Saturday 30 June 2012

Guan Eng fears for safety Perkasa ‘brush’

Lim Guan Eng has a rude shock when a youth brushes against him from behind.

Teluk Bahang: Enjoying a Saturday morning stroll in Teluk Bahang, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had rude a shock when a Perkasa member suddenly appeared from behind and brushed his left shoulder and arm.

Some local village security and development committee (JKKK) members managed to push away the youth and escorted the chief minister to his car.

Though Lim was uninjured, he was stunned by the incident.

Lim arrived at the Teluk Bahang wet market complex at 8am for a walkabout and dialogue session with constituents.

It was part of his one day “Meet the People in Balik Pulau Parliamentary Constituency” between 8am and 3pm.

Lim was about to go to his car when a youth forced his way through the crowd and brushed him.
The chief minister later said he now feared for his safety as the hostile Perkasa members were getting aggressively closer to him.

Earlier, some 10 Perkasa members held a protest against Lim outside the wet market.

They carried anti-Lim and state government banners and placards, and chanted slogans.
Anti-Lim and “racist” posters were also pasted on the market’s walls.

Some were removed by local residents and the island municipality (MPPP) workers before Lim arrived at the site.

Sources said Perkasa members were seen putting up the posters at about 3am.

Upon Lim’s arrival, the Perkasa protest and chants grew louder and the protestors started to throw his posters all over the road.

Several Perkasa youths also followed Lim around during his walkabout.

Lim then went
for a dialogue session with some 300 constituents.
The “brushing” incident took place as he was about to leave for another function.

Police must act

FMT learnt that a Perkasa member had lodged a police report complaining that he was roughed up by Lim’s aides.

Balik Pulau OCPD Superintendent Mohd Hatta Mohd Zain confirmed the report and said the police would investigate it.

Penang House Speaker Abdul Halim Hussain, who accompanied Lim, said that some 10 policemen, who were on duty during the event, failed to stop the youth from reaching the chief minister.

Describing Perkasa’s behaviour as “embarrassing and unhealthy”, he called on the police to take stern action.

“The Perkasa youths were  disgraceful, racist and unruly.

“Police should act before something bad happens,” he told FMT.

Royal Selangor Club (RSC) members have rejected City Hall’s call for a 30 percent discount for civil servants membership

Royal Selangor Club (RSC) members have rejected City Hall’s call for a 30 percent discount for civil servants membership in return for land title for one of the club’s buildings.

The resolution on the issue was unanimously opposed by members of the club at its annual general meeting today, with some describing the demand as “outrageous and preposterous”.
NONEThe general council of the club was chastised for even discussing the matter with outgoing Kuala Lumpur mayor Ahmad Fuad Ismail (right).

Among the 10 who took to the floor and opposed the resolution, a retired senior appellate court judge and former president of the club said that the demand was as good as holding the club to ransom.

He explained that RSC had paid for the land and the plot was held under the trusteeship of the mayor. Therefore, the title must be made in favour of the RSC without any condition.

Following the stringent opposition, the club’s general council eventually withdrew the resolution.

A task force has been set up to settle the issue of the land title amicably without any compulsion from City Hall.

A senior member of the club said: “There was a heated argument, where members criticised the general council for bringing up the resolution on this high-handed demand by the City Hall, which tantamount to corruption.

“It is outrageous and preposterous that the club’s council should even table such a resolution.”

MACC should haul up the mayor

Following the AGM which lasted about six hours, a club member told Malaysiakini: “The City Hall cannot impose a demand where they would only approve the title for the Kiara Annex in return for the discounted membership for civil servants.

“The club must not introduce special privileges among members. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should call up the mayor and interview him as to why he had demanded such a discount.

“If the mayor sets such an example, then the staff below him will follow suit and demand favours or cash to approve minor requests by businessmen. This is synonymous to intimidation and daylight robbery.”

The City Hall request for the discount was communicated to the RSC, a prestigious club of who’s who in Malaysia, last year in a letter.

The resolution which was withdrawn today read:
  • That the RSC attempt to recruit a fifth of its members from the ranks of the Malaysian civil service.
  • That those members recruited be allowed a 30 percent discount on its entrance fees, and
  • The club will refund entrance fees for this category of members on their retirement, leave the civil service or upon their death as they will no longer be members of this club under this category.

Umno assemblyperson wants hudud for all in Johor

Umno's Kemelah state assemblyperson Ayub Rahmat has proposed that hudud law be implemented in Johor for all races.

When contacted by Malaysiakini, Ayub said he wanted to see Johor to be the first state to implement "true hudud law" which he said differed from PAS' version of the religious law.

The critical difference with PAS's hudud law legislated in Kelantan, he said, was that there would be no discrimination as it would have to cover all races in the state.

"The Syariah Criminal Code (II) 1993 State of Kelantan does not reflect the true requirements of Islam. it creates discrimination in terms of execution (among Muslims and non-Muslims)," Ayub (left) said.

Kelantan had adopted the law in 1993, three years after PAS captured the state but provisions in the federal constitution prevented its enforcement.

Ayub, who made the proposal on June 20, during the fifth sitting of the Johor state assembly said implementing such a move at the national level would require amendments to the federal constitution.

The crucial move now, he said, is to start on the steps to help non-Muslims understand the implementation of hudud law in Johor, which PAS had failed to do.

This, he added, had enabled other ethnic groups to accept hudud law during the reign of Prophet Muhammad.

Challenge issued to PAS

Ayub then threw down the gauntlet to PAS to back this proposal if it was sincere about upholding Islam.

"When Umno talks about hudud, PAS should lend support as well," he said.

The proposal comes as Pakatan Rakyat begins a concerted campaign to break the stranglehold of the BN in the southern state seen as the last bastion of the ruling coalition in peninsular Malaysia.

Pakatan Rakyat's top guns have in the last months criss-crossed Johor in the hope of improving its electoral performance there which saw the opposition winning only one parliamentary seat out of 26 and six state seats out of the 56 contested in the last polls.

EO repeal made scapegoat for S'gor crime surge

Deputy Selangor police chief A Thaiveegan today repeated the blame game on the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance (EO) as contributing to the recent crime surge in the state.

Thaiveegan said rising complaints of Selangor crime levels may be a result of the mass release of suspected criminals from Simpang Renggam detention centre following the EO repeal.

"The government is confident that they (the detainees) should be given a chance to start a new life so that they return to the right path, but do they return to the right path or not, we do not know yet.

Selangor deputy police chief A Thaiveegan"But we see there is a rise in crime (recently) because they've been in (detention) for too long, they need 'exercise', so they come out and immediately they carry out their activities," he said in his speech at a car and motorcycle theft prevention campaign in Subang Jaya this morning.

However, when approached later, Thaiveegan stressed that more time and evidence is required to establish whether there a direct link between the release and the surge in crime.

"There may be one or two cases here and there which we are handling, there could be reasons why there is a sudden surge, there are a few criminals who have returned to society and they may take time to change (their ways).

azlan"I can't confirm yet (because of the EO). It could be, but we will need time to confirm that. Give us another month or two then we will confirm," he said.

Earlier in his speech, Thaiveegan said that in the overall, crimes in the state has still seen a dip in total cases.

"Today in Selangor, in the overall, all crimes have fallen by 11.2 percent, but of course people are still not happy... but we are doing our best," he said.
According to Home Ministry figures, crime in Selangor has gone down by 19.4 percent since 2009 and 24.7 percent nationwide during the same period.

Crime statistics disputed 

However, the figures have been disputed by Pakatan Rakyat MPs, including Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua following the recent spat of violent crimes in the state.Earlier in his speech, Thaiveegan said that in the overall, crimes in the state have still seen a dip in total cases.

NONEPua (left) had complained that the Home Ministry had not been forthcoming in providing a statistical breakdown of crime in Selangor, providing him with three different set of figures for 2009.

The country's three emergency proclamations which had been in effect for up to 40 years was tabled in Parliament Nov 24 last year.

The move voided all ordinances set up during the emergency but allowed a grace period of up to 6 months for detainees under the law to be held in detention.

However, the government had begun releasing detainees in phases as soon as the emergency was lifted.

The law, allowing detention without trial, was often used against suspected underworld members when police lacked sufficient evidence to prosecute.

In recent months, several high-profile violent crimes have been highlighted.

