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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Violence, threats rise as Malaysia election nears

ANALYSIS A Malaysian ruling party politician suggests that an electoral reform activist should be hanged. Mock funeral rites are held outside the home of an opposition state leader. Eggs and rocks rain down on a political rally.

Malaysia is no stranger to political mud-slinging and scandal. But a ratcheting-up of inflammatory language and violence - much of it directed at the political opposition - has shocked even seasoned observers as the country heads for its most contentious and closest election by next April.

“I worry that the election will be the dirtiest. All indications also point to the most violent,” said Lim Guan Eng, the ethnic Chinese chief minister of Penang state and a leading figure in Malaysia’s opposition.

NONEMembers of Perkasa, a group that champions ethnic Malay rights and has links to the ruling party, placed a flower garland around a photo of Lim outside his home in May, a funeral ritual that his supporters said was akin to a death threat.

The rising political temperature coincides with signs that Malaysia’s ruling coalition, in power since independence in 1957, will struggle to improve on its poor electoral performance in 2008.

That showing, which deprived the Barisan Nasional coalition of a two-thirds parliamentary majority for the first time, handed five state governments to the opposition and led to the ouster of then-prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

A source in the dominant United Malays National Organisation (Umno) told Reuters that recent internal polling showed the coalition faced an uphill battle to win back its two-thirds share and was even at risk of losing its simple majority.

The polls showed the coalition risked losing more states and faced a closer than expected race in southern Johor state - long an Umno bastion - due to waning support from ethnic Chinese.

“That will be a slap in the face. So this is why there is a delay in the elections,” said the senior Umno source.

NONEPolls by the independent Merdeka Centre show that while Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak (right in photo) enjoys strong approval ratings around 65 percent, his coalition is much less popular - polling at around 48 percent.

Najib has put off calling the election, which must be held by next April, showing his apparent wavering confidence in improving on 2008's performance.

“Umno knows their hold on power is not a given,” said Ooi Kee Beng, deputy director of the Institute of South-East Asian Studies in Singapore. “Perhaps for the first time since 1969, there’s a chance change may actually happen so you would expect more desperate moves.”

The South-East Asian country was traumatised by race riots in 1969 following strong election gains by ethnic Chinese. The troubles gave birth to its current system of economic privileges for majority ethnic Malays over Chinese and Indian minorities.
‘Relentless’ hate speech

The opposition filed a police report against Umno lawmaker Mohamad Aziz after he asked in parliament last month whether leading electoral reform campaigner Ambiga Sreenevasan should be hanged for treason.

NONEThe lawmaker retracted his remark two days, but was not censored by the party leadership.

Ambiga (left in photo), a recipient of an International Woman of Courage award from the United States, says she has received death threats. She has hired a bodyguard and installed security cameras around her Kuala Lumpur home.

The ethnic Indian has faced calls for her Malaysian citizenship to be revoked and even been labelled the “anti-Christ” by the right-wing Perkasa group.

“The hate speech has been relentless,” said Ambiga.

“The leadership could have made a difference but they don’t bother. I’m very disappointed.”   

After Ambiga led thousands of protesters through Kuala Lumpur in April to demand electoral reforms, dozens of former soldiers and market traders camped outside her house to protest what they said was a loss of earnings from the demonstration.   

NONESome performed daily “exercises” that involved pointing their buttocks toward her house as they bent over.

Those close to Najib describe him as gentleman who has no taste for gutter politics. But the opposition says his failure to speak out more firmly against incidents of violence and intimidation has encouraged extremists.

After the “hanging” comment in parliament, he reminded coalition MPs not to make statements that hurt the feelings of other races or other component parties within the coalition.

Asked on Thursday about the allegations of political intimidation, Malaysia’s Home Minister, Hishamuddin Hussein, told reporters: “It is very real. This year we are living in a very politically charged climate.”

The opposition’s Lim, who spent 18 months from 1986 detained under the now-repealed Internal Security Act and another year in prison for sedition, said the policy had gone beyond “tacit

“The acts are supported and condoned by Barisan Nasional,” said Lim, who has complained of several other acts of physical intimidation against him in recent months.

NONEAnwar Ibrahim, the opposition’s leader who was jailed for six years on sodomy and graft charges he says were trumped-up, blamed Umno for an incident in February when a group of youths
threw stones at his car in Johor state.

His daughter, opposition MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, said a rally in her constituency in May was attacked by men throwing rocks, water bottles and eggs, resulting in several injuries. It was
one of several opposition rallies that have been disrupted, sometimes violently, in recent months.

It is unclear who was behind the attacks, but opposition leaders complain the police have failed to arrest perpetrators or quickly respond to the violence.

- Reuters


Dr. Babu Suseelan.

Love Jihad, Politico Jihad, Land Grabbing Jihad, Forest Jihad, Economic Jihad, Cyber Jihad and Terror Jihad are hallmarks of Islamists bent on destroying India from within and Without. Strange, our own Hindus are working as agents of Paki inspired Jihad against India from within. Swami Agnivesh and his cohorts are very active in anti Hindu, anti India and pro Jihadi works for few bread crumbs from Paki Agents. Magical Thinking of our political leaders like Nehru, Nitish Kumar, Man Mohan Singh, Sonia Manio and their irrational political belief system is hurting India and promoting our enemies.

