30 April, 2008

Najib Tun Razak says he had nothing to do with the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu !

Press Statement from Deputy Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak

I would like to refer to an article posted on your website under the heading “Let’s Send the Altantuya Murderers to Hell ” on April 25. For the benefits ofyour readers, I would to like to put the record straight since there were insinuations and unjustified comments made against the Deputy Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor in respect of the murder case.

2. The article alleged that the DPM and his wife were implicated in the murder of the Mongolian girl, the Deputy Prime Minister supported her visas application, her immigration record had been erased and there were pictures taken with her. These are hearsays which you have deemed alright to published as reflected by your position “we too have conducted our own trial by court of public opinion and we have already arrived at our verdict”.

3. The article also gave the impression that police investigation was flawed and the legal proceeding was being compromise (show trial in the kangaroo court) and designed to hide the real perpetrators. While it is up to the judiciary and police to deal with these allegations, Dato Sri Mohd Najib reserved the right in this “public opinion” court to reiterate his earlier comments that he did not know and has never met the deceased. As such all these allegations are unfounded and designed to tarnish his standing within the Malaysian public.

4. A witness claimed that Altantuya had dinner with Razak and Najib was never corroborated. No picture was produced in court except that of PKR Information Chief Tian Chua who posted a concocted ‘picture’ on the web. Strangely, no legal attempt had been made to produce this picture as evidence in court to date by PKR as it appears it is only admissible in the public opinion court.

5. The case is a private matter involving Encik Razak Baginda and how the policemen were involved will come out in the open during the court proceedings. I would like to also point out that the claims that Altantuya murder was linked to the country’s purchase of the submarine as baseless and unfounded, it was done to make a good and believable story in the public opinion court.

6. Dato Sri Mohd Najib has been very restrained and guarded in making any public statement on the matter since people known to him have been implicated and have been charged in court. It could be misinterpreted or seen interfering in the case since the court proceedings is on going. In fact, a former Deputy Prime Minister was convicted for abuse of power when trying to suppress a sexual misconduct investigations against him.

7. As pointed out in the article there is an issue of subjudice or contempt of court and Dato Sri Mohd Najib, Malaysians and foreigners here must respect the laws and system that all of us are subject too. As such it is unfair that unfounded and wild allegations in such a serious matter had been made which will tarnish the Deputy Prime Minister’s standing in public.

8. As stated in your article “But this is not about politics and should not be dealt as such”, the DPM also shared this sentiment that this case should seek out the truth and justice should be served. However, it is clear that there are those who are not interested in finding justice for Altantuya. It is the politics of Altantuya they are concerned with and it is my sincere hope that your readers will be able to differentiate between truth, half-truth, falsehood and lies since politicians are judge in the public opinion court.

9. Since the allegations are serious and damaging in nature, the DPM will not hesitate to seek legal redress on the matter.

Thank you.

Datuk Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad
Press Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister

So why won’t he testify in court?

Although Najib, whom many see as the heir apparent to the prime minister’s post, has neither been questioned nor asked to appear in the marathon trial of his friend, Abdul Razak Baginda, and two of his bodyguards for the murder of Altantuya, his reputation has been considerably tarnished by his apparent links to the victim and the accused. Some media have questioned his suitability to take over as prime minister when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi gives up the post.

If Najib were to appear in court, he could certainly explain how it was possible for Abdul Razak to use his bodyguards to remove the victim from his residence. A deputy police commander, who is an associate of the two bodyguards, testified that members of the bodyguard unit are required to follow the orders of their superiors without question; he described the bodyguard members as being “like robots” who only respond to orders from superior officers. Abdul Razak, a civilian and a mere friend Najib’s, was not a superior officer in any sense.

Najib could also be called upon, as defense minister, to explain how the two bodyguards were able to get their hands on military explosives to blow up the translator’s body.

Altantuya’s dad Dr Setev Shaariibuu said he has found new evidence in connection with his daughter’s murder trial and he will reveal it when “the time is right”.

“The authority has confirmed the DNA (belonged to his daughter Altantuya Shaariibuu) but why is there still no response?” Dr Shaariibuu asked.

Read also :

Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell - Malaysia Today

My reply to Datuk Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad - Raja Petra Kamarudin

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29 April, 2008

The Malay supremacy and The New Malay Dilemma

The definition of ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) is not about the Malays being in a position to dominate, rule over and force their power upon other races, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

He said Malay supremacy meant that the Malays, as the indigenous people in Malaysia, needed to strengthen themselves to ensure they were successful and developed.

“If they are not successful and developed, then they are not tuan (masters), therefore they will be coolies. I am sure we do not want to become coolies who do not play any role in development because we are weak and not able.

“So when we talk about that (Malay supremacy), we mean we must be successful in many fields. It is never about ruling over others, or forcing our power upon them,” he told reporters after chairing the Umno supreme council meeting last night.


Excerpts from a speech given by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed at the Harvard Club of Malaysia dinner on 29 July 2002

The Malays are among the few people whose race is legally defined. Thus, the Malaysian Constitution states that a Malay is one who habitually speaks Malay, professes the religion of Islam and practises Malay customs. There is nothing said about the definitive culture of the Malays.

But the Malays have apparently learnt nothing from the near loss of their country in the past. Today, they are still unwilling to work and foreign workers are again flooding the country. And because they are not equipping themselves with the necessary education and skills, they have continued to depend on others. Their political dominance will protect them for a time. But that dominance is fading very fast as they quarrel among themselves and break up into small ineffective groups. Their numerical superiority means less today than at the time of Independence. ....

To succeed, the Malays must change their culture. They must look towards work as a reward in itself. They must regard what they achieve through work as the true reward. There should be some financial reward but this must not outweigh the satisfaction obtained from the result of their work. ....

... So what is the new Malay dilemma? Their old dilemma was whether they should distort the picture a little in order to help themselves. The new dilemma is whether they should or should not do away with the crutches that they have got used to, which in fact they have become proud of. There is a minority of Malays who are confident enough to think of doing away with the crutches, albeit gradually. But they are a very small minority. Their numbers are not going to increase any time soon. They are generally regarded as traitors to the Malay race. ....

.... There will be a host of protests over this generalisation about Malay attitudes. We read almost every day about blind Malay people and other handicapped Malays graduating with university degrees or driving cars or doing all kinds of work. This does not prove that the generalisation that I make is wrong. These are exceptions. They only prove that if the right attitude or culture is adopted, even the handicapped can succeed.

The dilemma faced by those few who want to build a strong, resilient and independent Malay race without crutches is that they are most likely to end up becoming unpopular and losing the ability to influence the changes in the culture and the value system which are necessary. It seems that they should not try and yet they know that without the cultural changes, the Malays are going to fail.



28 April, 2008

The ‘silent tsunami’

Analysis being carried out by WFP supports World Bank estimates that about 100 million people have been pushed deeper into poverty by the high food prices.

