Tuesday 31 July 2012

Sin Chew struck with new plagiarism claim

New allegations of plagiarism has struck Sin Chew Daily just one day after it apologised over plagiarism in an editorial article.

Ironically, the so-called errant article was published in today's edition of the daily.

Malaysiakini columnist Josh Hong pointed out that second paragraph of the editorial bore stark resemblence to an editorial published by Taiwan's Economic Daily, published on June 16. 

NONEA check byMalaysiakini also revealed that the third paragraph of the same article appeared to be very similar to the fourth paragraph of anotherEconomic Dailyeditorial published on January 30. 

However, some Facebook users have also alleged plagiarism in an editorial published by the Sin Chew Daily on July 4.

They claim that the first half of the editorial was similar to an editorial which appeared on Taiwan's Commercial Times, published on March 13. 

Further checks by Malaysiakini revealed that this the second half of the editorial resembled an editorial that was published by Taiwan'sUnited Daily News on April 13.

Apology sought

In a related development, Facebook users have queried Sin Chew Daily on its fanpage on why its apology notice did not appear in its newspaper. 

"I strongly urge Sin Chew to publish the apology," wrote Facebookuser Leng Bing Shu. 

"Sin Chew is practising selective apology on Facebook. In simple terms, they are only apologising to Facebook users. 

"What about the majority of Sin Chew readers? Don't they have a right to know?" wrote Ooi Leng Heng.

However, there are some Facebook users who quickly came to Sin Chew's defence. 

"When these critics make noise, they do not respect the company's rights a sovereignity in dealing with this matter," said Tiong Teck Lang.

‘Kit Siang main force behind May 13′

An article in the Perkasa (who else would do that) website accuses the DAP veteran of being the main force behind the riots which, according to the writer, claimed 2,000 lives.

PETALING JAYA: Ruling politicians have never failed to remind Malaysians of the sectarian violence which rocked the nation more than four decades ago.

The spectre was often summoned to stoke fear in the hearts of the electorate and served as a convenient tool to create suspicion and animosity between the races.

And while the soon-to-be repealed Sedition Act was used against those who uttered statements of comparatively lesser evil, those who peddled the May 13 bogey were however left untouched.

With the 13th general election looming and being touted as the nation’s most pivotal political bout, the bloodletting of 1969 had cropped up with increasing frequency, especially with the Chinese having turned their backs on the Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition as evident in their voting trend.

And in the forefront of this bandwagon was Perkasa, the self-appointed vanguard of the Malay race in Malaysia.

In a recent article published on its website, the writer had accused DAP’s Lim Kit Siang of being the prime mover behind the racial riots.

The article was accompanied by a macabre montage depicting the veteran politician with a bloody hand print in the background and blood dripping over his face, with the words “13 Mei”.

The article claimed that the opposition leader later sang a different tune, saying that DAP was willing to work with BN to ensure that such a tragic episode did not recur.

“His aim was to put a lid on his cardinal sin as the main force [pengerak utama] behind May 13 and to wash his hands of the blood of the innocent victims [of the riots],” it read.

The article, titled “Kit Siang pernah halau Melayu dari Kg Baru”, was penned in reaction to Lim’s vexed response to the accusation that DAP was infiltrated by Communist elements.

Delving into the history of DAP’s formation, the article stated that since its inception, the party had close ties with Singapore’s People’s Action Party or PAP.

Following Singapore’s departure from the Federation, the article said DAP was formed with Lim, who was said to share family ties with Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, being one of the pioneers.

“There is not much difference between DAP and PAP. So it does not come as a surprise that the new generation of DAP leaders like Lim’s son Guan Eng continue the tradition of ‘worshipping’ PAP,” it added.

The ‘big headed’ Chinese

Following the 1969 general election, the article stated that DAP and Gerakan (which was then an opposition party) grew arrogant after securing a huge victory in Selangor.

“DAP used the freedom of expression without limits to condemn and insult the Malays during a mammoth rally in Kuala Lumpur which saw them bring banners and loud-hailers.

“It had only been 12 years since the Chinese were accorded full citizenship based on one of the conditions set forth by the British and they [the Chinese] had grown big headed,” it read.

Citing a report by the National Action Council then, the article said it was found that DAP’s street procession in which racist sentiments were spewed against the Malays was the catalyst behind the racial riots.

Interestingly, the article stated that 2,000 lives were lost in the riots despite official statistics placing the death toll at under 200 amidst claims that it was an attempt to downplay the incident.

According to the article, the slogan bandied about by Lim and the other Chinese leaders in DAP during their procession was “Malai si which meant ‘Mati Melayu’ [Malays are dead].”

The article also cited several other slogans purportedly chanted during the rally, which among others were: “Apa polis boleh buat, kita raja. Buang sama polis Melayu”, “KL sekarang Cina punya” and “Melayu balik kampung, Melayu sekarang tidak ada kuasa. Sekarang kita Cina sudah control.”

The fact was, claimed the article, DAP cannot change to become a party which would champion the rights of the Malays and Bumiputera “because racism runs deep in its veins”.

Frightening the Malays

Contacted later, an amused DAP publicity chief Tony Pua dismissed the article as something not even worth a response.

However, he told FMT that Malaysians would be able to judge for themselves who the real racists were.
“Lim’s story as to what he was doing on May 13 has been well documented… but these people refuse to believe that and continue to concoct wild allegations and stories,” he added.

Pua claimed that groups like Perkasa were doing this with the agenda to frighten the Malays into supporting Umno in the elections.

Seda's 'idiocratic' ways

KJ John

The word ‘idiocrat’ is an important one to describe much of the ‘idiocracy’ that we see in the world today.  The root words are, of course, ‘idiot’ and ‘bureaucrat’.

I have been using this word ever since I realised that the popular negative idea of a bureaucratic person is one who stalls or delays due process, and when the work flow is not good enough to explain some nonsensical procedures in the Malaysian public services. Let me give some examples.

For example, the Government Orders or GO (from Ordinances) and Treasury Instructions or TI (from Financial and Procurement Procedures) simply and clearly state that all public assets belong to the people of Malaysia and any ‘disbursement’ of these must follow due processes. These procedures are elaborately spelt out for all to learn and understand.

azlanSimilarly, all public properties (including public lands) cannot be disposed of without due process. Therefore, if the Defence Ministry wants to dispose of the Sungai Besi Air Force Base, there must be a due process and the Finance Ministry must oversee this process. I do not think there are exceptions, other than those permitted by the finance minister under rather exceptional circumstances.

I would like to argue that the opportunity for Feed-in-Tariff that is being disposed by the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) is also a public asset and therefore must follow due processes of the Finance Ministry.

Seda is a public authority and it even has a very notable group of governors, with an ex-minister for chairperson and five members of authority, all of whom appear very capable and very well qualified.

Therefore, allow me to rebut the stupidity of the so-called legal advice given by the lawyers for Seda and as quoted by the CEO, with the resulting headline in TheSun: ‘Seda: We are powerless’.

To quote the CEO: “We have noted...... and in fact to be honest with you, when you talk about the majority of the certain personnel owning that big bulk of quota............. we knew in the next day (after applications were approved). But we checked with the lawyers, who said that we can’t refuse (the applications, or risk being) sued and (that) there will be a litigation case.”

Reminder of functions

My dear CEO, let me give you a Management 101 lecture.
Please refer to Sefa’s functions on your website and read the first three:
  • To advise (emphasis added) the minister and relevant government entities on all matters relating to sustainable energy including recommendations on policies laws and actions to be applied to promote sustainable energy
  • To promote and implement the national policy objectives for renewable energy
  • To promote, stimulate, facilitate and develop sustainable energy
My question is, who are your governing advisers? Is it a young and inexperienced lawyer or even a law firm, or your board of governors that you call a ‘Board of Authority’?

