Khamis, 1 September 2011

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Media lynching and academic collaborators

Posted: 01 Sep 2011 12:49 PM PDT

By Dr Lim Teck Ghee

Every once in a while the government-controlled or government-associated media engages in a public lynching of individuals that dare to challenge the Umno-scripted truth about the political system, religion, the monarchy or just about any subject which may be seen as threatening to Umno's political and ideological dominance.

The latest case involves Mohamad Sabu and the reason for his lynching relates to a speech he made in Tasek Gelugor on Aug 21 in which the PAS deputy president touched on the Bukit Kepong incident of Feb 23, 1950. 

In that incident, armed members of the Malayan Communist Party attacked and killed 25 police personnel and some of their family members. In his speech reported by Utusan Malaysia, Mat Sabu allegedly glorified the MCP by claiming that they were the real heroes for fighting against the British and for leading the country's struggle for independence. 

Following the Utusan report, the New Straits Times had four articles including an entire page by its group managing editor Zainul Arifin attacking Mohamad Sabu for allegedly "rewriting history for political gain" (NST, Aug 28). 

This has since been followed by Utusan's Sunday edition Mingguan Malaysia devoting extraordinary coverage (spreading over six pages) to the excoriation of Mat Sabu.

Mat Sabu even featured in the Prime Minister's Aidilfitri-cum-Merdeka anniversary speech where Najib Abdul Razak sanctimoniously lambasted anyone that dared to discredit the sacrifices of the country's forefathers and security forces in the path to independence. 

Missing from the historical narrative

At the end of his article, the NST's chief Zainul – who surely must be aware that most people in our country know fully that not only history but also media editorials and pieces such as his have been written for political gain – makes the plea for history "to be debated by historians, and not politicians". 

Whilst he makes the valid point that "a relooking at history is important …. [and that] some say it is biased and a tool of political dominance", Zainul will know too that those looking for a debate or relook will not find it in the pages of his newspaper.    
  
So what is the verdict of professional historians on the communist insurgency and its contribution to the movement for independence from which a real debate and the historical truth can have its starting point?  

There is not enough space in this piece to reproduce the various analysis but readers interested in the MCP and its role in the struggle for independence may want to consult the following:  

C.C. Chin and Karl Hack, Dialogues with Chin Peng: New Light on the Malayan Communist Party

Anthony Short, The Communist Insurrection in Malaya, 1948-1960

Richard Clutterbuck, The long long war: the emergency in Malaya 1948-1960

Richard Stubbs, Hearts and minds in guerrilla warfare: the Malayan emergency, 1948-1960

Especially useful is the latest scholarly assessment of the MCP's role and place in Malayan history which is found in the journal 'Kajian Malaysia' (Journal of Malaysian Studies), Vol. 27, No. 1 & 2, 2009.  It is available online at http://web.usm.my/km/vol27(1&2)2009.html

In the volume, Richard Mason has an article 'Revisiting 1948 Insurgencies and the Cold War in Southeast Asia' that provides an overview on the almost simultaneous revolt against colonial regimes in Malaya, Indonesia and Indochina. Also three writers, C.C. Chin, Leon Comber and Abdul Rahman Hj. Ismail, provide new insights into the MCP and the tumultuous events and nationalist stirrings of the period. 

What is noticeable about the NST media coverage is not only the way the paper has ignored the real scholars that have undertaken the studies of the MCP but also its reliance on the preferred modus operandi to trot out what appear to be court academicians in the guise of Malaysian academic firepower to provide intellectual justification for their public lynching exercise. 

One such academician, Prof. Emeritus Khoo Kay Kim – who is prominently featured in the NST and other government controlled media – should know better.

Mat Sabu's intellectual honesty

Prof. Khoo's field of specialization is not the Malayan Communist Party or Chin Peng or recent Malayan political history.

Although his PhD was on the topic 'The Beginnings of Political Extremism in Malaya 1915-1935', it does not cover the period of the 1940s and 1950s when the struggle for independence took place in earnest and during which time the MCP underwent various metamorphosis and change in ideological direction in its objective to free Malaya from the colonial yoke of the British.

Prof. Khoo could have waited for clarification or explanation from Mat Sabu, and for any justification the latter may have provided for his views. That would have been the correct academic etiquette.

Or if Prof. Khoo was in haste, he could at least have relied on scholars that have done more authoritative work on the MCP and through their studies provided an academic and more truthful historical context and explanation for the Bukit Kepong incident and the communist fighters.

Instead he was reported to have stated that "Mohamad should not lie to the people when the rakyat today was easily led astray and misinformed" (NST, p.10).  Not only has he dismissed Mat Sabu's account without checking with the victim of the public lynching but he has diverted the issue away from Mat Sabu's focus on who were Malaya's freedom fighters to the international origins and orientation of the Malayan Communist Party in the 1920s and 30s!

Readers can view Mat Sabu's talk at this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ItcuiUCw4qY  

http://www.ukm.my/knam/data/Peristiwa_Bukit_Kepong.pdf

Prof. Khoo is no academic innocent or virgin when it comes to press coverage. He must know that the NST has its knives out for Mat Sabu and other opposition or civil society leaders that stand in the way of UMNO's agenda. He must know or at least he should know that there would be no fair trial and that the pursuit of academic facts and intellectual truth is the furthest away from being a concern or priority of the NST. 

Mat Sabu is feared by Umno and its mouthpieces, the NST and Utusan for good reason. He is PAS's thinking, progressive and committed face – not simply a face but someone who possesses not only the intellectual honesty to raise uncomfortable questions about how our history is being written but also is prepared to take a contrary position to defend his take on historical truth.

In doing so, Mat Sabu puts to shame the academic hangers-on that are quick to bray when called upon by the government. 

Taib “Highly Corrupt” – Secret US Documents Put Pressure on FBI!

Posted: 01 Sep 2011 12:31 PM PDT

 

By Sarawak Report

Secret US Government documents have stood up Sarawak Report's  allegations about corruption in Sarawak.

A dossier of US Embassy dispatches to Washington, compiled by the Bruno Manser Foundation from the Wikileaks site, has now revealed that the United States Government has been well-informed about the extent of Taib Mahmud's abuse of power in the state.

The revelations raise fresh questions about the judgement of America's top law enforcement agency, the FBI, in choosing to house one of its key facilities in a building owned by the Chief Minister in the United States.

For example, one confidential cable from the US embassy in Malaysia to the State Department in Washington, dated 13 October 2006, noted that:

"Taib and his relatives are widely thought to extract a percentage from most major commercial contracts -  including those for logging – awarded in the state. … Embassy sources outside the government uniformly characterize him as highly corrupt." [Bruno Manser Foundation report]

In a further passage that will embarrass some of Taib's key political cronies, including Alfred Jabu and James Masing, the report also says that a source had told the US embassy that Taib appointed "compliant local leaders" from various tribes into "financially rewarding" government positions as a means of  stifling potential opposition.

The US embassy's Political Section Chief, Mark D.Clark, concluded:

 

READ MORE HERE.

Let’s celebrate Sept 16 for its significance

Posted: 01 Sep 2011 12:28 PM PDT

By Wong Sai Wan, The Star

It's time to recognise the date our country was actually formed so that we can truly be a single nation.

THIS Aug 31 must have been the quietest ever in our 54-year history since independence from the British – no grand parades, no multi-million ringgit fireworks display and no days of closed roads to cater for all sorts of rehearsals.

Instead, the streets of Kuala Lumpur were empty as city folks deserted the Klang Valley for their hometowns over the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays.

The Government realised that it would have been practically impossible – and very unpopular – to stage the Merdeka Day celebrations as usual because it would fall on the second day of the Raya celebrations.

Even if they could have forced the civil servants, soldiers, police and other uniformed units to participate in a parade, there would not have been anyone to witness any of the festivities.

Instead, the celebrations will now be held on Sept 16 to coincide with Malaysia Day – that is the exact day 48 years ago Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia.

Decades ago, the whole nation used to observe Malaysia Day but later, in the 1970s, it was only left to Sabah and Sarawak to do so.

It would not be far wrong to say the separation of Singapore from the Federation in 1965 left a bitter taste in many in the ruling Government, thus making it difficult to continue to commemorate that date.

However, things have changed recently.

The rising political importance of Sabah and Sarawak has made it necessary for the Government to celebrate the formation of Malaysia.

For years, the people in the two states have been grumbling as to why they should celebrate Aug 31 when it was not the date they gained independence; they would rather celebrate the day they joined the Federation.

After being independent from the British for over 54 years, it is time that we as a nation focus on celebrating the formation of the whole country.

Our leaders – past and present and from both sides of the political divide – have often paid lip service that we have to practise integration between the Peninsula and the two states on Kalimantan island.

The time for lip service is over and it is time for action, and we can start by making Sept 16 the permanent celebration of our nationhood.

We should celebrate how far we have come along, we should celebrate our achievements as a country, and we should celebrate how we are more united now than we were 48 years ago.

We should not forget about Aug 31; after all it is the day Malaya became a country.

It is an important day in history and maybe it should be a day of remembrance while Sept 16 be the day of celebration.

Over the past few years, Aug 31 has become the day of flying the flag and show of patriotism, and somehow this Wednesday felt really different without all the jingoism about the need to show we are Malaysians.

In many ways, what we had been doing for Aug 31 was a bit contrived. We now need to bring back the true meaning of what it is to be Malaysian, and to allow that expression of patriotism to be real and from the heart.

After all, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had used 1Malaysia as his rallying call to unite the people. Making Sept 16 a permanent celebration date will surely be a step in the right direction for him.

Last year, he announced that Sept 16 would henceforth be a Federal holiday.

Historically, Malaysia was to have been formed on June 1, 1963, but the date was later postponed to Aug 31, 1963, to coincide with the sixth Merdeka Day.

As we all know, that did not happen because Indonesia and the Philippines objected to the formation of Malaysia.

The formation date was then postponed again – to Sept 16 – to give the United Nations team time to conduct referendums in Sabah and Sarawak regarding the two states' participation in a new federation. Recognising Sept 16 would also mean re-opening certain issues the two states have with the Federal Government over certain points of agreement when joining the Federation.

It is time to take a relook at the issues.

For one thing, I could never understand the need for Immigration procedure for travel between the Peninsula and the two states. Yes, at one time there was a need to control the number of people from the peninsular from grabbing all the job opportunities in Sabah and Sarawak.

Today, the education disparity has narrowed, and in some cases have become even non-existent.

I have met so many capable Sarawakians and Sabahans in my 27-year career in The Star, some of them as colleagues and some people I had interviewed.

In my frequent trips to the two states, I have found that the people there can more than stand up to any Orang Malaya (as Sarawakians call those from the peninsular) or Orang Semenanjung (the Sabahan equivalent) in terms of capabilities and qualification.

There are a reported 50,000 Sarawakians working in the shipyards of Johor, and they have proven to be essential workers for the industry. They have integrated well into Johor society.

This is among the many reasons we have for reinstating Malaysia Day. The following is a ditty I wrote to greet all my friends on Facebook and Twitter:

We have had KongsiRaya.

We have had DeepaRaya.

We have had XmasRaya.

In a few hours MerdekaRaya.

Selamat Hari Raya.

Selamat Hari Merdeka!!

To that I want to add Selamat Hari Malaysia come Sept 16.

Mat Sabu hits back, claims Umno near collapse

Posted: 01 Sep 2011 12:19 PM PDT

 

By Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider

PAS is close to declaring itself victors in its contest with Umno for the Malay rural vote during Hari Raya, with its deputy president Mohamad Sabu confidently saying that "Umno is going to collapse very soon".

The vocal leader, who has been battling criticisms for his Bukit Kepong tragedy remarks, insisted to The Malaysian Insider yesterday that the party's Hari Raya campaign blitz had been successful in garnering more Malay support for the federal opposition.

"Our ceramahs in the suraus and the mosques have been great. Very good response from the people," he said.

Both Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and Barisan Nasional (BN) embarked on separate pre-polls Hari Raya campaigns during the month of Ramadan, with each trumpeting their respective agendas and messages to the Malay electorate, particularly in the Malay heartlands outside the capital.

But PAS came under fire on Saturday when Utusan Malaysia quoted Mohamad as saying that the communists who attacked the Bukit Kepong police station in 1950 during the pre-Independence insurgency were heroes.

The Umno-owned newspaper accused him of disparaging the country's armed forces and expressing support for communists but Mohamad, popularly known as Mat Sabu, has since denied the report and accused the Malay-language daily of fabricating the quote.

The incident resulted in BN lawmakers going on the offensive after months of scrambling to control the fallout from rising inflation and the July 9 Bersih rally, hoping that Mohamad's remarks would help Umno plant seeds of doubt among the Malay electorate, for whom communism remains a bogeyman especially in the rural heartland.

Despite this, Mohamad has remained confident, choosing instead to scoff at Umno's attacks against him and saying it was clear that the Malay party was feeling pressured and "desperate".

"You see, I am just a very, very small person. Not a big person... but yet, they attack me... five days and five nights. They are clearly desperate," he said.

He said during PAS's Hari Raya campaign, party leaders have been explaining to voters Bersih 2.0's key demands for electoral reforms, the controversies surrounding postal ballots and discrepancies found in the present electoral roll.

"Other issues include corruption, the RM24 million diamond ring scandal by the prime minister's wife... they have not properly explained that yet," he said.

 

READ MORE HERE.

PR for nuclear power window dressing, says Pakatan

Posted: 01 Sep 2011 12:16 PM PDT


By Yow Hong Chieh, The Malaysian Insider

The opposition has derided Putrajaya's plan to hire a public relations firm to boost popular support for nuclear power as more spin from an administration that they claimed was becoming known for more talk than action.

PKR communications director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the revelation that the government will pick one of three shortlisted public relations agencies to help get greater buy-in for its planned nuclear power plants showed that the Najib administration was still more concerned with form over function.

"That speaks volumes about what the Najib administration is about. It's about PR," he told The Malaysian Insider.

The Seri Setia assemblyman pointed out that despite the barrage of feel-good news arising from the prime minister's transformation programmes, few of the latter's much-touted economic reforms have been translated into policy.

He said this was testament to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's failed leadership as "any Tom, Dick and Harry" could hire public relations firms to put across an appearance of change while real transformation had to be driven by political will.

"You look at substance, reforms, nothing much. There's a lot of talk... It's easy to say the right things but it's tricky to do the right thing," Nik Nazmi said.

DAP international secretary Liew Chin Tong similarly said politicians must take responsibility to communicate their ideas to the public directly as there was "no point" in hiring agencies without doing that first.

"Political leaders must take charge to communicate political vision... instead of trying to hard-sell something that is not palatable," he said.

Malaysia must also recognise it is not feasible to constantly increase power supply to meet the ever-growing demand for electricity and must adopt the global practice of demand management to cut down on usage, Liew added.

"You have to deal with demand... so that we can have a sustainable supply," the Bukit Bendera MP said.

"If the government is looking at demand management and also alternative sources of electricity, there may not be a need for a nuclear plant,"

PAS vice president Salahuddin Ayub said the government should be aware of the public's unhappiness over the proposed nuclear power plant, which he also felt was unsuitable for the time being given Malaysia's high potential for alternative energy.

"There are other energy alternatives to petrol and coal so, for the time being, it is not very important for us to initiate this kind of industry," he said.

He added that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) intends to highlight the nuclear power plant issue — which has attracted strong criticism from opposition parties and the public — at the next Parliament sitting in October.

The Holmes Report, a New York-based publication that serves the public relations community, reported this week that the Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation (MNPC), a government body formed in January to spearhead the deployment of nuclear energy, has shortlisted three firms for the sensitive project.

The invitation for an international public relations effort to boost support for nuclear energy could spark controversy after the recent row over reports that Putrajaya paid RM58 million to FBC Media to burnish its international image on various international broadcast channels.

It is understood Putrajaya has now ended its contract with FBC Media after an exposé revealed Malaysian leaders routinely appeared in paid-for interviews on global television programmes on CNBC.

 

READ MORE HERE.

UMNO turning right leads BN downhill

Posted: 01 Sep 2011 07:46 AM PDT

What we see today - the impudence of right-wing Perkasa, the use of draconian legislation instead of criminal laws. the steady subsuming of government institutions under the ruling coalition and the conjuring of a Christian threat to Islam - are the results of this imprudent swing to the right that began six years ago.

by Ooi Kee Beng, Today Online 

On July 9, the streets of Kuala Lumpur played host to animated engagements between demonstrators and the police. Bersih 2.0, which started out as a simple and hesitant attempt to revive public interest in electoral reforms, became a huge demonstration that captured the imagination of many young Malaysians.

It seized their imagination more strongly than anyone expected, leaving little doubt that Malaysia is in transition.

But what needs studying is what it is transiting away from, and what it is transiting to. The two are, of course, strongly related but what is this widespread eagerness for change a part of, which now pervades the country?

The situation is complicated no doubt but we do not need to go very far back in time to find an answer.

Let us remind ourselves that the long-lived Barisan Nasional (BN) ruling coalition enjoyed its best electoral results as late as in 2004, under then Mr Abdullah Badawi. As many as 91 per cent of voters supported him and the honeymoon period that the public gave him as Prime Minister was a long and gracious one. It was only in 2007 that signs appeared to say that a lot was not well under Mr Abdullah.

So what was it that happened? And why is it that the BN has not been able to turn things around since then? It still has a lot of power; why can't it correct itself?

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's recent comment that the problem was not with the BN model as such but with the lack of good leadership, was but the latest and rather desperate attempt to limit the credibility crisis that the ruling coalition suffers from.

After the General Election of March 8, 2008, the country went through an uncertain though exciting period. This was to be expected after the shock results that saw five states coming under the rule of opposition parties and the long-lived BN losing its power to amend the Constitution at will.

The opposition parties immediately had their share of problems - ranging from a serious lack of experience in governing, to sabotage by civil servants unable to distinguish party from government, and the economic and political measures by the federal government to punish and undermine them.

The federal government naturally tried its best to control the damage it had suffered. This included putting on trial - again - opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy; regaining the state of Perak through dubious means in February 2009; and manoeuvring PM Abdullah Badawi from power in April 2009 and replacing him with a more dynamic and debonair Najib Abdul Razak.

Mr Najib's main task was to generate public confidence in the BN's ability to respond to changes for the national good, to regain the trust of the Malay middle class and to rejuvenate the coalition.

The Sarawak state election on April 11 this year, when the opposition made impressive gains, showed that he was not doing enough and that he was not succeeding. Bersih 2.0 showed that the government was more alienated from public sentiment than ever before.

Things began to go seriously wrong when UMNO began turning right after its historic victory in April 2004.

In mid-2005, UMNO Youth brought the Malays-first New Economic Policy back into the national consciousness and the swing towards the right was most noticeable in how the movement's leader, the present-day Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, unsheathed and brandished his keris at the party's general assembly. He would continue to do that for two more years despite extensive criticism.

The arrogance stemming from the 2004 victory spread quickly and with the absence of a national vision following Dr Mahathir's retirement, divisions in Malaysian society became worse and deeper while UMNO thinking was vulgarised into simple racialism. Religious tensions began rising when Muslim authorities and individual leaders recognised the new freedom being allowed them to win political points through creating friction with other religions.

What we see today - the impudence of right-wing Perkasa, the use of draconian legislation instead of criminal laws. the steady subsuming of government institutions under the ruling coalition and the conjuring of a Christian threat to Islam - are the results of this imprudent swing to the right that began six years ago.

In short, the strong longing for change now evident in Malaysia is largely a public reaction to the inability of the BN model to create a society that is open-minded and diverse enough to be the harmonious and liberal Malaysia that the founding generation had imagined possible.

The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. His recent book is The Right to Differ: A Biographical Sketch of Lim Kit Siang.

 

The Tripoli Uprising

Posted: 01 Sep 2011 06:04 AM PDT

The inside story of Libya's underground revolutionaries as they organized, hid out, waited, and finally liberated the capital city.

At first, the security forces outnumbered the protesters almost three to one. But the protests were spreading from one block to the next, and soon they reached the streets behind the security forces. Within moments after the shooting began, the government forces were surrounded. The few protesters with weapons began firing back. Some started throwing stones. "I'm a bit scared of guns, so I threw Molotov cocktails," says El Burai. 

BY ANAND GOPAL, FOREIGN POLICY

TRIPOLI, Libya – One night late last month, in a sweltering apartment deep in the heart of Tripoli, a group of men gathered around the television to watch the evening news. The program was carried on Libya al-Ahrar, a Doha-based news channel beaming into Libya in support of the revolution. At precisely 8:30 p.m., after the breaking of the Ramadan fast and as locals were streaming to the mosques, the message these men were waiting for came: "Truly, we have granted you a clear victory," the newscaster said, before signing off for the night. 

It was a verse from the Quran, but to the men in this room, in the tightly packed neighborhood of Souq al-Juma, it was so much more -- a code that signaled that their uprising was to begin. Over the next 48 hours, the people of Tripoli pushed Libya's six-month revolution to its staggering denouement, ensuring their country would never again be the same and reinvigorating the Arab awakening -- and it all began in this neighborhood. 

The men watching the television were part of a group of 62 underground revolutionaries who had been preparing for this day for weeks. Malik Jamal Abargo, a 20-something port worker, was one of them. He grabbed his Kalashnikov and rushed into the streets with his comrades. "My heart was pounding," he says. "I thought that I might become a martyr."

The sight of the small crowd chanting slogans against Muammar al-Qaddafi in the street prompted shouts from the mosque. Soon its speakers issued forth a thunderous chant: Allahu akbar! Out came Khalid Abu Humeida, a customs worker. "I was standing in line for vegetables when I heard it," he says. "It had more force to me than any bomb or jet. I knew what to do." He was joined by Salem El Burai, a restaurant owner who came rushing out with a bag of rocks. Abdul, who would not give his last name and has no job at all, emerged with a Molotov cocktail.

