Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Jabu slams DAP, leading to walkout by 12 reps

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Numpang verbally assaulted the Sarawak DAP state assemblypersons today, accusing them of suppressing and oppressing the Dayak community.

Unable to withstand the assault, the 12 state assemblypersons, led by Wong Ho Leng, the member for Bukit Assek, walked out in protest while Jabu was winding-up the debate in the Sarawak state legislative assembly.

bn candidates announcement pbb hq 030411 alfred jabuThe three PKR state assemblypersons, however, stayed back, prompting Jabu to praise them for “courage”.

DAP Kota Sentosa state assemblyperson Chong Chieng Jen, when asked by reporters, said they were fed-up with Jabu (left) for accusing the DAP of suppressing and oppressing the Dayaks for the umpteenth time.

Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the DAP members were scared of “facts”.

Jabu's verbal assault of the DAP members was prompted by the accusations by the DAP member for Meradong, Ting Tze Fui, who accused the Dayak leaders of being heartless and uncaring towards their community.

In her speech during the debate on the motion of thanks on the Yang di-Pertua Negeri's opening address, she also accused the Dayak leaders of grabbing native customary rights land from the Dayak land owners.

Spitting out his anger at the DAP members, Jabu said it was the DAP which had oppressed and suppressed the Dayaks by preventing them from participating in the poverty eradication programmes, including participating in the NCR land development.

“It was the DAP members who have no heart for the poor landowners, the majority of whom are Dayaks,” Jabu said.

'Commitment to help the Dayaks'

“I wish to categorically say that the Barisan Nasional government and its leaders, including the Dayak leaders, have the heart, mind, soul and commitment to help the Dayaks and other races to improve their livelihood,” he said.

NONEJabu said Ting (right) was hurling an insulting accusation at the Dayak leaders that they do not have the welfare of the Dayak people at heart.

He accused the DAP of having no sympathies to the sorrows and hardship of the relatives of Dayak soldiers who were killed by the communists during the Malayan Emergency.

“The Dayak people want to know why the DAP does not object to the Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng returning to Malaysia, knowing very well that Chin Peng and his men had killed our Dayak soldiers,” he said, adding that 21 Dayak trackers were killed during the Malayan Emergency in the 1950s and 1960s.

“The members from the DAP, where are your hearts? The member for Meradong (Ting), where is your heart? You have no sympathetic heart for the Dayaks, but pay lip service only,” he shouted at the seats left empty by the departing DAP members.

Jabu also lashed out at the DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

“I can tell you that the Dayaks now know the DAP's true colours.

“ The Dayaks know that Lim, whom the DAP portrays and admires as a bicycle rider Penang Chief Minister, does not have a sympathetic heart for the Dayaks.

“I want to ask Lim and the Sarawak DAP state assemblypersons this question - how many longhouses has the DAP built in Penang for the Dayaks? None.

“How many Dayak tuai rumah (village headmen) are practising the Dayak adat and customs in Penang? None.

“How well-versed are Lim and the DAP elected representatives in this august House with our Dayak adat and custom? None at all.

“This is the very reason why the DAP cannot and will not be able to penetrate into the Dayak areas,” Jabu said, adding that the Dayaks know the negative attitude of the DAP right from 1996 when it started oppressing and suppressing the Dayaks.

Minimum wages now, not policies

By Syed Shahrir Syed Mohamud
 
It was a sad day for workers and unions in Malaysia when Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak at the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) dinner on June 14 made no firm commitment on the promotion and protection of workers’ rights.

As for the minimum wage issue, his response was that this matter is to be referred to the National Wage Consultative Council. There was also no positive response on the issues of retirement age of 60, increasing maternity leave to 90 days for all workers, and the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA).

Workers in Malaysia are still a very low priority of the current Umno-led Barisan Nasional government that has ruled since independence in 1957. Pleas of workers and their families for decent wages continue to be ignored by a government that has been shown to be pro-employer and pro-business, which, by its actions and omissions, seems to be more interested in maintaining the supply of lowly paid, “problem-free” and “easily used and disposable” workers especially for private sector companies.

Workers’ demand and plea for a basic minimum living wage law that will ensure that workers and their families will be able to live decent lives as human beings continue to be ignored by this government, which has at the same time been very fast in increasing the cost of living. This government has allowed increase in the cost of electricity, water, postal services, phone charges, toll charges, petrol and generally the cost of living.

The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) saw an overall rise of cost of almost all goods and services. Continuous subsidy removals have also resulted in the increase of prices of basic goods and amenities needed by all persons to sustain life. All these measures that resulted in an increase in the cost of living of workers and their families have been done speedily and systematically, but at the same time this government has not ensured increase in wages, and has been systematically removing the right to secure employment until retirement age.

New workers today are being allowed by the government to be employed as short-term contract workers, and sadly even once permanent workers are made to leave through various schemes, like voluntary separation schemes (VSS) and then re-employed as short-term contract workers. Then, the government has expressed the intention of wanting to deny these now contract workers the right to go to court and claim for reinstatement when they are wrongfully dismissed by employers, but the trade unions and civil society opposed this and the government has yet to make this law.

Now, another disturbing trend is that the government is allowing some companies to avoid employment relationships, and their duties and obligations to the workers who work in their factories, plantations and workplaces. It is doing this by a new illegal entity called outsourcing agents, who are actually contractors for labour that supply workers to principals, and this clearly is not allowed in our Employment Act 1955. The law applies to all, including the government, and action is demanded that injustice and violation of law are aggressively ended.

Workers living below poverty line


On minimum wage, Malaysia always had the Wages Councils Act 1947, which gave the government the means and mechanisms to stipulate minimum wages for workers but, alas, it seems that only four categories of workers have been covered by orders made under this Act, that is, in 1967, 1970, 1972 and 1977. They are catering and hotel workers, shop assistants, cinema workers, and Penang stevedores and cargo handlers respectively. For example, the 1970 order on shop assistants provides that the minimum remuneration for a worker ranges from RM170 to RM250, depending on the age of the worker, location and whether full-time or apprentice.

Now, rather than immediately setting and implementing a minimum wage for all workers in Malaysia, or coming out with a minimum wage law, the BN government is telling us that it is tabling a new Bill called the National Wage Consultative Council Act, and the fear is that this will just be as ineffective as the previous law, and all workers will not enjoy basic minimum wages for some time yet, if at all.

The government can immediately set the basic minimum living wages for workers now, subject to later adjustment. A few months ago, the government set the minimum wages for security guards at RM700 per month, which came into effect at the end of January 2011, and as such, the government also can and should immediately set a floor minimum wage for all workers now. It is proposed that this be at least RM900 and it become effective on July 1, 2011. Further adjustments and annual periodic reviews can be done later but at least workers will get sufficient wages now for themselves and their families when cost of living is already so high.

It is sad that the new president of MTUC, Khalid Atan, saw it fit to shower praises on our prime minister, and pledged that MTUC will be working closely with this government that has a history of being anti-worker and pro-employer. MTUC, trade unions and workers’ groups must always place as priority the fight for workers’ rights and welfare, and not try to curry favour with politicians and the government of the day.

It is also distressing that MTUC has allowed the event to become an Umno event, in particular when Umno Youth used it to launch its workers complaints (aduan pekerja) website. It would have been much better if the money was just donated to MTUC to have its own independent website.

Workers and their unions have been calling for minimum wage for a long time, and this demand intensified in the last six years but, alas, the current government’s response has to date been empty promises only save for the 100,000 plus security guards that got something.

Let us not forget that a study on wages initiated by the Human Resources Ministry has revealed that almost 34% of about 1.3 million workers earn less than RM700 a month, below the poverty line of RM720 per month. And in June 2011, our prime minister is not talking about workers getting minimum wages soon but only that “…he hoped a minimum wage policy can be implemented by year-end…”

Workers demand minimum wages today – not just a policy by end of the year.

