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Friday, August 17, 2012

Another death in custody: So, why are cops probing cops?

Human rights organisation Suaram today condemned the police for yet another death in custody, and questioned the credibility of an investigation into the matter by the police themselves.

Suaram coordinator R Thevarajan said the death of 36-year-old Cheah Chin Lee hours after arrest should instead be investigated by an independent body.

Thevarajan said a conflict of interest would still arise even if the death was investigated by an officer from a different police district.

"In the absence of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), the police will always be investigated by their own peers," he said.

The investigation could also be done through the setting up of a coroner's court, which would conduct independent inquests, with the result made public.

'No cover up' pledge

"Otherwise, the people will hold the officer-in-charge and/or police liable for Cheah's death," Thevarajan said.

Cheah was pronounced dead at the Northeast District police headquarters on Jalan Pattani in George Town on Aug 13, five hours after he was arrested.

According to the preliminary post-mortem report, he died of "asphyxia due to hanging", but the family is claiming Cheah, who had been arrested for the first time, was mentally stable, had a permanent job and would not take his own life.

George Town OCPD Gan Kon Meng has ordered an investigation into Cheah's death and has vowed that there would be no cover up on the matter.

Mumbai Riots : Senior Police officers ordered release of arrested riot-mongering Muslims !


O Hindus ! Police invade your houses and thrash you, your wife and children during Muslim riots and sets Muslims free to run another riot !

Mumbai : A news report appeared in Marathi daily ‘Loksatta’ on 13th August 2012 raising a doubt whether the recent Jihadi violence by anti-national Muslims in Mumbai had a tacit support of senior police officers. The report further says the investigation of the riot was going on. According to the investigation, during the riot when the policemen caught the riot-mongering Muslims, the senior police officers gave orders to release them. The report further gave the following information. 

1. It is surprising that in spite of there being a strong police force of a joint police commissioner, an additional police commissioner and four deputy commissioners as also the Riot Control Squad and Rapid Action Force at the site of riot, there was no attempt on the part of the police to stop the violence. 

 2. The crowd attacked the policemen on duty with pre-planning; however, no one rushed to their rescue.

3. A policeman present at the site of riot said, “I fail to understand why we were taken to task by senior police officers when we caught the rioter Muslims. A deputy commissioner caught a rioter red-handed. But the senior officers ordered his release.” What is significant is the fact that this time no water cannons were used on the rioters. (O Hindus ! Demand enquiry against the senior police officers of Mumbai who did not arrest the rioter Muslims and for not taking any action against them ! – Editor SP)
Source : Daily Sanatan Prabhat

Nurul Izzah: Reveal B'fields police station land deal


Walk for Merdeka


Turkey: State TV ''censors'' Lennon's Imagine

John Lennon 
 John Lennon

(ANSAmed) - ANKARA - An incomplete translation of John Lennon's song Imagine during Turkish state TV coverage of the Olympics closing ceremony has the country's independent media and secular opposition up in arms.

A reporter from state-run TRT television translated the famous song live, but omitted the last part of the lyrics when he came to the lines ''Imagine... nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too.'' Oversight or censorship? The jury is still out, but the center-left opposition and secular organizations accuse Islamic nationalist Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan - whose pet project is a gigantic mosque to dwarf all other mosques, which he has promised the people of Istanbul - of secretly wanting to Islamicize the country. Not only that, but he is willing to quash dissent by muzzling the press in order to do so. Which, says the opposition, directly contravenes the secular tenets of the constitution laid down by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

''TRT refuses to imagine a world without religion, and censors Lennon,'' Hurriyet daily said. (ANSAmed).

Cops fired tear gas with intention to harm, says Bersih

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — Police fired tear gas with the intention of harming participants of the April 28 rally for free and fair elections here, and used excessive force to make arbitrary arrests, the Bersih electoral reforms group said today.

The allegation was made by Bersih leaders today in a report submitted to the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and was backed by video and other documentary evidence.

"The police fired tear gas canisters directly at the crowd, causing individuals to be hit by tear gas canisters. A participant was hit by a tear gas canister when a police officer shot a tear gas canister at him within a five metre distance to stop him from recording events taking place at the rally.

"Another woman who was attempting to escape from tear gas was hit by two tear gas canisters when police officers fired tear gas canisters at her and other participants at a 10 metre distance which caused her to be hit by two tear gas canisters.

"In addition, we have footage that shows a tear gas canister flying low at a crowd which hit a man who fainted from the impact. This clearly illustrates that tear gas was fired with the intention to harm participants," Bersih said in its report.

The group added that tear gas was also fired in such a way that it led to participants being boxed in to narrow spaces and prevented them from being able to disperse quickly.

Bersih added that the police used indiscriminate, disproportionate, unjustified and excessive use of force against participants who largely did not display any act of provocation or misbehaviour.

"A video by a participant depicts a policeman grabbing a young man in a Bersih shirt and pulling him away from a small crowd. Other policemen then join in and assault the man, who eventually manages to run away.

"Another video shows a traffic policeman aiming his gun at protestors who were then forced to move towards Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman which was filled with tear gas. An eyewitness at the Sogo shopping mall saw other police officers nearby who did not stop the traffic policeman and instead went after protestors.

The Bersih report added that participants who were having meals at restaurants were also arrested or assaulted.

