31 December, 2006

Happy New Year Malaysia !

To all friends,

A very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year !

When the clock strikes twelve, people all over the world cheer and wish each other a very Happy New Year. For some, this event is no more than a change of a calendar. For others, the New Year symbolizes the beginning of a better tomorrow. So, if you look forward to a good year ahead, resolve to make at least one person happy every day, and then in ten years you may have made three thousand, six hundred and fifty persons happy, or brightened a small town by your contribution to the fund of general enjoyment.

The year 2007 will be memorable for visitors to Malaysia. The nation has called 2007 Visit Malaysia Year in an effort to promote the country as a leading holiday destination.

The year coincides with the 50th anniversary of Malaysia’s independence.

The official launching of Visit Malaysia Year 2007 will take place on Jan. 6 during a colorful gala in Taman Tasik Titiwangsa in Kuala Lumpur. Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Bin Haji Ahmad Badawi will be present.

The festivities will include a concert, a fireworks display and a laser show near the lake. A giant screen will be set up to show scenes from Malaysia’s past.

The highlight of the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 launch event will be the unveiling of a 60-meter-tall Ferris wheel, dubbed ``Eye on Malaysia.’’ It will be the first such structure in Southeast Asia.

The 45-minute ride on the wheel will provide a view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline. On a clear day, passengers of the wheel will be able to see the KL Tower and as far as 20 kilometers, promoters said.

Through the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 campaign, the country expects to attract 20.1 million tourists. The number of visitors in 2005 was 16.4 million.

``The Visit Malaysia Year 2007 is the third in a series _ the first in 1990 and the second in 1994. I’m confident it will surpass the successes of the previous campaigns. This is due to the meticulous planning and innovative tourism products lined up for the 20.1 million visitors expected to descend upon our shores,’’ said Minister of Tourism Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor at a recent press briefing.

``We welcome tourists from all over the world to come and see and experience for themselves how people of diverse cultures, races and religions live in harmony as a nation.’’

A Malaysian
With good humour
Tomorrow is New Year 2007, time for a laugh at ourselves.
By Neo.- hot screensaver

Hongkies, Singaporeans, Indonesians and Malaysians

Boring Saturday, not much plans for today. Let’s enjoy a hilarious quotes about Hongkies, Singaporeans, Indonesians and of course Malaysians!

Being Honkies is good because…

1. We are Hongkies and not Chinese.
2. We can talk and shout and nobody gives a damn.
3. Jackie Chan is our icon.
4. We can live in a 5' x 5' cubicle and call it luxury apartment. We even need to pay $10,000 a month for this cubicle.
5. Our children can speak Cantonese at a young age.
6. We get to blame everything on Feng Shui or Tung Chee Hwa or the mainland communists.
7. Gambling is more interesting than sex. Macau is the place to for thrills!
8. We produce a lot of Miss Hong Kong to the enjoyment of the rich and famous.

We love being Singaporean because…

1. We are not Malaysians.
2. Everyone (especially the Malaysian) hates us, except ourselves.
3. Famous for Orchard Road and we love Geylang. Geylang is the place to go for thrills!
4. We have our own island.
5. We will never ever have yucky chewing gum stuck under our shoes.
6. We know how to enjoy our vacation in Malaysia - keep a few RM50 notes before you enter the highway: You can throw anything, anytime, anywhere and always wash our cars at the resort.
7. We can speed up to 180 kilometers per hour and not ending up with a summon as long as we have RM50 with us to spare.
8. The men are always concerned, first question to ask a girl “Do you have CPF?”
9. Never fear of getting lost in our country - S$20 taxi ride will get you into the sea. Hahaha!
10. We’ll never have to worry about finding Mr or Ms right because the government will find one for us.
11. 1 Singapore dollar = 2.5 Ringgit… nyek nyek nyek.
12. It’s OK to be Kiasu. It’s part of our culture.

Top reasons for being Indonesian are as follow…

1. We are not Australian.
2. We live in the biggest country in South East Asia.
3. No pirates in Indonesia water if you exclude the Navy and Coast guards.
4. Everything is cheap, even our salaries…
5. We can blame everything to Suharto or BJ Habibie or Gus Dur or Megawati or who’s next?
6. Only in Indonesia you can get involved in real demonstrations daily for different causes and see no results.
7. Our Rupiah is like a Yo Yo, it can go up and down just because IMF say so…
8. We burn everything and nobody gives a damn. We cause haze all over the South East Asia and nobody can do a thing… nyek nyek nyek.
9. We don’t need fire fighters as our neighbours will provide…

Being a Malaysian is the best because…

1. World tallest twin towers, Best F1 circuit, largest roti canai, most expensive toll rates, …because Malaysia Boleh!
2. We can be driving, picking our nose, cursing another driver, talking on the handphone, adjusting the radio and bribing the traffic police at the same time.
3. We divorce by sending SMS.
4. Traffic summon can be settled on the spot with the traffic police.
5. We have Teh Tarik & Roti Canai on the Russian space ship.
6. We can save a lot of electricity b’coz our TV shows are so crappy.
7. We can blame everything on the haze or George Soros or government or opposition parties or…
8. Resourceful City Council, one person to drive the van, one to carry the ladder, one to change a street’s bulb and three others watching…
9. We make 2 lane trunk roads into 3 lane highway and back to 2 lane when polices are sighted
10. There’s always something for the JKR to do. They dig, resurface the road, dig and resurface…
11. All main roads are designated highway because it gives Velooo a reason to collect toll.
12. Our government can never be wrong.
13. Our badminton players can only win on home grounds because we are kampung champions.
14. We have more water than Singapore… nyek nyek nyek.

After reading the above, I believe you will agree with me that being Malaysian is still the best. You have to be glad that you are a Malaysian and enjoy staying in Malaysia!

The above is meant to be taken lightly and does not purposely insult any party/country. Any resemblance to any party/country dead or alive are purely coincidental!


Malaysia-Pushing for growth, investment in 2007

The expectation of a slowdown in the Malaysian economy for next year is still a contentious one as there could be forces that could push the growth rate higher than these consensual estimates. ZAINAL AZNAM YUSOF tells us why. LEAVING 2006 and entering 2007 does not mean that the economy is starting completely afresh on a clean slate as there will be spillovers from the old to the new year.

As far as economic growth is concerned, with a growth of six per cent in GDP for the first three quarters it appears 2006 will not turn out to be a dismal year, and the consensus is that the economy is well on the path of growing close to about six per cent in 2006 when the official figure is tallied.

In 2007, however, the expectation appears to be for the economy to be growing at a slightly lower pace, ranging from 5.2 per cent to 5.6 per cent. The external sector is anticipated to be less encouraging; the United States economy, Japan and Europe as well as the fast-growing East Asian economies are all anticipated to have their growth rates clipped.

The expectation of a slowdown in the Malaysian economy for 2007 is still a contentious one as there could be forces in the economy that could push the growth rate higher than these consensual estimates.

Ratcheting the growth of public investment through an accelerated implementation of the programmes and projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan can make a difference to these growth expectations.

Getting investment to pick up and hence economic growth to rise above the market forecasts for 2007 and beyond will be a key task for policy-makers. Employment opportunities, especially graduate employment, must be expanded and this can only be done when businesses are expanding.

There is no room for growth euphoria and the dangers of slipping down the growth path are still present and real. Investment behaviour and performance must be given special attention. The recently released third quarter numbers on the economy showed that for the three quarters of 2006, the GDP grew at six per cent.

