Rabu, 11 Disember 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Malaysia bled RM174 billion dirty money in 2011, says global anti-graft watchdog

Posted: 11 Dec 2013 12:06 PM PST


(TMI) -  About RM173.84 billion was illegally siphoned out of Malaysia in 2011, making the country the fourth largest exporter of illicit capital that year after Russia, China and India, said anti-graft watchdog Global Financial Integrity (GFI).

The Washington-based research and advocacy organisation said crime, corruption, and tax evasion drained $946.7 billion (RM3.05 trillion) from the developing world in 2011, up more than 13.7% from 2010 – when illicit financial outflows totalled $832.4 billion (RM2.64 trillion).

"As the world economy sputters along in the wake of the global financial crisis, the illicit underworld is thriving… siphoning more and more money from developing countries each year," said GFI president Raymond Baker when releasing the "Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002-2011" report.

The findings in the study peg cumulative illicit financial outflows from developing countries at $5.9 trillion (RM19 trillion) between 2002 and 2011.

"Anonymous shell companies, tax haven secrecy, and trade-based money laundering techniques drained nearly a trillion dollars from the world's poorest in 2011, at a time when rich and poor nations alike are struggling to spur economic growth.


Learning from Mandela and friends

Posted: 11 Dec 2013 10:39 AM PST


An usher holds programs with the image of the late Nelson Mandela on the cover before a memorial service at the Riverside Church in New York December 11, 2013. — Reuters pic

Interestingly I got more insight from a job application. A fresh graduate wanted an administrative position at our firm and she had this as her career objective: "To contribute to my religion, race and country."

Praba Ganesan, The Malay Mail


"Even if my country does seem to have forgotten me, I have always thought about it." (José Rizal in Noli Me Tangere)

The corridor leading to the Dewan Rakyat's (Parliament's lower house) lounge is strange enough, but it got a bit more awkward when I bounced into my old debate teammate, the infamous teddy-hugging articulator of weird wisdom, Ja. Understandably, I lost my thought processor during our minute exchange, and presently remain uncertain whether I have completely forgiven myself over the incident.

"Are you still with your political aspirations, Praba? It appears so, so tell me, what will you champion as an elected representative? You can't get elected if you do not have a value proposition, a platform."

Before I managed to say, "Did you enjoy the breakfast spread at the cafeteria?" she had already said "Never mind, bye" and was beyond an earshot of me.

Oh Ja!

Did I tell you that she would hold her stuffed toy with one hand while nailing her bed on the wall with the other hand at three in the morning during our days in the National University of Malaysia debate programme?

Gobsmacked in the ambush, I went with something unintelligible, what we used to refer in debate parlance as the "goldfish" impression.

This was five years ago.


I'm not an elected representative in any house of repute or disrepute when it comes to legislating laws as of now, but I do ponder about what would have been a barely adequate response to my old friend.

"Why do I want to serve?"

At a gut level I've always been convinced it was never a decision to be made, those who reside in a society must serve, how else can societies grow without participation?

However, I can see in a world where what you do matter as much why you do it, it is necessary to provide a preface to my politics before the crowd writes my epitaph.

Even more now, since an election year is ending with an amorphous agenda for 2014 and a world comes to terms with the passing of Nelson Mandela.

I want to do this, help create a Malaysia where its citizens do not wake up daily to face questions of whether they are truly at home or unsure if they are at ease with others sharing the category "Malaysian."

That my countrymen can first enjoy being Malaysians before contending with what being Malaysian constitutes, daily.

If you are thinking that after 50 years of formation (or 56 years of independence, contingent on whom you ask) such a basic objective is superfluous — it would appear to non-residents that Malaysia is a haven showcasing moderations — trust me, this is a surprising country.

These episodes

Last Friday I met up with my close Umno contact, we try to meet in person every few months just so that we keep each other in check. I say "Umno" because he joked as I sat at the kopitiam (coffee shop) that the owners of the store were overboard with their devotion to Malay rights, parading their Malay credentials at the entrance, that even he chided them for overdoing it.