The crowd grew to hundreds -- the first large open protests against the government in any part of Tripoli since February, when demonstrations were drowned in blood. Almost immediately, truckloads of state security forces began to arrive. They pointed their weapons at the demonstrators. "We inched forward, step by step, trying not to waver," says Abdul.

Soon, less than 100 meters separated the two sides. They were facing off under a large overpass, and speeding cars roared above. Snipers were arrayed on a nearby high-rise. One group of protesters then doused vehicles parked on the roadside in gasoline and set them ablaze. "We wanted to create a sense of chaos, to confuse the government forces," El Burai explains.

This provocation was enough: The security forces opened fire. Bullets whizzed and popped, the protesters recall, and they jumped behind concrete pillars and behind trash cans.

At first, the security forces outnumbered the protesters almost three to one. But the protests were spreading from one block to the next, and soon they reached the streets behind the security forces. Within moments after the shooting began, the government forces were surrounded. The few protesters with weapons began firing back. Some started throwing stones. "I'm a bit scared of guns, so I threw Molotov cocktails," says El Burai.

Things turned into a stunning rout in the protesters' favor: Thirteen police lay dead and almost 30 were captured. The rest fled. In that moment, on that street corner, 42 years of despair began to dissolve. "We've lost a whole generation to fear," says El Burai. "This was like a rebirth." Women and younger children gingerly stepped out onto the streets, for the first time in their lives free of the state's presence. Strangers embraced, men praised God, and rebels fired their weapons in the air.

READ MORE HERE

 

WIKILEAKS: CHIN REFUGEES STRUGGLE WHILE AWAITING UNHCR REGISTRATION AND RESETTLEMENT

Posted: 01 Sep 2011 01:00 AM PDT

In exchange for the refugee's freedom, the police take all money possessed by such individuals. According to the refugees, the police have not alerted immigration officials to the presence of the camp, as they do not want immigration officers to destroy the camp and thereby impede the police's extortion activities.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KUALA LUMPUR 002137

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM, PREF, SMIG, PREL, PGOV, UNHCR, MY

SUBJECT: CHIN REFUGEES STRUGGLE WHILE AWAITING UNHCR REGISTRATION AND RESETTLEMENT

 

REF: A. KUALA LUMPUR 1660

          B. KUALA LUMPUR 246

Summary

1. (SBU) In their primitive jungle camps and at a medical clinic they established in Kuala Lumpur, Burmese Chin refugees recently described to us their harassment by police and their perceptions of UNHCR indifference regarding their plight. 

Up to 1,000 Chins live in jungle camps abutting palm oil plantations within five miles of Malaysia's seat of government in Putrajaya. Approximately 60 percent of these and other Chin refugees remain unregistered by the UNHCR, largely due to the UNHCR's decision last year to cease new registrations of non-emergency refugee cases. 

Working on the plantations for little money and uncertain payment of wages, receiving access to medical care only in some emergency situations, and facing arrest and deportation if captured by Malaysian authorities, unregistered Chin refugees living in the jungle remain among the most vulnerable and exploited refugees in Malaysia. 

During our recent meetings with over 100 of these refugees, they conveyed their impatience to get UNHCR documentation, their desire for basic medical care and English language training, and their hope for resettlement to a third country as soon as possible.  End Summary.

Chin Refugees Struggling in Jungle Camps

2. (SBU) Together with two Burmese Chin refugees acting as guides and interpreters on November 15, poloff visited two jungle camps housing about 200 Chin refugees near the Malaysian administrative capital in Putrajaya.  The camps are located on the edges of palm oil plantations where some of the refugees find work as day laborers. 

The camps shared common physical characteristics.  In small clearings hacked out of the jungle, the Chins erected temporary shelters using wooden poles, plywood for elevated sleeping platforms, and fluttering sheets of plastic for roofing and walls. 

A sense of devotion to Christianity pervaded each camp.  Each camp contained a church structure (the largest and most well-maintained structure in each camp) and all of the approximately 100 square foot dwellings viewed by poloff prominently displayed crosses or pictures of Jesus. 

Neither camp had been visited by UNHCR representatives during at least the past two years, according to the Chins.  Poloff's guides said the Chins have established as many as five other jungle camps in the vicinity of the Putrajaya palm oil plantations.  Collectively, the camps may contain up to 1,000 Chin refugees within five miles of the Prime Minister's office.

Living in Fear of Extortion, Raids and Deportation

3. (SBU) The first camp we visited was only 500 meters from a paved road.  It iswell-known to local police.  During discussions with four men living in the camp, they said local police visited the camp regularly in search of refugees who have not yet been registered with the UNHCR. 

In exchange for the refugee's freedom, the police take all money possessed by such individuals.  According to the refugees, the police have not alerted immigration officials to the presence of the camp, as they do not want immigration officers to destroy the camp and thereby impede the police's extortion activities.

Refugees in this camp told us police recently asked them to dismantle their church structure.  The police said the church's presence could force government officials to burn and raze the camp, as local Muslim villagers have complained about the "unregistered" church's existence in the jungle near their homes. 

This is not an empty threat.  A similar camp was destroyed earlier this year, following complaints about the camp's church by local residents.  The camp and church have been recently rebuilt, with the church disguised as a meeting hall during the week.

Hard Work for Uncertain Payment

4. (SBU) The refugees said they are paid about RM25 ($6.75) for a full day's work on the plantations, but that the work is sporadic and their wage payments are often delayed and sometimes completely withheld. 

One of the men said he had not been paid in over a month.  He continued working, despite the probability of receiving less than full payment, as he needed to feed his three children, aged 4-10, who lived with his sister in another nearby camp.  He said his 33 year-old wife recently died suddenly of heat exhaustion while working at one of the plantations. 

Non-payment of wages and other forms of labor exploitation at plantations, construction sites and restaurants continue to plague the approximately 20,000 Chin refugees currently living in Malaysia, according to our sources.

Frustration With the UNHCR

5. (SBU) Following a 30 minute hike, we arrived at a second, much more remote camp.  This camp was situated in a ravine and accessible only through a winding, narrow path.  Camp residents claimed its existence is unknown to police and immigration officials, and the camp has never been raided.

Approximately 100 camp residents, including 20 women and children, greeted poloff outside the camp's church and answered questions about their living conditions and relationship with the UNHCR.  Most of the refugees have lived in the camp for 1-2 years, although one man claimed to have lived there four years.  All were Zomi Chin refugees. 

About 20% were registered with the UNHCR, prior to the UNHCR's temporary suspension of most new refugee registrations last year.  The refugees complained about the UNHCR's perceived unwillingness to register "non-emergency" refugee cases such as theirs, as UNHCR documentation is their only form of protection from deportation. 

(Note: As of July 1, 2006 the UNHCR had provided its formal recognition to 7,805 Chin "persons of concern" in Malaysia, up moderately from 6,566 at year-end 2005.)

6. (U) They all hoped for resettlement into a third country as soon as possible. They wished to leave the jungle, and they described conditions in the camp as "dangerous and unhealthy."  Of the camp's total population of about 125 persons, two were killed and 18 injured by lightning during 2006. 

One resident told poloff's translator, "We would rather die here than go back to Burma."  They remained unaware that the United States planned to resettle thousands of Chin refugees from Malaysia. 

Poloff informed them that the USG and UNHCR are gearing up to "significantly increase" resettlement of Chin refugees into the United States starting next year.  They were pleased to hear this, although they remained skeptical of how the UNHCR registration process will proceed.  The prospect of resettlement didn't terribly excite them, probably because the concept seemed much closer to theory than reality, and their day-to-day survival currently demands their full attention.

Chin Medical Care on Ad Hoc Basis

7. (U) On November 9, poloff visited a refugee medical clinic organized by the Alliance of Chin Refugees (ACR), one of the two largest entities representing the interests of Chins in Malaysia.

(Note: the other large organization is the Chin Refugee Committee (CRC), which claims to have about 17,400 members here.). 

Located in Kuala Lumpur in a non-descript two-storey walkup, the clinic is staffed by two French doctors, one French nurse and a Burmese doctor (all volunteers).  The clinic treats 30-40 persons during its once weekly operating hours for a charge of RM10 (about $2.75) per patient. 

The clinic is funded solely by donations from Chin and other refugees and has only limited medical instruments and medicine supplies. 

One of the French doctors commented that tuberculosis is common among the refugees and that few of the approximately 800 Chin children in Malaysia have received basic immunizations.  She was aware of the Chin's jungle camps near Kuala Lumpur and expressed frustration that no one had yet funded a medical outreach program to treat sick individuals in those camps.  She said the Chin community also needed money for treatment of psychological trauma, as well as pre-natal care and medical facilities to ensure proper delivery of the increasing number of Chin babies born in Malaysia.

Comment

8. (SBU) The ARC and CRC have performed admirably in their attempts to organize and care for their own people, but institutional funding is needed to provide basic medical treatment and English language training for both children and working adults. 

Given our pending resettlement of thousands of Chin refugees from Malaysia, modest investments in immunizations, medical care and English language training in Malaysia's relatively low cost environment would yield substantial benefits for both the Chin refugees and the United States. 

Post looks forward to working with PRM, UNHCR, IOM, DHS, the Overseas Processing Entity and the Department's regional refugee affairs office in Bangkok to resettle large numbers of these refugees as quickly and smoothly as possible.  We will remain actively engaged in that process, while also coordinating with PRM and the UNHCR to ensure timely provision of additional PRM funding this fiscal year for basic medical and education needs of the Chins and other refugee communities.

LAFLEUR

 

Worse than murtad is political apostasy

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 08:45 PM PDT

THE MICAH MANDATE

Political apostasy is the reason for the country's 'moral crisis' in governance as reports of electoral roll anomalies and threats of violence take centre stage.

Meanwhile many letter-writers and others have said allegations of religious apostasy are a ploy to detract from the more serious problem of potential electoral fraud.

Political backsliding from the original Merdeka plan began in 1969 when Tunku Abdul Rahman was deposed in a coup, as described in Kua Kia Soong's enlightening book, 'May 13'.

Political victimisation is the unmistakable sign of an apostate political culture and Anwar Ibrahim among others is the country's longest political victim and symbolise the alleged abuse of power through selective persecution and prosecution of politicians and citizens.

Former American ambassador John Mallot explains why: "a senior officer in the Special Branch told an Embassy officer, 'We are going to keep filing charge after charge after Anwar so he will be in jail for the next hundred years'" as reported in Malaysia Chronicle.

Merdeka ushered in an era of national pride and development. The British had not envisaged Malaysia would desert its legacy of a constitutional democracy. The country promoted the motto 'unity is strength' and the Tunku was an icon of racial harmony and religious tolerance having married four wives, at different times, that represented the different races. 'Bapa Kermedekaan' was an apt title for a man who proved slogans are not only for show and political window-dressing but carrying and living out.

As the one who facilitated the dakwah movement and established Perkim, he did more than any other Malay leader for his race and his religion and he was never a threat to non-Malays while promoting religion, unlike those who use Islam as a political weapon today. He never stooped to scapegoat any group, be they of a different religion or race, to elevate himself.

The sense of propriety in politics though not perfect was then an honoured tradition. Merdeka saw an era and aura of sincerity and earnestness in politicians and citizens working together to serve the nation, not like today when politics has become the refuge of scoundrels who find it a route to riches.

The Tunku was a gentleman and never expected to be betrayed but lived long enough to die disappointed and disillusioned when he saw his Merdeka dream dashed and the country become a 'failed politically apostate state' though unilaterally declared 'an Islamic state' by those who actions were anything but Islamic or even decent.

Hail Malaysia's Caesar

The political apostasy is the result of abandoning the Merdeka principles of democracy, among others, that were meant to develop the fledgling nation. The new Merdeka nation was supposed to function like the British democracy fashioned after the Westminster parliamentary system that was strong on political accountability, as we saw their dishonest politicians exposed, charged and convicted for allowances rorts.

Politics after Merdeka was not flawless—no system is—but took a different direction when the Tunku was politically waylaid. After May 13, 1969 it suffered a heavy blow that has left the Merdeka nation in a political coma and apostates and heretics of sorts continue to lead it astray.

In 1988 the judiciary was assaulted and the Lord President became a victim of political bastardry. A major constitutional check on the executive was hijacked and the moral slide got worse. To his credit the eminent judge stood his moral ground and his reputation was vindicated much later under a more benign country leader.

Political apostasy saw a modern-day Caesar control everything: the various arms of the government that were meant to check one another—the executive, the judiciary, parliament—and anything else that has a voice such as the media and passionate citizens. He even had a centurion who acted like a lap dog to do his bidding when the police were supposed to be professional and impartial law enforcers, not a private security firm at the beck and call of the politicians.

The courts could not be depended to deliver justice when it involved powerful politicians and their cronies because judge-fixing resulted in a skewed justice. The 'Lingam video' scandal examined by a royal commission proved the reality of justice tampering.

On the economic front while Dr Mahathir Mohammed defends the system including the NEP and admits "there may be corruption involved in some cases" he blithely dismisses his role in the 'rotten administration' that he left for his successor and did nothing about the cases of corruption despite the overwhelming reports made to the police.

While he did stimulate the economy with bold projects the flip side under his leadership was that the country lost billions, 100 billion ringgit according to author Barry Wain in his book Malaysian Maverick, and till today the bailouts continue. Some facts stand insurmountable in the face of unconvincing rhetoric, spin and more lies. When your country owns a petroleum company and there is plenty of money around anyone can perform an economic miracle or even a disappearing act.

But political apostasy can only accelerate during Mahathir's tenure and the dysfunctional democracy today is the legacy for which he can take full credit. In the end Mahathir short-changed himself and succumbed to the dark side. The country had lost its constitutional checks and balances not in theory but in practice. It is truth when perception is supported by the facts.

It remains the tragedy and huge regret in Malaysian history because those crucial years could have been the golden opportunity to transform the nation according to the Merdeka ideals if there had been 'clean, efficient and trustworthy' governance because Mahathir as many Malaysians believe, had the ability to lead but instead his legacy is a nation of lost rainforests, lost freedoms and lost opportunities.

It does seem incredible that anyone can justify the NEP when those it was supposed to help still suffer in poverty and those entrusted to help them have prospered beyond imagination. Whether it is the system or those who implement it, the government is still responsible and accountable. There can be no excuse when there is brazen corruption and natives lose their traditional lands when the British gave us back ours.

The trouble with political apostates is their ruthlessness and hypocrisy. They care not for the plight of the poor, only themselves. They must think Malaysians are daft like the policeman who made a police report because his colleagues cheated him out of his share of the loot.

READ MORE HERE

 

The art of wayang kulit

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 08:13 PM PDT

Berikutan isu orang Melayu terus terpinggir di Pulau Pinang, Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO Malaysia mencadangkan Perbadanan Pembangunan Pulau Pinang (PDC) diletakkan di bawah kuasa Timbalan Ketua Menteri, Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdullah.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Wayang kulit is a popular Malay shadow play, especially in the East Coast of West Malaysia. The Malays are very good at this. Well, actually, the Malaysian Chinese too are very good at this.

I suppose, as they say, the dog understands its master, especially when it licks its master's ass every day. So, with so much ass-licking going on, the Chinese running dogs of the Malay lembus ape their masters very well indeed.

Hmm…dog, ape, lembu, ass -- quite an animal kingdom we have out there.

Anyway, the wayang kuilit that the Chinese dogs and the Malay lembus are playing is with regards to the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat state government of Penang.

MCA, the Chinese running dog, is alleging that since the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat government took over Penang in March 2008, the Chinese have been sidelined.

The Umno lembu, in turn, alleges that since the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat government took over Penang in March 2008, the Malays have been sidelined.

Hmm…come to think of it, this is the same allegation by the Indians. Hindraf alleges that since the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat government took over Penang in March 2008, the Indians have been sidelined.

Hold on, if ALL the Malays, Chinese and Indians have been sidelined since the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat government took over Penang in March 2008, then who the fuck is benefiting?

Okay, now I see it. Since the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat government took over Penang in March 2008, the Malays, Chinese and Indians have ALL been sidelined. The ones benefiting are the Mamaks.

Okay, guys and gals, time to boycott the Mamak shops and nasi kandar. They are already getting too rich since the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat government took over Penang in March 2008. They don't need your money. The Penang state government is already making them super-rich.

This is a demonstration of what I mean by wayang kulit.

The Chinese politicians will tell the Chinese that they are being sidelined since the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat government took over Penang in March 2008.

The Malay politicians will tell the Malays that they are being sidelined since the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat government took over Penang in March 2008.

And the Indians, not wanting to be left out, will jump onto the bandwagon -- or, as the Malays would say, tumpang semangkuk (May I Come or MIC) -- and also allege that the Indians are being sidelined.

I suppose wayang kulit can work and people can be easily fooled by it when 90% of Malaysians and 50% of Malaysia Today's readers are stupid.

Or are 50% of Malaysia Today's readers stupid enough to believe this?

Well, let's see come the next election.

Anyway, the statistics below can shed some light as to whether the Malays in Penang are really being sidelined. Even Umno Malays are getting contracts in Penang.

***************************************

Isu Melayu Terpinggir 

(Pemuda Umno Malaysia) -- Berikutan isu orang Melayu terus terpinggir di Pulau Pinang, Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO Malaysia mencadangkan Perbadanan Pembangunan Pulau Pinang (PDC) diletakkan di bawah kuasa Timbalan Ketua Menteri, Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdullah.

Pengerusi Biro Ekonominya, Reezal Marican Naina Marican berkata, langkah itu akan dapat memastikan misi nasional iaitu usaha merapatkan jurang antara orang Melayu dan bukan Melayu khususnya di bandar tercapai.

Jelas beliau lagi cadangan tersebut juga bagi memastikan tumpuan dapat diberikan bagi membela nasib orang Melayu di negeri itu.

"Ketua Menteri, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon mempunyai banyak tanggungjawab besar terhadap pembangunan Pulau Pinang seperti agenda perindustrian dan pelaburan dan tidak dapat memberi tumpuan sepenuhnya kepada isu mikro.

"Oleh itu, adalah wajar jika tugas itu diserahkan kepada Timbalan Ketua Menteri yang juga wakil UMNO di Kerajaan Negeri," katanya dalam satu kenyataan di sini, hari ini.

Beliau menambah tindakan itu juga selaras dengan konsep perkongsian kuasa yang diamalkan Barisan Nasional (BN).

“Keresahan orang Melayu yang melihat diri mereka terpinggir di Pulau Pinang dan dibangkitkan Pemuda UMNO negeri baru-baru ini sebenarnya tertumpu kepada masalah penempatan di bandar selain isu kemiskinan.

"Keresahan orang Melayu sememangnya berasas dan diakui sendiri Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dan Koh Tsu Koon," ujarnya.

Justeru, beliau berkata, PDC sebagai anak syarikat Perbadanan Kemajuan Ekonomi Negeri yang bertanggungjawab dalam pembangunan hartanah di negeri itu, adalah jentera yang sesuai untuk menangani keresahan itu.

Sebelum ini hampir semua Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO bahagian di Pulau Pinang membangkitkan cadangan penggiliran itu pada mesyuarat mereka yang sedang berlangsung ketika ini, sebagai tidak puas hati berhubung kegagalan kerajaan negeri membantu menjaga kepentingan orang Melayu. 

***************************************

MCA Mengutuk Kerajaan Negeri

Tiada Kontrak untuk Kontraktor Cina bagi Projek Pengairan & Saliran Di Pulau Pinang

(Bernama) -- Ketua Wanita MCA Tan Cheng Liang mengutuk bahawa selepas Pakatan Rakyat mengambil alih kerajaan negeri,tiada satu pun kontraktor Cina mendapat kontrak di kelima-lima daerah di negeri ini.                                                       

Tan berkata, Lim Guan Eng tidak boleh menafikan peranannya sebagai Ketua Menteri. Tindakannya ini telah membuktikan parti DAP telah menggunakan taktik" cina bertentang cina (Chinese against Chinese)" sekali gus mengugatkan hak kaum Cina selepas menjadi mereka dipilih memerintah kerajaan. 

"Saya tahu DAP tidak boleh menerima hakikat bahawa mereka tidak boleh bergantung kepada orang Cina untuk mengukuhkan kuasa politik. Saya berharap hak orang bukan Melayu tidak akan terkorban semata- mata untuk mengambil hati orang Melayu menjelang pilihanraya umum."

Tan juga berkata, DAP yang menggunakan slogan "Ubah" telah berjaya menewaskan kebanyakan wakil SUPP di Sarawak, tetapi ini tidak membawa sebarang perubahan tetapi  sebaliknya telah melemahkan perwakilan Cina dalam kerajaan.

Semalam, Lim Guan Eng mengumumkan bahawa kontraktor yang terlibat dalam projek pengairan dan saliran semuanya orang Melayu, Bumiputera dan India Muslim. Daripada keseluruhan, 20 peratus terdiri daripada kontraktor wanita. 

Tan bertanya "Saya tidak faham kenapa negeri Pulau Pinang yang kebanyakan penduduknya kaum Cina, kontraktor Cina satu kontrak pun tidak dapat, jangan kata semua kontraktor Cina tidak tahu maklumat tender terbuka untuk projek pengairan dan saliran yang sedang dijalankan? Ataupun permohonan mereka tidak pernah dipedulikan? "

Dia berkata, Lim Guan Eng selaku Ketua Menteri dan ADUN, haruslah memberi maklumat terperinci mengenai projek tersebut kepada semua rakyat. Ini bukan sahaja sahaja untuk memastikan persaingan adil antara kontraktor pelbagai kaum, tetapi juga untuk memastikan projek dapat dijalankan dengan lancarnya supaya kualiti projek terjamin dan membawa manfaat kepada semua.

