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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Umno, the M’sian crook

Posted: 12 Oct 2013 11:08 AM PDT 

That said, tomorrow will be the D-day when the Court of Appeal delivers the much-awaited decision as to whether the Catholic weekly publication The Herald could continue using  the word "Allah".

Human rights have never been on the BN government's radar. This is one reason why the government had no compunction bulldozing its way to get the Prevention of Crime Bill (Amendment and Extension) 2013 sanctioned by Parliament despite the fact that it negated human rights. 

Jeswan Kaur, FMT

Vision 2020 – the nation's ambitious ideal mooted 22 years ago by none other than its most 'famous' premier, Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Among others, the vision calls for economic prosperity, social well-being, educational world class, political stability and psychological balance.

Two decades after it was unveiled during the tabling of the Sixth Malaysia Plan, the vision which has seven years' of grace period left, is anything but achievable.

Vision 2020 remains elusive. Still, Malaysia has created a record of sorts – it is number one in obesity, ranking top in Southeast Asia and sixth in the Asia Pacific region.

Malaysia has also made it to the list of the 'most corrupted countries' as revealed by the Ernst and Young report.

But do such infamies worry the government of the day? Hardly, for the federal administration too has gone on to create history as far as wasting taxpayers money goes, as proven by the Auditor-General 2012 report.

The report has undoubtedly opened a can of worms – from nepotism to cronyism to corruption – the country's leadership is far from remorseful over having misused the nation's funds to galvanise their own agendas.

From the prime minister to his deputy and the King and even his deputy, all get ferried about in rented jets – with the aircrafts' maintenance a shocker.

But does that perturb the central government headed by Barisan Nasional? No!

With so much misappropriation of public money gay abandonly taking place, it gives premier Najib Razak no credibility to discuss the repercussions of graft as he did during his four-day trip to America last month.

Najib had cited corruption as the reason for the Arab Spring. Yet, back home the message never rings a bell and BN in particular continues to indulge in money politics, in more ways than one.

From leading the nation to securing his political hegemony -  the premier has conveniently made graft the most viable ammunition – it is a tragedy that he keeps getting away.

Umno's 'fool-proof' antics

It is not only Najib that continues to indulge in his 'fool-proof' schemes. His colleagues in the Cabinet too have demonstrated similar shenanigans.

While Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz thinks it is no one's business to question why his wife needs to buy a house and one that is a whopping RM7 million, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has forgotten the do's and dont's of being a politician and  wakil rakyat (people's representative).

A former Internal Security Act (ISA)  detainee, Ahmad Zahid who once criticised Dr Mahathir for the omnipresent cronyism and nepotism in the government, has decided to 'let bygones be bygones' and embraced the Umno culture wholeheartedly.

Ahmad Zahid's ultra-Umno stance has seen him intimidating not just the rakyat but also the media especially the news portals for trying to paint him as a racist politician.

It was two Saturdays ago that Ahmad Zahid while in Malacca threw caution to the wind and said that it was alright for the police to "shoot to kill" when arresting dangerous criminals. He had also openly backed the pro-Umno Tiga Line bunch of gangsters, a fact which Zahid who is also  vice-president of Umno, later refuted.

If that was not unbecoming of a politician, the Home Minister also  threatened to close down newspapers which reported his speech  at a supposedly closed-door forum in Malacca – again abusing his authority to invoke thae Printing Presses and Publication (PPPA) 1984  that gave powers to Home Minister to revoke the permit of a publication.

Deny as much as he wants, the Umno-convert Zahid like the rest of the Umno stooges has shown his bigotry, time and again.

When, soon after the 13th general election, the Black 505 rallies took place to denounce electoral fraud and vote manipulation, Ahmad Zahid reportedly said that  Malaysians who were unhappy with the country's political system should pack their bags and leave.


Q&A: What Court Decision on Use of ‘Allah’ Means for Malaysia

Posted: 12 Oct 2013 10:57 AM PDT

Celine Fernandez, WSJ

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia's appellate court is scheduled to rule on Monday on whether the Roman Catholic Church can use 'Allah' in its weekly publication to represent the Christian God.

The battle in the court of appeal was the result of a lower court judgment in 2009 which ruled that the Catholic Church had the constitutional right to use the word Allah in its Bahasa Malaysia editions of the Herald, its newspaper. In early 2010 the same court ordered the Herald not to use the word while the government appealed the decision.

Last month, the Catholic Church argued before the appellate court that it should be allowed to use the word because it has been used for centuries by the Malay-speaking  Christian community.  The government, meanwhile, argued that the then-home minister didn't act in bad faith when he restricted the use of the word because he had done so from the aspect of security and public order.  The government also argued that the word is specific to Muslims.

Monday's ruling may be appealed to the next level, the highest court.

Muslims make up about 61% of Malaysia's 28 million people.  The Christian Federation of Malaysia said that about 60% of the approximately 2.6 million Christians in the country use the word Allah to refer to God.

Observers, including Dr. Patricia Anne Martinez, a Malaysian scholar of Islam who is Catholic, think the decision will go against the Herald, partly because of the current political climate. She pointed out that the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the dominant partner in the ruling coalition, has been using Islam for political expedience.

"There has been very negative and widespread publicity about the use of the word 'Allah' and the Herald case," she said, noting that UMNO used the issue during the campaign before the 13th general elections in May to show it was "championing Islam."

The closely watched verdict raises high-stake issues for Malaysia, particularly freedom of religion.