So when I went to counter to order, I asked the manageress what she'd recommend and she adopted a race-centric explanation of what I would like because I was Indian. I looked at her quizzically and asked her if this is the way she'd treat a Penang Mamak (Indian Muslims from the state have somehow become seen as legitimate Malays, and in many occasions as the people most Malay)?

She apologised immediately and was most attentive to my needs till I left the restaurant. My friend broke out in laughter, all 100 kilogrammes of him, when I explained to him why this woman came to our table later to apologise again.

Interestingly I got more insight from a job application. A fresh graduate wanted an administrative position at our firm and she had this as her career objective: "To contribute to my religion, race and country."

I don't think she's actually of the opinion this is what will define her outlook to life, I feel rather for a lack of her own personal development as a thinking and free person in her country she has ceded her judgement to the staple dogma fed to her for a lifetime.

That considerations and obligations are carved up by demographics first rather than on the principles those considerations and obligations may potentially lie on her personal moral scale.

She is expected to filter her countrymen using these demographics before engaging them.

It is not only damaging for a person's development as a Malaysian, it is damaging for any person's assimilation into an increasingly connected planet.

After all how many emerging market nations are generally filled with politicians with wide access condemning pluralism and liberalism? And they are not chastised by national leaders like Cabinet members, rather, they are backed and protected by them.

Right wing thinking and articulation receives adulation and full access. The harm this appeasement continues to cause will long haunt this country beyond the present administration.

They are not Mandela

I guess saying that I want universal celebration at home of our citizenship built by openness and discourse may be a little airy, to some.

Let's sound-bite it.

I'll leverage on the current global theme and state a binary, those who I oppose here in Malaysia are no friends of Mandela. They are fans of the things and ideas that kept the great man in prison for 27 years.

Nelson Mandela left prison with the moral mandate to lead the blacks who are 90 per cent of South Africa. He rejected this opportunity and instead fought for equality for all, irrespective of how unequal some have been under Apartheid.

South Africa for him was for all South Africans, colour was just incidental. Errors of the past are not passports for persecutions in the present.

By rejecting his racial inheritance, he inspired a multicultural nation superior in principle even if struggling with practicalities.

For me Malaysia has natural resources and great people, the future holds no fear for the country as long as those who govern it actively fight hate.

It is the proliferation of hate that is the biggest threat for Malaysia. I want to stop it. That's the value proposition Ja, I want to fight hate without reservation or qualification, it is the true scourge of our country.

I started this column quoting Rizal from his seminal first novel, and he died in 1896. As he was shot in the morning of December 30 in Manila, it would have been late night 6,700 kilometres away in South Africa's Natal where I am sure Mahatma Gandhi was still up after a day of advocating against the British colony's racism. Mandela found much courage and example from that man from Durban.

None of these men despite their single-mindedness condoned or championed hate.

I'm ok if my platform is just standing on the shoulders of giants.

"We must win when we deserve it, by elevating reason and the dignity of the individual, loving justice and the good and the great, even dying for it." ( José Rizal in El Filibusterismo).

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.


Pakatan to keep funding sources secret until elections reformed

Posted: 11 Dec 2013 10:30 AM PST


Charles Santiago claimed that there is a real risk of prosecution for opposition supporters if their identities are made known.

(The Malay Mail) - Federal opposition lawmakers here are intent on keeping their party funds secret until Putrajaya commits to a level playing field during elections, fearing prosecution of their funders if exposed.

They agreed that before buying in to any proposal to declare their funding sources, not only must their political foes in Barisan Nasional (BN) agree to do the same, a proper mechanism must be put in place to ensure fair play when it comes to spending during any electoral contest, from kick-off to finish.

One BN leader openly admitted that most, if not all, candidates tend to overspend when canvassing for votes in a heated election race with bills that run into exorbitant figures, even breaking the spending cap imposed by the Election Commission (EC).

But this, he said, is the very reason why all political parties should buy into the proposal to declare political financing as a starting point to even out the competition.

"Probably the only regulation we have now is the one administered by the EC... for instance for the state assembly you cannot spend more than RM50,000 and for parliamentary (contests) you cannot spend more than RM100,000 for each candidate," Umno's Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.

"I do not believe that every candidate really spends below the ceiling, but I can tell you that all of us, when we submit the report, will claim that we spent below the ceiling.

