Friday 30 September 2011

Gov't shot down political financing reform proposal

The government had rejected a proposal to reform political financing by providing state funding for political parties, said former Election Commission chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.

Speaking at a forum on political financing organised by the Bar Council, Abdul Rashid said that the proposal was rejected on the the excuse that people will set up parties simply to take advantage of the funds.

"Many years ago, I raised this topic with the government but I was told just to focus on electoral laws, and run elections as best as (the EC) could.

"The (government's) argument against it was simple, that the country may suddenly see the growth of political parties. The country will be crowded by political parties, they say, just to take advantage of the grant," he said.

NONESpeaking candidly of his experience to an audience of about 200 at Sunway University last night, Abdul Rashid said that he had proposed the government "provide small grants and small subsidies for political parties".

The retiree who was EC secretary from 1979 to 1995 said this is especially for small parties to maintain their organisation and tremain active, something which is a great challenge for them in contrast to large more powerful parties.
"In Malaysia, inequality of resources among parties is very clear. government parties as in other countries, have easier access to funds and thus able to stabilise position against parties or groups in the opposition camps. The haves are able to rake more funds than the parties of the have-nots," he said.

'EC can't deliver free, fair elections'

To a question from the audience, mostly made up of university students, Abdul Rashid said that he believes that Thailand and Indonesia are "more democratic" as the EC there have greater power.

"Things are very different in this country compared with other countries. Thailand and Indonesia are more democratic than us. The EC there can stop elections half way on suspicion of corrupt practices.

"Here, all (the EC) can do is advise people that if they have complaints, keep them, and after the election, take the complaints to court, " he said.

Abdul Rashid who helmed the EC from 2001 to 2008 added that the legal framework does not allow the electoral body to deliver free and fair elections in Malaysia.

"We have no (clause) within the Election Act that gives power to the EC to even adjudicate or solve problems that come up during an election.

"We get lots of complaints that we cannot solve, not even petty disputes and we cannot ask for these laws to be put in because it is not part of our terms of reference," he said.

The EC, he noted, shares powers with other organisations like the police or the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission and ends up acting like a forwarding house.

"We are really frustrated, because people come to us to complain and we are unable to do anything but the channel it to the police when the power that should be ours," he said.

He added that the EC is also unable to ensure fair access to media, which is being taken advantage of by the "party in power which campaigns through the media".

"If they campaign on TV, people came to me and said, 'Hey, are you sleeping?'...but I can only (tell complainants) to go to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission because this is considered abuse of authority," he said.

abdul rashid abdul rahmanThe government had rejected a proposal to reform political financing by providing state funding for political parties, said former Election Commission chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.
However, Abdul Rashid (left) lamented that no one has brought this matter as a test case to the court of law.

That said, he stressed that the EC is an efficient body in carrying out the work within its terms of references.

"What is in our powers, we handle very well. Polling, nomination are first class. No cheating. Counting of votes, first class. Announcement of results, first class.

'Manipulation before polling day'

"Whatever the weaknesses of the commission, we have here a body that is very efficient in organisation and delivers excellence for the country," he said.

Responding to this fellow panelist DAP Rasah MP Anthony Loke agreed that there is little room for cheating on polling day but manipulation can happen before that.

"The other day, I complained that 20 people of different surnames and races were registered as voters under one address in my constituency.

"The EC replied, they cannot limit the number of names registered to one address. So this means there can be 1000 poeple registered under one address," he said.

Also on the panel was Universiti Malaysia political economist Terence Gomez.

The event's convenors said that they had contacted four BN parliamentarians to join the panel but all had prior engagements.

GLC moves spark questions about race, economy

September 30, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — A spate of corporate takeover bids has raised eyebrows and questions about whether there is a concerted move by government-linked companies (GLCs) to buy over ethnic Chinese-owned assets or a vote of no confidence in the economy by major business tycoons.

Yesterday’s application for merger talks between investment banking group OSK Holdings Berhad — whose single biggest shareholder is Ong Leong Huat, 67, and ranked by Forbes magazine as Malaysia’s 34th richest man — and RHB Capital Berhad has become the latest talking point.

Lee asked why the GLCs are using taxpayers’ money to buy the companies. — File pic
Concern over where this trend is headed was sharpened by Permodalan Nasional Berhad’s (PNB) bid on Tuesday to take over the nation’s second-largest developer by market value, SP Setia.
Sime Darby’s recent acquisition of 30 per cent of property developer Eastern and Oriental (E&O) for RM766 million from businessmen including Terry Tham Ka Hon has also sparked concerns and is now being investigated for alleged insider trading.

“GLCs are [funded by] taxpayers. Why are they using taxpayers’ money to buy them up?” Datuk Lee Hwa Beng, the former Port Klang Authority chairman, told The Malaysian Insider.

“And then after the buying is over, they leave the country. They cash out and go invest outside the country. I thought we are encouraging private entrepreneurship? These are wealthy companies. Why buy them up? They are sending out the wrong signals.”

Amid the race-related backdrop, there is also concern that some of Malaysia’s richest tycoons and businessmen are cashing out and headed overseas because of concerns over Malaysia’s economic prospects.

Before the latest corporate exercises, a number of Chinese Malaysian-held businesses had already started setting their sights away from Malaysia.

Casino operator Genting started its Singapore operations two years ago while YTL Group made a S$3.8 billion (RM9.1 billion) purchase in 2009 of the second-largest power generation company in the island republic, the 3,100-megawatt PowerSeraya.

And in 2007, Malaysia’s richest man Tan Sri Robert Kuok also moved his palm oil operations out of Malaysia and listed them in Singapore in a move that was speculated to be caused by concerns over the government’s continuation of Bumiputera equity policies.

But the latest corporate selling moves are ostensibly on a willing-seller-willing-buyer basis.

RAM Ratings chief economist Yeah Kim Leng said the key issue is whether GLCs can add value to the acquired company, and to what extent.

“We have to remove politics and race from commercial considerations,” he said, but noted those issues lingered whenever takeovers and mergers were discussed.

“We still have an atmosphere of a so-called siege mentality, in the sense that there is still a legacy of robbing Peter to pay Paul, of widespread concern or feeling of being deprived,” Yeah said.

Pua felt racial arguments no longer held much traction with the Chinese ground.
The economist said that despite its snub, SP Setia’s case will be closely monitored because it is seen as the industry model in the construction sector and a GLC takeover may still happen.
Yeah pointed out that there had been successful takeovers in recent years, citing property developer Sunrise Berhad’s acquisition earlier this year by UEM Land Holdings Berhad as an example of a dynamic partnership.
The DAP’s economic expert Tony Pua echoed Yeah’s view, saying racial arguments no longer held much traction with the Chinese ground.

“It does not matter who controls these companies — whether Chinese or Malay — the issue is what is the value-added these GLCs are bringing to the companies through the acquisition exercises,” he said.

“The major implication is the direct opposite of what the prime minister and the cornerstone of NEM want to achieve — that our economy must be private sector-led,” he told The Malaysian Insider, referring to Najib’s New Economic Model to free up more sectors in the economy.
But race remains the elephant in the room.

Political scientist James Chin observed that the Chinese community could get upset because they have little confidence the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government, controlled by lynchpin Malay party Umno, will be able to lift the companies’ performance higher.

“It becomes a racial issue because the Chinese now equate Umno to corruption,” the Monash University lecturer told The Malaysian Insider.

Aussie gov't alerts its AG on Taib's dealings

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has contacted the country's Attorney-General's Department on a complaint of alleged corrupt activities by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and his family members there.

According to Swiss-based NGO Bruno Manser Funds, Rudd's office had informed it of this development through a letter dated Sept 28, following the NGO's Sept 1 complaint.

NONE"Mr Rudd (left)has asked me to reply on his behalf. Your correspondence has been referred to the Australian Attorney-General's Department for consideration," wrote Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officer Bassim Blazey.