"One individual was eating at a restaurant at the Masjid Jamek area at around 7.20pm when a few police officers pulled him out of the restaurant and beat him.

Thousands of Malaysians gathered in the city on April 28 to mount a protest demanding free and fair elections.

The demonstration turned chaotic after police fired tear gas and protesters were unable to disperse because of the huge crowds choking the narrow streets.

Suhakam is currently conducting an inquiry into the allegations of police violence.

Why build condos on Brickfields police land?

Little India with its thriving business community needs more than a police beat base, says PKR.

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR has questioned the federal government’s move to replace Brickfields’ district police headquarters with two high-rise condominiums.

Alleging that crime was on the rise in the area, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said that locals here needed a strong police presence.

Given the area’s prominence and heavy commercial activity, she did not think that a smaller police beat base – one suggested by the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry- was enough.

“They (Brickfields locals) need to enjoy a district police headquarters, and now the government [wants to] give them a mere police beat?” she told reporters in front of the former police station, along Jalan Tun Sambanthan.

Bukit Bintang MP (DAP) Fong Kui Lun and Segambut MP (DAP) Lim Lip Eng were also present.

She was referring to Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin who in a The Star report said that a 1,000-sq ft police beat base would be built in nearby Little India.

Serving the community for more than 30 years, the police headquarters was vacated in 2010 and its operations shifted to Sri Petaling, more than 12km away.

Following a land swap deal, the area which formerly housed a police station and quarters, is now abandoned and is slated for residential development.

A KL City Hall (DBKL) notice set up in front of the former quarters showed that two condominium blocks – each with 33 and 41 floors respectively – are slated to be built there.

Its intended density would also be changed from 400 to 450 people an acre.

Umno-linked Primamuda

Armed with a Parliamentary written response from Raja Nong Chik, Nurul said that the land still belonged to

the Federal Territory Land Commissioner as of March 2 this year.

However, this land was in the process of being handed over to Primamuda Holdings Sdn Bhd, a private developer.

Nurul then alleged that one of the company’s directors was none other than Bukit Bintang Wanita Umno chief Mariany Mohamad Yit.

This detail led Nurul to ask if the land swap and subsequent costs were done in an open manner.

Looking to the past, she said that the federal government had attempted a land swap in Federal Hill in Sept 2005; a move that was opposed by residents, and later overturned.

“If the swap was not suitable for Federal Hill residents, why would it be suitable in a highly congested and densely populated Brickfields?” she said.

The MPs present then asked that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) probe the land deal.

Part of Brickfields is currently being refurbished into a modern Little India. The area is home to a predominant Indian community and is adjacent to the KL Sentral business district.

500 natives storm police station

Sarawak police raided a village and detained five people whose names were not even in the report filed by a plantation company for allegedly burning a bridge.

KUCHING: Some 500 angry villagers with their children from Melikin and nearby longhouses in Serian and Simunjan stormed the Serian police station yesterday, demanding the release of five individuals who were detained on Sunday night for allegedly causing a fire.

The villagers learnt that the five – Sanjan Ambol, 58, Musit Ngawing, 52, Tuai Rumah Nyalu Tampa, 55, Samad Junna, 41, and Singa Unsit, 58, – were to be charged at the Serian district court. All five were villagers from Melikin, Danau Melikin and Ensebang Plaie.

The villagers first went to the Serian district office, but on hearing that they were still being detained at the Serian police station, they rushed there and demanded that the detainees be released immediately.

The police had to restrain the angry villagers from entering the police compound and even threatened to arrest them, but they ignored the warning.

The five detainees were released at about 11am without any charge being framed against them despite being remanded for three days.

Freed detainee longhouse chief Nyalu Tampa expressed surprise to see so many people had come to support them.

“Their support gives us strength and makes us more determined to defend our NCR [native customary rights] land,” he said.

The detainees’ lawyer, See Chee How, said that they were arrested on Sunday night after representatives of United Teamtrade Oil Palm Company lodged a report that a bridge to the plantation was burnt.

“My clients should not have been arrested in the middle of the night when the police have not carried out investigation first.

“They simply arrested them based on a report lodged by the company, and without concrete evidence. Moreover, this is not a serious crime.

“Why can’t they wait until the next morning? I can even ask my clients to surrender themselves to any police station,” said See, who is also Sarawak PKR vice-Chairman and the Batu Lintang assemblyman.

See said that he received a call on Sunday night from one of the villagers telling him that the police were at the village to arrest the five persons.

Illegal arrest

He said he spoke to Inspector Azlan Abdul Wahab who led the police party and asked him why they were arresting the villagers for a minor act.

He told Azlan that they could have just asked the individuals to surrender themselves in the morning.

“But he told me that his instruction was for him to arrest them immediately. I asked him who was his superior so that I could talk to him.

“Azlan told me that his instruction was very strict, and could not tell me, ” said See.

He added that he informed Azlan that the police action was malicious and illegal.

“Moreover, no one has been identified in the police report made by the company.

“It is very malicious on the part of Azlan [to arrest the villagers]. I hope that he was not instructed by a senior police officer because it is bad.

“You have not done any investigation and yet you arrest them. That is illegal,” he said.

Besides questioning the legality of the arrest, See also questioned the rationale for bringing the five detainees all the way to Tebedu sub-district for the application of a remand order.