Syed Sharir Syed Mohamud is the former Malaysian Trade Union Congress president.

Bersih secretariat raided, staff detained

The police have escalated the crackdown on Bersih 2.0 by raiding its secretariat in a member-NGO's office in Section 4, Petaling Jaya.

NONEPolice officers arrived about 12.30pm, according to Maria Chin Abdullah (wearing specs in photo), who heads the NGO Empower.
Bersih 2.0, a coalition of NGOs, has come under intense pressure to call off the July 9 rally in support of electoral reform.

Maria, who was in Parliament House at the time, said she was told the police had turned up without a warrant.

The 10-member police team, from the Selangor police contingent headquarters, was headed by one ASP Rosli.

They arrived in five unmarked cars that were heavily tinted and most were in plainclothes. A large police truck arrived later.

"When they arrived, they were aggressive and tried to break (the door) with a cutter," said a source. 

NONEThey conducted a search of the office and collected all the leaflets and T-shirts found on the premises. 

According to the source, the police recorded the MyKad numbers of the Empower employees. 

The police also took down the MyKad numbers, names and telephone numbers of all the 20 journalists camped outside the Empower office.

At a press conference in the Parliament lobby earlier, Maria said: “I was just informed that the police are taking statements from the staff, we have no other information."

NONEShe challenged the inspector-general of police to prove that they have committed a crime and stop “such intimidation”.

Maria said 95 people have been detained to date for wearing the Bersih T-shirt and handing out leaflets on the rally.

“This is a basic human right, it's is our right to assemble peacefully and we have been stressing that it will be a peaceful march. We are not going out to create chaos as we have been accused." 

Employees detained

Lawyer Latheefa Koya, who is at the Empower office, said the police had refused to show a search warrant to the employees.

"They said they would pecah masuk (break in) if not allowed in, so the staff let them in," she told reporters.
"The investigation is under Section 27(5) of the Police Act. We do not have a list of objects they are seizing."
Section 27(5) regulates assemblies, meetings and processions in relation to the absence of a police permit.
At 3.12pm, the police took away items in seven black 'garbage bags', and five boxes, as well as four banners.
Reporters at the scene who contacted Selangor CPO Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah were told that the police had received information that there were activities on the premises that were in violation of the law.

Police performed monitoring work and observed that there was suspicious activity. The CID then conducted the raid, Tun Hisan was quoted as saying. 

The staff were detained on suspicion of having materials carrying the Bersih 2.0 logo. The coalition is an unregistered organisation and thus cannot have a logo, he said. 

Tun Hisan was also quoted as saying police would refer to the Registrar of Societies for a probe under Section 50(3) of the Societies Act. 

At about 3.30pm, the police have completed their raid and seven staff at Empower's office were brought to the Petaling Jaya district police station for further questioning.

Anwar: Reds, Christianity threat claims a diversion

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has poured scorn on the Bersih detractors' claims that the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections are run by communists and Christians.

Calling the allegations a “diversion”, the Permatang Pauh MP said that they were merely a tactic to distract the focus from the “main issue at hand” which are demands for a clean election and the freedom to assemble peacefully.

NONE“They have labelled people as communists, and that they are waging war on the Agong. This is all just to divert attention. And now they are saying that Christians are in the mix, sponsoring the rally,” Anwar (left) said.
He was speaking to reporters after an economic discussion in Klang this morning.

Thirty Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) activists were arrested on Saturday on a charge of 'waging war' against the Agong.
The police claimed that they were trying to resurrect communism after finding leaflets with names of people allegedly linked to the banned Communist Party of Malaya.

They were arrested while on board a bus at the Sungai Dua toll plaza in Penang and are currently under remand.

However, Umno-owned daily Utusan Malaysia took it a step further to say that the Bersih 2.0 movement is funded by Christians, with millions of ringgit being funnelled from some 11 foreign Christian organisations into the massive rally planned for July 9.

NONEThe daily further claimed that Bersih is being run by communists as 'evident' from the arrest of two foreigners, while alleging that communists are working hand-in-hand with an American pro-democracy NGO to 'infiltrate' Malaysia.

To all this, Anwar said the government is already frantically looking for justification to “make arrests, use the Internal Security Act and to torture people including the PSM members and (Sungai Siput MP Dr M Jeyakumar Devaraj). This is not fair,” he said.

Jeyakumar was said to have been rushed to the Penang Hospital after he suffered health problems while in custody.

'Rally will go on peacefully'

Despite the police crackdown on Bersih 2.0 or any other activities potentially linked to the coalition of NGOs, Anwar said he is certain that the rally will go on peacefully.

“From the statement by (Bersih 2.0 steering committee chairperson S Ambiga) and the team, they will accept all possible rules, procedures and conditions to ensure there is a peaceful rally.

“That is the whole objective, which is to express (the demand for electoral reform) in this manner because all other avenues have failed. We have sent memos, had a series of discussions, protests, everything has been done, including submission of complaints with facts and evidence."
Giving his word that he will march alongside Bersih 2.0 on July 9 to submit a petition to Istana Negara, he said they are expected to clash with counter-rallies organised by Umno Youth and Malay rights NGO Perkasa.

Anwar last marched with Bersih at its first demonstration in November 2007 which gathered 40,000 people.

Integrity talk

At the economic discussion organised by the Klang Municipal Council, former Anti-Corruption Agency director-general Shafee Yahaya gave a talk on integrity in the civil service.

He was best remembered for having been 'scolded' by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
This was after he sanctioned a raid on the office of Economic Planning Unit director-general Ali Abul Hassan in 1998, and found wads of cash in a drawer.

Mahathir had called Shafee 'hostile' in his recently-released memoirs.

'Yes, yes, yes', cops will act against Umno Youth

Umno Youth, who had gathered without a permit in front of the PKR headquarters late on Monday, will have to face the music, said the home minister.

NONEAsked specifically if police will act on this today, Hishammuddin Hussein said: "Yes, yes, yes."

He said no one will get special treatment and that the government has made this stand clear.

"I've already told (the police) to treat Pemuda (Umno Youth) the same. Nobody is above the law," he said.

'Patriot' link 

On Monday night, about 300 youths, some on motorcycles and carrying Umno flags, had surrounded the PKR headquarters in Tropicana, Selangor.

The youths allegedly threatened to burn down the building which is in the same row as a police station.

According to PKR secretary general Saifuddin Nasution, who rushed to scene at 11pm, the youths were also wearing Patriot t-shirts.

Umno Youth has plans to hold its own rally on July 9 - dubbed the Patriot rally - to defy Bersih 2.0's call for electoral reform.

The Election Commission (EC) has offered to meet Bersih 2.0 as long as it calls off the demonstration, but the offer has been rejected.

Bersih 2.0 said it has tried to engage the EC, but to no avail, over the past four years.

Two Perak assembly reps, 12 others detained

Fourteen political activists were arrested in Sungei Siput, Perak, this morning while distributing national flags at the wet market while wearing Bersih T-shirts and the DAP's Ubah T-shirts.

NONEThey began their walkabout at 9am, but police arrived within 15 minutes to take them to the police station.

Eight of the activists were dressed in Bersih T-shirts, while the others were wearing DAP's Ubah T-shirts. Twelve are from DAP, while two are PKR members.
Among those arrested by police are DAP's Jalong assemblyperson Leong Mei Ming, PKR's Teja assemblyperson Chang Lih Kang and Tan Kar Hing, who is political secretary to PKR's Gopeng parliamentarian Dr Lee Boon Chye.

NONEWhen contacted, Leong confirmed that she had been arrested, but she was not been told under what provision.

“We were told that the police have orders 'from above' to arrest anyone wearing a Bersih T-shirt,” she said.
“If not Bersih, does that mean we should support 'kotor'?” Leong asked.

Chang tweeted that police said their yellow T-shirts were instigating the people to attend the July 9 Bersih rally, and their banners were urging the people to support Bersih.

