Isnin, 24 Jun 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Musa of no relevance to case, says defence in Altantuya appeal

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 12:42 PM PDT
(TMI) - There is no evidence to link Datuk Seri Najib Razak was involved in the Altantuya Shaariibuu's murder.

DPP Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah defended Najib, saying that although Razak Baginda Abdullah was his political analyst, and senior officer DSP Musa Safri was his aide-de-camp, there were no implications against Najib.
"Just because Razak happened to know Najib and Musa was his ADC, you cannot make any implications on the then DPM," he said in submitting in the appeal of two former Special Action Unit members, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar. The two were convicted of murdering the Mongolian woman and destroying her body with explosives.

"This is not an imaginary court."

He said that the prosecution could not be faulted for failing to call Musa as a witness because he was of no relevance to the trial.

Yesterday, the defence contended that the failure of the prosecution to call Musa is enough cause to call for a mistrial, as Musa was the only one who could explain the more than 30 phone transactions sent from Razak's handphone.

Today, Tun Abdul Majid said a witness from cyber security had testified on the extraction of the phone transactions as there was nothing to hide.

"In fact, Azilah, in his sworn testimony, said he did not receive any specific instructions on how to help Razak (as Altantuya, was harassing his family)," he said.

"Musa was also not in the meeting between Azilah and Razak Baginda, so what transpired then, he would not know."

Razak Baginda was initially also charged with the Altantuya's murder, but was later acquitted without his defence called.

More to come at: 

MCA caught in a bind over no govt post resolution

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 12:27 PM PDT

MCA's dilemma... between Tee Siew Keong (left) and Ng Yen Yen, one is favoured by Chua Soi Lek while the other is not, say political observers.

( - MCA is caught in a trap of its own making over the "no government post" resolution as it has become a major  bone of contention among party leaders, say political observers. 

The resolution not to accept government posts if the party fared badly in the 13th general election was approved at MCA's 2011 and 2012 AGMs, with the aim of pushing the party to perform better than in the 2008 polls, and possibly to also discourage sabotage at the polls by supporters of rival party leaders.
But after the party fared even worse than in 2008, MCA leaders had to give up government posts, such as headmen and local councillors, to abide by the resolution.
Former party organising secretary Datuk Tee Siew Keong, however, decided to accept the post of Johor state executive councillor, resulting in him being suspended from the party for three years.
But the party has so far not taken action against some other leaders who had assumed government posts.
This includes Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen (who has been appointed Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board chairperson), Wong Nai Chee (a political secretary of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak) and Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting (who remains as the prime minister's special envoy to China).
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has defended Ng's appointment, saying the post was not recommended by the party and therefore she has not breached the party resolution.
Political observer Tang Ah Chai said that this justification is not convincing.
He pointed out that Tee too had not received a recommendation from the party, and that he took up the exco post because the Johor Sultan wanted a Chinese representative in the state executive council.
"Chua had announced (that the resolution affects) all government posts including minister, deputy minister, down to village headman. He did not say there is any exception," Tang told in a phone interview.
Tang said this shows that MCA had not deliberated on the matter in detail before proposing the resolution at the AGM.
"When there is no clear guideline, the possible situation would be someone will try to challenge the resolution (by taking up a government post).
When there are too many exceptions, the resolution will no longer have meaning," he said adding that the party will not be able to uphold its integrity because of this.
Tang, who has observed MCA politics since the 1980s, also pointed out that the party's top leadership did not inform the party grassroots what they should do if the resolution was implemented.
Many members are confused about the implementation of the resolution and over MCA's role if its leaders do not take up government positions, Tang said.
"MCA had entrapped itself. It is stuck in its self-inflicted dilemma, a trouble it created for itself," Tang said.

Read more at: 


Haze update: Indonesia's Yudhoyono apologises for haze

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 12:25 PM PDT

(The Straits Times) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has apologised for the haze that had blanketed Singapore and Malaysia in recent days and continues to remain a threat in coming days.

"For what has happened, as President, I say sorry and seek the understanding of our relatives in Singapore and Malaysia," he said.

"Indonesia had no intention to cause this. And we will continue to bear responsibility to overcome what has happened," he said in a televised press conference at his office on Monday evening.

Dr Yudhoyono's comments came as Indonesia stepped up its response to the haze with forest fires in Riau continuing to spread, amid efforts to control them by cloud-seeding and water-bombing, and after some of his ministers had hit out at neighbouring countries' reactions to the haze.

"There are statements from several office-holders that I feel need not be put across that way," he said.

"Sometimes the facts have not been checked, and that becomes an issue. This has become a concern from Singapore and also Malaysia," he added.

"There are statements that contradict one another. I have instructed officers that there is no need to give statements like these."

"If there are companies at fault – whether they are from Indonesia, or foreign companies, there's no need to say that," he added.

Read more at: 


A hazy solution to a hazy situation

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 11:58 AM PDT 

Kuo Yong Kooi 

Let us just connect the dots here by asking some questions. Assuming there is a law enacted to prosecute the companies involved in causing the current fires in Indonesia, will the haze problem stop in the future? Another big picture question is why is there a haze problem in big cities like Beijing even though they do not have the problem of forest fires?

Yes the open burning in Indonesia is directly causing the haze problem at the moment, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many issues here that needs to be factored into the haze equation.

Fact one is that we are rampantly clearing the precious lungs of the earth which is the rainforest and substituting it with mono crop palm oil plantations. The second factor is we are obsessed with the western "capitalistic" perpetual growth industrial development model which continuously substitutes old rainforest land with new and fancy industrial or housing estates. This is a global phenomenon.

We need to shift our paradigm away from "the current development model" to be able to resolve this problem. Anything shorter than that is a band aid hazy solution. What is the point of having the latest model of whatever you want consumption goods when you are not able to go outside to enjoy the basic quality of life?

A shift of paradigm or world view happens throughout human history all the time. Take for example during the pre colonial period, many of our grandparents' generation believed that there are spirits living in the trees. You can still see remnants of that belief nowadays where people give offerings like joss sticks to please the spirits of the big tree. People would bow and even ask for protection, usually health and safety but sometimes lottery numbers from the big tree spirits. Fast forward to the post colonial period when development is slowly taking off where chainsaws and bulldozers were plentiful. People just bulldoze everything to build big housing or industrial estates. The old belief of the tree spirits has dropped off. The advent of technological advancement has shifted the paradigm so to speak.

