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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

17-year-old suspect in shooting of cops surrenders

KUALA LUMPUR: A second suspect believed to be involved in the recent shootout with two policemen at Jalan Kuchai Lama surrendered to the police.

City CID chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ku Chin Wah said the 17-year-old turned up at the Sentul police station at about 11am Monday.

It is learnt that the teenager from Kepong was accompanied by his girlfriend and had been remanded to facilitate police investigations.

Police sources revealed that they were looking for one more suspect involved in the incident.

He said all of the suspects were related and had previous criminal records for robbery and drugs.

The suspect was with among two people who shot two policemen on Wednesday at Jalan Kuchai Lama, injuring Kpl Nor Azlan Abu Bakar, 42, and Kpl R. Subramaniam, 52, who approached their car at a traffic light.

On Sunday, one of the suspects was killed following a shoot out with the police.

Bekas peneroka ladang tuntut janji perumahan

Hindraf, PKR meet after long winter

Hindraf and PKR have taken the first step toward bridging their differences, following a rift after the March 2008 general election.

Hindraf advisor N Ganesan met several PKR leaders last week in Kuala Lumpur.

khalid ibrahimAfter the meeting, Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim (left) hailed it as a positive step in breaking the ice.

"We would like to go through the various steps of understanding and formulation. We think that the meeting has already broken the ice in terms of trying to know where we should be going,” he said.

"I think it is a very positive meeting and we should continue to reach to a level that the Malaysian people deserve.”

Other PKR leaders present were secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution, vice-president Tian Chua and Subang MP R Sivarasa.

The meeting was held following an appeal for engagement by P Waythamoorthy, who has taken over the reins of Hindraf from his brother Uthayakumar.

In the 2008 polls, Hindraf had been a significant force in gathering the support of Indian Malaysians for Pakatan Rakyat.

However, Uthayakumar accused Pakatan of not addressing the needs of the Indian poor after gaining power in several states and reducing the BN’s majority in Parliament.

Their relationship had further soured after Uthayakumar announced that Hindraf, through its political entity, the Human Rights Party, would contest the next general election against both Pakatan and BN.

Bangladhesh anti-Buddhist violence 'planned'

Historic Buddhist temples in Bangladesh burn over a photo
on Facebook.  Guess who got their feelings hurt again...?

Ikea criticised for airbrushing women out of Saudi catalogue

Ikea, the Swedish furniture retailer, has been criticised for deleting images of women from the Saudi version of its catalogue.
Ikea, the Swedish furniture retailer, has been criticised for deleting images of women from the Saudi version of its catalogue.
Pages from the Swedish (left) and the Saudi Arabian edition of next year's Ikea catalogue Photo: EPA

Comparing the Swedish and Saudi versions of the Ikea catalogue, Sweden's free newspaper Metro on Monday showed that women had been airbrushed out of otherwise identical pictures showcasing the company's home furnishings.

The report raised questions in Sweden about Ikea's commitment to gender equality.

The country's trade minister Ewa Bjorling did not criticise Ikea directly but told Metro that you can't delete women from society.

Ikea released a statement expressing regret, saying "We should have reacted and realised that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict with the IKEA Group values."

Women appear only infrequently in Saudi-run advertising, mostly on Saudi-owned TV channels that show women in long dresses, scarves covering their hair and long sleeves. In imported magazines, censors black out many parts of a woman's body including arms, legs and chest.

When Starbucks opened its coffee shops in the conservative, Muslim kingdom, it removed the alluring, long-haired woman from its logo, keeping only her crown.

Ikea's Saudi catalogue, which is also available online, looks the same as other editions of the publication, except for the absence of women.

One picture shows a family apparently getting ready for bed, with a young boy brushing his teeth in the bathroom. However, a pajama-clad woman standing next to the boy is missing from the Saudi version.

Another picture of a five women dining has been removed altogether in the Saudi edition.

Swedish equality minister Nyamko Sabuni noted that Ikea is a private company that makes its own decisions, but added that it also projects an image of Sweden around the world.

"For Ikea to remove an important part of Sweden's image and an important part of its values in a country that more than any other needs to know about about Ikea's principles and values - that's completely wrong," Sabuni told The Associated Press.

Jacqui Hunt, a director in the London office of Equality Now, a group aimed at addressing discrimination against woman around the world, said: "Women are equal and integral members of society and cannot just be airbrushed out. The IKEA Group has to take responsibility for the messages it is sending and take extra care, particularly as a global corporation, to promote messages of equality and non-discrimination of all peoples."

Ikea Group, one of the many branches in the company's complicated corporate structure, said it had produced the catalogue for a Saudi franchisee outside the group.

"We are now reviewing our routines to safeguard a correct content presentation from a values point-of-view in the different versions of the IKEA Catalogue worldwide," it said.

Isabella Sankey, director of Policy for Liberty, the human rights group, said:"There are sadly much worse things happening to women in Saudi Arabia than being airbrushed out of photos. But we would ask ethical companies to consider the signal they send when they make seemingly minor adjustments in countries that flout human rights."

Bangladesh, 25 thousand Muslims set fire to 22 Buddhist temples

The violence erupted in the south-east of the country, after the release of an "anti-islam" photo on Facebook. Hundreds of homes destroyed. A 250 year old temple destroyed. It is one of the rarest and most violent attacks against the Buddhist community in the country.

