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Friday, June 8, 2012

Khalid Samad shows audio, pix of buy-over defection bid

Hostility Between Muslims and German Nationalists Rattles a Former Capital

BONN, Germany -- The people who live in the trim row houses with well-tended gardens that line the streets of this spa town along the Rhine like to boast of their city's tolerance, which dates to its time as the capital of West Germany and home to dozens of foreign embassies.

"We used to be a city of diplomats," said Christa Menden, who owns a flower shop.

But since 1999, when the central government moved to Berlin, the capital of the reunited Germany, the diplomats have gone. Now there is a growing population of Muslim immigrant families, many of whom have moved into the neighborhood of Bad Godesberg, filling many of the houses left empty by the shift in capitals.

Today Bonn, once tranquil, is a volatile cocktail of social tensions between its Muslim newcomers, who include some German converts as well as immigrants from Arab-speaking countries, with some hard-core elements, and a far-right nationalist group that is mounting a growing campaign against them.

Last month, about 200 Muslims, many from other cities, gathered to defend the honor of the Prophet Muhammad after the far-right Pro-NRW party (for North Rhine-Westphalia) threatened to display caricatures of the Prophet during an anti-Muslim rally in front of the King Fahd Academy, an Islamic school built in 1995 by Saudi Arabia's government.

After the authorities tried unsuccessfully to win a court injunction preventing the display, they parked police vans to block the view of the offending cartoons. But after one of the 30 or so rightists climbed on the shoulders of another to flash the cartoon at the Muslims, who had just finished praying, a shower of rocks and shards from smashed flower pots flew at the police in response.

"They just exploded," said Robin Fassbender, a prosecutor in Bonn, who has begun an investigation that could yield attempted murder charges against a 25-year-old Muslim protester who sneaked through the police barrier and stabbed three officers, wounding two seriously.

By the time the rioting stopped on May 6, the police said, they had rounded up 109 Muslim protesters.
"They viewed the police as an organ of the state that wanted to insult Muslims by failing to prevent the caricatures from being shown," Mr. Fassbender said. "That is a different dimension of violence than these officers are used to. They are trained to regularly take stones and broken bottles, but not to be specifically attacked like this."

Days earlier the same far-right group held a similar protest in another city, Solingen, where the cartoons of Muhammad were also paraded. The police there detained 32 Muslim protesters after they clashed with officers, throwing stones and charging the barriers separating them from the far-right demonstrators.

The violence, which was preceded by a nationwide campaign by Salafists to hand out Korans in cities, has refocused the authorities' attention on what they call a threat from the conservative Salafist movement.

German's interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, has vowed to take stronger action against the Salafists. While they account for a tiny fraction of the estimated 4.3 million Muslims living in Germany, he noted, nearly all Islamic extremists known to German security officials, including several charismatic preachers, have links to the movement. They have proved adept at using social media and Internet forums to attract young followers in Bonn and surrounding areas.

The King Fahd Academy, where the clashes with the police took place, stands incongruously in Bad Godesberg, its gold-topped minaret rising against the deep green bluffs of the Drachenfels crag, where legend has it that Siegfried slew the dragon.

The school was intended to offer a traditional Arabic curriculum to children of diplomats stationed in Bonn. The city authorities tried to close the school in 2003 after it emerged that it taught an extreme form of Islam that encouraged a violent rejection of the Western humanistic values enshrined in the German Constitution.
A compromise was reached, and the school has become a magnet for Muslim families. Several hundred move to Bonn each year, and Muslims now make up about 10 percent of the city's population. Many are wealthy Arabs attracted to Bonn's outstanding medical facilities.

The Bonn police spokesman, Harry Kolbe, said, however, that the influx had also brought young Muslims with no jobs or diplomas, who clashed with their wealthier peers.

Ms. Menden, whose flower shop sits on a corner opposite the King Fahd Academy, said she was traumatized by watching what had begun as a peaceful protest deteriorate into a street riot beneath her window. At first, Ms. Menden said, young men, many with long beards and traditional Arabic clothing, greeted her politely. She was impressed by how they had laid out their rugs in the center of the street and bent in unison to pray.

But at some point, she said, she noticed that several young men were stuffing their pockets with the small slate chips that lined the garden along her exterior wall. "I went over to fuss at them, and one turned and threw the stones back in my face," she said. Her husband pulled her inside to safety.

She said it still upset her to know that the stones from her garden were thrown at the police by the very people who moments earlier had greeted her politely. "I do not feel hate, I do not feel fear," Ms. Menden said. "I feel disappointment."

Other residents blame the city's own education system for the troubles. Classes are taught in Arabic at several elementary schools, part of an effort at integration begun in 2003, when several hundred students had to leave the King Fahd Academy.

"Years of work on integration were unraveled in that demonstration," said Annette Schwolen-Flümann, district mayor of Bad Godesberg.

Less than an hour after the disturbance, residents swept away the dirt and debris from the overturned flowerpots. Many were Muslims who had sought to keep the peace that Saturday afternoon and were themselves struggling to come to terms with the events.

A Muslim woman who gave her name only as Ms. Elbay because, she said, she did not feel comfortable being identified in media outlets, said she has lived behind the parking lot where the rightist group held its demonstration for the past 11 years without any trouble.