He said when he went to Serian on Monday, the application for the remand order was not done in Serian because the district officer who is also the magistrate was not in Serian.

The police, he said, could have asked the Tebedu Sarawak Administrative Officer come down, but they did not do it.

“Why did the police want to make it so difficult? They could also have taken the five villagers to the Balai Ringin sub-district which is a stone’s throw from Melikin.

“But when you apply for a remand order, you must first carry out an investigation and tell the magistrate why you need it.

“The police should have investigated the detainees during the night, but they did not do it,” said See.

Legal action against cops

See said the five detainees have instructed him to take legal action against the company and the government for taking away their land as well as against the police for arresting them without proof.

The dispute between the company and the native landowners has reached a critical point after the company issued a notice demanding anyone riding a motorcycle using the company’s road will have to pay RM5 per entry.

For cars, the drivers have to pay RM30 and for 4WD vehicles, the drivers will have to pay RM50 per entry.

The toll has angered the people who have lands and farms at the other side of the plantation and in retaliation, the native landowners mounted a blockade to stop the company from using their road to the plantation.

[Photo showing arrested native villagers is from Sarawak Indigenous Community News website]

Murugesan to do battle in Sg Siput

A MIC source dismisses a media report that party secretary-general S Murugesan will be fielded in Teluk Kemang.

KUALA LUMPUR: Contrary to a media report, a MIC official said the party’s secretary-general S Murugesan will not be fielded in the Teluk Kemang parliamentary seat in Negeri Sembilan in the next general election.

Talking to FMT, the party insider dismissed The Star report earlier this week that Murugesan would be attempting to wrest back former MIC vice-president S Sothinathan’s seat.

He added that Murugesan, who lost in his previous bid to capture the Subang parliamentary seat, would be leading MIC’s charge in Sungai Siput, Perak, the seat of former party president S Samy Vellu.

He said that despite Murugesan still acting as the Barisan Nasional coordinator in the Subang constituency, the lawyer was also working hard in Sungai Siput for the past six months.

“For example, on Monday, he met the staff of nearly 13 government departments in Sungai Siput to hand over Hari Raya hampers,” he added.

Commenting on his chances, the insider said Murugesan’s odds of winning the seat against incumbent Dr Michael Jayakumar of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) was 50-50.

“In 2008, Umno people plotted against Samy Vellu; there were also issues of internal sabotage as well as the Hindraf protest. But things are different now.

“With a fresh candidate like Murugesan who is known as a ‘clean man’ among MIC members, [MIC] has a better chance to recapture the seat for BN,” he added.

He also noted that despite Jayakumar’s dedication in wanting to serve his constituents, the PSM leader lacked the funds to address their woes.

Meanwhile, MIC vice-president SK Devamany might contest in Teluk Kemang since party president G Palanivel appeared keen on standing in the former’s current seat of Cameron Highlands, which was considered a safe seat.

“Palanivel assigned a special task to Devamany to cover certain MIC constituencies in Negeri Sembilan and this led to the speculation that Devamany will be moved to Teluk Kemang,” said the insider.

However, he stressed that the final decision would be made by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in his capacity as BN chairman.

‘Malaysians know what’s right and wrong’

Bersih 3.0 co-chairman S Ambiga was all smiles when she held up the more than 10,000 signatures from Malaysians showing their support of her.

KUALA LUMPUR: It is a rare sight when the fiery spokesperson for free and fair elections – S Ambiga – is rendered speechless. But that was what happened when she was presented with over 10,000 signatures from Malaysians in support of her work.

Ambiga was stumped and the only word which initially kept rolling out was ‘wow’.

But her laughter and happiness was infectious as she perused the large banner which had numerous signatures scrawled on both its sides.

“This is really precious to me! I am totally overwhelmed by the number of signatures,” gushed the Bersih co-chairperson once she recovered from her surprise.

Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, who presented the banner to Ambiga in her office along with Sungkai state assemblyman A Sivanesan, said it “was worth the effort to garner the support.”

He said that collecting the signatures had not even been his idea; on the contrary an earnest member of the public had approached him with the suggestion.

Relating the incident which spawned the banner, Kulasegaran said: “When I was at the market, someone walked up to me and said, ‘how could something like this happen to Ambiga?’

“The man told me that as an MP, I should go around the country to gather support and signatures, which I did!

“It was really fabulous, the support was fantastic. I had party leaders as well as ordinary folks from all races wanting to be part of this change and wanting an end to this harassment [against Ambiga],” the Perak DAP vice chairman said.

The member of public had been alluding to the lost list of harassment Ambiga had endured from authorities, politicians and even veteran members of the national army.

‘This made my year’

According to Kulasegaran, what was even more touching was when members of the public asked if they could donate money.

“Usually, people run away when they think we are asking for donations. But this time we had people, old and young, asking us, ‘do you need money?,” he said.

When asked whether he had faced any obstacles in collecting the signatures, he replied: “The only obstacle was people coming to me too late with their signatures!”

Ambiga, who was draped in a yellow shawl which symbolised the official colour of the Bersih coalition, said she was speechless over the bravery shown by her supporters, adding this (pointing to the banner) “made my year.”

“I’m speechless! They wrote their names, their IC numbers, their phone numbers… they aren’t afraid at all. It’s amazing!” she marveled as she flipped through endless pages of her supporters’ signatures and contact details.