The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) called for urgent action to tackle the “silent tsunami” of rising food prices which threatens to push more than 100 million people worldwide into hunger.

“This is the new face of hunger – the millions of people who were not in the urgent hunger category six months ago but now are,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, after addressing a British parliamentary.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has said that high food prices are creating the biggest challenge that WFP has faced in its 45-year history, a silent tsunami threatening to plunge more than 100 million people on every continent into hunger.

“The response calls for large-scale, high-level action by the global community, focused on emergency and longer-term solutions,” she said.

Malaysia's embattled prime minister is already under pressure over the price hikes and has launched a major rice growing project. Indonesia's government needed to revise its annual budget to respond.

Malaysia's prime minister has announced plans to increase food security by growing rice on a massive scale in a state on Borneo island amid fears of shortages caused by the global food crisis.

The US$1.29 billion allocated for the plan will also be used to increase cultivation of fruits and vegetables, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced.

Thailand has no plans to restrict rice exports and the country will meet all export commitments, Wichianchot Sukchotrat, a Thai government spokesman said here last Thursday.

Malaysia and Thailand held talks on food security and Malaysia is seeking assurances that its orders for 480,000 tonnes of rice from its neighbour, the world's top rice exporter, will be delivered as planned.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's government is planning to subsidize locally-grown rice to prevent consumers from being hit by record high prices of the staple food in the world, a Cabinet minister said Monday.

"The main priority is that the government wants to assure the lower income group that local rice will remain affordable to them," Shahrir Samad, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs minister, told reporters.

Malaysia grows about 65 to 70 percent of the rice its people consume, while the rest is imported, mainly from Thailand. With the price of Thai rice nearly tripling in the last 18 months, the government expects consumers to switch to local rice, whose price — so far steady — is expected to rise.

The government currently does not subsidize local rice but provides free fertilizer and other concessions to farmers to ensure the price remains under control. In 2007, the government spent more than 900 million ringgit on these concessions.

"At the moment there is no rice subsidy. We just control the price. But that (subsidy) will come," he said. However, imported rice will not be subsidized.

"We can't say that we must have Thai rice at lower prices than what the Thai themselves have," Shahrir said.

He said the new rice subsidies might be funded by the money saved by a planned reduction of fuel subsidies.


27 April, 2008

Too little, too late

The Batu Pahat Umno division has called for party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to speed up the transition plan.

It also wants the Prime Minister to reveal the plan to members before the party elections in December.

According to Malaysiakini:"Batu Pahat: Peralihan kuasa sebelum Dis"

Mesyuarat khas perwakilan Umno Batu Pahat mendesak pelan peralihan kuasa antara presiden parti Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dan timbalannya Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak dilaksanakan sebelum Disember ini.

Di samping itu, bahagian itu juga mendesak kepimpinan Umno mengkaji secara terperinci punca kemarahan rakyat terhadap parti itu dan bertindak segera mengatasinya, seperti tuduhan wujudnya penglibatan "keluarga" dalam urusan pentadbiran negara.

Di samping itu, ia juga mendesak Majlis Tertinggi (MT) Umno supaya menyediakan "pelan pemulihan parti" dengan segera untuk menarik sokongan rakyat kepada Umno berikutan prestasi terburuknya pada pilihanraya umum baru-baru ini.

Cadangan itu antara lima usul yang diluluskan dalam mesyuarat khas bahagian itu, lapor Bernama.

Ketua bahagian Umno Batu Pahat Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi berkata usul-usul itu diluluskan sebulat suara oleh 365 perwakilan yang menghadiri mesyuarat itu hari ini.

Katanya terdapat dua soalan yang perlu ditanya selepas pilihanraya umum baru-baru ini iaitu, apakah tindakan drastik untuk mengembalikan keyakinan rakyat kepada Umno dan mengapa rakyat begitu marah kepada Umno.

Pikat semula sokongan

Mohd Puad yang juga ketua Penerangan Umno Johor berkata Umno memerlukan formula baru untuk memikat semula sokongan rakyat bukan sahaja orang Melayu dan bukan Melayu, tetapi juga generasi muda yang semakin kritis terhadap Umno.

Katanya Umno tidak lagi boleh berlengah dan perlu bertindak segera kerana ia mempunyai masa yang singkat untuk menghadapi cabaran empat tahun yang mendatang.

Beliau berkata ahli Umno tidak memerlukan pelbagai alasan dan penjelasan yang tidak menjawab soalan yang sebenarnya iaitu mengapa sokongan terhadap parti itu merosot dengan begitu teruk pada pilihanraya umum 8 Mac.

"Apakah isu sabotaj, isu wang peruntukan pilihanraya dan lain-lain menjawab soalan sebenar tentang mengapa rakyat begitu marah terhadap Umno," kata Mohd Puad.

Selain itu, katanya, Umno bahagian turut meluluskan usul mendesak MT Umno supaya menggunakan bidang kuasanya seperti yang diperuntukkan dalam perlembagaan parti untuk memanggil segera perhimpunan agung khas Umno.

Katanya, mereka turut meluluskan usul meminta kepimpinan parti supaya mengisi dan melaksanakan perkara yang telah termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan tidak bertolak-ansur terutamanya berhubung agama Islam dan hak-hak orang Melayu.

Mohd Puad berkata beliau akan menyerahkan keputusan yang dicapai oleh Umno bahagian pada mesyuarat perwakilan khasnya kepada Abdullah di Dewan Rakyat minggu depan.

The motion was passed in an extraordinary general meeting (EGM), chaired by the division head Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi.

The Batu Pahat Umno division is the first in Johor to hold an EGM over the shocking results of Barisan Nasional and Umno in the recent general election.

Gua Musang member of parliament Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said yesterday it was not impossible for Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to form the federal government in the next few months.

He said the possibility of Barisan Nasional (BN) members of parliament (MPs) switching to the Opposition could not be discounted, especially in Sabah as many in the state were still unhappy with the situation there.

"This is not a joke and we can't say this will not happen. The Sabah people's love for Umno is not deep, unlike over here where we grew up with Umno," he said at a meeting with Umno branches in Subang Jaya yesterday.

"From what I heard they have not been getting what they had demanded, like having more representatives and so on. So this needs to be resolved."

He said many of the MPs were once strong supporters of PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and maintained close contact with him.

Tengku Razaleigh also said that Anwar was serious in taking over the federal government. "While on the way here, I happened to be on the same flight with Anwar and he told me he was serious about it," he said.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a former finance minister who once came close to toppling Mahathir Mohamad as UMNO president back in 1987, is poised to make a bid for the party's leadership during elections in December.

Meanwhile former premier Mahathir has added his own political pressure, saying during an April 18 interview on BBC World's Hard Talk that, "Abdullah must go now because it will take time to revive the party for the next election."

