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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jual rahsia negara: PKR cabar Najib jelaskan

Ops Scorpene campaign dinner

English medium schools and national unity

By Kantha Kumar Ramasamy, 

I believe readers are aware of the recent news that the government has just announced the lifting of quotas for local Malaysians in international schools with immediate effect.

Assuming that this is official, with this new development I see no reason why we should not have national-type English medium stream schools from primary right up to pre-university.

To level the playing field and provide equal access for all Malaysians, now the need for an English medium stream along with the national and vernacular streams becomes virtually mandatory.

Otherwise we would be allowing for double standards - favouring children from families that can afford, to follow a non-national curriculum in a medium other than the national language, while those who cannot afford the fees of international schools will have to enrol in either national or national-type primary schools and then enter national secondary schools with Bahasa Melayu as the medium of instruction.

I am sure many would welcome a move by the government to introduce the English medium stream, as it would further democratise education in our country.

And as pointed out by some, there can be a substantial number of children in our country whose mother tongue or first language is English.

However, doubts may be raised as to whether such a move would undermine national unity.

Well, it is a matter of perception.

I personally would prefer a single stream primary school system that would bring children of all races together under one roof as they begin their school life.

However the claim by supporters of vernacular and English streams that a common language is no guarantee for integration and unity seems to be valid.

We have in the last four decades or so used a national curriculum with Bahasa Melayu in national primary and secondary schools as the medium of instruction.

Our expectation was, with a common language students from different ethnic and religious backgrounds would integrate and become more united in their outlook and develop a sense of togetherness.

If we are to be sincere and open in our assessment of the outcome, we have to admit that we have fallen far short of our expectations.

Racial polarisation among our students and even among teachers have become the norm and this is reflected in many aspects of school life and the extension of this polarisation becomes even more pronounced in our tertiary institutions of learning.

Gone are the days when in school hostels and university residential colleges students of different races and religions were roomed together.

Today it has become official policy of certain universities and schools to place their hostel students according to race and religion.

It is of no use for us to be in a denial mode.

This is the reality of Malaysian life today, albeit with a few rare exceptions.

So, it is obvious that having a common medium of instruction is no real guarantee that integration and togetherness would be fostered.

There are many other forces that act on students from within and without the school.

For one, attitudes of school leadership and teachers towards students of different races and religions will certainly affect the school culture.

Are all students from different social class, race or religion made to feel accepted?

Are school policies implemented to favour all regardless of class, ethnicity and religion? Do clubs and societies and other co-curriculum activities emphasise and reinforce racial integration and values of cooperation, respect and sense of togetherness?

Of course I am not saying that marginalisation and favouritism along race and religious lines are being done blatantly.

Rather it could occur in very subtle but yet powerful ways in both national and national-type schools.

And of course, schools are not immune to influences from the outside.

Therefore, regardless of the language medium in schools, there are other more important factors which can undermine national unity and national integration in schools.

And indeed it would be interesting to see how the demography and culture of our schools change if an additional English medium stream is introduced.

There are those who have the unfounded fear that introducing the English medium stream would threaten the status and mastery of the national language and the other vernacular languages.
However a policy that upholds the status of Bahasa Melayu as the national language by making it a compulsory credit in all major exams, and at the same time adopting a vigorous policy of encouraging students to become trilingual ( by ensuring that all schools have sufficient number of well-trained teachers of Mandarin, Tamil and another indigenous language) by the time they finish their schooling years, would be a boon to the educational system and the nation's cohesion and solidarity.
Vehicle of national unity and integration
If we really want our school system to become a vehicle for national unity and national integration, it is essential that:
  • Our schools and school culture reflect more and more our national characteristics centred around the principles of the Rukun Negara rather than that of any particular race, culture or religion.
  • Principals and teachers are inducted into the school system with an elevated consciousness of their role in promoting unity in diversity and in instilling in the hearts of their charges the principle of the oneness of mankind.
  • The teacher institutes and school leadership training institutions in the country re-examine their curriculum and emphasis given to the national philosophy of education and the Rukun Negara as well as assumptions pertaining to human nature and its implications for the teaching profession.
  • Both pre-service and in-service teacher training curriculum be revised to give added emphasis in integrating values across the school curriculum and using more effective pedagogy (rather than the present approach to the teaching and assessment of moral education) that will assist students to internalise and practice values such as love for humanity, safe guarding the dignity of fellow human beings, celebrating diversity, valuing justice and unity.
  • School culture does not reward academic excellence alone but also reward students who have shown personal integrity, perseverance, incremental progress in their academic performance, caring dispositions, ability to work in diverse groups and involvement in cooperative endeavours.
  • School policies promote and encourage clubs and societies which are multiracial and multi-religious.
  • Schools allocate more time and give more emphasis to the use the fine arts such as drama, theatre and music as well as cooperative sports to nurture cross-cultural understanding, promote the spirit of oneness and develop personal self-esteem.
  • Our schools while instilling a rational patriotism and love for the country, at the same time make our students become aware of their role as a global citizen of the 21st century, appreciating the interdependence of the world and the understanding that the advantage of any of its parts can best be secured through the advantage of the whole.
  • We incorporate a well-planned service-learning component into the curriculum from the very beginning of secondary school so that students get to develop their latent virtues and talents through their contribution and service to their immediate community.
  • We do not overload syllabus content and instead take on the ‘less is more' approach and adopt a thematic and integrated approach to curriculum design.
  • We do not glorify and exaggerate the merits of ‘straight As' in examinations at the expense of the self-esteem of others who have done reasonably well.
  • Let not ‘sterling exam results' be the sole measure of effective school leadership or teacher performance.
The ministry's effort to gather the views of all stakeholders to embark on a review of the current educational system is indeed laudable and it is our ardent hope that the appointed review panel will be open to all views and consider their worth and implications in the interest of our future generations and our nation.