"It is difficult for us as Muslims," Ms. Elbay said. "Our image is always being destroyed. We do our best to try to live a normal life; we send our children to integrated play groups, we have German friends, and then these people come and destroy it," she said, referring to the Muslim demonstrators who had turned violent.
Ms. Menden insisted that now she struggled to fight back anger whenever a Muslim neighbor greeted her.

Malaysia clerics say no to Portugal, Man Utd, Brazil jerseys

Portugal's Euro 2012 away jersey.

MELAKA, Malaysia: The small street seller had all the European club jerseys ready for sale on Saturday evening, as passersby wanted to grab their favorite international shirt ahead of this month’s Euro 2012. But for Portugal fans, the jersey was nowhere to be found.

“We are not allowed to sell the jersey because it shows a cross,” the shopkeeper told “I still love Portugal and will be rooting for them, but we are an Islamic country and don’t want to get people angry,” he added.

While it is not officially banned in the country, a number of Islamic clerics have voiced their concern over the jersey, which has a large cross on the front, highlighting Portugal’s Catholic faith. But in Malaysia, symbols often find themselves under attack by the country’s virulent Muslim clerics.

However, one fan, who recently returned from a short trip to Thailand sports his Ronaldo jersey with pride. “I don’t care what those people say, this is just football and not religion,” he said.

Portugal is not the only jersey to be pulled from the shelves. Brazil, which also boasts a large cross, has been barred by clerics. Manchester United, the world’s most popular club team, has also sparked the ire of clerics in the Southeast Asian country over its nickname, the Red Devils.

Despite the Old Trafford side having an estimated 81 million followers in Asia, one senior cleric said: “You are only promoting the devil.”

“This is very dangerous. As a Muslim we should not worship the symbols of other religions or the devils,” another added, in a Forbes report.

“It will erode our belief in Islam. There is no reason why we as Muslims should wear such jerseys, either for sports or fashion reasons.”

Either way, Malaysians are gearing up for Europe’s continental tournament and are picking up their team’s jerseys in large numbers.

“We are getting most of these sold all the time because of the tournament, so it’s good for business,” added the shopkeeper.

But not for Portugal fans.

DPM's lips stitched tight on leaked Navy papers

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today yet again refused to field questions on the French probe into the Malaysian Scorpene submarine purchase.

NONEAsked what the government would do about claims that French prosecutors found that confidential Malaysian Navy documents had been marketed, his instant response was said: "No comment."

He repeated the same when asked if the government would still keep mum despite the matter possibly implicating Prime Minister and then-defence minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Muhyiddin had the exact response when asked of the government's take on the civil suit in the French courts by local human rights NGO Suaram on May 17.

Suaram had filed a suit over alleged kickbacks from French defence contractor DCNS to Malaysian parties in the two submarine purchases.

Asked whether the government, which is implicated in the case, would be represented during the trial, Muhyiddin had said, " I don't want to comment on that."

Suaram's lawyer Joseph Breham recently revealed that French prosecutors found that a company closely-linked to Najib had sold confidential documents to DCNS.

The company, Hong Kong-based Terasasi Ltd belongs to Najib's associate Abdul Razak Baginda and the latter's father Abdul Malim Baginda.

Suaram also revealed that French investigators found a fax correspondence which indicate that Najib could have asked for USD 1 billion for another company owned by Abdul Razak, Perimekar, for the duration of the company's stay in France.

This was allegedly in exchange for a meeting with Najib.

The PM has been silent on the matter while the Navy, too, have declined comment.

Kadir’s Ikatan says race, religion misused to ‘tear’ Malaysia apart

Abdul Kadir (second from right) and party leaders at the launching of Ikatan in Kuala Lumpur on June 7, 2012. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — Newly-formed political party Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia (Ikatan) will focus on uniting Malaysians who have become more polarised since the 2008 general election, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir has said.

Claiming that Malaysians have since been “torn” apart by race and religious issues, the former Umno minister said a movement was needed to push for a united “Bangsa Malaysia”, and presented his party Ikatan as the solution.

“We have been sidetracked by small things. The issue of religion, race, has been played carelessly, it can tear our country apart if we do not stop the decline.

“Our focus is on unity, to make ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ a success... we are continuing efforts made by past Umno leaders,” he said at Ikatan’s official launch here.

The Ikatan protem president said his party will carry on the efforts made by Malaysia’s first prime minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, in pushing for a Malaysia which is “fair, progressive and in line with the federal constitution.”

“It is time that we became Malaysians first and everything else second. It is time for us to be able to call ourselves Malaysians without having to worry about what backgrounds we come from.

“If we want to preserve our beautiful country for our future generations, we can no longer wait and hope that everything will be restored by the government of the day,” he added.

But Abdul Kadir did not explain how his party’s aims are different from Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) or Barisan Nasional’s (BN).

Ikatan’s mission statement states that it will support a government administration that is transparent, accountable and corruption-free.

Ikatan’s line-up of leaders includes a mix of new and familiar faces. Its three deputy presidents are former Bar Council chairman Ragunath Kesavan, Ong Hock Siew and former Deputy Education Minister Datuk Seri Bujang Ulis.

Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia co-operative portfolio chairman Datuk Seri Mustafa Kamal Maulut will act as the party’s secretary-general.