I have only highlighted the three advisory functions; the rest are execution functions and, according to the website, are a summary of the enabling legislation that set up Seda as a statutory body.

azlanTherefore, please refer to your board of governors to solve the problem you have created for yourselves.
Please review the law and seek policy advice from the Finance Ministry and the Attorney-General’s Chambers before you make any more public statements and prove you are an ‘idiocrat’ as per my definition: ‘An idiocrat is any learned person who pretends that they know how to read the law, and then allow themselves to interpret the law at their whim or fancy to rule by law, instead of observing and understanding that we are a democratic nation under the rule of law principle.’

Let me end with this appeal to some of my friends on the Seda board, and to the chairperson of the board.
Please seek advice, even from Sidek Mohd Hassan and he will tell you how to get out of this so-called quandary.

His daughter may apply for these opportunities and, if qualified, she should be given the privilege to prove performance. But to give her almost half the quota is not her dad’s or the government’s policy, considered by due process alone!

KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at kjjohn@ohmsi.net with any feedback or views.

Just why is Jawi going after Borders store manager?

The ongoing case by the Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi) against Berjaya Books (which owns the Borders bookstore) staff Nik Raina Nik Aziz over the distribution of Irshad Manji's controversial book ‘Allah, Liberty and Love' continues to baffle, frustrate and anger many of us, both Muslims and non Muslims.

I am concerned that such seemingly arbitrary actions by the religious authorities will affect the way we are perceived as Muslims and Islam as a religion in Malaysia.

Islam as a way of life should be about fairness, justice, compassion and humanity. It is not a truncheon to bludgeon others into submission.

This case seems to be more of the latter.

Nik Raina has been charged in the Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court for distributing the book on 23rd May under the Federal Territories Syariah Criminal Offences Act of 1997, which carries a RM3,000 fine or a maximum two years' jail or both.

However, the Home Ministry only gazetted the ban on the book and its translated version 'Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta' on 29 May.

In fact, the gazette was only published and publically available on 14 June.

Jawi, through its successful application to bring forward their case in the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court, now appears to be attempting to circumvent the hearing of the stay application filed by Berjaya Books which the Civil High Court fixed for July 30 and the judicial review hearing on 5 Sept.

The case which was initially scheduled to be mentioned at the Syariah High Court on 19 September, will now be on 7 August.

This is a situation where a person has been charged in court for the alleged offense of distributing and selling a book, which at the time of the so-called offence, was not yet officially banned, and was not identified or announced to Berjaya Books to be banned.

In fact, book banning is actually under the purview of the Home Ministry not Jawi.

The staff who was interrogated by Jawi, was also denied access to legal counsel, a right guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.

Jawi, for some reason, is determined to go after this young woman.

Why this case has been permitted to proceed is mystifying. It just doesn't make any sense.

Examples like this bring frustration, consternation and shame on us especially when we keep harping on the moderation of religious practice.

It demonstrates how some of our religious authorities fail to understand that they too need to abide by the law. They too must be held accountable.

Businesses in this country are observing this case very closely. Make no mistake; this case has tremendous implications to the different industries which employ Muslim employees.

This was not even a shop selling religious contraband or selling substances that are forbidden or haram to Muslims. This is a bookshop.

If a bookshop can have its staff and its business treated as such by religious officials for supposedly selling a banned book, how about other businesses?

Whether you are working in an airplane as a flight attendant, behind the counter at 7-11, mixing drinks at a restaurant, at the front desk of a hotel, or on the production line of a factory, are we all at risk of persecution simply because we are Muslims?

We do not want to send a message to businesses that Muslim employees are a liability. Indeed such arbitrary actions as demonstrated by this case, could result in depriving Muslims of the opportunity to work and be employed.

This is the holy month of Ramadan and we should take the advantage of this opportunity to focus on how to be better Muslims by doing good deeds for oneself and for the community.

We shouldn't be focusing on bringing others down, shaming and persecuting people. We should, however, reject unjust actions and support this brave woman.

Injustice exists in many shapes and form. This case is one of them.

Jais stopped from acting against book publisher

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has granted an interim stay preventing Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (Jais) from investigating and prosecuting ZI Publications and its director Mohd Ezra Mohd Zaid.

Ezra is scheduled to report before the Syariah Lower Court tomorrow as he has been asked by the authorities to do so.

Following today's development, the Syariah Court is not expected  to charge Mohd Ezra tomorrow.

NONEJudge Rohana Yusuf also granted ZI Publications and Ezra leave to initiate a judicial review against the seizure of the book Allah, Liberty and Love by Manji Irshad.

Following the interim stay granted today, ZI Publications has seven days to file an inter-party stay.

This is because the Selangor government, which is named as one of the respondents, in the judicial review application was not represented in today's proceedings.

It should have been represented by the Selangor legal adviser. The court also ordered the Selangor government to file its full judicial review application as soon as possible.

The court also fixed Sept 5 to hear the judicial review application of Erza and ZI Publications.

Lawyers Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, K Shanmuga and Nizam Bashir who appeared for ZI Publications and senior federal counsel Nor Hisham Ismail who represented federal government met with Justice Rohana in her chambers.

ZI Publications and Mohd Ezra has named Jais, its director-general, its chief enforcement officer, its syariah chief prosecutor and the Selangor and Malaysian governments as respondents.
Unlike the bookseller Border's case, Ezra is yet to be charged with any offence, resulting in the court granting a temporary stay.

In the case of Borders, owned by Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, its store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz was been charged at the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court last month for allegedly distributing materials that go against Islamic teachings.

'Jais had no jurisdiction to enter premises'

In the application filed earlier this month, ZI Publications and Ezra claimed that Jais and its officers had no jurisdiction to enter into their premises on May 29, as it was a company and the authorities could only take action against Muslims.

Furthermore, the warrant is for a search and hence Jais and its officers do not have the authority to seize the books.

Ezra further claimed his arrest violated his constitutional right to freedom of expression, which could only be limited by Parliament and not by the Selangor legislative assembly. He also claimed Section 16(1) of the Selangor Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment was ultra vires the federal constitution on the freedom of expression.

NONEAlternatively, Erza and ZI Publications claimed the seizure of the books was a violation of the freedom of religion.

Since there is a federal law limiting the freedom of expression based on the Publications and Printing Presses Act (PPPA), the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment, a state law, is therefore inconsistent with the federal constitution.

The two plaintiffs sought a declaration that Section 16 of the enactment is null and void as it violates the federal constitution on the freedom of expression. They are also seeking an order of  certiorari to quash the actions of the authorities in raiding, seizing the books and arresting.

Ezra and ZI Publications are also seeking a write of mandamus to compel the authorities to return the books and cancel the arrest order.

Furthermore, they are seeking a declaration that the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment and the Syariah Criminal Procedure Code are only applicable to Muslims and not to companies.

They further contend that the Syariah Criminal Offences law does not criminalise acts of book translations and based on Article 121(1), the proper forum to interpret the PPPA on the enactment is the civil bench of the High Court, not the syariah court.

The two are also seeking a stop to any Jais action until the disposal of their judicial review application and other relief deemed necessary by the court.

They also filed a judicial review seeking to lift the ban on the book and his matter has been fixed for hearing on Aug 13.

Pakatan says to channel more funds towards fighting crime

KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 —The federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) today said that it would redeploy more resources to the police for criminal investigation to cut the crime rate if it takes power at the next general election.

PR leaders said today the coalition’s proposals would be contained in its alternative Budget 2013 proposals.
“We have decided the current need of Malaysians is crime investigation and crime prevention,” said PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar (picture) at a press conference after PR’s weekly meeting.