Dhaka (AsiaNews / Agencies) - About 25 thousand Muslims set on fire and destroyed 22 Buddhist temples and hundreds of homes in south-eastern Bangladesh, one of the rarest and most violent attacks against the Buddhist community in the country. The violence took place on the night of September 29th and was sparked a photo posted on Facebook, deemed "offensive" against Islam. According to some protesters, a Buddhist in the area posted the image on the social network. For the moment, the authorities have arrested a young man, Uttam Kumar Barua, but it is unclear whether he is really responsible for the having posted the photo. During the disorder, two Hindu temples were also demolished.

The violence has affected dozens of villages of the upazila (sub-districts) of Ramu, Ukhia, Patia and Teknaf (Chittagong Division). The most serious losses were reported in Ramu, where 15 Buddhist temples were razed to the ground and more than 100 houses burnt. It all started around 10 pm (local time), when hundreds of people invaded the area of ​​Choumuhani, staging a protest. The crowd soon swelled, reaching thousands of people and breaking the security cordon of police. Around midnight, people started to spread gunpowder and gasoline, and set fire to temples and homes. Among the places of worship destroyed, there was also the 250 year old temple of Shima Bihar,.

So far police have arrested 26 people for public disorder. According to local authorities, Muslim Rohingya, the Muslim minority originally from Myanmar's Rakhine State, fomented the protests. For months, this community has been a victim of ethnic persecution: the country, in fact, does not recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group, but considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country (90%). With a population of about 161milioni of people, it is one of the poorest nations in the world, but the third largest Islamic state in the world. Hindus are about 9% of the population, Buddhists and Christians, a minority of the small percentage of just 1%. However, the Buddhist community has never experienced violence on this scale.

Rich getting richer while poor getting poorer in Malaysia, says Anwar

By Lisa J. Ariffin - TMI

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — Malaysia faces a widening gap between wages and the profits of companies under the government’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim warned today.

He told Parliament when debating the government’s Budget 2013 proposals that not enough was being done by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor in Malaysia.

The opposition leader claimed household wages remain low and that structured analyses show the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

“This means the economic growth and all the projects announced by BN do not bring effect on the incomes of a majority of the people,” Anwar (picture) said.

He added surveys showed 44.2 per cent of Malaysian households make less than RM2,500 a month, and share only 14 per cent of the country’s economic prosperity in stack contrast to the 50 per cent shared by the top 20 per cent of wealthiest Malaysians.

“The excitement in chasing economic forecast numbers without specific policy reforms to narrow the gap (between the rich and the poor) and ensure even distribution is more evident than ever in the prime minister’s ETP,” Anwar said.

“The analyses and comparisons in economic value made by the ETP projects and wages given to workers show that by 2020 workers will be paid much less in relation to company profit.

“If now, the ratio of wages to profits stands at 28 per cent, under the ETP it is expected to fall to 21 per cent,” he added.

Earlier, Anwar had said the national economic plan should shift from only meeting equity targets and growth to ensuring a minimum household income of RM4,000 a month by the end of a first-term Pakatan Rakyat (PR) administration.

He also said economic growth should be generated by small and medium-sized businesses and not just by “one or two big bosses.”

Speaking in Parliament, the opposition leader pitched his PR’s Budget 2013 proposal to focus on disposal income instead of chasing equity and growth targets.

Masalah perumahan: Peneroka bandar terpinggir

Kira-kira 200 wakil penduduk berdemonstrasi sebelum menyerahkan memorandum yang mengandungi enam tuntutan.

KUALA LUMPUR: Kira-kira 200 wakil penduduk seluruh negara hari ini hadir berdemonstrasi aman di hadapan bangunan Parlimen di sini pagi tadi bagi menuntut kerajaan menyelesaikan isu hak milik rumah peneroka bandar dan tanah masyarakat Orang Asal.

Kumpulan tersebut, Jawatankuasa Bertindak Taman Permata Dengkil, Jawatankuasa Bertindak Ladang Bukit Jalil, termasuk wakil masyarakat Orang Asal Kelantan berdemonstrasi kira-kira 15 minit sebelum menyerahkan memorandum kepada Ahli Parlimen Pakatan Rakyat Nurul Izzah Anwar.

Memorandum itu mengandungi enam tuntutan, antaranya menuntut supaya kerajaan menyediakan perumahan mampu milik yang selesa, cukup ruang dan kemudahan yang perlu, menggubal undang-undang Skim Perumahan Sendiri Pekerja Ladang, serta hentikan pengusiran paksa dan mengiktiraf hak peneroka bandar.

Selain itu, mereka juga menuntut kerajaan supaya mengambil alih penyelenggaraan flat kos rendah dan sederhana di seluruh Malaysia dan mengiktiraf tanah adat Orang Asal serta hentikan segera rampasan tanah adat.

“Kami juga mendesak supaya kerajaan menghentikan ancaman kepada habitat penduduk dengan projek seperti Lynas, Lombong Emas di Bukit Koman dan Projek Petrokimia di Pengerang,” memorandum itu dipetik.