Blazey, assistant secretary of the department's South-East Asia Division, added that the complaint would be viewed seriously as it falls under UN conventions to which Australia is a party.

"Australia takes its responsibilities under the UN Convention Against Corruption and the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime seriously and will continue to implement these obligations seriously.

"Thank you for bringing these concerns to the attention of the Australian government," he said in the letter made available to the press.

The tracking of Talib's dealings
Blazey had written in response to a letter jointly sent by BMF executive director Lukas Straumann, Sarawak Report editor Claire Rewcastle and Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian to Australian PM Julia Gillard.

In their letter, the parties expressed concern that Abdul Taib and his family "might have laundered and reinvested large amounts of corruption proceeds in Australia".

NONEThe trio suspect that Abdul Taib and his family may have done this through family members who are either Australian born, married to Australians or residing in Australia.

They also claim that their research shows that "a number of persons associated with (Abdul Taib) are holding significant interests in Australian companies, particularly the property sector".

The letter also cites as evidence the case between Abdul Taib's former aide Mohd Farok Abdul Majeed, who had allegedly disappeared in the middle of a court proceeding against the chief minister's brother, Onn.

The New South Wales court had awarded Mohd Farok A$2.2 million (RM7 million) for unpaid work by his construction company Australasia Pacific Management Pty Ltd, but the Supreme Court overturned the judgment due to Mohd Farok's non-appearance in court in 2008.

This, the trio said, bears "striking resemblance" to the case of Ross Boyert, another of Abdul Taib's aide, who was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel in September 2010, after filing a civil case against companies owned by Taib's family members.

BMF lists 25 companies as being linked to Abdul Taib and his family, through ownership or other ties.

Muhyiddin: Bahasa for science and maths stays

September 30, 2011
SERDANG, Sept 30 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has waded into the fierce debate over the use of English in teaching science and mathematics in schools, saying Malaysians cannot afford to “sacrifice” Bahasa Malaysia for other languages.

The education minister said that while the government recognised the importance of English as an international language, Bahasa Malaysia will continue to be used as the main teaching tool in national schools.
“We cannot sacrifice our national language for another language.”

“I am a strong proponent of English, we should strengthen the command of English and (at the same) continue the use of Bahasa Melayu as the main language in schools,” Muhyiddin (picture) said today during a dialogue session with Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) students and academic staff.

The deputy prime minister said Malaysians needed to cultivate an attitude where they treated Bahasa Malaysia as a “unique” language, and if no importance was placed on it the language risked being lost.

“As a country which has achieved its independence, we have to strengthen Bahasa Melayu.”

Muhyiddin argued his case by saying that research conducted by Unesco found that schoolchildren were more receptive in learning new subjects using their mother tongue.

“Some people do not understand any other language apart from their mother tongue. The important thing is knowledge, and what is the simplest medium to attain it?

“Unesco research found that people learnt things better via their own language, their mother tongue,” he said.
The DPM also stressed that as far as the government was concerned, Bahasa Malaysia will continue to be used as the medium to teach science and mathematics in schools.

“The National Education Policy is clear on this. The language in national schools is Bahasa. It is impossible to create an English medium unless there is a change in policy.”

Pro-English lobby groups like Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) have been trying to get the teaching of science and mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy back in schools since it was abolished in 2009.

PAGE has urged that schools be allowed to teach science and mathematics in English, citing widespread support from parents for the option.

PPSMI was first introduced in 2003 but the Education Ministry decided to put an end to it by 2012 after consulting teachers and parents around the country.

In the uproar that ensued, Putrajaya introduced MBMMBI, which will see the teaching of mathematics and science revert to Bahasa Malaysia from 2012 with more contact hours for English in order to improve students’ skills in the language.

In May, The Malaysian Insider reported that the Najib administration had decided not to switch back to PPSMI because several Cabinet ministers felt any change would be seen as another embarrassing flip-flop.

Prioritise issue of Penan rape

KUCHING: The opposition whilst welcoming the creation of a new state Women and Family Development Ministry wants the state government to prioritise the Penan issue.

Sarawak DAP has called on Women Minister Fatimah Abdullah to be serious with the issue of rape of Penan women allegedly by timber workers.

Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong said the opposition will be ‘watching’ Fatimah’s performance with ‘keen interest’.

“Reports after reports of rapes have been made over the years, and yet the reports have not been taken seriously by the state government,” she said.

Yong, who is also Sarawak DAP treasurer, was asked to comment on the creation of the new ministry following the announcement of a state cabinet reshuffle by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud on Wednesday.

Speaking to FMT, Yong said: “One of the tasks of her ministry should be to look into the welfare of the Penan women and girls who have been victims of rapes and abuses by the timber workers.

“These issues are serious, and for many years, I presume many things have been swept under the carpet.
“Despite many reports from various quarters including from the task force set up by the government, so far we have not seen any action taken.

“With this ministry in place, especially if it is headed by a woman minister and supported by another woman assistant minister, the ministry should go deeper into the reported cases and be more sensitive and responsible in order to bring the culprits to book.

“I hope the minister will not sit on her portfolio to please the political master who put her there.

“I hope she will go all out to help and look after the welfare of the people especially those who are poor and the needy and the victimised.

“As opposition members, we are watching her performance with keen interest, and expect results to be out soon.”

Reports of findings

The first known case of Penan rapes was documented by a non-governmental organisation fact finding mission which began in 1995. This was followed up by another report in 1996.

The report of the findings was released in 2000 confirming that rapes did occur in Long Mobui in upper Baram.

Reports were lodged on cases of rapes and sexual abuse by workers of two Malaysian timber companies in middle Baram in 2005, 2007 and 2008
Following these reports, the then Federal Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Dr Ng Yen Yen announced the formation of a task force to look into the plight of the Penan women and girls who had been raped.

Reports of the finding were released in September 2009, also confirming that rapes and sexual abuse did happen. But so far no one has been charged.

Meanwhile, Fatimah said the setting up of the new ministry showed that the government is putting greater emphasis in assisting the people and in addressing their needs.

“The creation of the ministry is timely as our social environmental changes and the need to focus on social development for social wellness of the people is important,” she said.

A milestone

Fatimah will be assisted by Rosey Yunus (SPDP assemblywoman for Bekenu) and Robert Lawson Chuat (PBB assemblyman for Bukit Saban).

The appointment of Rosey is seen as another milestone in the state cabinet. She is only the second woman to hold a ministerial position in the Sarawak cabinet.

Lawson and Rosey were among seven new assistant ministers appointed to the cabinet by Taib on Wednesday.

Lawson is in charge of welfare while Rosey of Early Childcare Education and Family Development portfolios

Thursday 29 September 2011

New retirement age law to be tabled in Parliament next month

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — The government said today it will go ahead and table the Private Sector Retirement Age Act when Parliament convenes next month, a day after Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said the Act was only a “suggestion”.

Subramaniam was quoted by Bernama Online today as saying that the proposed law needed Parliament’s approval before the government could agree with any demands on the private sector’s retirement age limit
“There have been requests for the retirement age for the civil service to be the same as the private sector. So we will draft the Private Sector Retirement Age Act and table it during the upcoming parliamentary session next month,” said Subramaniam (picture) who is also Segamat MP.

On Monday, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general Abdul Halim Mansor told The Malaysian Insider that private sector employees will be allowed to work until they are 64, with a minimum mandatory retirement age of 60 under a new law being drafted by the government.

The Private Sector Retirement Age Act will mandate retirement at 60, with an option for a four-year extension.

“This means that the retirement age will be raised from 55 to 60. A technical committee has met two or three times with the last coming just before Hari Raya,” Halim had said.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the change, which will benefit six million workers, will also require an amendment to the Employment and Employees Provident Fund Acts.