"We are not oppressing the non-Muslims," said Azril Amin, one of the lawyers in the suit representing the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council, a body that looks after Islamic affairs.  "We are not stopping them from practicing their religion."

Mr. Azril, who is also the vice-president of the Muslim Lawyers Association, said the government's side is simply saying "the proper use of the word Allah" should be reserved for Muslims.

Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Herald, says the long legal battle  has not worn him down.

"When justice is denied, you don't consider the tiredness, but the commitment that you have for the good of the people," he said. "We are just stating what is in Article 11 of the federal Constitution, which says we have the right to worship and to manage our religious affairs. So, therefore, we are basically fighting for religious freedom."

Dr. Mujahid Yusof Rawa, a member of Parliament from the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, or PAS, has visited close to 30 churches nationwide promoting interfaith dialogue.

"The court has to stick to the freedom of faith by taking Islam as the religion of the state into account," said Mr. Majahid, who is Muslim.

Mr. Mujahid spoke with The Wall Street Journal's Celine Fernandez about what's ahead. Edited excerpts follow:

The Wall Street Journal: How do you think the court will rule and why?

Mr. Mujahid: The fact that the court has deferred the ruling, which was supposed to be in September, will signal to you the tension of the issue. The court has to stick to the freedom of faith by taking Islam as the religion of the state into account. The extreme right still represents the significant group of Malay Muslims who feel that the word "Allah" used by Christians will lead to religious unrest. The Malays may not agree on the extreme tone of the right. But their concern is that it will not be a good precedent as the Catholic Church will dare to intrude further in demanding their use of "Allah" in many other church symbols. The court also, in my opinion, has to look into these multi-racial dynamics. And of course the ruling party, UMNO, at some degree may influence the ruling.

What will the impact be on religion and culture in Malaysia?

The impact is that interfaith relations will be more tense as many people have an interest in this. Politicians will ride the issue between the extreme right and the liberals.An Islamic party like PAS will be tested in its call for freedom of faith. The liberals will find a good ground to exert with more radical approaches in its belief of freedom of faith. The Malays, who are majority Muslims, will be tested in their pursuit of defending Islam but complying with Article 11, where freedom of faith is protected in the federal constitution. The theory that Christians proselytize Muslims will increase. And the Catholics will be seen as the enemy of Islam among the general Muslim viewpoint. Whatever the outcome of the ruling, it definitely will have a great impact for Malaysia and the international community.

What will it say about freedom of the press?

That's the whole issue. Catholics were banned from using the word "Allah" in their publication the Herald, but the high court found the ban as contradicting the notion of freedom, although the circulation must be limited to the Christians only. The government went to the court of appeal. The Catholics defended, and now it is time for the court of appeal to give its ruling. I think the issue was given such a highlight for the purpose of political gain rather than looking into a brighter future in faith relations. 


Will that flickering flame ever shine more brightly?

Posted: 12 Oct 2013 10:44 AM PDT

Towards this end, See said it was opportune for Malaysians to voice out and tell the government to be serious about our children's education and the future well-being of our nation and state.


Peter Sibon and Phyllis Wong, The Borneo Post


THE Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has said it again — that the use of Bahasa Malaysia should be expanded on a larger scale at institutions of higher learning.


His statement comes at a time when the nation is beginning to see a glint of light on higher learning institutions putting on more emphasis on the use English; when private colleges and universities are gaining foreign recognition with the use of English in teaching as evidenced by the sizeable number of foreign students and when renowned universities are setting up campuses in Malaysia,


The Minister justified his statement by saying Malaysia could learn from China, Japan and Korea which are giving high priority to the use of their national language while mastering other languages in developing their respective countries.


However, by comparing Malaysia to Japan, Korea and China, Muhyiddin has failed to realise that these countries have fully developed their languages and that many academic journals and papers — be it literature, science, medical or technical — are also readily available in their respective languages.


In stark contrast, there is a miserable lack of academic papers and journals written in BM in Malaysia. So how will our students be able to compete globally when they cannot read or thoroughly understand all these papers written and presented in English?


On the international stage, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has admitted Malaysia has lost some of its international competitiveness.

"We invest heavily on education and have decided to focus on the learning of science and mathematics," he told the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation CEO Forum.


"We also realise that to compete internationally, our people must master the English language because when we switched to a fully Bahasa Malaysia education system in the 1970's, we lost some of our international competitiveness," he stressed.


Similarly, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad revealed at the 12th Asian University Presidents Forum that 333 graduates of higher learning institutions were called for an information technology job interview but "only seven were recruited as the rest did not have a strong command of English."


He pointed out that some even requested that the questions during the interview, which was conducted in English, be translated to Bahasa Malaysia

Dr Mahathir lamented that the decision to revert to Bahasa Malaysia was politically motivated following protests from Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in 2008 but it failed to translate into support in the recent polls.


Undoubtedly, English, as a medium of instruction, has become more than just about its effectiveness as it has been politicised to the extent that all kinds of claims have been thrown into the mix.


These include threats to national unity, the position of Bahasa Malaysia as well as the erosion of mother tongue, culture and education.

Are we not involving politics in education?


Are our leaders using the issue education to consolidate their positions in their party by playing to the gallery — or a select group of people?

Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How raised a salient point when he said: "It's clearly political propaganda to woo the Umno delegates ahead of the party assembly.


"It's political rhetoric because such a rear-ward proposition has not been included in the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025.


