31 March, 2008

Malaysia PM in deeper crisis as 4 Cabinet ministers seek leadership reforms

Four Cabinet ministers have endorsed demands by ruling party dissidents to hold an open contest for the party leadership, highlighting the prime minister's weakening control over power in Malaysia after disastrous election results.

The four — from the International Trade and Industry, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Higher Education and National Unity ministries — have come forward to say everybody should be eligible to run for the post of the United Malays National Organization party's president, news reports said Monday.

The nomination quota encourages an "unhealthy political culture," International Trade Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was quoted as saying.

"I hope that with the abolition, the party at all levels will have a healthy democratic election system," said Muhyiddin, who is also the party vice president.

Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin also called for abolishing the nomination system. Aides of the two ministers confirmed they made the comments.

Muhyiddin stressed that his call did not mean he was against the current leadership or was encouraging members to challenge Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Mahathir, now an ordinary party member, is one of those calling for abolishing the nomination system. Among the others is Razaleigh, who has openly declared he will try to challenge Abdullah.

"I have never been for the ruling. But what to do? It was introduced by Dr. Mahathir himself. When I criticize the decision, everyone says I am critical of (Mahathir). But now it seems he has realized that what he did was not right in the first place," Shahrir Abdul Samad, the domestic trade minister, was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times daily's online edition.

National Unity Minister Shafie Apdal said the system should be abolished because "delegates are now mature enough to decide who they want to lead the party,"

Critics say the quota system ensures that members dissatisfied with the prime minister's leadership cannot challenge him democratically. Supporters say it is necessary to ensure only serious candidates contest.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also the party deputy president, denied it was an impediment to democracy in the party.

"It is not aimed at deterring democracy. Even though there is a quota system, democracy still flourishes in our party," he told reporters.

Abandoning the system would also mean changing the party constitution, which can only be done at an extraordinary general meeting. Party leaders have so far rejected calls for such a meeting.



30 March, 2008

Fresh Tibet unrest as Olympic torch nears Beijing

A melee in Tibet's capital appeared to have been sparked by attempts by police to carry out security checks, indicating the tension and volatility remaining in Lhasa weeks after an anti-government riot.

A mobile phone text message to Lhasa residents from the local police said security checks carried out on Saturday had "frightened citizens" and caused panic in the city centre.

"Please obey the law and please follow the rules, don't create rumors, don't believe rumors, don't spread rumors," read the text message, which was reprinted by the Free Tibet Campaign and International Campaign for Tibet.

"Severely battle any creation or any spreading of rumors that would upset or frighten people or cause social disorder or illegal criminal behavior that could damage social stability," the message read.

"Although full details could not be confirmed, reliable reports indicated that a new protest occurred involving many Tibetans, possibly linked to an attempt by armed police to detain Tibetans ... in central Lhasa," the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement.

The fresh tensions come as China prepares to receive the Olympic flame in its capital Beijing on Monday, for the start of a domestic and international relay that the government hoped would symbolize national unity ahead of the August Games.

Instead, China finds itself deflecting criticism over its policies in Tibet and its response to unrest there, and facing the prospect of weeks of protests as the Olympic flame circles the globe.

The unrest began with days of peaceful, monk-led protests in Lhasa that spiraled into a citywide riot on March 14 that the government says killed 18 civilians and was masterminded by the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader.

The Dalai Lama, who fled China in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese Communist rule, denies he is behind the unrest, which his representatives say has claimed some 140 lives.

The protests also spread to ethnic Tibetan areas of China.

Eight pro-Tibetan demonstrators have been arrested in Greece on charges of attempting to disrupt the official flame-lighting ceremony which marks the start of the torch relay that leads up to the Beijing Olympics.

Two protestors breached a cordon of about 1,000 police officers at Ancient Olympia to display a flag demanding a boycott of the Olympics amid mounting controversy over China's crackdown in Tibet.

The men, believed to be associated with the French human rights group Reporters Without Borders, ran up behind Liu Qi, the head of the Beijing Olympic organising committee, as he spoke before the flame was lit.

One man unfurled a black flag portraying the Olympic rings made from handcuffs. Another tried to grab the microphone from Mr Liu and shouted "freedom, freedom".

Meanwhile Malaysia believes the Beijing Olympics should not be politicised and remains confident it will be successfully held in August.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said Malaysia was also pleased to note that the Chinese government was able to maintain stability and protect the lives of innocent people in Tibet.

"We are relieved to learn that the situation there is returning back to normal," he said in a statement here Saturday.

The Tibetan protesters, mostly monks and nuns, began their march early this month on the anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959, which led to the exile of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader.

The march is one of several international protests related to Chinese rule in Tibet that are under way before the Summer Olympics in Beijing in August.

Rais said the country believed the Chinese government would undertake action which was in the best interest of its people to ensure safety, security and territorial integrity.

"We also welcome the offer by the Chinese government to talk with the Dalai Lama," he said.

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29 March, 2008

Calls to release Indian state legislator rejected

The Malaysian minister responsible for internal security on Friday rejected opposition calls for the release of an ethnic Indian state legislator detained under a contentious tough security law.

“We must react to the country’s internal security and public order,” newly appointed Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Syed Hamid Albar said .

Malaysia’s opposition last week pressed for five ethnic Indian activists, including a man who won a seat in recent elections, to be freed from the Internal Security Act or ISA, which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

Lawyer Manoharan Malayalam, standing for the Democratic Action Party (DAP), was elected from his detention centre -- soundly beating the government incumbent in a central Selangor state seat in the March 8 general elections.

Syed Hamid said Manoharan will be forced to sit out of the newly formed state assembly when it convenes.

“You definitely can’t be at two places at the same time,” he said.

The five are leaders of rights group Hindraf who were detained last December for organising an unprecedented mass rally claiming discrimination against ethnic Indians.

Police used tear gas, water cannon and baton charges to break up the November protest, which drew at least 8,000 people.

The opposition, which now controls more than a third of parliamentary seats, has said it will seek to repeal the ISA -- which dates back to the British colonial era when it was used against communist insurgents.


28 March, 2008

Mahathir says people attempting frame-up to silence him

Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad claimed Friday that people were trying to dig up evidence that he committed crimes during his time in power to stop him from criticizing his embattled successor.

Mahathir, who has repeatedly accused Abdullah's administration of corruption and nepotism during the past two years, said he knows his detractors believe he "did worse things" when he headed the government between 1981 and 2003.

"I am aware that people are looking into possible misdeeds by me during my 22 years so as to threaten me and ask me to shut up," Mahathir wrote in a letter to The Sun newspaper, without identifying the people.

"So far they have not found anything," Mahathir said. "Not only have I not taken anything that was not due to me while I was prime minister, but I have given back to the government and the people everything that I had received as gifts during my tenure of office."

"Ask the tribunal to apologise."

That was the direct retort of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad to calls for him to apologise for the ‘wrongs’ surrounding the 1988 judicial crisis.

Read more here and here.

Dr M speaks up on Rulers and politicians

By: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Fri, 28 Mar 2008)

PETALING JAYA (March 27, 2008): A Concerned Malaysian has expressed his worry over the role being played by Sultans in the appointment of the Mentri Besar.