Abdul Kadir’s new party could very well bolster opposition towards BN in the next general election as the former Umno man has been openly critical of his one-time party, even accusing Umno of vote-buying.

He claimed back in January that Umno handed out cash in previous election campaigns in attempts to buy votes, a tactic known as “bomb”, and that he had himself seen how cash handouts ranging from RM200 to RM1,000 were used in BN’s campaigns to gain voter support.

The former tourism minister has previously said he has not ruled out joining PR and has been spotted attending and giving speeches at opposition rallies.

He also took part in the April 28 Bersih rally in the capital city alongside PR leaders such as the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

Abdul Kadir quit Umno early this year to focus on carrying the “original fight” of the party’s founding fathers for equality and democracy through Angkatan Amanah Rakyat (Amanah).

MCA, MIC disagree with PTPTN freeze

But Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says it is fair while former Selangor menteri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo says the move is not serious.
PETALING JAYA: Two Barisan Nasional component parties disagreed with the decision to freeze PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation) loans of new students enrolled at Selangor-owned Universiti Selangor (Unisel).
MCA Selangor chairman Donald Lim said that politics should not have come into the equation at the expense of students’ education and future.
“Whatever decision we make as the government should not take politics into consideration, but the students… we should prioritise children’s education and future,” he told FMT.
Asked if he was admitting that the government had made a mistake, the senator and deputy finance minister refused to say “who is right or wrong” in the matter.
“I don’t want to say who was right or wrong here. They just have to consider whatever they have decided. And use their wisdom, whoever it is in the chair to make that decision. Students’ education is the priority,” he said.

MIC secretary-general S Murugessan also disagreed with PTPTN’s move.
“While the issue shows PKR’s hypocrisy with regard to its claim of providing free education but not implementing it in Unisel which is under the Pakatan Rakyat state government… PTPTN should not victimise the students over this.
Muhyiddin: It’s a fair move
“We should prioritise the welfare of the students and so PTPTN should continue disbursing the loans to those who qualify from Unisel,” he told FMT.
However, former Selangor menteri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo defended the move by PTPTN, assuring that the government would not let the issue affect students’ studies.
“I think this is not seriously done, as I am sure that the ministry just wants to see the reaction from the public and opposition.
“Actually, I do believe that Barisan Nasional will give back loans to those who deserve it,” he said.
Khir said that it was the government’s hope that the Selangor state government would find a solution.
“But looking at their reaction, it has been very bad. They have not given us a solution. This means they are not ready for free education. Politically, we are doing the right move. Now the public can measure how serious they have been over the abolishing of PTPTN,” he added.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today that it was “fair” for PTPTN to freeze loans for Unisel students as it was only responding to PKR’s policy proposal.
“PTPTN did not cancel all loans, but temporarily halted it so they can review it first. That’s fair. If the Selangor MB says there’s no need for students to take the loans, then PTPTN need not give out the loans,” he was reported as saying.

A street protest that works

KUALA LUMPUR: About 20 disabled people demonstrated outside Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) this morning in the name of a homeless man and solved his problem in a matter of hours.

The protesters, representing the Independent Living and Training Centre (ILTC), demanded that City Hall provide housing to V Karuppan, a disabled 60-year-old man who has been living in his car for nearly three years because he is too poor to buy a house.

The group was led by ILTC adviser Anthony Thanasayan, president Francis Siva and secretary Gurdip Kaur.

Karuppan, who hails from Selayang, said that he had been living in his old Proton Saga since 2009.

“I work as washroom attendant at the Subang railway station and I have no fixed income,” he said. “On a good day, I can earn about RM20.”

He said that he had applied to City Hall several times since 2009 for a flat on the first floor of the Intan Baiduri Public Housing Scheme (PPR).

“All DBKL gives is empty promises. Sometimes they say I will get it in a week, sometimes in a month but nearly three years have passed and I have not seen my house yet.”

He said his applications were supported by letters from the Welfare Department and the Deputy Minister of Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being, M Saravanan.

‘Is this a caring government?’

He claimed that an aide to Saravanan once told him to purchase his own house while waiting for City Hall to approve his application.

“If I had the money to buy my own house, why would I want to rent a PPR flat? It’s common sense, isn’t it?”

Karuppan lost the use of his legs in childhood as a consequence of polio. His wife, A Pushpavalli, helps him on his job.

Pushpavalli said she had found out that several flat units at Intan Baiduri, including one on the first floor, had been vacant for three years.

She questioned why City Hall was not willing to approve Karuppan’s application. “You make my husband run up and down for a home knowing he is disabled. And you call yourself a caring government?”

Pushpavalli, 49, stays with her sister at Intan Baiduri at night, but the flat is too crowded to accommodate her husband.

“My sister lives with her extended family in the flat,” she said. “I sleep in the hall.”

Thanasayan, who is also a Petaling Jaya City Hall councillor, said he was shocked when he found out how DBKL was treating Karuppanan.

“The way DBKL is treating a disabled man is disgraceful,” he said. “This just shows that it doesn’t care for us.”

Welfare Department taken to task

He demanded that DBKL provide Karuppan a flat by today or place him in a hotel until it could provide him with a flat.