"This is as truthful as I can be... if anyone marah (gets angry), I will ask them, are you sure you spent below the limit?" said the former deputy higher education minister and former Temerloh MP.

On Tuesday, officials with the National Key Result Areas (NKRA) against Corruption claimed that political parties have not been forthcoming when asked to declare the sources of their political funding, adding that politicians have not been clear about their reservations over the plan.

The agency said that the government is ready and willing to push the proposal forward, having already prepared final drafts to amend the Societies Act 1966 and related regulations to compel political parties to declare their financial sources.

Saifuddin admitted that any new law or regulation would typically have loopholes at the start, but stressed that it is only through purposeful regulation that any form of fair play can take root.

"I support the idea. It's about time we come out with some kind of regulation. Why it is (sic) important? It's about integrity. It's all about integrity. Integrity of the politician as an individual, of the party as an organisation, and integrity of our political system.

"Of course, as I said, whatever regulation, there will always be loopholes. But we have to start somewhere... we cannot go on like this," he said, in an apparent reference to the growing political polarisation in the country, especially after the recent 13th General Election last May when BN retained power despite losing out on the popular vote.

Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers, when questioned, appeared warm to the idea of declaring political financing but insisted this could not happen if election contests continue to stay in favour of the ruling BN, which holds the key to Putrajaya.

They said it would be a mistake to assume BN and PR are now on equal footing, arguing that there is a huge disparity in terms of the amount of funds available to either coalition.


Saifuddin admitted that any new law or regulation would typically have loopholes at the start, but stressed that it is only through purposeful regulation that any form of fair play can take root.

DAP's Klang MP Charles Santiago agreed that every political party should, in principle, allow the public unfettered access to their financial accounts, but claimed that there is the real risk of prosecution for opposition supporters if their identities are made known.

He suggested that the government, through agencies such as the NKRA against Corruption, come up with clear guidelines such as those used in the United States - where political campaigns are in part publicly funded - to remove any ambiguity in the political process in Malaysia.

"First you must clarify the process, and it must be agreed to by all parties. Once the process is clear on how it's going to be done, then you can ask for buy-ins from political parties," he said when contacted.

"Political parties are not suicidal. They will consider this very carefully. If the identity of the donors are made public, they get prosecuted and we can kiss goodbye to their support in the next elections.

"In the US you have fair play, so you have big companies like (tobacco giant) Philip Morris giving funds to the Democrats and the Republicans. Only when there is a fair play environment, and there is no prosecution of funders, especially for the opposition, then we can do so. If we do it today, it's suicidal," Charles said.

PKR vice-president and Padang Serai MP N. Surendran said they are not opposed to the proposal, but claimed that it detracts from the bigger issue of BN's alleged corrupt practices.

"There is a lack of understanding of the total picture, and it is ridiculous to equate funding for the opposition to the corrupt funds available to the federal government," he said when contacted.

"I don't think that is the main issue now in the country. The main issue is the corruption of the BN in funding themselves. They have the federal government and all sorts of sources, and they are also using government resources.

"The opposition is a poor political coalition, which is desperately getting donations from Malaysians who are committed to seeing democracy flourish in the country," he said.

PAS supreme council member and Tumpat MP Datuk Kamarudin Jaafar, however, argued that even without a special mechanism to compel political parties to declare their political finances, the government can already act using existing laws under the Societies Act, which requires political parties to submit an annual financial report.

"I've not seen the latest (financial) documents filed by BN or Umno, but if they do (submit their financial report), I'm sure it would reflect very unrealistic spending, what more during an election year," he said, referring to the BN coalition's dominant party.

"We should get the RoS (Registrar of Societies) to look very carefully into the party's annual accounts submitted very year... I doubt the culprits are the opposition in this case. I would think it is very likely the BN," he claimed.

Political funding is an especially murky area in Malaysia, due to the close ties between political parties and businesses as well as an established system of political patronage that is said to fund huge war chests that come into play during elections.

BN component parties such as Umno and MCA own millions of ringgit in both shares and assets, and are among the wealthiest entities in the country.

