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Ahmad Said blames ‘stingy’ Terengganu voters for looming assembly crisis

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 11:56 PM PDT

(The Malay Mail) - "Now is the time for Kuala Besut folks to be grateful that their MP became a minister. And one at an important ministry, to boot," the Umno information chief told reporters here.

Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said today reprimanded Terengganu residents for being "stingy" with their support for Barisan Nasional (BN), blaming them for leaving his administration at risk of what could be Malaysia's first-ever hung assembly.

The BN administration in the east coast state is now clinging on by one seat in the 32-spot assembly, after it won just 17 seats to Pakatan Rakyat's (PR) 15 in Election 2013. One of its assemblymen died last month, triggering the July 24 by-election that will determine if the government stands or falls.

"The government has never tricked the people ... But the people are actually too 'kedekut' (stingy) to give their votes to BN," Ahmad said during the launch of a low-cost housing project here today.

"Sometimes the Terengganu folks, I don't know, when you promise them the moon, the stars, the heavens, they forget the deeds of BN."

He pointed to Terengganu residents' alleged ingratitude towards the "generosity" of the BN state government, which he said has lavished upon them financial aid and subsidies, including the low-cost housing project he launched today.

Ahmad said that many voters had been hoodwinked by promises from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR), including cheaper cars and fuel prices as well as free higher education.

"I really don't know what the folks want. In the last elections, 15 seats fell to the opposition. The opposition has never even done anything," he added.

Yesterday, Datuk Ahmad Maslan had taken a softer tact with Kuala Besut residents, urging them to vote for the BN candidate in the by-election in return for their MP being appointed a minister.

Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh won the Besut parliamentary seat — which includes the Kuala Besut state constituency — with a 8,342 majority in the May polls, leading to his appointment as Education Minister II in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's revamped Cabinet.

"Now is the time for Kuala Besut folks to be grateful that their MP became a minister. And one at an important ministry, to boot," the Umno information chief told reporters here.

The prominence of one-time rivals Idris and Ahmad in the by-election has led to talk of rival factions within the state Umno and heightened fears of internal sabotage, forcing BN to mobilise its big guns for a relatively minor by-election.

Kuala Besut is considered an Umno stronghold, as it has won there by over 2,000 votes in the previous two elections. But the party and the larger BN coalition are sparing no effort to ensure that it does not fall into PR's hands.

Beyond the crisis that a hung assembly will trigger, a defeat there could have repercussions at the Umno election later in the year, given the BN coalition's new low of Election 2013.

The alleged tiff between Idris and Ahmad started after the latter was appointed mentri besar following Election 2008.

A long-serving statesman in Terengganu, Idris has been instrumental in winning back Terengganu from PAS in the 2004 general election. BN had won 28 seats compared to PAS's four.

Despite the federal government's recommendation, the Terengganu Ruler, Sultan Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, refused to reappoint him after Election 2008 and swore in Ahmad instead.

BN's Tengku Zaihan Che Ku Abdul Rahman will face local boy from PAS, Azlan Yusof, for the Terengganu state seat in the July 24 by-election which was called following the death of Dr A. Rahman Mokhtar on June 26 from lung cancer.

In Election 2013, Dr Rahman had defeated PAS's Napisah Ismail with a comfortable 2,434-vote majority. 

Does the Election Commission really think Malaysians have a short memory?

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 11:43 PM PDT 

(TMI) - Why allow a partisan group to conduct the country's elections and devalue the ultimate right of any citizen in a democratic country  

Here is a bunch of questions for Malaysians.

Growing up, did you accept it when the neighbourhood bully extorted canteen money from you very week? In school, did you suck it up and accept it when your class teacher punished you with lower marks, just because he could?

At work, do you turn the other way when your boss garnishes your pay packet by several hundred ringgit with "administrative" charges?

In life, will you accept it if the likes of Perkasa's Datuk Ibrahim Ali and the Umno-owned media tell you to leave the country of your birth if you do not accept their terms?