PR plans to redeploy police officers from “non-priority” departments to the police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
PR also pointed out that the police’s budget allocated for criminal investigation had only increased by eight per cent annually from 2010 to 2012.

The opposition pact compared it to the spending for internal security and public order which had an overall increase of 72.45 per cent in the same period of time, the highest spike in the police’s budget.


Syabas fails in third party notice suit against Selangor

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has struck out a third party notice suit by Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) against the Selangor government.

This follows a RM149 million suit filed by Konsortium Abass Sdn Bhd for non-payment, as stated in its invoices issued after March 28, 2011. The company provides treated water to Syabas.
azlanSyabas in turn filed a third party notice suit against the Selangor government on Dec 14 last year, seeking 100 percent indemnity from the state.

Today Judicial Commissioner Lee Swee Seng allowed a striking-out application by the Selangor government.
He ordered Syabas to pay costs of RM10,000 to the Selangor government.

The court accepted the state government’s arguments that it had tried to terminate the services of Syabas many times, but that the federal government had withheld agreement.

Lee said Syabas claimed it has the right to bring the Selangor government into this by virtue of the Novation Agreement between the two where, in its interpretation, Selangor has not effectively terminated the concession agreement.

Should Konsortium Abass succeed in its claim against Syabas, he noted, it ought to be indemnified by the Selangor government which was being brought into this action.

“In this case, the Selangor government has elected to terminate the concession agreement, though it could not do so effectively as it does not have the federal government’s consent,” Lee said.

“The Selangor government cannot then be said to have elected not to terminate the concession agreement. As such, Syabas has no right to join the Selangor government as a third party and seek an indemnity under this clause.”

Lee said that Syabas, in its defence to Konsortium Abass’ claim, had stated that it could not pay because the Selangor government has not increased the water tariff.

“That actually is the subject matter of another case in Justice Mary Lim’s court where Syabas is the plaintiff and Selangor government is the defendant and the federal government is the third party.

“The issue of the non-increase in tariff will be sorted out with the decision there. In the circumstances, there is no need for this court to be involved in another proceeding between Syabas and the Selangor government.”

Syabas was represented by Harpal Singh Grewal, Lua Ai Siew and Fadzillah Pilus, while Fahda Nur Ahmad Kamaruddin appeared for the Selangor government. 

Suaram's 'business' to defend human rights!

COMMENTWhile the Registrar of Societies (ROS) may now feign innocence regarding its selectivity in registering societies by questioning Suaram's registration as a business, let me remind the young generation and those with short memories about our nation's shortcomings relating to the freedom of association in our recent history.

As you know, ‘Operation Lalang' was Dr Mahathir Mohamad's autocracy at its worst when he arrested and detained more than a 100 innocent Malaysians without trial in October 1987.

chronology of operasi lalang ops lalang 261005Upon the release of the last Operation Lalang detainees in 1989, several of these detainees, including my good self and members of the Families Support Group formed this human rights organisation known as Suara Rakyat Malaysia or Suaram.

Aware of the obstacles in registering a human rights society under the Registrar of Societies, Suaram registered as a business under the Registrar of Business.

At the time, another human rights organisation, Persatuan Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia or Hakam had taken more than two years to be registered in 1989, even though it boasted two former Prime Ministers (Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra and Hussein Onn) as its patrons.

Hakam had tried unsuccessfully several times to register as a society in the Eighties. The Malaysian chapter of Amnesty International also tried unsuccessfully for five years to register as a society under the Societies Act. Two applications and an appeal to the Home Minister were also rejected.

Consequently, quite a number of NGOs decided that in order to carry out their services to society, they had no choice but to register as businesses.

So why is there a sudden interest in Suaram's status after its 23 years of existence? Is it coincidental that this has arisen out of our recent request to the French judicial system to pursue suspected commissions embroiled in the RM7 billion Scorpene submarine deals?

It is no secret

Given the difficulties created by the Societies Act, some non-governmental organisations, including Suaram decided to register as companies or businesses. As the corporate gurus say, "If something is not working, do something else."

Or, as Deng Xiaoping famously said, "It does not matter if the cat is white or black, as long as it catches the mice." The mice, in the case of NGOs, are defending human rights, democracy and social justice.

NGOs registering as companies were certainly not a secret. In fact, in early 1997, the government threatened to force all NGOs to register under the Societies Act.

Nonetheless, registration as a company has not completely protected NGOs from harassment by the government, as the recent intrusion by the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) into Suaram's accounts has demonstrated.

In 1996, the Institut Pengajian Komuniti (IPK), an NGO taking up the issue of rights of indigenous peoples in Sarawak was de-registered by the Registrar of Business over a legal technicality.

The ROC's Tenaganita fiasco

In 1997, the Registrar of Companies (ROC) raided the offices of Tenaganita, the NGO that exposed inhuman conditions in immigrant detention centres, and confiscated its documents. Tenaganita and two directors were subsequently charged in court in March 1997 under the Companies Act for late filing of its audited financial statements for 1994.

And most unusual was the fact that the charges were prosecuted by a deputy prosecutor from the Attorney-General's Chambers instead of the usual officers from the ROC.

The charges were withdrawn on July 9, 1997, when it was pointed out in court that the registrar had already compounded the offences and accepted payment of a fine through Tenaganita's accountants.

Then, on Sept 5, 1997, the registrar again issued fresh charges against Tenaganita and two directors on minor technicalities. This time around, the registrar refused to compound the alleged offences for a fine. After Tenaganita mounted a legal challenge to the prosecutions, alleging mala fide prosecution, the charges were withdrawn on Nov 25, 1997.

As one can see, NGOs in Malaysia have found themselves "between a ROC and a hard place..."

PSM's Greek tragedy
Opposition political parties have fared no better. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) only obtained its legal registration as a political party in 2008, 10 years after it first filed its application. The entire saga endured by PSM in its struggle to be registered reads like a Greek tragedy in modern Malaysia.

psm with wording logoAnd of course, the ROS can feign selective outrage yet again: "Wasn't the Malaysian Indian United party (MIUP), whose founding leader is S. Nallakaruppan, swiftly registered in October 2007, just five months after he quit PKR in May 2007?"

"You mean the party that pledged to work closely with, and give its support to, the ruling BN coalition? Yes, we believe the ROS acted expeditiously on their application..."

Restrictions to the fundamental right to freedom of association are also imposed on trade union officials through the Trade Unions Act. Today, less than 10 percent of Malaysian workers are unionised, compared to more than 60 per cent at the time of Independence. What a transformation indeed!

SSM ‘routinely inspecting' the good guys
We stress that the entire charade by the government to harass Suaram through a complaint by some nonentity in the public and SSM's ‘routine' inspection is political and uncalled for. We do not even know if the complaint was made officially to the SSM.

NONEIt would appear that the SSM is acting on every single complaint (offical or otherwise) from the public at a highly efficient rate. We question if there is a standard operating procedure (SOP) within SSM that provides guidelines on receiving and acting on a complaint.

We also question whether or not the SOP requires SSM to first verify the background of the complainant prior to receiving and acting on a complaint.

From the evidence in the Paris (on the Scorpene scandal) papers, one would have expected that SSM would know its priorities and begin "routinely inspecting" the highly dubious activities and accounts of Perimekar Sdn Bhd and Terasasi Sdn Bhd. But has it done so?

Suaram's 23 years defending human rights
Through 23 years of selfless work defending human rights in Malaysia, Suaram has established itself as the human rights centre of Malaysia. From Operation Lalang through the Reformasi period to the present day, many victims of state oppression have turned to Suaram for assistance in highlighting their plights.