Tuntutan itu dibuat sempena Hari Habitat Sedunia 2012 yang disambut pada Isnin pertama bulan Oktober setiap tahun.

Tidak mampu

Sementara itu, Koordinator Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit) R Thevarajan berkata, 70 peratus rakyat Malaysia berpendapatan kurang
daripada RM3,500 sebulan tidak mampu memiliki rumah sendiri kerana kebanyakan rumah yang dibina adalah untuk kumpulan yang berpendapatan tinggi sahaja.

Beliau berkata, permintaan untuk rumah kos rendah sejak Rancangan Malaysia Ketiga melebihi penawaran apabila isu perumahan digunakan sebagai alat spekulasi untuk memperkayakan kaum kapitalis dan ini direstui kerajaan.

Akibat harga rumah melambung tinggi masyarakat miskin bandar tidak dapat memiliki rumah, manakala peneroka bandar pula disumbat ke dalam flat kos rendah bagaikan sarang burung yang mengundang pelbagai masalah sosio-ekonomi.

Pekerja ladang pula dihalau dari ladang tanpa sebarang perumahan alternatif sedangkan rumah pemimpin pula bagaikan istana, kata Thevarajan.

“Bagaimana rakyat akan percaya yang masalah perumahan dititikberatkan apabila pemimpin terus membina rumah mereka bagai istana manakala tiada polisi konkrit untuk menyelesaikan rumah rakyat.

“Sehingga hari ini tidak ada satu akta atau undang-udang yang melindungi pekerja ladang dan menjamin hak perumahan,” katanya.

Hidup daif

Sementara itu, Wakil Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Kelantan Kampung Jias di Gua Musang Azmi Abdul berkata, masyarakat Orang Asal di sana masih tercicir daripada bantuan pendidikan, kesihatan dan ekonomi yang daif.

“Kami mahu lari keluar dari belenggu ini dan mahu menikmati keselesaan seperti masyarakat biasa,” katanya ketika ditemui.

Wakil penduduk Taman Permata Dengkil Kumaran Nagurusamy berkata, kebanyakan mereka penduduk asal ladang di Putrajaya kesal kerajaan tidak memberi pampasan perumahan sewajarnya.

“Kerajaan ambil tanah kami secara paksa pada tahun 1997 dan kami diusir dari ladang untuk pembangunan Putrajaya.

“Kami berkorban demi pembangunan negara tapi rumah kami retak dan mendap teruk setiap tahun.

“Baru-baru ini kerajaan bagi kami RM2.5 juta untuk baiki tapi kami tak mahu bantuan untuk baiki rumah. Kami nak rumah teres yang selesa,” luahnya.

Woes of an ex-con wanting to go legit

S Balachandran is at his wits end after banks and government agencies turn down loan applications for his agricultural business.

KUALA LUMPUR: An ex-convict desiring to turn over a new leaf is finding it hard to get loans from government agencies for his agricultural business.

Initially, 43-year-old S Balachandran approached banks for loans to start the agricultural business but was rejected because he was blacklisted for failure to settle his credit card loans

Balachandran, from Taiping, Perak, said he was disappointed that even his loan applications to several government agencies were thrown out due to the blacklist.

“I was imprisoned in 1998 and released in 2009 and by that time I was already hitting 40…and I had difficulty landing jobs.

“I then decided to venture into the agriculture business after being impressed by the “Agriculture is Business” campaign run by the Perak state government,” he said.

“I got a lease for a 10-acre plot of land and planted chilies. I mortgaged my house. My family members chipped in some money. In total I spent about RM150,000 for the business.

“I need another RM50,000 to switch to an automated sprinkler system to water the land as it will be quicker and also yield better income. Right now I draw water from a pipe using buckets.

“At the present time, my income is less than my expenditure,” said Balachandran.

Balachandran said although he could understand why banks rejected his loan applications, he could not come to grips on why government agencies were doing the same.

“I took the matter up to the Menteri Besar (Zambry Abdul Kadir) and received a call from his special officer S Veerasingam who instructed me to attend a briefing by the Special Secretariat for the Empowerment of Indian Entrepreneurs (SEED).

“The meeting was held on Sept 9, where more than 500 people turned up. The meeting was conducted by Dr AT Kumarajah who talked only on the issue of those on blackslists.

“He offered no solutions and to my dismay, he said we still have to follow the normal procedures in applying for loans from banks.

“Here we are asking the government’s help after being rejected by the banks and he’s telling to follow procdures. What’s the point of have meetings and telling us to go back to the banks?

“In my case, Kumarajah promised to look into it personally. But, it has already been three weeks and he doesn’t even pick up my phone calls,” said.

Balachandran said he faced the same fate when he approached MyNadi, an non-governmental organisations set up to help and assist Indian businessmen.

“They visited my farm and promised to sort out my problem. But, it has been already two months and so far no signal from their side,” he added.

Balachandran said he was also disappointed with Tekun Nasional as he was only allowed to borrow RM9,000 when he had applied for a RM30,000 loan.

“I’m angry and frustrated. I work hard, want to lead a clean life. My friends who are out of prison are living a lavish life doing unlawful things.

“I made a mistake and landed in jail. But now I want to lead a new life. But I’m tired of trying…I don’t know how long I can hold on,” he added.