It is also understood that except for one employers’ representative, a unanimous agreement has been reached on the proposal.

Constitutional changes needed to set M'sians free

Genuine civil rights reform cannot rely on the abolition of the Internal Security Act and similar repressive laws alone as the country's constitution contains provisions that are against civil liberties, says law professor Abdul Aziz Bari.

NONETo this end, Aziz argued that the country's constitution must be amended so that there will be no provision overwriting the fundamental liberties enshrined in the constitution.

"The suggestion to review the Malaysian constitution is good," he said in response to a question from the floor during a post-ISA forum in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

However, Aziz warned that this would not be possible because neither the government nor the opposition had the necessary two-thirds majority in Parliament to push through the amendments, unless they worked together.

"But I don't think that it is possible (to amend) because the constitution is so rigid. If, by reviewing, we mean amendments, it's not possible because this requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament," he said.

Aziz was referring to two provisions in the constitution, Article 149, which provides for Parliament to create laws that are against fundamental liberties, and Article 150, which allows for the declaration of emergency.

"Both these provisions are worse than they were during the British era. After independence, Article 150 was amended in 1981, allowing an emergency to be declared even before an emergency situation happens.

"So if the government feels threatened, it can declare an emergency on the excuse that it is anticipating or wants to intercept chaos," he said.

'PM pressured by Bersih rally'

Aziz said the people had to change their mentality that the country needs preventive laws.

"The problem is that we have become so accustomed to the fact that there must be such laws...," he said referring to the replacement laws should the ISA be repealed.

NONEEchoing the need for focus to be on the people rather than on laws, political analyst Wong Chin Huat drew parallels to the well-behaved protesters during the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally crackdown.

"There is no law that requires the people to run away from the police in an orderly fashion, but they ran in an orderly manner on that day," Wong said.

He acknowledged Prime Minister Najib Razak's announcement to abolish the ISA as a "smart move", but attributed it to the sentiments of the people, particularly the Bersih rally.

"Why did he (Najib) announce it now? Because 50,000 people took to the streets. The prime minister came under pressure and was reminded of his promise (to review the ISA) three years ago.

"Before July 9, he was led by right-wing group Perkasa and (its chief) Ibrahim Ali but after July 9, he was forced to follow the people's lead," Wong added.

Pakatan: Hudud only if all parties agree

September 29, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) agreed today that the contentious hudud or Islamic criminal law is not part of its joint policy until all parties agree to it, stepping back from the brink of a major difference that broke an earlier opposition coalition.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told a press conference just after midnight that the set of Islamic laws was “certainly now not PR policy and DAP’s objection has to be respected.”

Anwar said PR will continue to allow its members to air different views. — File pic
“Yes, very clear, it has to be together,” the PKR de facto leader replied to a question on whether any move to implement hudud would need the unanimous agreement of all three parties in the pact.
He had earlier backed imposing the law in Kelantan, just like political foe Umno whose former leader Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dredged up the issue last week.

Close to 30 top PR leaders had met for over three hours last night to resolve the longstanding hudud issue which has seen the DAP and PAS repeatedly at loggerheads.

Dr Mahathir, who opposed hudud when Kelantan passed the law in 1993, dared Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the state’s mentri besar, to implement hudud now that the country’s longest-serving prime minister was no longer in power.

The PAS spiritual leader then called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to propose amendments to the federal constitution to allow the Islamic law, which prescribes stoning, whipping and amputation as punishment for criminal offences.

But the DAP has insisted that it is not part of PR’s common policy, leading to the three-year-old pact’s unity being questioned.

Secretary-general Lim Guan Eng vowed this week that his entire central leadership would resign their posts if hudud became part of the coalition’s joint stand.

PR issued a gag order earlier this week, barring their members from speaking on the issue until the pact’s emergency meeting last night.

Anwar also said PR will continue to allow its members to air different views but that no policy would become part of its common platform without the consensus of all.

“Why must PAS be denied the right to articulate their views? We cannot deny the right of any party to bring forward any view. PR respects PAS’s initiative and aspiration but we have to reach a consensus,” the former deputy prime minister said.

He added that he could not understand “why (hudud) cannot be discussed? Why the strong abhorrence?”
The Permatang Pauh MP also said that the hudud enactments that were passed in PAS-ruled Kelantan and Terengganu in 1993 and 2003 respectively were done before PR had been formed.

Anwar said that “both enactments are there, but it requires PR consensus and an amendment to the constitution. DAP is not supportive of that particular position.”

Body snatching: Syariah court can't cite kin

Lawyers familiar with cases of conversion say the Negri Sembilan Islamic Affairs Department (JHEAINS) cannot cite the family of the late Lawrence Selvanathan for contempt of the syariah court for cremating his remains.

According to noted syariah lawyer Muhamad Burok, this is because the family is Christian and they therefore do not fall under the jurisdiction of the syariah court.

muhamad haji burok syarie lawyers association deputy president pgsm"The jurisdiction of the syariah court, according to the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Negri Sembilan) Enactment 2003, only extends to cases where all parties are Muslim.

"This is the law, but if there is a clause that allows (the contempt action) then let me know," Muhamad (right) said when contacted.

Agreeing with him, lawyer M Kulasegaran said the federal constitution, through the inclusion of clause (1A) into Article 121, clearly states that Malaysia practices two parallel legal systems.

The clause states that the high courts have "no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the syariah court".

It also states that the syariah court has jurisdiction only "over persons professing the religion of Islam".

"In view of this, the law does not apply to non-Muslims, subpoenas don't apply and it is my view that contempt also does not apply," Kulasegaran said.

This would therefore extend to the syariah court order obtained by JHEAINS to stop Lawrence's funeral on Sept 22 as well, added Kulasegaran, who is also DAP's Ipoh Barat MP.

"The family can look at all this with impunity," said the lawyer, who acted for the late Everest mountaineer M Moorthy's wife in the controversial body snatching case in 2005.

everest hero court case 271205 s kaliammal tearfullIn that matter, S Kaliammal (right), Moorthy's widow, lost her final legal redress in the Federal Court in January this year to obtain a declaration that her late husband was still a Hindu prior to his death five years ago and that he be accorded a burial according to Hindu rites.

Agreeing with the position taken by Kulasegaran, Muhamad, argued that the syariah court order would not hold up as it was served on non-Muslim parties.

In cases where Islamic departments find that a deceased person has converted without the family's knowledge, the department could only try to persuade the family to allow him or her to be buried according to Islamic rites.

"Syariah lawyers get frustrated as the court's jurisdiction is narrow, but that is the law. The law does not allow action (in such matters)," Muhamad said.

However, another syariah lawyer, Zulkifli Che Yong said the syariah court has jurisdiction in such matters, even though the parties involved are non-Muslim.

"It depends on the subject matter. In this case, the subject is a man who is said to have converted to Islam," he said, adding that the situation may be less clear in the case of citing the family for contempt.

Political will lacking?

JHEAINS claims that it has a certificate and a video recording proving that Lawrence, 33, had converted to Islam three days before his death and had taken the name Zairy Abdullah.

The agency had at 12.40am on Sept 22, the day of his funeral, served the court order on the family stopping them from proceeding with the funeral, which was to take place at 3pm in Lukut, Port Dickson.

JHEAINS also stopped the family while they were on the way to the funeral mass; but the deceased's friends took matters into their own hands and cremated the body.
On Thursday, the department told Malaysiakini that it is looking at citing Lawrence's family for contempt for having refused to comply to the syariah court order.

NONEIn 2009, the government announced that it would amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 and Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984 to deal with disputes over matters of conversion.

The amendments have yet to go through.

According to Kulasegaran (left), the government had formed a committee headed by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Koh Tsu Koon, and the matter was then referred to the rulers.

"Nothing has gone through. At the end of the day it's the fault of the government for not addressing this issue, which it feels is politically challenging and sensitive.