The funding we get goes into nurturing young activists in human rights work. We employ a handful of dedicated young staff who have chosen this path of service in human rights work. The elder members of the Suaram secretariat, like me, have always been non-staff volunteers in overseeing the running of the organisation.

Since 1989, Suaram has been the main coordinating secretariat for the movement against the ISA and other detention without trial laws, the Emergency Ordinance (EO) and the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA).

Our office serves as the refuge for those whose family members have been victims of state oppression. We send urgent appeals throughout the world whenever any detention or other violations of human rights take place.

Despite its small staff, Suaram publishes the only credible and detailed Malaysian Human Rights Report every year without fail and has been doing so since 1998. Such a report is an invaluable service to all the people of Malaysia, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or creed.

Since its founding, Suaram has worked toward a healthy democratic movement in the country and we could well say that all the efforts by Suaram in the last 20 years have been instrumental in producing today's two-front political system and the political tsunami of 2008.

Throughout its existence over the last 20 years, Suaram staff and secretariat have been involved in human rights and environmental education, giving talks, organising seminars and providing training.

Suaram has also initiated campaigns against the Bakun dam and the Selangor dam to protect the interests of indigenous peoples, the environment and the interests of Malaysian taxpayers. We have supported marginalised communities such as the urban settlers, estate communities and refugees affected by eviction and state oppression.

Suaram has played a role in the "Stop the War Coalition" and has coordinated anti-US demonstrations and protests against the US-led occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and Israeli atrocities in Gaza in recent years.

apcet 2 hearing 060306 groupSuaram also played a key role in the last important peace conference for East Timor in 1996, together with other NGOs. We have been part of the campaign for democracy in Burma.

In other words, Suaram has always been in the business of fighting for justice, equality, democracy and human rights in Malaysia and spoken out against imperialism and militarism in the rest of the world.

For our efforts, Suaram was awarded the Human Rights Award for 2011 by the country's Human Rights Commission, Suhakam,

The only dividends we have gained in this business over these 23 years are the appreciation of the victims of oppression and exploitation, nature lovers and Malaysian taxpayers. And to all our detractors and oppressors, we can only say: "Do your worst and we will do our best!"

DR KUA KIA SOONG is director of human rights organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).

PKR proposes AP bidding system, phase-out by 2015

PKR today unveiled the second part of its proposed automotive policy by presenting a three-year phase-out of the “inequitable” approved permits (AP) system to import cars by 2015.

NONEAccording to its director of strategy Rafizi Ramli (right), the plan will generate RM2.8 billion in government revenue to cushion the initial impact of a reduction in excise and vehicle sales tax, estimated to be about RM8 billion a year.

In the three years, PKR proposes that APs be sold through a three-tier open bidding system, with the opening bids for energy-efficient cars starting at RM10,000, ordinary cars at RM20,000 and RM30,000 for high-powered cars.

“We believe that the average price for each AP can reach RM40,000 each year. At an estimated 70,000 APs per year, this will generate revenue of RM2.8 billion a year,” he said.

He said that the gradual implementation was proposed to avoid shocks to the economy, and to allow the economy to grow following the cut in excise tax.
Encouraging competition

He added that the bid system is unlikely to bump up car prices, as the actual price of the APs in the informal market today is already at an estimated RM30,000 to RM40,000 and this is already translated in the prices.

“Like any other thing, it is best to leave the car prices to the market. If (dealers) have to bid (for the right) to bring in cars then they have to play around with their own margins.

azlan“Now the buffer for margins is way to big and the profit is at the expense of the people. If you implement this, dealers have to compete among themselves and it will move towards market pricing of cars,” he said.

He added that the present system breeds “cartels” who are colluding to set the prices of APs and the bidding system allows more players to enter and the competition would in turn control end prices. 
Also at the press conference was PKR's Pantai Jerejak Adun Sim Tze Tsin, who pointed out that most APs are hoarded by a handful of people.

“In 2004, 50 percent of  the 66,227 APs given out were given to three corporate figures or companies. In 2005, 68,300 APs were given out and 41 percent went to the same people - the late SM Nasimuddin Amin (of Naza Group), Syed Azman Ibrahim and Mohd Haniff Abdul Aziz,” he said.

“This is the injustice of the system. It only enriches corporate figures with close connections with power.”
'Gov't will recover tax revenue'

The duo added that the mooted automotive policy favours direct taxation and private sector driven economy, which they said will be accelerated when the RM8 billion is returned to the economy.
They added that the tax revenue loss will be recovered “to a certain extent” even in the absence of the goods and services tax. 

“The RM8 bil will go to the people, who go to restaurants, contribute to small businesses, who in turn pay more in corporate taxes. Small business owners also pay personal income tax.

“Government should be less involved in economic activity and the engine of growth should the private sector... instead of the government taxing our money and giving it to government-linked economy to drive the economy,” Sim said.

Rafizi claimed that the Malaysian economy is growing at this pace today largely due to government pump priming and that the private sector has not recovered since the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

“What is happening now is that GLCs and moving outside and repatriating their profits back to Malaysia,” he said.

“The Malaysian market is slow and this deprives the government of direct taxes which is a lot higher than expected GST revenue.”

Tun Razak Exchange: A soon-to-fail mega-project?

DAP national publicity chief Tony Pua has signalled the possibility that the rebranded Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) may end up as another failed mega-project.

Despite Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak saying that the TRX - formerly known as the Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (KLIFD) - would be “more inclusive”, Pua argued that it has in fact became “more exclusive” with the rebranding exercise.

NONE“Nothing in (Najib’s) speech indicated how the mega-project has become anything more inclusive,” Pua (right) said in a statement today.

“Instead, he hinted at how the project will become even more exclusive with more promised incentives to those intending to participate in the project.”

He explained that the existing tax incentives are “unheard of” and show how hard it will be to execute the project.

The promise of even more incentives would suggest that even the initial incentives are insufficient, said Pua.

He pointed out that, under the KLFID, qualified companies already enjoyed tax exemption for 10 years, as well as other benefits such as stamp duty exemption on loan and service agreements.

In spite of the incentives, Pua said the project could still fail because the KLFID was based on the assumption that financial institutions and related services need to be located close to each other.

“However, such an assumption is completely flawed as telecommunications technology, video-conferencing facilities, as well as secure and instantaneous electronic transactions, obliterate the need for physical proximity,” he said.

‘Learn from mistakes’

This would leave tax incentives as the only reason for the finance industry to move into TRX.

“Hence, instead of actually promoting the financial services industry directly, the government - having already provided the prime land to 1MDB without any open bidding - is further providing unfair crutches for it to succeed in the KLIFD real estate play,” said Pua.

NONEHe urged the government to learn from its mistakes in the Multimedia Super Corridor, Bio-Valley and E-Village projects, where incentives alone had failed to ensure their success.

“The decision of global financial institutions to site their offices in Malaysia will not be based on short-term benefits as a result of the choice of real estate,” he added.

“It will instead be based on the demand for services and funds, the sophistication of the market instruments and the openness of the economy.”

PKR points to false claims in AIMST audit report

PKR today revealed excerpts of an audit report on the MIC-owned AIMST University, which it said shows that a company "cheated" the university to "enrich" several MIC leaders.

NONEPKR national strategy and policy bureau secretary S Gobikrishnan said today the audit report showed that Jaya Café Holdings Sdn Bhd, which runs the AIMST cafeteria had, among others, submitted a "false claim" of RM90,000 for catering.

The report also showed that Jaya Café received a subsidy of up to RM1.97 million for student meals and housed its staff for free at AIMST's student apartments.

