28 February, 2007

Stop shrinking our intellectual space

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) expresses support and solidarity for the efforts of an acclaimed local filmmaker and a writer who are challenging the government's attempts to stop Malaysians from accessing their works. The filmmaker, Tsai Ming Liang whose film titled " I don't want to sleep alone", was recently banned, is appealing the decision while K. Arumugam is challenging the ban order of his book "March 8" in court.

Tsai, a Malaysian filmmaker based in Taiwan received a letter dated Jan 31 by the National Censorship Board informing him that his latest film is banned. Among the reasons cited are that it portrayed the unsightly side of the capital city Kuala Lumpur and affected the
government's ongoing tourism campaign. Tsai's film won an international award in the Spanish Film Festival.

K. Arumugam was reported to have filed an application on Feb 24 for judicial review against the Internal Security Ministry. His book "March 8", a Tamil language book detailing the 2001 racial clashes in the suburban Kampung Medan, is among the 17 titles banned since Dec 2006. The list also include the Indonesian version of Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species", translated by F. Susilohardo Basuki Hernowo.

In banning Tsai Ming Liang's film, which talks about urban poor and the haze in Kuala Lumpur among other issues, the government is punishing a filmmaker who engages with the local problems, rather than engaging in the problems themselves.

Similarly, the government engages in whitewashing history by prohibiting the publication of research on the Kampung Medan incident. It is noteworthy that the banning of a Bahasa Indonesia version of Charles Darwin's classic "The Origin of Species" shows that the Malay-speaking community, the ruling coalition's largest constituency, is being denied information available to those fluent in English.

CIJ calls upon the government to lift the bans on all books, repeal the Printing Presses and Publication Act (PPPA) which legalizes book banning and to set up a Parliamentary Select Committee on communication rights.

The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) is a media organization that aims to improve current Malaysian journalism practice and independence through advocacy, research and analysis, training and practical work. Started in 2001, CIJ has initiated various projects in developing grassroots communications skills through training, infrastructural support and direct action.

Issued by Sonia Randhawa
Executive Director

Women's International Day

We are looking for people who are interested to participate in a
studio discussion to coincide with Women's INternational Day on 8th.
We wil be organising a studio discussion two days before, as we will
be submitting to a global collection of audio recordings for the theme.

The discussion topic is "Has polygamy been accepted as a norm in the
Malaysian society?"

Date: 5th March
Time: 7pm
venue: Radiq Studio, CIJ office
Duration: 25 mins

Pls call our office at 40249840 to inform us if you'd like to attend
or drop an email to thanam@cijmalaysia.org.



Banning History: When Will Malaysia Learn To Live With Her Past?

Written by Farish A. Noor
Monday, 26 February 2007

Scholars who are engaged in the humanities will tell you that History happens to be one of the most politically-contested disciplines. It is well known by now that the writing of history is hardly ever an innocent process, and that any claim – no matter how laudable or couched in lofty prose – to objectivity has long since been defunct. The saying that ‘history is written by the victors’ may have passed onto the register of clichés by now, but it remains true nonetheless. What is more history’s endless repetition of the narrative of sameness; the continuous telling of the story of ‘we and us, us and we’ is no mere rhetorical device. Any claim to objective moral ‘truth’ (if one can be made at all in the case of historical writing) often requires the re-telling of the same facts again and again, to lend the guise of consistency and solidity.

That is why official historiography and official (re: state-appointed) historians balk at the thought of the subaltern voice making itself heard. In so many post-colonial societies, the narrative of post-colonial independence was hastily written in a brazen attempt to hide or gloss over instances of collaboration with the imperial hegemon and colonial power; the petty internal feudal conflicts between the colonised subjects themselves; and the fact that most of these struggles were clumsy affairs, mixed with chance and flavoured by deceit.

This is true of many post-colonial countries and Malaysia is no exception to the rule. Malaysia’s independence, we are told, was a gentlemanly bout between British and Malayan aristocrat-patriots who did not bloody their hands in combat. Contrary to the case of Indonesia, Burma, the Philippines and most recently East Timor, Malaysia’s independence was a negotiated affair.

But what has been lost in this official narrative is the fact that long before gentlemen-aristocrats like Tunku Abdul Rahman – who became the country’s first Prime Minister – won the country’s independence, Malaya’s future was also being decided in a bloody conflict in the jungles that pitted the imperial forces of Britain against the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). Malaya gained her independence in 1957, but the country emerged into the world in a state of Emergency, that was declared by the British in 1948 and lasted till 1960.

Even before independence however, the MCP has been routinely stigmatised and demonised as the evil Red Menace threatening to devour the free world. Of course much of this rhetoric seems dated by now, following the end of the Cold War; but in the 1950s and 1960s the same discourse of demonisation was used to systematically present the MCP as a fifth column poised to take over Malaya and serve the interests of Peking and Moscow instead.

It is against this context that films about the MCP, its struggles and the biographies of its members have been banned in Malaysia. Most recently the latest ban was imposed on the film ‘Apa Khabar Orang Kampung’ (oddly translated as ‘Village People Radio Show’, for some unknown reason). The film’s director, Amir Muhammad, was in Berlin just a week ago to present his film which premiered at the Berlinale, to much public acclaim.

Yet, like his earlier film ‘Lelaki Komunist Terakhir’ (‘The Last Communist’), Amir’s latest film has been banned in his own country. While ‘The Last Communist’ was approved by the Malaysian censor board, it was banned by the Home Affairs Minister nevertheless. Amir’s latest film was banned on the grounds that it was ‘historically inaccurate’ and that it presents a distorted picture of history. How ironic, considering that for decades Malaysian historians have also argued that much of colonial history of Malaya/Malaysia was also distorted. And on that note one might as well reactivate the perennial question of history-writing itself: Can there ever be any historical account free of subjective bias, cultural perspectivism and the inherent solipsism of the author him/herself?

It would appear that Malaysia is still suffering from growing pains, despite the fact that the country will celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence this year. After 50 years, and despite the fact that the MCP is practically non-existent in the country today, the ever-so-sensitive sentiments of right-wing nationalists will tolerate no alternative viewpoint contrary to their own; even if this means denying the fact that it was the MCP and its military wing that fought against the Japanese imperialist army during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia during World War Two, and later the returning British imperialist army following the end of the war. Dubbed ‘terrorist bandits’ by the colonial power then, the MCP and its members have been steadily written out of the history books and the process of historical erasure continues unabated till today.

It is ironic, though not surprising, that Amir Muhammad’s film has been banned in the country. The word ‘ban’ shares etymological links to the word ‘banish’, which means to expel something from the space of the familiar. The banning of ‘Apa Khabar Orang Kampung’ may have been an attempt to banish from the present traces of the past, but in their zealousness to impose only their ‘correct’ version of history the Malaysian authorities have shown that Malaysia is still far from ready to live with a history that is complex and laced with alterity.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 27 February 2007 )


From Shanghai, Tremors Heard Around the World

In China’s wild cowboy stock market, record-breaking run-ups have been followed by mini-crashes that have been largely confined within this country’s borders.