If we assume that the fourth quarter of the year is going to be better than the previous quarter, then there are some reasonable grounds to expect that 2006 will be growing at close to six per cent, which is the growth target of the Ninth Plan.

Looking ahead, the reason for some disquiet and worry has to do with the performance of investment in 2006: Gross fixed capital formation in the third quarter of 2006 grew only at a rate of 3.5 per cent compared with the Ninth Plan’s annual target of investment of 7.9 per cent — less than half of what has been targeted. Even if fourth quarter investment picks up, it will not be enough to reach the target set for it.

If we do reach or hover close to the growth target for the Ninth Plan but on the back of slower investment, then one likely explanation for the outcome is that productivity must have increased substantially and its contribution to GDP growth substantial.

This will need to be assessed so we can apportion the blame and credit for growth in the right places.

Private investment which comprises foreign direct investment (FDI) and private domestic investment has, on the basis of more recent historical records, not been performing outstandingly.

Over the period 2001-2005, private investment contracted by one per cent per annum.

Its share of total investment and of GDP has been falling largely from the fallout of the Asian financial crisis and competition from other emerging economies, particularly China, for FDI. Private investment accounted for 15.5 per cent of GDP in 2000, and fell to 11.8 per cent in 2005.

Major changes will be required in strategies and policies if we are to compete for FDI flows and to raise private domestic investment, and these strategic policy thrusts contained in the Third Industrial Master Plan 2006-2020 (IMP) must be implemented. The targets for private investment are ambitious as the IMP calls (in current prices) for about RM310 billion for the Ninth Plan or about RM62 billion per year. A sizable amount will be channelled to investment in manufacturing (RM101 billion) and services (RM93 billion).

Also these targets will call for some radical institutional changes. New institutions will have to be established while the existing ones will have to be aggressively refurbished. The IMP3 has listed the major institutional changes required.

At the same time, it is hoped that from 2007-2010 public investment as stressed in the Ninth Plan takes off. Its effects will be somewhat drawn out over the next few years.

Many of the high-impact development programmes and projects have been rolled out and many more will be rolled out in the new year. As a rough guide, the average annual development expenditure from the RM200 billion that has been allocated for the Ninth Plan is RM40 billion. Some bunching in spending is to be expected over the next four years as the pace of implementation picks up.

The machinery of implementation must be cranked up and it should not just focus on paper implementation in the sense of just recording that money has been spent because the money must reach the hands of those who have successfully completed the projects. The longer the delays in payments, the more dismal will be the growth sentiments in the market.

As investment sentiment tends to be fickle, the sensible approach would be to avoid initiating measures and emitting signals that would appear to investors to be inconsistent and murky. This calls for a better and realistic sense of proportion of the efforts required to appease and please investors in view of the fierce competition for FDI. In introducing measures to encourage private investment and in reforming institutions, we must avoid the impression they are too little and too late.

With the big push for investment growth, monetary policy and exchange rate policy needs to be supportive of growth and consistent with fiscal policy over the next few years. Monetary policy should be supportive of fiscal policy.

The push for investment and growth should not be accompanied by a tight monetary policy and interest rates will need to be kept at a level that will encourage growth, i.e. they should not be raised. Recent evidence suggests inflationary pressures are ebbing so that the need to raise interest rate to curb growth and inflation will be much less than before.

And an appreciating ringgit could help ease inflation in the economy.

(Datuk Dr Zainal Aznam Yusof is an adviser to the National Implementation Task Force.)

We can make Malaysia a better country

Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace
And saw within the moonlight of his room
Making it rich, like a lily in bloom
An angel writing in a book of gold.
Exceeding peace had made Abou Ben Adhem bold
And to the presence in his room he said
"What writest thou?"
The vision raised its head
And with a look of all sweet accord, answered:
"The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou.
"Nay, not so," replied the angel.
Abu spoke more low
But cheerily, still, said: "I pray thee then
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."
The angel wrote and vanished.
The next night it came again with a great wakening light
And showed the names of whom love of God had blessed
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led the rest.

— James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)

A RETIRED diplomat friend of ours sent this poem — part of the syllabus in English classes in the 1950s and 1960s — out to all on his mailing list, wishing us Christmas and New Year cheer.

May we all, the children of Adam, our friend wished, have our names in that book of gold, together with Abou ben Adhem.

How we wish it could be so.

Before we get lost in a dream of Utopia, perhaps we should take a reality check.

That wish will never come true. Why? Because...

• God made us all different.

• The world is not ideal.

• Our environment shapes us differently.

• We’re selfish.

• Self-preservation is a natural instinct.

• It’s easier to be emotional than rational.

• It’s difficult to love another human just for the sake of humanity.

• Human beings are imperfect.

• And because we are what we are.

But to wish we could all be like Abou Ben Adhem is a good wish and to dream that our world could be ideal is a good dream.

In the pessimism that surrounds us, such wish and such dream gives us hope. What would we be if we had no hope left?

I had the good fortune to be given the book The Reluctant Politician, a biography on Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, one of Malaysia’s greatest leaders and founding fathers, fresh off the press on Christmas eve.

Dr Ismail’s son, Tawfik, a long-time dear friend, flew in from Johor Baru to pass me the book and took the next flight back.

More than a decade ago, Tawfik and I spent days in Johor, going through Tun Ismail’s letters, diaries and notes.

They were from his early years as a medical student in Australia, during the negotiations for independence, and to the last days of his life when he was deputy prime minister of Malaysia.

Those who have lived through this era have always revered Dr Ismail. He was hot-tempered and impulsive, but he was also righteous and fair.

He was feared for his inability to suffer fools and the corrupt; but he was respected for being a man of principles and one who kept his word.

His private correspondence and personal journals only confirm that he was what he was — the private and public persona were one and the same.

The range of tributes to him in the book, from the builders of newly independent Malaysia to people like the great civil servants of that time, Tan Sri Rama Iyer, Tan Sri Abdullah Ali, and people like Tan Sri Philip Kuok and Robert Kuok, and his friendship with great Malaysians such as Tun Suffian Hashim and Tun Ismail Ali, show the kind of man Dr Ismail was.

The accolades by young and upcoming leaders of that time — Tun Musa Hitam, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi — and the great warriors such as Tan Sri Ghazali Seth and Tun Haniff Omar show how he had an impact in shaping their lives so that they could be better leaders of men.

Although Tawfik inherited all the journals and notes when his father died in 1973 of a heart attack, he was reluctant to publish the memoirs of Dr Ismail to avoid embarrassing some stalwarts who were in prominent positions.

But 33 years later, although some of those who are indicted by Dr Ismail’s scathing verdict are still alive, Tawfik collaborated to have the memoirs published.

It is a revealing book, though not exhaustive, and though perhaps a little sanitised. And there will be those who would be unhappy to read their names in the book and see what Dr Ismail thought of them.

For those who have forgotten history, do not know, or choose not to remember, it is a book that should be read, especially as we stand on the threshold of a Malaysia going into its 50th year of independence.

It talks about the struggle for independence, the underlying principles of the social contract which has been debated so much in recent months, the heartbreaking moments of separation with Singapore, the confrontation with Indonesia and the racial riots of May 13.

Dr Ismail, who was Home Minister during May 13, gives his views on why it happened. And his letters and notes tell about the trying years of building a nation as envisioned by the founding fathers.

Sure, there have been many books and articles written about all these events and seen from the eyes of other witnesses of history.

Sure, there will be those who disagree with some of Dr Ismail’s conclusions and find his observations disturbing, especially current day politicians from all spectrums.