It is interesting to study why patriotic Indians refuse to kick out our Jihadi terrorists from our midsts. Indian citizens (Hindus) are the only group in the world where they stand still and act like zombies and behave like addicts as mute spectators while Indian justic system and internal polices are turned into unwise compromise, irrational tolerance, corruption and three monkey syndrome. It can frustrate fairness and reality and truth. Healthy, normal people will not compromise with a burglar coming into our house with a knife to behead us and to steal all we have. Those who are concerned about our society, justice, fairness and human welfare will join together and fight against corruption, injustice and Jihadi terrorism. Our political leaders, media and certain Swamis are the culprits. Instead of arousing Hindus into active participants in keeping our culture and promoting freedom and implementing moral values, they are indoctrinating Our Hindus into zombies and willing participants in their own beheading, surrender and slavery. They are very active in supporting Jihadi terrorism, and active in chipping away at our collective and personal safety and their blow to our nationalism is disasterous. They are willing to walk around with a personal Jihadi tag around their neck. Fir the, forgiving Jihadi terrorists and Paki agents creating social crises is finding freedom.

For these anti National criminals, love for Jihadi terrorism is the most beautiful words, love your terrorist enemy is wonderful. Forgiving beheaders and Jihadi terrorists is love in action. Instead of supporting our army, border security forces, these anti Hindu criminal politicians have a vested interest in promoting Jihadi terrorism. These anti national, criminal politicians ar still promoting anti Hindu behavior and keep Hindus in slavery. How far Kashmir Hindus live in filthy refugee camps in their country?

What is the way out? We need to have a collective sense of Patriotism. A profund sense of an assertive and collective Hindutva will carry us forward in our strategy and actions in achieving social, political, and economic victory over the negative within us. There can be only one objective for us in the current scenario to reconstruct our lives on a Hindutva base enriched with Purusrath (godly spirit along with human might, i.e. Dharma, Arth, Kama & Moksha).

Moral police: Detain couple ‘for not carrying marriage deed’

" The families had not carried out the nikkah ceremony yet as the boy, 
Zafar, himself is a minor. Instead, the two were engaged to each other," A police official.
PASRUR: A case against five people who detained a couple, taking a hiatus on canal bank on their way back home in Pasrur, was dropped after the couple accepted their apology.

A statement Muhammad Waqas, a resident of Faqeerawali village, submitted with Pasrur Saddar police on Saturday said Muhammad Shahid, Najeebullah and Muhammad Hasan and their two other associates had apologised for their misconduct. Therefore, it said, the couple did not want to press charges against them.

The FIR against the five men was registered on Friday night for detaining Waqas and his wife at Shahid’s dera near Basiwala Pul for over four hours.

The complaint said that the men had demanded that the couple, resting by the canal bank on their way to Faqeerawali, produce their marriage deed.

They were taken to the dera for their failure to do so.

They were let go after they called a relative who brought their marriage deed.

The case was registered against them under Section 337 H-2 (Punishment for hurt by rash or negligent act) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Section 337 H-2

Whoever does any act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life or the personal safety of other, shall be punished with imprisonment of either-description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2012.

Cops shoot sword-wielding duo outside PM’s office

KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — Police opened fire on a sword-wielding duo outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya after the two began menacing security personnel with the weapons, The Star reported on its website today.

The man and woman were hit in the arm and leg, respectively, and were later taken to the Putrajaya Hospital.

Later identified as Khalil Afandi Hamid, the 47-year-old jobless man has since died of his injury.

The woman, reportedly a 28-year-old former International Islamic University student and mother-of-two, is in stable condition.

According to witnesses, the two approached the PM’s Office complex around 2.30pm while brandishing what were described as katanas, commonly called “samurai swords”.

They then began brandishing the katanas in a threatening manner and became increasingly aggressive.

A police team at a nearby location that responded to the couple’s presence then tried to pacify the duo but were later forced to draw their guns and open fire on the two.

“The armed man trained the sword at the neck of the policeman before the duo entered the premises and began slashing the windscreen of two cars belonging to employees of the Prime Minister's Department,” Putrajaya police chief ACP Abdul Razak Abdul Majid said in a press conference today.

“At that juncture, a member of the patrol unit fired three shots which hit Khalil Afandi's right hand and abdomen while the woman sustained a gunshot wound in the right leg,” he said.

Initial investigations revealed that Khalil Afandi, who is survived by a son, had professed to be “Imam Mahdi” — a prophesied “redeemer” whose appearance heralds the coming of Judgment Day.

Police are still gathering further details on the incident. The couple’s motives have also not been ascertained.

Retailers puncture Najib’s tyre aid

Taxi drivers claim that several tyre shops registered under the Bantuan Tayar 1Malaysia scheme hiked up tyre prices after the vouchers were released.

PETALING JAYA: Several tyre shops have increased tyre prices after the government announced the tyre voucher programme to help taxi drivers.

Some 15 taxi drivers from Petaling Jaya 7 (PJS7) made this allegation at a hastily arranged press conference this evening outside a tyre outlet at Bandar Sunway.

Last month, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced the Bantuan Tayar 1Malaysia (BT1M) programme in order to provide assistance to taxi drivers.

