30 September, 2006

Kuan Yew Replies To Abdullah's Letter Over "Marginalised Chinese"

Kuan Yew Replies To Abdullah's Letter Over "Marginalised Chinese"

Singapore's founding father and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has written to Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi over his recent remarks about the Chinese being marginalised in Malaysia.

His press secretary, YY Yeong said the letter was now with the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, according to a report by The Straits Times.

"(It) is ready to be personally conveyed to Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi," she said.

Abdullah wrote to Lee this week seeking clarification over the controversial remarks.

Lee, 83, told a forum on good governance here on Sept 15 that the attitude of Malaysia and Indonesia towards the republic was shaped by the way they treated their Chinese communities.

"My neighbours both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful, they're hardworking and therefore they are systematically marginalised, even in education.

"And they want Singapore, to put it simply, to be like their Chinese -- compliant," Lee had said.

The remarks drew protests from in Malaysia and Indonesia, Singapore's closest neighbours. The foreign ministries of both countries had also summoned the Singapore envoys to explain Lee's remarks.

Non-bumi rights crop up once again

Malaysians in heated debate over remarks made by MM Lee. THERE is a simple rule in Malaysian politics when it comes to Singapore. Anyone who attacks the Republic gains credibility as a stout defender of Malaysia.

Yet, something unusual happened as well. Malaysians broke ranks, with many in the Chinese community agreeing with MM Lee's remarks.

One reason was that the debate had widened to include the prickly question of the rights of non-bumiputeras in Malaysia, a country which has been independent for 49 years.

Non-bumiputeras refer to non-Malays in Malaysia such as the Chinese and Indians, while bumiputeras are the Malays and indigenous peoples.

'Bumiputera' in Malay means 'princes of the soil'.

The term has evolved into a code for the special privileges enjoyed by the Malays.

The race-rights debate, always simmering beneath the surface, has supplanted the Mahathir-Abdullah rift as the most important issue in the Malay and Chinese vernacular newspapers, not to mention Internet news portals and blogs.

What were the remarks that got Malaysians hot under the collar?

At a dialogue for good governance in Singapore on Sept 15, MM Lee had remarked that the attitude of Malaysia and Indonesia towards the Republic was shaped by the way they treated their ethnic Chinese minorities.

He said: 'My neighbours both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful, they are hardworking and therefore they are systematically marginalised, even in education.

'And they want Singapore, to put it simply, to be like their Chinese, compliant.'

The reaction in Malaysia was almost instantaneous.

Politicians linked to the ruling Barisan Nasional coaltion government demanded an apology from MM Lee and that he stay out of Malaysian affairs.

Johor politicians wanted pro-Singapore projects spiked.

Singapore's envoys in Malaysia and Indonesia were summoned by the respective governments and asked for an explanation.

The two main government-linked Chinese political parties, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Penang-based Parti Gerakan, took the line that MM Lee should not interfere in Malaysia's affairs, arguing that the ethnic Chinese were not marginalised.

But Chinese educationists, a powerful political lobby that mirrors Chinese feelings on the ground, agreed with MM Lee's remarks.

So too did the opposition Democratic Action Party, which draws its main support from Chinese voters.

Together, they widened the debate into an examination of the political failure of the non-Malay parties within Barisan Nasional to stand up for Chinese and Indian rights.

Opinions in letters and comments in the mainstream media and on Internet websites were split - mostly along racial lines.

Malay newspapers had politicians and opinion leaders pooh-poohing the suggestion that the Chinese were sidelined. They chided MM Lee for interfering in a neighbouring country's affairs.

The Chinese-language newspapers and politicians were of two minds.

One side said there was no marginalisation while the other said that Malaysia's 35-year-old pro-Malay programme to help bumiputeras made non-Malays feel like second-class citizens.

The mainstream pro-government English-language papers - the New Straits Times and The Star - remained comparatively muted in their coverage. They reported the news and did not editorialise.

Not so the alternative media - on Internet news portals such as Malaysiakini, chatrooms and blogs.

The views came thick, fast and unvarnished.

The Malay argument on these unfettered channels of communication ran largely along the lines of one opinion logged into an Internet forum: 'If the Chinese here are marginalised, please explain why the Chinese community forms the bulk of the rich? Not only that, no less than 40 per cent of the wealth in this country is owned by them.'

An editorial in the Utusan Malaysia daily which is owned by Umno, the predominant party within the Barisan Nasional coalition, said: 'Since the country achieved independence, the Malaysian economy has been controlled by the Chinese.

'The Malaysian government is happy to follow the concept of power sharing with each ethnic group having a representative in government so that they are not marginalised.'

Those who support this argue that the Malaysian Chinese are well represented in Parliament and the Cabinet.

Malays cite the Forbes 2006 list of the 10 richest Malaysians as proof of Chinese well-being.

Only one Malay - port owner and industrialist Syed Mokhtar Albukhary - is on the list.

The non-Malays disagree.

'I totally agree with Lee Kuan Yew's comment. The smartest and brightest Malaysian Chinese are overseas because they don't have equal opportunities for them in Malaysia,' said a comment on a blog.

Most Malaysians, whether they agree with MM Lee's remarks or not, would agree that the trigger point on the nation's debate about race-rights can be traced to a pro-Malay policy aimed at helping bumiputeras draw level economically with the more advanced Chinese.

Called the New Economic Policy (NEP), it was launched two years after the country's worst race riots on May 13, 1969 in which the victims were largely Chinese.

While the NEP was designed to eradicate poverty and end the identification of economic function with ethnicity, it evolved almost immediately into a policy favouring Malays in education, the civil service and government-linked businesses.

Largely because of the policy, the Malay professional class has swelled, thanks to help from public funds.

More than a third of the country's doctors and lawyers are ethnic Malays today, compared to only a handful 35 years ago.

Malays also comprise 20 per cent of all accountants and nearly half of the engineers and surveyors, according to the government's five-year blueprint, the Ninth Malaysia Plan (2006-2010).

But the policy's excesses which overwhelmingly resulted in ethnic favouritism gradually drew loud complaints from the Chinese and Indians, many of whom felt they needed as much help as they were not well-off.

Because of the policy. they complained. children of rich Malays received free school textbooks.

Developers give bumiputeras discounts of 5 to 10 per cent to buy million-dollar bungalows.

And there are disputes on whether the government's aim to make bumiputeras own a 30 per cent equity stake in the economy has been achieved.

While the government says the bumiputera equity stake is now around 18.9 per cent, non-Malay leaders say the figure is 45 per cent.

This would mean that the NEP has to be abandoned because its target has been surpassed.

That is unlikely to happen any time soon, and the conroversy - and race-based angst - will go on.

With or without MM Lee's contribution.

Meanwhile,Reuter reported that Singapore's Malay party on Friday demand an apology from former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew for comments he made about the treatment of ethnic Chinese in Malaysia and Indonesia.

"The statement made by Minister Mentor Lee is a provocation and not a reflection of our multiracial society," said Rahmat Bin Haji Ahmad, political secretary of the tiny opposition Singapore Malay National Organisation, which is usually known by its Malay acronym, PKMS.

"The PKMS strongly demands that Minister Mentor Lee withdraw his statements, if possible immediately," he said at a news conference late on Friday. "If he doesn't apologise, we demand him to resign immediately."

The group said Prime Minister Lee, eldest son of the 83-year-old patriarch, should "be more transparent and show the Malays what the intentions of Minister Mentor Lee are."

Singapore bans Far Eastern Economic Review

Singapore has banned the Far Eastern Economic Review magazine after it failed to comply with regulations on foreign publications sold in the city-state, the government said.

It said the monthly magazine's sale and distribution rights had been revoked immediately for failing to abide by an earlier deadline to appoint someone authorized to accept any legal notices on the magazine's behalf.

In its press release, the government added that it was now also an offense to import or possess copies of the Hong Kong-based magazine, known by its initials FEER, for sale or distribution in the city-state.

The government said it took the action after the magazine failed to comply with conditions under the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act.

On August 3 the ministry had announced it was re-instating conditions imposed on the Review and some other foreign publications.

It notified the Review that, effective September 11, it would have to appoint a person "within Singapore authorized to accept service of any notice or legal process on behalf of the publication."

It was also required to submit a security deposit of 200,000 Singapore dollars (125,000 US).

"FEER had not complied by the 11 September 2006 deadline, nor has it complied till today, despite a reminder sent to FEER on 14 September 2006," the government said.

The provisions, re-implemented because of what the information and communication ministry said was a changing media landscape, had also applied to Newsweek, Time, the Financial Times, and the International Herald Tribune.

They took effect after FEER, a Dow Jones publication, ran an interview with local pro-democracy activist Chee Soon Juan, who is secretary-general of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party.

The article entitled "Singapore's 'Martyr,' Chee Soon Juan," describes Chee's battle against the ruling People's Action Party and its leaders. It also touched on Singapore officials' success in libel suits against critics.

Two weeks ago, Singapore court officials and the magazine's editor revealed that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, had filed defamation suits against FEER over the Chee article.

The Lees filed the lawsuits in August against editor Hugo Restall and Hong Kong-based Review Publishing, alleging they were defamed.

The Lees alleged in the writ seen by AFP that the article "contained sensational remarks and/or allegations" which had "gravely injured" their characters and reputations.

The FEER magazine has had skirmishes with Singapore's ruling party since 1987 when it was gazetted as a foreign newspaper, thereby restricting its circulation, after the government deemed an article as interfering in domestic politics.

Singapore leaders have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages as a result of defamation suits against critics and foreign publications, which they say is necessary to protect their reputations from unfounded attacks.

International rights groups, however, argue the use of lawsuits is intended to suppress freedom of expression and silence opposition parties.

Roby Alampay, executive director of the Bangkok-based media freedom watchdog Southeast Asian Press Alliance, said the FEER ban came as no surprise following recent moves by Singapore against Internet bloggers and other foreign media.

"Singapore has always been notorious if not in fact quite proud of its tradition of stifling foreign media," Alampay said.

"This new chapter of reasserting their control on the foreign press however really makes an abhorrent situation all the more troubling," he added.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) last year ranked Singapore 140th out of 167 countries in its annual press freedom index, alongside the likes of Egypt and Syria.