His Royal Highnesses have clearly refused to take the advice of the Chief Minister i.e. the Prime Minister. Instead, they have chosen on their own a member of the state legislature to head the Government.

We hear a lot of opinions on the propriety of the action by the Sultan. Some say he has the right to do this while others point out that as a constitutional ruler, he could not do this.

The Constitution says that the Ruler or Head of State must choose the elected member who enjoys the support of the majority of members in the legislative body to be the Prime Minister or the Mentri Besar. Subject to this provision, the Ruler it is who chooses and appoints the Prime Minister or Mentri Besar.

The Prime Minister, as Prime Minister, has no role in the choice of the State Mentri Besar or Ketua Menteri. His naming of candidate who should be the Mentri Besar is purely a party matter. Obviously, if the State is captured by the Opposition Party, he cannot name the candidate.

However, if the Ruler chooses someone who does not enjoy majority support, he could be deposed at a sitting of the legislative body through a vote of "no confidence".

After that, another member can be appointed by the Ruler to take his place. But if for some reason, there is no other candidate or the candidate with majority support is considered unsuitable by the Ruler, a new Government cannot be formed. The Ruler may then dissolve the legislative body and a new election may be held.

This new election may lead to the same impasse. The Ruler may not like the member with majority support.

However, it should be noted that this kind of thing had never happened during the premiership of the four previous Prime Ministers. Concerned Malaysians should wonder why.

Is it just that the particular Ruler is being difficult, unwilling to accept the principles of democracy, wanting to return to feudalism and the absolute authority of the monarch?

I do not think so. There must be a reason why the Ruler refuses to accept the candidate named by the party. But the Ruler chooses not to reveal the reasons and indulge in public debates. He merely expresses his displeasure by refusing to do what normally the Rulers would do.

Concerned Malaysians must ask what has the particular candidate done which is so wrong that it incurs the displeasure of the Ruler.

There are lots of talks in the town. Terengganu is blessed with petroleum deposits. It should get 5% of the total earning from oil production. The Federal Government; fearing the previous PAS government might use this money wrongly had withheld payment.

But when the Barisan Nasional (BN) regained Terengganu the money, now called "Wang Ehsan", was lavishly spent by the Federal Government on Terengganu. It is not a small sum. Over these years "Wang Ehsan" totalled several billion.

We know that since the BN regained Terengganu in 2004, all kinds of projects have been developed in Terengganu. This includes The Monsoon Cup, luxury housing for sale to foreigners, Crystal Mosque and theme park, university, etc. Some of these projects are very good but many are totally unnecessary and wasteful.

But what the Terengganu people are saying is that all these mega projects costing billions of Ringgit have been contracted out to people outside Terengganu. Terengganu contractors got practically nothing.

But additionally, they say the contracts all went to one person and they are suspicious that behind this person are members of the first family.The rumours also say that the previous Mentri Besar was responsible for these things happening and of course, they think that he might have benefited financially.

The rumours went on to say that the Prime Minister might have influenced the Mentri Besar into doing wrong things. These are all rumours. It will be quite impossible to prove anything as the perpetrators are skilled in hiding themselves.

This is not good for a Government keen to abolish corruption and be transparent. To clear its name, an investigation should be made.

But the public is leery of investigations by Government agencies and departments. Even Royal Commissions are not highly regarded. The people believe, not true of course, that the Government has been interfering with the work of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), the Police and the Attorney General (A-G)'s Chambers. The say this is borne out by the results of investigations by these agencies.

When a Deputy Minister was accused of accepting money for the release of a detainee, the A-G said there was no case because the detainee said he did not give any money to the Deputy Minister. It is so easy. If you have a case involving someone, all the enforcement agencies need to do is to ask him whether he was involved. If he says "no", then there is no case.

For some reason, judges are finding that people accused of murder are not guilty because of insufficient evidence by the police. Yet people who are totally not involved in a case, who were not accused of any misdeeds and who did not appear in court at all and been given a hearing are found guilty and publicly condemned.

The public cannot be blamed for not having faith in Government agencies doing investigations. The public cannot be blamed for suspecting cover-ups by the Government or worse still the Government may be using these enforcement agencies to threaten people.

To clear its good name, the Government should get credible foreign agencies to do the investigation. Of course, they must be given full access to the documents etc.

Now my detractors are going to say I did worse things when I was Prime Minister. Well, if that is so, let us have the foreign agencies investigate me also. I am aware that people are looking into possible misdeeds by me during my 22 years so as to threaten me and ask me to shut up. So far they have not found anything.

Not only have I not taken anything that was not due to me while I was Prime Minister but I have given back to the Government and the people everything that I had received as gifts during my tenure of office.

The Government had offered me land in Kedah and Langkawi and I had refused to accept. I have a 5-acre plot in Putrajaya which I paid for even though the Government was offering it to me free.

Unless there is a frame-up, I think there should be nothing to pin on me. Even other accusations against me, including the dismissal of judges, were not my doing and I do not feel obliged to apologise. Ask the Tribunal to apologise.

The person asking that the Government should apologise for what happened to Tun Salleh Abbas may have forgotten that as President of the Muslim Lawyers Association, he fully supported the action that was taken. He castigated the Bar Council for condemning Tun Hamid Omar over the dismissal of judges. Now he wants to be more correct than correct. I wonder why.

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27 March, 2008

Ahmad Said Is Terengganu MB !

The Umno Supreme Council, which met here Thursday, has endorsed the appointment of Datuk Ahmad Said as the menteri besar of Terengganu.

The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Ahmad, 51, had received his instrument of appointment as the new menteri besar from the Regency Advisory Council at a closed-door ceremony at the Istana Tetamu in Kuala Terengganu on March 23.

He had received the instrument of appointment from the president of the council, Tengku Sri Panglima Raja Tengku Baderulzaman, with two members of the council -- Tengku Sri Laksamana Raja Tengku Sulaiman Sultan Ismail and former Federal Court judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman -- as witnesses.

The acceptance of Ahmad's appointment puts paid to the reappointment of Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, the Terengganu Umno Liaison Committee chairman, as the menteri besar. Idris had received the letter of appointment as menteri besar from Abdullah.

The appointment of Ahmad had received varied reaction, including opposition from 22 Terengganu Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblyman.


Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today said the party had asked former Terengganu menteri besar Idris Jusoh to accept the Terengganu palace’s decision to appoint Ahmad Said as the menteri besar.

-- Malaysiakini

The Umno general assembly and party elections will be held in December, Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Thursday.

The party elections would be held as usual during the assembly, scheduled for Dec 16 to 20, he told a news conference after a four-hour meeting of the Umno supreme council at Menara Datuk Onn here.

Several Umno divisions had earlier proposed that the elections be postponed to June next year but some leaders were against the proposal.

The party's management committee, which met yesterday, also felt that the elections should be held this year.

-- Bernama

Just received this e mail from a friend :

*There was a saying that if you have other
> nationalities working as domestic help in your household, chances are the following
goes missing (see below).

But now its worse... this pilihan raya betui-betui kepala pusing!