Yet, from a man who was honest, who served his country and people selflessly, who was fair and believed in doing the right thing, Tun Ismail’s thoughts and experiences could perhaps steer some of today’s politicians, civil servants and younger Malaysians to the path that the founding fathers envisioned we would take as a united people in a united nation.

I may not have been privileged and not old enough to truly understand what it feels like to be colonialised and to build a nation from scratch, but to me, Dr Ismail was one of Malaysia’s Abou Ben Adhems and I am glad Tawfik decided to allow his father’s memoirs to be published.

The year 2006 has not been the greatest year for Malaysia and it ends miserably with the big floods which have destroyed thousands of homes and claimed so many lives.

But perhaps what would have disturbed the founding fathers like Dr Ismail, and what disturbs most right-thinking Malaysians, is the continued antagonism and debate on issues which we should no longer be debating into the 50th year of our independence.

Certainly, it is not all doom and gloom. The economy is sound and the policies and programmes, if properly implemented and executed, will take us to the next level.

Two fundamental issues that need to be addressed are security, particularly in the urban centres, and the education system, which, by any account, has deteriorated over the decades due to myopic policies and political expediencies.

Malaysia has always been fortunate to have the right leaders at the right time and the police force has indeed been very lucky to have Tan Sri Bakri Omar and his successor, Tan Sri Musa Hassan, both of whom have shown great determination in reforming the force and improving security.

And both Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed have announced plans for reforms of the education system.

Yet, one cannot blame a Malaysian public that may be sceptical because they have heard it all before.

Our hope is derived from the personalities and strength of character of people like Bakri and Musa.

But perhaps, the greatest underlying issue we have is the fragility of the race and religious relations today.

It could have been easy to resort to the familiar response that all is well because all races have a place in the power structure; that if all races are not happy, then we are doing something right; that our greatest strength is our diversity.

But it took courage for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to acknowledge, at a dinner earlier this month that ethnic relations were indeed fragile.

In a speech where no one listening doubted his passion, sincerity and desire for a Malaysia as envisioned by the founding fathers, Abdullah related his personal experiences of the early days of May 13, and of a history that many have forgotten.

So many things were said and so many things happened this year. If only level heads had ruled and if only historical perspective had prevailed, then we would not have had so much angst.

In most of the issues relating to ethnic and religious relations raised this year, culpability lies with politicians from both sides of the scale.

When we choose them to represent us — whether they are from DAP, Pas or Barisan Nasional — we expect them to champion our cause and to make this country a better place to live for all of us.

Yet, when the occasion arises to be statesmen and to show true leadership, many of them let us down, accentuating our differences instead of furthering and expanding on the common values and the love of the country that we share.

It is easy to be a champion of one race and to raise emotions of one ethnic group.

The true test of leadership in a multi-racial country like ours is to be accepted and respected as a leader and champion of all Malaysians.

The Reluctant Politician tells of how Dr Ismail and leaders of his time desired that Malaysia move away from the communal-based political party but the window passed and events took place that perpetuated the system we have.

Is there a truly multi-racial, multi-religious political party in the country, after 50 years?

The DAP claims to be one as does Gerakan. But neither is truly multi-racial or multi-religious. In both parties, one race dominates.

Pas? Far from it.

The closest semblance still remains the coalition of parties within the Barisan Nasional but even then, individual race-based parties, when it suits them, play to their gallery because inevitably, there are powerful individuals who are afraid to lose support from within their ranks.

And we have seen enough of it this year, whether at a Gerakan, MIC, MCA or an Umno general assembly.

A purely commercial business deal can become a race issue. An inoffensive cartoon can be made into a religious issue. A keris can be used to send shivers down the spine of a nation. The death of apostates becomes a tug-of-war in which the nation is dragged into.

That is why it is such a pleasure to go back to the small towns, villages and rural areas because the real people, the pulse of our nation, are generally not like that.

When May 13 happened, it was confined to the urban centres like Kuala Lumpur, and in Penang and Perak, and the larger part of the country, though living in fear, was unscathed.

When Kampung Medan and Kerling happened, the rest of the country was unaffected.

But race and religion are very emotive issues and if they continue to be raised and exploited, the country could pay a heavy price because there is no telling how far and fast the flames can spread.

That is the reality.

For those who remember, 1987 was a very bad year. Racial tensions escalated, culminating in Operasi Lallang — again, because of irresponsible politicians and media — and we came this close…

We have to change. The politicians have to change, the media has to be more responsible, NGOs and businesses have to realise that lip-service alone will not do.

The way we lead our lives and manage our organisations will determine our country’s future.

We are fortunate to celebrate 50 years of relative success next August. Most of us will not be around in 2057 when our children and grandchildren prepare for Malaysia’s centennial celebrations.

What kind of country will they be living in? Will race and religion still be a recurring issue?

Would we have a new breed of politicians, media, businesses who are more sensible and rational?

Would a non-Chinese be allowed to become CEO and editor-in-chief of the MCA-owned Star newspaper? Would a capable Malaysian be allowed to head the New Straits Times editorial operations without some powerful agitators raising the race issue?

Will some of the Chinese language newspapers start believing that they are part of a society that is multi-racial? Will some of the Bahasa Malaysia newspapers start believing that?

I don’t know, really. I believe that it is easier for some people to be one-race heroes then to be Malaysian heroes because then, you don’t have to think or try too hard.

Some people say we are a young nation and we shall come out of this.

After all, they argue, the United States had a civil war 70 years after it proclaimed independence and there continued to be official and widespread discrimination and persecution of blacks until the 1960s.

Discrimination is still prevalent in countries like Britain, Germany, Holland, Japan and other more developed democracies.

So what, I say. Are they our teachers that we have to learn to be like them?

Malaysia is a great country but we can make it so much better if only we try just a wee bit harder; if only we weed out and shame the irrational ones in our midst.

We have the foundations, much better than most. And everyday, we do see little things happening before our eyes which warm the heart and give us hope.

Like the Chinese girl in a skirt holding the hands of a "tudung-ed" and baju kurung-ed Malay girl with a leg handicap and helping her cross Jalan Sultan Ismail.

Like the non-Malay girls wearing baju kurung and walking to lunch with their Malay friends who are wearing kurtas and cheongsam.

Like my youngest daughter Lei and her inseparable Chinese friend Adorra who take turns sleeping over at each other’s houses and planning their overseas studies together.

Like my friend Vincent Cheah’s long-time business relationship and friendship with Haji Jiran.

Like Edge editor-in-chief Ho Kay Tat and his family, who lived in Kampung Baru, and were sheltered from the rioting crowds by a Malay family during May 13.

We see things like this everyday, if we care to look, and we wonder why, still, people who should know better, don’t.

In the Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote: "Everywhere, in these days, people have, in their mockery, ceased to understand that the true security is to be found in social solidarity rather than in isolated individual effort.

"But this terrible state of affairs must inevitably have an end, and all will suddenly understand how unnaturally they are separated from one another.

"It will be the spirit of the time, and people will marvel that they have sat so long in darkness without seeing the light…

"But, until then, we must keep the banner flying.

"Sometimes, even if he has to do it alone, even if his conduct seems to be crazy, a man must set an example, and so draw other souls out of their solitude, and spur them to some act of brotherly love, that the great idea may not die."

Here’s to hoping we all have a happier and better 2007; and as we start to celebrate our 50th year of independence, we pray that the Almighty bless us with another 50 years of even more glory and continued peace.