Lee Kuan Yew said in April he would not allow foreign journalists to tell his country what to do on domestic issues.

" Anwar adds voice to judicial crisis review calls"

Former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim has joined the chorus demanding a review to the 1988 judicial crisis which resulted in the sacking of the country’s top judges.

“I fully support the demand by former Lord President Salleh Abas and the Bar Council for the establishment of an independent commission to look into the causes of the 1988 judicial crisis,” said Anwar in a statement today.

In 1988, then premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had Salleh tried by a special tribunal on charges of misconduct for questioning constitutional amendments that seriously eroded the powers of the judiciary.

Later, two of five supreme court judges - George Seah and Wan Sulaiman Pawanteh - who had ruled that the special tribunal was convened unconstitutionally were also sacked.

Some have described the dismissal of the three top judges from the Supreme Court - then the country's highest court, now renamed as Federal Court - as Malaysia’s darkest hours in its judicial history.

Anwar, who is now opposition PKR advisor, said that the country’s judiciary was once “well-regarded around the world for its independence and integrity”.

“However, since the 1988 judicial crisis, episodes such as the Ayer Molek case, the resignation of High Court judge Syed Ahmad Idid Abdullah as well as my own sham trial have tarnished the image of our judiciary,” said Anwar, who himself was sacked by Mahathir eight years ago.

Anwar, 58, was then jailed after convictions for sodomy and corruption involving the misuse of power.

He was released in September 2004 when his sodomy conviction was overturned. Anwar has adamantly claimed that the charges were trumped up as part of a political conspiracy against him, an allegation which Mahathir had denied.

Show real leadership

“The government's refusal to review the 1988 crisis reflects the superficial commitments it has made towards integrity and reform. It is time for the government to move beyond its pious platitudes and demonstrate real leadership,” said Anwar.

“An honest and independent review is imperative to redeem the dignity and the reputation of those wronged since the 1988 judicial crisis, and to restore the faith of Malaysians in their judicial system.”

He said the “perpetrators” of the incident must be held to account for their actions.

“Furthermore an impartial review must lead to substantive reforms in the judicial appointment process in order to protect the sanctity of the judiciary against future exploitation.”

According to Salleh, he was told by Mahathir to either “resign or be sacked” at a meeting before he was hauled in front of the special tribunal.

A month ago, Salleh broke his 18-year silence and supported the Bar Council’s call to review the judicial crisis.

On Sept 13, government backbencher Zaid Ibrahim, in a passionate speech in Parliament, also called for a review of the issue.

Zaid, who is also a lawyer, said that Salleh “was not sacked because he wrote a letter to the King or because of his speech delivered in Universiti Malaya. It was because he wanted a nine-judge panel to hear the Umno case.”

29 September, 2006

LKY Has Hidden Motives In Accusing M'sia Of Marginalising Chinese

LKY Has Hidden Motives In Accusing M'sia Of Marginalising Chinese

Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin said today Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had ulterior motives in accusing Malaysia of marginalising the Chinese community when he himself had killed the Chinese culture in his own country.

"I think he wanted to scare the Chinese, to make them feel that the wealth that they have amassed can never be safe in the region," he said to newsmen here after visiting Xinhua news agency. He arrived here yesterday for a three-day working visit.

Zainuddin said Malaysia had never marginalised its Chinese community even when there was an opportunity to do so such as in the aftermath of the May 13 incident in 1969.

"The Prime Minister then, Tunku Abdul Rahman, rejected such a notion. We have also never confiscated any assets of the Chinese community.

"Instead, we broadened their participation in the government by expanding the Alliance to form the Barisan Nasional.

"Today, Malaysia has more Chinese schools than Singapore and the newspaper with the biggest circulation in the country is a Chinese language newspaper.

"Lee Kuan Yew, on the other hand, has systematically killed Chinese culture by disallowing many Chinese practices. He also closed down Nanyang University and Ngee Ann College," he added.

Zainuddin said Lee must be congratulated for changing the Chinese identity in the island state such that it had become unrecognisable.

He called on Chinese newspapers in Malaysia not to be taken in by Lee's statement to the extent of playing up Chinese chauvinism and endangering Malaysia's racial harmony.

Zaharin mangsa pertama krisis Mahathir-Abdullah ?

Polemik di antara Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dengan Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sudah menjangkau ke tahap yang lebih tajam apabila seorang ahli Umno, Abd Zarin Mohd Yasin yang lebih dikenali sebagai Zaharin dihadapkan dengan 22 pertuduhan salahlaku dipecat, semalam (28 September 2006).

Mesyuarat Majlis Tertinggi Umno yang dipengerusikan Abdullah mengambil keputusan sebulat suara memecat Zaharin yang juga bekas Setiausaha Umno Bahagian Bandar Tun Razak, kerana didapati bersalah menghina dan memburuk-burukkan parti serta pucuk pimpinannya.

Pada 21 Ogos lepas, Lembaga Disiplin Umno yang dipengerusikan Tengku Ahmad Rithaudden menghantar surat kepada Zaharin menggariskan semua pertuduhan antara lainnya mendakwa tertuduh menghantar pesanan ringkas atau SMS secara mala fide kepada ramai ahli Umno dengan tujuan memburukkan presiden parti dan menghasut ahli Umno menjatuhkan Abdullah.

Punca pemecatan

Fasal 20.8 (f) Perlembagaan Umno

"Bahawa saudara sebagai ahli Umno No, 02826894, di Cawangan Sungai Besi Pekan, di Bahagian Bandar Tun Razak telah pada atau sekitar 24 Jun 2006, jam lebih kurang 9.30 pagi bertempat di Dewan Paradise, Kelab Taman Melawati telah melibatkan diri secara langsung selaku penganjur, atas pengakuan kamu sendiri, melalui kenyataan terbuka yang ditandatangani oleh kamu sendiri di mana majlis tersebut telah disalahgunakan sebagai satu forum menjatuhkan nama baik dan maruah parti Umno amnya dan YAB Dato' Seri Presiden khususnya dan dengan demikian telah melakukan kesalahan di bawah Fasal 20.8 (f) Perlembagaan Umno yang juga pari materia dengan Perkara 1.1.6 Tataetika ahli Umno". (more)

Abd Zarin bin Mohd Yasin wrote in his blog today :

Kenyataan Media

Presiden UMNO Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dalam Mesyuarat Ahli Majlis Tertinggi UMNO hari ini, 29hb September 2006 telah memecat saya dari menjadi ahli UMNO atas dakwaan bahawa saya telah melanggar peruntukan Fasal 20.8 Perlembagaan UMNO dibaca bersama Perkara 1 Tata Etika ahli UMNO iaitu berkelakuan dengan tujuan menjejaskan kedudukan parti UMNO di dalam kerajaan selain menjatuhkan imej dan nama baik parti.

Saya telah dihadapkan kepada Lembaga Disiplin UMNO pada 4hb September 2006 atas 22 pertuduhan yang berkisar kepada tulisan saya yang menyentuh Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dalam blog "Sang Kelembai". Lembaga Disiplin UMNO telah bersetuju untuk mengambil tindakan agar saya dibebaskan tetapi tidak dilepaskan dari tuduhan disiplin, dan saya memberi surat aku janji supaya tidak lagi menulis perkara - perkara yang menyentuh serangan peribadi Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sebaliknya menulis bentuk kritikan kepada perkara - perkara dasar atau pandangan yang boleh membantu parti. Surat "aku janji" itu telah saya serahkan kepada Lembaga Disiplin tersebut.

Sungguhpun demikian pada bulan Ramadhan yang mubarak ini, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi telah mengumumkan pemecatan saya sebagai ahli UMNO dengan berselindung atas alasan bahawa ahli Majlis Tertinggi UMNO sebulat suara bersetuju dengan dengan keputusan pemecatan tersebut. Saya menerima pemecatan tersebut dengan terbuka dan menganggap bahawa pemecatan ini adalah satu rahmat bagi saya dari terus menyokong organisasi yang dipimpin oleh seorang Presiden yang bagi saya cenderung kepada sifat - sifat seorang "munafik"

Pemecatan itu memberi saya ruang untuk bebas dari ikatan Perlembagan UMNO bentuk baru, yang menyekat ruang untuk mengkritik dan menegur pemimpin, satu perkara yang berlawanan dengan prinsip Islam Hadhari. Ini membuktikan teguran saya bahawa konsep Islam Hadhari yang dibawa oleh Perdana Menteri kita hanya - Islam ada had dan ada hari.

Pemecatan saya juga membuktikan bahawa pemimpin UMNO tidak boleh dikritik atau ditegur dan perbuatan mengkritik kepimpinan khususnya dalam konteks ini "mengkritik Perdana Menteri " merupakan satu dosa besar dalam parti. Pemecatan ini tidak melunturkan sokongan saya terhadap UMNO kerana bagi saya, sokongan setelah saya dipecat menunjukkan komitment saya terhadap perjuangan agenda - agenda UMNO dan sokongan ini bukan sokongan yang mempunyai niat - niat perolehan tertentu. Kita tidak sepatutnya hadir dalam menyokong parti hanya untuk menuntut balasan dari parti untuk kepentingan diri sendiri tetapi kita hadir menyokong kerana kita percaya kepada idealisma dan perjuangan UMNO yang selama ini relevan untuk agama, bangsa dan negara.

Ini adalah kali kedua saya dipecat sebagai ahli UMNO dalam perkara yang sama, iaitu menegur pemimpin UMNO. Pada tahun 1996, kerana menulis berapa surat terbuka kepada Dr Mahathir Mohamed dan Anwar Ibrahim saya dipecat oleh Majlis Tertinggi UMNO dan diterima semula dalam UMNO selepas Anwar Ibrahim dipecat oleh Majlis Tertinggi UMNO pada tahun 1998.