> *Get Viets, dogs missing**
> *
> *Get Bangla, girls missing**
> *
> *Get Indon, money, missing**
> *
> *Get Chinese, husband missing**

> *Get African, wife missing*

*Now it's worse!*

> *Get Razak, Mongolian missing**
> *
> *Get Toyo, temples missing**
> *
> Get Samy, shares missing**
> *
> *Get Rustam, pigs missing**
> *
> *Get Zainudin, info missing**
> *
> *Get Nazri, truth missing**
> *
> *Get Hisham, keris missing**
> *
> *Get Soi Lek, Viagra missing**
> *
> *Get Dr M, memory missing*

> *Get Ka Ting, do nothing, every "ting" missing**
> *
> *Get Badawi, always sleeping and missing**
> *
> *Get Tsu Koon, LP missing**
> *
> *Get Kit Siang, chilli padi missing**
> *
> *Get Anwar, tilam missing**
> *
> *Alamak, betui-betui kepala pusing**



‘Malaysia is bullying India’ ?

A couple of nations away from his 10,000-sq-ft bungalow in suburban Kuala Lumpur, his golden BMW and five-year-old daughter Vaishnavi, Waytha Moorthy met fellow Tamilians in Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, on Wednesday, and gratefully accepted their support for his cause and a bottle of chilled Mangola.

In exile, and faced with a possible death penalty back home for treason, you do not take even the faintest signs of friendliness for granted.

The leader of the recent Indian uprising against the Malaysian government’s alleged discrimination of ethnic Indians was on his first visit to Mumbai. In a conversation with Hindustan Times, he regretted that the Indian government had done little to stand by the Malaysian people of Indian origin. He later addressed a press gathering in south Mumbai.

“Even a small country like Malaysia is bullying a superpower like India,” said the chairperson of Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), a fringe group that is leading the first wave of ethnic Indian demonstrations in Malaysia. He said India should not sign a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia to ensure that Indian workers get special treatment. “India should not be bullied. It should tell Malaysia to treat Indian workers equally with any other foreigner. Why pick them out?”

Apart from some debates in Parliament, India had not done much, said the 41-year-old lawyer. “India can ban palm oil imports from Malaysia. It will scare them,” he said.

When Moorthy had first stood in front of the Kuala Lumpur Mayor’s office protesting the serial demolition of temples in 2006, there were just 20 people with him. On November 25, nearly a lakh people were shouting in one voice as riot police fired on them volleys of tear gas and jets of water laced with an eye-stinging chemical in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

But Moorthy had left Malaysia two days earlier, after being arrested dramatically off the highway by about 20 men wielding M-16s and then released on bail.

He has since been based out of the UK, where he had filed a fantastic and gimmicky £4 trillion suit against the British government for leaving Hindus and minorities “at the mercy of Malay-Muslim government” despite them having “slaved” at the colonial plantations. He travels the world, funded partly by “friends”, to create awareness about the struggle.

Moorthy denies Jaffna links.

“It will be interesting if the LTTE sends an offer of help, but we would not want to get involved. We are a group of lawyers, which believes in the rule of law,” he said.

He said Indian and Malaysian intelligence agencies were tracking him. “I know Indian intelligence officials are present at my rallies, at the hotel. I have nothing to hide, they are most welcome to trail me. Maybe the Malaysian intelligence is hand-in-glove with them.”

Will the Malaysian Indians ever take up arms? “I cannot say. They won’t at least for the next 30 years. Beyond that I don’t know. If the next generation takes up arms, I can’t blame it. The Malaysian government is shutting all doors,” he said.

Between Mahatma Gandhi and Che Guevara, he chooses Gandhi.

- Abhijit Majumder, Hindustan Times

Breaking News from Malaysiakini :

Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today said the party had asked former Terengganu menteri besar Idris Jusoh to accept the Terengganu palace’s decision to appoint Ahmad Said as the menteri besar.

Read also :

1st Reminder to Malaysian Cabinet: Resign & Leave Now!- By Little Bird


26 March, 2008


Malaysian PM Abdullah admits underestimating Internet; now faces poison-pen campaign.

Ignored by government-linked mainstream media, Malaysia's opposition waged an aggressive online election campaign using blogs and news website

Yesterday, Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whose position has been considerably weakened after his coalition's drubbing at the polls, admitted that his ruling coalition made a blunder by underestimating the power of the Internet.
"We made the biggest mistake in thinking that it was not important," he said. The coalition suffered its worst results ever in March 8 polls that left five states and a third of parliamentary seats in opposition hands.
"We certainly lost the Internet war, the cyber war," Abdullah said in a speech to an investment conference. "It was a serious misjudgement. We thought that the newspapers, the print media and the television were supposed to be important, but the young people were looking at SMSes and blogs."
His comments constitute a major about-face for the government, which had vilified bloggers, calling them liars and threatening them with detention without trial under draconian internal security laws.

Even as he spoke, his critics in the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), his power base, were moving to force him out of office. To make matters worse, Umno's 3.2 million members have also received a poison-pen letter listing his faults. It is not known if he was aware of these moves when he was making his speech.
The poison-pen letter, which hopes to ignite hatred against Mr Abdullah, talks about the manipulations of the government by his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin and his associates, the PM's alleged willingness to appease Singapore and his inability to fight rising crime in the country.
But in his speech, Abdullah said that in line with reform promises after the humiliating election results, the government would "respond effectively" and move to empower young Malaysians. "It was painful ... but it came at the right time, not too late," he said. The PM admitted that it was also his inability to push through reforms that earned voters' ire.

MALAYSIA'S hapless Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi got something right last week: he announced a radical reshuffle of his cabinet, which included dropping several ministers who had seemed untouchable. But what Abdullah got wrong was the timing.

The reshuffle is about two years too late. Had he done it then, his coalition Government would not have done so badly at this month's elections. He would not now be staring into the political abyss whereby it is almost a certainty he will not be Prime Minister at the next election. It is a possibility that his party will not even be in office.

Most interestingly, Abdullah appointed Muhammad Muhammad Taib as his Minister for Rural and Regional Development. What does such a minister do?

He travels to Malaysia's more far-flung parts and hands out money for development. What he really does is to hand out contracts to politicians, their families and friends to keep them onside.

This will be more important than ever now, as the ruling coalition does not have a majority of seats in Parliament drawn from peninsular Malaysia and can only rule with the support of the smaller, regionally based parties in Sarawak and Sabah states on the island of Borneo.

Muhammad Taib's job will be to fly to those states with suitcases of money to keep them onside. It's a role for which he's shown some talent.

In 1997, when chief minister of Selangor state, he was arrested at Brisbane International Airport with the equivalent of $1.26 million in currency in his luggage as he was about to board a plane for New Zealand.

Australian law requires that amounts above $5000 be declared. Muhammad Taib had no identifiable source of significant wealth and had been a lowly paid school teacher before entering politics. In addition to the cash, he and his wife were found to own property in Queensland and another six properties in New Zealand.
Read more here.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday pledged to push ahead with economic reforms after disastrous election results, and backed down on looming fuel price hikes.

“The result of the election was a strong message that I have not moved fast enough in pushing through with the reforms that I promised to undertake,” he said in a speech to an investment conference. “I thank the Malaysian people for this message: point well made and point taken.”