(NST - Kalimullah Hassan SUNDAY COLUMN)


OK,whose brilliant idea was it to suggest that we have a Grand Mufti? I rather expected better from the DG of IKIM. Read Marina M "Capo di Tutti Capi..."Here.

Happy New Year !!

New Year cheer for motor vehicle owners

The road tax for all motor vehicles will be reduced from tomorrow.

The cut for privately-owned cars will range from RM10 to RM1,059, depending on engine capacity.

For taxis, the reduction is between RM9 and RM240, while owners of cars for hire will get a saving of RM5 to RM240.

The excise duty for motor vehicles will also be streamlined, which effectively lowers the duties on big cars and motorcycles.

The new road tax structure will also narrow the gap in the rates for owners of petrol and diesel vehicles, as well as those in the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak.

Floods round-up

The situation in flood-hit Johor is improving with 52,507 victims still at 162 relief centres Sunday morning compared with 54,512 last night.

However, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said he had directed police chiefs in Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu to mobilise manpower, boats and equipment to prepare for more floods.

He said the police were monitoring the situation.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had warned of a possible second wave of floods as the result of heavy rainfall, which was expected to end only in March.

Najib had urged all emergency services to stay prepared and be on the lookout for changing weather conditions.

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Hanged Almost Without Trial

Saddam Hussein was convicted and hanged without fair trial, leading human rights groups said after his execution Saturday.

"Amnesty International believes the whole process was deeply flawed," James Dyson from Amnesty told IPS. The Iraqi Appeals Court failed to address the major flaws during the former dictator's trial before the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (SICT), Amnesty said in a statement Saturday.

Human Rights Watch had issued a 97-page report last month detailing numerous flaws in the trial of Saddam.

"The Iraqi high tribunal was not independent of political pressure coming from the Iraqi cabinet," Richard Dicker from Human Rights Watch told IPS Saturday. "In January this year the judge in Saddam's trial resigned in protest because he was publicly criticised by the prime minister for being too lenient in the way he was conducting proceedings."

That kind of political interference, he said, is "wholly inappropriate to the judicial process."

What Saddam had faced, he said, was "trial by ambush" that was marked by the failure of prosecution to provide defence attorneys evidence that was being introduced in court. Sometimes the evidence to be presented was given to defence lawyers at the last minute, and sometimes not at all, he said. That denied "an effective and meaningful defence."

The Human Rights Watch report, 'Judging Dujail: The First Trial Before the Iraqi High Tribunal' was based on 10 months of observation and dozens of interviews with judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers.

According to the human rights group, the report found, among other defects, "violations of the defendants' right to question prosecution witnesses, and the presiding judge's demonstrations of bias."

Saddam's defence lawyers had 30 days to file an appeal from the Nov. 5 verdict pronouncing the death sentence. "However, the trial judgment was only made available to them on November 22, leaving just two weeks to respond." The appeals chamber announced its confirmation of the verdict and the death sentence Dec. 26.

"It defies imagination that the appeals chamber could have thoroughly reviewed the 300-page judgment and the defence's written arguments in less than three weeks' time," said Dicker in a statement put out by Human Rights Watch. "The appeals process appears even more flawed than the trial."

Both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch had over many years documented human rights abuses under the regime of Saddam Hussein -- at a time when Western governments paid little heed to those reports, let alone act on them.

"These crimes include the killing of more than 100,000 Iraqi Kurds in Northern Iraq as part of the 1998 Anfal campaign," Human Rights Watch said in its statement. The execution of Saddam Hussein means the truth in that case might now never be known.

"At the time of his hanging, Saddam Hussein and others were on trial for genocide for the 1988 Anfal campaign," Human Rights Watch said. "The victims, including women, children and the elderly, were selected because they were Kurds who remained on their traditional lands in zones outside of areas controlled by Baghdad. Hussein's execution will therefore jeopardize the trial of these most serious crimes."

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch both oppose use of the death penalty on principle, and the groups say handing the death sentence has been compounded by an unfair trial in the first place.

"We oppose the death penalty in all cases as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, but it is especially abhorrent when this most extreme penalty is imposed after an unfair trial," Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme said in a statement.

"It is even more worrying that in this case, the execution appeared a foregone conclusion, once the original verdict was pronounced, with the appeals court providing little more than a veneer of legitimacy for what was, in fact, a fundamentally flawed process."

The trial "will be seen by many as nothing more than 'victor's justice' and, sadly, will do nothing to stem the unrelenting tide of political killings," Smart said.

Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death on Nov. 5 this year after being convicted in connection with the killing of 148 people from al-Dujail village north of Baghdad after an attempt to assassinate him there in 1982.

The trial, which began in October 2005 almost two years after Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces, ended in July this year.

"Every accused has a right to a fair trial, whatever the magnitude of the charge against them," said Smart. "This plain fact was routinely ignored through the decades of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. His overthrow opened the opportunity to restore this basic right and, at the same time, to ensure, fairly, accountability for the crimes of the past. It is an opportunity missed, and made worse by the imposition of the death penalty."

"The test of a government's commitment to human rights is measured by the way it treats its worst offenders," said Dicker. "History will judge these actions harshly."

In an official statement, the Indian Government has expressed disappointment over the execution of Saddam Hussein.

"We hope that the unfortunate event will not affect the process of reconciliation, restoration of peace and normalcy in Iraq," he said.

The government had earlier expressed opposition to Hussein's execution and cautioned that no steps should be taken which could delay restoration of peace in the troubled country.

Pakistan calls Saddam hanging a 'sad event'

n a low-key reaction, Pakistan described the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussain as a 'sad event' which was a 'poignant reminder' of the violence that gripped Iraq.

"The execution of former President Saddam Hussein, which can only be described as a sad event, is another poignant reminder of the violence that continues to grip Iraq," a statement issued by the Pakistan Foreign Office said.

"We hope that this event would not further exacerbate the security situation. It remains our earnest hope to see peace, stability and reconciliation so that people of Iraq regain control of their affairs in a secure environment," it said.

UN against death penalty but understands desire for justice in Hussein case – envoy

Reacting to the imposition of the death sentence against Saddam Hussein, who ruled Iraq with terror for nearly a quarter of a century until his ouster in 2003, the senior United Nations envoy there voiced understanding about the desire for justice among many people but reiterated the world body's longstanding opposition to capital punishment.

“The United Nations stands firmly against impunity, and understands the desire for justice felt by the many Iraqis,” Special Representative Ashraf Qazi said through a spokesman.

“Based on the principle of respect for the right to life, however, the United Nations remains opposed to capital punishment, even in the case of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”

Iraqi officials present at the hanging say Saddam went to his death a broken man, but showed no remorse for his actions. Hours later, bomb attacks in Baghdad and the Shi'ite city of Kufa killed at least 68 people.

Iraqi National Security Advisor Moaffaq al-Rubaie, who witnessed the execution, said it was handled completely by the Iraqis, and no American witnesses were present.

Hours after the execution, three bombs exploded in close coordination in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen people. To the south, in Kufa, more than 30 people were killed when a car bomb exploded in a busy fish market.

In Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, police blocked the entrances to the town, and said nobody was allowed to leave or enter for four days. Elsewhere, Iraqi and U.S. forces remained on heightened alert.

Saddam buried in Awja

Relatives of the former Iraqi president say Saddam Hussein has been buried in a family plot in Awja, close to Tikrit.

An earlier family statement issued on Saturday night said the executed leader would be buried in Ramadi, but the authorities there said they were unaware of any plan to bury him there.