An aide to DBKL’s director-general told the protesters that City Hall’s director for housing, Sukiman Surahman, could not meet them as he was at a meeting at the DBKL office in Kampung Baru.

When they insisted on a meeting, the aide said City Hall would arrange to transport them to Kampung Baru. However, the three ILTC officials decided to go there on their own, taking Karuppan with them.

The meeting lasted 20 minutes, during which, according to Siva, Sukiman issued a letter to Karuppan that offered him a first floor flat at Intan Baiduri.

“He also instructed his officers to turn the unit into a disabled friendly home by building ramps and renovating the toilet,” Siva said, adding that the unit would be ready in two days.

Although happy with the outcome, Siva criticised the Welfare Department for failing to help Karuppan in the first place.

“The Welfare Department should have dealt with this, not an NGO. We might as well close down the department if this is how they are going to work.”

Students threaten to protest over freeze

PTPTN's decision to freeze loans for Unisel students has left a student's group livid. SSM also takes the DPM to task for endorsing the move.

PETALING JAYA: A students’ group has threatened to take to the streets over the freeze of PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation) loans for new students enrolled at the Selangor-owned Universiti Selangor (Unisel).

Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM), which represents 15 student bodies, said it would give PTPTN one week to resolve the issue or they would hold demonstrations.

SMM secretary Haziq Abdul Aziz told FMT that Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin acted in bad faith and indulged in “cheap politics”.

“Khaled is an unprofessional public officer. He should be non-partisian and not biased. Not act as an exco of his own political party.

“He should remember his salary is paid by the rakyat’s tax money and act as a fair government officer. He should not be going after PKR and (Opposition Leader) Anwar (Ibrahim) and make us students political victims,” he added.

Haziq also said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak seemed “not to care” about the issue as he remained silent.

“That means that he is allowing his people to do things like this, he is in cahoots with Khaled,” he added.

Both MIC and MCA objected to the freeze but Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin described the move as fair.

Commenting on Muhyiddin’s statement, Haziq said it was “embarrassing” that even the country’s number two was supporting what Khaled and PTPTN did.

“It is very embarrassing that DPM is supporting what has been done to the Unisel students. What have the students done wrong?

“It is Anwar who said what he said, if you want to attack Anwar, then fine. Play politics with Anwar. But don’t play politics with the students, students are not politicians.

“This is an act of oppression,” he stressed.

‘Outright discrimination’

A student group from Unisel, Aksi Mahasiswa Peduli, said that so far, a lot of information remained sketchy over the issue.

The group’s secretary Ekhsan Bukharee Badarul Hisham described what happened as an “outright discrimination”.

“Education should not be politicised. And Khaled must be responsible over what is being done.

His tweet has also angered many students. So we have to now try to find a way to clear the mess that has been caused,” he added.

Yesterday, news reports revealed that the PTPTN froze its loans for new students enrolled at Unisel.

The freeze reportedly began last month, when fresh intakes started, and did not affect those already receiving loans.

Khaled had confirmed the freeze and said the decision was made following “political pressure” from the opposition over free education. He stressed that it was a temporary move.

Writting about the matter on micro-blogging site, Twitter, Khaled had said: “Unisel boleh hapuskan yuran, dgn sendirinya memenuhi matlamat pendidikan percuma dan penutupan PTPTN yg dilaungkan Anwar dan Pakatan, (Unisel can abolish its fees, thereby fulfilling the goal of free education and the closure of PTPTN as proclaimed by Anwar and Pakatan).

The move drew flak from opposition leaders, with Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim accusing PTPTN of discrimination and vowed to take the matter up to the federal government.

PKR’s strategy director Rafizi Ramly subsequently demanded Khaled to reveal if he ordered the freeze, alleging that the minister was most probably making a “childish” and “revengeful” move against Pakatan over the ongoing PTPTN issue.

The PTPTN issue had been raging for several months following PKR’s campaigning that the student loan scheme should be abolished to pave the way for free education.

Exposed: ‘BN agents buying Pakatan MPs’

PAS leader Khalid Samad says the clip shows how the 15 MPs were offered RM2 million each to jump ship.

SHAH ALAM: PAS leader Khalid Samad has revealed a video purportedly showing two Umno-Barisan Nasional agents involved in negotiations to “purchase” 15 Pakatan Rakyat MPs.

The three-hour video was recorded at a restaurant in the Klang Valley in 2010 but the Shah Alam MP only revealed four minutes of the clip to reporters.

The clip showed how the alleged agents offered RM2 million for each MP to jump ship.

Khalid said the names of the 15 Pakatan MPs would be revealed next Tuesday.

The video recording also showed the two agents, who were allegedly members of a NGO, negotiating with two representatives of a PKR MP.

“Zahrain’s name was mentioned because he quit the party,” said Khalid, referring to Bayan Baru MP Zahrain Mohd Hashim who resigned from PKR in 2010.

“We planted a video [in the restaurant] without the agents’ knowledge.

“There are five individuals in the recording – the two agents, their driver, a man and a woman who were the representatives of the PKR MP,” he added.

The alleged agents, said Khalid, told the representatives that they had identified 15 MPs and also asked them to scout for more who could be “bought”.

Asked if he was one of the 15, the PAS leader smiled and shook his head.