Under the programme, taxi drivers would get a voucher worth RM520 to change their car tyres at selected tyre retailers in the country.

D Ragothman, 37, said that a 13-inch Goodyear tyre would usually cost between RM120 and RM130, inclusive of workmanship.

“So even if the tyre is charged at the maximum price, the RM520 voucher is sufficient to purchase all four tyres needed for a taxi,” said Ragothman.

To his surprise, he alleged that the outlet at PJS7demanded an additional RM15 for each tyres.

“When I asked them why, they said that tyre prices had gone up,” claimed Ragothman.

Another taxi driver, P Devan, said that just two months ago, he changed two tyres for his vehicle for just RM110 per unit.

“Now I check with some the registered retailers, and they say the price for the same tyre has shot up to RM140. What is happening?” he asked.

Increase between RM15 and RM40

FMT checked a quotation, claimed to have been given by the outlet which showed the additional charges.

While a 13-inch tyre, normally used for a Proton Saga, is charged an additional RM15, a 14-inch tyre usually used for Proton Waja is charged an additional RM40.

Fellow taxi driver, Alias Hider, urged the government to take action against the errant tyre retailers for hiking prices indiscriminately.

“The prime minister is trying to help taxi drivers but errant retailers are throwing a spanner into his works,” said Alias.

Whether they have tried purchasing tyres from other retailers, Ragothman said that taxi drivers are only allowed to use the vouchers at specified outlets only.

“The outlet code number is indicated in the voucher so we can only go to the specific shop. We can’t even go to its other branches,” he said.

The outlet supervisor, William Soh, left the premises despite FMT’s attempt to get comments on the matter.

‘Some want more talk, others say enough’

The Indian business association wants a debate on Indian issues but the political parties say it would be an exercise in futility.

PETALING JAYA: Some Indians want more talk while others say enough is enough.That’s their take on the penchant to cross verbal swords among political parties.

The Malaysian Indian Business Association president P Sivakumar said there was a real need for debates on Indian issues.

He was referring to yesterday’s MCA-DAP debate, and he wants a debate between Pakatan Rakyat and MIC.

“Such debates will also allow other communities to understand the issues affecting the Indian community,” he said.

He added that such debates would allow Malaysian politics to mature as it would allow healthy exchange of ideas on both sides of the divide.

“As for MIC, they can use the platform to tell the public on programmes mooted by the government for the community and see whether it’s really benefiting the community or otherwise,” he said.

When asked if the Indian community should focus more on national issues such as corruption and abuse of power, Sivakumar dismissed it by saying the community’s issues run at a very basic level.

“Unlike the Chinese who are stronger economically and well-educated, Indians are struggling to even have basic housing. We need to address our socio-economic problems first before going into national issues,” said Sivakumar.

He said that he would love to see MIC president G Palanivel and Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy square off on a live debate.

“We can also have MIC secretary-general S Murugesan and Klang MP Charles Santiago on debate as both have vast knowledge on many economic issues,” said Sivakumar.

MIC: Pointless to debate

When contacted, Murugesan said it was pointless for MIC to engage Indian leaders from Pakatan at the moment.

He also said that while Pakatan may have Indian leaders in its component parties, he claimed that the leaders lacked any political clout within their parties to moot any policies for the Indian community.

“We are surprised that while some in Pakatan have called us to steer away from race-based politics, we are pulled into the same thing by pitching one leader against another purely based on his race,” he said.

In a joint statement, PKR vice president N Surendran also rejected calls for a debate with MIC leaders saying race based debates were an unhealthy reflection of the BN’s ‘divide and rule’ politics.

Pakatan: MIC is powerless

He also said that the problems faced by the Indian community were a national issue and debates on the matter must involve all relevant authorities.

“Besides, MIC is powerless and incapable of bringing positive change and development to the Indian community. Any debate with MIC leaders on the future of the Indian community is an exercise in futility,” he said.

The statement was also signed by Subang MP R Sivarasa, Kapar MP S Manickavasagam and Teluk Intan MP M Manogaran

In response, Surendran challenged any Umno ministers to come forward and hold a debate with Pakatan leaders on issues affecting the Indian community.

“This would allow all Malaysians an opportunity to evaluate both parties’ plans and commitment to resolve the problems of the Indian community.

“In view of the urgency and importance of the matter, we call for a response from Umno to our invitation for a public debate within the next 48 hours,” he said.

The right to our bodies

Only Pinki Pramanik has the right to decide what her gender identity is

It is indeed between law and medical science that this case will proceed. The question of "what she is" will supposedly be answered by a "gender test''. In it, Pinki's entire life lived as a woman - her sense of her own gender - will be discounted and reduced to measures of chromosomal and hormonal behaviour that measure biological sex on the assumption that it can be neatly categorised into "male" and "female".

Gautam Bhan, The Times of India

In a case where the "facts" are both complex and yet also the question at hand, let us start with one that should be undisputed: Pinki Pramanik says she is a woman. She has lived as one, competed as one, and identifies as one. She and no other person or institution - particularly the law or medical science - has the right to decide what her gender identity is regardless of her anatomy, her chromosomes or her hormones. As the investigations against her began, her claim to be a woman should have been accepted at face value regardless of whether narrow judgments of her appearance, manner, physicality or dress led some to believe otherwise.