Pemecatan ini bagi saya telah membuka ruang yang lebih luas sama ada untuk menulis, hadir dalam mana - mana majlis yang berjuang untuk membongkar pembohongan Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dan jika saya terlibat dalam mana-mana ceramah termasuk ceramah Parti Pembangkang selepas ini, ia lebih merupakan perjuangan saya bagi menghidari rakyat dari ditipu oleh Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Saya komited untuk memastikan beliau meletakan jawatan atau disingkirkan sebagai Perdana Menteri secara demokrasi dalam pilihanraya yang akan datang. Penyingkirkan seorang Perdana Menteri bukan perkara baru. Ini pernah berlaku dalam pilihanraya 1969. Semua rakyat berbilang kaum dalam menunjukkan protes mereka, telah memberi undi kepada pembangkang sehingga memperolehi banyak kerusi Dewan Negeri dan seterusnya menguasai Pulau Pinang dan Pas kekal di Kelantan. Tindakan rakyat ini juga mengoncang kedudukan Perak dan Selangor. Begitu juga ditahun 1999, apabila seluruh rakyat Terengganu telah mengundi Pas kerana mahu menyingkirkan Wan Mokhtar Ahmad. Tidak mustahil pada pilihararaya yang akan datang rakyat Malaysia terdiri dari Melayu, China,India dan etnik lain akan mengundi parti pembangkang kerana mahu menyingkiran Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Saya tidak akan merayu atas keputusan tersebut dan akan hanya memohon menyertai semula UMNO setelah Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sudah tidak menjadi Presiden UMNO. Saya ingin membawa kepada satu peristiwa Saidina Ali yang tidak membunuh musuh perangnya sungguhpun musuh tersebut telah meludah kemukanya. Bila ditanya kenapa beliau tidak membunuh musuh tersebut, beliau menjawab, "bahawa aku berperang menentang musuh Allah dan aku takut kehilangan pahala kerana membunuh dia yang telah meludahku" dan sikap ini saya jadikan landasan perjuangan saya untuk terus membongkar kemunifikan pemimpin yang memperalatkan Islam.

Kepada semua ahli Majli Tertinggi UMNO, saya mengucapkan ribuan terima kasih kerana sebulat suara bersetuju memecat saya dari menjadi ahli UMNO. Saya yakin ahli Majlis Tertinggi UMNO tahu dengan beradanya saya diluar UMNO, ini pasti akan memudahkan saya bergerak untuk menyegerakan kejatuhan Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Saya komited dan tidak akan menghampakan harapan itu. Doakan saya berjaya dalam usaha ini. Saya mengungkap perutusan kemerdekaan tempoh hari :


Sekian Terima Kasih

Senarai imbasan kertas pertuduhan boleh dilihat dalam laman www.umno-reform.com


Israel Backs Off Plan to Kill Nasrallah

Israel has quietly backed off its plan to assassinate Hezbollah's leader because of the international condemnation that his killing would create, the Israeli daily Maariv reported Friday.

During the 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah that ended Aug. 14, Israel had targeted Hassan Nasrallah for assassination, security officials said, according to Maariv.

Nasrallah went underground, though he repeatedly recorded videos from his hiding place that were broadcast on Lebanese television.

When the war ended, the army recommended that the efforts to kill Nasrallah be called off because his assassination would lead to international criticism of Israel and would ignite an even more violent war, Maariv reported.

However, the government declined to call off the hunt, the newspaper reported.

Nasrallah emerged from hiding on Sept. 22 to address a massive rally in Lebanon celebrating Hezbollah's fight against Israel. Israel army officials determined they could assassinate him with an airstrike during the rally, but dozens of bystanders also would be killed, Maariv reported.

The government decided an airstrike was not worth the risk, and accepted the army's recommendation that it should abandon efforts to kill Nasrallah for the time being, the newspaper reported. However, the government did not make a formal decision regarding Nasrallah.

Israeli government spokesman Miri Eisin declined to confirm whether Nasrallah had been a target or if he no longer was being pursued.

"We've always said that any terrorist should feel that his activities put him under our eye," she said.

28 September, 2006

PM sends Singapore letter on LKY remarks

PM sends Singapore letter on MM LKY remarks

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has sent a letter to the Singapore government seeking an explanation over recent remarks by Lee Kuan Yew.

Lee, Minister Mentor in the Singapore Cabinet, had said the Chinese in Malaysia were being marginalised.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the Cabinet was informed yesterday that the letter has been despatched.

"We expect Singapore to say sorry for Lee’s remarks," he said.

He added that if Singapore continued to come up with baseless remarks, it would be difficult to maintain cordial relations.

Syed Hamid said that Lee, as the former Prime Minister of the republic, should have known better than to utter such remarks as it also went against Asean’s non-interference policy.

"I believe Singapore’s motive is to make Malaysia look bad to foreign investors but they won’t succeed because the world can see that we Malaysians always stand together as one nation," he said.

Abdullah said on Monday that he wanted Lee to explain himself as his comments could cause racial tension.

Lee told a forum in Singapore on Sept 15 that the city-state’s neighbouring countries, Malaysia and Indonesia, "have problems with the Chinese. They are successful, they are hardworking, and therefore, they are systematically marginalised".

He also said the two countries "want Singapore, to put it simply, to be like their Chinese — compliant".

Abdullah had said Lee’s remarks were not welcomed and the republic’s founding father had appeared to show he had no qualms about making such a highly-charged statement.

The Umno supreme council meeting today will discuss the forms of action to be taken against Singapore following the remarks.

Umno information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib said the matter would be raised following immense pressure from the grassroots for stern action to be taken.

In Jakarta, Indonesia summoned Singapore’s ambassador to explain Lee’s remarks.

Director of the Indonesian foreign ministry’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs division, Yuri Thamrin, described Lee’s comments as "inaccurate" and required explanation.

Apparently Johor UMNO is asking the Malaysian Federal Government:

" to cancel all projects that would benefit Singapore more than it would Malaysia, especially the proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore Bullet Train project."

MALAYSIA cannot cancel all Singapore's investments because that could send wrong signals to other investors.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Monday that the country needed foreign direct investments but it must also ensure that they did not affect Malaysia's interests and ownership of strategic sectors and industries.

'Otherwise it would create dissatisfaction or raise adverse implications to the country's security. Leave it to the government to weigh the matters, on a case-by-case basis.'

Datuk Seri Najib was commenting on Johor Umno's call for the government to cancel all projects that would benefit Singapore more than it would Malaysia, especially the proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore Bullet Train project.

Johor Umno also asked that Malaysia stop taking into consideration Singapore's interests when implementing projects under the RM15 billion (S$6.5 billion) Johor South Corridor project.

The calls followed Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's remarks that the Chinese in Malaysia and Indonesia were being systematically marginalised.

Meanwhile, Umno Information Chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib said the party's Supreme Council would discuss the course of action to be taken with regard to Mr Lee's remarks, Berita Harian Malaysia reported yesterday.

He said there were calls from Umno grassroots that the party issue a stern response to Mr Lee's comments.

We can see that Johor UMNO has consistently opposed any increase in direct transportation links between Singapore and KL. They have opposed increasing the number of flights and number of carriers that could fly between Singapore and KL, and now they oppose the bullet train project. Why? We can conclude that there is a pattern in their objections: they oppose any agreement between Singapore and KL that would allow people to travel between Singapore and KL directly, and bypass Johor.

This conclusion raises some important questions about Johor UMNO. They are willing to sacrifice the mutually beneficial interests of Singapore and Malaysia out of spite and jealousy. They are willing to sacrifice the interests of the people of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore because they wish to protect the business interests of their lobbies in Johor. And worst of all, they cloak their economic protectionism behind false nationalist rhetoric in order to distract the Malaysian people from realising how craven they actually are.

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad was right when he described Singapore as "tiny".

But I can't understand why he said, "The country is tiny, don't be too proud", unless he was thinking like an army general, a business tycoon or a boy bragging, "Mine is bigger than yours."

I would have thought "tiny" Singapore had all the more reason to be proud of its achievements.

Shouldn't a country no bigger than the city of Pune, in India, or Edmonton, in Canada, and smaller than Kansas City, USA, be proud of itself when it has the world's busiest airport, busiest container port, fifth cleanest/least corrupt economy and one of the world's highest living standards, ranked 11th by the Economist magazine?

Malaysia can be proud of its prosperity too. But it is blessed with natural resources like oil, unlike Singapore which has progressed through sheer ingenuity and economic foresight.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew can justly claim that, as Singapore's first prime minister, he transformed Singapore into one of the world's richest nations. It's the third richest Asian economy with a gross national per capita income of $27,490 surpassed only by Japan and Hong Kong, according to the World Bank.

Singapore owes a lot to MM Lee -- including, unfortunately, this latest dig by the former Malaysian prime minister.

Dr Mahathir's outburst against Singapore was really return fire to MM Lee.

The Chinese are marginalised in Malaysia and Indonesia, said MM Lee, adding that Singapore had to stand up to its bigger neighbours.

That infuriated Dr Mahathir, who is easily provoked by anything to do with Singapore.

Malays are marginalised in Singapore, he claimed.

Never mind that Singapore does not officially favour one race over another unlike Malaysia, which protects the indigenous Malays.

Never mind that MM Lee was right, according to some of the Chinese Malaysians.

The controversy is snowballing.

Even Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who avoids confrontations, has joined the fray.

He has said he will write to MM Lee asking for an explanation for his remarks, reported the International Herald Tribune.

"It is a statement that can incite Malaysian citizens of Chinese descent," he said.

He added, "If our country is not stable, Singapore will also experience the impact because it has economic interests here."

The last bit is true. After the coup in Thailand, the last thing Singapore needs is trouble free with neighbouring Malaysia. The economies of all three countries are closely interlinked.

But neighbours being neighbours can't avoid run-ins, I guess.

Thailand's accusation of AP as a barrier for its cars into Msia is good example of why our NEP is hampering the progress of foreign manufacturers in this country. The list goes on and on.And the Malays are saying that they need APs to go beyond 2010 as they can't survive. What have they been doing with the "free" money all these decades? I think LKY's statement should be a wakeup call to the PM that by providing cructhes to some Malays and marginalising the rest, the country and the "unprivileged Malays" will lose out when the hardworking and smart ones move on , possibly to Spore and I suspect it is also a " come to me" call by LKY to invite the Chineses to invest and put money in Spore. LKY is as foxy as our ex-PM in his choice of words and I am sure it proved hard to grasp by the current PM and his "simple-minded" Cabinet boys.

Here is strong evidence to prove that Chinese are NOT maginalized in Malaysia.