The most recent was on Thursday, when a women was set ablaze outside her house in Ampang and a day later a father shot dead outside his son's school in Sri Kembangan.

A series of robberies targeting women in parking basements of shopping malls have also hit the headlines in the last few months, with at least two such incidences reported at The Curve and another at Mid Valley.

Why the electoral arithmetic in Malaysia does not allow the Chinese voters to be “kingmakers” in 13GE

ormer Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad seems to have reverted to his early years in politics when, to use his own words, he was fighting for the Malay cause per se when he was young and his thoughts were that of an inexperienced politician.

Mahathir made this open admission in a dialogue with the Malaysian Student Executive Council of the United Kingdom in September 1995, when making the case for a Malaysian rather than a Malay approach, arguing that to realize the goal of Bangsa Malaysia, Malaysians should start accepting each other as they are regardless of race or religion.

This was the fourth year of his promulgation of Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia in February 1991.
Now Mahathir seemed to have gone full circle, repudiating not only Bangsa Malaysia and Vision 2020, but fighting only for Malay rather than Malaysian cause.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak called on Barisan Nasional members not to make statements that will hurt the feelings of other races or BN component parties.

But how many in UMNO will listen to Najib?

Mahathir is in the forefront among those who have been making irresponsible, insensitive and even provocative statements – all to save UMNO and Barisan Nasional from being defeated in the next general election.

Who believes that Najib could caution or check Mahathir?

Only on Thursday, Mahahir made the highly mischievous statement that the Chinese voters are the kingmakers for the 13th general election as the Malays are divided among three “small” parties and that the Chinese voters will decide who forms the government after the general election.

I had rebutted this statement, stating that the Malaysian Chinese are not and do not want to be the “kingmakers” in the 13 general election.

I also pointed out that “the harsh reality is that the electoral arithmetic does not allow the Chinese voters to be the ‘kingmakers’”.

Let us look at the “electoral arithmetic” in Malaysia to understand why the Chinese voters cannot be the “kingmakers” in the 13th general election.

There are only 34 parliamentary seats out of 222 where the Chinese comprise a majority of voters. Even if Pakatan Rakyat (PR) wins all of the Chinese votes in these seats, it will only yield 15% of total parliamentary seats.

There are another 55 parliamentary seats where Chinese voters constitute between 30% to 50% of the voters. Even if PR is able to win 80% of Chinese votes in these seats, it would still need between 35% to 40% of support from the other communities in order to win these seats.

In total, this means that there are only 89 parliamentary seats where the Chinese comprise more than 30% of total voters. Even if PR is to win all these seats, this would only constitute 40% of total parliamentary seats, which is not enough for a majority of parliamentary seats.

Instead, what we are increasingly seeing is the rejection of the Barisan Nasional (BN) by voters of all races, including in many Malay majority as well as ethnically ‘mixed’ seats which were previously ‘impregnable’ BN strongholds.

For example, in the 2008 general election, a majority of Malay and non-Malay voters voted against the BN in Malay majority seats such as Pokok Sena and Kuala Kedah in Kedah, Parit Buntar and Bagan Serai in Perak, Shah Alam and Kota Raja in Selangor and Titiwangsa in Kuala Lumpur.

A majority of Malay and non-Malay voters also voted against the BN in ethnically mixed seats such as Padang Serai in Kedah, Bayan Baru and Nibong Tebal in Penang and Bandar Tun Razak in Wilayah Persekutuan.

More recently, in the 2011 Sarawak state elections, a majority of both Chinese and non-Chinese voters in the state seat of Kidurong voted against the BN leading to a historic 7,000-vote majority for the DAP’s incumbent candidate Chew Chin Sing.

By playing up racial fears, Mahathir is resorting to an old and outdated form of fear-mongering and politicking which is becoming irrelevant for Malaysians all over the country who are sick and tired of the corruption, cronyism and abuses of power of the Barisan Nasional government.

The next general election is a historic opportunity for all Malaysians to unite to send a clear message that they want to end the 54 years of misrule by the BN and put in place a new Pakatan Rakyat government which will protect the rights, freedom and welfare of all Malaysians, regardless of whether they are Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans or Kazadans.

The real kingmakers in the 13th general election, therefore, are not the Chinese voters but all Malaysian voters, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans to unite and bring about a peaceful transition of federal power for the first time in the 54-year history of the nation to end corruption, cronyism and abuses of power.

A real Malaysian ghost story

  S Thayaparan

You realise that our mistrust of the future makes it hard to give up the past. - Chuck Palahniuk (Survivor)

COMMENT Here we go again. The central theme of my previous piece was how we as Malaysians willingly played Dr Mahathir Mohamad's race game and lost.

That's not surprising since the Umno house always wins. We are still playing the same game only this time, we have changed the rules. Prime Minister Najib Razak and MCA chief Dr Chua Soi Lek obviously have not caught on to this fact.

NONEI don't find either Najib's mendacious assurances to the Chinese community that the systemic racism faced by them is a fringe ideology and not mainstream Umno dogma or the predictable banal backlash by a certain section of the Chinese community, particularly newsworthy.

Perceptive observers would understand that race relations in Malaysia is solely defined by these two communities - Umnoputra and the Chinese community, while the Orang Asli, non-Umno Malays, Indian, et al, are merely ‘passengers' (or traitors in the case of non-Umno Malays) - a step-up from ‘pendatangs' I suppose.

Pointing out the inconsistencies in Najib's ‘reassurances' would be like shooting fish in a barrel but there are some insights to be gained from the rhetoric oozing forth from the regime with regards to the political reality of Malaysia.

"We don't intend to lose," Najib proclaims, so sure is he of the democratic process in Malaysia, and seeing as how the numbers are constantly being manipulated I don't doubt him. But by ‘we' he doesn't really mean BN but Umno.

He warns the Chinese if they want to have a ‘voice' in the system, they should vote for MCA, never mind that having a voice hasn't halted the institutional racism that is the foundation of Umno policy or that he (and Umno) are supposed to represent every Malaysian regardless of race, or so they claim.

But the question still remains, what would Umno do as far as communal expectations are concerned if their coalition partners lose?

Malays go at it alone

Well, the answer to that is simple. The hawks in Umno have already decided that a "Malay go at it alone" policy is the best strategy. No doubt buttressed by the corrupt coalitions from Sabah and Sarawak, Umno could theoretically hold on to power and wait the opposition out.

By maintaining control in the so-called ‘Malay heartland' by any means necessary, they hope to cut off Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim from the mainstream Malay polity. This, and of course the "flawed" electoral process, should keep the game going for some time even if by electoral attrition their influence wanes.

The so-called moderates, realising the inevitable futility of this, are chaotically coming up with other strategies.

The newish strategy of Najib echoing the Anwar refrain of government aid not being a zero-sum game and implying that BN, or at least his BN, is offering a class-based approach to problems even if BN is in theory a race-based political coalition, has been pretty limp going so far.

NONEThe only difference between him and Anwar is that unlike Anwar, who has been pretty consistent in his message to the various communities he is campaigning to (much to the dismay of his political opponents); Najib and his allies have one message for each community, which at least in this regard is consistent with the underlying ideology of their political pact.

This abrupt change of ideological rhetoric of Umno is hardly surprising. Former prime minister and Perkasa patron Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed not too long ago at the Perkasa/Gertak ‘mega' rally that May 13 was in actuality a class-based conflict but of course his polemic was tinged with the usual ‘communist' undertones aimed at Anwar and the DAP.

The fact that the former premier could suggest such a thing at a supposed ‘race-based awakening' was amusing, but I reckon only to me.

But then again, nobody should be surprised with BN's ideological dissonance since Pakatan Rakyat itself is a bundle of barely suppressed ideological and religious impulses. Not that it matters of course.

Pakatan partisans have displayed a remarkable intolerance at challenging their own political dogma or even possible policies, preferring instead to gorge on the daily financial scandals and the resultant shadow play arrests, which are fed to them by canny political operatives.

The opposition coalition has played the political game shrewdly but really Umno's incompetence is half the battle won. Pakatan's own financial and political scandals are dismissed by their supporters as inconsequential (compared to BN's) or as BN propaganda meant to destabilise the fragile coalition.

Modern-day slavery
Najib's latest "goody" - how I loathe that term - bag to taxi drivers is the latest state-sanctioned bribery that has blown up in Umno's face. Predictably Pakatan supporters have lapped this up gleefully pointing out the numerous cronycrats, who have benefitted from this system.