Abdullah said that despite plans to dismantle energy subsidies that are draining state coffers, he would maintain fuel prices at current levels to protect the interests of the poor.

“Whatever is the present price, we will have to live with it,” he said, adding that a policy on subsidies would be announced later.

Malaysia subsidises petrol, diesel and gas as well as 21 food items including milk, salt, wheat flour and rice, but the controls have triggered severe shortages and smuggling across its porous borders and long coastline.

Malaysians have been told time and again that there can only be political stability in the country as long as the status quo is defended.

This rather uninspiring message was, of course, delivered by none other than those who were already in power and who had every reason to wish to remain in power for as long as humanly possible.

Since it became independent in 1957 Malaysia has been ruled by the same coterie of right-of-centre Conservative-nationalist parties led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and its allies in the former Alliance coalition and now the National Front.

For more than half a century Malaysians were told that this was the natural order of things and that to even entertain the idea of there being a different government was tantamount to political heresy of sorts.....more.


25 March, 2008

A tale of two MB (3)


Ther' be a pontifical facade that exhudes they,
who bare weakness, of self confidence, when
consternation disrupts...their grandiose stage.
And it be these individuals who be first to cast
aspersion, first to wield the sword, first to level
sentence, as magistrate or jury. Yet, they be th'
same ones, who cowar first to brave challenge,
and the last to be seen, when chips, are facing
downward. Poise, and Wisdom........are virtues
of silent heroes......They who take bull's by their
horns....yet everso gently....................................

Frank James Ryan, Jr.

In a Malaysiakini letter to editor:"Politicians come and go, Rulers here to stay"

First, it happened in Perlis, where the Raja of Perlis did not agree with the nomination of the PM on the choice of MB. However, the issue of the MB of Perlis was less complicated, as the majority of the state assembly persons did not voice their support for the choice of the PM.

Now, the Sultan of Terengganu (through the Regent Advisory Council) also does not agree with the choice of the PM (Idris Jusoh) as the MB of Terengganu.

It cannot be denied that the institution of the Malay Rulers is part and parcel of Malaysia. After all, the police force is officially known as Polis Di Raja Malaysia (Royal Malaysian Police) and according to Article 41 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, ‘the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be the Supreme Commander of the armed forces of the Federation’.

Unless the issue of the appointment of the Terengganu MB is handled well, Malaysia will face another constitutional crisis involving the Malay Rulers which is potentially bigger than the 1980s constitutional crisis which resulted when the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was removed for the passing of laws. There was another crisis in the 1990s when the immunity from prosecution granted to the Malay Rulers was removed.

The sentiments on the ground are that Umno is being very biadap to the Sultan.

Meanwhile, former Terengganu menteri besar Idris Jusoh has sought the forgiveness of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin - who is also Sultan of Terengganu - over matters which had incurred the ruler’s wrath.

PM ABDULLAH too will seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,to discuss and resolve the issue on the appointment of the Terengganu Menteri Besar.

"I will certainly be meeting with Tuanku"

Abdullah said the meeting would be held as soon as possible.

"I wish I could have done it Monday," said the Umno president.

UMNO take umbrage at saying Mizan's choice was unconstitutional because almost all state assembly lawmakers supported Abdullah's choice, Idris Jusoh, whom the king dislikes intensely. While Ahmad does not have the support of legislators, he has grassroots support in UMNO.

In another development Malaysia's ruling party may postpone internal elections due this year, an official said Tuesday, in a move apparently aimed at protecting the prime minister from challengers in the wake of an election debacle.

The United Malays National Organization is scheduled to hold its annual meeting in August when Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must seek re-election as party president. But party laws allow the elections to be postponed up to June 2009.

"So, there is still time. ... If elections are held now, it could prove disastrous for the party," UMNO information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib said.


24 March, 2008

Price controls "a joke" !!

Malaysia's price-control system which is designed to suppress the cost of essential goods is "a joke", the new domestic trade minister said according to a report Monday.

Anger over rising prices of food and fuel were a key issue in general elections earlier this month, and one of the factors credited with the ruling coalition's worst performance in its half-century history.

In a bid to win back support, Shahrir Abdul Samad -- a maverick in the United Malays National Organisation which leads the coalition -- was installed as domestic trade and consumer affairs minister last week.

"The whole price control mechanism is a joke," he said.

"If you have price controls just for PR (public relations) purposes, it does not make the government look good, especially when you have price controls but can't control the price."

Shahrir said that for example, the government had set a price ceiling on steel bars 600-700 ringgit (190-220 dollars) below market price.

"But contractors can't buy them at these prices. So what they do is inflate the price with other costs. It becomes a joke and the government gets laughed at."

"Prices go up and yet Malaysian wages don't. So these are all issues the government has to settle," he said.


23 March, 2008

A tale of two MB (2)

On March 12th, a day before the planned swearing-in of Mohamad Nizar, Lim Kit Siang, the MP of Ipoh Timur released a statement stating that Mohamad Nizar’s candidacy for Menteri Besar was not endorsed by the DAP Central Executive Committee. The statement also mentioned that all 18 DAP state assembly members will stay away from the swearing-in ceremony.

Angry was the sentiment around blog comments regarding his press release to order DAP Perak committee to boycott the swearing-in ceremony of a PAS candidate as the Menteri Besar of Perak. Including " I will kick your ass."

And Umno supreme Council member Datuk Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi wants all political parties in Perak to respect the decision by Istana Iskandariah to defer the swearing-in of the Menteri Besar.

“The decision to postpone the swearing-in must be respected by all political parties in Perak as the sultan is fully aware of the squabbling among DAP, PKR. The bickering can harm the palace’s credibility as an independent institution in the country’s political system of governance to maintain peace and harmony in the state,

In Terengganu, Kijal assembly person Ahmad Said has officially received his appointment letter as the Terengganu menteri besar but a constitutional crisis looms as he was sacked from Umno.

Kijal assemblyman Datuk Ahmad Said, who was supposed to have been sworn in as Terengganu Mentri Besar Sunday, has been stripped of his Umno membership for disobeying the party's leadership, a state Umno official confirmed.

The office of the Sultan of Terengganu announced Saturday that Ahmad Said would be the new Mentri Besar of Terengganu instead of Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, ending 14 days of uncertainty.

State Umno liaison secretary Datuk Rosol Wahid said the assemblymen who attended the meeting would boycott the swearing-in ceremony if Idris, who is also Terengganu Umno liaison chairman, was not appointed the Mentri Besar.

He said some of the elected representatives concerned were willing to resign if someone else was appointed Mentri Besar.

Rosol, who is the assemblyman for Ajil, also warned that the assemblymen concerned would pass a vote of no confidence at the State Legislative Assembly if Idris was not reappointed Mentri Besar.

Is this the start of Umno implosion? or a farewell to the Homogenous Malay

And, What Prompted Voters To Swing This Time?


22 March, 2008

Malay rights a hot issue in Malay press !

Public shares disapproval of Penang and Selangor governments' possible interference with pro-Malay New Economic Policy in letters to the editor

Malay economic privileges have become a hotly debated issue in the aftermath of the general election following the opposition's declaration of its intention to roll back the excesses associated with such policies.