Leong recounted that within 15 minutes of arriving at the market, a dozen of police officers headed by deputy police district chief DSP Ernest intervened.

High-handed action of police criticised
The police immediately tried to grab a folded banner from a party member, which started a row between them and the police.

“We just unfolded the banner when we arrived at the market, and took a photo with it, that's all. After that, we folded it and just carried it along.

“The police have no right to grab or confiscate our private property,” Leong said, adding that the police even handcuffed one of the DAP members.

“This is totally unnecessary. Why do police have to use such highhanded tactics? This is abuse of power,” she said.

Leong explained that, giving out national flags to express support for Bersih was an act of patriotism. At the same time, it also shows support for Sungai Siput MP Dr D Jeyakumar, who was arrested on Sunday.

Until noon today, police had yet to press charges against any of the 14 arrested.

Bersih T-shirts illegal, declares Hisham

PUTRAJAYA, June 29 — Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today T-shirts with messages in support of Bersih have been outlawed because they were related to an illegal assembly.
“The Bersih T-shirt is related to an illegal assembly, then whatever they are wearing is illegal,” he told reporters.

Police officers have been arresting activists and opposition members wearing Bersih T-shirts ahead of next weekend’s rally and counter rallies organised by Umno Youth and Perkasa, all of which the government has said will not be given police permits.

However, the Bersih organisation has not been declared illegal nor has the word “Bersih” been gazetted as such.

Hishammuddin did not mention today under what law the T-shirts would be considered illegal.

Speaking at a press conference here, he also rejected claims that the police clampdown on those supporting the July 9 march for electoral reforms was politically motivated.

“On whose part? I can ask the same thing to them,” he said, implying that it was Pakatan Rakyat (PR) who were politicising police action related to the Bersih rally.

The Umno vice president also promised that action will be taken against the Umno Youth members who had surrounded the PKR headquarters on Monday, when they allegedly threatened to burn down the office.
“I told the police to treat them as with Bersih. Nobody is above the law,” he said.

Police officers have also raided the Bersih office in Petaling Jaya today, according to steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah.

She told reporters here in Parliament that 20 policemen were currently raiding the premises, and claimed that a search warrant was not issued prior to the raid.

Activists under Bersih and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) component parties are gearing up for the rally this July 9, the second such gathering calling for electoral reforms.

The first rally, also organised by Bersih, was held in 2007 and saw some 50,000 people take to the capital’s streets.

The gathering eventually dispersed, however, and resulted in chaos when the police deployed tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators.

The historic event has been partly credited for PR’s record gains in Election 2008, when the opposition pact was swept to power in five states and won 82 parliamentary seats.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Gov't urged to justify RM48m upkeep of PM, DPM residences

The government has been asked to justify the high cost of maintaining the official prime minister and deputy prime minister's residences at a time when the government is slashing subsidies for essential goods.

PAS women's wing deputy chief Siti Maria Mahmud said that this was necessary because the government is asking the public to adjust their lifestyles to meet the current economic environment.

"When it comes to educating the public about savings, it should start with the leader," Siti Maria Mahmud told reporters at the parliament lobby today.

Siti Maria was commenting on a Parliamentary written reply to Rantau Panjang MP Ziti Zailah Mohd Yusof, who is also the wing's chief, by the prime minister's department.

According to the written reply, RM48 million was spent between 2006 and 2010 to maintain the residences of the two national leaders.

"It costs so much and yet those residence are not in use all the time," commented Siti Zailah, who was also present.

According to the written reply, almost RM33 million was spent on rental alone for both properties during that period. Rental was paid to Perbadanan Putrajaya.
RM33,000 monthly water bill?
Another RM3.5 million was spent on repair work, RM10.2 million on electricity and RM1.9 million on the water bill.

"We never knew how big is the family of the prime minister and deputy prime minister, until now," chimed in DAP youth chief Anthony Loke, who was also at the press conference.

He contended that if the amount is divided up from five years and then by month, the end result will show that they government paid RM160,000 a month for electricity and RM33,000 a month for water for both official residences.

"That is enough to pay my electricity bill for 100 years and enough water for 6,000 people," he said incredulously.

Siti Maria who is also Kota Raja parliamentarian added that the government must be transparent with the rental contract it signed with Perbadanan Putrajaya on the rental of the two properties and whether in the long term after paying such a high rental, the government will get to own the properties.

Bishop calls for an end to Christian bashing

Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing today denounced the latest instance of what he called "Christian bashing" following reports in Utusan Malaysia alleging funding for the Bersih 2.0 march by foreign Christian organisations.

The Bishop of the Melaka-Johor diocese who is concurrently president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia, said the Malay daily "appears to have a licence to publish unsubstantiated and wild allegations aimed at fomenting discord between Christians and Muslims in Malaysia."

In an article in yesterday's edition of the paper, the Utusan had claimed that millions of ringgit were being funneled from some 11 foreign Christian organisations to fund the Bersih march planned for July 9 to push for electoral reform.

"I'm appalled that nothing is being done to stop this paper from spouting arrant nonsense," said the Jesuit-trained prelate.

bishop paul tan chee ing"It appears the authorities are more interested in checking and monitoring people engaged in legitimate expression of their rights than in stopping people who spread all sorts of calumnies against individuals and groups in this country," he said in remarks made to Malaysiakini today.

Several weeks ago, accusations that Christian groups were engaged in a conspiracy to dethrone Islam as the official religion of the country surfaced in blogs allied to Umno.

Utusan gave prominence to these claims which emanated from a gathering of Christian clergymen and activists in Penang in May.

Police investigations dragged on inconclusively, shedding no light on the substance or its lack in the accusations.

"How is it the authorities are seemingly lax in their investigative and preventive ardour when irresponsible and wild allegations are made against law-abiding individuals and groups but appear to move with alacrity against people engaged in the exercise of their rights," asked Bishop Paul Tan.

"Why this disparity in the discharge of solemn duty?" he inquired.

Allegations reek of malicious intent

Bishop Paul Tan noted "with relief but no surprise" that the Bersih organisers have denied any links to Christian funding.

Bersih organising chair, Ambiga Seenivasan, has scoffed at Utusan's allegations, saying instead that funds for the march came from local sources.

"With that denial would the authorities now compel Utusan to show where they obtained knowledge of foreign Christian funding for the march and in the absence of proof thereof apologise for misleading the public," queried Bishop Paul.

"These are not innocuous allegations; they reek of malicious intent and must, if unsubstantiated, be called to account," he asserted.

"Otherwise, Malaysians - Christians in particular - might have to conclude that the initially compelling '1Malaysia slogan - People First, Performance Now' has now come to mean 'Woebegone Malaysia - Vested Interests First, The Rest Afterwards'," chided Bishop Paul Tan.

"I know this does sounds facetious but that is what things have come to," he sighed.

Dayak leader insulted by claims of the non-Dayak

Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister Michael Manyin feels insulted by non-Dayak people telling him that Dayak leaders in the state government are not looking after the interests of the community.

"If we have indeed failed our people, as some members of the DAP implied that the Dayak leaders have not looked after the interests of the Dayak and not helped them, which is absolutely false, then the rural areas will not be what they are today, and we, the Dayak, will not be what we are today," he said.

"If we, the Dayak leaders, have really failed our people, the infrastructures, amenities and educational opportunities now available to the Dayak community will not exist," he added when winding up the debate on motion of thanks on the Yang di-Pertua Negeri's address in the Sarawak state assembly yesterday.

Manyin, who is also a vice-president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), said the opposition members were either wearing blinkers or were just bent on making scandalous accusations against the Dayak leaders in the government.

NONE"In so behaving and in failing to provide any constructive, alternative schemes or programmes to help the Dayaks, I think I am entitled to say, without fear of contradiction, that we have in this august House some members of the opposition who fail miserably to measure to the democratic standard of a responsible and constructive opposition," he said.

Manyin singled out Ting Tze Fui (DAP-Meradong, left), who had asked the Dayak leaders to have the heart for the Dayak people.