The tight connection between parties and corporations continue to be a source of suspicion in Malaysia, where graft remains a perennial issue and politicians are viewed as the second-most corrupt people, behind only the police force.

Does Islam need Umno?

Posted: 11 Dec 2013 10:22 AM PST


Transform, or be irrelevant soon, says the writer on Umno.

I wouldn't be surprised if they come up with ideas on how to include that into our birth certificates and ICs. Who is Umno and who is not. They are already debating whether they should give BR1M to non-BN supporters. 

Kamal Amzan, The Malay Mail

So it is official. No more 1 Malaysia.

I don't think there is even 1 BN, or 1 Islam for that matter. There is just 1 Umno, and everyone else.

I wouldn't be surprised if they come up with ideas on how to include that into our birth certificates and ICs. Who is Umno and who is not. They are already debating whether they should give BR1M to non-BN supporters.

Never mind the fact that BR1M is not Umno's to give away.

It is frustrating when you hear the top government leaders only able to talk about religion, survival of race, and play heroes battling made-up monsters and boogeymen who seem hell bent on the destruction of Islam and their race, but are oblivious to our real enemies who have time and again breached our borders and shed blood on our soil.

Sad, that they are the ones underestimating Islam, a religion that had survived over a thousand years, withstanding even more difficult moments in the past without the protection of Sunni Umno.

I pity the rank and file who truly believe they are our appointed saviours, and are constantly told that this is the right way to heaven.

Sometimes you have to wonder if our government is purposely suppressing the education standards to create followers, instead of thinkers and leaders.

There is no such thing as freedom of religion for Malay Muslims in this country. I apologise, I mean there is no freedom for Malay Muslims in this country. If you are Malay, you must be Muslim. If you are a Muslim, then you must subscribe to the one approved by the state.

No, no arguments. There is only the approved, and licensed version of Islam.

You must also conform to all the "fatwas" issued by them from time to time if you want to keep your faith, such as abstaining from Poco Poco and yoga.

Overseas? Well, you should be fine overseas. You can even pray next to a Shite in Mecca, read Lee Kuan Yew's books in Singapore and mingle with those who frequent night clubs and pubs in London without losing your faith.  

But I suppose the temptation to abandon Islam is somehow greater in this country. So much so that you have men in skullcaps, holding camera phones spying on you in the name of everything good and holy.

Gone are the days when prayers and deeds were made with sincerity. Now, it has become a "show" which must go on whether you like it or not in the guise of piety and faith. Gone are also the days where religion and faiths remained between men and God. Now we have men, Jakim, and God.

I'm not sure who appointed them to "protect" Islam, or how they are deemed morally superior to safeguard our morals.

If only they look at countries where Islam grew when there are no appointed "guardians." Countries where Muslims are the minorities, where they are free to practise the religion as a personal choice without shackles and spies behind the bushes.

Kevin Brice, a researcher at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, calculated that around 5,200 Britons turn to Islam every year, and that the total number of converts is about 100,000. France has seen conversions to the faith double in the past quarter century.

The Pew Research Centre estimated that there were around 2.4 million American Muslims in 2007.

I'm sure this will come as a shock to the government, but Islam thrived in all these countries.

They certainly don't have Umno, PAS, Jakim and people who claim to be protectors and guardians of Islam.

So the question is, do we still need Umno and the likes to protect such a great religion?

Umno needs to address real issues affecting the community. Poor education standards, poverty, poor command of the English language, corruption and collapses of ceilings all over the country are all available for them to choose from.

We do not need them to safeguard our faith, nor Islam which is already perfect.

Transform, or be irrelevant soon.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.


Malaysians set to tighten purse strings as reality bites, World Bank predicts

Posted: 10 Dec 2013 08:32 PM PST


(MM) - Domestic households that are the engine of the country's economy are likely to spend at a slower pace as the effects of subsidy cuts, higher energy tariffs and rising debt all hit home, the World Bank said.

It added that the reduced spending by Putrajaya in its bid to trim its own chronic budget deficit will also likely exacerbate the slower growth in consumer spending as a result of smaller bonuses for the 1.4 million civil servants in its employment.