But on Tuesday, China’s worst one-day tumble in a decade set off a tumult that rolled through markets around the globe, from Tokyo to Frankfurt to Brazil to Wall Street.

Speculative frenzy had lifted the Shanghai composite index above the 3,000-point milestone on Monday and then gave way to a tumultuous sell-off on Tuesday that sent shares plummeting nearly 9 percent.

The downturn shattered all sorts of records, and analysts said there was no clear reason for Tuesday’s severe drop in Shanghai, equivalent to a 1,100-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average. But the Chinese stock market was rife with rumors that the government was considering new measures to tame the world’s hottest stock market before a bubble developed.

To many investors and analysts here, however, the extensive sell-off was just the latest indication that share prices in China had often become unhinged from the broader economy. Millions of everyday investors rushed blindly into stocks, emptying out their savings account to “play the market,” as many of them say.

Perhaps the most remarkable sign of the recent irrational exuberance underpinning China’s stock markets was that during the last year, when a company announced bad news, its stock price shot through the roof.

Early this year, for instance, when a group of 17 Chinese companies was cited by regulators for misappropriating corporate funds, their stock prices all skyrocketed. When the Tianjin Global Magnetic Card Company failed to report quarterly earnings last April, its stock doubled.

Tuesday was different, though. With shares in Shanghai tumbling, stocks listed in Shenzhen also collapsed, falling 9.3 percent. In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng index fell 1.76 percent, and in Japan, the Nikkei dropped about half a point, to 18,119.92.

The volatility of Shanghai sometimes produced unusual results. Shares of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which went public simultaneously on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock markets last October, performed very differently on the two markets, for example. I.C.B.C. shares dropped 8 percent on Tuesday in Shanghai but just 1.8 percent in Hong Kong.

But with stocks in Hong Kong reacting on Wednesday morning to the global sell-off, I.C.B.C. shares dropped 3.7 percent on Wednesday morning in Hong Kong but rose two-tenths of a percent in Shanghai.

None of the world’s major stock markets have been as volatile as that of China, where people refer to the stock market as “dubo ji,” or the slot machine. The gyrations have become almost commonplace for a stock market that suffered through a five-year depression until 2006, when it rose more than 130 percent, the world’s best performance.

The Chinese government, however, is worried about an over-reaction that could produce a bubble and then a crash that could send bankrupt investors into the streets in protest.

Analysts say that at least in some cases, the stocks of tainted companies have risen because the companies were viewed as shedding old problems and starting anew. Still, some of those problems reflect deep cultural attitudes and are unlikely to be fixed overnight.

Analysts also argue that the market has been running up because of stronger fundamentals, rising profits, improved regulation and oversight by officials, and confidence in the market’s long-term prospects.

But in this current run of market mania, even corruption appears to be a buy signal. That was the case for the Shanghai Bailian Group, which reported on Dec. 29 that its chairman was under investigation for fraud. The company’s shares have climbed 45 percent since then.

Two weeks ago, after the chairman of the Shanghai Hai Niao Enterprise Development Company was detained, his company’s shares rose 15 percent.

“There’s just too much liquidity out there, too much,” says Chang Chun, a financial reform expert at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai. “This is a psychological thing.”

China’s stock market system is still relatively immature, and trustworthy information about a company’s performance is still hard to come by. So the average investor does little or no research.

Just to find names of stocks to buy is a task for new investors. So if they see even a mention in the press, positive or negative, they start buying. If alert investors are lucky, they might get a tip. If state television mentions a company, it must be worth something, and if they don’t catch the full story, they at least have a name.

“If I hear a stock mentioned on the TV news I will pay attention to it,” says Xu Xiaochen, a 55-year-old retiree.

In any case, many investors here seem to believe that the secret to picking stocks is luck and confidence in the government, not the fundamentals of any particular company.

“I don’t know how to choose a stock,” says a 61-year-old retiree who gave her name as Miss Hou at a local brokerage house a few weeks ago. “But I trust those technology companies. Maybe the names of some companies sound lucky to me, so I choose to buy these stocks.”

Government officials began cautioning several weeks ago against “blind optimism” in the stock market. Banks were ordered to stop making loans to people who were speculating in the market. Trading volumes have been so high that the Shanghai Stock Exchange recently warned that the country’s electronic trading system could be destabilized.

Stock prices fell sharply for four straight days in early February as investors seemed to contemplate the possibility of an overheated market.

After a brief pause, they rushed in again. Foreign money is also piling in, according to JPMorgan, and hardly an analyst is willing to bet against the stock market.

“You can’t be a fundamental investor in China,” said Michael Pettis, a professor of finance at Peking University. “You can only speculate.”

Mr. Pettis, who has long been a market skeptic here, is now raising a fund to invest in Chinese stocks, based on his projections of the inflow that will push up prices.

“There’s a huge amount of money in the banking system with nowhere to go,” he said. “I think you’re going to see that money getting out of the banking system.”

Mutual funds are also helping some individual investors, while others are scrambling into initial offerings, which over the last year have had a strong opening-day track record.

Of the 15 companies that went public on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, 12 of them experienced opening-day rises of more than 10 percent.

Now, regulators are seeing a growing number of stock frauds directed at small investors. And Chinese officials worry that investors are still relying on a welfare state — which is increasingly disappearing — to take care of them.

As for the companies that are seeing their stock prices climb despite their troubles, they may be hard pressed for explanations, but nonetheless defend the phenomenon.

“The stock is the stock, and the C.E.O. is the C.E.O.,” said a woman working in the executive office at Shanghai Haixin Group after she acknowledged that the chief executive was under investigation. “As for our C.E.O.’s bad news, yes, it happened. But it is outdated and not newsworthy at all. As for the stock price, we don’t know either.”

DAVID BARBOZA, The New York Times)

Related News

China 'correction' rattles world markets - Asia Times Online

Malaysia's Stocks Drop Most in Almost 6 Years; Ringgit Slides

Malaysia stocks fell by the most in almost six years, sending the ringgit lower and extending a global sell-off sparked by a plunge in Chinese and U.S. shares yesterday.

``There's no way that we will be decoupled from what happens to the major markets,'' said Wong Shou Ning, who helps manage $136 million at Kenanga Investment Management Sdn. in Kuala Lumpur. ``Markets are global. It's like a tidal wave, you can't run.'
Tenaga Nasional Bhd. and Malayan Banking Bhd. led the decline among the nation's biggest stocks. Proton Holdings Bhd. slumped after reporting a third straight quarterly loss while Dufu Technology Corp. Bhd. gained on its first trading day.

The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index tumbled 74.17, or 6 percent, to 1162.91 at the 12:30 p.m. local time break, set for its biggest loss since April 4, 2001. The measure plunged as much as 8.2 percent earlier. The index dropped 2.8 percent yesterday.

``The whole market is taking a hit,'' said Scott Lim, who helps manage $400 million as chief investment officer at CMS Dresdner Asset Management Sdn. in Kuala Lumpur. ``Smart investors should be looking for bargains. This panic will ease once the market in China stabilizes.''