Today a new paradigm is needed to solve the present ecological crises like air and water pollution. Soil erosion, flash floods, overuse of chemicals in our agriculture, loss of biodiversity in rainforest and oceans, hard waste/rubbish land fills, global warming and many other environmental problems that presents itself to us now cannot be solved using the old paradigm of unlimited economic growth. That shift of paradigm might not necessarily mean that we have to go back to live in caves. It would mean that we need to take the environment as our main concern in whatever we do. We keep the trees because we appreciate that it gives oxygen to us, shade and life to all other creatures that live on it. It does not mean that we have to go back to the old practice of bowing to the big trees, but probably hugging it instead.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng in a June 21st press statement said that DAP will be proposing an amendment to the Environmental Quality Act via an urgent motion in parliament next week.

He sees the urgent need for Malaysia to take action against any Malaysian companies and foreign companies operating in Malaysia that contributed directly or indirectly in the transboundary fires in Indonesia.

Enacting stringent environmental laws is a way to go to stamp out the current problem. Unfortunately the solutions put forth are only temporary band aid solutions. Cloud seeding is one of those technological fixes that can give us temporary relief. These are old paradigm solutions suggested to a new problem that need a new way of thinking. In fact the two solutions suggested gave the public the illusion that some companies somewhere and some politicians will come out with the solution to the problem, all we need to do is to go on as usual on highway "Wawasan 2020".

Let's go along with the "hazy" technological fixes and enactment of new stringent environmental laws at the moment as I know that if I suggest something more radical, someone might accuse me of being a communist. Mind you there are many other non communistic ideologies around like Ghandian's "Village Republic", "Deep and Social" ecology, Schumarcher's "small is beautiful", or our local Kampung version of "Kais Pagi Makan Pagi".

Most would argue that we can't possibly turn back the clock. Let's look at possible solutions to the current crises. Think with the big picture in mind. Knowing that the haze is here to stay annually and even if the problem is solved it will re-emerge as we expand our city's boundaries in the near future. Many metropolises in Asia do have a different level of haze/pollution problem. Its just that the haze from Indonesia is hazing over the haze from our locally produced one at the moment.

What about adopting the idea of sustainable development seriously from now on? Factoring the "quality of life" and environmental impact into the equation in all of our new development projects. The economic factor is the only factor considered globally at the moment for many decades and it led us to a dead end. That's why the climate change crisis and global warming is the priority on the global agenda. 

Adopting immediate measures to combat air quality issues like moratorium of all logging activities on our remaining rainforest land in the country, no more big scale development project on hills, reclaiming unused land and convert it into parklands especially in the city areas, increase use of public transport in all the capital cities, create a bicycle friendly city and a host of other sustainable development measures that are started to be adopted globally. Enact laws to include putting trees in between the parking bays of all big shopping mall car parks. A serious re greening the city project is required.

Redesigning new housing estates with "quality of life", environmental and national reconciliation concerns in mind.

Here is another cutting-three-carrots-with-one-knife type solution. Since we need to tackle the quality of life and environmental issues anyway, we might as well look at other problems that need urgent address and factor that in as well. 

State governments can enact laws to make it compulsory for new estate developers to allocate green spaces for residents in the area to have leisure activities. Draw a line on let's say in every 40 acres of a housing or industrial development project we need, to have a 10 acres of park reserve. In other words, no more clear felling of the 40 acres of proposed housing development projects as before. The previous clear felling practice has been attributed to flash flooding, land slides and soil erosion.

The gazetted 10 acres public land has got some influence on the micro climate of that housing estate. There are solid science data to proof this point. If you believe in micro and macro economics, then try to extend that to micro and macro climate and environment.

The fact that by expanding the city boundaries through industrial and housing estate developments, we are creating more micro climate hot spots in the surrounding areas. The micro climate hot spots created from clear tree felling, the pollution from transportation and industries and the haze gave us a "triple whammy" impact at the moment on our health and well being.

In redesigning our housing and industrial estates with an ecological and social conscientiousness, we are adopting a more sustainable model of development. In other words, it's ok if we do not have economic growth year in year out. Can you see how difficult it is for any government in this planet to survive in an election if there is an economic stagnation?

We might as well add in the first home buyer's race quota into the equation so that we are tackling the race relation issues as well. Create community centers in the gazetted "green zones" where community can organise their group activities including allocation of small plots of land for organic farming activities for the residents. The living in an eco friendly housing estate and sharing of a common community activity space will help facilitate the national reconciliation project. This is to counter the colonial period "new village" structure that shafted in a single race in an area.

The health and well being of our children can improve if there are green zones available for them to hang out and play especially in the city areas. At the moment, the younger generation are all trapped in their homes doing un healthy activities like playing computer games and watch TV. They have to be driven somewhere else for activities and that can contribute to more pollution.

Children are also suffering a whole heap of health issues like diabetes and obesity due to lack of activities. This "green zone" is an ideal antidote to alleviate the potential epidemic health and well being issue of our young.

We can't afford to follow the Singapore's structural development model as it is a mental health trap. Statistical fact has shown us that Singapore is one of the suicide capitals of the world. We have the space where Singapore do not have. Why do KL have to follow Singapore's style of development plans?

Since we have extra time indoors due to the haze and the planet's library in on our fingertips, start googling and look at the big picture. Look into topics like increase ocean's acidity and expanding ocean desert, expanding land desert, rainforest are lungs of the earth, coral bleaching, drift net fishing, Al Gore's inconvenience truth, development to death, chemicals in our food chain, haze in Beijing and other cities, loss of biodiversity, and it will give you a bigger picture to the haze problem.

A paradigm shift is overdue as we are in a new century. If we tackle the problem with our old paradigm, the problem will still be there. The solutions mentioned above is just a temporary stop gap solution. We are just delaying our planet's catastrophe of climate change where many scientists predicted will be in this century. In other words, the party is over, the question is are we willing to stop and change direction on highway "Wawasan 2020"?