"But for as long as racial politics dominates and Umno remains the backbone of the federal government, we will continue to be entertained with such unintelligent propositions."


Making the call to "free our universities," See said: "It's the duty of all Malaysians to stop the rot in our education standard by vociferously and forcibly rejecting political rhetoric and interference which inhibit academic freedom."


KJ, Shahrizat, Mas Ermieyati confirmed as UMNO wings leaders

Posted: 12 Oct 2013 10:40 AM PDT!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_454/image.jpg 

Astro Awani

KUALA LUMPUR: UMNO election committee  announced the victory of  UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Wanita UMNO Chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil who will continue to lead the wings for a second term. While Mas Ermieyati Samsudin emerged as the new Puteri Umno chief.

The committee chairman, Tan Sri Tajol Rosli Ghazali announced the results at a media briefing early this morning after each contestant obtained an easy majority vote of more than 96 divisions.

Since 3.35am, Khairy was said to have won in 97 divisions and Sharizat in 100 divisions whilst Mas Ermieyati won at 96 divisions.

Meanwhile, UMNO executive Secretary, Datuk Abd Rauf Yusof said, since this morning, there are still some 50 divisions that still has not finished counting their vote.

"This is the results that we have so far. The official results for other posts will be announced by UMNO headquarters today (Sunday)," he said.

The UMNO elections this year is the first time it involved grass root members in each division around the country and not only delegates who attend the UMNO General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur.

UMNO president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the new process proves that UMNO is a democratic party.

It also proves the decision to amend the party's constitution in 2009 is relevant and is accepted by their members.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, KITA fellow analyst,Prof Dr Mansor Mohd Noor expressed that despite the brave transformation taken by UMNO, the feasibility of the changes need to be see further.

"UMNO has to see a change in its culture not its system, which is why you see the incumbents have won. The culture right now is the rich urban Malay conquering UMNO," he said, adding the change of culture was needed to see a difference.

However, Najib highlights that even though there were a few problems during the election at a few places, in general UMNO has carried out the election this year successfully.

"I, on behalf of the party and the Supreme Council want to express our highest appreciation and thanks to all parties who have worked hard in the background and until now have been unknown, he said.

The 3 wings UMNO election consisted of 33,012 candidates, 247,000 voting papers distributed at 572 voting stations and 20,000 election volunteers.

Anwar kritik Khalid, kedudukan MB Selangor dalam bahaya

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 06:47 PM PDT


Kritikan Ketua Pembangkang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (gambar) terhadap Menteri Besar Selangor, Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim di pentas terbuka semasa forum berhubung Laporan Ketua Audit Negara 2012 di Petaling Jaya malam tadi memberikan isyarat tidak baik kepada bekas pemimpin korporat itu.

Menurut Anwar, Abdul Khalid tidak seharusnya berbangga dengan lebihan kewangan yang diperolehi kerajaan negeri Selangor akan tetapi gagal membelanjakannya dengan baik.

Sebaliknya, Anwar memuji Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang Lim Guan Eng dan menjadikan Setiausaha Agung DAP itu sebagai contoh pemimpin Pakatan Rakyat (PR) yang berjaya menguruskan kerajaan negeri dengan baik dan seimbang.

"Saya puji Lim Guan Eng yang membawa Pulau Pinang pada tahap pretasi terbaik. Bagaimanapun tidak kepada Khalid kerana sudah masanya Selangor tidak lagi berbangga dengan lebihan yang diperolehi.

"Kita tidak ada masalah dengan pengurusan beliau, hasil pendapatan negeri juga membanggakan namun terdapat beberapa isu seperti pelajar tidak dapat menyambung pelajaran ke pengajian tinggi selain segelintir rakyat miskin yang tidak mampu memiliki rumah dan perkara itu masih sukar ditangani sehingga kini," kata Anwar di hadapan hadirin dalam program yang turut menampilkan Dr Ong Kian Ming daripada DAP dan bekas Ketua Ekonomi Bank Islam Malaysia, Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajuddin.

Perlantikan Abdul Khalid sebagai Menteri Besar Selangor bagi penggal kedua sememangnya tidak disenangi oleh PKR Selangor yang dipimpin oleh Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Pada ketika itu, PKR juga tidak boleh melakukan apa-apa oleh kerana PAS dan DAP yang masing-masing mempunyai 15 kerusi Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) mahukan Abdul Khalid kekal dan tidak bersedia menerima Azmin.

Azmin yang merupakan Timbalan Presiden parti itu turut merungut apabila pimpinan pusat PKR tidak melakukan perbincangan dengan parti diperingkat negeri dalam urusan pelantikan menteri besar Selangor bagi penggal kedua.

Azmin juga tidak dapat melakukan apa-apa kerana PKR mempunyai kerusi DUN paling sedikit di Selangor dengan hanya 14.

Hasilnya, hubungan keruh diantara kerajaan negeri Selangor pimpinan Abdul Khalid dengan PKR negeri pimpinan Azmin semakin membarah.

Ini menyebabkan Anwar menghantar Setiausaha Agung PKR, Datuk Saifudin Nasution Ismail untuk menyelesaikan beberapa perkara yang tidak beliau senangi berhubung pentadbiran Abdul Khalid.

Saifuddin dilantik menjadi Ketua Staf di Pejabat Menteri Besar Selangor pada Julai lalu, sesuatu jawatan yang tidak pernah wujud sebelum ini di negeri terkaya Malaysia itu dan mirip kepada sistem Amerika Syarikat.

