Selasa, 8 Oktober 2013

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Somewhere in Umno, the ghost of 1Malaysia drowns

Posted: 08 Oct 2013 12:38 PM PDT

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(TMI) - Malays good. Non-Malays bad. That's the rhetoric that sells to the Umno party base, not 1Malaysia.

Rest in Peace 1Malaysia.

It was a vague concept to start with, something the Prime Minister promised as his vision for a united Malaysia – one where all Malaysians came first, regardless of race or religion.

Then he stood on the sidelines as the country watched the Prime Minister's own power base rip apart his delicate vision of a united Malaysia. The shredding reached fever pitch this week in the run-up to Umno's polls on October 19.

Much of the second echelon of Umno – the would-be vice-presidents – have put the us-versus-them theme front and centre of Umno politics.

Malays good. Non-Malays bad. That's the rhetoric that sells to the Umno party base, not 1Malaysia.

The Chinese only got successful because they would do all the illegal things good Malays would never do, said Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam this week to a group of Malay businessmen.

Indian gangsters are killing our Malay people, so what's wrong with a shoot-first policy, argued… wait for this… the Home Minister of Malaysia, the man in charge of the police and law and order: Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Opposition leaders and even the Bar Council have turned their sights on Zahid for his increasingly racial taunts, but will this turn the tide? Not likely. If anything, Zahid will ride the surf of opposition from non-Malays as his party base craves for more of the same.

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/somewhere-in-umno-the-ghost-of-1malaysia-drowns 

The foot is in the mouth ... again

Posted: 08 Oct 2013 12:34 PM PDT

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I am writing this article from the heart – fully aware of the consequences. I am well aware that a fellow journalist was arrested for "her own protection". I very well know that I could incur the wrath of the Lord and Master. Silence is no longer an option for those who choose to call themselves journalists. For our dignity and pride, we have to stand and say our piece on those who choose to ride roughshod over us. 

R. Nadeswaran, The Sun 

WHEN mobile telephones and their related technology landed on our shores more than two decades ago, they were deemed as "telecommunications equipment" which enabled the people to stay in touch with each other without the need for telephone exchanges, wires and the other trappings of a land line.

Some of them at that time appeared to be weapons of destruction, one of which was the size and weight of a brick! Over the years, with the advent of modern technology, they have become smaller and have a host of applications.

The technological advancement has not stopped. What could be classified as an innovation today could become obsolete the next day. Instead of just being used to make calls, the mobile telephone can be used as a camera, a voice recorder and even a video player. And images and voices can be sent out at the press of a button to hundreds of people instantaneously.

It is because of this that certain countries chose to ban certain brands and applications because of the threat of abuse and for security reasons.

Many holding positions and those in high office take cognizance of these existing and innocent-looking gadgets and choose to be guarded when speaking in private knowing very well that the mobile telephone has other uses.

That was perhaps what Home Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi did not take into account or deliberately chose to ignore when he made the threat of closing down newspapers in a speech last Saturday.

Unknown to him, someone in the audience had made a complete recording of his nonsensical tirade and his innocuous links to a secret society which had been banned by none other than his own ministry.

That audio recording has now gone viral and no one is paying any heed to his threat and the Chinese Newspaper Editors Association has urged Zahid to retract his threat.

The threat aside, what was more shocking was his endorsement of the Tiga Line underworld group, calling them his friends and urging them to do what they needed to do.

Tiga Line, he thundered, weren't thugs and were in fact some form of benevolent gangsters that only turned up at festivals.

"I tell our Tiga Line friends, do what should be done," he can be heard in the recording, which has now been made available in several internet sites.

His remarks drew loud cheers from the room, and he took it further by taking a racist line when he declared that Malays were the usual victims.

"The largest drug dealers are Chinese, the smaller ones are Indians and the users are Malays. In internet gambling, the bosses are Chinese, operators are Indians and patrons are Malays.

Therefore the victims are Malays," Zahid is heard saying, adding that he is home minister due to Malay support that made him Umno vice-president.

It is understandable the minister is in the race for a senior party post but to take a racial stance on victims of crime is certainly the bottom of the pits.

Using crime to pit one race against the other is not acceptable. Crime has no race barrier. Using imagination and not foresight, the minister has chosen to conjure his own reasons without any facts or figures, just to win a few brownie points for the sake of his career and political expediency.

It is obvious that he has little respect for the law; pays no heed to common sense; lacks good judgment and has no self-esteem by resorting to such levels of disgusting popularity-gaining efforts.

Besides, the threat to close newspapers goes against the basic grain of the prime minister's promise of easing up on press freedom. What message are we sending out to the people when the minister openly defies and derides the country's No. 1 and his own plans for a fully-developed nation?

How will the PM face an international audience when a member of his own cabinet makes such unwarranted threats and attacks? How will he be able to defend his policies when renegades start putting their foot in the mouth?

I am writing this article from the heart – fully aware of the consequences. I am well aware that a fellow journalist was arrested for "her own protection". I very well know that I could incur the wrath of the Lord and Master.

Silence is no longer an option for those who choose to call themselves journalists. For our dignity and pride, we have to stand and say our piece on those who choose to ride roughshod over us.

Politicians should no longer be allowed to use journalism as cannon-fodder for their actions or the lack of them. Or for that matter, for political gain and political glory.