Jonker St Market Closure

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 11:53 AM PDT 

"Now, we see most of the Malacca residents fully supporting DAP over MCA candidates, who have been serving them. Hence, we decided to cancel the night market and we hope they will be happy"  

Tony Pua  

In a shocking move involving political vengeance and retaliation against the non-Malay community, the new Chief Minister of Melaka, Datuk Idris Haron last week announced the closure of the Jonker Street weekend market, which is an extremely popular 13-year old tourist destination in an area often regarded as the Melaka Chinatown.
According to Kwong Wah Daily, Idris yesterday argued that the decision passed by the Malacca executive council on June 12 to close the night market "follows the intention of the people".
"Now, we see most of the Malacca residents fully supporting DAP over MCA candidates, who have been serving them. Hence, we decided to cancel the night market and we hope they will be happy," the daily quotes Idris as saying.
We had assumed that with the political demise of former Melaka Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Ali Rustam, you can't possibly appoint a Chief Minister more reckless, arrogant and callous than him. Datuk Idris Haron has however, immediately proven us completely wrong.
The move is clearly akin to cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. Just because Datuk Idris Haron wanted to demonstrate his politcal pettiness to inflict damage to the Chinese community, he is willing to sacrifice the interest of the people of Melaka and her economy.
More importantly, it has proven beyond doubt that Barisan Nasional is not a "1Malaysia" government as touted by the Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, but in reality a 1UMNO party which only cares about the interest of their own leaders and cronies. 
Over the past 8 weeks since the General Election, UMNO leaders and its mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia has gone on a verbal rampage to demonise the Chinese for BN's poor performance. But this is the first physical act by which UMNO to victimise the Chinese community for the latter's perceived support for Pakatan Rakyat.
In fact, we have to assume that this major move to punish the Chinese voters is a directive coming directly from the top of the UMNO leadership itself. And if true, then this will only be the beginning of a series of actions which UMNO-led governments will take to discriminate against, sideline, punish as well as humiliate any of the minority races in the country which they deem not to have given support to UMNO-Barisan Nasional.
Perhaps, the new Tourism Minister, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz will announce a similar move to close down the historic Petaling Street. Or why stop at just closing these "Chinatowns", why not just cancel Christmas or even more impactful, ban Deepavali or Chinese New Year celebrations?
The acts by these UMNO governments runs in direct contrasts with the Pakatan Rakyat-led adminsitrations which goes out of its way to ensure that all their voters, regardless of political affiliation will enjoy the fruits of our administration. When the Selangor state government provided free water to individual households or insurance for the elderly, it was granted to all regardless or race, religion or political affiliation. This is similar in Penang, when it became the first state government to eliminate hardcore poverty in the country, despite the fact that the majority of the beneficiaries are Malays who had then supported BN.
While Pakatan Rakyat continues to serve all Malaysians regardless of whether they had voted for us, we are witnessing an increasingly vindictive Barisan Nasional where MCA threw its tantrums by shutting down all their service centres, while UMNO demonstrated their racist mindset by not only poisoning the minds of the people and destroying the people's livelihoods.
In the past, we would have ended this statement by making a call to the Prime Minister to be the voice of moderation and uphold his commitment to his "1Malaysia". Today, we know that Dato' Seri Najib Razak will just remain completely silent to the above act of closing down Jonker Street as well as other threats to the non-Malay community. He silence not only proves his tacit approval and involvement in these actions, it also confirms that "1Malaysia" is purely a propaganda rhetoric to win votes in a General Election.

‘Sirul had no control of C4 explosives’

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 01:19 AM PDT

"There were no C4 explosives kept in the store of the Special Action Unit. They (Sirul and another accused) were not trained to handle explosives and bombs. Bombs are strictly controlled in a police store," he said.

(Bernama) - The High Court judge erred in convicting two former Special Action Unit (UTK) personnel for the murder of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu, the Court of Appeal here heard today.

Lawyer Hazman Ahmad said his client Azilah Hadri, 34, did not have possession and control of the C4 explosives allegedly used in the woman's murder.

"There were no C4 explosives kept in the store of the Special Action Unit. They (Sirul and another accused) were not trained to handle explosives and bombs. Bombs are strictly controlled in a police store," he said.

He said Azilah's log record showed that he was only issued a Glock pistol and magazines.

Evidence during the trial disclosed that Altantuya was shot and her body blown-up with explosives at a jungle clearing on the night of Oct 19, 2006.

Hazman submitted that there were inconsistencies in the prosecution witnesses' evidence with regard to the alleged information given by Azilah which led to the discovery of the crime scene.

He said Azilah had never disclosed the location of Puncak Alam where Altantuya was shot and blown up, adding that there was a miscarriage of justice against Azilah as police had prior knowledge of the location.

"There were serious contradictions in the evidence of prosecution witnesses of what Azilah had said," said Hazman, who was submitting in the appeal of Azilah and Sirul Azhar Umar, 39, against a High Court's decision in 2009 to convict and sentence them to death for killing Altantuya, 28.

They committed the offence at Mukim Bukit Raja in Klang near here between 10pm on Oct 19, 2006 and 1am on Oct 20, 2006.

Former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, 50, who was charged with abetting them, was acquitted by the High Court on Oct 31, 2008 without defence being called after the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against him.

Rigorous cross-examined

Hazman said the trial judge erred in law and facts in admitting as evidence information given by Azilah under Section 27 of the Evidence Act and urged the Court of Appeal to exclude the information.

Hazman said Azilah gave sworn evidence and was rigorously cross-examined by the prosecution but the judge dismissed his defence of alibi as bare denial.

Meanwhile, Sirul Azhar's counsel Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin said the failure by the prosecution to call Deputy Supt Musa Safri to testify in the trial constituted a mistrial.

He said only Musa could verify the veracity of the affidavit filed by Abdul Razak which was accepted by the High Court, which subsequently acquitted him (Abdul Razak).

"There are parts of the affidavit which are prejudicial to the accused, he said, adding that the defence had been denied the only way to challenge the affidavit.

He added that the prosecution did not appeal against Abdul Razak's acquittal.

Kamarul Hisham said Abdul Razak's phone records showed more than 30 text messages that the political analyst sent to Musa between Oct 7 and 19, 2006, of which 12 were recorded on Oct 19, 2006, the night Altantuya was murdered.

He also submitted before the three-member panel led by Justice Mohamed Apandi Ali that the judgment of Shah Alam High Court judge Mohd Zaki Md Yassin did not state any motive for the murder.

The other two judges were Linton Albert and Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

Adverse publicity

Kamarul Hisham also argued that Sirul Azhar were exposed to "adverse publicity" during the trial through three statutory declarations and also a copy of a cautioned statement believed to be Sirul Azhar's which was uploaded in internet websites, occassioning a mistrial.

However, Justice Apandi retorted, asking where in the judgment did the judge indicate that he was influenced.

He said it was not possible for judges in general to be influenced by  media reports as they would not have time to visit websites in view of their workload.

"If this argument is allowed, then all criminal trials, would be a mistrial," said Justice Apandi, adding that judges acted on facts and evidence adduced in the trial.

The prosecution led by Solicitor-General II Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah will submit tomorrow.


Lahad Datu: Police detective pleads not guilty to withholding information on terrorist activities

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 12:52 AM PDT

(The Star) - KOTA KINABALU: A special branch police detective pleaded not guilty to an amended charge of withholding information on terrorist activities as a protected witness began testifying against him from a closed room in court.