The 2008 general election saw Pakatan making significant inroads by capturing several states and denying Barisan Nasional a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Following this, there were numerous allegations of opposition MPs quitting their respective parties after being lured with cash rewards, a charge which BN denied.

The exit of three Pakatan state assemblymen also paved the way for BN to re-take Perak, one of the five states which fell under opposition control in 2008.

In another development, Khalid also criticised the move to freeze PTPTN loans for the new batch of Universiti Selangor (Unisel) students.

He accused Umno of willing to sacrifice the interest of the Malays for political purposes.

BNM saga reawakened

The Sun
THE ghost of Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) epic foreign exchange trading losses, said to have run into tens of billions during the 80s and 90s, has reawakened.
Like a dormant volcano whose time to re-erupt has come, the controversy involving the central bank’s infamous speculative practices blew up with such a shudder last weekend that even Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was called to respond.
Mahathir, who was prime minister at the time, commented to reporters that he was not afraid to be investigated. The Opposition can open any file they had on him, he said in response to DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang’s assertion that Pakatan Rakyat, should it take over the federal government, must initiate a royal commission of inquiry into the affair.
Other key figures reportedly implicated are the then finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin and BNM governor during that period, the late Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein. A fourth person, the then BNM deputy governor, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yackop, is now a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
Although the issue has been raised before, this time it was perhaps more damning and detailed. This is because the individual who spoke about it at a forum organised by the Penang Institute, a state government think-tank, on Saturday was privy to the internal happenings at BNM until 1994.
Dr Rosli Yaakob was a senior manager during the crucial years when the speculative practices were said to occur, and was even on the panel that prepared and presented the bank’s semi-annual brief. He is currently Negri Sembilan PAS deputy commissioner.
Incidentally, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was finance minister from 1991 to 1998, also spoke at the forum. Anwar maintained that the matter was kept from him after he assumed the post. He has however been accused of covering up for it, including by Lim – the opposition leader and DAP’s Tanjung MP in the early 90s – who held Anwar personally responsible for the losses.
The problem with this whole affair is that there has been neither an official investigation nor an inquiry into the matter to assuage public confusion and concerns. No one, aside perhaps from the perpetrators, knows how much money, if any, was lost or how this was done.
Rosli’s account, delivered to a packed hall seated in stunned silence, would have raised more curiosity about what could have occurred.
Even the volume of money that was supposedly involved has come into question. Lim has put the losses at about RM30 billion. Rosli, however, pointed out that it was once reported that at the height of the speculation BNM had spent RM270 billion. “This is no small amount,” he said.
According to Rosli, the market norm then was to trade in lots of US$1 million, US$5 million or US$10 million, but that BNM traded in US$50 million lots (up to 5-10 lots per call) and sometimes, a few “yards” (US$1 billion per yard) a day.
Its closest rivals were Japanese fund managers who also traded in lots of US$50 million, but only once or twice a year, he said.
If true, this effectively made BNM the largest player in the international currency market, as it is said to have competed head-on against the likes of George Soros.
And Rosli’s indictment was emphatic: “They did not speculate, they gambled and did so recklessly and irresponsibly with no regard for the safety of BNM assets.” Even Alan Greenspan of the US Federal Reserve had warned BNM to stop its speculative activities, he added.
BNM’s strategy was to hit a currency for a couple of yards, and once the initial transaction had gone through, hit it again with another couple of yards, normally only minutes later, Rosli alleged.
“This sent shocks through the market and dealers scrambled to buy the currency, sending it up. BNM sold the currency with a healthy profit,” he said. “But then, other dealers caught on to the scheme. They hit back.”
Rosli specifically pinpointed Jaffar’s appointment as governor in 1985 at the beginning of the foray.
“Previous governors were all against speculation and fiercely defended BNM against any undue outside interference,” he said. “Prior to this, the main thrust of reserve management had always been to preserve the value of the Malaysian ringgit and to maintain liquidity.”
The government should once and for all put this matter to rest with a proper inquiry, to address the inevitable public disquiet on the affair. For after having begun to spew smoke again, this billion-ringgit volcano is not likely to simmer down for some time to come.
Himanshu is theSun’s Penang bureau chief.