If we want to practise good journalism to serve as the eyes, ears and mouths of fellow Malaysians, we cannot be practitioners with the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

R. Nadeswaran believes that bullying and threats have to stop to allow journalists to practise their craft. Comments: citizen-nades@thesundaily.com

 

US adults score below average on worldwide skills test

Posted: 08 Oct 2013 12:28 PM PDT

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(MSN News) - Are you a worker for whom technology makes it possible to do a better job or are you a worker that the technology can replace?" he said. For those without the most basic skills, he said, the answer will be merciless and has the potential to extend into future generations. Learning is highly correlated with parents' education level. 

It's long been known that America's school kids haven't measured well compared with international peers. Now, there's a new twist: Adults don't either.

In math, reading and problem-solving using technology — all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength — American adults scored below the international average on a global test, according to results released Tuesday.

Adults in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland and multiple other countries scored significantly higher than the United States in all three areas on the test. Beyond basic reading and math, respondents were tested on activities such as calculating mileage reimbursement due to a salesman, sorting email and comparing food expiration dates on grocery store tags.

Not only did Americans score poorly compared to many international competitors, the findings reinforced just how large the gap is between the nation's high- and low-skilled workers and how hard it is to move ahead when your parents haven't.

In both reading and math, for example, those with college educated parents did better than those whose parents did not complete high school.

The study, called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, found that it was easier on average to overcome this and other barriers to literacy overseas than in the United States.

Researchers tested about 157,000 people ages 16 to 65 in more than 20 countries and subnational regions. It was developed and released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is made up of mostly industrialized member countries. The Education Department's Center for Education Statistics participated.

The findings were equally grim for many European countries — Italy and Spain, among the hardest hit by the recession and debt crisis, ranked at the bottom across generations. Unemployment is well over 25 percent in Spain and over 12 percent in Italy. Spain has drastically cut education spending, drawing student street protests.

But in the northern European countries that have fared better, the picture was brighter — and the study credits continuing education. In Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands, more than 60 percent of adults took part is either job training or continuing education. In Italy, by contrast, the rate was half that.

As the American economy sputters along and many people live paycheck-to-paycheck, economists say a highly-skilled workforce is key to economic recovery. The median hourly wage of workers scoring on the highest level in literacy on the test is more than 60 percent higher than for workers scoring at the lowest level, and those with low literacy skills were more than twice as likely to be unemployed.

"It's not just the kids who require more and more preparation to get access to the economy, it's more and more the adults don't have the skills to stay in it," said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. 

Read more at: http://news.msn.com/us/us-adults-score-below-average-on-worldwide-skills-test?ocid=twmsnnews 

Human chain formed to protect Christians during Lahore mass

Posted: 08 Oct 2013 12:23 PM PDT

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(The Express Tribune) - Mufti Mohammad Farooq delivered a sermon quoting a few verses of the Holy Quran that preached tolerance and respect for other beliefs, Father Nasir Gulfam stepped right next to him after having conducted a two hour long Sunday service inside the church. The two men stood shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand as part of the human chain that was formed outside the church not just as a show of solidarity but also to send out a message, 'One Nation, One Blood'. 

Hand in hand as many as 200-300 people formed a human chain outside the St Anthony's Church adjacent to the District Police Lines at the Empress Road, in a show of solidarity with the victims of the Peshawar church attack two weeks back, which resulted in over a 100 deaths. The twin suicide attack on All Saints church occurred after Sunday mass ended and is believed to be the country's deadliest attack on Christians.

Standing in the small courtyard of St Anthony's Church, as Mufti Mohammad Farooq delivered a sermon quoting a few verses of the Holy Quran that preached tolerance and respect for other beliefs, Father Nasir Gulfam stepped right next to him after having conducted a two hour long Sunday service inside the church. The two men stood shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand as part of the human chain that was formed outside the church not just as a show of solidarity but also to send out a message, 'One Nation, One Blood'.

As part of an attempt to sensitize the public at large, the human chain was the second such event after a similar had been organized in Karachi last week outside the St Patrick's Cathedral by an organization called Pakistan For All – a collective of citizens concerned about the growing attacks on minorities.

"Well the terrorists showed us what they do on Sundays. Here we are showing them what we do on Sundays. We unite," said Mohammad Jibran Nasir, the organizer who made the calls for the event on social media.

Read more at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/614333/muslims-form-human-chain-to-protect-christians-during-lahore-mass/ 

PAS' Husam Musa breaks ranks, criticises Kelantan govt

Posted: 08 Oct 2013 01:25 AM PDT

(Bernama) - Former senior state executive councillor Datuk Husam Musa broke ranks when he criticised the Kelantan government in the State Assembly Tuesday over a logging approval in the Ulu Sat Permanent Forest Reserve, Machang as well as the water tariff hike in August.

Husam described the decisions as inappropriate and a deviation from the concept of transparency and integrity.

The Salor assemblyman claimed that a 1,400ha concession area in the forest reserve would be awarded to a company soon.

He said when Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat was Mentri Besar, logging applications for any parts of the Ulu Sat Permanent Forest Reserve placed as production forest had to be tendered.

"If I recall correctly, Tok Guru (Nik Aziz) said the Ulu Sat and Cabang Tongkat forests are lungs that produce fresh and clean air for the people of Kelantan. Let it remain that way for our children," he said during a debate on the 2014 Budget.