Abdullah has announced a series of populist moves and reforms in an attempt to win back lost popular support. For instance, earlier this month his government organized a dinner with the country's Bar Council to announce the establishment of a judicial appointments commission to look into the appointment of judges.

The checks-and-balances reform marks a departure from the previous practice of the chief justice recommending names for new judges to the prime minister, who would then screen the names before they were submitted to the country's constitutional monarch for formal appointment.

He also said the government would make an ex gratia payment to half a dozen top judges or their surviving families for their suspension or sacking back in 1988 when they stood up to Mahathir in a foiled attempt to preserve judicial independence.

Meanwhile, home minister Syed Hamid Albar said the Cabinet would soon consider a proposal to waive an administrative requirement for local newspapers to renew their licenses every year, a measure that critics say has led to self-censorship by newspaper editors.


26 April, 2008

Hisham apologises to all Malaysians

Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein has admitted that his raising of the keris was among the causes of the Barisan Nasional’s poor performance in the general election.

Apologising to all Malaysians for his action, he said: “If it affected anyone, I cannot run away from the reality of it. I apologise to the non-Malays and the Malays.

“To the non-Malays because of the fear to a symbol which was not my intention. And to the Malays for not being able to uphold their symbol of heritage.”

The wielding of the keris was introduced at the Umno Youth assembly in 2005 to symbolise Malay tradition. At the start of the assembly, a procession carrying the keris would proceed to the hall to hand it to the Youth chief, who would then unsheathe and kiss it.

In the 2006 assembly, there was uneasiness among non-Malays when some speakers made racially slanted remarks about using the keris. Things were made worse as the proceedings of the assembly were telecast live.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein's apology over the "kris issue" will not derogate from the Malays' dignity because kris is a mere symbol, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The dignity of the Malays would only remain redeemed if they were successful in strategic fields to continue to compete with other races, said the deputy prime minister who is also Umno deputy president.

"I hope the issue will not crop up again. Datuk Seri Hishammuddin has done a very solicitious and noble act, meaning he is ready to seek apology though some people say it was not his intention to declare war or has a conviction in any racist move,"

"Kris is a weapon in the context of our culture, not more than that. But because there are people playing up the issue, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin's move, I hope, will be accepted as something positive, sincere and noble so that the issue will not crop up again."

"The dignity of the Malays has nothing to do with kris. The dignity of the Malays will be redeemed if the Malays succeed in various fields -- politics, mastery of knowledge, economy and social."

"Everything must point to the Malays' development being at the level of excellence; we can compete not only at home but also internationally. At that time, the Malays will been seen as a successful race.

"So, the kris is a mere symbol and not linked to excellence. Excellence in the real world depends on our success in strategic fields," he said.


25 April, 2008

Anwar’s power game goes on

DEFACTO opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has put his credibility on the line by once again claiming he has the “numbers” to topple the government, meaning at least 30 Barisan Nasional backbenchers are ready to defect for him to form and head the next government.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the government is taking seriously the "threat" that there would be a crossover of 30 or more BN Members of Parliament (MP) to the opposition to enable Pakatan Rakyat to form the government.

"There are reports (of the crossover) but we cannot just dismiss the reports. Of course, there is an element of political gamesmanship, nonetheless, we cannot take things for granted,"

"We have to deal with urgency. We have to take everything seriously, we cannot dismiss it as pure fabrication but as I said there is a strong element of political gamesmanship as well," he said.

While Anwar burnished his credentials, Barisan National leaders from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi down wards were left denying that no government backbencher was defecting, let alone in numbers that could topple the government.

In a carefully managed media event on Wednesday and, significantly, while on a visit to Sabah and Sarawak, Anwar firmed his position by saying the Pakatan Rakyat, which controls 82 seats in the 222-seat Parliament, would be ready to form the next government by Sept 16, Malaysia Day, this year.

“God willing, we will be there. If not next month, the following month, then if not June or July, (it will be) on Merdeka (Aug 31) or Malaysia Day. I think we should not go beyond that (Sept 16),” he told reporters on arrival in Sabah.

For Anwar to form a stable government, he needs at least 50 backbenchers to cross over and give him a 20-seat majority in Parliament. Otherwise his government will suffer from the same malaise — an unstable govern ment that is easily held to ransom by a clique.

It is not that Anwar is unaware of all of this. He has been hard at work trying to make the numbers and his emissaries have met back benchers and their point people.

Meetings have been held in Singapore, Indonesia and the Middle East — countries Malaysian leaders travel frequently to without raising suspicions.

“The meetings are aimed at finding out where East Malaysian backbenchers stand given the changed political landscape,” said a senior aide to Anwar.

So why is Anwar persistent in saying he has the “numbers” to topple the BN government?

Political insiders say, it is to keep up the spirits of Pakatan Rakyat supporters who have fought long and hard so that Federal power is finally within reach.

Another possible reason is that Anwar is just impatient, as before, and is stepping on it at the cost of his credibility.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s newly formed three-party opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR),the alliance’s parliamentary leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said in an interview to Chinese language daily Sin Chew :“We must recognise that Islam is the country’s official religion but it is impractical to turn multiracial and multi-religious Malaysia into an Islamic state, everything must be based on the federal constitution,”

She said: “Although it is PAS’ ideology to create an Islamic state, it can only be practiced in the overwhelming Malay-majority state of Kelantan, and not the whole of Malaysia due to the country’s multiracial makeup.”

“The fact is, we all accept that Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, and the three parties should cooperate within the framework of the constitution,” she said.

“The reality is that the Malaysian society is made up of Malays, Chinese, Indians and other minority races, making it impossible to establish an Islamic state.”


24 April, 2008

Malaysia: 200 Indigenous Leaders Demand Their Rights i

Rainforest Action Network (RAN)

In Kuching, our fact finding team meet with 200 leaders from Indigenous communities around the state of Sarawak. Some had traveled by boat to attend, some had traveled 8 hours or more. The meeting was sponsored by SADIA, the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (an Indigenous peoples network), and they had only expected about 150 participants, but word got out and there was a lot of interest.

During the meeting, we presented the findings from our fact finding mission - that Indigenous people are being systematically deprived of their land and other basic human rights through collusion between the state government and oil palm companies (with support from the local police). I spoke about many of the specific abuses that I noted, and I told them that Rainforest Action Network would support them in letting people know about their struggle and in trying to put pressure on US businesses to only buy palm oil from companies that respect Indigenous People’s rights.

Throughout the meeting and in conversations during the breaks, I heard more and more examples of abuses.

Four different people told me that their communities had signed a joint venture agreement with the state investment agency (our “friends” at SALCRA) or a private company that promised them 30% of all profits. Many years later, none of these communities have received a single payment and they worry that they signed away their land for nothing. One man told me he thought that it was only his community that wasn’t being paid.