There have been street protests, while the Malay press has been publishing letters lashing out at the plans of two opposition governments -- those in Penang and Selangor -- to clamp down on political patronage.

Their plans have quickly become seen as dismantling the New Economic Policy, which favours the Malays in education opportunities, soft loans, government employment and contracts.

A reader, Mr Ab Jalil Backer, wrote in Umno-linked Utusan Malaysia yesterday that many Malays who gave their support to the Malay leaders in the opposition had not given them the mandate to question pro-Malay policies.

He said many Malays had benefited from these policies. 'The question is whether all Malays are ready to put down their ego and admit this?' he wrote.

Another letter published in the same paper came from a reader who said he had voted for the opposition so that Malay opposition leaders would safeguard the rights of their community.

Yet another wrote: 'Malays have sold out their own race. Just look at what will happen to Malays in Penang. I feel the state will become a second Singapore if the government does not stand firm.'

The letters are a sample of the flood of correspondence published in the Malay media -- which is influential in the community -- since the March 8 polls.

Some appear to suggest that the poor showing of the Barisan Nasional and Umno was a sign that Malay political dominance was weakening.

The local English dailies, such as The Star and the New Straits Times, however, do not seem to suggest that the sentiment among Malays towards the NEP issue is anywhere near boiling point.

So where does public opinion on the NEP lie? Political observers say the reality on the ground is somewhere in the middle.

Mr Ahmad Ikmal Ismail, a senior Umno Youth leader, said the anger over the plans to reform the NEP was not about to boil over. But he also disagreed with claims that much of that anger was being manufactured.

'I have received many text messages and phone calls from friends, colleagues and the public in general to voice their concern and anger on this matter. Even the normal and apolitical Malays are voicing their concerns,' he said.

He added: 'You must not look at the NEP as one that benefits only Malays.

'The main agenda of the NEP is to address the social problems that came with the division of races according to economic activities brought about during the British rule and to eradicate poverty. It ensures all citizens are assisted. I hope the opposition will respect these policies.'

Pollster Ibrahim Suffian from the Merdeka Centre believes that Malays are prepared to give the opposition a chance.

'I don't think the NEP issue has changed sentiments that much. A lot of people are apprehensive, but there is no sense of unrest. Even among the Malays, they want to give the new administration time to deliver on their promises,' he said.

Such differences in reactions to the NEP issue is exactly what a group of 25 Malay non-governmental organisations intend to address, in setting up a Malay unity action body yesterday to help unite Malays to safeguard their interests and the sanctity of Islam.

The panel's protem chairman, Mr Osman A. Bakar, said it was important to make the Malays realise what would happen to them if the disunity seen in the wake of the polls is not addressed immediately.

By Jeremy Au Yong
The Straits Times via Asia Media

Another candid one from Raja Petra

The Ugly Malaysian

In the old days it used to be called The Ugly American. Today, it is The Ugly Malaysian, at least as far as this country is concerned.

Malaysians, just like Americans, are racists; there is no doubt about that. But while Americans will accept the fact that they are racists, Malaysians will deny it and instead will claim to be very tolerant of the other race or races.

You can always tell when a person is a racist from the opening statement when a Chinese says “I have a lot of Indian friends”, or a Malay says “I used to mix with Chinese at school”, or an Indian says “Actually, Malays in the kampong are very nice people”, and so on. This is the Malay, Chinese and Indian way of giving their 'stamp of approval' to the other race. Why do you need to emphasis the word 'Malay', 'Chinese' or 'Indian'? Is this your way of showing tolerance? Does the emphasis on race mean you are 'tolerant' of those not of your race? Is this to give an appearance of magnanimity or generosity on your part? See what a great guy I am. I tolerate the other races. Sheesh.....as if I need anyone to 'tolerate' me.

Look at Malaysiakini's latest report on the Selangor State EXCO line-up. Malaysiakini reported that out of the ten EXCO Members, six are going to be non-Malays and four of them women. Who the hell cares whether six are non-Malays and four are women? Are these people being chosen to run the state because of their race and gender? Should they not be chosen because of their qualifications and capabilities? Who are these six non-Malays and four women anyway? Are they the best of the lot? Will they outperform and outshine the previous Khir Toyo administration? Are we going to see Selangor grow and prosper by leaps and bounds? Is Selangor going to be paradise on earth?

Who cares? What matters is that six are going to be non-Malays and four are going to be women. That is what matters and that is what is going to guarantee a great future ahead of us. The calibre of the ten EXCO members was buried in the consideration of race and gender. That is the main focus and that is what appears to be the deciding factor. Woe to this country when race and gender override all other factors.

Read also :"Abolish The Monarchy … Support our Kids!" here.


21 March, 2008

Malaysian PM facing ruling party revolt

A ruling party grandee has launched a challenge to Abdullah Badawi’s leadership of the United Malays National Organisation after the party’s worst election setback in 50 years.

The move by Razaleigh Hamzah to confront Mr Abdullah, Malaysian prime minister, could trigger a split in UMNO, which leads the National Front coalition government, and is likely to be supported by Mahathir Mohamad, Mr Abdullah’s long-serving predecessor.

Reports that some National Front members of parliament might defect to the opposition, headed by Anwar Ibrahim, are adding to Mr Abdullah's troubles as he fights to survive in power.

Mr Razaleigh, a former finance minister and royal prince, is seen as an elder statesman in times of crisis. Viewed as a reformer, he nearly toppled Dr Mahathir as prime minister in 1987 in a party revolt that was supported by Mr Abdullah.

Now the tables have turned, with Dr Mahathir likely to join Mr Razaleigh to oust Mr Abdullah, according to a Razaleigh aide. The former prime minister and his son, an Umno youth leader, have already demanded the prime minister's resignation....read more here.

Defections could sink Malaysia govt: Anwar

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Lawmakers from Malaysia's ruling coalition are willing to defect to the opposition, threatening to drag down the government, de facto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said in an interview on Wednesday.

Anwar, who made a dramatic political comeback at elections on March 8, told Reuters that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's coalition was cracking apart and was fast losing support from smaller constituent parties based on Borneo island.

"The sentiments in Sabah and Sarawak are strong with a number of people approaching us," Anwar said, referring to Malaysia's two resource-rich but relatively undeveloped states on Borneo.

"They are approaching us because they realize -- for Sabah and Sarawak -- we have a better deal for them," he said, adding that the opposition would offer them more royalties from Borneo's natural resources, more development and more help for the poor.

"Events are unfolding fast. Things are changing," Anwar said in an interview in the front garden of his office, a bungalow in a leafy suburb of the capital.

The minor parties of Sabah and Sarawak ensured Abdullah's Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition clung to power in the elections, which gave Abdullah's main ruling party, the United Malaysia National Organisation (UMNO), the fright of its life.

Barisan suffered the heaviest setback in its near-unbroken 50-year reign since independence. It lost its two-thirds majority in federal parliament and surrendered an unprecedented five states to the opposition, including its industrial heartlands.

Barisan now holds a 29-seat majority in the 222-member parliament, razor thin by its own standards. Sabah and Sarawak parties, a world apart from the politics of peninsular Malaysia, delivered 42 seats to Barisan but they failed to get many senior ministries in Abdullah's new cabinet announced on Tuesday.