The list of systematic violations of her rights by the police is a long one: being kept initially in a male prison; being handled and then sexually harassed by male police officers; the filming and then leaking of an alleged MMS of her in the hospital undergoing a gender test that, by many accounts, was forced on her as part of the conditions of her bail without an order from a magistrate. It is a welcome first step that the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, the Cyber Crimes Bureau and the Kolkata high court have deman-ded and initiated inquiries into these rights abuses.

Yet we must also stop and ask why these rights abuses occurred. Pinki's case is a marker of a more fundamental struggle that we as a society have with the body. We, as a society, allow bodies thought to be different or of lesser value (at times marked by sexual or gender difference but equally with caste or religion) to be publicly stripped, examined, probed, debated, para-ded, marked and judged. Examples abound: two finger tests to check the sexual character of a woman who has made a rape accusation; repeated cases of sexual assault of hijras with impunity in police custody; dalit women and men who are stripped naked and publicly paraded as punishment in cities and villages across India; or the bodies of young Muslim men suspected of "terror" that are fair game for police torture. These bodies hold no real right to dignity, safety and privacy. The initial question that the country asked of Pinki was not who she is but "what" she is - a public spectacle that reduced her to an object to be classified as per the needs of law.

It is indeed between law and medical science that this case will proceed. The question of "what she is" will supposedly be answered by a "gender test''. In it, Pinki's entire life lived as a woman - her sense of her own gender - will be discounted and reduced to measures of chromosomal and hormonal behaviour that measure biological sex on the assumption that it can be neatly categorised into "male" and "female". Yet even recent scientific writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association describes gender tests as "difficult, expensive, and potentially inaccurate". Hormones and genital development, the study argues, vary significantly within "women" and "men". The science itself, it is important to remember, is far from certain.

Yet from laws to social norms and our own internalised fears, we go to a great deal of effort to police and protect the boundaries that separate "male" and "female" even though the realities of our lives repeatedly show us that biological sex cannot so easilybe tabulated into XX and XY, hormones do not line up to be counted either in the pink or blue line, and biological men and women don't always choose to be either masculine or feminine as per "the rules". Many people are intersex, i.e. biologically both male and female. Even otherwise, our bio-logies can change through sex reassignment just like our hearts can be transplanted or mechanically run. Our understandings of our own gender identities can, as they do with transgender people, be independent of our biological sex. The question we must ask then is this: What kind of answer is Pinki allowed to give to the question of who she is? What ans-wer will we be willing to accept?

We have struggled to accept gender variance and fluidity in our society and it has left us with legal regimes and languages that often violently force all difference into categories we understand. The recent inclusion of "other" gender categories in many state documents is a small beginning that sees the state bend to actual complexities of gender.

We have much to learn from countries like Argentina where citizens can legally choose their gender identity regardless of their biological sex. What would our laws look like if we re-imagined them to reflect more fluid gender identities? Pinki's case reminds us of how far we must go and that, until we get there, it is those presumed "different" - and it is only a presumption since Pinki maintains that she is a woman and neither intersex nor transgendered - that are the most vulnerable.

Pinki faces serious accusations that must, let me say clearly, be fully investigated. Yet what must be on trial are her acts and not her person. In the procedural violations that have already occurred and the trial that she has already been put through, the process of a fair trial for both Pinki and her accuser are delegitimised.

There are critical lessons to be learnt here about due process, the presence of gender variant citizens and their rights, and the role of privacy and dignity to all. As her bail hearing approaches, let us remember the basic question of justice: if Pinki has indeed committed acts of violence, let her be tried for them. Until that moment, however, her right to be judged as an equal with her own understanding of her gender identity must be protected by the state and by all of us.

The writer is a sexuality rights activist.

Malaysia Goes After a Whistle-blower

Bourdon and Gabriel say they've got the goods
Bourdon and Gabriel say they've got the goods
(Asia Sentinel) Companies commission investigators show up at NGO's door
Suaram, the Kuala Lumpur-based human rights NGO at the center of attempts to break open a corruption case over Malaysia’s 2002 purchase of French submarines, has been given seven days by officials of the Companies Commission to hand over an array of documents covering its expenditures from 2008 to 2011.

Cynthia Gabriel, director for the organization, told Asia Sentinel that  Suaram would comply although the NGO is taking advice from lawyers on strategy.

The authorities sought to raid Suaram last week but were turned back, once because their warrant wasn’t signed and a second time because they arrived at the Suaram headquarters after everybody had gone home.

The visits followed several days of stories in ruling party-controlled newspapers demanding to know why Suaram was registered as a company rather than an NGO, and what it had done with earnings it posted since 2009 although that seemed to be a deflection against damning documents.that showed that top government officials had been complicit in bribe charges for two decades.

The visits by the Companies Commission investigators were characterized as “harassment, pure and simple, as a way to distract the public from the ongoing Scorpene probe in France,” Gabriel said. “Further to this, we have nothing to hide. We audit our accounts yearly.”