Husam, who was state economic, finance and welfare committee chairman, said awarding a large tract of land to a company without a tender was very dubious.

"During Tok Guru's administration, such a big area would not have been awarded to an individual after a simple two-page application and promptly considered," he said.

On the water tariff hike, he said it could have been avoided if Syarikat Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd (AKSB) was prudently managed.

He said AKSB also failed to improve water quality and quantity although several water treatment plants had been upgraded.

Husam said although RM21mil was spent to upgrade the Jeli Water Treatment Plant to increase its production capacity to 10 million litres of water per day (MLD), it could only produce 6.6 MLD.

He said the Bukit Remah plant in Tanah Merah, upgraded at the cost RM16.4mil could only produce 36.6 MLD instead of 42 MLD as targeted.

The Pintu Geng plant, upgraded at a cost of RM52mil, could only produce 12.5 MLD, a far cry from its 30 MLD target.

Husam said despite spending RM130mil to repair burst pipes until July, non-revenue water (NRW) rate was still at 52%.

He also expressed his disappointment as the state government had terminated a contract awarded to a South Korean contractor for the construction of a highway initiated by him and approved two years ago.

 

PanChai at Harrods

Posted: 08 Oct 2013 01:00 AM PDT

I drove down to Birmingham over the weekend to attend a franchise exhibition at the NEC and met up with Eddie Lim, the owner of PanChai (SEE THE WEBSITE HERE).

PanChai, set up at a cost of about RM7 million, is located in Harrods (SEE THE WEBSITE HERE) that sees about 17 million customers a year and sells pan-Malaysian food such as satay, rendang, nasi goreng, nasi lemak, Hainanese chicken rice, char kway teow, etc.

PanChai, which has now been operating for one and a half years, was voted the best concessionaire and beat the Gavin's, Corrigans, Bentleys, and other bigger brand name restaurants and is the first Malaysian chain to be inducted into the British Franchise Association.

PanChai offers three levels of franchises -- fine dining concept, casual concept and quick service restaurant concept. The lowest concept will cost you about RM500,000 with it going up to more than a million for the fine dining concept depending on which city in the UK you plan to operate.

It looks like Malaysians are now emerging as the most aggressive overseas investors in the UK with many Malaysian groups investing billions in that country.

 

Malaysia compensates politicians for wrongful jailing

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 09:58 PM PDT

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(Channel News Asia) - Malaysia, in a rare out-of-court settlement, agreed Tuesday to pay an opposition lawmaker and five others $63,000 after they were detained under a tough security law two years ago.

The six members of the Socialist Party of Malaysia were arrested in 2011 and imprisoned for almost a month under the Emergency Ordinance which allowed detention without trial, before a mass rally for electoral reforms.

Choo Chon Kai, one of those detained, said the government agreed to pay damages totalling 200,000 ringgit ($63,000) in return for the dropping of a civil lawsuit filed last year for wrongful arrest and detention.

Prime Minister Najib Razak's government scrapped the Emergency Ordinance and other tough security laws in December 2011 following criticism that they were abused to silence dissent.

But amid a recent surge in violent crime, the government has approved amendments to a 1959 crime prevention law that will once again allow detention without trial.

Najib has said the amendments will help crack down on crime and will not be used against government critics.

Choo said their case demonstrated the "high risk of (security laws) being abused by the authorities".

READ MORE HERE 

 

Malaysian Party Polls: 'Fight for the Next Generation'

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 09:47 PM PDT

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Should Khairy win, which looks likely, and should Mukhriz lose, which also looks likely, Kuala Lumpur sources say, that raises the question whether Mahathir and his allies will go after Najib.


Asia Sentinel


Malaysia's United Malays National Organization - the world's longest-ruling political party - is to hold its triennial intraparty elections on Oct. 19 in a contest that one UMNO source calls "a fight for the next generation in the party." 

For the first time, the race, with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the thick of it as potential kingmaker, is open to 140,000 members of the party's 3.4 million rank and file, instead of polling a few hundred top cadres. Despite a considerable lack of enthusiasm, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will be re-elected without challenge as party president, with Muhyiddin Yassin remaining as deputy president and deputy prime minister. 

From there down, however, it gets more interesting, and becomes a test of whether UMNO is willing to give up the kind of corrupting influences that got the party in so much trouble with the voters in May, when for the first time since 1969 the Barisan Nasional, or ruling national coalition lost the popular vote to the opposition despite preserving its position in parliament, 133-89, via a thoroughgoing gerrymandering of the districts. 

Najib's post-election pledges to clean out corruption have largely been met with derision. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a party elder whom few listen to, recently wrote that the challenges facing Malaysia include "a need for a clean government of integrity to combat the rampant and pervasive corruption. During the past decade, reports say Malaysia lost US$338 billion in illicit money outflows and 50 percent of Malaysian companies report they lose business opportunities because rival companies pay bribes to decision-makers." 

"I would say it is a fight between Khairy and Mukhriz." the source said. Although they are not facing off against each other, that would be Kedah Chief Minister Mukhriz Mahathir, the 49-year-old son of the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is seeking to become one of the party's three vice presidents, probably as an eventual attempt to springboard to the premiership now held by Najib, and Khairy Jamaluddin, the son in law of former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is despised by the Mahathir wing of the party. Khairy is the chairman of UMNO Youth, the youth wing of the party. 