Malaysia's Najib seen delaying election, boosting spending

(Reuters) - Malaysia is planning a fresh round of cash handouts to poorer families in August, government sources said, as Prime Minister Najib Razak likely delays elections until late this year to shore up support among undecided voters.
Two senior officials told Reuters the government is considering giving out payments to 5.2 million low-income households ahead of a Muslim festival in August. Najib would then present a generous election budget in September before announcing an election date, they said.
Speculation has been swirling for a year over the timing of what is expected to be a fiercely fought election, which Najib must call by next March as he seeks to improve on the ruling coalition's dismal showing at the polls four years ago.
A June or July poll had been the favourite, but Najib appears to have calculated that he needs more time -- and more handouts -- to maximise his chances of regaining the two-thirds parliamentary majority that the government lost in 2008.
"The window for October elections is wide open now. This is the next window after July," said one senior government source who declined to be identified.
"This is a risky election and the prime minister does not want to take any chances. He has to prove to the people that the government will be there for them. So he has to balance his reforms with social economic help," he said.
Another government source said one of the suggested dates for the election was October 14, just two weeks after Najib, who is also finance minister, presents the 2013 budget in parliament.
The decision to delay the election carries risks. A worsening global downturn could impact the trade-dependent economy in the coming months, dampening the feel-good factor generated by handouts.
Uncertainty over the timing could also hit the economy as companies hold back on spending, while an overly generous budget would sharpen concerns over Malaysia's chronic budget deficit.
"After September is what we have been told for the timing of the elections," a senior official in the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), which dominates the Barisan Nasional (BN) ruling coalition, told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
"We are on red alert but nothing is happening for now. The leadership is looking at an election budget to sweeten the deal," the source added.
Fiscal sweeteners this year have included pay rises for civil servants and cash payments for students, adding to strains on finances. Cash handouts to low-income households earlier this year accounted for 2.6 billion ringgit ($821 million) alone.
Fitch ratings agency said this year that Malaysia, which is heavily dependent on oil revenues and whose spending is bloated by food and fuel subsidies, needed structural reforms to narrow a budget deficit that hit about 5.4 percent last year.
The government had aimed to cut the deficit to 4.7 percent this year, but that looks tough to reach as economic growth slows to around 4 percent from last year's 5.1 percent. Najib aims to cut the budget gap to about 3 percent by 2015.
"If they continue dishing out generous handouts, I'm afraid this target will be delayed," said Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajudin, chief economist at Bank Islam.
Shaun Levine, a Washington-based analyst at political risk research firm Eurasia Group, said Najib may be planning to offer budget goodies to be handed out only if the BN returns to power.
That plan has shades of Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's longest serving prime minister, who in 1999 announced a generous budget and promptly called elections that he won.
"It is a big gamble for Najib," said Levine. "But I think at the end of the day he is looking at the lowest common denominator, basically writing off the larger Chinese vote in favour of the Indian and rural/lower class Malay votes."
Ethnic Chinese voters who make up a quarter of the 28 million population have deserted the BN in recent years, partly due to dissatisfaction over the slow pace of reforms to affirmative-action policies that favour majority ethnic Malays.
Najib has reached out to middle-class, urban voters, many of whom are Chinese, by rolling back repressive security laws. But his reforms have not gone far enough for many and he may end up relying heavily on the BN's traditional support base -- poor majority Malay voters in rural areas.
A survey by the Merdeka Center polling firm last week showed Najib's approval rating fell slightly to 65 percent in May, as a rise in support from Malays helped offset a slide in Chinese and Indian backing.
Despite the three-party opposition's strong gains in the last election, most analysts expect it to fall short of taking over the government. The BN only needs to win nine seats more than it did in 2008 to regain its coveted "super majority".
UMNO's secretary general, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, said the mood within the party was upbeat and that Najib had not miscalculated by waiting too long.
"We're expecting a better budget than last year. A budget for the people," he told Reuters.

Scorpene lawyers now deciphering documents to show Najib 'RECEIVED THE MONEY DIRECTLY'

Scorpene lawyers now deciphering documents to show Najib 'RECEIVED THE MONEY DIRECTLY'High or low treason, Malaysia's ruling BN government is keeping its eyes tightly shut over a shady RM7.3bil submarines acquisition and with good reason. Their leader, Prime Minister Najib Razak, is at the center of the arms procurement corruption trial involving French vendor DCNS that began in Paris in April.
Despite the mountain of evidence uncovered by the French police, Malaysian authorities - from Najib's department to his Umno party, the police, Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission and even the Royal Malaysian Navy itself have refused to comment.
But silence will not be golden for Najib, who controversially came to power in 2009.
"The lawyers told us that the documents seized by the French police show a clear link between Razak Baginda and Najib. The French judge is satisfied there are grounds to subpoena Baginda and wants Suaram lawyers to decipher more documents that directly showed Najib received the money before they summon him," PKR MP for Batu Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
Tian was referring to the French legal team hired by Malaysian NGO Suaram, which had in 2010 filed a complaint with the Parisian authorities after failing to get the Malaysian agencies to initiate a full-scale probe despite years of trying and growing public anger over the abuse of trust and taxpayers' money.
The 58-year-old Najib has been accused of accepting 114 million euros or RM570mil bribe for agreeing to buy two Scorpene submarines from DCNS in 2002 when he was the Defense minister.
Razak Baginda, formerly a prominent political analyst, has long been a close friend of Najib's. He was a lecturer for the Ministry of Defense and among the negotiators in Scorpenes purchase by the Malaysian government. He also ran a private think-tank.
Bombshell in Bangkok leaves Malaysian navy 'deaf' and 'dumb'?
Suaram and its lawyers had last week held a high-profile press conference in Bangkok, revealing the latest status in the Parisian investigation, and Tian was among those who had flown to the Thai capital to get the latest information.
In Bangkok, French lawyers had dropped a bombshell. According to Joseph Breham, who heads the legal team, Parisian police had found evidence that a firm Terasasi controlled by Baginda and his father had sold Malaysian naval secrets to DCNS.
“It was a secret document by the Malaysian Navy, an evaluation for the order of the submarines, which is a highly confidential report,” said Breham.
But it looks like the cat may have got Royal Malaysian Navy's tongue. Despite the gravity of the situation, the Malaysian naval leaders had nothing to say.
"We have no comment for now," Royal Malaysian Navy media and web director Commander Ismail Othman was reported as telling a news portal.
Silence is NOT golden despite media blackout in M'sia
Baginda was also charged for abetting the murder of his ex-lover Altantuya Shaariibuu, who is believed to have been killed because of her knowledge of the Scorpene transaction. Baginda's private investigator P Balasubramaniam has alleged that she was also Najib's mistress and it was the PM who had 'passed' her onto Baginda.
Two of Najib former bodyguards were sentenced to hang for murdering Altantuya while Baginda was controversially acquitted, prompting further concern that the Malaysian authorities were shielding the 'real killers' or 'puppet-masters'.
“We were shocked with Suaram’s exposé that a company linked to PM Najib had sold these defence secrets. This is a national crisis that requires immediate action," PKR MP for Gombak Azmin Ali told reporters on Wednesday.
“I urge Najib not to take this issue lightly. He must come forward to answer how his key advisers had sold off our defence secrets. I also urge the relevant authorities — the police, MACC and the Malaysian Armed Forces — to commence investigations immediately and bring those responsible to justice."
Given that the submarines were ordered in 2002, Altantuya was murdered in 2006, Najib's bodyguards sentenced in 2009, few Malaysians expect the BN to move with any speed on the case - especially with the 13th general election looming.
Due to the complete blackout by the government media, with opinion pollsters also cautioned against doing any survey on whether the Scorpenes corruption and Altantuya murder had dented Najib's credibility, Azmin is unlikely to get any answer from Najib at all.
Will Najib and Umno duck the issue again at Parliament next week?
Nonetheless, the Pakatan Rakyat coalition led by Najib's arch rival Anwar Ibrahim is unlikely to let Najib off the hook. Pantai Lembah MP Nurul Izzah has also pledged to raise the matter in Parliament, which convenes next week.
Tian has also assured constituents that he will lodge another formal report with the MACC.