If the answers to all the questions is no, here is another question: why allow a partisan group to conduct the country's elections and devalue the ultimate right of any citizen in a democratic country – the right for your vote to count. Surely, this too amounts to bullying, extortion, unfair and arrogant behaviour.

The Reid Commission report – which formed the backbone of the Federal Constitution – envisaged the Election Commission as a body which would be independent and impartial to all.

The EC is anything but impartial. And this was clear in the run-up to the general elections and since.

Take the petition to nullify the win of Pakatan Rakyat's Tian Chua in Batu. The Barisan Nasional candidate, Dominic Lau, who lost by a yawning 13,000 majority wants the result overturned because he says that Chua Tian Chang was previously fined RM2,000 by the High Court, which meant that the opposition politician should have been disqualified from contesting the polls.

Now for the backstory. In June 2010, there was some controversy over whether the politician popularly called Tian Chua should vacate his seat and whether he would be barred from contesting elections for a five-year period because of the RM2,000 fine.

The judge did not think so and the EC issued a letter as recently as a month before the general election this year to state that Tian Chua was not disqualified by the fine.

But since then, the EC has shifted its position. It has told the court that it had no objection to BN challenging the Batu result and Tian Chua's status to contest the polls.

His lawyer, Edmund Bon, noted that this was probably the first time in the country that the EC was saying that its own returning officer could have been wrong in allowing Tian Chua to contest.

This is not an isolated case of perceived bias. At some point in the run-up to the polls, Tan Sri Aziz Mohd Yusof, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar and other members of the EC stopped caring if their statements or pronouncements betrayed bias or partisanship.


“Allah is only for Muslims, that was my stand” – Harun

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 05:37 PM PDT

(The Kuala Lumpur Post) - Pas Dewan Ulama chief  Datuk Harun Taib says Vatican City ambassador to Malaysia Archbishop Joseph Marino has no business to speak on matters which may affect the sensitivity of Muslims."

Saying Marino should be respectful over matters relating to Islam in this country, Harun added:

"He should understand that this is a Muslim country. This is a Muslim country, not a European or Christian country. His remarks are uncalled for."

Harun said this to The Mole on Friday when asked to comment on remarks made by Marino in a news report on Thursday where he applauded the stand by the Christian Federation of Malaysia in using "Allah" in the Bible to refer to God.

A news portal reportedly quoted Joseph as saying that the Christian Federation's arguments are "quite logical" and "acceptable."

Commenting on the issue of usage of the word "Allah" being raised again, Harun said: "I do not know about others but my stand on this is clear."

"Allah is only for Muslims. That was my stand then, today, and it will remain so."

Prior to this Harun had said that the word Allah cannot be used in the Bible stating Allah is not a name of God for the Christians.

Pas had also said its decision that the usage of the word "Allah" is not allowed in Malay-language bibles is final and it will not entertain any request from its partners in Pakatan Rakyat to rescind it.

The party's information chief Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man had said this when asked to comment if there was any possibilities that the party may change its stand on the decision following  the request from DAP chairman Karpal Singh that Pas' Syura Council review its decision.

Late last year, the issue over the usage of the word 'Allah' was sparked off again when DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng urged the federal government to allow the use of the word Allah on the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible in his Christmas speech.

Prominent blogger Datuk Ahirudin Attan wrote that Marino's remarks will make it hard for Muslims in Malaysia to accept it, as the issue of the word "Allah" is still being disputed in the court.

"It's going to be hard for Muslims here to swallow Marino's declaration, especially so since the dispute is an on-going court case. While the Vatican's first Apostolic Nuncio to Kuala Lumpur may not care too much about such trivial, surely he'd like to make sure that his statement does not divide Muslims and Catholics in Malaysia further," Ahirudin or better known as Rocky wrote.

Meanwhile several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had urged the government to take a stern action by expelling the diplomat for his remarks.

Muafakat Sejahtera Masyarakat Malaysia (Muafakat) president Ismail Mina when contacted asked the Home Ministry to expel the diplomat and declare him as the persona non grata.