Al-Qaeda advertising for suicide bombers on internet


Al-Qaeda and its regional offshoots often use jihadist Internet forums to post statements
Al-Qaeda and its regional offshoots often use jihadist Internet forums to post statements
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has begun posting Internet advertisements offering training for suicide bombers to target the US, Israel and France.

The advertisements ask for volunteers to get in touch via e-mail with details about their own experience and proposed targets, and were posted on a variety of jihadist forums, including Al-Fidaa, Shmoukh al-Islam and Honein.

Al-Qaeda and its regional offshoots often use jihadist Internet forums to post statements claiming responsibility for attacks, and to communicate with followers.

"The aim of this training is to continue with our brothers who are seeking to carry out operations that make for great killing and slaughtering of the enemies of Islam," said the advertisement attributed to Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"It is clear now that the individual jihad, or what is called the lone wolf, has become more widespread and its features have started showing -- in summary, it is a complete jihadist operation to be carried out by a single bomber."

It said the targets of the attacks were "those who are fighting the Muslims and Islam" and specifically pointed to "economic, military and media interests of the enemy."

"Their identity must be, according to priority, American, Israeli, French and British."

Malaysia’s prime minister must be Malay Muslim, says historian

KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 — The prime minister of Malaysia must be a Malay Muslim even though there is

no article in the Federal Constitution which prevents non-Malays from holding the post, because the majority of the country’s citizens are Malays, said an eminent historian today.

Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim (picture) said everyone must accept the reality that Malays were the natives of Tanah Melayu, Malaysia’s name before independence, and that the Malays formed the majority in the country.

“Even the British recognised Malaysia as the ‘Malay States’ before it achieved independence. “From a historical perspective, the highest rulers of the land before independence were the Malay kings who were Muslims,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after a guest appearance on the “In The Special Radar” (Dalam Radar Khas) programme titled “Democracy in Malaysia: Non-Malay Prime Minister” by Bernama Radio24 in collaboration with news portal AntaraPos.com today.

The other guests were Higher Education deputy minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and Keadilan youth movement chief Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin.

The issue of a non-Malay prime minister was raised by DAP chairman Karpal Singh recently who stressed that for as long as he lives he would continue fighting to ensure a non-Malay holds the post of prime minister.

Saifuddin said the issue should never have been raised by Karpal as the opposition leader was also Malay Muslim.

“When the opposition itself chose a Malay as its leader, why bring up the issue of a non-Malay prime minister,” he said.

Shamsul Iskandar noted that Malaysia adopted a Constitutional Monarchy and parliamentary democracy with Malays having special privileges compared to the other races in the country.

He concluded that the Malays should not be worried about the veteran member of parliament’s passing remarks. — Bernama

A dare to Hisham: Don’t edit Bersih video

DAP says the Home Minister should release all 73 hours of video available to him if he truly wants the people to judge for themselves what actually happened on April 28.

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP today challenged Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to release, unedited, all 73 hours of video footage of the April 28 Bersih rally that the police have in their possession.

Party strongman Lim Kit Siang issued the challenge in reaction to reports that the Home Ministry would release an edited clip on its website. Initial reports said the clip would be posted today, but ministry sources subsequently said the upload has been postponed to a date to be announced this afternoon.

The ministry is most likely to get its footage from the police. The panel appointed by the government to investigate violence at the rally disclosed on Monday that police were in possession of 43 video clips with a total running time of 73 hours.

“If Hishammuddin is prepared to let the public draw their own conclusions on what happened at the Bersih rally,” Lim told a press conference here, “is he prepared to upload all the 73 hours of the video clips?”

He accused the Home Minister of engaging in a “video war to support the government’s conspiracy theory” and to vilify the rally, which he described as a “great historic event”.

He said Hishammuddin’s “priority duty” as Home Minister “is not to be accuser, judge, jury and executioner all in one” but to give his full support to independent efforts to determine the truth of what happened on April 28, such as the inquiry by Suhakam.