Taxi drivers as a possible voting block are awash with the muck that soils the system. Playing the system with price-fixing gangs, employing ‘foreigners' as proxy drivers, and the list goes on.

Najib's rather preposterous claim that the monopoly of private companies of taxi licences is a form of modern-day slavery is despicable but fits in nicely with PAS' ‘mahafiraun' narrative with regard to the citizen slavery to Umno.

If Najib really wants to wage a jihad on modern-day slavery here in Malaysia, he should personally look into the human trafficking of children, women and men who service the various industries - both legal and illegal - which contribute to the economy of this country and Umno coffers.

He should look at the ‘slave wages' earned by some in the Indian and Chinese community who have the added indignity of being denied citizenships for bureaucratic reasons. And then of course, there's the ‘Orang Asli problem'.

But all these very real issues are subsumed beneath the political one-upmanship that Umno seems to be losing in the cyber propaganda war and let's face it, Pakatan is unable to address for various reasons.

All that is forthcoming are assurances that by winning federal power, they would be able to solve these ‘issues"' Exactly how they intend to do this is something we have to take on faith.

Faith. Something that Umno doesn't seem to realise is practically non-existent in a certain section of the voting public, which Umno is aggressively courting. Najib talks of "ghosts" which are being created out of the Lynas issue and he's right.

There has been very little objective discourse on the Lynas issue so far except appeals to emotion from both sides of the political divide. BN, of course, has got nothing to fall back on because decades of executive interference has left all the government institutions devoid of credibility, staffed by cronycrats unable to command an iota of respect.

Pakatan, on the other hand, has had a field day turning this issue into their main environmental and safety (sic) issue in lieu of any substantive environmental policies of their own.

And good for them but bad for us in the long term if any issue will always been used as stakes in a political game because the alternative alliance that claims to be forward thinking and progressive always has the excuse that it is involved in a life and death struggle with their political opponents.

Najib's wingman

I'm not surprised that Umno has some sort of ‘reality distortion field' at work in Putrajaya but I'm surprised that it has affected Najib's wingman to the Chinese community, Chua Soi Lek.

Chua, a shifty operator with a good work ethic - he would have done well during Tunku Abdul Rahman's tenure (sex scandal and all) - but seems to have really lost the plot.

His bare naked shilling for Umno has reached preposterous heights. His ‘counseling' of ‘not dwelling' on what happened in 60s and 70s to those youths is bizarre. I doubt most Chinese, or even most Malaysians, are even aware of what happened in the 60s or 70s. What they know of it is probably Umno propaganda or unofficial communal propaganda. I doubt they are up-to-date on the subaltern narratives that are excluded from the discourse.

NONENo. What they are dwelling on is what happened last year. Or last week or yesterday. What they are dwelling on is the murder of Teoh Beng Hock or the demonisation of a Malaysian politician like Lim Guan Eng who is a marked man simply because he is Chinese chief minister not sanctioned by Umno. They are dwelling on the numerous provocations by Umno outsourced thugs with whom the MCA is guilty by association.

As I said we are playing the same game but we changed the rules. The main rule change is that the Chinese community doesn't care if they get representation in the cabinet because the MCA has been doing a piss poor job. They don't give a damn about the vigorous discussions behind ‘closed doors'. The communal issues that the MCA championed before is now in the purview of the DAP.

The MCA, unlike Umno, has nothing to fall back on. That's the problem with being a minority race-based party in a multiracial country. Of course, the existential crisis MCA is facing now will eventually be experienced by any minority race-based party.

Thinking long-term has never been a strong suit of the Malaysian voting public.

Ghosts from the past haunt this election and every other election. We will never be able to exorcise them because we continue to play the same game.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Razali turns up heat on Najib over LRT contract

PKR is pressing Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to disclose whether the RM1 billion Ampang Light Rail Transit (LRT) project has really been awarded to Konsortium George Kent, a day after he denied impropriety in the deal.

Zeroing in on the premier's reply yesterday that "everything was done properly", PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli said the statement did not answer whether the purported highest bidder had won the contract or not.

"This reinforces the speculation that Najib had forcefully interfered in the bid evaluation decision, which was in favour of other bidders," he said in a statement today.

NONEAccording to Rafizi (left), the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) took away many official documents pertaining to the contract when they paid a visit to Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd's (Prasarana) office yesterday.

Quoting an insider, he claimed one of the papers proved that Prasarana has returned Konsortium George Kent its tender bond, a form of cash deposits each bidder pays, as the company was disqualified in the early stages.

"I urge Shahril Mokhtar, Prasarana group managing director, to confirm whether the cash deposit has been returned to stem new speculation," he said.

Yesterday Najib had said there was nothing abnormal in the award of the RM1 billion Ampang Line Light Rail Transit (LRT) extension project to the purported highest bidder when quizzed by journalists on the allegations.

Rafiz had accused the prime minister of interfering in the award process to ensure that a consortium led by George Kent Bhd, said to have put in the highest bid, will land the job.

He claimed that he had "solid" evidence that the project was first went to Balfour Beatty-Invensys Consortium (Balfour).

However, a Jan 22 Business Times report said that George Kent was tipped to win the bid, said Rafizi, drawing the conclusion that the move had been executed on Najib's orders.
Razali has vowed to reveal more evidence of wrongdoing on the matter in the coming weeks.

Suhakam's Bersih 3.0 inquiry to kick off July 5

The Malaysia Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) will on July 5 begin its own inquiry into allegations of excessive force by the authorities during the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally.

In a statement today, the commission’s secretary Rodziah Abdul announced the commencement saying they had completed perusing the submissions from the public related to the massive rally for electoral reform.

NONE“As of June 21, 2012, the Commission has completed perusal of the public submissions it has received from the public in the form of documents, statements and video recordings, and identification of witnesses.

“The commission is awaiting for a response from the police, to (our) request and subsequent reminder of (our) intention to interview the police personnel who were on duty during the 28 April public assembly,” she said.

Last month Suhakam declared that it could no longer wait for the government’s inquiry into the same matter, and unveiled its panel and terms of reference for its own inquiry.

They also called on the public to submit materials documenting the events during the rally to assist in their inquiry.

“The commission’s decision to conduct the public inquiry into allegations of the use of excessive force by the authorities during and after the public assembly on April 28 takes into account its own monitoring of the event and a number of other pertinent factors."

These factors, she said, include the submission of complaints, reports and memoranda from members of the public, human rights and professional groups, as well as other members of civil society, to the commission relating to the matter, all of which called for an independent inquiry into the said event.

Suhakam’s inquiry follows the government’s own highly criticised inquiry into Bersih 3.0, led by the controversial former police chief Hanif Omar.

The government had been slammed for allowing their inquiry to proceed despite Suhakam being the proper agency to carry out the task, casting doubts on the former’s sincerity in getting to the bottom of alleged police violence during the event.

Hanif himself had received much flak for having made prejudicial statements against Bersih prior to his appointment as head of the government inquiry.

No allegiance owed to BN, Pakatan tells civil servants


KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders reminded the country’s 1.4 million civil servants today that they should “be loyal to the country, the King and the Federal Constitution and not to the ruling party,” amid recent concerns about the lack of impartiality among senior government officials.

“They (civil servants) must remember that the government of the day can change. These political parties that form the government of the day, they can come and go.

“So if these parties that rule, if they go into the wilderness, do you follow them? No. You still remain a civil servant and your loyalty is to serve the public professionally,” DAP national deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw told The Malaysian Insider.

Newly-appointed Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Ali Hamsa had recently raised eyebrows when he told his new charges that they “should know better” than to believe the “empty promises” made by the opposition.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Ali had clearly got off to a “bad start” with his statement.
“That was out of line. This is the first time that a KSN (Chief Secretary) has done that. He got off to a bad start here,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

The DAP secretary-general, who also sits as a lawmaker in Parliament, reminded Ali that as the country’s top civil servant, he should be particularly respectful of the Federal Constitution.

“And the opposition, which he is telling his charges not to believe in, is entitled to gain the same respect (as the ruling party). We are the loyal opposition to His Majesty’s government,” Lim pointed out.

The Bagan MP said politics must be kept out of the civil service, and disagreed with Ali’s assertion that that the loyalty of public servants lies with the ruling party of the day.

“We must be loyal to the country, the Federal Constitution and the King. We are not to be loyal to the ruling party. At the same time, they cannot tread into politics,” he said.