Pada masa sama, Khalid melantik Saifuddin sebagai pegawai yang mengendalikan projek Pembangunan Desa untuk mengendalikan lima kawasan Parlimen di utara Selangor yang masih dimenangi Umno dalam pilihanraya umum lalu.



Johor DAP reps to resolve Malaysian Dream ‘misunderstanding’ in tonight’s meet

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 06:42 PM PDT

(MM) - The DAP national leadership has called for an adhoc meeting of all its Johor leaders tonight, following its state chief Dr Boo Cheng Hau's (pic) unexpected criticism against the party's "Malaysian Dream".

In a statement here, DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua said he was shocked at Dr Boo's disapproval at the campaign, which was started by party veteran Lim Kit Siang during the latter's campaign for the Gelang Patah seat earlier this year.

Pua said Dr Boo had only raised the matter for the first time at his press conference yesterday, but never brought it up previously during any of the central executive committee (CEC) meetings since May 2013.

"The mere thought that such a movement, which does not benefit any single individual in the party, constitutes an abuse of power by Lim or any other leader, is just illogical and mind-boggling.

"The DAP leadership is sincere in wanting to resolve the differences which Dr Boo may have with the other party leaders and seek to have this matter resolved internally," Pua said in the statement.

According to The Star daily, Dr Boo had said that the Malaysian Dream movement was announced without any prior CEC discussion or approval.

Today, Pua said Dr Boo's remarks would mean the campaign required official "CEC approval", calling it a move which Dr Boo would disapprove as it would mean "dogmatic control by the central leadership over its leaders".

Pua stressed that the "Malaysian Dream" launched in Gelang Patah did not require any major mobilisation of party resources.

"The party leaders view Dr Boo's grievances seriously and want to take immediate steps to resolve this matter.

"We will be calling for a meeting of all state leaders to meet after tonight's fund-raising dinner by DAP Simpang Renggam in Johor where both Lim and Dr Boo will be present.

"We hope that with the attendance of all state elected representatives and leaders, as well as the participation of Lim and Dr Boo, any misunderstandings or differences can be communicated in an open and frank fashion and this matter can be resolved in an amicable fashion," Pua said.

The "Malaysian Dream" movement, with its secondary projects, "Impian Sarawak" and a subsequent "Impian Sabah", are campaigns which are supported by Malaysians of all walks of life, Pua said today. 


PAS chief repeats push to implement Islamic laws ahead of polls

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 05:20 PM PDT

(MM) - Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang repeated today PAS's old push for the implementation of Islamic laws in Malaysia, a remark likely to please the party's conservatives - the faction that is expected to return to the fore when internal polls are held this November.

The embattled PAS president insisted that the push had always been a part of the Islamist party's agenda, and has "not been a problem" among its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) allies, including the non-Muslims.

"We've been having dialogues about this issue since the 90s with them.

"We want them to see how it's implemented first because Syariah laws should not be judged just by the punishments, you have read into the court process," he told reporters after launching the seminar on implementing Syariah laws in Malaysia at the University of Selangor.

"It is difficult to punish with the laws [as there are many factors to consider] but it is there to scare criminals," he said.

The Marang MP claimed that the critics of Syariah laws have only highlighted the Hudud laws, when it is only one of the three type of Islamic laws.

Hudud and the Islamic state issue, along with other sensitive religious issues like the "Allah" controversy had created a schism in the Islamist party ahead of the May 5 general election, with the conservative ulama and progressive factions at loggerheads with one another.

The issue was exploited by rivals Umno to cast doubt over PAS's commitment to Islam ahead of the May 5 general election that saw the opposition party pick up just 21 federal seats or seven fewer than Election 2008.

Among PAS casualties in the 13th general election were several of its progressive leaders, including deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who lost the Pendang race in his home state of Kedah, and vice-president Salahuddin Ayub who was defeated in Pengerang, Johor.

Party sources have said the losses in Election 2013 may propel the ulama back into the limelight, following their rout in the previous party polls, a development they said could jeopardise the PAS continued relations with its allies in PR.

Just last month, members of the PAS ulama faction even suggested that PAS rethink its membership in the multiracial, multireligious PR pact, ostensibly to protect the party's interest and mitigate an unnamed harm, as part of eight resolutions passed at a convention held in Kedah, during which it also sought for the party's two top posts to be reserved for the ulama.

At the meeting dubbed Multaqa Ulama Se-Malaysia (Convention of Malaysia's Ulama), they further demanded that the members of the group be given government posts in PR-run states in an unprecedented move that suggests discontent over the lack of recognition accorded to a class that forms a powerful bloc in PAS.

Today, Abdul Hadi said Islamic laws have limited powers in the country as the religious issues are under the states' jurisdiction.

"The states could not implement Syariah laws as they are not included under the federal laws.

"So this means Islam does not have power at the state level.

"Since PAS was voted into parliament in 1959, the country's second election, we urged that Syariah laws be implemented nationwide, unfortunately, those who are against it, they did because they don't understand, they thought it is a weakness, to implement the Islamic laws," he said during his speech.

Abdul Hadi also claimed that critics only highlight the punishments without considering other branches of the punishment under Islamic laws.

"Without realising that from the crime aspect, as part of Islamic laws, and the laws are divided into three sections, qisas, hudud and takzir."

He explained that qisas involves human rights laws where the right of forgiveness is given to the victim or the family.

This section of the law involves any murder or assault cases.