“But actually I shouldn’t be surprised,” she added thoughtfully.

“Everyone should please stop insulting the intelligence of Malaysians. I really think the government should sit up and pay attention.

“It truly shows that the public knows what is right and wrong, and the fact that they are willing to take the additional step of showing they know from right and wrong, that is very touching.

“The Malaysian public is setting the standard for decency, not the government,” she added.

‘Malaysians unhappy with hate speech’

Ambiga also said she considered the pledges as not being about her, but about the fact that Malaysians were tired of the “encouragement of hate speech”, which she said was becoming a dangerous trend.

In June, an Umno lawmaker had famously called for Ambiga to be hanged for her “treasonous” act of organising the April 28 rally, comparing her to leaders of the Al-Ma’unah militants who tried to overthrow the government in 2000 and were sentenced to death by hanging for “waging war against the King.”

“Shouldn’t we also hang Ambiga for treason towards the Agong? Traitors should be punished as harshly as possible,” Sri Gading MP Mohamad Aziz had told Parliament.

He was later ordered to withdraw his remarks by Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker. He did so but not before launching into an attack against the DAP for being a “racist” party.

Ambiga had also endured an attempted break-in at her office in May, and became the target of several groups comprising army veterans and burger sellers who had staged protests in front of her house to voice their discontent over the Bersih rally.

Meanwhile, the government is suing Ambiga and nine Bersih committee members for RM122,000 over the damages incurred during the April 28 rally. It is also seeking a declaration that Bersih 3.0 had violated the Peaceful Assembly Act.

But Ambiga said today the support she received from Malaysians “more than makes up for it.”

“I have people sending flowers and gifts to my office every weekend. The expression of the hearts and minds of the people is so valuable to me,” she said.

When asked whether she would be hanging the banner in her office, Ambiga laughed and said: “I have so many of these signatures, so it will have to take turns on my wall!

“But this is something money can’t buy, and I shall treasure it forever,” she said, smiling broadly.

What can Umno leaders do after losing?


AUG 16 ― It’s official, the Raya season has begun.
These are not just days ― and probably weeks ― of merriment, but also deep contemplation. And for those in politics, considering all the tumult-surprise-confusion which inundates Malaysian politics, it is that brief spell to decide one’s future.

The quiet before the storm. The lull before peak-hour traffic is compounded by an eight-vehicle pile-up. Workmen sharpening the guillotine before the marketplace fills up in the aftermath of a revolution.

I worry for the Umno leaders ― “what next” if they lose the coming general election? Though many claim that’s unlikely, Umno booted out, I’ll scenario it out. A one-stop career guidance counselling of sorts for Umno men under a Pakatan Rakyat government. Especially for those who win their seats and find themselves in the opposition.

For Pakatan Rakyat folks, a guide is unnecessary. They have always faced the same day-after permutations for decades. Even when winning a state, the real power still resides in Putrajaya. Moving from a bit more to a bit less won’t scar us, we’d just have to find cheaper “mamak spots” (street eateries).

But for the Umno men, they will be wandering in the desert with little experience. So what can they do, when they lose power? Well... let me tell you, or make something up.

We shall return — real reform, real value

Plan the return back to power.

The defeated can regroup and do some soul-searching. With nobody having the living memory of general election annihilation, most might be dumbfounded for some time.

The honourable thing to do would be to accept the situation and work to improve it so that they will win the next general election. New faces have to be promoted and given more say, and those who ran the show have to step aside.

There will be money in Umno, but not as much as they are accustomed to. They might have to resort to one seemingly horrible measure — to fundraise.

A political fundraiser is when a party or candidate gathers people physically or communicates to a group in a mailing list. These people are told what the party and then the candidate stands for and then asked to contribute if they believe in the cause. This is not a horse-trading session. The party is not in a position to grant favours, it only promises good government or a type of government when it wins.

Organisers cannot give people money, burgers and free transport to the target audience. The idea is to collect from the people, not pay them for support.

I’m being repetitive but I fear that many of my colleagues in Umno will find this “fundraising” exercise incredulous and preposterous.

Many Umno reps would also have to downgrade their lifestyles. Being a division chief or Member of Parliament will not be a ticket to lucrative positions like directors of GLCs, heads of licensing boards or the likes. They might even be unlucky enough that suddenly they are no more closely related to someone holding a monopoly, fat contract or highway concessionaire.

Émile Durkheim did point out in “The Anatomy of a Suicide” that a drastic major fluctuation in wealth can have adverse effects on the psychological well-being of individuals.

A less than opulent Umno might crack more than a few veterans. Those multiple home and automobile repayments may hover like “live” power cables.

Do you have room in the inn? (Umno men head to PKR or PAS)

Defection is a strong word, let’s rebrand it as right-positioning.

If you are used to power, then gravitating to those now in power seems only natural. Swallow your pride and take the new oath.

That, a fair number of Umno leaders might just do.

They have trained a nation to have a short memory and this will come in handy. Malaysia’s “loathe to read but fed on TV majority” would probably forget these leaders’ Umno past.

And for the Umno men, the adjusting to PKR and PAS would be more fluid. Umno has no ideology, it stands for power. So those leaving don’t have to denounce any philosophy or concept.

If you choose PKR, which incidentally was the main trajectory of all their previous spew, you might have to feign innocence and say you were just playing politics — repeat this sound-bite: “Don’t blame the player, blame the game.”