The visits – the first in Suaram’s 23 years of existence – appear to be a fishing expedition to try to find out where the NGO gets enough money to hire French lawyers to pursue a government scandal, and more particularly whether any of the money is coming from the Pakatan Rakyat coalition headed by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

The Commission’s other priorities?

In the meantime, the Companies Commission investigators have been so busy seeking to investigate Suaram that they have neglected to investigate two other companies – Perimekar Sdn Bhd, which somehow became important enough to win a €114.96 million commission on the sale of the submarines despite the fact that it did no business the year before it won the commission, and Terasasi Hong Kong Ltd, which received another €36 million from the French defense contractor despite the fact it only existed as a name on a wall in a Hong Kong accounting office.

Both companies were headed by Abdul Razak Baginda, then the head of a think tank called Malaysia Strategic Research, which was closely connected to the United Malays National Organization. Razak Baginda was one of then-Defense Minister Najib Tun Razak’s best friends.

Two years ago, Suaram hired a team of Paris-based lawyers headed by William Bourdon to investigate the French defense giant DCN and its subsidiaries on suspicion it was involved a web of corruption. The story has been told in voluminous detail in 133 documents submitted to a French prosecuting court. The documents describe a long tangle of blackmail, bribery, influence peddling, misuse of corporate assets and concealment, among other allegations. The documents, written in French, were described in a story published in Asia Sentinel on June 25 and uploaded onto the Internet here.

Increasing fire from government blogs, papers

Suaram has come under increasing fire since Bourdon and his colleague, Joseph Breham, began to publicize a series of allegations related to the documents in May. Pro-government bloggers have repeatedly accused Suaram of being in Anwar’s employ, have questioned the veracity of the documents and whether they existed and whether French authorities in fact are even going to move the case forward.

Questioned by the opposition in Parliament, Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi took the floor briefly almost at midnight on June 26 to say Suaram was wrong to say there was a trial taking place in France’s Tribunal de Grande Instance over the sale of the subs, although neither Suaram nor Asia Sentinel had said a trial was taking place. There is an investigation taking place, however, and it was those investigators who confiscated hundreds, perhaps thousands of documents from DCN and its subsidiaries in raids on April 7, 2010 to present to the investigating magistrate.

Ahmad Zahid also said that the Defense Ministry had no information on allegations confidential documents of the procurement of the submarines were sold to Thint Asia (Thales International) by Terarasi (Hong Kong) allegedly for €36 million although Asia Sentinel was able to obtain the information from the documents, which are on line, and from the Hong Kong Registry of Companies.

"The ministry also does not have any information on the alleged payment from Thales International Asia to Terasasi (Hong Kong)," he said.

As Asia Sentinel reported, at least one secret diplomatic cable shows that some of the misdeeds appear to have taken place with the knowledge of top French and Malaysian government officials including then-foreign Minister Alain Juppe and with the consent of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The documents were presented to the French Prosecuting Magistrate at the Court de Grand Instance de Paris in May and June of 2011.

Harassment: Not a new tactic

It is not the first time the Malaysian government has sent investigators after those calling attention to massive corruption on the part of the government and its cronies. For example, when Ramli Yusuff, the director of Malaysia's Commercial Crime Investigation Department, sought to bring Tajudin Ramli, a crony of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, to justice for looting Malaysian Airline System (MAS) of tens of millions of dollars, it was Ramli who was pursued by the Malaysian Anti-Crime Commission rather than Tajudin despite abundantly clear evidence of the charges. Ramli and his lawyer came under fire that nearly ruined their careers and almost put them in jail.

Likewise, Lim Guan Eng, now the chief minister of the state of Penang, was arrested in 1994 after pointing out that the former chief minister of Malacca, Rahim Thamby Chik, had been absolved of charges of statutory rape after having had sex with an underaged girl and in fact had had the girl arrested after her parents complained. Lim was ultimately sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for sedition for bringing up the charges, was disallowed from standing for election to public office for five years and he was made ineligible to contest the 2004 Malaysian general election.


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Remembering those who have died in custody

Anwar Sure of Pakatan Win, Warns GE-13 His Final Bid: Let New Generation Take Over

Anwar sure of Pakatan win, warns GE-13 HIS FINAL bid: Let NEW GENERATION take over

The Malaysian Insider

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim firmed up his retirement plan last night despite his daughter’s plea that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) still needs his leadership, declaring at a rally here that the next general election would be his “final attempt” at federal power.

The 64-year-old politician, whose career in politics has seen him go from the seat of power and into prison before joining the opposition, told to a crowd of thousands here that he would return to teaching upon retirement, and allow the new generation of leaders to take his place.

“This is my final attempt. If we win, we shall proceed. If not, let the new generation take on the struggle.

“Let me retire and return to teaching,” he said, affirming his recent remarks to international business daily Financial Times (FT) in an interviewed published on Wednesday.

“We present our manifesto, our policies and, of course, if I get a mandate, I continue, otherwise I think I’ll go back to teaching,” Anwar had told FT.

The influential paper noted in its article that Anwar seemed tired for a man facing his best shot yet of governing a 28 million multiracial population fed-up with over half a century of Barisan Nasional (BN) rule that appears unable to reform politically, socially and economically.

“Now 65, Mr Anwar admits this is ‘probably’ his last shot at becoming prime minister,” the influential paper said.