Many people also talked about going to court to try to protect their land rights and having the cases endlessly postponed or appealed. There are 173 land cases pending in Sarawak right now, and while the courts drag their feet the companies go on operating on disputed territory and blocking Indigenous communities from accessing their own farmland. This is the clearest example I’ve seen of justice delayed truly being justice denied.

Examples of abuse by the police were also common. One woman who was trying to protect her land was sexually harrassed by male police officers who arrested her, despite the fact that Malaysian law requires a woman police officer to be present whenever a woman is arrested. Naturally, her complaints to higher ups within the police department have not been answered.

Some people brought maps and legal documents to the meeting to ask what they should do. Everybody present was angry and frustrated, but this meeting felt like the beginning of more joint action to address all of these common issues. Hopefully, by banding together, people can stand up to their abusive government and protect their land, their livelihood and their future.

After the meeting, I felt a bit like a presidential candidate, as 200 people lined up to shake my hand. But as I looked them each in the eye and thanked them, is was coming from my heart.

The people I met here have truly touched and inspired me, and I’ll do everything I can to share their story with the world.

- Debra, Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is made up of 43 staff members in San Francisco, CA and in Tokyo, Japan, plus thousands of volunteer scientists, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens around the world. We believe that a sustainable world can be created in our lifetime, and that aggressive action must be taken immediately to leave a safe and secure world for our children.

Dubbed “some of the most savvy environmental agitators in the business” by the Wall Street Journal, RAN uses hard-hitting markets campaigns to align the policies of multinational corporations with widespread public support for environmental protection. We believe that logging ancient forests for copy paper or destroying an endangered ecosystem for a week’s worth of oil is not just destructive, but outdated and unnecessary.

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23 April, 2008

Anwar says he would be a much better PM than Abdullah or Mahathir

I'll be PM in three years, says Anwar

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim today confidently predicted he would be prime minister within three years, sketching out the first rough timetable for his dramatic political comeback.

- Malaysiakini.

Opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim said for the first time he would likely become prime minister if his coalition takes power, and vowed to clean up Malaysia's corruption and halt its colonial-era jailing of suspects without trial.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Anwar said he was in no hurry to take control of government despite his opposition alliance's spectacular gains in elections in March.

But when he was asked whether he would take the job of prime minister if his People's Alliance were to come to power, he said, "There is a likelihood."

He said he would be a better prime minister than current leader Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his predecessor Mahathir Mohamad.

Well, I wouldn't detain people without trial," Anwar said, referring to a colonial-era law that allows for indefinite detention without charges. The law often was used by Mahathir, and Abdullah has exercised it a few times.

"I will check corruption for sure," Anwar said. "With the little experience I have (in the government), I believe I can do much better, but it is for people to judge. But first I have to be there to consider the question relevant."

The National Front lost its traditional two-thirds majority for the first time in 40 years, while the opposition boosted its strength to 82 seats from 19 seats in the 222-member Parliament. The opposition is now just 30 seats short of a simple majority, something Anwar says is within reach because of expected defections from the National Front.

"We already have the numbers," he said.

But rather than taking down the government now with a wafer-thin majority over the National Front, Anwar said the opposition is waiting for "a comfortable majority."

Anwar said when the opposition comes to power it would provide a much better government than the National Front.

"It is not very difficult to be a better government, to control corruption, to be more just, to improve the quality of education, public health, to stop the squandering of billions of dollars on your family members and cronies. That is quite easy," he said

"The more challenging task is to change the course" of the country, he said, listing economic competitiveness, promoting a market economy, social justice and training of manpower as the main tasks.

"We are not here to improve. We are here to change for the better," he said.

Anwar said the postelection turmoil in the National Front was benefiting the opposition.

"Either way, it is good for us," he said. If Abdullah is ousted, "it will break UMNO. If Abdullah continues, it is also good for us because he is weak."

Source:"Malaysia's Anwar says he would be a much better PM than Abdullah or Mahathir"


22 April, 2008

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ought to be responsible if Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim becomes PM ?

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ought to be responsible if Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim becomes the country’s leader one day, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

In an interview on BBC’s Hard Talk programme yesterday, Dr Mahathir told presenter Stephen Sackur it would be Abdullah’s fault if the alleged defections by Barisan Nasional members of parliament to the opposition were true, and Anwar succeeded in becoming a prime minister.

“He (Anwar) is welcomed to question me if he becomes prime minister one day, but it should be the prime minister, the present leader that should be blamed, because he couldn’t even get the loyalty of his own members,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also said Abdullah’s judicial reform was a political move to rid of his unpopularity at the moment.

“He is not dismantling the system. He is making use of the system in a worse way (and) he has misled his supporters into believing that if he holds the election this year, he will win with a clean sweep,” Dr Mahathir said.

He also denied that the vote swing to the opposition at the 12th general election on March 8 was caused by the unhappiness of the nation over the country’s administrative system.

“The ideology had been there for the last 50 years and it had worked very well. The results from this election were due to dissatisfaction with the present leadership,” Dr Mahathir said.

Asked if it was his fundamental lack of judgment for choosing Abdullah as his successor, Dr Mahathir said: “Yes, I admit that, but we all make mistakes.”

However, he said he would continue to be a strong critic of Abdullah’s administration and Umno.

“Why should I be quiet? You mean, when they are doing something wrong to my country, I should not say anything? I would be irresponsible if I were to do that,” he said.

He also claimed that Anwar was being “opportunistic” when he called for affirmative action for all Malaysians now, as Anwar “never did anything” for the country when he was in government.

Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should get used to it, the "Name calling", that is, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad labelled him a coward!

He chastised the deputy prime minister for not joining the chorus of attacks against Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, saying that Najib had been silent on the real reasons why Umno performed badly in Election 2008.

We see that he is a penakut (coward)… He is always saying yes sir, yes sir, saya sokong, saya sokong (I support),” said Dr Mahathir.

The Insider has learnt that Najib was surprised that his former leader was taking personal potshots at him, and indulging in name-calling as well. After all, they have always been close and Dr Mahathir owes the late Tun Abdul Razak a debt of gratitude. It was the country’s second prime minister — Najib’s father — who ended his political wilderness and appointed him a senator in 1972.

The bad news for Najib is that this is war and all decorum and goodwill will take a backseat. The name-calling is going to get worse between now and the party elections in December. The more patient he is with the transition of power from Abdullah and the more loyal he is to the party president, the more vitriol will be flung his way.

That is why some of Najib’s supporters say that he should distance himself from Abdullah now, believing that this would signal the end of attacks on him from Dr Mahathir.


21 April, 2008

Najib should not be PM !

"Sometimes, an unexpected person can go up to become PM. We definitely want to choose people who are qualified but, in a democratic system, the unqualified sometimes win,"

- Mahathir Mohamad (Utusan online)

Early this year, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said his handpicked successor Abdullah Badawi should quit to comply with a 'gentleman's agreement' struck in 2003.