Khairy, now 37, was previously a target not only of Mahathir but of Najib, partly because he was a Badawi representative but also because they accused him of using his relationship to Abdullah Badawi to gain special favors. However, he has since become close to both Najib and Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, which is believed to guarantee his return as both youth and sports minister and UMNO Youth head. 

Although the 88-year-old former premier Mahathir remains the most popular figure in the party, his influence is under severe strain. Today, the betting is that Mukhriz will finish out of the running for the vice presidency, although he is said to have been gaining ground in recent days. And Khairy will retain his seat as chairman of the youth wing - an eventuality for the former prime minister that could be called a worst-case scenario.

Najib is seeking to maintain the current slate of three vice presidents - Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, and Rural and Regional Development Minister Shafie Apdal against an onslaught of three challengers, the most visible of whom is Mukhriz.

Well-placed sources in Kuala Lumpur say Mukhriz and the challengers are likely to lose out to the incumbents, although one source told Asia Sentinel: "Much as it's tough for Mukhriz, I wouldn't write him off. He might just squeak in."

At Najib's behest the three incumbents have been traveling the country as a team, practicing the kinds of money politics that the party had publicly eschewed, while Mukhriz, elected in June as the Chief Minister of his father's home state of Kedah, has been attempting to pull off a victory without practicing the same kind of spending. 

Mahathir and his allies continue to blame a weakened Najib for the electoral debacle in May, accusing him of a vain attempt to get ethnic Chinese and Indian voters to support the Barisan at a time when the other races, turned off by rabid Malay nationalist politics, had clearly abandoned it. 

Only by appealing to fears of Chinese political as well as economic dominance to the 60.1 percent ethnic Malay majority and allied party machines in the East Malaysia states of Sabah and Sarawak was the Barisan able to squeak through with its win. At that, the two component parties, the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress, both riven with factionalism and charges of corruption, were nearly destroyed. UMNO preserved the Barisan's primacy only by winning 88 seats in 2013 compared to 79 in 2008.

READ MORE HERE 

Malaysian Bar slams Zahid for bringing nation into disrepute

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 09:31 PM PDT

(TMI) - The recent statements by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are shameful and have brought the government and the country into disrepute, said the Bar Council.

Its president Christopher Leong (pic) said in a statement today that the Bar was shocked and appalled by the statements made by Ahmad Zahid at a function in Malacca on Saturday.

"The Malaysian Bar deplores and condemns the statements by the home minister because they reveal his disregard for the rule of law, his indifference to human rights, and his lack of respect for debate and argument in Parliament.

"His statements could be interpreted to support extra-judicial killings by the police," Leong said.

He was referring to statements made by Ahmad Zahid to the effect that the police are to shoot first and ask questions later; the recent amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 as his own law; and in the event there is no evidence or there is insufficient evidence, suspects should be put away for two years.

READ MORE HERE

 

Part 1: The deal

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 08:58 PM PDT

AS THE STOMACH TURNS: A STORY OF FICTION

"When are you next meeting the old man? I need to see you before you meet him," said Ku Li.

"Today at seven," I replied.

"Isn't he still overseas?"

"He is. But he's coming back at five and throwing an open house at seven."

"But he already had his open house last week."

"That was for the public. This one is for friends."

"Oh, then I need to see you today, before you meet him. What time are you leaving the house?"

"About six I suppose. It will take me an hour to get there."

"Can you leave earlier, say at four, and swing by my house on the way there?"

"I will be not swinging by your house," I replied. "Your house is out of the way, not along the way. I will need to make a detour to go to your house."

"Okay, make a detour then, and drop by my house, say around five. Then we can chat for an hour or so before your next meeting."

"Okay," I said, and hung up.

"Change of plans," I told my wife. "We are leaving at four instead of six. We need to meet Ku Li first."

"Why?" my wife asked, always the curious one, especially when it comes to politicians.

"I don't know. He didn't say. Just said he needs to see us first before we meet the old man."

"Must be very important," replied my wife. "He seldom calls unless he really needs something."

"Isn't that the same for all politicians?" I quipped.

A drive to Langgak Golf is not my favourite journey, especially at four when the peak hour starts. Why the hell do people still want to live in Ampang, a relic of the old British colonial era when Ampang meant upmarket? Today that place is just like one huge parking lot with cars inching along slower than you could walk that route. But I suppose the 'White House' along Langgak Golf would look out of place in the new upmarket areas springing up like mushrooms all over the Kelang Valley. An old man in his old house in an old area that has seen better days -- this sort of best describes the person I am about to meet.

We parked outside the 'White House' and smiled for the camera. I wonder how many shots the Special Branch has of me entering Ku Li's mansion? It must cost them a bomb to station an officer 24-7 in front of the house to monitor the comings and goings at Ku Li's office cum residence. Ah well, someone has to do it I suppose. It must puzzle them that more opposition people visit Ku Li than his own Umno people. I know of many who would never drive their own cars there and would sneak there in disguise so that Bukit Aman is not aware of their links to Ku Li.

My wife and I were ushered into what could easily be a replica of the Oval Room and Ku Li, in his usual English gentleman's manner, strode across the room to shake our hands and gestured to our seats, the same seats we would always sit in every time we went there. And Ku Li too sat in his favourite chair with his large portrait as the backdrop, every bit a scene from an American President's movie set.