Malaysia's currency, the ringgit, fell 0.3 percent to 3.505 against the U.S. dollar as of 12:07 p.m. local time, the most since Dec. 19, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Among Asia's currencies, the ringgit is the second-biggest gainer against the U.S. dollar this year; it ranks fourth worldwide.

``The currency's movement is part of the panic,'' Lim said. ``There has been no change in the country's fundamentals. People are taking advantage of the situation to take profit.''

Whole Market Hit !

Today's loss pared the gains in the nation's main stock index this year to 6.1 percent. The 100-member measure closed last week at its highest since Jan. 5, 1994, boosted by a 17 percent gain from end-2006.

The smaller Second Board Index fell 6.9 percent to 93.78 today, while the FTSE Bursa Malaysia Emas Index declined 6.4 percent to 7703.91. Declining stocks beat gainers 1118 to 21.

Tenaga Nasional, Malaysia's biggest power producer, lost 70 sen, or 5.7 percent, to 11.50 ringgit, set for its biggest slide since May 31, 2002. Malayan Banking Bhd., the nation's biggest lender, declined 70 sen, or 5.4 percent, to 12.30 ringgit, the lowest since Jan. 30 and shaving this year's gain to 4.2 percent.

``Malaysia will probably be one of the hardest hit because it is also one of the best performers in the region this year'' said Wong, who also owns shares in Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. ``I don't think this means the long-term end of the rally. Nothing has changed in Malaysia's economy today compared to yesterday.''



U.S. says no objection if Malaysia develops nuclear energy program

The United States Tuesday said that it has no objection if Malaysia pursue a nuclear energy program for peaceful purposes, local media reports said.

U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Christopher LaFleur made this remark after an intellectual discourse organized by University Putra Malaysia, according to Malaysia's national news agency Bernama.

Nuclear energy was quite important for countries which had no energy resources of their own, Lafleur said in the discourse.

If Malaysia wanted to develop that field, the United States would not oppose, he said.

Meanwhile, Lafleur stressed that if Malaysian research institutes want to cooperate on nuclear energy research, he believed that American institutions that will be happy to work with them.

Some Malaysian government officials in recent two years reiterated that Malaysia has rich energy resources and it does not need to develop nuclear energy power stations.

They also indicated that Malaysia is short of talents and the necessary technology to develop nuclear power stations.

Yet, other Malaysian officials argued that Malaysia did not rule out the possibility that it would develop nuclear power stations in the future.

It is reported that the Southeast Asian country currently has a research nuclear reactor.
(Source:People's Daily Online)

Head of Malaysia's anti-corruption agency probed for corruption

Allegations that the head of the powerful Anti-Corruption Agency is corrupt and unscrupulous must be thoroughly investigated or Malaysia will become an international laughingstock, an opposition leader said Wednesday.

Former senior ACA officer Mohamad Ramli Manan has accused the agency's Director-General Zulkipli Mat Noor of being "a very corrupt senior police officer who had amassed substantial property and assets through corrupt practices," said Lim Kit Siang, who chairs the opposition Democratic Action Party.

Ramli made the allegations in a report to police in July last year before his retirement in December, said Lim, the opposition leader in parliament, in a statement.

Zulkipli was a special branch officer for more than two decades and rose to become police chief in two states, before becoming the first policeman to be appointed to the ACA's top post in 2001.

Zulkipli told the New Straits Times newspaper the allegations were baseless and that he had been vetted and cleared by both the agency and police before his appointment.

"Let the law take its course," he was quoted as saying. "The bottom line is justice must be done."

A parliamentary committee on integrity has fixed March 12 for Zulkipli and Ramli to appear to hear the case and decide if it is proper for Zulkipli to continue to helm the anti-corruption agency.

Lim called for a thorough investigation to restore confidence in the agency, which has been widely perceived as a "paper tiger" with Malaysia ranked 44 in Transparency International's corruption index last year, down from 37 in 2003.

"This matter must be cleared so that he is fit to continue," Lim said. "Malaysia will become an international laughingstock if the ACA has a director-general who has serious corruption allegations swirling over his head."


27 February, 2007

Lawyers Defend Singapore Conference Choice

The International Bar Association says Singapore is a fine place for an annual conference. The group says holding a convention in the island republic is the best way of publicizing legal shortcomings. Others disagree.

The International Bar Association is defending its decision to hold its annual conference in October in Singapore, which critics say has one of the least independent court systems in the world.

In a Feb. 26 letter to Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, the IBA said: “It is not uncommon that countries selected to host IBA events are themselves challenged to adhere to international human rights norms and laws. The IBA has held, or supported, events in Nigeria, Mexico, Jordan, the UAE, Russia, Iraq, Peru, Malawi, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Swaziland, Colombia, the former Yugoslavia, Poland, the West Bank and Gaza, Cambodia, Venezuela, and China, all countries struggling to uphold the rule of law.”

The international legal association’s presence, according to the letter, which was signed by six IBA officials, “has allowed us to engage the legal profession on the importance of governance, transparency and the rule of law.”

The meetings they refer to in the letter, however, are not annual conferences, the group’s showpiece event at which thousands of legal professionals attend, but smaller meetings and other minor gatherings.

Every annual conference the group has had, beginning with the first in Barcelona in 1999, has been held in a country with a functioning multiparty democracy. Last year’s gathering was in Chicago and the one before that was in Prague. New Zealand, the Netherlands, and post-apartheid South Africa have also hosted IBA annual conferences. The 2008 meeting is scheduled for Buenos Aires.

Singapore has been ruled by the People’s Action Party since independence. Founding Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew remains influential as Minister Mentor and his son, Lee Hsien Loong, is the current prime minister. The economic success of the island state has largely masked the fact that the media is tightly controlled and opposition politicians are marginalized and harassed.

The latest US State Department Human Rights report also notes “significant problems” in Singapore with regard to executive influence over the judiciary. “Government leaders historically have used court proceedings, in particular defamation suits, against political opponents and critics,” the report states. “Both this practice and consistent awards in favor of government plaintiffs raised questions about the relationship between the government and the judiciary and led to a perception that the judiciary reflected the views of the ruling party in politically sensitive cases.”

Meanwhile Chee, who wrote to the London-based IBA on Feb. 15 protesting the decision to hold the conference in the island state, was threatened with three weeks in jail after being found guilty the same day the letter was sent ‑ Feb. 26 ‑ and fined S$4,000 for attempting to leave Singapore without permission. Chee’s problem is that he was declared bankrupt after he failed to pay two former prime ministers S$500,000 awarded them in a defamation judgment in 2001. As such he is barred from traveling. It was the 12th time Chee was refused permission to leave the island, this time to attend the World Movement for Democracy conference held in Turkey in 2006.

Singapore government officials including current and former prime ministers Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong have sued opposition leaders scores of times for defamation after they made remarks critical of the government. No Singapore leader has ever lost a defamation case in a Singapore courtroom, including cases against the Asian Wall Street Journal, the International Herald Tribune and other publications. The Singapore press has never opposed the government on any substantial issue.