1. Chinese have to buy houses at 5% - 15% more than a Bumi pays for the same house in any housing estate?
2. Chinese cannot get scholarships or university places even with excellent results.
3. Chinese cannot be Vice Cancellors of Malaysian Universities.
4. Chinese cannot be given key portfolios in the Cabinet.
5. Chinese cannot be made Governors of Penang or Melaka?
6. Chinese cannot be CEOs of any GLc?
7. Chinese cannot occupy top positions in the civil service, police, army and even in any local governments.
8. UMNO can wave the keris at the Chinese and be proud about it.

Did I say they were not maginaized? Then what do you call these?

Latest News

KUALA LUMPUR (AP): Malaysia summoned Singapore's ambassador Thursday to explain elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew's claim that ethnic Chinese minority citizens in Malaysia and Indonesia were being marginalized, an official said.

Malaysian Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Rastam Isa met with Singapore's High Commissioner T. Jasudasen after Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi earlier this week sent a letter to Singapore's government, apparently to seek an apology for Lee'scomments.

Ministry officials wanted to "seek clarification" over Lee's remarks, a Singapore High Commission official said on condition of anonymity. Singapore "will respond through appropriatechannels in due course," the official added.

Foreign ministry officials declined to comment.

Lee, Singapore's founding father who holds the Cabinet post of minister mentor, told a forum in Singapore on Sept. 15 that Malaysia and Indonesia "have problems with the Chinese. They aresuccessful, they are hardworking, and therefore, they are systematically marginalized."

Indonesia also summoned Singapore's envoy earlier this week to explain Lee's remarks at the forum that Malaysia and Indonesia "want Singapore, to put it simply, to be like their Chinese - compliant."

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said his country expects Singapore "to say sorry for Lee's remarks," the New Straits Times newspaper reported Thursday.

"I believe Singapore's motive is to make Malaysia look bad to foreign investors but they won't succeed because the world can see we Malaysians always stand together as one nation," Syed Hamid was quoted as saying.

Prime Minister Abdullah has expressed displeasure at Lee's remark, suggesting that it could stir up Malaysia's Chinese, who make up about a quarter of the country's 26 million population and are its second largest ethnic group. He has also noted thatrace relations in ethnic Chinese-majority Singapore are also not perfect.

The ruling United Malays National Organization, which is led by Abdullah, planned to discuss action that could be taken against Singapore over Lee's remarks at a Supreme Council meeting scheduled later Thursday, the New Straits Times added.

Malaysia and Singapore have close cultural and economic ties, but a history of quarrels, bad blood and rivalry. In recent years the neighbors have sparred over the price of water, and took aterritorial spat over a tiny islet to the World Court.

27 September, 2006

Lee Kuan Yew: Why did he say it?

Lee Kuan Yew: Why did he say it?

He wants to remind new generation that being small doesn't mean Singapore must be compliant to bigger neighbours

Not all Singaporeans regard everything Mr. Lee Kuan Yew says or does these days as superior logic - and the furore he has raised in Malaysia is one of these split issues.

Some people feel his reference to marginalised ethnic Chinese in Malaysia was unnecessarily provocative.

I am one of those who believe that some of Mr. Lee's ideas have become outdated for today's Singapore, but on the current controversy, I am fully behind him.

I am sure his message was not aimed at a Malaysian audience. It was targeted at the new generation of Singaporeans, a reminder that being citizens of a small country would sometimes mean being subjected to irrational demands.

It was a message about good governance. To potential leaders his message was "learn to say no" to unreasonable demands.

He said this on the eve of his 83rd birthday and this sort of reminders can only serve the country well.

In fact, the reaction of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad explains the validity of Mr. Lee's concern about the vulnerability of Singapore's small size.

The querulous Mahathir said, "Singapore is a tiny country. Don't talk big."

He wasn't the only one. Former Indonesian president B.J. Habibie at a peeved moment called Singapore "just a little red dot."

In the 70s when Singapore and Indonesia disagreed over some Asean investment issue, (the then) Indonesian foreign minister Adam Malik told his journalists: "The priority of 140m people takes precedence over a population of 2.5m".

What sparked off the controversy this time was Mr. Lee's comment that the attitude of Malaysia and Indonesia towards the Republic was shaped by the way they treated their own ethnic Chinese minorities

He added: "My neighbours both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful, they're hardworking and therefore they are systematically marginalised, even in education"

"And they want Singapore, to put it simply, to be like their Chinese, compliant"

Mr Lee said Singapore must have a government which must be "firm but polite", able to deal with difficult neighbours "who want to pressure us to build pretty bridges without giving us commensurate benefits".

"You need a government that will be able to not only have the gumption but the skill to say no in a very quiet, polite way that doesn't provoke them into doing something silly," he said.

Mr Lee was being interviewed by former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who asked him what he hoped for Singapore, 40 years from now.

Mr. Lee replied: "My hope is that there will be a government that is equal to the job, as the PAP (the ruling People's Action Party) was."

Reminding Singaporeans to stand up to Malaysia's unreasonable demands was, of course, more relevant during the Mahathir era than the Badawi government.

I remember Dr. Mahathir once telling his ministers there were "many ways to skin a cat (meaning Singapore). He rarely passed up an opportunity to insult the republic.

Imagine what would happen if Singapore had done this.

Once when Kuala Lumpur was mad at Singapore's three-quarter tank rule for cars entering Johor, one of his ministers announced that he would order his staff to go through all Singapore's regulations to find out which one were affecting Malaysians negatively.

Did he not know international law? Of course, he did - at least enough to recognise an act that intrudes into another country's sovereignty.

But because Dr. M, the boss, was anti-Singapore, some of his underlings probably thought they could show him their loyalty.

As a journalist reporting on Malaysia for many years, I feel Mr. Lee's reminder about the realities of regional politics crucially important - especially for young Singaporeans who believe if you are a nice guy, others will always treat you nicely.

A Kadir Jasin wrote in Harakah : Jangan bazirkan wang rakyat untuk hantar surat kepada Lee Kuan Yew

Agaknya, oleh sebab terlalu kerap dan terlalu gemar bercakap hal-hal remeh-temeh, lucu dan merapu, kepemimpinan kita di pelbagai peringkat dan kelompok tergamam apabila terserempak dengan cabaran.

Itulah yang nampaknya berlaku apabila dimaklumkan dan disedarkan mengenai fitnah dan penghinaan terhadap negara kita oleh politikus bermulut laser dari seberang Selat Teberau bernama Lee Kuan Yew.

Dipinggirkan secara sistematik

Pada 15 September, ketika berucap dan berdialog di dalam sebuah persidangan di negara beliau, Menteri Mentor republik pulau itu telah membuat kenyataan berikut:-

1. Singapura memerlukan sebuah kerajaan yang cerdik dan mahir yang boleh mengatakan "tidak" kepada negara-negara jiran secara diam-diam dan bersopan santun agar tidak menimbulkan kemarahan mereka sehingga melakukan sesuatu yang "bodoh" (silly);

2. Jiran Singapura iaitu Malaysia dan Indonesia kedua-duanya mempunyai masalah dengan penduduk keturunan Cina mereka. Orang Cina Malaysia dan Indonesia berjaya. Mereka bekerja kuat dan sebab itu dipinggirkan secara sistematik;

3. Indonesia dan Malaysia mahu Singapura yang majoriti penduduknya Cina jadi seperti Cina mereka iaitu mengikut telunjuk;

4. Adalah penting bagi Singapura, sebagai negara majoriti rakyatnya berketurunan Cina, untuk berdepan dengan negara-negara yang lebih besar yang majoriti rakyatnya beragama Islam; dan

5. Singapura akan musnah jika pembangkang menang.

Daripada laporan agensi berita antarabangsa, jelas bahawa Kuan Yew memburuk-burukkan Malaysia dan Indonesia bagi mempertahankan dasar tidak liberal Parti Tindakan Rakyat (PAP) yang memerintah Singapura. (more)

“Marginalisation” - why no action taken against Khairy when he first raised it?”

Lim Kit Siang wrote :

There has been a nation-wide furore with Barisan Nasional leaders, ranging from the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to MCA and Gerakan leaders denouncing Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew for his comment about the marginalization of the Chinese in Malaysia.

The question many are asking is why no action had been taken against Umno Youth Leader and the Prime Minister’s son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin when he created a storm with his allegation that Malays in Penang are marginalized – if “marginalization” talk is incitement or seditious?

Let us keep two issues separate – Firstly, whether Lee Kuan Yew as a Singapore leader should have made his “marginalization” comment; and secondly, whether the Chinese in Malaysia are “marginalized” regardless of whether it is stated by Lee Kuan Yew or any other foreign leader.

The first question concerns the propriety of a government leader commenting on the affairs of another country. Do we want to take a position that leaders of a country should not comment on the affairs of another country? Malaysian government leaders have not shied away from commenting on matters in other countries, whether in their speeches in international conferences or locally. The Malaysian government’s response should be guided by this principle.

The second question is whether the Chinese in Malaysia have been marginalized. Just like Khairy’s earlier allegation that the Malays in Penang have been marginalized, this is a question which must be considered on its own merits regardless of whether the issue is raised by Lee Kuan Yew or the Prime Minister’s son-in-law.

Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik and Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon have all come out to rebut Lee Kuan Yew and declare that the Chinese in Malaysia are not marginalized.

I have no doubt, however, that if a secret poll is conducted among the MCA and Gerakan membership, their overwhelming majority will vote in support of the proposition that the Chinese in Malaysia are marginalized.

It is clear that the MCA and Gerakan leaders are not even representing the views of their membership in their responses on the question of marginalization which covers many fields – citizenship, economic, political, cultural, educational, religious, human rights, etc.

There are the marginalized among all communities in Malaysia – the Malays, Indians, Kadazans Ibans and Orang Asli.

Khairy spoke about the Malays being marginalized in Penang. But who must bear the biggest responsibility for the plight of Malays marginalised in Penang when for the past 13 years, either the post of Deputy Prime Minister or Prime Minister had been occupied by the topmost Umno leader from Penang?

Why is the focus confined to the marginalized Malays in Penang and not in other parts in Malaysia? Is this because the blame must finally be traced to Umnoputras who have denied the ordinary Malays, like the ordinary Chinese, Indians, Orang Asli, Kadazans and Ibans their rightful share in the development, progress and prosperity in the country?