Datuk Seri Abdullah, was never meant to serve more than one term, said Tun Dr Mahathir, who went on to suggest that he relinquish power to Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, 54, after the upcoming election.

'I did say Abdullah should stay on for one term and, after the term expires, Najib should be ready and able to take over,' he said, but added he could not prove that the pact existed.

Tun Dr Mahathir, who had previously said he made a mistake in picking Datuk Seri Abdullah, explained the rationale for the 'agreement'.

He told a press conference: 'That was my thinking, since (Abdullah) was older than Najib, he should be PM for one term and then Najib should be able to take over.

'I know it takes time to implement plans and projects but I think if that is to be used as an excuse to stay in power for 18 years, then that will not be very welcome.'

Najib, 53, is the eldest son of Malaysia's popular second prime minister, Abdul Razak, and nephew of the third prime minister, Hussein Onn. But his chances are not being gauged by pedigree or political standing alone. Unlike some of his deputy premier predecessors, Najib has been careful not to outshine his boss, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.

One account has it that Mahathir preferred to make Najib his successor, but, made wary by former deputies trying to outshine him on his political departure, chose the soft-spoken Abdullah to protect his own interests. In return, it's believed that Mahathir demanded that Abdullah choose Najib as his deputy and groom him for eventual succession.

Today's Star Online :"Dr M: Najib should not be PM"

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he had second thoughts about Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak becoming Prime Minister as Najib had failed to speak up about the real reasons behind Barisan Nasional’s losses in the general election.

The former prime minister claimed that Najib was not “brave enough” to directly say anything that was not liked by his boss.

“We see that he is a penakut (coward). He is always saying, ‘yes sir, yes sir, saya sokong, saya sokong (I support, I support).”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today dismissed the claim by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad that he was a coward for failing to speak up about the real reasons behind the Barisan Nasional's dismal performance in the recent general election.

"I'm not a coward," the Umno deputy president said.

"It is not a question of being 'Mr Yes Man' or being not brave enough or afraid because I hold to the principle that the best way is to have an organised transfer of power, in a respectable way. That would be meaningful and would determine that the party's interests are not undermined,"

"The late Tun Hussein Onn handed over the office of prime minister to Tun Dr Mahathir also in a proper way, with tradition dictating the best way practised in the party.

"In my opinion, that's the best way and method for us to execute a change in the country's leadership, as was stated by the prime minister and party president," he said.

He said the transfer of power should be given the chance to take place in a respectable way as all decisions in the short term would have an impact on Umno.

"If we do anything at this time, when Umno and BN are not as strong as they were prior to the general election, we will need time to rehabilitate Umno," he said.

He said disputes and friction would definitely take place and result in two or three factions in the party, which would weaken Umno and the BN.

"We cannot afford to allow such a situation to take place in the party, which can cause a major problem for the government and country," he said.

Najib, who refuted claims that there were cracks in Umno, did not rule out the possibility that the party would be split if there was a tussle for power and the leadership.

"I am not saying that there is a split but if there is a leadership crisis, there may be a repeat of the 1987 and the (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim crises. The question is whether the BN and Umno can afford to undergo such a scenario again," he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi must resign to save Umno and the Barisan Nasional government; the PM gave priority to his family over the country,it was pretty much the kind of answers expected of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

he told the BBC on the international news station’s "HardTalk" programme.

To a suggestion that Abdullah was now attempting to dismantle a system which bred corruption and a tainted judiciary, he responded: “He is not dismantling the system. The newspapers now only report about him. No one can say anything against him.”

When asked to justify his constant sniping at the government, he said he did not understand why he could not criticise the wrongdoings of the present government.

Questioned further as to what wrongdoings he was talking about, Dr Mahathir’s reply was Abdullah’s promise “to remove corruption.”

Targetting The Biggest Ass

There are only three ways to get rid of Abdullah. One is for him to be successfully challenged as party leader in the upcoming UMNO General Assembly in December. Two, would be for a sufficient number of the ruling coalition members to vote with the opposition in a “no confidence” motion in Parliament. And three of course, would be through divine intervention, not inappropriate for a man who is never shy in parading his piety and religiosity.


20 April, 2008

Permit for Anwar's party PKR paper approved

The Malaysian government plans to give opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's political party a permit to start its own newspaper as part of reforms to allow more press freedom, according to The Star Online.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar is promising more press freedom and one of his first acts was to approve the publishing permit for the Parti Keadilan Rakyat newspaper.

"I've just approved the (People's Justice Party) newspaper and I asked my officers 'why not.' I am open about it," he was quoted as saying.

“All political parties have their own papers. It’s their party paper. We have not cancelled the licences of any party newspaper,” he added.

Syed Hamid said he had also told his Home Ministry officials to re-look the annual licensing requirement for newspapers.

“I have told my officers that I want to have a re-look at the Printing Presses and Publications Act so that we can move with the times.

“I have asked them to look for other ways of managing the media other than issuing the annual licences,” he added.

Asked what was his view on the annual licensing, Syed Hamid said:

“I have not discussed it with the Cabinet. My view is that we should issue licences only once (upon application).

“That way, we will have the right to suspend but you don’t have to renew every year. That is one of the things I’ve been toying with.

“My argument is why should we let ourselves become unpopular by having such regulations when we had exercised the law sparingly over the years but I need to convince more (people).”

Asked about the now banned Tamil daily Makkal Osai, Syed Hamid said it was not his personal decision but one done after a lengthy observation of the way the newspaper operated.

They breached various guidelines that are stipulated in the publication permit,” he added.

CIJ "Send Emails to Save Makkal Osai!"

Dear friends,

While today's papers hailed as the step forward the Prime Minister's
speech in restoring the judiciary and bringing to a close the sacking
of Tun Salleh Abbas and other eminent judges, the fact is the
government is still in its old state! The abrupt banning of Tamil
Makkal Osai proves the high-handed, non-transparent and
non-consultative manner in the administration is yet to be cracked!

Let's all of us send an email to Syed Hamid Albar, the new minister of
home affairs urging him to lift the ban on Makkal Osai and explain on
what basis it breached the guidelines. Stop him from his total
discretionary power over press freedom and the people's right to

You can send an email with just the following subject line to the
Minister's PA (Intan) and CC to us so we can follow up.

"Explain why you denied the permit and lift the ban on Makkal Osai"

To: intan@moha.gov.my
CC: gayathry@cijmalaysia.org

Your email can do a lot for the cause of press freedom.


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19 April, 2008

'Food security' policy in the works

‘In Asia, if Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia steps down, which is looking increasingly likely amid post-election turmoil within his party, he may be that region’s first high-profile political casualty of fuel and food price inflation.’