The IBA has come under fire from critics for their decision to hold the conference in Singapore. Birgitta Ohlsson, a human rights activist and member of the Swedish Parliament, wrote Fernando Pombo, the president of the IBA, on Feb. 23, saying, “human rights and the rule of law have come under severe attack by the Singapore Government” and “opposition parties and civil society groups have almost no role to play.”

Nonetheless, the IBA, in its letter, said the 2007 annual conference was assigned to Asia and Singapore was selected in 2004 by a vote of the governing council – “represented by the 195 member bar associations and law societies. Our host will be the Law Society of Singapore, the President of which is the distinguished writer and lawyer Philip Jeyaretnam.”

Philip Jeyaretnam is the son of Joshua B. Jeyaretnam, the former leader of the Singapore Worker Party, who was sued 27 times for defamation by then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, bankrupted and driven from politics

Chee Soon Juan was unavailable for comment. However, his Australia-based lawyer, Tim Robertson, said that “I have not the slightest doubt that Singapore will use the occasion of the IBA conference as evidence of worldwide approval of its system of justice – it already claims that independent groups rate its courts as the best in the world.”

Just last week Robertson was denied the chance to represent the Far Eastern Economic Review in a defamation suit filed by Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Kuan Yew. In response, he said in an email: “I was denied entry to the courtroom on an entirely spurious ground. The proceedings took place in secret. It is an outrage that a case that had important implications for the development of international law and involved the PM and his father as litigants should have been held in secret. It is worse that entry to the courtroom in Singapore now depends on the court’s opinion as to the political views of the entrant. That is political censorship.”

The IBA, the officials said, would for the first time have a “Rule of Law Day,” which would encourage active audience participation to address a variety of issues around the importance of the rule of law including an Asian perspective on the subject.

IBA vice president Fernando Peláez-Pier is quoted on the group’s website saying, “The 2007Annual Conference in Singapore will be a great opportunity for our members to network with Asian lawyers and learn more about their practices and the development of that region.”

How much outside individuals might be allowed to interact with the visiting attorneys is problematical, however, if the experience of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund at last September’s annual meetings is any example. Protesters and critics, even some invited to attend by the meetings’ organizers, were mostly denied entry into the country and shunted to Batam, an Indonesian island 20 kilometers across the Singapore Strait. They were so effectively walled off from the meetings that leaders of the two organizations, normally chary of protesters, actually had to demand of Singapore officials that protesters be allowed.
John Berthelsen - Asia Sentinel )


Irresponsible blogging. ? Who’s behind “Walk With Us”?

I am deeply troubled by the Walk With Us website. In it’s two most recent post, it launched an attack on NSTP’s lawyers and their representing firm, Shearn Delamore. It didn’t require me much brain power to know the site is clearly against NSTP’s maneouvre but making personal attacks is like hitting below the belt. It’s like insulting someone’s mother or race. It’s biased and no longer credible. Also, it’s sub judice. Plus, to abuse the statement of claims is unforgivable.

- Politikus

To let you be the judge, we have obtained the documents from sources within Shearn Delamore, and published here, in four parts, to help you get a good grasp of the merits of the case. As we are not plagiarists — unlike Brenden John Pereira — please allow us to attribute to Rishwant Singh of Shearn Delamore as the author of the said documents.

So people, judge it. The statement of claims (which I too have provided) was meant to inform and fill the information gap. What WWU has done is to not only analyse the suit for you, it has helped you think and decide that Shearn and it’s lawyers are a bunch of wankers. ‘Merits’? Those aren’t merits. That is singling out Kalimullah and lowering him in the eyes of the public. It’s also known as defamation.

Is this responsible blogging? Is that what Rocky and Jeff wants? They have been gagged on their sites but that does not mean other sites should act in the extreme of accusations. Analysis are not facts. It’s a statement of claims ordered by NSTP and others, it is not Shearn’s. They merely act on the instructions of their paymasters.

Shearn Delamore will play dirty.

That’s not the last of Shearn Delamore’s shoddy slip-shot.

This is where the devils of Shearn Delamore and Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan, the dominant plaintiff, lie.

For now, you should know that Shearn Delamore and Kalimullah are now cracking. They have cocked up big time on the statement of claims to move their case forward.

By virtue of abusing such information, I can imagine WWU’s sources within Shearn will feel insulted. To help somebody be given shit back reflects badly on administrators of WWU. My concerns are that it would take many bloggers down with them into this crusade which they’ve set out for themselves.

So now looking at what irresponsible people do to credible information, it has affirmed my fear when I first laid out the suits against Rocky and Jeff. The information gap has been filled but sadly rumour mills and one-sided analysis travel faster than the speed of light. Think how popular Malaysia Today is and how unreliable it is. To gain popularity is one move (or as Jerry puts it, everybody wants to be general) but one must do it in balance and in a just manner. Being one-sided breeds extremism. And people decide to become martyrs before understanding the facts, appreciating the truth and being objective about things.


今天中午,政治鼠 (Politikus) 找了胡某去喝茶。咱們整個新年沒見,本來我想見個面吹吹水也未嘗不是件好事。

於是,我們一行三人便走到離辦公室不遠的馬來餐室,那裡沒有冷氣,但有胡某鐘愛的 Mee Sup。我們坐下後不久,伊便拿出她的行動電話,給我看她最近收到某位博客傳給她的簡訊。




ANALYSIS. The day Rocky made his first appearance on January 25 to defend the defamation suit taken against him by The NSTP & Gang of Four, WALK WITH US went on record to expose the ultimate agenda of the plaintiffs — that is to muzzle the entire blogosphere, damn the bloggers AND censore [sic] the blog commentators by misusing an instrument of law — defamation suit!

[胡某譯:在一月二十五日 Rocky 出庭辯護自己被新海峽時報組織和四人幫控上誹謗罪的當天,與我們同行 (Walk With Us) 便公佈了起訴人的終極議程 — 那就是濫用法律上的誹謗條文把整個博客界消音,抹黑博客和檢查刪除部落格的留言!]




請大家自己思考這件事的是非對錯,冷靜地想一想,因為憤怒的群眾 (Mob) 是任由情緒左右的。

胡某想了很久。決定把這 “Bloggers’ United” 旗幟摘下。





Translation :

Dear All and blogger friends

This noon, I had lunch with politikus. Since I haven’t seen her for a while, it may be a good idea to catch up a bit and trade war stories. So, we went to a stall not far from the office, it’s not air-conditioned but they served my favourite mee soup. After taking our seats, she showed us how she was urged to reveal her real identity. Apparently, there is a group of people who are busy getting people to own up their real identity and the movement is on going. And this has to do with the case with Jeff Ooi, which prompted bloggers to put up the avatar on their blogs to show support. I believe no one would ever dream that in a short few months, this online movement has gone down to this:


The day Rocky made his first appearance on January 25 to defend the defamation suit taken against him by The NSTP & Gang of Four, WALK WITH US went on record to expose the ultimate agenda of the plaintiffs — that is to muzzle the entire blogosphere, damn the bloggers AND censore [sic] the blog commentators by misusing an instrument of law — defamation suit!