Meanwhile, hudud involves the general rights to preserve religion, dignity, descendants and property.

Among the offences under Hudud laws are apostasy, stealing, robbing, adultery, wrongly accusing others of adultery and drinking alcohol.

"The judge for the Syariah court has to find way to free the criminal, not to punish no matter what.

"In Islam, you have to find a way to free them, because to free them is better than wrongly sentence someone," he said, in his renewed push for the controversial laws. 


Muslims can’t stop others from using the word Allah, says PAS president

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 05:13 PM PDT

Eileen Ng, TMI

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (pic) today weighed in on the controversial "Allah" row, saying there is nothing wrong with non-Muslims using the term in their faiths provided it is not misused or misinterpreted.

"There is no law that does not allow other people to use the word 'Allah', but if they interpret it wrongly to Muslims, they need to answer because Allah means He is the only God to be worshiped," Hadi said after launching a seminar on Shariah at the Universiti Selangor in Shah Alam, today.

Hadi's statement comes as the Court of Appeal prepares to give its decision on the appeal by Catholic weekly newspaper Herald to be allowed to use the word.

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur had ruled on December 31, 2009 that the weekly newspaper could use the word.

Following Putrajaya's appeal against that decision, a three-man bench led by Datuk Seri Mohamad Apandi Ali heard submissions on September 10 from lawyers representing Putrajaya, the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church and Islamic religious councils.

Hadi said it was not for Muslims to stop others from using the word "Allah", pointing out that unlike the word "God", "Allah" is an Arabic word which cannot be translated into another language.

This, he added, makes the term sacred.

His comments contrast the recent call by the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) on Muslims to unite against any attempt to misuse the word "Allah".

The Council, in the prepared text of the Friday sermon, has questioned the use of the word "Allah" in the Bible, saying the action was contradictory to Christians' belief in the concept of Trinity.

But Jakim added that use of the term in Christian bibles could cause confusion among Muslims, saying they might be mistaken about the identity of "Allah" and ultimately destroy their faith.

Jakim's call prompted a defiant statement from church leaders in Sabah and Sarawak which said Christians would continue using "Allah" regardless of court outcome.

"The Bumiputera church will continue to use the Bahasa Malaysia Alkitab together with the word 'Allah' both of which are fundamental to all aspects of the profession and practice of the Christian faith," they said in a strongly-worded statement last night.



UMNO ELECTION 2013: Making their pick in reformed polls

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 05:05 PM PDT

EXPANDED FRANCHISE: Empowered party members get to choose leaders of the various wings in historic elections

Shahrum Sayuthi, FMT

NEARLY a quarter of a million members of the Umno wings will vote today in an expanded franchise designed to empower the grassroots and level the field for contenders.

 The bold reform is the cornerstone of Umno's political transformation that gathered steam in the wake of the decisive 2008 general election.

  In a sign of healthy democratic process, a whopping 33,012 party members are vying for posts at all levels.  

 Incumbent Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, for instance, is being challenged by four others while Wanita counterpart Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil is in a three-cornered fight.

  While more aspirants are able to offer their candidatures, the empowerment of the otherwise "ordinary" members has brought considerable excitement on the ground.

  Members are thrilled about the prospects of electing leaders at the highest level.

  Sharif Abdul Shukur, 33, of Gula Perlis Youth branch, is one of  more than 70,000 empowered grassroots members of the movement who will decide if Khairy, or any of his challengers, shall be the Umno Youth leader.

  "Previously I only voted for Umno Youth leaders at the branch and divisional level. This is indeed a privilege."

  Sharif, who runs a small business in Padang Besar, Perlis, was one of  five delegates chosen from his branch to take part in today's elaborate process.

  The Wanita, Youth and Puteri elections serve as the precursor to the main event on Oct 19, where   more than 140,000 delegates will  elect the supreme council members and divisional leaders.  

The amended Umno constitution, approved in 2009, dramatically raised the total number of eligible voters while doing away with the quota system.

  Umno is not the first party to attempt such an expanded franchise but two previous bids by other parties faltered.

  In 1990, MIC allowed 22 members of each branch to vote for its president in an apparent attempt to improve the party's democratic credentials but this was not repeated in  subsequent party polls.

  PKR, in what many believe to be a knee-jerk reaction to Umno's 2009 constitutional amendments, tried to project itself as the most democratic party in the country during its polls a year later.

  Despite claiming that it allowed all members to vote, the whole party election process ended in chaos, complete with incidents of chair throwing and even punch-ups, due mostly to PKR's inability to handle the massive logistical demands.

  Umno has prepared extensively, given that the process would  determine if  their party's grassroots could handle a higher form of democracy.

  Outgoing Johor Umno liaison committee secretary Datuk Ahmad Zahri Jamil was upbeat about the prospects.

  "Of course, there will be glitches here and there, but that can be overcome.

  "What is more important is that this new party election system will  showcase members' maturity in deciding for themselves who should lead Umno," said the veteran Parit Sulong Umno leader.

  The election process is a crucial platform to effect succession plans at various levels.

   Shahrizat, 60, and one of her two challengers, Datuk Maznah Mazlan, 62, could perhaps be contesting for the last time.

   The third candidate is Raihan Suleiman Palestin, 47.

  As for the Youth movement, Khairy, 37, appears to be in the driver's  seat. Still, his challengers, Syed Rosli Syed Harman, 37,  Akhramsyah Sanusi, 40, Irwan Ambak Khalid Izhar, 38, and Abd Karim Ali, 49, are putting up a spirited fight for the post.