 

Of Patriots and Pretenders: The Unofficial History of our Struggle for Independence

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 05:58 PM PDT

DIN MERICAN

(Dr Kua Kia Soong) -- More than 50 years after Independence, Malaysians are still frequently reminded by UMNO leaders of the so-called 'Social Contract' that was supposed to have been agreed upon by "the three races" whenever the non-bumiputeras demand civil liberties and the end to discrimination.

kua kia soong book patriots and pretenders storyMy new book 'Patriots & Pretenders' aims to put the historical facts in perspective so that the new generation of Malaysians understands the class forces that were arraigned during the anti-colonial struggle and gets to know who the real anti-colonial fighters were.

The publication of this book coincides with the recent announcement by the Education Ministry that history is to be a compulsory subject in the SPM. It led to vocal protest from several sectors who find the 'official' history in Malaysia rather suspect.

Ever since the 'May 13 Incident' and the promulgation of the National Cultural Policy, Malaysian history has been written from the point of view of the ruling party Umno in line with its Malay-centric populist ideology.

It is an official history that is used to bolster one ethnic group at the expense of the other communities in an attempt to divide and rule. Consequently, whole categories of people have been denied their rightful place in Malaysian history.

'Patriots & Pretenders' tries to set the record straight by providing a class analysis of the anti-colonial struggle and acknowledging the contributions of the patriotic forces in all the ethnic communities to Independence and nation building.

This 'Peoples' History' which is based on academic research by respected scholars, has been hidden from official Malaysian history and by studying it we can uncover the roots of racial polarisation in Malaysia and lay the basis for a non-racial solution to our nation's challenges.

The Neo-Colonial Solution

From the Colonial Office and Foreign Office documents of the period uncovered from the Public Records Office in London, it has been possible to provide evidence of the thinking and calculation of Western interests with regard to Southeast Asia, but especially the importance laid on securing Malaya for economic, political and military-strategic interests.

They show the priority accorded to defeating the anti-colonial forces spearheaded by the workers. The post-war period was also one of re-dividing the world by the Western powers, which under the hegemony of the US, began to move toward an integration rather than division of interests. These records reveal the articulation of the whole Western, rather than solely British, interest in Malaya.

NONEThe atmosphere of repression during the 'Emergency' provided the British colonial power with an opportunity to deflect the forces of revolt and effect the neo-colonial accommodation. The entire colonial strategy – especially the aftermath of the Malayan Union crisis – had convinced the British that the custodians of an Independent Malaya would be the traditional Malay elite.

This was in keeping with the communalist strategy of British rule throughout their colonisation of Malaya. At the same time, the neo-colonial arrangement had to accommodate the upper strata of the non-Malay capitalist class who were a necessary link in the foreign domination of the Malayan economy. The repression during the 'Emergency' enabled the colonial government to exploit sectional interests and thereby isolate the working class and the peasantry.

Thus, the 'Alliance Formula' with all its contradictions was devised in Independent Malaya. The reform measures conceded by the colonial power and grudgingly agreed to by the Malay rulers were in many ways necessitated by the ferocity of the revolt.

Another myth that is purveyed during 'Merdeka Day' every year is that it was UMNO who won Independence for the country.

The evidence presented in 'Patriots & Pretenders' will show who the main opponents of the British colonial power were and who put up a protracted struggle to end the exploitation of the country's natural and human resources while forging a truly multi-ethnic peoples' united front.

The Independence struggle and the Merdeka Agreement have to be understood in class terms – the ruling class in the making represented by UMNO, MCA and MIC on the one side, and the truly anti-colonial forces in the PMCJA-Putera coalition representing the workers, peasantry and disenchanted middle class on the other.

The Struggle for Independence

The UMNO leadership after the Second World War represented the interests of the Malay aristocracy. They were by no means anti-colonial and did not challenge British interests. Malaya was still very much dependent on export commodities, largely rubber and tin. The industrial base was narrow and based on these two commodities, while the problem of the peasantry since colonial times was still unresolved.

The mass-based anti-colonial movement, on the other hand, had very clear policies based on self-determination, civil liberties and equality. The workers' movement was the main threat to colonial interests and the Federation of Malaya proposals culminating in the Merdeka Agreement were intended to deflect the working class revolt by introducing communalism in the Independence package.

READ MORE HERE

 

Ong Tee Keat dares MCA to admit it

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 05:50 PM PDT

UPPERCAISE

"…of course we are marginalised, big business to small stall owners know that — but MCA cannot admit it … silence is sometimes our only valid response"
Ong Tee Keat, then MCA vice-president, quoted in 2006 US diplomatic cable

A week after his remarks on marginalisation of Malaysia Chinese were revealed in a US diplomatic cable, former MCA president Ong Tee Keat has challenged the current party leadership to state their views on whether the Malaysian Chinese community feel left out, as he had said in 2006.

In a statement last night, Ong stood by the remarks attributed to him in a leaked US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks. He explained the context in which his remarks were made: private comments in "casual conversation with academics and friends" during which he was asked about Singapore statesman Lee Kuan Yew's comments that the Chinese communities in Malaysia and Indonesia were marginalised.

He said his remarks merely put forward the prevailing views held in the Chinese community at the time. And Ong said that it was up to MCA to decide if they share the sentiment of the Chinese community — a statement likely to be viewed as a clear challenge for the MCA to speak up and admit it.

READ MORE HERE

 

Opinion polls — Lim Sue Goan

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 05:42 PM PDT

Ibrahim Suffian, Merdeka Center

(The Malaysian Insider) - Opinion polls have not been standardised in Malaysia and thus, the interpretation of their results depend on your stand and point of view.

The approval rating of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak rose to 72 per cent in May 2010 and Barisan Nasional leaders interpreted it as the people's support to the Government Transformation Plan (GTP) and the New Economic Model (NEM), while the Pakatan Rakyat said that the poll was not credible.

However, a recent Merdeka Center poll reported that the prime minister's approval rating has dipped to 59 per cent in August. This time, BN leaders said that it did not reflect the fact while the Pakatan Rakyat said that the people have shifted to support the alternative coalition.

Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim also said that an Information Department survey of 50,000 respondents showed that most people accepted Najib's leadership and the BN government.

When the prime minister received 72 per cent of approval rating, some scholars predicted that the general election would be held in the end of last year. Would today's situation delay the general election to next year?

BN questioned the sampling of the Merdeka Center that interviewed only 1,027 voters. In my opinion, I think the scope of investigation was not comprehensive enough. For example, they should ask about the people's support for the Pakatan Rakyat and its leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to study the inadequacies of the ruling and alternative coalitions over the past three years.

The August poll showed that two issues had affected the prime minister's approval rating, namely the Bersih 2.0 rally and the rising cost of living.

The improper handling of the July 9 rally has been expected to cause a rebound and now, they could only take remedial actions, particularly to accelerate the reform of the electoral system to dilute the impact.

As for the rising cost of living, even though it is a global issue, the government can still implement some measures to alleviate the people's burden. The 2012 Budget is the key and in addition to proposing positive strategies, they must also ensure a strict and successful execution.

In fact, BN has been devoted to improving the economy over the past three years. Unfortunately, its stand is not firm enough. For example, the NEM requires a performance-based system to enhance competitiveness. But they have actually got back to the old quota system recently. It is one of the factors affecting the confidence of voters.

READ MORE HERE

 

Key political risks to watch in Malaysia

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 05:33 PM PDT

Annual inflation accelerated to a 27-month high of 3.5 percent in June, and interest rates are likely to rise in September. U.S. and European debt troubles could slow the pace of growth in Malaysia's export-dependent economy. Growth hit a decade high of 7.2 percent in 2010 but a marked slowdown could force Najib to hasten polls to prevent voter sentiment from souring. 

Razak Ahmad, Reuters

Rising prices and discontent over the slow pace of reforms are the key challenges confronting Prime Minister Najib Razak as he considers the possibility of a snap election in early 2012.

Annual inflation accelerated to a 27-month high of 3.5 percent in June, and interest rates are likely to rise in September.

In July, police fired tear gas at protestors who were part of a rare anti-government demonstration in Kuala Lumpur that drew more than 10,000 people demanding electoral reforms.

If he comes under greater popular pressure, Najib may scrap the idea of a snap election, and hold back on reforms foreign investors would like to see, including cutting fuel subsidies and unwinding an affirmative action programme for the country's Malay majority.

Following is a summary of key Malaysia risks to watch:

POLITICAL TENSION

The opposition People's Alliance was defeated in five recent by-elections but it is regaining momentum with gains in a Sarawak state poll in April and a strong show of support in the July 9 rally in Kuala Lumpur.

Najib needs to regain the ruling coalition's two-thirds control of parliament in order to consolidate his grip on power in the next national polls which are not due until 2013.

Political uncertainty has weighed on foreign investment since 2008 but speculative inflows in search of higher-yielding markets have boosted the ringgit currency .

What to watch:

-- The risk of more protests, and government response to them, as well as racial and religious relations. Najib is trying to reach out to non-Muslim minorities who make up about 40 percent of the population, and in July set up diplomatic ties with the Vatican in a bid to win Christian support.

-- Refugee-swap deal with Australia. Under the deal, Australia would send to Malaysia 800 asylum seekers who arrive by boat, and they would have their refugee claims processed there. In return, Australia would accept 4,800 people from Malaysia who have already been granted refugee status, but in August Australia's highest court ruled the government could not deport the asylum seekers.

-- Annual meeting of Najib's party, early November. A clearer indication of the possible timing of the next polls is likely to come when the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) meets. The party leads the ruling coalition. 

ECONOMIC REFORM

Najib has pledged to reform a decades-old affirmative action policy favouring ethnic Malays and replacing it with a "New Economic Model" to promote greater competition, though conservative Malay groups including many in UMNO oppose reform.

Investors complain that the race-based policy was abused, resulting in an economy run on patronage which deters some investors from Malaysia.

Najib cut Malaysia's fiscal deficit from a 20-year high of 7 percent of gross domestic product in 2009 to 5.6 percent in 2010 and has promised to lower it to 5.4 percent in 2011.

What to watch:

-- Monetary policy committee meeting on Sept. 8, at which the interest rate is expected to be raised by 25 basis points.

-- Fuel subsidy rollback. High oil prices are straining the government's subsidy bill but Najib has said Malaysia will look for avenues to keep fuel prices at current levels for as long as possible.

-- Continuing roll-out of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), an ambitious plan to attract $444 billion worth of investment over 10 years in order to double the country's national income.

-- The annual budget, to be tabled in parliament on Oct. 7. Key will be whether the government sticks to its fiscal deficit target in a budget which many expect to be a pre-election spending plan.

-- U.S. and European debt troubles could slow the pace of growth in Malaysia's export-dependent economy. Growth hit a decade high of 7.2 percent in 2010 but a marked slowdown could force Najib to hasten polls to prevent voter sentiment from souring. (Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

 

Rosmah at Altantuya murder 'implausible'

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 05:24 PM PDT

(Malaysiakini) - The presence of Rosmah Mansor, wife of premier Najib Razak, at the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder appeared "implausible", according to a United States diplomat in a secret cable sent to Washington three years ago.

The diplomatic cable was dispatched by the United States embassy in Kuala Lumpur two weeks after controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin pledged in a statutory declaration that Rosmah was at the scene of the October 2006 murder of the Mongolian woman.

However, while the allegations against Rosmah "seem implausible", the cable said that it would "nevertheless will have resonance with a Malaysian public that does not have confidence in the integrity of the Altantuya murder investigation."

najib razak and rosmah mansor 1It also said that the continued public attention to such allegations also could damage Najib's chances, who was then deputy prime minister, of replacing Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the country's new leader.

On June 18, Raja Petra has sworn that he was "reliably informed" that Rosmah, together with her aide Norhayati Hassan and acting Colonel Aziz Buyong - who is Norhayati's husband - were present at the scene of the sensational murder.

The sworn statement came at a time of heightened political tensions in Malaysia where talk was rife over a possible change in government on Sept 16, 2008, through a mass defection of government MPs.

Two weeks after Raja Petra's revelations, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, an aide to Anwar Ibrahim, lodged a police report claiming that he had been sodomised by the opposition politician.

Soon after, on Aug 26, Anwar returned to active politics after winning a by-election in Permatang Puah, a parliamentary seat which was vacated by his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

However, Anwar's vow to take over Putrajaya fell flat when not a single BN parliamentarian changed sides.

RPK put himself at great risk

According to the leaked cable, political observers had remarked that Raja Petra had "put himself at great risk, and therefore they speculated that he must have some evidence in hand."

"If this is a bluff, 'it will cost him and his family,' one MP remarked," added the confidential cable.

raja petra exile new scotland yardRaja Petra was eventually charged with defaming Rosmah, Norhayati and Abdul Aziz on July 17, 2008.

The blogger subsequently fled the country along with his wife, Marina, and both are living in United Kingdom (left).

In 2009, the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court granted Raja Petra a discharge not amounting to an acquittal because the police could not trace him to serve the warrant of arrest.

In a TV3 interview in April this year, Raja Petra said that the accusations were based on information given by former deputy army special branch chief Kol Azmi Zainal Abidin.

The US cable said that most Malaysians would believe there was at least some truth in Raja Petra's allegations as they have no confidence in the integrity of the government's investigation into the Altantuya murder.

 

AirAsia-MAS share swap: The barbarians have entered the gates

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:44 PM PDT

Unlike the RJR Nabisco takeover where there was a fierce battle for control of the company, in the fight for control of Malaysia's skies, AirAsia were allowed to enter the MAS gates without hindrance. The gates protecting MAS's control of Malaysian skies were opened wider and wider for AirAsia over the past 10 years due to inconsistent government policies.

William Leong, The Malaysian Insider

SEPT 1 — In the 10-year war for control of the Malaysian skies, while a besieged MAS was desperately fighting for survival, someone opened the gates for the barbarians to enter.

Barbarians at the gates

The AirAsia-MAS share swap reminds me of the takeover saga of RJR Nabisco. The company was a merger of RJ Reynolds, the tobacco company selling "Camel", "Winston" and "Salem" cigarettes and Nabisco, the biscuit company selling "Oreos", "Ritz Crackers" and snacks.

The financial firm of Kohberg Kravis Roberts & Co (commonly referred to as "KKR") made a hostile takeover bid for the company. There was a fierce battle for control of the company. The board, in protecting the company's and shareholders' interest, drove KKR and the other bidders to increase their bids several times until KKR won with a bid of US$31.1 billion (RM93.3 billion). It was the largest leverage buyout in history and the record stood for 17 years. RJ Reynolds was subsequently spun out of RJR Nabisco due to tobacco legislation. Nabisco is now owned by Kraft Foods. The RJR Nabisco leverage buyout was considered to be the pre-eminent example of corporate and executive greed. The events were chronicled in a book called "Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco".

The fight for control of the Malaysian skies has been an uneven battle from the beginning. In the end those responsible for MAS's defence not only did not put up a fight but opened the gates to allow AirAsia into MAS's management. The share swap has given rise to concerns on the pricing and whether it will benefit the public-funded MAS.

Pricing issues

One of the favourite sayings of corporate raiders and businessmen is "OPM", that is to operate using "Other People's Money". In the case of the AirAsia-MAS share swap, it is the people's money because MAS is funded by taxpayers.

The pricing of the share swap has raised eyebrows. The parties, in using the August 5 closing market price of both airlines as the basis for the share swap, have raised several concerns.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in his August 10 article "MAS-AirAsia share swap deal raises serious concerns over effective control and governance", referred, among others, to issues of insider trading and asset stripping.

A look at the price charts of the two companies for the past six months supports Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's concerns. The MAS share price fell sharply on May 30, 2011 to RM1.34. It continued to be in the doldrums until August 5, the date of the share swap announcement. AirAsia's share price was on a steep and sharp climb from May. It surged to a height of RM4.20 on August 4, 2011. This is on the eve of the announcement.

There may be good reasons for the share prices of the two counters moving the way they did. However, it seems improbable for this to be coincidental. AirAsia's price was trading around its highest and MAS among its lowest when the share swap took place. AirAsia's price fell immediately after the announcement. It could be that those who held AirAsia shares did not like the deal. It could be whoever was playing up the AirAsia shares stopped doing so. There is therefore cause for investigations to be made.

Others have raised concerns with the price. Khazanah exchanged 20 per cent of MAS at RM1.60 per share for 10 per cent of Air Asia at RM3.95 per share. They believe the price should not have been based only on the closing market price of the two counters on August 5. They point out that MAS in fact is worth more than the price traded because it is an asset-backed corporation. It has a paid-up capital of RM3.34 billion represented by fixed asset value at RM8.4 billion, net asset at RM6.92 billion. AirAsia, on the other hand, is a debt-laden company. It has borrowings of RM7.7 billion. MAS's cash position is RM2.086 billion while AirAsia's is RM1.7 billion. Those who approved the deal will need to justify the pricing.

One other issue on pricing is the timing of the deal. The share swap was announced on August 9. This was within 30 days before both AirAsia and MAS announced their respective 2nd quarter financial results on August 23. Under the Bursa Malaysia Listing Requirements, this is known as the "closed period". Those in possession of the financial results during the closed period are not allowed to deal with the shares until the results are announced. This is to prevent insider trading by those with possession of price-sensitive information. Those who trade in the shares with such information will be taking unfair advantage of the public who are unaware of the situation. Paragraph 14.08 of the listing requirements allows principal officers who do not possess the information to deal during the close period by giving the requisite notification. Although the listing requirements allow such dealings, it would have been more prudent not to enter into the share swap during the closed period.

If the share swap was made after the financial results of both airlines were announced, the market price may have given a better reflection of the share price of both airlines. This may be seen from the share price of AirAsia after the results were announced on August 23. Although AirAsia announced it made a profit, it was 48 per cent less than the previous year. The AirAsia share price fell to RM3.57 at 9.04am on August 24, the day after the results were announced. Those involved will have to explain why the share swap was done before the 2nd quarter results were announced.

Opening the gates for the barbarians

Unlike the RJR Nabisco takeover where there was a fierce battle for control of the company, in the fight for control of Malaysia's skies, AirAsia were allowed to enter the MAS gates without hindrance. The gates protecting MAS's control of Malaysian skies were opened wider and wider for AirAsia over the past 10 years due to inconsistent government policies.

Regulation determines airlines' fortunes

International air transport operates within the framework of the 1944 Chicago Convention for International Air Transport. Governments enter into bilateral agreements setting out the landing rights, restrictions on capacity and pricing. Sectors within a single country are normally denied to foreign airlines. This restriction is called cabotage. It is recognised that cabotage is the prerogative of the domestic carrier. The system of bilateral agreements between two governments has led to the aviation industry to be highly regulated. There has since been a change towards deregulation and liberalisation. Nevertheless, the industry remains one where regulation plays an important role.

Regulation is thus a critical determinant of an airline's performance. It can determine how competitive the market is as well as constrain an airline in its choice of fares, capacity and frequency. Most governments impose entry controls which are usually applied to particular routes. Most governments usually permit one airline to operate a route. The government therefore plays a critical role in determining the fortunes of an airline by deciding on the routes to be given to the airlines.

Golden service takes a beating

MAS's finance and operation problems to a significant extent are due to the government's inconsistent and contradictory air transport policy. Such decisions gave the MAS Golden Service a beating while AirAsia became the Golden Child.

The main asset of any airline is its route networks. The government first allowed AirAsia to compete with MAS and then gave MAS's domestic routes to AirAsia and had its route networks reduced while AirAsia increased theirs.

READ MORE HERE

 

Mustapha Hussain: Malay Nationalism Before UMNO

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:36 PM PDT

"I cried along with them as memories of my bitter and gruelling experiences came flooding back," he recalls. "Involved in World War II as a Malay Fifth Columnist leader; detained in several Police lock-ups and prisons; taunted and jeered by Malays who saw me hawking food on the roadside; humiliated by people who slammed their doors in my face; asked to leave my rented cubicle in the middle of the night and even labelled as the Malay who 'brought' the Japanese into Malaya."

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

THE MEMOIRS OF MUSTAPHA HUSSAIN, 1910-1957

This abridged and edited translation of Mustapha Hussain's memoirs will appear two decades after his passing. This would not have been possible if not for the initial translation effort by his devoted daughter, Insun Sony.

I have edited this translation very heavily, partly to reduce redundancies, and also to make clearer some historical and cultural references that may not be immediately obvious to many English language readers. Clarissa Koh kindly checked this edited translation. If not for Insun's initiative and Clarissa's voluntary efforts, this translation would not have been prepared for publication.

Jomo K. S.
University of Malaya

Kuala Lumpur
October 2003

Foreword

Mustapha Hussain's memoirs present an interesting insight into a sharp, sensitive mind who turned to ethno-nationalism and later struggled for moral integrity, justice and recognition.

Perak-born Mustapha, a cousin of the first President of Singapore, Yusof Ishak, was an armchair, pipe-smoking, leftwing intellectual who taught at the Serdang Agricultural College before the war, but who fell on hard times after the war.

He loved to ride a fast motorcycle. He was an avid reader and a member of the (British) Left Book Club. He might have gone through life as a happy-go-lucky fellow if he had not been discriminated against in the colonial civil service by white Europeans.

Life for him would have remained idyllic, being almost the equal of an Englishman, teaching, reading and doing research, and 'dressing and behaving like a white man' on pay-days. But racial discrimination made him a bitter diehard Malay nationalist. Nationalist anger consumed his soul.