The reason for this special treatment, Gobikrishnan said, was the fact that Jaya Café is not only owned by Penang MIC Youth leader J Dhinagaran but that its directors were "nominees" of two other MIC leaders, including MIC Youth chief T Mohan.

"Now, it is clear why privileges and preferential treatment were accorded to Jaya Café Holdings. It was a company set up by (the MIC leaders) to benefit immorally from such a profitable cafeteria contract," Gobikrishnan told a press conference.

Malaysiakini is withholding the name of the other MIC leader pending the leader's response.

Police, MACC reports planned 

“If no answers are forthcoming in the next few days, PKR will proceed to file a police report and also with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) against all those involved, including the staff of AIMST University,” Gobikrishnan said.

He had more information to link the scandal with the son of a former top MIC leader, he said, and would reveal this at his next press conference.

According to a search with the Registrar of Companies, the PKR leader said, one of the directors of Jaya Café, alleged to be Mohan's “very close relative”, was 24 years old when the lucrative deal was given to the cafe.

Asked how the director was related to Mohan, Gobikrishnan said: “I will not reveal how they are related until (the MIC leader) comes forward to deny their relationship.”

However. he added, the audit report notes that another of Jaya Café's directors is a “wife of (another MIC leader's) husband's brother”.

Spurious invoice
According to the said audit report dated May 18, 2009, Jaya Cafe had submitted a “spurious” claim for RM90,000 for a catering event for 2,000 people, which was actually provided by one Scoop Events.

NONE“It appears that Jaya Café would have plucked the figure of RM45 per person based on the quotation from Scoop Events and raised an invoice for providing food and beverage for 2,000 guests,” the report read.

Another audit report, allegedly by the same company, Gobikrishnan said, showed that Jaya Café was also given “preferential treatment”.

He said the report noted that Jaya Café was given an offer letter for the deal on Jan 5, 2007, and  it commenced work immediately, but the acceptance letter was only signed on March 14, 2007. No contract was never signed.

The auditor also found that Jaya Café was paid RM300 a month a student for the supply of three meals a day for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009.

However, the students were only paying RM240 a month for food, indicating that a subsidy of RM60 a  month a student was paid by MIC's education arm MIED.

“Why the need for this subsidy when the profit made by Jaya Café is over 60 percent?” Gobikrishnan asked.

mied aimst medical college centre faculity 050109 02He said the auditor found that Jaya Café was also supposed to undertake cleaning services as part of the deal, but this was later done by another company for a fee of RM192,000 for 2008 and 2009.

He added that Jaya Café also used AIMST's commercial kitchen free of charge and housed its staff at the housing complex for students from 2007 to 2009.

The student housing apartments would have earned AIMST RM111,825 for the years 2007 to 2009 in rental revenue.

“Based on the above figures, it cannot be denied that privileges are being given to Jaya Café by MIED Capital. Why?” the auditor asks at the end of the report.

Mohan denies any involvement with company 

Meanwhile, when contacted, Mohan said that is true that he is related to one of Jaya Cafe’s directors, but denies any involvement with the company.

“I don’'t deny that she is my relative. Most of the Indians in Malaysia are my relatives or friends. But she is not my nominee. I have nothing to do with the company.

“If she wants to set up something then it’s up to her. Gobikrishnan is really mentally out,” he said, adding that he is “ever ready” to face any police report or MACC report against him.

PKR: Excise duty for cars to be scrapped gradually

PKR's proposal to scrap the excise duty on cars will be done gradually, so as to soften the blow on the second hand car market, the party has explained.

"The scrapping of the excise duty must be gradual, so that the value of existing second hand cars will go down in stages. It must be balanced out," PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli clarified on Twitter today.

He said a drop in car prices would not lead to an influx of cars on the roads and cause massive traffic jams.

Car prices, Rafizi explained, do not fluctuate easily as cars are not everyday goods and changes in prices would not have immediate impact on the numbers of cars purchased.
'Not everyday goods'

"It is a vehicle, not everyday goods. If people have more money, they are likely to upgrade to a better car, rather than buy more cars," he said, noting that car sales slumped in 2006 and 2007 despite a drop in prices 2006.

To upgrade, users would need to sell off their cars and in the event that there is a drop in the value of second hand cars, users would more likely wait until the value of their cars matched the outstanding loan.

Later, speaking to reporters at the PKR headquarters in Tropicana, Petaling Jaya, Rafizi said the nuts and bolts of PKR's proposed automotive policy would be detailed next Thursday by its de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.

"He will announce the whole mechanism. We will present the policy concept and answer questions on the value of second hand cars, car volumes on the street, car loans and so on," he said.

Johor yet to accept Taiwan's 'reject petrochem project'

The Johor state government has clarified that the letter of undertaking it signed with Taiwan’s Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co on the construction of a RM35 billion petrochemical complex in Pengerang is not equal to a final approval.

abdul ghani othman bangsa malaysia 061106 talkingYesterday, Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman (left) unprecedentedly issued a Chinese statement, stressing that the state government will ensure the project does not bring a huge impact to the environment and surrounding residents before giving its final green light.

The signing of the letter of undertaking with the Taiwanese corporation on July 9 has further escalated the protest by Pengerang residents, who fear that the project would jeopardise their livelihood and the environment.

The proposed venture is part of Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project in Pengerang, a mega project under the Economic Transformation Programme to transform southern Johor into a refining and petrochemical centre.

According to Oriental Daily News, Abdul Ghani said the letter of undertaking only allows Kuokuang to conduct an investment feasibility study and land survey.

The letter also requires Kuokuang to conduct an environmental impact assessment to identify whether the plant is suitable to be established at Pengerang.

"We reiterated that the letter of undertaking does not guarantee Kuokuang the approval to invest in Pengerang.

"The final decision azlanof the state government depends on whether Kuokuang can comply with the laws and regulations of Johor and Malaysia, as well as the requests of society particularly on environment, health and safety."

Abdul Ghani stressed that the state government is concerned about the environmental impact, hence it is now working closely with the Department of Environment to ensure Kuokuang abides with all laws and regulations.

“Unless Kuokuang has fulfilled all the requirements, and all relevant authorities also agree that the project will not bring a huge impact to the environment and the safety of surrounding residents, the state government will not approve this investment,” the statement stated.

Official notice to be issued on relocation of cemeteries
In another relevant development, Kota Tinggi district officer Ismail Karim has confirmed to Oriental Daily News that an official notice will be issued to the Pengerang residents on Aug 1 to inform them of the government’s decision to close down and relocate the cemeteries around the area.

The notice will spell out the details on which cemeteries will be involved and where they will be relocated.

“The authorities have identified Bukit Gelugor as the new location for Pengerang cemeteries. The 58 acre site is located opposite Sebana Cove Resort at Lot 1038,” he was quoted as saying.

Ismail said the notice will also be published in local newspapers but the relocation will only commence after the new cemeteries are constructed.

The state government has yet to decide the date of relocation, he added.

NONEOn Sunday, the personnel of a funeral service company engaged by the Johor government to count the number of graves in the five cemeteries in Pengerang were surrounded by local residents who forced them to kneel and apologise to the ‘ancestors’ for ‘tampering’ with the tombstones.

The local residents have rejected the proposal to relocate the cemeteries and pledged to safeguard their homes against the Rapid project.

Penang Port sale after GE due to opposition, say sources

KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — Adverse reaction to Putrajaya selling Penang Port to logistics tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary has delayed the port privatisation to after the general election due by the middle of 2013, say sources.

The Malaysian Insider understands that after the polls, which are expected to be won by Barisan Nasional (BN), the government will likely award the port to Syed Mokhtar’s Seaport Terminal Sdn Bhd but with alterations to the concession terms.