"As a diplomat he should know better than to interfere in other country's internal affairs."

"Secondly, apart from violating his position, the diplomat had shown lack of respect towards the majority of Malaysians who are Muslims," said Ismail.

"The government should take a stern action by expelling the diplomat. His remarks and presence are not welcomed if he failed to respect the country's law and its official religion."

Blogger Zakhir Mohamed in his latest post stated that Malay NGOs strongly condemned the remarks by Marino in his interview, and had asked him to withdraw and apologise or deny making this statement, within seven days. Failure to do that, they would demand the Government expel the diplomat.

Jati president Datuk Hasan Ali reportedly said that Marino had misused his immunity by interfering of the matters in the country. 


Pakatan Rakyat to sue Election Commission over 'indelible' ink

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 05:32 PM PDT

(The Star) - Pakatan Rakyat will file a suit on Monday against the Election Commission (EC) over the use of the indelible ink in the 13th general election.

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said Pakatan will sue the EC "top leadership" following contradicting remarks regarding its silver nitrate content of the indelible ink.

"We have all the necessary documents and evidence against the EC.

"You cannot keep changing your statements regarding the silver nitrate from five to seven per cent to only one per cent and later it is akin to food colouring," she told reporters at an electoral reform forum organised by the Malaysian Bar Council Saturday.

It was reported that Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim told Parliament that the indelible ink used during the GE13 did not contain any chemicals.

A total 216,000 bottles of ink worth RM6.9mil was used in the same period.


Mukhriz willing to meet Guan Eng to settle water dispute

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 05:05 PM PDT

(BERNAMA) - Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir is ready to meet Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to discuss Kedah's request to charge Penang for raw water supply from Sungai Muda.

He said this following a report that Lim had broached the idea of a meeting to discuss the matter.

Mukhriz said Lim had misconstrued the water charge request as Kedah looking for a win-win situation for both states.

"That's what we want to present to Guan Eng, but even before we could convey this, he had already opposed it.  As we are neighbours, we can help each other," he said after presenting aid to 280 Quran voluntary teachers and village midwives from the Jerlun constituency following a breaking of the fast in Kampung Pida Tiga, Tunjang last night.

Mukhriz said talks, which had been held by both states at the official level, should progress to the state government level.

Lim was adamant that Penang would not pay water charges, saying that water was God's gift and that the state constitution stated that it did not have to pay a single sen to Kedah for raw water.

On the other hand, Kedah claimed that the charges were justified as Penang drew water from Kedah's rivers and the money would be used to maintain a water catchment area at the Pedu dam.



Dr M: We will be colonised again under TPPA

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 04:53 PM PDT

The former Prime Minister knows the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) is set on agreeing to the TPPA despite criticism from all quarters. 

Anisah Shukry, FMT

Malaysia will lose its sovereignty should the BN-led government  insist on "secretly" bulldozing through with the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad warned today.

The former prime minister predicted that signing the new trade deal with the 11 other Pacific Rim countries would lead to the loss of billions in taxpayers' money, and leave Malaysia bound "hand and foot" to the whims of America.

"…[America] invented TPP, a partnership of unequal, of the strong to take advantage of the weak. This is going to be legally binding. If we breach the agreement, their corporations can sue the Government for billions," he wrote on his blog last night.

He doubted Malaysia would win the legal tussle, pointing to the decades-long sovereignty dispute Malaysia had with Singapore over the Pulau Batu Puteh which, in 2008, saw the neighbouring country claim victory in the World Court.

"After we sign the TPP we will be bound hand and foot. No more capital control. We will be colonised again," warned Mahathir.

But the premier, who still wields considerable influence in BN lynchpin Umno, noted that the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) was set on agreeing to the TPPA despite criticism from all quarters.

"I know the MITI is already set to agree to the TPP. It will not entertain any counter arguments. It wants to do this secretly. We don't punish people who make agreements detrimental to the interest of this country. So what is there to lose," he said.