“He should rise above it all, unless he is not interested in the truth. Looks like he has made up his mind.”

Referring to the government-appointed investigative panel, which is headed by former IGP Hanif Omar, Lim said it should be dissolved now that two of its proposed members have withdrawn. The two are former chief justice of Borneo Steve Shim Lip Kiong and Petronas corporate affairs senior general manager Medan Abdullah.

He expressed a suspicion that the Hanif panel’s “real objective” was to “produce a finding to match the government’s script”.

Lim, who is the MP for Ipoh Timur, called upon Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to provide a progress report in Parliament on Monday on Bersih’s eight demands, on the progress over the 22 recommendations made by the parliamentary select committee for electoral reform and the additional four recommendation made in the subsequent minority report.


DAP’s own video

DAP today released its own video of the April 28 events. The edited video, which lasts for about 15 minutes, starts with scenes of protesters in a festive mood, holding up banners, chanting “Bersih!” and clearing rubbish from the streets. There is also a scene of Bersih leader S Ambiga asking the crowd to disperse.

“Just as Ambiga asked the crowd to disperse, the ruling government started acting violent,” says the

voiceover above clips of police firing tear gas and water cannon into the crowd.

The video also juxtaposes statements by Najib and Hishammuddin against happenings on the ground that appear to contradict them. For example, a scene of Hishammuddin speaking in praise of police professionalism is followed by scenes of policemen beating up protestors and journalists.

The DAP video did not show images of protesters breaching the barricade around Dataran Merdeka.

Asked why this was so, DAP publicity chief Tony Pua said the that incident was subject to debate.

“We don’t know what happened,” he said. Referring to clips available on pro-BN websites, he said: “You have clips of Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin Ali instructing the crowd to breach the barrier, but anyone looking at the video can only see both using sign language. Even so, it does not justify the police using any form of violence against protesters who didn’t breach the barrier.”

Indraf brothers’ assailants are PKR members

In view of this, MIC Youth is demanding an apology from deputy chief minister P Ramasamy for blaming BN.

KUALA LUMPUR: The attack on two Indian Rights Action Force (Indraf) leaders in Klang was carried out by PKR members.

MIC Youth information chief S Subramaniam confirmed that the three assailants who attacked Malaysian Indian Voice (MIV) president V Ganabathi Rao and his brother Pappa Raidu were members of the opposition party.

“This proves that Pakatan Rakyat leaders practiced ‘dirty’ politics to garner support from the Indian community in the upcoming general election,” he told FMT.

According to Subramaniam, the three men were among 200 Indians who joined PKR during the Hulu Selangor by-election in 2010.

“I was told that the fracas was because of political differences between them and had no connection with Barisan Nasional,” he said.

However, Subramaniam could not confirm from which PKR division the trio were from. “As far I know, they should be members from the Kapar or Hulu Selangor divisions,” he said.

“This is a simple example of how Pakatan leaders make baseless accusations against BN to gain votes,” he added.

Last Thursday, the brothers were attacked by the three men as they were heading towards their car after attending a funeral in Taman Mutiara, Klang.

Ganabatirao suffered injuries to his nose. He was discharged on June 1 while his brother who required surgery for a broken hand was discharged on Sunday from a private hospital in Klang.

Ramasamy must apologise

Meanwhile, Subramaniam also called on Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy to apologise for blaming BN for the attack.

“Ramasamy should have checked his facts before issuing such a statement. MIC Youth will give him one week to apologise, otherwise we will call him ‘Mr Liar’,” he added.

Ramasamy, who is also DAP deputy secretary-general, had linked the assault to the Indraf 2.0 rally in Brickfields, claiming that certain quarters viewed it as a threat.

Contacted later, Ramasamy said he had mentioned that the incident was “inspired” by BN and never claimed that the attackers were from BN.

“I will not apologise. BN should apologise for failing to curb a spate of political violence,” he added.

Similarly, Ganabatirao also believed that the attackers were “instructed” by the BN leadership to carry out the attack.

He claimed that one of the three men had previously persuaded him to leave DAP and join BN.

Subramaniam also took a swipe at PKR vice-president N Surendran for claiming that MIC Youth were gangsters.

“He (Surendran) accused MIC Youth as gangsters but it seems PKR members are murderers,” he added in reference to Ganabatirao’s previous statement that two of the three men who assaulted him were arrested in connection with a murder case in Klang.

KDN’s Bersih video release postponed, reasons unknown

Home Ministry's release of Bersih 3.0 rally footage today is postponed but reasons for the change of plans remain unknown.
UPDATED

PETALING JAYA: The Home Ministry, originally scheduled to release today a video compilation of ‘the original footage’ of the Bersih 3.0 rally chaos, has postponed its plans.

Ministry sources said that instruction was given by the minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, earlier this morning to hold back the posting of the video on the ministry’s website.

However, no apparent reason has been given for the sudden decision.