Don’t you think the above is a little overheated? Supporting freedom of speech doesn’t mean supporting irresponsible blogging. This intentional raising of temperature within the blogosphere is alarming to me because only history will tell who is the real gang of 4 of the Internet age.

I think we need to calm down and think hard and fast, because a mob is ruled by emotions. I thought for a long while, and decided to take the banner down because I dun want to be represented by a stranger at this juncture of time. The blogosphere can be positive.

Though I think both sides are wrong in the case of NSTP vs Jeff Ooi, but it doesn’t mean there is a conspiracy theory behind this

Please people, think trice.


Jeremiah Foo

( translation by Jerry himself )

Comments posted @ Politikus

There was nothing objective about WWU@blogspot when the whole basis of setting it up was to side Rocky and Jeff per se, and the Malaysian blogosphere, in general. It was purely US vs THEM.

I already had doubts about the so called “insider’s information” WWU@blogspot got when in the post “round-2-nstp-gang-resorts-to-avoid-rockys-striking-out”, there were (and still remains) TWO links to a blog that has (I assume) no relation to SD.

IMHO, WWU@blogspot is as good a skanky publication as NST in terms of news mangling and gossip manufacturing. Let’s not even talk about Malaysia-today yet.

We want to win the war walking together, but can we even stand taller against our perceived enemies?

- Bolehland

I think Bloggers United and WWU are two separate entities with dissimilar functions. The former tries to get everyone together in defense of the 2, whereas WWU has an axe to grind with NST.

I cannot recall BU regurgitating or referring to WWU, and v.v. i think Sheih’s (founder) been rather reasonable and blogs as well as his poster days. So taking out the BU logo may be a little premature too.

Unity is always hard to maintain in any organisation or group, especially since blogging in itself is a rather individualistic solitary venture. So when there are Alpha bloggers, Betas and Gammas too, there are always a hundred generals too many, each with their own fantastic and strong opinions on how to move forward.

Perhaps keep in mind that we are in this, to express solidarity for the long lonely road that JO and R have to travel (and that I can attest, having a 10-yr-old civil suit still continuing and almost zero interest/attendance from the NGOs), and to remind ourselves that it could well be anyone of us in the near future if we don’t stand up, be counted and fight back.

- elizabethwong

Thanks Eli, you are so right. It’s not fair to equate Bloggers United and WWW - we’re not one and the same and we don’t agree with everything WWW says and does. The most we use them as reference, like we do all others. And if they are not right, others must point out, as politikus did, and we’ll move from there.

If you equate us, its just like PM and NST, attacking two bloggers and saying all bloggers are irresponsible. Think about it. Think about the bigger picture. I have said it before, those behind WWW should make themselves known. Doing something as huge as this but hiding behind a pseudonym doesn’t serve the bigger purpose. Good luck to those behind WWW but Bloggers United must focus on the big fight. In every revolution there would be believers and disbelievers, but the fight has to go on.

And Jeremy, I think its you who should think thrice, bloggers united is not a stranger. Look at my blogroll, and see how many of us are using our own identities to blog.

- susan loone

eli, susan: great points leading to a great discussion. i do agree BU is distinct from WWU but will everybody be able to see it? it’s the act of condemning the lawyers that bugged me the most because that is one of the reason why i never decided to be a lawyer because i can never go against certain principles that i have. seeing it in motion right now and i am sure it won’t be the last.

the motives of the WWU is questionable and it’s posts are impressionable. i simply hope people would know better and not fall into the trap of spiting shearn just to be a ‘general’. i not only have friends in shearn and i also have friends in every level in various fraternities of the legal system. the respect i have for the profession is still strong and unless the WWU crew can show some legal training perhaps, their analysis is a fallacy.

many think WWU is endorsed somewhat by the more prominent bloggers. looks like something that requires investigation into. irresponsibility also comes with a price. will speak to both shearn and chooi lawyers on this matter.

ek: i agree on WWU being the NST equivalent. the use of the word ’skanky’ was an excellent choice, i might add.

- politikus

“Speaking of Jerry, he has decided to remove the Bloggers United button from his page. Why? Here’s why.”

Dearest Politikus,

Bloggers United got nothing to do with Walk With Us. I personally do not know who is behind Walk With Us. It can be anybody, it can also be someone from NST. So let not start slamming each other just yet. The journey is still long.

As you interviewed me for Bloggers United establishing themselves on the net two months ago, It would be even nicer, if you could actually check with me first on this matter. But again, it is entirely your choice.

However, let me make it clear hear, Bloggers United is not Walk With US blog site and neither do Susan and me know anybody behind Walk With Us.


Syed Azidi AlBukhary
@ Sheih Kickdefella

sheih: cheers for the clarification. i did ask a few bloggers to see if they are involved but trust me, my assumptions are not entirely mine alone. it’s great to hear it from the man himself spearheading the BU movement. however, the air isn’t cleared yet. conspiracy theories are rife and many BU supporters turn to WWU for information.

i’m not questioning the BU movement but i’m concerned with that could potentially happen, my fears for the long haul should people stream to WWU.

after i posted the amended SOC agst rocky, my hits shot to it’s all time high with about 90% of visitors were directed from WWU and it is shows MANY people turn to that site.

also sheih, many of you link to them including you yourself and it’s worrisome but it could come across as a from of endorsement. jeff does the same. i guess it’s people’s choice to decide who they want to link but i would never link sites whom i think loses sight of the objective of responsible blogging.

my views are my own and the fact i disagree with WWU is not to say ‘oh, don’t visit them’ but think hard and choose to understand, not to follow their footsteps in getting too carried away with their ‘battle’. i hope to think this isn’t some jihad but a positive journey that we walk hand and hand, and not by simply demonising others so recklessly.

in fact, no where in my post did i say BU was part of WWU so don’t hold that against me. but you can’t escape the fact that many many think they run absolutely parallel with each other. when i said i may take my BU button down, i stand by that but only if BU loses it’s focus and take the route that WWU has taken. but with your assurance abang sheih, i have the utmost faith it was stay there for awhile :)

jerry’s view are of course his own, he has a website where you can send your reply / comment / criticism.

once again, thanks so much for your reply :)

- Politikus

This is indeed a very interesting blog and a particularly interesting post. IMHO, I think this BU movement has been blown out of proportion. It started as a sign of support to the rocky and jeff but now, it’s like a strong movement sweeping across the blogosphere like a tsunami. Another up the pipeline is “band of bloggers”, I believe a logo for it is up in Malaysia Today.

I can’t say much as I am merely a 2 month old blogger, can be considered an infant. But when I first put up a BU logo in my blog (I think it’s my 3rd post), I meant to support rocky and jeff and in a way, show my disapproval to what NSTP was doing. But to gather all bloggers under the banner of BU and starting having agendas… now, that’s not very wise… not in Malaysia.