How to make more than RM11 billion with just one letter

Malaysia Today Special Report on the Oil-for-Food scandal

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently paid the US President a courtesy call and it is rumoured it was more a personal visit than a state visit though it may have been an official visit nevertheless. The talk in town -- Washington that is -- is that Abdullah wants Bush to help quash a move by some members of the US Congress to bring to the attention of the American public two needling and most damaging issues that would seriously affect Malaysia’s already beleaguered Prime Minister.

Could this have been the source of Abdullah’s sleepless nights? And did Bush agree to help Abdullah out of his predicament? And what did Abdullah have to agree to in return for this service he is asking Bush to do? Malaysia is already allowing American nuclear ships to berth in our ports. Malaysia is already negotiating the FTA with America and would probably sign it in the not too distant future. What else can we give away?

One matter on Abdullah’s mind is the recent arrest of five Japanese from Mitutoyo, including its President, for exporting components to Scomi as far back as ten years ago that could be used to make nuclear weapons and which were re-exported to Libya. Malaysia Today reported about this on 11 September 2006 in an article called Three strikes and you're out.

The fact that Tahir, the man implicated in the nuclear component scandal, has been detained under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act speaks volumes about Scomi’s complicity in this whole thing. Normally, a person would be detained under the Internal Security Act only if he is a threat to Malaysia’s national security. Tahir is no threat to Malaysia’s national security. He was detained to prevent him from talking. If he talks, then it would be revealed that Scomi is not as innocent as it has been painted.

The second issue is Abdullah’s implication in the Oil-for-Food scandal where his name has been linked to two companies that are beneficiaries to more than 50,000,000 barrels of Iraqi oil. The total value of this whole thing comes to more than RM11 billion. This scandal is even more damaging than the first one because other foreign leaders also implicated in this scandal have already been forced to resign from office. And the noose around Abdullah’s neck is the fact that he signed a letter on 13 November 2000 recommending these two companies. RM11 billion! And all it took was one letter.

When asked about it back in 2004, Abdullah did not deny signing the letter. He just brushed it aside as a trivial matter by explaining that many business people approach him for support from time to time, which he does give, and that he does not even remember who they are nor does he have any interest in the business deal. This would be a valid excuse if not for the fact that the person in question is his sister-in-law. If it was just one of the many he recommended we could understand that he cannot remember who they are. But when it is his own sister-in-law, how could he not remember?

What is Abdullah’s role in the Oil-for-Food scandal? Is he really innocent and has his name really been unwittingly used? Not really. Abdullah actually issued the letter when he was still the Deputy Prime Minister, endorsing the companies that were making a bid for the Iraqi oil contracts. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has a copy of this letter as do some others including one of the previous Finance Ministers of Malaysia. And who is this previous Finance Minister? Is it Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah? Is it Daim Zainuddin? Is it Anwar Ibrahim? Malaysia Today is of course not telling but this man knows who we are talking about. And why has Mahathir not revealed this letter thus far? Could it be because Mahathir is waiting for Abdullah to deny it before he throws the 13 November 2000 letter onto the table to expose Abdullah for what he is, a fake ulamak and a liar?

There are two reports on the Iraqi Oil-for-Food scandal.

1) Charles Duelfer - Comprehensive Report of the Special Adviser to the Director of the Central Intelligence on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, dated 30 September 2004

2) Paul A. Volcker - Independent Inquiry Committee into The United Nations Oil-for Food Programme (Manipulation of the Oil-for-Food Programme by the Iraqi Regime), dated 27 October 2005. (See full report here).

Both reports have named Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s connection to the Oil-for-Food programme via two Malaysian companies, Tradeyear Sdn Bhd and Mastek Sdn Bhd. Table 3, page 13 of the Volcker Report specifically named Abdullah as a “Non-Contractual Beneficiary”. The Volcker Report also mentions that Abdullah had written a letter to Taha Yassin Ramadan on 13 November 2000 recommending a delegation headed by Mr. Faek Ahmad Shareef and Noor Asiah Mahmood (Abdullah’s sister-in-law).

Even more damaging is the revelation that kickbacks were involved. In Table 2 of the Volcker Report (Exhibit “E”) it is clearly stated that a kickback of USD10,916241 was demanded from Mastek Sdn Bhd, of which USD9,803,960 was paid, leaving a balance of USD1,112,281 unpaid. In the case of Tradeyear Sdn Bhd, the sum of USD116,870 was demanded, which was paid in full.

The Volcker Report states that according to Mr. Jaya Sudir in a 19 August 2005 interview, Mr. Faek Ahmad Shareef had leveraged his connection with Abdullah. A review of Iraqi documents confirms the association between Iraqi officials, Mr. Faek Ahmad Shareef and Abdullah. References to Mr. Shareef’s oil allocation in the SOMO (State Oil Marketing Organisation) documents appear in some instances as “Mr. Faek Ahmad Shareef/for the benefit of Abdullah”.

Anyway, all one needs to do is to look at the details below to see that Abdullah is not as innocent as he might pretend to be. Points to note would be as follows:

1) Tradeyear Sdn Bhd, which entered into two contracts (M/08/61 and M/06/42), is beneficiary to 5,600,000 barrels of Iraqi oil under the name of Abdullah Badawi.

2) Tradeyear Sdn Bhd is owned by Tradeyear Limited, a Singapore company, and it is only a ‘two dollar company’ (the paid up capital is RM2.00).

3) Mastek Sdn Bhd, which entered into four contracts (M/09/46, M/11/12, M12/54 and M/13/94), is beneficiary to 45,000,000 barrels of Iraqi oil under the name of Faek Ahmad Shareef.

4) Mastek Sdn Bhd is owned by Obata-Ambak Holdings Sdn Bhd and Noor Asiah Binti Mahmood (Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s sister-in-law). Obata-Ambak Holdings Sdn Bhd is in turn owned by Noor Asiah Binti Mahmood plus three others of the same surname and living at the same address as Noor Asiah. Therefore, Noor Asiah Binti Mahmood owns Mastek Sdn Bhd directly, as well as indirectly through Obata-Ambak Holdings Sdn Bhd.

26 September, 2006

Najib heartened MCA and Gerakan rebutted Lee’s claims

Najib heartened MCA and Gerakan rebutted Lee’s claims

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is “heartened” that MCA and Gerakan have explained the actual situation of the Chinese in Malaysia.

The Deputy Prime Minister said their statements had rebutted the claim by Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew that Malaysian Chinese were being marginalised.

“I am heartened by the fact that our partners in Barisan, like the MCA and Gerakan presidents, have issued statements to debunk whatever Lee had said to clarify the actual position in Malaysia,” said Najib.

He added that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would be sending Lee a letter seeking clarification over his statement.

SEVERAL grassroots Umno politicians, joining the chorus of criticism against Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, have urged the government to ensure that Singapore does not benefit from development plans for Johor.

In a front-page story in Utusan Malaysia yesterday, they were quoted as saying that projects that benefit the Republic such as the proposed high-speed train should be cancelled, given that Singapore does not appreciate the sensitivities of its neighbour.

They also said Malaysia should not take into account the Republic's interests when implementing the South Johor Economic Region (SJER) plan.

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi had earlier said the SJER would benefit both countries.

The politicians were reacting to remarks made on Sept 15 by MM Lee on how Malaysia treats its ethnic Chinese minority.

The issue received front-page treatment in all major newspapers on Sunday after Datuk Seri Abdullah said he would write to MM Lee about his comments.

At a dialogue for good governance in Singapore, MM Lee said that it was important for Singapore to have a government that was 'really firm, stout-hearted, subtle and resolute'.

He noted that the attitude of Malaysia and Indonesia towards the Republic was shaped by the way they treated their own ethnic Chinese minorities.

MM Lee said: 'My neighbours both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful, they're hardworking and therefore they are systematically marginalised, even in education.'

Mr Mohd Puad Zarkashi, Umno's information chief in Johor, was among those who blasted MM Lee, describing his comments as provocative.

'We cannot adopt a give-and-take approach with a country that does not respect the friendly spirit of Asean,' he said.

Similar views were expressed by Datuk Ghazali Ibrahim, the division chief of Padang Terap in Kedah; Datuk Idris Haron, the Youth chief of the Tangga Batu division in Malacca; Datuk Hasni Mohammad, the Pontian division chief in Johor; and Federal Territory Youth chief Datuk Norza Zakaria.

Their strong reaction indicated that they regarded the comments as prejudiced and as criticism of Malaysia's affirmative action policy.

Umno Youth's chief in Johor, Mr Razali Ibrahim, saw it as interference because, he said, Malaysia was always careful not to touch on the sensitivities of Singapore.

'There are many things we can say about Singapore, but we refrain from doing so,' he told The Straits Times.

The Johor Baru division chief of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Mr Abdul Razak Ahmad, meanwhile, said MM Lee's remarks must be understood in the historical context.

He said the Minister Mentor always liked to think Singapore was like Israel, surrounded by a sea of Arab Muslims who were determined to throw them into the sea.

The reaction from the Chinese community to MM Lee's comments has been mixed.

While Barisan Nasional's Chinese-based parties have criticised the comments, there are also other views.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Fu Ah Kiow joined his Barisan Nasional colleagues in criticising MM Lee, saying his comments were extreme.

But Mr Fu, a senior MCA official, added: 'The issue raised is more of a personal opinion of a former leader of the Republic and I'm sure it will not influence the thinking and sensitivities of the Chinese in this country.'

Veteran Chinese educationist Sim Mou Yu was quoted in the China Press yesterday as saying that MM Lee had voiced the feelings of Malaysian Chinese.

Echoing that view, the assistant publicity secretary for the opposition Democratic Action Party in Johor, Mr Chong Yok Meng, said that MM Lee's comments were not unfair to the Malaysian government or the people.

On the contrary, he said it would 'stimulate' the Chinese leaders in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition to not treat the rights of their ethnic group lightly, according to the Sinchew daily yesterday.

The Nanyang Siang Pau, in a commentary, said that Malaysian leaders should employ facts and reason and provide a satisfactory answer to the issue raised by MM Lee.

The newspaper also carried an Internet survey which indicated a substantial number of people supported MM Lee's comments.

Forty-two per cent of postings on the issue on the New Straits Times Monster Blog since Sept 22 supported MM Lee's views, while 18 per cent disagreed.