The deal, which is expected to be signed before October, has received flak from opposition leaders as well as civil society, who charge that such an agreement would reduce the public's access to affordable drugs.



Throw Sedition Act in the bin, says Karpal

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 04:48 PM PDT

The DAP chairman and renowned lawyer says the law is a British colonial legacy which should be thrown into the trash bin. 

Athi Shankar, FMT

The Sedition Act 1948, is a British colonial legacy that should be thrown into the trash bin of history, DAP national chairman Karpal Singh here today.

Terming the Act as a "draconian outdated law", he said the Sedition Act has had outlived its purpose as it was legislated by the British to quell the opposition against the formation of Malayan Union, then.

He called on Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to make an official announcement to re-commit his stand to repeal the law.

He claimed that the ruling Barisan Nasional government had often misused and abused the Sedition Act to clampdown political rivals.

Since Najib made the announcement to abolish Sedition Act, last year, Karpal claimed that more government critics had been charged with various seditious offences.

"Najib must keep his promise to repeal the act," Karpal, who himself had faced two seditious charges, told newsmen in his Bukit Gelugor parliamentary constituency.

In July last year, Najib announced that the Sedition Act will be abolished and the decision was made so as to seek a mechanism that will provide the best balance between the need to protect the freedom of expression of each citizen and the need to address the complexity of the plural society in this country.

Health Minister Dr S. Subramaniam told newsmen yesterday that the Cabinet would abolish the sedition law as promised and replaced it with a National Harmony law.

He also revealed that the Barisan Nasional federal government was currently formulating the National Harmony Act, which was to ensure political stability and harmony among the multi-ethnic society in this country.

"As soon as this protection is in place, we will revoke the Sedition Act," the MIC leader was reported to have said.

Karpal also urged the government not to resurrect a new law similar to the Sedition Act.

He also slammed Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for openly defying and showing disrespect to Najib when he said recently that the Sedition Act should not be repealed.



Muhyiddin warns of Terengganu turmoil if BN loses Kuala Besut

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 12:36 PM PDT 

(The Malay Mail) - A loss will give a great slap to the government's legitimacy

Terengganu will face massive upheaval to the state Constitution, the position of its Sultan and the existing administration should Kuala Besut fall to PAS in the July 24 by-election, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) warned voters yesterday.

Speaking after nominations in Kuala Besut, the Barisan Nasional (BN) election director said rivals PAS and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) were aiming to win Kuala Besut with the ulterior motive of destabilising the state government.

BN won Terengganu with a two-seat majority in Election 2013, but the death of Dr A. Rahman Mokhtar, which triggered the by-election, meant it is hanging on by just one seat. A PAS victory would see 16 seats on opposite sides of the aisle, leading to possibly the first hung assembly in local history.

"If you do not vote BN, there will be other consequences from the aspect of the state Constitution, the position of the Ruler, and the necessity to hold a new state election," Muhyiddin was quoted as saying by Berita Harian on its website yesterday.

"I know many want to avoid a 16-16 situation. The answer is simple: Just vote BN."

Kuala Besut is considered an Umno stronghold, as it has won there by over 2,000 votes in the previous two elections. But the party and the larger BN coalition are sparing no effort to ensure that it does not fall into PR's hands.

Beyond the crisis that a hung assembly will trigger, a defeat there could have disastrous fallout at the Umno election later in the year, given the BN coalition's new low of Election 2013.

"A loss will give a great slap to the government's legitimacy ... Anything can happen, so the impact will be huge because we have just finished the 13th general election," Roslan Mohamad, the secretary-general of Kelantan rights NGO Pakatan Darul Naim, told The Malay Mail Online last week.

Talk of rival factions within the state Umno has heightened fears of internal sabotage, forcing BN to mobilise its big guns for a relatively minor by-election.

Read more at: 

The Economist: Arab spring no failure, Malaysia shows Islamists can have democratic leanings

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 12:34 PM PDT

Arab Spring gone wrong? 