Kpl Hassan Ali Basari, 55, whose trial began Monday afternoon before High Court Judge Ravintharan Paramaguru, made the plea after the prosecution team led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Nordin Hassan amended the dates of the offences for the charge under Section 130M of the Penal Code.

He was charged for withholding information on the Sulu terrorist incursion and allegedly committed the offence at the office at the Lahad Datu special branch on the district police headquarters between January and March 3, 2013.

He faces up to seven years imprisonment or fine or both if found guilty.

(When Hassan was first charged under Section 130M of the Penal Code on March 29 at the Magistrates Court in Lahad Datu, the date of offences committed was between Feb 9 and March 3, 2013).

Nordin had told the court that the prosecution would present oral and documentary evidence to show that the accused, as a special branch officer, had information that a terrorist act would be committed relating to the intrusion by the Sulu gunmen into Kg Tanduo, Lahad Datu.

"The prosecution will also show evidence that the accused had intentionally omitted from informing and reporting the information relating to the terrorist act to any of his superior officers in the special branch which he was legally bound to do so," he said.

Nordin said that the prosecution would also present evidence to show that the accused had a good relationship with the Sulu sultanate and the accused had been on several occasions been in contact with Datu Agbimuddin Kiram, the leader of the Royal Sulu force.

The trial started with first witness, who was inside a closed room adjacent to the courtroom, giving his testimony through specially fitted microphone and only the court judge and the court's transcriber were able to listen through a earphone.

The prosecution and Hassan's four-member defence team led by Ram Singh obtained the witness' answers through a computer screen before proceeding with further questioning at the courthouse which was under high level of security.

The first witness, who was identified as Protected Witness 1, said that he had informed Kpl Hassan about the possible intrusion sometime in January as he had heard that some 1,500 people of self proclaimed Sulu Sultan Ismail Kiram were planning to enter Sabah to claim their ancestral land.

The witness said that he heard about the impending intrusion when he overheard a group of people wearing orange stripped "Royal Sulu Force" overalls speaking about the plans when he was selling fish at Bongao in Philippines.

The witness said that on his return to Lahad Datu he searched for special branch officers Insp Yusri or Insp Syazwan but since both were not available, he met with Kpl Hassan at an ice cream shop in Lahad Datu to pass on the information.

"I told him that they were four tempel (boats) that will enter Lahad Datu," he said adding that don't take this information lightly and inform your senior officers about the planned Sulu intrusion.

In cross examining, Singh asked if the information he provided to Hassan was about illegal immigrants coming into the state and he did not tell Hassan about the Sulu army, the witness said that he gave the detail of the Sulu force.

When Singh asked the witness whether he had provided the "so called" information to Insp Yusri and Insp Syazwan and Kpl Hassan was being made a "scapegoat," the witness replied; " itu terpulang kepada kamu (that it is up to you)."

Nordin, who had objected to the questioning, asked the witness if he had provided the information to Insp Yusri or Insp Syazwan to which the witness replied that "Yusri was not around at that time and asked him to report to Kpl Hassan."

Earlier yesterday morning, Justice Paramaguru allowed Kpl Hassan to seek medical attention after he complained of "chest discomfort" before the trial resumed at 2pm.

At the Kota Kinabalu High Court, police maintained high level of security including carrying out body scans on all people entering the court premises and also before entering the courtroom.

Hassan is among 31 people charged in court for various offences related to the Feb 12 Sulu intrusion at Kg Tanduo in Lahad Datu.


‘Aunty Bersih’ among the 32 arrested for demonstrating outside Parliament House this morning

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 05:41 PM PDT

(ABN News) - Aunty Bersih Annie Ooi is believed to be one of the 32 people, mostly students, who were arrested by police for holding a demonstration outside Parliament House this morning.

Most of the others were students who had camped for two days at Padang Merbok after the Black 505 rally was held on Saturday. It is believed that Annie Ooi joined the group of protesters outside Parliament House this morning.

It is understood that some of those detained by police had surrendered to the authorities including student activist Adam Adli and Chegu Bard.

Of the 32 detained, 31 have been sent to the Jinjang police station while one is still at the Dang Wangi police station.


Yazid and Hilmi claim trial for involvement in terrorist activities

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 05:37 PM PDT

(The Star) - Former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee Yazid Sufaat and cafetaria worker Muhammad Hilmi Hasim claimed trial in a High Court here for involvement in terrorist activities.

The duo's case was mentioned in the High Court Monday before Justice Kamardin Hashim after it was transferred from Ampang Magistrate's Court on June 7.

Justice Kamardin later granted counsel New Sin Yew who acted for Yazid and Muhammad Hilmi, application for a stay pending appeal for the first charge at the Federal Court.

New said they had filed notice of appeal on June 21 and the court had yet to fix the hearing date.

The court later set Sept 17 for mention.

On May 27, Yazid, 49, and Muhammad Hilmi, 33, were charged in Ampang Magistrate's Court here with being members of a terrorist group Tanzim Al-Qaeda Malaysia.

The alleged offences, under Section 130K(a) of the Penal Code which provides for life imprisonment and a fine on conviction, occurred at a house in Taman Bukit Ampang on Aug 1, 2012 and Feb 7, 2013.

No plea was recorded and no bail was offered, as it was a non-bailable offence.

On May 20, Justice Kamardin acquitted and discharged both of them as there was a merit in the submission by the applicants in relation to the charge and usage of the act (Sosma) that was enacted under Article 149 of the federal Constitution

He said the charge was related to terrorism that occurred in Syria and, therefore, it was not under the scope of Article 149.

On June 18, the Court of Appeal ordered the terrorism case of Yazid and Muhammad Hilmi to be heard before a new High Court judge.

The panel led by Justice Abu Samah Nordin allowed the prosecution's appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision to acquit and discharge Yazid and Muhammad Hilmi of charges of promoting acts of terrorism in strife-torn Syria.

Justice Abu Samah ruled that the learned judge had erred in his interpretation of the charges and it did not refer to acts of terrorism outside the country.

The panel, which also included Justices Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Azhar Mohamed, remitted the case back to the Kuala Lumpur High Court and fixed Monday for next mention.

The court of appeal also set Aug 5 for the case mention of religious teacher Halimah Hussein, charged with abetting Yazid in the same case.