Tea and cakes in the British tradition were passed around and we got down to business. We only had an hour so there was not much time for idle chit-chat. "So you are meeting the old man at seven," said Ku Li, as we both looked at our watches.

"Yes, in two hours or so," I replied.

"Okay, tell him I am ready," said Ku Li.

"Ready?"

"Yes, ready to take on the leadership of Umno. But I will do so only with his support. Without his support I will not go for it."

"Okay, I will tell him that," I replied. "Anything else I should tell him?"

"No. Just tell him that. Then see what he says and we will take it from there."

We do not need an hour to talk about this and he could have just told me over the phone without needing me to spend an extra hour in the car battling the rush hour jam along Jalan Ampang.

The one-hour meeting with Ku Li took only twenty minutes so we sat in the car outside Mahathir's house for almost an hour to kill time. At sharp seven we walked in to Mahathir's house and I whispered in the old man's ear that I needed to talk to him whenever he could get away from his guests.

"What about?" Mahathir asked.

"About Ku Li".

"What about Ku Li?"

"He has a message for you."

I had to wait almost three hours for the crowd to thin before Mahathir could sneak away and sit down beside me. "So, what is the message?" he asked me.

"He said he is ready."

"Ready for what?"

"Ready to take on Pak Lah for the Umno Presidency?"

"He told you this?"

"Yes."

"How did he say it?"

I related my twenty minutes meeting with Ku Li while Mahathir just listened without comment.

"What do you want me to tell him?" I asked.

"Let me think about it first. I will tell you later."

That night Mahathir had a heart attack and was rushed to hospital at 3.00am. I never received the message that I was supposed to pass back to Ku Ki. Hmm…talk about bad timing. I suppose Ku Li is now going to have a long wait and he had better hope that Mahathir survives the heart attack if he wants this deal to happen.

 

Two leaders resign, shocking Malacca DAP members

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 07:37 PM PDT

(TMI) - Two Malacca DAP representatives have abruptly quit their posts, sending shockwaves among party members in the state.

Goh Leong San (pic) tendered his resignation as opposition leader, while Lim Jak Wong resigned as opposition whip.

The duo's resignations came less than a week after Luyang assemblyman Hiew King Cheu quit the party to become an independent.

Goh's colleagues in the state were reportedly unhappy that he had praised Chief Minister Datuk Idris Haron's leadership.

"Yes, I quit as opposition leader. I sent my letter to the party's headquarters today," he told The Malaysian Insider.

His decision prompted his good friend Lim, who is the Bachang assemblyman, to quit as well in solidarity. He also submitted his letter today.

However, Lim and Goh, who is Duyong assemblyman, said they are still party members and have no plans to leave.

Last Wednesday, Goh was quoted in a daily describing and praising Idris as "approachable" and a "professional manager".

"I was not deliberately praising him but he needs the credit. We, as the opposition, have approached him on many issues and he looked into our predicaments without rejecting us.

"I believe we should give credit where it is due. Idris has been doing his job quietly without gaining much publicity," he said.

READ MORE HERE

 

VP race gets hotter by the day

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 07:22 PM PDT

The race for the Umno vice-presidency is wide open now that claims that the top Umno leadership was advocating a status quo has been dismissed as 'absolutely not true'.

Joceline Tan, The Star

DATUK Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein has been campaigning at a feverish pace to hold on to his vice-president (VP) post.

He has reportedly taken leave from his ministerial duties to concentrate on his campaign. He spent the entire Sunday in Perak, meeting delegates from north to south of the state.

The Defence Minister is fighting for survival in the six-man race for the three VP seats.

He has been earnestly persuading his audiences why they should support him, even going to the extent of reminding them that he had chaired the committee that brought in the new election system in Umno.

His campaign has been a stark contrast to that of forerunner Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Everywhere that Zahid has gone, the Umno crowd tells him that they want him up there. But Hishammuddin is struggling to convince delegates that they still need him.

However, he is said to enjoy support in Perak where Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir has endorsed the three incumbents who include Zahid and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.

The Perak endorsement for the VP incumbents was reportedly based on claims of an instruction from the top leadership to maintain a status quo at the VP level. It has since been dismissed as untrue.

A source close to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it was "absolutely not true" that the president is lending his weight to any of the VP candidates, including Hishammuddin who is his cousin.

According to the source, the president wants to stay above the fray because he is committed to letting the delegates have free choice on who they want as their VPs. "The party needs to be rejuvenated. Dictating the choice would defeat the purpose of the new election process and it would go against Umno's political transformation," said the source.

Besides, it is said that challenger Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir would not have jumped in if Najib had not given his blessing.

The outspoken Cheras Umno chief Datuk Seri Syed Ali Alhabshee said candidates should campaign on their own strength rather than ride on the president's name.

"I don't know who started this nonsense, going around the country, telling the people that the president wants this guy or that guy up there. They should stop it immediately," said Syed Ali.

Hishammuddin has also issued a statement denying any instruction from the party leadership to retain the three incumbents.

For a while, the status quo story was so prevalent that Dr Zambry had planned to hold a press conference with the three VPs at his official residence on Oct 10 to declare support for them. It is understood that the event has been called off.

It was just as well because not everyone in Perak was comfortable with it. They do not mind an open endorsement of Zahid who is from Perak but they feel that the other two slots should be left open for them to decide.