─ New York Times :"Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger"

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today announced that the government was in the midst of formulating a policy to ensure adequate supply of essential food in the near future.

- Malaysiakini :"PM: 'Food security' policy in the works"

A high-powered committee has been established to ensure effective implementation of the proposed food security policy, with the government allocating RM4 billion for food production and to check inflation, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today.

The prime minister said the committee, with representation from the public and private sectors and also comprising individuals with expertise in the matter, would meet regularly, perhaps every fortnight.

"If necessary, the meetings will be held more regularly,"

He said it was not feasible for the committee to be too big but relevant people could be invited to sit on it from time to time, enabling the committee to obtain expert advice.

Asked whether the government would introduce other initiatives in the effort to check inflation, he said many matters had been taken into account but the important thing was to fine-tune them.

Abdullah said the government could not resort to being popular but, more importantly, had to adopt approaches which were practical, prudent, feasible and effective as well as beneficial for the people.

The initiatives included stepping up cultivation of fruits and vegetables, he said.

He also said that the country produced rice to meet 65 to 70 per cent of its needs but it was the policy of the government to ensure 100 per cent self-sufficiency, and this demanded greater expenditure.

In this connection, he said, padi would be cultivated on a massive scale in a new area in Sarawak, making the state the new "rice bowl" of the country.

"I have discussed this with (Sarawak Chief Minister) Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and he has to launch (the project). I have approved the allocation for the project upon his request for funds," he said.

Abdullah said he had also proposed to the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia to convene a series of public forums on inflation to enable the people to offer their views and suggestions and bring up their problems.

"We want to hear their suggestions, not just their problems. We know that the low-income group faces a problem," he said.

Asked whether the government would increase the fuel subsidy, he said the matter would be announced when the time comes.

Abdullah said elected representatives had a greater role to play in understanding and explaining issues, given the world economic situation and the competition from countries such as China, Vietnam and India.

-- BERNAMA :"High-Powered Committee To Effect Food Security Policy"

So,do you think Abdullah can be brought down in 100 days? Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, minister in the Prime Minister's Department says it is foolish of some Umno leaders to ask Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign !


18 April, 2008

Still friends, no matter what ?

PM 'positive' on M'sian rail link, Pedra Branca ruling won't affect ties: George Yeo

- Nazry Bahrawi, TODAYonline.
AS Malaysia's political landscape continues to feel the ripples from last month's elections, its newly-appointed Foreign Minister has assured Singaporeans — those wondering about the polls' possible impact on cross-strait ties — that the relationship will do better than to remain in its "status quo".
"Status quo means just as it was. It should be one grade up and we will do this as a fervour, as a push," said Dr Rais Yatim, the first Malaysian Cabinet Minister to visit the Republic since the March 8 polls.
At a joint doorstop interview yesterday, Dr Rais and his Singapore counterpart George Yeo — both referred to each other as "my good friend" or "dear friend" — seemed keen to emphasise that the "forging ahead" of bilateral ties would not be derailed.
For instance, with the International Court of Justice due to make its judgment on Pedra Branca known next month, Mr Yeo said: "Both of us have agreed that if Malaysia were to win, then we will congratulate Malaysia."
If Singapore were to win, Dr Rias would offer his congratulations and "whatever the decision, we will accept it and it will not affect bilateral relations", Mr Yeo said. For years, the lighthouse has been a thorn in the relationship, with both nations referring the matter to The Hague in 2003.
Two other barometers of warm ties were raised: The positive vibes over a proposed urban rail link between Singapore and Malaysia; and Wednesday's launch of a marketing office for the Iskandar Malaysia project at UOB Plaza, welcomed by Mr Yeo.
In the strongest signals yet from Singapore about the MRT link to the Iskandar development, Mr Yeo said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had "responded positively" to the idea at a morning meeting with Dr Rais.
"The link should not be a difficult one and it will bring immediate advantages to both sides," said Mr Yeo, adding that the issue would be ironed out by the Singapore-Malaysia Joint Ministerial Committee.
Asked if there was a timeline for building the rail link, Dr Rais said it was "too early" to say. Last month, Johor Chief Minister Abdul Ghani Othman had said he hoped the link would "materialise in two to three years' time".
Singapore is Dr Rais' first stop in his round of introductory overseas visits as Foreign Minister. This is a "special honour" for which Singapore is "very touched", said
Mr Yeo who described this as an expression of the "special relationship".
Besides Mr Lee and Mr Yeo, Dr Rais also called on Deputy Prime Minister
S Jayakumar, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong during his one-day visit.
Yesterday, as Dr Rais fielded questions from the media about the political scene and possible leadership change in Malaysia — following the Barisan Nasional's loss of its two-third parliamentary majority and its worst performance at the polls since independence — Mr Yeo steered clear of commenting.
Both ministers highlighted the economic importance of one country to the other, and hence the need for cooperation. Singapore, Dr Rais noted, was Malaysia's second biggest business partner after the United States, "that is to say, about RM142-billion-a-year ($60-billion-a-year) worth of relationship".
He added: "Like they say most of the time, money may be root of all evil, but sometimes it eases the nerves. That is the jovial way of saying that we need each other.
"The commonalities between the two nations should be on our top priority list and the differences, whatever they are, should be left to be scored later."

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Revenge is sweet - Anwar comes out on top again in Malaysia's political brawls

A decade after Anwar was elbowed into the political scrap heap when a compliant court convicted him of fabricated sodomy and corruption charges, he is poised to become prime minister.

Anwar's resurgence comes as the United Malay National Organization (UMNO), which has dominated the country's government since independence from Britain in 1957 and of which Anwar used to be deputy leader, implodes into a brawl of backstabbing, power lust and greed.

What set off this ferret fight was March 8 elections when voters among the southeast Asian nation's 20 million people, despairing of the endemic corruption, nepotism and cronyism in the UMNO-led National Front ruling coalition, gave it a mighty face-slap.

The National Front did win a majority in the 222-seat parliament, but it lost the two-thirds majority it has enjoyed for more than 50 years and the opposition alliance led by Anwar won power in five of Malaysia's 13 states.

The wind of change appears to be blowing Anwar's way and almost immediately within UMNO the calls began for the removal of the gentlemanly but ineffective prime minister and party leader, Abdullah Badawi.

It was Mahathir who engineered the downfall of his deputy, Anwar, when they fell out over how to deal with the Asian economic crisis of 1997. And it is Mahathir, 82, together with one of his sons, Mahathir Mukhriz, who are playing large roles in the campaign to dump Abdullah.

In one of the most open acts of rebellion so far, Mukhriz, who is an UMNO member of parliament, this week called on Abdullah to immediately transfer power to his deputy, Najib Razak, so the party can be stabilized and rehabilitated.

Well, Najib is not an obvious candidate for the role of cleansing new broom.

Najib is embroiled in a number of classic Malaysian procurement scandals from his time as defence minister.