"I wish to tell her that such remarks are an insult to the Dayak community, who have been voting for us (BN) since Independence, and to their intelligence," he added.

Quoting former Israeli prime minister, the late Golda Meir, Manyin said: "Don't be too humble for you are not that great."

To Ting, he said: "I also wish to tell her not to tell ducks how to swim, for you have not eaten enough salt."

In her speech, Ting accused the Dayak leaders of neglecting their community and taking away their native customary rights land.

Ting: We speak out loudly on land grabs
"In view of the many NCR landowners whose lands have been grabbed over the years by big corporations with the cohort of the state government, it is just so sad that the government ministers, especially the Honourable Member for Layar (Alfred Jabu Numpang), persistently condemn the opposition as against development.

"When the opposition does speak out on matters related to NCR landowners, be rest assured that we are all the way for them. We have their vital interests over their land in our hearts.

"We want to protect their very legitimate claims over their land by speaking out loudly and clearly on their behalf and against indiscriminate and wanton land grabs by big or dormant
companies," Ting had said.

Manyin asked if the policies of the BN were that bad as claimed by the opposition, then how was it that Sarawak had developed from a very poor state from the 1960s to the 1980s to what it was today.

"I believe many of us will not be what we are today and the BN will not have been able to rule Sarawak since Independence if not because of the good policies of the BN government," he said.

The BN, Manyin added, had been judged many times in state and parliamentary elections, and winning two-thirds majority in the recent state election was clear testimony that the BN policies were good for the people and the state.

'Gov't misled public over RM74bil subsidy burden'

The federal government had "misled" the public when the Performance, Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) stated it had footed a subsidy bill of RM74 billion in 2010, an economist said today.

NONESpeaking at the Selangor 2012 budget talks in Subang Jaya today, Nottingham University visiting associate professor Subramaniam Pillay said 54 percent of that bill was for education and healthcare, which is in fact government responsibility.

"All governments in the world subsidise different items for different people. But education and health are what economists call 'public goods' and are the responsibility of the government,” said Subramaniam who retired as Nottingham University Business School head last year.

"All developed countries around the world subsidise healthcare heavily, except the US, but (President Barack) Obama recently tabled a Healthcare Bill."

Take the two big-ticket items away and the bill was only RM31.1 billion, of which only food subsidies (RM3 billion or about 2 percent of the federal budget) went directly to the rakyat.

He said much of the RM23.7 billion fuel and energy subsidies paid in 2010 had gone to gas subsidies to independent power producers.

"For infrastructure, all the subsidies go to (highway concessionaires) not because they need it but because they signed an agreement (with the government), which was stupid. It's not a subsidy for the rakyat," he said.

The Pemandu figure of RM74 billion has been cited by the government to justify its subsidy cuts on petrol, natural gas, diesel and food items.

Umno Youth 'threatened' to torch PKR HQ

A group of Umno Youth members gathered in front of their arch nemesis PKR's headquarters in Petaling Jaya late last night in a noisy demonstration, threatening to burn down the building.

ANONEbout 300 people, according to PKR estimates, had converged on motorcycles and demanded that PKR withdraws its support from the Bersih 2.0 march on July 9.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution, who rushed to the HQ after being alerted by party members, said he arrived at about 11pm and observed the demonstration from a distance.

"How do I know they are Umno members? First of all, they were carrying Umno flags and they were wearing their red 'Patriot' T-shirts,” he told Malaysiakini.

“I could also see (Umno Youth exco Lokman Adam) and (former Perkasa Youth chief Arman Azha Abu Hanifah) leading the group."
Incendiary speeches on tape

anwar pc 290607 saifuddin nasutionSaifuddin (right) also said that when he got there with several party members, they recorded the fiery speeches made by Lokman to the Umno Youth crowd.

"He said that he wants to burn down the PKR HQ. He can deny it all he wants, but we have the recording," he said.

PKR Youth deputy information chief Rozan Azen Mat Rasip, who was also there, confirmed that Lokman had explicitly threatened to burn down the headquarters if the party participates in the July 9 rally.

NONE"He also threatened (PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim) and (Bersih 2.0 steering committee chairperson) S Ambiga for supporting the rally," he said, adding that about 50 PKR Youth members were there to monitor the demonstration.

According to Rozan (left), the Umno Youth group gathered in two locations - at a petrol station in Shah Alam and at the Batu Tiga toll plaza on the Federal Highway - before making their way to the PKR HQ in Tropicana. This was based on information in pro-Umno blogs.

He lodged a police report at the Tropicana police station, just a few doors down the road from the HQ, at about 11.40pm, almost immediately after the crowd had dispersed.

No arrests made

Rozan said he saw about 20 heavily-armed police officers on standby at the protest although no arrest were made.

azlan"That's why we're puzzled," he said, urging the police to investigate the case under criminal intimidation.

Lokman and Arman could not be reached for comment.

Though Bersih 2.0 - which stands for the Coalition of Free and Fair Elections - claims to be a politically non-partisan group, PKR is expected to mobilise tens of thousands of its members from around the country for the massive rally.

In calling for electoral reforms, Bersih 2.0 intends to hand over a petition to Istana Negara detailing their eight demands before the next general election.

However, Umno Youth has said that it will also organise a counter-rally on the same day, calling it the 'Patriot' rally, in support of the current electoral system.

Movement chief Khairy Jamaluddin had previously said that their objective is to defy Bersih 2.0, as well as to support engagement with the Election Commission.

Malay rights NGO Perkasa has vowed to hold a counter-rally in a bid to stop the Bersih rally.

Cops quiz opposition MPs in Parliament over Bersih

June 28, 2011
 
KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — The police extended their Bersih dragnet to Parliament today, appearing unexpectedly at the building’s lobby this morning to record statements from at least two opposition MPs.
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, who was spotted speaking to one officer at the MP’s lounge here at about 11.30am, told reporters that he was questioned over the contents of his speech during a ceramah at Sabak Bernam on June 17.

The Gombak MP said he believed he was being questioned for allegedly inviting the crowd to attend the July 9 rally organised by election watchdog Bersih 2.0.

“It is quite clear that the questions were based on my speech in Sabak Bernam where I was alleged to have invited the public to participate in Bersih,” he said.
Azmin (picture) also claimed that the police officer had turned up without giving him any prior notice.

“I received a call yesterday afternoon and we agreed to reschedule a meeting to record my statement. But suddenly he turned up here and texted me so I came out of the House to speak to him,” he said.
Azmin, however, said that in the 30-minute session he had refused to answer the police officer’s questions, exercising his right under section 112(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

He added that the officer, an assistant superintendent from the Selangor police contingent headquarters, had also failed to serve him a notice under section 111 of the CPC, formally informing him that he was to be questioned.

“I asked where was the 111 notice because they are first supposed to serve that notice. I chose not to answer any question... I said do not waste your time.” he said.

Azmin also said he was unable to recall if he had invited the crowd at the June 17 ceramah to participate in the rally but admitted that he had spoken on the topic.

“I have to look at the CD or the tape but certainly I explained to the crowd what needs to be done, that we want a free and fair election... and I gave enough evidence to show that the election process in Malaysia is not fair.

“So we need to address this issue to create the awareness in public. That is the reason why we must have this peaceful rally to call for free and fair elections... that’s it,” he said.

Approached by reporters later, Jerai MP Mohd Firdaus Jaafar of PAS said he had also been questioned at the Parliament lobby at about 10 this morning.

“It was also about Bersih... I spoke about it during two ceramahs — one in Kuala Selangor and one in Sungai Besar. But all I said was that PAS approved a motion in support of Bersih during our muktamar,” he said.
Mohd Firdaus said he had invited the police to Parliament to record his statement.

Burma deports, blacklists Michelle Yeoh

Hollywood star Michelle Yeoh, who plays pro-democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi in an upcoming film, has been deported by the army-dominated Burma and blacklisted, an official said today.

