Ahad, 25 Ogos 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

A crazy kind of love

Posted: 24 Aug 2013 04:34 PM PDT

Despite our country's imperfections – from imitation DVDs to politicians who don't play politics to kopi-O drivers – we all still love Malaysia.

Wong Chun Wai, The Star

I LOVE Malaysia. It is truly a land of wonders and contradictions, and I think even our founding fathers would be, well, amazed if they were still around today.

We must be the only nation in the whole universe who watches pirated movies that start off with a notice from the distributor warning us why we should dump these imitations.

Behold, the quality is bad, the narrator alerts us in Chinese as we are shown two clips of the same car chase in a multi-storey car park, comparing the "imitation" with the "original". And, of course, the super-duper quality movie we get to watch once this promo is over is still an illegal copy.

Then we have leaders, politicians and their family members who expect to be accorded VIP treatment all the time. They demand VIP passes from promoters of concerts so they can show off their status.

Funny, but many of us also demand the same VIP treatment ourselves, lapping up the VIP passes only to learn later that these so-called passes are no longer exclusive as there are hundreds of them.

I love Malaysia. We have thousands and thousands of Datuks, making this beloved land of ours the country with the most titled people in the world.

At the rate we are going, we will also top the list for having the highest number of honorary doctorate holders.

If you can't get into medical school, it's okay. Just buy a Dr title, whether online from a university somewhere in the south Pacific or approach a self-professed sultan from an obscure island off the Philippines. Almost everyone is now a Datuk Dr and nothing less.

For laughs, we know we can always count on our politicians. Malaysia again scores top points for politicians who regularly warn each other not to "play politics".

As a journalist, I am confused by this. If politicians do not play politics, then what do they do? Play doctor? Play football, or simply play jester?

Recently, I came across a politician who accused this newspaper of instigating one politician against another. That's a fresh angle to get attention at the expense of the media.

Since when have debates about our politicians, who are public figures, become private matters that the media should not report? Politicians are quarrelling all the time, anyway, or else they wouldn't be politicians.

I also love our policemen. They deserve better. They are not the best paid in town and yet we expect them to be super heroes who work around the clock.

We expect our cops to be soft with our criminals, hug them, buy them dinner, play Candy Crush with them and give them massages, hoping that the scums would end up confessing their guilt.

Are these Malaysians who advocate such loving, tender touches for criminals really from our Malaysia, truly Asia?

As pressmen, we are also confused by the cops' fondness of using certain terms at their press briefings. They love using terms like "certain quarters" or "pihak tertentu". We must be the only country in the world that uses such a term. Why certain quarters, not half or three quarters?

Our cops also love playing at being diplomats. They will never say the criminals are from Indonesia, Thailand or Singapore. It's always "negara jiran" or neighbouring countries, keeping the reporters guessing.

Are our policemen worried the mere mention of nationalities would spark off a major diplomatic war?

It's even more confusing when the cops simply use the term "Africans". Hello, that continent is really big, stretching from Timbuktu to Capetown.

They also seem to love using the words "we promise to get to the bottom of the case" and "we will not compromise", but I suspect it's the work of unimaginative reporters who use the cut-and-paste approach when filing their stories.

Here's the best part. It's almost a standard line among families of suspected criminals shot dead to declare that their relatives are victims of mistaken identity. They are their loved ones and they are angels, certainly not gangsters.

Really? Then why did everyone at the funerals carry swastikas and set off crackers, and why was the hearse adorned with wreaths shaped in numbers ranging from 04 to 08 to 36?

Malaysians have also become super sensitive these days. I don't know if that's the effect of the full moon but, for sure, it can't be the recent meteor showers as that was a non-event.

We have become more religious, which is good, but our behaviour does not seem to correspond with our spirituality.

We deplore graft but we seem to think it's okay to ask the driving instructor if it's possible to "guarantee" a pass. A "kopi-O" licence is assured when we are prepared to part with some "duit kopi".

And finally, we have now decided to play the national anthem at our cinemas. It's long overdue. In fact, why isn't the anthem played before football matches or any big sporting event?

Worse, there seems to be reluctance and uneasiness among some Malaysians over this move. These are the people who cannot understand that standing up at attention to sing the Negara Ku with gusto is to love Malaysia. It is not about loving the government of the day or a clarion call to join a political party.

So after 56 years of independence, many of us are still confused. Many are still caught up in a time warp, quarrelling over issues that should have been resolved or resolved in the 1950s. But for all its imperfections, we all still love Malaysia!


On their marks for Umno race

Posted: 24 Aug 2013 04:28 PM PDT

The Hari Raya open houses have become venues for Umno politicians vying for posts in the party election to entertain friends and comrades, to feed them well, be charming and win their support to stay in the game.