The remainder had other views on the matter, according to Nanyang Siang Pau.

Najib said Malaysia could not cancel all its investments in Singapore as suggested by Johor Umno recently.

He said such moves would only send an incorrect and inappropriate message to Singapore, adding that Malaysia needed foreign direct investments.

However, the country had to ensure that foreign investments were not detrimental to national interests or national security, he added.

“Leave this matter to the Government to weigh and decide on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

Public Complaints Bureau officers to be given more powers

Public Complaints Bureau officers will be given more powers to investigate cases thoroughly.

With enhanced authority, the officers could have access to government documents.

They could also summon and question witnesses, unlike the present practice of just noting feedback from the public.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said on Tuesday that a Cabinet paper on the matter has been handed to the Attorney-General for approval.

He hoped the matter could be finalised by this year.

He said the bureau officers did not have the authority to acquire government documents for investigation purposes or have powers to question people, something which Anti-Corruption Agency officers could do.

The bureau officers, he said, depended on cooperation from heads of department on the orders of the Chief Secretary to the Government, but this was inadequate.

Dompok added that at times, witnesses did not cooperate with the officers knowing the officers lacked power. This slowed down investigations.

“Such powers are important for the bureau to be more proactive, to enhance the Government’s delivery system in implementing development programmes and to improve the quality of the civil service,” he told newsmen after presenting the bureau’s 2005 annual report.

Cases currently take between two and eight months to complete investigations, said Dompok, adding that cases found to have elements of corruption would be referred to the ACA for further action.


Taliban says bin Laden alive: Al Arabiya TV

Dubai-based Al Arabiya television on Tuesday quoted a Taliban official as saying al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was alive and in good health.

The Arabic channel said its Pakistan bureau had received a call from the unnamed Taliban official a few days after a leaked French secret document said Saudi intelligence believed bin Laden died last month in Pakistan.

"The official said bin Laden was alive and that reports that he is ill are not true," said Bakr Atyani, Al Arabiya's Islamabad correspondent. "The Taliban checked with members who are close to al Qaeda that these reports are baseless."

Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri are believed to be hiding in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was last seen in a video statement aired to coincide with the November 2004 U.S. presidential elections.

A report in French regional daily L'Est Republicain last week quoted a document from the DGSE foreign intelligence service, saying the Saudi secret services were convinced bin Laden had died of typhoid.

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it had no evidence that bin Laden was dead. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said that as far as he knew the Saudi-born militant was alive.

Bin Laden has issued several audio messages in the past two years, the last one in July 2006 in which he vowed al Qaeda would fight the United States anywhere in the world.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to flush out al Qaeda and the government of the hard-line Islamic Taliban movement that supported it after the militant network carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

China: Olympic countdown to human rights reform

"By allowing Beijing to host the Games you will help the development of human rights": Liu Jingmin, Vice-President of the Beijing Olympic Bid Committee, April 2001

With 687 days to go before the start of the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government needs to work quickly if it is to fulfil its promise to the International Olympic Committee to improve human rights ahead of the 2008 Games.

In its latest assessment of the Chinese government's performance in four benchmark areas of human rights ahead of the Olympics, Amnesty International found that its overall record remained poor. There has been some progress in reforming the death penalty system, but in other crucial areas the government's human rights record has deteriorated.

"The serious human rights abuses that continue to be reported every day across the country fly in the face of the promises the Chinese government made when it was bidding for the Olympics," said Catherine Baber, Deputy Asia Pacific Director at Amnesty International. "Grassroots human rights activists -- including those working with residents forcibly evicted from buildings on Olympic construction sites -- are harassed and imprisoned. Thousands of people are executed after unfair trials for crimes including smuggling and fraud."

"There has been a renewed crackdown on journalists and internet users in the past year -- a fact that makes government commitments to 'complete media freedom' ring hollow," said Catherine Baber. "The current state of affairs runs counter to the most basic interpretation of the 'Olympic spirit' with the 'preservation of human dignity' at its heart."

Amnesty International has sent its findings to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has said it would act if human rights commitments by China were not upheld in practice. The organisation is urging the IOC to use its influence with the Chinese authorities and to speak out on behalf of individuals such as Ye Guozhu.

Ye Guozhu was forcibly evicted when his home became part of a site for development in preparation for the Olympic Games. He was sentenced to four years' imprisonment after he sought permission to organize a demonstration in Beijing with other victims of forced evictions in December 2004. Amnesty International considers Ye Guozhu a prisoner of conscience. It has recently emerged that Ye has been tortured in detention, including being suspended from the ceiling by his arms and suffering beatings with electro-shock batons.

As well as carrying out forced evictions from Olympic related sites, Beijing city authorities have decided that in order to clean up the city's image in the run-up to the Olympics, targets of 're-education through labour' -- imprisonment without charge -- should to be expanded to include 'unlawful advertising or leafleting, unlicensed taxis, unlicensed businesses, vagrancy and begging'.

"Gleaming stadiums and spectacular parades will be worthless if journalists and human rights activists still can not speak out freely, if people are still being tortured in prison, or if the government continues its secrecy about the thousands of people executed," said Catherine Baber.

"We urge the Chinese authorities to press ahead with its promises to improve human rights so that when August 2008 arrives the Chinese people can be proud in every respect of what their country has to offer the world."

25 September, 2006

Osama bin Laden is alive, healthy and safe

The Osama bin Laden syndrome

It is interesting that with so many serious events happening in the world, the international press can attribute Headline status to a mere rumour about bin Laden.

It is interesting too that Osama bin Laden, dead or alive, has managed to give the world a brilliant lesson in personal marketing, for he has every media outlet ready to scrap the front page carefully crafted over the past 24 hours and at a stroke place a paragraph about some leaked document claiming he had died with a dose of tick fever – typhus – or whatever, reported in a regional newspaper somewhere in provincial France. The world’s first billionaire to die of tick fever.

While we have to admit that a rumour, a piece of gossip, a snippet overheard in the bakery on a Saturday morning, is not real news, any newspaper that leaves out the “bin Laden dead” story is asking for trouble because it will be left behind in the hit race, with everyone googling or hotbotting away or asking Jeeves about the world’s most wanted and elusive man. Even if they know deep inside that he died three or four years ago.

After five long years, bin Laden appears as a kind of Quixotic figure, a chimera in the collective imagination, a hero for some, an anti-hero for others but for all, the executioner of the most successful terrorist attack in history and the author of an event which in fact changed the world.

History will judge him as the David who struck Goliath or as the murderous monster who massacred innocent civilians yet he will remain as news because he has every element which places him as the epitome of the bin Laden factor – news appeal.

The bin Laden syndrome is the obsession with this type of news – the adrenalin rush, the shock and awe at opening the newspaper and seeing ever increasing figures about tragedies, threats, graphic and glossy pictures with Rivers of Blood headlines, the manipulation of fear, which keeps people in their place and which keeps them accepting the status quo as their freedoms and rights they have fought for centuries to obtain, get swept away from them in one fell swoop.

The bin Laden syndrome has seen numerous Governments backing the worst attack on the tissue of international law, the derision of the UNO, the breach of its Charter, the slaughter of civilians, the disregard for human rights, the Geneva Convention and countless other basic principles which we have sought to build through centuries of mistakes.

The bin Laden syndrome is the lack of vision, the absence of courage demonstrated by the individual, the absence of a will to fight for what is right, to fight against the usurpation of his rights and basically to stand up for himself. Like some condemned junkie, the individual wakes up in the morning, switches on the TV and receives his adrenalin rush and satisfied, still half-dazed by the ever-louder drum-beats which accompany background music played on news programmes, walks like a zombie to work, to have his fix reinforced on the radio and upon arrival, for everyone to put together the latest scare-stories sold by the scaremongering media.

The fact that Brazil is manufacturing huge quantities of cheap green bio-diesel just does not have the same pang as the Abbot Buggers Choirboys story, a three-word ABC of nonsense. This is not news – it is a tragedy for the boys and their families. The “Girl held as Slave in Underground Dungeon” story (replete with innuendo, the only word that is not written, but is implicitly understood, is “sex” before slave) does not appeal to the flights of fantasy in the imagination as much as “Blind girl receives diploma”, “Blind girl sees again” or “Iran discovers cure for AIDS”, a story with huge implications which PRAVDA.Ru ran but which was ignored by the international press because Ahmadinejad has a beard, and must therefore be an untrustworthy blighter, what?

It is time for people to beat the bin Laden syndrome by thinking for themselves, trying to find the news that really matters and disregarding the adrenalin rush as an unnecessarily stressful way to start the day.

Osama bin Laden is alive, healthy and safe, Saudi authorities rejected the information originally published by French newspaper L'Est Republicain about the death of world’s most wanted terrorist, the founder of al-Qaeda terrorist network, Osama bin Laden. An official statement released by the government of Saudi Arabia said that it was speculative information the reliability of which was not confirmed by independent sources.

It is worthy of note that the above-mentioned provincial French newspaper published not really an article but a commentary to the facsimile report of the France’s military intelligence. The report particularly referred to certain sources in Saudi Arabia which claimed that Osama bin Laden died of typhoid fever on August 23 in Pakistan. The headline of the report had the top secret stamp and the abbreviation of the special service – D.G.S.E. The service, the newspaper wrote, sent the report to the President of France Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. The French Defense Department has not rejected the authenticity of the document.

Journalists asked for comments at a press conference held during the meeting of Russian, French and German leaders. Jasques Chirac said that he was very surprised to find out that the secret document had been exposed to the public. Chirac ordered the Defense Secretary of France to investigate the situation. The French president added that he had no comments regarding the supposed death of the al-Qaeda’s leader due to the lack of substantiating data.

Vladimir Putin joined his French counterpart and said that Russian special services had no information on the matter. “When such important reports are made and then leak, it suggests it is being done on purpose,” the Russian president said.

Two US officials, spokespeople for the White House and the State Department, confirmed the absence of information about Bin Laden’s death. Similar remarks followed from Pakistan and Afghanistan. A representative of the Afghan president noted that Afghan intelligence officers working in the east and the south-east of the country, where Taliban and al-Qaeda gunmen are hiding, reported nothing new about Osama bin Laden.