  It should be noted that all of them are also without Datukship.

   This signifies the ability of the movement's leaders to hold their own without the trappings of titles and positions.

  Khairy, on his part, has kept the movement going despite not holding a title or government position for much of his tenure.

  Most of the contenders for top Puteri posts are contesting for the first time.

  Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, 37, and Jamilah Hanim  Othman, 38, who are candidates of the movement's top post, had, in several interviews, expressed almost identical visions for Puteri.  Both spoke of their wish to steer Puteri back to prominence, not only within the party but also in the overall scheme of things.

Umno's democratic ideals sparkle

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 05:00 PM PDT

THE REAL DEAL: The lynchpin of Barisan Nasional has refined its system of elections to quell the troubles of the past

Azmi Anshar, NST

IN the unrelenting scrutiny of the Umno election this weekend and next, the truism that the president of Umno is always the prime Minister is undisputed: in fact, this empowering axiom is feverishly reinforced.

Check out the noise generated by print and digital media on the Umno polls: whatever the party does or says is vigorously reported, the organisation being a barometer of any power shift, future policies and national blueprint.

For example, provocative issues volleying venomously between key Umno leaders and responded by Barisan Nasional allies and opposition alike, have an impact, no matter how subtle, on party affairs and the polls' outcome.

For every Umno leader occupied with party politicking and under-the-radar campaigning, there is a silent backer or critic out there whose activism adds, or somehow augments, the leader's lustre, exposure and reputation.

Key Umno leaders involved in slanging matches with opposition parties, for instance, seem to solidify their polls chances: they may tip-toe over the ruling against direct campaigning, but because their official position demands that they react to all comers, they stand head and shoulders over their competitors.

These give them an edge, especially if they hold cabinet or other strategic posts, as opposed to their ordinary challengers who barely muster a squeak: it was natural that they appealed to the Umno disciplinarians to allow more wriggle room for direct campaigning.

There lies Umno's paradox: for a party that prides itself in its democratic principles, from the stiff contests at its divisional grassroots to its wings and its supreme council, Umno is diffident, prickly even, on contenders' campaigning.

For candidates, there are the quaint state by state get-togethers for face time with a limited number of divisional delegates. But there can be no preening in front of the media and no proximity with the 146,500 divisional voting members (350,000 if you add Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings), meaning candidates can't advertise as they would in a general election.

A proposed debate between the six vice-presidential candidates on prime time TV elicits frowns from senior leaders, though the grassroots think it would be a hoot to view the six fighting ferociously on stage.

Bear in mind that face-to-face campaigning restrictions are confined to distributing name cards bearing a candidate's mugshot, name and candidature number. The candidates can lobby for votes through social media, and that part of the hustings is lively.

That's the rub: if Umno via BN can do a full-blown campaign directly to voters, even shake hands and pass goodies, why can't the same be permitted in party polls? The simple answer is, experience and a troubled past.

In the spasmodic years of 1981, 1982, 1984, 1987, 1993, and just before 1996, what used to be artful and gracious campaigning degenerated into a veritable snake pit -- malicious "flying letters", backbiting and sabotage -- and that was on a good day.

On a bad day, someone might just fire a pistol to stop a furniture-throwing contest, supporters get into fisticuffs, ambitious aspirants hire witch-doctors to guarantee wins (one aspirant was cut up in pieces by an overzealous bomoh) and disgruntled losers filed a lawsuit to the detriment of the party.

In between the skirmishes, the nastiest travesty transpired -- big money bribes, first as a simple transaction but later, as delegates take advantage of opposing candidates' vulnerability, virtually auctioned off their votes to the highest bidder. By the way, losing candidates get no refunds.

To stop the debauchery, the non-direct campaigning ruling was enforced for the 1996 polls and stayed from there on.

Curiously, the late Tun Ghafar Baba had suggested a radical approach to neutralise money politics: make it legal by roughly following the American method of allowing campaign funds and contributions, with transparent limits and how such funds are distributed.

Ghafar's "if you can't beat them, then join them" philosophy didn't get any traction when he verbalised the idea in 1985 before incredulous Kelantan Umno leaders attending a weekend course in Tumpat.

Intriguingly, Ghafar's vision to quell money politics just when it was getting its legs was imparted following the sensational entry into Umno of a young upstart, whose path to power was as if the Red Sea was parted for him.

This time though, the electoral base that was radically expanded to allow that many members to vote may just about shut out the money politics scourge: ambitious contenders insane enough to buy their way in would have to spend an inordinately huge amount to cover at least half of the voter members.

Whatever Umno's fallibility, there is no shaking off its top-dog tag since general elections in 1960 and by contrast, widely transparent than the opposition parties' specious democratic credentials despite their pretentious claims of democracy.

Association calls for the use of ‘Allah’ in church

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 04:50 PM PDT

Priscilla Prasena, FMT

The Association of Churches in Sarawak said the Bumiputera churches in Sarawak would continue to use the Bahasa Malaysia bible with the word "Allah" as it was their fundamental right.

Its chairman Rev Bolly Lapok reiterated in a press statement today that the churches expected the federal government strictly abide by the Federal Constitution, which guaranteed religious freedom.

"We are also reminding the government that Sabahan and Sarawakian were promised that our right to practise our religion will be respected when Sabah and Sarawak were courted to join the peninsular to form Malaysia in 1963," he said.