Trouble brewing within MIC

Dr S Vijendran's credibility as G Palanivel's political secretary is being questioned following disclosures that he is a bankrupt.

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC, touted as the largest Indian-based party in the country, may implode after the next general election, party insiders revealed today.

The source of discontent is party chief G Palanivel’s political secretary Dr S Vijendran.

Yesterday, local Tamil daily, Makkal Osai, raised doubts over the appointment of Vijendran as the political secretary to Palanivel.

The Tamil daily claimed that Vijendran, who is better known as Dr Vijay, was in fact declared a bankrupt. The newspaper also disclosed a set of documents as evidence to back its claims.

According to the documents, which were also seen by FMT, Vijay was declared a bankrupt on March 1, 2012, by the Department of Insolvency.

Also disclosed was a letter which raised several questions over his appointment as political secretary. Vijendran had allegedly not taken the oath to be a political secretary of a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

The other important questions raised were:

  • Who endorsed Vijendran’s appointment?
  • Does Palanivel know that his political secretary is a bankrupt?
  • Did Palanivel breach the law in allowing Vijendran to function as a political secretary?
  • What is Vijendran’s role in approving RM180 million to the Indian applicants as it is believed that Vijendran played a vital role in the RM180 million special allocation to the Indian entrepreneurs.

Many scandals since Palani took over

Speaking to FMT recently, party insiders said Vijendran’s appointment as political secretary was only one of many scandals that has risen since Palanivel took over the MIC presidency in 2010

“Since Palanivel took over the presidency, a lot of scandals have blown up involving senior MIC leaders.

“Palanivel’s support letter to a private company to get RM5 million to run a private show in Astro, an anonymous letter on party vice-president M Saravanan’s alleged involvement in vice activities and exposé of AIMST University’s mismanagement are a few issues showing that there is internal strife in MIC,” said the insider.

He added that the latest revelation was yet another bid to kill both Vijendran and Palanivel’s political careers.

According to him, the party members are keeping silent in view of the general election.

“It is obvious that there will be a big fight in the party after the election,” he said.

Khairy: Our promises are realistic

Unlike Pakatan, the government’s Budget 2013 is grounded in reality and will not negatively impact the nation’s economy, says the Umno Youth chief.

KUALA LUMPUR: The difference between the government’s Budget 2013 and Pakatan’s budget is that the former is realistic while the latter is ‘plucked from the clouds’, said Khairy Jamaluddin said today.

Taking a swipe at the opposition pact in his budget speech in parliament today, the Umno Youth chief pointed to the concrete figures which he said Pakatan Rakyat lacked in its own budget.

“Take for example generating jobs. Pakatan Rakyat makes all sorts of promises, but they don’t mention how many jobs they intend to generate. Their budget is not empirical,” said Khairy, who is also Rembau MP.

“Ours, on the other hand, is thorough. We don’t make projections without looking at the economic impact. We expect that by 2020 there will be 3.3 million new jobs in the middle to high income range.”

He also criticised the “unrealistic” RM1,100 floor wage promised by Pakatan – a RM200 difference from the RM900 that the government had pledged.

“The World Bank has examined the minimum wage in Malaysia and found that it should not exceed RM900.

“Meanwhile, when the government introduced the RM900 wage, I met with employers and learned that it wasn’t only those below that wage who would be facing a salary increase.

“On the contrary, the employers will be increasing wages across the board,” he said.

BN looks at maintaining economy

Khairy said that Barisan Nasional made “realistic promises” based on discussion and studies to ensure that they would help all Malaysians without negatively impacting the nation’s economy.

“We have to understand, whatever we do, we cannot destroy the country. The promises we make will not lead to the closure of factories, bankruptcies or companies fleeing the country.

“We look at maintaining the economy. That is the difference between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat,” he said.

Khairy also said that Budget 2013 emphasised economic structural change and “was not just about Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia and free vouchers.”

He said that the cash incentives provided in the budget allowed the government to carry out the “rationalisation of subsidies” by identifying households that deserved the subsidies.

“When BR1M was carried out, we were able to identify and reveal those households that earned less than RM3,000.

“We can use that data to give subsidies such as petrol only to them, without including those who do not need the subsidies,” he said.

Malay votes to decide outcome

The pro-establishment groups ruled in the recent campus polls. If the trend holds, it would seem the Malays will be the deciding factor in the coming general election.

Baradan Kuppusamy, The Star

THE campus polls, which saw the Barisan Nasional-leaning Pro-Aspirasi group victorious in most public universities, mirrors a surge in young Malay support for the coalition in the larger society.

The campus polls followed recent political developments in the country with PAS and, to a lesser extent the PKR, coming under pressure from Malay groups to explain their co-operation with the DAP.

PAS, in particular, is under constant attack for giving in to DAP's demands and not vibrantly defending Islam as it had in earlier elections.

Conversely, PAS has also been attacked by DAP national chairman Karpal Singh for continuing to propagate hudud laws, which are Islam-based criminal laws.

At the same time, DAP is heavily criticised by MCA and Gerakan because Karpal seems to be the lone voice objecting to hudud, suggesting that other DAP leaders have compromised their stand for political expediency.