On Saturday evening, the Sultan of Pahang hosted a big dinner for Umno division and branch leaders from Pahang. Some said the dinner was to celebrate Najib winning his president post unopposed. But Najib was not there and some of those who attended said it was essentially for Tuanku to meet his subjects.

A division chief who was there said that Tuanku made an after-dinner speech congratulating Najib and said that Pahang is proud of him.

"Tuanku spoke about Malay unity. He reminded us that Umno was born in the palace and that it is part of his duties to keep up with what is happening in politics. Tuanku also proposed that Pahang delegates give one of the VP places to Hisham," said the division chief.

The endorsement from the Pahang palace is hardly surprising because Hishammuddin's wife is a Pahang princess. It will be interesting to watch how many of the 14 divisions in Pahang will give Hishammuddin the nod of approval.

Hishammuddin can hardly be blamed for doing what it takes to win because the VP post comes with a Cabinet post. The icing on the cake if he wins is that he will still be a contender for the post of future Prime Minister. If he loses, he may be sitting on the Barisan Nasional backbench.

Hishammuddin's dilemma is three-fold. At one level, he is being compared to Zahid who took over the Home Ministry portfolio. Zahid's tough stance on crime and security has been in stark contrast to that of his predecessor. It has won Zahid all-round approval and some in Umno have taken to calling him "the Sheriff".

At another level, Hishammuddin is vying for what has been coined as the "anak PM" slot. Hishammuddin and Mukhriz are sons of former prime ministers and the conventional wisdom is that there can only be one "anak PM" among the VPs – it will be either Hishammuddin or Mukhriz.

At yet another level, Hishammuddin is up against Shafie. The delegates have decided that Zahid is a "must vote" and the consequence is that they will have to sacrifice either Hishammuddin or Shafie for a new face.

In that sense, whoever concocted the status quo campaign line misjudged the sentiments on the ground. It was quite clear from early on that the party was not in the mood to give a group pass to the incumbents. Each of them are being judged on their own merit.

But few had expected Mukhriz to be riding on such a big wave. Mukhriz has won the "cheering game" as some call the response of the delegates at the Umno roadshows.

The only way to explain it is that he was part of the team that recaptured Kedah. The Kedah win was Umno's biggest success in the general election. Since then, the Kedah Mentri Besar with the famous family name has pressed all the right buttons.

The roadshow still has seven more states to go but there is little doubt that the Umno ground wants to see at least one new face among the VPs.

 

Will PM Najib exert leadership over errant minister Zahid?

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 07:13 PM PDT

Kim Quek, The Malaysian Insider

Swashbuckling Home Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has delivered a speech so atrocious against common decency and the fundamental tenets of law that it is bound to rock the already scandal ridden Barisan Nasional government.

He advocates shooting of suspected criminals on sight in a speech that is filled with racist slurs that would raise racial animosity, pitting the Malays against Chinese and Indian Malaysians.  Zahid's recorded speech was uploaded in Malaysiakini website on October 7.

In a briefing session on security matters for community leaders that turned out be nothing but an Umno party election campaign meeting to introduce candidates at the Malacca International Trade Center at Ayer Keroh on October 5, Zahid disclosed that out of 40,000 gang members identified, 28,000 of them are Indians and he said there is nothing wrong in arresting them. He then asked:

"What is the situation of robbery victims, murder victims during shootings? Most of them are our Malays.  Most of them are our race. I think the best way is that we no longer compromise with them.  There is no need to give them any warning. If we get the evidence, we shoot first."

Shoot to kill policy?

This is a clear endorsement of a "shoot suspects without warning" policy (unless convicted, they are known as suspects) that may well be in existence for some time, and also could well have explained the many suspicious police fatal shootings, in particular, the gunning down of all five suspected Indian gangsters in an apartment in Penang in August.

Shooting to kill suspects without warning is murder under Malaysian laws and a breach of international law under auspices of UN. Hence, Zahid has to explain why he should not be investigated for complicity in such murder.

Equally disturbing to Zahid's apparent murderous trait, is his despicable attempt to incite racial animosity to gain populist racist support.

Stirring racist emotions

In the same speech, Zahid disclosed that of the 14,511 identified as secret society members, there are 6,171 Malays; 1,701 Chinese; 3,685 Indians and 2,954 other races. He said:

"The 6,171 Malays, they are not real thugs, they were Pekida members and were part of the Tiga Line group,Gang 30, Gang 7 - these are festivities (kenduri-kendara) gangster.  I tell our Tiga Line friends, do what should be done."

Zahid then went on to refer to Tiga Line on a first person basis, saying: "We are not evil, I know, I have checked.  We gather during festivals with our siblings, we gather when there are projects, never mind.  I see here, the candidates here; all four of them are Tiga Line."

These statements contain lies, racial prejudice and admission of criminalities.

In the first place, saying all the 6,171 Malay triad members identified, who are from Tiga Line, Gang 7 and Gang 30 are good people is tantamount to saying that all Malay gangsters are innocent while gangsters of other races are criminals, because Tiga Line, Gang 7 and Gang 30 are the only three Malay-based secret societies in the list of 29 outlawed secret societies in Peninsula released by the Home Ministry on August 29.  Besides this claim being manifestly false, the claim of benevolent activities of these gangs also contradict the Home Ministry statement on August 29 that described their activities as drug trafficking, extorting protection money and seizure of cars.