The press statement was issued prior to the Home Ministry's appeal against the High Court's ruling that allowed the Catholic weekly publication, The Herald, to use the word, "Allah" in their publication. The appeal was set for hearing at the Court of Appeal on Monday.

On Dec 31, 2009, the High Court held that the Home Ministry's move in prohibiting The Herald from using the word "Allah" as illegal and therefore, null and void.

However, the Home Ministry remained defiant compelling the publication on Feb 16, 2010 to file for a judicial review of the ministry's continued ban, naming the ministry and the government as respondents. The publication seeked among others, a declaration that the ministry's continued prohibition of the use of the word, "Allah" in The Herald as illegal.

Bolly claimed that that the use of the word "Allah" was an integral part of the Bumiputera Christian in Sabah and Sarawak who use Bahasa Malaysia in their churches, and that to stop using "Allah" in the practise of their faith would tentamount to a curb of religious freedom.

"This is abhorrent, wholly unacceptable and a flagrant betrayal of the Malaysia Agreement which guaranteed the inalienable rights of non-Muslims in Sarawak and Sabah to religious freedom," he said.

Bolly also reiterated that Sabah and Sarawak agreed to join and form Malaysia in 1963 with the agreement that they would accept Islam as the official religion of the federation on the condition that those of other faiths would be allowed to practise their religion without restriction.

"We find it completely unacceptable that what are common practices of the Christians in Sabah and Sarawak for generations, more than a hundred years before the very idea of Malaysia was conceived, is now held as unlawful by the government," Bolly said.

He also urged the religious extremists to pour fuel into the fire regarding the use of the word "Allah" by Christians as 1.6 million Bumiputera Christians in Sabah and Sarawak used Bahasa Malaysia during worship in addition to their native dialects.



Karpal Singh urges King not to agree to PCA

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 03:56 PM PDT

(The Star) - DAP national chairman Karpal Singh has urged the King not to give his assent to the Prevention Of Crime Bill which was passed in Parliament.

He said the King should instead return the bill to the Dewan Rakyat for further consideration for the sake of public interest.

"In the event that the bill is passed and enacted in Parliament, DAP will take out a test case to determine its constitutionality," he told a press conference at a coffee shop in Air Itam Saturday.

Karpal also hit out at Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi over a statement that police need not wait to fire warning shots during operations.

"If the minister is right, we're living in a cowboy country. It is a very serious matter if the police's action is not controlled. Indiscriminate shooting can lead to a lot of deadly consequences," he said.

He urged Ahmad Zahid to refrain from making irrational statements.

"His statements are beyond ridiculous. He should seek legal advice before making statements," he said.

Forum against Bersih’s People’s Tribunal draws PKR scorn

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 03:52 PM PDT

Anisah Shukry, FMT 

This statement probably put a beam on the faces of the 60 or so audiences amid the chaos – Bersih's People's Tribunal must legitimise its findings on the 13th general election by presenting them to the court of law or they would remain as "unfair opinion."

This was said by the panelist Tan Che How and Yuktes Vijay at the forum, "Cleaning Bersih: An Analysis of Bersih's People's Tribunal" held yesterday evening by NGOs Pertubuhan Minda & Sosial Prihatin, and Yuktes to present "alternate views" on Bersih's People's Tribunal.

Shouting matches and chaos were the norm of the night with the PKR members hogging and shouting into the microphone their protests and off-topic questions to drown the speakers views.

Despite the interruptions, Tan managed to point out that many allegations of the EC's biasness had emerged during the four-day tribunal, and that such claims should be challenged in court.

"There is no problem with the existence of the People's Tribunal as long as it brings its findings to court. Otherwise, the findings without the scrutiny of the court could distort the people's persection," Tan, a lawyer who professed to be a BN supporter said.

"The tribunal had no plaintiff, no defendant. The EC and the BN boycotted it. So, any findings from the tribunal are incomplete with the probability of bisness," he said, adding that he had intended to testify at the tribunal but was cautioned against it by his peers.

His fellow panelist, Yuktes, said by bringing the findings to court, the tribunal would also go beyond highlighting the alleged fraud in the general election and actually come up with a solution.

However, PKR members, who comprised one-third of the audience, shot down their arguments.

Led by Michael Tamil, Kashminder Singh, and Suresh Kumar, the PKR men hurled personal and childish verbal attacks such as "the moderator is a gangster!" and "Yuktes looks like Charlie Chaplin" with them almost coming to blows with the moderator G Kalaicelvan and co-organiser Ramesh Rao.

 The forum took off on the wrong footing when Kalaicelvan announced that two of the four original panelists had backed out at the last minute after having allegedly received threats for their intended participation.

The situation deteriorated when Tan, the first speaker, began his presentation by pointing out it was misleading for Bersih to name the tribunal "the People's Tribunal" or "Tribunal Rakyat."

"The tribunal doesn't represent the views of all the rakyat. Those who attended forum were those who were quite disappointed with the tribunal itself," he said, drawing loud and furious protests from the 15 or so PKR members.



Mereka bersatu hanya semasa menyanyikan lagu UMNO sahaja

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 03:49 PM PDT 

Apa pun hasilnya UMNO akan tetap berpecah belah. Ada juga waktu-waktu dan ketikanya mereka bersemangat dan bersatu. Selalunya mereka akan bersatu serta berganding bahu semasa menyanyikan lagu UMNO sahaja. 