NONE"She did not have the chance to enter Burma again.

"She was deported straight away on the first flight after arriving at Yangon international airport," a Burma official, who did not want to be named, told AFP.

"She's on the blacklist now," a second official said, declining to say why.

The Malaysian-born former Bond girl met the Nobel Peace Prize winner at her Yangon home last December after shooting scenes with French director Luc Besson in Thailand for the production, which has been kept under close wraps.

The film is expected to be released later this year.

Suu Kyi was freed last November after seven straight years of house arrest, less than a week after an election that critics said was a charade aimed at preserving military rule behind a civilian facade in Burma.

Suu Kyi, who turned 66 this month, has won international acclaim for her peaceful resistance in the face of oppression.

NONEIn 1990 she led her National League for Democracy party to a landslide election win that was never recognised by Burma's military rulers. She boycotted last year's vote, saying the rules were unfair.

Yeoh, 48, a former Miss Malaysia, shot to international fame when she co-starred with Pierce Brosnan in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies as a tough but beautiful Chinese spy.

She then starred in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - a Chinese-language martial arts epic that was an international hit - and Memoirs of a Geisha based on the best-selling novel by Arthur Golden.

- AFP

Monday, 27 June 2011

Chinese 'losing political power' that we never had

Yesterday, Star editor-in-chief (On the Beat, 'Big Test for Chinese Voters', Sunday Star June 26), echoed MCA president's stern warning to the Chinese - to swing their votes back to the party or risk losing government representation (not surprising since Star is owned by the MCA). He postulates that the Chinese in Malaysia face a big test in the next election - will they "follow their heart or rule with their head"?

These statements from the two Chinese leaders in the political and media arena respectively, reek of desperation, and no matter how hard they try to mask it, is simply a threat to the Chinese electorate that they risked losing big time should they "follow their heart".

It also shows just how out of touch they are with the ordinary Chinese voter.

The Chinese have always been pragmatic in their voting preferences. And crucially, Chinese representation in government is not nearly as important as who will be the prime minister of the day.

We understand that in the make-up of Malaysia's political structure, the Prime Minister's Office is the entity that will shaped the destiny of the Chinese in Malaysia. The PM's political leanings, his planned policies and perceived fairness is thousands of times more important that who the MCA president is or how many seats the MCA has or how many cabinet ministers are from MCA.

We know that at the end of the day, at best the MCA can influence policies, but it can never shape them. For that matter, even with strong Chinese representation in government, it is the prime minister's voice that matters - whether he is fair, transparent and pragmatic in implementation of national policies.

When Mahathir was prime minister, he enjoyed immense support from the Chinese. Not just because the economy was growing rapidly. Remember, this was the time when 'Malaysian Inc' was at its peak, where privatisation yielded immense wealth to selected Unmo-linked businessmen.

This was at a time of Operasi Lalang, where ISA was invoked to arrest opposition politicians. Media freedom was muted. Yet, the Chinese in general continued to express admiration for Mahathir. Why? Because we were never felt to be an outsider in our own country - we genuinely feel Mahathir was a prime minister for all. He espoused for all Malaysians to be united in progressing towards a developed nation, and indeed, all Malaysian truly believed we can do it if we work hard together.

The Chinese continued to support Dr M when he faced a grave test in the 1999 election with the sacking of Anwar. As Wong Chun Wai rightly pointed out, Dr M opined that it was the Chinese voters who saved many Umno candidates in the 1999 GE. So then, did we vote with our hearts or head even as substantial Malay votes swung to the opposition?

MCA (and Wong) should realise by now that we do not care whether the MCA is relevant as much as whether the PM is genuine in uniting all Malaysians in a common objective. So what if the MCA is represented in the cabinet when the true levers of power lies within Umno, where only the PM can hold sway?

The 2008 GE saw heavy defeat for MCA because the Chinese lost hope in the administration of Abdullah Badawi. A vote for MCA will mean a vote for a PM that never did quite deliver on his promises.

And now, for PM Najib, certainly he has done a much better job than his predecessor in addressing the Chinese concerns by saying and doing some right things. However, when extreme right-wing parties like Perkasa is allowed to utter racist remarks and get away with it, when the Chinese is accused of being ungrateful for exercising our democratic rights - we need to see firm action from our leader. We need to see that he can rise above racial politics currently being played out by Umno (and MCA) and speak for all Malaysians regardless of race and religion.

Some quarters have labelled the Chinese as being "ungrateful". After all, we did enjoy immense benefits - good education, good career prospects, good racial harmony. However, we fear that what we have enjoyed in our generation, and that of our parents, may not necessarily be true for our children.

We are genuinely worried that with intense global competition, instead of strengthening our country's building blocks - education, legal system and public administration - on the contrary, it is being torn apart by politics, corruption and incompetence. And to top it all, racial harmony is being stretched and tested such that what we take for granted in our youth now require a slogan to remind us that we are in this global race together.

We want change, not just for the Chinese, but for all Malaysians. We want meritocracy. We want to realise Malaysia's true potential. But so far, we see little progress in that direction, except for some expedient statements but no action to that effect.

Wong Chun Wai and Chua Soi Lek may genuinely be worried that Chinese may lose "political power" if the MCA does not receive a firm support from its constituents - but you can't lose what was never yours.

We are pragmatic - we tend to vote with our heads, and seldom our hearts. But in this instance, both our heads and our hearts are in unison - we vote for change.

Bersih repudiates foreign Christian funding claim

KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan rubbished today Utusan Malaysia’s claim that the electoral reform group’s July 9 rally was funded by foreign Christian organisations, saying the money was donated by Malaysian citizens at home and abroad.

“The funds for the rally are entirely from public donations and the [sale of] Bersih t-shirts... I have never even heard of those [foreign] groups,” she told The Malaysian Insider over the phone today after being questioned by the police over the controversial July 9 street demonstration that has triggered two other groups, Perkasa and Umno Youth, to call their own counter rallies.
'
She added that the Selangor state government has also pledged financial support for Bersih’s July 9 rally.
Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia claimed in an editorial today that Bersih is being funded by some 11 foreign Christian organisations that have donated millions of ringgit to underwrite the group’s rally. It named German think-tank Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF) and the Canadian Allied Foundation as among them.
KAF is associated with Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union and  aims to further the “promotion of freedom and liberty, peace, and justice” through “furthering European unification, improving transatlantic relations and deepening development co-operation.”

Little is known about the Canadian Allied Foundation named in the Utusan article.

Demonstrators march during the Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur, November 10, 2007. — Reuters pic
Ambiga admitted to Bersih receiving some money from two US organisations — the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Open Society Institute (OSI) — for other projects, which she stressed were unrelated to the July 9 march. The NDI describes itself as a non-profit, non-partisan organisation “working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government”.

According to corporate information on its website, the OSI was started by financier George Soros in 1984 to help countries make the transition from communism, and has grown to include not just the US but more than 70 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Fellow Bersih steering committee member, Maria Chin Abdullah, explained that both NDI’s and OSI’s funding were specifically for to the electoral watchdog’s delineation projects.

“It’s got nothing to do with the rally. The funds [for the rally] are entirely from public donations. A lot of them are from Malaysians overseas. A lot of people donate anonymously into our bank account,” she told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.

Chin Abdullah said Bersih’s rally fund to date amounted “close to RM30,000”, but added the group needed double that figure to pay for its campaigning, which included carrying out nationwide roadshows and the cost of the yellow Bersih t-shirts priced at RM15 each.

She also clarified that the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat government’s pledge was only a “verbal promise” and that Bersih had yet to receive a single sen from them.

PAS has promised to bring in hundreds of thousands of supporters from across the country as Pakatan Rakyat gears up for a second such rally in recent years.

The first Bersih rally in 2007 saw up to 50,000 people take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur before they were dispersed by police armed with tear gas and water cannons.