“The minister gave an instruction this morning to postpone it, we don’t know the reasons as yet,” a source in the ministry told FMT.

On Sunday, Hishammuddin said that the video, which would show “the good, the bad, and the ugly”, would be uploaded onto the ministry’s website on Tuesday and could be viewed the next day.

“We are still compiling the visuals. The point of showing the video was to provide the people a wider perspective of what went down during the rally,” Hishammuddin reportedly said.

“The video is to show what really happened in the rally so the rakyat can make their own judgments after viewing it and not be influenced by the narrow opinions of others,” he had said.

Hishammuddin also said the ministry was ready to face the possibility of legal actions by any group after viewing the video.

Panel to view footage

However, a statement issued later today explained that the ministry was waiting for the Independent Advisory Panel headed by former inspector-general of police Hanif Omar to look through the videos first.

The statement explained that the ministry wanted panel to watch through all of the footage first.

Home Ministry secretary-general Abdul Rahim Mohd Radzi said that the panel was handed all the video recordings previously.

“The panel should be given the appropriate space and time to assessment on each of the recordings,” said Abdul Rahim.

He added that the ministry will take all the views and advise of the panel, which will hold a meeting next Monday on June 11.

‘Baca buku ini sebelum ia diharamkan’

ULASAN BUKU: Sebuah memoir yang membuktikan bahawa perjuangan dan demonstrasi adalah “harus” dalam keadaan tertentu.
FEATURE

Buku berbentuk memoir ini sudah saya miliki sejak 23 Februari 2012 tetapi kembali menarik perhatian apabila ada pihak tertentu tampil mengeluarkan kenyataan bahawa demonstrasi (tunjuk perasaan) dan perhimpunan dilarang dalam agama Hindu.

Memoir Bahasa Tamil bertajuk “Thalamaithuvam Or Uyirpporaatham” (2007) boleh diterjemahkan ke Bahasa Malaysia sebagai “Kepimpinan: Suatu Perjuangan Antara Hidup dan Mati” dan menyajikan pengalaman SV Lingam, seorang tokoh kaum India yang disegani tetapi kurang diberi perhatian dalam sejarah tanah air.

Buku kulit tebal dengan lebih 150 halaman ini saya sifatkan sebagai suatu bahan dokumentasi sejarah yang wajar diberi perhatian oleh semua pihak; khususnya masyarakat India-Hindu yang buat masa ini agak keliru berikutan kenyataan presiden Malaysia Hindu Dharma, Dr NS Rajendran dan presiden Hindu Sangam, RS Mohan seperti dilaporkan Bernama pada 18 Mei 2012.

Lingam pula menceritakan secara terperinci dan mendalam – berserta fakta dan dokumen rasmi sebagai sokongan – mengenai penglibatan beliau dalam pelbagai tunjuk perasaan, perhimpunan dan mogok lapar sejak tahun 1960-an.

Beliau yang menjadi ahli MIC sejak 1958, iaitu semasa berusia 16 tahun, menganjurkan mogok lapar selama empat hari pada tahun 1964 dan selama sebelas hari pada 1966. Kedua-dua mogok lapar itu adalah umpama perjuangan “ahimsa” Mahatma Gandhi serta selaras dengan hukum “dharma” yang dituntut dalam ajaran agama Hindu; iaitu demi keadilan, hak dan maruah rakyat.

Pada tahun 1969, Lingam berpindah dari Durian Tunggal, Melaka dan kembali ke tempat kelahirannya iaitu Shah Alam, Selangor. Walaupun berubah tempat tinggal, beliau tidak pernah berundur daripada memimpin sekelompok masyarakat – khasnya kaum India yang tertindas – untuk terus memperjuangkan apa yang menjadi hak mereka mengikut undang-undang.

Buku ini disertakan juga dengan foto-foto lama dan keratan akhbar yang menjelaskan tujuan dan kesan perjuangan Lingam secara bersendirian dan berkumpulan.

Walaupun catatan berupa memoir dilakukan dari sudut pandangan pengarang, beliau tidak lupa memasukkan juga sumbangan dan pandangan pelbagai pihak lain dalam perkara-perkara tertentu.

Buku ini pasti membantu rakan-rakan dan kenalan Lingam untuk mengimbau kenangan silam di mana mereka sama-sama terlibat secara langsung atau tidak langsung dalam memperjuangkan maruah dan hak pekerja ladang dan bakal guru sekolah Tamil.

Memoir “Thalamaithuvam Or Uyirpporaatham” turut memuatkan kata-kata aluan daripada Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu, Datuk G Palanivel, Tan Sri KR Somasundram, Datuk G Sankaran dan anehnya kata-kata semangat daripada presiden Hindu Sangam waktu itu, Datuk A Vaithilingam dan Rajendran sendiri yang sudah pun menjadi presiden Malaysia Hindu Dharma pada waktu itu.