The pro-establishment group has, up to Saturday, won 91% or 565 of the 620 seats contested in all 20 campuses.

They swept all seats in Universiti Teknologi Mara (50), Universiti Malaysia Perlis (31), Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (28) and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (24).

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia is the only public university held by the Pro-Mahasiswa group, which won 19 of the 28 seats contested.

The polls, thus far, can be taken as a curtain raiser for the larger national polls which must be called by May 2013.

The campus elections are thrilling affairs, complete with rival groups, alleged death threats and heated campaigns and manifestos, just like political parties competing for state and national power.

With so many public universities today each with a population ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 picking student leaders can be a daunting task.

The contest for the “hearts and minds” of the undergraduates is sometimes fierce, as they are young and impressionable and will soon become first-time voters.

The campus polls, thus, mirrors the political leanings in the country; where the predominantly Malay voters both in the rural areas and semi-urban centres still back Umno, which helped the Barisan in a string of by-election successes since February 2009.

The outcome of the by-elections also showed the erosion of rural Malay support for PAS, which is under constant attack from Malay groups for purportedly failing to defend Islam.

In recent years, the fence-sitters are beginning to back Umno, which has expanded the Government's rural enrichment programmes and made it synonymous as its own.

Demography also plays a big part in the surge in support. The Malay population has increased while the Chinese and Indian numbers have reportedly shrunk.

This is reflected in the large number of young Malays entering the electoral roll as new voters.

If the trend seen in campus polls holds, it will be the Malay votes that will decide the outcome of the general election.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang had reportedly argued that even if most of the Chinese voted for the party, they can only hope to win about 40 parliamentary seats. This is not enough for Pakatan if the Malays and a portion of Indians stay with the Barisan.

The reality is that, out of 222 parliamentary seats at stake, only 45 are Chinese-majority.

MCA holds 15 parliamentary seats, which also have substantial Malay and Indian voters.

Meanwhile, to form the next government, the Barisan has also to fight for the 50 seats in Sabah and Sarawak.

The coalition has been diligently courting the two states, offering huge chunks of development funds besides key Cabinet positions to their MPs.

The overtures are expected to pay off despite most Chinese voters backing DAP in the last Sarawak state election and the defection of two ageing politicians in Sabah to Pakatan.

Our campuses are predominantly Malay, with significant numbers of Chinese, Indians and youths from Sabah and Sarawak; and this population distribution faithfully reflects the larger Malaysian society.

Going by the results of the campus polls, the trend is increasingly in support of the establishment, which has the Malays as well as the minorities in its leadership ranks.