"But a pragmatic and realistic government will look at the bigger picture and see the emotional stress and fractures in families caused by this... it shows a lack of willpower by the government," Kulasegaran added.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Seven new faces in S'wak cabinet reshuffle

The state cabinet reshuffle that will take effect on Friday will see a new ministry being created, five ministries renamed and seven new faces including a woman to be appointed as assistant ministers.

Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud said the new ministry would be named the Welfare, Women and Family Development Ministry, to be headed by Fatimah Abdullah and assisted by two new assistant ministers who are also new faces, Rosey Yunus and Robert Lawson Chuat Vincent.

“The other new faces as assistant ministers are Julaihi Narawi, Abdul Karim Hamzah, Len Talif Salleh, Dr Jerip Susil and Liwan Lagang,” he said, adding that the seven would be sworn in on Friday.

Julaihi will be appointed as Industrial Development Assistant Minister (Investment and Promotion) and Rural Development Assistant Minister, and Abdul Karim as Housing Assistant Minister and Social Development Assistant Minister (Youth Development).

Len Talif will be appointed as Resource Planning and Environment Assistant Minister (Environment) and Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Office (Technical Education Promotion), Dr Jerip as Local Government and Community Development Assistant Minister (Public Health), and Liwan as Social Development Assistant Minister (Culture and Heritage).

“All the full ministers will be retained and some of their ministries renamed,” he said.

The five ministries renamed include the Social Development and Urbanisation Ministry, which is now known as Social Development Ministry and headed by Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president William Mawan Ikom and Environment and Public Health Ministry, now known as Local Government and Community Development Ministry, headed by Sarawak United People's Party deputy secretary-general Wong Soon Koh.

The Planning and Resource Management Ministry will be known as Resource Planning and Environment Ministry, Housing and Urban Development Ministry as Housing Ministry, and Tourism and Heritage Ministry as Tourism Ministry, with both the ministries under the purview of Abang Johari Openg, who is also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) deputy president.

Taib, who retains his portfolios in the Finance Ministry and Resource Planning and Environment Ministry, said there was no urgent need for the appointment of second Deputy Chief Minister.

He said the one Deputy Chief Minister post now held by another PBB deputy president, Alfred Jabu Numpang, who is also Rural Development Minister, should not be a big issue.

Three senior ministers

He said Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Dr James Jemut Masing who had been retained as Land Development Minister, would also be holding senior minister porfolios together with Soon Koh and Mawan.
He said their role as senior ministers would be to coordinate specific development projects and programmes needed to be undertaken together.

He said PBB senior vice-president Awang Tengah Ali Hassan would be the new Industrial Development Minister, as well as the second Resource Planning and Environment Minister and Public Utilities Minister, while Michael Manyin retained his portfolio as Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister.

He said the Public Works Department (PWD), Agriculture Department and local councils were also being revamped.

“The PWD revamp is almost completed while it may take about five years for the others,” he added.

- Bernama

Bumiputera quotas set to go, says Najib

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said today the government is seeking to do away with the quota approach in building the capacities of the bumiputera as it does not serve the purpose.

Instead, Najib said, the 30 percent bumiputera equity quota only hampered capable bumiputera entrepreneurs from developing their abilities.

“We want to do away with quotas, but we will support (bumiputera entrepreneurs) to grow.

“If we give quotas, they will rest on their laurels and not gain expertise to manage their businesses,” he said.
damacai school donation lauching 260911 najibAnswering a question from the floor at a question-and-answer session at the Khazanah Megatrends Forum 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Najib (left) said setting a quota “does not mean anything”.

“(The bumiputera entrepreneurs) will sell off their shares when the prices are high and only a small percentage of the amount allocated for bumiputeras will be left (in bumiputera hands),” he said.

As such, the PM said, the government will “go on a different footing” in affirmative action by finding “good, tested bumiputera who can succeed and to support them in ways so they will be more competitive”.

“We have identified more than 1,000 companies through Teraju, and we will see how to help these companies become bigger and better,” he said, referring to the government agency set up to oversee bumiputera economic affairs.

He said that by supporting the “bright bumiputera”, not only will it develop the talent pool in the community but also avoid resentment from their non-bumiputera counterparts.

Najib, who is also Umno president, added that the government also sought to move away from the culture of “know who” to “know how” within the community.

“Affirmative action will be based more and more on meritocracy.

“The new approach can hopefully build a new class of bumiputera entrepreneurs who are more resilient and can succeed in the long run,” he said.

Najib had previously announced the government's intention to liberalise the economy from race-based quotas via the New Economic Model (NEM), but received a severe backlash from bumiputera interest groups.

The equity target was reinstated in the final version of the NEM.

'People power behind electoral roll clean-up'

PAS Youth, which has been exposing flaws in the electoral roll, has described the removal of the names of 70,361 voters by the Election Commission (EC) as “a victory for the rakyat”.

azlanThe EC, with cooperation from the National Registration Department (NRD), removed the names of 69,293 dead voters and 1,068 others stripped of their citizenship from the electoral roll between July and Sept 15.

EC secretary Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria, disclosing this in a statement yesterday, also said the collaborative effort was mounted to clean up the roll as continuous preparation to face the next general election.

The EC is also in the midst of investigating the status of 50,000 other voters in the electoral roll to ensure that mistakes are not made in removing names.

"The investigation requires the EC to refer (to) and get confirmation from various authorities, including the NRD, armed forces and the police concerning the voters' citizenship status and identity card numbers, as well as their status in the forces and police," Kamaruddin said.

johor pas chief suhaizan kaiatResponding to this in a statement today, Johor PAS Youth chief Suhaizan Kaiat (right) pointed out that the action has proven EC chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof wrong.
This is because the number of names removed and being investigated is 120,361 - or 0.98 percent - of the total of 12.3 million voters, and not 0.0001 percent as Aziz claimed on Aug 19.

"The large number of voters removed also disproves the statement by EC deputy chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar that the errors were due to negligence of the clerks. It is impossible that (any such) negligence can cause hundreds of thousands of errors in the EC database," said Suhaizan.

He stressed that the removal of names and investigation of the status of voters was the result of sustained pressure from the rakyat.

"The pressure started from the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally and was followed by a series of revelations by PAS Youth. (We) believe that this clean-up would not have happened without strong public pressure. Congratulations to the rakyat!"

Now answer this

The wing, however, continued to demand answers from the EC on these questions:

1. How many old identity card numbers are owned by more than one voter?
2. How many voters are there with same names but slightly different MyKad numbers?
3. How many voters with Code '71' have been removed?

azlanSuhaizan said the biggest challenge for the EC in cleaning up the roll is to overcome the obstructions posed by home minister, who oversees the NRD.

"As long as the government is still controlled by BN, it is impossible that the outcome of the investigation will be made public in a transparent way,” he added.

“If the people want to know the truth behind the manipulation of fake MyKad in the electoral roll, they would have to topple the BN government in the next general election."

Sultan to issue decree on Jais-church issue

The sultan of Selangor will issue a decree on the Aug 3 search of the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in the next few days, Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said today.

Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had, during an audience with Khalid this morning, told the menteri besar that he would provide his views and advice on how best to solve the issue.

"Out of respect for the sultan, the state exco members and I will not make any more comments on the issue," Abdul Khalid said.

Speaking at the state assembly building in Shah Alam after an exco meeting, Abdul Khalid said the state will abide by the ruler's advice.

The issue involves the Aug 3 raid at a dinner function at the DUMC compound in Petaling Jaya by the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais), which has sparked a major controversy.
The MB, however, stressed that this does not mean that the state government is washing its hands of the controversy.

“We are involved (in solving the matter), but we must follow the customs. The sultan is the head of Islam and he will make a decree (on the matter),” he said.