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar concurred with Lim, adding that “loyalty to the nation” should never be equated as “loyalty to Umno and BN”.

She acknowledged that public servants are duty bound to serve the government of the day, as per the General Orders they follow, but she reminded that their duty was also to “serve professionally”.

“They are not to be made tools and servants of the current government... especially when it does not have their interest at heart,” she told The Malaysian Insider.

“They must implement policies cleanly, effectively and with accountability and transparency — that is what the civil service should be,” Dr Tan agreed.

The 1.4-million-strong public sector has been a traditional vote bank for BN but the controversy over a new pay scheme and attacks on the ruling parties by PR over bread-and-butter issues may offer the federal opposition a glimmer of hope in the coming polls.

But recent days have seen top government officials go on an apparent overdrive to protect the BN government they serve.

Apart from Ali’s message to the civil service, Foreign Ministry undersecretary Ahmad Rozian Abdul Ghani recently attacked a Canadian newspaper for describing Najib as a “false democrat,” and insisted that the prime minister had “an impressive track record by anyone’s standards”.

“While the prime minister takes nothing for granted, he hopes he will be given a mandate to continue Malaysia’s transformation,” the diplomat added, appearing to campaign for the country’s sixth prime minister who is due to call for polls within months.

A director at Putrajaya’s efficiency unit, Pemandu, also made a public attack on PR on Wednesday for not improving the states it governs and focusing on sniping and criticising the federal government’s efforts.

“All oppos do is snipe & critic wot is being done but not focused on improving their states! Wot hv they done??” communications director Alex Iskandar Liew said on his public account on micro-blogging site Twitter, copying @barisannasional and @NRC11, a fan club dedicated to the prime minister.

But despite this, Lim believed these subtle messages infiltrating into the civil service may be falling on deaf ears.

“I don’t think we should underestimate the intelligence of our civil servants,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

“They may be compelled and forced to carry out their duties because they are instructed to do so. But once they retire, you see many of them joining the opposition,” he pointed out.

Lim pointed out that it is not easy for civil servants to go against an order they have received from above if they felt it was wrong.

“It is also not easy for them to just resign. It affects their rice bowls, after all,” he said.

But this, he added, does not mean that civil servants will necessarily cast their votes for BN when stand before the ballot boxes.

“Do not underestimate their intelligence,” he repeated.

Gov't defends Najib's private holiday in Milan

Pressed by an opposition MP, the Prime Minister’s Department has conceded that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak went for a private holiday in Milan on an official aircraft, but argued that only a minimal number of officials travelled with him to ensure his security.

The whole private visit from May 18 to 25 - a two-day trip in Washington followed by a five-day trip to Milan and transit in Dubai - has taken up RM273,799.57 of taxpayers' money, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong told Parliament last night.

The entourage with “minimal number of officials” included police escorts, private officers, a doctor and security officers, and all their expenses were borne by the government as they were on official duty, said Liew.

“Although the prime minister was on holiday, his duty and responsibility as the prime minister of Malaysia was not terminated.

“Hence it is inappropriate if there are quarters that think the security issue of the prime minister should be put aside simply because he was on holiday.

NONE“Based on security policy and national interest, the government’s approval for the prime minister to use government executive aircraft during his private visit raised by Yang Berhormat (Teresa Kok) (right) should not have arisen,” he replied.

Liew was responding to a follow-up question raised by Kok (Seputeh - DAP) who was not satisfied with the previous reply given by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz on spending during Najib’s overseas trips.

In the previous reply, Nazri only revealed that Najib with his officers went off to Washington on a six-day “private visit” from May 19 to 24 which cost RM452,985.75, without mentioning that there was a Milan visit that took up most part of the trip.

Last night Liew clarified that the RM452,985.75 figure given by Nazri was just an estimation based on Najib’s initial plan to visit only Washington.

“However the prime minister had decided to make a private visit to Milan from May 20 to 24. This change had caused the issue of coordinating the report about the visit at the administrative and financial level, and it was not included in the reply to the previous question.”

‘Figure taken from initial estimation’

At the time of answering Kok’s previous question, Liew said the officials of the entourage as well as the Malaysia embassy in Washington had not made their claims, hence the figure was taken from the initial estimation.

The total estimation of RM452,985.75 covered the air tickets, food allowances, hotel payments, vehicle rentals, telecommunication facilities, laundry, tips, loss from currency exchange and welcoming events, he said.

But the exact total expenses were only RM273,799.57, Liew clarified.

Liew stressed that Najib deserved the holiday as he has been “working regardless of time” to “implement various transformations to increase growth and bring Malaysia to become a high-income nation in 2020”.

Although it was a private holiday, Najib had met with top officials of the US State Department, senior politicians of the republic as well as potential investors, he claimed.

On the trip to Dubai before returning to Kuala Lumpur, Liew explained that it was a transit for refuelling.

Kok also questioned whether Najib’s visits to London from May 13 to 15 which cost RM849,175.33 and another visit to New York from May 16 to 18 that cost RM1,606,402.75 were a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Liew defended both trips, explaining that the reception in Oxford was hosted by Prince Charles in conjunction with the award of a royal charter to the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies (OCIS) by the Queen of the United Kingdom.

“The invitation was a recognition of the prime minister who is a supreme council member of OCIS, and Malaysia has been actively contributing to the development and advancement of the centre.”

As for the New York visit, Najib had chaired the second meeting of the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSAIC) which witnessed the signing of five memorandums of understanding that could bring smart partnerships and investment to Malaysia, he said.

Najib also met with foreign investors and received courtesy calls from corporate leaders during his trip, Liew added.

“Therefore the issue of wastage does not arise for the prime minister’s official visits to the nations mentioned.”

Liew later told media through a phone call that Najib’s personal expenses during the visits, including shopping, were not borne by the government.

M'kini hit by yet another cyberattack

The Malaysiakini website was once again attacked starting from 2.45pm yesterday. Although the cyberattack continued, the site was fully restored at 11.30pm.

It appeared that this was not an isolated attack against Malaysiakini - simultaneous attacks were launch against a number of other websites in the country.

At press time, most these websites, including those of opposition parties DAP, PAS and PKR remain unavailable.

In a Twitter message, DAP leader Lim Kit Siang said: "DDoS attacks on DAP, PAS, PKR websites since afternoon. Umno/BN cyber saboteurs rehearsing even more serious DDoS in 13GE."

The attack against Malaysiakini was the most sophisticated to date. "It used a complex attack pattern, and not easily detectable," said CEO Premesh Chandran.

International syndicates

The attack - commonly known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) - managed to overwhelm the Malaysiakini servers.

It involves using a large number of computers to flood Malaysiakini's servers with fake traffic, causing a traffic jam which denies access to legitimate users.

The attack is normally carried out by international syndicates paid to disrupt targeted websites.

However, Malaysiakini's technology team was able to bring the site back up after battling the debilitating attack for eight hours.

Over the past year, Malaysiakini has been hit with a number cyberattacks, most notably during the Bersih 2.0 and 3.0 rallies as well as the Sarawak state election.

BN deliberately stoking racial tension, says Kadir

Former Umno leader and federal minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir today blamed rising racial tension “solely” on the BN, saying it was “engineered”.

“In fact, the government is solely responsible for the deterioration in race relations and the rising racial and religious tension.

“The government decided that they could turn around the situation and win back the support of the voters, especially the Malay voters, by playing the racial and religious cards,” said Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, who is the president of the newly-formed Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia.

Citing various incidents such as the pig’s heads and cow’s heads incidents, he said the situation was planned and encouraged.

“It is obvious that the way the whole of the above situation is being played on, it must have been planned, encouraged, engineered and funded by influential sources.

“That is how it is done, obviously,” he said.

He said this was “proven” by the fact that issues of race and religion were being highlighted and exaggerated by the mainstream media, that he said was “now 100 percent directly or indirectly controlled by the Barisan Nasional”, which further increased tensions between races.

“This view is truly proven if one has followed the contents and reports of the BN-controlled mainstream media.

“Issues of race and religion are highlighted and exaggerated all the time and in such a way as to further stoke anger and ill-will amongst the various races,” he said.

He was responding to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s comments that Malaysia is more race conscious than before owing to Najib’s liberalisation.

Abdul Kadir (left) also declared that genuine liberalisation of the country must start with freeing the mass media.

