and New Zealand faced the same problem.

“But the civil society movements there have dialogues with their election commissions instead of marching on the streets. That’s the difference between their civilisation and ours,” he added.

Opposition parties here have consistently accused the EC of working for the interests of the ruling coalition and being a party to electoral frauds, such as registering foreigners as voters.

Hansard shows Kit Siang and Guan Eng supported PTPTN

(Malaysian Digest) - The Parliament's hansard showed DAP Adviser Lim Kit Siang and his son Guan Eng had supported the bill of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), when it was tabled in the parliament in 1997.
The hansard, dated 14 May, 1997 stated that, Kit Siang and Guan Eng had both proposed that a higher allocation be provided for the PTPTN instead of RM100 million startup as proposed in the bill.
The hansard reads: "(Tuan Lim Kit Siang [Tanjong]: Tuan Yang di-Pertua, saya mengalu-alukan Rang Undang Undang Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional untuk memperuntukkan satu tabung bagi membenarkan anak-anak kita berpeluang melanjutkan pendidikan tinggi dan menyediakan bantuan kewangan melalui pinjaman pendidikan atau selainnya kepada pelajar yang menuntut di institusi-institusi pengajian tinggi. (Tuan Lim Kit Siang [Tanjong]: Tuan Yang di-Pertua, I welcome the Bill of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) to provide the opportunity for our children to pursue higher education and provide financial assistance through loans or otherwise to the education of students who are studying in institutions of higher learning.")
The hansard had stated that Kit Siang had said that the RM100 million startup allocation for the PTPTN as contained in the bill was insufficient and it should be increased to RM500 million.
His son Guan Eng was reported in the hansard of proposing a higher quantum than that by his father.
Guan Eng, was recorded as saying: "RM100 million is not enough. If the government is really sincere, they should consider to start at least with the amount of RM1 billion".
The bill was then tabled by Datuk Seri Najib Razak who was the Minister of Education.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who had raised issue with the PTPTN and had promised to abolish it if the opposition takes over the nation's rule, was the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister when the bill was tabled in 1997.
In fact, he was the acting Prime Minister then.
This was pointed out by former premeir Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who said he was on a two-month leave when the bill was tabled and Anwar was then the acting Prime Minister.
Dr Mahathir in a Bernama report, said: "That is Anwar. He doesn't know what is he talking about; he is forgetful".
Blogger Ruang Bicara Faisal pointed out that Anwar held the post of acting Prime Minister from May 19 until July 26 1997, adding that Anwar should have cancelled the plan to establish the fund if he had doubts about it.
"At that time Anwar had the power as a Finance Minister who gives approval to PTPTN to start the operation, he also had the power as a Deputy Prime Minister and more importantly, he had the power as the acting Prime Minister. Even Dr Mahathir had said that Anwar had the full authority as a Prime Minister.
"And now he tries to influence the public that the PTPTN is a cruel act?," the blogger said.
Anwar's promise to abolish the PTPTN had led to a group of university students from the Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia to organize a demonstration at Dataran Merdeka last Saturday.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, as reported by Bernama, said students involved in the demonstration should repay the loan to prove that they do not want the PTPTN loan scheme.
"Universiti Selangor (Unisel), owned by the PKR-led Selangor state government, must also declare whether the PTPTN should be abolished," he said.

Remember the 3Rs?