Mum on report details

Probed by reporters, the MB refused to reveal the contents of the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) report which was submitted last month, also citing the sultan's decree.

azlanAbdul Khalid also did not want to “speculate” as to whether the sultan's decree would affect Jais' decision whether or not to charge the 12 Muslims who participated in the event at the church during the search.

“This is speculative. The discussion which took place between the sultan and me is not meant to be made public knowledge,” he said.

Jais had searched DUMC on Aug 3, following an alleged tip-off that Muslims were being converted into Christiantity.

The church, however, denies this and maintains that the event was a thanksgiving and fundraising dinner for Harapan Komuniti, an NGO who provides aid to sufferers of HIV/AIDS and their families.

Since the incident, several blogs have leaked videos of the Jais search, personal details of the Muslims who attended the event and what they claim is the agency's report on the incident.

Following this, the female participants claimed that they have received late night harassing phone calls, while Harapan Komuniti received a death threat at its premises in Petaling Jaya.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Commenting on the row over hudud, Bishop Paul Tan says 'let the Kelantanese have it'. But he wants a guarantee that non-Muslims will not be affected.

PETALING JAYA: The opposition bloc of diameterically opposed ideologies is grappling with the controversy surrounding the proposal to implement hudud in Kelantan – an issue, which political observers warned, could sever Pakatan Rakyat’s support, especially among non-Muslims.

Admist the raging debate, a Catholic leader argued that it would be hypocritical to oppose the Islamic-based PAS on this issue but demanded an iron-cast assurance from Pakatan supremo Anwar Ibrahim.

Should hudud be implemented in the PAS-governed state, Bishop Paul Tan said the opposition leader must obtain a guarantee that non-Muslims residing in Kelantan would not be subjected to it.

The 72-year-old head of the Malacca and Johor diocese would also prefer if the other parties in Pakatan, namely DAP,  work towards securing a similar guarantee as well.

The secularist DAP, which relies on the support of the Chinese electorate, had always been opposed to PAS’ vision of turning Malaysia into an Islamic state.

Tan said while his core stance would be to dissuade the Kelantan state government from implementing hudud, this however was not a realistic position, given that Muslims were obliged to support syariah law which encompassed hudud.

“I stand by my Catholic teaching that every individual must be free to choose his/her religious beliefs. Since we, Catholics, demand this right for ourselves, it would be hypocritical not to give the same human rights to others, here specifically to Muslims,” the bishop told FMT.

“Once you come to terms with the unrealism of the rejectionist stance, you switch to its opposite, which is to give support to the view that Kelantanese Muslims ought to be allowed to see for themselves what living under syariah would be like.

“The rest of Malaysia can stand by and observe. So long as we don’t cede our right to vote, we can use the ballot box, whenever general elections are held, to render our verdict as the evidence unfolds on the success or otherwise of this experience. PAS abides by democratic rules. It would have to submit to the ultimate verdict of the people,” he added.

‘A Kelantanese thing’

Tan pointed out that the issue was a “Kelantanese thing” since the menteri besar of Selangor, another Pakatan-controlled state, clarified that Islamic law would not be implemented there.

He said it was not for nothing that the Kelantanese considered their state – with a predominantly Muslim population – of being “Serambi Mekah” (Corridor to Mecca).

“Since they so dearly want syariah, I say let them have it. The rest of Malaysia can watch and see and decide which systems they prefer as and when elections come around.

“I think the unrealistic position is to tell a fervent Muslim that he cannot acquit himself of his obligation to support syariah,” he added.

Asked if as a Christian leader he considered PAS’ theocratic goals as a threat, Tan responded by citing the situation in other countries.

“Do you see Christians in Pakistan happy with the state of things there since the time General Zia Ul-Haq introduced syariah law in Pakistan in the 1980s?

“Did you see Christians in south Sudan (now independent) happy with the state of things from the time Hassan Turabi convinced Jaafar al-Numieri to introduce Islamic law in the country?

“Do you see Indonesian Christians happy with the state of things since the time militant Muslims, although a minority in that country, began to thrust themselves onto the national stage from the later part of Suharto’s tenure till now?” he asked.

Tan said that he could go on citing examples, but noted that it would not be helpful in the Malaysian context.
“Here, on the one hand, you have imposters using religion to garner support and, on the other, you have earnest Muslims in Kelantan thinking that they can replicate the ‘best of all communities designed for man’, which is what the Quranic scriptures say about the communities in Mecca and Medina during the time when Islam’s Prophet ruled,” he added.

‘Not interested in Umno”

Referring to PAS spritual leader and Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, Tan also asked if he was expected to say “No” (oppose the implementation of hudud) to a menteri besar who next month finished 21 years at the helm “with not a speck of corruption hanging to his name”.

“I say it’s better for us to say ‘Go ahead, just give us cast-iron guarantees that it won’t be imposed on non-Muslims’. And then, we sit back and see what happens,” he said.

On whether Umno might be tempted to follow suit in an attempt to win over the support of Malay-Muslim voters, the bishop did not mince his words.

“Actually, I have ceased to care what Umno is up to,” he said.

“They are the ones that are chiefly responsible for this huge deficit in Malaysian – particularly Kelantanese – Muslim belief that good secular governance can be obtained in this country.

“I am more concerned to see what their opponents are up to and determined to keep those opponents true to their professions,” he added.

Demolition threat over Orang Asli chapel in Malacca

The Alor Gajah Municipal Council has ordered that a chapel located in the Machap Umboo Orang Asli settlement in Malacca be demolished on grounds that it is an illegal structure.

Last Saturday, chapel caretaker Puanheerby Siam was served with the demolition notice dated Sept 20 by the council's building department, stating the building was in violation of Section 70 of the Street, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974.

NONEThat particular section regulates the construction of new buildings and Pastor Joseph Boon Chai, who oversees the chapel, said no specific reason was given by the authority for its action.

According to him, officials from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), Malacca Islamic Religious Council (Maim) and Department of Orang Asli Affairs informed Puanheerby two months ago that the chapel was illegal because it did not have permission from the local council.

"But why are Jakim and Maim involved in this case? We are puzzled. What is the main motive behind this?" Joseph said when contacted today.

He argued that the area has been categorised as an Orang Asli settlement, therefore the residents have every right to construct buildings within the area.

There are about 20 households in this Temuan settlement, which has been occupied by the Orang Asli since the days of the Japanese Occupation.
The Muslims there have a surau
The construction of the 20ft by 30ft chapel was completed in March this year to serve 11 Christian families from the Machap Umboo settlement and two more Orang Asli villages nearby.

It is under the pastoral care of Jus Chapel based in Kamping Orang Asli Jus in Selandar, Malacca. Jus Chapel is a registered church with the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) Malaysia, under the mission name of Jus Chapel Tribal Ministry.

To date, Jus Chapel has built five chapels in various Orang Asli settlements.

Joseph also said two of the five chapels had faced the same problem before, but after they demanded that the authority issues official letters detailing the reasons for the demolition, it kept silent and eventually dropped the matter.

The village has only two Muslims, but the authority had built a surau for them, he said.

Joseph revealed that the matter has been raised with the NECF and a legal panel has been set up to tackle the issue.

"Depending on the situation, we plan to challenge the demolition order in court," he added.

Monday 26 September 2011

Najib: ‘Sin’ money for schools

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced today that some RM100 million of gambling profit will be channelled to vernacular and mission schools.

Amid speculation that national polls would be held in the next six months, the announcement is likely to be interpreted as Najib’s effort to regain non-Malay support.

Vernacular schools often complained about lack of funding and support from Putrajaya. The Najib administration knows that education funding is one of the major issues that could draw support particularly from the Chinese electorate.

Najib said the funds would be distributed in close consultation with the government and Barisan Nasional component parties to ensure fair distribution.