Semasa meneliti halaman demi halaman buku ini, saya semakin yakin bahawa memoir ini merupakan suatu dokumen sejarah yang “terlepas” daripada pandangan umum. Namun, buku ini yang terbit pada 2007 belum terlewat untuk dipomosi dan diperkenalkan kepada kepada orang ramai.

Sekiranya buku “The Malaysian Indian Dilemma” (2009) karya Janakey Raman Manickam mendokumentasikan bahan-bahan sejarah berbentuk arkib yang sukar diperoleh, buku “Thalamaithuvam Or Uyirpporaatham” pula mengumpulkan pengalaman peribadi seorang individu yang sentiasa berjuang sejak usia remaja demi menegakkan hak, keadilan dan kebenaran.

Saya menyarankan supaya orang ramai (India-Hindu) membaca memoir ini sebelum, misalnya, Hindu Sangam dan Malaysian Hindu Dharma menggunakan kuasa yang ada untuk mengeluarkan “fatwa” mengharamkan buku ini.

Uthaya Sankar SB boleh dihubungi menerusi e-mel uthayasb@yahoo.com.my untuk maklumat lanjut mengenai buku-buku yang diulasnya.

Guilty, unless proven otherwise


The newly-inserted Section 114A of the Evidence Act is another example of a law that was rushed through Parliament without much debate and discussion, to the detriment of us all.
The Government is hoping that this new law will curb postings by anonymous bloggers and commentators who are critical of the Government. Which may sound well-intentioned; I am also a target of many of these. But, at the same time, this law is more far-reaching because it makes owners of blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts responsible for anything that appears on them.
Marina Mahathir, The Star
AS often happens, e-mails pop up in my inbox with interesting headlines. While I usually save them to read later, I had to open this particular e-mail immediately because it had my name in it.
To my horror, I found an article purportedly written by me being circulated to much salutary praise.
Normally, I would either ignore it or leave it to readers to judge whether I really wrote such an article.
It would be obvious, I thought, to those who have followed my columns all these years that the style in that article, the photo byline notwithstanding, was definitely very different from mine.
Indeed, the reason I was passed the article was because some people who are very familiar with my writing style had their suspicions.
But I cannot rely solely on the goodwill of my readers anymore. With the new amendment to the Evidence Act 1950 which just came into being – it won’t matter if my so-called “article” was full of grammar and spelling mistakes which I wouldn’t normally make – I would be deemed as having written it until I can prove otherwise.
The newly inserted Section 114A of the Evidence Act provides for the following:
> Owners, hosts, administrators, editors or sub-editors of websites or social media accounts are deemed responsible for any content that has been published or re-published on their site whether by themselves, persons impersonating them or any other persons;
> Subscribers of a network service which was used to publish or re-publish any content are deemed responsible for the publication; and
> Owners or individuals in custody of an electronic device that was used to publish or re-publish any content are deemed responsible for the publication.
Basically, this means that until you can prove you are innocent of these charges, you are considered by the law as guilty.
This is a complete reversal of the usual “innocent until proven guilty” axiom in most courts of law.
You can imagine the chill that went through my spine when I read this law. Over the years, not only have I been impersonated in articles and comments but also in real life.
Now all of these people will be encouraged to do more because of this law. They will know that I will have to spend so much time, energy and expense to fight to prove my innocence in the courts that they will get away pretty much scot-free.
Furthermore, while I’m trying to prove that I didn’t write these articles, they can continue to keep writing them with impunity.
Who, therefore, is this law meant to protect? And how could such a law have been passed?
Once again, this is another example of a law that was rushed through Parliament without much debate and discussion, to the detriment of us all.
More importantly, it is a huge threat to the freedom of speech that is enshrined in our Federal Con­stitution, a freedom already threatened by so many other laws.
The Government is hoping that this new law will curb postings by anonymous bloggers and commentators who are critical of the Government. Which may sound well-intentioned; I am also a target of many of these.
But, at the same time, this law is more far-reaching because it makes owners of blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts responsible for anything that appears on them.
If someone posts an anonymous comment on my blog or Facebook page that somebody else does not like, then I’m instantly responsible for it even if I don’t know who the poster is in real life.
It can also work the other way round. Anyone can pretend to be a government official or politician and make a critical or defamatory posting on a government or political website.
Actually, there can be lots of such postings on any website and the owner, including presumably the Government, will be held responsible for them.
I’m not even sure what can be done by anyone to seek redress for that. Talk about an incentive to spam people with all sorts of nasty comments!
It makes you wonder how laws are made in this country. Already one law, the Election Offences Act, had to be retracted after it had been passed because it was found to be detrimental to all sides in an election.
Surely this was a result of not giving the law enough scrutiny and debate in Parliament. If more time had been given, then surely such faulty laws would not have been passed in such a form.
Doesn’t this also make you worry about the other laws passed in such a hurry as well? What traps lurk within them that we don’t know about, and which we could unknowingly get caught in?