There is widespread talk of grumbling within Barisan's ranks on Boreno, especially in Sabah, but political experts do not feel Anwar could persuade as many as 29 of their MPs to defect.

Sarawak could be particularly hard to crack for Anwar because its chief minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, is a Barisan stalwart whose son was appointed a deputy minister in the new cabinet.

"I think he's unlikely to get 29," said Zainon Ahmad, the political editor of the local Sun newspaper.

But Anwar said it remained a possibility, though he declined to say how many lawmakers had voiced a willingness to defect.

When asked if it was more than five, he said: "Of course it's more than five." When pressed if it was more than 10, he declined further comment, saying, "We'll come to that."

Asked if the opposition could win enough defections to gain power, he added: "You cannot rule out that possibility."

But the prime minister dismissed this. "Why should the government be toppled? The government is strong," Abdullah later told reporters, then hinted Anwar might be making inducements for MPs to defect. "We don't go around buying the people," he added.

An aide to Anwar, Din Merican, denied this. "We don't buy politicians. It would make a mockery of what we stand for."

Opposition parties won 82 seats, with Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People's Justice Party) holding the biggest block of opposition seats at 31. The Democratic Acton Party, which is backed mostly by ethnic Chinese, and the Parti Islam se-Malaysia, an Islamist outfit, make up the rest of the opposition.

Anwar, a former deputy premier, was barred from standing for election on March 8 because of a corruption conviction. He was jailed for about six years until 2004 on corruption and sodomy charges that he said had been cooked up by the government.

Around half of Keadilan's newly elected MPs, including his wife, have offered to resign their seat so that he can come back to parliament through a by-election, he said. Until then, his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, has been chosen as parliamentary opposition leader, the opposition parties announced on Wednesday.

But Anwar has not ruled out a lawmaker from the prime minister's own party, UMNO, quitting and causing an opportunity for Anwar to contest. Anwar was once UMNO deputy leader and still draws grass-roots support from within the ruling party.

"Don't be surprised if there are by-elections in the UMNO-controlled seats," he said.



20 March, 2008

MAMPU Migrates to OpenOffice.

The Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), today officially adopts a policy to migrate to the OpenOffice.org open source productivity suite. This is in line with the Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Master Plan, which calls for government agencies to reduce costs, increase freedom of choice and interoperability.

From April 1st, MAMPU will start adopting the OpenDocument Format (ODF), standard for all new documents created. ODF the ISO open standard for electronic documents is also the default format for OpenOffice.org. The agency will also uninstall all copies of Microsoft Office by the end of 2008.

To ensure a smooth migration, presently over 80 agency staff have been trained by the Open Source Competency Centre (OSCC). Additional staff will then be trained internally by the IT department, which will also provide support for OpenOffice.org.

Related Documents:

* Polisi Penggunaan OpenOffice.org MAMPU (in Malay)
* Mengapa Bertukar Kepada OpenOffice.org (in Malay)

Congratulation Malaysia !


The Web of politic

Rahul Sharma, Hindustan Times

Malaysia’s political landscape was hit hard from cyberspace last week when a blogger entered Parliament after winning in elections that saw the ruling coalition lose its two-thirds majority in the House.

In a country where the mainstream media largely supported the government, Jeff Ooi — a former advertising copywriter — used his political blog to win a seat on an Opposition ticket. He was not the only blogger in the fray.

Elizabeth Wong, a social activist and blogger, won a state assembly election. Badrul Hisham Shahrin, who ran for Parliament, lost to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s son-in-law after four recounts. He was contesting from a rural area where not many could read his blogs.

The southeast Asian country is still reeling under the latest political shock, after the Internet played a key role in shaping political thought and generated an anti-government wave days before millions set out to vote.

Technology destroyed the powerful hold that Abdullah’s Barisan Nasional had over Malaysia, where sex scandals and videos of ministers frolicking with their girlfriends have been posted on YouTube, much to their embarrassment.

Technology is becoming a huge part of campaigns. In the Philippines, SMS bursts can bring tens of thousands of people to the streets. And the Malaysian elections show that in countries where the media are controlled, people and the Opposition now have an alternative where they can campaign, discuss and collect money for their cause. In several countries across Asia, the Internet has politically empowered people, a phenomenon that is only going to spread as the cyberspace expands.

So when Ooi (www.jeffooi.com) went on his walkabouts while campaigning, all he heard was a call for change. He told an online magazine that eye contact with potential voters helped online donations for his campaign. On her blog (elizabethwong.wordpress.com), Wong spoke of a new dawn in her state, Selangor. “We need your help and inputs. We need honest, committed residents to fill in the blanks and vacancies… We have to deliver,” she wrote
after winning the assembly seat.

We too are getting into an election year. Will we see bloggers winning Parliament and assembly seats in India over the next several polls when we vote in state and general elections? Maybe not, largely because the Internet is still an urban phenomenon and most of India lives in villages where large chunks have no access to computers. In our Hindi and southern heartlands, news still travels through newspapers and not through television. And in a vast country like ours it is probably difficult to identify star political bloggers.

In cities, however, the Internet could shape public opinion with bloggers highlighting issues of concern to people at a local than the national level. But it would still be a baby-steps start, one that would take time to replace the traditional methods of campaigning — blaring loudspeakers, public meetings, hoardings and leaflets that abound in election season.

But the young urban voter — who’s mostly cynical about and disinterested in government and governance — can be targeted by bloggers, as they would appeal to their technologically savvy minds. In Malaysia, only one in five have access to the Internet, according to official data. In India, while the overall penetration is extremely poor, urban pockets score well in terms of computer population. That means the ability to reach out to the young is high and can be exploited by eager bloggers who might want to find their way into politics.

Just received this news alert via Google: Bin Laden criticizes Europe over Islamic cartoons in new audio message

Osama bin Laden criticized the publication of drawings insulting to the Prophet Muhammad in a new audio message posted late Wednesday and warned Europeans of a strong reaction to come.

The message, which appeared on a militant Web site that has carried al-Qaida statements in the past and bore the logo of the extremist group's media wing al-Sahab, showed a still image of bin Laden aiming with an AK-47.

The five-minute message issued a warning to Europeans but made no mention of the fifth anniversary Wednesday of the U.S.-led invasion in Iraq.

"The response will be what you see and not what you hear and let our mothers bereave us if we do not make victorious our messenger of God," said a voice believed to be bin Laden's, without specifying what action would be taken.

The tape came as the Muslim world marks the Prophet Muhammad's birthday on Thursday and amid the reigniting of a two-year-old controversy over some Danish cartoons deemed by Muslims to be insulting. Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry....more here.

By the way,did you hear about Abdullah’s Bible , folks?


19 March, 2008

Tibet - Support the Dalai Lama

After decades of repression under Chinese rule, the Tibetan people's frustrations have burst onto the streets in protests and riots. With the spotlight of the upcoming Olympic Games now on China, Tibetans are crying out to the world for change.

The Chinese government has said that the protesters who have not yet surrendered "will be punished". Its leaders are right now considering a crucial choice between escalating brutality or dialogue that could determine the future of Tibet, and China.