News about diseases (cancer in particular) of the 49-year-old bin Laden has become rather frequent recently. However, his death would lead to a massive exchange of electronic messages between the terrorists as it happened after the extermination of al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Bin Laden’s message, the obituary to the killed terrorist, appeared on the Internet shortly after June 7, when US special services killed Zarqawi.


Singapore figure draws Malaysia's ire

Malaysia's leader has demanded that Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore, explain his claim that Malaysia marginalizes its ethnic Chinese minority, saying such remarks were "mischievous" and could inflame racial sentiments.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia said the comments by Lee, Singapore's founding father, could strain bilateral ties, stressing that Lee "should understand that Malaysia's relationship with Singapore is something that needs to be nurtured to preserve each country's stability." Malaysia and Singapore have close cultural and economic ties, but their governments have sparred over the years.

JOHOR Umno information chief Mohd Puad Zarkashi said the fact that many Singaporean Malays chose to reside in Johor Baru despite working in the Republic showed that the Malays were marginalised in the country.

He said these Singaporean Malays were willing to weather daily hardships to commute from Johor Baru to their workplaces in Singapore.

This showed that they were dissatisfied with what was happening in Singapore, he said.

He told Bernama yesterday that the Singaporean Malays knew the Republic's administration had marginalised them.

Dr Puad, who is also Batu Pahat Umno division chief, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's recent remarks about the Chinese in Malaysia could cause instability among the various communities in the country, and that it was contrary to the spirit of neighbourliness of Asean.

The government should take firm action against Singapore and not give in to pressure from the Republic, particularly in relation to efforts to develop the South Johor Economic Region, expand the Port of Tanjung Pelepas and make Senai Airport a regional cargo hub, he said.

Dr Puad said the government should also study in detail the proposed high-speed train project to link Kuala Lumpur and Singapore so that it would not benefit only the Republic.

Meanwhile, the New Sunday Times quoted Agriculture Minister Muhyiddin Yassin as saying that Mr Lee should apologise to Malaysia.

'We view with concern those comments. Lee should apologise and clarify his statements immediately,' he was quoted as saying.

Dr M : Rejam saya dalam tong tahi pun tidak mengapa

Bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad mengakui beliau tidak berasa aib dan terhina ketika tewas dalam pengundian pemilihan perwakilan Umno Bahagian Kubang Pasu 9 September lepas, namun mengakui berasa malu apabila orang asing bertanyakan hal tersebut sewaktu di luar negara.

"Apabila keputusan pengundian itu dibuat, maka ramai daripada orang asing bertanya-tanya apa sudah berlaku di Malaysia ini. Dan saya merasa malu untuk menerangkan. Saya malu bagi pihak negara saya bukan bagi diri saya. Saya, kalau hendak rejam dalam tong tahi pun tidak mengapa asalkan negara saya ini selamat," katanya.

Mahathir juga memperli Perdana Menteri, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dengan mengatakan menantu PM, Khairy Jamaludin dan kroni niaganya Patrick Lim sekarang ini memerintah kerajaan Terengganu, kerana mereka didakwa 'menyapu' kebanyakan projek di negeri tersebut.

Antara perkara yang disentuh dalam wawancaranya, termasuk isu Umno, Melayu, Islam Hadhari AP, MV Agusta dan lain-lain.

Ikuti penjelasan Mahathir ketika menjawab pertanyaan hadirin dalam sesi soal jawab selepas merasmikan Majlis Pelancaran Tabung Bangunan Persatuan Bekas Tentera Malaysia (PBTM) Kemaman dan Kempen Hari Pahlawan Peringkat Daerah di Awana Kijal Golf Beach & SPA Resort, Kijal, Terengganu pada 22 September 2006.

Read the Q & A here

24 September, 2006

How the Pot Got to Call the Kettle Black

How the Pot Got to Call the Kettle Black - a Reverse Racism ?

Melayu Singapura ditekan, dipinggir, ditindas - Dr Mahathir

Jika Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak sekadar menyifatkan kenyataan bekas Perdana Menteri Singapura, Lee Kuan Yew sebagai nakal, tidak wajar dan tidak diperlukan, bekas Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pula memulangkan paku buah keras dengan mempersoalkan balik mengapa orang-orang Melayu di Singapura dipinggirkan sehingga tidak ada status sama sekali.

Kuan Yew mendakwa orang-orang Cina di Indonesia dan Malaysia dipinggirkan secara sistematik.

Dalam kecamannya terhadap kenyataan Kuan Yew itu, Dr Mahathir mengulangi lagi penegasannya sebelum ini bahawa orang-orang Melayu Singapura ditekan, dipinggirkan dan ditindas.

"Cuba adakan siasatan bebas, kenapa orang Melayu tertinggal di Singapura. Bukan mereka kurang daripada orang Melayu di Malaysia tetapi mereka telah ditekan, dipinggirkan dan ditindas.

"Itulah kerajaan yang diasaskan oleh pendapat Lee Kuan Yew," Dr Mahathir dilaporkan sebagai berkata. (more...)

TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew should just look after his 'rice bowl' and not interfere with other countries.

The former Malaysian prime minister said if Mr Lee has the right to question the affairs of Chinese Malaysians, then he wants to ask why the Singapore Government made it 'official' policy to marginalise Malay Singaporeans.

Tun Dr Mahathir was asked to respond to comments made by Mr Lee at a dialogue for good governance in Singapore last Friday.

Answering a question, Mr Lee had said that it was important for Singapore to have a government that was 'really firm, stout-hearted, subtle and resolute'', noting that the attitude of Malaysia and Indonesia towards the Republic was shaped by the way they treated their own ethnic Chinese minorities.

Mr Lee said: 'My neighbours both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful, they're hard-working and therefore they are systematically marginalised, even in education.

'And they want Singapore, to put it simply, to be like their Chinese, compliant.'

Tun Dr Mahathir retorted yesterday: 'I look at the houses in KL of the people that are 'systematically marginalised'. They have bigger houses than mine.'

The former Malaysian leader also told Mr Lee not to feel smug, noting that the Minister Mentor looked wise in his own 'tiny' country.

He said China did not think much of Mr Lee, who was also 'marginalised by Chinese in the world'.

'Don't be like that, Kuan Yew! You just look after your rice bowl, that is all. The country is tiny, don't be too proud,' Tun Dr Mahathir said in response to a written question by a member of the public who attended the function here.

Asked at a news conference why he thought Mr Lee had made the comments, Tun Dr Mahathir said: 'He feels he is strong. He is the proud type. He is not bothered with his neighbours. That is why he deliberately raised something he knew to be sensitive in our country.'

In the same vein, the former Malaysian premier said he had the right to ask about Singapore's treatment of its Malay citizens.

'We also can ask: What is the position of Malays in Singapore. Why is it they cannot be trained to carry arms in the army?

'Why is it that Malays in Malaysia are experts in the military but in Singapore they cannot hold high posts? Why are Malays officially sidelined?

'Why is it that the Malays in Singapore are marginalised to the extent that they have no status at all? This is done deliberately by Singapore. There is no other country that does it like them,' he said.

Other Malaysian politicians and a consumer group yesterday also commented on Mr Lee's remarks.

Gerakan deputy president Koh Tsu Koon, who is also Penang's Chief Minister, said the Chinese community in Malaysia was neither marginalised nor 'compliant' and had the opportunity to participate in the administration of the country.

Dr Tan Seng Giaw, deputy chairman of the opposition Democratic Action Party, told TV3: 'In a relationship between neighbours, we must avoid hurting the feelings of our neighbours.'

MCA president Ong Ka Ting said Mr Lee's statement was not only unfair, but also not good for the harmonious ties among the different races in Malaysia.

'He, as a former prime minister, should know better that such statements could have bad impact on the neighbouring country. He is someone who is over-confident. He always thinks that he is right but the statement by MM Lee is unfair to Malaysia,' Datuk Seri Ong said.

'I feel that Malaysians should not be trapped. We must remain united, we must continue to cooperate in our community. We know what we are doing and we should not let such statements cause disharmony or doubts,' he added.

The Malaysia Islamic Consumers Association (PPIM) said the statement by MM Lee had a hidden agenda aimed at tarnishing Malaysia's image.

The PPIM urged Mr Lee to retract his 'baseless statement'.

DAP agrees with LKY, slams BN leaders

Politics of denial! ' This is how opposition party DAP views the objection raised by Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders to Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s claim that Chinese Malaysians are marginalised.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng expressed ‘disgust’ with MCA president Ong Ka Ting and Gerakan top leaders Dr Lim Keng Yaik and Dr Koh Tsu Koon for denying an ‘obvious fact’.

“... The Chinese and other non-Chinese have been systematically marginalised by discriminatory government policies that only favour the rich and politically connected,” he said in a statement today.

“Such politics of denial is dishonest as BN leaders themselves have stated that discriminatory policies such as quotas and the New Economic Policy (NEP) are necessary for racial harmony and national stability,” he added.

He said as long as BN leaders, including former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, cannot rely on reason, facts and logic to disprove Lee’s claim, then “their emotional denials are like empty vessels making the most noise to cover up the politics of Umno dominance and discrimination.”

Perverse logic

The DAP leader also took Koh to task for saying that the minister mentor did not understand and appreciate the challenges in administering a country bigger, more complicated and diverse than Singapore.

“This is perverse logic. If so, then can we support the apartheid policies of South Africa in the 1980s just because South Africa is bigger, more diverse and complicated than Malaysia?

“How can Koh (who is also Penang chief minister) be so thick skin to say the Chinese are not compliant when he was compliant towards Umno by not daring to even respond to the attacks by Penang Umno Youth leaders who humiliated him publicly with demonstrations and banners?” he asked.

Lim then trained his crosshairs on the MCA president, who argued that it was unfair and subjective to say the Chinese in Malaysia are marginalised because any injustices will be resolved by MCA.

“If that is the case, why is it that in cabinet, four MCA ministers could not convince but had to submit and bow to one Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein?” he asked.

He was referring to Hishammuddin’s public admonishing of Deputy Higher Education Minister and MCA vice-president Ong Tee Keat over a disclosure that Education Ministry officials had allegedly pocketed funds meant for vernacular schools.

Tee Keat was also reprimanded by the cabinet for his action.

“(What is) worse, Ong has not explained why he supported the Ninth Malaysia Plan’s refusal to build a single Chinese or Tamil school out of the 180 new primary schools proposed,” he added.