Bersih 3.0 Semangat Bersih, Harapan Negara

Malaysia Sub Scandal Spreads to Malta

Najib:  Malta? I don't remember being in Malta
Najib: Malta? I don't remember being in Malta
(Asia Sentinel) Maltese opposition MP alleges French company may have laundered some of the money
Malaysia’s long-running submarine scandal appears to have widened all the way to the Mediterranean island of Malta, with an opposition Member of Parliament alleging that a French-owned, Malta-based financial consultancy is being investigated for its role in the controversial US$1 purchase of the boats by the Malaysian government.

According to the Malta-based news portal Malta Today, MP Evarist Bartolo told the Maltese parliament that the French-owned financial consultancy Gifen is being investigated by French officials over allegations that part of a €114 million commission paid to Perimekar Sdn Bhd, then wholly owned by Abdul Razak Baginda, a close associate of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, may have been laundered through Malta. The Perimekar commission has been criticized as a subterfuge to steer kickbacks to political figures.

Other news reports from Malta alleged that Gifen was established by Jean-Marie Bouvin, who has been also heavily involved in other sales by the French state-owned company DCN of submarines to Pakistan and frigates to Taiwan. Both of those transactions have been dogged by a flock of spectacular murders.

French prosecutors were said to have discovered Gifen after they scrutinized a vast trove of documents and internal confidential reports of DCN and the French Ministry of Defense as well as interviewing DCNS officials and related companies such as Thales as well as officials in the French ministry of defense.

Other companies allegedly used for similar purposes, Bartolo said, were Eurolux, based in Luxembourg, and Technomar, based in Belgium. Bartolo further alleged that Gifen, which was founded in 2001 by Bouvin, was well-connected with the French secret services, and had close ties both with former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Dominic de Villepin. After France signed the UN Convention Against Corruption, Bouvin allegedly began to operate though different channels - setting up companies in Ireland, Switzerland, Mauritius, the Isle of Man and Malta, Malta Today reported.

Sarkozy has been mentioned in connection with massive bribes promised to Pakistani generals for the purchase of SSK Scorpene submarines from Armaris, now a unit of the French defense giant DCNS. Eleven French technicians were blown up with a car bomb that was first blamed on Al Qaeda. However, subsequent stories in France, called “L’Affaire Karachi,” alleged that Pakistani generals blew up the van in retaliation for the cancellation of kickbacks by then President Jacques Chirac. Sarkozy has angrily denied any involvement in the kickback scheme. However, now that he has lost the French presidency to Francois Hollande, investigators may be taking another look at his activities.

Bartolo, the former Education Minister, said French inquiring magistrates have now ordered the police to initiate an international investigation into the companies based in France, Luxembourg and Hong Kong - including Gifen in Malta - as part of a global anti-corruption sting.

The Malaysian Ministry of Defense purchased the two SSK Scorpene submarines in 2002 from Armaris. At that point, Najib Tun Razak was defense minister and engineered the purchase.

French lawyers William Bourdon and Joseph Breham of the public service law firm Avocats a la Cour were successful in opening the DCNS books on behalf of the Malaysian human rights NGO Suaram earlier this year. In an email, Breham said he was aware of Gifen as a company but wasn’t sure if it is part of the probe he has been following.

In any case, a stream of revelations of bribes and kickbacks has flowed across the world. So far, however, they have done little damage to Najib’s popularity as he maneuvers his national ruling coalition into position for what are expected to be national elections sometime this fall. Among those allegations, according to Breham, is that Terasasi Sdn Bhd., which is owned by Razak Baginda, was paid €39 million euros for confidential documents on the ministry of defense’s specification for the submarine purchase. As Asia Sentinel has reported, the money appears to have been steered through Terasasi Hong Kong Ltd., which was established later.

According to Malta Today, Bartolo revealed that several companies worldwide currently investigated by French authorities in connection with this case and that Gifen's most active years were between 2001 and 2004, with an income of almost €1.5 million, while its registered expenses took the form of 'consultancy services' and 'travelling expenses.”

Bartolo was also quoted as adding that French investigators are currently looking into whether Gifen was used "to facilitate the movement of money involved in this contract," as well as to pay for travelling expenses for the Malaysians. According to the Opposition MP, Bouvin would pay commissions through a company called Heine in order to secure successful bids for public contracts.

Bartolo added that responsibility to regulate such operations in Malta fell to the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit and the Malta Financial Services Authority, and that the reputation of Malta as a center for financial services was at stake. He reminded the House of a report by the Council of Europe's Committee on Money Laundering, which had observed that Malta's legislation is good, but enforcement is lacking.

‘Comfortable majority’ for Pakatan in GE13, Anwar predicts

Anwar hinted at a “surprise” soon in Sabah, which he said would completely alter the political landscape. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 — Even as Datuk Seri Najib Razak dithers on a date for the 13th general election following reports that his Chinese and Indian support has slipped, arch-rival Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has expressed confidence of leading Pakatan Rakyat (PR) into a “comfortable” majority win in the coming polls.