Even more explosive is the trial of two of his bodyguards for the 2006 murder of Mongolian model and professional escort Altantuya Shaariibuu, the troublesome and demanding mistress of Najib's closest friend, Abdul Razak Baginda.

UMNO is the perfect example of a floundering political ship where the rats are rushing around hunting for life jackets.

This is a moment of huge opportunity for Anwar and his three-party coalition led by his People's Justice party, as he acknowledged on Monday at a mass rally in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Anwar's opposition alliance, the People's Coalition, won 82 seats in last month's election and needs to entice only 30 members from the government National Front to be able to claim power.

At Monday's rally, Anwar said he has been approached by many National Front MPs looking to cross the floor to the coming man.

"Yes, we have enough MPs to topple the government," he said. "We are saying here for the first time that we are ready to rule.

"But we will only enter when the majority is comfortable. Do we want to be a government with a two- or five-seat majority?"

The answer at the moment is clearly not.

While Anwar and his alliance have political power in Malaysia within their grasp, there are some significant hurdles to be negotiated.

The first is that Anwar must win a seat in parliament in a by election.

Although his conviction and nine-year prison sentence for sodomy was overturned by the Federal Court in 2003 after Mahathir's retirement, he had already completed the six-year sentence for corruption, to which the ban was attached.

Then there's the question of whether he really wants to come to power with the aid of UMNO's deserters, who will be seen as soiled goods even if they are not. Few people will believe floor-crossers were not bought.

Meanwhile, the National Front is rushing to deter floor-crossers by making it illegal for MPs to change parties without fighting a by election.

Source:"Anwar comes out on top again in Malaysia's political brawls" - by Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun


17 April, 2008

After 20 years: 'Regrets', compensation in the offing to sacked judges

Prime Minister Abdullah hopes to bring closure to traumatic, contentious issue.

After 20 years, the government is expected to offer a statement of regret tonight to “victims" of the 1988 judicial crisis.

If the Abdullah administration goes ahead – with the support of the Opposition – to amend the Constitution and reinvest judicial powers to the judiciary, it will strengthen the concept of separations of powers in Malaysia.

But all eyes will be on what he says to the victims of the 1988 judicial crisis. Some of his Cabinet colleagues have ruled out an apology, saying that a mea culpa would make them liable for an action done by a previous administration.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is also expected to announce that the government will pay back wages and reinstate the full pension of each of the judges who were sacked or suspended in 1988. For former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and Federal Court brothers – Datuk George Seah and the late Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman – the compensation could reach RM1 million each.

With this move, Abdullah will hope to draw a line under one of the most traumatic and embarrassing episodes in Malaysian history – an event that many feel opened the door to two decades of manipulation and government interference.

The PM has been talking about judicial reform for sometime but the combination of lack of political will, resistance from Cabinet colleagues and inertia put paid to any hopes of him rehabilitating this important institution. But the results of Election 2008 and the sense that the public wanted strong institutions vaulted judicial reforms to the top of his agenda.

Source:" 'Regrets', compensation in the offing to sacked judges"

PM to outline judicial reform

(New Straits Times ) - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to announce several measures to reform the judiciary at a dinner organised by the Malaysian Bar at a hotel here tonight.
Some 500 guests, including Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, retired judges, representatives of non-governmental organisations, diplomats and senior government officials are expected to attend.

Former lord president Tun Salleh Abas and family members of the Supreme Court judges who were sacked in the 1988 judicial crisis, have also confirmed attendance.

It is learnt that at the function, Abdullah will announce measures for judicial reforms and would bring closure to the issue of the sacked judges which had plagued the nation for two decades.

In the judicial crisis, Salleh, Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah were suspended. They faced a tribunal on the grounds of judicial misconduct. Eusoffe and Wan Suleiman have since died.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim had recently said that the government should apologise to all five judges for the serious trangressions committed by the previous administration.

In reply, Abdullah had said his government would not apologise to the judges for the 1988 incident but would "compensate" them.

Bar Council secretary Lim Chee Wee said they were anticipating some good news from Abdullah in tonight's function themed, "Delivering Justice, Renewing Trust".

Source:"PM to outline judicial reform"

In 1988, Tun Salleh Abas was brought before a tribunal convened by the then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad on the grounds of misconduct. The tribunal was chaired by Tun Hamid Omar. In response to the tribunal, Tun Salleh Abas filed a suit in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to challenge the constitutionality of the tribunal. While proceeding with the suit, Tun Salleh Abas applied for an interim stay against the tribunal until July 4, 1988. The request was denied.

Later however, five judges of the Supreme Court convened and granted Tun Salleh Abas an interlocutory order against the tribunal. Upon receiving the order, Tun Salleh Abas' solicitors proceed to the Parliament to present the chairman of the tribunal the interlocutory order. The gate leading to the Parliament however was locked and Tun Salleh Abas' representative had to call in the police to be guaranteed a passage into the Parliament. Eventually, the order was presented to the tribunal chairman.

Soon after, the five judges were suspended. The judges were Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah.[18] This effectively suspended the Supreme Court. With the Supreme Court suspended, the challenge toward the legality of the tribunal could not be heard. The tribunal later removed Tun Salleh Abas from his office. Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman and Datuk George Seah were also removed from office. The other three judges were later reinstated.

The irregular dismissal of Tun Salleh Abas led the Bar Council of Malaysia refusing to recognize the new Lord President. Around the same time, the Federal Constitution was amended to divest the courts of the "judicial power of the Federation", granting them instead such judicial powers as Parliament might grant them.

Source :"1988 Malaysian constitutional crisis"