- zewt

come on, politikus and jeremy…dont beat around the bush…your reference to irresponsible blogging and bloggers united is crystal clear..eli, sheih and i could see…u mean to say we dont understand english?

anyway, all we want to do is make ourselves clear - we are not behind WWW - i made that clear to you when we were online — i believe even before you had lunch with jeremy—and this posting shocked me—but nevertheless it doesnt matter—we said what we have to—i have said it earlier and i will say it again, in any fight, there would always be those who break easily and those who continue to be strong.

and zewt, what is wrong with having bloggers under one banner?—you would realise the importance when you are sued for example.

there will be no more comments from me on this.

- susan loone

Dearest Politikus,

Bloggers United are link to lots of bloggers from different background, race and based. That is the unique thing about it. I was bombarded left and right for the differences Bloggers United carries. They condemned blogger united for having Gen-M and for having pro Mahathir site supporting us. But if you care to check, Bloggers United is a tool to look beyond the diferences. We are each and every Malaysia. We link beyond political parties, ideology and racial identities. We are difference because we unite all type of differences. Lets cherish the differences instead of condenming it.

Please, I beg us to unite not just for Rocky and not just for Jeff but for the future of blogsphere. We may started with Rocky and Jeff but if we manage to go this far, why not we continue to Unite for the sake of Malaysia, the real Malaysian ways.

Let’s forget who we vote for, lets forget who we fight for, we are not mainstream media, we do not answer to the shareholders. As for my personal opinion, Walk With Us have the entire right to post what ever they deem is appropriate for them, we as the readers have the entire right to post our comment whether twe agreed or disagree with them. That is what blog are about. At the end of the day, thats the beauty of it.

Today I pull out my poster because I received an email that inteprete my poster as sexist and discriminating and distasteful. I pull out because the commenter give me a point of view which I am blinded.

As we always believe, blogging translated our personal views to the world, we carries our emotion into it. We sometime even condemn our sister in our blog. Do we hurt her feeling by doing so?

Please, again, I beg us to cherish the differences because that is what Bloggers United are all about.

- Sheih

Apparently, there is a group of people who are busy getting people to own up their real identity and the movement is ongoing.

Jerry, nobody asked me to reveal myself. I have cross-swords with countless bloggers, Jeff and Rocky included. They knew me only as Zorro. When these two were “bullied” I came out in the open to defend them. I am just an insignificant poster. But I wanted blogsphere to know that I am a real person, posting without fear or favor. I wanted you all to know that it is a real person and not a nick, that will be speaking from the heart. I want to add credibility to every word I put out. There is nothing I want to hide. I have yet to learn to spin a top, at 67.

About ” a group of people who are busy getting people to own up”…..seriously Jerry, I move around with these bloggers and I have not heard anyone coercing anyone to own up. Yes some of us, Sheih, Rocky and I are playfully pressuring for Shar101, who currently posts some of the most meaningful, relevant and impactful comments, to start a blog. I still dont know what his real name is. I just call him Shar. Jerry, I do not know which pasar malam or mamak joint you got your piece. Come to the National Press Club where we spread no rumours but in revelry just piss each other off. Politikus is aftraid to come to the NPC….probably she will, if you bring her along. The beers on me Jerry.
Oh yes I respect your right if you want to take off the Bloggers United logo. Cheers.

- zorro-unmasked

ts disheartening to note that certain quarters are trying to throw mud onto the face of the Bloggers United movement. For now, it is rather unnecessary to mention just who these people are. But its expected, in every concerted effort against superpowers, there would be some who will break us in the process, and more who will continue to be strong and supportive.

- Susan Loone

It all started with the latest postings on unknown author blog Walk With Us (WWW)- the blog started right after the papers were served on Rocky and Jeff. Since then, it has garnered a huge following due to several revealing and controversial articles on Kallimulah and NST.

The latest postings have invoked the ire of some bloggers who are now raving and ranting about how irresponsible bloggers are. One I know have pulled down the Bloggers United logo from his website, saying he does not want to be represented by a stranger, another is threatening to do so.

According to these bloggers, the posting is irresponsible and sub-judice.

We respect your right of opinion about the posting, and to select who’s going to be on your blogroll but to make Bloggers United a victim of irresponsible blogging is unfair. We are not strangers, hundreds of us who support Bloggers United have our real identities out (just take a peek at my blogroll). If you equate us with WWW, it is just like what the PM and NST did, take action on Rocky and Jeff for their postings, and in the process, drag all bloggers in, and label us irresponsible.

Its disheartening when people start equating WWW with Bloggers United. We are not behind WWW, we want to make this clear. We support all efforts to support free speech, Rocky and Jeff, but we cannot be responsible for postings which are problematic to some.

What is more disheartening is that the person who wrote the posting did actually ask me if I were behind WWW and I had firmly said “No”. I do not know who is behind it, I can only guess, but I may be wrong. I know some of my more activists minded blogger friends are not behind it too (because I ask them). But sadly, this side of my story was not reflected in the said posting.

I’d like to reiterate that I am not against the posting which questioned WWW’s credibility, but when references are made to Bloggers United, no matter how tiny, I feel there is a need for us to respond.

Bloggers United has not contributed any articles to WWW, though many of us have their link in our blogroll. But that doesn’t mean we endorse and thorougly support blindly all they say and do. And this goes for hundred of blogs out there as well.

There are hundreds of blogs now under the Bloggers United movement - both in Malaysia and overseas. There are diverse opinions and postings too. Not all we agree to. But we will defend your right to say it, nevertheless.

Many are still anonymous, like WWW. We respect your right to remain so because the message is really more important than the messenger. And the truth is, many appreciate the efforts of WWW to offer us - hungry for information bloggers - an alternative source of information, though the information may always be disputable. But that is how democracy thrives. Yes, what WWW is doing is cyber guerilla warfare - very much needed, some would say - in a repressive state like ours.

What we like to say is this: you may join them or condemn them, the choice is entirely yours.

But the Bloggers United movement is NOT WWW, and vice versa. It is important to note that even the WWW does not carry the Bloggers United logo, courtesy of kickdefella.

Ps: Always check with Sheih and I, if you are doubtful of any action in the name of Bloggers United. We are responsible and we do not want to abuse your support and trust in this wonderful movement.

Band of Bloggers - to support or not?

Since the Band of Bloggers burst into the scene, we’ve been asked if Bloggers United supports them. Our stand is very clear.

1. We support all efforts to support freedom of expression and free speech, and those who come together to support Rocky and Jeff Ooi;

2. We recognise the diversity of blogs out there with a multitude of opinions on a variety of issues - some are political, some are not. However, inspite of each blog’s agenda, we are happy if bloggers come together to defend theirs (and others) freedom in blogsphere;

3. We do NOT represent anyone, you are free to make your own choice, whether to support this or that blog, whether to take this stand or that stand, whether you are UMNO, MCA,MIC, PAS, DAP or Keadilan, any party in Sabah or Sarawak, or whether you are partyless, whatever skin color or creed you are, Malaysian or not Malaysian, or somewhere in between;

4. We may not agree to everything you say, but we will defend your right to say it. However, if what you say is detrimental to our cause, we will defend ourselves with debates. We are not being emotional or personal, but if you choose to cross the line, we are at the front line;

5. We will NOT impose our ideas on others, we call for support, but we will not force you to support us if you do not want to. The space is free, and so is your choice. Do not let anyone compel you to do otherwise;

6. Most of all, we promote responsible blogging and will take responsibility for all our actions. If we are wrong, we will apologise, if we are wrong, please feel free to refute, comment or advice us. None of us is above the other; and none of us is above the law.