The opposition leader predicted last night a minimum 10-seat margin in Parliament between the federal opposition and the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), owing to significant inroads made in Umno’s Johor bastion as well as BN’s east Malaysian fortresses of Sabah and Sarawak.

Anwar even hinted of a coming “surprise” to be announced soon in Sabah, which he claimed would change the entire political landscape of the state, where BN presently holds 59 of 60 state seats.

“I’m absolutely certain, Insya’Allah, that we will perform much better... enough to secure a simple, comfortable majority in Putrajaya,” an optimistic Anwar told the Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia (FCCM) dinner talk last night.

Anwar revealed that PR’s strategy was for PKR and PAS to focus on breaking Umno’s chokehold over Malay votes, claiming that Umno has “given up” on the Chinese and Indian voters.

“Umno’s strategy is to consolidate support among the Malays... which is positive for us that they’ve given up on the ethnic Chinese, ethnic Indians, over the Malays.

“Our strategy for PKR and PAS is to focus on the Malay seats. That is why you see the prime minister’s announcements on Felda... the battle ground is still the Malay seats,” he said.

Independent pollster Merdeka Center recently found that Najib’s approval rating had seen a marked decline among Indian and Chinese voters just weeks after a tumultuous Bersih 3.0 rally.

The poll, carried out between May 10 and 18, found that 72 per cent out of Indian voters were satisfied with Najib as prime minister — an eight point drop from February this year.

It also found that Chinese support for the PM had dropped 19 points from a 56 per cent in February. Only 37 per cent from this segment polled now supported Najib.

Malay voter support for Najib, however, experienced a five-point increase, from 74 per cent in February to 79 per cent in May this year.

A total of 1,019 registered voters — 59 per cent Malay, 32 per cent Chinese and 9 per cent Indian —were polled three weeks after the April 28 Bersih rally that took place here.

Both the BN and PR have gone through great pains to shore up non-Malay voter support ahead of an expected election, which must be called before the middle of next year.

The survey findings, however, suggest that BN’s support, especially among the Indian community — traditionally pro-BN — is slipping way.

Despite Najib’s soaring Malay support, however, Anwar insisted that not all among the electorate were happy with the ruling coalition.

He claimed that even within Najib’s home ground of Pekan, there were Felda settlers unhappy with plans to list Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH) on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange, despite the promised “windfall” of RM15,000 for each family.

“Today (yesterday), R. Sivarasa (Subang MP) and another lawyer filed for 670 settlers in Pekan a suit against the decision [to list] Felda. This may not change the landscape but it shows the intense battle because these families come from those who are former Umno members and supporters themselves,” he said.

He added that many among the Malays were also angry with the racially-charged abuses against Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, whom the opposition openly support, and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who has been repeatedly labelled as anti-Malay.

This, he said, contributes to his optimism that PR could wrest Putrajaya from BN in the coming polls with a minimum 10 to 15-seat margin in the 222-seat Parliament.

In Election 2008, Anwar led the opposition to deny BN its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority by securing 82 of the 222 seats and winning in five states.

He noted that the opposition’s success in the 2008 general election was largely due to the political tsunami in the peninsula while east Malaysians had largely remained supportive of BN.

“[But] I am quite optimistic. The issue now is Sabah and Sarawak. We had popular support (in 2008) in terms of votes here in the peninsula but we lost miserably in Sabah and Sarawak.

“But for the last four years, we have tried so hard and we have capable leaders now. And now in Sarawak, if you go to any longhouse, the Ibans.... they speak of (anti-BN station) Radio Free Sarawak.

“You are also in for some surprises in Sabah... I think very soon you will hear... and this would change the political landscape. We are certainly making inroads and we are able to win more seats... enough to have a simple majority,” he said.

Anwar later described Najib’s leadership as “weak”, accusing the prime minister of being too “scared” of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whose statements have been hitting media headlines of late.

Among others, Dr Mahathir had recently said that BN was still weak, owing to the former premiership of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, even adding that the pact should delay the polls to recapture some of its lost support from the Chinese and Indian communities.

Anwar said Dr Mahathir only wields a “small influence”, but due to Najib’s “weak leadership”, “outfits” linked to the former prime minister like Malay right wing group Perkasa have been allowed to spread their influence among the Malay electorate.

“But do not underestimate...,” Anwar warned BN. “I do not believe the Malays support such abuses against Ambiga and Guan Eng. I don’t think so.”

Anwar also dismissed calls on PR to reveal its shadow Cabinet before the next polls, saying this was not an oft-practised system in Malaysia.

He pointed out that within PR, there exists three-member “shadow committees” tasked to take on a variety of specialised issues.

“It is difficult for us to name (the shadow Cabinet) because we do not know which party gets what and how many seats.

“The representation in Cabinet will be reflective of our performance in the election,” he explained.