The announcement was made at the launching of the “Community Chest” fund run by a consortium of tycoons that paid over RM2 billion for billionaire T Ananda Krishnan’s Pan Malaysian Pools Sdn Bhd (PMP) in July. It would be spearheaded by Lim Kok Tay of gambling giant Genting Bhd.

Others on the board of trustees are Genting deputy chairman Hanif Omar, Quek Leng Chan of the Hong Leong group, Lion Group boss William Cheng and Westport’s G Gnanalingam.

As much as RM26 million have been pumped into 61 vernacular schools as of today while Najib said a minimum of RM100 million would be channelled annually beginning next year.

The fund was modelled after Hong Kong’s Community Chest, a non-profit organisation that bankrolled community projects.

The initiative came amid the Chinese’s continuous snub of national schools in favour of Chinese-language primary schools. They believe the schools provide better quality education despite the lack of support from the government.

The Singapore Straits Times reported last month that financial executives involved in the deal believe it could improve BN’s standing among the Chinese and Indian electorate.

Flagging non-Malay support contributed to the ruling coalition’s dismal performance in the landmark 2008 general election where BN lost its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament and five states.

Meanhwile, Najib said Putrajaya would work on creating a “creative solution” to complement the government’s efforts to ensure access to quality education for all.

“We cannot meet all the needs of the community but it is important that new models are initiated to achieve government targets,” he said at the Confucian Chinese School here.

It's not the constitution, it's the AG who's at fault

COMMENT There is nothing wrong with our constitution or the laws concerning this subject matter. They have been functioning well for more than half a century, so there is no need to mend it.
We should not blame the constitution. It's the attorney-general (AG) who has abused the powers conferred upon him several times over. It's the honesty of the person holding the post that matters.

Even if we were to separate the functions of the AG and the public prosecutor (PP),there are no guarantees that either one or both of them will not abuse their powers.
There's no guarantee that the two appointees are not buddies, or even cousins or even blood brothers. Worse still if the two happened to have this 'abang-adik' type of relationship.

It was not too long ago, when the government split the Home Affairs Ministry into two entities, with two separate ministers and ministries and all the accoutrements. One can imagine how much of public funds that have gone to waste.
A couple of years later, for reasons best known to the government, they returned to the original arrangements. We don't need another costly trial and error experiment such as this. We cannot afford it.

What we badly need now is a strong willed government capable of enforcing the Rule of Law to the letter, and truly without fear or favour.
What is right is right,what is wrong is wrong, exactly what was said by a senior minister a week ago. The truth shall remain the truth, no one can change the facts!

If it is the AG himself who has committed a crime, so be it. He has to face the music like everybody else.
He may be empowered, exercise his discretion to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence... but the constitution never provided him with the powers to commit any crimes. We are all equal. No one is above the law.

This will serve as a deterrent to the next person to be given that privilege.

Stated below is the summary of evidence on the allegations made against the AG thus far.

An illustration

An underaged girl alleged she was raped by her boyfriend, whom she identified as 'Male X'.The man denied her allegation vehemently and claimed that he doesn't even know her, let alone have sex with her.
Eventually she gave birth to a child. DNA tests prove that the child's father is “Male X”. Can the man still deny he had sex with the girl, consensual or otherwise, when the product of the act, i.e. the child is alive for all to see.

The issue here is not whether Male X was charged or would be charged later or not at all, but whether he did commit rape. In this instance it was proven that he did.

NONEIn the case of Abdul Gani Patail (right), he was alleged to have fabricated evidence in an investigation sometime in 1998. He denied vehemently ever being involved in such a despicable act. 

However, upon investigation by the MACC, one of the independent panel members appointed to scrutinise the reports discovered that he was involved in the criminal wrongdoing as alleged.

Can Gani now deny that he never fabricated the evidence when the products of the criminal act, in the form of three expert reports, 65 pages in all, do exist for the public to see? 

In fact two of them were used in the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) that followed. Just like “Male X”, whose DNA was found on the child, Gani's “DNA” were found all over the fabricated documents, recorded by the expert who was instructed to prepare all of them.

One wonders how the other two independent panel members could have overlooked the fabricated documents, unless they were misled or the documents were concealed from them.
For the benefit of the public, the panel did not sit together to discuss the case, like normally done by a panel of judges of the Court of Appeal or Federal Court. The panel members looked at the case individually and separately.

The cabinet has to explain to the public how it could clear Gani from any wrongdoing when the evidence presented to them was crystal clear.
The AG must be made to account for the three expert reports in question. Nevertheless, he must be accorded his fundamental rights to a fair hearing. The allegations against him are very very serious.

Still, the issue here is not whether action has been taken, or would be taken at a later time, or not at all, against the AG. The issue is whether he did fabricate any evidence or otherwise. Based on the evidence that has been revealed thus far, we can conclude, without any doubt, that he did.

I have put it on record that I have warned the AG against doing it several times in October 1998, as I knew there would be “complications” later on. 

Now, the more he tries to cover up the complications, the more complicated they become. One can lie to all the people sometimes, but he cannot lie to all the people all the time.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Mystery ban on Siasat's Chinese edition episode

An episode of Media Prima-owned television station ntv7's Chinese edition of the current affairs programme, Siasat, which is aired every Thursday, was barred from being aired last night.

No explanation was given for the sudden decision to take this particular episode, titled "I want to go to school", off the air.

An old episode of the 30-minute Siasat series was aired during the time slot for the award-winning programme, which is 11.30 every Thursday night.

ntv7 siasat programme banned 230911 04The Siasat production team announced the change on its Facebook page last night, without giving any explanation.

Some Facebook users suspect the reason to be political interference or media control.

An ntv7 source told Malaysiakini, that the team received a directive from the TV station's "higher authorities" on Wednesday, saying the documentary "I want to go to school" should not be aired.

They gave no reason, the source added.

He believes that the episode may have been deemed "harmful to Sabah's image", since it explores the plight of Sabah's native races in the areas of education and poverty, as well as touches on the shortage of electricity and water supplies in the state.

He added that this particular episode has also faced problems with the Censorship Board, and the producers had been forced to edit out some content. Yet, it could not escape the 'don't screen it' order.

Another source said it was not difficult to imagine the ban on the "I want to go to school" segment of the Siasat series because it touched on "sensitive issues".

ntv7 siasat programme banned 230911 02On the Siasat Facebook page, the production team said this episode tries to reflect on the relative slow development in Sabah and Sarawak, despite the two states having joined Malaysia 48 years ago.

The team says: "For the last decade and more, Sabah remains the poorest state. In terms of education, 21 percent of Sabahans never receive education.

"What kind of future these children will have? Why there is sharp wealth inequality in the town and rural areas of Sabah? Let us reflect this on question as we celebrate Malaysia Day."

Malaysiakini made several attempts to contact ntv7's Chinese news and current affairs section for comment, but has been unsuccessful.

Don't hide from foreigners- made-voters charge, EC told

The Election Commission (EC) should not wash it hands off the allegation on its former chief's admission that 60,000 foreigners in possession of "fake" identity cards had become voters, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, Bersih 2.0, said today.

NONEThe EC should be doing its work as to why it allowed these people to be registered as voters, Bersih 2.0 steering committee member A Subramaniam Pillay (left) said today.

"Maybe the fault lies with the National Registration Department, for issuing the ICs making them officially as citizens. This is part of the alleged 'Project IC" in Sabah to give citizenship to new immigrants in the state, who are Indonesians and Filipinos.

"The EC cannot wash off its hands as it is entrusted to do monitoring of the electoral roll. If it is not doing this, it is thereby creating an imbalance.

"There must be better communication and tie-up between the NRD and EC to resolve this problem and it (the process of voter registration) should be tightened up, now," Subramaniam said.

The very least, he added, was for the EC to have raised the issue when it took place in the 1990s, so that the people could have become aware of the situation and investigations carried out.