Secularism is the way to go

Yes, as Anwar said, and as I have also been saying for many years, Malaysia can’t make it just with electoral reforms. We need political and government reforms as well. And this is why I joined LibDem in the UK. While the others were talking merely about electoral reforms, LibDem was talking about political and government reforms.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Anwar touts Turkey as model for economic, political reforms
(The Malaysian Insider) - Like Turkey, Malaysia can regain its economic lustre within a short period only through comprehensive political and government reform, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today in debating Budget 2013.
The opposition leader blamed Malaysia’s blunted competitive edge on the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s failure to redress the lopsided economic policies awarded to “cronies and rich parties with interests”, leading to a protracted Budget deficit for the last 15 years.
“Turkey’s success under Reccip Tayeb Erdogan, for example, gives us confidence that economic policy and governance that is based on social justice, transparency, trust and recognising the potential talent of its people can boost the country’s economic prosperity within a short period.”
“That is why Pakatan Rakyat has from early on stressed that change and economic improvements cannot happen without political and government reform,” he said in his Budget speech.
Using Turkey as an example, the former finance minister said in the 10 years since Erdogan became its prime minister, the latter had managed to transform the secular Muslim country’s economy that had contracted in 2002 to become a “new economic miracle”.
Turkey’s gross domestic product (GDP) had tripled in nine years, he said, from US$233 billion (RM722 billion) in 2002 to US$773 billion last year. Its projected economic growth for this year is estimated to be more than 11 per cent, based on the first-quarter figures, which Anwar said topped China’s and every other developed country worldwide.
He pointed out too that Turkey’s economy had grown an average of between seven and nine per cent a year during Erdogan’s administration and, more notably, the country would have offset its €1 billion (RM4 billion) sovereign debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by next April, the shortest-ever repayment considering the amount owed.
The Permatang Pauh MP said Malaysia was now facing the risk of being left further behind by other Asian countries that used to lag behind it in the 1970s and 1980s, like South Korea, which had succeeded in forging ahead with measures to combat corruption and level the economic playing field to raise the competitive edge for business entrepreneurs.
But he believed that Malaysia, which had a higher economic potential due to its oil reserves, still stood a strong chance of surging ahead by overhauling the existing economic structure.
“Barisan Nasional’s failure to end the Budget deficit for 15 consecutive years while Malaysia has oil reserves shows there is a structural economic problem that it has neglected and allowed to spread like a cancerous tumour, for resolving the economic imbalance means touching cronies and the rich parties with interests,” he said.
Turkey's political system is based on a separation of powers. Executive power is exercised by the Council of Ministers while legislative power is vested in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Its current constitution was adopted on 7th November 1982 after the Turkish constitutional referendum.
The function of head of state is performed by the president who is elected every five years on the principle of universal suffrage according to the current constitution. The president does not have to be a member of parliament but he/she must be over 40 years old and hold a bachelor's degree.
Executive power rests with the president, the prime minister and the Council of Ministers. The ministers do not have to be members of Parliament. The prime minister is appointed by the President and approved through a vote of confidence in the Parliament.
Legislative power is invested in the 550-seat Grand National Assembly of Turkey representing 81 provinces. The members are elected for a four-year term by mitigated proportional representation with an election threshold of 10%. To be represented in Parliament, a party must win at least 10% of the national vote in a national parliamentary election. Independent candidates may run, and to be elected, they must only win 10% of the vote in the province from which they are running.
Turkey has a legal system that has been wholly integrated with the continental European system. For example the Turkish civil law system has been modified by incorporating elements of the Swiss Civil Code, the Code of Obligations and the German Commercial Code. The administrative law bears similarities with the French Counterpart and the penal code with the Italian Counterpart.
When Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim talks like this I will certainly support what he says. These are the type of things I like him to say. This not only gives Anwar a more statesmanlike image but what he says is in line with my own thoughts.
And, just like most Pakatan Rakyat supporters, I will agree with someone who says things that I agree with and will whack all those who say things that I do not agree with. In fact, that is not just the Pakatan Rakyat way but also the Malaysian way -- you have the right to say anything as long as I agree with what you say.
Above is a bit of background into the Turkish system. Turkey used to be called ‘The Sick Man of Europe’. Today it can actually be called one of the most progressive Muslim countries in the world. Even Anwar would agree with this.
However, Islamists and fundamentalist Muslims would disagree with this prognosis. They would consider Turkey a bad example of what a Muslim country should be like. For that matter, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the man whom the west calls ‘The Father of Modern Turkey’, would be called an apostate and a traitor to Islam by the fundamentalist.
I once prayed in the Rusila mosque in Terengganu and the PAS President, Tok Guru Abdul Hadi Awang, actually whacked Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to kingdom come. Hence I know for a fact that the PAS President (and most fundamentalist Muslims) does not regard Mustafa Kemal Atatürk highly. He would consider Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as someone whose head should be separated from his neck.
In Turkey, everyone is entitled to freedom of worship, religion, conscience and belief. In other words, apostasy does not exist in Turkey. That can never be accepted in a ‘proper’ Muslim country. On that one score alone Turkey can never be accepted as a Muslim country. Hence, how can we classify Turkey as the perfect example of a Muslim country (at least be western interpretations) when by Eastern interpretations it cannot qualify as a Muslim country?
Anwar is singing Turkey’s praises and is telling us that if Malaysia can be like Turkey then Malaysia’s economy will become just like Turkey’s. And in singing Turkey’s praises he lists down Turkey’s virtues.
I can buy that. I agree that if Malaysia became like Turkey then we can expect to see our economy improve, just like Turkey. But to become like Turkey we will need, as Anwar said, political and government reforms -- to quote what Anwar said.
Again, I can buy that. In fact, Anwar took the words right out of my mouth. And this is what I have been saying for many years. And this is what I said when Anwar and I met up in London two years ago. And this is what I said when we launched the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM). And this is also what I said in my TV3 interview in April 2011 and my NST interview on 1st January 2012.
Yes, as Anwar said, and as I have also been saying for many years, Malaysia can’t make it just with electoral reforms. We need political and government reforms as well. And this is why I joined LibDem in the UK. While the others were talking merely about electoral reforms, LibDem was talking about political and government reforms.
So what do I now say? Do I say ‘I told you so’? Do I say ‘now Anwar Ibrahim is singing the same song as I have been singing for so long’? Or do I say ‘how far is Pakatan Rakyat prepared to go to see political and government reforms’?
So we want to become just like Turkey -- a successful country, in particular in terms of governance and the economy. But are we prepared to do things just like Turkey? Maybe I should pose this question another way: will the Islamists and fundamentalists agree to Malaysia becoming like Turkey? In short: we cannot be slightly pregnant. Either we are or we are not. That is the bottom line.
And does Anwar realise that to become just like Turkey we need a lot of reforms -- not just cosmetic changes but a major structural change?
That, I fear, is what most Malaysians are not ready to accept. And that is why I have been screaming at both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. They talk about setting up home but they shy away from marriage. So are you saying we need to live in sin? Either we go all the way or we are neither here nor there. And this is what we plan for Malaysia -- a lot of cosmetics to give the impression of external beauty but rotten to the core internally?
And don’t try to tell me that once we kick out Barisan Nasional all this is going to change. The problem is not Umno. The problem is the Muslims. The Muslims are not prepared to embrace secularism in favour of Islam, like what the Turks have done. That is the core issue here. Hence no change of government is going to help if Muslims resist a change of mindset.

[VIDEO] Perbahasan Belanjawan 2013 : Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim

Malaysia’s Coming Election: Beyond Communalism?