Yes, I know, you hate it when I talk about Malays, Chinese, Indians and natives of East Malaysia. That is very racial. We should be talking as Malaysians and not talk about the various races. The problem is, when Malaysians go to the polls in the coming election, they will not be voting as Malaysians. They will be voting as Malays, Chinese, Indians and natives of East Malaysia. So, do we still want to remain in denial?
Raja Petra Kamarudin
The ‘problem’ I face every morning is to figure out what I should write about for the day. I mull over a few possible topics but the choice of issues would have to be one that triggers the most outrage. I think I have said this before: my ‘job’ is to throw the cats amongst the pigeons and watch the feathers fly.
Call me a devil’s advocate if you wish, or an agent provocateur, shit stirrer, or whatever. I suppose any one of those ‘labels’ would describe me quite accurately. Basically, I want to make you think, reflect, react, scream, pull your hair out, or whatever it is you wish to do in response to what I say.
One topic that met with hostility when I first wrote about it was my piece on the 3Rs. And the 3Rs I meant here were Race, Religion and Royalty. Of course, since I am a member of the Selangor Royal Family, and not ashamed of it, many viewed my articles on the royalty as a monarchy-apologist or pro-royalist piece in defence of the monarchy. 
So what if I defend the institution of the monarchy? What is wrong with that? Is it wrong only because I am from the royal family? If my parents or grandparents had been farmers or fishermen would it, therefore, have been okay for me to speak in defence of the monarchy? Is it not okay only because I am from the royal family and therefore it is wrong for me to speak up for the monarchy?
I am also Malay and Muslim and I speak about both the Malays and Islam as well, although I am certainly most critical about the attitude of the Malays and the conduct of the Muslims. In fact, I was detained for the so-called ‘crime’ of insulting Islam and not because I defended Islam. Hence, while some may perceive me as an Islam-apologist, others regard me as the opposite to that, an enemy of Islam.
Anyway, right is always right and wrong can never but be wrong. I just say things the way I perceive them, right or wrong. And the fact that I use the word ‘perceive’ means that that would be how I see things, not necessarily how you too perceive them. Perception, after all, is subjective -- subject to ethnicity, religious beliefs, cultural background, education, upbringing, and most important of all, the era and region you happen to exist in. Values vary across time and place.
In short, the perception of right and wrong changes depending on whom you are, where you are, and at what point of time you happen to be alive.
Nevertheless, after having said all that, perception can also be how you would like things to be. In other words, you can make yourself believe the unbelievable if that makes you feel comfortable with that belief. This is the comfort zone we lock ourselves into. It is more comfortable to believe what we like to believe rather than face reality. This can also be called denial syndrome.
I am not an alcoholic. I am a social drinker. I am not a nicotine addict. I smoke just as a matter of habit and can stop any time I wish to. Those are some examples of those who suffer from denial syndrome. Others would be: I am not a racist. I am colour blind. I don’t hate the Malays. I just hate those Malays who abuse their power. I don’t discriminate. I just fight for the rights of my own race. I am not a republican. I just hate members of the royal family who misbehave. I am not anti-Islam. I just hate holier than thou religionists who force their values on others.
Can you see how it works? Denial syndrome at its best!
Okay, enough digressing. Let’s get back to the subject of the 3Rs: Race, Religion and Royalty. Now, please note, what I am saying here is not a new subject. It is something I have already spoken about, more than once. Only that now we are beginning to see what I said would happen begin to happen.
There are Malays and there are Malays. There is not just one type of Malay. And different Malays think different, naturally, just like how the Chinese and Indians do as well.
There are Malays who would not bat an eyelid if there is pork on the table and there are Malays who will foam at the mouth for what they regard as ‘insensitive to the feelings of the Muslims’. There are Malays who would not eat pork or drink liquor but have no problem with taking bribes. There are Malays who refuse to work for the government because they regard the salary they would receive as haram money. Then there are Malays who feel a government job is their birthright.
Yes, there are Malays and there are Malays, there is not just one type of Malay.
Whatever it may be, there are some things that -- never mind what type of the Malays they may be -- the Malays are quite united on. And these would be the 3Rs: Race, Religion and Royalty. Hence, if you were to attack any one of these 3Rs, the Malays would get upset.
Sure, you can tell me to go to hell. You can tell me that the Malays always ‘kecik hati’ and you don’t care a damn whether they kecik hati or besar hati. That’s fine with me. After all, it is a free country and you are entitled to your opinions. But we have a bigger fish to fry. And that bigger fish is to convince the Malay voters that their future and survival does not rest just in the hands of Umno and that if Pakatan Rakyat were to take over then the Malays would be at risk.
That is the bigger fish we need to fry.
Umno knows this. Umno knows the phobia of the Malays. And Umno has very cleverly played on this phobia. In case you have not noticed, of late, issues involving race, religion and royalty have been played up to the hilt. And Umno is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the Malays.
Let’s be clear about one thing. Pakatan Rakyat cannot form the federal government just on Chinese and Indian votes even if 80% of the Chinese and 50% of the Indians vote for the opposition. No doubt the East Malaysian votes is necessary. But equally important would be the Malay votes. And unless at least 55% of the Malays vote opposition, then Pakatan Rakyat will always remain the opposition.
The ball is at your feet. At the end of the day, this is about winning the hearts and minds of the Malay voters. And Umno appears to be winning this battle. If Umno can keep the Malay votes for the opposition down at 50% or less, then Barisan Nasional is going to stay in power. And from where I sit this appears to be what is going to happen. 
So what are you going to do now? If you want to whack me like you did the previous times when I raised this issue then go ahead. I can always tell you ‘I told you so’ come dinnertime of Polling Day.
Let me put it another way. Why should the Malays give Pakatan Rakyat the government? Give me one good reason. For transparency, good governance, freedom of speech, uncensored media, independent judiciary, right to assembly, and whatnot? What do these ‘western’ values mean to the Malays in the villages and land settlements? They mean nothing. What is of importance to the Malays in the villages and land settlements are the 3Rs. And this is what we must convince the Malays: that all this will not be jeopardised if they vote Pakatan Rakyat.
As I said, Umno knows what is close to the heart of the Malays. And Umno is skilfully playing on what is close to the heart of the Malays. Does this make the Malays silly, stupid, backward, outdated, simple-minded, country bumpkins, immature, uneducated, and more? Maybe it does. Or maybe the Malays see themselves just like how the Chinese see themselves: pragmatic and realistic. 
Yes, I know, you hate it when I talk about Malays, Chinese, Indians and natives of East Malaysia. That is very racial. We should be talking as Malaysians and not talk about the various races. The problem is, when Malaysians go to the polls in the coming election, they will not be voting as Malaysians. They will be voting as Malays, Chinese, Indians and natives of East Malaysia. So, do we still want to remain in denial?