File photo of the Komtar Tower, a Penang landmark, in the background as the iconic ferries park at a jetty. The island’s harbour was dealt a big blow in the 1970s when its free-port status was taken away.

A proposed bid by the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) and its allies is not expected to change Putrajaya’s decision, the sources say.
 “The government is spooked by the stiff opposition to the deal but it will go through, only after the general election,” a source told The Malaysian Insider.

“The deal will be altered though, to take into account some concerns about the privatisation,” he added, but did not elaborate.

Seaport Terminal, which confirmed over the weekend that it won the bid for the Penang Port privatisation project, has moved to fend off claims that it plans to scuttle the cargo hub. The takeover had sparked fears that the northern shipping hub will be reduced to playing a minor role, with more focus on the company’s ports in the south — Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) and Pasir Gudang port.

Another source confirmed that the government was delaying the handover until after the general election, which has been widely speculated to be held this year.

The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak could delay polls from a firm September date to the end of the year after two BN MPs from Sabah walked out and said they would work together with Pakatan Rakyat (PR), led by former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“The port sale will be after the elections so that it won’t be an issue in Penang which BN hopes to win back,” the source said. BN lost the island state and three other states in Election 2008.

The PCCC had asserted that Putrajaya’s disposal of Penang Port to Seaport Terminal was against the Competition Act 2010 and was potentially an anti-trust violation.

PCCC president Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping said the association plans to lead a consortium that would include the state Malay and Indian chambers of commerce as well as the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), in the attempt to take over Penang Port. FMM has since denied it is planning to join the consortium.
But Seaport Terminal said it was among several local and international port companies invited to bid for the port privatisation in 2011.

“In response to the invitation, Seaport Terminal submitted its bid and we understand that three other parties also participated. Seaport Terminal was chosen as the preferred bidder based on the strength and merits of its proposal.

“Seaport Terminal had submitted a comprehensive proposal based on thorough studies into the port’s current operations, its potential growth as well as its sustainability. Our business plan includes comprehensive strategies to develop the port into a premier regional port that will be competitive,” it said.

Apart from Seaport Terminal’s two ports, Syed Mokhtar also owns Pos Malaysia Berhad and the Senai Airport. He is also reported to be working on a takeover of national railway KTM.

Penang’s PR government had demanded that the federal government undertake a promised RM353 million dredging project crucial for the port’s expansion. Putrajaya had in June confirmed that Seaport had won the bid to take Penang port private, saying that the firm must foot the bill of dredging work although it was not specified if dredging would be compulsory under the concession.

Penang business groups and the port’s workers signed a memorandum last month rejecting Putrajaya’s proposal to privatise Penang Port. There has been surprising resistance to the deal from Penang BN, with chairman Teng Chang Yeow also urging the federal government to review its decision to privatise the island’s port, saying that many industry groups were opposed to the move and it was also counter to the sentiment of the Penang public.

Penang’s George Town, which was the first place in Malaysia to be developed by the British, was for a period the premier port in the region before being overtaken by Singapore. It has also long prided itself as a centre for learning and culture.

The harbour, which also features the nostalgic colonial-era ferry service, was dealt another blow in the 1970s when its free-port status was taken away. Penang BN has proposed returning the free-port status if it wins the state in the next general election.

Monday 30 July 2012

MBJB loses appeal in 'chapel demolition' case

The Court of Appeal in Putrajaya has struck out an appeal by the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) over the demolition of an Orang Asli chapel, describing the application as an abuse of the court process.

orang asli court 200905 palace of justiceThe three-member bench headed by Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad, along with Abdul Wahab Patail and Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim, was unanimous in the decision.

The court also ordered MBJB to pay RM10,000 in costs.

In September 2010, the Johor Bahru High Court had ordered the MBJB to pay damages to Khalip Bachik, Kelah Lah and 49 others of Kuala Masai, Johor, following the demolition of their chapel.

Khalip had filed the civil suit in December 2008 against the MBJB, Johor Land and Mines Department and the Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHEOA).

The MBJB failed to file affidavits in defence despite reminders being sent, and then failed to enter an appearance when the hearing dates were fixed. As a result, the council was ordered to pay damages.

It appeared alone in its appeal today. The other two appellants will have their application heard next week.

The council had claimed that the suit had been filed under the ‘Johor Bahru Town Council’ and not ‘Majlis Bandaran Johor Bahru’. Hence, it was not bound by the order imposed by the Johor Bahru High Court.

Khalip's lawyers argued to strike out the application, saying the appeal proper was incompetent and that the memorandum of appeal was defective. This made the appeal frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the court process.

The Orang Asli were represented by Steven Thiru and Aron Matthews, while Roger Tan and CP Lee appeared for the appellants.

Permission given for place of worship

Khalip and others are of Orang Asli Laut descent and members of the Orang Asli Christian congregation. They were originally residents of Kampung Orang Asli Stulang Laut.

They received a directive to move to Kampung Orang Asli Kuala Masai from the Johor Bahru City Council in 1993 on the ground that the site they occupied was to be developed.

Khalip and Kelah claimed that the JHEOA director-general had given them an assurance that they could build a place of worship at the new settlement, and had done so upon relocation in 2003.

When the demolition was carried out in 2005, the state failed to show any court order or proof that the chapel was sitting on state land.

Eight of the 20 families living in Kampung Orang Asli Kuala Masai are of the Christian faith.

'Trespassers' at cemetery forced to kneel and apologise

The personnel of a funeral service company engaged by the Johor state government to relocate a Chinese cemetery at Pengerang were surrounded by local residents who forced them to kneel and apologise to the ‘ancestors' for 'tampering' with the tombstones.

The relocation, apparently at the state government's direction, is to make way for the construction of the controversial Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project.

It includes a petrochemical complex which was originally meant to be built in Taiwan but the government there rejected the project.

The highly-charged incident happened yesterday afternoon at Pengerang when several residents found four strangers entering one of the village's cemeteries.

NONEAccording to Hong Thian Hwa, vice-chief of the ad hoc anti-Rapid committee, when confronted by the residents, the strangers admitted that they were personnel from a funeral service company.

They came to the cemetery to make markings on the tombstones for relocation purposes using stickers and oil palm fronds tied with red cloth.

Soon some 300 residents came to the spot, surrounding the four strangers and stopped them from leaving the village.

They were forced to hand over their identity cards and delete all content in their digital cameras.

Under the watchful eyes of residents, they also removed all oil palm fronds and stickers from some 300 tombstones.

No ill intentions 

At around 4pm, Reliable Memorial Service Bhd chairperson Lee Say Peng arrived at the scene and explained that his staff had no ill intentions but still failed to defuse the residents' anger.

NONE"We were frustrated with their action of trespassing into the cemetery without our consent. Their action was also insensitive to Chinese taboos and disrespected our culture," said Hong.

Even the request of Pengerang deputy police station head Mohammad Nasir to bring Lee and his staff back to the police station was not accepted by the angry residents.

The stalemate was resolved after a two-hour negotiation when Lee and his staff agreed to kneel down in front of one of the tombstones and the Tua Pek Kong altar to apologise to the ancestors and gods, said Hong.

Hong said Lee also agreed to publish a public apology to all the residents in newspapers within four days.

He stressed that the residents are against the relocation of the cemeteries and will continue to protect their homes.

NONELee later told Chinese daily Oriental Daily News that he had performed prayers to the ancestors and gods at the request of the residents instead of apologising.

He explained that the company was instructed by the state government with a written notice to count the number of graves in the five Chinese cemeteries of that area that needed to be relocated within three days.

He revealed that an official letter from the Kluang district office to close the cemeteries will be sent to the residents soon.