Leaders who lost in the general election will struggle to survive in the supreme council race but younger faces who won and were given government posts, like Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Rahman Dahlan and Deputy Minister in the PM's Department Datuk Razali Ibrahim, will have a fighting chance.

Joceline Tan, The Star

DATUK Seri Mohd Ali Rustam was about to sit down for a bite at the Hari Raya open house of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he saw a reporter approaching the table.

The former Malacca Chief Minister is no longer the media magnet that he used to be but the last few weeks have found reporters making a beeline for him. Every one of them wants to know whether he is going to contest for one of the three vice-president (VP) posts in the Umno election.

"I will let you know soon," he said with a big smile.

But some reporters can be persistent. As Ali was about to leave, the reporter approached him and said: "Datuk Seri, you need the publicity, I need the story, so it's best we work together."

He gave another big smile but it was clear that he was taking his time to decide.

Ali is in a dilemma of sorts. Going for the VP post would be a step down of sorts for him. He had been a contender for the deputy president post in the 2009 party election but he was disqualified for money politics mid-way through the campaign.

The man who signs off all his Facebook postings simply as "dar" (Datuk Ali Rustam) is still extremely well-liked in the party. But he turned 64 last Friday, he is no longer the Chief Minister, he lost in the general election and all that has sucked some of the air out of his balloon, so to speak.

Disastrous outing

Moreover, he had been a VP prior to his disastrous attempt at the deputy presidency and it may be tough to convince the party to give him another shot at the VP post.

However, his peer, Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad, is in the race. Isa had won one of the three VP posts in 2009 with the highest number of votes but his victory was shortlived because he was suspended, also for money politics.

But unlike Ali, Isa is coming in on a new and powerful platform as Felda chairman. He has become a household name in the rural heartland.

Isa announced his candidature at the Felda headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday after launching a body shampoo product amid much fanfare, with soap bubbles floating in the air and confetti raining down on the guests. Reporters joked that it was only during the Umno election season that a politician could show so much enthusiasm for a bath product.

He was in a good mood and did not get irritated even when reporters asked whether, at 63, he should be giving way to new faces. He said he is a proven party loyalist and was offering the party his experience and commitment.

"Don't underestimate Isa. He has friends all over," said Kok Lanas assemblyman Datuk Alwi Che Ahmad.

Isa also has a not-so-secret weapon – his politically savvy wife Puan Sri Bibi Sharliza, a former Puteri Umno politician, who will play a role in his campaign.

But the bottom line is that Isa enjoys broad popular appeal and is worth keeping an eye on.

The talk is that the three incumbents, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, have formed some sort of "all for one and one for all" cartel.

They put up a big show of unity at Hishammuddin's Defence Ministry Hari Raya open house on Wednesday, their arms wrapped around each other and grinning as if they had already won.

More names may pop up on nomination day on Sept 28 to give the incumbents a run for the money.

"I don't see the adrenaline flowing yet. But this time, you only need one nomination to be a candi­date. Who knows, some people may wake up on Sept 28 and tell themselves, why not?" said former Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Dr Latiff Ahmad.

Or as Isa's eldest son Najib put it: "It's something like American Idol. Even those who cannot sing think they can sing. So they join the audition."

Some in the Umno circuit think the VP level has room for at least one new and young face such as Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir or Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

The pair has potential but they need to prove themselves at what they have been assigned to do before dreaming of the VP post.

New and old: The new Umno election system will allow a new generation of Umno leaders to emerge and play a role in shaping the future of the party. Picture shows Najib arriving at Dr Mahathir's Hari Raya open house. Also present were Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali (far left), Datuk Roslan Othman (second from right) and Mukhriz (far right).

Push from Sabah

There is also speculation that Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman is eyeing the VP post because one division chief after another in his state has been voicing support for him.

But an insider said Musa will stay put in the supreme council and the noise coming from the divisions is to send a message to the top Umno leadership that Musa is "the boss".

"Let me put it another way – they are telling KL that Shafie must know his place in Sabah," said the insider.

In short, it is all part of the deep and long-standing rivalry between Musa and Shafie.

Basically, the Umno culture likes to see competition and a good fight at the VP level, otherwise the incumbents will lose touch with the ground and get big-headed.

Umno elections used to be dominated by those holding government posts as well as those with big war chests. An aspiring candidate had to first lobby for the nominations and after that campaign for votes.

The new election system requires only a single nomination to contest a post and everything after that is in the hands of 146,500 delegates.

Alwi reckons that about half of the 25-seat supreme council may comprise new faces this time and he is hoping to be among them.