International Crisis Group
Asia Report N°235
1 Oct 2012


Malaysia’s thirteenth general election, which Prime Minister Najib Razak will have to call by April 2013, could be a watershed in communal relations. More than ever before, there is a chance, albeit a very small one, that opposition parties running on issues of transparency, economic equity and social justice could defeat the world’s longest continually-elected political coalition, the National Front (Barisan Nasional), that has based its support on a social compact among the country’s Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. That compact, granting Malays preferential status in exchange for security and economic growth, has grown increasingly stale as the growing middle class demands more of its leaders. Both ruling party and opposition are using images of the Arab Spring – the former to warn of chaos if it is not returned to power, the latter to warn of popular unrest unless political change comes faster.

Social and demographic change, coupled with effective opposition leadership and the rise of a broad-based movement for electoral reform, are likely to make this election at the very least a close contest. The ruling coalition, composed of the dominant United Malays Nationalist Organisation (UMNO); the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA); and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), as well as several smaller parties, faces the People’s Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat), composed of the People’s Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Rakyat, PKR), led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim; the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (Partai Islam Se-Malaysia, PAS). More than ever before, the swing vote may be the Malay middle ground: urban professionals, students and “netizens” – internet users – who have benefited from constitutionally-protected preferential status for Malays but who are tired of cronyism and corruption and are chafing under the tight controls on civil liberties.

The deck is stacked against the opposition for many reasons, not least because of an electoral system based on questionable voting rolls and carefully gerrymandered, single-representative constituencies where victory requires only a plurality (first past the post). Demands for a more level playing field gave rise in 2007 to a broad-based civil society movement, the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, known as Bersih (Clean), that has held four mass street rallies drawing tens of thousands of participants: in November 2007; July 2011; April 2012 and August 2012. The first three were broken up by police with hundreds of arrests. In the third, violence on the part of a few participants led to harsh police counter-actions and allegations of brutality. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, now retired but leading UMNO’s ultra-conservatives from the sidelines, has been warning Malaysians to expect more violence in the streets if the opposition loses.

The big issues are the economy, corruption and political reform. Bread-and-butter topics matter most to the electorate, and Barisan’s vast resources enable it to dole out economic favours to strategic constituencies in the lead-up to the election. The opposition is getting plenty of mileage out of corruption scandals involving top UMNO officials, although UMNO is fighting back with legal challenges and defamation suits. Political reform is seen by both sides as a political winner. Prime Minister Najib has rolled back or reworked some of the draconian legislation – most notably the colonial-era Internal Security Act (ISA) – that Mahathir used to curb dissent during his 22 years in power, but the opposition denounces it as too little, too late.

Two huge issues are largely off the official agendas of both coalitions but dominate them in many ways. One is the preferred treatment for Malays in virtually all spheres of public life and whether opening political space and promoting social justice would diminish that status. The ultra-conservatives within UMNO are determined to protect Malay rights at all costs. The other is the question of Islamic law and religious tolerance. Under Mahathir, Malaysia embarked on a program of Islamisation of the government and bureaucracy, culminating in his declaration of an Islamic state in 2001. PAS, once known for a hardline Islamist agenda, is now led by pragmatists who are willing to put contentious issues like Islamic criminal justice on hold, at least temporarily, in the interests of trying to defeat Barisan. But neither side is above trying to scare non-Malay communities, particularly the Chinese, by predicting greater intolerance if the other wins. Within the opposition coalition, relations between PAS and the Chinese-dominated DAP remain fragile.

Both sides are furiously making calculations about tactics to win seats, tailoring their message to the communities concerned. The two eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak could be kingmakers, because they control 25 per cent of the available seats.

Ultimately the question Malaysians will have to answer on election day is which of the two choices will be better able to accommodate political change, while protecting minorities against the hardline forces that more openness can produce.

Jakarta/Brussels, 1 October 2012

Of pleading guilty and going topless

The Star 
Comment by Roger Tan

Two newsworthy headlines in recent weeks merit some comments.

ON Sept 11 when I was taking a flight at Changi Airport, I came across the news report that a former Singapore prosecutor and crime buster, Glenn Knight, had apologised to former MCA president Tan Koon Swan for wrongly prosecuting him in the Pan-El crisis in 1986 (Koon Swan case ‘a mistake’, The Star, Sept 11).

I thought such a move was rather strange but then I was not able to get hold of a copy of the book, The Prosecutor, at the airport. Now that I have sighted it, some observations should be made.

Among other things, Knight wrote in his book, “He (Koon Swan) was charged in 1985 before Justice Lai Kew Chai and pleaded guilty to the charge. He was also given a two-year jail sentence. And a S$1 million fine, which he immediately appealed ...

“A similar CBT case came up for hearing, and Chief Justice Yong Pung How, who had replaced Justice Wee Chong Jin as Chief Justice in 1990, concluded that I was wrong to charge Koon Swan for the offence which got him convicted. Chief Justice Yong was of the opinion that the section that I had charged Koon Swan with was wrong in law, for we could not charge a person for stealing from a company because as a director, it was not a breach of the law in that sense ...

“In the United Kingdom, such a landmark judgment would have set aside Koon Swan’s conviction, but our jurisprudence does not allow for this, though technically Koon Swan could still have been granted a pardon ... The judgment meant that Koon Swan had been wrongly convicted and he was technically an innocent man.”

Firstly, there are some factual errors. Koon Swan was actually charged and he pleaded guilty in 1986, not 1985. Justice Lai’s decision was delivered on Aug 26, 1986. Apart from the two-year jail sentence, he was actually fined S$500,000, not S$1mil.