Aspan Alias 

Keputusan pemilihan bagi sayap UMNO akan diketahui malam ini, mungkin lewat malam. Saya tidak sedar waktu dan hari pemilihan bagi sayap UMNO khususnya Pemuda berlaku hari ini. Pertandingan Pemuda tidak mendapat perhatian saya kerana umum sudah yakin yang Khairy Jamaluddin akan menang agak besar kali ini.

Saya menjangkakan kemenangan bagi Khairy ini dua bulan dahulu lagi. Khairy 'is the noticeable victor' dan itu pun yang sepatutnya berlaku. Justeru tidak payah memberikan komen panjang tentang pertandingan Pemuda. Bagi saya pada hakikatnya tidak ada pertandingan dalam sayap Pemuda itu.

Ramai Pemuda yang saya temui berkata, mereka sudah muktamad akan memberikan kemenangan kepada Khairy Jamaluddin. Proses pengundian hari ini hanyalah proses 'formality' sahaja. Khairy akan menang. Bak kata adat, 'perundingan berlaku dalam gelap, adat berlalu dalam terang'.

Saya tidak faham tentang apa yang berlaku dalam sayap Wanita. Ada yang mengatakan yang Shahrizat akan menang dan mempertahankan jawatan Ketua Wanita Malaysia kerana beliau mendapat sokongan padu dari Perdana Menteri. Tetapi tidak kurang ramai yang mahukan kemenangan itu di perolehi oleh orang lain memandangkan Shahrizat mempunyai 'baggage' yang besar untuk di pikul bersama oleh parti dalam menghadapi pilihanraya nanti. Shahrizat bagi puak-puak ini adalah beban besar untuk parti.

Puteri UMNO sememangnya saya tidak dapat memberikan pandangan kerana sayap ini nampaknya ramai yang berbakat tetapi bakat mereka akan menjadi tumpul oleh kerana budaya negatif yang jelas dalam UMNO itu. Sayap ini sememangnya terlalu jauh dari mengetahui apakah dia UMNO itu dan apa yang perlu ada dalam parti itu. Diantara pemimpin Puteri yang jelas hanyalah perebutan jawatan dan tidak tahu samada mereka tahu apa dia perjuangan dan kehendak moral parti itu.

Yang menarik ialah keputusan pemilihan Majlis Tertinggi minggu hadapan terutamanya keputusan bagi jawatan Naib Presiden parti. Keputusan pertandingan dalam sayap-sayap parti hari ini sedikit sebanyak akan mempengaruhi keputusan pertandingan Naib Presiden UMNO itu. Jika Khairy dan Sharizat memenangi jawatan ketua Pemuda dan Wanita maka peluang untuk Zahid dan Shafie Apdal mengekalkan jawatan masing-masing adalah cerah.

Masuk satu keluar satu. Jika Hishamudin seperti yang dijangka oleh banyak pihak akan terkeluar maka yang akan bersama Shafie dengan Zahid Hamidi adalah salah seorang dari empat calon yang lain. Ramai yang menelah yang Mukhriz akan memenangi salah satu dari tiga Naib Presiden itu, tetapi ramai juga yang menelah yang beliau akan tewas kerana beberapa sebab. Pertamanya, beliau masih baru dan Mukhriz belum tentu kepimpinannya. Mereka menganggap Mukhriz akan di ketahui boleh memimpin atau tidak jika Dr Mahathir sudah tiada dalam politik lagi.

Keduanya, Mukhriz pernah menjadi calon popular Ketua Pemuda UMNO Malaysia dan beliau akhirnya menduduki tempat yang tercorot diantara tiga calon Ketua Pemuda semasa itu. Bahagian Pemuda yang mencalonkan beliau sendiri tidak mengundi beliau dalam pertandingan itu.

Lagi pula tidak boleh diperkecilkan kemampuan Isa Samad dalam pertandingan Naib Presiden ini. Begitu juga Ali Rustam. Kedua-dua mereka ini masih muda dan mempunyai pengalaman luas dalam memelihara parti dalam pilihanraya. Isa mempunyai hubungan peribadi yang kuat dengan ahli-ahli peringkat bawahan kerana sifat beliau senang di dekati dan di jumpai.

Sifat mudah dihubungi ini banyak memberikan markah kepada Isa yang masih muda dan baru sahaja berumah tangga itu. Secara peribadi saya mengenali TS Isa ini puluhan tahun dan saya merasakan sifat mudah berjumpa dan sikap terbuka beliau menerima pandangan rakan-rakan dan taulan di sekeliling beliau.

Kita mesti mengakui tiada kelebihan istimewa diantara mereka yang bertanding ini dan jika ada unsur permainan wang dalam pemilihan ini Mukhriz mungkin tercicir kerana bermain dengan wang juga memerlukan kemahiran dan pengalaman. Cara hendak membayar pengundi pun perlu kemahiran.

Saya terlihat yang permainan wang berlaku dalam pemilihan ini seperti juga dalam pemilihan yang lalu-lalu. Kita mesti ingat, pemimpin UMNO yang menang sejak dua lebih dekad yang lalu terpaksa bermain dengan wang. Itu sudah menjadi budaya dan budaya itulah yang menjahanamkan parti itu.

Mereka pandai menambat hati perwakilan yang ramai itu. Mereka percaya jika kambing di tambat, kambing-kambing itu mesti di beri makan. Siapa yang menambat banyak kambing dan pandai pula memberi makan rumput dengan secukupnya, kambing itu tidak akan kemana-mana.

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