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 Lee's ideas have become outdated for today's Singapore, but on the current controversy, I am fully behind him.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.


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