“If Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is sincere about liberalisation, he must start by freeing our very tightly controlled mainstream media - which is now 100 percent directly or indirectly controlled by the Barisan Nasional,” he stated.

The Kedah based Abdul Kadir left Umno in March, having been involved in with the party since 1969.

Claiming an attempt to revive multiracial politics, he launched Ikatan on June 7 with the aim of forging unity among Malaysians.

Another PKFZ-style mega bailout in the making?


While the government is still recouping its losses from the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project debacle, another similar disaster appears to be in the making in Johor, where the taxpayers will end up footing billions if no immediate remedy is found.

The federal government-backed RM1.4 billion Asia Petroleum Hub (APH), plagued by cost overruns and delays, faced an even bigger setback when its main financier CIMB Bank Bhd pulled out from the project, after injecting RM840 million.

This was revealed by Muhibbah Engineering (M) Bhd, one of APH’s major contractors, in a statement on Tuesday.

Scheduled to be completed by 2009, the project has racked up overruns of RM1.4 billion, including interest costs, while RM2 billion was still needed to complete the project, according to a report by news portal Merdeka Review.

In February, it was reported that the project was only about 60 percent complete.

It was launched on July 5, 2007 by the then-prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Targeted for completion in 2009, it would be one the world’s largest fully integrated terminals, with multiple jetties capable of accommodating over 3,000 vessels annually, handling over 30 million tonnes of petroleum products.

This RM1.4 billion project, which sits on a reclaimed island near Tanjung Pelepas, Johor, was initially developed by homegrown terminal operator KIC Oil & Gas (KIC), which held a 90 percent stake, and the remaining 10 percent by Trek Perintis Sdn Bhd, a government-approved strategic financial investor.

The government had invested RM100 million to create the 100-acre man-made island and provide supporting infrastructure.

Series of mishaps

The project team was led by ZAQ Construction Sdn Bhd, the managing contractor entrusted with the completion of the project, while other major contractors were Mott MacDonald Ltd, Nam Fatt Corporation Bhd, Kencana Petroleum Bhd, Muhibbah Engineering Bhd and Qi-PMC Sdn Bhd.

It was financed by CIMB which offered a three-year RM1.4 billion bridging loan.

syed mokhtar al bukharyWhat followed was a series of problems for APH soon after the launch, starting with a long-standing ownership battle between KIC and Seaport Terminal (Johor) Sdn Bhd, a company controlled by politically-connected tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary (left), which also owns Tanjung Pelepas Port and Johor Port.

According to Singaporean daily The Straits Times, KIC insisted that it is the rightful developer of APH after it won the rights to lease the island in July 2005 from the Transport Ministry, while Seaport disputed the award on the grounds that the ministry’s move to lease the island to KIC violates an earlier privatisation agreement between the company and the government.

To prevent matters from worsening, the government interfered and dictated APH’s shareholding structure, reducing KIC’s stake to 40 percent and bringing in Seaport and Teori Selatan Sdn Bhd as new shareholders.

Teori Selatan is a company owned by the then-Johor Crown Prince (now Johor Sultan) who later filed a caveat, temporarily halting initial works after citing its unhappiness with its five percent stake.
KIC managed to get the order lifted after a round of talks with Teori Selatan.

It was later reported that the cabinet made attempts to restructure the shareholding again among the four parties - KIC, Trek Perintis, Teori Selatan and Syed Mokhtar.

However, a check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia today confirmed that the shareholding has been rolled back to the initial stage of KIC 90 percent and Trek Perintis 10 percent structure.

'Man-made island unsuitable'

In 2008, it was reported that project costs rose from RM1.2 billion to RM2 billion due to material costs.

According to a report in The Edge published on Aug 9, 2011, the delays were largely due to the need for redesigning after the soil on the island, which was largely silt, was found to be unsuitable for building structures.

“In a nutshell the island was not fit to be transformed into a petroleum hub,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

The situation continued to aggravate in 2011, prompting CIMB to place APH in receivership, not once but twice, in June 2011 and January this year.

The hope that the CIMB-led restructuring which may bring in new shareholders as white knights dissipated when CIMB finally decided to withdraw from the project.

The Edge today quoted Muhibbah Engineering managing director Mac Ngan Boon as saying that the main reason for CIMB’s pullout could be the issue of the land lease which has affected the value of the asset.

It reported that APH has yet to receive a land lease for the man-made island registered under the Federal Lands Commissioner, despite the government issuing a development order and approval for site possession and commencement of work to APH in 2006.

Muhibbah Engineering is a public listed company and one of the key subcontractors of APH.

The same paper reported that APH still owes CIMB RM840 million which was drawn down from the RM1.4 billion loan, and another RM381 million to Muhibbah.
Muhibbah had on Feb 27 sued APH and managing contractor ZAQ Construction for the outstanding payment.

Another subcontractor, Nam Fatt, had also taken legal action against ZAQ Construction for an outstanding payment of RM39 million and RM66 million in compensation.

Umno’s fingerprints

Merdeka Review pointed out that Trek Perintis, the shareholder of APH since its establishment, is an Umno-linked company controlled by Abdul Azim Zabidi, the party’s treasurer during Abdullah’s tenure.

communication and multimedia seminar 240706 zulhasnan rafiqueZAQ Construction, the main contractor entrusted to distribute the construction works to subcontractors, is owned by Zainal and Zamani Rafique, brothers of prominent lawyer Zul Rafique and former federal territories minister Zulhasnan Rafique (left).

Zul Rafique is a founding partner of law firm Zul Rafique & Partners, and reportedly helped Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to restructure Umno’s corporate assets after the latter took over the premiership and Umno presidency in April 2009.

The news portal also found that Qi-PMC, another subcontractor, shares the same shareholders with ZAQ Construction.

Another subcontractor, Kencana Petroleum, is a public listed company owned by Mokhzani Mahathir, the son of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Although the major shareholders of KIC - Abdul Rashid Mohd Isa Al-Qadiry and Faidzan Hassan Al-Qadiry - are relatively distanced from Umno, a charity foundation supported by the company, Al-wariseen Trust, has Abdullah as its honorary patron and Umno Youth information chief Reezal Merican Naina Merican as trustee.

With so many Umno-linked figures involved, one could not stop worrying that should the project fail to turn around, taxpayers’ money would be used to foot another multi-billion ringgit bill.

City Hall holds Royal Selangor Club members at gunpoint


Members of the Royal Selangor Club are outraged by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s demand that a 30 percent membership discount be given to civil servants in return for the land title to the club’s Kiara Annexe.

This hefty discount must be approved by the club’s members and a resolution on the matter will be tabled at its annual general meeting (AGM) tomorrow.
A number of RSC members are incensed by City Hall’s outrageous demands, with some describing it as an act of extortion.

“City Hall is holding the RSC to ransom and trying to exploit the situation by demanding that if you do not approve the membership of civil servants at a discount of 30 percent, the mayor will not approve the pending title to the Kiara Annexe,” decried a member who is lawyer.

He added that the matter should instead be referred to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

“This arrogant attitude by the past mayor, Ahmad Fuad Ismail, is typically political - it is telling the RSC membership that they have no other choice but to approve the discount for civil servants.”

Moreover, the fees have to be refunded by the club should the civil servant retire or die.

Outstanding land issue

The RSC has been in correspondence with the City Hall over the past 14 years to resolve an outstanding issue since its Kiara Sports Annexe was built in 1990.

The issue is that the land that the building and the field sit on is under the name of the mayor and not the RSC.

According the resolution to be tabled tomorrow, the RSC had held several meetings with the then mayor, it was proposed that the discount be approved by the AGM before the land title be given to the prestigious club.

This was communicated to the RSC last year in a letter from the City Hall, confirming the mayor’s offer.

The motions are:
  • That the RSC attempt to recruit a fifth of its members from the ranks of the Malaysian civil service.
  • That those members recruited be allowed a 30 percent discount on its entrance fees, and
  • The club will refund entrance fees for this category of members on their retirement, leave the civil service or upon their death as they will no longer be members of this club under this category.
Club given little choice

“So tomorrow, the club members will be compelled to vote in favour of the resolution to allow civil servants to be members of the club in exchange for the title and this is a blatant form of corruption which the past mayor is openly practicing,” another member and former council member of the RSC said.

The resolution concludes: “Having sought, and received, legal advice, the general council is of the opinion that the RSC has little choice in the matter but to accede to City Hall’s wishes.