If you choose PAS, then you just have to trade the songkok for a skullcap, pray in public places and look mournful when you recollect the misfortune which forced PAS to part company with Umno in 1978.

Quit politics and talk about it (The life of the political pundit)

A change of government would lead to a more open mainstream media operating with growing Internet content.

So much space, always there for the former politician to become political pundits. Look at Mahathir Mohamad, a blogger on a mission.

Don’t worry if you don’t know much, the general public will not be surprised by this nugget of a disclosure.

The money might be thin, but the politician in you wants to be remembered and current.

You can write your story. (If you can’t type, don’t worry; if you can’ tell a story, don’t worry; and if you can’t remember most of what you were supposed to remember about your years in power, don’t worry. This is why there are ghost writers. They’ll write everything and even lie about knowing you.)

There is the additional option here, but rarely utilised, you can draw your story. Use crayons, use water-colours, use oil or use all of them. Or just a steady German-made pencil.

Emigrate

Over the years, us on the other side have been used to the taunt aimed at us: “If you can’t deal with us in power, then just leave Malaysia.”

I believe no citizen should be told this, I’m just saying they are welcome to review their own “strategic” dare.

Pauline Hanson, the former firebrand racist Australian politician, said in 2010 that she was migrating to Britain because her country had failed her. Her ideas and intentions to keep Australia more “white” failed to capture the imagination of enough, or there were presumably not enough racists in the country.

However, Hanson after staying in Europe changed her mind. She said that too many immigrants have infiltrated Britain. The United Kingdom to her had become not “white” enough.

The Pakatan Rakyat vision of less racism and more emphasis on equality for all Malaysians — even if it takes a generation to realise — ends up being too frightening, then the Umno man might have to look for a for xenophobic locality to move to.

I’d have to warn the Umno leaders though, even if the new destination has levels of hate akin to their taste like in parts of eastern Europe, the animosity is directed at them.

Apparently even haters are hated by other haters of other sorts.

I’d mention also, though this is not to suggest anything in particular, when choosing you might want to shortlist nations which don’t have extradition treaties with Malaysia.

Business, run a business

In any situation, going into business is a common option.

A business would require basic sense of product or service and recognise the market for the product. Building a customer base takes time and effort. With the proper care for margin in relation to sales volume, a proper business will be realised.

You probably won’t get a business loan simply because you are a political leader. You won’t get a major contract without showing a portfolio of works and establish clear capacity to complete the job. You’d have to comply with financial, industrial and ministerial regulations depending on the nature of the business. You have to build a management and live off margins.

Actually, now I think about it, you are better off not doing business.

Oddball choice: Public relations guru

I’m not sure how promising these options are, but I vaguely see value propositions linking politicians and the career.

You are part of a party which has without blinking sold to the public the most outlandish plans; for example, defective submarines and a national automotive policy built on protecting the inefficient.

There are many young, old, poor, rich, Scrabble playing or sleep-walking citizens who will even after your electoral defeat believe that you and Umno were only doing the best for the country.

I’m not sure what or how, but surely you must be a genius at public relations by the virtue of your leadership in Umno. Perhaps a short correspondence course will unearth more.

Always look on the bright side of life

Still, life outside power will be dim for the Umno man. For them, they will always remember what was mighty about Rome, not that their emperor played a fiddle while it burnt down.

I don’t expect them to change their minds because that involves invalidating the life they led, to a degree.

There would be one industry which would struggle for a short while after Umno’s rule ends, stand-up comedians — they’ve never been short on material in Umno-ruled Malaysia.

There is one silver-lining for them. Those replacing them will not be vengeful as them, being mean is not an affectation you can just pick up. It takes time; it took Umno leaders a long time to become the mean cusses they are today.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

Malaysia's Murky Water War


Rozali says things are fine
Rozali says things are fine
(Asia Sentinel) Does the Klang Valley’s water company mainly service UMNO?

In the mid-1990s, then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad ordered the privatization of a wide range of government activities from highways to airports to railways to shipyards and much more. However, privatization Malaysia-style would result in a cornucopia of money funneled to companies linked to the ruling national coalition, and particularly to the United Malays National Organization, the country’s leading political party.
There are few better examples of that river of cash than the system that provides water to the 8 million-odd residents of Selangor, the country’s biggest states, as well as, Kuala Lumpur proper and the new Putrajaya government center. The water service was hived off in a 30-year contract to a company called Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd, more popularly known as Syabas, which was incorporated to operate the system.

That was when the state of Selangor was an UMNO stronghold. But in the 2008 election, Selangor fell to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition. And since that time, Pakatan Rakyat has been attempting to get the water service re-nationalized. It has been an intense and so far unsuccessful campaign that has become a game of chicken between the federal and state governments ahead of the next general election, which could be held in November.

The issue has become part of Umno’s attempt to re-take Selangor state from the opposition, with government figures charging that the standoff will lead to water shortages for the domestic and international companies involved in manufacturing in the area.

Syabas is 70 percent owned by Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd., whose chairman and beneficial owner is Rozali Ismail, a personal friend of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor. Rozali is also the former UMNO treasurer of Selangor state. He has been given the honorific of Tan Sri, the second-highest of Malaysia’s odd hierarchy of titles. The other 30 percent is held by two vehicles of the Selangor state government. Malaysia’s Finance Ministry holds a single so-called golden share, which gives it voting primacy.