The World Bank also expects Putrajaya to continue down the path of reduced spending next year, adding that fresh subsidy cuts were a possibility.

"[Household] expenditure faces potential headwinds in the form of the government's fiscal consolidation efforts, namely subsidy rationalisation and lower civil service bonuses.

"Reduced energy subsidies, not only in terms of additional fuel price hikes but also an adjustment of electricity tariffs, may have a knock-on impact on consumer prices, as may the wider introduction of the minimum wage," it said in its "Malaysia Economic Monitor" report.

A ratings outlook downgrade by Fitch in September had forced Putrajaya's hand on the subsidy cuts that it had put on hold ahead of Election 2013, prompting the federal government to raise pump prices for RON95 petrol and diesel by 20 sen/l.

The move led analysts to predict an electricity tariff hike, which Putrajaya promptly delivered when it announced a 15 per cent increase beginning January 1 or more than double the previous hike.

In Budget 2014, price support for sugar was also eliminated.

The rapid-fire subsidy cuts are expected to cause inflation to rise and add to the pressure on Bank Negara Malaysia to raise interest rates that it has steadfastly kept at 3 per cent for nearly three years.

"Private consumption may also be negatively affected by possible interest rate hikes and tighter credit markets, with signs of weaker credit expansion already appearing this year," it added.

The combined pressures are expected to moderate growth in household spending to 6.5 per cent in 2014, down from 8.4 per cent for the current year.

The World Bank added that Malaysian households continued to grapple with already high debt levels, which has continued to grow despite credit restrictions imposed by Bank Negara this year.

"Despite the moderation in the growth of loans for personal use and credit cards, the overall growth of household loans was stable due to higher growth in loans for the purchase of cars and property."

The household debt in proportion to the GDP was 83 per cent of GDP as at March 2013, compared with 80.9 per cent as of end-2012.

Reductions to the rate of consumer spending growth will force the country to rely on exports to sustain economic expansion, but the report also noted that this was expected to rise next year on the back of higher energy commodity and petrochemical production.

The World Bank forecast a GDP growth of 4.9 per cent for Malaysia in 2014.

Malaysia Wants The Conflict In Syria To Be Resolved Politically

Posted: 10 Dec 2013 08:31 PM PST


(Bernama) - Malaysia wants the bloody conflict going on in Syria currently to be resolved using a political approach instead of military intervention, said Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin.

He said this was among the issues that he emphasised upon at the 40th Session of the Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Conakry, Republic of Guinea which had just concluded.

Speaking to the Malaysian media here Wednesday, Hamzah who arrived directly from the OIC meeting, said Kuala Lumpur wanted everyone and the conflicting groups in the Arab nation from both sides, the government and the opposition, to sit down to find a political solution to the conflict.

"I notice that the response had been very positive because after delivering my speech, many had asked for the text of my speech and I also received congratulatory messages from numerous countries...so the majority showed that this political approach was well received by the OIC member nations instead of putting pressure for military intervention," he said.

Hamzah said that he had told the conference that the OIC could intervene by becoming an advisor or mediator at a peace talk that was being worked on involving all parties in Syria, to see that eventually everyone could sit down together and find a solution to the conflict that brought much destruction to property and lives.

Hamzah said that at the meeting, Kuala Lumpur had also asked the OIC to get in touch directly with the governments where there were conflicts between the Muslim minority in that country and the government such as in Myanmar.

He said Malaysia's experience in helping to achieve peace in the conflicts in Mindanao, southern Philippines and in southern Thailand could be used to tackle the problems of the Muslim minorities who were having conflicts with their governments.

Hamzah said that at the OIC meeting, Malaysia had also given emphasis in terms of Malaysia's position in supporting the Palestinian cause to form a sovereign nation that was acceptable to all nations in the world.

Pakatan’s Flood Feud

Posted: 10 Dec 2013 06:10 PM PST

Another Brick in the Wall

Few pro-opposition friends alerted us of Nelson Mandela's death. Malaysiakini titled their MySay column today as "We M'sians needs our own Nelson Mandela".

As one, who lent a hand to a fellow South African Malay in Mandela's anti-Apartheid movement in our varsity days in New York in the early 80s, reading their self thumping rhetorics and cheap political propaganda makes us feel like puking.