A sign of insanity

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 04:47 PM PDT

Well, if 300,000 people did converge on a field that can only fit 12,000 people, as Anwar had hoped, then the excess would definitely spill over to Dataran Merdeka. And that was the game plan -- to 'occupy' Dataran Merdeka and trigger a 'Malaysian Spring' that would finally bring down the government that Anwar had been trying to bring down for 15 years since 1998.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

The first demonstration that I got involved in was around 1968. That was the Chinese organised protest in front of the Pudu Jail and was when I first 'tasted' tear gas. This was followed by various election campaign rallies leading to the 10th May 1969 general election. 

I was just 18 then and still too young to vote. Nevertheless, it was not the elections that attracted me to these 'civil commotions' but the fun of being involved in chaos. I suppose this is what interests youngsters -- the commotion behind the activity rather than justice, democracy and whatnot.

Soon after that, the May 13 race riots exploded and that sort of 'woke me up', if that is the right term to use. I began to realise that Malaysia was not really one-nation-one-country, as I had always believed over those many years. Malaysia was many nations in one country.

My early perception of Malaysia was that 'nation' and 'country' means the same thing. May 1969, however, showed me that we might be one country but that does not necessarily mean we are also one nation. And maybe that is why the Native Americans (who used to be called 'Red Indians') come in many 'nations' although they may all be Americans.

And note that I use the word 'nation' and not 'race'. Prior to 1901, Malays were called a nation. It was not until 1901 that the British Colonial Government decided to replace the word 'nation' with 'race' -- Reid, Anthony (2001). "Understanding Melayu (Malay) as a Source of Diverse Modern Identities". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 32 (3): 295–313.

In his 1775 doctoral dissertation titled De generis humani varietate nativa (On the Natural Varieties of Mankind), Blumenbach outlined four main human races by skin colour -- namely Caucasian (white), Ethiopian (black), Native American (red), and Mongolian (yellow).

In 1795, Blumenbach added another race called 'Malay', which he considered a subcategory of both the Ethiopian and Mongoloid races. The Malay race belonged to those of a 'brown colour: from olive and a clear mahogany to the darkest clove or chestnut brown'. Blumenbach expanded the term 'Malay' to include the native inhabitants of the Marianas, the Philippines, the Malukus, Sundas, Indochina, as well as the Pacific Islands like Tahiti.

Hence the term 'Malay' is a very wide definition and includes more than just the 'brown-skinned natives' of Malaya (and now Malaysia). Nevertheless, this distinction did not strike me until 1969 when I began to realise that we may hit the streets as 'fellow-Malaysians', but when the shit hits the fan and push comes to shove, we are still divided by skin colour.

I suppose I can say that it was a rude awakening for me at a time when I was yet to discover Islam. Around ten years later, when I finally 'discovered' Islam -- what I describe as the time I became a 'born again Muslim' -- I began to realise that we are further subdivided by religion.

For 20 years thereafter I conducted myself as a Malay-Muslim and became heavily involved with the Malay Chamber of Commerce (Dewan Perniagaan Melayu) and PAS (the Islamic political party) to further the Malay-Islam cause.

Twenty years on, in 1998, I got my second wakeup call. This happened when the Reformasi movement exploded onto the Malaysian scene with the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim and the birth of Parti Keadilan Nasional (now Parti Keadilan Rakyat) about seven months later. And that was when I realised that the fight cannot be just a Malay-Muslim fight but a fight of all Malaysians regardless of race and religion.

Invariably, I became involved in both PKN and the Reformasi movement and was one of the organisers of the Kesas Highway demonstration in November 2000. That demonstration took many months to plan and attracted about 100,000 participants -- the second largest demonstration after the historic 2nd September 1998 demonstration at Dataran Merdeka.

Dataran Merdeka: 2nd September 1998

Kesas Highway: 5th November 2000

The 5th November 2000 demonstration resulted in ten of us getting detained under the ISA -- as did the 2nd September 1998 demonstration that not only got the organisers detained but Anwar Ibrahim as well.

Thereafter, we tried to keep the fire burning by organising gatherings at Anwar's house in Damansara Heights every Thursday night. At first the area around Anwar's house was like a pesta (festival). However, as we went along, the crowds dwindled and towards the end we could no longer get even 100 people to attend the Thursday night pestas at Anwar's house.

In March 2004, the message finally sunk in when the ruling party won 91% of the seats in Parliament and the opposition lost Terengganu and almost lost Kelantan that it first won in 1990. And this message was that the people were tired of rallies and demonstrations and these 'street events' were no longer enough to win the support of the people.

And that was when we decided to change tactics. After all, did not Einstein say 'insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results'?  Hence, since we were doing the same thing over and over again and appeared to be failing, would it not be insane to keep doing it?

And this new tactic that we came up with was to take the fight from the streets to the Internet. And that was why we decided to launch Malaysia Today, five months later in August 2004, just two weeks before Anwar was released from jail.

And the March 2008 general election proved we were right when we managed to reverse the debacle of the March 2004 general election and the opposition won five states and denied the ruling party its two-thirds majority in Parliament by winning 82 Parliament seats.

Now the opposition is turning the clock back. It is going back to 1998, 1999, 2000, etc., which we had already abandoned in 2004 when we decided to change tactics and take the fight from the streets to the Internet. If 10-15 years ago the government could not be brought down by 'street action', what makes them think this can happen now?

I suppose the 'Arab Spring' created the perception that the same thing can happen in Malaysia if the crowd is large enough -- say 300,000 demonstrators. In fact, that was what Anwar had hoped would happen last weekend -- that 300,000 people will converge on Padang Merbuk, a field that can accommodate only 12,000 people.

Well, if 300,000 people did converge on a field that can only fit 12,000 people, as Anwar had hoped, then the excess would definitely spill over to Dataran Merdeka. And that was the game plan -- to 'occupy' Dataran Merdeka and trigger a 'Malaysian Spring' that would finally bring down the government that Anwar had been trying to bring down for 15 years since 1998.

But the 300,000 did not turn up in spite of Husam Musa declaring that those who were to die last weekend in a bid to 'occupy' Padang Merbuk would die a martyr's death and would go straight to heaven (and probably be rewarded with 72 virgins).

Not only were people not prepared to die they were not even prepared to get chocked by the air pollution. So don't even talk about dying in a hail of bullets. They don't even want to suffer breathing problems. Instead, Husam got arrested for sedition for instigating the people to die -- because to be able to die would mean you first need to trigger violence.

The 'Arab Spring' flags at last weekend's demonstration

So, are we doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results? If that is what we are doing, then, according to Einstein, we are mad. Many of us have abandoned the 1998-2000 tactic of 'street action' long ago. After the 2004 general election disaster, we came to the conclusion that what we were doing was futile and to be able to make inroads we would need to change tactics. To now go back to the 'old ways' of doing things is going to result in whatever gains the opposition made in 2008 and 2013 lost in the next election in 2017/2018.