The water system pays Rozali RM8.4 million (US$2.68 million) per year, making him Malaysia’s 16th highest paid executive director although he has denied the figures. In any case, the water company paid RM17 million to its executives last year despite the fact that the water company suffered an RM75 million pre-tax loss according to Bursa Malaysia. The company’s 2011 financial statement shows current liabilities of RM2.38 billion against assets of RM1.7 billion, with debt at nearly Puncak Niaga also faces a RM2 billion lawsuit over the fact that it has paid only 40 percent of its obligations to water treatment companies. Despite the debt – or perhaps because of it -- it appears that Syabas may have been a cash cow for a long list of UMNO cronies. According to an auditor general’s report that was abruptly withdrawn from public view under the country’s stringent Official Secrets Act, 72 percent of all subcontracts with the water company were awarded through direct negotiation to the contractors without recourse to public bidding.

Syabas is just one of more than a score of government-linked companies that provide the mother’s milk of money for UMNO. As Asia Sentinel reported on Oct. 23, 2010, at least 23 of Malaysia's biggest companies appear to have been vehicles to siphon off money via government contracts. The companies and the people who run them are so hard-wired into UMNO and its investment arms that de-linking them could conceivably destroy the party. Many of the companies have suffered from disastrous mismanagement and have had to be rescued by the government.

In Syabas’s case, the government has staged a no-holds-barred fight to keep the water company in UMNO hands. A special cabinet committee set up to deal with the issue recently rejected a state government proposal to take back the system, with Muhyiddin Yassin, the deputy prime minister, saying the state government doesn’t comply with a variety of procedural matters.

The problem is that the squabble between the state and national governments has meant that some of the 34 water treatment plants in Selangor have hit capacity, with critics alleging that several areas of the Klang Valley, in which Selangor lies, to face water problems.

The state government argues that the concession agreement granted to Syabas is not in the interest of citizens, that returning water to public ownership is a basic citizens' basic right and that in fact Puncak Niaga is asking an exorbitant penalty payment from Selangor to surrender the concession agreement.

In an effort to open up the issue to its constituents, the state government sought permission to make the concession agreement between Syabas and the government public. A high court in Selangor agreed with the opposition only to have the federal court, which is famously malleable to political winds, reverse the high court’s decision on appeal. That was a year and a half ago. The appellate judges have yet to furnish a written judgment justifying their decision.

In lieu of cancelling the agreement and re-taking responsibility for water supply, Selangor officials are calling for an independent audit of the 50-year study on which the agreement was predicated, to verify the validity of the assumptions on gross domestic product growth, projected water demand and population increases, and to identify options to improve existing capacity of the treatment plants. The state government also wants to list water conservation measures for households and factories to reduce wasteful consumption.

The federal government has refused to consider an independent audit. It suggests that Selangor pay up or shut up.

Meanwhile, the opposition charges, the federal government and its UMNO machinery are in fact creating a false scare over the water shortage threat.

Charles Santiago, a Democratic Action Party member of parliament, charged in an interview that the crisis is being manufactured to pressure the state to endorse the construction of a new treatment plant that would lock the state into a major financial commitment which in turn would impose unacceptable water tariffs on the state’s citizens.

The proposed plant, called Langat 2, is part of a larger plan to tap water resources in Pahang state to the north through piping infrastructure and tunneling to bring the water to the Klang valley. An interstate plan which needs federal oversight, it already appears to be a cash cow for UMNO-linked companies. The Langat 2 treatment plant itself will take three and a half years to build and the government charges that without building it, the infrastructure committed already will be wasted.

One of the principal joint venture contractors on the project is United Engineers Malaysia, or UEM, a company that since its inception has been notorious for profiting from a long list of government projects including highways and other construction projects.

Trapped in the inter-generational cycle of poverty and inequality?

Damn!
Is there no way out of this nightmare for the 40% marginalised and long neglected anak bangsa Malaysia?
The Social Inclusion Agenda?

What’s that?
“It is an idea which we are floating. Somebody has to start the ball rolling but we don’t own this document. What it becomes is what people make of it.” – Malik Imtiaz Sarwar.

To know more about the Social Inclusion Agenda, go HERE.
Me?

I’m sold on the idea.

Borak Bersama Anwar 17 August 2012 #BorakAnwar



Blaming Dr M’s faults on everyone else — Pak Sako



AUG 16 — Erna Mahyuni’s opinion piece in The Malaysian Insider entitled “Why Dr M is Umno’s (and Anwar’s) fault” is almost faultless in its humour.

For readers who did not “get” it, I clarify below its satire. I number the relevant paragraphs from the article for easy cross-reference.

This commentator is of the belief that good humour should not go unnoticed or, worse, be mistaken for serious writing.

Joke No. 1: It’s all just “missteps”

Responding to a question about whether former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad should be condemned “for all he’s done”, the author asserts that Mahathir did not deserve to be vilified in spite of all of his “missteps” (paragraph 3).

“Missteps” should receive no vilification, so long as the person “really did believe his decisions were for the greater good” (paragraph 6).