Today he will meet with the district office to discuss the residents' request for his company to make a public apology.

BN is facing pressure ― Lim Sue Goan

JULY 30 ― To determine the date of the 13th general election as soon as possible, Barisan Nasional is now taking every step very cautiously and it is very concerned about the people’s needs.

The Chinese community demanded a new Chinese independent high school in Kuantan and the government gave a nod for it.

Bird’s nest traders assembled to protest against the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and the authority later issued an official notification that the use of the RFID is no longer compulsory.

The people are worried about the recent increase in crime and, thus, the police has stepped up patrols, while the home minister also made a walkabout at a shopping mall.

Pakatan Rakyat questioned the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) for approving applications made by companies linked to Petronas chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan’s daughter, and SEDA rebutted the claims and explained in a full-page advertisement.

Also, the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry is trying to quell the controversy over the Merdeka Day logo.

Such a flexible attitude shows that “everything can be done”.

Take the Kuantan Chinese independent school issue as an example; the Chinese community expected a branch of the Kuala Lumpur Chung Hwa High School, but the government gave a green light for a new school.

The approval shows that there was no agreement reached between the MCA and the government to limit the number of Chinese independent schools when the amendment was made to the Education Act in 1996, as alleged by the Chinese education movement.

Even if such an agreement exists, it could be breached under the current political environment.
Therefore, the dream to establish a Seg Hwa Independent Chinese High School branch campus in Segamat might also come true.

BN has started to feel the pressure, including from the uncertain world economic outlook, as well as the internal problems of the Sabah BN.

The resignation of Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin and Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing allowed Pakatan Rakyat to see an opportunity to shake Sabah and threaten the BN’s regime.

In addition, BN also has to compete with Pakatan Rakyat in terms of money distribution.

The federal government announced to give a half-month or at least RM500 bonus for civil servants while Selangor and Penang state governments give respectively RM200 and RM100 more than the federal government.

Pakatan Rakyat also made a commitment recently to reduce car prices by slashing excise and other duties if they win power, and many netizens were very pleased with it.

After the Bersih 3.0 rally, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s approval rating dropped from 69 per cent to 65 per cent and the current 64 per cent. Although it is still at a comfortable level, it is worrying.

Therefore, BN has been committed to eliminating negative feelings and hopes to keep the good momentum.

According to the National University of Malaysia, about 25 per cent of the 13 million registered voters are swing voters, who are expected to play the king-maker role in the next general election.

BN might be able to win some votes from swing voters after its recent gift distribution movements, particularly the green light given to build a new independent school in Kuantan.

However, most swing voters are highly-educated. They pay attention to their own needs, while hoping that the country to progress.

It is believed that they are still observing to see whether Umno has really changed and whether the political system and policies will be reformed.

If BN does well and listens to public opinion, the votes will naturally return. Why do we want to change the government then? The key lies on how well the people are convinced.

The coming festivals, namely the Merdeka month, Hari Raya Aidilfitrie and Malaysia Day will be good timing to create election atmosphere.

If the people are still restless, however, the election might then have to be delayed until next year. ― mysinchew.com

Malaysia most vulnerable to economic ‘perfect storm’, says Dr Doom’s consultancy

July 30, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 — Malaysia is one of the most vulnerable Asian economies should a “perfect storm” of a disorderly debt default in Europe, a slowdown in China and the US, and rising tensions in the Middle East materialise, Roubini Global Economics (RGE) has said in a recent report.

The strategic research firm, best known for its founder “Dr Doom” Nouriel Roubini who predicted the collapse of the US housing market and the 2008 global financial crisis, said that Malaysia had the highest exposure to a pullout of capital as its eurozone and US bank claims amount to more than 25 per cent of GDP.

File photo of people buying fruit at a market in Kuala Lumpur. A consultancy said the Malaysian economy was very vulnerable and exposed to global forces. —Reuters pic
RGE added that Malaysia was the second most exposed in terms of a demand slowdown in the US, the eurozone and China, making it the most exposed Asian economy overall.
 The report also said that the country was among the lowest ranked in terms of monetary and fiscal capacity to respond to a crisis, coming in ahead of only Thailand, Japan and Indonesia.

“Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam appear to be the most exposed to a perfect storm through their trade and financial linkages, while South Korea, Australia, Vietnam and the Philippines appear to have the most policy space to offset such an external shock,” said RGE.

“Taking these two factors together, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand are the most vulnerable of the 10 economies considered in this analysis, while Australia, India, South Korea and the Philippines are the least.”
RGE said that while Malaysian government revenues have increased, the hole in its finances could grow due to “populist” spending and an expected cut in Petronas’ dividends.

“In the run-up to elections, the government is likely to offer more cash handouts in the 2013 Budget, leaving fewer resources for productive investment,” said the report.

“We see the debt-to-GDP ratio reaching 54.6 per cent next year, leaving little room to manoeuvre in the event of an external shock.”

RGE noted that in its most recent effort to boost its popularity ahead of an upcoming general election, the Malaysian government announced a supplementary budget of RM13.8 billion in June, some 80 per cent of which is allocated towards maintaining oil subsidies and raising civil servant wages.

It added that it expects Bank Negara to cut interest rates to 2.5 per cent by the end of 2013 to deal with slowing growth in Europe and China.

Economists and analysts had earlier said that Malaysia’s federal government debt, which nearly doubled since 2007 to RM421 billion, pose a fiscal risk to the country if not managed carefully as it impairs the country’s resilience to the increasing frequency of economic shocks.

They said that while government debt — currently at about 54 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), and the second highest in Asia — has not significantly impacted the country and its credit standing so far, the volatile nature of global markets may cause sentiment to turn with little warning.

Figures from the Federal Treasury’s Economic Reports show that the federal government’s domestic debt almost doubled in the space of less than five years — from RM247 billion in 2007 to an estimated RM421 billion in 2011 — far outpacing its revenues which only grew 31 per cent or from RM140 billion to RM183 billion during the same period.

Government-backed loans rose rapidly as well between 1985 and 2010 — from RM11 billion to RM96 billion — representing a growth of 8.7 per cent per annum.

Investors in recent weeks have reportedly shown a preference for US and Singapore assets rather than Malaysia’s in times of uncertainty despite the 10-year MGS (Malaysian Government Securities) offering a yield of about 3.4 per cent compared to less than 1.5 per cent for both 10-year Singapore government bond and 10-year US Treasury bonds.

Roubini had in May reportedly predicted that four elements — economic slowdown in the US, the debt crisis in Europe, a slowdown in China and emerging markets, and military conflict in Iran — would combine to create a storm for the global economy in 2013.

Najib could be our SuperHero - MARIAM MOKHTAR

The solution is simple: If Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak wants to create his own political tsunami, reverse the trend set by the federal opposition coalition, and earn the respect of the rakyat, he knows what he must do: arrest former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad for alleged crimes against the Malaysian nation and for abuse of power.
An approaching tsunami may be preceded by a drastic drop in water levels. Many people died in the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 when they went to the beach to see the seabed which had been exposed by the retreating ocean. Experts claim that a receding sea would have given five minutes’ warning for people to get to safety.
NONENajib faces a discontented public and disarray in Umno, with divided loyalties and deception at the highest levels. Pakatan Rakyat and various NGOs have exposed alleged corruption involving many millions of ringgit, cases of injustice and the children of VVIPs and ministers receiving unfair business advantages. The exposed seabed before the arrival of the tsunami is a metaphor for all these problems. 
Najib will have read the Merdeka Centre survey and seen that his approval rating had decreased, albeit by a miniscule amount, to 64 percent last month, but the decline in approval of his party is more worrying. 