As if such false assertion to play up Malay racial sentiments is not sufficient, Zahid painted the Malaysian crime world as Malays being the victims while Chinese the beneficiaries.  This is again another unfair and false claim. The truth is: triad criminals thrive across racial lines.

READ MORE HERE

 

New Bumi plan provides stability, Najib tells Apec

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 07:10 PM PDT

(TMI) - The new Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Plan should be viewed as a way to create a stable society, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday.

He was speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) CEO Summit Dialogue, where Najib addressed the issue of Malaysia's affirmative action policies.

"The Bumiputera policy should be seen in the context of having a fair and just society because Bumiputeras comprise 67% of the population and that includes both Muslims and non-Muslim Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak," he said, as quoted by Utusan Malaysia and state news agency Bernama.

"If Bumiputeras were to be left behind or marginalised, it doesn't lead to long-term stability of the country."

Najib, who is also the Umno president, stressed that the new policy was different from previous economic policies to help Bumiputeras.

He said the new policy would be implemented in a friendlier manner.

"If it's implemented in a fairer and market-friendly way, I think it's going to be good for the country," he said, adding that non-Bumiputeras could also benefit from the policy as long as the economic plan was properly carried out.

Several Malay economic groups have expressed concerns over the implementation of the new Bumiputera policy. They claimed that previous similar economic plans had failed to uplift the small and medium enterprises while feeding tenders of projects to conglomerates.

 

Umno turning into ‘Nazi stormtroopers’ with racial taunts, says Guan Eng

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 07:05 PM PDT

(MM) - Leaders like Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam are giving Umno a bad name with their racial taunts that threaten Malaysia's cultural diversity, the DAP's Lim Guan Eng warned today.

Unless stern action is taken against both men and soon, the Malay party may go down the same path set upon by Nazi stormtroopers who propagated racial purity and supremacy and split Malaysia into two distinct nations based on whether they were Umno members or not, the opposition leader added in a statement today.

"At the rate that Umno leaders are abandoning the ideal of a Malaysian nation and spewing racial hatred, Umno will in future be no different from the Nazi stormtroopers who advocated racial purity and supremacy," the DAP secretary-general said, weighing in on the latest storm enveloping his political rivals.

Lim, who is also Bagan MP, urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to chastise the two.

"Any failure by the Prime Minister to act by repudiating them and punishing their racist taunts and hatred will only divide Malaysia into two nations with double-standards - one nation and standard for Umno the other for non-Umno who neither deserve equal protection before the law nor constitutional rights as citizens of the country," the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmaker said.

Ahmad Zahid, one of three Umno vice-presidents facing fresh elections this month, sparked a public uproar yesterday after he was reported advocating a "shoot first" approach for the police in dealing with suspected gang members in the wake of a violent crime spree that has resulted in Malays making up the majority of the victims.

The home minister, whose portfolio empowers him to oversee police operations, was also reported saying there was nothing wrong with arresting the over 40,000 known gangsters in the country, half of whom are Indians in a speech at a security briefing event with community leaders in Ayer Keroh, Malacca last Saturday.

"What is the situation of robbery victims, murder victims during shootings? Most of them are our Malays. Most of them are our race," he was quoted as saying by news portal Malaysiakini yesterday, based on a 20-minute audio recording of the speech.

"I think the best way is that we no longer compromise with them. There is no need to give them any more warning. If (we) get the evidence, (we) shoot first," he added, referring to suspected criminals.

Ahmad Zahid had come under heavy fire recently over his steadfast push to restore preventive detention powers to the authorities, which had been removed two years ago when the government abolished two controversial security laws—the Internal Security Act and the Emergency Ordinance—criticised for its abuse to curtail political dissent.

"All Malaysians regardless of race and religion are victims of crime. By declaring that only Malays are victims, are the non-Malay victims of crime invisible or should just disappear without the required protection from crimes against them?

"I still find it hard to believe that a Home Minister entrusted to uphold law and order can so flippantly make such seditious remarks promoting lawlessness and public disorder," Lim said.

Ahmad Zahid's Umno colleague, Mohd Ali was formerly the Malacca chief minister who had his turn in the spotlight for blaming Chinese voters for his surprise defeat in the predominantly Malay Bukit Katil parliamentary seat by a large margin in the 13th General Elections.

Lim chided Mohd Ali for continuing to flash the racial card, claiming the real reason for the Malaccan leader's loss was due to corruption and abuse of power while in office.

Mohd Ali, who was found guilty of money politics and disqualified in the 2009 Umno elections, has also thrown his hat in the ring for the vice-presidency. 

 

Retribution not the BN way, MCA man tells Mukhriz

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 07:00 PM PDT

(MM) - Discriminatory policies to punish those who voted for the opposition is against the so-called Barisan Nasional (BN) spirit, MCA's Loh Seng Kok said today in response to Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir's proposal that the government focus only on aiding its supporters.

"It is regrettable that Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir had remarked that the priority of the state government is to assist the community which supported the BN government.

"Not only is uttering such a remark obsolete as it will be construed as treatment according to racial, the remark runs contrary to the BN spirit," the MCA publicity chief said in a statement.

On September 24, Mukhriz was reported to have said the state government would not meet any requests from Chinese schools in Kedah as it would focus only on those who supported the BN government.

He later denied making the statement and said the new policy was not retaliation, but to prioritise "gratitude" to the community that voted BN.