'Selfish acts'

As for Keng Yaik’s statement that the “Chinese here will not follow and listen to what he says”, Lim said it reflected how out of touch BN leaders are with the feelings of ordinary Malaysians.

At a press conference yesterday, Keng Yaik, who is Gerakan president, urged journalists to report that what Lee had said “was wrong, wrong.”

Meanwhile, Lim described the ‘false denials’ by BN’s Chinese leaders as ‘selfish and politically motivated’ to enable them to cling on to their government posts.

Lee ruffled feathers recently when he said that the Chinese in Malaysia and Indonesia have been systematically marginalised.

He said this was because Malaysia and Indonesia had problems with the Chinese because the community was successful through their hard work.

“In fact, Lee is half right in that it is not only the Chinese who are marginalised. The Indians and poor Malays are also marginalised,” said the DAP secretary-general.

I want to get an explanation from Lee, says Abdullah

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will write to Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew asking him to explain his statement that Malaysian Chinese were being marginalised.

The Prime Minister said he agreed with his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that Lee's statement was “naughty,” and would seek clarification over the matter. “I want to get an explanation from him on what he said and the reason for making the statement,” he told reporters upon his return after a two-week trip to Finland, Cuba, the United States and Britain.

Abdullah said Lee's statement was not supported by any specific analysis.

He added that race relations in Singapore was not 100% good either.

Stating that Lee’s statement was not fair and inappropriate, he said the statement was tantamount to instigating the Malaysian Chinese.

He said if Malaysia were not stable, Singapore would also be affected as the island republic had economic interests in the country.

During a press conference in London on Friday, Abdullah said no community in Malaysia was being marginalised.

Stressing that this was a fact, he said the progress achieved by the country’s multi-racial community showed that no one had been sidelined.

Abdullah said the success of the Chinese community, for instance, was clearly reflected through its participation in various fields.

The Barisan Nasional, he added, was a responsible government that looked after the interests of all the communities and the Chinese, through the MCA and other parties, were involved in the Government’s power-sharing process.

Earlier, Abdullah likened the comparison in economic development between Malaysia and Singapore to that of a ciku and durian.

“It’s not for comparison. Singapore did well because it is only a city-state specialising in areas such as its airport as well as financial and banking services,” he said, adding that the Klang Valley could be compared favourably with the republic.

In New York, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said: “I’m at a loss as to what his (Lee's) intention was.”

Syed Hamid, who was in New York to attend the UN general assembly, added that Lee’s statement could cause the people to be dissatisfied with the Government.

He pointed out that the Chinese in Malaysia had succeeded in all sectors.

In Tangkak, Johor, Umno vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin called on Lee to apologise for making the “provocative remarks.”

He said Lee was among those who founded the concept of Asean co-operation to foster greater understanding in the region and should know that such remarks would not benefit the region.

In Taiping, the Backbenchers Club (BBC) called for a retraction and apology from Lee.

BBC acting chairman Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainudin Raja Omar said the Singapore High Commission should explain to Wisma Putra what Lee meant by such remarks.

Malaysia wants an explanation, the New Sunday Times front page wrote. The Prime Minister will write to Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew seeking an explanation for his remarks that Malaysian Chinese had been “marginalised” and were “compliant”.

The comments could cause racial tension, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday, adding that a stable Malaysia was crucial to Singapore’s well being.

“Najib said it was a naughty statement and I agree. But it is also a statement which can incite Malaysian citizens of Chinese descent. It is not fair at all, for a neighbouring country to say that.

“Lee should understand that our relationship with Singapore is one that has to be nurtured well. He should appreciate the stability we have on our side, because if we are not stable, Singapore will have problems,” Abdullah said.

"Lee’s statement was “not welcomed” and the republic’s founding father had appeared to show no qualms about making such a highly-charged remark.".

“Singapore too has problems in terms of race relations. Not everything there is 100 per cent perfect,” Abdullah added.


Where have all the leaders gone?
(Rolf Gentry - Tehran Times)

“After these things I saw another angel come down from heaven… and he cried out… ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! …for all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.’

“… in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.”

These lines from the Revelations of the Apostle John in the New Testament are speaking of a time in world history when finance and trade, politics and a religion had become a ‘great city’ or global empire, ruling over (‘sitting on many waters’) the nations and economies of the world. The future looks to have arrived, except the disasters and final destruction it is to bring upon itself.

The Bretton Woods agreement of 1944 was the birth of the imperial regime of the dollar that now rules world banking and trade developments. Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami has just reminded a Harvard University audience of this, referring to it as an infatuation with world domination. There is one great city that symbolizes this empire and it is indisputably New York. The Statue of Liberty may well depict the great Harlot -- the Queen of Heaven with its torch drawing the moths to her flame of venal passion for wealth and power. A decade before Bretton Woods, the U.S. signaled to the world a coming new world order on a new dollar.

Formerly it was Britannia who ruled the waves under the City of London within metropolitan London, which is still a world financial center in conjunction with Wall Street. The international banking policy of deflation foisted on the British economy during the 1920s wiped out much of Britain’s industry while the bankers granted the USA an inflationary policy which boosted the United States into the top position vacated by Britain, but the Anglo-American establishment remained the same -- dominant.

When ‘kings’ gathered in Rome recently over the conflict in Lebanon, the predisposition was the future to replace the past and not a cease-fire. The destruction of Lebanon is a new chapter, following Afghanistan and Iraq, for building a new world order. Its severity justified and demanded troops from NATO countries now being stationed again in proximity to oil pipelines current or future. There is a unanimity between Israel, the European states, and the UN resolution, like they have all drunk of the wine from the same cup. Israel manipulated and gained all but ‘peace’ troops on the Lebanon-Syria border. The Russian leadership stands apart in preferring to help the sovereign government of Lebanon in offering their troops.

It was a political statement by the Arab League to be late to the table and delay further the call for a cease-fire and an end to the excessive destruction. Nicola Nasser, a journalist in Ramallah, West Bank, has pointed out that the Arab League leadership has been de-Arabizing for a long time. Little wonder then the rise of movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Power, privilege, and wheeling and dealing with the kings and merchants of the Harlot and Swiss bank accounts may have had its day.

It irks some Arab leaders that Iran has become a Middle East leader. Circumstances have thrust this upon them, too much by default. The headlines earlier this year of a report that “Assad finds Arabs’ concerns over Iran’s regional role irrational” has to be one of the better announcements for some time. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad challenged Arab leaders as to whether they actually had a role to play in the region.

Uri Avnery, one time member of the Knesset, in a critique before the cease-fire in Lebanon pointed out that both Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Minister of Defense Amir Peretz were insignificant men who suddenly were thrust into the shoes of Sharon and likely pushovers for the military. He called Olmert “a run of the mill demagogue” and said Peretz’s megalomania is worse than Olmert’s.

Amir Peretz has been quoted as saying, “Nasrallah will never forget the name Amir Peretz.” The need for a commission of inquiry into the ‘failure’ of the war indicates otherwise. Ehud Olmert’s claim of having changed the face of the Middle East may well include Israel, and not by chance but by design.

Undoubtedly, the biggest impact in the region in terms of leadership is Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Far from the image of one of the ‘kings of the earth’ drunk on the wine of the Harlot, he displays modesty and a preference for wisdom and truth which are sadly lacking among leaders. The French have acknowledged that Iran is a stabilizing influence in the Middle East, and although the president has inherited this, he is causing a face to be put to this, which is important in the global village. His speeches are often misinterpreted, misused, and easily glossed over by those who have forgotten how to contemplate because of the cheap throwaway lines that have drugged Western nations, but appreciated by those who can think for themselves. He continues the appeal to the positive aspects of humanity to solve the world’s issues as his predecessor Mohammad Khatami, who was described by the Counterpunch website during his U.S. visit as an “international personality (who) gained much fame among many intellectuals all over the world…” but got “poor press in the West”.

The long-winded saga over the Iranian nuclear research program is, among other things, a never-ending effort to persuade Iranian leaders to just take one sip of the wine of the Harlot, just one compromise. The Iranian perseverance with patience and integrity is a lonely road, but in the current global circumstances and events it could get a lot darker in the region if they falter.

An Old Testament characteristic of the God of Abraham is that He always sends a voice of truth that challenges corrupt leaders prior to His judgment. It may well be that He can’t find a man inside the USA to do this. President Ahmadinejad has subtly challenged President Bush in his personal faith in relation to his office and the situation of the world. President Bush appears to have responded through his contribution to the destruction of Lebanon.

The two potent pointers in the current situation of the Middle East are the planned permanent change and the intrusion of European forces into the Middle East. Freelance Israeli journalist and author Barry Chamish may have identified a third. He recently reported that the Vatican is pushing for the promise made to it in regard to Bait-ul-Moqaddas by the Zionist regime, which Sharon had been resisting. This could introduce a new ‘leader’ into the region at a time when destabilization is intensifying, even encroaching within the Zionist regime itself, and the Italian contingent looks to be the foremost force from Europe. The destructive shambles of the operation in Lebanon has a parallel ring to that of the U.S. and Iraq and smacks of a con job on Israelis, softening up their spirit of nationalism for new changes.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his recent head-shaking comments about events in the 14th century and the use of the sword of faith in reference to ‘jihad’ and ‘holy war’, hasn’t helped his Middle East ambitions. The hypocrisy of the Catholic Church’s bloody past and its current worldwide sex scandals smacks of the ‘wine of the passion of (her) immorality’.

President Ahmadinejad has asked the world why the Palestinians have had to pay the price for the past sins of the German Third Reich in their excessive tyranny towards the Jews of Europe. We may soon be observing the answer. The Zionists weren’t the only entity with designs on Palestine. What does the Zionist regime owe this ‘Pope’ whom many ‘kings of the earth’ visit as though a matter of protocol? Yet the office title like the church traditions originated in ancient Babylon and not the New Testament. But then so did the Talmud. The God of Abraham judged ancient Babylon by the Medes and Persians. It was part of a historical sequence revealed to the Prophet Daniel. The Apostle John’s vision adds detail to the latter part of the sequence revealed to Daniel. The Persians are near center stage again because they rejected Babylon in 1979 and the leadership that committed ‘immorality with the Harlot’.