He would have recalled that in the 2008 general election, then premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had an approval rating of 72 percent, but at the time, BN enjoyed a stronger position than it currently does.
Najib has observed the receding respect of the rakyat for his administration and with the drop in popularity of his own party, he has effectively been given his ‘warning’ before the tsunami strikes.
To rescue his own party and redeem respect, Najib has to be courageous. By detaining Mahathir, he would achieve many things people thought him incapable of.
azlanFirst, with the arrest, Najib would steal the thunder from the opposition and be able to claim the glory of bringing a much despised man to justice. People are tired of the farcical Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which catches the small fry rather than the big fish. Countries like Iceland, Ukraine, South Korea and Israel have tried former prime ministers.
Second, and perhaps this is for Najib’s own benefit, he would show the public and especially his detractors in Umno, that he is no shrinking violet.
It is an established fact that Najib hates controversies. When asked awkward questions during a press conference (PC) – he simply walks away; but governing is not just about PCs. Mahathir keeps his hands clean but with Umno losing ground, Mahathir’s undermining of Najib has escalated, because the Mahathir political dynasty must continue.
Most former prime ministers and presidents stay out of the limelight and are content to do charitable works or earn big bucks on the international lecture circuit. What does that say about our two surviving former PMs? One does not need the money, whilst the other has little to contribute.
Arresting Mahathir would be in the public interest and Najib should take this risk.

Najib’s timidity

So we come the third point. Najib has always promoted the line of moderation but never, it appears, at home. Mahathir endorsed the extremist Perkasa, claimed that Bersih would topple the government, suggested that Bersih was a clash between Malays and non-Malays, and said that Chinese voters would be the deciding factor in GE13.
NONENajib should have publicly told Mahathir that his comments compromise national security, but he didn’t. Mahathir has gone from strength to strength, because Najib was too timid to confront him.
If Mahathir were arrested, it might silence all of Najib’s critics within Umno or force them into the shadows. They are vocal because they have Mahathir’s backing.
Then comes the fourth point. Over the past three decades, our judiciary, police and civil service have been compromised. Billions of ringgit in illicit funds have allegedly been spirited overseas. In addition, families are divided by the brain drain from Malaysia. Members of Najib’s cabinet and party still follow Mahathir’s divisive policies. Arresting Mahathir will show the people who the real boss is.
There is one final twist, which is Najib’s own insecurity.  Najib entered politics at a tender age of 23 after less than two years at Petronas, following his graduation. He is a career politician. How can he empathise with the common man when he has not experienced life outside the corridors of Parliament and of power?
Despite saying that his administration does not practise populist policies, Najib has failed to see the negative public response to his various handouts such as the RM500 of Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia or deals for petty traders and taxi-drivers.
NONEHe has tried unconventional methods to gain acceptance - inviting people home to watch football, he’s done the hip-hop thing, gone on Facebook and taken a bus ride in Ipoh, albeit on a luxury coach.
Mahathir is chillingly ruthless, Najib is not. Both are hungry for power but Mahathir is not ashamed to humiliate Najib by undermining his rule.
Mahathir is adept at twisting the truth and is not afraid to take charge, to dominate and to control. Najib is too lazy and would prefer others to do his thinking and controlling for him, as long as he can enjoy the spoils. He should dismiss all his advisers, especially those responsible for the latest humiliating debacle over the Merdeka Day slogan.

Everything to lose

Najib assumed the reins of control at a time when people breathed a sigh of relief at Abdullah’s impotence. Mahathir does not have the self-control to manage his own personality and tends to force himself onto others.
How can Najib even carve out a political legacy for himself when he has promoted Isa Samad to head Felda? Even Mahathir had called Isa corrupt! Perhaps, surrounding himself with the tainted might make him look less tarnished.
azlanAs we approach GE13, Najib has no one left to ingratiate himself with. 

Najib has everything to lose, but Mahathir has not. Now is the time for Najib to turn the tables on his adversary and arrest Mahathir. He must prove his mettle by riding out the tempest of any blackmail attempts. Mahathir’s arrest could also start a domino effect and plug the black hole called Petronas.
If he wishes, Najib could also organise a cull of the known Mahathirists in the judiciary, the police and the civil service.
The rakyat who are engrossed in the closing drama of the mighty Mahathir might even overlook some of Najib’s indiscretions. They won’t of course, but it would at least buy Najib more time.
Then, he might want to consider Abdul Taib Mahmud in Sarawak.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak', this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

Waytha gets passport, to return Aug 1

Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chairperson P Waythamoorthy has secured his passport via the Malaysian diplomatic mission in Singapore, and is set to return home on Wednesday.

NONEHe said the issuance of the passport - which had been revoked by the Malaysian authorities in 2008 - is proof that Hindraf has been fighting for a just cause. 

“I am proud as a Malaysian and proud of Hindraf’s struggle to prove that the Malaysian government has done a great injustice to the Indian community,”  he toldMalaysiakini after obtaining the passport.

“The issuance of my passport is an acknowledgement that we are fighting a legitimate cause.” 

Waythamoorthy has been living in self-exile since late 2007, when talk of an impending clampdown on the Hindraf movement gained steam. 

Five Hindraf leaders, including Waythamoorthy’s brother Uthayakumar, were detained under the Internal Security Act in December that year. 

Since then, Waythamoorthy has based himself in Britain and continued Hindraf’s campaign abroad. His passport was revoked in April 2008.

Now a ‘full Malaysian’

Waythamoorthy said the Malaysian embassy had issued him a passport although he did not produce a Mykad and birth certificate. 

“I told them that my identity card was with the (police) special branch. What was I to do? After some ding-dong and consulting their superiors, they issued the passport. 

“I am now a full Malaysian. I feel that my dignity as a citizen has been restored.”

Waythamoorthy said he will enter the country via Johor Bahru, to perform prayers at a temple with his supporters before heading home to Seremban to meet his family. 

He does not discount the possibility that he may be arrested for his involvement in Hindraf prior to 2008. 

“If they allow me into Malaysia, I will go in. Alternatively, if they have a warrant, I might be arrested,” he said.

Teacher at Bersih rally 'beaten up, kicked by cops'

Police personnel barged into a hotel in Kuala Lumpur to arrest those who had taken part in the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, allegedly assaulting a teacher who was trying to suurender.

Goh Ban Huat, 48, who teaches at the Chong Hwa Independent High School, told the public inquiry being conducted by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) that he went to the rally with 12 friends.

bersih 3 rally 040512 zw01He was at Dataran Merdeka about 3pm when the riot squad launched tear gas at the "thousands" gathered there.

"About three to four tear gas canisters landed where we were standing. The crowd was pushing and shoving, trying to get out. It was really crammed, but everyone was forced to retreat.

He and his friends took refuge in the Swiss Inn Hotel in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

"We saw people running into the hotel and we followed. The hotel staff refused to let us in but we managed to push through,” he told the three-member panel headed by Suhakam vice-chairperson Khaw Lake Tee.

"I was in the lobby when the police came. They kicked the door open, barged in without authorisation and went after everyone. I saw them going into the toilets and dragging people out by the collar.”

‘Catch them all’

When he heard a police officer shout "Catch them, catch them all", he decided to surrender.

Goh said he walked out of the hotel trusting that he would not be assaulted, unlike those who resisted.

"But I was wrong. When I went out, they beat me up and kicked me, right near the ribs, before they arrested and took me to the (Royal Selangor) club at Dataran Merdeka."

He was later taken to the Police Training Centre, but released after his details were recorded.

Khaw is assisted by commissioners Detta Samen and Mahmood Zuhdi A Majid. 

The inquiry will resume on Wednesday with testimony from three more witnesses.