Cheam Tat Pang & Anor v Public Prosecutor, 1996, was the case Knight referred to in which Chief Justice Yong held that one could not be charged for criminal breach of trust (CBT) under Section 405 of the Penal Code on the basis that he had contravened Section 157(1) of the Companies Act as in the case of Koon Swan.

However, all that Yong said about Koon Swan’s case was this: “Perhaps the only case where a charge similar to the present ones was proceeded with was Tan Koon Swan. However, as counsel correctly pointed out, the accused pleaded guilty in that case. There were no arguments as to the propriety of the charge.”

Yong did not expressly say what Knight had written that Yong had concluded that the former was wrong to have charged Koon Swan for the offence and that the section that Knight had charged Koon Swan with was wrong in law.

Further, in my opinion, Yong was merely sitting in the capacity of a High Court judge in Cheam Tat Pang, and hence this could not be the pronouncement from Singapore’s highest court, which Yong was its chief.

In fact, Knight also referred to the 1976 case of Tay Choo Wah v Public Prosecutor in which he wrote, “(High Court) Justice (Frederick Arthur) Chua determined that Section 157 applied to any director of the company ...” But in Cheam Tat Peng, Yong expressly ruled that in Tay Choo Wah, the judgment of the High Court contained no reference whatsoever to Section 157, whether in relation to the charge or otherwise, albeit the District Court judge did make reference to it!

Knight also did not elaborate how the United Kingdom jurisprudence would have allowed Koon Swan’s conviction to be set aside. This is just not possible whenever one High Court has interpreted the laws differently. This happens every other day and that is how the law develops through cases decided by judges.

If any mistake has been made, it should be Koon Swan’s decision to plead guilty. His appeal to the Court of Appeal was not against his conviction. That was not possible because he had pleaded guilty. Hence, he appealed against the sentence and this was turned down.

It would, therefore, be a sheer waste of time and an act in futility if he should attempt to seek the pardon from the Singapore’s President against his conviction.

Topless duchess

The other more interesting newsworthy story was the publication of topless pictures of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton by the French magazine, Closer.

A few days after I arrived in London, and shortly after the royal couple had arrived in Kuala Lumpur, the Internet was abuzz with news about the topless pictures of the Duchess which were apparently taken a week earlier at a chateau in Provence owned by Princess Margaret’s son, Viscount Linley.

Even though the couple had obtained an injunction to prevent Closer from publishing more pictures of the Duchess, this was merely a hollow victory. According to The Sunday Times (Sept 23) more than seven million Britons had also seen the pictures on the Internet.

Apparently, bathing topless is the in-thing among the young over here. But it is a different story if a celebrity, what more a future Queen, does it. It was argued that the Duchess did not do it in public, she was sunbathing in a private property. But the conservatives would argue that a woman should only go topless inside her bedroom, with curtains fully drawn.

It would have been unthinkable if the Queen had done it during her teens when Victorian standards of morality prevailed at the time. In those days, a charge of conspiracy to corrupt public morality could have been preferred against the royal couple!

Apparently, it was reported that Prince William’s mother, Diana, had also been snapped topless on a balcony in Spain. But the pictures were never published as the owner of Hello! Magazine, Eduardo Sanchez Junco, reportedly bought all the photos and did not publish them.

But Prince Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, was not so lucky when topless pictures of her sunbathing at a villa, also in France, were published.

And then there was that embarrassing picture of the American businessman John Bryan sucking Sarah’s toes as she lay by the poolside in 1992. However, this time round, the mainstream British press has exercised great restraint by not publishing the Duchess’ topless pictures although The Sun had earlier argued that it was in the public interest to publish Prince Harry’s naughty pictures taken in a hotel in Las Vegas.

So, the debate between the rights to individual privacy and public interest still rages on. Questions remain whether the Duchess could have exercised more care. After all, if the paparazzi could see her, then her bodyguards and servants could have also seen her topless?

Be that as it may, what the photographer did was a gross invasion of privacy. It was an act of voyeurism. If it is justifiable for the photographer to use long lens to shoot the pictures, then there is also nothing wrong for those who take private pictures from the helicopter or even from the satellites!

As much as I sympathise with the royal couple, I feel they should resort to all means to prevent such a recurrence by availing to all legal remedies to ensure that magazines like Closer and the photographer would pay, and pay dearly, for such a criminal act.

That said, this episode has not diminished my high regard for the Duchess and she is certainly still fit to be a Queen some day!

> This was written when the writer, a senior lawyer, was in London.

Traditional Medication Sheng Chang Banned

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 (Bernama) -- The public is advised to avoid buying and using Jin Fei Cao San Extract Powder "Sheng Chang" following the detection of scheduled poisons ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in the product.

In a statement, the Health Ministry said the registration of the product had been cancelled by the Drug Control Authority, which is chaired by Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, on Sept 27.

The product is meant for traditional use to relieve common cold, cough, phlegm and headache.

Manufactured by Sheng Chang Pharm Co Ltd of Taiwan, the registration holder for the product is Lifecare Essential Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur.

Sellers are reminded that possession for sale of such products is an offence under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984.