Here are a couple of those missteps that Mahathir and his administration should never be vilified for:

• the missteps that might have been involved in the loss of roughly RM100 billion in four financial scandals that occurred during his tenure (see Barry Wain, Malaysian Maverick);

• the misstep of instructing journalists to deny the then-outgoing prime minister Hussein Onn media coverage (as alleged by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in an NTV7 interview, available on YouTube as “Pak Lah balas serangan Tun Dr Mahathir”);

• the role in the Operasi Lalang misstep in 1987 (see Lim Kit Siang, “Mahathir rewriting history on Ops Lalang”, blog.limkitsiang.com, 9 Feb 2011);

• the missteps in the 1988 judicial crisis (see pages 140-142 in Shimon Shetreet et al’s The Culture of Judicial Independence);

• missteps in the 1998 bailout of Konsortium Perkapalan Berhad, a corporation owned by Mirzan Mahathir (page 170 in S. Haggard’s book, The Political Economy of the Asian Financial Crisis).

John D. Rockefeller had once said: “Don’t blame the marketing department. The buck stops with the chief executive’’. Rockefeller was obviously wrong.

Joke No. 2: Blame everyone else but the culprit

The title of the author’s article, “Why Dr M is Umno’s (and Anwar’s) fault”, conveys the impression that all Mahathirian phenomena are explainable by Umno and Anwar Ibrahim. Or “circumstances”, as when “Umno” and “Anwar” are conflated into one word (paragraph 6).

The absurd implication is that it is Umno and Anwar Ibrahim who ought to accept responsibility for Dr Mahathir’s actions and possible character and personality flaws. A portent of a legal mess.

Or that it was Umno and Anwar Ibrahim who had sought out Dr Mahathir to begin with, and not the other way around. Here’s one for surrealism.

The author goes the extra mile in the final paragraph: we “should not condemn Dr Mahathir because in many ways, he reflects all the worst in ourselves”.

In other words, we are not shaped by an administration’s socioeconomic policies and the period’s political-party culture; we, the people, asked for these— money politics, mass privatisations, the nurturing of a corporate-capitalist elite, and so on.

Joke No. 3: Make a bad thing sound good with goofy hyperboles

Dr Mahathir, the “über-controlling, extremely paranoid individual we know” (paragraph 5).

Here the impression is had of the friendly (though admittedly strange) next-door neighbour who kindly offers the occasional home-made pie.

Being brief about it would have certainly aided readability, like editing the said clause down to “authoritarian prime minister” or (for über-brevity) “autocrat”. But that would defeat the purpose— the joke would be defused and all we’d be left with is feeling scared.

Joke No. 4: Worship. And madly

“Dr Mahathir is probably the greatest politician our country ever had or will ever produce” (paragraph 15).

The impact of the author’s joke relies on the word “greatest” being left undefined. No evidence is given to support the claim, except perhaps sheer captivation. Or perhaps it refers to the suggestion that no other Malaysian prime minister can lay claim to as many “missteps”.

But no matter. Another comic kick swiftly follows: The absolute degree of confidence that Malaysia will probably never have a great prime minister ever again. Which is more a reason to be depressed than to be merry (bear run on the stock market, ad perpetuum).

Joke No. 5: The comical contradiction

“Malaysia needs statesmen, not politicians... Not Anwar... Not court jesters like Perkasa” (paragraph 15).

Here a contradictory self-reference is invoked to elicit the laughter of disbelief. For observe that if we eliminate court jesters like Perkasa, who then shall entertain the patron saint of Perkasa?

Joke No. 6: Hilarity by resort to honesty

Politicians may play complex roles and be expected to manoeuvre in complex environments, but that is hardly excuse for binning ethics or playing games with the public trust.

To sum up, therefore, with the author’s words: “Malaysia needs... leaders with vision, compassion and a sense of honour. Sadly, those traits do not seem to manifest in Malaysian politicians” (paragraph 15).

Indeed, and so much for the greatest politician our country will ever produce.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

Man Missing In Sungai Udin Feared Eaten By Crocodile

TAWAU, Aug 16 (Bernama) -- A man who went missing while catching prawns in Sungai Udin in Dumpas near here yesterday is feared to have been eaten by a crocodile.

The victim, Jailani Inderasaya, 54, from Kampung Jagung, Merotai Besar, was said to have gone to the river to fish for prawns with his son, Azwan,16, when the incident happened at 4.30pm.

According to Azwan, while his father was casting the net by the river bank, suddenly a 15-foot long crocodile emerged and bit into his father's shoulder before dragging him into the river.

He said when his father did not surface, he rushed home to inform his family members as to what had happened and that they and the village folk mounted a search but to no avail.

OIC Summit Passes Three Resolutions

From Azeman Ariffin

MECCA, Aug 16 (Bernama) - The extraordinary summit meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which concluded here today passed three important resolutions for immediate implementation.

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the three resolutions which were fully supported by Malaysia were to suspend the membership of Syria in the OIC, to give recognition to Palestine as a sovereign state and to champion the cause of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

He said the summit meeting also outlined several immediate action that must be taken including supporting the proposal by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Abdul Aziz Al Saud for the creation of a Muslim Dialogue Centre to discuss issues pertaining to sectarian ideologies.

"The summit meeting in Mecca in conjunction with the 26th and 27th day of Ramadan had brought about a new spirit for the OIC and awareness among the leaders of Islamic nations to tackle issues affecting the Muslims throughout the world," he told Malaysian journalists, here today.