“But, since only the house the power to consent to such a sweeping change, the general council has put forward the abovementioned motions for your consideration.”

Another club member commented: “The former mayor is living in the past. Such a gunpoint demand to allow the civil service (to join the club) will cost the BN votes in the coming election because this is not 1Malaysia the government is preaching.”


Najib denies interfering in Ampang LRT deal

KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak denied today having a hand in the selection of George Kent for the RM1 billion Ampang Light Rail Transit (LRT) extension project, insisting that the process was “done properly.”

PKR has claimed to possess “solid, documentary proof” that the prime minister intervened in the awarding of the contract, and lodged a police report today over alleged criminal breach of trust and abuse of power.

“Everything is done properly. No such thing, nothing was improper,” the Umno president told reporters after chairing a Barisan Nasional (BN) supreme council meeting.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has started investigations at Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (SPNB) this afternoon over the award of a RM960 million contract for the project.

PKR had previously questioned a Business Times report that a George Kent Bhd joint-venture could win a RM960 million contract for the Ampang Light Rail Transit (LRT) extension project, saying the consortium was knocked out in the bidding process.

Rafizi had said on June 22 he “can expose that George Kent is not the consortium who was chosen in Prasarana’s open tender process” despite the speculation in the business daily.

The Malaysian Insider reported this morning that the speculated winner of the Ampang LRT system works, the George Kent consortium, was one of three bidders that failed both the technical and commercial evaluation for the RM960 million contract.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider that only five of the eight bidders passed the technical and commercial evaluation stage but project owner SPNB finally recommended one of the two South Korean consortiums in the running — PDA Consortium — as the other consortiums were said to not have complied with all conditions.

PKR officials have shown copies of official documents to the press, showing that the Ministry of Finance’s (MoF) Acquisition Committee, which met this January 25, had decided to award the contract to Balfour Bratty Invensys Consortium.

The committee is the highest decision-making body in the MoF and is chaired by Najib himself, who is also finance minister.

The Business Times said Putrajaya was due to announce the winning bidder by the end of June, adding that George Kent was tipped to get the lucrative project. The highest bid received for the project tender, which closed on June 16, was RM1.45 billion.

But PKR’s sheaf of documents showed that the SPNB meeting on December 2, 2011, had recommended PDA Consortium to undertake the project for RM1.12 billion over 44 months. SPNB is a wholly-owned unit of the MoF and the company has budgeted RM1.5 billion for the system works.

SPNB is spending some RM7 billion for the extension of both the Kelana Jaya and Ampang LRT rail networks. The Ampang network will be extended by 17.7km.

Apart from extending the current LRT lines, Putrajaya is also undertaking the multi-billion ringgit My Rapid Transit (MRT) that will snake through the capital city. The country’s most expensive infrastructure project is to be ready by June 2017 but there have been delays and reluctance by international companies to bid for the tenders on offer.

The Land Transport Commission (SPAD) has announced that up to RM160 billion could be spent on railway infrastructure projects in the country, making Malaysia a tempting destination for international engineering firms.

MACC probes Prasarana over Rafizi's revelations

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has paid national transportation company Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd a visit this afternoon following revelations made by PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli over Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s intervention in the Ampang LRT line project.

Sources said they came in after 4pm, but officials inside Prasarana have denied that it was a raid.

azlanPrasarana media affairs manager Azhar Ghazali told Malaysiakini it was a “fact-finding mission”.

“It is not a raid, it is a fact-finding mission. There was a claim made by Rafizi, so we (Prasarana) are being responsive and proactive,” he said.

“Prasarana had signed an integrity pact with MACC last February, and the anti-graft authority had set up an office in Prasarana’s office in Wisma UOA, Bangsar. There is already an MACC office at our office at level 26. Since they are part of our establishment, so they come,” explained Azhar.

He, however, has no clue how many MACC officers came to Prasarana but added that no documents were taken away by the MACC.

Another source claimed that MACC may be compiling information over what had been alleged by Rafizi. However, MACC investigations director Mustafar Ali did not make any comments when contacted by Malaysiakini to confirm the visit.

NONEToday, Rafizi (right) had lodged a police report over possible abuse of power by Najib as he claimed he trusted the police more compared to the graft-fighting body.

Rafizi had two days ago alleged that Najib had interfered in the RM1 million LRT Ampang line extension project so that a consortium led by George Kent Bhd, which allegedly submitted a higher bid than others, is to get the job.

Following his revelation, the MACC visited Rafizi the same day.

Meanwhile, Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Syed Ismail Syed Azizan, when asked whether the CCID would be investigating Rafizi’s report, said he would have to look into the matter.

“I am presently outstation in Malacca and I will check it out. I will provide information as soon as there are details,” he told Malaysiakini.

Friday 29 June 2012

Stupid men talking nonsense

BN politicians are growing out of ideas to hoodwink the public, including the latest attempt by Umno MP Mohamad Aziz


by Charles Santiago

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr said: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

I wonder what Barisan Nasional’s Sri Gading lawmaker Mohamad Aziz is. Chances are maybe both.
I cannot really say I am shocked by his statement calling for Bersih’s co-chairperson S Ambiga to be “hanged” for treason towards the King.

Mohamad called her a traitor for leading the call for free and fair elections, prompting tens of thousands of people to take to the streets last July.

We have been seeing politicians from the ruling camp spewing venom just because they have absolute power and know their dangerously stupid remarks would be dismissed.

And sure enough BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Mansor said Mohamad’s views were his personal opinion and do not reflect the party stance. And then he subtly reminded the public that the case related to the Bersih 3.0 assembly is still under investigation by the authorities.

Mohamad was not reprimanded although his remarks have the danger of further dividing the nation which is already split down the middle as a result of race-based politics. But realising his statement sounds ludicrous, he scrambled around to manage the damage done by saying he was merely posing a question to Parliament on the possibility of Ambiga being punished.

Then Mohamad retracted his remarks.

It is shameless that threats and attacks have been mounted on Ambiga because she is an easy target.
Mohamad’s statement is not just racist but also seditious. It is clear he threatened Ambiga because she is a woman, an Indian and a Hindu. Even her counterpart, poet laureate A Samad Said has said he has been spared because he is a Malay.

The silent PM

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak goes around town trying to engage different communities with his 1Malaysia rhetoric which aims at national integration through racial unity. But his men don’t get it, do they? And Najib himself has kept painfully mum when Ambiga was targeted.

Malaysians sent a strong message at the rally, demanding electoral reforms. The crowd that turned up cut across a diverse segment of the society.

And the government is still reeling from the hit it took – not just because it was unprepared to handle a politically maturing society but also because of the backlash it suffered due to arbitrary and excessive force by the police.

Almost a year after the rally, the government is yet to implement durable reforms ahead of a general election, which is described as one that would be the dirtiest in the country’s political history.

Instead, we have seen Najib throwing money to buy votes.

But all the cash handouts and speeches peppered with racial undertones, threats of a looming disaster if Umno loses power plus promises of even more money to the people have not worked to shift the sentiments on the ground.

People are fed up of a corrupt government. People are fed up of the ruling elite lining its pockets.

People are fed up of race-based policies. People are fed up of widespread discrimination.

In short, the people want a change and the BN politicians are growing out of ideas to hoodwink the public.

So we have a few stupid men talking nonsense.

Archaic thinking

Malaysia became the laughing stock of the world when international headlines highlighted the “butt exercise” by former soldiers outside Ambiga’s house to embarrass and harass her.

While there was no official statement checking this indecent incident, the police came to the aid of traders who set up burger stalls outside her home to make up for losses sustained during the rally calling for electoral reforms.

Deputy police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said they could not act against the traders as they were in a public space.

And recently Ambiga was slapped with a half-a-million ringgit fine for alleged damage to the capital city during the rally.

If anything, such continued victimisation of Ambiga has only angered the people even more.

The government might think that it can cleverly rely on pure fluff that pours out of the mouths of ruling politicians to divert attention from much-needed electoral reforms.

Such thinking is archaic. And the government is better off getting used to the idea that its stronghold on power is slipping fast.

Charles Santiago is DAP’s MP for Klang.

Pakatan seeks to halt new Evidence Act

Opposition MPs call on Putrajaya to repeal the “ill conceived” Section 114(A).

KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Rakyat today urged Putrajaya not to gazette controversial amendments to the Evidence Act that Parliament recently passed.