‘I Saw Fear, He Was Afraid’
In a Newsweek interview, the man hired to videotape Saddam’s execution recalls his humble final moments.
Dec 30, 2006

Ali Al Massedy was 3 feet away from Saddam Hussein when he died. The 38 year old, normally Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's official videographer, was the man responsible for filming the late dictator's execution at dawn on Saturday. "I saw fear, he was afraid," Ali told NEWSWEEK minutes after returning from the execution. Wearing a rumpled green suit and holding a Sony HDTV video camera in his right hand, Ali recalled the dictator's last moments. "He was saying things about injustice, about resistance, about how these guys are terrorists," he says. On the way to the gallows, according to Ali, "Saddam said, ‘Iraq without me is nothing.’"

Ali says he followed Saddam up the gallows steps, escorted by two guards. He stood over the hole and filmed from close quarters as Saddam dropped through—from "me to you," he said, crouching down to show how he shot the scene. The distance, he said, was "about one meter," he said. "He died absolutely, he died instantly." Ali said Saddam's body twitched, "shaking, very shaking," but "no blood," he said, and "no spit." (Ali said he was not authorized to disclose the location, and did not give other details of the room.)

Ali said the videotape lasts about 15 minutes. When NEWSWEEK asked to see a copy, Ali said he had already handed the tape over to Maliki's chief of staff. "It is top secret," he said. He would not give the names of officials in attendance, though he estimates there were around 20 observers. One of them, Iraqi National Security Adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, told CNN that Saddam clasped a Koran as the noose was tied around his neck, and refused to wear a hood. He also said that government officials had not decided whether or not to release the videotape. The execution reportedly took place at 6:05 a.m. local time. Prime Minister Maliki did not attend.

Ali was greeted as a hero when he returned from the execution a little after 7 a.m., flying in with other officials and landing in two helicopters in the Green Zone. A convoy of 20 or so GMCs and Toyota Land Cruisers waited outside to drive some of the Iraqi officials home.

The Iraqi bodyguards, mostly Shiites they said, had passed the time smoking and praying—some prayed on cardboard mats on the street.

It was a cold morning in Baghdad, a few degrees above freezing, and in the post dawn light the guards' breaths could be seen in the air. When the thudding of helicopters began, the body guards rushed towards the entrance to the landing zone. They swarmed around Ali, snapping digital pictures on camera phones and cheering. "Saddam finished, Saddam finished," a guard who gave his name as Mohammed told NEWSWEEK. Ali looked somewhat stunned as he exited, carrying the camera.

"All Iraqis will be happy," he says. "This is the most important day for me [as a cameraman,]" he said. "This page [in history] is over, this page is over. All Iraqis will be happy from the north to the south to the east to the west." One of the judges who presided over the execution then came out to the street; Ali jumped in a car with him. The convoy of SUVs drove off, one after the other, with the occasional honk of the horn.

Unreleased Saddam Hussein Execution Video

The question remains on many conspiracy websites, is this really Saddam Hussein with a noose around his neck? While there will be no end to the debate about the true identity of the man hanged, compelling evidence exists to suggest the person on trial was an imposter. Possibly one of the many security doubles the former Iraqi dictator employed.

The video released shows new angle of Saddam's execution. These are the real videos, showing you what the media refuses to.

The video show the actual hanging, view discretion is advised. Download the video HERE.
(Note:To start this P2P download, you have to install a BitTorrent client like µTorrent )


Saddam Hussein Hanging Video - ONLY MEDIA RELEASED NOT TO PUBLIC

This is a 100% authentic media only release of the Saddam Hussein Hanging. This is not publicly released until now!

30 December, 2006

Saddam Hussein is hanged

Saddam Hussein, the man who dominated Iraq with brutal violence for nearly 25 years, was executed before dawn this morning (at 6am local time). The 69-year-old leader, who was overthrown by a multi-national coalition led by the United States in 2003, was convicted of crimes against humanity.

Since the execution was announced by local television, there have no signs of violence in Baghdad. The government did not impose a curfew as it had done on 5 November, the day when one of the trials of the ex-dictator ended in a death sentence for the killing of 148 Shiites who were arrested in 1982 in connection with an assassination attempt against Saddam. The sentence was confirmed by an appeals court on 26 December and had to be executed within 30 days.

Saddam was also on trial for the killing of tens of thousands of Kurds in 1988 in the Anfal campaign.

Saddam Hussein was executed Saturday, officials said, the 69-year-old former strongman mounting the gallows calmly and accepting his fate with a last defiant warning.

"He said 'I hope you will be united, and I warn you not to trust the Iranian coalition, because they are dangerous'. He said he was not afraid of anyone," Judge Moneer Haddad, who witnessed Saddam's execution for crimes against humanity, told AFP.

Saddam's taunt will be interpreted as a sideswipe at Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite-led ruling coalition, which many Iraqi Sunnis accuse of being a front for Iranian influence.

Another witness, National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, told state television the former strongman made no attempt to resist his executioners, as he was led to the noose with his hands bound behind him.

Neither official, members of a small group of dignitaries who formally witnessed the execution, would say exactly where the hanging took place except that it was outside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

Rubaie said the Saddam's American jailers had handed him over to Iraqi officials and that there had been no US personnel in the building as the trapdoor dropped and the dictator's life was ended.

"We hope this great day will be a day for national unity and for the liberation of the Iraqi people," Rubaie told Al-Arabiya television, adding that the whole procedure had been filmed.

"Whether to screen it now or later is up to political leaders because this is a sensitive issue and we do not want to excite some of our people," he said, amid mounting sectarian tension.

"This issue is about establishing justice. I look to thousands of orphans and widows in Halabja, and the war with Iran and the invasion of Kuwait," he said, referring to some of Saddam's best known atrocities.

According to the AP, a crowd of about 200 Iraqi-Americans cheered outside a Dearborn mosque, chanting "Now there's peace, Saddam is dead" in English and Arabic.

They danced, sang, some dropping to their knees and crying, the AP reported.

Many draped Iraqi and American flags on their shoulders, heads, and car hoods.

The city is home to one of the largest communities of Muslims in America.

In US,President Bush said in a statement issued from his ranch in Texas that bringing Saddam to justice "is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain and defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror."

He said that the execution marks the "end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops" and cautioned that Saddam's death will not halt the violence in Iraq.

President. Bush, who was asleep at his Texas ranch when the hanging was carried out in Baghdad, said Saddam had received the kind of justice he denied his victims.

The fear that the hanging of the ex-ruler will bring “nothing good for the country” is widespread among Iraqi Christians in Europe too. They are convinced that even if this does not come about immediately, “sooner or later Saddam’s death will be avenged”.

Some key US allies expressed discomfort at the execution, which was roundly condemned by major human rights groups who argued that Saddam's trial had been deeply flawed.

Russia, which opposed the March 20, 2003 invasion to oust the dictator, and the Vatican both expressed regret at the hanging which some Muslim leaders said would exacerbate the violence in Iraq.

Britain, the main US ally in Iraq, said Saddam had been "held to account" but reiterated its opposition to the use of the death penalty, as did Australia, another key supporter of the US invasion.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett welcomed the fact that Saddam had been tried by an Iraqi court "for at least some of the appalling crimes" he committed against the Iraqi people.

"The British government does not support the use of the death penalty, in Iraq or anywhere else," she added Saturday.

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer voiced similar reservations but also stressed the need to respect the right of sovereign states to pass judgement relating to crimes committed against their people.

"He has been brought to justice, following a process of fair trial and appeal something he denied to countless thousands of victims of his regime," Downer said.