The demonstration has been partly credited for Pakatan Rakyat’s record gains in Election 2008, where the opposition pact swept to power in five states and won 82 parliamentary seats.

RM400 million asset division stalls divorce for Taib's son

There was a brief, tense moment in the Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court today during the divorce settlement proceedings of the Sarawak chief minister's son Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib after the distribution of assets was brought into question.

Lawyers representing his former wife Shahnaz A Majid, the sister of jazz queen Sheila Majid, asserted they had served the necessary discovery documents on Shahnaz's claim of RM400 million from the son of the Sarawak strongman.

One of the documents Shahnaz's lawyer Dr Mohd Rafie Shafie claimed to have handed to Bekir is an ex-parte order obtained from the court, dated May 9, calling for a discovery of Bekir's assets in Malaysia and abroad.

NONEHe said a discovery of the assets, which his law firm and co-counsel Akbardin Abdul Kader had made, was also handed to Bekir (left).
Rafie claimed that Bekir did not want to receive their letter and documents when a representative went to his house in Desa Nusantara, Sri Hartamas, on June 22, forcing his maid take it instead.
“Our representative went to Bekir's house at Duta Nusantara, Sri Hartamas, on June 22. However, Bekir did not want to receive our letter and documents and instead his maid received it on his behalf,” Rafie said.

However, Bekir's lawyers - Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar and Saadiah Man - denied that their client had received such a claim.

"Our client was at home the whole day and did not receive any documents. Under the law, the documents should have been handed directly to my client," Zainul Rijal said.
No details furnished, say Bekir's lawyers

Co-counsel Saadiah also said it was improper for Shahnaz to submit the ex-parte application as the order dated May 9 had elapsed.

NONEBekir, on the other hand, claimed his former wife had failed to give details of their joint matrimonial assets - for which she is staking a claim - preventing him from filing a defence.

This followed an interlocutory application filed by Bekir's lawyers on June 23, asking Shahnaz to provide the details of the hundreds of acres of land in Sarawak that Shahnaz (right) is seeking.

"She is also claiming a stake in houses all over the country and outside Malaysia, but did not furnish details," Zainul Rijal said.

"According to the law, those making such claims must provide the details of the assets the person is seeking, so that we can verify them. Not doing so will result in us not being able to reply."
In light of these discrepancies, chief syariah judge Mohamad Abdullah ordered Shahnaz's lawyers to hand over all the required documents to the lawyer instead of handing them directly to Bekir.
Rafie said it would take some time as he had made four copies that were handed over and now these had to be handed over again.

Mohamad fixed Aug 9 for mention, before which Rafie and his co-counsel are required to give the necessary documents to Saadiah. These would in turn be given to Bekir to verify and to prepare his reply.

Under the syariah law system, the claimants are required to furnish the details of the assets in a claim and the defendant or respondent will then verify whether this is legitimate.

Consolidatory gift claim re-filed 

This is especially so if the assets could be in the name of others as well and not solely in the respondent's.

In a related development, Shahnaz had re-filed the mutaah (consolidatory gift) claim on June 9, following the divorce pronouncement made by Bekir on May 9.

It was reported that Shahnaz is seeking RM300 million in matrimonial assets and another RM100 million in mutaah following the divorce. Bekir also submitted a separate divorce application.

The couple has a 17-year-old son.

Shahnaz, 48, claims that she and Bekir own residential properties in many places, thousands of hectares of land in Sarawak, and land in Bukit Tunku in Kuala Lumpur. They also have seven luxury cars that include the Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley and Maserati marques.

Their joint assets include shares in 15 companies, including Cahaya Mata Sarawak and Sarawak Cable Bhd.

The couple also possess assets in the form of savings, money in the Employees Provident Fund and Amanah Saham Bumiputera units. The detailed information on the assets will be presented during the hearing.

Shahnaz is claiming RM300 million in the joint assets accrued during marriage, which she is entitled to. She also wants Bekir to submit the original land titles to the court or to her legal representatives.

Nazri: Sex video screening is judge's prerogative

De facto Law Minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz told the House today that the decision to hold the screening of the sex video allegedly featuring Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim “is up to the judge”.

“It is the discretion of the magistrate whether to screen or not. It is not for me to tell him what to do.”

The issue cropped up today when veteran opposition parliamentarian Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor), when debating the Judges' Remuneeration (Amendment) Bill 2011, asked if it was proper for magistrate Aizatul Akmal Maharani to allow for screening of the sex video while the public was watching the proceedings.

datuk t charged in court frontLast week, former Malacca chief minister Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik was charged with abetting former Perkasa treasurer-general Shuib Lazim and businessperson Shazryl Eskay Abdullah in “openly” screening pornographic material to a group of journalists on March 21.

The three, who had veiled themselves under the moniker 'Datuk T', said they screened the sex video to divulge the “truth” that the person featured in the video is unfit to be a leader.
In order to determine if the video contained pornography, it was screened in the courtroom, although the sex scenes were fast-forwarded.

“The magistrate (in the) case (had acted in) an unprecedented (manner). In the case related to Datuk T (where) the pornographic video was shown to journalists. It happens all the time (and) in this age it is a normal thing,” said Karpal.

“But in this case, what procedures are being followed? Why are other means being used, was it bona fide (in good faith)?

“In this case, why was there a need to prove the identity of the actor in the porn video? Who is the mastermind? Who is the puppeteer in this matter? There is nothing extraordinary (in the case),” said Karpal.

'The magistrate abused his power'


He insisted that the magistrate had “abused his power” in screening the video and asked how can the act be defended” as it involved a person who was not represented on that day.

Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia then interjected, and pointed out to Karpal that the latter had previously applied to screen the video in the Dewan Rakyat, which was later denied.

“I said show it in Parliament not to the public, and in court, it can be done as well but it should have been done in camera,” said Karpal, adding that it had affected the reputation of the opposition leader.

However, responding to the debate, Nazri repeatedly said that he cannot intervene with the magistrate's decisions as it was the latter's call.

Opposition parliamentarian R Sivarasa then asked if there could have been a “conspiracy as there was a rumour that the prosecution did not ask for the video to be played , but it was initiated by the defence counsel”.

“I don't know whether there was a conspiracy or not... I can't give you an opinion, the judge is the boss in his court and those who aren't happy with his decision can appeal,” Nazri reiterated.

'Zaki was in Umno to discipline the party'

On a related matter, Karpal and Ngeh Khoo Ham (DAP-Beruas) also asked why there should be an increase in the judges' retirement benefits and pension, when Chief Justice Zaki Azmi had allegedly admitted during a convention in Kuching in 2008 that he (Zaki) had bribed court officials while a practising lawyer.

azlanNgeh also pointed out that when Zaki was a lawyer the latter represented Umno in plenty of court petitions.

However, Nazri shot down the allegation, arguing that although Zaki was formerly Umno disciplinary committee head, it has not affected his judgments.

“There is no evidence... we (Umno) appointed him (Zaki) as a lawyer, to be professional. He was disciplinary committee head to discipline Umno, not to become Umno's representative,” fired Nazri.

After a long-winded debate and heated exchanges on issues relating to the judiciary including the screening of the sex video in court, the amendment to the Act was passed.

Zaid: Turning court into porn cinema 'foolish'

Despite his hostility toward PKR de factor leader Anwar Ibrahim, Parti Kesejahteraan Insan Tanah Air (Kita) chief Zaid Ibrahim slammed BN's attempts to pin Anwar as the man in the sex video as "foolish and clumsy".

He said that BN's inept handling of even "the simplest of issues" has favoured Anwar.

NONE"The charge against Datuk T should have been dispensed with in the normal way without resorting to this song-and-dance routine.

"There was no need for the defence lawyer to call on the attorney-general to charge Anwar for false reporting, nor was there any need for the big speech about a 'mission accomplished'," said Zaid (right) in a posting on the Kita official website.