Instead, it should table a proposal to repeal the new Section 114(A) of the act during the next sitting of Parliament, said a statement signed by R Sivarasa (PKR- Subang), Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) and Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (PAS-Kuala Selangor).

They condemned the new legislation as ill-conceived, saying it would have far reaching negative implications on the Internet and netizens.

“Who are they really trying to protect?” said Dzulkefly, speaking to reporters in the parliament lobby.

“At the end of the day, not even the government is safe from it. If someone hacks into a government website and posts racial slurs, derogatory remarks, they are themselves liable too.”

He said the amendment defied the “innocent until proven guilty” principle.

Sivarasa admitted that Pakatan did not notice the negative implications when the amendment bill was “rushed through” and realised the enormity of the outrage only after recent public debates.

Those who drafted the bill “did not think it through”, he said. “Wifi is now made impossible. City Hall policy promotes all restaurants having Wifi, but these amendments put owners of such establishments in an unacceptable situation. They are now held criminally liable for the actions of anonymous customers.”

The threat to such establishments would have a direct impact on tourism, he added.

He said the government was trying to intimidate Internet users with the new law. “It is an attempt to muzzle Internet news portals. Now you become responsible. It’s for you to prove your innocence.”

He listed some of Pakatan’s concerns as follows:
  • The amendment, by making individuals and organisations who administer, operate or provide spaces for online community forums, blogging and hosting services liable for published content, undermines the principles of justice, democracy and fundamental human rights.
  • It allows hackers and cyber criminals to go free by making the person whose account/computer is hacked liable for content.
  • Because of its chilling effect on user-driven production and consumption of Internet content, the amendment can wreck Malaysia’s thriving Internet economy, which accounts for about 4% of the national GDP.
  • It threatens the principle of online anonymity, which is crucial in promoting a free and open Internet
  • It threatens freedom of expression online.
Sivarasa also said the amendment would encourage the proliferation of anonymous blogs.

“I call on BN to halt this,” he said. “Do not gazette it. Legislation to repeal this bill must be undertaken. If that fails, we at Pakatan commit that we will repeal it if we take over federal government.”

Misplaced fears

Earlier this week, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong responded to the criticism that the amendment would make it easier for netizens to be convicted. He described the anxiety—which has become a hot topic of online discussion—as “misplaced fears”.

“In Section 114a, it is clear that the person is only assumed to be involved,” he said. “All assumptions are open for rebuttal in court. All are only assumptions until they can be proven.”

He added that prosecutors would still be required to prove their charges, using the “balance of probabilities” as in a civil case.

PKR lodges police report against Najib

The report was against the PM's decision to award the Ampang LRT extension project to George Kent Consortium, claiming it involves corruption and public safety. 

PETALING JAYA: PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli today lodged a police report against Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak over his apparent decision to award the Ampang LRT extension project to George Kent consortium in favour over another firm which had won the bid originally.

Alleging that Najib had gone against the government’s procurement procedures, Rafizi urged the police to investigate the matter, claiming it was a matter of public safety.

“Najib’s decision may involve corruption and jeopardises public safety as the project was awarded to a company with no expertise in LRT project,” said Rafizi at a press conference after lodging the report at the Tropicana police station.

Two days ago, Rafizi gave the media copies of documents allegedly showing Najib over-ruling Finance Ministry’s Acquisition Committee’s decision to award the project to PDA Consortium, which won the bid for the project.

The committee, which is chaired by Najib himself, had agreed to award the project to PDA but the premier is said to have gone against the committee’s decision later.

George Kent Consortium, which was first tipped to win the job in July last year, was again said to be the likely winner for the RM1 billion project in a report by Business Times last week .

The report, however, is yet to be verified.

When asked if he would lodge a report with the MACC, Rafizi said, “I have decided not to make a report with the anti-graft commission after consulting my lawyers.”

He also said that he had more faith the in Commercial Crimes Division of the police department, saying the officers there seemed to be more honest and genuine in their conduct.

Echoing Rafizi’s sentiments, supreme council member Latheefa Koya said that the MACC has wide ranging powers and the commission could initiate its own investigation without any official report.

“It’s a test for the authorities on their professionalism as the case involves our prime minister. Let’s wait for the police to call Rafizi for a statement,”she said.

GE13 battle between racialists and patriots, says Kit Siang

KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — Voters must choose between a government that promotes racial policies and one that espouses democracy, good governance and equitable economic practices in the coming general election, the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang has said.

The opposition leader said today that Malaysians of all cultural, social and economic backgrounds have the power to determine their country’s future at the ballot box, a day after influential former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad played up old race-based fears ahead of the 13th general election (GE13) due within a year.

“The next general election is not a battle between Malays and non-Malay voters, but between racialists who want to continue to keep Malaysians in their separate communal compartments and Malaysian nationalists and patriots who want good governance, economic justice, democracy, human rights and national unity and not race to become the dominant election issues,” Lim said in a statement.

“Malaysians have the chance to show that they have become more Malaysian-minded and patriotic than the Umno and Barisan Nasional leaders and will respond and rally to Pakatan Rakyat’s call to vote as Malaysians than just as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans,” he added.

The Ipoh-Timor MP was responding to Dr Mahathir’s remarks yesterday, in which the fourth PM said the next election was all about race, adding that Chinese voters would be the “kingmakers” despite being in the minority because the Malay vote would be split three-ways among Umno, the BN’s lynchpin party, and opposition parties PKR and PAS.

The country’s longest-serving PM of 22 years had told a business forum yesterday that the ruling coalition was forced to cater to various racial demands because it had grown weak after he left office and lost its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament.

“In this country, we are very racist, even more than before. The next election is going to be about race. Who gives what, who gets what based on race. When the government is weak, it caters to demands which are not going to be good for the country in the long run,” said the prime minister who resigned in 2003.

Lim called on Malaysian voters to prove Dr Mahathir and Umno strategists wrong.

“This is what (Dr) Mahathir and the Umno leaders and strategists want the next general election to be about so that they could play the race and fear cards to effect,” said the federal lawmaker who had bumped heads numerous times in Parliament against the 86-year-old Umno man.

An Umno lawmaker had suggested this week that Bersih leader Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan be hanged for “treason” against the King for pushing the federal government to clean up the existing voter roll of dubious entries before calling for elections.

His statement in Parliament was greeted with cheers from other BN backbenchers, prompting the DAP to hit out at them for perpetuating racial hatred.

Opposition politicians and several prominent business and human rights personalities have criticised the BN — in which its top three senior parties are split according to race — and, more specifically, Umno of taking a racial approach in resolving the country’s social and economic problems.

They raised as example the strong resistance by right-wing elements within the establishment to the dismantling of a decades-old affirmative action policy giving Malays a handicap over other races in areas covering economy and even education, leading to a massive brain drain out of Malaysia.

Lim said the reality was that the Chinese, who make up some 30 per cent of the population, were not “kingmakers” and did not want to be labelled as such.

“The real kingmakers in the 13th general election are not the Chinese voters but all Malaysian voters, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans to unite and bring about peaceful transition of federal power for the first time in the 54-year history of the nation to end corruption, cronyism and abuses of power,” Lim said.

Be careful of your actions, Dr M warns daughter

KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed has cautioned his daughter to be wary of her outspokenness as well as support for groups like Bersih and sexuality rights movements, saying these may affect her family members who are still active in politics.

The forthright Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir has disagreed with her father on occasion, most notably her consistent support for the electoral reforms group. She had participated in the last two Bersih rallies in the city capital.

“I do hope she will realise what she is doing is not good for herself, not good for the government party at least. She should also be sensitive about her brother who is contesting in the election,” Dr Mahathir said, referring to his son Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who is currently international trade and industry deputy minister.

The former prime minister said this in an interview with online television station The Malaysian Observer (MobTV).

“She doesn’t care about what people think. I care about what people think... if not, I won’t get anywhere.

“Maybe it’s because she has no ambition so she speaks her mind. I cannot agree with the things she is doing, but nowadays you cannot tell your children ‘please stop this, please stop that’; they have a mind of their own,” said the country’s longest-serving prime minister.

Dr Mahathir said while he respected her stand on speaking up for the underprivileged, he did not like the idea of her “associating” herself with Bersih whose agenda, he believed, has been “hijacked” by the opposition.