How are they to talk of Nelson Mandela when these Pakatan supporters could even immorally politicise the flood in Trengganu and Pahang and working to create public unrest through the slanders of their leaders and cybertroopers?

Our Malaysian Chinese friends studying with us then were indifferent to the anti-Apartheid cause because of selfish reason. It does not concern them.

Even if we are wrong for stereotyping and generalising, so be it. These Malaysiakini's comentators are mostly Chinese and our past experience does not convince us they are true to the cause of humanity. With the exception of the few, it is a matter of time their true self-serving, selective and hypocrit self will kick in.

They should not try to attempt to ride on the name of Mandela and be associated to him. It only bring disgrace to the great man. 

For instance, DAP never bothered to condemn act of violence, violation of human rights and force evacuation on Palestinians by Israel, Americans, and the west.

In our days working in the private sector, our Chinese colleague complained whenever Tun Dr Mahathir made any critical comments on the west or Israel. Their psyche is predictably that we mind our business. To them, why bother over our Muslim brothers or injustice on the rest of humanity.

Obviously, there is self interest at play. They behave differently when it involves overseas Chinese and defend Singapore to the hilt.

These Pakatan people are full of inconsistencies and self interest that they know no bound in their politicking. By the way, no DAP is seen showing sympathy for flood victims in Terengganu. WHy should they be sympathetic with the 93% Malay state?

This morning a friend shared with us an SMS he received from a Health Ministry Official and we share it below:



I’ll expose Anwar-Mat Zain relationship next week, says Umno lawyer

Posted: 10 Dec 2013 04:36 PM PST

(MD) - Umno lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (pic) today vowed to expose the relationship between Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim, the former Kuala Lumpur CID chief behind a statutory declaration (SD) alleging wrongdoings of the Attorney General.

Shafee said he would do this next week when the Court of Appeal hears Anwar's second application to disqualify him from leading the prosecution team in Putrajaya's appeal against Anwar's acquittal in the second sodomy charge.

"I will make an interesting revelation on a civil suit filed by Mat Zain against Anwar and the subsequent events," said Shafee.

The senior lawyer said he had filed an affidavit on what transpired in his legal firm and at the residence of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Shafee said Mat Zain "slanted" what he had said in his October 7 statutory declaration.

"My affidavit is supported by former (Commercial Crime Investigations Department director) Datuk Ramli Yusuff. I do not need to ask Matthias Chang to affirm it, and there is no need to trouble Tun (Dr Mahathir Mohamad)," Shafee said when asked to respond on the contents of the SD.

The SD by Mat Zain was prepared following a meeting in Dr Mahathir's house on August 10 this year, attended by among others Dr Mahathir's former political secretary Matthias Chang, and Ramli, who briefed the former premier over his run-ins with Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail.

Anwar filed the application last week using Mat Zain's SD as grounds to disqualify Shafee, saying Shafee's appointment to lead the prosecution team would deny him a fair trial.

The PKR de-facto leader among others said that Shafee knew of Gani's illegal actions in the Pulau Batu Puteh territorial dispute between Malaysia and Singapore.

Anwar said the SD also pointed to Gani and former inspector-general of police Tan Sri Musa Hassan's involvement in fabricating evidence in the "black eye" incident of 1998.

The alleged fabrication took place when Gani was said to have brought in pathologist Dr Abdul Rahman Yusoff to accuse Anwar in court of self-inflicted injuries, contradicting medical reports. A Royal Commission of Inquiry set up later ended with an admission by former police chief Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor that he had beaten Anwar hours after his arrest on September 20, 1998.

Anwar had in 2008 filed a police report against Gani and Musa, who was involved in the first sodomy case brought against Anwar.

A three-member committee, comprising retired judges, formed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), however, later cleared the duo. Shafee reportedly agreed during the meeting in Dr Mahathir's house that the MACC committee was illegal.

Anwar's second attempt to disqualify Shafee as the deputy public prosecutor in his trial will be heard on December 19.

On November 21, the Federal Court dismissed Anwar's appeal, declaring that Gani could give a temporary licence to Shafee to lead the prosecution. Anwar had then filed the application to dismiss Shafee based on the grounds that the appointment was illegal.