The posting is related to the trial of Datuk T trio - businessman Shazryl Eskay Abdullah, former Perkasa treasurer Shuib Lazim and former Malacca chief minister Rahim Thamby Chik, last Friday over the Seri Carcosa sex video scandal.

During the hearing, Shafee Abdullah, the counsel for Rahim, produced a report by professors Hany Farid and Lorenzo Torresani from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, to prove there is a 99.99 percent match of the male in the video clip to a known photo of Anwar based on facial recognition analysis.

Although the trio pleaded guilty and were slapped with a fine of up to RM3,000, the way the hearing was conducted, including screening of the video clip in court, could be seen as an abuse of the court process, with the intention to smear Anwar.

Public sentiment

Zaid pointed that the opposition parties namely DAP and PAS will continue denying that the person depicted in the video is Anwar if public sentiment continues to side with them.

"That's the tragedy of Malaysian politics. The hatred of Umno and the BN has coalesced and morphed into something equally dangerous. Merely for the sake of opposition, people are prepared to embrace a liar.

"People ignore evidence, or, better yet, they are prepared to accept new principles of evidence just to suit the opposition. Together, they are willing to plant and grow the seeds of conspiracy and to blame it all on the police and the courts, and so on," he said.

NONEThe former PKR leader compared Anwar (left) with a bankrupt, arguing that the former should be not allowed to contest in election.

"On a moral scale, how is a bankrupt less desirable than a leader of the opposition who knowingly tells lies to the public and refuses to acknowledge and accept his failings, but instead agitates the people against the government solely to protect himself?" he queried.

"If Anwar had the interests of the people at heart, even in the slightest way, he would have been honest. He would have spared his family from having to tell lies as well. It would have been unnecessary for him to lodge a false report (which can get him into more trouble), and it would have been unnecessary for a Court of Law to have been used as a pornographic cinema.

"It would not have been necessary for groups to distribute the videos to young and old, and to make us all look like a sex-obsessed nation," he said.

Zaid commented that the opposition has resort to lies and deceit to protect Anwar, following in the footsteps of BN.

"How can the opposition be better if basic standards of decency, honesty and truth can be ignored so easily?

"If Dr Mahathir Mohamad destroyed the judiciary for good, then his friend Anwar has likewise destroyed the credibility of the Opposition. Only the inept BN has allowed Anwar to remain a political force," he added.

Police quiz Ambiga; Nurul Izzah, Sivarasa next

Bersih 2.0 chief S Ambiga and national laureate A Samad Said were today questioned by police for suspected sedition and unlawful assembly, the first in a string of Bersih committee members summoned to make police statements.


NONEBoth Ambiga (right) and Samad are being investigated under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act and also Section 27(5) of the Police Act, which covers illegal assembly.

Ambiga, who spent a good two hours under questionning from officers at the Dang Wangi police station, said they were not clear on what exactly was the basis for the investigation.

"They just said it has something to do with the rally," she told journalists after she finished giving her statement to the police around 4pm.

During the time Ambiga and Samad were being questioned, it was learnt that police have also served notices to lawyers N Surendran and Fadiah Nadwa Fitri - members of Lawyers for Liberty who are acting as counsel for Samad - to give their statements, presumably for similar reasons as Ambiga.
Surendran said the officers who served them the notices had insisted that they be questioned immediately, but he argued that they could not oblige as they were present in their capacities as Samad's legal counsel.

"We still have to come back at 3pm tomorrow. I really don't know why we were served the notice... this is a first for me," Surendran said, adding that he was assuming both he and Fadiah were being investigated under the same two laws.

NONEThe media was also informed late this evening that two others, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar (left) and another Lawyers for Liberty member, Latheefa Koya, have also been summoned to give their statements tomorrow, around the same time.|

PKR's Subang MP R Sivarasa, who was also present at the Bersih launch, has also been called.

All six people were present at the Bersih 2.0 'launch' held at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on June 19.

A small group from the Umno Youth Federal Territory division, led by its chief Rizalman Mokhtar, also turned up briefly at the Dang Wangi police station, to apply for a permit on behalf of the Umno Youth movement's planned 'Patriot' march on the same day.

'Govt stuck in a time warp'

Meanwhile, Ambiga fired another salvo at the government, this time over the detention of 66 Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members in Penang and Johor in what is perceived as a police crackdown on protesters and opposition parties ahead of the July 9 rally.

The police detained the PSM members, including Sungai Siput MP Dr D Jeyakumar, on a charge of waging war against the King, based on their findings that the party is allegedly trying to resurrect communism in Malaysia. 

"It's ridiculous, what has happened to the PSM members. We don't know what the basis is (for the arrests). We don't even know what they are talking about," Ambiga said, referring to the allegation about 'communism'.
"They (the authorities) are stuck in a time warp. Instead of threatening people, they should engage with us... who talks of communists today? I'm sorry, but it's rubbish."

RM17m spent on PM and wife's trips

The government spent a total of RM17 million on official visits by the prime minister and his spouse between 2008 and mid-2011.

azlanA parliamentary written reply to Batu MP Tian Chua also stated that RM8 million was spent on official visits by the deputy prime minister and his spouse during the same period.

Based on data to date, the cost of visits by the prime minister and his spouse has grown from RM1.74 million in 2008 to RM5.4 million in 2010.

For the first half of 2011, the expenditure has exceeded that of 2010.

In contrast, costs incurred by officials visits of the deputy premier and his spouse have decreased from RM2.75 million in 2008 to RM1.39 million in 2010. 
Still, in the first half of 2011, the cost has doubled that of 2010. 

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was prime minister throughout 2008 while Najib Abdul Razak was his deputy. Najib took over from Abdullah on April 9, 2009.

'PM must justify costs' 

Chua's question had asked the Prime Minister's Department to state the exact date, location and purpose of these visits, but this was left unanswered. 

He also asked about the "management allocation" for the premier's wife, to which the department replied that no such funds exist. 

Met later, Chua said the government must be able to justify the premier's travel costs at a time that it is cutting subsidies for fuel, sugar and electricity. 

"The prime minister must explain the tangible benefits gained from these visits (that are) paid for by the rakyat.
 
"How many MOUs, economic benefits and diplomatic understandings have we achieved?

"What has he brought back from his visits to New York and from Kazakhstan?" asked Chua.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

M'sia a quasi-police state ahead of July 9 rally - by TERENCE NETTO

COMMENT The police have now overtaken Ibrahim Ali in turning support for the Bersih 2.0 march into a going concern among citizens.

Repressive measures they have taken in the past few days are set to make the planned march the object of national attention.

NONEThat dovetails nicely with what the march's organisers had in mind when they set out to publicise it weeks ago.
At that point, the organisers had doubts as to whether the second edition of this event, first staged in November 2007, would be the success the inaugural one resoundingly was.

Thanks to the incendiary fulminations of Perkasa's Ibrahim Ali and the myopia of the police, the upcoming march has had all the revving-up its organisers could have wished for to make it supersede its predecessor in size and importance.

Bersih's organisers must be licking their chops at how their planned event has obtained the assists that a flaming opponent and a maladroit force contrived to render them.

A re-enactment of 1987?

Earlier this year, we had a hint that Malaysia may well be a police state, at certain times at least.

This was when former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad disclosed that he was opposed to the ISA detentions of October 1987 when more than a hundred opposition politicians and anti-government social activists were held under the draconian law.

The former inspector-general of police, Hanif Omar, chimed in to confirm that indeed Mahathir had expressed his misgivings about the police action but the police had gone ahead nevertheless.

This was a flagrant contravention of the ISA Act which expressly vests the power to detain a person in the home minister and not the police.

mahathir and operasi lalangThe home minister in October 1987 was Mahathir. If he had indeed opposed the use of the Act in dealing with the tense situation that prevailed at that time and if detentions had taken place, which was what happened, then police power had overridden civil authority.

Likewise these days, we are witness to re-enactments of what transpired in 1987.