NONEFellow steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah (right) said the practise of issuing ICs to foreigners in the 1990s would have created imbalances and to a certain extent, have manipulated the election results.

Subramaniam said as public bodies that should be independent, the EC and NRD should admit their mistakes and carry out investigations.

"They cannot run away or absolve themselves from the blame," he said.

Subraminam said this when asked about the allegation made by the former head of the NGO Malaysians for Free and and Fair Elections, Abdul Malek Husin, that former EC chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman was involved in the "Project IC", which is otherwise known as "Project M".

Wikileaks recently posted a leaked confidential US Embassy cable that quoted Malek as having told American officials that Rashid had admitted to issuing 60,000 fake ICs to foreign workers in Sabah in the 1990s.

Yesterday, Malek clarified on the US cable quoting him, saying that Rashid did indeed admit to being involved in the controversial "Projek IC'"operation in the 1990s - but only to register individuals with dubious ICs as voters.

The "Project IC" has been blamed for helping the BN wrest control of the Sabah government from Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).

Subramaniam also called on those who know of cases of foreigners having been given ICs or MyKad and had become voters to report this to the authorities and to Bersih 2.0.

Friday 23 September 2011

'MCMC must explain pulling plug on Undilah video'

The authorities must explain why local stations have been directed not to air a non-partisan video encouraging the public to register as voters, said Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar.

NONE“I am disturbed after reading the news that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has directed local broadcasters this week to not use the 'Undilah' public service announcement (PSA) that was produced by Pete Teo and launched on Hari Malaysia,” she said in a statement today.

Nurul Izzah (right), who was one of the participants in the video clip that also featured BN politicians such as Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong (below), said this contradicted the government leaders' claims that Malaysia was the world's “best democracy”.

“At a time when those leading the country clamour about making Malaysia the 'best democracy' in the world, actions taken by entities like MCMC clearly undermine such efforts and belittle the intelligence of Malaysians,” said the MP who is also PKR vice president.

Wee Ka Siong in undilah videoShe maintains that the PSA was a rally cry for Malaysians to register as voters to strengthen the country's democratic process.

“It is meant to rouse the democratic spirit of all Malaysians, regardless of political leanings.

“I call on the MCMC to clarify its orders to local broadcasters regarding this PSA, and in fact I urge MCMC to reverse its order and promote the video as a step to strengthen democratic practice in our beloved country,” said Nurul Izzah.

A news website reported today that MCMC had in an email this week directed Astro and Media Prima Bhd not to air the PSA, as it featured opposition politicians as well as Tengku Razaleigh referring to problems the country was facing.

'MCMC must be non-partisan'

Tengku Razaleigh opens the four and a half minute video saying, “Malaysia is a beautiful country, but there are many problems. I don't need to talk about them. We know what these problems are.

“What I do want to say is, Malaysia's future is in our hands. So if you haven't registered to vote, please do so as soon as possible...

“Remember, whatever happens, Malaysia is your country, this is our country, she has many problems. Malaysia needs us."
Rosnah Abd Rashid Shirlin in Undilah videoIt also features Deputy Health Minister Rosnah Abd Rashid Shirlin (right in photo), DAP Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, PAS Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and PKR Seri Setia assemblyperson Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad along with artistes such as Namewee and Afdlin Shauki.
Nurul Izzah reminded MCMC that it was an independent body that should remain non-partisan in carrying out its duties.

“Let not MCMC's independence be subjected to the political machinations of an archaic and dogmatic minister, who is lost in the undercurrents of partisan politics and quite out of touch with the latest developments in Malaysia's political scene,” she said.

Nurul Izzah in undilah videoOn Malaysia Day on Sept 16, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak claimed that he would repeal the draconian Internal Security Act to make Malaysia the best democracy in the world

Among the reforms he announced included amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) that has been seen as the biggest obstacle to media freedom in the country.

‘Dr M has vested interest in Lynas’

NGO alleges former premier supporting Lynas to shore up his son Mokhzani's sizeble stake in the rare earth project.

PETALING JAYA: Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has an ulterior motive for supporting the Lynas rare earth project, claimed an NGO.

“Mahathir’s eldest son Mokhzani Mahathir, the CEO of Kencana Petroleum has a large stake in the Lynas rare earth refinery project, said the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL).

Its spokesperson, Steven Hang, said: “Kencana Torsco Sdn Bhd is a subsidiary of Kencana Petroleum that won lucrative contracts from Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

“Kencana Torsco is involved the design, fabrication, lining, supply, installation, and commissioning of carbon steel and stainless steel tanks worth RM9.1 million for the project.”

Hang made this claims based on facts obtained from Bloomberg Businessweek, a US-based business website portal.

On Wednesday, Mahathir wrote in his blog that groups opposing the rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan had political interest in opposing the project.

“The Lynas contracts are a windfall for Mokhzani since his return to the corporate world in 2007. Back in the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis, he was written off,” said Hang.

Hang also speculated that these lucrative contracts signaled a return of Mokhzani into the corporate world, and the timing of Mahathir’s article was intended to boost Lynas shares.

“Perhaps daddy decided it was time lend his weight to the deal to make sure Lynas is healthy enough so as boost shareholders’ confidence in their investments,” said Hang.

“It is no co-incidence that Mahathir decided to blog on Lynas to give it a leg up when its shares are tumbling by the day.”

Bank pulls out
 Lynas share value plummeted by 13.67% yesterday, the steepest in two years according to FIN News Network, an Australian news agency.

Hang also revealed that HSBC bank Australian had sold off its shares in Lynas worth millions due to the negative publicity over the plant and to safeguard its (HSBC’s) reputation.

“It is hardly surprising, given the publicity generated in Malaysia and in Australia over the plant,” Hang said.
The group also brushed off Mahathir’s allegations that opponents to Lynas’s plant had a political agenda.
“The only agenda the people have is for a clean and safe environment to live in,” charged Hang.

He added that like-minded people should team up and exercise their democratic to reject hazardous projects against politicians with vested interest in Lynas.

Zaid told: Apologise, quit or get sacked

PETALING JAYA: Kita president Zaid Ibrahim’s recent controversial and solitary decisions have earned him three options from a party leader – apologise, resign or prepare to be ousted.

Zahrein Zakariah, a member of Kita’s central executive committee, today issued a second call for Zaid’s resignation, saying the party no longer needed him. He suggested that he return to Umno.

“I will continue calling for his resignation,” Zahrein told FMT. “Nothing changes. I will rally the others to bring him down. And then we will introduce a new decision-making system which will be bottom-up.”
Asked if Kita could function without Zaid, he replied, “Yes it can. I repeat, Kita is not Zaid and Zaid is not Kita.”

Zaid began courting dissent when he sacked three party leaders. It sparked accusations of tyranny and persistent flouting of party protocol.

He exacerbated the uproar when he apologised to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for doubting his political will to make reforms. His most recent controversial move was to announce a Kita Democracy Roadshow to garner support for Najib’s reform pledges.

Zahrein said Zaid did not consult anyone in the party leadership on the roadshow, adding that members were angry, viewing the move as another one of his “apple polishing antics”.

Scandal list

He expressed incredulity at Zaid’s support of a prime minister and government that had “clearly lost the people’s confidence” and had “killed democracy”.

“Maybe Zaid Ibrahim believes in Najib, but Kita does not,” Zahrein said. “Barisan Nasional is failing big time and Kita wants nothing to do with it.”

He rattled off a list of “scandals” that he said had erupted since Najib came into power, including the Perak coup, the church burnings, the Teoh Beng Hock case and the accusations of corruption in the purchase of Scorpene submarines.

“Zaid can talk for himself,” he said. “He can polish all the apples he wants, but Kita will not follow.
“There is no Kita roadshow for Najib. Zaid can call it the Royal Malaysian Circus for all we care.