Anwar, 66, was acquitted by the High Court on January 9 last year on a charge of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan at a Desa Damansara condominium unit in Bukit Damansara in 2008.


Which version of Islam will dominate Malaysia?

Posted: 10 Dec 2013 01:57 PM PST

Dina Zaman, The Malay Mail

I read Zurairi AR's piece today and agree with him. While his piece spoke about how the next General Elections will be about the Islamist agenda, the reality is that Malaysian Muslims are becoming more observant, and want Malaysia to practise Shariah law.

I base this observation (not fact) on my dealings with friends and the people I have met over the years, and in recent times, Instant Messenger Group Chats. While the calls supporting Shariah law can be rather basic at its best, and crude, it would seem that young Muslims in this country want hudud law.

However, before we get our knickers in a twist, we must also ask what is their idea of hudud law and an Islamic state.

A good friend who attended the Muktamar PAS, had a revelation. She saw a gathering of not just PAS leaders and politicians, but of men and women who asked questions about the economy, education and public infrastructure. There was little gender segregation, and the women spoke up and made sure everyone heard them. They were not wholly focussed on hudud. They were pragmatic Muslims who wanted change. They were fed up of the religious rhetoric they kept hearing.

"And this is the progressive Muslim we need and desire. Muslims who want real life solutions instead of khutbahs."

There is little space left for the current power elites who have hogged the headlines for too long, she said. The Islamists are here to stay.

Islam in Malaysia is becoming more diversified in its conversations. Some of the voices can be downright frightening – you will not believe the vitriol hurled against Malays who are considered to not have the "knowledge", and this is among Malays themselves (!) – and some can be maddening. Are these voices part of The Middle, or splinter groups that have the propensity to influence The Middle?

There are two voices of Islam that appear in our media today, and they belong to a power elite of two extremes.

First of all, because of a word limit and that meanings can take on so many forms and shapes, for this column, let us just define broadly what extremes (extremists) are. As a friend pointed out, what is a liberal and what is a conservative? It could be a bit futile to separate conservatism and liberalism where politics and religion intersect "… because most of us are liberal on some issues and conservative on others."

So for this essay, perhaps the "Extreme(ists)" are those whose arguments defy each other's, but basically rule media airtime and the public sphere. And in Malaysia, the argument is among Muslims.

In an increasingly globalised world where barriers are now falling apart, there seems to be more divisions, but the divisions and debates are among the believers themselves.

What concerns me and should worry all of us is the voice of The Middle (for want of a better word). I hesitate to say moderate, for what is a moderate? I see two voices speaking up on Islam's behalf, do these voices speak for my friends and me? Not really.

The problem with the Voice of The Middle is that they have other things to worry about, such as bread and butter issues. These issues are not unimportant, and for many Muslim Malaysians, religious debates are thought to be the domain of leaders, politicians and activists. They don't have the time, there's too much to think about and do. Also, there is the danger of fundamentalism leading the way, which limits the ability of The Middle to speak up. There is great fear in speaking out, and it is also possible they only get airtime in the English-speaking media.

When they do notice what is going on and want to pipe up, the Voice of The Middle is apprehensive. They feel that they are not equipped with the knowledge and communication tools to articulate their thoughts and feelings, and they fear persecution. Many fear the backlash more.

The Voice of The Middle is important, and could be the very Voice of Reason Malaysia needs.

But we need these voices to come out and speak up. We cannot let the engagement be the realm of a few concerned citizens only. We need more Malaysians to say, enough is enough. We must remind ourselves that we do not need to be born into greatness to do great things.

Muslims in Malaysia want an Islamic state.

What version it will be, only God knows.


Anwar in the US and Karpal in hospital so case delayed

Posted: 10 Dec 2013 01:48 PM PST

Ram Karpal Singh, a member of Anwar's legal team in the sodomy case, said Anwar was in Washington for a seminar.

V. Anbalagan, TMI

Putrajaya has taken objection to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's failure to attend court proceedings today as the Government's appeal to set aside his acquittal for sodomy was scheduled earlier.