We can affect this historic choice--China does care about its international reputation. China's President Hu Jintao needs to hear that the 'Made in China' brand and the upcoming Olympics in Beijing can succeed only if he makes the right choice. But it will take an avalanche of global people power to get his attention.

The Tibetan Nobel peace prize winner and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama has called for restraint and dialogue: he needs the world's people to support him. Click below now to sign the petition--and tell absolutely everyone you can right away--our goal is 1 million voices united for Tibet:


China's economy is totally dependent on "Made in China" exports that we all buy, and the government is keen to make the Olympics in Beijing this summer a celebration of a new China, respected as a leading world power. China is also a very diverse country with a brutal past and has reason to be concerned about its stability -- some of Tibet's rioters killed innocent people. But President Hu must recognize that the greatest danger to Chinese stability and development comes from hardliners who advocate escalating repression, not from Tibetans who seek dialogue and reform.

We (Avaaz.org ) will deliver our petition directly to Chinese officials in London, New York, and Beijing, but it must be a massive number before we deliver the petition. Please forward this email to your address book with a note explaining to your friends why this is important, or use our tell-a-friend tool to email your address book--it will come up after you sign the petition.

The Tibetan people have suffered quietly for decades. It is finally their moment to speak--we must help them be heard.

Human Rights Watch :China: Restrain Forces From Violently Attacking Protesters in Tibet

Chinese security forces should stop violent attacks on protesters in Tibet and allow the United Nations to conduct an independent probe into alleged abuses, Human Rights Watch said

To quell the protests that continued in Lhasa and Sangchu County, Chinese security forces responded by beating protesters, firing live ammunition, surrounding Ganden, Drepung and Sera monasteries, and cutting phone lines into the monasteries, according to media reports and sources in the capital, Lhasa. There are unconfirmed reports that some protesters have been shot. The city is now reported to be under curfew and there is a heavy presence of security forces on the streets.

“The Chinese government should exercise restraint in responding to the protests and should work toward addressing the grievances of the protesters,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It should invite the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to Tibet so that it can begin a thorough and independent investigation into alleged abuses.”

The Chinese government has long banned independent human rights observers from Tibet and responds harshly to Tibetans sending information out of the country regarding the human rights situation. Human Rights Watch called on the Chinese government to respect the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and to ensure proper treatment of all protesters and others detained in recent days.

- Human Rights Watch

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18 March, 2008

And, the Winners are....

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ousted Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz and thinned his cabinet in an attempt to woo back voters after the ruling coalition's worst ever election showing.

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today announced his new Cabinet line-up, dropping eight ministers who won the recent general election and appointing two corporate figures as ministers.

The new administration line-up was drawn up based on the "spirit of power-sharing and camaraderie of the Barisan Nasional (BN)", and it was capable of implementing the government agenda more effectively, he said.

Long-serving International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz is one of the casualties in the new cabinet line-up.

Rafidah, 64, who is also Wanita Umno chief, was appointed Minister of Trade and Industry on May 20, 1987.

She is believed to be the world's longest-serving trade minister.

Abdullah, when asked why Rafidah was dropped, said it was his prerogative and Rafidah should make way for new faces.

Two other casualties are Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, the former home minister and his mate from Perlis, Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid, the former natural resources and environment minister.

With both of them out (could it be due to the backstabbing and coup de tat in Perlis ? ), Perlis is left with no representative in the cabinet.

Following is the list of ministers dropped from the new cabinet announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today:

1. Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz

2. Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad

3. Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid

4. Datuk Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor

5. Datuk Abdullah Md Zin

6. Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Mohd Jarjis

7. Datuk Ong Ka Ting (on request)

8. Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn (based on MCA's two-term policy)

Pak Lah's New Cabinet

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Umno)

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak (Umno)

Finance Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Umno)

Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop (Umno)

Deputies: Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah (Umno), Kong Cho Ha (MCA)

Defence Minister Najib Razak (Umno)

Deputy: Abu Seman Yusop (Umno)

Housing and Local Government Minister Ong Ka Chuan (MCA)

Deputy: Robert Lau Hoi Chew (Supp), Hamzah Zainuddin (Umno)

Works Minister Mohd Zin Mohamed (Umno)

Deputy: Yong Khoon Seng (Supp)

Energy, Water and Communications Minister Shaziman Abu Mansor

Deputy: Joseph Salang Gandum

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed (Umno)

Deputy: Rohani Abdul Karim (Umno)

International Trade and Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (Umno)

Deputy: Leow Wui Keong (LDP), Jacob Dungau Sagan

Foreign Minister Rais Yatim (Umno)

Deputy: Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar (Umno)

Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (Umno)

Deputies: Dr Wee Ka Siong (MCA), Razali Ismail (Umno)

Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat (MCA)

Deputy: Anifah Aman

Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai (MCA)

Deputy: Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad (Umno)

Human Resources Minister S Subramaniam (MIC)

Deputy: Noraini Ahmad (Umno)

Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Syed Hamid Albar (Umno)

Deputies: Chor Chee Heung (MCA), Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh (Umno)

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen (MCA)

Deputy: Noriah Kasmon (Umno)

National Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Shafie Apdal (Umno)

Deputy: Teng Boon Soon (MCA)

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Dr Maximus Ongkili (PBS)

Deputy: Fadillah Yusof

Entrepreneurial and Cooperative Development Minister Noh Omar (Umno)

Deputy: Saifudin Abdullah

Higher Education Minister Mohd Khaled Nordin (Umno)

Deputies: Idris Haron (Umno), Dr Hou Kok Chung (MCA)

Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek (Umno)

Deputy: Tan Lian Hoe (Gerakan)

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Douglas Uggah Embas (PBB)

Deputy: Abdul Ghapur Salleh (Umno)

Rural and Regional Development Minister Senator Muhammad Muhammad Taib (Umno)

Deputies: Joseph Kurup, Joseph Entulu Belaun

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Shahrir Abdul Samad (Umno)

Deputy: Jelaing Mersat

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Peter Chin Fah Kui (Supp)

Deputy: Kohilan Pillay (Gerakan)

Youth and Sports Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob (Umno)

Deputy: Wee Jeck Seng (MCA)

Tourism Minister Azalina Othman Said (Umno)

Deputy: Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Abdul Taib (PBB)

Federal Territories MinisterZulhasnan Rafique (Umno)

Deputy: M Saravanan (MIC)

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department

Zaid Ibrahim (Umno, to be appointed senator) - legal affairs

Zahid Hamidi (Umno)

Bernard Dompok (Upko)

Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz (Umno)

Amirsham A Aziz (former Maybank CEO, to be appointed senator)

Deputies: Mohd Johari Baharum (Umno), Mashitah Ibrahim (Umno, to be appointed senator), SK Devamany (MIC) and Hasan Malek (Umno).

The cabinet is due to be sworn in tomorrow.

Abdullah is surrounding himself with a more loyal team as he fends off demands to quit, some analysts said. His approval rating has slumped since a 2004 landslide election victory, and he has said ministries haven't rolled out policies fast enough.

``Most of the new faces are strong supporters of Abdullah, so he can have full confidence in his cabinet,'' said Mohamed Mustafa Ishak, professor of politics at Universiti Utara Malaysia. ``He has most of his men in the cabinet now!