Bush hammered home the same point, saying fair trials had been "unimaginable" under Saddam's rule.

"Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself," he said.

Iran, the influential neighbour of Iraq and arch-foe of the US administration, also welcomed the news.

"The execution verdict of the court that tried Saddam has made thousands of Iranian, Iraqi and Kuwaiti victims happy," said foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini.

Saddam Hussein was reviled in Iran for a 1980 attack that sparked an eight-year war that cost around one million lives on both sides.

And no tears were shed in Kuwait, which Saddam invaded in 1990.

"Saddam was an enemy to the Iraqi people and the Islamic nation," said acting Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah.

Israel, a strong US ally and enemy of Saddam, also hailed the hanging, with a high-ranking Israeli official declaring: "Justice has been done."

But there was also condemnation of the execution.

Russia's foreign ministry expressed regret, saying that international calls for clemency had been ignored.

"Unfortunately, the many appeals from representatives of various countries and international organisations for Iraq's authorities to hold back from capital punishment were not heard," a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

India, which had warm ties with the Saddam regime, said it was "disappointed" by the execution, while Pakistan called it a "sad event".

The ruling Hamas movement in the Palestinian territories said Saddam was a prisoner of war and described his hanging as an act of "political assassination" that flouted international laws.

Libya declared three days of national mourning after the execution.

Malaysia, a leading Muslim nation, warned the execution of Saddam could trigger more bloodshed.

"A lot of people, the international community generally, are not in favour of the hanging and question the due process that took place," Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, whose country is current chair of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, told AFP.

Outside of Britain, European reaction, led by the European Union (EU), focused on opposition to the use of capital punishment.

"The European Union has been consistently against the use of the death penalty," Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told AFP.

"It could also prove to be divisive for the future of Iraq especially since there has been serious criticism of the way the trial was conducted," Tuomioja said.

France, a high profile opponent of the Iraq invasion at the United Nations, called on Iraqis to "look towards the future" and work towards reconciliation and national unity.

"Now more than ever, the objective should be a return to full sovereignty and stability in Iraq," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

German junior foreign minister Gernot Erler said that his country "understood" the feelings of the victims of Saddam's brutal regime but remained opposed to capital punishment.

Among other major powers, Japan said it respected Iraq's decision to carry out the execution.

"Japan hopes Iraq will turn into a stable country and will continue supporting the country together with the international community," Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was quoted by Kyodo News as saying.

The Vatican saw the hanging as "tragic news", Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi said.

"There is a risk that it feeds the spirit of vengeance and plants the seeds for fresh violence," he said

The Iraqi church did not comment about the execution of the former ruler, preferring to urge the world once again to “pray for the country, so sorely tired”. Iraqis abroad were waiting for the televised execution but they fear “certain revenge from the supporters of a president who was always seen as a god”.

“Continue to pray for peace across the world and today especially in Iraq.” This is the call of the auxiliary bishop of the Chaldeans in Baghdad, Mgr Shlemon Warduni, a few hours after the capital execution of Saddam Hussein. Beyond the political repercussions of this death, the bishop took care to stress that what matters most to the Church at this time is “necessary respect for the human person, as God created him”. Mgr Warduni once again urged “the world to pray for the common good but especially that of Iraq that is so sorely tried today.”

Malaysia respects the decision to execute former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein but has reservations that his death may trigger more serious conflict, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Saturday.

Saddam Hussein – Chronology

Despite promises from Iraqi and U.S. leaders that 2006 would bring improvement, Iraqis have suffered through the worst year in living memory, facing violence, fragmentation and a disintegrated economy.

A year back Iraqis were promised that 2006 would be the fresh beginning of a, prosperous, democratic and unified Iraq. Through an elected parliament and a unity government, they would find peace, and start rebuilding a country torn apart by the U.S.-backed UN sanctions and then the U.S.-led invasion and occupation.

But everyone agrees that the situation now is worse than ever. Leaders in Iraq disagree only to the extent they blame one another for the collapse in security that has led to worsened services and living conditions.

Hanged this morning at dawn, Saddam Hussein dominated the Iraqi scene for nearly 25 years, ruling with an iron fist, massacres against the country’s ethnic and religious groups and the elimination of his political adversaries. We list the significant dates in his life.

April 28, 1937 – Born in the poor al-Awja village near Tikrit, 150 km north of Baghdad. His stepfather used to beat him often when he was a child.

October 1956 - Joins uprising against pro-British monarchy and becomes a militant of the Baath (“Rebirth”) Party.

October 1959 - A year after the overthrow of the monarchy, takes part in a failed attempt to kill Prime Minister Abdel-Karim Kassem. Flees abroad and lives in exile in Cairo for four years.

February 1963 - Returns to Baghdad when the Baath Party seizes power in a coup. Nine months later Baathists are overthrown and he is caught and jailed. Elected deputy secretary-general of the party while in prison.

July 1968 - Saddam helps plot the coup that puts the Baath Party back in power, deposing President Abdul-Rahman Aref. He is now the party’s no.2 after General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr.

March 1975 - As vice-president of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), he signs an agreement with the Shah of Persia to ends support for an Iraqi Kurdish revolt, causing its collapse.

July 16, 1979 - Takes power after President Ahmed Hassan al -Bakr steps aside. He assumes the posts of prime minister, president of the RCC and supreme commander of the armed forces. Accuses hundreds of top politicians of the Baath party of betrayal and has them executed. During his 30 years of power, his name will feature in mosques, airports, neighbourhoods and cities. In schools, songs extolling him will be taught. His statues will be placed at the entrance of every village and his photo put up in every public office and private home.

September 22, 1980 – Self-styled leader of the Arab world, he launches war on the Iran of the Islamic Revolution. It will last eight years, claiming 200,000 lives and leaving hundreds of thousands injured.

March 16, 1988 - Iraqi forces launch chemical attack on Kurdish town of Halabja, killing about 5,000 people.

August 20, 1988 - A ceasefire is officially declared in the Iran-Iraq war. The campaign against Kurds continues. The war has emptied state coffers and leaves a debt of more than 70 billion dollars owed to other Arab states. Saddam starts thinking about how he can increase oil income.

August 2, 1990 - Launches invasion of and annexes Kuwait, accusing it of keeping oil prices down. The UN Security Council decides to impose sanctions on Iraq, which remain in force even after Saddam is thrown out of Kuwait, leading to the collapse of the economy and internal power struggles.

January 17, 1991 – The United States and other countries commence air attacks on Iraq and occupied Kuwait. The “Gulf War” ends on 28 February with the eviction of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The bombardments devastate the infrastructure of the country and massacre frontline Iraqi troops (it is estimated that 150,000 were killed in a few weeks). While retreating, the soldiers set fire to oil wells causing an ecological disaster. Encouraged by the defeat of the army, Shiites revolt in southern Iraq. But western powers do not intervene and Saddam suppresses the uprising. Then he attacks the Kurd rebels in the north, forcing millions of people to flee to the freezing mountains. Western forces intervene to protect the fugitives through air controls that prevent the soldiers’ advance.

August 1995 – The husbands of his two younger daughters leave and go into exile. Six months later they accept an amnesty and return to Iraq. Within days, their wives divorce them and both are killed in a shootout.

October 15, 1995 - Saddam wins a presidential referendum and is elected unopposed with more than 99% of the vote.

2000 – Newly elected US president George W. Bush steps up pressure against Saddam. Washington calls more and more persistently for “regime change”. After the attack of 11 September 2001, Iraq will be included among the “States scoundrel”.