He owed his English education to his father, a land surveyor. His socialism he attributed to a few European teachers and to books by Gandhi, Nehru, Edgar Snow and other leftwing writers.

He married Mariah binti Haji Abdul Hamid (formerly Dorothy Aida Fenner) in 1934. She was only 14, he 25. Once the children came, he was anxious to further his (academic) career, but the lack of job promotions unsettled him.

He joined other young disillusioned Malay College graduates like Ishak Haji Muhammad and Ibrahim Yaacob, all angry young men like him imbued with nationalist ideals, to form the Young Malay Union (Kesatuan Melayu Muda) in 1938. He became its vice-president.

"KMM was founded by a group of radical left nationalists in their twenties. Influenced by world history in general, and political events in Turkey in particular, they desired a political body similar to the Young Turks," he recalls.  "One bone of contention was (the) British policy of allowing tens of thousands of 'others' into Malaya."

But he little realized what trouble the KMM would get him into. For, without consulting him or the other KMM leaders, its president Ibrahim Yaacob had contacted the Japanese through their Consul-General in Singapore, Ken Tsurumi. For large sums of money, Ibrahim committed KMM members to serve as espionage agents and guides to assist an invading Japanese army in Malaya.

The Japanese Army attacked Kota Bharu in December 1941. British military intelligence belatedly intercepted a Japanese radio broadcast which announced that a Malay fifth column organization KAME (meaning 'tortoise' in Japanese) would assist the invading Japanese Army.

The name sounded too similar to the KMM. Without wasting any time, the British police rounded up over 100 KMM leaders and members in all parts of the country, including Ibrahim Yaacob and Ishak Haji Muhammad, who were detained and sent to Changi Jail in Singapore.

Mustapha, however, was in the Kuala Lumpur Hospital for treatment of a nervous disorder. Unaware that there was a warrant of arrest for him, he had discharged himself, gone back to the Agricultural College to collect his belongings, and left with his family for his father's village in Matang, Perak, to recuperate. Three days later, the war began.

After the fall of Taiping, Japanese troops, accompanied by KMM members, entered his village looking for him. They asked him to come with them. "I was 'invited' to attend a crucial meeting in Taiping, after which I would be sent back to Matang (but this turned out to be false)," says Mustapha.

"How could I say no. I remember a Malay adage: jika tiada senapang, lebih baik beri jalan lapang, or 'if one has no guns, it is best to give way.' I tried to explain my legs were weak from a nervous disorder but a Japanese officer snapped, 'Never mind! Four Japanese soldiers can carry you on a chair!'"

Thus, Mustapha's forced collaboration with the Japanese began. Once he realized that he had no alternative, he began to cooperate. He used his influence with the Japanese to help family, friends, and any Malay in trouble, including captured Malay soldiers who had fought on the British side. This was what he did all along the way down to Singapore where the Japanese troops took him.

Mustapha's candid memoirs confirm why memory of the war in multi-racial Malaya is so ethnically divisive and sensitive. Recalling Malay wartime roles and experiences tries to play down what he calls 'collaboration', conscious of the Japanese atrocities and massacres of the Chinese community or the role of anti-Japanese Chinese guerrillas.

Even before his death in 1987, his memories had been badly scarred by his deep sense of anguish, disillusionment, shame and betrayal brought on by the nightmare of 'collaboration'.

With no reconciliation between him and Ibrahim Yaacob when the latter returned to Malaysia for a brief visit before his death in Jakarta in 1979, Mustapha did not forget or forgive the 'wrongs' done to him and others.

Mustapha, Ishak Haji Muhammad and others accused Ibrahim of not only abdicating his leadership and abandoning his supporters, but also of betraying their struggle in Indonesia for his own self-interest. In Mustapha's memoirs, he appears as a Machiavellian manipulator, a grasping, corrupt, self-seeking, egocentric personality.

In exile in Indonesia, he became a supporter of President Sukarno, got involved in Indonesian politics, and later amassed a great fortune as a banker. When he died in 1979, he was honoured by Indonesia with burial in the Heroes' Cemetery in Kalibata.

During the period of Indonesia's konfrontasi against Malaysia, the UMNO newspaper Malaya Merdeka, of March 1963, described him as a "Malay coward and traitor who managed to fool many Indonesian leaders."

Unlike Ibrahim who escaped to Indonesia, Mustapha was arrested and detained twice by the British authorities on charges of collaboration with the Japanese. He was only released after petitions were made to the British authorities by former members of the Malay Regiment, whose lives he had saved from the Japanese.

Because of the trauma he went through at the end of the war, Mustapha suffered a nervous breakdown. He endured poverty and ostracism. He was not re-employed into the civil service. To fend for himself and his family, he worked as a farmer, a fruit seller, a noodles hawker, a printer and an insurance agent.

His struggles to defend himself and clear his name engaged much of the rest of his life. Before his death, he was conferred a state award by the Sultan of Perak and received some monetary compensation in lieu of his pension from the Government, due to the intervention of a former Federal Minister.

A heavy tinge of bitterness, therefore, colours much of his memoirs.

Politically isolated as leftwing, Mustapha and his KMM compatriots were initially opposed to UMNO, but when all political channels were closed with the outbreak of the communist insurgency in 1948, many of them joined UMNO.

In what seems like a remarkable political comeback in 1951, his name resurfaced in the crisis-ridden UMNO General Assembly after Datuk Onn Jaafar had resigned as president on the grounds of the party's refusal to open its doors to non-Malays.

Mustapha's standing was so strong that he was nominated to stand against Tunku Abdul Rahman and Datuk (later Tun) Abdul Razak for the posts of UMNO president and deputy president respectively. But he lost to both these rivals by one vote each time.

These were contests he entered to please his old leftwing compatriots who were keen to capture UMNO. His energies were almost spent. Even had he won, Mustapha would not have lasted long in his post, given his state of health.

These memoirs make enthralling reading and were dutifully compiled and completed by his daughter Insun after his death on 15 January 1987. Throughout the memoirs, Mustapha's voice cries out incessantly for justice and for recognition as a Malay nationalist.

In 1974, he had narrated his political struggles to a predominantly student audience at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, then in Kuala Lumpur. The encounter was an emotional experience for both Mustapha and the audience.

"I cried along with them as memories of my bitter and gruelling experiences came flooding back," he recalls. "Involved in World War II as a Malay Fifth Columnist leader; detained in several Police lock-ups and prisons; taunted and jeered by Malays who saw me hawking food on the roadside; humiliated by people who slammed their doors in my face; asked to leave my rented cubicle in the middle of the night and even labelled as the Malay who 'brought' the Japanese into Malaya."

"I left them with a tremendous sense of mental and emotional fulfilment. I had sown in these educated young souls the urge to struggle for justice."

In writing these memoirs, Mustapha was clearly able to release and assuage the cries of his own tormented soul for justice and recognition.

Cheah Boon Kheng

Translated by Insun Mustapha
Edited by Jomo K. S.


Publisher: Utusan Publications & Distributors Sdn Bhd
No. 1 & 3, Jalan 3/91A, Taman Shamelin Perkasa, Cheras, 56100 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-9285 6577

Foreign Distributor: Singapore University Press Pte Ltd

 

Bukit Kepong: Serangan terhadap British

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:21 PM PDT

(Harakah Daily) - Isu serangan ke atas balai polis Bukit Kepong pada tahun 1950 iaitu tujuh tahun sebelum Merdeka merupakan serangan ke atas sarang penjajah British dan bukannya kepada anak bangsa sendiri.

Menurut Ahli Jawatankuasa PAS Pusat, Dr Mujahid Yusof, serangan kira-kira jam 5.00 pagi pada tanggal 23 Februari 1950 itu manifestasi kemarahan rakyat terhadap penjajah British ketika itu namun sejarah itu telah diseleweng oleh Umno BN.

Ianya termasuklah kemarahan terhadap anggota polis yang pada waktu itu menjadi talibarut British.

"Isu Bukit Kepong tahun 1950 adalah serangan ke atas sasaran penjajah bukan kepada anak bangsa sendiri.

"Polis waktu itu adalah apparatus penjajah, penyerang pula adalah mereka yang menentang penjajah, apakah kerana ini mereka menjadi komunis," soalnya.

Bercakap kepada Harakahdaily beliau yang juga ahli parlimen Parit Buntar berkata, pada zaman dijajah British itu sesiapa sahaja yang menentang mereka akan dicop golongan berhaluan kiri atau komunis.

Manakala golongan kanan atau konservatif pula adalah mereka yang mengikut telunjuk British.

"Golongan konservatif akan mengekalkan penguasaan British.

"Penentang yang keras dan mahu negara ini merdeka mengikut acuan sebenar dicop kiri atau komunis." jelasnya lagi.

Beliau berkata demikian sebagai mengulas isu kenyataan Timbalan Presiden PAS, Mohamad Sabu dalam satu ceramahnya di Tasek Gelugor, Pulau Pinang pada 21 Ogos lalu yang diputarbelitkan oleh media perdana khususnya akhbar Umno, Utusan Malaysia sehingga menjadi kontroversi.

Utusan dalam laporan muka depannya baru-baru ini menyiarkan Mohamad Sabu sebagai mendakwa Muhammad Indera, lelaki yang bersekongkol dengan Goh Pen Tun dan 200 anggota komunis yang menyerang Bukit Kepong adalah hero sebenar, bukannya 25 anggota polis dan keluarga mereka yang mempertahankan diri dalam serangan di balai tersebut.

Turut mengecam Mohamad termasuk Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak, timbalannya Muhyiddin Yassin dan terbaru mantan Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Mohamad dalam satu sidang akhbarnya di Perlis kemudiannya menafikan perkara itu dan mendakwa kenyataannya telah diputarbelitkan dan mendapati apa yang dilaporkan oleh akhbar Umno, Utusan Malaysia berkaitan dengan tragedi Bukit Kepong adalah fitnah terhadap beliau dan PAS.

Sehubungan itu, beliau telah mengarahkan peguamnya untuk menghantar notis saman kepada akhbar itu dan memintanya meminta maaf dan menarik balik laporan palsu itu.

Mengulas lanjut kecaman Umno terhadap Mohamad itu, Mujahid berkata Umno adalah anak didik British yang diiktiraf sebagai golongan konservatif sebab itulah sehingga sekarang walaupun sudah 54 tahun merdeka, mereka masih bermati-matian mempertahankan British.

"Umno adalah golongan konservatif yang menjadi anak didik British, malangnya setelah 54 tahun merdeka Umno masih mempertahankan British.

"Cuma Umno tidak sedar mereka adalah "radio buruk" hari ini di mata rakyat yang sudah merdeka," katanya.

 

PRU-13: PAS sasar 60 kerusi Parlimen

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:18 PM PDT

(Harakah Daily) - PAS mensasarkan untuk menang di 60 kerusi Parlimen dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang, kata Presidennya, Datuk Seri Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang.

"Strategi 2008, kita nak menang negeri dan kita telah berjaya tadbir tiga negeri. Kali ini disamping nak menang negeri, kita nak tambah kerusi Parlimen," kata beliau di hadapan kira-kira 500 anak perantauan Terengganu.

Majlis perjumpaan Hari Raya ini diadakan di Dewan Datuk Wan Mutalib, Komplek PAS Kuala Terengganu.

 

‘Strong potential for DAP in Dayak areas’

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:10 PM PDT

Fractured Sarawak Barisan Nasional lacks focus to aid poor Dayak community.

(Free Malaysia Today) - Sarawak's geopolitical landscape has much to offer DAP if it is prepared to genuinely embrace Dayaks into its fold, said a branch-level party leader.

Expressing his view at a recent Dayak Reawakening seminar held here, Leon Jimat Donald said if handled correctly, DAP, which gave the Pakatan Rakyat coalition 12 seats in the April 16 state elections, could win many more constituencies in the polls to come.

He said this was considering the fact that there are 28 state and 15 parliamentary seats which are predominantly Dayaks.

"If we analyze the current geopolitical landscape of Sarawak, there is a lot of room for the DAP to grow.

"But we see the need for DAP to embrace the Dayaks into its fold," said Donald who is Simanggang branch chairman.

He was presenting a paper entitled 'DAP as a Dayak political platform' at the seminar which was organised by the Dayak Consultative Council.

Said Donald: "There are currently 28 state and 15 parliamentary seats with Dayak majorities.

"These include six state Bidayuh seats, 18 Iban,and four Orang Ulu state seats. For parliamentary seats Bidayuh have three, Iban's have 10 and two Orang Ulu seats.

"There are 14 state and six parliamentary seats which are Chinese majority, and there are four mixed seats in which no particular race constitutes a majority.

"But unfortunately there are no mixed parliamentary seats. In total, there are 47 state and 21 parliamentary seats which the Pakatan Rakyat has every chance of winning," he said.

Dayak support for DAP

Donald pointed out that the opposition coalition needed to win 36 seats in the state assembly to form the state government.

He noted in his paper that in the recent state election, the opposition had made giant strides in the political landscape.

DAP had nearly wiped out Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) in the urban areas. They had also won some seats in mixed areas much to their surprise.

Together with PKR, the Pakatan coalition now have 15 seats in the Sarawak state assembly.

READ MORE HERE

 

Karpal: Mat Sabu must retract remarks

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:07 PM PDT

To arrest a worsening situation, Mat Sabu must apologise for his remark on Bukit Kepong incident.

DAP national chairman Karpal Singh today called on PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who is better known as Mat Sabu, to retract his ill-adviced remarks on the Bukit Kepong incident that happened on Feb 23, 1950.

Karpal said if Mat Sabu retracts his remark immediately, then he can arrest the negative political implications on Pakatan Rakyat from getting worse.

Speaking at a press conference in Air Itam, Karpal said Mat Sabu's remarks, in which the PAS leader allegedly hailed the communist attackers as 'independent heroes', can be "very damaging" to Pakatan political prospects, especially with the general election around the corner.

He said Mat Sabu's alleged remarks were also insensitive to the families of the victims.

"Mat Sabu should retract immediately and maybe explain his remarks.

"He should do it to assuage the feelings of families of those who perished in the attack.

"On whether he wants to apologise or not, I will leave it to his good senses," said Karpal, the Bukit Gelugor MP during his constituency visit.

Mat Sabu erred

During a political rally in Tasek Gelugor on Aug 21, Mat Sabu allegedly said in his speech that "nearing Merdeka, the Bukit Kepong clip will be aired".

"In Bukit Kepong, the police were British policemen. Those who attacked Bukit Kepong were the true freedom fighters. Their leader was Muhammad Indera."

Karpal also noted that the historical attack on the police station happened some seven years before Malaya gained independence from the colonial British administration.

In the attack, the station was razed to the ground and 13 policemen, six Home Guards, three women and a child were killed.

After the emergency was declared in 1948, he said the communist was involved in an armed conflict with the British administration.

As a result, he said the Emergency Regulations 1948 was enacted at the height of communist insurgency and, the security forces all came under the British.

He said the police personnel and Home Guards manning the police station had every right to repel the attack.

"Therefore the attack on the police station must be viewed in its proper context," said Karpal.

READ MORE HERE

 

WikiLeaks says passkeys to unredacted cables leaked

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:04 PM PDT

(AFP) - The anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks on Thursday accused a journalist with the Guardian of leaking the passwords to a trove of unredacted US diplomatic cables, charges denied by the British newspaper.

"A Guardian journalist has, in a previously undetected act of gross negligence or malice, and in violation of a signed security agreement with the Guardian's editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, disclosed top secret decryption passwords to the entire, unredacted, WikiLeaks Cablegate archive," it said.

"We have already spoken to the (US) State Department and commenced pre-litigation action. We will issue a formal statement in due course," WikiLeaks added, in a statement posted on Twitter.

The Guardian, one of a handful of newspapers that began publishing redacted cables last year, said WikiLeaks shared the documents through a secure server for a period of hours before taking the server offline and removing the files.

"But unknown to anyone at the Guardian, the same file with the same password was republished later on BitTorrent, a network typically used to distribute films and music," the newspaper reported.

The Guardian went on to deny, in an official statement, allegations that the password had been released through its book, "WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy," published in February.

"It's nonsense to suggest the Guardian's WikiLeaks book has compromised security in any way," the Guardian said.

"Our book about WikiLeaks was published last February. It contained a password, but no details of the location of the files, and we were told it was a temporary password which would expire and be deleted in a matter of hours.

"It was a meaningless piece of information to anyone except the person(s) who created the database."

The Guardian instead reported that a link to the full, unredacted database was published by an unnamed Twitter user who found it after acting on hints published in several media outlets and on WikiLeaks's Twitter feed.

The security breach has led to the publication of the WikiLeaks archive of 251,000 diplomatic cables online, without redaction to protect sources who spoke to US diplomats on condition of anonymity, the Guardian said.

Redacted cables released over the past nine months through agreements with the major newspapers and by WikiLeaks itself have revealed confidential diplomatic assessments and potentially embarrassing comments by world leaders.

WikiLeaks has defended the release of the embassy cables -- as well as the previous release of leaked Iraq and Afghanistan war reports -- as the journalistic exposure of official deception.

The United States, while refusing to confirm the authenticity of any of the documents, has accused WikiLeaks of putting individual lives and US national security at risk.

 

Yes, Najib, let’s not forget my family’s contribution to Merdeka

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 07:38 PM PDT

I have a legitimate right to say my piece and comment on what is wrong with Malaysia. After all, my grandfather was one of the founding fathers of an independent Malaya. Malaysia would not be what it is today if not for my family as well. And if Malaysia has deviated from what the founding fathers had planned for the country, then it is my duty to speak up and oppose this deviation. 

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

PM: Don't forget sacrifices of past leaders 

Their sacrifices in freeing Malaysia from the colonialists must be remembered, says Najib.

(Bernama) -- Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today reminded the people not to forget the sacrifices of past leaders in freeing Malaysia from the colonialists.

He said that while Muslims were celebrating Aidilfitri, which entered its second day today, they should never forget the achievements of leaders who won the nation its independence.

"In the joy of Aidilfitri, I hope we do not forget the struggles of our forefathers in fighting for the country's independence. Happy 54th Merdeka Day," he said in a Twitter feed.

This year's National Day, carrying the slogan "1Malaysia: Successful Transformation, Prosperous People", is slightly different in that it will be celebrated simultaneously with Malaysia Day on Sept 16.

Yesterday, at the Aidilfitri open house of the prime minister and cabinet ministers at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya, Najib cut a cake in a symbolic gesture to mark National Day.

***************************************

Najib Tun Razak and the Umno leaders always talk about how Umno 'struggled' and 'sacrificed' to gain independence for Malaysia. On this day, Merdeka Day, they want us to remember those people who sacrificed and struggled for their country.

Actually, the Umno people were not the only ones who made Malaysia into what it is today. Many non-Umno people also contributed. In fact, they led the struggle for Merdeka. They were at the frontline of the fight for Merdeka.

My grandfather, Raja Sir Tun Uda, was one such man of many.

I have a legitimate right to say my piece and comment on what is wrong with Malaysia. After all, my grandfather was one of the founding fathers of an independent Malaya. Malaysia would not be what it is today if not for my family as well. And if Malaysia has deviated from what the founding fathers had planned for the country, then it is my duty to speak up and oppose this deviation. 

I am not a treasonous Malaysian, as what Umno accuses me to be. I am a loyal Malaysian, maybe even a patriot. I am just continuing the tradition established by my family in ensuring that Malaysia remains a just country that respects the equality and freedom of its citizens. 

***************************************

This is what Wikipedia said about Raja Sir Tun Uda:

Raja Uda was a member of the Selangor royal family, being a distant cousin of Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah and a direct descendant of the first Sultan of Selangor. He married Sultan Hisamuddin's sister, Tengku Badariah binti Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah.

Raja Uda joined the colonial government service in 1910 at age 16. In 1939, he was appointed the Secretary to the British Resident of Selangor. He was Menteri Besar of Selangor twice, from 1949 to 1953, and again from 1954 to 1955. In between, Raja Uda served as Malayan High Commissioner in the United Kingdom.

Raja Uda was involved in negotiations with the British to establish the Member System (see note 1 below) in the 1950s.

In 1951, Raja Uda was appointed a CMG and appointed a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1953, entitling him to the style "Sir," since the Federation of Malaya was then a realm of the British Empire. Following the first ever general election in 1955, Raja Uda was appointed Speaker of the Federal Legislative Council (see note 2 below).

On August 31, 1957, the day of independence, Raja Uda was appointed the first Governor of the state of Penang and served for ten years.

The Federal Legislative Council (also known simply as the Legislative Council) was the legislative body of the Federation of Malaya and the predecessor of the Malaysian Parliament. It was formed in 1948 after the abolition of the Malayan Union and the formation of the Federation, as part of the United Kingdom's promise to grant self-rule to the Malayans. The council convened in Kuala Lumpur.

The council was composed of representatives from the Malay, the Chinese and the Indian communities. Initially, all representatives were appointed by the British High Commissioner for Malaya.

In 1955, a general election was held for the first time. 52 seats were contested, with the majority party earning the right to appoint seven more. In the election, the Alliance Party contested all 52 seats and won 51, while the Pan-Malayan Islamic Party won the remaining seat.

NOTES: 

(1) The Member System, modeled on the cabinet system, was created by British authorities in Malaysia to provide self-governance. Like the Communities Liaison Committee, it drew on members of different communities, and was later described as setting a precedent for the power-sharing multiracial Malayan and Malaysian cabinets post-independence. 

(2) The Federal Legislative Council passed the Malayan Constitution (later, the Malaysian Constitution) on August 15, 1957. Malaya gained independence on August 31, 1957.

Raja Sir Tun Uda was the Menteri Besar of Selangor from 1949 to 1953 and again from 1954 to 1955. In between that he was the Malayan High Commissioner to the UK. He was never an Umno member (or even a politician) and his appointment as MB was not a political appointment.