We still need Anwar

In an immediate response, Anwar’s daughter, Nurul Izzah, who is PKR vice-president and the Lembah Pantai MP, said in a press conference that PR still needs her father’s leadership.

“He (Anwar) is a leader who has successfully united the opposition parties into a pact and many party members would not want to lose a leader as experienced as him,” she had said, according to Sinar Harian Online.

Long-time nemesis Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was not so sympathetic to the opposition leader’s announcement, however, and instead cast doubt on its sincerity by calling the retirement plan an “election ploy”.

But despite possible political retirement being around the corner, Anwar appeared last night to be teeming with confidence that PR would storm Putrajaya come the 13th general election, which is due soon.

“I am confident Insha’Allah (God willing) that Pakatan will win, we will defend Selangor and head to Putrajaya,” he said.

Still confident of Pakatan win

In previous functions, the former deputy prime minister had even pledged a “comfortable majority” win for PR in the next polls.

Anwar also repeated PR’s promise to drop fuel prices within 24 hours of a polls victory, adding a pledge last night that “we would never forget the people because we have a experienced hardship”.

He continued to poke holes in BN’s administration, which he insisted is corrupt, questioning this time Malaysia Airline’s (MAS) recent signing of a deal with Petron Malaysia Sdn Bhd, formerly Esso Malaysia Bhd, to purchase fuel.

Esso was rebranded as Petron after the Philippines-based Petron Corp, part of the San Miguel Corp conglomerate, became Esso Malaysia’s biggest shareholder with a 73.4 per cent stake.

Anwar had previously demanded the government to explain why it had allowed one of the country’s critical assets to be sold to a foreign entity, pointing out that the sale of ExxonMobil’s stake in oil refiner Esso Malaysia was below market price.

Beer and oil

The opposition leader had also demanded Putrajaya explain the potential conflict in the deal because of the interests of Dr Mahathir’s family.

The former prime minister’s son, Mirzan Mahathir, was previously a board director of San Miguel Corp. The Philippines conglomerate is the biggest food and beverage conglomerate in the Philippines and the owner of San Miguel Brewery Inc.

San Miguel Brewery controls 95 per cent of the Philippines beer market. It has since diversified into infrastructure, public utility and energy requirements in the Philippines.

“Mirzan Mahathir bought the beer company San Miguel, Esso and now MAS signs a contract to buy fuel (from Esso)… that is why Dr Mahathir fears a Pakatan win,” Anwar said last night.

Utusan Malaysia confirmed it is “lies-paper” when it front-paged the lie that DAP would contest 90 parliamentary seats to dominate PR and appoint the Prime Minister in 13GE

Utusan Malaysia today confirmed that it is a “lies-paper” and not a newspaper when it plumbed a new depth of dishonest and unethical journalism by front-paging the lie that DAP would contest 90 parliamentary seats to dominate Pakatan Rakyat and appoint the Prime Minister in the 13th general election.

The Utusan report that DAP would be contesting 90 out of 222 (i.e. 40.5%) parliamentary seats in the next general election, with PAS and PKR contesting in 66 seats each, is the latest in an irresponsible, malicious and anti-national campaign by UMNO propagandists and spinmasters to stoke racial suspicion and distrust that the Malays will lose political power if UMNO is defeated and the Barisan Nasional replaced by Pakatan Rakyat in the 13th general election.

Last week, I had debunked former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s scare tactics when he warned that the Chinese voters are the kingmakers for the 13th general election on the ground that the Malays are divided among three “small” parties and that the Chinese voters will decide who forms the government after the general election.

I had pointed out that “the harsh reality is that the electoral arithmetic does not allow the Chinese voters to be the ‘kingmakers’”.

There are only 34 parliamentary seats out of 222 where the Chinese comprise a majority of voters. Even if Pakatan Rakyat (PR) wins all of the Chinese votes in these seats, it will only yield 15% of total parliamentary seats.

There are another 55 parliamentary seats where Chinese voters constitute between 30% to 50% of the voters. Even if PR is able to win 80% of Chinese votes in these seats, it would still need between 35% to 40% of support from the other communities in order to win these seats.

In total, this means that there are only 89 parliamentary seats where the Chinese comprise more than 30% of total voters.

Even if PR is to win all these seats (which needs significant support from the other communities in the majority of cases), this would only constitute 40% of total parliamentary seats which is not enough to comprise a majority of parliamentary seats.

Now the UMNO propagandists and spinmaters have come out with a new twist in their campaign of scaremongering to stoke racial suspicion and distrust – that the DAP will be contesting the most number of parliamentary seats, i.e. 90 seats while leaving PAS and PKR with 66 seats each.

This is utterly wild and baseless. Final seat allocations between Pakatan Rakyat parties have still to be fully completed but the DAP is not contemplating contesting in more than 60 parliamentary seats or less than 28 per cent of the total 222 parliamentary seats.

Although the lie that DAP will contest 90 parliamentary seats has been demolished, the edifice of lies to frighten Malay voters, that the DAP will be the dominant party as compared to PAS and PKR even to the extent of deciding who is the Prime Minister, will be reconstructed by the UMNO propagandists and spinmasters using other lies and falsehoods.

Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region are facing the greatest test in the nation’s history whether they could discern the lies and falsehoods passing off as truths and facts appearing in the “lies-papers” like Utusan Malaysia – which is also a critical test whether the Malaysian nation and Malaysian democracy have matured after more than half a century of nationhood.

The true fact of the matter is that it is only with the support of the majority of the Malay and non-Malay voters that Pakatan Rakyat can win in the next general election and replace UMNO/Barisan Nasional as the next federal government of Malaysia.

But what struck me most from the latest lie of the UMNO propagandists and spinmasters is their growing conviction and desperation that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and UMNO/Barisan Nasional could be defeated in the ballot box in the 13th general election.

This is also what is causing Najib to keep postponing the date for the 13th general election.

They are not completely wrong as the signs are for all who have eyes to see that there are increasing indications that Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, class, region, age or gender, are prepared for change in Putrajaya in the next general election despite all the politics of lies, fear, money and corruption of UMNO/BN in the less than 10 months left for the 12th Parliament and the Najib government, when Parliament will be automatically dissolved on April 28 next year to give way for the holding of the 13th general election.

Najib’s legal reforms legacy

The Nut Graph (Used by permission)
Holding Court By Ding Jo-Ann

ON 15 Sept 2011, the eve of Malaysia Day, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced a slew of reforms to transform Malaysia into a more open and democratic country. Almost a year later, most of the promised “reforms” have been implemented.

But has anything changed? In just the past two months, the government and its agencies have charged opposition leaders for participating in a street protest, sued Bersih 2.0 leaders for damages, and accused Singaporean embassy officials of inappropriate behaviour for observing the Bersih Bersih 3.0. The government also banned a book by a Muslim woman, refused to release remaining Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees, and attempted to raid human rights organisation Suaram’s office.

Forgive me if I’m stating the obvious. Legal reforms notwithstanding, it’s not been very “open and democratic” around here recently. A quick review of all the new amendments and laws since Najib’s Malaysia Day announcement will demonstrate why.

False reform

Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA)

Najib hailed the PAA as “revolutionary” and its enactment a “giant leap” in improving current laws. “Supposedly, [the Act] chokes freedom to assemble,” Najib said in Parliament, referring to criticisms against the new law. “Is this allegation true?” he asked. “Not true at all,” he replied to his own question.

Barely six months after Najib’s statement, and shortly after the PAA came into force, the law was used to charge Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and two others for participating in the Bersih 3.0 rally. This really is no different from the days when opposition figures were charged under the Police Act for participating in street protests.

And talking about choking the freedom to assemble, the government literally did so when the police fired a total of 967 tear gas canisters at Bersih 3.0 protesters.

How then can this legislation be construed as being revolutionary and a giant improvement?

Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA)

When Najib spoke of amending the PPPA on 31 March, he said the government respected the media’s freedom to act as a check and balance on government.

But on 28 April, police beat up working journalists during the Bersih 3.0 rally even after the media personnel identified themselves. Police were also hostile towards journalists who attempted to record instances of police brutality against protesters. In some cases, the police damaged and confiscated journalists’ equipment.

Curiously, after the attacks on the media, several Umno-owned and government-controlled media were silent or played down reports of the police beating up fellow journalists. So much then for the government respecting the media and the media acting as a check and balance on government.

And that’s not all. Under Najib’s legal reforms, the print media must still obtain permits even if it doesn’t need to renew the permits annually. This means the print media is still subject to show-cause letters from the Home Minister which can result in newspapers losing their permits and journalists or editors being suspended.

Evidence Act

And then there’s the amendment to the Evidence Act which makes hosts of websites responsible for content published on their websites, including anonymous comments by others. Instead of the state prosecution having to identify the author, the website host is now presumed to be the author, unless he or she can prove otherwise. This is alarming because it overturns the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

According to Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong, fears about this act are “misplaced”. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz has also stressed that the amendment to the Evidence Act was needed to combat those who threaten and slander others online under a clock of anonymity.

But Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) director Jac SM Kee has pointed out that a vast majority of cybercrime involves economic fraud and not anonymous posts that threaten and slander. Speaking at a CIJ forum on 12 June in Kuala Lumpur, Kee pointed out that there’s already a comprehensive act called the Computer Crimes Act that deals with online fraud. So, what “online threat” is the amendment to the Evidence Act really combating?

Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma)

And what about SOSMA , which replaced the draconian ISA? Najib said it would usher in a “new era” for Malaysia where the government would no longer limit individuals’ freedom but respect their basic constitutional rights.

The flaws in this new law have already been widely discussed and publicised. And talking about basic constitutional rights, I’m wondering whether the government will respect those of the 45 remaining ISA detainees, several of whom have been on hunger strike. I’m also wondering whether the government will properly investigate the accusations that the ISA detainees’ constitutional rights were violated when the police allegedly tortured them during their first 60 days of detention.

Or whether the government will respect Malaysians’ basic constitutional rights by finally signing international covenants such as the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Hypocrite, inept or inadequate?

After all the hype and grand rhetoric about a new Malaysia, the reality is the same forms of repression and control continue to be exercised.

So, from where I stand, either Najib is a hypocrite for promising something he never intended to do or his administration is hopelessly inept by introducing reforms so far removed from what he apparently intended. Either way, he has failed to deliver.