"Mukriz as the Menteri Besar should safeguard the interest of all Kedahans regardless of race, steering everyone towards progress and success," Loh said.

Umno, which is BN's mainstay Malay party, appeared to blame the Chinese community for the coalition's performance in the May 5 general election although studies showed the vote swing cut across  racial lines.

Loh said Umno leaders including Mukhriz should move beyond the blame game and focus on serving voters regardless of race as BN had been mandated to govern a multiracial country.

"In a democracy, the services of any Menteri Besar should be people-oriented. Do not dwell on GE results. Repair and reduce any racial rifts. These are positive aspects of a magnanimous national leader which will regain the rakyat's support," he said. 

 

Zahid, the hero for Umno

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 06:34 PM PDT

By bringing back detention without trial and criticising a news portal, Umno vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi endears himself to the Umno hawks to retain his post.

G Vinod, FMT

It seems like Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is on the media spotlight these days for both the good and bad reasons.

From backing the police force on the missing police firearms and vehicles to the amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA), Zahid shows that he means business.

By bulldozing the PCA amendments, which includes detention without trial, and defending Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar by saying that the weapons may have "fallen into the sea", Zahid had discarded right-thinking Malaysians and human rights NGOs from being his supporters.

He may have also antagonised Malaysians at large but the minister is now focused on retaining his Umno vice-president post.

There are six contenders for the three Umno vice-presidency. So every competitor has to prove his mettle among party delegates on why his is worthy of the position.

And going by Umno's history, the delegates usually rally behind a rough and tough leader.

As for Zahid, he may have cemented the support of Umno delegates by reintroducing detention without trial in the amendments to the PCA.

When Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak decided to repeal the Internal Security Act, not many in the Umno circles were pleased with it, including former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The right wing faction still relishes in the good old days of Mahathir when there was weak opposition to deal with and they had an easy time silencing dissent using arbitrary laws.

But they allowed Najib to go ahead with it, having hopes that it will help Barisan Nasional (BN) regain its two-thirds majority in Parliament. But it did not. Pakatan Rakyat still managed to deny BN the two-thirds majority.

READ MORE HERE

 

Selangor’s education fund owed RM8.23mil

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 06:23 PM PDT

The outstanding debt involves borrowers from as far back as 1987, says the Auditor-General's (AG) report.

Alyaa Azhar, FMT

Selangor's state education fund is wrought with outstanding loan repayments amounting to RM8.23 million, according to the 2012 Auditor-General's (AG) report.

The report states that the outstanding amount involves borrowers from as far back as 1987 and one who started accumulating outstanding fees since 1990.

RM3.48 million of the total debt has been outstanding for more than six years. There was also an increase of outstanding loan repayments of 3.3% from 2012 to June 2013.

The report cautioned that failure to collect the outstanding payments will increase the debt amount and affect the fund cash flow in the long term.

The Selangor state government established the Selangor state scholarship fund through the Selangor state scholarship fund 1949 Enactment (Amendment 2001).

In the early stage of establishment, the fund was aimed to provide scholarships for Selangor citizens intending to pursue studies at higher institutions either locally or abroad.

However, with effect from 1987, the scholarships were converted to interest-free loans with the exception of students of Alam Shah secondary school, Putrajaya and medical undergraduates.

The interest-free loan can be converted to a sponsorship in the form of reduced loan repayments based on examination results of the borrower or commonly known as convertible education loan.

The AG report also pointed out that the programme was less than satisfactory because the marking scheme was not updated and the score formula was incorrect.

READ MORE HERE

 

‘Umno owes Tekun RM1b’

Posted: 07 Oct 2013 06:21 PM PDT

This is following the Tekun CEO's admission that the financing scheme was set up for Umno and gives priority to Umno applicants.

Anisah Shukry, FMT

Umno owes almost RM1 billion in unpaid loans to Tabung Ekonomi Kumpulan Usaha Niaga (Tekun), after its CEO revealed that the national financing scheme was formed for members of the Malay ruling party, PKR claimed today.

"Tekun has loaned out RM2.42 billion to 273,173 businessmen. RM1.6 billion of the funds came from the federal government. Since [Tekun]'s formation in 1998 up until today, only RM1.43 billion was paid back," PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil said in a statement today.

"Considering the statement by Tekun CEO (Abdul Rahim Hassan), this is a serious implication as 40.9% or almost RM1 billion, that was loaned out to Umno members in general have not been paid back.

"This means, on average, more than RM650 million of the rakyat's money loaned out to Umno members through a fund set up by the federal government has not been repaid," said Fahmi.

Yesterday, Abdul Rahim said that Tekun, a government financing scheme that provides loans for bumiputera entrepreneurs, had been set up to help Umno members.

However, he denied claims that financing scheme rejected all loan applications from non-Umno members.

"We have a right to defend [Tekun] because it was the party's brainchild. But this does not mean we completely ignore other applications.

"As long as the applications are bumiputeras, we accept it, but priority of course goes to Umno members," Abdul Rahim admitted at a press conference yesterday.

Fahmi said today that since priority was given to Umno, then "logically" Umno members should also be given priority to repay the RM1billion in unpaid loans to Tekun.

"Hence, I suggest that Tekun and its CEO open a counter during the Umno elections this coming Oct 19," said Fahmi.

READ MORE HERE

 

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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