This will be the second attempt by the Kelantan politician, who is famous for his witty speeches at Umno general assemblies.

On his first try, when he vied for a supreme council seat, he decided to pull out midway when people started asking him for money.

"I don't have money but I will be giving everyone DVDs of all the speeches I have made at Umno assemblies. Some of the things I spoke about have become policy, some have not. It is up to them to decide whether I deserve their vote," he said.

Leaders who lost in the general election will struggle to survive in the supreme council race but younger faces who won and were given government posts, like Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Rahman Dahlan and Deputy Minister in the PM's Department Datuk Razali Ibrahim, will have a fighting chance.

Others, like Lanchang assemblyman Datuk Sharkar Samsuddin, have elected to stay out. Some of Sharkar's supporters had urged him to try out for the supreme council. He was initially open to the idea but changed his mind when he learnt that his deputy division chief Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah intended to defend his supreme council post.

"It's not nice to have two leaders from one division vying for the supreme council," said Sharkar who is also a state exco member.

Saifuddin's defeat in Temerloh in the general election was one of those supreme ironies. The ex-MP is famous for his fashionably liberal and unconventional views but his constituents rejected him for the ultra conservative PAS Youth leader Nasrudin Hasan who is famous for opposing rock concerts and the celebration of Valentine's Day.

It is a cautionary tale for all Umno leaders – you can play to the gallery but you should not forget where your core support lies.

Tun Dr Mahathir's call for talented Malay professionals to move up in the party is finally resonating among Umno members. He has said this before but after two political tsunamis, it has finally sunk in that they cannot survive a third tsunami unless Umno produces new and credible talent.

They feel this election must show those outside that young and talented leaders have a place in Umno.

Johor Umno met last week and declared that it supports status quo for the posts of president and deputy president.

"We like to think that Johor leads in Umno politics. The Mentri Besar wanted to set the tone on the two top posts," said Dr Latiff who is also deputy Johor Umno chief.

State Umno chairman Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin also indicated that Johor will support Hishammuddin in the VP race.

Some had felt that Khaled should also go for it but he told the meeting: "Surely I cannot be expected to challenge the incumbent VP from Johor (Hishammuddin). Johor must support Johor."

Johor's new Mentri Besar spoke like a gentleman and everyone in the room gave him a round of applause.

Khaled is also conscious of the new political landscape in Johor. He saw how badly the Chinese treated his predecessor Datuk Ghani Othman despite all that Ghani had done for the state. Umno is the mainstay of the state government and he needs to acknowledge that on the ground.

"He needs to take good care of those who helped return the Barisan Nasional to power. That's why he's not going for the supreme council. Johor is his top priority and he cannot spare much time on national politics," said Dr Latiff.

The Umno election is like a fleet of cars making the balik kampung journey. All the drivers want to drive properly and get there safely. But some of them want to arrive first, so they start speeding and that's when the trouble begins.

But the important thing, they say, is that everyone must arrive at the same kampung at the end of the day.


Altantuya’s murder: Endless possibilities

Posted: 24 Aug 2013 03:28 PM PDT

The cast of this murder mystery – including the prime minister himself – are not yet off the hook, pending appeals and a civil suit that promises more answers.

Anisah Shukry, FMT

An exotic model murdered by explosives. A prime minister linked by the court of public opinion. A jilted lover living in exile. And a shady, multi-multibillion ringgit deal between two countries.

They sound like tropes Sydney Sheldon would dream up of  – the perfect ingredients for a cheesy mystery-cum-romance novel one could breeze through on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

But there is no ending for this mystery; on the contrary, the saga has taken on a new twist with the acquittal of Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar – two men who were originally convicted of her murder, but who now walk free.

So we move on to the next chapter of this novel that is now seven years in the making: Who killed Altantuya?

With Azilah and Sirul's guilty convictions overturned, and no one to pin the murder on, we are now back to square one, when bits of Altantuya's remains were found near the Subang Dam in Puncak Alam, Shah Alam in 2006.

Oh, but there are many players in this murder case. First up on the list is Abdul Razak Baginda, a political analyst and Atantuya's one time lover, who brokered the controversial deal between Malaysia and France for the two Scorpene submarines with her help.

Altantuya admitted in a letter found after her murder that she had been blackmailing Abdul Razak, who ended their relationship, US$500,000 in return for her silence over the deal.

Flanked by her sister and cousin, she arrived in Malaysia on Oct 9, 2006, and reportedly engaged a private investigator to track him down.

A worried Abdul Razak contacted Deputy Superintendent Musa Safri to seek assistance to prevent Altantuya from disturbing him and his family, according to evidence revealed in court.