Whatever Najib’s reasons for making all his promises of a better Malaysia, none of his legal reforms are bringing about the changes Malaysians were told to expect. If he intended genuine reform, it’s surely not happening. If he wanted to give concessions to civil society’s demands, no one is impressed with the cosmetic changes so far. If he wanted to win over voters who are more aware of human rights, the government’s recent antics have destroyed his credibility. If he wanted to impress the world about how progressive and moderate a Muslim country Malaysia is, that’s hardly going to happen when we’re arresting and charging Muslims for selling books that are not yet banned.

I, for one, am tired. Tired of the empty promises and hyperbole. Tired of the antics, the bullying, the fear-mongering, the lies. And really, really tired, of this government. It’s time, perhaps, for some real change. 

Ding Jo-Ann almost doesn’t dare to read the news some days for fear of finding out what new ridiculousness is being perpetrated.

MIC Youth Confident Of Meeting Over 100,000 Voters Before General Election

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 (Bernama) -- MIC Youth is confident of meeting more than 100,000 voters before the coming 13th general election through a programme called "Ops Jelas" (Operation Explain).

Its chief T.Mohan said the movement would explain to the Indian community all the misunderstood issues and wild accusations made by the opposition against the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

"MIC Youth will go down to the field and meet with the Indians in small groups to also explain to them the government's contributions and allocations (for the Indian community's development," he told a news conference, here, Sunday.

Mohan said "Ops Jelas" would give the Indian community an opportunity to ask questions on any issue related to the government which they did not understand or could have misunderstood.

"The programme is also to seek out and gather the MIC voters in preparation for the coming general election," he added.

Bersih procession moves through KL

2045: A Bersih procession to mark the anniversary of the Bersih 2.0 rally on 9 July 2011 is moving from Dataran Merdeka passing through Petaling Street and Jalan Hang Jebat towards Stadium Merdeka.
Photograph: Bersih
Walking along Jalan Hang Jebat:
BERSIH 2.0's Twitter Photo
The procession finally reaches Stadium Merdeka just before 9.00pm:
BERSIH 2.0's Twitter Photo
The crowd paused for a moment of silence in memory of Baharuddin Ahmad, who passed away during the procession last year.
Protest organisers, Kill The Bill declares: “We want the Peaceful Assembly Act to be abolished and for the Bersih 8 demands to be realised.”
Then Chin Huat addresses the vigil: “Walaupun merdeka, rakyat Malaysia belum bebas lagi … Pada 9 Julai 2011, rakyat Malaysia tidak kira kaum dan latar belakang bersatu … Kita tdk benci atau menyelebahi mana-mana parti politik, sebaliknya kita inginkan kuasa rakyat memilih pemimpin secara adil.”
Photograph: Latheefa Koya
The crowd finally disperse after the singing of the national anthem.
Supporters are also gathering peacefully today in Sabah, Johor, Malacca and Perak, adds Bersih in a tweet.
Earlier, supporters had gathered at Dataran Merdeka despite the rain.
BERSIH 2.0's Twitter Photo
Among the participants are Bersih 2.0 steering committee members Wong Chin Huat and Maria Chin Abdullah.
Remember the unsung heroes of 9 July 2011:

Return Waytha's passport, Malaysian gov't told

By Susan Loone

(Malaysiakini) Hindu rights pressure group Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has called on the Malaysian government to return its chairperson P Waythamoorthy’s passport to facilitate his return from exile in the  United Kingdom.

Hindraf’s national advisor, N Ganesan, said Waythamoorthy plans to be on Malaysian soil on Aug 1, “with or without” his passport.

“He would like to return home with dignity and full rights as a citizen of this country and as the chairperson of Hindraf,” Ganesan told Malaysiakini.

“Therefore we demand that the Malaysian High Commission in London immediately issue him a passport,” added Ganesan, who is based in Penang.

HRP N ganesanGanesan (right) said it was the previous prime minister and then-home minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who made the decision to withhold his colleague’s travel document.

He then called on current Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to rescind the decision and instruct the competent and relevant Foreign Ministry officials to immediately issue him a new passport.

He added that Waythamoorthy has announced his intention of returning to Malaysia after more than four and a half years in exile in the UK.

This exile was imposed on Waythamoorthy by the Malaysian authorities, he stressed.

‘It will save all the embarrassment’

Ganesan was referring to Waythamoorthy’s passport being withdrawn by the UK Border Agency on April 28, 2008, at Gatwick Airport, UK.

It was withdrawn on instruction from the Malaysian authorities via a letter dated March 17 the same year.
Ganesan reiterated that Waythamoorthy plans to be on Malaysian soil on Aug 1 although he may not be issued his travel documents by then.

“It will save all the embarrassment and problems associated with this to all concerned, if  the Malaysian government will issue him a passport in the amicable manner that we request,” said Ganesan.

“He has since utilised the time in exile to make the necessary preparations for the historic suit against the British government on behalf of all the marginalised and poor Indians in Malaysia,” he added.

“This is for the role the British government played in their current depressed and marginalised state in Malaysia,” he stressed.

Ganesan said that since the case has been registered on July 2, Waythamoorthy is ready to return to Malaysia to continue his human rights work from within the country.