BN clearly stepping up violent intimidation for GE13? Assault at Dataran, 19/4/12

How some men in blue were left blue and black at Dataran

This is so, so funny, I just had to share it with all of you.
FMT reports that KL CPO Mohmad Salleh denied that cops who were present at Dataran early this morning allowed the thugs to run riot without taking any action.
To make his case, he laments that ‘two of our own plainclothes detectives were injured, so it is not right to say that the police did not act’.
I got an sms round about 5.30am this morning from one of the student leaders at Dataran, informing me about the attack.
I got to Dataran around 6.15am and managed to speak to some of the occupiers there, many of whom narrated to me how those cops got clobbered.
Quite simple, actually.
In the ensuing melee, they were mistaken for occupiers by the marauding thugs and got thumped.
Now what does this tell you?
Either those low life thugs have tungsten b@#$s or, obviously, these coppers made no effort to identify themselves to the thugs as officers of the law.
And how, one wonders, were they attempting to keep the peace if they did not identify themselves to the thugs as officers of the law?
So the one hoodlum got nicked because he bashed a cop or two.
Now, if he had not done this dastardly deed….
This CPO fella is real funny.
Asked why only 1 thug got picked up, he responded that “it was early in the morning and we could not differentiate between the attackers and those already there”.
You only need to view the video and you can tell one group from the other!

New bill to remove restrictions on local print industry

The Sun Daily 
by Hemananthani Sivanandam

KUALA LUMPUR (April 18, 2012): The Printing Presses and Publications (Amendment) Bill 2012 which was tabled today, will see less restrictions imposed on the local publishing industry.

The bill which was tabled by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Abu Seman Yusop, seeks to remove the absolute discretion of the Minister in granting a person a permit to print or publish a newspaper in Malaysia or in granting the proprietor of any newspaper in Singapore a permit to import, sell, circulate or distribute their newspaper in Malaysia.

Under the bill, newspaper proprietors will be given an opportunity to be heard before a decision to revoke or suspend their licence or permit is made.

The bill also seeks to remove the prohibition of a judicial review on the decision of the Minister to grant, refuse, revoke or suspend a licence or permit. The Minister will also no longer be able to specify the validity period of a licence.