Raja Sir Tun Uda, the First Governor of Penang, and his family (my uncles and aunty).

 

Rule of law or rule by law?

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 06:01 PM PDT

Whether these people can or cannot leave Islam is a matter for the Muslims to resolve. This has nothing to do with the church and the church cannot be subjected to Islamic laws. As far as the church is concerned, these people are no longer Muslims. But if there is no such thing as 'ex-Muslims', then a law needs to be passed stating so. Then the confusion will be cleared up. Then the church would be barred from preaching to anyone born a Muslim since the word 'murtad' would no longer be in the Muslim vocabulary.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malaysia has tens of thousands of lawyers. But how many lawyers actually 'practise law' or are most in this only for the money? Seldom do we hear lawyers speak out on what is right and what is wrong. It should be the job of lawyers to educate Malaysians as to what the law is all about. Only then can it be said that they are true to their profession.

Laws are man-made. Sometimes we say that these are God's laws or this is what God ordained. Invariably, all laws are made by man but blamed on God. Why are the lawyers not telling us this?

Just because it is law does not make it right. Are we talking about rule of law or rule by law? "What's the difference?" you may ask. A lot of difference! And it is the duty of lawyers to educate us on the difference between the rule of law and rule by law. 

Queen Elizabeth I ordered Parliament to appoint her as Governor of the Church. Since she was a woman, she could not be appointed as a proper head of the church like her father and brother before her -- which would tantamount to the position of the English Pope. So they made her the governor instead.

Then Elizabeth banned the practise and belief of the wafer as the body of Christ and wine as the blood of Christ. All the Catholic Bishops opposed this and they instigated the citizens to defy this new 'heretic' law.

The Bishops were all rounded up and imprisoned and replaced with Protestant Bishops. The Catholics were forced to go underground and to practise their faith in secret and behind closed doors. There were pockets of rebellion all over the Kingdom, even as far as Scotland where they deposed their Catholic Queen (later they chopped off her head as well).

Of course, this conflict between the Church and the Throne was not new. Even back in the days of Henry II, 400 years earlier, there was already a conflict and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, was assassinated because of his conflict with the King over the rights and privileges of the Church.

So, was Elizabeth right? Of course, she had the power. But just because she had power and just because a law had been passed does this make it right? Who was Elizabeth to decide that this is what God ordained? Did God speak to her? Or was this merely a political move?

You see: England, then, was only South England. From York onwards, this was Catholic country. So, by getting rid of the Catholic faith, this meant England could unite and Scotland, if it turned Protestant, would become part of English territory.

Scotland was also aligned to France. And France was Catholic and the age-old enemy of England. So, by 'occupying' Protestant Scotland, this meant that the danger of a French invasion (through Scotland) would be eliminated. 

So there you have it. It was not about what God wanted. It was about what Elizabeth wanted. And Elizabeth wanted Scotland under her control. And she wanted the French Catholic Queen kicked out of Scotland. And she wanted the French army kicked out of Scotland. If not, her throne would be in jeopardy of a 'Catholic' invasion with a new Catholic Queen from Scotland installed onto the throne.

In short, Elizabeth had to control and dictate what is and is not acceptable religious beliefs and practises to be able to control England and get rid of the Scottish-French threat to her throne.

Elizabeth used religion to hold on to power. 

Today, we celebrate Merdeka. But how are we celebrating Merdeka? By raising the flag? By sleeping at home? Merdeka should be celebrated by respecting the 'Merdeka Agreement', which is basically the Federal Constitution.

How can we say we are remembering or honouring Merdeka when we do not respect the Constitution? The Constitution was the foundation of Merdeka. Without the Constitution there is no foundation and therefore no Merdeka.

This, the lawyers should tell the people far and wide, the length and breadth of Malaysia. The basis of our laws is the Constitution. However, many of our laws violate the Constitution.

Many things ail Malaysia. But I want to talk about only one ailment today. And this ailment, the latest in a series of ailments, is the conflict between Church and State brought on by the DUMC raid and the allegations made against the Church.

The DUMC raid was not the only conflict between Church and State. Earlier, we had the Allah issue, the Bahasa Malaysia Bible issue, and so on. It appears that all along the way the Church is in conflict with the State.

But has this not been so for more than 1,000 years? The Church has always had its differences with the State (or more like the State resented the power the Church had over the people and thus started the 'turf war' between the State and the Church).

Anyway, Article 3 and Article 11 of the Constitution are very clear (by right, lawyers ought to be talking to you about this, not me). Let us consider what it says.

Islam is the religion of the Federation. No dispute.

Other religions may be practised in peace and harmony. No dispute.

The Ruler is the Head of the religion of Islam in his State. No dispute.

Every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs. No dispute.

Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it. No Dispute.

There should be no propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam. No dispute.

So, where is the dispute then?

Let's look at "Every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs". What does this mean? If the Christians want to publish a Bahasa Malaysia Bible, would this be under the clause of "manage its own religious affairs"? Can the government then dictate what language the Bible can and cannot be published?

Let's look at "Christianity cannot be propagated to persons professing the religion of Islam". But what if that person has announced that he or she has left Islam?

Now, you may say that once a person is born to Muslim parents then he or she is automatically a Muslim and a Muslim is a Muslim for life and cannot leave Islam. But that is between the Muslim and his 'Church'. Once a Muslim renounces Islam (murtad), he or she is an apostate. Technically, he or she is no longer a Muslim. 

The State may say that he or she is still a Muslim. That's according to the government. But in the 'eyes' of God, he or she is no longer a Muslim. He or she has become a murtad.

So, where is the crime here?

Actually, the issue is not that complicated. It is just that the lawyers would rather not get involved in this issue because it is very sensitive and Malays are a very emotional people who would run amok if they think that they cannot win by words and need to resort to violence to win an argument.

A true lawyer would educate us. Most lawyers, however, would remain silent and allow the ignorance to continue. And this ignorance has caused a lot of confusion.

In short: Christians cannot preach to Muslims. That is the law. But if that person has left Islam, technically, he or she is no longer a Muslim but an ex-Muslim. So, it is not against the law to preach Christianity to these people (who are technically not Muslims any more).

Whether these people can or cannot leave Islam is a matter for the Muslims to resolve. This has nothing to do with the church and the church cannot be subjected to Islamic laws. As far as the church is concerned, these people are no longer Muslims. But if there is no such thing as 'ex-Muslims', then a law needs to be passed stating so. Then the confusion will be cleared up. Then the church would be barred from preaching to anyone born a Muslim since the word 'murtad' would no longer exist in the Muslim vocabulary.

However, as it stands now, the word 'murtad' does exist. And this means Islam recognises the existence of 'ex-Muslims'.

So, where do we go from here? And why are the lawyers not speaking up?

***************************************

Article 3 

    1. Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.

    2. In every State other than States not having a Ruler the position of the Ruler as the Head of the religion of Islam in his State in the manner and to the extent acknowledged and declared by the Constitution, all rights, privileges, prerogatives and powers enjoyed by him as Head of that religion, are unaffected and unimpaired; but in any acts, observance or ceremonies with respect to which the Conference of Rulers has agreed that they should extend to the Federation as a whole each of the other Rulers shall in his capacity of Head of the religion of Islam authorize the Yang di-pertuan Agong to represent him. 

    3. The Constitution of the States of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak shall each make provision for conferring on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be Head of the religion of Islam in that State.

    4. Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution.

    5. Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be the Head of the religion of Islam in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan; and for this purpose Parliament may by law make provisions for regulating Islamic religious affairs and for constituting a Council to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in matters relating to the religion of Islam.

Article 11

    1. Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.

    2. No person shall be compelled to pay any tax the proceeds of which are specially allocated in whole or in part for the purposes of a religion other than his own.

    3. Every religious group has the right -

        (a) to manage its own religious affairs;

        (b) to establish and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes; and

        (c) to acquire and own property and hold and administer it in accordance with law.

    4. State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.

    5. This Article does not authorize any act contrary to any general law relating to public order, public health or morality.

 

Dr Wan Azizah: Nation still politically, economically oppressed

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 04:15 PM PDT

(The Malaysian Insider) - KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail today urged Malaysians to give meaning to what she called "total" independence by seeking freedom from political, economic, moral and social oppression.

 

In her National Day message, the opposition leader said that the country may have been freed from colonial British rule in 1957, but its people remained oppressed economically while its top leaders spent the nation's money on personal interests.

"Independence does not necessarily translate as just freedom from colonial oppression. In fact, it covers all aspects of life, politics, economy, moral and society," she said.

"Every day, we seem fated to 'sacrifice' and change our lifestyles to survive. But millions of ringgit are being spent without thinking of the impact on the rakyat," she added.

The former Permatang Pauh MP called for the country to prepare an economic infrastructure that would allow the nation's wealth to be shared without racial and religious limits, adding that such a plan would form the basis for "openness" that will pave the way forward, especially for the younger generation who stand to govern the country one day.

As a reminder, Dr Wan Azizah said her party sought to free the rakyat from economic pressures, to gain freedom in understanding and beliefs, to give the younger generation room to develop character and morals, and to ensure the burdens of education loans to undergraduates are managed well so that academic excellence can go on to restore the nation's pride and dignity.

"Let us give true meaning to independence by freeing ourselves from the grip of oppression to build a peaceful and harmonious nation among all races," she said.

Baram Dam: Lying govt and big companies

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 04:09 PM PDT

 

By Joseph Tawie, FMT

KUCHING: The deceitful and insidious manner by which the state government is going about with the construction of the Baram Dam has angered the Orang Ulu communities in the dam project vicinity.

Orang Ulu National Association Miri (OUNA) chairman Pete Kallang said: "As one of those affected I just can't understand this injustice and this outrageous and abusive exploitation.

"Why, it could be seen as an act in complete disregard for our well-being and opinion.

"This could be proven by the priority given to the preparatory construction activities done even before the proper Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are completed or perhaps not even started and made accessible to affected and interested parties.

"In doing this, it seems the construction of the dam is to be implemented whatever the findings or recommendations that would eventually be available if and when the EIA or SIA is done," he said.

Kallang added that during a recent meeting with the affected locals, he was shocked to hear the headman saying that the government would not build the dam.

"The reaction by this particular headman reflects the effectiveness of the discreet process practised in building the dam.

"The dam construction is one dark secret kept away from those living in Baram.

"If it is occasionally mentioned by the proponents, the subject would be down-played, and watered-down with downright euphemism.

Civilization under threat

The reality, he said, was different as reported in the media.

"We learned from newspaper reports and information dripping from the project supporters speaks of an affected area covering 38,900 hectares (389 sq km) or half of the size of Singapore island.

"It will be constructed of around 180 meters above sea level and will generate 1,200 MW of electrical power.

"At least 90% of the land mass which will be flooded by the dam reservoir will be the Native Customary Rights (NCR) land.

"Relocation of the 20,000 people to make way for the Baram Dam will definitely result in a permanent social damage.

He said the Kenyah and Kayan people traditionally live in longhouses and mass relocation of the people will no doubt spell the end of the traditional social structure.

According to Kallang the construction of the dam is a 'senseless' exploitation of resources "which is primarily driven by avarice coupled with immorality'.

"But for us who are directly and adversely affected parties, no one can blame us in thinking that this is a calculated, intentional and purposeful manoeuvre to wipe out our races.

"The dam will not only cause the colossal environmental devastation and severe consequences on the ecosystem, but it will also rage a permanent degeneration of the ethnic identity and heritage of the natives who live in the region.

Only big companies benefit

Kallang, who is also the chairman of the Kenyah Association in Miri, said whilst the bulk of those affected were from the Kenyah community, the other groups affected included the Kayans and Penans.

"These are also the same majority groups of people who are most affected by the Bakun Dam which has just been commissioned.

 

READ MORE HERE.

A wish list of freedoms

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 04:05 PM PDT

By Marina Mahathir, The Star

We still need the fundamental freedoms that every human being desires, especially freedom of speech and expression. Our foreparents understood 54 years ago that we had a fundamental right to freedom and self-determination.

FIRST of all, let me wish everyone Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Also, as the days happen to almost coincide this year, Selamat Hari Merdeka. In many ways, this is very significant.

Raya is the day we free ourselves from a month of abstinence and restraint. Ramadan is a time for reflection on what good we have, or have not, done over the past year. It is a time to ask for forgiveness for our past sins and mistakes, and hurt we may have caused others.

Sadly, this Ramadan has hardly been an exemplary one. With insults galore, shouting and screaming, burning and threats, it has hardly been one of restraint and reflection, at least on the part of public figures. Nor was there any sense of shame at these violations of the good and holy month.

Since Raya coincides with Merdeka this year, I thought I would write a list of freedoms we should give ourselves in these coming months, besides the freedom to now eat.

First, let us have Freedom from Imagined Slights. I am sick and tired of the people who have nothing better to do than scour the media for all sorts of insults, while at the same time feeling entitled to slight others.

Some people's skin is stretched so thinly over their rounded bulks it's a wonder it hasn't ripped. Every little imagined offence calls for protests and demos, almost always outside mosques after Friday prayers. One wonders if God feels slighted at this trespassing on His property, which should be oases of calm and tranquility.

As a corollary to that, let us also have Freedom from One-Sided Prosecutions. For example, some people seem to insist on having the monopoly on being sensitive. Everyone else is assumed to have thick skin, so much so that it is now apparently OK to insult people to their faces.

Thus, action is taken only when they have been offended, but never when they offend others. One has to wonder what is so great about displaying such thin skin? Won't you wither under the sun?

Let us also demand Freedom from the Forgetful Politician, that is, those who forgot who voted them in. First off are those who insist that we should be grateful that they are there to lead us. Talk about a circular argument!

Then there are those who, although usually insisting that Malaysians are a unique species of people, totally different from everyone else in the world, are then quick to equate those same Malaysians with the worst of foreigners, those who riot, loot and destroy property.

Makes you wonder how that gels with our tourism campaigns. Are we supposed to be nice hospitable people or rioters?

One great freedom that I really wish we would give ourselves is Freedom from Snoopers, especially those intent on sticking their noses into our private lives. If one wants to create a moral society, then let's widen that definition to include ethics instead of just keeping it totally focused on our sex lives.

A moral society is not just one where everyone behaves well sexually, if such a thing even exists, but also where people feel a strong civic duty to uphold the law, not be corrupt, treat the poorest and most vulnerable well, and protect and preserve the environment.

Instead, we have increasing official "busybodiness" coupled with the encouragement of society to be bu­sybodies. Thus our young feel that they are constantly under suspicion of doing something bad, even when they are not. Does this stop all sorts of social ills? Of course not.

Indeed we should also demand Freedom from the Ostrich, the stick-their-heads-in-the-sand attitude that insists that some things just don't exist in our country. On the one hand there are people who see a conspiracy under every pebble and on the other there are those who just refuse to connect the dots.

For example, young people don't have to become pregnant outside marriage if we educate them and provide the services they need to make the best choices. Instead, we refuse to educate them and then blame them for having babies out of wedlock. Some even insist that the solution is to marry them off early.

That's where we need Freedom from the Short-sighted, those who only think in terms of short-term solutions and not the harm that will come many years down the line.

At heart, however, we still need the fundamental freedoms that every human being desires, especially freedom of speech and expression. Without these, the Snoopers, Ostriches, Short-sighted and all these others will continue to thrive and make our lives miserable.

Our foreparents understood that we had a fundamental right to freedom and self-determination 54 years ago. Let's not forget that the next time we vote.

Merdeka!

 

Australian High Court rules against refugee swap deal with M'sia

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 03:21 PM PDT

(AP/Bernama) - Australia's highest court has ruled that Australia cannot send asylum seekers to Malaysia as part of a new refugee swap deal.

The High Court reached a 5-2 majority decision on Wednesday to make permanent an injunction that has stood since Aug 8 and prevented Australia transferring 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in return for Malaysia sending 4,000 registered refugees for resettlement.

The decision is a blow to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's government, which struck the deal with Malaysia to deter thousands of asylum seekers from Middle Eastern and Asian countries from attempting to reach Australia by boat.

The court said in a statement that Malaysia has not signed the U.N. Refugee Convention and the deal with Australia did not legally bind Malaysia to recognise the status of refugees under its domestic law.

It also said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen had no legal power to remove from Australia asylum seekers whose refugee claims have not yet been determined.

The case was brought to the court by 41 asylum-seekers who had appealed against their forced transfer to Kuala Lumpur from Christmas Island, "The Australian" newspaper said.

They were to be the first group of asylum-seekers to be moved to Malaysia after the government's formal signing in July of the deal to send 800 boat people to Malaysia, in return for 4,000 confirmed refugees.

If the Australian government now abandons the refugee swap deal, it will still be bound under the deal to accept the 4,000 refugees from Malaysia, while being unable to send 800 asylum-seekers there for processing.

 

Malay liberty, its trust and faith in Umno

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 03:02 PM PDT

After more than 50 years of independence, wealth distribution among the races and within the Malays themselves is not improving.

How does the Malay understand the concept of a Malay nation? Looking from a Malay perspective, the following are the traits of a Malay nation. They understand it as being the homeland of the Malays, where the religion is Islam, its culture as that practised by Malays, Bahasa Melayu is the official language.

Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz, Free Malaysia Today

What does Umno mean to the Malays and to me?

Like the American declaration of independence, Malays hold some inalienable rights, among these are the right to protect the religion of Islam, the rights on the Malay language, culture and ethnic identity and finally the right over this country.

And to secure these rights, Umno was formed. Umno is relevant for as long as it remains loyal to these rights. Or if it can reinterpret these rights better.

These fundamentals on which Umno was constructed can be said to be the ABC of Umno's mission.

'A' stands for agama or religion, 'B' is for bangsa, bahasa and budaya (race, language and culture) and C is the country.

Some of the readers may find the comparison between the fundamentals of Umno's creation with the American declaration of independence disrespectful.

America, after all, is the most powerful nation on earth. It is the only superpower.

My response is why should we be ashamed of declaring what we stand for? This is the basic fault of the current Umno leadership – it no longer gives effect and substance to these fundamentals.

Right to self-determination

How does the Malay understand the concept of a Malay nation?

Looking from a Malay perspective, the following are the traits of a Malay nation. They understand it as being the homeland of the Malays, where the religion is Islam, its culture as that practised by Malays, Bahasa Melayu is the official language.

They understand it to be a land where the monarchy system remains an integral part of their cultural and political heritage.

They understand it to mean that Malays will control some degree of the economy. They understand it further as an embodiment of the inalienable right of self determination.

Having understood this, in the end, the unpopular idea of a Malayan Union was rejected way back in history.

Umno was the driving force behind this rejection. The Malay race is indebted to Umno.

After the first general election in 1955, Umno led the other non Malay political parties to form the government. In 1957, Umno gained independence for us. Since then, this country has developed in leaps and bounds.

Yes yes, the Umno Rottweilers and Dobermans can repeat ad nauseum the achievements of the government – Felda land schemes, modern amenities, schooling etc etc.

Yes, we are indebted to Umno but never, never were we enslaved by, nor were we hostage to Umno.

Trust must be protected

What are the foundations of Umno's relevance? To my mind it is Malay nationalism.

This is the overriding thread that binds all other Malay interests. All other interests are subsumed under the force of nationalism.

Malay nationalism is about primacy of Malay interests. They must be protected, expanded and defended. This was the basis of trust given by the Malays to Umno.

I fear these interests are perceived as being watered down by the Malay public. It is watered down by weak implementation, failure by Umno to provide leadership, by rhetoric more than substance, by mere words more than action.

These sentiments and emotions emanate from the breasts of ordinary man, not those in the halls of Putra World Trade Centre.

These powerful forces can only be sustained on the backs of economic and educational strength, areas in which the Malays are weaker by the day.

READ MORE HERE

 

Merdeka! Are we truly free?

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 02:57 PM PDT

Corruption, nepotism, cronyism and the abuse of the judiciary and legislation have marred the significance of Aug 31.

Had the country's Merdeka been given due respect, the rights and sentiments of its people of all races would have been equally respected. We would not have had the incident where former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad cautioned the non-Malays to "behave" themselves if they were to continue living in this country. For Malaysia, he said, belongs to the Malays, simply because at one time this nation was called Tanah Melayu (the Malay land).

Jeswan Kaur, Free Malaysia Today

Aug 31 is a day of reflection, of taking cognisance of the fact that the country's independence or Merdeka can no longer be taken for granted, that too by the "keepers" of this nation.

Regrettably, it is the "powers that be" that have marred the meaning of Merdeka. Corruption, nepotism, cronyism and the abuse of the judiciary and legislation have marred the significance of Merdeka, especially for the younger generation.

Instead of imparting profound meaning to Malaysians, Aug 31 had been reduced from the sublime to the ridiculous by the power-hungry and "self-first" politicians-leaders of this country.

The fact is Malaysia is "independent" but only in name, not in act. The existence of draconian laws that are continuously abused by the "powers that be" to safeguard its position have turned the understanding of Merdeka into a laughing stock.

To worsen matters, politicians never tire of playing the racial card, not the least bothered that they have relegated the nation's Merdeka, the respect all but diminished. As for patriotism, it had become very much a case of "to each their own".

Had the country's Merdeka been given due respect, the rights and sentiments of its people of all races would have been equally respected. We would not have had the incident where former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad cautioned the non-Malays to "behave" themselves if they were to continue living in this country. For Malaysia, he said, belongs to the Malays, simply because at one time this nation was called Tanah Melayu (the Malay land).

If Merdeka held any meaning to the country's leadership, there would have been no such case where the present deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin unabashedly proclaimed that he is a "Malay first and Malaysian second".