16 April, 2008

Resurgent Anwar piles pressure on Malaysia PM

Malaysia's embattled premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi faced a serious challenge Tuesday as opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he had the support of enough government defectors to seize power.
Analysts backed Anwar's dramatic claim, saying turmoil in the ruling coalition could hasten an exodus of lawmakers and propel Anwar to power after last month's stunning general election gains by the opposition alliance.
Anwar, a former deputy prime minister who was sacked and jailed a decade ago, said at a rally late Monday that he had enough support to form a government but would not act until he had a more comfortable majority.
"Yes, we have enough MPs to topple the government," he told reporters after police broke up the rally, which drew more than 10,000 supporters to celebrate the end of his ban from politics.
"We are saying here for the first time that we are ready (to rule)," he said. "But we will only enter when the majority is comfortable."
"Do we want to be a government with a two- or five-seat majority?"
Police on Tuesday summoned Anwar's wife Wan Azizah Ismail, who is president of their Keadilan party, as well as Selangor state chief minister Khalid Ibrahim and several others over the rally, which had been declared illegal.
Keadilan said it considered the move an act of "intimidation and provocation," and the official Bernama news agency quoted Azizah as saying she would not give a statement to police -- a move that could see her arrested.
"We can apply to the court to issue a warrant of arrest for them. However, we do not want to do that," Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief Abdul Samah Mat told Bernama.
The Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance claimed more than a third of parliamentary seats and five states in the polls, dealing an unprecedented blow to the Barisan Nasional coalition which has governed for half a century.
Abdullah faces growing demands to quit, but has defiantly claimed a mandate to rule and refused to discuss a succession plan until after his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) conducts internal leadership polls in December.
Anwar has said that coalition lawmakers from Sabah and Sarawak states on Borneo island have approached him about switching sides, but so far none has declared their intentions publicly.
James Chin, political science professor at Monash University's Kuala Lumpur campus, said coalition MPs were ready to defect because of UMNO infighting and uncertainty over Abdullah's leadership.
"It is true MPs are waiting to jump. They will do it for money and power," he told AFP.
"Abdullah is fighting for his political life and Anwar is pouring oil onto the fire by stating that he has enough defectors to form the next government."
Tricia Yeoh from the Centre for Public Policy Studies said Anwar was highlighting his ability to form the government in order to "inject in people's mind that there can be an alternate government."
"My gut feeling says yes. He has been rallying support in East Malaysia. It will be risky for him to lie," she said, when asked if he had enough support to take power.
However, Domestic Trade Minister Shahrir Samad dismissed Anwar's claims, saying he was not aware of any coalition lawmakers planning to jump.
"Not as far as I know," he told AFP.
Timbon Herbert Lagadan, a state assemblyman from Sabah, said Anwar's comments were merely "political rhetoric."
"I don't think he will get MPs from Sabah or Sarawak to join him," he told AFP.
"Anwar is a man who cannot be trusted. He promised development for Sabah when he was deputy prime minister and finance minister but he failed to deliver."

Source :"Resurgent Anwar piles pressure on Malaysia PM"

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Tamil daily Makkal Ossai suspended

The Home Ministry rejects the renewal of the Tamil daily's publishing permit. Industry sources say the move could be related to the prominent coverage given to the opposition.

The newspaper's general manager S.M. Periasamy said that they were informed of the decision by a telephone call from the Home Ministry Wednesday morning.

"When I went to the ministry to check if this was true, they handed me the letter rejecting the renewal of our licence," he said.

The letter did not state any reasons for the rejection.

The newspaper also had its permit suspended for one month last August for publishing a picture of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette in one hand and a can of beer in the other on its front-page.

The photo had a caption quoting Christ as saying: “If a person repents his mistakes, heaven awaits him.”

Makkal Osai or “The People’s Voice” was published as a weekly newspaper for 15 years before it became a daily in December 2005.

It is an offshoot of Tamil Osai which ceased operations in 1990 following a management dispute.

It has a circulation of 52,000 currently and employs about 100 people.


15 April, 2008

Mastery Of English An Asset In Attracting Foreign Investors

The mastery of English by Malaysians has been an asset to the nation particulary in attracting foreign investors, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

He said, however, there was concern that the command of English was diminishing among Malaysians, especially in the rural areas, and in government funded schools across the country.

The trend should not be left unchecked as the deterioration in proficiency of the English language would result in the loss of whatever advantage Malaysia had in drawing foreign investors, Najib said at the launch of the RHB-New Straits Times "Spell-It-Right (SIR) Challenge", here Tuesday.

"Of course there are certain groups who would say that as Malaysians, Bahasa Malaysia should be our main language, and that it should be the language that is championed by all.

"While it is without doubt that Bahasa Malaysia has an exalted place in all our hearts and that it would forever be the National language, the stark reality is that English is the primary language of commerce and science the world over, today," he said.

He said there was a need to have a strong command of English to get ahead in the world, both as a nation and also as individuals.

Najib said learning English, and mastering it, did not make Bahasa Malaysia any less important but made the people and country stronger, more resilent and more prepared to face the challenges of the future.

He therefore urged all teachers and parents to take heed of the importance of ensuring Malaysian children learnt English and use the language as much as possible in their daily lives.

He commended RHB and the NSTP for having the vision and foresight to begin with the revival of the passion for English language through the spelling competition.

-- BERNAMA "Mastery Of English An Asset In Attracting Foreign Investors, Says Najib"


Malaysia probes opposition leaders

On Monday night thousands gathered in the heart of Kuala Lumpur to hear Anwar declare that he had enough support for the opposition to form the government.

Al Jazeera reported that the "Organisers estimated 40,000 people, gathered to hear Anwar's first public speech in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, since last month's general elections."

NST online said "About 10,000 people thronged the Sultan Sulaiman Club", Malaysiakini said "some 20,000 people of all walks of life defied police ban to welcome Anwar’s return to active politics following the expiry of his ban."

Police said the number was closer to 4,000.

Meanwhile, Malaysian police say they are investigating leaders of Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan party over a gathering held to mark the de facto opposition leader's formal return to politics.

Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ibrahim, who is president of the party, was among four leaders told to report to the police for questioning over their participation at the rally which police said was illegal.

Tian Chua, a senior party official, said the leaders did not plan to report to the police on Tuesday as demanded, adding that they would "find another appropriate date".

"Today is not an appropriate time," he told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "We have other work."

Police halted Anwar an hour into his speech and the crowd dispersed peacefully.

Police said the rally was illegal because it did not have a permit required by Malaysian law for all public assemblies of more than five people, and had urged people to stay away.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will not give a statement to the police over a gathering held by the party at the Sultan Sulaiman Club here last night although she was issued a notice to do so Tuesday, said PKR deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali.

He said the notice asked her to come to the Dang Wangi police station here at 3pm Tuesday to assist investigations into a police report lodged over the gathering.

"Besides having a busy schedule Tuesday, Dr Wan Azizah also will not go to the police station to give a statement so long as she does not receive a copy of the police report that was lodged about the gathering," he told a press conference which was also was atteneded by Dr Wan Azizah at the PKR office here.

Dr Syed Husin said others who received a similiar notice were Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, PKR vice president Azmin Ali and special aide to Khalid, Yahya Shari.

He said the notice stated that the case was being investigated under Section 27(5) of the Police Act 1967 and Section 149 of the Penal Code pertaining to illegal gatherings.

"We deem this action by the police against PKR leaders a form of provocation. They (police) appear to be very quick to act on our leaders the moment a police report (about us) is lodged," he said.

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he has convinced about 30 lawmakers from the ruling coalition to join an alliance that would topple Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's government.

Anwar, a former Malaysian deputy premier, is attempting to win over lawmakers from the multi-ethnic ruling coalition to his opposition group.

Anwar plans to wait for more lawmakers to switch before attempting to form a government, he told reporters late yesterday after addressing 20,000 people at a rally in Kuala Lumpur that was broken up by police.

``We are ready,'' Anwar said. ``We want the numbers to be that meaningful so that it is comfortable for us to lead.''