So what, then, should we do instead? Well, maybe we can take a leaf out of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's struggle against the British. What we need is a Malaysian Gandhi. Anwar cannot be Malaysia's Gandhi because he has chosen 'civil commotion' instead of Gandhi's 'civil disobedience' as the route to take. And Anwar's civil commotion has failed, as it has failed over 15 years since 1998.

Anwar is a politician. He is the Opposition Leader in Parliament. Gandhi was not a politician or the Opposition Leader of India. And that is why Gandhi succeeded where Anwar has failed -- and will continue to fail right up to the next general election when Umno and Barisan Nasional will, again, win the election.

So, will Malaysia's Gandhi please stand up! We need you to bring changes to Malaysia.


The Non Co-operation Movement

The redressing of injustice of Punjab and Khilafat and the attainment of Swaraj became the key issue. The masses were getting awakened. Gandhi announced the inauguration of Non-violent Non-Co-operation Movement on the 1st August 1920. A special session of Congress in September accepted the programme. The Nagpur Congress in December 1920 endorsed it enthusiastically.

The programme consisted of the following points:

Surrender of titles and honours given by the British Government,

Boycott of law-courts,

Boycott of educational institutions,

Boycott of councils and elections,

Boycott of foreign cloth,

Boycott of Government functions,

Picketing of liquor shops,

Refusal to get recruited in the army.

The programme was not just negative. It included the building of new institutions. National Education was encouraged. Stress was laid on Khadi. Charkha became the symbol of freedom.

The Congress was completely reorganised and a new constitution drafted by Gandhi was adopted to make it a mass organisation and a useful tool for the struggle. The movement started with hartal, fasting and prayers. It soon spread like wildfire. The freedom movement had become a mass movement. Gandhi declared the Swaraj could be won within one year if the programme was fully implemented. People showed great unity, determination and courage. Hundreds of National schools were established. Tilak Swaraj Fund was over-subscribed. About 20 lakh charkhas began to be plied in the country. The boycott shook the Government.

1921 was the year of the rise of Indian Nationalism Gandhi became a Mahatma, the most loved and revered figure in the country. Masses looked to him as a saint, as an incarnation of God who had come to free them from slavery and poverty. The Government started repression. Arrests were made. Firing took place at some places. The country boycotted the visit of Prince of Wales, the British Prince in November 1921. Disturbances broke out at Bombay and Gandhi had to fast to control the situation. By the end of 1921, the number of prisoners had risen to 30,000. Processions and meetings were being broken up.

The masses were getting impatient. Call was given for Civil Disobedience. Gandhi wanted to start the campaign step-by-step. He chose Bardoli in Gujarat for starting the campaign. Notice was given to Government on the 1st February 1922. However, the movement had to be called off within a few days. On the 5th February, a mob including Congressmen set fire to a police station at Chauri Chaura in U.P., killing about 22 policemen. Gandhi was shocked. He realised that people had not fully accepted non-violence. He persuaded the Congress to suspend the agitation. Gandhi was arrested in March and was sentenced to 6 years' imprisonment. He was kept in the Yeravda jail near Pune.

Gandhi Research Foundation:


Anwar warns of Umno voices in the ranks

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 02:42 PM PDT

(TMI) - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today went for the jugular when he warned elements within Pakatan Rakyat against giving in to political fatigue and losing steam in the fight against electoral fraud.

The Opposition Leader did not mince his words and called those with wavering spirit, the voices of Umno in the coalition of PKR, PAS and DAP.

"There are some among us who are talking about 'moving forward'. I would like to remind them that if they were to remain in Pakatan, moving forward without understanding the realities of the past is impossible.

"The people who are only talking about 'moving forward' is the same as what Husam said, they are the voices of Umno in Pakatan and we must have courage to reject and deflect this, " Malaysiakini quoted him as saying.

The Opposition leader was speaking at the Pakatan Rakyat's convention in Kuala Lumpur.

His comments came in the wake of the Black 5O5 gathering yesterday where an estimated 50,000 people turned out, smaller than the expected crowd. This has led the mainstream media to call the rally a failure and for pundits to say that political fatigue was taking its tool on the Opposition's drive for electoral reform.

But Anwar told Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives not to lose sight of the big picture.



Conversation with a M'sian angry with the Govt

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 02:15 PM PDT

Idris Jala, The Star

RECENTLY, I had a robust conversation with a Malaysian. He was very angry. He had so much to complain about everything in our country. To him, nothing is right in Malaysia.

I reproduce my responses to his complaints, in the hope that it might shed some light and provide some hope to those who feel our country is in a hopeless decline.

To maintain his anonymity and privacy, I simply call him "Angry Malaysian":

Angry Malaysian (AM): I think Malaysia is the most corrupt country in the world. If the Government is not corrupt, we will solve all the problems in this country. There will be no poverty and everyone in Malaysia will be prosperous and happy.

Idris: That's not true. Last year, Malaysia improved in Transparency International (TI)'s Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Malaysia's 2012 score improved compared to 2011 to 49 out of 100 from 4.3 out of 10 (TI's new scoring methodology changed in 2012 from assigning a score between 1 to 10 in 2011 to 1 to 100 in 2012) . Also Malaysia's ranking improved from 60 in 2011 to 54 in 2012.

It is equally wrong to say that the only solution to poverty, prosperity and happiness is government corruption.

Almost all the countries that are ahead of Malaysia in the world corruption ranking still have absolute and relative poverty.

For instance, not everyone in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany or Singapore is rich.

Crime still exists in these countries.

Whilst there is hardly any corruption in many rural villages in Malaysia or anywhere else in the world, yet the people are still poor.

When I grew up in Bario, in the Borneo highlands we were almost isolated from the rest of the world and there was no corruption in the village.

Yet, we were poor.

We should stop looking at corruption as something that leads to other peoples' problem – the poor, the marginalised and expect only the Government to tackle the issue.

It is true that corruption must be eradicated in the interest of creating a level-playing field and enhancing standards of living.

The Government is serious about implementing this through various initiatives.

Whilst we deploy policy measures to arrest corruption, there is also a responsibility upon every Malaysian to ensure they do not engage in or encourage corrupt practices.

As long as there is giving, there will be taking – it is a vicious cycle. Eradicating corruption is not the job of the Government alone, it is a shared responsibility.

AM: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said at a rally before GE13, that Malaysia's illicit capital outflow over 10 years of RM873bil, as reported by Global Financial Integrity, is proof that corruption is the scourge of Malaysia.

According to him, if we stop this corruption by the Government and its cronies, there is enough money for Malaysia.