“Zaid is a one-man show and he is leading Kita in the wrong direction. Kita is a social justice movement aimed at setting things straight in Malaysia and it makes no sense for us to support Najib.”

Zahrein disagreed with party leaders who had said that Kita’s image remained intact despite Zaid.

He said it was “badly damaged” and that the only way to salvage it would be to boot out the “Umno people” within it.

“Otherwise we are no different from Umno and PKR in their authoritarian practice,” he said. “In my view, a party chief is merely a spokesperson for decisions that are made collectively.”

Zahrein nevertheless said that he would give Zaid a chance to redeem himself by proving that he was not behind the roadshow decision and then apologising to party members.

“Zaid has yet to issue a statement on this issue,” he noted. “If he says that this idea was that of his two liaison-directors-henchmen, Masrum Dayat and Aziz Kadir, and then sacks them and apologises to us, then we might give him some space.”

Asked if it was too much to expect an apology for Zaid, he shot back: “If he can apologise to Najib, then he can apologise to us.”

Bersih: Undilah ban contradicts Najib’s reforms

September 23, 2011
PETALING JAYA, Sept 23 — Bersih said today the ban on a video promoting the right to vote flies in the face of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s push for greater democracy.

The electoral reforms movement called for the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to allow the Undilah public service announcement to be aired by local broadcasters as it posed no threat to the public.

“It’s sad that a video like that can be seen as threatening. If that is considered sensitive, what kind of democracy and political liberalisation is the prime minister talking about?

“It looks like he is doing one thing while his government is doing something else,” steering committee member Subramaniam Pillay told a press conference this morning.

The Malaysian Insider reported this morning that the MCMC directed local broadcasters not to use the video because it contains opposition figures and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s speech about Malaysia having problems.

“What is wrong with asking people to vote? Even the 1 Malaysia campaign asks people to vote,” added another steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah.

Najib had announced on September 15 a raft of reforms that included repealing the Internal Security Act and ending the requirement for printing and publishing permits to be renewed annually.

The prime minister said in his Malaysia Day address that the reforms were necessary as the public has matured and should be given more freedom.

Subramaniam also said today that the ban was made more alarming as “the video is not even partisan.”
Apart from Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh, the video also features other Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders such as Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abd Rashid Shirlin.

Opposition figures include Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and Seri Setia assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

Tussle over body takes another strange twist

It appears the troubles have just piled up for the family of purported Muslim convert Lawrence Selvananthan, as his friends allegedly took matters into their own hands to cremate his body yesterday afternoon.

It is understood that Lawrence's friends, transporting his body to a church in Seremban for funeral rites, decided on their own to cremate his remains and bury the ashes in Segamat.

The situation has left the Lawrence's family in a fix, as they are now facing legal action initiated by the Negeri Sembilan Islamic Affairs Department (JHEAINS), said Port Dickson state assemblyperson Ravi Munusamy, who is acting as mediator in discussions between the family and religious officials.

NONERavi (left)said police officers turned up at the family's home in Lukut around midnight to serve a syariah court order on the family, informing them that action would be taken against them.

"Because of that, the mother suffered some heart problems. She is still a bit sick now, and has not risen from bed yet.

"I advised them (police) not to come at midnight. If they want to discuss anything, they should come in the day," Ravi said when contacted by Malaysiakini.

Lawrence's body was at the centre of a claim by religious officials, who stopped his family from proceeding with his funeral service and burial yesterday on grounds that he had converted to Islam three days earlier.

The situation initially sparked a tense stand-off between family members and at least 30 police officers and JHEAINS officials, though they eventually entered into discussions with Ravi and a local priest representing the family.

'No proof he converted'

Ravi said the family are very unhappy over the incident and the ensuing situation they are now faced with, saying that they have not come across sufficient evidence to back the claim by the religious authorities.

"From what we understand, it takes three weeks to complete a conversion process, as a person needs to go through a course first.

"Here they are saying that he converted just three days ago.

"Secondly, he was never circumcised, and also he never informed his family.
“If he really converted, why is it that it was not shown on his death certificate?

"If he did convert, they should have keyed it in (the national registration database) on the day that he converted. After three days there was still nothing, so he was still not endorsed as a Muslim," Ravi said.
He noted that the family was now discussing their options with their lawyer on how to proceed with the court action by JHEAINS.

Attempts to contact the JHEAINS director have so far been futile. His office said he was in a meeting.

Devout Catholic and willing convert 

Lawrence, 33-year-old father of one, was found unconscious in a parked lorry outside his store in KM9.6 Jalan Seremban, and declared dead on arrival at the Port Dickson Hospital sometime on Wednesday night.

Star today reported Pusat Dakwah Islamiyah officer Muhammad Zuwairi Baharudin as saying Lawrence had gone to the centre, with a friend named Shahul Hameed, to convert to Islam.

The officer is quoted as saying he had asked Lawrence, whose Muslim name he said was Zairy Abdullah, several times if he was certain about converting to Islam and that the latter had replied in the affirmative.

Zuwairi said he had recordings and photographs of the session.

The report also said Father Clement Lim of the Immaculate Conception Church had expressed shock at the news of Lawrence's conversion, saying the deceased was a "devout Catholic and an active member of the parish".

Bishop takes nuanced stance on hudud

The reignited debate over the implementation of hudud law in Kelantan has drawn a nuanced response from what at first glance would be considered an unexpected quarter.

bishop paul tan chee ingCatholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing, in remarks made to Malaysiakini today, held forth on the subject and has come up with a stance he thinks is calibrated to meet the challenges the question of Islam poses to Malaysian society.

“One would think I should lack the presumption to weigh in on the discussion, being non-Muslim and belonging to a religion that subscribes to the separation of the secular from the religious spheres,” said the titular head of Catholics in the Melaka-Johor diocese.

“But Islam is, above all, a political question, and support for syariah, of which hudud is a part, is an obligation for the Muslim. Therefore a non-Muslim citizen such as me, and a religious leader at that, ought to have a say on this matter,” asserted the Jesuit-trained prelate.

“I say it's time to allow Muslims in Kelantan, if they so desire, to implement syariah only for them and with that the hudud enactments provided non-Muslims are exempt from its implementation,” said the bishop who is concurrently president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia.

“Between the contention that the Federal Constitution is a colonial imposition and the obligation of Muslims to support syariah, I say the wiser non-Muslim stance would be to hold that if syariah is what Kelantan Muslims want and if we are given a cast-iron guarantee that it will not be implemented on us, we would not object to Muslims wanting it,” he argued.

“Bear in mind, this is not a question that is going to go away but it is not a question that will continue to be framed in the same terms as it is today in Malaysia,” continued the bishop.

“What do I mean by this?” asked the cleric who obtained his doctorate from Ecole Etude Science Sociales whose degree is from Sorbonne, the 'Harvard of Europe' in medieval times.

“You take the Arab Spring that has roiled nations in that arc from Tunisia to Syria. Do you see it as an Islamic uprising or a democratic insurgence?

“I hesitate to claim that it's a democratic rising of peoples. You cannot tell for sure, but it is not specifically Islamic in character.

Enduring debate

“I take the long view and see it all as part and parcel of the enduring debate between the Mutazilities and the Asharites in Islam.

NONE“The former holds that you need reason to explain the world; the latter that God does not need reason and that He is all power and will.

“I pray the Mutazilites win the debate. I don't know if that extraordinary man, the Kelantan menteri besar (Nik Aziz Nik Mat), is a Mutazilite or an Asharite. Sometimes he sounds like a Mutazilite, sometimes like an Asharite.

“But that ambiguity is a good thing. It shows he is not dogmatic. I say let him and all who hold with him have their way so long as non-Muslims have iron-clad guarantees of their exemption.

“I am in favour of Kelantan Muslims having hudud implemented for them only.”