Documents seized by the French police included a document tagged “Malaysia”, wherein there was a confidential report regarding Perimekar and Terasasi - two firms linked to Baginda and alleged to be the vessels through which the DCNS bribes had been funneled back to Najib and his Umno party.
The confidential report included a note on “Retracing the background of negotiations", which stated that pursuant to the major defense contracts between France and Malaysia, there was a requirement that substantial transfer of money had to be channeled to individuals and/or political organizations.
“The note specifically states that apart from individuals, the ruling party Umno is the biggest beneficiary. Consultants are often used as political network agents to facilitate these monetary transfers and to receive commissions from their mandators. The note mentions about Mohd Ibrahim Mohd Noor and Abdul Razak as points of reference for the political network," said SUARAM in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Mohd Ibrahim is known to be close to former Finance minister Daim Zainuddin, but he dropped out of Perimekar when Daim's power in Umno waned after resigning in 2001. It was then that Razak Baginda took over as Najib's power in both Umno and the federal government grew.

Outlaws in Europe
Baginda is being sought as a witness in the French case. After his acquittal, he left overseas and obtained a doctorate fro the Oxford university and is believed to be living in self-exile with his family in Europe.
All eyes are now whether the French court will summon current Malaysian Defense minister Zahid Hamidi and if Najib will agree to take the witness stand.
If the Malaysian men refuse to do, they will become outlaws in Europe, which would make it extremely embarrassing for Najib to continue to be PM unless Malaysia were to cut off diplomatic ties with the Eurozone.
Malaysia Chronicle

Umno and the reasonable Malay

Sakmongkol AK47 - The Malaysian Insider

JUNE 7 — The reasonable Malay doesn’t ride the Clapham Omnibus. He gets around on the LRT or the successor to Sri Jaya buses. He travels in his beat-up Proton. But he reads in between the lines. He knows the BS from the mainstream media. The reasonable Malay now reads Harakah, Roket and PKR news.

Why does the PM and Umno president procrastinate in naming an election date? He’s enjoying a good personal rating. Umno is flushed with cash. He says he feels like meeting HRH the Yang di-Pertuan Agong immediately on seeing the “huge crowd” assembled at Stadium Bukit Jalil. I hope he didn’t ask the minister of misinformation to do a headcount for that occasion. Are all lawyers bad at counting or is it Rais alone?

So why does he not name a date? He is the longest-serving PM without his own mandate. And if we were to go by the logic of the ex-MIC leader who says he will contest against Palanivel, then, Najib can also be described as an illegal government leader. Yes, he actually said that because Palanivel had the MIC presidentship handed to him and not ELECTED, so Palanivel is an illegal party president. He says he has support from thousands and thousands of MIC members just like the Umno president.

The Umno president should be wary with the numbers given by Rais who seems to have been infected with the Indian Numberititis disease. I mean no disrespect to Malaysian Indians; but think about this. Assume there are three million Malaysian Indians — MIC says it has 1.5 million members, PPP says it has 800,000, IPF says it has 900,000; Nala says he has 600,000 in his pocket. Either the Malaysian Indian is a member of all these parties simultaneously or the political parties count those Malaysian Indians not born yet. Rais has been infected by Indian Numberititis. It’s a horrible judgment-clouding disease that causes hallucinating euphoria.