CMs, DPMs and PMs: Time to go beyond the old taboos

To begin with, let us ask the singular question that nobody seems to have raised thus far: If, as our politicians would lead us to believe, this is indeed a country for all Malaysians, then should it not be the case that Malaysian citizenship and the commitment to the ideal of a plural Malaysian Malaysia be the guiding principle and criteria for all appointments to high office? Should that premise be accepted, would it not be conceivable that one day this country may have as its prime minister or deputy prime minister a Malaysian of non-Malay, non-Muslim and non-Male background? In other words, can we even begin to imagine the day when we may have a prime minister who happens to be of Indian-Hindu background and a woman to boot? And if such a situation is deemed unthinkable by some at the moment, we need to ask: Why? What is holding us back from entertaining such contingencies and variables? Surely what matters most in the selection of any leader or administrator is the competence and sincerity of the individual concerned; and it’s not as if it is the colour of the person’s skin that is doing the governing! (We hope not at least.)

Read more here.


17 March, 2008

Anwar says ruling party members want to defect

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim claimed Monday that many lawmakers in the ruling coalition want to defect to his camp after their election debacle.

Anwar told reporters he has been approached by many ruling party lawmakers who won in the March 8 general elections. They are welcome to defect but no bribes will be paid to make them to cross over, he said.

"We will remain consistent and committed to the code of ethics. If you want to surrender at a price you have chosen the wrong party," he told reporters.

Buying political support, especially by paying voters money, is common in Malaysia, and bribing lawmakers to defect, while not widespread, is known to occur.

Anwar's claim could not be immediately confirmed, but would add to persistent rumors of political horse-trading in the aftermath of the disastrous poll results for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's coalition.

Abdullah says he has the full support of his party, and has rejected calls to step down. But Anwar's claim, if true, would add pressure on him to keep the party together.

Anwar did not say how many National Front members have approached him, but said they belonged to Abdullah's United Malays National Organization, the main party in the National Front, as well as other smaller parties.

Anwar said many of those who approached him won their seats from Sabah and Sarawak states on Borneo island, which have emerged as UMNO's political stronghold after its spectacular loss of support in mainland Malaysia.

The National Front won 54 out of the 56 seats in the two states, accounting for nearly 39 percent of its total 140 seats it Parliament. Most of the 54 seats were won by UMNO candidates.

Still Blind To Reality!

If Abdullah Badawi could not leverage the huge mandate he received in 2004 into effective leadership, there is little hope that he could do any better now that he had been severely mauled in the last election. Those who think otherwise are merely deluding themselves and engaging in wishful thinking.

All the top leaders of UMNO are afflicted by this collective blindness, a willful refusal to see or even acknowledge this evident reality; they are engulfed in mass denial.

Of course the likes of Najib Razak and Rafidah Aziz would unhesitatingly and shamelessly grovel themselves up to Abdullah; after all they serve at his pleasure. Najib in particular does not want to disturb the current pattern, knowing full well that this would be Abdullah’s last term and that Najib will take over after that. If Abdullah were to fumble now, there is no assurance that he would not take the whole crowd –that would include Najib – with him....read more.


16 March, 2008

A tale of two MB

Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim has insisted he had been given the mandate by Barisan Nasional chairman and Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to continue becoming the Perlis Mentri Besar.
Shahidan claimed the "letter of mandate" given to him by the prime minister requested the Raja of Perlis to appoint him to lead the state.

"I have the letter but if Tuanku does not want to appoint me because the Ruler has confidence in other people and there are laws allowing him to do so, well, that is his prerogative and right. I have 120 days and who ever is sworn in apart from me, he can be regarded as going against the PM's order and an opposition. We will see what to do next as it is the people who has chosen the BN to lead the state, not individual.

"BN wins in Perlis, so BN will lead the state. And if that person accepts to be sworn in, that means he does not support me and also the prime minister. He is an opposition." (The New Straits Times)

Jelebu MP Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said Raja Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail has the power to appoint Bintong state assemblyman Dr Md Isa Sabu as the new Perlis Menteri Besar.

He said it is one of the three major powers of the state rulers.

Rais Yatim further urged Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim to accept and comply with Raja's decisions. (Sin Chew Daily)

Meanwhile, The new Menteri Besar of Perak will be sworn in at Istana Iskandariah in the royal town of Kuala Kangsar tomorrow.

The private secretary to the Sultan of Perak, Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohamad Nor, said the Regent of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, had consented to the swearing-in of State PAS secretary Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the Menteri Besar.

Mohammad Nizar, who is also Pasir Panjang assemblyman, will take his oath of office, pledge of loyalty and secrecy before Raja Nazrin at 11.30am, he said in a statement faxed to Bernama today.

Malaysia's Opposition Reborn

By Tion Kwa
(Tion Kwa is a Fellow at the Asia Society.)

In Malaysia's recent elections, opposition parties managed their strongest showing since the country gained its independence from Britain in 1957, cutting the ruling coalition's parliamentary majority to below two-thirds. Where the country's newly invigorated democracy goes from here rests with one man, Anwar Ibrahim, the deputy prime minister sacked by former premier Mahathir Mohamad and later jailed.

Anwar can finally make the opposition a credible check on the National Front ruling coalition, but knows that he will never become prime minister this way. No one, after all, expects the opposition to win enough seats to form a government in the conceivable future. He can allow himself to be wooed back by his former party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the National Front's leading member.

UMNO is widely believed to have held talks with Anwar before. Now, more than ever, it needs Anwar to reestablish its credibility. And, to become prime minister, Anwar needs UMNO.

Arguably, being inside UMNO and the government would allow Anwar to better institute the reforms he has so ardently advocated. But, before all that, Anwar needs to get himself elected to parliament again.

If Anwar were to marry his leadership and charisma to the opposition's newfound heft in the federal legislature - 82 MPs, compared with 20 in the last parliament - serious policy alternatives to the government's might be expected. Until now, the opposition has chiefly acted as an irritant, and voters viewed debates as entertainment, rather than as exchanges that informed policy.

For the same reason, policy platforms have never been important for the opposition in elections. Many who voted for the DAP on Saturday, for example, are unlikely to have known or cared about what the party stood for. Traditionally, people voted for the DAP or the Justice Party to show their displeasure with the National Front. Indeed, if ideas were important, a leftist party like the DAP would have found it difficult to cooperate with the PAS. But cooperate they did......read more.

And, Now See What Happens When You Play Around With The Keris? :

Thus it can perhaps be said that the election results of 2008 are an indicator of the extent to which MCA, Gerakan and MIC have been seen as the running dogs of UMNO in a BN coalition that has grown more and more unbalanced in the eyes of so many. Playing around with kerises is something you do in old movies about silat warriors, but not in the context of modern-day Malaysian politics where respect for cultural diversity and the equal pride and status of all communities should be paramount. The hot-heads in UMNO Youth may have been playing to the Malay gallery when they pulled the stunt of drawing the keris in public, but the catastrophic damage they did to the image and standing of their component BN partners was beyond calculation. In the end, however, it is not the keris, but rather the clumsy hand that wields it that is to be blamed. UMNO’s two-faced management of race-relations, which was flawed from the outset, has undone itself and the BN. To quote the popular refrain: “Padan Muka”.

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