(The Malay Mail) - Malaysia has been singled out by the Economist as a country which shows Islamic parties can accept democracy and reforms, with the influential international news magazine suggesting that the stuttering Arab Spring has not failed despite recent setbacks.

"Many secular Arabs and their friends in the West now argue that because Islamists tend to regard their rule as God-given, they will never accept that a proper democracy must include checks, including independent courts, a free press, devolved powers and a pluralistic constitution to protect minorities.

"This too, though, is wrong. Outside the Arab world, Islamists — in Malaysia and Indonesia, say — have shown that they can learn the habit of democracy," the magazine said in an editorial this week entitled 'The Arab spring. Has it failed?'"

The recent military overthrow of the democratically elected Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood has also been used in Malaysia by right-wing elements in Barisan Nasional (BN) to suggest the failure of the Arab Spring.

During Election 2013 many BN leaders as well as security forces in Malaysia had worried about the effect the Arab Spring would have on Malaysia.

A grassroots movement to plant paper flowers at traffic roundabouts and in neighbourhoods during the election campaign had also been viewed suspiciously by the police and other authorities because it was labelled as the "Malaysian spring."

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) party PAS had also been the target of an MCA campaign during the elections in an attempt to label the Islamist party as extremists ready to take away the rights of non-Muslims, in particular that of the Chinese.

But the advertising campaign failed miserably with voters from the Chinese community voting overwhelmingly to support PR parties.

PAS has frequently been hampered by its image of being a party dominated by ultra conservatives with views on sex and women that are seen as outdated by many Malaysians.

But the party has moved in recent years to the political centre, and has managed to attract many moderates as well as professionals and corporate figure into its fold.

With its strong ties with the DAP in particular in the PR coalition it has also grown to be accepted by many non-Muslim voters who had previously turned away from the Islamist party.

Arguing that democratic reforms are often a lengthy — and even violent — process, the Economist said in its editorial "those who say that the Arab spring has failed ignore the long winter before, and its impact on people's lives.

Read more at: 

MCA and MIC point to lower number of Chinese and Indians

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 12:32 PM PDT 

(The Star) - Students with CGPA of 4.0 should not be given courses which they had not opted for, as they are a talented group. If these students with excellent results fail to get the course that they want, they might just take up offers from other countries like Singapore.

MCA has questioned the record low intake of Chinese students for public universities this year, saying there were top scorers who were also not offered courses they had chosen.

Its education bureau chairman Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong revealed that Chinese students formed a mere 19% of the 41,573 successful applicants for the new academic term.

He said it was unacceptable and unfair for some students with cumulative grade point averages (CGPA) of 4.0 to not get places in the universities.

"The hardest hit are students with CGPA of 4.0 who applied for medicine, pharmacy and dentistry and were yet not offered any place or given any course in the eight options applied for," Dr Wee told a press conference at Wisma MCA here yesterday.

During the IPTA application process, students are required to fill in eight options and must also state whether they would accept offers outside their eight choices.

Dr Wee, who is also MCA Youth chief, pointed out that the enrolment of Chinese students in institutions of higher learning (IPTAs) since the implementation of the meritocracy policy in 2002 had always been above 25%.

"Even within the 19%, there are many students who are unhappy with their offers,'' he added.

Of the seven complaints that MCA had received since Thursday, Dr Wee said all seven students had a CGPA of 4.0 and had not been given a course of study within their chosen options.

"Students with CGPA of 4.0 should not be given courses which they had not opted for, as they are a talented group. If these students with excellent results fail to get the course that they want, they might just take up offers from other countries like Singapore," said Dr Wee.

He urged the Government to make the selection process for the IPTA student intake transparent and to ensure that students with a CGPA of 4.0 be offered courses of their choice.

MIC Youth Higher Education Bureau chief Mahaganapathy Dass said the party had complaints from 10 students, who had scored a CGPA of 4.0, who had not been offered any course of study.

"This is demotivating to students, especially those who see education as a way out of their family's socio-economic situation,'' he told reporters at the MIC headquarters here.