DSP Musa helpfully introduced Azilah to Abdul Razak, and the rest is history: Altantuya was murdered between Oct 19 and Oct 20 2006 – her body blown up to conceal all evidence.

Unsubstantiated accusations

Despite this, Abdul Razak, who was charged with abetting Azilah and Sirul, was acquitted by the High Court on Oct 31, 2008, without his defence being called, after the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against him.

Next on the list is Musa himself, who was then defence minister NajibTun Razak's aide de camp. Little is known about him beyond the fact that he was in heavy contact with Abdul Razak and was the middle man for Abdul Razak and Azilah.

Despite the text messages between Abdul Razak and Musa that were revealed in court, he was not called to testify, on the grounds that he was not present at the meeting between Azilah and Abdul Razak.

The prosecution's failure to call him to court was one of the reasons the Court of Appeal overturned Sirul and Azilah's guilty conviction on Friday.

The third and fourth suspects – at least, in the court of public opinion – are Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor.

They have been accused by the likes of carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan and the late private investigator P Balasubramaniam for being involved in her murder.

Both have denied this, and, like Musa, both were not called to testify in court. Political immunity? Or was it simply a case of not enough proof?

Najib's proven links to the murder are precarious at best: that he knew Abdul Razak and Musa Safri.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah told the Court of Appeal in June that Najib's relations with Razak and Musa was not enough to attribute him to the murder.

Accusations that Najib had had an affair with Altantuya, that Rosmah ordered for a statutory declaration linking her husband to the murder to be recanted, that Rosmah herself was at the scene of the murder, remain just that: unsubstantiated accusations.



The Altantuya Murder: Call for Full Public Inquiry

Posted: 24 Aug 2013 11:42 AM PDT


The prosecution of the case has been disgraceful from the start, with the failure to establish the motive for Altantuya's murder the most questionable of all. Through the case, the labored attempts by both prosecution and defence to obstruct the probe into any involvement of the then defence minister were also most bewildering. The prosecution has said they will appeal to the Federal Court but are Malaysians going to be treated to more of the same farce? 

Dr Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 

Nothing short of a full public inquiry into the Altantuya murder and the motive for her murder will do. The acquittal of the two former bodyguards of then defence minister, Najib Razak by the Appeal Court is the ultimate in the farce that has typified the Altantuya murder trial since 2006.

The prosecution of the case has been disgraceful from the start, with the failure to establish the motive for Altantuya's murder the most questionable of all. Through the case, the labored attempts by both prosecution and defence to obstruct the probe into any involvement of the then defence minister were also most bewildering. The prosecution has said they will appeal to the Federal Court but are Malaysians going to be treated to more of the same farce?

We need the equivalent of the 2004 Hutton Report when a public inquiry was held in Britain over the death of Dr David Kelly, a Ministry of Defence biological weapons expert who knew the truth about the British government's claim that Saddam Hussein could launch his weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes as had been claimed by the Blair administration. And this time, let us ensure that there is a fair composition of independent members to make such an inquiry believable.


Too many inconsistencies

There have been too many inconsistencies in the Altantuya case which warrant truthful answers, for example, is it true that all records of Altantuya's entry and presence in Malaysia were erased from the computers of the Immigration Department?

Among the "strange" twists was the sudden removal of the presiding judge before the trial started without giving a plausible explanation to the lawyers, not to mention the head of the prosecution team was changed at the eleventh hour. Finally, defence lawyers for the three accused kept changing with one walking out on the first day of hearing, charging that "third parties" were interfering in his work.

Public doubt, however, worsened after both defence lawyers and prosecutors cut off a witness (Altantuya's cousin) from testifying furtherwhen she revealed that the victim had shown her a photograph of herself, Baginda, Najib and "others" having lunch in a Paris restaurant.  The court too did not ask the witness to produce the photograph.

SUARAM will not rest until justice has been done in the murder of Altantuya. We believe that her murder is linked to the millions of ringgit in commissions associated with the RM7 billion Scorpene submarines deal. By her own admission in a letter found after her death, she was attempting to blackmail Razak Baginda for US$500,000. She was shot in October 2006 and her body was blown up with military explosives by two bodyguards attached to Najib's office after Razak Baginda went to Najib's chief of staff, Musa Safri, for help in stopping her demands. The submarine deal was never brought up in court during the murder trial which saw prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judge judiciously keeping Najib's name out of the proceedings.

Thus, SUARAM calls for the urgent establishment of a full public inquiry into the murder of Altantuya with terms of reference that include the motives for her murder and her links to the Scorpene submarines deal. Members of the committee must be seen to be independent and respected members of the judiciary and the community.

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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