He said the resolutions passed at the Holy Land of Mecca was something special at the OIC this time.

Meanwhile, when addressing the summit, Najib said Malaysia supported the decision to suspend the membership of Syria after considering the action as a symbolic gesture to send a clear message to Syria on the need to take measures to stop the bloodshed and to embark on a peaceful resolution of the crisis for the sake of the people of Syria.

He said the OIC action against Syria was also to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation.

"In taking this decision, Malaysia urges member states particularly the regional players of Arab states to continue their constructive engagement with all concerned parties in Syria to deliver a peaceful and lasting solution to the country", he said.

The Prime Minister said the escalating violence in Syria was sad, shocking and shameful as people continued to witness the carnage, sufferings and unnecessary loss of innocent lives, including women and children.

Najib said thousands of Syrians were being forced to flee their homeland and seek shelter in neighbouring countries and it was hard to imagine how a country like Syria

with such a rich, proud and venerable history

could slide so far, and so fast, into incivility.

"The Syrian government must be told, in no uncertain terms, that it's bombardment of its own people including the indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas by heavy and aerial weaponry, and they must stop.

"It is also hard to imagine after so much killings and inflicting horrendous miseries and hardship to his own people, how could a leader continue to hold on to power without any sense of guilt and accountability," he said.

Najib said there must be an immediate end to the senseless killings and appalling human rights violations, especially against civilians, and Malaysia was deeply concerned over the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the failure of the Syrian regime to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.

"We urge the Syrian authorities to cooperate with the United Nations and international humanitarian aid agencies for the speedy delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people," he said.

He said Malaysia, at this point of time, still believed that the Six-Point Peace Plan, as outlined by Kofi Annan, presented the best option to resolve the crisis.

"We regret his decision to resign as the Joint United Nations-Arab League Envoy to Syria. Nevertheless, we must continue his efforts to find an effective solution to this crisis.

"We believe that the Plan could restore peace, security and stability in the country. We appeal to all parties, especially the Syrian leadership, to give its full support to efforts to find a peaceful and lasting solution," he said.

Najib said in particular, Malaysia called on parties to adhere to the UNGA Resolution adopted on Aug 3 2012, which paved the way for the Syrian people to decide the future of their country in a truly democratic manner.

He said that like other member states of the OIC, Malaysia maintained the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

Najib said that with strong determination, commitment and political will, OIC would be able to redress the many problems currently faced by the Ummah.

"We must find effective solutions and resolutions that will alleviate the sufferings faced by our Muslim brothers and sisters," he said.

The Syrian conflict began in March 2011 with public demonstrations as part of the wider Arab Spring and developed into a nationwide uprising, and a civil war in 2012.

Protesters have demanded for an end to nearly five decades of Ba ath Party rule, as well as the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad.

-- BERNAMA

Thousands flee violence-hit Indian cities


Thousands of Indian from the northeast of the country fled southern cities after fearing attacks [Al Jazeera]

(Al Jazeera) Thousands of Indians from the northeast of the country have fled southern cities as fear grow of a backlash over violence against Muslims in the state of Assam and neighbouring Myanmar.

Over the weekend, two people were killed and 55 wounded when about 10,000 people rioted in the financial capital of Mumbai after Muslims held a protest against violence against members of their religion.

Muslims across India have been alarmed by clashes in recent weeks between indigenous people in the northeastern state of Assam and Muslim settlers from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Fresh violence flared in previously calm areas of the hill state of Assam on Thursday, with a mob of hundreds of people burning a bus and a bridge, apparently in retaliation for a similar attack on a car, officials said.

Police opened fire to disperse another mob and one person was injured.

About 75 people have been killed and more than 400,000 displaced.

Myanmar clashes

Separately, at least 80 people were killed and tens of thousands were displaced in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine in days of clashes between members of the majority Buddhist community and minority Muslims that erupted in June.

The violence has angered Muslims around the world and raised tension in India where religious and ethnic divisions have
simmered for decades, occasionally erupting into communal blood-letting.

Rumours of revenge attacks by angered Muslims have been rife, particularly on social media.

Adding to the climate of fear was a knife attack on a Tibetan student in a town near Bangalore although the circumstances were not clear.

This sent throngs of northeasterners to Bangalore railway station, to return to Bangalore.

"Right now people from the northeast have got threats to vacate their houses and some of them got beaten up here and
there," said Vivek Raj Kumar, a member of a group representing students from the northeastern state of Manipur.

Railway authorities laid on two extra trains on Wednesday night to take about 7,000 people on the two-day journey to
Assam.

'Rumour-mongering'

Top interior ministry official R.K Singh called for calm and said people from the northeast were safe anywhere in the country.

He blamed "rumour-mongering" for the panic.

Assam's Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said rumours were spreading "like wildfire" over social media and mobile telephone text messages.

"New technology is responsible for spreading rumours. It moves faster and reaches more people," Gogoi said.

Analysts have accused political parties and religious organisations of exploiting ethnic tension for their ends.

The Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, which has in the past been accused of fomenting Hindu-Muslim violence, blames the Assam riots on uncontrolled
immigration into the state from Muslim-majority Bangladesh.

It says the Congress party, which leads a ruling coalition, allows immigration to win votes from new arrivals.

A BJP chief in the eastern state of Odisha called on Thursday for all illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to be identified and expelled.