However the Minister still has the power to grant licences or refuse such applications as he deems fit. His authority to revoke or suspend licences also stays.

A licence or permit granted under this bill shall be subject to conditions stipulated in the licence and shall remain valid for so long as it is not revoked.

On Monday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak announced that a new law will replace the existing Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 - as part of the government's reform efforts.

He added that the new bill will live up to the government's promise to eliminate the need for yearly renewal of newspaper licences. Instead a media council will be established to implement self-regulation in the industry.

Foreign law firm Bill tabled

The Star

A BILL that allows foreign law firms to practise in Malaysia was tabled for first reading in the House.

The Legal Profession (Amend­ment) Bill 2012 was tabled by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.

Under the Bill, foreign law firms may practise in Malaysia via an international partnership or qualified foreign law firm licence.

The Bill paves the way for local law firms to employ foreign lawyers – subject to conditions.

It aims to liberalise the legal profession to develop Malaysia into an international Islamic financial hub and expand the expertise of the industry.

The Bill, however, states that no foreign law firm shall practise in the country unless it is licensed.

Any foreign law firm which contravenes this provision can be fined up to RM100,000.

A selection committee will be set up to make recommendations to the Bar Council for the granting of licences for international partnerships, qualified foreign law firms, Malaysian law firms to employ foreign lawyers and the registration of foreign lawyers to practise in permitted areas.

The committee will comprise the Attorney-General and Malay­sian Bar president, among others.

Foreign law firms can only have one international partnership in Malaysia at any one time.

A foreign company may apply for a qualified law firm licence, provided it meets all the conditions the Bar Council may think fit to impose in any particular case.

University And University Colleges (Amendment) Bill Passed

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 (Bernama) -- The Parliament Thursday night passed the University and University Colleges (Amendment) Bill which sought to allow university students to hold posts in any associations or organisations inside and outside campus.

The amendments involved replacing sub-section 15(2)(c) of the law which prohibited students from contesting in elections or holding post in any associations or bodies in campus if they held post in political parties.

Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau), who moved the motion to replace the sub-section, said that the law gave rooms for certain quarters to continue to criticise the government.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, in winding up the debate on the bill, said the proposed amendment was aimed at reaching a balance between political freedom and the education objective.

On concern raised by some members of parliament that the amendment could adversely affect the role of universities and the students' studies, he said, the matter had been considered by the country's leadership.

Datuk Dr Mohamed Shahrum Osman (BN-Lipis) said he was worried if problems arose in campus due to spread of party ideology and partisan politics.

He hoped that students would use wisely the opportunity provided to them by the government and not to be distracted from their studies.

He also hoped that the university administration would advise students to use wisely the freedom that had been given to them and not to allow themselves to be used by any quarters.

From the Scorpene inquiry in Paris

Suaram director Dr Kua Kia Soong, Malaysian lawyer Fadiah Nadwa and lawyer Joseph Breham at the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris after meeting Judge Roger Le Loire, presiding over the Scorpene inquiry.

According to Fadiah, the Suaram team confirmed their complaint to Judge de Loire regarding alleged corruption in the purchase of the submarines.
They briefed the judge on the political context of the case.
They also elaborated on how the court in Malaysia in the Altantuya murder trial had not delved into the issue of the ‘commission’ or payment that Altantuya was asking for, the flaws in the case, and how the MACC had apparently failed to address the issue.
The proceedings in Paris are not open to the public, but Fadiah said the plaintiffs are able to brief the public.
Judge Roger Le Loire
Incidentally, Judge Le Loire hit the headlines in 2001 when he issued a summons to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to appear as a witness to answer questions about alleged US involvement in Operation Condor during an investigation into the death and disappearance of five French citizens in Chile, then ruled by General Augusto Pinochet.
The summons was issued by Le Loire at the request of William Bourdon (who happens to be the other lawyer acting for Suaram in the Scorpene inquiry). Le Loire had in 1998 issued an international arrest warrant against Pinochet.
Kissinger was staying at the Ritz Hotel in Paris when he was served the summons. He bolted from Paris the same day.