Idris: Bank Negara has refuted this claim.

It has clarified that 80% of illicit capital outflow is trade mispricing or transfer pricing.

This means private companies produce receipts or invoices which differ from the actual amount of money transacted, usually to pay lower taxes to the Government.

This is not government corruption.

Bank Negara established that the remaining 20% of illicit capital outflows is due to "errors and omissions", which includes small residual amounts due to illegal business and corrupt practices.

Based on the Bank Negara report released in March, it is totally wrong to say that RM873bil of "illicit capital" outflow is due to government corruption.

AM: Twenty years ago, Malaysia was on par with South Korea in many ways for example GNI (gross national income) per capita. Even in soccer, we used to beat them. I believe Malaysia lost its competitiveness because of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

If we remove the NEP, then Malaysia will immediately improve its competitiveness and catch up with South Korea.

Idris: It is true that South Korea has made a lot more progress compared to us.

However, I do not agree that as soon as we abolish NEP, Malaysia will be on the road to catching up with them.

The South Koreans did it because they did not complain incessantly about not getting government contracts. They did not incessantly complain about everything that was not perfect around them.

They simply focused on innovating their products to be the best in the world and trained their sights on marketing and selling them in the world market.

AM: A lot of people, particularly non-bumiputras, are leaving Malaysia in droves because of unfair policies such as the NEP. Many of them migrate to Singapore where there is no NEP and it is a fair society.

Idris: That's not true. A Mindshare survey of 2,000 Singaporeans carried out last year showed that over half of them (56%) wanted to migrate, although there is no NEP in Singapore.

According to the World Bank, Singapore had 300,000 migrants in 2010, nearly 10% of Singapore citizens. Reasons for migration are complex and varied and cannot be just pinpointed to the NEP.

AM: The Government collects lots of taxes from all of us. So many of us work hard only to pay so much in taxes. The Government wastes the tax revenue through corrupt practices and cronyism.

Idris: I don't agree that Malaysia is taxing everybody and also over-taxing the people. First, Malaysia has a population of 29 million people.

Last year, our working population was 12.5 million people. Out of this, only 1.5 million people were registered taxpayers but only 1.2 million paid taxes.

Second, most of the government tax revenue comes from Petronas and the oil and gas companies, followed by other corporate taxes and then by the 1.2 million taxpayers.

Third, it is not true that Malaysia is over-taxing. Its corporate and personal income tax is competitive when compared with all other countries worldwide.

Fourth, Malaysia is one of the few countries that has not implemented the Goods and Services Tax (GST). More than 140 countries have already implemented GST.

Fifth, since Malaysia wants to keep income taxes at reasonable rates, and since the Government continues to pay huge sums of money on subsidies for the rakyat, our tax revenue is insufficient to pay all our operating and developing expenditure.

So Malaysia has a fiscal deficit. Under the leadership of our prime minister, we have been steadily reducing our fiscal deficit from 6.6% in 2009 to 4.5% last year.

AM: I hear that the Government will be introducing GST. This will hurt the poor people and the middle-income group in this country. GST will bring untold suffering to our people and Malaysia's economy will collapse.

Idris: No decision has been made by the government to implement GST.

More than 140 countries worldwide have implemented GST and this includes many developed and developing countries eg the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Indonesia and many more.

Under GST, many items that are typically consumed by the poor and the middle-income group are exempted from GST. Some items are "zero rated", which also reduces the impact of GST. This is why the implementation of GST was done in many developing and poor countries. I don't agree with you that GST will bring "untold suffering to our people", nor will our economy collapse. Let's be clear, these problems did not happen in the 140 countries which implemented GST.

AM: Crime is happening everywhere in Malaysia.

Everyday, I read in the newspapers about street crime and violent crimes. The police are not doing anything. The Government doesn't care about the safety and security of its people.

Idris: The Government considers crime as one of the top national priorities to address. It is indeed one of the National Key Results Areas (NKRA) under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP).

The Deputy Prime Minister, Home Minister, IGP and the police are all working hard to implement initiatives to fight crime. As a result of our collective efforts, crime has dropped from 575 cases per day in 2009 to 407 cases per day in the first five months of 2013, which is an improvement of over 29%.

But that does not mean crime does not occur. It still does, but the rate has reduced. Whilst we take note of this, we continue to address problem areas and ensure we continue to make our streets, villages, towns and cities safe. This is a priority. It is pertinent for us to look into UK's experience in 1998, when ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair launched an intense nation-wide program to fight crime.

Significant amount of resources were provided to strengthen UK's police force to fight crime. This program succeeded in turning around crime trend.

However, while the crime rates have started to drop in 1998, the general UK public perception was the exact opposite – believing that crime rate continued to increase.

It was only six years later, in 2004, that the UK public perception of crime finally started to turnaround. This was how long it took for the UK public to catch on with their country's improving crime situation.

Malaysia is experiencing this same syndrome, called the "Crime Perception Lag".

We are in the third year of the Crime NKRA program - half-way into the perception lag period experienced by the UK.

I believe we need to redouble our efforts to fight crime – by strengthening police presence in our streets, improving investigation and prosecution outcomes, engaging the larger community to fight crime via to be United Against Crime, and incorporating Safe City elements in the development of our cities and townships.

Well, that was the gist of my conversation with the AM.

Yes, things are not perfect in this country of ours. Where is it perfect? But we have a lot going for us and it is up to us – each and every one of us - to grasp the opportunities available to progress and help our country and ourselves to become developed.

Things are never as bad as they seem.

Datuk Seri Idris Jala is CEO of Pemandu and also Minister in the Prime Minister's Department. All fair and reasonable comments are most welcome at


26 arrested outside Parliament

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 02:02 PM PDT

They were detained outside the Parliament building for trying to breach a police cordon 

(FMT) - Some 26 people have been arrested outside Parliament an hour ago after they tried to breach a police cordon stopping them from entering the building.

The group, which had camped at Padang Merbok since Saturday's Black 505 rally, marched to the Parliament building which is about 1km from the field.

They had their camps dismantled by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall at about 4.30am this morning.

They had camped in Padang Merbok demanding that the resignation of the Election Commission top officials, claiming that the Commission had failed to conduct a fair and free general election.

They marched from Padang Merbok and demanded entry into Parliament grounds which was refused by the police.

They then lied-down on the road leading towards the Parliament building to show their protest. The police numbering about 300 personal had set up a human barricade some 800 metres from parliament gates.

Among those detained are student activists Adam Adli Abdul Halim and Mohd Safwan Anang. The 26 include eight protesters who surrendered themselves.