Sheih of kickdefella and Susan Loone.


26 February, 2007


Who said children are getting dumber every year? Check out the wisecracks below and judge for yourselves:

TEACHER: How old were you on your last birthday?
TEACHER: How old will you be on your next birthday?
TEACHER: That's impossible.
STUDENT: No, it isn't, Teacher. I'm eight today.

TEACHER: George, go to the map and find North America.
GEORGE: Here it is!
TEACHER: Correct. Now, class, who discovered America?
CLASS: George!

TEACHER: Willy, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.

TEACHER: Tommy, why do you always get so dirty?
TOMMY: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground then you are.

TEACHER: Why are you late?
WEBSTER: Because of the sign.
TEACHER: What sign?
WEBSTER: The one that says, "School Ahead, Go Slow."

SILVIA: Dad, can you write in the dark?
FATHER: I think so. What do you want me to write?
SYLVIA: Your name on this report card.

TEACHER: In this box, I have a 10-foot snake.
SAMMY: You can't fool me, Teacher...snakes don't have feet

TEACHER: How can you prevent diseases caused by biting insects?
JOSE: Don't bite any.

TEACHER: Ellen, give me a sentence starting with "I".
ELLEN: I is...
TEACHER: No, Ellen. Always say, "I am."
ELLEN: All right... "I am the ninth letter of the alphabet."

MOTHER: Why on earth did you swallow the money I gave you?
JUNIOR: You said it was my lunch money.

TEACHER: If I had seven oranges in one hand and eight oranges in the other,what would I have?


Reporter’s red tape nightmare

T’S always the same story – our lousy delivery system. The Prime Minister is aware of it and is truly frustrated but unless our bureaucrats do something, all the promotions and money spent will come to nothing.

Take for example, the recent Floral Fest which was part of the Visit Malaysia 2007 programme.

The Malaysia Tourism Board had invited 190 journalists from all over the world to cover this special event. The media invite included 17 Indonesian journalists including representatives from three television stations.

They enjoyed the Floral Fest and the hospitality but Nila Tanzil, the host of Melancung Yuk, had plenty of complaints and with good reason too.

She blogged (nilatanzil.blogspot.com) that she had asked for a letter from the Tourism Board confirming her as a guest of the country and allowing her easier movement.

But an official told her that he needed two weeks to get that letter.

Indonesia is bad when it comes to red tape but this reply was enough to astonish, if not disgust, the young Indonesian reporter.

Having only six days to spend in town, more frustrations awaited her.

The crew was barred from shooting at two shopping malls, which bewildered her because she assumed that Malaysia wanted to promote the country as a shopping destination.

But still, she was prepared to keep an open mind because shopping complexes, even retail outlets, are sensitive over fears they would be exposed to rivals or copycats.

The ban continued further when she went to the revolving restaurant at the KL Tower, the fourth tallest tower in the world.

Luckily, Nila managed to get the public relations officer to help her, even though it was a Sunday. As a resourceful reporter, she obtained her phone number from a French journalist based in Kuala Lumpur.

By this time, according to her blog, feathers had been ruffled and the Tourism Malaysia board representative in Jakarta was not amused. There was a loss of face, as expected.

Nila was told that she should not call any parties directly from then on. For any journalist, who is only interested in getting the job done, this bureaucracy is a waste of time.

In short, the whole episode of incompetence and low-level red tape left the Indonesian with a poor impression of our country.

We do not know whether other journalists had similar complaints. We can only hope that Nila’s experience was an isolated one.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, his deputy Datuk Donald Lim and secretary-general Datuk Dr Victor Wee have all worked hard for the campaign.

The last thing they need is poor execution from low-level officials.

What’s missing are obviously guides trained to fulfil the requirements of the media. There are still 10 months before Visit Malaysia 2007 ends and hiccups like this need to be rectified.

More importantly, the ministry must hear from the reporter and the officials involved as to what had actually taken place.

It must be taken seriously because her complaints have made its rounds among Jakarta’s press fraternity and bloggers who have become a new but important and powerful alternative media source.

Someone in the ministry has to explain to Nila and certainly to Malaysians who’ve read her complaints.

The Star

Related :

Reporter’s red tape nightmare - Wong Chun Wai
Chun Wai on blogger's power hurting us in Indonesia - Screenshot
Malaysian Tourism Board and the Indonesian blogger - Unspun
“Malaysia… Is it Really Trully Asia?" - nila tanzil

Related to related news :

'Slash the red tape to make Malaysia a research hub' -NST

Malaysian author sues over govt ban of his race-riot book

A Malaysian author filed on Friday, February 23, what lawyers in Kuala Lumpur believe is an unprecedented suit against the government to overturn a controversial book ban.

K. Arumugam is challenging a ban on his work, March 8, which documents race riots between majority ethnic Malays and minority ethnic Indians on that date in 2001.

“My lawyer said he couldn’t find any precedent for the case. Probably this is the first time someone is taking up the case for a banned book. I intend to give it a try,” Arumugam told AFP, after filing his affidavit at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

“We are filing for judicial review, calling for the quashing of the order by the Home Ministry and that the ban be lifted to allow me to circulate the book,” Arumugam told reporters.

The bloody riots, in which six people were killed, erupted in a rundown suburb in Kuala Lumpur and shocked Malaysia, where ethnic clashes are rare.

Malaysia’s 27 million people, 60 percent of whom are Malay and legally defined as Muslims and bumiputra (“sons of the land”), 26 percent Chinese and 8-percent Indian, coexist in relative harmony.

The country had not experienced serious race riots since 1969.

Arumugam believes the government banned his book to cover up the incident. He denies that his book incites racial hatred or posed a security threat.

“The book is basically a resource-based document... I [also] tried to explain to the readers that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind,” he said.

Arumugam said he planned to sue the government for damages after this current lawsuit is completed.

Activists and rights groups have slammed the government’s ban on March 8 and over 50 other books.

Discussions on race and religion are considered sensitive topics by the government of mainly Muslim Malaysia, while sex and sexuality are seen as taboo.

A couple of lawsuits questioning government acts are awaiting court decisions that could shake traditional Malaysian social norms.

In one suit a Muslim who was baptized a Christian when she was a little girl and is happy being a Christian wants to have her ID changed accordingly, but Malaysia’s legal system respects Muslim sharia law that condemns leaving Islam as a sin and a crime punishable by death.