October 15, 2002 – New presidential election: official results show Saddam wins 100% of votes.

November 2002 – UN inspectors return to Iraq to search for banned weapons. The country destroys some missiles and says it has neutralised anthrax reserves. Inspector Hans Blix concludes that Iraq has collaborated and that there is no evidence of new armament programmes but he fails to convince the United States and Great Britain.

December 7, 2002 - Saddam apologises for invasion of Kuwait but blames the country’s government. Kuwait rejects the apology.

February 2003 - In first interview in more than a decade, Saddam denies Baghdad has any banned weapons or links to al Qaeda.

March 20, 2003 – The forces of the United States and other countries launch war against Iraq.

April 9, 2003 – US forces take Baghdad and put an end to Saddam's three-decade rule. The dictator disappears.


Demonstrate against toll hikes

A rare scene indeed ! MCA leaders and members demostrating against their government for TOLL HIKES .

The MCA and two opposition political parties, DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), today staged separate demonstrations to protest against toll hikes.

About 100 Puchong MCA members led by division chairman Wong Hock Aun gathered at the Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP) toll plaza in Bandar Sunway at 10am, carrying banners and placards at 10am.

About 50 police personnel, including Special Branch men in plainclothes, led by Subang Jaya OCPD ACP Muhammad Fuad Talib kept a close watch on the protesters and maintained public security.

Wong said: "We condemn the toll hikes. Puchong residents are vey upset. The government should review its decision to allow the increase in the toll charges because the LDP is not alleviating the daily severe traffic congestions here."

Puchong MCA Youth chief Datuk Theng Book said the demonstration reflects the peoples' sentiment, especially the Puchong folks who have to bear the 60% increase in toll rates.

Effective Monday (Jan 1, 2007), LDP users have to pay RM1.60, up from RM1.

Before the MCA protesters could leave the scene, about 20 DAP and PKR arrived at 10.40am and headed to the LDP's operations complex.

They handed a memorandum of protest to Lingkaran Trans Kota Holdings Berhad (Litrak) communications manager Zuhri Iskandar Kamarzaman.

Floods round-up

Johor Flood Death Toll Rises To 12 !

The number of deaths due to floods in Johor rose to 12 Friday with the recovery of the body of a five-year-old girl who was reported missing two days ago.

A Batu Pahat police spokesman said the body of Pavithra Kamalanathan was found at 3.45pm in an oil palm plantation near the spot where strong currents carried away the car she was travelling in with her parents and sibling in Kampung Kamisan, Yong Peng.

The bodies of her mother Punithavathi, 31, and sibling Panithra, three, were found Thursday.

Her father Kamalanathan, an estate assistant manager, survived the incident and was receiving treatment at the Batu Pahat Hospital.

Despite extensive damage caused by the floods, the people of Johor have shown remarkable resilience in overcoming their personal loss.

Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said the disaster had also brought out the best in human values and compassion for those who had lost everything in the floods.

"The floods wrought terrible damage and destruction. Most villagers lost everything. All they had was the clothes on their backs.

"Yet, their spirits have not been broken. This is the unique feature about our people, particularly the Malays. They regard this as nothing more than a test from God."

Ghani, who has visited flood- hit areas since Dec 19, said he had never seen such extraordinary strength and courage in the people.

The Menteri Besar, who spearheaded the flood rescue and relief operation in the state, also noted that, despite their trauma, the flood victims were not whining.

"Not one (of the victims) has complained about clogged drains or poor infrastructure."

Ghani said another human trait that emerged was the community spirit to reach out and help others in distress.

He also paid tribute to government offices, saying they did a fine job responding speedily to the emergency, even though many were on year-end leave.

He said the floods had reinforced the need for Johor to step up efforts to resettle squatters in low-lying areas to higher ground.

Rocky's Bru asks :
Where's Syed Hamid? Where's Khaled? Eleven(Twelve now) people have died in the worst floods in Johor's - and the country's - history. Last night the number of evacuees in Johor rose as more areas went under. For now, it is getting worse for the state, not better.
And while the Menteri Besar has been working round the clock to help the victims, people have begun to notice the absence of certain Johor politicians and MPs from the scene.
They couldn't all have gone to Perth for holiday, could they?

Meanwhile,Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said investigations will be carried out on a police report lodged against a soldier who had allegedly asked for money before rescuing flood victims in Segamat.

Guang Ming Daily reported that a flood victim, Wong Yee Ken of Segamat, had lodged a police report on how he was forced to bribe a military officer to take food and drinks to his customers and staff who were trapped in his hair salon and also to rescue them by boat.

The report, (Police Report Number SEGAMAT/007292/06), confirms widespread rumours about military personnel demanding bribes from flood victims in Segamat last week. The allegations had also appeared in a Chinese-language website, www.segamat.8talk.net.

The content of the police report is as follow:

“Pada 20/12/2006 jam lebih kurang 2130 hours semasa saya berada di simpang jambatan kedua ke Sri Genuang. Ada 2 buah bot tentera ada di situ dan saya minta pertolongan mereka untuk menghantar makanan dan minuman kepada pelanggan dan orang kerja saya di kedai gunting rambut Feiwan, Jalan Genuang. Salah seorang daripada tentera tersebut yang berpakaian uniform telah meminta wang kepada saya untuk pergi
menghantar makanan ke kedai tersebut. Saya terpaksa membayar RM250 kepada tentera tersebut. Tujuan saya buat laporan ini kerana tidak puas hati terhadap perkara ini. Sekian laporan saya.”

Guang Ming Daily reported how Wong said that on the night of Dec 20, the military personnel agreed to rescue seven people who were stranded in his saloon in return for a RM250 bribe. But after money exchange.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said appropriate action would be taken against the soldier if the allegations were found to be true.


World laughing at US: Mahathir

THE US has become an international laughing stock because of Iraq, and Australia is suffering for its relationship with America, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has said.
"America has lost," he said yesterday. "It used to be a world power. It is no longer a world power."

In an exclusive interview with The Weekend Australian in his office near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister said: "The whole world is laughing at America, at the stupidity of the decisions they made and at the refusal to recognise the situation."

He described US President George W.Bush as being in "total self-denial".

Dr Mahathir also said Australia suffered from its close association with Mr Bush's policies.

He criticised Australia for having a mentality that was too European, always telling people how to behave and what was right and wrong.

Dr Mahathir accused the Bush administration of having only a shallow knowledge of the Middle East and hypocrisy about Middle Eastern democracy.

"In Palestine, because they didn't like Hamas, because Hamas won, they didn't want to recognise them, thus negating the whole idea of democracy."

Dr Mahathir retired as prime minister in 2003 having served 22 years in office and overseen sustained economic growth in Malaysia.

However, his later years in office were marked by increasingly sharp criticism of Washington and Australia. He had celebrated run-ins with three Australian prime ministers: Bob Hawke, over the Malaysian decision to execute two convicted Australian drug traffickers; Paul Keating, over APEC and the nature of Asian regionalism; and John Howard, over the question of whether Australia was the US's deputy sheriff in Asia.

Saddam: the final hours of a tyrant

Saddam Hussein's death warrant was signed last night. It happened as the nightly curfew brought Baghdad, the city where he exercised supreme power over Iraq for a quarter of a century, to a standstill. The leader who launched two disastrous wars that reshaped the politics of the Middle East and ruined his country waited to be hanged by the Iraqi authorities who had replaced him.