The main reason is not because he fears the feedback from the ground. He has been receiving padded and curry-flavoured reports saying all is well. The minister of misinformation downplayed the opposition’s chances consistently by 30per cent so as to doctor a favourable report pleasing to the ears of the party president.

The real reason he delays and delays, huffs and puffs is because he fears revolt in Umno. The incumbents insist they are winnable. Would anyone dare replace warlord Tajudin Rahman, for example?

In all divisions he is facing potential revolt. Even if he pays the incumbents lots of money (Umno has tons of it), the people supporting the replaced incumbents will sabotage Umno. More so the incumbents who feel they are winnable but are humiliated because they are not chosen. The eager beavers who thought they would be chosen but sidelined will muster whatever they can to sabotage Umno. This is the only reason why the Umno president is delaying the election date.

Will the one million-plus Umno members, who have gone from the Dark Side to the Bright Side, come back? Maybe five per cent. That still leaves more than one million Umno members who will vote for Pakatan Rakyat.

The Umno president-cum-BN chairman goes to Sarawak to plead for an extended lifeline. The people of Sarawak are not easily fooled any longer. Taib Mahmud is an old but wizened geezer, keen and sharp to the deceptive manoeuvres of Najib. Wasn’t Najib the Umno president who repeatedly humiliated Taib Mahmud, asking him to retire quickly? The president of a party who wasn’t able to get a 100 per cent winning record in 2008 talking down to a president of another party who got 100 per cent achievement record? That’s why Taib Mahmud sent word through an emissary, saying we shall see who leaves office first.

Najib can’t win over the reasonable Malay. The reasonable Malay is the person riding the LRT or the successor to Bas Sri Jaya. He reads in between the lines and is able to sieve through all the BS parlayed by Ustazah Ummi Hafilda, Ezam Mat Nor, Zulkifli Nordin, Hasan Aqidah and swami Nala. The reasonable Malay knows that in Utusan Malaysia, only the notification of the solat times and the 4D and Toto results are true.

The reasonable Malay is not easily blinded by the fetished sense of patriotism hawked around by Perkasa or to mouth-foaming gesticulations of Hidup Melayu by any of the Umno leaders.

Because the reasonable Malay knows it’s all much thunder but no rainfall. —

* Sakmongkol AK47 is the nom de plume of Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz. He was Pulau Manis assemblyman (2004-2008).

Press Release: Amendment to Mufti and Fatwa (Kedah Darul Aman) Enactment 2008 is unconstitutional and goes against the separation of powers

ImageThe Malaysian Bar views with grave concern the amendment made to the Mufti and Fatwa (Kedah Darul Aman) Enactment 2008 (“Enactment”) passed recently by the Kedah state legislative assembly.  The amendment inserted an ouster clause into the Enactment by way of section 22A, which provides that notwithstanding any written law or rule to the contrary, a fatwa decided by a mufti or a fatwa committee, “whether gazetted or not, cannot be challenged, appealed, reviewed, denied or questioned” in any civil or Syariah Court.  

The amendment is unconstitutional, as it purports to oust the jurisdiction of the Courts.  Article 121 of the Federal Constitution does not confer upon any state legislative assembly the legislative power to enact laws that exclude the jurisdiction of the Courts. 

The amendment also goes against the doctrine of separation of powers.  In a modern democratic framework, each of the three main branches of Government — the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary — has its respective role.  The raison d'être of this doctrine is to establish a system of checks and balances among the three branches, to prevent any form of abuse of power by any branch.  With the amendment, however, fatwas in Kedah are made absolute.

The Malaysian Bar reminds members of the Kedah legislative assembly of the oath they took to uphold the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the land.  This amendment must not become or remain a law of the state, as it is contrary to that oath. 
Lim Chee Wee
Malaysian Bar

BN Government Open To Giving RTM Air Time To Opposition Parties - Muhyiddin

KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 (Bernama) -- The Barisan Nasional (BN) government is open to allowing political parties even from the opposition to present their election manifesto over the government-run Radio Television Malaysia (RTM), Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

He said the details, such as the air time and topic of the manifesto, would be handled by the Information Communication and Culture Ministry and the Election Commission (EC).

"We welcome the proposal raised by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform. It goes to show that the BN government is transparent, open and unafraid to allow opposition parties to use the government official media," he told reporters after meeting the people of Gombak at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Taman Melawati in Hulu Klang near here.

Muhyiddin was asked to comment on the demand by several opposition leaders for equal opportunity to be given in terms of broadcast time to explain their election manifesto over RTM.

Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim had said that the Cabinet had approved a paper on the matter and the ministry would announce the rules and conditions once parliament is dissolved for the next general election.

Meanwhile, MIC President Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said the move was timely as it would allow both sides to air their views freely.

"This is also an opportunity for MIC to present our manifesto to the Indian community," he told Bernama.

PPP President Datuk M. Kayveas said the airing of the manifesto would enable political parties to reach out to their audience.

Political analyst Dr Sivamurugan Pandian is of the view that promoting the manifesto will allow viewers, especially the fence-sitters among the voters, to evaluate and decide which party they would want to vote for in an election.

"A manifesto reflects the policies and achievements of a party. Voters will get more information from this coverage and get to know the parties before deciding for whom they would want to cast their ballot.

"Empty promises can also be evaluated through the coverage if there are parties which tend to become more populist than face the reality," he said.