Another case is that of a Chinese Malaysian who was switched at birth in the hospital and given the Muslim identity of the parents who raised him. Now an adult and having found his real parents, who are Chinese and Buddhists, he is asking the court to amend his citizenship ID to reflect his true ethnic and religious status. (AFP)


RM800,000 spent, but no sign of sports centre works

Not a blade of grass has been cut, nor a single pile driven for the proposed Malaysian High Performance Sports Training Centre in Brickendonbury in Hertfordshire, UK, but almost RM1 million of public funds has already been spent.

On top of that, the supposed plan for the national under-16 football team to train at the Arsenal Football Club may not materialise.

The bulk of the money has been paid to St. Albans-based architect and town planner, David Lane Associates, which has sent two invoices -- one for RM350,000 and another for RM450,000 -- for "work done" to apparently transform part of the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC) into a mini-sports complex.

The amount does not include the travel expenses and allowances of sports officials who have periodically visited the architect and the site over the past eight months.

This is even before planning application to renovate the centre has been submitted to the East Herts Council.

The professional fees are expected to mount after the submission and when objection hearings take place.

Asked to comment on this, National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz gave his assurance that the expenditure was within limits and has been accounted for.

"We need to make this happen and all these expenses are necessary," he said.

Ramlan said Malaysian officials involved in the sports centre project include Mej Muhammad Abdul Rani from the NSC, lawyer Phillip Chan who is a member of NSC's management board and Muralee Menon, former chief executive officer of the failed Paya Indah Wetlands project, who is an adviser to the Cabinet Committee on Sports Development.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who chairs the committee, announced recently that the centre would be completed by April, and that the national under-16 football team would be the first "beneficiaries" of the centre.

However, Arsenal have said that they have no knowledge of the club being involved with the training programme.

An Arsenal spokeswoman on Thursday told theSun in a telephone interview that the club was totally in the dark over training the Malaysian team.

"We are not involved in any project to train any team from Malaysia," she said.

The centre has been in the spotlight because of the RM490 million price tag to transform the TARRC into a training centre for Malaysian athletes to acclimatise themselves for competition in Europe.

Following public outcry over the high cost and reservations from British authorities over developing the historical TARRC (which sits on a green belt), Najib announced two weeks ago a scaled-down project worth RM69 million to refurbish the existing facilities at the TARRC.

( R. Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez, Sun2surf )


25 February, 2007

No Surprise Here: Singapore’s Lee Family Wins in Court

In a procedural decision against the Far Eastern Economic Review, a Singapore judge refuses to allow the magazine outside counsel

In a hearing where the Far Eastern Economic Review’s outside lawyers were not allowed to participate, a Singapore high court has refused to throw out defamation lawsuits filed against the magazine by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, the former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

The two members of the Lee family sued the Review Publishing Company Ltd. and its editor, Hugo Restall in August 2006 last year over an interview with Chee Soon Juan, the head of the Singapore Democratic Party, in which Chee said the authoritarian city-state would only change direction after the death of Lee Kuan Yew, its founding political figure.

The government also later banned the Review, which at that time had than 1,000 subscribers in Singapore, because it did not appoint a legal representative and pay a $126,150 security bond -- new requirements that are unrelated to the lawsuit, but that the Review has called unjustified.

In a 64-page rendering of his ruling against the magazine, Judicial Commissioner Sundaresh Menon said he would refuse to allow the Review’s lawyer, Australian Tim Robertson, permission to sit in on the hearing because Robertson had made comments critical of Singapore in 2005 over Singapore’s decision to execute a convicted drug trafficker.

“Mr Robertson was quoted as… characterising Singapore as an ‘authoritarian regime’ and pointedly remarking that ‘the present Singapore is controlled by the government,
as is the judiciary, and so in cases which have a political element in them the odds
are stacked well and truly against the opponents of the regime,’ Menon wrote.

The fact that the request was made on behalf of someone who had made “openly disrespectful remarks about the judiciary and continued to stand by them even as he sought my indulgence was a factor I considered relevant,”

Menon wrote. “In my judgment, it would have been inappropriate in these circumstances for me to have turned the other cheek to Mr Robertson when I would not have done so for any citizen of this country. Furthermore, I was mindful that an exercise of my discretion in Mr Robertson's favour in these circumstances might have been misconstrued as acquiescence in his views and this would have been unacceptable to say the least.”

It is not the first time Singapore courts have denied the right of defendants to outside counsel. In a previous hearing for the Review, Dow Jones attorney Stuart Karle was also refused permission to appear in Singapore court. In 2001, opposition politician Chee Soon Juan was refused the right to be represented by a Queen’s Council because, he said in a letter to the International Bar Association, “no Singaporean lawyer dared to take up my case.”

The Lee family and other top government officials have an unbroken record of victories in defamation suits against political opponents and publication who have been critical of them. J. B. Jeyaretnam and Tang Liang Hong, both of whom formerly headed the Singapore Worker’s Party, were sued successfully at least 26 times for defamation, bankrupted and driven from politics. The government has also repeatedly used its Inland Revenue Service to go after opposition politicians and other figures with whom it has disagreed.

Amnesty International, in a 2006 press release, called this use of civil defamation suits “both disproportionate and politically-motivated and appears to be aimed primarily at dissenting voices regarded as having the potential to challenge the PAP's political hegemony.” The use of defamation suits against opponents, the organization said, is driven by a strategy to “bankrupt opponents through the courts - and so prevent their participation in public life,” and that “In such cases the Singapore Judiciary has not moved to check the Executive's misuse of the law.”

The Review has no Singapore-based employees and only negligible assets, raising questions whether the Lees intend to carry their threat outside the city-state because even if the courts ultimately award them damages, it is unlikely that they could recoup within the country itself. Firewalls erected between sister companies mean that Dow Jones Corporation, which owns the publication, would probably be protected from any defamation judgment as well.

The government could conceivably take advantage of a Commonwealth statute that allows for reciprocal enforcement of damages and ask the Hong Kong courts to order the Review to pay up. A Singaporean judgment would first have to be registered in Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance, where it would be enforced like a local judgment. The Review would have the right to raise objections and set out reasons that the judgment shouldn’t be honoured. But in his written judgment turning down the magazine's appeal, Menon wrote that it is clear that the Lees were limiting their claim for damages to Singapore and that legal papers had been served in an appropriate manner.

The Singaporeans may have been influenced by a stern ruling against them in the British High Court in December after a rare attempt to take Singapore’s version of justice into a neutral venue. The court vindicated a prominent English neurologist and expert on epilepsy who was accused by another member of the Lee family of professional misconduct.

In a written decision adjudicated in December and handed down on January 12, the court effectively ended the pursuit of Simon Shorvon, the former principal investigator of a medical research project in Singapore, after a protracted international dispute in which the Singapore Medical Council alleged Shorvon was guilty of professional misconduct. Shorvon is now a professor at the University College, London.

The charges were brought against Shorvon by Lee Wei Ling, a physician, who also happen to be the daughter of patriarch Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong’s sister. But in its written judgment, the court ruled that the charges brought against Shorvon were so minor that, while true, they weren’t worth bothering with.

- John Berthelsen, AsiaSentinel.