Protesters at Parliament attempt to crash police barrier (Update 2)

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 01:32 PM PDT

(The Star) - Activists protesting in front of Parliament Monday morning have tried to breach the barrier formed by police personnel, resulting in scuffles. Some of the protesters have been arrested.

They have been told to disperse immediately and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel were seen preparing to use tear gas.

Police personnel have refrained from any violence, apart from pushing those trying to break the barrier to the ground.

Police maintaining a close watch at Parliament as protesters gather. Police maintaining a close watch at Parliament as protesters gather.

Earlier, a small group gathered in front of Parliament, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of MPs on Monday.

Police personnel stationed at the entrance to the House to monitor the situation asked the group to disperse.

However, the organisers told protesters to sit on the sidewalk, as they had a memo to hand to the Prime Minister, on the issue of the Election Commission being under Parliament.

Those in the group carried banners, calling for the Election Commission (EC) panels to resign and over issues concerning deaths in police custody.

Lawmakers from both sides were seen entering the House.

Activists who had camped out since Saturday at Padang Merbuk nearby, joined the group in front of Parliament at around 8.30am.


Pandikar Amin re-elected as Speaker, after two names proposed

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 01:28 PM PDT

(The Star) - Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia has been re-elected as the Dewan Rakyat Speaker with 133 votes, after two names were submitted for the post on Monday.

Former federal court judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, the Opposition's choice, garnered 89 votes.

Pandikar Amin was then robed and took his oath of office.

He promised to be a fair Speaker to all and urged all MPs to be dedicated and work towards the direction of making the country a success.

Pandikar Amin also mooted that the Opposition form a shadow cabinet to facilitate better debate.

Earlier, Dewan Rakyat secretary Datuk Roosme Hamzah announced that two names were submitted for the Speaker's post, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of MPs.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak proposed Pandikar Amin, while PKR's Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim proposed Abdul Kadir as the Opposition's choice.

Roosme said a secret ballot would take place among the MPs to choose the speaker according to Standing Order 4 (3).

Opposition MPs like Hanipa Maidin (PAS-Sepang) and Gobind Singh (DAP-Puchong) raised an objection over the selection process of the secret ballot, saying the voting papers should not be signed by MPs, otherwise it would not be a secret ballot.

Roosme had earlier said that the MPs had to sign their name on the voting paper.

MPs from both sides of the fence then exchanged jibes. Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) said "What's wrong with you writing your name?"

Tian Chua (PKR-Batu) asked whether PM was not confident of Barisan backbenchers.


Reinvigorating rural Malaysia – new paradigms needed

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 12:25 PM PDT 

The current method of identifying development projects at a district or state level within the bureaucracy and then Federally funding it is skewed towards meeting personal interests of vested parties. Real community consultation is not sought, where new projects generally lack any sense of community ownership and pride, often becoming 'white elephants' and abandoned. 

Murray Hunter, New Mandala 

As urban Malaysia has grown and prospered, the rural hinterlands have generally declined. Back in the 1980s approximately 70% of Malaysia's land was considered rural, where today 72% of Malaysia is urbanized with a growth rate of 2.4%. With this, the rural-urban divide within Malaysia has been growing, where substantially very little is being done to directly alleviate the problem.

Rural sector development has not been debated very much over the last few decades, even though the primary sector still represents almost 12% of GDP and employs more than 11% of the population. There are many rural issues that affect the future of Malaysia in much greater magnitude than the rural contribution to GDP and employment. The sustainability of Malaysia as an eco(n)-system, the country's cultural basis, and even political destiny is tied up with rural evolution. But the current "health"of rural Malaysia leaves a lot to be desired.

Forest cover in Malaysia is decreasing on a daily basis. Conservation has lost out to greed and development. Palm oil, rubber plantations, and urban expansion are eating into the forests, with very poor land enforcement on the ground. Well connected businesses are able to get concessions that are extremely financially lucrative, at great environmental cost. Roads and new townships have divided rural habitats, playing havoc with biodiversity.  These man-made barriers hold flood waters inland during the monsoons, preventing dispersion of water to the sea, causing flooding. Many animal species are in danger of extinction through poaching in the quest to supply the lucrative Chinese medicinal market.

Increasing population and new townships are putting pressure on rivers and waterways through increased domestic sewage, the dumping of garbage, and processing waste from livestock and other agro-based industries. Quarrying has silted many rivers. Soil erosion is depleting soil fertility quicker than it can be regenerated. Burning off around the region is producing thick unhealthy smog, which is affecting the whole country.

Yet with all this development there are still distinct infrastructure deficits in Malaysia. Most of the rural areas within Sabah and Sarawak are remote, where transport is costly. Some regions in Terengganu and Kelantan are still relatively isolated with very few perceived economic opportunities, as is with Perlis and parts of Kedah. The cost of goods in these areas are more expensive than the major cities. Sabah and Sarawak are legally deprived of the ability to ship goods by sea directly to other countries, as they must be trans-shipped through the Peninsula, thus handicapping the development of new export industries.

Even with rising urban populations within Malaysia, food production is not keeping pace with this growth. Malaysia is a net importer of food and animal feed, and the relatively high prices industrial crops like oil palm verses food crops deters food crop expansion. As Jared Diamond professed in his seminal book Collapse, a country which fails to provide for self sufficiency in food production and animal feed is destined to doom just like the Mayan civilization of a long gone era.

There is a general lack of research and development in new crops and the effects of climate change on existing crops. Crop research is undertaken on a national rather than regional level, where there is little support for developing new industries in specific areas. Currently most agricultural research is undertaken centrally by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), which follows a national research agenda formulated by policy rather than market considerations.

High urban wages have created a labor shortage in rural areas, and the rising cost of petroleum inputs is increasing the cost of production making food production uncompetitive.

Rural development has been undertaken with little appreciation of ecosystems within the concept of sustainability. The current method of identifying development projects at a district or state level within the bureaucracy and then Federally funding it is skewed towards meeting personal interests of vested parties. Real community consultation is not sought, where new projects generally lack any sense of community ownership and pride, often becoming 'white elephants' and abandoned. Many of the drivers of economic growth have been public sector orientated and consequently unsustainable projects, in most cases at the expense of the environment.

Rural Malaysians have been introduced to debt through loans and credit cards as a means to acquire goods and services to increase their standard of living, creating a debt trap. This burden is partly to blame for the lack of micro-SME development, due to the inability to pursue opportunities because of the lack of capital.

This is the biggest crisis, the crisis of opportunity. The incidence of entrepreneurial opportunity  in rural areas is low, particularly for the youth, who are migrating to the cities.

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