Anwar also revealed that PR would prepare a paper next week on the pact’s economic policies focusing on how to dismantle the Mahathir administration’s New Economic Policy (NEP), which he claimed would focus on needs-based affirmative action.

Home ministry withholds its Bersih 3.0 clip

The home ministry has confirmed that it is withholding its video clip on the Bersih 3.0 rally violence, a move which have initially drew scorn from civil society.

In a press release today, the ministry said the video will not be released until after the ministry appointed panel investigate all the footages which they have been furnished with.

"The independent panel should be given adequate space and time to assess each video," read the statement.

NONEIn addition, the ministry said it would acknowledge all views and advice from the panel, which will meet on Monday.

Previously, there were concerns that the ministry's video would be a conflict of interest because the ministry had commissioned a panel - led by former police chief Hanif Omar - to probe alleged police violence during the rally.

Earlier, Chinese dailies reported that Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had instructed his officers to withhold the video clip, which was slated for release on the ministry's website today.
Video based on 'facts'
Last Sunday, Hishammuddin said the purpose of making the video public was to enable people to get a proper perspective on events that occurred during the rally.

“With the video recording, the people can make their own judgment based on facts and not other considerations,” he said.
NONEHe also said the ministry is ready to face civil suits from those dissatisfied with the source of the video recording.   

“This is part of our responsibility to give justice to the participants, police personnel and media people who were assaulted during the rally.”

He added that there is no reason for the ministry to hide the truth as shown by the video recording to be uploaded.

To counter the ministry’s video, the DAP today uploaded a 15-minute video on the rally that focuses on police brutality.

DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang has slammed Hishammuddin’s insistence on publishing the ministry’s video which he said is nothing more than a continuation of the vilification and demonisation campaign launched by the BN government against Bersih 3.0 and Pakatan Rakyat.

Bar to file defence by June 14 over lawyer’s suit on EGM

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar has been directed to file its defence by June 14 in a suit over the legality of its notice issued for the extraordinary general meeting on May 4.

Lawyer Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz in his suit wants the notice dated May 4 to call for the EGM declared null and void as it was not in accordance with the Legal Profession Act 1976.

High Court Judge Justice John Louis O’Hara fixed June 13 for the next case management.

Justice O’Hara made the order in chambers yesterday after meeting counsel Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman and Shaharudin Ali who acted for Khairul and Idza Hajar Ahmad Idzam for the four defendants.

Shaharudin said they needed to respond to the defence by June 21.

He also said the three defendants – Bar Council, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee and Bar Council secretary Tony Woon Yeow Thong – were planning to strike out the suit.

In his suit filed on May 17, Khairul had named the Bar Council, Malaysian Bar, Lim and Woon as defendants.

Khairul claimed that at about 1.05pm on May 4, Woon had uploaded a circular on the Malaysian Bar website stating that an EGM would be held at a hotel here at 3pm on May 11.

He said Woon uploaded the circular titled “Motion in relation to the events of and surrounding the Bersih 3.0 public assembly on April 28 and matters in connection therewith”, proposed by Lim, on behalf of the Bar Council this year at about 11.29pm on May 4.

He said the defendants failed, refused or neglected the statutory rights of the Bar’s 14,189 members by not mailing the notice and motion to them.

He also alleged that the notice calling for the EGM was issued less than seven days before May 11, adding that members were also not properly notified.

Political Parties Will Be Allowed To Promote Manifestos On RTM - Rais

KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 (Bernama) -- Political parties will now be allowed to promote their election manifestos through Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM), said Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

He said the decision on this was taken after a Cabinet paper relating to requests by political parties for equal airtime to promote their respective manifestos, received the nod of ministers.

"As the arguments were based on Article 10 of the Federal Constitution pertaining to rights and freedom of speech, the cabinet paper was accepted.

"...Pursuant to this, when the Dewan Rakyat is dissolved and the Election Commission announces the campaigning period, political parties will be allowed to promote their manifestos through RTM or other broadcasters during the campaign period," he said when opening Wisma Berita RTM and launching RTM's news portal and digital archives at Angkasapuri here Wednesday.

He, however, did not state how much air time would be given or the conditions to be met in order for the political parties to be given the facility. Rais said what was decided for now was that the parties would be given limited time to explain their manifestos on a selected RTM channel.

He said in providing the facility, RTM would make it incumbent that they adhere to set conditions which could follow what was practised in Commonwealth and advanced countries or tailored to RTM's needs.

"For example in England, BBC gives 10 to 15 minutes for parties to promote their election manifestos subject to certain internal conditions. It is the same with Singapore and Thailand and the latest, Myanmar, with conditions acceptable to all the parties.

"Obviously, with this decision, various questions will arise and views will be forwarded. Nevertheless, the government will keep an open mind but the bottomline is that the facility has to be structured and based on the concept of broadcasting for the nation," he said.

Rais, however, stressed that as a government broadcaster, RTM had to give priority to broadcasts related to the government and matters of importance to the people.