He also told his daughter to draw a limit to how much support should be given towards the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LBGT) community.

“She (has) never said she supports this; I hope she doesn’t. She cared for this people...but she has to draw a line between them and the idea that being homosexual is okay, (or that) men marrying men is okay,” he stressed.

PKR digs up more documents on Scorpene

PKR leader Tian Chua now alleges that military information was given to the French so that they could be awarded the Scorpene deal.

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR vice-president Tian Chua alleged today that one of the 153 leaked French investigative documents confirmed that military information was given to the French company Thomson CSF (later known as Thales International Asia), which eventually became DCNS, the shipbuilding company that sold Scorpene submarines to Malaysia.

Tian, the Batu MP, said that this would refute Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s denial that classified documents had gone out of the country.

He showed reporters in Parliament a copy of a translated three-page “Document 97″, which he said was a police summary of various proofs that they have collected, and were arranged according to at least 128 sections.

In one section, Tian said the police had seized a report which Terasasi Ltd (Hong Kong) had handed over to Thomson CSF Asia. The report had “listed down competitors of the French proposal (Holland, Germany, Turkey, Russia and South Korea)”.

“The analysis of the different strengths of these competitors was quite detailed. The most serious competitor was South Korea with an approach technique different from that of Perimekar Sdn Bhd, addressing directly the Malaysian Navy. Perimekar’s strategy was to promote the French proposal to decision-makers (different ministers and military officials),” read the document.

Interpreting the document, Tian alleged that these reports were the Malaysian military analysis on the strength of each of the proposals from each country.

“This means the military had received the proposals from these countries and had studied them to see which ones were good, which ones had weaknesses, and which ones had problems. That was an internal evaluation. Terasasi got this [information] and gave it to the French side. The strategy was for the French to get the contract,” he alleged.

“So this is what we mean by breach of national security. Perimekar, being a Malaysian agent, shouldn’t have taken part… Malaysian agents were promoting the French [proposals] while our military was still studying which was the best option.”

Something seriously wrong

Terasasi and Perimeker were both owned by Abdul Razak Baginda, said to be a close associate of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Tian said that South Korea had “slightly different” specifications but (their proposal) was cheaper. “So what happened was that Perimekar, under Razak Baginda, sent all this information there [Thomson] so that the French could get up to the [top] spot”.

“This document clearly shows that there is something seriously wrong with our defence procurement. And this was only one of the many documents sent to Thomson.”

Tian questioned how Terasasi obtained the report on the different countries from the Malaysian navy as it was not part of any ministry but merely a private company and accused it of possibly committing treason.

“How did Terasasi got this [information]? It is not the defence ministry, it is just a private company. Not only did they get [this confidential information], they also sent it to the French who had an interest in it,” he said.
“To get paid for what they were reporting to Thomspon, that is treason. This is part of the secret
documents. The French police themselves recognised this.

“Imagine this: the French were entering a trade, knowing all their competitors’ information, this is espionage.

If the French themselves went to Turkey and South Korea, and stole the information, [that's different]. But now, Terasasi is the one which supplied them. I’m asking how could Terasasi obtain this information?”

Tian said this was serious and the government cannot continue denying but must start an inquiry.

‘Umno biggest beneficiary’

“If Zahid said that he doesn’t know, it is only because he was not the defence minister at the time. But it would be dishonest of him not to find out about all these things.”

Tian said that Zahid, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad or Najib must now answer “why they went for the French option” and “why they allowed and nominated so many of these companies which, in the eyes of the French, were to benefit Umno, the ruling party.”

Comparing the Malaysian government’s attitude and the French court’s actions, Tian said the court in France spent two years and unearthed so much, while the Malaysian government was denying there was even a court case, saying “we don’ care, we won’t cooperate with you”.

Other parts of the Document 97 also detailed the French police’s notes, which stated that usually “the ruling party [Umno] is the biggest beneficiary” in major defence contracts.

It said that major defence contracts in Malaysia required important local content called “Malaysian Industrial Participation”, which is typically a powerful local industrial partner or a joint venture with a less significant local company.

Tian said this was called “taxi companies” such as Perimekar and Terasasi.

Another paragraph read: “In the early 2000s, Thales and DCNI [a subsidiary of DCNS] were about to form a 50:50 joint venture between Thales Naval and DCNI. Under pressure from the French government, they decided to join forces in Malaysia for the submarine project.

“Thales International was specially tasked with buoying the political network because it was perceived as having the best political/industrial connections in Malaysia (compared to DCNI). Senior management members of Thales had a meeting with a Malaysian diplomat, who led them to choose Razak Baginda as a point of reference for the political network.”

‘Small companies disappeared’

The document also listed a series of companies nominated by the Malaysian government to receive benefits, including Perimekar.

Summarising the details, Tian said eventually “the small, small companies disappeared and finally there were two companies left, Terasasi and Perimekar. Terasasi directly received payment from the French side, while Perimekar got directly from the Malaysian side… it was 114 million euros from Malaysian side. Terasasi signed various agreements starting with Thompson, which finally became Thales and DCNI”.

Yesterday, Tian accused the government of lying over the controversial Scorpene submarine deal and that Zahid could be hauled up for contempt of Parliament.

On Tuesday, close to midnight, Zahid denied the alleged sale of classified documents as there was “no information on the allegation”.

Terasasi was alleged to have received 36 million euros (RM142 million) from DCNS for, among others, the “sale” of a highly confidential report comprising the Malaysian Navy’s evaluation for the order of the submarines.

He also said that there was no need for an independent commission to investigate the purchase of new Scorpene submarines as the vessels were accquired according to National Defence
Equipment Procurement procedures.

He said the government also found it unnecessary to be an observer at France’s “Tribunal de Grande Istance” Court as it understands that there is no trial taking place in the country on the Scorpene
submarine issue.

Zahid stressed that the ministry never paid any commission directly or indirectly to any companies in the procurement of the submarines.

The RM7.3 billion deal to purchase two Scorpene submarines with DCNS and Spanish Navantia was inked in 2002, when Najib was defence minister.

In 2009, Suaram successfully sought for a judicial inquiry at the Tribunal De Grande Instance in Paris to probe alleged corruption crimes and illegal bribes involving top officials from both Malaysia and France in the submarine deal.

Suaram claimed that DCNS had paid bribery amounting to 114 million euros to Perimekar, with help from Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was later gruesomely murdered for allegedly asking a part of the bribe.

Under the French justice system, an investigative judge has the power to perform both as a judge and investigating prosecutor.

Will PM act on 2 errant Umno MPs?

Despite Sri Gading parliamentarian Mohamad Aziz withdrawing remarks calling for Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan's hanging, the coalition said an apology is in order from Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

NONEGiven that Mohamad Aziz (left) was egged on by his BN colleague, Lenggong MP Shamsul Anuar Nasarah - who is also from Umno - Najib must be held responsible as he is the leader of the party and the ruling coalition.

"Unless the BN is a habitually violent party, one would expect Najib or BN's party whip to immediately order the two parliamentarians to withdraw the statement and to apologise to Ambiga, Parliament and the entire nation, and to take immediate disciplinary action against the MPs concerned," said the Bersih secretariat in a statement.

The secretariat said that any self-respecting premier would not take such expression of hatred lightly and disown responsibility, warning that it may trigger hate crimes.

Should the premier choose to do nothing about the "hate and witch hunt campaign", it would no doubt reinforce the 'false democrat' label given to him by Canadian daily Globe and Mail, warned the secretariat.

"And the Malaysian public too will make their judgement come polling day," said the movement which has been campaign for free and clean elections.

Remark grudgingly withdrawn

Mohamad had made the remark during a debate in Parliament on Tuesday, when he insinuated that Ambiga should be sent to the gallows for treason over her role in the Bersih movement.

Yesterday, on instructions from deputy speaker of the Dewan Rakyat Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Mohamad grudgingly withdrew the remark.

NONE"I am a disciplined person. I am from a party that is disciplined. If my remark has hurt the feelings of my fellow leaders from MIC or PPP then in the spirit of BN fellowship, I retract my statement made on Tuesday," he told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, without directly referring to Ambiga.

Leaders from coalition partners MIC and PPP have earlier expressed their objection to the thinly-veiled racist attacks on Ambiga.

Ambiga has been receiving brickbats from Umno and its NGO allies in the wake of the massive Bersih 3.0 rally two months ago.

Most notably, several demonstrations were held in front of her house.