Misusing the keris

Had the meaning of Merdeka been understood by Umno, the country's dominant party championing Malay rights, its key players would not have misused the keris or Malay dagger by swaying it at the party's general assemblies to remind the non-Malays to back off from questioning Malay rights.

Under Article 153 of the country's Federal Constitution, the Malay rights are guaranteed, thereby creating a deadlock as far as debating these privileges is concerned.

Indeed, if Merdeka truly holds meaning, the Aug 28, 2009 episode would not have happened – where a cow head that had been severed was stepped on by a group of angry Malays who could not tolerate and accept the fact that a Hindu temple would soon be built in their neighbourhood of Section 23 in Shah Alam. Merdeka, really?

What was unbelievable was that such an act of desecration went on to receive the support of the Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Did he not know that the cow is considered a sacred animal to Hindus? Merdeka, are we?

Yes, the painful truth is that Merdeka is no longer synonymous with freedom or liberty, more recently depicted by the July 9, 2011 "Walk for Democracy" rally calling for free and fair elections.

The police brutality vis-à-vis tear gas and water canons and beatings would always serve to remind Malaysians that they, albeit living in an independent and democratic nation, have no avenue to voice out their unhappiness with the government.

The Barisan Nasional-government which had been ruling the country since 1957 is no longer taking any chances, not after the political debacle it faced three years ago, when it lost five states to the opposition in the 12th general election.

The BN-agenda now is to, by hook or crook, silent all dissenting voices and impress a rosy picture of the country, the aim being to give BN the chance to enjoy the two-third majority that was denied in 2008.

Merdeka –but from whom?

The federal government's refusal to do away with draconian laws such as the Internal Security Act 1960, the Emergency Ordinance (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) 1969 and the prohibitive Official Secrets Act 1972 and Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 all confirm that Merdeka had long been manipulated by the BN-government and Umno, both of whom are led by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

The June 26, 2011 arrest of 30 activists from Parti Sosialis Malaysia under trumped up claims of waging war against the country's monarch and spreading subversive beliefs is another proof that truth has no place in the heart of the country's leadership.

To summon the police to "finish off" certain people because of the "danger" they pose had put the police force in a shameful position. Deaths in police cells have become the norm more than an exception. The Najib-led government's refusal to acknowledge the importance of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) in helping reform the police force signals that all is definitely not well where Malaysia's democracy and Merdeka are concerned.

Tampering with the country's judiciary to stifle the truth, as seen from the "suicide verdict" announced in the case of the DAP-aide Teoh Beng Hock and detainee A Kugan who ended up dead while in police custody give the rakyat much reason to question the validity of Aug 31.

When long-serving estate workers as in the case of the Bukit Jalil estate residents are made homeless by City Hall under the pretext of development, can they be blamed for questioning if Merdeka truly exists for Malaysians?

Unity vital for Merdeka

Does unity i.e. camaraderie between the rakyat exist? If the non-Malays are incessantly chastised and threatened, as done by the extremist Malay-rights group Perkasa and the Umno-owned Malay daily, Utusan Malaysia and coupled with the poor example shown by the country's leaders, the answer at best is ambiguous.

Name-calling and threats are not going to sustain the Merdeka spirit for long. For a nation as young as Malaysia, there is much to learn in preserving the independence it had achieved from its British masters.

But it seems that the country's politicians, this includes Najib, the ever-racist Hishammuddin, Perkasa founder Ibrahim Ali and the Umno honchos are far too foolishly arrogant to want to learn from the annals of history on what it takes to promote unity and sustain the independence gained.

Malaysians like Perkasa's Ibrahim through his racial discrepancies has tainted the whole struggle towards Aug 31, when the nation finally achieved independence back in 1957.

The likes of Ibrahim believe their onslaught of threats would blench the non-Malays into subservience towards the dominant race, often times promising bloodshed should the non-Malays dare question Article 153 of the Constitution.

The damage, however, had long been done. In 2009, churches were attacked with petrol bombs after a court lifted a government ban on the use of "Allah" as a translation for "God" in Malay-language bibles.

The ban had been in place for years but enforcement only began in 2008 out of fear the word could encourage Muslims to convert.

READ MORE HERE

 

Smuggled ivory tusks worth 1.6 million dollars found in Hong Kong

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 02:14 PM PDT

 

By MonstersandCritics.com

Hong Kong - Customs officers in Hong Kong said Tuesday they had seized 794 African elephant tusks worth an estimated 1.6 million US dollars smuggled in a ship container from Malaysia.

The tusks weighing 1,898 kilograms were found hidden beneath stones in a consignment declared as non-ferrous products for factory use, the city's customs department said in a statement.

The illegal shipment was seized Monday by customs officers acting on intelligence and a 66-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the find, according to the statement.

Trading in endangered species carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of 640,000 US dollars under Hong Kong law. Smuggling undeclared goods carried a jail term of up to seven years.

Cable: Hisham blamed MCA for not containing Umno fallout

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 01:00 PM PDT

 

By Shannon Teoh, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had suggested in 2007 that MCA was at fault for being too weak to manage the reaction of non-Malays to the racially-charged rhetoric of the 2006 Umno general assembly.

Hishammuddin — who was the Umno Youth chief then — had told diplomats from the United States that Umno's race rhetoric was necessary to vent the frustrations of the Malays, according to a leaked US cable released on Malaysia Today.

According to the diplomatic note sent to Washington, Hishammuddin had also told the US ambassador here that Washington should expect similar anti-US rhetoric occasionally, but that those on the receiving end of these attacks should not fear as the government would not allow it to get out of hand.

"The country's 'racial splits are now more pronounced,' and Malays still do not feel on par with other races. The Malay youth became overly emotional regarding matters of race and religion, and needed to 'release pressure,' as they did during the November 2006 Umno General Assembly (which featured heated racial rhetoric that was broadcast on national television).

"Naturally, there would be a reaction to such venting.  In the case of the Umno general assembly, it was a shame, Hishammuddin added, that the MCA had not been strong enough to manage the reaction," said the cable leaked by whistleblower site WikiLeaks and published today on the Malaysia Today news portal.

According to the wire that appears to have been written by then ambassador Christopher Lafleur in early 2007, Hishammuddin argued that other parties in Barisan Nasional (BN) needed to understand the emotional background behind Malay frustration and look beyond the heated words.

"The Malay relationship with the US featured 'the same dynamic,' and from time to time the US would be the object of emotional public criticism.

"'This will never get out of hand, the government will not allow it,' Hishammuddin assured the ambassador, but the US would need to adopt a long-term view similar to that of Umno's national coalition partners," Lafleur wrote.

READ MORE HERE

 

Stop papering over cracks

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 12:57 PM PDT

By Charles Santiago, FMT

As the nation marches towards its 54th Merdeka celebrations, the Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition government continues to lead the nation with no accountability. Not even a semblance of it lurking in the shadows.

Umno's leadership has failed the people making it unlikely that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's bruises would disappear anytime soon.

Najib's self-styled unity slogan, 1Malaysia, and public claims of a united nation only go to show the premier's disconnect from ground reality.

What is worse is that the simmering racial and religious tension in the country is carefully engineered by Najib & Co.

In Malaysia, stirring racial and religious sentiments have become fashionable ways of ensuring the ruling elite's continued hold on power.

Playing up issues of apostasy, indulging in smear campaigns against opposition politicians, openly playing double standards, using the police to instil a climate of fear among the people, engaging in backdoor deals to win the next election are some of the crucial issues gripping the nation.

But just like over the years, we see the government preparing an ambiance of pomp and glamour to usher in the country's 54th year of independence from British rule. Najib has even thought out a costume and colour theme for the celebrations.

It is delusions to believe that a fusion of dances and colourful parade would make brewing discontent on the ground go away. Najib must know, by now, that this is no child's play.

Getting out of control

Come Merdeka Day, we would watch the Malays, Chinese and Indians taking part in the parade, as a sign of unity and mutual respect for each other. And yet this neat juxtaposition is misleading.

In reality, we have seen some leaders promising bloodshed over unverified allegations of proselytisation by some churches.

These vile-mouthed villains have no qualms reading out statements which stoke racial sentiments outside police stations.

While the government acts with lightning speed to nab opposition politicians and human rights activists for alleged illegal gathering, they ignore the ramblings of these political leaders.

Government-owned print and electronic media are given a free hand to further fan racial flames in the country.

Opposition newspapers and alternative media have to resort to self-censorship or have their publishing licenses revoked. The online media are constantly harassed for writing the truth.

Government channel, RTM1, has falsely linked myself and my colleagues Ean Yong Hin,  Boo Cheng Hau, Tan Kok Wai, and Parti Sosialis Malaysia's Dr Nasir Hashim to a Facebook group called the "Murtads in Malaysia and Singapore".

Checks with my Facebook friends have shown that many were added to the group as the administrator of these groups do not need permission before doing so. But the irresponsible reporting by the television station caricatures the extent of dirty politics in the country.

Government leaders certainly know stirring racial sentiments could get out of control. The nation had borne witness to the riots of 1969 and 2001. But potentially damning issues are fashioned by Umno leaders to frighten the Malays and bring them back to the party fold.

Blatant cover-ups

After all, Umno and BN leaders are adamant about winning the next general election at all cost.

The government's only concern is about winning the four states ruled by the opposition and ensuring two-thirds majority in Parliament.

In order to see that materialize, government's leaders are injecting venom into our political veins without caring two hoots about the consequences of their actions.

Playing up racial sensitivities is not their only devious plan. It is also registering permanent residence (PR) holders and illegal immigrants to shore up its voter bank.

The Election Commission is nonchalant about revamping the electoral system and is aligned with the government, raising questions about the integrity of the electoral body.

Although the EC and government are waltzing together, locked in each others' arms, the people are getting fed-up with decades of abuses which are ingrained in the electoral system.

Their dissatisfaction was candidly marked when tens of thousands of people defied police orders and rallied on the streets, despite the presence of stern-looking cops and baton-wielding anti-riot policemen, to call for free and fair elections on July 9.

 

READ MORE HERE.

Six shortlisted for RM1.5bil school Internet contract

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 12:46 PM PDT

By B K Sidhu, The Star

PETALING JAYA: Six companies are in the running for the RM1.5bil five-year contract to provide Internet access and a virtual learning module (VLM) platform for the 9,924 schools in the country under the 1Bestarinet project, sources said.

The six are said to be Celcom Axiata Bhd, Jaring Communications, Maxis Bhd, YTL Communications, Multimedia Synergy Corp and both Telekom Malaysia Bhd/Time dotCom Bhd, which submitted a joint bid.

The access job comes with an option to extend the contract period for another five plus five years, totalling 15 years, and this would include installation, maintenance and provision of a VLM.

Though the Government is looking at RM4.5bil as the absolute sum for the 15-year contract, those in the know claim the bids received thus far ranged from RM2bil to RM6bil. At RM4.5bil, it works out to RM1.5bil for every 5 years or RM300mil for each year.

A decision on the winner is expected sometime in the middle of next month, sources said, adding that the Government should insist on proof of concept before deployment to avoid issues and problems arising later. The plan is to roll out access to at least 7,000 schools by Jan 1, 2012.

The poser now is which company should win the 15-year contract.

"Even before 1Bestarinet came about, some of the parties vying for the contract have been lobbying for it. Whatever the decision, it should be based on merits and the focus should be on deliverables as we cannot afford a repeat of the Schoolnet episode. Choose those that can deliver, those that have the financial muscle, the capacity and capabilities and not those that compromise on quality for profits," said a source.

"The last thing we want is our future generation being deprived of basic Internet access because of some companies which can't have enough profits from the project and the Government is committed because the contract would be binding for 15 years,'' added the source.

IBestarinet came about as a result of the Pemandu national key economic area lab series as there is a need to provide Internet access to all schools in the country since the earlier project to wire up schools, Schoolnet, did not meet the objectives set.

To recap, Schoolnet was born in 2004 to wire up schools using wireless or fibre technology but it had major constraints and did not live up to expectations in terms of speed and capacity, and also due to lack of specifications and integration.

Hence, in May this year, the Education Ministry called for a tender bid for the wiring up of all schools under the 1Bestarinet project and in the tender's posting it was clearly stipulated that the tender was open to all local companies with preference given to bumiputra tender bids registered with the Finance Ministry under some codes stipulated.

This tender bid which opened on May 5 saw over 80 companies collecting the tender documents. At its closing on May 31, it is said that only 19 companies submitted their bids. The six shortlisted are from the 19 that submitted bids.

Given its past experiences with Schoolnet, the ministry had spelt out certain conditions for 1Bestarinet. It wants the future network to be scalable to cater for growth and to evolve with technological evolution. It should have a VLM which will allow teachers and students, among others, to have a platform to write plans and share ideas. The Internet speed has to be constant and cannot be based on "best effort.'' For urban areas, the access speed is 2Mbps to 10Mbps, and for rural and remote schools 1Mbps to 4Mbps. All sorts of technologies can be used, be it fibre or wireless technologies including Vsat, wireless, WiFi, but the link to the school should be via fibre.

"The Education Ministry will also have an inbuilt checking mechanism to ensure that the vendor delivers as per specifications,'' said a source.

Malaysia policy a deterrent: refugee

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 12:41 PM PDT

By Alana Buckley-Carr, The West Australian

Habibullah may not agree with the Malaysia solution but his are exactly the words Immigration Minister Chris Bowen wants to hear: "No, I don't think I would get on a boat if I was sent to Malaysia."

With the High Court set to hand down its decision today into the lawfulness of the Gillard Government's Malaysia solution, Afghan refugee Habibullah said he would never have made the treacherous boat journey if he knew he would be sent straight back to Malaysia.

More than 330 asylum seekers have been in limbo on Christmas Island since the High Court issued an injunction this month, stopping the Government from sending boat people to Malaysia.

Yesterday, Mr Bowen's office refused to speculate on what plans were in place if the deal with Malaysia was found to be unlawful.

Habibullah, a 28-year-old father of two, was granted asylum last month after spending 15 months in detention on Christmas Island and at the Curtin detention centre.

He is now trying to have his wife and two daughters brought to Australia from Iran, where they have lived illegally for years.

In exchange for $US6000, Habibullah was given a false passport and began a series of flights taking him to Bali, before being taken to the rickety wooden boat off a small beach in the dead of night.

"When we got on the boat it was dark, we couldn't see the boat very clearly," Habibullah said. "The day after the sun rise, we saw the boat was very small, very old."

The former carpet weaver spent two months on Christmas Island before being among the first detainees to be transferred to the refurbished Curtin detention centre last year.

But conditions were far from ideal. He was never taken outside the centre in 13 months at Curtin and grew increasingly frustrated by changes in Government policy.

"One week there was one policy, the next week another policy," Habibullah said.

"They don't process cases in the order they arrived. Everyone gets angry when you are limited to a specific place where you can't go outside, especially when you don't know what will happen to you in the future."

It was only on July 20 that he was finally granted a protection visa, after having his first claim for asylum rejected.

He now lives in a modest house in Girrawheen and plans to continue his English studies, before studying law at university.

Tales from a leaking boat

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 12:26 PM PDT

 

By Soraya Lennie, Aljazeera

Aziz crammed into the cargo hold of a tiny fishing boat as it left the Indonesian port. He and the 17 other men aboard had their sights on Australia. Only four days in, it happened - the engine exploded, blowing acrid smoke into the cabin, choking Aziz and the other terrified passengers. The boat was adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean, in the middle of an illegal voyage to seek asylum in Australia.

"We sat like this," Aziz says, hugging his knees to his chest. "We couldn't move, we were just [huddled together] shoulder to shoulder."

Finally, the Australian Navy spotted the small boat and three days later the men were at Australia's immigration processing centre on Christmas Island, just 360km south of Jakarta.

"It was very dangerous, very risky, how can you imagine it? It's so hard. You sacrifice your life, you could be a victim and every minute, it's possible you're going to drown in the sea," he adds.

And many do drown. Some die in the middle of the ocean, often days before immigration officials in either Indonesia or Australia notice. The latest incident occurred in December 2010, when a boat smuggling refugees crashed off Christmas Island, resulting in the death of some 48 people. But perhaps the worst tragedy took place almost a decade earlier, in October 2001, when more than 350 people drowned after their boat sunk at sea. Most were from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. Many were children, trapped in the sinking hull. Like the Christmas Island disaster, it sparked a bitter political spat as both sides blamed each other's policies for the tragedy.

The Australian government, headed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, is under pressure to avoid these kinds of disasters. It's also trying to avoid a public backlash against any government perceived as soft on so-called "queue jumpers". In Australia, the issue makes and breaks politicians and wins and loses elections.

Playing politics

The former government of right-wing Prime Minister John Howard knew that best. August 26 will be the tenth anniversary of the "Tampa Affair", in which the Howard government sparked a diplomatic row with Norway when it refused permission for the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa to enter Australian waters. Its crew had rescued more than 400 asylum seekers from a sinking fishing boat heading to Australia. Just two months later, Howard's government famously - and wrongly - accused other asylum seekers of throwing their children overboard to secure Australian naval rescue and subsequent passage to Australia. Only one month later, Howard sailed to victory in the federal election on a platform of border security.

Between 1999 and 2001, Howard reintroduced Temporary Protection Visas and signed the "Pacific Solution", a policy in which asylum seekers were transferred to the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru for processing. That government's treatment of refugees appalled the United Nations and human rights groups.

Despite the tough policy, the number of people arriving by boat increased sharply after the government introduced these measures. The numbers then plummeted and remained low until 2009. That year, more than 2,849 people arrived, compared to just 161 the previous year.

The opposition said that this spike was because Prime Minister Kevin Rudd scrapped many of Howard's policies in favour of a more humane approach. Some refugee advocates said that the spike in unauthorised arrivals reflected changes in global conflicts. But as Gillard took over, under pressure after an embarrassing and damaging leadership spill, she put a temporary freeze on processing the claims of Sri Lankan and Afghan refugees, pending a review. At the time, she said that the reality that confronted Howard's government confronted her own as well.

On Friday, Australia formally struck a deal with Papua New Guinea under which asylum seekers detected in Australian waters can be sent to PNG's Manus Island. It too was part of Howard's Pacific solution. The deal follows the Gillard government's arrangement with Malaysia. Dubbed the "Malaysian Solution", her government will send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysian transit centres while the immigration department processes the claims.

In return, Malaysia will send 4,000 genuine refugees to Australia. The Gillard government says that the arrangement "demonstrates the resolve of Australia and Malaysia to break the people smugglers' business model, stop them profiting from human misery, and stop people risking their lives at sea".

But Amnesty International is critical. "Although the Australian Government is very close to sending people there (to Malaysia), there are a lot of details to be decided, like who's going to look after unaccompanied minors? It's very worrying," says Dr Graham Thom, Amnesty International's Refugee Coordinator.

Thom says that the proposed scenario is far from ideal. The refugees will be housed in a temporary facility set up by the Australian government. It is significantly different from Malaysia's own detention centres, which Dr Thom describes as horrible and appalling. After a period of up to 45 days, they will be permitted to enter the community to live while their applications are processed.

But Amnesty International is concerned that Malaysian authorities will still arrest the refugees and send them to their own detention centres, where Amnesty says disease, assault and mistreatment are rife. Moreover, Thom says that the proposed people swap undermines Australia's standing at the UN and in the international community.

"We are a convention country, we put up our hand to protect people. So for us to be removing people to a non-convention country is a very serious breach of our international obligations. Secondly, it's even more worrying that country is Malaysia, which has a very poor record," says Thom.

But the deal is stuck in its tracks. At the eleventh hour, the High Court granted a two-week injunction against sending anyone to Malaysia on the grounds that it may not be legal. It began hearing the case on August 22. Lawyer David Manne, Executive Director of the Melbourne-based Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, filed the injunction. He is representing the first 42 asylum seekers awaiting deportation to Malaysia under the people swap. Among them are six children. Mr Manne argues that Immigration Minister Chris Bowen is the legal guardian of the underage asylum seekers and is therefore legally bound to protect them. He is also arguing that the situation in Malaysia is not satisfactory.

Bowen told Fairfax Media as he announced the arrangement, "I expect protests, I expect legal challenges, I expect resistance." He has received all three. But Bowen contends that the government is well within its rights to send people to a third country and that the government has followed the law to the letter.

Will the 'Malaysian Solution' work?

The new proposal has disappointed refugees who have now settled in Australia. Many of them arrived undocumented by boat and, after having their applications for asylum approved, consider themselves lucky to be permanent residents, if not citizens. Hamood is one of them. He says he would not have travelled unauthorised to Australia if the Malaysia deal were in place as he fled Kuwait. No, he shakes his head resolutely, "I would have gone to a country that I knew would accept me."

His friend, Ghanem, fled instability in Iraq at the same time. He sold his car, begged and borrowed in order to pay a smuggler to get him and his younger brother to safety. After ten hellish, sleepless days at sea, aboard a leaking boat with a smoking engine, they made it. They spent nine months in detention, but are now trying to settle into a new life. He agrees with Hamood - if the Malaysia deal were on the table then, he would never have risked it.

"At the time, we were travelling as refugees. It was not a matter of choice. When we arrived in Malaysia we were told you can go to Australia. We didn't have the opportunity to check up on the country, or the politics, or the living standards. Of course now if you know the government is not accepting refugees, what are you doing to do? Of course people will stop coming, or at least the numbers will reduce." And that's the goal of Gillard's Malaysia deal.

Nasim Gulzari was a shopkeeper in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over his village. He fled in 1999. Through a people smuggler and a fake Pakistani passport, he made it onto a boat and eventually into Australia. It cost him eight thousand dollars for a chance at a new life.