Saddam's principal lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi, said US officials who have been holding him at Fort Cropper near the airport outside Baghdad had asked him to pick up Saddam's possessions and those of his half-brother, Barzan al-Tikriti, also facing execution. His two other half- brothers, Watban and Sabawi, visited him on Thursday and he gave them his will.

The trial of Saddam probably changed few minds. The Sunni Arab community sympathised with him as one of their own. The Kurds, so long his chief victims, wanted him to hang. The Shia agreed, though many reflect wryly that their lives had been safer under his rule.

For half a century Saddam's enemies have been trying to kill him. Had they succeeded 10, 20 or 30 years ago the history of Iraq, the Middle East and the world might have been different. But his death comes too late. The violence he played his part in is out of control. His execution may make little difference.

It should have been a historic opportunity. For the first time since the end of the Second World War, a tyrant and his henchmen were being put on trial for crimes against humanity by a special domestic court.

Yet the first trial against Saddam Hussein, in which he was charged with human rights violations dating back to 1982, was so rife with defects that the guilty verdict was unsound, according to Human Rights Watch.

In a 97-page report on a trial which centred on the execution of almost 150 Shia Muslims and the arrest of 1,500 in Dujail, Human Rights Watch identified the following flaws:


The court was manifestly unprepared for such a legally and factually challenging case when the trial began on 19 October 2005. Despite having US advisers, the judges and lawyers were insufficiently trained and were unprepared for the hostile environment. The level of expertise of the Iraqi trial judges, administrators, prosecutors and defence lawyers was "not sufficient to fairly and effectively try crimes of this magnitude". The prosecution and investigative judges appeared unfamiliar with the elements of proof required to establish individual criminal responsibility under international criminal law. Much documentation was not in readable form.


Three defence lawyers, including one who was acting for Saddam himself, were killed during the trial, and others were attacked by gunmen. During the televised proceedings of the opening session, while only the faces of the chief prosecutor and presiding judge were shown from among the prosecuting team, all of the defence lawyers were visible. The following day, one of the defence team, Sadoun al-Janabi, was kidnapped and shot dead. Three weeks later, Adel al-Zubeidi and Thamer al-Khuza'i, defence counsel for the defendants Taha Yassin Ramadan and Barzan al-Tikriti, were attacked by gunmen and Mr Zubeidi was killed.

Human Rights Watch said that until Mr Janabi's assassination there appeared to have been no specific proposals to ensure the safety of the defence team. They were effectively left with only one option: to relocate their families outside Iraq at their own cost and return to Iraq for the trial sessions.

The trial organisers should have been better prepared because five people working for the court were killed before the opening session. There was also no systematic protection programme for witnesses once they had appeared in court.


The report found that the Iraqi High Tribunal was "undermined from the outset" by Iraqi government actions that threatened the court's independence and perceived impartiality.

Its standing was further undermined by fierce public criticism of the court and its judges by senior government officials which started as soon as the trial began. Its reputation also suffered when MPs denounced the presiding judge, Rizgar Amin, and demanded his resignation. The judge, who was a Kurd, resigned last January.


There were also violations of the defendants' right to confront witnesses, according to Human Rights Watch. And it denounced the tendency by the prosecution to engage in "trial by ambush" in which incriminating documents were not disclosed to the defence until the day that they were to be used in court.

The tortured voices of Saddam's victims

* Ahmed Hassan Mohammed, a survivor of Dujail, and among the few Iraqis willing to testify at Saddam's trial without anonymity:

"There were mass arrests. Women and men. Even if a child was a day old they used to tell his parents, 'Bring him with you'. They were martyrs I knew. I had a brother ... He was a student, middle school. He was born in 1965. They took him to interrogation. They electrocuted him; they tortured him by electric shock and they would beat him before my father, who was born 1905. They would ask him where your brothers are. And he had no idea. The mask they put on my face was falling because I was so little. They were torturing women in front of me. It's OK if they torture me or my brothers. But why do you take my mother and sisters?"

* An anonymous Kuwaiti man after Kuwait was liberated in 1991:

"The Iraqis said all those at prayer would be taken away - kidnapped - and 11 men stayed in the mosque and refused to go. So they brought them here, blindfolded them, made them stand with their backs to the wall and shot them in the face. I had two neighbours who the Iraqis thought were in the resistance. So they pushed them into drains, closed the grille, poured petrol on them and set them on fire. "

* Karwan Abdallah Tawfiq, Kurdish survivor of a chemical gas attack during Saddam's Anfal campaign. He testified at Saddam's genocide trial:

"I saw with my own eyes all those broken limbs. After two months I regained consciousness. I was disoriented. After that, I found myself with friends at the Imam Khomeini hospital at Isfahan in Iran. I used to feel as if I was drunk the whole time. I spent six months in the hospital, and I was unable to see. Even my children are scared to see my eyes when I remove the glasses."

* Dr Hussein Shahristani, former chief scientific adviser to Saddam's Iraqi Atomic Energy Organisation and a Shia Muslim. Arrested in December 1979, he was imprisoned and tortured in Abu Ghraib for 11 years before escaping in the first Gulf War after the Americans bombed the prison. He was touted as a possible post-Saddam prime minister.

"The torture techniques in Baghdad were routine and varied in severity. The electric shocks could be everywhere. But sometimes they would burn people on the genitals and go on burning until they were completely burnt off. They did the same with toes. They sometimes beat people with iron on the stomach and the chest. I saw one man and they had used an iron on his stomach. They used drills and made holes in bones, arms and legs. I saw an officer, Naqib Hamid; they dissolved his feet in acid. They would put sulphuric acid in a tub. They would take a man and start by dissolving his hands. The founder of the Dawa party, Abdul Saheb Khail, was totally dissolved."

The rise and fall of Iraq's dictator

* 28 April 1937: Saddam Hussein is born to a peasant family near Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

* 7 October, 1959: Joins assassination squad that wounds Iraq's military leader, Gen Abdel-Karim Kassem. Wounded in the leg, Saddam flees Iraq for Syria and Egypt.

* 1964-1966: Jailed for participation in Baath Party. Escapes to become leading party member.

* 17 July 1968: Saddam's cousin becomes Iraqi president.

* 15 July 1979: Takes power from his cousin as president of Iraq.

* 22 Sept 1980: Backed by the West, orders troops to invade Iran. The eight-year war, in which Iraq uses nerve gas against Iranians, kills hundreds of thousands on both sides.

* 8 July 1982: Survives assassination attempt. Purges town of Dujail; 150 residents executed on Saddam's orders.

* 28 March 1988: Uses chemical weapons against Kurdish town of Halabja in northern Iraq, killing 5,000 civilians.

* 2 August 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait.

* 17 January 1991: US coalition launches the Gulf War.

* 20 February 1996: Saddam orders killing of two sons-in-law who had defected to Jordan.

* December 1996: Saddam's son and heir, Uday, wounded in assassination attempt.

* 12 September 2002: President Bush calls on UN to confront Iraq - or stand aside as the US and like-minded nations act.

* March 20, 2003: US-led forces invade Iraq. "Shock and awe" bombardment followed by ground invasion.

* 9 April 2003: US forces enter central Baghdad.

* 13 December, 2003: Saddam captured by US forces.

* 19 October 2005: Saddam appears in court charged with crimes against humanity for Dujail massacre.

* 21 August 2006: Second trial of Saddam opens. He is charged with genocide and war crimes against the Kurds.

* 5 November 2006: Saddam sentenced to death by hanging. His half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, a former chief judge, are also sentenced to death.

* 26 December 2006: Conviction upheld by appeals court.
(Source:The Independent)