Deputy public prosecutor Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (pic) raised this matter in chambers after the opposition leader failed to turn up when the case was called this morning.

However, the three-man Court of Appeal bench led by Datuk Aziah Ali did not make any order.

"We take objection for the respondent's failure to be present. Such a thing should not be tolerated," Shafee told reporters later.

The lawyer, who was appointed by Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail to head the prosecution, said Anwar had written to the court to seek an adjournment but it was rejected.

However, Putrajaya's appeal against the High Court ruling has been adjourned as lead counsel Karpal Singh was hospitalised.

Ram Karpal Singh, a member of Anwar's legal team in the sodomy case, said Anwar was in Washington for a seminar.

Earlier, lawyer Tommy Thomas, who is representing Anwar to disqualify Shafee for the second time from leading the prosecution team, sought a postponement as he needed time to file an affidavit in reply by Putrajaya.

Tommy said he only obtained a copy of the affidavit this morning.

Aziah, who sat with Datuk Rohana Yusuf and Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh, allowed the adjournment and fixed hearing on December 19.

Ram Karpal also informed the court that lead counsel Karpal was in hospital and applied for the sodomy appeal to be adjourned.

The court had earlier fixed today and tomorrow to hear the appeal.

Aziah said case management would be held on the same day (December 19) to fix Putrajaya's appeal on the sodomy case.

Anwar is using the statutory declaration (SD) made by former Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department chief Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim, as grounds to disqualify Shafee.

Anwar, among others, disclosed in his application last Friday that Shafee knew of Gani's actions but the lawyer suppressed important evidence, especially on the Pulau Batu Puteh territorial dispute between Malaysia and Singapore.

Further, the SD pointed towards Gani and former inspector-general of police Tan Sri Musa Hassan's involvement in fabricating evidence in the infamous "black eye" incident in 1998 following Anwar's sacking as deputy prime minister.



Naza family in tussle over London property

Posted: 10 Dec 2013 01:28 PM PST

The property in dispute was acquired by late tycoon SM Nasimuddin SM Amin after inking a swap agreement with former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's son.

Alyaa Azhar, FMT

A delay to cement a swap agreement between late tycoon SM Nasimuddin SM Amin and Kamaluddin Abdullah, son of former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has caused Nasimuddin's sister to be evicted from her home in London.

With that, Nasimuddin's sister Norashikin SM Amin is now embroiled in a legal battle in the UK with her brother's first wife for a property worth £1.65 million.

According to court documents seen by FMT, the fiasco started way back in 2005 when the Malaysian government proposed to sell some of Proton Sdn Bhd's (Proton) shares due to the national carmaker's dismal performance.

Nasimuddin, who was Naza Group founder, was said to be interested to acquire the stocks and discussed the matter with Kamaluddin, who is said to have knowledge of the plan.

And opportunity struck when Malaysia Airlines (MAS) announced that it planned to sell its property in London, known as the 'MAS property' valued at £3.25m. The sale caught the attention of Kamaluddin.

Thus, Kamaluddin had asked Nasimuddin to purchase the property on his behalf, as the former's direct involvement would cause political repercussions on his father.

In return, Kamaluddin assured Nasimuddin that he would facilitate the tycoon's purchase of Proton's shares.

Nasimuddin agreed to the deal and purchased the MAS property through his subsidiary company, ACE Elite Management Inc (ACE).

However, Nasimuddin told Kamaluddin to transfer the £1.65m property belonging to the latter, with some cash payment, to reflect the difference of the MAS property.

And Kamaluddin agreed to transfer the second property and the cash payment through his company, Feldspar Holdings Limited.

Unfortunately, Nasimuddin passed away in May 2008, before the swap agreement could be finalised.

Nasimuddin's sister Norashikin, who facilitated the swap agreement, claimed that Nasimuddin had promised to give Kamaluddin's property to her in 2007 once the deal was sealed, in return for her hard work.

She was responsible for transactional work which included vetting of documents on behalf of Nasimuddin, liaising with solicitors, advising on the commercial viability of the sale and collecting the keys to the MAS property.

Norashikin is also a lawyer and was employed by Nasimuddin as Naza's head of group legal adviser from 2004 to 2006.



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