Although he may have arrived illegally (at least according to the Australian governments interpretation of International Law), Gulzari says that the government has the responsibility to protect its borders. He, too, strongly believes the Malaysia deal will work: "The boats will stop certainly, in a couple of months they'll see the results." But like many others, he doesn't think that the Malaysia deal is the most humane approach. "People have to flee. In my opinion, these asylum seekers deserve to be treated properly."

Gulzari, his wife Wazir, and their five children have settled in the Goulburn Valley, in Northern Victoria, and proudly display an Australian flag among family photographs in their lounge room. What they have is what those crossing the sea want.

Others, however, doubt that the "Malaysian Solution" will have the intended effects. Aziz, from Afghanistan, believes that the chance at a better life is worth the risk of Malaysian detention. Will the Malaysian deal work? "Honestly? No, never. Why? Because people are living in very bad situations in their home country. When they reach Christmas Island, the government assesses their health, gives them food, they're safe at least. In Malaysia, no matter how bad it is there, they'd prefer it. Because eventually, they'll be processed. They'll never stop the boats."

He admits that he and Gulzari are queue jumpers, but asks those who have never been in his position, "If your house is on fire, it's not a choice to wait behind people queuing to get out the doors. You'd jump out the window to save your life. Wouldn't you?"


 

Iranian Exiles Flock East, to Multiethnic Malaysia

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 11:54 AM PDT

By John Krich, TIME

Above the outdoor cafés of this city's trendiest suburb, some 60 exiles are busily dubbing Brazilian soap operas, Japanese cartoons and American music videos into Farsi. They work for GEM-TV, a privately owned, Dubai-based bootleg satellite station that beams the modern world into Iran from a broadcast station in Malaysia. This Southeast Asian nation is becoming, in the words of GEM-TV host Abed Randamiz, "famous as a place to jump" from Iran's harshly religious regime. "It's the best of three countries that freely give us visas," Rangamiz says with a shrug. "The others are Turkey and Turkmenistan."

The Iranian influx is small but growing fast. At present, there are about 60,000 Iranians, studying, working or waiting for visas in this relatively easygoing, multiethnic Muslim-majority country. Iranians hold shares in an estimated 2,000 Malaysian businesses and occupy about 15,000 spots in Malaysian universities. Tourist arrivals from Iran jumped 14.3% to 116,000 last year. And, observe new arrivals, words of Persian origin, such as dewan for hall and anggur for grapes, have long been part of the Malay language. Most Iranians in Malaysia bask in the comforts of a life free from ideological pressures and from, in one exile's words, "bribing the police every time you want to have a party." Malaysia has become the base for frequent "Persian Disco Nights" and glitzy concerts by famed singers — one earlier this year included a rallying cry against the current regime — during the Iranian New Year in March.(Read about Malaysia's new journey beyond race.)

But life there isn't without hassles. Many, including Ali Manafi, a radio anchor who recently fled Iran at considerable risk, are exhausted by religious rules. "Spirituality should be personal," he says. "Here there are too many mosques and imams." Few Malaysian mosques welcome Shi'ite Muslims, leaving Iranian Shi'ites to worship at their embassy. Iranian activists have also faced rough treatment for political protests. Five Iranian student leaders were arrested for carrying candles in a memorial for protesters killed in Iran. In 2009, a protest of Iran's recent elections outside the U.N. led to tear gas. However, most activists say they try to stay away from Malaysia's current unrests — though they are quietly pleased that the recent July 9 demonstration, in which 1,400 Malaysians were arrested, took place on the 12th anniversary of one of Iran's largest protests.

Iranians say locals often assume the worst of their community. The highly publicized arrest of 15 Iranian drug smugglers last year — and several others since — hasn't helped. "Iranians are dirty-minded people — they come here to drink and take drugs and wear their shirts open like women," scoffed one Malay cab driver. Indeed, Ali Reza, an Iranian teacher, says he sometimes tells locals he hails from the invented country of "Kerkovia" to avoid discrimination. Of course, prejudice goes both ways. "We bring 2,500 years of culture, but here 100 years ago they were still in the trees with the monkeys," says GEM-TV's Randamiz.

Safineh Motlaq, a photojournalist who explains Malaysian culture to Iranians in a local magazine, Monograil, says mutual understanding will take time. "In Iran, we follow everything about the U.S. and Europe, but Asia is completely unknown. So people tend to isolate themselves here." She, for one, calls Malaysia "the closest I've found to a utopia." Moved by her seven years there, Motlaq published a photo book, A Given Path, about the rituals of Malaysia's three main ethnic communities — Chinese, Indian, Malay — with Marina Mahathir, daughter of Malaysia's former Prime Minister, writing the foreword.(Read about the teargassing incident in Kuala Lumpur.)

Siamak Rezvan, 40, has, like many Iranian professionals, started his own business, Yummy Restaurant, switching the menu from burgers to kebabs. He's working in Malaysia to put his 15-year-old son in an international school. Business is slow and his job applications were turned down because employers favor locals, but he's happy to be in Kuala Lumpur. "This is the place where we can have a normal life without fear," he says. However, Rangamiz, ever the exile, scoffs in his recording booth: "Malaysia my second home? Most of us, we don't even have a first home."

Read about Malaysian Muslims and Christians argue over the word Allah.


Three firms shortlisted for nuclear power PR campaign

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 11:45 AM PDT

By Melissa Chi, The Malaysian Insider

The government is searching for a public relations agency to help build public support for nuclear power, as part of a plan to make the country ready for an alternative energy source by 2013.

The Holmes Report, a New York-based publication that serves the public relations community, reported this week that the Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation (MNPC), a government body formed in January to spearhead the deployment of nuclear energy, is understood to have shortlisted three firms for the sensitive project.

"It is understood that a formal pitch is yet to take place. A source involved in the process said that fees had not been confirmed, but were expected to be in the seven-figure range," the report said.

The invitation for an international public relations effort to boost support for nuclear energy could spark controversy after the recent row over reports that Putrajaya paid RM58 million to FBC Media to burnish its international image on various international broadcast channels.

British media regulator Office of Communications (Ofcom) is probing programmes made by FBC Media for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

It is understood Putrajaya has now ended its contract with FBC Media after an exposé revealed Malaysian leaders routinely appeared in paid-for interviews on global television programmes on CNBC.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) terminated FBC Media's contract earlier this month, just months after another public relations firm, APCO Worldwide from the United States, met an ignominious end for alleged links to Israel.

Global broadcasters, including CNN and CNBC, have been scrambling to contain any potential fallout after allegations of impropriety surfaced following the exposé by whistleblower Sarawak Report.

The latest plans to launch a publicity campaign for nuclear power also comes in the midst of public concern about nuclear safety, spurred by the ongoing crisis at the nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan.

According to briefing notes obtained by the Holmes Report, public relations counsel is being sought to ensure that stakeholders are able to make an informed decision about the proposed plan by that date.

"The bottomline: Malaysia has to be nuclear-ready and get [the] mandate of the public by 2013, when the government will make the final decision and reveal the site," reads the brief, according to the report.

The Holmes Report also said boosting public support for nuclear power to above 50 per cent is a priority, along with managing concerns and issues.

 

READ MORE HERE.

Konspirasi Shafee-JPM dalam kes Anwar Ibrahim

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 01:58 AM PDT

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/images/uploads/mugshots/muhammad-shafee-abdullah2-april2.jpg

Konspirasi yang terbaru ni sama seperti konspirasi memburukkan Raja Petra Kamarudin beberapa tahun dulu.

By Ahmad Gaza

Salam kawan kawan.

Dalam musim bermaaf-maafan ini, saya nak ceritakan konspirasi peguam Umno tersohor, Shafee Abdullah, dengan penasihat media Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Jalil Hamid, dalam liputan kes liwat Anwar Ibrahim.

Walaupun falsampah politik saya tak selari dengan Anwar Ibrahim, saya sebagai wartawan Malaysia muak dengan konspirasi konspirasi untuk menggunakan media untuk menjatuhkan ahli politik.

Sudah lama dah. Dari zaman Utusan Melayu di ambil alih 1961 sampai sekarang. 50 tahun. Cukuplah Umno dan Umno Baru. Sedarlah sikit.

Konspirasi yang terbaru ni sama seperti konspirasi memburukkan Raja Petra Kamarudin beberapa tahun dulu.

Kira-kira dua minggu yang lalu, Shafee Abdullah dan Jalil Hamid, yang baru ini kena kutuk pasal pelannya  memburukkan Bersih 2.0, telah berjumpa pengarang kanan media tempatan untuk cara-cara meliputi kes liwat Anwar Ibrahim.

Mereka mengutuk pendakwaraya yang tidak membantah ucapan politik Anwar Ibrahim pada permulaan pembelaannya dalam kes liwat aduan Saiful Bukhari Azlan. Yalah, Anwar Ibrahim berucap mengutuk kerajaan dan apa yang dia panggil konspirasi terhadapnya.

Pendakwaraya diam sahaja. Tidak membantah dan membenarkan dia bercakap.

Shafee Abdullah tidak tahan lagi. Walaupun dia tidak ada hak atau kepentingan dalam kes ini kecuali untuk anak guamnya Umno, dia terus memanggil pengarang-pengarang kanan untuk satu mesyuarat.

Dan sebelahnya, penasihat media Perdana Menteri, Jalil Hamid. Dulu orang Bernama, lepas tu Reuters, lepas tu Suruhanjaya Sekuriti. Sekarang bertempat di National Communications Team di Mid Valley. Ini semua maklumat yang dari sumber-sumber sahih seperti A. Kadir Jasin, yang dulu penasihat Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Kira Goebbels Senior dan Goebbels Junior lah.

Dalam mesyuarat yang diadakan di Le Meridien Hotel, Shafee memberitahu dan mengarahkan pengarang-pengarang kanan media tempatan cara-cara dan isu-isu yang patut di utarakan dalam media masing-masing. Yalah, cara nak mencerca dan mengutuk Anwar Ibrahim.

Antara yang dalam mesyuarat itu adalah si penemuramah Raja Petra Kamarudin dari TV3. Yang bergelar Datuk. Yang sekarang ini terjebak dalah kes gangguan seksual. Ini kuasa Allah. You burukkan orang, you kena nanti.

Tapi saya nak tanya. Apa kuasa Shafee Abdullah dalam kes ini. Apa peranan Jalil Hamid dalam kes ini. Mengapa mereka ada kuasa memanggil pengarang-pengarang kanan dan memberitahu mereka apa yang patut di buat dalam liputan kes liwat Anwar Ibrahim.

Read more at: http://ahmatgaza.blogspot.com/2011/08/konspirasi-shafee-jpm-dalam-kes-anwar.html

EXXONMOBIL Scandal Starring Mirzan Mahathir

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 01:32 AM PDT

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_wq_pdHvuPOM/Srd4x3wN0vI/AAAAAAAACb4/kyP9PDsx4zc/s320/arak+mirzan.jpg

Mahathir Mohamad on the one hand is using Ibrahim Ali to stoke up the Malay sentiments' anti-drinking, anti-everything for his return to power, while on the other using his son Mirzan to buy Esso Malaysia using San Miguel's beer drinking money.

By JO & M.Nathan

I am so utterly disgusted with the BN government for its inability to engage Esso Malaysia for the rakyat. I am further disgusted with the hypocrisy of Mahathir Mohamad on the one hand using Ibrahim Ali to stoke up the Malay sentiments' anti-drinking, anti-everything for his return to power, while on the other using his son Mirzan to buy Esso Malaysia using San Miguel's beer drinking money. Worse still, he is exploiting the tax incentives reserved for us the rakyat, the unimportant Malaysians.

If you remember, Mirzan surfaced as a director of Petron, San Miguel's beer company as the parent. Now he is using his brotherly influence on Muhkriz as the Minister of MITI to get the FIC approval and whatever else needed, for a deal which no decent government would ever allow.

Yesterday, the Domestic Trade Minister Sabri even said Malaysia cannot do anything about it. What a statement. The point is these Ministers are put there to safeguard our interests, not to spend time mixing with singers and artists so that his son Dafi can cut another album or so. Ministers need to protect the welfare of the rakyat especially when 80% of Esso customers are Muslim and do not want to have to change their lifestyle or travel another 25 km to pump petrol at another station that is halal, just to line Mirzan's pocket. For Mirzan everything can, for us unimportant Malaysians everything cannot.

Back to Mahathir, how can we the rakyat even think of allowing this Mahathir-Mirzan-Muhkriz beer for subsidy petrol scandal to occur? In the internet, so many people are complaining that even the minority shareholders are up in arms and considering a class action suit against Exxon-Mobil for the utmost disregard for minority shareholders.

We expect Exxon-Mobil to uphold the highest and most stringent standard of professionalism and integrity, whether it is in the USA or in another third world country such as Malaysia. But obviously our BN government doesnt seem to think that is important. It seems to think that what is good for Mirzan must be good for Muhkriz, and therefore it is good to rip off all of us normal Malaysians, and we must just swallow.

I wonder why the goverment has not hauled up Esso staff Mr Stafford T. Kelly who made several announcements on the manner in which he felt Exxon-Mobil divested San Miguel. The funny thing is, his valuation exercise was done in a highly irregular manner leaving us minority shareholders to question what is actually behind this deal, and who in Exxon-Mobil is benefitting personally from this deal?

First, everyone knows that the assets in Esso Malaysia are part of a listed company and thus require close scrutiny. It is precisely because of this we are shocked that Mr Stafford told the reporters that the decision to sell the Esso assets (at USD280 million valuation for the whole 100%) cheaper than the Mobil equivalent (at USD 400 million) have been sanctioned and approved by the Government of Malaysia tacitly.

One only has to examine whether the sales of the assets are mutually exclusive. Judging from the newspaper report, it is a packaged deal and not mutually exclusive. It is then very curious that the sales of the assets are cross-subsidized using the unlisted ones in Mobil to be subsidized by the listed Esso shares in Malaysia.

This is against the law but Mr Stafford knows the Mahathir children will follow the footsteps of the father to cheat all Malaysians. Since he has taken care of Mirzan (where do you think the difference of USD 400 and 280 million went?) he does not have to worry who he steps on. That is why the Bursa is so quiet even though this is clearly criminal. 

Second, it is obvious Mr Stafford has botched up the entire bidding and valuation exercise when he can announce to the world (and all of Malaysia) that the deal to his preferred partner San Miguel is final even before the Malaysian authorities have a chance to consider the Foreign Investment Committee ruling. Obviously he knows something we don't.

He must know that it will just be Mukhriz telling his puppet Minister Mustapha to sign on the dotted line. Strangely, he is trying to rush something which needs due process, and behaving so arrogantly as if EXXON is more important than the interests of the rakyat under the BN government. If this is the case, I urge all Malaysians to vote them out this PRU-13.

Third, Mr Stafford goes on to say that the tax incentives benefitted from Malaysia for the Esso refinery will be passed to San Miguel (read as pass on to San Mirzan or maybe one or two more of Mahathir's children since he is after all THE ADVISOR to Petronas) simply because he says so - on the reasoning that San Miguel is going to invest some money into rehabilitating the refinery.

Come on, give us a break. We dont need Mirzan to use his ill gotten money as equity and then borrow to the hilt from the local banks and enjoy the subsidy by trying to say as though San Miguel is doing us, the rakyat, a favor. And then use the profits to fund Ibrahim Ali and make the non-Muslims look bad. Shame on you.

Let me remind you that we only have to ask the question in open court - where did the tax benefits given by the Malaysian government to Esso Malaysia finally accrue to? It will become obvious that this will lead to a bigger scandal than BP's Gulf of Mexico burst oil-wells.

No American or French journalists take lightly individuals or corporations who evade tax. Also, Mr Stafford has no feel on whats on the ground as it is not about how much who is going to invest in the refinery as it is an afterthought (not to mention that it has been picked up as an attempt by Exxon to try to openly bribe the authorities as if Malaysia is so starved of Foreign Direct Investment). By jove, this will go to court, and Mahathir and the children after PRU-13 can hide behind a cage as they give their statements.

Fourth, the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA) specifically prohibits any employee from concealing information from the tender committee be it in the form of shredding or disposing of evidence which would clearly show that the entire tender exercise was skewed to favor San Miguel. This is evident in the inability of EXXON-MOBIL to explain how a single executive like Mr Stafford was allowed to make such decisions which contravenes not only the laws of good ethical corporate governance, but also the follow up cover up and announcements of trying to justify his pick of the winner by saying that San Miguel will then invest heavily in the refinery. Who cares? A simple check on the phone numbers most called by the San Miguel local team will reveal and clearly show the trail to the EXXON-Mobil nest and of course to Mirzan and his 012345678 special number.

The same fate that bestowed Mubarrak and Gaddafi is awaiting Mahathir. And it would be silly of Mr Stafford to count on that rather than on good clean corporate governance which is what Exxon-Mobil has been built upon. For us simple Malaysians, I think we should stand up and say that if after all these years of benefitting from our subsidy as a foreign company in Malaysia, the least you can do if you want to exit is to do so graciously, and not so bloody arrogantly, not caring for the minority shareholders, and in the process, make a mockery of our government.

I used to be a long-time BN supporter. No more because I can see that this is not a government that will protect the interests of us the rakyat. Even as I read how the Muslim dealers have protested against this, everything is falling on deaf ears.

Esso Malaysia is supposed to be a blue-chip company, not material for a future B-grade movie with San Miguel booze starring Mr Stafford and Mirzan, tax evasion, shredding of evidence amid growing protests and boycotts in a country which is predominantly Muslim. Not to mention all of us minority shareholders will lose from the General Offer since we are getting a far lower valuation and subsidizing Mobil, and amortizing the big bucks which Mirzan wants to extract from us the unimportant Malaysians.

WIKILEAKS: AMBASSADOR'S JANUARY 29 MEETING WITH EDUCATION MINISTER HISHAMMUDDIN

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 01:00 AM PDT

The country's "racial splits are now more pronounced," and Malays still do not feel on par with other races. At times, the Malay youth became overly emotional regarding matters of race and religion, and needed to "release pressure," as they did during the November 2006 UMNO General Assembly (which featured heated racial rhetoric that was broadcast on national television).

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUALA LUMPUR 000209

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/05/2017

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, KISL, KPAO, MY

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S JANUARY 29 MEETING WITH EDUCATION MINISTER HISHAMMUDDIN

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher J. LaFleur for reasons 1.4 (b and d).

Summary

1.  (C) Education Minister and UMNO Youth chief Hishammuddin responded favorably to the Ambassador's call to expand dialogue between the Embassy and Muslim Malay youth during their January 29 meeting. 

Hishammuddin described the Malaysian political scene as "volatile" due to the increased racial divide and Malay insecurity over their relative economic status and the role of Islam.  Malay youth would continue to vent their emotions publicly, as they did during the 2006 UMNO General Assembly, but those on the receiving end, whether ethnic Chinese or the U.S. Government, should look beyond the rhetoric to the bigger and longer term picture. 

In any event, the Malaysian Government would never allow anti-U.S. sentiment to get out of hand.  Hishammuddin strongly endorsed the U.S. English language assistant program and hoped that this could be expanded nationwide.  End Summary.

2.  (C) The Ambassador, accompanied by polchief, called on Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Malaysia's Education Minister and head of the UMNO party's youth wing, on January 29 and explored opportunities for expanded dialogue with the influential UMNO Youth. 

The Ambassador explained our interest in conveying the U.S. perspective on issues of common concern, while acknowledging that U.S. and Muslim Malay views will differ on some important topics, like aspects of Middle East policy.  UMNO constituents and the U.S.-Malaysia relationship would benefit from direct information from the U.S. Embassy, rather than relying on sometimes inaccurate media reports. 

Hishammuddin, accompanied by UMNO Youth Secretary General Abdul Rahman

Datuk Hj. Dahlan and his personal Ministry senior staff, welcomed the Ambassador's call for expanded dialogue.  The Embassy and UMNO Youth would need to determine appropriate topics to address given UMNO Youth's sensitivity and "immaturity," avoiding, for example, the Middle East, but perhaps addressing the subject of Islam in some fashion.

3.  (C) Hishammuddin described the Malaysian political scene as "volatile beneath the surface."  The Minister, assuming a friendly and frank manner, went on to explain, "this is a difficult period for the psyche of the Malays, particularly because there is uncertainty about the role of Islam."  In the context of rapid development, the Malays had doubts about the foundation of their own country. 

The country's "racial splits are now more pronounced," and Malays still do not feel on par with other races.  At times, the Malay youth became overly emotional regarding matters of race and religion, and needed to "release pressure," as they did during the November 2006 UMNO General Assembly (which featured heated racial rhetoric that was broadcast on national television).

Naturally, there would be a reaction to such venting.  In the case of the UMNO General Assembly, it was a shame, Hishammuddin added, that the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA, UMNO's partner in the coalition government) had not been strong enough to manage the reaction. 

As a result, Hishammuddin admitted that UMNO still would not allow him to carry out public activities in ethnic Chinese areas.  The Minister confided that, in the wake of the controversial UMNO General Assembly, Prime Minister Abdullah had acknowledged his decision to allow a live, national television broadcast of the event as his worst decision in 2006.

4.  (C)  Hishammuddin argued that MCA and other non-Malay political partners needed to understand the emotional background behind Malay frustration and look beyond the heated words.  The Malay relationship with the U.S. featured "the same dynamic," and from time to time the U.S. would be the object of emotional public criticism. 

"This will never get out of hand, the government will not allow it," Hishammuddin assured the Ambassador, but the U.S. would need to adopt a long-term view similar to that of UMNO's national coalition partners.