Even before Bersih has applied for a police permit for their march, the IGP and his deputy have issued public warnings against the legality of the march despite constitutional guarantees of citizens' right to peaceful assembly.

Worse, the police, as of yesterday, have begun to arrest political activists in an attempt to preempt the march planned for July 9.

Members of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), in Johor Baru on Friday and in Penang yesterday, have borne the initial brunt of this abuse of police power.

Reports say that the police detained the PSM activists, who were engaged in legitimate political activity, on grounds that they were canvassing for support for the Bersih march.

Cynical display of police power

Selective and politically motivated detentions by the force are an old story.

In this instance, however, it is done in the teeth of the authorities' lethargy in dealing with the purveyors of a widely disseminated video allegedly showing opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in a transaction with a sex worker. Lassitude on the part of the law enforcers is cynical and staggering.

It also reflects amnesia about the context in which morally awakened citizens are prompted to act in concert in the face of cynical displays of police authority.

It is undeniable that one of the reasons Umno-BN romped to a landslide victory in the March 2004 general election was that under the newly installed prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the government had on the previous December moved to place police power under scrutiny through the creation of a royal commission on the management of the force.

That decision by Abdullah was widely popular and was instrumental in securing his government a landslide endorsement by the electorate three months later.

Fifteen months after the royal commission was instituted, it made public its recommendations in March 2005.

pak lah and police forceWhat happened was that PM Abdullah wavered in the face of pressure from vested interests in the force against a key recommendation - the creation of an independent panel to look into public complaints of police misconduct.

In retrospect, it can be said that the administration of Abdullah Badawi entered the start of a precipitous decline in its popularity from its heady heights in March 2004 to its loss of BN's two-thirds parliamentary majority four years later because of the PM's waffling on police reform.

Now things have gone beyond the question of prime ministerial vacillation in the face of police power. It is more a case of civil and police authority colluding to shore up each other.

It is in this sense that the Bersih march is fast becoming a gauge of the extent to which Malaysia has become a quasi-police state in which increasingly illegitimate civil authority and arbitrary police power conspire to repress citizens engaged in the exercise of constitutionally protected rights.

TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for close on four decades. He likes the occupation because it puts him in contact with the eminent without being under the necessity to admire them. It is the ideal occupation for a temperament that finds power fascinating and its exercise abhorrent.

MACC told to probe Taib's HK connection

Whistleblower website Sarawak Report has suggested that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigate Abdul Taib Mahmud family's Hong Kong connection which could shed light on their immense wealth.

"...Delving into these business concerns (in Hong Kong) will throw up some intriguing coincidences, as Sarawak Report's own researches can already demonstrate.

"We can also demonstrate how a number of Taib-linked companies are now owned or being managed out of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) by one of the Philippine's top bankers Franciso C Sebastian, who started his career as a financial advisor in Hong Kong.

NONE"We suggest that investigations in Hong Kong hold the key to tracing the early development of Taib's international web of global investments as the profits from felling Sarawak's rainforests escaped abroad."

The website, which has been targetting the long-serving Sarawak chief minister, says that MACC should start by interviewing Shea Kin Kwok a "mysterious businessman with several links to Taib family companies".

Shea's name first cropped up when the Hong Kong connection to kickbacks on Sarawak timber being shipped to Japan first broke in 1997.

NONEMalaysiakini had at the time reported the Japan media expose of a number of companies that had allegedly paid Regent Star, a Hong Kong-based paper manufacturing company reportedly linked to Taib and his family, RM32 million in kickbacks for receiving export permits for timber.

Taib (left) subsequently sued Malaysiakini for carrying reports on the timber scandal.

Sarawak Report says it "has now confirmed that (Shea) was in fact the paid secretary to Taib's brother Onn Mahmud".

"His job was to manage Achi Jaya company affairs out of Hong Kong, in particular to control the Achi Jaya linked companies into which payments (for the timber arrangement) were being made."

Maze of companies

Achi Jaya Transportation Sdn Bhd is a majority shareholder in Dewan Niaga (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, a company that Taib as forestry minister had appointed in 1981 to be the sole agent for timber shipments out of the state.

sarawak logging kickbacks timber wood 100407"The links were glaring," said the website.

"Taib had put his brother Onn's Achi Jaya Corporation in charge of issuing export licences for timber from Sarawak, and another company Regent Star, run by Onn's secretary, was receiving the kickbacks in Hong Kong," it alleged.

It pointed out that Regent Star and Achi Jaya were incorporated the same year.

Shea and another individual, Kho Eng Beng, owned 50 percent each of Regent Star, and the duo "owned and directed" a number of other Hong Kong companies - Grand Will Limited (incorporated 1984), Grand Shine Trading (1983), Herolite investment (1983), Natalite (1983) and Wittaker Company Ltd (1985).

Sarawak Report later argues that Onn is linked to four of these companies and ultimately traces it to Sebastian, asking if the Filipino banker was "acting as an advisor and trustee for Onn Mahmud" to move funds from Hong Kong to tax-haven British Virgin Islands.

Following the money trail

"Another company, Richfold Investment Ltd, was especially interesting, because it was incorporated on the same day and registered at the same office as Regent Star, and again Shea was a director and shareholder."

It has been previously reported that Taib Mahmud's brother Onn Mahmud held 49,998 shares in the company with Shea holding just one.

Sarawak Report then traces events following the exposure of the 2007 timber scandal in relation to all these Hong Kong companies.

"After the kickback scandal broke, an awful lot of coincidences occurred. Grand Will Limited and Regent Star Company Ltd were both dissolved on the same day - Nov 9, 2007.

"On the other hand, Richfold stayed active for another few months, until it too was closed on May 9, 2008."
taib mahmud timber shea connestions 110907
A month later on Dec 21, 2007, it explains, Grand Will and Regent Star both reopened on the same day, under different directors and shareholders, while a third company, TESS Limited HK also set up.

SR notes how TESS's name is similar to a British Virgin Islands registered company TESS Investments, that it says has been funding Taib's family's investments in the United Kingdom through Ridgeford Properites Ltd.

Another coincidence, notes Sarawak Report, is that TESS Investments was incorporated on Oct 23, 1996 - the day before Ridgeford Properties run by Taib's son-in-law Sean Murray was incorporated in the UK.

Pandora's PO Box

The 'PO Box 438' in British Virgin Islands appears to be a critical link in this intricate web of companies, argues Sarawak Report.

Ridgeford Properties' original shareholder Astar Properties is registered at the same address. The latter coincidentally shares the name of one of the shareholders of a Taib family company Sitehost Pty, that owns the Adelaide Hilton in Australia.

The Australian company Astar has "a non-existent address in Guernsey", notes Sarawak Report.

Also sharing 'PO Box 438' is a trust company under the Taib family's company Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd (CMS), a conglomerate that used to own RHB Bank.

taib mahmud├»¿½s family in cahya mata sarawak shares 100907Some of the key owners of CMS are Taib's immediate family members - his late wife Laila (11.23%), daughters Hanifah Hajar (13.85 percent) and Jamilah Hamidah (13.64 percent), and sons Sulaiman (8.94 percent) and Abu Bakir (8.92 percent).

Sarawak Report also reveals that a search of a registered shareholder of TESS Limited HK, a certain TOA Services (British Virgin Islands), also shares the same PO box address.

"Our investigations show, however, that there is no actual company of that name in BVI (British Virgin Islands)," says Sarawak Report.

Too many coincidences


The anti-Taib website says all its investigations suggest a "connection between money taken in by Richfold Investments Ltd in Hong Kong and money paid out to Ridgeford Properties Ltd in the United Kingdom via PO Box 438 BVI (British Virgin Islands)", challenging Taib to deny the links.

It reiterated that Taib needed to explain handing control of the timber shipping licences to his own brother's company while denying any wrongdoing.

This, it said, was especially pertinent, "when millions in shipping kickbacks are discovered to have been extracted by another company owned by his brother's secretary".