He also questioned the decrease in the number of students offered places at Universiti Malaya's Indian Studies Department to just seven this year, from 13 in 2012.

On Thursday, Higher Education Department director-general Prof Datuk Dr Morshidi Sirat said that 41,573 students were offered places in the 20 public universities for the 2013/14 academic term. 

Private varsity operators voice concern over Titas

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 12:30 PM PDT 

(The Star) - Operators of private universities have voiced their concern over the move to make the Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies (Titas) subject compulsory in private institutions of higher learning (IPTS).

National Association of Private Educational Institutions president Assoc Prof Elajsolan Mohan said the subject should instead be made an elective for students, who are interested in learning more about the topic.

"In tertiary education, students should be more focused on subjects that are related to their future careers. Being forced to study another subject will add more stress on them," said Elajsolan when contacted yesterday.

He added that students would also be burdened by the extra cost incurred for Titas since fees at IPTS were paid according to the number of credit hours they were taking.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced in Parliament on Thursday that Titas would be made compulsory for new intake of local students in IPTS from Sept 1.

Muhyiddin had said the move was part of an effort to standardise requirements between private and public universities, by taking into account the study needs of local and international students.

Titas was one of the three subjects that has to be taken by every local private university student. The others are Ethnic Relations and Malaysian Studies.

Education Ministry Higher Education Department director-general Prof Dr Morshidi Sirat said Titas was not about studying religion.

"It is about comparative Asian civilisations as well as the good and common values," said Prof Morshidi.

Sunway Education Group senior executive director Elizabeth Lee said the subject's curriculum had to be reviewed to ensure more objectivity if it were to be embraced by all Malaysians.

"I am concerned about the three compulsory subjects for the Malaysian students, which will be taught in Bahasa Malaysia.

"Our IPTS take in many Malaysian students who have not attended schools in the national system," said Lee.

Taylor's University vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Hassan Said welcomed the move to introduce Titas in IPTS, saying it would lead to the harmonisation of higher education in the country.

Meanwhile, MCA education bureau chairman Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said making Titas compulsory in IPTS would not directly improve the quality of higher education in the country.

"If the subject is English, then we can see how students can benefit from it.

"But if students are interested in Titas, by all means, they should be allowed to take it up. However, making it compulsory will not encourage them to be inclined towards the subject," said Dr Wee. 

Twitter Yields to Pressure in Hate Case in France

Posted: 12 Jul 2013 12:22 PM PDT 

(New York Times) - The French Union of Jewish Students and SOS Racisme had sought the identities of the users, who had used pseudonyms, and in January a French court ordered Twitter to hand over the data. Twitter appealed, and lost, in June. 

Twitter, which has assiduously branded itself as an advocate of free speech, has agreed to identify several users who posted anti-Semitic comments on its service, and whom French authorities are seeking to prosecute for violating that country's anti-hate laws.

The case shows how challenging it is for Silicon Valley companies to champion the free speech rights of users while complying with the laws of countries where they do business. It also highlights Silicon Valley's Europe problem: the Continent represents a large and lucrative market, but its lawmakers, regulators and courts have hounded the industry in recent months on issues as varied as privacy and antitrust law.

For months, Twitter had fought a court order obtained by a private French citizens' group demanding that the company turn over the user information. But on Friday, the company said it had handed over the information to a prosecutor in Paris, in response to a law enforcement request. By turning over the information, Twitter said, it had ended a lawsuit related to the court order brought by the private group.

In a statement Friday, the company said: "in response to a valid legal request, Twitter has provided the prosecutor of Paris, Presse et Libertés Publiques section of the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance, with data that may enable the identification of certain users that the Vice-Prosecutor believes have violated French law."

The statement took pains to note that Twitter was providing the information to law enforcement through a legal request, not to the private group.

The case has important implications for Twitter users worldwide, as governments increasingly try to extract user information from the service. Legal experts say Twitter could have insisted that the French authorities seek to extract the user data by filing a claim in the United States, where the company is based.

Read more at: 


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