5.  (C) On the subject of Islam, Hishammuddin said, "the moderates don't speak out" and described Prime Minister Abdullah's "Islam Hadari" concept as an attempt to provide a useful platform for moderates.  While most Malays were not extreme in their views of Islam, "if you push us, we have no other choice," and the younger generation will begin to look to "tyrants" like Saddam Hussein as role models.

6.  (U) The Ambassador raised the U.S. English Language Assistant program, now in its second year with some 13 American assistants and one English Teaching Fellow deployed in the state of Terrangganu.  The Education Minister applauded this program and said he would like to expand it into a national effort, coordinated through his office. 

The focus should remain on assistance and training of Malaysian English language teachers.  Hishammuddin said he fully supported increased exchanges between Malaysians and Americans at all levels, and he particularly valued the International Visitor Program.

7.  (C) COMMENT:  Hishammuddin, the son of Malaysia's third Prime Minister, Hussein Onn, has the pedigree as well as the personal standing to be a future prime minister. He is now punching important tickets on the way to that goal by holding down the Education and UMNO Youth jobs.

Hishammuddin is reported to be a strong Abdullah supporter and a key political ally of the Prime Minister's son-in-law and Deputy Youth Chief, Khairy Jamaluddin.  If and how Hishamuddin and Khairy will reconcile their prime ministerial ambitions remains to be seen.

We welcome the opportunity to interact more with UMNO Youth, which continues to brandish the banner of Malay nationalism and remains highly critical of the U.S. We intend to follow-up strongly on the English teaching program.  We welcomed the opportunity to meet with Hishammuddin, who, like his other cabinet colleagues, is not always easy to pin down.

LAFLEUR

 

Muhyiddin rubbishes Anwar’s claim of voter swing to Pakatan

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 09:41 PM PDT

(The Malaysian Insider) - Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin poured cold water on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's claim today that the prime minister's sliding popularity based on a recent poll signified a voter shift to Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

He also played down the survey from independent pollster Merdeka Center, saying the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government did not take the survey results as "too serious" because the findings depended largely on its sample size.

Merdeka Center yesterday released the results of its survey, which showed a six-point dip in the approval rating of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak; from 65 per cent in May to 59 per cent.

PKR adviser Anwar appeared delighted with the latest rating, saying the indicated drop in support for Najib showed voters were moving towards the opposition PR pact.

"That's not necessarily true," Muhyiddin said, responding to Anwar's remark made earlier today at the Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house of Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

Muhyiddin, who is BN deputy president, was quick to highlight that his political rival had his own situation to deal with, though he did not elaborate.

The vocal Anwar, however, appears to have been distracted in the past few months and has been keeping a much lower profile as he turns his attention to his ongoing Sodomy II trial, which is to resume on September 19.

"I think Datuk Seri Anwar has also got his own situation," Muhyiddin said at Najib's open house here on the first day of the Muslim holiday.

"What's important is not the survey, but what we do from now on."

READ MORE HERE

 

Malaysia should change PMs like Japan, says Zaid

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 09:38 PM PDT

(The Malaysian Insider) - Kita president Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has suggested Malaysians try changing prime ministers, even as Malaysia faces slower growth prospects next year.

Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda was confirmed today as the country's sixth prime minister in five years after he outmanoeuvred rivals at an internal party ballot yesterday.

"Japan still an economic power. Despite changing PM every year. We should try it here," Zaid, the former de facto law minister, said in a tongue-in-cheek post on micro-blogging site Twitter.

This comes after a Merdeka Center poll released yesterday showed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's approval rating has fallen to 59 per cent after steadily sliding from a high of 72 per cent in May last year.

Najib, who came to power in 2009 with a low 34 per cent approval rating, is under pressure to reign in a ballooning budget deficit by slashing subsidies while trying to keep cost of living increases in check.

Rising inflation, which hit a two-year high of 3.5 per cent in July, was cited as the number one worry by 30.3 per cent of those polled by the Merdeka Centre earlier this month.

READ MORE HERE

 

Decide if Mat Sabu is an Islamist or communist, Guan Eng tells critics

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 09:35 PM PDT

(The Malaysian Insider) - Lim Guan Eng has challenged critics of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) colleague Mohamad Sabu to make up their minds over whether the PAS deputy president is an Islamic extremist or a communist.

The DAP secretary-general said that he had been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1987 during the Operation Lalang clampdown along with Mohamad, who was then accused of being an Islamic fundamentalist.

"Now, they are saying he is supporting communism. Is there any credibility to these accusations?" he told reporters at the prime minister's Hari Raya open house today.

On Satuday, Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia quoted Mohamad as saying that the communists who attacked the Bukit Kepong police station during the pre-Independence communist insurgency were heroes.

The newspaper accused him of disparaging the country's armed forces and expressing support for communists but Mohamad, popularly known as Mat Sabu, has since denied the report and accused the Malay-language daily of fabricating the quote.

READ MORE HERE

 

Dr M says PAS reveres communists

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 09:31 PM PDT

(The Malaysian Insider) - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has accused PAS of idolising communists and disparaging the founding fathers of Malaysia and Umno.

The influential former prime minister told reporters today that recent comments by PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu "is part of efforts to disparage leaders of old maybe because they are related to Umno and to idolise communists."

"I did not expect this to happen but unfortunately the ones who are pushing this trend is PAS. This trend has continued up to the point where they are idolising communists who killed so many of our security personnel," he said at the prime minister's Hari Raya open house.

Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister said that "there is no reason to say that communists fought for independence. They fought for independence only so they can takeover the country and turn it into a communist country."

"This is not a fight for independence. The ones who fought for independence are Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abduk Razak and others who ensured we are free from the claws of the colonists," he added, referring to Malaysia's first two prime ministers.

He also claimed that "children in schools have been taught that Tunku Abdul Rahman is a traitor to the nation."

Although Dr Mahathir has not always seen eye-to-eye with Malaysia's first prime minister, both have been strident opposers of the communist movement in the country.

On Satuday, Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia quoted Mohamad as saying that the communists who attacked the Bukit Kepong police station during the pre-Independence communist insurgency were heroes.

READ MORE HERE

 

The honeymoon period is the best time

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 07:39 PM PDT

The Malaysian voters are a very generous lot during the honeymoon period (like 1955, 1964, 1974, 1978 and 1982) but will punish the ruling party when there is internal strife (like 1969, 1990 and 1999). So, when Malaya saw independence, when Malaysia was formed, when Malaysia had a new Prime Minister and the Prime Minister was still in his honeymoon period, etc., the ruling party would do well. When the ruling party is facing internal strife or the honeymoon was over, it suffers. 

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

In 1955, during the first municipal elections to be held in Malaya, the Alliance Party won all but one of the 52 seats contested. This was due to the Merdeka euphoria.

In 1957, Malaya gained independence or Merdeka.

In 1959, two years AFTER Merdeka, during the first parliamentary elections to be held in Malaya, the Alliance Party won only 74 of the 104 seats and 52% of the popular votes. The ruling party lost 30 seats whereas two years BEFORE Merdeka it lost only one.

In 1963, Malaysia was formed, and in 1964 the Alliance Party recovered. The ruling party won 89 of the 104 seats contested and almost 59% of the popular votes.

In 1969, the Alliance managed only 95 of the 144 seats. The popular votes also dropped to below 50%. The Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was forced to resign soon after that.

In 1974, soon after Barisan Nasional was formed, the ruling party won 135 of the 154 seats. The popular votes also increased to almost 61%. But this time it was under a new Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak -- the second Prime Minister of Malaysia.

In 1978, the ruling party won only 130 of the 154 seats contested. The popular votes dropped to almost 57%. This was under the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, who had taken over more than a year earlier (he waited too long to hold the election).

In 1982, the ruling party won 132 of the 154 seats and almost 61% of the popular votes. This was also under a new Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad -- the Fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, who took over only a few months before the elections.

In 1986, the ruling party's performance declined slightly. It won only 148 of the 177 contested and less than 56% of the votes.

In 1990, the election held after the Umno crisis -- that resulted in the split into Umno Baru and Semangat 46 -- the ruling party's performance declined further to 127 of the 180 seats and about 53% of the popular votes.

In 1995, the ruling party recovered and won 162 of the 192 seats and almost 65% of the popular votes, partly because the opposition was in chaos. Semangat 46 closed down soon after that and most of its leaders/members rejoined Umno.

In 1999 (due to another split in Umno and the formation of Parti Keadilan Nasional) the ruling party's performance declined to 148 of the 193 seats and only 56% of the popular votes.

In 2004, the ruling party recovered and won 198 of the 219 seats and more than 64% of the popular votes. This was under a new Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who took over only a few months before the election.

In 2008, the ruling party won only 140 of the 222 seats and only 52% of the popular votes. Tun Abdullah was forced to resign soon after that.

The Malaysian voters are very a generous lot during the honeymoon period (like 1955, 1964, 1974, 1978 and 1982) but will punish the ruling party when there is internal strife (like 1969, 1990 and 1999). So, when Malaya saw independence, when Malaysia was formed, when Malaysia had a new Prime Minister and the Prime Minister was still in his honeymoon period, etc., the ruling party would do well. When the ruling party is facing internal strife or the honeymoon was over, it suffers.

Najib Tun Razak took over in 2009, more than two years ago. He should have called for a general election while he was still enjoying his honeymoon like what Tun Razak Hussein, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi did.

Now, the honeymoon is over. People do not love Najib as much as they did when he first took over as Prime Minister back in 2009. And, as the statistics above have shown, once the honeymoon is over, you no longer get the peoples' support.

Najib would have done better if he had called for the 13th General Election back in 2010. If he waits till 2012 or 2013, he is going to suffer (by then he would have been PM for three or four years respectively). And the longer he waits the worse it will be for him.

For the opposition, it is better that the general election is called later rather than sooner. In fact, if the election is held now, it will be a 50:50 situation. Both the opposition and the ruling party will face an uphill task.

Back in 2010, the opposition would not have performed so well. The ruling party would have been able to regain some ground it lost in 2008. In 2012 or 2013, the opposition will be able to perform better.

So, time is on the side of the opposition and the longer the time, the better. Time is not in Najib's favour and the longer the time, the worse it is for him.

That is what the statistics show and statistics do not lie.

 ** Sabah and Sarawak not part of the Federation yet

 *** The last column is the seats the opposition won

 

Malaysians mark independence in shadow of ethnic distrust

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 05:43 PM PDT

By Julia Yeow, M&C

As Malaysians mark the 54th anniversary of their independence, the usual pomp and pageantry comes at a time of increasingly tense ethnic and religious relations.

Malaysia prides itself on its thriving multicultural society and the freedom of religion against the backdrop of a majority-Muslim population, but racial tensions have always simmered under the peaceful surface of this relatively prosperous South-East Asian nation.

Ethnic Malays, who are almost all Muslims, make up about two-thirds of the population, while ethnic Chinese and Indians who are largely Christians, Buddhists and Hindus, constitute a large minority.

A survey conducted by independent polling group Merdeka Center this year revealed that the number of Malaysians who felt that ethnic relations were good had dropped to 66 per cent, from 78 per cent five years ago.

The poll also showed a particularly high level of distrust among Malaysians of different ethnic backgrounds.

'In our view, the survey findings reflect a significant shift in Malaysian public thinking - the optimism of the mid-2000s appears to have given way to increased insecurities and distrust, which is in part due to the current competitive political environment,' the centre said this month after its survey results were announced.

Race and religion have always been sensitive issues here, but interracial clashes in recent years have exacerbated the growing ethnic divide and non-Muslims increasingly complain of having their rights trampled on by a majority-Muslim government.

Last year, the Home Ministry appealed against a High Court decision to allow non-Muslims to use the word Allah to mean God, a ruling that had riled most Muslims.

The case led to at least eight churches being attacked, including one in the capital Kuala Lumpur city which was firebombed.

No casualties were reported in any of the attacks, but many observers noted that the incident brought to light the fragile and tense relationships within multi-religious Malaysia.

Despite Prime Minister Najib Razak's stated commitment to closing the racial divide since he took office in 2009, Malaysia's political, education and economic structures continue to be deeply entrenched along racial and religious lines.

Since its independence from Britain in 1957, Malaysia has been ruled by the National Front, a coalition of 14 race-based parties, all claiming to represent and fight for the cause of specific ethnic groups.

Adding to the constant reminder of ethnic division is the decades-old affirmative action plan, the New Economic Policy, which favours Malays.

The worrying level of ethnic tensions of late has been blamed largely on irresponsible politicians playing the race card.

Government policies on almost every area - from education to economic and electoral reform - continue to be 'articulated from an ethnic framework, rather than seeking to find commonalities,' said Denison Jayasooria, a lead researcher in ethnic studies in the National University of Malaysia.

'This articulation and the attempt to champion ethnic policies has had an impact on contemporary Malaysian society,' Denison said.

A poll conducted by the Merdeka Center in August also revealed that Najib's popularity has suffered, with his approval rating dropping 6 percentage points over a period of three months from May.

While the rising cost of living and continued concerns of a high crime rate were some of the major reasons for the drop, observers noted that Najib's handling of racial and religious issues in recent times may have also contributed to his lagging support.

His '1Malaysia' campaign, which aims to break down racial divisions and create a single, unifying Malaysian identity, has been criticised as hypocritical vote-grabbing after his ruling coalition suffered badly in the 2008 general elections.

'I don't believe in Najib's 1Malaysia. It's just lip service,' said Maria Hasan, an ethnic Malay Muslim journalist.

'The reality on the ground is that there is an increasingly wide racial divide,' she said.

Denison said that while Najib had put in place positive reform policies, he continued to 'remain silent' in addressing racially tinged statements coming from members of his ruling United Malays National Organisation.

But despite the grim outlook for ethnic and religious harmony, Denison said he remains hopeful that the growing number of moderate Malaysians would respond rationally to sensitive situations.

'In the long run, Malaysians will reject extremism of all kinds,' he said.

'The Malaysian spirit ... will draw us towards balance.'

 

WikiLeaks: 463 embassy cables from KL released

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 04:53 PM PDT

UPPERCAISE

WikiLeaks released 463 US diplomatic cables from its embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, together with thousands of others from US embassies around the globe. Among those is a racy account of the sex scene in Hanoi in 2002, interesting for its historical valueas well as its journalistic style of writing ("Relax — the 'Thai' way" is one headline in the report).

The KL cables date back four years from last year, covering the two years before and after the 2008 general election. The breakdown by year: 2010 (21); 2009 (150); 2008 (136); 2007 (101); and 2006 (55).

Some of the more recent ones on Malaysian politics, Raja Petra Kamarudin, the Altantuya Shaariibuu case and the Najib Tun Razak government have been published at Malaysia Today, though an arrangement between Raja Petra and Julian Assange, main person behind WikiLeaks.

The 463 cables give a picture of the US State Department's main concerns. These fall broadly into four categories:

  • politics (assessments of the overall political situation and discussions with various politicians)
  • human rights — religious rights (Islam and relations with other religions); press freedom; women's rights, trafficking in human persons
  • economics and business — the state of the economy; intellectual property rights, free trade agreements, regional trading arrangements
  • security — arms exports; money laundering; nuclear non-proliferation; military co-operation

In addition, Anwar Ibrahim, Raja Petra Kamarudin and other bloggers, received individual attention.

READ MORE HERE

 

Malaysian PM takes a beating over reforms, inflation

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 04:05 PM PDT

Carolyn Hong, The Straits Times 

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's approval rating has dipped below 60 per cent, the lowest in a year, as he faces a public restless with the slow pace of reform and struggling with rising inflation.

The survey released yesterday by the independent Merdeka Centre said 59 per cent of those polled said they were satisfied with PM Najib's performance, down from 65 per cent in the last poll in May.

The centre's director, Mr Ibrahim Suffian, described this as a 'significantly reduced' approval rating.

Mr Ibrahim said the drop was due to increased concerns over the rising cost of living, as ordinary Malaysians begin to feel the rise in fuel and electricity prices.

Datuk Seri Najib's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The survey, which polled 1,027 Malaysians around Peninsular Malaysia this month, was conducted about a month after a Bersih rally where tens of thousands defied police orders and marched in the streets to demand electoral reforms.

Other recent controversies included a raid by the Islamic authorities on a church in Petaling Jaya, on suspicion that Muslims were being converted; opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's ongoing sodomy trial; and claims of discrepancies in the voter roll.

In the survey, only 38 per cent of Chinese Malaysians said they were satisfied with Mr Najib's performance, compared with 69 per cent of Malays and Indians.

"A major part of the perception was shaped by how people feel the economy is performing, but at the same time, unending controversies such as the Christian issues, and poor handling of the Bersih and election reform issues appear to give the public a negative impression about how the government and leaders handle problems," Mr Ibrahim said.

Bersih, which means "clean" in Malay, is a civil society movement pushing for electoral reforms.

Mr Ibrahim said Malaysians may also see Mr Najib's attempts to stay above the political fray as an inability to address problems or to control his team members.

When Mr Najib took office in April 2009, he had an approval rating of just 44 per cent. That was higher than the 34 per cent among those polled a month before on whether they thought he would make a good prime minister.

Thanks to his attempts to bring about economic and government reforms, his approval rating climbed steadily over the next year, reaching 72 per cent in May last year.

Since then, his rating has dropped, after he appeared to backpedal on some of his promises, particularly on rolling back pro-Malay policies.

The six percentage point dip this time came even after Mr Najib made extensive efforts to engage directly with different groups of Malaysians.

Since he became PM, he has gone on numerous walkabouts in various parts of the country, and has personally made pledges to reform the government and economy.

The falling numbers are significant because he is expected to call a general election within the next year.

The survey also found that the percentage of respondents who felt that Malaysia was headed in the right direction had fallen to 51 per cent this month from 54 per cent in May.

Respondents said their top concern remained the economy, followed by social problems and political matters.

The Chinese remain the most pessimistic with only 31 per cent agreeing that the country was headed in the right direction, compared to 39 per cent of the Indians and 64 per cent of the Malays.

The respondents were also asked about the Bersih rally last month, when police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters, and arrested over 1,000 people.

Almost half the respondents said they were dissatisfied with the way the government handled the Bersih rally, while the vast majority agreed with Bersih's proposals for reforms.

These proposals include the use of indelible ink, allowing foreign election observers, greater access for the opposition to the media, and cleaning up the electoral rolls.

 

Sweeping changes to MIC candidates list?

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 03:50 PM PDT

Party sources reveal that several top guns are expected to be dropped as candidates for the next general election.

(Free Malaysia Today) - MIC president G Palanivel is expected to make sweeping changes to the party's candidates list for the next general election, expected to be called within the next 18 months.

Party sources reveal that the new president, who took the helm of the MIC late last year, will drop several top guns and nominate news faces to fill in the vacant slots.

Sources say Palanivel has prepared a list of candidates to contest the nine parliamentary and 19 state assembly seat allocated to MIC under Barisan Nasional's seat sharing system.

This follows a call by Deputy Prime Minister and deputy BN chief Muhyiddin Yassin who recently asked all component parties to prepare their list of candidates for the next general election.

MIC is the third largest BN component party after Umno and MCA. The party's nine parliamentary seats are Tapah, Sungai Siput (both in Perak), Cameron Highlands (Pahang), Teluk Kemang (Negri Sembilan), Kota Raja, Kapar, Subang, Hulu Selangor (Selangor) and Segamat (Johor).

The party suffered its worst general election setback in 2008, retaining only three of the nine parliamentary seats.

Among those who lost their seats were then party chief S Samy Vellu and his former deputy Palanivel. Samy Vellu, the longest-serving MIC president prior to his retirement last year, lost in Sungai Siput while Palanivel lost the Hulu Selangor constituency.

However, the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat came back to BN through a by-election last year.

For this by-election, the BN top leadership rejected Palanivel as a candidate and named former MIC information chief P Kamalanathan as the candidate. The reason given for Palanivel's rejection was because the ruling coalition wanted a "winnable" candidate.

Palanivel eyeing Cameron Highlands?

Party insiders reveal that the newly crowned MIC chief is now eyeing the Cameron Highlands parliamentary constituency replacing MIC vice-president SK Devamany, who is also deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department.

"Palanivel intends to contest in Cameron Highlands… he considers it to be a winnable seat," said a party leader.

He said although Palanivel is Selangor MIC chief, he has yet to gather enough grassroots support in the state for him to contest one of the four parliamentary seats allotted to MIC in Selangor.

Another fear is that Palanivel will lose by contesting in Selangor as all the four seats – Subang, Kapar, Kota Raja and Hulu Selangor – are said to be "conquered" by Pakatan Rakyat.

"Palanivel was previously eyeing the Sepang parliamentary seat. However, the idea was dropped after Umno refused to swap the seat with the Kota Raja parliamentary constituency," said the party source.

Out of the nine parliamentary seats, only the Segamat seat looks like a good bet for MIC. Party deputy president and Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam is expected to stay put to contest the seat.

"Based on this, Palanivel needs a safe seat which would ensure a BN win. If he losses and Dr Subramaniam wins, Palanivel would have to vacate the presidency and that would effectively end his political fairytale," said a party insider.

On another front, speculation is rife that M Saravanan, who is a deputy minister and MIC vice-president, will be shifted to the Kapar constituency. Saravanan, the Tapah MP, is also the Federal Territory MIC head.

It is learnt that Perak State Legislative Assembly speaker and state MIC deputy chairman R Ganesan is being groomed to replace Saravanan in the Tapah constituency.

The announcement by the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) that it will field its candidate in Kapar will turn the largest parliamentary constituency in the country in terms of voters, into a hot seat.

"With MCLM in the fray, the Kapar seat would definitely be too close to call. Fielding a top gun like Saravanan would only brighten BN's chances of winning the seat," said a party insider.

Sources also reveal that incumbent Kapar MP S Manikavasagam of PKR will not contest the seat in the next general election.

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Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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