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."


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home